13.1 miles or 21 kilometers – that should be just fine thanks very much…
This was the dress rehearsal, first ‘big’ test after the Dublin City Triathlon and the focus was on gauging my stamina to keep up the pace for my badly sought after sub 4hr marathon.
I was quite nervous beforehand, more so than normal, I don’t know why. Keeping up an 8:20 mile pace for nearly 2 hours would be tough but not beyond my capabilities. I met a girl called Aoife at the start as we took our place behind the pacers. Aoife was one of the novice marathon runners on the Boards discussion group and had been faring well with her training, she was also nervous. I think that’s just a runners modesty, we never feel we can do what we actually train to do. Aoife was also pushing for 4hrs in Dublin.
As the gun sounded for wave 1, we both settled into our routines which mainly consisted of the universal ‘I run alone’ sign for runners – earphones went in.
Our turn. A chorus of Garmin watches starting carried us through the start as we set off following the large 1:50 pace flags. Let them run, not to far ahead, steer clear the jostling crowds on their shoulders but keep the pacers in view so as not to lose too much time. That’s the plan, I’d done it lots of time before. Don’t start too fast and burn out quickly, conserve energy for the last mile and the shouting crowds.
Miles 1 – 3
Trucking along, watch beeping on the mile, exactly on pace. Pacers in sight and feeling good. Never listen to the mind in the first mile of any race, your legs are fine, it’s the brain that wants to give up. The first mile is always the worst as you settle into a rhythm, everything always evens out. Still feeling good.
I like running in the Phoenix park, I only do it for races and there is always a sense of occasion. This was where I did the fitness test for Operation Transformation. I like to dwell on that a little and quietly marvel on how far I have come since then. Maybe that’s big headed, maybe not but feck it, I’ve done well and I deserve the personal clap on the back.
Miles 4 – 6
The crowds are great today, the weather is lovely and everyone is out shouting and cheering as Dublin crowds are famous for. ‘Keep going!’ ‘You’re doing great!’ I always chuckle at that, most of the time when I hear that I really wonder if the pained look on my face is so bad that the bystanders feel I need the extra encouragement. Not to worry though, it’s welcome.
Somewhere along the way I lost Aoife, I think I went ahead. The pacers seem to have pulled away from me a little but not by much, it’s a flat part of the course and I the plan is to catch up to them on the downhill that’s somewhere in front of us.
Miles 7 – 9
There’s Aoife, did I slow or did she speed up? I was slowing, the legs were feeling really heavy and my damned hip flexors were giving me trouble. The same issue I had in the Limerick marathon. I thought I had worked on that weakness and left it behind.
The average pace has slipped past 9min miles now. Not good. What’s going on, maybe I’m just not a fast runner, why do I do this anyway I start out all positive and end up feeling shit at the end. But I don’t really, I feel crap for about 1minute at the end of races, then I remember what I just did and go back to patting myself on the back. Maybe I should beat myself up more and see if I can fix how to keep my pace up.
Legs are really burning now, I’ve no idea why, I’m a good runner, this is just a half marathon, I’ve done the training. No energy, the mind is wandering and thinking if I stop now I’ll be close to the car. Get off the stage, the mind gives up before the body, I’m going to finish the race. Just not as fast as I had hoped.
Walk, run, walk, run, walk run. Walk, jog, walk, jog. Walk. Stop and stretch.
This is becoming painful. I’m beginning to despair. Not because I’m tired and sore, but because another target was missed. I really thought I could do this. Why do I set myself such goals and tell everyone about them? I wonder how Aoife is getting on, she’s probably finished by now.
Sometimes that’s the worst, you’re coaxing the body to keep going, cajoling it with promised of bed rest, hot water bottles and a nice rub down and then you start to see finishers walking home with their goody bags and children snaffling the jellies within it. The winners had finished as I was approaching half way. HALF WAY!
Walking a lot now, on what seems like the longest road in all of Dublin, Conningham Rd along the outside of the park. Why did they bring us here, it’s crap. What’s worse is it’s got a gentle downhill on it that I’m not using to catch the pacers, who have also probably finished by now too. Downhill now, means the has to be an uphill later. Bloody hell when will this race just end. I have to go this way anyway to get to my car so I may as well keep going.
Walk, jog, walk, jog, walk jog…
Miles 12 – 13.1 and the finish.
Uphill over with, PB out the window, try to break 2hrs out the window. I’m down to the last of my plans. Plan Z so to speak. Just finish. I’m a Divil for letting my mind take over my running plans, in many ways. I start off thinking I’m great and can do a great time to allowing it take over on race day and slowing up.
I know I’ve a decent finish in me. I have never not finished a race and I’ve always run over the line. This will be no different.mim not going to sprint, but I’m not walking either.
More people walking home with goody bags now than there are runners around me, there’s the finish gantry. ‘KEEP GOING!’ ‘YOURE DOING GREAT!’ The shouts are loud, right in my ear. I must look really bad. The crowd are great though, they’ve come off the path and are crowded around the remaining runners, each one of us working to try and catch the one ahead.
I’d given up trying to work out the time in my head, how far behind the gun did I start, what does the clock say? You know what, I’m finishing another half marathon, sure it wasn’t my best but you know what, it’s my 5th or 6th. in fact I’ve run so many I can’t remember how many I’ve run. That can’t be a bad thing.
Cross the line. Funny, I’m quite at peace with myself. When you’ve run so far outside your plans, times don’t matter and that makes me much more relaxed. Despite the legs, I actually enjoyed that. The crowds were great, the weather was perfect and I think I know now that I’m just not a fast runner!
Garmin Data HERE