Wednesday, October 28, 2009

and then the wheels fell off ...

The Dublin City Marathon was not one of my finest events this year.

The day started well enough, I arrived in plenty of time, the weather was perfect and although there were over 12,000 people there I even managed to bump into my friend Sean.

I went to the sub 3.30 pen early enough so that I was close to the start line. As the starting time drew closer all gaps filled as competitors pushed towards the front. This was the first year that pacing groups were organised, the pacers were going to wear large balloons, these were visible floating somewhere close to the start line and with a few minutes to go they could be seen moving back through the crowd but not before one of the 3.30 balloons floated off into the sky.
I noticed the guy beside me keeping a close eye on the balloons, he had a worried look on his face and I said to him "I bet you're looking for a 3.30"
"Yeah" he said "and it's too packed to get back to them"
I was thinking the same myself and I'm sure I also had the same worried look too.
I did manage to get back to the pacers just before the race started.

It was a mad house at the start, trying to keep with the pacers while avoiding runners running at various speeds made for an interesting first mile or two.

When things settled down I started to find a reasonable rhythm but noticed that my calves especially the right one felt tight. It's not unusual for me to feel some discomfort for the first 5 miles of a run so I was sure that I would feel better after the 5 mile marker. Oh, how wrong I would be.

Through the Park, Chapelizod, Kilmainham, on to the South Circular Road and towards Dolphins Barn I was holding the correct pace but I just didn't feel right. It's hard to put my finger on it, I just felt "heavy" for want of a better word, no spring in my step. Even at this early stage I was thinking that I would be struggling later but I was hoping that maybe, just maybe I would find a nice rhythm and cruise to the finish.. Yeah, right !!!!

See my mam, dad and son at Dolphins Barn was brilliant and in a well planned move I collected some gels from my son.
Along the Crumlin road, a section many people hate, I found it ok as it used to be home territory and I was looking out for familiar faces (didn't see any) it passed the time anyway.

I had a chat with a guy who was doing his 8th marathon and was striving to get an elusive 3.30.
We parted company along Walkinstown Road just before the 13.1 mile mat. I was to see him several time during the remaining miles, I know that he didn't get his time, hopefully he'll get it next time. My time at the 13 was bang on and I was still within yards of the yellow balloons.
Fantastic crowds along the route, Walkinstown roundabout was packed with cheering supporters.
Heading along Cromwellsford Road I was flagging when I heard my name called by Seans wife and son, that perked me up for a bit. I met my mam, dad and son again on Kimmage Road, another boost.

Miles 14 to 17 saw me drifting off the pace group. I was annoyed to be drifting but just couldn't seem to muster any extra speed to close the gap. I was still hoping for a second wind and some extra power to my little hairy legs.
The water station in 17th mile (I think) was the cause of a first for me, I grabbed a small bottle of water a drank about half of it in two gulps, not a lot of water to drink but within a few hundred yards I had to run across to the park wall and puke, eventually dragging myself upright and rejoining the runners. My first mid-race puke. Way Hay !!
I was amazed to find that I had only dropped 30 seconds for that mile.

Up to mile 19 I still had a chance of hitting my target time .......and then the wheels fell off.....
The last 6-7 miles were pure hell. Somewhere before the 20 mile mark I just stopped running. I had been trying to convince myself that I didn't need to walk, that I had run the full marathon last year without a need to stop so I wasn't going to stop now, then I was walking, another first in a race...

I wanted out of there. It I was on a training run and felt so bad I would have stopped and gone straight to the pub (only joking, I would have showered first). I knew I was getting slower and slower. I didn't care about a time now, the only thing I cared about was getting to the finish line. The one thing that I was sure of was that my name would not be followed by a DNF.

There was a water station in mile 24-25 again I started to walk. Just walk through the water station, it'll help you run to the finish !!
I was still walking way after the tables. My head was really up my arse, it took a major effort to start running again. I have read race reports and forum posts about the fantastic support all along the Dublin marathon route and especially in the last few miles and I was very aware of the number of people but they meant nothing to me at that point, all I could think about was getting to the finish.

At last the finish in sight, a banner on the way said 400m, just one lap of a track to go. It was a long track.

I crossed the line over 8 minutes slower than my target time and I have to admit that I was disappointed at the time, however on reflection I think it was a lesson learned.

I'm planning my next move and at this point I think it may include a marathon early next year.

Another marathon .........My legs are still sore .... I must be a nutter............

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Words for Marathon Runners...

For anybody running a marathon, especially Dublin on 26th October.....

Good luck....

When you stand on the Start Line, you join the club.

When you stand at the Starting Line, you earn your membership.

Millions dream of being where you are. You are no longer a dreamer. You are a doer.

Thousands more started a training programme but never finished.

They started with the same enthusiasm (or more than) you.

They started with more or less the same physical gifts or disadvantages as you did.

They had no more and no less reason to be successful than you.

But somewhere along the way, they lost that enthusiasm. Somewhere on the road or on the track or treadmill, they decided that the rewards just weren't worth the effort.

They decided that they could live without finding their limits, without challenging their expectations of themselves and without taking a hard look at their image of themselves.

You didn't.

If you're standing at the Start Line, you've not only accepted the challenge, but you've also beaten back the demons.

You've conquered your imagination and self-imposed limitations. You've gone further, got stronger and become tougher than you ever imagined.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

A seed is sown

I was looking through the Internet one evening last week and ended up on the Boston marathon website. I don't know why I went to their site, just following a link or something like that I guess. Looking at the required qualifying times, I had previously thought that by my standards they were way too fast, I was astounded to find that if I hit my target time for Dublin that I would qualify for Boston.
Boston, hmmm !!! The seed was sown......

I must admit I would really fancy running Boston.

I really didn't know whether to mention the Boston idea here but then I thought, "why not, maybe it will push me a bit harder"
My target time for Dublin was set, in my head, many months ago.
It is substantially faster than last years time but something within my capabilities or so I thought.

With one week to go I'm suffering total taper madness, among other things my sleep pattern is gone to hell and I'm feeling tired most of the time, the complete opposite to what I should feel.
I don't remember last year being like this, maybe next year I'll need to look back on this to remind me of the madness.
The fact that it has a name or many names, taper blues, taper madness etc, etc. doesn't make the doubts and niggles any easier to deal with.
I'm wondering about the wisdom of a low mileage programme, the blisters on my left heal, the quad injury, my 10 mile run today didn't feel as easy as it should have been, 10 miles, ONLY 10 miles, for gods sake it should have been a total stroll in the park at this stage. It goes on and on.

I don't want to sound like a total moaner but I'm hoping that by keeping a record it may help for next time....if there is a next time !!

I know once the race starts everything will fall into place and I would like to finish my Dublin marathon report with ..... It was easier than I expected .......... (is that tempting fate?)

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Last LSR .. Well sort of..

Last week was fairly uneventful, it finished with a 20 mile LSR, the last long run before the Dublin Marathon, although I will run 15 miles this coming weekend. I would still regard 15 miles as a longish run but with the 20's finished it feels like a break.

My Garmin 405 went nuts after about 8 miles, stopping and starting on its own. It drove me mad and messed up my pacing and distance for a couple of miles, luckily I had measured the course by car the previous evening.

Although the pace was slow I found that I was tired for the last 5 or 6 miles but I was pleasantly surprised to find my pace hadn't dropped towards the end.
Now all I have to do in less than 3 weeks time is run a lot faster for 6.2 more miles.... Oh dear !!!

The doubts are starting to creep in. I was reading a thread on where people were listing their PB's and I noticed that a good few of them with similar half marathon times either had or were aiming for a marathon time 30 minutes slower than my target time....doubt no.1
The knees were a bit sore... start of an injury??? , A few sneezes .... is that a cold ??? Tired ... is the nutrition ok ???? Me bleedin' watch is fucked... etc. etc.
All silly things but although I've taken part in numerous events throughout this year, in fact way more that I originally set out to do, all the training has been geared towards the Dublin marathon.

Can I take nearly 3 weeks of this mental torture? ............. YES, YES I CAN......

On another note I've signed up for the Crookstown motorway 10k on the 7th November (2 weeks after the marathon :-0 )

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