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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Sean said...


You're describing a lot of what I went through in '83 and '08. I remember telling myself "I'm not going to walk, I'm not going to walk", and then realising that I'd been walking for some time.
Must have been your gang that shouted for me near the KCR - was expecting the sister there but she was at Comans in Rathgar.
Great report - remember "that which doesn't kill us will make us stronger".

Chris Cassidy said...

Thanks Sean,
Yeah, my lot saw you at Dolphins Barn & Kimmage Road.

Congratulations on your fantastic time....

jami said...

HI Chris,

Sorry you had a hard day. Hats off to the Irish. The crowd support was great. I had a good race but still prefer your time. Lots of luck in the next one.