Wednesday, 29 October 2014

5k it ain't

"I guess you shouldn't be sweating by the time you turn off the quays entering mile 4 but hey, this is the Dublin marathon. I'm feeling a bit rough at the mo' but that's ok. I'v never felt good at the start of any of my long training run's and I'v a habit of coming round later in the day. I'll be grand".........says I. 

If a fraction of the advice I'd come across over the last 6 week's had sank in I'd probably ease off a bit at this stage but listening to advice is not my forte and learning from experience seems to be the only thing that works.

With no specific plan on the start line only to run out a bit ahead of the 3hr men and meet them a mile or two down the road once the field had spread out a bit but three consecutive 6.38 miles threw that idea down the drain when I couldn't see them behind me on Chesterfield avenue. I had no particular reason to run out ahead of the three hour man only that I thought I could manage it, instead of trying to convince myself to run under three hours I had decided that this was going to be my hardest training run to date. Turns out I wasn't wrong but I couldn't remember what race I was training for. A bitch of a crosswind made it hard to get shelter after finding myself between groups (this was the one thing I promised myself I wouldn't let happen) so I took my foot off the gas a bit (at 6.40min mile my foots not normally 'on the gas' but as I was to discover in the context of my relationship with 26.2 mile's it was on the gas alright) and waited for three or four lad's coming from behind.

Out the gap at the top of the park and my familiarity with the course came to an end, the short climb on Castleknock road was more of a shock to me than the park and I didn't handle it too well, I was using caution as an excuse to ease off but in hindsight I was already struggling and was glad to hit the long descent back into the park. A nice reprieve before a block headwind came to greet us on Chapelizod road, the first real kick in the arse and a realization that my second marathon could be going sour. Meeting the 3hr group on the hill after Chapelizod was confirmation. I got through the toughest section from 12 to 14 with these guy's and as it said on the tin it was all downhill from here, it certainly was and in more ways than one in my case.

This was where I was supposed to pick it up in the race that I had imagined I was going to run, pick it up and power on home, leave the group I was in and start picking up a few of the lad's up the road, power on to the four mile to go mark and let gravity do the rest but (Knock knock, hello anyone home), this is a marathon. I hadn't given that as much attention as I probably should have in my pre race prophecy. I visualised it as a race. At my level it can't really be a race until you get to the last five or six miles feeling strong. (I'm sure I learnt that before somewhere but the dog ate my homework). It's all coming back to me now "If the first mile feels ok your going too fast", "The second half of the marathon starts at the 20 mile mark", now I'm learning. "Don't get carried away in the first few miles, it's easy to with the crowd" (I was actually told that ON the start line with a minute to go).  Ah yes a 5k it ain't and by mile 16 I was a temporary member of Thomas the tank engine's 3.10 group.

I won't get into the gorey details of the last 10 miles but If I told you to make up a paragraph using the word's walk, jog, water stops, people watching, plodding, water, disorientation, hallucination, elation, water, high, low, anger, indifference, gel, Ray D'Arcy, nasty marketing at the top of Roebuck hill and the waste of a good downhill into the finish you'd probably come up with something close to what I'm trying to get at. Despite sharing the road with fourteen and a half thousand other's it's a lonely old place when the shit hit's the fan. Disappointment doesn't come into it. You just know it's going to be a ball breaker to get to the line and on the practicality side of thing's how else are you going to get back into town to pick up your gear? So not to put too fine a point on it, with four downhill miles to go I, like a lot of my comrades was deep in the proverbial.

There were some big effort's from Grange AC, with Johnny (10th), Joan (2nd) & Clo (3rd) leading the way running out of their skins to get top 10 in their categories in the national Champs. Enthusiatic crowd's, recognisable face's and pig headedness carry you to the line nearer to the finish but that's fair payment as I'm holding them partly responsible for an over eager first few miles too. The masse's that stood on Parliament street turning onto the quays just after the two mile mark didn't have to work as hard as those on Merrion road to keep me going with a mile and a half to go. Like I said pre marathon, it's a long way. I had to do it (again) to convince me though.

- More miles.
- Diminishing pain threshold (getting soft).
- Questionable concentration levels.
- Under raced. Though the need for recovery is important I think I could have done with another race between Charleville half and Dublin. 
- Giving the whole thing too much thought.
- More sleep.

On Monday afternoon I was convinced I'd run my last marathon, by Tuesday evening I'd isolated the finer points of my downfall and by Wednesday I was kicking myself and wondering how to turn back the clock to the start line on Monday morning for a second chance. 

That's why we can't turn our back on it but for now some rest and back to the short stuff.


  1. First conclusion point is the winner Kealan, everything else falls into place after that!

  2. I was surprised when I saw your result, you actually looked reasonably well when we chatted briefly at mile 16 or 17.

    It took me a while as well to get it right. Marathons are rather unforgiving, but keep at it, it's worthwhile in the end.