The journey to DCM2018 started back in late June when Keith shared the marathon “masterplan” (had to start with an Oasis joke, sorry). It had sessions on Tuesday and Thursday, with pace runs on Wednesday, a long run on Saturday and a few easy runs in between. The sessions were longer than usual, with pyramids around the Kyber/S-bends loop a regular feature. They were tough going but we quickly found ourselves getting fitter and faster.
Come mid-September we were tired and the dark evenings (and mornings!) were setting in but we kept on turning up and churning out the runs. Doubts were setting in about manageable race paces, small niggles were keeping us awake at night but suddenly we were into taper time. Time for the body to recover and get ready for the main event. Keith gave us a final pep talk. It was hard to believe 4 months had passed since his initial pep talk in June.
As the day itself came round, conditions couldn’t have been much better. Well, actually, it could have been a bit warmer before the start. It was absolutely baltic. But the sun was shining and there was no wind.
From the start in Fitzwilliam square the route takes a quick right onto Leeson street. As you can imagine, this is complete carnage. It’s important to keep the head and wait for space to open up, which it eventually does once we make it onto the quays. I felt I only started to settle as we crossed the Liffey towards Blackhall place. It was the start of 4 miles of climbing, but we were entering into home territory now. The club were out in force on Aughrim street making us feel like royalty the whole way up. Thanks for all of the support guys!
Then it’s into the Phoenix Park which is looking even more resplendent than usual (how lucky we are to train here). The Chesterfield avenue drag feels remarkably easy in the absence of any wind. More club support from Bren and Noel here and just like that we’re at the 10k mark and coming into Castleknock. I had been told about the phenomenal support in Castleknock but was still blown away. I had to fight back the tears as we turned at Myos and came to Castleknock College and the highest point on the course.
After this there’s a bit of respite as you come down Tower road, back into the park, down Glen road and out the Chapelizod gate. There’s a lucozade station here which is noticeable as you start sticking to the ground. A taste what was to come later in MacGowans!
Just after mile 10 there’s the first challenge of the day as we tackle the climb at the end of Laurence’s road. There’s some pacer bants as they start an “oggy oggy oggy” chant as we go through the underpass. I brace myself for the climb but I’m at the top in no time. What was I worried about? We had spent the summer sprinting up the Kyber…this is nothing!
Onto Kilmainham then and a welcome cheer from Andrea! Then we turn down the SCR into Rialto and onto Dolphins barn. This is just nuts. As you turn the corner you come into tunnel of people cheering, Tour de France style. This provides a bit of a boost as we hit the halfway point and start a two-mile drag up Crumlin road. There’s usually a headwind here, but we’re spared today. It’s a bit of a boring stretch so I’m happy to get a shout-out from Sean Ryan along the way!
Eventually we take the turn into Walkinstown and then onto Cromwellsfort road. This is a nice flat stretch and a good point to push on, if you were that way inclined. I was debating this when suddenly somebody clips my heel and my runner comes flying off and backwards into the crowd of runners behind me! I eventually retrieve it but have to do some work to get back to my pace group. I recall the words of renowned philosopher Mike Tyson – everyone has a plan B until you get punched in the face.
This surge was probably a bad move. The next few miles are usually pleasant – leafy surroundings and generally downhill as you head into Terenure and then Rathgar. But I experience my first wobble of the day. I feel a bit nauseous and my calves are starting to tighten a bit. I remember Keith saying that there will be tough points but they’ll pass. I focus on getting to mile 20 where I have people waiting for me. I get to Milltown, go through the gantry at mile 20 and I’m feeling better. Thanks Keith!
It’s shortlived though. We’re through mile 20 and the point where people say the real marathon race begins. We turn right into Clonskeagh and start 2 miles of running torture. It’s undulating, but mainly uphill. There are casualties everywhere – people walking and stretching, trying to relieve cramp. The demons start setting in as I watch my pace group pull away. But finally we’re at the last hill of the day, the infamous heartbreak hill. I find energy from somewhere (a caffeine gel most likely) and burst up it, knowing there’s the sweet downhill of Fosters Ave around the corner.
Then it’s over the UCD flyover, another lovely downhill on Nutley Lane and then left onto Merrion road for the final 2 mile run into Merrion square. I realise as we approach Merrion road that I have a bit of energy again so I go ahead of the pacers. It hurts, but this is what we’ve trained for – the fast finish long runs, the pace runs on legs still tired from the session the night before. I’m focused on the finish line when suddenly Brid Ryan appears in front of me with a mega phone! This perks me up for the final surge and I get ready for the finish line photos with the obligatory “arms raised in the air” pose. The official photos show me stopping my watch. Goddammit.
I finished in 3:38:51, delighted. I meet Sally at the finish line who looks like she’s just back from walking the dog. Her aim was sub 4 but she’s finished in 3:53:51. Great result.
Performance of the day has to go to Vincent O’Neill, with a time of 3:26:19 on his first marathon, placing him 13th in his 060 age category. Amazing running Vinny.
Brian Walls was the first club member over the line with a time of 2:58:34. This was despite struggling with some cramping over the last few miles. Great stuff from Brian. Cramping was also an issue for Andrew Davies who still managed to finish in an excellent time of 3:04:17. This placed him second in the O55 category in the national championships. Well done Andy.
Ed “Kipchoge” Murphy had another excellent run with a finish time of 3:27:01. But that wasn’t enough for Ed, a week later he ran the NYC marathon finishing in a very respectable (but painful) 4:26:25.
Brian “go hard or go home” Boland finished in a great time of 3:31:13. He was followed by Tony Garvin in 3:34:55. Keith Farrell took 20 minutes off his marathon PB to finish in 3:37:39. Some running guys.
Antoinette “riding cream” Moloney’s early taper didn’t hold her back with a massive PB time of 3:50:16. Congratulations Antoinette. Marie O’Connell dug deep at the end to finish in 3:53:54. Paul Pugh was next home in 3:56:39, well done Paul.
Niall “the assassin” Heylin’s dodgy knee let him down in the last few miles but he still managed to hang in there and finish in 3:57:46. Well done also to Niall for managing to raise over €1000 for MS Ireland. Alan Julian also broke through the 4 hour barrier this year finishing in 3:57:30. Congrats Alan, great running.
Sunil Singh also got a great PB finishing in 4:15:45. All that sprinting to make the start of the sessions must have paid off Sunil! Marie “machine” Norris had a tough day at the races with some cramping in the second half of the race. She managed to hang in there and finish in a very respectable 4:28:29. Well done Marie. Marius Crisan also had a tough finish to the race, finishing in 4:33:21. What a guy though – will we ever forget the couple of cans in the bath?!
Stephen Downey made the decision to get round the course as best he could. He’d never really recovered from his 4 half marathons in 4 days back in August so it was going to be a struggle. He finished in 5:49:17 to cap off a great year of running. Well done Stephen.
I have to finish by saying a massive thank you to Keith for his coaching and support over the last few months. He really went above and beyond for our group with nutritional plans, race advice and constant words of encouragement. He never seemed to have a down day and kept us motivated throughout the whole process. And all this while doing his own training. Thanks Keith, we smashed it!