Dublin Marathon Run Report (the shortened version)
By Helen Rowe (and Cal Oddy)
Our journey began in 2017, when we supported the Dublin Marathon, and Sally told us that we would be coming back to do it next year. In our excitement we may have agreed. However, once back at home, both Cal and I were not so sure we could do it. We decided not to mention it again. The next few months ticked by, and other people had started training for the London Marathon, and others, and then Brenda informed me that she had signed up. I immediately followed suit, and informed Cal. Lesley Keighley offered to train us, and so we started doing longer and longer runs on a Sunday.
Maggie Morgan also signed up, and Maggie, Cal, and I met at Sally’s house and we booked our outward flights. I had already started looking for accommodation. Cal hadn’t actually registered yet, as she wanted to wait a while before committing to running it. When she did try to register, it was full, so she contacted the organisers, and they offered her a charity place, which she took.
Over the summer Cal and I decided to enter races to get our distance up – 10K, 9 miles, 10 miles (the one we had to quit after 5 miles), Half Marathon, 17 miles, 20 miles, and then tapering again. Cal behaving like Tigger, and was getting more and more excited as we approached the big day, but I was getting more and more nervous about it, convinced I had bitten off more than I could chew! I only managed to convince myself I could do it on the Tuesday before the race. But by then, Cal was starting to doubt herself, and she became very emotional.
We had a few blips with our accommodation – in fact we were on accommodation number 5 by the time we took off for Dublin, having booked 2 x apartments, 1 x B&B, and 2 x hotels (one with a nightclub of course, which the girls didn’t fancy for some reason – I don’t know why, I love a good dance).
Six of us flew out early on the Friday morning, and arrived in Dublin at 09:30’ish. At Birmingham Airport, in the Priority Queue, we got chatting to a girl in front of us called Sarah. She runs for Northbrook, but she was on the Asics Team. At Dublin Airport, we split into two groups, and made our way to our respective accommodations, and then we met later at the Expo. We listened to some of the talks, and watched the video of the route. The narrator was telling us to watch out for the “street furniture”. Cal and Kelli won a prize (a tee-shirt from a 10K race they hadn’t run), and then we made our way back on the bus to our respective accommodations.
Cal, Sally and I were booked into an AirBnB, very close to the start and finish lines (strategic). However, the building was like Fort Knox. I had tried to contact our host earlier in the day, without any joy, and so I tried again. I couldn’t phone from my phone, so I borrowed Sally’s. I finally got hold of Joseph, who was at Dublin Airport, having just flown in from Chicago! We eventually got into the apartment at 6:30pm. We went out to find a supermarket and get a few things in to eat, and then we had a quiet night in.
On Saturday morning we got up early to set off for Fairview parkrun. I had volunteered to be their Tail Walker. We were going to go on the bus (or so Cal and I thought), and we were heading up to The Quays, to get the bus, when Sally flagged a taxi down! As a consequence we got to Fairview for 8:15am, and for those who don’t know, parkrun in Ireland starts at 9:30am! We introduced ourselves to the RD and her sister, who were setting up, and then we went to a café for a tea/coffee in the warm. Cal and I got chatting to a couple who were over from Cornwall for the Marathon – they both had ‘good for age’ places. They invited us down to Cornwall to do their local parkrun – at the Eden Project. It’s now on the list to do!
At 9:10am we headed over the road to the park. We were joined by Maggie Morgan, Kelli Sahan, Jane Hitchman, Claire Newman, and Sam Paterson (Claire’s sister). Sally’s family also came to join her – nieces, nephews, brother, etc. etc. At 9:30am we were off, and I brought up the rear with Kelli. It was a lovely route round the park – 3 laps. With the exception of Sally, we were all walking, and saving our legs for the Marathon. On the last lap, we decided to do the conga across the finish line. It turned out later that John Aylmer’s brother was there as well, and was surprised to see so many Massey people there.
We had been told we had got to be in the pens by 8.30 on Sunday, and it was going to be very cold (5 degrees), so after parkrun we headed off to the Charity Shops to find a top we could wear at the start to keep us warm. Claire spotted a Christmas jumper and so we all started looking for Christmas jumpers, and after visiting a few shops, we were all kitted out.
Cal, Sally and I met up with Maggie, Jane and Kelli in the afternoon, and we boarded the Open Top Hop-On Hop-Off Tour Bus. We had no intention of hopping off at all, we were just there for the craic. The bus driver asked us if we were running the marathon, and we said we were, so he then announced it to everyone on the bus! He also told us it would be the shortest bus tour we would do, as we all had to get off at the next stop, and board another bus, as he was taking his break! We were all wearing our new Dublin Marathon bobble hats, and every time we saw someone in one we shouted “Nice hat”. On the way round on the bus we kept seeing signs saying “Marathon Course Route” – and we were thinking “OMG”! There was a Chocolate Café near to Maggie and Jane’s hotel, so we all piled in there after the bus tour – for Hot Chocolate + (the choices were immense – from Baileys to Guinness). Cal and I also had Hot Chocolate Fudge Cake – which was rather sickly.
Brenda and Dave Lee were also in town for the Marathon, but we hadn’t seen them. Hayley and Andrew Rollins also flew in on the Saturday. I had booked us all (except Claire and Sam) into La Caverna, an Italian Restaurant, on the Saturday evening, so we all met up there. We had a lovely meal, in great company, and then it was time to go our separate ways again.
THE BIG DAY – Cal and I got up early, dressed and had our breakfast. Cal was still very emotional, and I was shaking like a leaf. After several trips to the bathroom (thankfully we had two of those in the apartment), at 7.40am Cal and I headed off for the start line. I started texting the others, to try to meet up. We managed to find Claire and Sam, but not the others. Adorned in our Christmas jumpers, we were the talk of the crowd. Cal and I were even interviewed and filmed by someone official who asked us why we were there. We explained we were doing our very first marathon. We made our way to the pen, and excitement grew. Cal and I decided to queue for the toilets, which were in abundance. We noticed that one of the cubicles wasn’t being used, and someone said it wasn’t flushing. A man stepped forward and said he liked unblocking pipes (strange man), and he gave it some welly with the flusher. No joy. He retreated and went in search of a stick. He pulled a branch off a nearby tree, and went back into the fray. He emerged triumphant – saying he had ‘cleared’ it. We said that as his reward he could be the first to use it. There was no toilet paper, so we still didn’t want to use it until we got a roll from the other cubicle. I managed to get one, and so the cubicle was back in action. What did surprise us was that none of the cubicles had antibacterial cleanser. Fear not those of you thinking about doing it next year – I have written to the organisers about this!
At 9.45 the Purple wave were off. Cal and I were still wearing our Christmas jumpers. I took mine off at about Mile 1, and Cal did the same, although she struggled to get hers off. The first of our club supporters was Dave Lee, as we ran through the main streets. Then we headed over the Liffy, and Jane was waiting for us. We headed up the hill, towards Phoenix Park. Sally and Hayley were inside Phoenix Park, with the flag. I had been semi-dreading the run through Phoenix Park as I knew from the route profile that we were going uphill for 5 miles, but it was a very gentle uphill, and the scenery and the support was fantastic. At Mile 5, there was DJ playing music, and calling out your name as you ran past. By this time, Brenda had caught me up, we hugged, and then she passed me. We left Phoenix Park, and continued uphill to Castleknock. The support was great. Then at Mile 7 we headed on a long downhill section. Time for some nice long strides (and my first gel). We went back into Phoenix Park for a while. It started raining, but it wasn’t heavy. There were a couple more hills – one aptly named Heartbreak Hill.
At Mile 12, Sally and Hayley were waiting (3/4 of the way up a hill!). It was great to see them again, even if I did feel obliged to run up the hill to them. Sally gave me permission to walk the rest of the hill. As I left them, Hayley said “Kelli and Maggie are not far in front of you”. I was crestfallen. I thought they were behind me. When had they overtaken me? I know they weren’t in front of me in the pen. A little further on I saw Dave Lee. He told me the half way mark was just around the corner. 13.1 Miles, and I was at a good time for me. I kept pushing on. A little further on I could see the red/white quarters of a Massey runner. It was Kelli. I caught her up. She was walking. I asked her when she had overtaken me, and she explained that she a Maggie had got in the wrong pen – the Blue pen instead of the Purple pen. That meant they had started 15 minutes before us. All was explained. I walked with Kelli for a while, but then I needed to press on, especially as there was a downhill section.
From Mile 16 there were gels at the water stations (which were plentiful, stationed every 3 miles). However, the consequence of the gels was that for the next 100 metres your feet were sticking to the floor as you tried to run.
Jane popped up at 20 Miles. Again, it was lovely to see a familiar face. My time was looking good too – it was slightly better than my Draycote Water 20 mile time. I pressed on, sometimes running/jogging, sometimes walking. I found it hard mentally between miles 22 and 25. I started to think “never again”. There was one point when there was an advert for Lucozade Sport with a fake wall on each side of the road, with the middle section broken away – very clever I thought.
I suddenly thought “I don’t remember passing the RDS”, and then it appeared, as if I had conjured it up. Once I passed that I knew I was well and truly on my way back into town. We had ridden the bus from there to town two days ago. This time I was run/walking it. There were still spectators out on the course, but fewer now. A lady asked me whether I had started off running, but was now walking – and I said “Yes”. I caught up with a Triathlete ahead of me. As I did so, a male spectator shouted “Go on – you can take him”. I retorted with “Well I hope he will be a gentleman and allow me to cross the line in front of him”. I talked to the Triathlete as we walked for a while. I asked if he had done it before, and he said “No, and never again”. I said “But you are a triathlete aren’t you?” He said “Yes. I did a Half Ironman last year – but I am never doing this distance again. I will still to 5k’s in the future.” I retorted – “5k’s – that’s not very far. What about Half Marathons?” He said he would think about it. Then a spectator shouted “Watch out for the photographers”. Too late. We had been caught walking. We asked the photographer if he could speed them up to make them look like we were running. I told the triathlete that I wasn’t going to be caught walking again, but he said he was spent, and had nothing left in him. So I started running again, leaving him behind.
Then I could see the Finish Line ahead. As I approached I spotted Sally, Hayley, Andrew, and Cal. They were all shouting for me. I was elated as I passed them. I crossed the line feeling triumphant that I had run my first marathon. Wow, what an experience. The months of training had paid off; the sleepless nights, the fears of failure, and feelings of doubt, all gone. I was a marathoner!
Cal had had a really good race. She had finished in under 6 hours, and she was ecstatic (but very cold).