What better way to finish off our #GrandSlamMarathonChallenge2019 than a trip over seas to the Emerald Isles…. yes folks, we’re talking the beautiful country of Ireland where the Guinness flows almost as freely as the laughter …. almost!
This! our final marathon of 2019, was meant to be THE marathon for us to get a PB, it was going to be THE marathon that was finally going to consist of us getting to mile 20 before the whinging began, it was going to be THE marathon to end all marathons, finishing the year on a massive high, at least 3 stone lighter and so much fitter than we’d started the year…. but alas, the motivation to get any decent training under our belts had bought a long haul flight to no-mans land and never really returned. We’d effectively been tapering for this marathon since May, just after the Edinburgh Marathon but with or without training, we were going to finish this god-awful 2019 challenge even if it killed us (and this time the probability of it doing so was real!)
My day to day job involves me being super organised, unfortunately this doesn’t seem to translate into my real life so 2 weeks before the actual marathon, saw me frantically trying to book accommodation and flights … after all, without these essentials it didn’t matter whether we were fit or not! Having sourced a pretty decent hotel, some random last minute flights, booked the cat in for her first holiday and made sure the kids were sorted at their dads for the weekend, we were all set.. in fact the biggest decision, which required the intervention from the wonderful world of twitter, had me at total breaking point
and that was … what running vest to wear?! … after all, we all want to look good on our death beds right!
No surprises here .. the wonderful world of twitter chose Green – and who in their right mind wouldn’t? but even better than wearing the colour green in Ireland? … is my name! I have an Irish name!! yey! perhaps this time I’ll get some cheers of encouragement on-route…
So! everything in place, the realisation that we were going to Dublin was somewhat over shadowed by the fact our flight would land 45 minutes before the expo closed … and what other piece of kit is required to run a marathon that you can only get at the expo? Yep – our race numbers … Doh! Having spent, god-knows how much on late bookings, cats and kids, I had totally forgotten the race numbers. A shout out on twitter and a shout out to our running club bought forth a multitude of kind hearted folk willing to pick our numbers up and I will always be grateful to everyone who offered up their help – the running community totally rock!
Finally! the day before the marathon we set off … planes, trains and automobiles gave us the grand total of 7 hours worth of travelling time and when we finally reached the hotel, it was all we could do to throw some food down our throats and crawl into bed – not the ideal prep before the big day but at least we had our race packs waiting for us on arrival.
And what a day it was!!. Despite the cold start, when the sun finally made an appearance it turned out to be almost perfect running weather! shivering and shaking we made the short walk from hotel to start line where we were greeted by hoards of people, all looking excited and stupidly happy, bouncing up and down to keep warm. As is my customary pre-race ritual … I needed to check out the portaloos and I wasn’t going to rest until my coffee laden bladder was empty! so off we went to queue with the masses. My chief cheerleader / pit stop director / fellow hero / newly promoted running partner in crime came fully equipped to furnish the masses with the loo roll he’d nicked from the hotel bathroom so if you ever see us queuing for the loo ….. definitely get behind us and he’ll hand out 2 sheets per arse if you’re nice to him and 2 used sheets per arse if you’re not! 😂 Bizarrely enough, the portaloos were … well, pretty damn good considering 20,000 people visited them … twice or more! and there were plenty of them so nothing to report here!
Pre-race rituals complete, we followed the crowds wandering up the road to where we figured the start line was … it was a lovely little walk, talking, laughing, bumbling along so we were a little shocked when, from out of nowhere, the start line appeared and we were off! crap! fumbling over our watches and swearing like troopers we were forced to start plodding and we stuck to a really gentle pace for … get this! … 10 bloody miles! we ran non-stop, for 10. Whole. Miles. Most people who actually train for these things will be rolling their eyes at this comment and I get it! truly I do. Last year we trained our socks off for our marathons, we did the 20 mile training run, we did the “half marathons for fun”, we did all of this .. I promise you! but this year we just hoped for the best! We hoped our legs didn’t hate us too much and could remember how to cover the distance, we hoped to get round in one piece with minimal injuries so for us? 10 miles non stop with no whinging and the ability to breath easy as we plodded? we were definitely taking that and giving each other a celebratory slap on the back every time we hit a rough patch… and there were plenty of those in the last 16.2 miles.
I was advised by a lovely tweeter that the Dublin marathon was “undulating” .. I wasn’t worried at all … who doesn’t like pretty scenery to look at as they plod? 🤔😉😂 .. and it was .. pretty I mean!…..but for the first gazillion miles it just went up and up and up and…. well up, not in a big dramatic way, where you stoically get to the top of the hill and feel quietly smug about it. No, it just constantly went UP.. for, like, FOREVER! So much so that you could hear cheers ring out in front of you when runners found a little ditch in the road to go down! Scarily enough, if you’re a Strava user, Strava makes you out to be a bit of a liar and question what you were moaning about! It turns out that the first 2 miles are actually down hill. It’s not until you get to miles 3 through to 7 when it becomes a constant up hill struggle before spending miles 8,9 and 10 heading back down hill – trust me! it didn’t feel like that at all .. mountains were being climbed that day.
Throughout the entire 5hrs 55 mins it took for us to trudge to the finish line, the supporters were just amazing! They were loud, they were enthusiastic, they were supportive ….. but despite having my Irish name proudly printed on the front AND back of my running top, they still didn’t get it right! in fact, one race participant asked me if it was my actual name or where I was from? FFS! This time, instead of being called “Mary” or “Terry” or “erry” I was now relegated to “…and Chris’s friend” c’mon you feckers!! how hard can it be? What’s it gonna take to get my fecking name right!
Despite all of this, I can’t actually fault the event. The water stations were perfectly stocked … with bottles of water no less! … they were perfectly spaced out, the portaloos on route were good …. no queuing required and plenty of loo roll!… the marshals, the volunteers, the route, the crowds, the atmosphere, the finish line, the photographers, the bling, the merchandise and even the local Garda – everyone got on board to make this a pretty damn special end to our marathon challenge.
of course! A trip to Dublin isn’t complete without a trip to sample the local nightlife! so on weary legs and with the inability to wear anything other than my trainers, we waddled off to Temple Bar, walking as though we’d left our horses behind, and sat drinking good wine and Guinness, listening to an amazing Irish band – how can that ever be topped!
On arrival back home, limbs still aching and blister’s found in places where blisters should never be …. the question of how we could top Dublin next year kept going round my mind… the next thing I remember as I poured the last of the wine into my glass, is receiving confirmation emails for Dublin, Edinburgh and Snowdon! Ooops!
Until next time