Running the Dublin Marathon

dublin_marathon_2012_800Time: 2:50:06 (new PB)

Position: 144th (of 14,000)

Average Pace: 4:00km/min (6:30min/mile)

On Bank Holiday Monday, 29th October, I completed my 2nd marathon in a new PB time of 2:50. It was a great race, more so than I expected and really made me realise that the hard work we all put in this year paid off. My favourite bits were seeing all the finishers, runners or walkers, as well as hearing the crowds throughout our tour of Dublin. Nobody was going to beat the Kenyans – but everyone came away with a sense of huge achievement.

The Build Up

Every marathon is such a journey, and that’s in terms of just getting to the start line. I started my running back in January and have raced 30 times this year, so my legs had the miles build up by October. Joining a club, Rathfarnham WSAF, is a great motivator – both in terms training with better athletes but also the training advice and plans. Plus the social element is important – long runs in a group are WAY more fun.

I got a few 19 mile + long runs in and combined with a mix of easy runs and interval sessions felt confident about setting a new PB. The week before the club organised a pep talk, where we learned about nutrition and tapering. I learned loads there about carb depletion vs carb loading. We also discovered the magic weapon that is beetroot juice.


The Race

Race morning started early, with 2 poached eggs finished by 6am. A handy Luas ride into town, listening to Today FMs “born to run” marathon music fest helped get me in the mood. It was pretty cold (6 degrees) so had brought a foil wrap, gloves and a top to the start. You can never pee enough before a race, so employees showing up to work around Merrion St on Wednesday might have found an unpleasant smell in the car park (sorry!)


Run! The Zombies are chasing you!

I started up the front of the first wave, just an arms length behind the elite men and women. That was as close as I got to the Kenyans! After Amhran na bhFiann, the gun sounded and we were off. My plan was to run the first half of the race a little slower than the second, so I’d be able to conserve energy and push on down the faster second half after UCD.

The Route

Dublin-Marathon1The first 5 miles through the city centre were nice and comfortable. I just had to stick to 4:03km/min pace for the first half of the race, which felt good. Lots of runners were passing me through the Phoenix Park to Crumlin, which started little doubts in my mind, but I held to plan A and knew that I should catch up later on, as people faded.

I had to make an impromptu pit-stop in the Phoenix Park after mile 7 as I forgot to empty the tank just before the start. A quick stop in the trees and 10 seconds later I was off again. Ferrari’s pit crew would be happy with 10 seconds (although those 10 seconds would prove crucial later on).

Look alive, Morgue ahead

The Phoenix Park was nice and quiet – just the sounds of thousands of footsteps on the tarmac. The crowds would build at junctions and village main streets along the route, so places like Phibsboro, Crumlin, Kimmage, Terenure, Rathgar and Milltown. The crowds in Milltown were noisy, so it was great to see a few friends, my dad and the girls from Belpark Tri Club.

547007_10151323871718949_292585388_354You’d get chatting with some runners you knew along the route. Des, from Raheny, knew me from IMRA races and reminded me that these hills are nothing like real mountain runs, which was so true. When we came to “Heartbreak Hill” in Clonskeagh, I was surprised at how easy I flew up it. It’s a bit long, but gradual and nothing like going up Mount Brandon.

Stop reading this sign and keep running

With 5 miles to go as Fosters Avenue I was motoring and making up time and places. I was confident I was on track for my 2:49 target. I was running consistently under 4:00 pace and I needed 3:58 average for the 2nd half to make my time. I told myself to hit 3:55 pace, as I knew I was slightly behind at the halfway point.


The Final Furlong

The biting northerly wind hit on the N11 back at UCD and I tried to “draft” behind runners to reduce the wind chill and drag. It was getting harder to push the speed, so this is where I had to dig. I kept telling myself, this is what you’ve trained for, don’t leave anything out there in the tank for tomorrow. Put in 100%.

Pain now, Beer later

2e5c93fc5fcb277c88837e18ff8cc045f738636dd1f01a22b09b8a72869682b8I got a boost coming through Grand Canal St and into Westland Row, when I saw a few familiar faces and Rathfarnham supporters, so I pushed on. Down Pearse St, passing Trinity and past the back window of where I lived while on campus. It brought back memories of college as I rounded College Green and up Grafton St. The crowds were “rowdy” and it was a great amphitheatre coming down Nassau St. There it was – the finish line with the clock ticking towards 2:50. There was one last girl to pass on the green chute and then hands in the air. Over the line. Stop. Ouch, pain. Walking, not good. Lie down on ground. Cameraman takes a snap and tells me it’ll be in the paper or something (check it out on

The Geeky Stats

Here are some of the stats that my Garmin recorded. I was 1 minute behind my target time of 2:49, but I won’t split hairs as still delighted with 2:50! However I did learn how hard it is to maintain an exact pace. I lost 1 minute on the first half and although I ran the 2nd half 3 minutes faster, I couldn’t get back on target. I was careful to not the hit the wall, but could definitely push the boat out a bit more next year…roll on Boston on 15th April!

Distance Actual Time Pace (km/min) Target Time Difference
Full marathon 02:50:06 00:04:02 02:49:00 00:01:06
1st half 01:26:30 00:04:06 01:25:43 00:00:47
2nd half 01:23:36 00:03:58 01:23:17 00:00:19
1st vs 2nd diff -00:02:54   00:02:26  
  • 2,400 calories burned
  • Average speed: 15 km/h
  • Max speed: 19.9 km/h
  • Average heart rate: 165bpm
  • Max heart rate: 181bpm (the last mile!)
  • Heart zones: 30km in Zone 4 & 15km in Zone 5
  • Fastest km: 1st (3:47) – I blame the adrenaline
  • Slowest km: 15th (4:13) – the hills in Chapelizod/Inchicore
  • Strava report

Thanks to everyone who’s supported Crumlin Children’s Hospital – over 2,500 EURO will be raised by your donations!! Donate here

4 thoughts on “Running the Dublin Marathon

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