It has now been 6 weeks since the end of the Dublin marathon and it is still hard to believe it is over. After 16 weeks 686 miles of training and a little new addition to the family, it has been one hell of a journey, and definitely different than the previous 13 marathons.
The preparation the day before was ideal. As with the Dublin marathon and to be honest every marathon, the secret is to get down early the day before, pick your number and chip up and know you dont have to worry about it, relaxation can now start. Typically in the past this has meant lazy days at home or when away for a marathon a lazy walk round a city with a nice lunch and coffee. However this year it was slightly different, as we had a plus one. Rosie was great, we headed to Dublin nice and early and picked up my number and chip on the stroke of noon, perfectly before Rosie’s lunchtime. After a easy checkin to the hotel, and a lunch feed for Rosie, we headed out for a leisurely walk round Dublin, with a short stop for a additional lunch at Carluccios. Every year when running Dublin, I make a point of stopping here and having one of their wonderful Italian sandwiches and this year was no different. Rosie slept as Ali and I tucked in to a lovely Ciabatta with olives, salami and lots of other lovely stuff!!
After a lovely dinner of pasta, Rosie went down at 9 pm, it was almost as if she knew Daddy had to run in the morning. As it was a hotel room, and we were heart scared of waking her, this was an excuse for an early night for both Ali and myself. After setting some stuff out for the following morning and setting the alarm clock for 6:30am, lights went off! Rosie slept throughout the night and didnt waken till 7 the following morning, this was more than I could have wished for as I will never forget turning up for the Newry Half Marathon a few months previously, not long after Rosie was born, with about 4 hours sleep and just feeling awful!!!
I headed for breakfast and I started thinking about the race. I made a decision a couple of weeks previously that I was not going to worry about time, I was going to go out and try and enjoy it. I didnt feel the last two weeks of training has gone as well as I would have liked. My 20 and 22 mile runs were a struggle and my times were not as quick as I would have liked, this made me 100% certain a sub 3:15 and a personal best was not possible.
After the usual breakfast of porridge with honey and a number of cups of tea, time came to head towards the start. As Rosie was wanting her morning feed Ali wasnt able to come to the start line for the first time in many years, however this didnt bother me as I knew Rosie was happy having her bottle. I kissed them both goodbye and headed off.
The start of the Dublin marathon is always one of the proudest times in my life. I was never good enough to play Gaelic Football for my county, school or local parish, however when Aran na Bhfian (Irish National Anthem) plays, I cannot feel proud as everyone stands to attention with a puffed our chest, this is everyones All-Ireland Final.
As we start I still am not thinking about anything bar take each mile as it comes, and enjoy it. I set my Garmin at a pace of 7:25 minute miles, enough to get me a good sub 3:30 time, and head off.
The first few miles are always very enjoyable, the crowds are five or six deep as we head out of the city centre towards Phoenix park and the weather is perfect, a crisp morning with no wind. I keep an eye on my times and for each mile I keep ticking off mostly sub 7:25 min miles. I dont in anyway get excited as I know there is a long way to go. My first part of concern is at about 14 miles, where I feel a slight twinge in my hamstring. My hamstring has never affected me, however I start to feel it with every stride. I just keep the focus of take each mile as it comes and dont think of finishing time.
Before I know it we are approaching mile 22, and I am aware than potentially I am within a sub 3:15 time. I spend the next mile focusing simply on that mile, and make a promise to myself that I will not think about the finish, just keeping one foot in front of the other.
As I approach the mile 25 marker, I look at my watch and realise there is a real possibility of a personal best, and I make a concerted effort to push myself. This is helped massively by hearing a scream from the crowd at mile 25.5, as out of the corner of my eye as I approach the bottom of Grafton street, I spot Ali and Rosie screaming their support. This gave me a massive left and at this point I opened the tanks and pushed for the line.
I crossed the line at 3 hours, 14 mins and 41 seconds (http://connect.garmin.com/activity/397151135). I dont know how I did it but I had managed to beat the 3:15 marker, and seeing a two tinkers at 25.5 mile gave me the push to keep going. The end to a very different marathon training plan, but one I wouldnt change!