After months and months of training we were finally on our way to Dublin….
Meeting at the airport at 5am the prosecco was flowing and our group of runners and supporters in bright green hoodies stood out a mile off. Side note.. my favourite thing about being at an airport is that time goes completely out of the window, it’s 6am and I’ve had three proseccos! Once we landed in Dublin (alcohol ban now on) the excitement continued as we made our way to the hotel where most of the group were staying, filled ourselves up on a huge buffet breakfast then gathered ourselves together to make our way to the expo.
The expo was held a little outside of the main city at the Royal Dublin Society in Ballsbridge so the four of us runners took a taxi. I suppose this is the moment it all began to get real and that above all of the laughter and cheer of 40 of us being in Dublin together we were actually going to be facing 26.2 miles the next morning. We left our messages to Liberty then made our way to pick up our race numbers. Assuming that we would have already been allocated our numbers I was surprised to see our registration forms were scanned and we were randomly allocated – 13904.
After purchasing a new winter training top and testing out some not-so-nice protein bars we took a coffee stop to check out what was in our race packs. Lily O’Brien’s salted caramel chocolate, a Dublin marathon sports towel, a his-viz, a commemorative key ring and three Muller rice yogurts were some of the highlights in the bag.
The rest of the afternoon was spent enjoying Dublin with a trip to the Guinness factory and a cheeky drink at a pub (I didn’t drink the whole pint!) in Temple Bar listening to some live music. An early night and dinner of tomato pasta with obligatory garlic bread was going to set me up nicely.
A 6.15am alarm I’d had plenty of sleep and was raring to go. I’d arranged my race bag the night before so I had time to get myself dressed and had my hair done for the run. Two bagel thins with jam was my breakfast choice for the day. I left the apartment at around 7.30 with my Dad in tow and followed the hundreds of runners to the start area. After saying goodbyes and good lucks I made my way in to the pens and met with the other four runners for Team Liberty. After dropping bags off, a few photos, selfies and port-a-loo stops we found the blue start zone … we were really doing this!
Crossing the start line was super busy which helped me in the sense I could not go any faster, not that I wanted to this early on. So I soaked it up, loving the support that surrounded me and all the runners in sync together. A little incline just after crossing mile one but that wasn’t going to bother me (a taxi driver did warn us about this on the previous day).
Mile 2 and I saw the first glimpse of the huge support crew cheering us on. It was at this point we ran across the River Liffey and headed out towards Phoenix Park. We passed the zoo and with a long incline to other side of the park we were surrounded by all of the colours of autumn with trees losing their leaves. Between miles 4 and 5 I saw my cousin and more members of the support crew and gave them a wave. From around mile 6 my race plan came into effect – 10 minutes running, 1 minute walking. This has so far proven the best way of keeping myself going for longer. At this point, an hour in I had my first energy gel. Out of Phoenix Park we headed into a little village where the support was amazing! Heading back into the park after a loop of the village was probably my favourite part of the route, a little quieter on the support front but so pretty with a view of the beautiful Irish countryside.
Heading back in towards the city the super support squad were out in force at mile 13. I remember shouting “I’M HALFWAY” at this point, ecstatic that I’d made it that far already. Mile 14 onward I felt a struggle so changed my game plan slightly to 7-10 minutes running and around three minutes walking to make sure I was going in 10 minute segments – its amazing how doing this makes time go so much quicker. Miles 15 and 16 passed and at mile 17 I really started to struggle, not in the sense that I couldn’t carry on but a mind game of when will this ever end. 17, 18 and 19 were quite low points where if I was given an option to curl up in a ball and go to sleep, I would have taken it at the blink of an eye. The most amazing thing during these points was the support of the crowds and how they just kept you going. Mile 20 and I saw my family again and my mum chased me to give me a kiss. In the zone I could not stop.
Here’s where I started smiling again telling myself 1 x 10k or 2 x Parkrun to go, runners were getting exciting as the end was in sight. Until we hit just before mile 22 with what was aptly called Heartbreak Hill, which sat proudly with a banner whilst runner struggled upwards (what we were hoping was the last uphill battle). It caused a stir amongst runners with groans, sniggers and an overall really?!?!?! Reaching the top was such a relief with a huge lucozade station at the top and even a ‘fake’ wall for us to run through.
Thankfully the course flattened for the final few miles – just 1 Parkrun to go. Seeing my family again at mile 23 really helped with the final push to the end. It was rather amusing to see my mum so invested in her cup of tea run over to me cup still in hand and no tea spilt. I’m not sure if the pub had seen a sight like it …
Finally mile 25 where annoyingly my watch decided it had enough and the battery ran out. The rest of the support crew were here making so much noise it was amazing to see and hear which spurred me on for the final 400 or so meters. With the finish line in sight some energy out of nowhere came upon me and I managed to lift my legs and run (as opposed to the shuffle I’d developed from mile 20ish). Peering round only meters away from the line I stumbled thinking thank god I didn’t fall when everybody is watching me!
I’d made it. 5 hours, 15 minutes and 18 seconds. As I crossed a lady turned to me ‘I need to hug you, I finished last year and nobody was here and now somebody is I need to hug you’ and this just summed up the marathon completely. We are all here for different reasons, we carry on no matter what and we finish, no matter when.
I picked up my bling, run top and goody bag and lucky for me I could see two of Team Liberty waiting in the not so far distance. Even though I was tired there was a spark in me that could have run over to give them both a hug. Proudly wearing our tops and medals we posed for a selfie and cheered my uncle as he arrived around the corner with my cousin who had ran then final couple of hundred meters over the finish line. We celebrated, posed for some photos and found the nearest taxi to take us to a pub where three ciders went down without a second thought!
Heading back to my apartment, we were having a big party later, I stopped by a McDonalds (I was starving all I’d eaten was two bagels, some sweets en route and a cookie at the finish line) and ordered myself some food, tucking in to find an extra cheeseburger had been included – little wins!
The evening ended with many more drinks, laughs and even some conga dancing around a pub to the Vengaboys – when in Dublin …
The Dublin Marathon was absolutely amazing – a definite recommendation. The support from the crowds was out of this world with a continual supply of sweets and friendly cheer across the whole route. I loved London but can go as far as saying the support in Dublin was even better. Put on your best Irish accent and say the following phrases and that was the entire course – keep on going, not long to go, keep up the good work – among many others! At around mile 15 there were even two older ladies singing ‘the fields of athenry’ on the street.
As with any marathon there were some great signs on the streets, some of my favourites, if Trump can run for president then you can run a marathon, motivational sign, you paid to be here .. they were endless.
Dublin – we had a blast. Will we be back? The quickest yes!