Marathon Personal Bests are like buses – you wait ages for one, and then two come along together.
I’d set my long-standing marathon PB in Dublin in 2013, and was starting to think I’d never beat it. Until last saturday, when I finally went one better. Then today, one week later, I beat that PB!
The story of this marathon is very similar to the one I ran in Cork last weekend – myself and Brian O’Se ran most of it together, this time in the company of Kerry Crusaders Siobhan, and again we went with a 20/5 run/walk strategy, as we were treating it as an ultra training run.
The marathon was run in the Killarney National Park, one of the most beautiful parks in the world, with fantastic lakes, wild deer, oak forest and views of the mountains in the distance.
After picking up our numbers at a nearby school, we walked the few hundred yards to the start line – we had a little difficulty finding it, and I heard other runners ended up starting from the wrong spot, so it might be worth the organisers while signposting it a little better in future years.
We met lots of familiar faces at the start line, with runners from Born to Run, Kerry Crusaders, and the Marathon Club of Ireland.
The route consisted of three loops through the park, with varying surfaces and gradients, and lots of interesting features to contend with. We set off at our usual easy pace, and enjoyed the perfect conditions for the first loop. We didn’t have a specific time in mind, but planned on going under 5 hours. Siobhan was a little nervous as her usual running partner was further back, and intended to walk most of the course, but she soon fell into our pace. The course had plenty of ups and downs, which felt fine on the first loop with fresh legs, but I suspected would get harder later when the legs got tired.
The Park is an amazing place to run in – as well as lots of wild deer, we saw plenty of bird life, and no small amount of tourists! During this marathon I began to realise that, while I have visited the park many times, I have only seen a tiny fraction of it. I definitely intend to bring my kids here more.
On the second loop, I began to feel the heat a little, and the gradients began to feel a little harder. Siobhan started to find it tough going, and made her feelings known to Brian, who she blamed for setting too fast a pace – I felt like the child of an argumentative married couple at times!
As always, the banter was great, and we met lots of runners we knew, doing both the marathon, and the half-marathon, which had started at the same time, but from a different part of the course.
By the start of the final loop, I knew that I was close to a new PB, but I was feeling the mileage in my legs now, and knew I’d have to really push it in the last few miles. One of our Born to Run teammates, JJ, joined us for the final loop, having finished the half marathon earlier, as he wanted to get in some ultra training mileage – ah, to be young again! During this final lap, Siobhan was really feeling the strain, and Brian used all his powers of motivation to keep her on track. Our little group began to pick up other stragglers as we went around, and by the halfway point of this loop, there was quite a group joined up. With around 4 miles to go, I knew I had to push it out to make a PB, so I started to pull away. I didn’t have much left in the tank, but I gave all that I did have. With a mile to go, I checked my watch, and I knew I would be cutting it very fine. Nothing for it, but go all out. I got to the finish line on slightly wobbly legs, and crossed the line in 4:48:35 – I certainly cut it fine, but beat my previous PB from last week by all of 16 seconds!
It was great waiting at the line for Brian and Siobhan to come rolling in, and to see the rest of my friends finish.
Well done to Cindy on completing her first marathon, to Danny for another gutsy performance, to Fozzy for an awesome marathon-winning performance, to David for another great marathon. Well done to all my Born to Run teammates who ran the full and the half – some great times, and great fun.
Thanks to Brian for great company and motivation again, to JJ for keeping us company on the last loop, and to Siobhan for lots of laughs.
Well done to the organisers and marshalls for a very interesting and challenging course, and for a great day out.
I was delighted with this marathon – I felt it was a tough enough course, and given the mileage I had done over the past few weeks, I didn’t expect to get a PB. Roll on two weeks time and the (apparently very hilly) Tullaroan Marathon.