On Sunday October 18th I ran the Charleville Marathon for the first time. This was an MCI marathon, and I was running it with my frequent partners in crime Brian and Mazza, so I was looking forward to it. I had heard the course was flat (a term I have learned to treat with some caution) and was unsure as to whether I’d have a go at a PB, or take it easy and use it as a training run for the upcoming Eddie Murphy Memorial back to back marathons. On the one hand a flat course and having Brian and Mazza to encourage me made me think a PB could be on the cards, on the other hand I felt I had been a bit slack (to put it mildly) in my training over the past few weeks, and I wasn’t sure I would have a decent second half in the tank. I decided to play it by ear and see how I felt.
We were joined on the start line by Niamh and Kirsty from Born To Run, as well as lots of the MCI and Kerry Crusaders. It was Brian’s birthday, so we sang “Happy Birthday” for him on the start line – for once he was stuck for words! Once Vincent had given us the course instructions, we were off.
The course brought us through the town of Charleville, before we set off out into the countryside, and then through the village of Kilmallock, before looping back onto the road to Charleville again, and then repeating the whole course a second time.
I felt strong for the first section, and we were doing a fairly good time, and I started thinking about a PB. I should know by now that thinking about a PB in the first few miles of a marathon is NEVER a good idea.
I found the road we were running on to be a bit of a drag – although there were no climbs as such, there was fairly heavy traffic, and a lot of long, fairly boring straights. The company kept me from thinking too much about it though, and there was great fun and banter as usual.
We passed one house that had a couple of large unfriendly dogs who ran out to “greet” us – it encouraged myself and Brian to up our pace for a while, and we wondered how Mazza would get on behind us, now that we had alerted the dogs to our presence!
I had decided not to carry anything with me, as I assumed the water station layout would be similar to Tullaroan (where there was lots of water and aid stations) and figured that I wouldn’t need anything. This turned out to be a mistake, as we missed the first water stop, and, by mile 15 or so, we were all pretty thirsty. We had all also decided that today wasn’t a PB kinda day, and were well behind the time I had imagined we would be at – as often happens, I just didn’t feel I had it in my legs. Just as our thirst was getting really annoying, we came across a supermarket – the next problem was that we realised that none of us had brought money! Brian had a credit card, but he was gone off in the distance. Nothing for it but to send Mazza in on a charm offensive. She managed to talk the shop owner into supplying us with some bottled water, and we set off in pursuit of Brian. A phone call later, and Brian promised goodies at the next village we came to. Sure enough, when we came to the next shop, Brian was waiting outside with energy drinks and chocolate. He cut quite the figure in his Spiderman top and birthday hat, and drew a lot of glances, not all of them admiring. One lady stopped to ask him if there was a parade today….
After our refreshments, we set off on the home straight. I was now feeling the effects of my somewhat patchy training over the last few weeks, and was really feeling my leg muscles, and my usual hamstring niggle was back in action. Brian and Mazza kept me going, and a few miles from the end we ran into Siobhan and Mary from Kerry Crusaders, who were taking it easy as they had the Dublin Marathon the following week. We matched their pace for a while, and had a good chat, before deciding to push on for the last few miles.
We had a moment of confusion on entering Charleville again, as none of us could remember quite which way we had come! We finally recognised the last straight, and set off down it, and headed for the finish line.
Vincent and a good number of the MCI crew were there to greet us, and we crossed the line together, a few minutes over 5 hours. Glad to have another one under the belt, and I’ll take it as a good training run for the upcoming back to back marathons in Sixmilebridge.
Thanks to all the Born to Run crew for great support as usual, to MCI for another great marathon, and to Brian for driving again!