On Sunday I hit a bit of a milestone – my 25th marathon (well, not exactly, it was my 18th marathon, but with my 7 ultras, it comes to 25!), and it was nice to hit that number in my hometown, with none other than my running buddy Brian O’Sé as race director.
Sunday’s marathon was the second of two back-to-back marathons over the weekend, and many of the hardy Marathon Club Ireland (MCI) members were doing both. Brian was running today as well, so MCI legend Vincent was running things from the start/finish marquee.
There were two start times, and I went for the earlier 8am start. Things looked ominous on the way in, with dark skies and driving rain. I had escaped the worst of it in yesterday’s parkrun, but I had a feeling I wouldn’t be so lucky today.
I arrived at the Rose Hotel in plenty of time, and got registered, had a chat with a few of my running buddies, and we were soon ready to go. The rain was relentless as we lined up at the start, and wasn’t going to get much better.
We were soon under way. The route was a 2.2 mile loop at the start, followed by 6 loops of the 4 mile course we ran a few weeks ago for the Tralee 40 Mile Ultra. Those of us who had run that race would be thoroughly sick of this loop by the end of the day – I can only imagine what those who had done that race, and the back-to-back marathons, must have felt like.
By the time the first short loop was done, I had settled into a comfortable pace with my club mates Mazza and Cilla (I can say whatever I like about Cilla, because she doesn’t read my blog 😉 ), and I have run enough marathons with Mazza at this stage to know that, as long as she is not on a push for time, her pace suits mine.
I had initially planned to run this marathon on a 25/5 run/walk pattern, but my two running mates had other ideas, so I stuck with them on a reasonably continuous run, though we did walk the two hills on most of the loops.
We escaped the rain for most of the first loop, but that was as good as it got – it poured for most of the remainder of the run. We did our best to ignore it, and I went through every pair of socks, shoes, and running tops in my bag before the end – thanks Kirsti for keeping everything dry in the car!
We had some great banter on the loops – one thing you can count on the Born To Run crew for is a good laugh to take your mind off being wet, tired, and wondering where the chafing is going to start!
Myself and Maz were suffering from the usual aches and pains of multiple marathoners by the halfway point, but Cilla looked to be a bit worse for wear – she was falling behind a bit, and we knew she was in trouble when she started to go very quiet. I thought to myself that, if she’s this worn out at this point, we’ll be carrying her before the end….
We slogged on, taking advantage of the downhill bits, and walking the uphills. We got great service at the start/finish pitstop on each loop from Vincent and the MCI crew, and this helped keep our spirits up.
When we came in to the pitstop on our third lap, someone mentioned that we had “only” three laps to go. This had an astonishing effect on Cilla, who reacted like a dog that has just heard a squirrel. I have run many marathons where I got a second wind, and have seen plenty of others do the same, but I have never witnessed a recovery like Cilla’s. She left the pitstop a completely different person, practically dancing down the road. She would spend the next three laps in annoyingly good form, sprinting ahead of us and shouting at us to hurry up, running around us, and generally being far too perky. Maz and I took to persuading her that we actually had further to go than we had in an effort to curb her enthusiasm. When you are tired and bedraggled at the end of a marathon, you really don’t want to run with someone who looks like they could run the whole thing again.
On our second last lap, she actually took off with a faster runner as she got sick of waiting for us, but she soon arrived back to us. I really wish I could have that kind of energy late on in a marathon.
We kept going, and soon we were on the last lap, and none too soon – my last running top was now soaked, and the rain was getting heavier. I found to my surprise that I was very fresh on this last lap, as I had expected some residual tiredness from the excesses of the last few weeks. This is the first marathon in a very long time (maybe ever!) where I felt I could have run the last few miles fairly hard if I wanted to. I was happy to keep it at a nice leisurely pace, as knew I had a triathlon on Tuesday, and, perhaps more importantly, the Tralee 100k coming up in a few weeks.
We crossed the finish line together in around 5:32 (haven’t actually checked the results yet!).
I really enjoyed this marathon – it was fun, taken at a nice easy pace, and was run with some great friends – for me, this is what running is all about.
Well done to Vincent and all the MCI crew who helped us get it done, to Kirsti for storing my gear, JJ for helping me put on those awkward fancy socks, and Ash for all the help (but especially for the killer combination of sausage rolls and Neurofen, the breakfast of champions). Well done to Brian on his first RD job, and to everyone who ran this race. Can’t wait to see you all on the road again.