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Race Report: Meet & Train at the Dublin Marathon 2019

<img src="" alt="Warm-up is done and the DSD Meet &amp;amp; Train gang is ready to take on the Marathon!" /> Warm-up is done and the DSD Meet & Train gang is ready to take on the Marathon! RACE REPORT by John O’Grady on his first marathon No waking up to the alarm clock this morning. Pre-race nerves ensured I was well awake when it was time to get up for my first ever marathon. I had no idea why I signed up to this! After a quick breakfast and throwing on my running gear the nerves kicked-in when my taxi was delayed 15 mins picking me up. Not to worry though as we flew into town and it was comforting to see the other Meet & Trainers fresh off the Luas as I hopped out of the taxi on St. Stephen’s Green. Race HQ was in the freshly painted Ely University Centre on Hume Street (thanks for arranging Barry O’Grady ). Bit by bit the rest of the gang arrived. There was plenty of Vaseline being smeared on, plasters being stuck on and running belts being loaded. We all have our way of dealing with nerves; some quiet, others chatty and everyone queuing for the toilets! There was also plenty of race day style; Eoin Daly ’s race number, Kelly Admirand ’s socks and James Berry ’s flashy runners! It was a cool, crisp morning with the promise of a bit of sun as Alan Egan led the pre-race warm up out on the street. A few snaps and more toilet stops, the first of the runners made their way to the start line. A few of us in the last wave made our way down to the Purple Wave area where there was plenty of bartering of bin-liners and toilet-roll going on! We did a second warm-up through the crowds and eventually made our way to the Start line. Bang went the race gun to plenty of screams and cheers, and we were on our way. We passed through the streets of Dublin with sleepy-heads along the roadside wishing us well. The whole time trying to keep it slow as the over-takers went by, we made our way to The Phoenix Park, to be greeted by an elephant and giraffe from Dublin Zoo and I think it was some traditional Polish dancers. A steady climb up through the Park to Castleknock where you first hit the big crowds roaring you on. Now I know what people are talking about: I felt the shivers down my back. After a bit of up and down, in and out of the Park we reached the first Lucozade stop where I tried out Eoin Carroll ’s drinking-from-cup-while-running technique which worked a treat. On into the tightly packed Chapelizod where the crowds were in full voice as we crossed the Liffey. We proceeded up that sly hill under the Chapelizod bypass as the marathon started claiming its first victims and made our way up to Kilmainham where the crowds grew and the jellies were being handed out. I felt fairly inadequate over the next mile as I passed a superhero running on stilts and another man running his 40th Dublin Marathon. After that it was through Rialto and Dolphin’s Barn to the Crumlin Road where the crowds started getting really big and loud. The race clappers being shaken violently. It was just after Crumlin when I came across my first Meet & Trainer – Lorraine Heffernan – who popped out of nowhere to cheer me on and offer some jellies. We continued on, down into Walkinstown and Kimmage where runners were trying to make big gains and then eventually to Fortfield Road – close to my home turf – where my local fan club, Mum, siblings and all, were cheering me on. I got a nice shout of encouragement from Aidan Mullen as I turned and headed towards Terenure. I was definitely beginning to feel the pain now as I made my way down towards Rathgar. A rash broke out suddenly on my calf muscles that felt like a nettle sting! What next?!
<img src="" alt="DSD Water Station Team ready and waiting" /> DSD Water Station Team ready and waiting Through Rathgar and onwards to the DSD Water station. I was hoping they wouldn’t miss me. Not a chance. Upon seeing me Stephen Judge blew his whistle and the place went bonkers. It was mayhem, it was magic as I passed by all the friendly familiar faces roaring me on. Liz had them well drilled and there was plenty of water within arm’s reach! It was just what I needed as the hard miles loomed. Down Orwell Park (sorry I missed you Joe Sheridan ), towards The Dropping Well and another cheer from a Meet & Trainer – I know the face but not the name – which was a nice surprise as all support is needed at this stage! Then another shout of encouragement from Valerie Gorman helping me on my way up the hill in Milltown. We continued on and then onto Clonskeagh Road where the hard slog began. Trudging bit by bit up Clonskeagh Road where the crowds are thinner than elsewhere and desperately looking for landmarks to aim for. Another cheer this time from Rose Boyle just before Clonskeagh gave me another boost. At Clonskeagh there were walking wounded everywhere. All kinds of stretches being done and so many people walking. Some of the stretches being done reminded me of Shauna Gowan ’s Strength and Conditioning classes!
<img src="" alt="John conquers Roebuck Hill - Dublin’s “Heartbreak Hill”" /> John conquers Roebuck Hill – Dublin’s “Heartbreak Hill” It was then onto Roebuck Road where the legs were getting heavy and the feet were sticking with all the Lucozade and gels spilt on the road! Joyce had me warned though! Onwards to Heartbreak Hill we made our way and I was began to get nervous with all the signs about Hitting the Wall. Then I spotted Edel Hallissey – my Couch to 5k coach – and Denise O’Mahony who ran alongside me encouraging and coaching me (thank you) and before long I was at the top where there were more of my family, some friends, Lorraine O’Driscoll , Amy Moran , Aoife Harrington , Cynthia O’Neill and Rachel Riordan and other Meet & Trainers I probably didn’t spot with the crowds. Now for the tedious bit onto the N11 where crowds were sparse, and down Nutley Lane where we grabbed our last bottles of water before turning onto the home stretch on Merrion Road. Merrion Road is much longer than you might think and a bit boring so it was great to have Simon Cotter pop out of nowhere and run alongside for a while. Eventually the RDS and Ballbridge were on the horizon and the start of the really big crowds. It was deafening heading along Northumberland Road towards the Canal with the crowds so close and willing you on. It reminded me of the Tour de France when they are in the Alps and the crowds are in the cyclists’ faces cheering them on. Over the Canal and onto the final stretch and the volume of the crowd went up another few notches yet Clare Flanagan still managed to shout louder than all of them to keep me going as I passed the 26 mile mark. The Finish Line was in sight. I tried to pick it up for the last few hundred metres but my toes and feet kept cramping on me. I was halfway along the blue carpet when I heard a whistle – it had to be Barry O’Grady ’s as I was expecting it – before I finally made it across the finish line to get my medal. After staggering to baggage area to a fantastic welcome from Camilla Tuffy I made my way to O’Donoghue’s to have a well-earned drink, feeling battered and bruised on the outside but very smug on the inside having completed my first marathon! I finished the race after most people so didn’t hear how everyone got on. Well done to Tim Wise , Eugene McCabe , Martina Power , Niamh Smyth , Eoin Daly – some who got PBs or sub 4 hours amongst other achievements. There were other people like Eoin Carroll who made a return after being out injured until very recently to complete the marathon in good shape, and Enda Mc Morrow who had a tough day, yet completed his 26th Dublin Marathon! Thanks to everyone who came out cheering us all on. It really does help. And the DSD Water station – an oasis of bliss and friendly faces – just what a tired and sore marathoner needed! Thanks to Stephen Judge and Declan Ryan , our coaches, who got us ready for this fantastic race! Finally, so many people posted very useful and helpful advice in the run up to the marathon. I can’t really add to that as I’m still learning about pacing and when to refuel etc but one thing I would say is if you are in a position to do so, definitely try and do the Dublin Marathon. It’s tough, the long runs on Sundays are time-consuming but the rewards and the experience are so special.

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