Rob Hale’s Dublin City Marathon

Rob Hale’s Dublin City Marathon
What can I say about DCM 2017 “You were brilliant!”
This was my third marathon and it was a long way off from where I was a little over 18 months ago, when my longest run was 5k. Back then I was an avid park runner at Hartsown park and the main focus each week was to reduce the 5k time. Training was made up of two mid-week runs of 5km on a Monday and “tapering”to 3km on a Wednesday, then rest up until the Saturday parkrun. I didn’t know any better and whilst the times slowly came down, they just plateaued. Doing the same thing week in week out, it really wasn’t surprising. My training had no structure, I just kept running at the same pace all the time.
Somebody had said to me “if you want to run faster, then you need to run further”, this made me think.
In April 2016, I decided to enter the Dunboyne 4-mile road race, It was a great event and around the time, met up with a few local D15 lads, one of which was Stephen Devlin. I had recognised him as one of the fast lads from the parkrun. I was invited out on a long run one evening and ended up doing the furthest run of my life clocking 17km – Ended up being wrecked, sore, but delighted and I thought maybe I might be able to run further.
These group runs continued and with a bit of coercing (I’m easily led), I signed up to DCM 2016 with the D15 crew. Knowing that this was going to be a monumental feat, I knew I’d have to get some decent training behind me to do it justice. So, in August 2016 I decided to join Dunboyne AC, Stephen joined up as well.
From the first training session, which was a track speed session, I could see the focus and determination of everyone. I left the session feeling totally wrecked, but exhilarated and I was hooked. Mixed in with the Thursday Tempo or more appropriately “Thursday Torture”, training suddenly had proper structure. It was so good to run with like-minded people, whilst I’d dread the tempos, there’s just no way I’d be able to run at that pace on my own each week, it was great to complete them. Club mates were brilliant, always encouraging you to keep up and not give up. The fitness improved each week and was reflected by the ever-increasing running pace.
DCM 2016 was completed and I was delighted to finish it. It was tough and a rude awakening, I got to meet the“Wall” and his friends ‘leg cramps’, ‘stomach cramps’and ‘just about anywhere else cramps’. At one stage, it felt like my eyes cramped!
The whole experience really brought it home to me what a beast a marathon is. Whilst you can ‘hold on’ in shorter races, the marathon exposes any weakness and will just chew you up and spit you out. Going out too fast, not hydrating or fueling properly are just detrimental as I found out.
Again, being easily led, I got coerced into signing up for Derry marathon for June 2017. Derry is a much tougher course than Dublin with a lot of hills and drags, but I had a decent training block behind me and went into the marathon feeling confident. It started well and I was on for my target time but unfortunately at mile 22 the wheels fell off and it turned into a complete nightmare. The ‘friendly cramps’ came back to haunt me and decided to entertain me over the last 4 miles home, which turned into complete torture. I was extremely disappointed, high expectations had been crushed and it just seemed to take ages to physically recover from it afterwards. This led to feeling very demotivated and thinking I’m just not able for marathons.
Anyway, enough of that, fast forward to DCM 2017….
In the lead-up to DCM, club mate Alan Mc kernan was great for advice, I was keen to extract what I could from this ‘voice of experience’. Alan is well known within the club and I keep hearing about this bronze statue that is going to be made of him, or perhaps Alan is making himself!
I wanted to make sure I was eating right too and wanted to know what I should really eat in the last few days before DCM. Alan kindly forwarded on a food list, though when first reading it I thought he had mistakenly sent on his weekly shop by accident! How is it physically possible to consume 50,000 calories in 2 days, with only one stomach?!!
Reluctantly I decided to stick to Alan’s plan and gorge myself silly, stuffing my face for 2 days, even making sure that I had the ‘foot long’ Subway, which apparently was a critical part of the plan.
Come race day I was determined not to make the same mistakes as before. The target I had set was sub 3:20. My plan was to go out slower, hydrate properly during the race and enjoy it. The support in the park was huge and I couldn’t believe the amount of “G’wan Dunboyne”shouts. Though I didn’t hear any “Emilia” shouts, she was long gone ahead! The support all the way around was just incredible and I couldn’t believe there were so many shouts for Dunboyne on the Southside!
I caught the 3:20 pacers at the bottom of the park, whilst I was thinking of pushing ahead I couldn’t actually get by them as the streets narrowed, so I thought I’d just stick in with them. They were great craic – at one stage one of them was running backwards in front of us filming us on his phone!
I stayed with them until mile 19 and the pack started to thin out with people dropping off. I felt good and slowly pushed ahead of the pacers occasionally checking the Garmin to see what distance was left. This was a completely new experience, for a change I was passing out people and the ‘friendly cramp people’ had moved on to other victims. With 2 miles to go there were more and more casualties along the road, but I was determined not to be one of them again. Knowing full well how quickly things can go pear shaped, I continued maintaining pace but without any heroics. I finally got to the finishing straight and when seeing the finish line in the distance, I lifted the pace. I had managed to escape the ‘friendly cramps’ and sprinted over the line in 3:19:06.
I was absolutely delighted, got a new PB by over 10 minutes, didn’t stop once during the race and even managed to get the elusive negative split. It was safe to say the ghosts of Derry were well and truly buried!
Congratulations to all our club members who participated or volunteered at DCM.
I look forward to another year of training with this brilliant club and if anyone is thinking of entering a marathon, don’t put it off, sign up and do it. If you’re injury free and are prepared to commit to the training just go for it!
If you want to reach new levels join a club and there’s no better club than Dunboyne AC if you live in the area.
On a closing note, I’ve learned that the key to marathon success is the ‘foot long’ Subway, I had been warned not to make the mistake of ordering the 6 inch and I’m glad I had listened!….Cheers Alan
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