My goal when I started running was to run 5K. I hit it and wanted more. The new goal was to run 10K. I hit that and wanted more. Running is addictive and psychologically 5k increments are very doable. What about a half marathon though. That would be over double anything I had run before. It wasn’t just another 5k. I thought about it for a while and justified it as follows: ‘sure it’s only double what you have already done you will be fine’. SOLD. Where do I sign up.
So after a very short bit of research I signed up to do the Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon here in Dublin. When you get into running you instinctively find yourself signing up to running websites like Athletics Ireland or Fit Magazine. They regularly send out email newsletters which are great for keeping you up to date on what’s going on in the world of running both local and further afield. I had seen the Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon advertised there. Without delay I signed on and paid my fee.
On a related note another thing that running does is change your concept of value for money. I think I paid about 50 euro to sign up for the half marathon. My reward for that would be hours in the gym, hours on the road, a T-Shirt, some free water on route and a medal at the end. Before I started running I don’t think that would have been my idea of good value. Funny how perceptions can change.
So it was back to training again and as I ran my mind raced with a thousand thoughts. How far exactly is 21.0975 kilometres? How long would it take me to run that far? What will I wear? (yes I did think of that and I don’t mind admitting it). How many gel bars will I need? Can I even run that far or more to the point do I really want to run that far.
When I’m training I tend to be really good and then really bad. When I’m focussed I’ll run 3 or 4 times a week and really commit to it. I’ll eat a bit better and drink a bit less. When I’m bad I’m a bloody disgrace and any excuse will suffice to not run. Looks like rain better not run. I’m tired better not run. My foot is tender I better not run (my foot was probably just looking for attention and saying hello take me out for a run ya fucker). I can’t run today because I have that really important thing on this evening ‘insert ridiculous excuse here’.
Never the less I got into the training and weeks ticked by. It was really helpful to be able to chat about my running plan with my buddy. Sharing tips and sharing the proposed schedule itself actually makes you commit to it more. Partially because you don’t want to be put to shame when you are asked how your 12k Tuesday evening run went and you didn’t actually do it. I should say that Him-indoors also signed up for the half marathon. Did I mention he hates to be left out of things and has absolutely no interest in running at all. To be fair to him however he still signed up. The week of the half marathon finally arrived and I was well excited. I certainly was not as prepared as I could be due to the previously mentioned excuses not to train.
With every half and full marathon you will usually find there is a health/fitness expo happening around it. Its there you go to pick up your race pack. The expo itself I have to say failed to meet my vision of what I had thought it would be. This one was in the Burlington Hotel. A large function room with stands lining the walls and running down the centre. There was a mix of stands selling everything from trainers to power gels. There was even quite a large pick ‘n’ mix sweet stand which I thought looked a bit out of place at a Health/Fitness expo. It was quite busy too. Him-indoors eyed it up. He has a thing for pick ‘n’ mix.
The staff giving out the packs were excellent. They were dealing with thousands of runners and working their asses off to ensure everyone got the right number, the right pack and the right size race T-Shirt. Thanks to them I marched through Dublin proudly showing off my snazzy Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon race bag. I even had pre prepared answers ready in my head in case a complete stranger stopped me asked me about the bag. Things like:
This bag, oh yes I’m a runner, I’m just doing a half marathon around Dublin.
Yes its about 13 miles, it’s not for everyone, its quite a distance.
Oh I’m just doing it for fun.
Anyway race day rocked around and there was a huge turn out. The Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon seemed to attract participants from all across the globe. I was fully hydrated and armed with a pocket full of gel bars. My iPod was ready to go with a carefully chosen playlist. It would start off slow (like me) then build up with faster beats (like my heart) and then end in a euphoric finish (just like me). I also had my emergency song Eye of The Tiger at the ready. If it was good enough for Rocky then it’s good enough for me.
Sure have a listen yourself and tell me you don’t want to jump up and run right now!
The course was thoroughly enjoyable. Winding through the city and into the Phoenix Park. I was running around streets which as a Dubliner I should know, but naturally enough I hadn’t a clue where I was. As with all races I had done so far the support from the public and fellow runners was just incredible. The course had plenty of water stations dotted throughout and I made sure to grab water at each one. I was still getting used to drinking and running at the same time which really just ended with me spilling water on myself. At one of the stations I stopped to actually take a proper drink and catch my breath. Sure I was only in a race with myself anyway. I had a short chat with a nice old man who was handing out water who said I looked very well for 36. Clearly he was short sighted because it was about half way through and I was red as a beetroot and a bit bleary eyed but I’m not one to say no to a compliment.
A couple of times I slowed a bit and my fellow runners patted me on the back and gave words of encouragement like “keep going you are doing great” or “nearly there”. There really is a great community spirit attached to running.
One part of the course had what felt like a massive hill in it and I struggled to make it. Picture a completely vertical climb. In reality it was more like a very slight gradient but at my dramatic best in that moment it was like Batman and Robin climbing up a building, only I didn’t have my Robin for moral support.
With the finish line in sight I pumped up the volume on my iPod and dug deep to sprint the last couple of hundred metres. I find as soon as I see the clock I push harder. Definitely a competitive streak. I crossed the line at 02.13.59 which was my clock time. My chip time turned out to be 02.07.00. I love that bit, as your chip time is generally quicker and you can’t wait to log onto the race results website to get the official time. If you are anything like me you will try and get your results as soon as you can and hit the refresh button on the results page about a billion times until they appear. Competitive and impatient it would appear.
As with the Samsung Night Run there was a nice bit of running bling given out at the end of the race. The obligatory Finishers Medal. Thank you very much and around my neck you go so everyone can see I’m a runner!! An unusual but VERY welcome bonus in the race pack was a voucher for a free pint of Bulmers in Dicey Rileys, so that’s exactly where I went to sit down before my legs seized up and I couldn’t move. They did actually do that later but being a know it all man I didn’t stretch properly and hit the booze instead. So 5k done, 10k done, half marathon done, what next?