On Monday I ran my 25th marathon in Dublin, pacing the 3:45 finishers with John, Niall and Orna, managing to cross the finish line 3 hours 44 minutes and 48 seconds after I crossed the start line (3:44:50 clock time - wave 2 start) - maintaining a perfect record for the 9 marathons I have paced todate, despite the distinct lack of preparation and form coming into the event. Of all my pacing gigs this was the one I was most worried about, giving myself a 50/50 chance of finishing. A calf injury 4 weeks out meant no running for 2 weeks and only 5 slow runs in the two week lead up, all of which brought discomfort to my calf. I'm paying the price now for my lack of preparation - while my calf never felt better my quads are killing me, bringing the traditional pain when walking downstairs.
Once I knew my calf was going to hold out I enjoyed the experience with fantastic crowd support right throughout the course and particularly over the last few miles. It got a bit congested at times with one or two runners feeling they had to be physically touching me to get carried along and if I slowed down or speeded up to get some room they tagged right along. The balloons of last year were exchanged for backpack with wings which, after adjusting the straps, felt quite comfortable. We looked like running faries. Clubmates Joy and Lisa tagged along for most of the race coming in shortly behind in 3:47/3:48, which was a 10 minute PB for Joy in her second marathon and a debut Pb for Lisa - well done girls, fantastic running. Clubmates Colin (2:55) and Vivian (2:59) broke 3 hours for the first time as did Triathlon buddy Martin (2:58) - well done lads. A great day out in Dublin. I met a few interesting characters out there, including Phyllis Browne who was aiming for a podium finish in the F60 category and sure enough she finished second in 3:49 just 6 minutes behind the winner. To put her achievement in context i'd have had to have run 2:33 to get second M45.
Abina came up for the weekend, getting full exposure to the running obsession at a meal full of pacers the night before (I almost appear normal in her eyes again - not a bad evening's work). She was exposed to the lighter side of the obsession with my Cousin Liam, his Portuguese brother in law Miguel, his 77 year old college lecturer buddy Frank and Miguel's friend Martin in the Lincoln Inn after the race - just 200 yards from the finish line. The conversation and Guinness flowed freely that by the time we emerged it was dark and the finish line gantry and barriers were gone.
Hopefully my running mojo will return after a few months of intermittent injury and (running) apathy. I'll have to step up my training for my next pacing gig in Clonakilty on 8th December. Liam is coming down to eclipse his 3:18 Dublin PB and experience the hospitality of West Cork.
The 3:45 Faries out on the Course.