The Dublin Half Marathon takes place annually in mid-September and is officially the last stop before the Dublin Marathon. I’ve done it for the last few years as part of the Dublin Marathon Race Series, which includes 5 mile, 10k and 10 mile races spread out over the summer months and aimed at getting runners ready for 26.2 in October. All, bar the 10km race, take place in the Phoenix Park. I like the series because it’s relatively cheap when you sign up for the lot together and they are seriously well-organised events. I also like that the Phoenix Park is only about 35 minutes drive from my house on a quiet Saturday morning, which means I don’t have to roll out of bed until 8.15 on race mornings. Sold.
Perfect September day for the race. Irish weather, needless to say (again, I’m having issues with using this seemingly oxymoronic phrase but in the meantime…) is ridiculously changeable and infamously unpredictable and I have ran this September race on previous occasions in torrents of rain and sweltering sunshine, different years. Today was bright, dry, a little overcast and virtually no wind and with a September morning chill fresh in the air. No rain, no sweltering sun. Happy days.
At the last minute, my mom decided she would come with me to cheer me on as we had arranged to meet my great aunt, cousin and my godchild afterwards for lunch and we also reckoned my mom could get her own run done while I was doing the race. It was nice to have the company for a change because there can be quite a walk to and from the finish line, depending on how far away in the park you have to park the car. My aunt was also running her first half marathon today so my mum also thought it would be nice to cheer her over the finish line.
We walked about 2 miles from the car to the start line and made it with just enough time to do the bag drop and get into the starting chute. I love when you get the timing just right like this – enough time to do everything before the race but without being rushed and without excess hanging around time. I was just done getting warmed up and suddenly we were off.
My dream goal for this race was to get sub 1:50, as my PB is 1.51.37, which I clocked at this race last year but I recall that being quite an effort on my part so I wasn’t reckoning on being able to actually do any better than that. Plan B was sub 1:55 and I’m generally happy if I hit sub 2 hours any day so in other words, I wasn’t overly concerned with goals today. I ran the first 2 miles too fast. I was deliberately trying to not let myself be carried by the crowd heading down Chesterfield Avenue and was aiming to hit around 8.23 per mile (for the 1:50 goal) but I ended up running the first mile in 7.51 and the second in 8.06. After that, I really tried to take it down a notch and slow down because I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep that pace up later on and I wanted to feel like I still had something left in reserve for the last few miles.
Mom was out cheering me on just after the 4 mile marker and it was great to see her and this of course, made me smile and gave me a big lift as I wouldn’t generally have anyone with me at races, apart from the marathon. She was a great cheerleader from the grass verge, full of enthusiasm and jumping up and down!
I was more or less running an even mile split, even though it was still slightly too fast, by the time the race swung back around onto Chesterfield Avenue and turned off down towards Farmleigh. Farmleigh is very pretty, especially at this time of the year with all of leaves starting to change and to fall, but it’s a bit annoying to run around. The terrain is very uneven and a nightmare for your legs. The race spun a left turn after exiting the park after Farmleigh, which took us out of the park for a short spell, before turning back into the park at the Knockmaroon gate. I love this section, if only for the fact that it’s not in the park. It also happens to be mostly downhill 😀
I was still managing to maintain my pace at sub 8.23 or thereabouts by the time we passed the 8 mile mark (and my Mom for the second time 😉 )back on Chesterfield Avenue (well worn by the end of the 13.1) but it was starting to feel harder to keep it up. I was cautious of not wanting to put too much effort in at this stage so that my legs wouldn’t die a sorry death at 10 miles but I was also conscious that if I was going to be in with any kind of a chance at getting in at around the 1.50 mark, I’d need to keep it going. The saga that is distance running: should I stay or should I go now?
After reaching the bottom of the park, the route took a sharp right turn and brought runners along the outside of the park walls before turning back in for the final 2km. THE HORRIBLE LAST 2KM. There is a big, long, mean hill that the race organisers, for some ungodly reason, have a regrettable habit of always sticking it in to the end of their races. Please, please change this 🙂 This hill has been the downfall to many of my races here, where I’ve been on pace for certain goal times, only for that hill at the end of a race to sabotage me at the last hurdle. Grr. Today I got the better of it! Sort of. It did eat into my pace, bringing in an 8.49 mile for mile 13 but luckily I had enough banked from earlier that I still managed to get across the line under 1:50. According to Garmin, I was 1:49:16 and my official chip finish time was 1:49:15. Happy days 😀
Great race, great support from the mother and a great performance by my aunt who finished her first half marathon. Also a big shout out to the hilarious race announcer at the start/finish line, who I would pay money to listen to. Just brilliant. Chuffed about my first sub 1:50 marathon, although I wouldn’t be reckoning on a 3:40 marathon… oh mathematics understand nothing about the last 6 miles of a marathon. But we can dream, can’t we?
The nerdy data:
Total: 1.49.15 : 1. 7.51; 2. 8.06; 3. 8.09; 4. 8.09; 5. 8.11; 6. 8.14; 7. 8.10; 8. 8.27; 9. 8.19; 10. 8.05; 11. 8.10; 12. 8.41; 13. 8.49; 7.15 pace for the last 400m