Positivity, delight, excitement, helpfulness. These are what I have decided in the last 7 days before the Dublin marathon are going to replace the time I would otherwise be spending running. No taper tantrums allowed up in here!
Marathon day race tips are generally helpful and you can find lots online via google. Definitely worth having a read of if it’s your first marathon. If it happens to be your first Dublin marathon, I have a few extra tips to help make your day a little less stressful and a lot more enjoyable. I’m NOT an expert but having done a few Dublins in the recent past, I’ve picked up a few insider tips. And sharing is caring 😉
1. Road closures It’s a bank holiday Monday so traffic going into the city on the morning of the race will be light so you don’t need to leave incredibly early like you would have to do on a normal Monday. Gives you a little extra snooze time. However, DO look at the list of road closures on the Dublin marathon site to make sure your route travelling into the city will not be affected and to allow you to plan accordingly. Road closures are kept to a minimum but you really don’t want to be delayed and hassled getting to the start line as a result of having to take an annoying detour.
2. Parking Free parking! Yay, it’s a bank holiday which means free on-street parking in the city. BUT, bear in mind no.1 above and that certain streets will be closed off. It pays here to have a plan. Figure out which direction you will be coming from into the city and familiarise yourself (if you can) with a few different areas where you could park between there and the start/finish area. Try to park as near to the start/finish area as you can. You will NOT be in the mood to walk any distance to the car after the race. Tip: any of the streets around the canal are handy.
3. Toilets Always a top priority for runners! There will be queues at the portaloos, no surprise there. However, you are in Dublin city centre and there are pubs and hotels abundant, most of whom don’t mind you using the facilities and many of whom have guests who are running in the race so you won’t look out of place walking in and out in your running shorts. There will be no queues and the facilities are a million times nicer than those of the snug portaloo. Handy spots: Conrad Hotel (Earlsfort Terrace), the Shelbourne Hotel (Stephen’s Green), Merrion Hotel (Merrion st) and the Mont Clare Hotel (Merrion Sq)
4. Black Sacks It’s Ireland. I hope that you know this already but it pays to emphasise this point when it comes to the weather, because anything can happen. Some years it’s been positively arctic on the October bank holiday, other years it has BUCKETED rain and occasionally, it’s a pleasant autumn day. A black sack is your friend. If it’s chilly or precipitating in any way on Monday, cut a hole out of the top, stick your head in and get ready to be smug under your stylish plastic blanket as the people around you get cold and wet in the starting gates. Once you start, you can just toss it away. No wet misery going on here. Positively dry and ready to fly. Because it rhymes, duh.
5. Blackhall Place and Chesterfield Avenue UPHILL WARNING This is important. The first 2 miles of the race are great, you’ll love it. Then you’ll cross over the river and there is an (brand new!) uphill section up Blackhall Place. How you run hills in a long race is your own business but this is something you should be aware of and I don’t want anyone to have this nasty surprise just as you’re getting into your stride. Likewise, DO NOT BE DECEIVED. There is an incline in the road pretty much from mile 2 all the way to mile 7, alllllllll the way up Chesterfield Avenue. My advice: be conservative with your pace and don’t panic about your time at this stage. You will make it up once you get out of the park. I went too hard for this section last year and paid for it dearly in the second half of the race. It’s a long stretch and it’s early, so the temptation is to panic a bit. Don’t. Relax into your run and look at the deer.
6. Make a Fuel Plan Okay, so this is not exclusively a DUBLIN marathon tip but it’s an important one and can make or ruin you on the day. Orange Lucozade sport, water and High 5 gels will be provided at intervals on the day. Know which are going to be where and plan your fuelling strategy accordingly. If you plan to supplement this with your own supplies, work out the timings of when you plan to take these and how this will work with what you plan to take from the on-course supplies. It can be tempting on race day to grab drinks, gels or foods just because they’re there but if you haven’t planned for them or practiced with them, you could end up with horrible stomach cramps or worse. Not worth it.
7. UCD Hill I don’t have a fear of hills, I swear! I actually quite like em but I think it’s good to be aware of where they are because there is nothing worse than turning a corner and finding a big ass hill staring you in the face when you’re already tired and in no mood for nasty surprises. It also helps if you can psych yourself up a little beforehand and have some energy in reserve, ready to be unleashed! Roebuck Hill, UCD. Aka, Heartbreak Hill. Circa Mile 22, you’ll feel invincible when you get over this hill – “How awesome am I? I just climbed a monster hill after running 22 miles and I have less than 4 miles left!!! Woohoo!!” S’up.
8. Bag Drop DO avail of the bag drop which is SO near the start/finish area. As mentioned in no.1, it may be freezing, it may be raining sheets and in any event, you will start to get cold VERY fast after you stop running. You’re gonna want a warm hoodie/ sweatshirt/ fleece, as well as clean, dry socks, runners, trousers and a few spare layers in case you need them. So, pack well. Forget the burger and beer, this is one of the nicest things you can do for yourself today.
9. Food Following on from 8, make sure to pack some food, water and a recovery drink of some kind into your after-bag. You need some decent nutrition and fluids as soon as possible after the race and if you can eat/drink something homemade, all the better. There will be plenty of time for treat food and drink afterwards. Just make sure to get some energy back into your now-empty-furnace to get the recovery in gear.
10. Read All the Signs, High 5 All the Kids and Soak It All Up! This is so important. Last year, I got it into my head that it was going to be the year I broke 4 hours. I trained hard and I ran hard on the day. Big effort and it came to nothing. I missed out because I was so focused and I felt a little disappointed at the end of it, even though I hadn’t actually done too badly at 4.06. I won’t be making that mistake again. Dublin is an amazing marathon. The people you run with, the people on the roadsides, the kids with all their sweets, jaffa cakes, orange segments, etc, the route, the last mile up to the finish gantry… it’s electric and that atmosphere is what you’ve earned through all your hard training. So please ENJOY it, soak it all up and you will float over that finish line 😀
Have you any other tips? Any insider secrets to share on the Dublin marathon? Are you looking forward to race day?