Net Time 3:27:08
It all really started in October 2009. I had just run the Dublin Marathon after joining Namban Rengo the previous June. I thought what a great race this is. Running all over Dublin and getting great encouragement from all the good Dubliners. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to bring some of my new running friends to this race in the future. And so a dream was born.
It took 6 years, but on the 26th October four other Nambanners and my brother Antoin toed the line with me at the start of the 36th Dublin City Marathon. The previous night we had all dinned together at Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant in the Dundrum Town Centre. The mood was relaxed and chatty. We had all escaped from the crowded Expo in the Royal Dublin Society earlier that day and enjoyed viewing the Book of Kells in Trinity College. Now it was our time to wind down and focus at the task in hand.
At 8:50 the following morning in the drizzling rain I was joined on the line by Jon Morrell who had come over from Bath with Yuka to get the Dublin experience. Yuka, James and Chika were also somewhere in the 13,000 strong field. Jon looked like he had just gotten out of bed and by all accounts he had. That is one of the advantages of running a race in another country. You can stay near the start and and then just roll up before the gun goes off. My own hotel was just 10 minutes away from the start, so on Jon’s advice I had forgone the bag drop went out the door as I intended to run with a couple of extra layers of clothes that I quickly got rid of before the start.
My plan had been to run at a 4:30 pace and I got in behind the 3:10 pacers. Truth be told, a week of sightseeing in Paris and Dublin is not the best preparation for running a marathon and my ithlete Pro was showing wear and tear all week. Even if I had at one time been ready to keep up, I already found myself off pace just after the 2 mile mark as we headed for the Phoenix Park. I decided to drop back to 4:45 pace and see how long I could hold it. It is amazing that only 15 seconds per km could make such a difference and I quickly began to feel relaxed, although my heart rate was still around 170.
The course had changed since I ran it before and now includes a long straight section up Chesterfield Avenue in the Phoenix Park. It is one of those drags that are so long that you do not even realise that you are going uphill until you reach the end and you suddenly feel the relief of going downhill. Going through the Park there were sporadic amounts of supporters and they all seemed to know somebody who was running close to me. But once we got out the gates at Castleknock we truly experienced the crowds. Hundreds of people on both sides of the road and making lots of noise. There was loads of people at the start, but you expect that as many people come along to see their friends off, but this was 10km into the race and was a sign of things to come.
We came back into the Park at Knockmaroon road and continued our gentle descent until we exited it again at Chapelizod. It was here that I heard the first of what must be a distinctly Dublin cry of encouragement – “Go on the Woman”. Casual sexism was not what I expected to encounter on the streets of the first country to approve marriage equality by plebiscite but there you go.
We now crossed the river Liffey and started a gradual climb up through Ballyfermot and Kilmainham towards Crumlin. When we reached Dolphins Barn the crowds were massive. I was beginning to feel the stress but they really lifted me and I pushed on. In Terenure I spotted my friend Brendan who came to Japan with me 26 years ago wrapped in his coat as he had dragged himself from his sick bed to wish me well and take a 9 second video. I was delighted.
At 19 miles I spotted my sister-in-law Cathy with my daughter and 2 nephews and a bag of bananas. I took one and held on to it until I found another water stop. It was time to take my second ibuprofen. I had taken one at breakfast at 7am and now as the clock approached 11am it was time for some more micro-dopping.
We marched on through Milltown, made famous as being the home of my friend Colum and turned right on to Clonskeagh road and began the last big drag of the race before we turned left and had a short sharp shock up Roebuck Road. At the top my friends Niall and Dermot were waiting for me with cheers and cameras. We lived on the same road and I have known them since before I could walk. I was filled with encouragement to see them here on this miserable day cheering me on. I headed down Forester’s Avenue with a spring in my step only to see Niall 2 minutes later. I was wondering if I was hallucinating until I saw his bicycle my the tree.
I turned onto the N11 and then ran down by UCD where I went to college. I crossed over the flyover with 38km to go where my schoolfriend Des was waiting for me with a smile and a bottle of water. I was a good 20 minutes behind the schedule I had given him the day before but he still looked delighted to see me in the rain. Again I was thrilled and powered on for Nutley Lane and Montrose where my father used to work. It was then that Chika flew past me. She was looking focused and powerful and like there was not a bother on her in the world. I realised then that I still had a lot to do get in under 3:30 and refocused my efforts.
From where Nutley Lane turns onto Merrion Road it is almost 3km straight to the finish. It is long and flat and just has to be endured. There were lots of people out on the road, many offering sweets and jellies, but I just kept my head down and tried to keep my pace above 5:30 as I knew that would keep me on the right side of 3:30. In the end I managed it and crossed the line in 3:27:08. It was not as fast as I had hoped to go but it was my third marathon of 2015 with each one faster than the last. I collected my medal and T-shirt and headed back for the hotel meeting Chika san on the way. When I turned on my phone I was both surprised and delighted to see that so many Nambanners had been following the race online from Japan. My dream had come true.
All in all it was a great race for me and I really appreciate all the support on the road and online. I am very thankful to Chika, James, Megumi, Sakura, Jon and Yuka who all came to Dublin for the weekend and made it such a special day.