Goal number 1 was to try and out Dempsey Dempsey on the race report! But I quickly realised this was only a pipe dream and instead concentrated on breaking the 2 hrs 3mins….
Liam (Ciara’s other half) hatched the plan to run a marathon in 2016. I hadn’t run one since my hurling days 14 years ago so easily convinced. Limerick is approx. 18 weeks from Christmas and given the date in early May we hoped for decent weather. Not too hot and decent light to get the long runs in, people advised that the course is pretty fair with nothing too steep.
We followed Hal Higdon’s Advanced 2 plan which we both felt was excellent – challenging without being mental and topping out at a max. of 55 miles a week. 6 days on and one day off, I generally run 7 days a week so that part was easy but the increase in intensity was new and I think necessary as we both didn’t race much over the 18 weeks. It was easy to follow. It has three 20 mile runs – most of the advice out there says unless you are doing 70-80 miles a week there is little value in going past 20 miles. I would agree with this – the long runs were taking us 2.40 – 2.50 to do – was there much value in adding another 15-20 minutes when we had to do some hard intervals 48 hours later? Staying injury free and getting to the start line were key to us both. We both had a few niggles but got through all the key sessions, Liam had a problem with a hamstring but took a few days off and that did the trick.
Pj gave me a lend of his cycling jersey which was great to store the food once shoved into the shorts to stop it bouncing up and down. 3 Isogel gels and a packet of Dextrose 95% glucose tablets was the plan and both worked out very well. They had some Isotonic drinks on the course as well. Dosed myself up with some beetroot capsules as well in the days leading up. About a pint of water that morning before the race was plenty, was well hydrated the days before. Porridge 2hrs before and a jam white bread sandwich 1 hr before.
We were staying with a family friend of mine the night before who volunteered to cook us dinner – it turned out to be a big fry up! Liam being a gentleman never said a word and we both moped up 2 sausages, 3 rashers and a couple of black puddings – no problems but not recommended! Liam had brough some sambos and I had some homemade rice pudding and raisins with me and ate these at 10pm. We both had been eating plenty of carbs the days proceeding.
We parked up at 8.25am 500m from the start line and strolled to the startline – fantastic setup with none of the usual hassle of big marathons and having to be in place a hour before the off. Limerick the city looked great and the people nicer. We met Tom and Dena at the start line and it’s always nice to see another 795 vest. Unbelievably Dena had to pull out of a race the week before after 2 miles – how she managed the 26 miles on a gammy leg is mad – no stopping this woman! A nice gang from SBR and Slaney at the start and off we went at 9am. 11 degrees, overcast and no wind really – perfect! The course is very nice with good variety on it, some rolling hills but nothing killer. I went out with the 3 hour pacer who raced fast down the hills and easy up them. He delivered us to half way in 1.29.55 perfect. In pretty good shape at this stage. Then some some reason right at half way and going up a tough little hill he went into race mode! He finished in 2.58?! I let him go at about 15 miles and decided to run my own race, was starting to feel it now but still felt okay. At mile 21-23 there is a pull, not much if you were fresh but enough to tip the lactae needle in the wrong direction. Hanging on for dear life here and just hoping to get home in under 3.05. The last 3 miles are great(ish!) downhill or flat, life was gone out of the legs at this stage and just trying to hold some sort of decent pace. I though I saw the finish gantry but the cruel f***ks have 4 of them over the last mile or so to just tease you! Home in 3.03 and in absolute bits. Liam came home in a great 3.11 after 2 pee breaks and a stretch and smiling. Really lovely to see Aidan and Rachel at the finish looking up at their Dad and so proud and a very happy looking Ciara. It puts all this running stuff into perspective there and then – it’s not life or death! The 3 were great support along the way. Dena home in a fantastic 3.16 considering she is in full training for the big ultra. Hard luck to Tom who had to pull out at 16 miles while leading with a calf pull.
Limerick is a great race and a good course, couldn’t recommend it enough. Hope to be back next year and maybe have a few more 795ers next year. No temptation to do Dublin at this moment, hard enough to clock a time without crowds and hassle! Thanks to the 795ers for the messages before and after, always feels great to represent the club.
(Report by Brian Shaughs)
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