After weeks of preparation, several months of injuries and countless push-ups, burpees and star jumps in Boot Camp, I arrived at the start line of the Dublin Marathon on Saturday feeling nervous but strong.
I had only ever run one other half – in 2000 – and had just managed to cross the line in the 90th minute. The price I paid though was the inability to walk for several days. This time I had trained hard and prepared diligently for that ‘magical’ sub 90:00 race.
The gun went off and I began running. The legs were feeling good. My stride was relaxed and my breathing controlled. I checked my pulse monitor – 150 beats per minute. Perfect. All I had to do was maintain that effort for the next 13 miles.
I managed to do just that for the first nine miles, when the series of hills began. My pulse inched up into the low 170s but I was still well in control and felt great. The 10th mile passed. Then the 11th and the 12th. I was only a hand full of seconds off my pre-calculated pace so it was now time to pick things up.
I began running harder. My legs stung and my lungs ached. The pulse monitor read 180 but that didn’t matter any more. All bets were off. I turned the corner and saw the 800 meters sign. I ran as hard as I could. Except I could have sworn that I was beginning to slow down. I could see the 400 meter sign and the last corner. A quick glance to my right revealed the finish line and the big race clock ticking away. I was now in the 87th minute. All I could think about was a)why can’t I go any faster? and b)why I am I the same distance from the 400 meter sign that I was a couple of minutes ago?
Eventually, the last turn came and I was now inside 400 meters. I looked ahead and saw that I was well into the 88th minute. Even if I went to the track and ran as hard as I could my 400 meter time is still around 70 seconds. I began to sprint. 89 minutes. I tried to sprint harder but I had reached maximum velocity about 300 meters and one turn ago. 89:40. The finish line looked so close but it seemed to remain the same distance even though my body was convinced that I was now running about 20 miles an hour. 89:55. This is going to be so close…
Unfortunately, I was in front of the clock when 90:00 struck but, fortunately, I crossed the line seven seconds later. Exhausted and slightly frustrated, I soon came around and decided that I had run the best race I possibly could have. I had a quick bite to eat and some water and then ran another four miles on my way home.
I’ve now achieved one of my big goals for the year and only the marathon remains. In 30 more days, I will be standing at the start line again feeling more confident having run such a good half.