I really enjoy big cities marathons and had been eyeing the Dublin Marathon for a while. We took a family vacation to Ireland in May of 2015 where I fell madly in love with the country. The Irish are exceptionally friendly and cheerful people. Plus the landscape is simply incredible. I was longing to go back.
On a whim one afternoon I looked up airfare for the weekend of the Dublin Marathon and found a ticket on Aer Lingus for 60Euro! 30Euro cheaper than the 90Euro entry fee for the marathon! It would cost me more to run the race than to travel there for it. Haha! I then quickly checked our reward points (before the flight timed out, whew) and found I could book 3 nights of a hotel right near (like 600 meters away!) the start/finish line for 105euro. Sold! 255Euro for 4 days/3 nights in Dublin with a super cool marathon thrown in the mix? You betcha I signed up for that!!!
I don’t really follow a good marathon training plan….basically I use marathons to train for marathons, lol. I didn’t have a time goal in mind for the Dublin Marathon. My goal was simply to have fun and enjoy it. Two weeks prior to the Dublin Marathon I ran a pretty relaxed and enjoyable 4:20 at the Amsterdam Marathon. That gave me a rough idea of my “go easy pace” for a flat road race but as you know every day differs and you simply have to accept whatever you are given to work with each day.
A walk. A bus ride. A metro ride. A plane ride. A bus ride. And a walk. And then I arrived at my destination. 🙂 I was a bit amped up after all that sitting/inactivity but mostly just super excited to be in a city I love so much. Plus I was starving! I wanted FOOD something fierce! I’ve gotten accustom to life in small Dutch village so I didn’t expect anything to be open except maybe a gas station. BUT I was STOKED to discover lots of yummy food options. I settled on Thai take away; steamed tofu and veggies. Extra spicy of course. Yummers!
Even though it was pretty late, it felt safe to be walking around by myself. Dublin was hopping with activity! There were tons of people walking around in Halloween costumes being silly and having a good time. I wandered around absorbing the nightlife and energy of it all. Finally around 1:45am I decided I should probably get some sleep.
Daily expenses: Dublin Airlink Bus 6euro, Food 11euro
Total Daily Miles: 7.5 (lots of sitting due to traveling)
Woke up at 6:00am wanting coffee, of course. I decided to head out immediately in search of coffee and if all else failed I knew of coffee shop nearby that opened at 7:30am. (Yes, I pre-scope out coffee shops like a tried and true #coffeejunkie). I really enjoyed the fresh morning air and the quiet stillness of the city. I was a stark contrast to the noise and excitement I observed just a few hours earlier. I ended up waiting until 7:30 BUT it was well worth it. I had what was probably the second most delicious cup of coffee in my life (Truth Coffee in Cape Town is still #1!).
While strolling around I found a breakfast spot that looked super yum. It opened at 8:30am. I eyed all the sinful pastries through the window until it opened. But after browsing their menu I ordered the buckwheat vegan pancakes. I took them to go because I wanted to get to the Marathon Expo as soon as it opened.
I didn’t spend much time at the Expo. Basically grabbed my bib and headed out because I had a bus to catch to Glendalough. The bus has one daily departure from Dublin and I wanted to be on that bus! I grabbed a donut (calorie loading 🙂 ), a cup of coffee and a veggie wrap for takeaway and hightailed it over to the bus stop. I dozed a bit on the bus ride but the views were just so pretty they kept me awake!
I stopped in the visitor’s center to grab a trail map for .50cents. I had a limited amount of time to explore the Wicklow Mountains because of the bus schedule. If I missed the last bus back I would be paying an UBER expensive Uber ride back to Dublin because I sure as heck didn’t want to miss the Marathon. I mapped my route and gave myself very (if any) room for error. I could NOT get lost or take TOO long. I knew I could amp up my pace and run hard if I was in a total time crunch but I preferred to stay at a moderate pace because of the marathon.
The Wicklow Mountains are absolutely breathtaking! Especially with all the Fall colors. The amazing weather meant it was busy at the trailhead that afternoon but once I get further up, I hardly saw anyone. I felt like I had the mountains all to myself. It was pretty spectacular. I made it down in time to enjoy a hot bowl of carrot soup from the food truck in the parking lot.
When I got back to Dublin my agenda was to find dinner, take a bath, and put together my stuff for the Marathon. I walked past the cutest little coffee shop and went in even though 1. I didn’t want coffee and 2. I saw that they were about to close. However I was curious if they were going to extend their regular Sunday hours because of the Marathon. I ended up talking with the Barista for a while and decided I would definitely be back the next day. I found a burrito shop nearby and grabbed a vegan sweet potato, black bean, and rice burrito bowl for takeaway. I LOVE and MISS burritos, plus it seemed like the perfect pre-race dinner! Score!!!
Scarfed down my burrito. Took a bubble bath. Laid out my stuff. And hopped into bed. Passed out by 8:18pm (according to my fitbit J ) Coolest part was the time change was that night so we all got an extra hour of sleep! I slept a solid 8 FULL HOURS!
Daily Expenses: St. Kevins Bus Service 20Euro, Food 36Euro
Total Daily Miles: 20
Sunday 10/30 RACE DAY
I woke up refreshed and eager to run! I had coffee, eggs and oats at the hotel, suited up, and headed to the start line. The weather report looked absolutely perfect for running! I was immediately crazy impressed by the efficiency and organization of the Dublin Marathon. The bag check system, the timing corrals, the short lines for the toilet, the pace groups, etc. All of it was super smooth and easy.
I LOVE the energy at the start line of Marathons. A mixture of emotions…nerves, excitement, fear, determination…all co-existing and mounting. It’s a natural high unto itself.
I found the 4:00 pace group marked with a bright red balloon. Even though I knew I (likely) wouldn’t hold that pace it’s where I like to start out. It’s generally easier to fall back than to speed up. And I have no ego whatsoever about people passing me, lol. I also prefer to run on the outside right hand-side. It’s just where I seem to land at every marathon.
We started promptly at 9:30 and my legs felt good. Breathing was comfortable. Heart rate stayed around mid 130s. At about mile 8 I realized we were running downhill. Subtle but enough to bring my pace up by a full minute without any additional effort. I didn’t look at the course profile before that day so was pleasantly surprised by the subtle variations of elevation gain/loss (the legs usually appreciate the variety). The elevation gain of the Dublin Marathon is not much at all BUT if you were really aiming for a PR knowing the course profile would be helpful so you can maximize the downhill stretches.
The water stations were mini plastic bottles with sports tops. I LOVED this! Like totally and completely LOVED it! It made passing through the aid stops more efficient than I have EVER experienced at a large race (even faster than Comrades which they have a great system there too). Plus with a sports top you can easily run while drinking AND then close the bottle top to save some for later. This was a HUGE bonus for me as I prefer to sip water throughout. Also overall reduces waste (both plastic and water).
I had stocked my pockets with fun sized candy bars but honestly I didn’t need to carry anything. There were tons and tons of spectators passing out candy to the runners. I took candy from kids whenever I could. It felt like reverse trick or treating, lol. Someone even had a bowl of skittles! I totally slammed on the brakes and reversed to grab a handful of those.
I ran the entire 26.2 pretty easy without any issues. The course is lovely. You run through some historical parts, some nature parts, and some residential parts. I loved the variety. I loved the music. But most of all I loved the spectators cheering on the runners. I saw some super clever signs that made me laugh. And I learned a new phrase…”Keep ‘ir lit”. Love that one!
I didn’t chat much with other runners, but I definitely high fived and fist pumped as many kids as I could. I just love seeing their little outstretched hands along the course and the happiness they derive from even just a little contact with a runner. Human touch is invaluable in soooo many ways!
As I got close to the finish line, maybe about 2k out I was hit with a wave of emotion. Right at that very moment another runner came up behind me and said “You’re looking really strong!” Although he didn’t see my face. I replied “I’m about to cry actually. I’m not in pain. I’m just overwhelmed with emotion”. And I didn’t exactly even know why. Not all runs/races/finishes provoke an emotional response. The ones that do are pretty special; they do something to your heart. Dublin Marathon for sure tugged on my heart strings in an exceptional way.
Post marathon I went straight back to hotel to shower and change. Then I headed to the coffee shop from the day before. I ordered a soy cappuccino and the Barista totally surprised me with THIS.
I smiled SO big when he put it down in front of me. I ordered some lunch and just relaxed there a bit. The staff was super friendly and chatty.
I spent the rest of the day wandering around the city. Window shopping. Walking through Stephen’s Green Park. I didn’t have much of an appetite. Usually that comes a day or two post long run, but I made myself eat something light for dinner. I don’t like having a calorie deficit and am very very careful about not losing weight from long distant running. I always weigh myself pre and post long run (ie-marathon/ultra distance) to monitor.
Daily Expenses: Food 20Euro
Total Daily Miles: 35
Monday was mostly uneventful. I spent the day getting organized and traveling back home. Legs and body felt fine. Which is another reason I really enjoy an easy paced marathon; no recovery time required.
I always enjoy seeing my family after a few days apart. Missing one another is a healthy part of our relationship. <3
Daily Expenses: Dublin Airlink Bus 6Euro, Food 12Euro
Total Daily Miles: 6 (lots of sitting due to traveling)