Come to Dublin – climb a chimney! (What else are you going to do?)
My first ever visit to Dublin combined a challenge Karen and I had decided to complete, set by ourselves and agreed between us. Dublin did not fail to impress, either on the race front (Rock n Roll Half Marathon), on the sights or in fact in the scenery/ views, we had an absolute ball.
But really the best bit was being away and taking it all in with Karen, my best mate.
A few years ago, we decided we would take on a challenge in each of the British countries together:
Spartan Beast -London – 2013
Rat Race Coast to Coast – Scotland – 2014
Rat Race Man vs Mountain – Wales – Sept 2015
Rock n Roll 5km and Half Marathon – Republic of Ireland – 2017
??? – Northern Ireland – open to nominations and suggestions: they can be OCRs/ running/ multi-activity events?
Rock n Roll 5km
We had both registered early enough which meant that our numbers and all info required for the event had been posted out, this saved any hassle and was suggested by Karen as she had already taken on the equivalent race in Liverpool. We were staying with Karen’s cousin Colin and family, this made life so much easier while we were visiting, just having that inside information on what we were looking for and travel arrangements etc.
Colin dropped us into Phoenix Park, the largest inner city park in Europe I hear, and we headed in for bag drop. We had plenty time which is what I like before an event to get everything done but still warm-up, account for extra toilet trips and queuing. I had had my first trial run since hurting my ankle at Deadwater, it wasn’t quite the pain-free experience I had hoped but quickly settled and I didn’t feel it for the rest of the event.
The 5km to myself, seemed reasonably quiet, everyone was gathering around the pens waiting to be called in, the music was playing in the background – some Bon Jovi and all sorts of other great rock to get us all in the mood. Runners were smiling, chilled out on the grass, shaking off the legs, jogging around, adjusting kit, chatting and looking around, taking in the environment (I’m sure you can imagine it). I was keen to get into my area, Karen and I were in different zones so we wished each other luck and parted.
My turn to jog on the spot, shake the legs, grimace at the tight spots, you know the nervousness that settles in as the clock counts down, even though I was taking it easy this weekend, definitely Lynne and Sally – my physios! Gonnnna be in soooo much trouble 😳
When I go to new events I thoroughly enjoy taking in the atmosphere and really being present with all the runners, chatting and taking in what’s around. It really helps me to enjoy everything and take the pressure off myself. I am quite good at piling it on myself. The sun was shining, I know finally right?!
Well now I was too hot, I went off a bit quick so slowed down, I took pictures, took in the gorgeous surroundings that were Phoenix Park, it was like you were on trail but it was a completely tarmac run. The marshalls were full off energy and making noise as you passed, encouraging you and cheering.
At approximately half way, there was a band which we would pass again on the way back toward the finish line but in a looped manner. We had a slight downhill, normally I’m in my element for these but I was too worried about my ankle. I was also hit by waves of lightheadedness which were really knocking me, but I kept going and just monitored things, slowed down long enough to moan about how hot I was feeling on my camera and then promptly told myself to shut up!
Everyone was loving Captain Coo – one guy passed shouting ‘ love the cattle’ haha, creating bants.
The finish line was great, it was like people had created a funnel of finishers as you were running to the end, encouraging you in. You were given your amazing 5km medal, a bottle of water, a number of, snacks were handed out as you moved through the runners area to the stage area where all the tents were set up.
I quickly moved round as I wanted to catch Karen but first it was essential that I lie down and raise my legs! Like really important! Some ladies from California started chatting to me and so did a lovely lady from Ireland with her 2 kids. They were all loving Captain Coo. I discovered I was too short to actually see Karen cross the line, the wee guy Luke was giving me a detailed insight into the workings of Thomas the Tank engine, this was serious business.
Rock n Roll Half Marathon
This event the 2nd for us of the weekend, took place on the Sunday, it was an early rise – that can only mean race day on a Sunday! We had to get a taxi to the start line as the buses didn’t start early enough, but we soon spotted runners all heading in the same direction so headed in following them. The start area was down at the docklands, not an area we had managed to get to on our sightseeing.
We arrived in good time for bag drop/ toilets and getting a general idea of where everything is and of course the obligatory photos. The trucks were set up by the first 3 letters of surnames grouped together, you just had to use the bag and tag provided in your sign-up info. There were also plenty of toilets provided for everyone, it didn’t take long for these to go downhill, ya know!!!
We just hung about in this area until we needed to check out the zones we were both in, Karen set a personal goal of running at least 6 miles non-stop, we were both in the same boat, training hadn’t managed to come together for one reason or another. I just had to be careful with my ankle, I was taped up and feeling okay, Captain Coo was getting lots of admiring glances.
I was in Corral 7 and Karen was a bit further back ( these were based on your predicted finish time, to be honest, I have no idea what I put and naturally that would have been pre-ankle injury but I chose to stick with it). Again, we wished each other luck and parted to get in the right sections, well, Karen was actually heading for the loos again, I think she was in the queues when the race started haha.
I haven’t really done many of these big races, so found the whole process interesting, simply the length of time it actually takes you to get to the start line and start running is amazing and probably forgotten about in all the considerations. With the countdown ringing in our ears alongside the rock music we were off . . . . .
I found the route interesting, the key thing here being that it was pretty much all new with the exception of areas we had walked around the previous 2 days. I dont normally do city runs, I’m not a massive fan but I thoroughly enjoyed myself on this day and during this run. The shlap (yes that’s what I meant to write) of trainers in the tarmac, belts and bags bouncing round, items jangling, coughing, clearing the throat, shouts here and there for friends and fellow runners, the odd sorry as someone cuts you up. The sheer number of people in front and behind you always astounds me on these races BUT I spent the majority of it, once again, with space and on my own. There were huge numbers, as I’ve said taking part in this, yet in Deadwater (check out my last blog for the lowdown) there were only 18 of us on the start line and I only once felt I was on my own – how amazing I that?!
I took pics, posed with marshalls, the young man in the hospital grounds giving out Jaffa cakes was on for a gold medal from me I’ve gotta say, they were amazing, I took photos of the surroundings, the bands where I could, Captain Coo of course and so much more along the way. I have to say this felt like one of the quietest races I have every taken part in, literally no-one was talking, it was so so strange.
Unfortunately, my ankle started to niggle away from about mile 6, I could still run, just a little slower and I used the
surroundings to help distract me. The bands were on every mile, sometimes this actually meant a band but other times it was a DJ and individuals with guitars playing for us. The mile markers, by my watch anyway, were bang on for accuracy, the water stations were great, they were handing out the smaller water bottles which is an ideal size for carrying. At a couple of the later stations I know they were also handing out Powerade and gels if you needed them.
We managed to bring the sun out again for a warm, hot run, the novelty was wearing off. The finish was located in Phoenix Park again, it really helped having been there the day before and knowing the set-up.
I managed to finish in a reasonable time of 2hrs 00:32 got to say I am incredibly happy with that given the ankle, I only walked 0.15 of a mile to loosen things of, the photo opportunities (these were taken literally on the run haha).
For our efforts we were given our half marathon medals, we queued for our guitar medal which is for doing 2 runs in the weekend but Karen received a ‘World Rocker’ medal which is incredibly cool for having completed runs in the series in 2 different countries. You also receive a t-shirt, which was different to the Liverpool one, lots of snacks at the finish line and of course a band playing in the spectators area for a period of time.
The weather really makes something like this, it was sunny, in fact hot and people were sticking around to enjoy the post-run glow – well done everyone!