After leaving nice and early for Kildare we got to the Curragh Race Course and went driving around some of the Kildare marathon route (especially the bits with the hills) just so I could get a feel of the place before the race Sunday morning. We found a couple of places where Gerry and the kids were going to try and see me and cheer me on at around the half way mark. I had been “carb-loading” for the last few days in preparation for the race (carb loading is basically an increase in the amount of carbohydrate foods you eat leading up to an endurance event so that you can fill your body with as much energy as you can so you have a nice store to keep you going!) After eating a nice large pasta dish we went for a little walk and then settled in for an early night to try and get a goods night rest for race day. It is never quite as easy as you think with a 3 year old and a 2 year old – we had a family room in the hotel we were staying in, and of course both kids wanted to sleep with mummy which was not quite the good nights sleep I was looking for! It took a bit longer than normal but finally we were all settled into bed.
Unfortunately for us the good start was a little short lived as our room was at the beginning of a long hall and there was a wedding reception in the hotel…..once midnight had hit there were people going up and down the hall, banging on doors, loudly talking in the corridor about how many more bottles of wine they needed (I realised at this stage that I am starting to turn into my mother as I heard myself saying under my breath “I think YOU’VE had ENOUGH”). I drifted off to sleep again, but woken up with a start at 2.50am with one of the other guests kicking and banging on one of the doors across – it sounded like they’d had a bust up and one had locked the other out of the room, the kids stirred and I didn’t dare move incase it woke them up completely! Luckily the banging stopped (either she’d passed out in the hall, been let back into the room, or disappeared back to the party – I didn’t care which it was, the kids were still asleep and I was going back too). 3.30am……more party go-ers are banging in and out of rooms. ***sigh*** not the restful night I imagined. The last of the wedding after party seemed to tail off at around 5.45am…………until BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP……6.45am, my alarm is buzzing and its time to get up – not exactly the best preparation for a 26.2 mile run. In my head I imagine myself with pots and pans running up and down the corridor making as much noise as possible banging on the doors – but instead I get myself a bowl of porridge, got myself dressed, gently kiss the kids and hubby goodbye so I don’t wake them and slip out to get my taxi to the Curragh racecourse.
Curragh Race Course At The Kildare Marathon
I get out of the taxi and still not feeling like this is quite real yet – I don’t know why I’m feeling so calm?! I think partly its because towards the end of this marathon training period things didn’t go quite according to plan. I pulled my back 2 weeks before the marathon which meant a week of rest and no running, then got back on my feet for 2 short runs before I then got a sore throat, swollen glands, chesty cough and cold which left me lying in bed and feeling completely wrecked which meant the week leading up to the race was also not great with just 1 short 4 mile run – and that run was painfully slow and absolutely exhausting. I had actually considered pulling out of the race altogether at that stage but decided I would at least try, if I got to half way and felt I couldn’t go on then I told myself I would pull out at that stage.
There is an air of calm around the racecourse as it is still so early, and the sun is shining – it all looks so lovely. Shortly after I arrived the lady starting talking on the loud speaker introducing the event and I started to get a little bit nervous at this stage. Nervous, but more just anxious to get going and get it all over with to be honest!! I talk to some of the other runners – everybody just wants to get going at this stage! Walking to the start line and I see one of the men from our running club, Bill, I’m delighted as this means I now have someone to run with – it will definitely help stop me from running off too quick anyway!
The horn blows and we’re off! The first few miles go so fast – before I know it we’re at the first water station! There are 8 water stations on the course, and in my head I have broken it down by the water stations to make it easier for me. 1 water station down – only 7 more to go! By 7 miles I’m feeling like I have gotten into my stride, feeling good and strong. By the half way stage I’m still feeling good but definitely more tired than I usually would be at this stage, definitely can tell that I’m not 100% with the cough and cold. There are some little hills that took the energy out of me more than I expected and then towards the end of mile 15 I start getting really bad stitch/cramps in my side. I keep going but at mile 16 I have to stop and stretch and walk, I’m almost crying with disappointment as just feel I can’t go on with the stabbing pains. Slowly get back into it and keep on moving. It feels mentally tough at this stage knowing I still have 10 miles left to go, but somehow I keep going. Mile 20/21 I start to feel like I have a little extra energy so try to pick up the pace again, but mile 23 I’m starting to feel a bit tired. My legs aren’t too bad – it’s just my head! Mentally I just want to finish, and any idea of times has disappeared. I don’t want to push any faster (even though I probably could). I’m NEVER doing another marathon I tell myself. On the home straight and I see the stadium where the finish line is. I keep pushing. 200 metres to go and I feel my Hamstring pull, I know its not gone as I’m still moving so just keep pushing though. Everyone is cheering and I feel wonderful (in a half dead kind of way) I see my hubby and kids shouting for me and I feel so emotional. I cross the line and my legs pretty much give in. My hamstring is sore so I’m helped across to a physio who gives me a quick massage.
I meet up with hubby and the kids and they tell me I came 5th! Very happy with that, and also a personal best of 3 hours 24 mins (53 secs). As I was finished the 10KM race was about to start so the racecourse was full of people. There was music playing but I just wanted to get back to the hotel and get some rest. It would have been nice to stay and cheer on all the other runners and soak in some of the atmosphere but my body was not interested after 26.2 miles! Back at the hotel and have a nice bath that makes me feel almost human again. After starting to feel good again we got ready for dinner and I got to wear the lovely dress I got from Dresses.ie. We headed down for a nice early dinner with the intention of getting to sleep early, but it seems everyone except me can get to sleep! For some reason I am just wide awake! It’s 3.30 in the morning before I finally manage to drift off. The next day I surprisingly feel okay, we go for a nice swim in the hotel before we checkout. Unlucky for me though later on back at home I start to feel unwell. Later on that evening I’m sick, and then spend the whole of Tuesday in bed sick and trying to get work done for the business. Today is Wednesday and although much improved on yesterday still feeling pretty shocking, just writing this and then back to bed for more recovery – I’m still saying no more Marathons at this stage, but I guess we will see when I start feeling a little better! 🙂 (I am already booked in for the Dublin Marathon ha ha)
A big thank you to everyone who came out around Kildare to support the runners, it makes a HUGE difference when people are clapping and keeping you going – and thanks to the person around mile 11.5 who shouted “come on Hannah Spartan challenge”, it really gave me a nice boost 🙂 And thanks to the organisers of the event too – it was a well organised and enjoyable event, I think next time I may do the half marathon or the 10km though so I can stay on afterwards to enjoy the atmosphere instead of having to stagger off to bed ha ha 🙂
Overall I had a fantastic day, I came 5th in the Kildare Marathon, beat my previous time by nearly 10 minutes and my body felt pretty good afterwards. I met some lovely people and learnt a lot from the race which I will take to my next one. I have only been running now for just over a year and I must admit I LOVE IT 🙂
Thanks to all of you for your lovely comments and emails over the weekend. It really meant a lot 🙂
If anyone wishes to see my Garmin link for the marathon just drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send it on. Its handy to know the gradient etc before hand.
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Research for the above post was done with the help of Harvard Health Publications, Harvard Medical School & Helpguide.