Robert Staunton's Dublin 2007 Report

Twelve months ago I ran DCM in a time of 3:03. Not bad considering I strained my left quad and groin three and a half weeks before the big event that limited my mileage from 0 to 25 to 48 on the three weeks leading into it. Those three weeks were spent splashing around a pool and doing boring core work in the gym. But thanks to persistence and Odhran O'Dwyer's sports injury clinic in Ennis, I was at the start line and did well, taking thirteen minutes off my 2005 time.

After that race I knew I could break the three hours, it’s all in the head I kept saying.

About two or three weeks after the 2006 marathon I contacted Mick Rice and enquired about joining Athenry AC. I knew Mick and Peter's (Delmer) heads from the Athenry AC website and was well aware of Paul Mac's great run and the silver medal they achieved. I wanted to be part of a team in 2008 that may not emulate the achievements of 2006, but who could get a number of athletes over the finish line sub three hours.

By the end of 2006 I was signed up. I had earmarked the Connemara ‘half’ at the end of March/start of April. I trained hard and took over six minutes off my previous time for a PB of 1:23. Dublin was always in the back of my mind, so I knew things were going well. 2:50 was creeping into my thoughts.

Unfortunately after the half I came down with the ‘flu and then later that month spent a bit of time in hospital: nothing major or exciting, but it did put me back a bit. I then got married in June, so it was July before I remembered where I left my trainers.

At this stage we were also five months into rebuilding our house, so time was a precious commodity, especially when greeted by an oversized Labrador looking for a walk every morning before work and first thing after.

I must admit I was very short on motivation. Tipped away in August watched the diet; not a lot of running but cross trained up until September. The six weeks before October the 2nd looked like this - Wk1 35, Wk 2 48, Wk 3 65, Wk 4, 26 Wk 5 10.5.

The wheels had come of the wagon. I ended up in Paris in week four for the rugby match (if you can call it that) and was struck down with the ‘flu in week five. That's it I give up. I'll wait till next year, or maybe run Reading in early December. Queue Mick Rice.

In a last ditch attempt at salvaging something I contacted Mick with my tale of woes. It was simple "no need to panic" in the words of Dr. Rice. Forget Khalid Khannouchi or Hal Higdon's training guides. Mick's recommendation was, and I quote "concentrate on training at least once every day (to spread mileage as evenly as possible) and to build to 65 miles this week, 70 the next, 75 the next, taper a week and go like the clappers in Dublin." "Sound Mick, I will". It was weird, for weeks I had doubted myself, but knowing the base I have in distance running the next three weeks weren't going to be very nice for Mrs. Staunton, but the dog did need walking.

So I set up camp in Dangan. Alan, David and I (occasionally joined by the two Brians and Johnny) plodded out the miles, conscious of staying up wind of Alan at all times. (Note the photo on the Athenry Website of Alan and me running along O'Connell Street). I stuck to Mick's three-week marathon guide. I ran the ‘Galway Bay 10’ on Oct 6th and finished like a train in 64 minutes. The following morning was a long run with Alan, Peter, The Sump and Mick at pace around the race course in Ballybrit. I came out of that ok, no reaction the exertions of the day before. On Monday Oct 8th I signed up for Dublin.

Chillin' at the Expo

Doing It.

I met the lads at the RDS on the Sunday. We were a bit like the flat caps outside the Church of a Sunday morning or the high-stoolers who analyze whatever bit of sport is on the tele: a lot of standing around and idle chit-chat. I had a quick word with Mick. He gave me a bit of advice, “sit tight, get your pace, stick to it and don't panic”. Told him how good I was feeling, no niggling injury's bar the hip flexor and Odhran O'Dwyer had sorted that out the Friday before so I wasn't too concerned.

I met Alan at the start line; he kept me entertained for the forty minutes or so before the gun went. We went through the game plan. I was conscious of getting out quick so we could settle quickly. We were off! Brian O’Connor and Mick Rice went past me after 400 yards or so, wished them luck and they were gone. I couldn't find Alan, he was behind me somewhere so I slowed a bit, then, I could hear "Slow down Rob will ya!” Nothing new there!

Ian Egan was actually alongside him and shortly we were joined by Peter, David (the Sump), Owen and Mick Rooney. Tom Hunt passed by on Pearse Street, some p*ss was taken and he was gone. All in good jest. The next four miles passed fine. There were seven of us in the group. Owen was out in front for most of this and I remember at one stage saying to "slow it a bit", but when we got the 10km mark I was not happy to see 43 minutes on the board. I was 42:54 in 2006; I did not want to be slower at this point. Peter, Owen, Mick Rooney, Ian and I began to pull away a bit. That was the last time I saw Alan and David until they had crossed the finish line. We came out of the Chapelizod Gate and we planned for the three-mile stretch after Kilmainham. The wind from miles eleven to thirteen is in your face and if you don't watch it can really throw you off pace; something that had happened to me the year before. Before the ten-mile marker we passed the 3hr pacer; a bit of insurance, nice to know they're behind you. I also don't like running in such a big group unless I'm out in front, I find it distracting.

The Start...

The Start...

We ran at pace along the Crumlin Road and Walkinstown Road, (6:51). We made the turn up to the halfway point and I could see 1:29: 36 on the clock. Upped a gear and crossed in 1:29:47. Ian began to pull away at this point. Peter and I were alongside each other with Owen and Mick Rooney just behind. By now I was well in the groove. I had the worst of it over in my eyes. Miles fourteen to nineteen were sub 6:40's. Peter and I talked quite a bit. The conversation varied. I remember commenting on how comfortable the Athenry AC singlet was at mile nineteen (it was actually the first time I had worn it). Was I loosing it? I felt surprisingly comfortable though.

As we turned onto Clonskeagh Road, Peter said to keep it easy, if we were a bit off pace not to panic as we had made up time. It was uphill and the wind was against us in places. I love hills though. Connemara has taught me that. As we passed the UCD entrance off Clonskeagh Road I inched in front of Peter.

Suddenly I was alerted to the sound of pounding feet. It was like something out of Monty Python's Flying Circus - the 3hr pacer and his band of merry men. Foot down, I'm out of here. I reached the top of Foster's Avenue and was quickly joined by Peter. I had no idea where Owen and Mick Rooney were now, although I had heard Alan on the way up Roebuck Road, no worries there!

As we made our way onto the Stillorgan Dual Carriageway Peter shifted gears and said, "Great running Robert, it's your race now. See you at the finish." He was gone. I was flirting with the wall. I was going to win that battle though. No doubt there, but I couldn't help feel a sense of loss as he went. I was alone now, the lonely run down Nutley Lane on to Merrion Road. Reason is telling you to stop, this is not right. You're sore, but how many times have I run four miles…four bloody miles and you're telling me to stop? No Chance! You see people walking. You see St John's Ambulance. Hold the pace; I'm picking people off; I'm well ahead of schedule. As I pass Mary Mac’s Pub and the Spar Shop I see a guy in front with a Letterkenny singlet on, I pick him off and get a big cheer from the crowd, "Com'on Athenry". Some lad passes me a bottle of water. Ohhhhhh, I'm so going to break 3:00.

Robert and Alan

Robert and Alan

Onto Shelbourne Road and felt a bit heavy after my little burst of energy. I took on a gel, passed Kitty's and over the canal. I remembered Mick's words, "…and go like the clappers in Dublin". 6:17 to Trinity College, made the turn onto Nassau Street and opened it up. As I turned onto Clare Street I was flying. I nearly took a couple of lads out getting to the finish line. I averaged a 5:44 minute pace for the last half-mile. Excellent!

2:58:10 - Job done.

Mick Rice, Peter, Brian B and Ian were at the line. Shook Mick's hand, "Thanks Mick, you were right". "Bit slow coming over the finish line", was his response and then a wry smile.

I then heard Alan again: still talking coming over the finish line some thirty-odd seconds downwind of me. David (the Sump) was with him. I was delighted for Alan. He had trained hard for twelve weeks and got his reward.

Sin e.

Finally, I'd like to thank Mick, Peter, Alan, Brian O'C, Brain B, Johnny and the Sump for their encouragement; especially over the past month. For anybody looking to join a club, I can't speak highly enough of the lads at Athenry. I'm a Clare man. It might have been different if I was from Mayo but I've been made very welcome at the club.

Running is an individual sport when you're not affiliated to a club. The last twelve months have taught me that running with a club shows you're part of a team. I'm enjoying my running more than ever and look forward to 2008 and expect big things at next year's marathon.

I had told my wife this was the last one!

How're you on marriage counseling Mick?

Splits courtesy of my Garmin Forerunner 301.

Rob's Splits

Rob's Splits


16 years 7 months ago

Great writing to compliment great running!

I'm sure there is plenty more in the tank, and you'll take a good lump of that time if everyting comes right on the day.
It was a lot easier heading up to Dangan, night after night, knowing that some familiar faces like yourself, Johnny, Brian, The Sump, Brian and the other people we are on nodding terms with, are out there doing the hard yards.

That's where 3 hour marathons come from: Hard Work.

I'm sure I'll see you up there again, when I'm back in training after my winter break.