Belfast marathon Race Report by Ray O'Connor

Would I or won't I was the most commonly asked question in my head. I was feeling the pain of London in my legs all week, post marathon fatigue like I have never felt before, well not in the last few years anyway. The decision was finally made as late as Saturday afternoon, I was still sore but some prescription medication (not mine) passed hands and I decided to give it a whirl anyway. Valerie Glavin was on hand to collect my number so I could leave later on Sunday. Arriving in Belfast on Sunday night I was still sore and limped away from the car to my hotel.

I stood at the window for some time on Monday morning looking out at the grey skies, the wind blowing through the trees and the rain drops spilling down and wondered, and pondered, and wondered some more.

Ahhhh to hell with it, I was there, the start line was just over there, the finish over that way, another tempting marathon distance, yes, to hell with it, I'll do it. Sub 4 I thought, less than 4 hours and I'd be happy. The Belfast marathon route passes by the Hilton Hotel at mile 1 so if I was in trouble I could quit early on. It passes again at mile 6 so I could opt out at that stage, and once again at mile 21 so I could climb into a nice hot bath if the weather or distance was getting too much. Happy and content that I had plenty of options I limped back to bed for another snooze.

I met Valerie to get my number and thinking she might get the numbers mixed up gave me my only hope of a pb. By the time I got to the start area and the painkillers seemed to be kicking in and I was feeling ok.

3, 2, 1, go and I was over the line in a matter of seconds and a few minutes later loosened out and felt no pain whatsoever. I Passed the hotel at mile one and resisted the temptation to head back to bed :-) A few miles later I was reminded that Belfast is a tough course, I had completely forgotten about the long hills as we make our way out and back to the city, and I just then remembered the long climb from mile

12 to 14!!! So I slowed down. Past the hotel again at mile 6 and had absolutely no intention of stopping, feeling great, cold but great, very bloody cold, freezing, but great.

Heading out of the city centre and the unexpected buzz generated by the spectators who were probably jumping up and down to keep warm, I was really dreading the long climb to halfway, but kept everything ticking over nicely. I tried to sneak in behind some other runners from time to time for a bit of wind protection, but everyone seemed to be running erratically. I kept the head down and focused on my own pace. Before I knew it I was at the top of the hill that wasn't so bad after all and beyond half way in 1:49 which was a relief big time, not too fast and not too slow. I figured the wind was at our backs and we were blown up the hill (ok, poor choice of phrase given where we were). At mile 14 there is a sharp turn downhill through a residential area that I love but I waited for the wind to hit us straight into the face, but it didn't, it seems for the first time ever in a marathon the wind turned just at the right time and helped us along. This allowed for a very easy few miles downhill and back towards the city again.

I completely lost track of time and distance and didn't allow myself to get distracted, but while looking out for mile 15 I passed 17. BIG BONUS!!!! Weeeeeeeee. I was flying. A young lad in the relay was going the same pace as me so without a word we started to pace eachother and it was just great. Mile 18, 19, 20 went by very quickly and on to 21 I was getting faster all the time. Or so I thought. The hotel came and went and I focused on the finish. Mile 24 through a park with cruel little hills slowed me somewhat and mile 25 seemed to be the longest bloody mile I had ever done, but I was still moving well.

The finish came into sight and I sprinted over the line without loosing breath. Strong finish, strong run, negative split of 1:49/1:47 for a 3:36 finish and to say I was ecstatic would be an understatement. I could have smiled all day... I did, I smiled all day. :-)


57 down (I think, still waiting on confirmation of the MDS)

43 to go.