Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own!

Published in Reports on 3rd November 2013


The marathon is the end point. When you get to the start line you’ve already won. 12 weeks of long runs, speed and core all culminate to a single day – a day in which, even then, all the boxes need to be ticked to produce what you think is anything near your form.

The lead up to this race was different to any other. Both of us participating meant lots of time juggling and long runs on separate days. Long runs were tough but enjoyable – banter during them unprintable! The 800 feet climb on the Black Road becoming an almost weekly occurrence.  The bond our group, as in all others, was strong and the craic was good. The weeks flew around, the weather was beautiful, the long runs got longer and we grew weary but finally the taper came as the big day approached.

The photo on race morning is always a special moment  - meeting familiar faces – and nerves relaxed a bit with the sense of all being in this together. The start line at last – well wrapped up as it was cold.  The tension, the anticipation, the miles and miles of training all leading to this point. Then all of a sudden – we were off.

Around the first turn and there was David and the gang with the Athenry AC banner waving us off. I could feel his disappointment at not running but he will have another day. It was a beautiful morning. The first few miles were full of energy, chat and excitement. Experience told me to stay calm and relaxed and focused on the job in hand – to break 3.15. That meant keeping with the 3.10 pacers and not letting them get away.

On we went and the support was tremendous. Shouts of Go on Athenry from every corner was uplifting and I felt proud of being part of such a great club. But trouble came as early as mile 12. A nasty headwind and uphill on the Crumlin Road and I cracked. The 3.10 pacers disappeared into the distance and I couldn’t keep up. John Langan came up to me and asked was I ok. I told him I was fine and he pushed on. I wasn’t fine but could feel a slight recovery and on half way at 1.35 I put that scare behind me. Miles 14 to 20 were my most comfortable in the race. I concentrated on my form, my pace quickened; I hydrated regularly, and enjoyed my running. I met David again on mile 18 and it was just what I needed on approach to heartbreak hill. I hope to be of similar support to fellow club runners one day.

Finally up the hill to where my family were waiting at mile 21. It was a very emotional moment as I approached them on the turn onto the Stillorgan Road. The lift I got from that put a smile on my face as I knew all I had to do was keep this pace and I had my PB.

But marathon running doesn’t have a script and the last 5 miles of the race threw up a set of circumstances that I never envisaged and would never again forget. I struggled to maintain my pace and fell off a bit. Out of nowhere up came Kieran who was motoring. He went past me but roared at me to keep up. Twas make or break at this point. I gritted it and upped it again and came up to him and we ran together into town. The support was incredible. As we ran side by side shouts of “Work together Athenry “were everywhere. Then came Ken on the bike with flat coke which we shared. Thanks Ken. Don’t know where he came from but his help was invaluable. Kieran was still pushing and I was doing my best to keep up when the Athenry Angels of Mile 24 appeared. Dee even ran alongside us to make sure we had all we needed. I looked down at the bottle they gave me and it said to think of the reasons you run. And I ran. As hard as I ever ran, but Guiry was strong. He must have had more than coke because at mile 25.5 he powered on and I couldn’t keep up. Fair play to him for getting me this far but the rest was up to me.

The crowd was deafening on the last half mile. My legs and chest were burning and the clock seemed to go faster. Would I break 3.15? The tank was empty as I turned the last corner. One last push got me up them final few yards and I crossed the line in 3.14.03. A bit close for comfort but I did it! I met Kieran and the rest of the crew ahead of me and the craic was good. Everyone was delighted with their times and the hard work put into it finally paid off.

No, you can’t do this on your own. I would like to pay tribute to my wife – now a marathon runner herself – my three wonderful children and this great club. It’s on days like this and the lead up to them that memories are made. A big well done to all who took part in the race, in the training groups leading up to the big day and to the wonderful support crew on the day. All in all you made this day very special and one that will last in the memory forever.

Patrick Forde.