Published in Reports on 3rd November 2016
Frankfurt October 30th 2016.
Surviving 26.2miles on coke and a cushion.
Back in June I designed a 14 week training plan for myself and whoever else was gullible enough to join.
Training was tough and training through races was even tougher. Standing on the start line of races with heavy fatigued legs is something I had to get use to and stay focussed on the task at hand.
Thanks to Chris, Gearoid, Gerry, Jim, Timmy and of course David I didn’t miss one session over the 14 weeks. Good positive company is imperative when your clocking high miles and training twice some days.
I know it’s the result on the day that counts but for me the journey during those 14 weeks is what keeps my love of running alive. You get to know people when you spend so much time with them and to all the guys above I am grateful for our chats/ moans/ mobile clinics! Thankfully David was with the group this year so at least we got to see each other and our babysitter made a fortune I’m sure.
I should point out that my training plans should come with some warnings;
-never trust my long run distances. As Jim P found out, always add a 10 % cushion.
-don’t plan any wild Saturday nights
-prepare to become a coke addict
-bowel habits are open for discussion
The day: Frankfurt is busy…very busy. Irish people are small, very small. The start was madness. Bodies stuck together, giant Dutch men towering over me so I could not even see where I was going. After about 1km of boxing and watching each step I was in full flow. The race felt great. It was my easiest marathon to date. Crossing the finish line I knew sub 2.50 is now there for the taking.
I won’t bore you with mile by mile info suffice to say, the Germans don’t only make good cars. They certainly know how to run races, measure beer and make cocktails.
Bis zum nachsten Jahr. Grose Traume.
As this was my first marathon feelings of excitement and anticipation were vying with those of nervousness and fear of the unknown, the main fear being that I had never run the distance before. Twenty two miles was my longest training run. I was well aware from more experienced runners that the last four to six miles is where the fun really begins, so my main focus was simply to keep the pace steady and not go out too fast.
I slept well the night before and arrived at the start line feeling pretty good. I cut it a bit tight joining the tightly corralled runners after bag drop, and also lost my satellite connection about two minutes before the start, but it reconnected quickly and the slight moments of panic disappeared with the start line. After that things went really well. I kept a nice steady pace and the miles ticked off. With nine of them left I was feeling better than I had hoped and pushed on. A guy called Leonard from Tullamore Harriers, who as it turned out was targeting a time similar to mine, spotted the Athenry singlet and joined me for most of the second half of the race. The company and shared pacing was a big help. The pain really kicked in with about three miles to go but not as bad as I had been expecting. I was able to keep my pace fairly well to the end and crossed the finish line in 3:21:18.
I'm delighted with how it went. Being part of Athenry AC and all the training, advice, and support from club trainers and members played a big part. Thanks to all at Athenry Physiotherapy as well for keeping me on the road, and especially to Jane Ann for all the fantastic advice and encouragement. I also found Matt Bidwell's Fitness Analytics training plan excellent, and his ongoing feedback was also really good and helpful throughout. Above all thanks to my wife Esther (one or two of you might know her!) who had boundless patience, advice, running experience and support of every description for me from the start of training to the marathon finish line.
Edit (What Donal forgot to mention was that he forgot his gels the morning of the race and realised at 5km they were in the hotel. Needless to say, he sampled the German food and beverages on the course and they worked a treat, even the tea and bananas!)