Marathon aftermath

"Hmmm. Maybe next marathon I should wear shorts." (Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Pufacz)

“Hmmm. Maybe next marathon I should wear shorts.” (Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Pufacz)

Did you run in last Monday’s 2014 Dublin Marathon? Enjoyed it so much that you already want to enter next year’s edition right now?

Didn’t think so. But for what it’s worth, Dublin Marathon 2015 entry is now open. Only 51 weeks to go!

Well, perhaps most people are still too busy dealing with the 2014 event.

For instance, I see that the letters page of The Irish Times is keeping up an entertaining post-marathon tradition; every day this week it has featured correspondents complaining about the mere existence of Monday’s race. Today (31 October) brought this cri de coeur:

“On Monday last I went out for my morning cycle only to be impeded by barricades and diversions put in place to facilitate the marathon mayhem.

Please let me enjoy my city.”

Well, this changes everything. Why didn’t anyone tell us we were impeding someone’s daily morning cycle and enjoyment of his city? Shame on us: selfish thousands of running-and-spectating-and-economy-boosting us. At least we still have 51 weeks in which we can set this worrying wrong to rights.

And even some of those who took part, if not completely disgruntled, are far from fully gruntled.

You have your few runners revealing that the marathon course was actually too short. And then others stating that the exact same course was too long. Both sides call upon their irrefutable proof – the race-day distance recorded on their Garmin or other GPS sports watch.

The short faction don’t realise that a GPS watch signal can drop out when going under a bridge or flyover (as happens at least twice on the Dublin Marathon course) or even when close to tall buildings or trees. As for the long faction, they – like nearly all runners in any race – have run further than the stated distance because of common race occurrences like weaving around other runners, taking a wide corner, or pulling over for a water bottle.

(Of course, it can happen that a course is measured too short. And earlier this year I was at a 5k and 10k event where, because the organisers didn’t move the start line back to compensate for a partial lap in the shorter race, the 5k was short by around a quarter of a kilometre. But a GPS watch doesn’t prove anything.)

Other runners, and apparently some club officials too, were unhappy with the conditions. The new course, with its long drag through the Phoenix Park in the early miles, and the unusually muggy weather seemed to combine to take a heavy toll on this year’s competitors. Aside from my own laborious last 10 miles, I don’t recall ever seeing so many runners vomiting or staggering in the closing stages of the Dublin Marathon.

If Monday’s race was your first marathon and it didn’t go well, then that’s a hard one to come to terms with. Hopefully it won’t put you off another attempt – after all, the main value of your first marathon is as preparation for your second.

More experienced runners who had a below-par performance at this year’s Dublin Marathon – and that includes me – will reflect on their training and build-up. That new session or diet you tried; that hard half-marathon in the summer; even the new brand of shoes – all are now under examination, even if they worked perfectly well before.

That said, even with perfect training and prep, sometimes in the marathon you just have a bad day. I think this is the case for me. I didn’t notice the conditions at the time – I didn’t feel like I was overheating or expending too much energy on the early hills. But it’s easier to blame whatever tangible factors present themselves, rather than try to accept the mysteries of an inexplicable below-par marathon performance.

We have 51 weeks to go before we get another shot at that new Dublin Marathon course. I suspect the 2015 race will be a mass act of vengeance and redemption.

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4 Responses to Marathon aftermath

  1. chicknrun says:

    I’m 22 yo and it was my 1st marathon. Im at Smurfit graduate business school and pretty busy with school so i couldn’t really complete a good training. But im surprised with what you heard about the course. Maybe i’m all naive because it was my first but I enjoyed every minute of it. I loved running through phoenix park and actually I loved every mile !

    • Run and Jump says:

      I’m glad to hear you enjoyed your first marathon – here’s to your second! Yes, as I said above I wouldn’t be so critical of the course as others I’ve heard. Make sure you check out some other short races in the Phoenix Park between now and Christmas – it’s a brilliant place to run.

  2. Cathal Daly says:

    A surprisingly disappointing run for you. Considering you sub 90ed in the half why do you think it didn’t work out this time? Better luck next time tho. I had similar hard luck in Amsterdam.

    • Run and Jump says:

      I think it was just a case of ‘not my day’. If the weather or hills affected me then I didn’t notice it at the time. It happens. I’m glad that even on a bad day I still got around in 3:38, given that a few years ago a similar bad day would have seen me go over 4 hours.

      The Amsterdam course looked nice on TV but a little tight in places, though the Olympic Stadium finish is a class idea. I hope you weren’t this guy I saw:

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