This coming Monday, thousands of runners will brave the Dublin Marathon. I ran that Marathon in 2005 and 2006. I’m often asked what running a marathon is like. As a roundabout way of answering that, here are 10 of my marathon-running memories…
1. It is not the race itself but the preparation that is the challenge. I found completing the 20-mile training runs on my own far harder than running 26.2miles on the day itself, with all the atmosphere and support of the event.
2. Speaking of the preparation, what a drag it was when people kept asking me ‘So what distance is the Dublin Marathon?’ as if marathons are different lengths in different cities.
3. On the day of the 2005 race I had a pleasant chat at the starting line with an experienced marathon-runner from Boston. As we set-off, he asked: ‘So tell me, dude, what do you use to stop your nipples from bleeding?’ I didn’t have a clue what he was on about.
4. I shall never forget that plump, ginger-haired female runner who, around mile 15, shouted ‘Ah, fook it’, and squatted down on the road for an actual poo, right in front of us all.
5. I know!
6. Then there was the elderly spectator, around mile 19, whose method of encouragement was to shout over and over ‘Just tink about da Guinness, just tink about da Guinness, just tink about da Guinness…’
7. I realised, around mile 22, that both my nipples were indeed bleeding profusely. I must have looked like I was lactating blackcurrant juice.
8. And yes, the feeling of achievement and relief as I passed the finishing line was truly amazing.
9. In honour of the mile-19 supporter, I did have ‘da Guinness’ later that night. Indeed, I found that just one pint in the aftermath of a marathon is enough to take me beyond tipsy. Sláinte!
10. For days after the race I suffered such extreme soreness in my quads that I could only walk downstairs backwards. I also caught a cold. Irony alert: as I slowly hobbled downstairs backwards, snot bubbles blowing out of my nose, I must have looked entirely unathletic.
So, good luck to everyone running the Dublin Marathon on Monday and indeed anyone who runs a marathon in the future. Just tink about da Guinness…