13/08/2017 - BANNED ON THE RUN
After meeting Mr G for breakfast, espresso and porridge and having Chelsea and Llion wish us well we headed to the other house where a breakfasted Andy had received his jam and therefore all was right with the world. The Parry's arrived downstairs sporting bin bags over their running gear. Apparently this is the easiest and lightest way to stay warm before a race and not just from the burning shame of being seen in public wearing a bin bag.
We wandered down towards the start line and we could see more and more people with race numbers (none of who were also sporting bin bags) and running gear, warming up or just stretching until we reached the toilets and baggage area by the edge of the docks which was heaving with all sorts of people.
There may be an assumption that all the people preparing to run 13.1 miles (actually 13.2 but we'll get to that) are super fit, lean and athletic. Now there were plenty of people like that there but that was by no means the default. There were people of all shapes and sizes and all ages preparing to take on the run.
There's nowhere to hide on a long run, you can't rely on luck or the other 'team' having a bad day. Whatever happens there's the distance, there's you and that's it. In the sports I really respond to, your 'opponent' is in your own head. Badminton is the exception but I play that more for the social aspect. Winning and losing are just arbitrary concepts to me. Playing well and playing with honour is far more important.
We rocked up to the start area which was on a stretch of road with the quayside on the left and buildings on the right. There were pens of runners based on the estimated time so that the slow ones didn't get too far at the start before being trampled by the runners behind. As the time ticked closer and it got busier we became kettled in as more and more runners arrived and the organisers blared motivational soft rock at us. AC/DC, The Stones, Led Zeppelin etc etc.
Side note: There was a runner there wearing a Go Pro camera. Why? What would you record two and a bit hours of gently swaying motion. When would you re-watch the footage?
"Shall we watch the latest Hollywood blockbuster darling?"
"Not tonight my love, I've got a real treat for you. Two hours of other peoples sweaty backs and an occasional out of focus Dublin land mark with a soundtrack of me swearing and breathing heavily."
"You do know how to treat a lady!"
The countdown started, the gun went off and... well, nothing for ten minutes as the pens ahead of us started to empty out. The motivational music seemed to loop and we were still just standing ther expectantly ready to go. Eventually the human traffic jam cleared, we were shuffled toward to the start line and then we were off!
The route takes you through the heart of the city following the path of the Liffey along roads usually teeming with traffic and people. It was odd to run past O'connell street which I've only ever known as heaving, for it to be empty and deserted was a strange sensation.
We ran as a pack for a while, (although we established that the collective noun for Harriers should be a drunk, as in a drunk of Harriers) and although we kept a good pace there was a bit of banter and japerery as we ran. Especially as we passed Caroline's squirrel...
About three miles in there's a climb up to Trinity College as you run through the square and I think at that point things got serious. No more joking. No more banter. There was a run to do.
I get a look from people when I tell them about running. It's a look that says" If you must travel 13 miles why run it? Why don't you, in fact, just take a bus?". It's a good question and one I don't have a total answer to. I keep thinking I've stumbled on to the truth at the heart of it and then it eludes me again. I can tell you though it's not for the 'runners high' whatever the chuff that is. It's not for the Garish day-glo accessories. It's not just to keep fit although that is a part of it. I think it's knowing that you can. It's the confidence that comes from be certain that if you needed to, if you had to, you could run that distance and more. Being able to do something that most people could train themselves to do but choose not to.
At this point, after the college Andy was in front by 20 -30 seconds, so within sight, running with Rob P and Rob G and I was behind running with Caz.
It's worth pointing out if I haven't before that the Parry's and Mr G could easily outstrip us and finish far ahead but had decided to run with Andy and I to encourage us through this. I respect the hell out of them for that.
We hit a water stop and Andy grabbed a water and stopped (clue's in the name). I knew if I ceased momentum it would take a lot of energy and will to restart that movement so I grabbed the bottle and kept the legs pumping as I drank and kept moving forward.
The rest of the race I didn't stop or consciously change speed and every time a runner would pass I'd expect it to be Andy but it never came. He'd kept me in sight the whole way we'd pass by each other on loops and he was always just behind until right at the end. The final hill, Codename:BASTARD just took it out of him.
The route took you past band-stands where there were a variety of musical acts, the rock bands were pretty good for hitting a running rhythm, the solo acoustic singer songwriters not so much. Their plaintive noodlings aren't really conducive to keeping a regular running pace. Although its not as bad as that time in Germany where there was a improv jazz band playing something in 7/8 time which was an absolute bitch to run past as your feet would subconsciously get tangled on the downbeat. I'm sure it was deliberate. Contrary to popular opinion Germans have an excellent sense of humour it just tends to the super-dark.
The road took us out of the city proper and into some lovely leafy suburbs where we were crossing pleasant looking streams and rivers before turning back and heading back toward the city proper.
Caroline and I were running companionably along recognising some runners who would run past and then drop back in an unintentional leap-frog motion. Having not exchanged a word with them there was a strange sort of companionship of familiar faces (well, familiar backs really) all suffering in the same manner.
It was at this point that the runners doing the 10K race (a half marathon is roughly 21k) turned off and we idiots, sorry half marathoners kept going. I saw many sideways looks as the thought "This could all be over" passed through a few minds.
The 2nd half of the run passed by in a blur of pain, gel shots (yeuch), and singing Kaiser Chiefs at the top of my lungs (I did indeed, predict a riot.). The run goes up through Phoenix park which is massive and flipping hilly as well. It's a beautiful green space located really close to the heart of the city much like Central park but far more massive.
After far more uphill climbs than reciprocal downwards slopes Caroline and I reached the final straight, about 300 meters at most. We looked for the others but not seeing them (the result of hitting Codename:BASTARD) we plodded together for the line. Ahead were a group of runners crossing together so Caroline darted left to go around them. I saw movement on my left and thought she was sprinting for the finish. So obviously I gathered what little energy I had left and forced myself into a not-quite-sprint. She sees me go and obviously starts sprinting! After two and bit hours of companionable plodding we finished the race looking like bitter rivals!
We legged it over the line only to both burst out laughing to the bemusement of the marshals.
We crossed at 2hrs 13mins 44secs for her and 2hrs 13mins 45secs for me as she crossed the start line after me. Lets just ignore the fact that if she was going full bore I'd be choking on her dust even now.
The others arrived in short order all crossing on or just before the 2hr 15min mark. Through his fatigue and pain Andy was incandescent that his sat nav running device registered the race as 13.2 miles not 13.1. which would have meant an even better time for him. Me? I was just happy to finish and to be finished.
After the race they throw things at you including but not limited to, medals, crisps, water, isotonic drinks( which they claim are specifically designed with your whole bodies needs in mind forgetting of course, the tastebuds), half a banana, sweets and non alcoholic beer.
I have to say that the brewing of non alcoholic beer has come a long way from Kalibur whose metallic rasping taste was almost but entirely unlike beer. This was the Erdinger blue which is almost indistinguishable from 'real' beer and very delicious it was too.
Laden by all the booty we stumbled out into the field to be greeted by the support crew as I pulled possibly my sexiest look ever. Phowar! There were a variety of bands playing and different stalls it was a real festival atmosphere, including the queues for the loos.
Suitably refreshed and recombined we headed down the hill and caught a bus which showed a much more sedate and pleasant view of the park that we had just trudged around. It then dropped us off down by the river.
Little did we know that Dublin was hosting another sporting spectacle that weekend. Waterford were playing cork in the Semi Final of the Liam McCarthy Cup competition which mean the LUAS was rammed. Every tram looked like it was going for the Guinness world record for the number of humans that could fit in a confined space. It looked like some carriages had been vacuum sealed. The fans seemed really nice to be fair and everyone seemed in a good mood
(I've just noticed a third score of 20 - 31 at the bottom! And they say rugby's hard to understand!)
However what this meant was we had no way of easily getting back to the house.
Some of us decided that what we needed after a long run was a good long walk. Andy and Katie, displaying more wisdom chose to chance other public transport. They eventually made it on to a LUAS and passed us apparently waving only appendages that weren't trapped by the press of bodies.
The rest of us walked through the city in the general direction of 'home' and settled in a place by the River called ely bar and brasserie where lunch and a few pints of lovely lovely Guinness were taken. They had the kind of wine cellar you'd see in the lairs of Bond villains and I'm sure we didn't quite fit in with our sports clothing and exhausted expressions but at that point a seat was a seat was a seat and if people were prepared to keep bringing me beer that was completely fine with me.
Eventually we wandered out and caught a tram the last few stops to home.
We ordered a veritable mountain of pizza and then collapsed into exhausted satisfied heaps prodding Llion and Katie to maybe rollerblade the distance with us at some point. Our efforts were not met with what would describe as total success.
Although Mr P pointed out the sound of me struggling to walk down the stairs was eeriely similar to the drum intro of Owner of a Lonely Heart.
rob falling down stairs