Yesterday I ran the Irish Runner 5 mile race. It’s part of the Dublin Marathon Race Series, and my second 5 mile race.
It was pretty awesome. I gotta say! Despite the torrential downpour at mile 4, it was one of the better races I’ve run. I mean that both in terms of how it was organized, and how I did. By that I mean I’m excited to say I finished the race with a PB!
But before I get ahead of myself, let me start at the beginning!
I was up early the morning of the race, and despite having had a mostly sleepless week, I actually felt rested and energetic. This did wonders for my expectations and confidence. When I left my room I got a lovely surprise; my roommate had left this cheerful sign for me on my door!
I had my breakfast 3 hours before the race, then got myself ready per my usual routine; I was smiling to myself the whole time. Then, when I left the apartment I saw my roomie had put more signs up in the hallway. That clinched it! I knew I was going to have a great day!
My one race morning routine that wasn’t quite in the bag was having a banana. I like to have it about an hour before the race, but none of the shops I went to the night before had any! Luckily, a shop I passed on my way to the race had some so I was able to get that last minute nutrition/energy.
The race itself was in Dublin’s Phoenix Park, and a free shuttle bus was provided from one of the park entrances that took us to within walking distance of the start. I managed to catch the first shuttle so I got to the start an hour early, just the way I wanted!
The atmosphere there was really upbeat and happy. There was a radio station bus parked nearby, playing a great selection of music and with staff handing out little packets of sweets. I took one in case I might need a burst of energy during the race. As more and more runners arrived the atmosphere just got better. I was also really pleased to meet a fellow runner from twitter, @NiamhHoner. Always great to put a face to the name!
The starting line was a great setup; marked off in three ‘waves’. The first wave was for runners who expected to finish in under 40 minutes, the second for 40-50 minutes and the third wave for 50+ minutes. As I had a goal of 1:10:00 I stood in the third wave pen, towards the front. Normally, I’d be in the very back, but a workmate of mine (also a runner) had texted me to say ‘no hanging around at the back’! What choice did I have?! 😀
The starting line was a looooong way off from this starting pen! But, once over 3000 runners took their places, it was easy to see why!
Waiting at the start wasn’t bad. I couldn’t see or hear the warm up activities very well, but I could see loads of people participating, hands in the air or jumping up and down. The atmosphere was good, people seemed cheerful and I was really looking forward to getting started.
Once the gun went off it took a while to get to the actual starting line, once I crossed the line I started running, slowly, as usual!
The weather was exactly the kind I like to run in. Cool, overcast and the occasional light rain. Miles 1 and 2 went really well. I kept to my pace and just enjoyed the beauty of the park setting. The race marshals were great, cheering people on and so I smiled back and said ‘thanks’ and kept going. I managed to pass a few people, which is always a boost of confidence, and before I knew it I was at the halfway point.
Just past the 2.5 mile marker, came a long, winding hill. I knew it was coming and I followed my strategy and walked it (briskly!). Near the top I passed someone walking and he asked me if I knew the route. I said I didn’t, as it was my first, and he let me know that after this hill it would be flat for a bit with only one more hill to come. That was good to know!
At the top of this hill was a water station, which I was grateful for! I had a bottle of water with me but it’s nice to get the cold stuff! Big thanks to everyone at the station, and the clean up crew too!
So, over half way there, re-hydrated and feeling good, I kept going.
Just after the mile 3 marker I started to feel the exertion, and I was struggling with the voice in my head again. Luckily it didn’t take me long to subdue the ‘I can’t do this’ thoughts, and I pushed on.
Because I had been in wave three, my race wasn’t congested with runners. I passed walkers and people pushing buggies, so I wasn’t totally alone but I wasn’t crowded either. That was perfect. I still felt part of the race, but had all the space and peace I needed. The route was also beautiful in terms of scenery so once I got my confidence back, I was really enjoying myself.
Just before mile 4 there was the second hill, which I walked/jogged up. It was tough, and halfway up I took out that packet of sweets and nibbled a few. I didn’t want to over do it as I know you shouldn’t try anything new during a race, so I only had a little bit. I think it helped though!
At mile 4, the heavens opened and the clouds unleashed a downpour. It was torrential! My light grey running shirt turned black from the soaking, my shoes are obviously not waterproof but I had no choice but to splash through puddles! It was bucketing down! The rain didn’t stop me though! Might have slowed me down, but it didn’t stop me.
The rain let up pretty quickly, so I sloshed on towards the finish line and on my way I started to see finishers heading home. I even saw one of my workmates I hadn’t known was running the race. He high fived me and I kept going. The finish line was in sight!
Towards the finish line some more finishers were cheering people on, and the announcer must have had a list of names/race numbers because he called me by name. I was exhilarated to have finished and so was smiling and waving at all the cameras. I crossed the finish line and…
And I nearly burst into tears. I was so happy, and proud and relieved all at once! I managed to contain myself though, and picked up my goodie bag, t-shirt and race reward (a sport backpack which is pretty awesome, I gotta say!). I also got some water and fruit which was much appreciated!
The race times were posted online really quickly (I really appreciated the text I got saying they were up!) and so I was delighted when I saw I had finished in 1:12:47. I know I wanted to finish in 1:10 but ultimately, I just wanted to beat my last 5 mile race time, and I did! I had my run tracker on the whole time and my splits are fairly even, although they are in km so I can’t break them down for the miles I did. Doesn’t matter though, I got a PB and I’m ecstatic!
All in all this was a very well organised race; I appreciated the provision of a shuttle bus at the park gate (which also took me back to the gate after the race), the water stations were well manned and there was plenty of water available, the marshals were encouraging and cheerful and I noticed the race was well patrolled by paramedics and first aiders. The course was challenging but not impossible, the route was stunning and clearly marked, the start and finish were well laid out. The goodies were brilliant and although some runners have mentioned the t-shirt isn’t the best quality, I wouldn’t know as I have nothing to compare it to and so I like it!
I wish I could run some of the other races in this series, particularly the 10k in July, but the timing doesn’t work for me and so I can’t. Some of the races I wouldn’t feel ready for either in terms of distance. But, there is always next year!
In fact, will absolutely run this race again next year! It was challenging and fun, and that along with a PB is a combination that for me, makes for a brilliant race!