Covid 19 restrictions started in March of this year and it quickly became apparent that there would be no large marathons anywhere in the world. No harm I thought given that I had not been overly impressed with the way the last couple had gone.
2020 training never started for me owing to a bad back injury which stopped everything. This is not an excuse or a plea for sympathy simply a reminder what amazing things we have and take for granted every day. When the 2km limit from home came into play it was ideal because it was just about the distance I could manage. With much physio and a little core work I was back at it. Things were going nicely and then between one thing and another it was soon back to square one or was it too much too soon ?
It is amazing how quickly you can make progress and it is even more amazing how it can be undone so it took a few weeks of tough sessions to get to any half decent level of running.
When the Dublin Marathon organisers started talking about a virtual marathon it was a case of No way to a Why not? It will be one like no other even if the medal is nowhere to be had.
Training for a marathon really requires you get in the zone doing the runs, the core and what ever recovery activity pleases you. I did not a huge amount of training done this year. I trained when I could making the core sessions and the long runs the unmissable days.
As anyone knows if you are doing a long run of 10 -12 miles per week it can be daunting to increase to 14,16 and beyond. However with a bit of determination I was before long at the exciting 20 mile mark. There is something that makes marathon runners get up early at the weekends and do those long runs. To be honest I do not know what it is but you never regret going out and the weather was great every weekend.
This year did not require all the travel preparations and all that goes with that so one less thing to worry about. Essentially just doing a long training run. One drawback was having no competitive races all year meant there was no base mark for you to measure yourself.
Galway is small so picking a route was difficult without looping and having too many hills or crossings.
Leaving out the water and other bits last Sunday was funny as you had to think where will I leave them so its easy to grab and go. During the run I found it the extra packaging did not stop the birds peaking them open to see what was inside. Start line atmosphere was sadly non existent. How mad it is to think that just one year ago you would be standing in the middle of 20000 odd runners all coughing and spluttering right beside each other. As soon as I got out of the car on the Prom I was given a rude awakening as to how difficult this would be as when I was literally blown back by the force of the wind. The original plan was changed straight away and I was lucky to be within 5km of Dangan where I completed most of the run. There are so many things you take for granted in a big marathon :water stations been one and the closed road the other. Like you have no idea the stress trying to second guess pedestrians and dog walkers as they take their gentle Sunday morning stroll. It was nice to pass the Green Dome of The Cathedral and NUIG some of our city landmarks. The shelter of Dangan was a dream and even if the pitches and car parks did get a bit dizzying after a while it was great to get some structure to the run .
I had said earlier it was great to have the long runs done in good weather but I paid for that as I encountered hailstones, rain showers and a gale force wind over the next few miles. It was some of the worst weather I have ran in ever.
A nice little hill or two for good measure, more hailstones and rain, the brain starts to water and you say keep the head and the wits about you. Now where did I leave the last bottle of water and then it hits you. You are at the 21mile mark and well on the way for home. If you were in Dublin now you would have passed Heartbreak Hill and be heading for Nutley Lane/ Merrion Road, along the Seine in Paris with the Tour Eiffel on your left or down 5th Avenue with Central Park ahead. I count myself lucky and grateful to have ran by them all at some point.
It would be great to have that carnival finish & cheering at this point but all you get is the whistling of the Salthill gale. Then one final gallop or crawl its over the line and its done 26.2 miles a long run timed to precision. Every year brings more learning’s but this year will be one that lingers long because it was one like no other. I often compare a marathon to a football match yet the difference is a football team has a backroom team ready to make changes as necessary. On the marathon road there are no luxuries like that its you ,your head and your watch.
There is something about the marathon it just get compels you go back. That is 12 done for me. While I have made great progress there is always a feeling you can do better. So here is to many more and having the health to do them which is what we all take for granted every year. This years route meant I did not pass St James Hospital in Dublin at mile 12 a poignant spot given the successful treatment my Dad had there a few years ago and we are blessed it went well. This run was dedicated to Dad but also to his brother our uncle Jimmy who sadly was not so lucky and passed away after a short illness. A wonderful family man and talented sportsman as well who even took on the All Blacks in Rugby. (Sadly his talent did not pass this way).
Be thankful for those bodies because every day we can get out & use them it is not such a bad day. Wishing everyone the best in these challenging times.
An article by David Glynn who lives in Galway city.