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It’s been over a week since my last post – it would be an understatement to say that I was a little distracted last week thinking about the looming marathon. I hope to get back to posting recipes this week as my stiff and sore legs recover. The good news is: I did it! I ran a marathon yesterday. Here are a few photos from the weekend, taken by Matt, the most supportive hubsy on planet earth.

On Saturday we went to the race expo at the RDS to pick up my race number.

Here I am, looking nervous, realizing that I’m really going to run a marathon in 2 days. A few weeks ago I had a dream that it was the day of the marathon and I had forgotten to pick up my race number! I didn’t forget.

There were lots of booths with different vendors selling running gear and energy drinks and other running-related products. We walked around for a few minutes but we didn’t buy anything.

Collecting my goodie bag.

Getting ready the morning of the race – I was feeling really excited to finally run.

The race organizers advised us to wear a garbage bag to the race so you can just take it off and throw it away at the start and then you don’t have to check a bag. I biked to the Luas (a train) and took that into town. I decided not to bike all the way in to the start because I didn’t know if I would be able to bike home afterwards. I’m really glad I didn’t bike all the way in!

It was really busy on the Luas and at the start. I planned to get there early so I would have time to go to the bathroom and get lined up – but everyone else also planned to do this. I found the section where I was supposed to start and then went to find a toilet. There were some toilets on an adjacent street, but there were only 5 and there were already at least 50 people lined up! I waited in line for at least 30 minutes and made it to the starting line just in time. The garbage bag really did help keep me warm.

I started at the front of wave 2 – the section for runners aiming to finish in 3:45 – 4:15. I really had no idea how long it would take me when I was registering so I figured this time zone would be a safe bet. I’m glad that I was able to start right at the front of wave 2 because the crowd thinned out really quickly and I had lots of space to run without having to weave in and out to dodge other runners. It probably would have been slower starting at the back of wave 1. I felt really great at the beginning – it felt so surreal to finally be running the marathon. It was such a different experience to be running down the middle of the empty streets with no traffic – usually the city centre is packed with traffic. I tried to take it easy and not go too fast at the start; however, I decided not to look at my watch at all or try to keep track of my pace so I was just gauging it by how I felt. At the time it felt nice and easy, not too fast.

By the time I got to the 10 km mark in Phoenix Park, the clock read 59 minutes – I couldn’t believe I had already been running for an hour! But because I started in wave 2, it was actually only 49 minutes – I knew that I was running pretty fast but I still felt good so I just kept going. At the 10 mile mark I checked my watch just to see how fast I was going – 1:19! I did the 10 mile race in August in 1:18. I knew that I was probably going too fast. When I did the 10 mile race I felt like I was really pushing it and I didn’t feel like that at the 10 mile mark in the marathon so I decided to just go with it and not force myself to slow down.

It felt great getting to the halfway point – I still felt really strong and the clock read 1:45. If I could keep up my pace I’d finish in 3:30. After about mile 14 I started to get a bit bored, I find running and training for a marathon as much of a mental battle as a physical one. I knew Matt was going to be waiting for me outside of our house at mile 20 so I tried to focus on getting myself there. Miles 14 – 20 kind of flew by – I must have managed to think about something other than running. I was so excited to see Matt waiting for me. He took some pictures and handed me a water bottle and ran with me for a little while. It was nice to chat to him for a few minutes and then I waved good-bye and kept going. He headed into town to meet me at the finish line.

There was one small hill just past our house that I have run up a thousand times. I knew it was going to be hard but I slowly managed to get to the top. At about mile 21 my legs started to get really stiff and sore – I decided to briefly walk through a water station and stretch my legs for a few seconds. I started running again and it took everything in me to convince myself to keep running to the finish – I really wanted to walk. The last 5 miles were definitely the longest and the hardest – my legs did not want to go any further. I somehow managed to slowly finish without stopping to walk again. I was amazed by the people who were speeding up at the end to get across the finish line – I had nothing left – it was all I could do to just keep running.

I couldn’t believe the relief I felt crossing the finish line – I almost burst into tears – but managed to hold them back until I found Matt! My time was 3:39. I could hardly walk after finishing – I had to walk so so slowly to get around Merrion Square. Everything was sore and I was dying to sit down but at the same time I knew if I sat down I wouldn’t be able to get back up. I found Matt and changed into dry clothes and we walked to BoBo’s Burgers for a celebration feast!

Overall it was an amazing experience for me – I loved it! I can’t believe it’s over now – it feels like a dream now after the months of training and preparing. Even though I only missed qualifying for Boston by 4 minutes, I’m still really happy with my time. I went for a little bike ride this morning and tried to walk around a bit to loosen up my legs. I also had a nap this afternoon and now I’m waiting for the groceries to be delivered so I can go to bed. Back to my hospital placement tomorrow!

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