The morning of the marathon I woke up full of fear, trepidation and unbridled joy. The build up to the marathon had been difficult but it was the day I was going to do it, complete the marathon and join the 1% club.
At no point did I seriously consider giving up. I’d trained for too long and sacrificed so much time to be here, plus I had the honour of being physically capable of completing the marathon. When we passed Alanna’s picture at Mile 8 it took my breath away and I had to pause and take a blast of my inhaler to recover. Serendipity meant that I was with my friend Olivia for the whole 26+ miles, and because I was running for Olivia, my sister who has Multiple Sclerosis, she was a constant reminder to me.
The Difficult Bits
As a slow runner the second half of Dublin City Marathon is bleak. By the time we passed the halfway mark most of the music and cheer points were being packed up, supporters are thin on the ground, and miles 18-25 are carried out in near deathly silence until you get closer to the finish line. . Somehow my husband managed to pop up at no less than 4 points along the course with words of encouragement, sometimes with dear family members, and that was an incredible boost. Then my friend Clare appeared another 3 times and every time I saw her I nearly burst into tears.
Why the heck am I doing this to myself occurred to me somewhere around mile 18 when the idea of just snuggling into my warm bed was foremost in my mind. I was nearly hallucinating at that stage, and visualising how it would feel to nestle into the duvet with the heat on full blast and a cup of tea beside me. I pushed through a bad pain in my hip by breathing deeply and reminding myself that it would pass. Thank goodness I had packed a painkiller which I took when the next water stop arrived.
Olivia’s chats kept me going the whole way around. We set the world to rights together as we distracted ourselves from the reality of the task ahead of us. I danced at points from pure glee and Olivia thought I was nuts and told me as such. I should have listened to her more because I pulled my shoulder ‘walking like an Eygptian’ in Crumlin which I will never be allowed to live down.
Hugs And Vodka (Or Maybe Tea)
At mile 22 the cold and tiredness set in, our hands which had been swollen the whole way around from the exercise became heavier and turned into claws. At mile 24 Olivia decided that the double vodka she’d promised herself as a reward at the finish line would have to be a treble, and I fantasized once again about that cup of tea in bed.
We passed the RDS and took as many free hugs on offer from the Asics cheer team as we could muster and there it was, mile 26, where Olivia’s husband had walked back after his marathon to cheer her home. I pushed her over to grab a hug and it revitalised her. She grabbed my hand and we ran, with a little bit of her dragging me. I doubted my ability to run, I was spent.
I heard a club member calling to say that my husband and ‘the others’ were on the right hand side. I looked and there he was with my parents and one of my Uncles. I cried out and clamped my hand over my mouth for fear I’d lose it completely. Olivia didn’t realise and was so focussed on the finish line at that stage, she carried on with my hand in hers and we went for it. Here’s the video of us crossing the finish line. Note there’s a discrepancy in the clock time compared to our finish time because we were in Wave 4!
WE DID IT
That morning we had discussed a target time of 6 hours 30 mins as being achievable. We crossed the line at 6 hours 26 mins and 4 seconds on our chips; we’d beaten our target with plenty of time to spare.
Everyone had told me to smile and I had forgotten; completely overwhelmed with what we’d done.
Seconds later we were grinning and hugging don’t worry!
There’s no point in asking me if I’d do it again, I’ve already signed up for next year.
Sunday 28th of October 2018 was the most empowering day of my life and I can’t wait to see what Sunday 27th October 2019 will bring.
The Thank You’s
- Olivia (Mrs H) who buoyed me from start to finish. I am forever grateful.
- J, my husband, who did his own half marathon as he chased us over the course. He also took photos of club members on the course ahead of us and organised bags of jelly beans for us all. Not forgetting my Uncle and my parents who also came to support me.
- Clare, our fellow club member, who found us at 3 different points and walked nearly the last mile with us in her fabulous platform boots. Epic.
- The volunteers on the course on the day who always remembered to cheer and encourage us (even if it meant fibbing about the distance to the toilets). Many of our club were volunteering on the day close to the finish line and the goal of getting close enough to see them kept us going.
- The club for the laughs, hugs, support, encouragement, and for being all around amazing. I couldn’t ask for a better bunch of pals.
- R, the 19 year old, who has helped countless times by keeping an eye on the boys so I could go training and ultimately run a marathon.
- The supporters on the course on the day, particularly late in the day after all the speedy people had crossed the line and of course everybody who shouted ‘It’ll be grand Caitríona”.
- Our families and friends who offered words of support and advice.
- Every single person who read the blogs, photos, updates, and got in touch to wish me the best, you have no idea how much of a difference it made.
- If there is anyone I’ve forgotten I apologise but know that you are very much appreciated.