And so onto Sunday, and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Dublin 10k. The course followed the same route as the Half Marathon before turning off for the finish in Phoenix Park via the Chapelizod Road gates, not that I have a clue whereabouts that is!
From memory, the 8:30am start was the earliest I’ve ever had to race … that meant leaving my room in Trinity at around 7am and making my way to the start at the 3Arena (or the Point Depot in old money!).
Remember how I said in my 5k blog that Dawn and I kept bumping into the same people over and over again? Well, it happened again. I got to the Luas stop on Abbey Street and, lo and behold, there was the little Spanish man standing waiting – and pretty soon the Brummie couple turned up too. It was good to catch up with them and nice of them to ask how Dawn had got on in the 5k which, of course, I waxed lyrical about.
The tram came … and went. It was absolutely jam packed so I decided to wait for the next one although the longer the wait went on I started to consider walking to the start. It was only about 20-30 minutes away so easily doable. Indeed, quite a few people did start dandering down before, another tram turned up which I managed to squeeze onto – quite literally. My butt cheeks became quite acquainted with the door by the time we reached our destination!
Anyway, I got there eventually, sorted out my baggage, left it onto the truck and made my way to the starting pens. I felt quite relaxed, I’ve been here many times now so all the old nerves have largely disappeared … indeed, I get more nervous going for a run on my own than I do in a race these days. Or maybe it was the AC/DC soundtrack playing over the PA system that helped!
The race started and off I went, feeling quite comfortable despite two very long days during which I’d taken a combined total of almost 60,000 steps.
The opening kilometre or so was along one side of the river (the O’Connell Street side) before we crossed the Talbot Memorial Bridge onto the Temple Bar side of the city centre.
The route hugged the course of the Liffey for a large proportion apart from one detour up to Christ Church Cathedral and a real bugger of a hill. Short but very sharp although this really was a case of what goes up must come down and at one point as we doubled back I was able to see how many people were behind me … and there were loads! This gave me a real impetus to push on because I sensed I was on course for a decent time.
Back we went to the river, past the gates of the Guinness Storehouse and on to Heuston Station before turning off for the grounds of the Royal Kilmainham Hospital and then the outskirts of Kilmainham Gaol.
It was around this point that something quite remarkable happened. I was running along, minding my own business, before suddenly becoming aware of these people shouting my name.
My immediate thought was to look around to see if someone with ‘Martin’ on their shirt was nearby but I couldn’t see anyone. I know I didn’t have it on mine because I was wearing my club shirt.
So I went on again but, within seconds, the shouts came once more. Just behind me were a group of people dressed up like rockers from the band KISS – painted white face, black wigs, rock gear and, ummm, inflatable guitars …. the whole look.
They were shouting at me but I hadn’t a clue who they were. “Who are you? Do I know you?” I hollered back ….. amazingly, it turned out to be Allison, Emma and Chris from my running club who were down as part of a larger group doing the Half Marathon in costume.
I thought this was fantastic and hilarious in equal measure so, after the obligatory selfie and chat, we set off running together. They’re all faster than me (not hard, admittedly!) so I only managed to stay with them for a short while although I caught up again soon after when they stopped to play some air guitar with one of the many bands along the route.
Leaving them to it, I ran on with the final words of Emma ringing in my ears “Don’t you dare let us catch you!” and I didn’t. It really motivated me to keep plugging away for the last couple of kilometres.
As I approached the end the 10k runners were instructed to take the left side of the road to turn into Phoenix Park. As I did I expected the finish line to be right in front of me, but I couldn’t see it. Instead, all I could see was this mass of runners away in the distance and at a great height.
Instinctively I thought I had to go all the way up there and, I’ll admit, it really threw me. So I started walking, quite demoralised, until one bloke shouted at me that the finish line was just ahead of me and those runners were on the Half route … and, sure enough, as I turned the slight bend on the road, I could see the 10k finish a couple of hundred yards away.
Immediately I sprinted for it as hard and fast as I could, spotting Dawn standing on the right side. In my mind I was all graceful and Gazelle-like but, after seeing the only official picture of me, I was more like a lumbering juggernaut. Ah well.
In the end, I was pretty pleased with my time. I was faster for the fourth consecutive race so, all told, a satisfactory performance and a really great experience.