Rock ‘n’ Roll Dublin 5k

What a successful weekend of running that was!

The latest in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon series was taking place in Dublin and after discussing it with my friend Dawn we decided to make our way to the Irish capital to take in some of the races being held.

I opted for the 5k on Saturday and the 10k followed by the Fun Run on Sunday whilst Dawn, who had crossed the Irish Sea for the weekend, opted for the 5k and Fun Run.

This is the story of the 5k.

Arriving in the city on Friday we immediately went to the packet pickup in the classic grounds of Trinity College in the heart of the city. I was also staying here, and it definitely added a sense of grandeur to the entire experience.

Registration etc. was extremely swift and straightforward and in a matter of minutes we had collected all our various documents, race numbers and so on. Indeed, that efficiency was more or less the case across the whole weekend.

I say ‘more or less’ because the only real hitch of any description came on Saturday morning when trying to make our way to the famous Phoenix Park for the 5k. As we collected our number we were given ‘final’ instructions which, amongst other things, detailed transport options including shuttle buses to get to the starting line.

Unfortunately, at least in the case of the 5k, these instructions contradicted themselves. We arrived at the designated stop and met a man from Spain who was also waiting. Pretty soon a chap who had done the RnR Liverpool event turned up, followed after that by a couple from Birmingham or thereabouts, judging by their accents ….. all of us in the correct place as per the instructions.

What made this noteworthy is that we kept bumping into these same people over and over again during the weekend. There were thousands in Dublin for the various races yet we kept seeing the same people. What were the odds of that happening? It was quite amusing really and also good to follow each others progress.

After a short discussion we determined that no bus was turning up and that the instructions were wrong, so we all made our way to the nearby Luas stop to get the tram to Heuston Station on the other side of the city centre whereupon shuttle buses *were* waiting to take us the short distance to the starting area.

I should say at this point that Dawn is very new to running. She has recently completed a C25K programme at her local club, and had only ever ran two 5ks – a Race For Life and her nearby parkrun – both in the last few weeks.

On top of that, as an asthma sufferer, she finds it very difficult to regulate her breathing whilst running, attends regular physio sessions for a number of leg and foot issues and less than a year ago went through shockwave therapy to treat a serious Plantar Fasciitis problem.  The fact that she runs at all is nothing short of astonishing.

I mention all this because it’s very relevant to what followed.

As we wandered around the starting village I could notice Dawn getting very nervous. This was a huge event for her. She was worried about her breathing, the tightness in her calves, her Achilles …. and she was also warning me that she’d be rubbish, a far worse runner than I thought she’d be, grumpy, slow and so on.

I am no stranger to pre-run ‘sick with worry’ nerves and our finishing time didn’t bother me in the slightest. My only concern was staying with Dawn from the start line to the finish, and doing what was required to get her through. This was all about her.

The race itself was a triumph, it really was.

We set off at a steady pace …. and just kept going. That’s right, we kept going. Apart from one very brief section of around 200 metres at the bottom of a slope Dawn ran the whole thing. I’m pretty sure that faced with the same route again she would tackle the rise because there was another one shortly afterwards that she did run up, almost getting to the top before even realising it was there!

And not only did we keep going, we got faster in the second half of the run, started to pass quite a few people and finished inside the time Dawn had predicted for herself.

Coming down the long finishing strait was a special moment, a goosebumps type of thing, knowing that Dawn completed it and absolutely smashed it.

In my mind I likened it to how I felt turning onto The Mall at the end of the London Marathon. I felt so much pride for Dawn, knowing what it would have meant to her, such a massive accomplishment.

Personally, I had no doubt she’d do it. I had total and utter confidence in her. A massive well done from me. Excuse the pun but she absolutely ‘rocked’ it.

Relive my run


Norman Normal from Normalsville

Not really an awful lot to say about tonight’s run. A bog standard normal Monday night outing with Ballymena Runners.

I needed to get back reasonably sharpish so I decided just to go with the 30 minute group and then run the rest of the way home to bring me up to 5k, I didn’t have time to do the usual five miles but 5k is still a reasonable wee run.

All told it went pretty well. I ran well within myself, taking advantage of the chance to loosen my legs when it was available but also tucking into the pack for a bit of breather when I felt like it.

Route wise we headed down through the retail park, over Harryville Bridge, along the Larne Road then Wakehurst before turning right to go up Queen Street and back through the retail park again. All pretty relaxed really, no drama and no tantrums.

In other news, I confirmed my place in the Belfast City Half Marathon next month – and that means I’ll have to start following a regimented training plan fairly soon.

In fact, this weekend in Dublin is the perfect start to that.

I know I’m already mentally race ready having done quite a few recently but when it comes to working up to the distance again I’ll do around 7.5 miles this Sunday in Dublin and then increase my weekend long run by 1.5 miles per week so that by the time the race comes round on September 17th I’ll have prepared well. I’ll even have the luxury of a short taper!

Relive my run

Kells 5 Miles

Well, I have to say, I really enjoyed that.

Going into the Kells 5 Mile race I only really had one sole aim in mind – don’t come last – which I didn’t but the fact that I had a lot of fun into the bargain was an added and very much unexpected bonus.

I’d heard that it was a friendly and relaxed event, and it really was. It was small, which undoubtedly helped, there were absolutely loads of people from my club there – spectating and competing – and the whole morning had a sort of village fete feel about it.

Staggered over four events, the 5-mile race was the third to set off which meant we’d be finishing in amongst the half-marathon entrants and that suited me down to the ground, even if I did come last no-one would know until they checked the results later and by then I’d be long gone!

Chatting to a number of others 5-milers it was good to see everyone else had the same worries about the course – was it hilly, did the downs compensate for the ups etc. etc.

It was also good to meet a number of people I only ever see at races, and someone from a Facebook running group who, despite living down the road from me and competing in a lot of the same events, I’ve never actually bumped into in real life. What was even nicer was at the end she came back after she had finished to wait for me and run the last few hundred yards with me. There truly is such a thing as the running family.

Anyway, what about the actual race?

Everyone went off very fast and almost from the beginning I was right at the back – the very back, last in fact.

However, that didn’t worry me too much. I knew from looking at the speed and from previous races that there were a few in front of me that I could catch so I made that my focus.

Sure enough, pretty soon I had caught the first person. I stayed with her for a little while out of courtesy and then moved on, opening up a gap on her whilst still mindful that she might put a bit of a sprint on and go past me again. That wasn’t going to be allowed to happen. If I kept her behind me then I wouldn’t finish last, and that would be my objective for the day achieved.

That clearly helped my mental state because I began to enjoy the run, despite the undulating course.

I could see a few others in front of me so I made that my next target. One of them was a girl from my club so I gradually closed in on her, perhaps catching her at around the halfway point.

By that stage I was perfectly happy to stay with her for the rest of the run so that we could encourage each other, have a chat and so on. In fact, we perhaps chatted a little too much at one point, dropping back into a walk during a steeper part of the course and then forgetting to run when it levelled out! Oops.

That had a bit of an impact on my time, so going into the last couple of kilometres I upped the pace, going almost two minutes quicker than what I had done previously.

Turning for the home strait it was lovely to see the aforementioned girl waiting for me, and offering to run the final stretch. The same happened the girl from the club who I’d spent half the race with, she also had a running partner for the last few hundred metres.

The encouragement at the end from those who had already finished was great too, so I made a point of returning there once I had collected my medal and burger (!) to cheer the half marathon finishers home.

So, despite my reservations about this event, I have to say I bloody loved it and will definitely be signing up again next year!

Relive my run