Waterford Viking Marathon
4:58am, June 30, 2011
Woo! T-minus a couple of minutes till I have to drag my groggy head out of bed, and pretty soon I’ll be drinking enough coffee to kill a small hippo (Editor’s note: Don’t kill hippos, they’re endangered). I feel a familiar twinge in my left shin – a souvenir from the Midnight Marathon in Leixlip – my right heel feels like a brick and I know it will so much worse after this is over.
The Waterford Viking Marathon is on today. It’s the first time Waterford has hosted a full-length marathon and there should be around 1,000 runners on the course today. For me, it’s number nine of the year, nearly halfway through the Running for Reachout challenge.
5.45am-8.00am, June 30, 2011
More coffee, a couple of bagels and a lucozade later, and I’m on the road from Louth to Waterford. I feel like I should be more pumped up, but it’s spilling rain on the M1 and unfortunately the only radio station I can pick up is 2FM, which is in the middle of its own marathon of moody angst-pop.
Otherwise, the trip goes swimmingly; the weather eventually picks up and I’m making good time. My phone runs out of charge at a petrol station on the M9 and I find myself staring longingly at the blank screen, wondering if I’ve missed any important Facebook status updates. Hmmm, I think I have a problem…..
The weirdest thing just happened! While getting changed at Waterford IT, I had two scoops of 4:1 High 5 all-in-one energy drink. Instantly, every pain and ache vanished; mere moments beforehand, I was concerned about being able to even finish, now I feel like I can run a sub 3-hour. It truly is the breakfast of champions!
We have a good gang in attendance from the 100 Marathon Club, making the short bus-trip from Waterford IT to the Mall. We arrive with just enough time to run through a last-minute checklist:
Gels & Gear ✓
Timing chip/number ✓
Garmin/heart-rate monitor ready ✓
With literally moments to go before we start, I’m told that iPods are banned from the race for safety reasons – looks like I have to spend the next few hours listening to my own feet cracking off the road. Dammit.
And we’re off!! The first mile takes us on a loop past the Custom House quays and back again. Everyone’s still pretty comfortable and chatty; topics of conversation include next year’s Tralee marathon, the upcoming 24 hour race in Bangor, just exactly how much of a wuss I was for pulling out of last week’s race in Salthill (the consensus was “a huge wuss”) and so on. After about two or three miles, most of the club members pull away. I keep going with Pat and Jimmy for the most of the first half. So far, so good.
Then nearly halfway through, this happened.
At this point, once I hit the hill from hell, I’m slowing right down. I’m no longer keeping up with any of the 100 Club lads, both my feet are swollen, my shin feels like it has a stress fracture … and there’s still just over half the race still to come! By the time we get out off the country-roads and into Tramore, I’m running completely flat-footedly and have precious little mobility left in my ankles. The split times take a nose-dive.
I should mention that the 18-minute mile was when I met Deirdre from the Waterford sports injury clinic; she gave me a quick leg massage at the side of the road and loosened out my ankles. So at this point, I’ve basically given up. My quads are gone, I’ve gone from a shuffle to a walk and not even a particularly fast walk at that.
Then, like a damn mirage or some other manner of exhaustion-induced illusion, the 35-marathon man randomly pops up in front of me.
That’s Alan Corcoran; I mentioned him once before on the blog because he just ran a 917-mile long lap of Ireland in aid of the Irish Heart Foundation, consisting of 35 marathons in 35 days. The Waterford Viking Marathon was his final marathon. And all kidding aside, he’s an amazing dude and you should definitely check out his campaign on his website and here on Facebook and Twitter.
So anyway, I look up and Alan’s randomly popped up a few metres in front of me. On the spot, I decided that if this guy could run and finish 35 consecutive marathons, I could stick with him for the last 5.2 miles (turned out to be nearly 5.4).
Which turned out not to be easy at all. At this stage, I had been contemplating perhaps walking 15-minute miles for the rest of the race. Meanwhile, Alan and the two guys on bicycles with him have other plans and are hauling ass, going ten minutes and under in the last stages. Gradually I loosen up slightly, and we start passing more and more guys until eventually we reached the RSC race-track and I …. well, got a bit of ahead of myself and stopped running at the entrance-gate, thinking it was the finish-line. Cue a mad 200-yard dash to the ACTUAL finish-line!
By the end of that, Alan was in SIGNIFICANTLY better shape than I was, somersaulting over line while I looked like I was just about to keel over it.
So ended a bloody hard day out in Waterford. So that’s nine marathons now completed and I’m looking forward to three weeks off until the Kennedy Kane MacArthur Centenary in Antrim. Well done to Liam Farrell (a fellow Drogheda & District AC member running on the day), the guys and girls from the 100 Club and of course Alan, who you can sponsor by checking out his donations page here. If you’d like to sponsor me, I have these fantastic little green buttons you can click on (cos I’m so techy!) And if you do, I will loudly proclaim your awesomeness from my twitter-hilltop!
Oliver started running marathons last March and has completed nine of them so far in aid of ReachOut – for more information about the work of ReachOut and the Inspire Foundation, check out their Website