Looking back now i feel i had not prepared sufficiently for the marathon, felt i was carrying probably up to a stone too much body weight, not enough long runs (15 milers) under the belt or even tempo runs but to be honest i dont think any of these factors would have changed or helped me in what i faced in Cork on June 1st 2009.
An old landlady rang me to give me good wishes a week before the marathon and i told her that a good finish would in my opinion be weather dependent as strong winds or heavy rain would certainly affect the run, so she assured me that she would place the child of Prague out her back garden 3 days before the marathon which would keep the rain away. Well good god, did that little statue do its work or what!!!!!!!
6am rise on June 1st and after the usual preparation and trying to shove porridge down the neck (enough to sustain energy for run, yet not too much to cause sick tummy) i waited to be collected outside the hotel at 8am. Vals dad pulled up for me, a bubbly good humoured man who pointed out some local points of interest as well as his old home and school en route to City Hall. Arriving at city hall we got the pong of deep heat some 300m away. The usual bag drop off, loo break etc and we headed off to the start line. The chat was good as our 2 Cork girls revelled in their own native city and pointed out to us that it was "The Real Capital you know" We got within 200 feet of the start line, which was amazing.
Sonia O sullivan came on loud speaker to wish us all well, and warned us all to drink lots of water throughout the run. The clock read 8:45 and i felt very nervous as the sun felt very intense already and i knew only worse was to come. Gerry the solo wheelchair athlete set off to huge applause at 8:55 which can only have been a long arduous journey for him. And then at 9am sharp the siren went and we began our marathon. The atmosphere was amazing. Thousand of Cork men, women and children lined our route out of Patrick street and beyond. It really stunned me the volume of people that were up and out at 9am on a bank holiday Monday morning to support us, truly amazing. At mile marker 1 my tummy was nervous as the beads of sweat rolled down my face and the very light practical non-existent wind ,it was hot and sticky.
We ran along the first 5 miles, i was getting great advice from my experienced marathon runners to run under shade when possible and cool with water form outside as well as inside. I stuck with my plan of averaging 8:50min per mile pace as i felt the more miles i could put in at this pace earlier in the run it would allow me to slow some what when the temperatures hit higher closer to midday heat. On entering the Jack Lynch tunnel i was now running alone, still averaging my 8:50. The next 4 miles were tough but i felt ok however i was conscious that my pace was slowing. At half way point i hit a low when i saw my time was 1:57. I knew then my goal of sub 4hrs was a mere miracle, feeling the only thing that could save me was a huge cloud over the searing sun. But no, the sky was bright blue without a cloud in sight. I struggled to mile 16 and from here to mile 18 hit my lowest spot of the marathon.
The thirst became unbearable and even grabbing 2 water bottles at a time at each water stop i felt i couldnt cool down. It didnt seem to matter how much water i drank my mouth was still dry. A relay runner ran beside me for maybe half a mile and must have seen the anguish in my face, she shouted to me in a distinctive Cork accent "come on girl, dont you dare give up now, you have a hard 1 mile up ahead then a long straight 2 miles and then your practically home, now dig deep and stay going. It will be so worth it when you cross that line." So i did what she said and dug as deep as i possibly could. I will be forever grateful to E4141. Another little high occurred at mile 23 when Sonia cruised pass me, i shouted to her and she gave me a little wave and thank you.
From here on i now began to feel elation as this torture would all be soon over and that i indeed would finish the run. At mile 24 i looked at my watch and i had 17 mins left to reach my sub 4 goal but my feet were now sloshing full of water, my legs were numb and i knew i was running deep within my reserves as it was so i just was happy to put my goal out of my mind. My relay running colleague met me around mile 25 with screams of encouragement, dowsing me with her water bottle. Derv i am forever grateful and hope some day to repay the compliment. At mile 26 Derv left me with a big clap in the back and i could already hear the cheers that awaited me. I crossed the bridge and faced in towards Patrick Street. The atmosphere and applause that awaited me cannot be put into words.
The pains left every part of my body as i accelerated towards the end line. The guy on loud speaker clearly called out my name and more to the point running club to huge applause. The crowd made me feel like i was in the top 10 home. I passed the line in 4hrs 04mins on my watch. What a feeling!!!
Every body runs marathons for their own reasons, mine was a recovery from a low point in my life some months ago that only some close friends and close running colleagues know about. To you people i am forever grateful.
I have to make a special tribute to my running colleague and now close friend Valerie Fogarty, thank you for putting me back on the road…………..You have been my rock.
P.S: Child of Prague for hire, i'd bet i'd get 500 euro a day, what ye think?????????????????????/