Culan O Meara, 2.50 in DCM 2017!
Another instalment of the GCH Dublin Marathon story for 2017 , thanks to Culan O Meara for another great piece of writing on his superb run this year.. 'Where to start? The emotion of the day, the crowds, the amazing support from GCH along the route and the afterglow! It still makes me smile. The best running experience of my career was a long time in the making, both physically and mentally. From running laps of the town as 'training' back in school in the 80's and 90's, doing triathlons with Galway Tri, the cross-country outings and the Cathedral runs. Here's my story from DCM 2017: I was determined, when I returned to running last October, that I wasn't going to put all my eggs in one basket, having run a total of 234km over the course of the previous year!! I'm not sure if I even qualified to have a basket such was my derisory running total. Memories of my last marathon and a failed attempt to get under 3hrs at DCM 2013 were still fresh. That day I was bang on target at 13 miles on the clock but mentally I knew I was goosed before I had ran out through the park. A mile later I was walking, debating whether or not to do a Radcliffe and just sit on the kerb and hope someone brought me home. I struggled on running, and afterwards I determined never to experience those feelings again! So, no talk of eggs or marathons. For now, just get out running and enjoy it. With a couple of months solid running under my belt, I joined up with Jerome's group in the hope that the group dynamic and a tailored plan would get me through the winter runs and in good shape. Jump forward 5 months, with new PB's in the bag at 5km, 8km, 10km, 10 mile and half-marathon, I registered for the Dublin Marathon. All eggs in basket. Here we go. I had been told to forget about the 3hr barrier and go low. With my previous attempt at the marathon going the way it did, that idea was hard to get my head around at first but I thought that with the year having gone so well if it all goes pear-shaped at the marathon I would still have had an amazing year. So all in for a low time at DCM 2017. The long runs got longer and the weeks were shaped by trying to figure out where and when to get the runs in: Kids? What kids? Work? What work? Family looking to visit? I can fit you in for a quick visit between 12:05 and 12:07 this Saturday but don't sneeze on me or else. In the weeks leading up to the race, I was getting severe hypochondria! I visited Ian Egan, convinced my hamstring was gone. He had seen this before and talked me down from the ledge. I am not injured, it's all in the head! Night before the marathon: I was working out my strategy for the race. Take a gel every 10k, take on water at every station, sit in with a group if possible and hide from the wind. Run easy for the first half, have pace alerts on my watch only every 5k. With the course so undulating, don't panic if the timing is a bit off. All set!! At start, was great to see the rest of the GCH crew. After the winter miles will it be Autumn smiles for us all? Perfect weather conditions, no excuses. Here goes... First few km, stayed relaxed trying to contain the adrenaline pushing me faster. Running through the park and out the far side, I was suddenly overcome with emotion. It was in the park back in 2013 that I knew I wasn't going well. Having made it out the far side feeling comfortable I welled up. Cop the hell on and get on with it... Got chatting with a runner alongside me, trying to suss each other out...would he be a good guy to tag along with and him thinking the same! We ran together for a bit, joining up with more runners but I didn't feel comfortable with their pacing so I let them off. Next focus was half way, got thought there in good shape feeling fresh at 1:25:36. Could see my running buddy and his group up ahead. I was collecting two gels from my family at Terenure so that distracted me for the next few kms. At Terenure, as I was coming up to the hand-off, I passed a few of the Galway lads, their days not going as planned. Words of encouragement given and received. I hoped they could find their second wind. Was I too comfortable? Was the wall coming for me too? Cleared my mind of those negative thoughts and pushed on. As the km makers went by, the group I had let go of was still up ahead. It was getting smaller and smaller. I passed my friend from the park. More words of encouragement but I knew he wasn't going well. There were people pulling up all over the place. Don't get distracted, you're doing fine. Up the hill, and heading towards UCD. Turned the corner on to the dual carriageway and the wind hit me. I looked around for a place to hide but I was on my own about 100 metres behind the next runner. So much for the pre-race strategy. Time to dig in I suppose. Around and on to the finishing stretch which stretched on forever it seemed. When will I see the 42km marker? Checked my pace: I was definitely slowing down, tried to increase my foot speed to compensate. Head down and keep driving on. No more watch or pace just run it home. Hard work is done, push now! 40,41,42 and there it is. Over the line. 2:50:51. Job done. Lessons learnt: Join a club(preferably GCH...amazing people and even better supporters!). Train with a group(#TeamJerome). Believe in yourself(if you don't, how can anyone else?). Test your limits.You'll probably need to experience the bad days before can find the really good days. Listen to your body. Find out what works for you. Oh and most importantly, buy your families huge Christmas presents as they've had to listen to you talking about running for 9 months now and you're still at it ;)'