Events come with rewards. After all the hours of training, sometimes in the lashing rain, race day finally arrives. The reward is standing at the start line, knowing you have prepared, knowing you got this!
Dublin City Half Marathon is part of the race series in preparation for the Dublin City Marathon. It’s always in September and sometimes that can mean heat! Thankfully this year we had a cool but dry day. Overcast at first but thankfully the sun came out for a little peak. It actually got quite warm so I was glad when it clouded over again!
The route takes in and around the Phoenix park, a few hills but for the most part a fairly flat showcase of Dublin’s most famous park. The great thing about the Phoenix park is the number of monuments that realy help to take your mind off the task in hand! Lots of deers too and the odd squirrel for good measure! The biggest bonus to the half marathon is the timed pacers, they are a God send! I decided to run with the 1:50 pacer and see how it went.

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It always takes me twenty minutes are so to settle into a run, especially with the volume of people in a half marathon. Makes a big change from running everyday on your own, but I couldn’t find my comfort level! My stride seemed to be all over the place and my feet felt like they were flapping off the floor instead of gliding. My earphones were annoying me too, they just weren’t sitting comfortably and it was a little too hot at times. The pacer was always in my sights though, even when I had made the decision to let him off!

Hydration and food are especially important to me, I am always hungry during my runs! Porridge in the morning, a banana before the run, I went armed with solids and liquids. I have been experimenting with dried dates and apricots for fuel. They are working pretty well but I did get a stitch so perhaps they are a little heavy. I did have two gels and some gel shots too!! I know a lot of people can run on empty, my friend who is a runner laughed when I told her how much I had consumed! She asked me if I had a shopping trolley for all my stuff! It is a lot, but, I never fatigued. My stride may have been off and the hustle and bustle of the crowd might have been a challenge but I actually never crashed.
The great thing about a Half Marathon? It’s long but its short! By that I mean it has three phases.
Phase one is about settling in. It takes time to find your feet, rhythm and pace.  It is always hectic, people go out too fast , they burn out quickly. There is a huge sense of urgency for most, I have done enough of them to know at this stage, it’s long, so take your time. The first 8km will usually pass quite quickly.
Phase two is the hard bit!  The road opens out and the pacer hopefully is keeping you grounded. It can seem really long, especially at 16/17km, it feels like it will never end. Hydration, motivation and keeping your cool is really the only way through this phase. While it feels like a test, a bit of a back breaker it does pass.
Phase three is what it’s all about! The countdown to the finish line. Suddenly you’re on 18/ 19km and you start to get excited. It becomes achievable again. The end is near and you know you can get there. The crowd thickens and the cheers will carry you over the finish line.The pacer was still in my sights, I was feeling pretty good so I made my approach. Time to close the gap. I find it great to pick people off. By that I mean, I look ahead and find someone and target them for overtaking. When I pass them I find another “target.” It really helps me to break down the course into bite size pieces. I closed the gap and followed the pacer across the line. Phase three is the reward. The finish line arch is there, crowds cheering you in, it’s a homecoming like no other.

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A great event and definitely the Dublin race series is one for the calendar. If you’re thinking of running your first half marathon I would highly recommend this one.
Best bit? Medal at the end. Who doesn’t love a bit of bling?
Worst bit? Too hectic at the start but you get over it.
Highlight? Keeping up with the pacer and finishing sub 1:50
Lowlight? Around 15/16km, long straight road was boring

A half Marathon is a brilliant achievement, if you’re still thinking of whether or not to train for one I would tell you this. ” You will never achieve anything thinking about whether you can or you can’t. The only way to cross the finish line is to get up and try. It may not be pretty, it may be a struggle but you will be a better person for having the guts to conquer your fear”

About the Author:
Sinéad Kennedy is a Physical Therapist, Yoga Siromani and Pilates Instructor, based in South County Dublin. She treats and teaches people from all walks of life, including many athletes, especially cyclists, runners & golfers. Recently featured in the Irish Independant, FIT Magazine, her Yoga 4 Cyclists class has gained notoriety.
A keen cyclist and proud member of Orwell Wheelers she has completed numerous cycling events including La Marmotte Sportive.  Sinéad has also completed two Dublin City Marathons, numerous Adventure Races and Half Marathons. She is currently training for her third Dublin City Marathon.

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