Monday, 5 August 2013

Dublin City Rock 'n' Roll half marathon race report!

It's time to Rock 'n' Roll
Today I ran the Dublin City Rock 'n' Roll half marathon 21.1km (13.1miles)

This wasn't a race I had planned to run this season. My wife had signed up to do it with a friend and when the race organisers sent me an email offering €10 off, I thought I'm not not going to miss out on a bargain and I signed up.

Was the race worth €39?
Absolutely yes! I've ran lots of half marathons in many different cities and this was one of the best, I suppose I am being generous since I ran a PB but in all honesty it was a great race. The registration was a bit annoying, they stated on the web site that all runners must attend with identification. My wife was contemplating turning up late to work in an attempt to get there. However I chanced going across the city and getting both our race numbers and on the day it was all fairly relaxed. I picked up both our race numbers and swag bags having only shown my own id. I empathise with participants from further counties who had to travel up a day early to register. This would have more than doubled their cost of their race, after paying for hotel accommodation and it is something race organisers should address in future, if the race is to grow.

Race day was great. Good weather, good crowd (lots of Americans) and lots of people dressed in Rock 'n' Roll gear. My favourite was the 3 participants I saw dressed as KISS. There was only one real let down of the day and it was a minor let down at that, the guy who they chose to do the warm! It was one of those moments where I felt embarrassed for the guy, he was awful and obviously hadn't any experience addressing a crowd. He spoke way too fast, and I couldn't hear a word he said, judging by the actions of everybody around neither could they. The MC of the day was holding a mic up to his mouth while he bounced up and down while swinging his arms. The whole thing was a mess and he ended it super quick without showing any stretches. He must have felt the huge discomfort when nobody joined in. The count down started and the race was on,,, wait a minuet, I hadn't really warmed up,,, Oh well it's time to Rock 'n' Roll!

I felt good at the start, the 1hr30min pacer was about 50m ahead and I made it my goal to reach him asap. I did but I had to bustle through a lot of people who had put themselves way too close to the front. I never understand why people do this, I brushed shoulders and elbowed a few people and I'm sorry for that, I really didn't do it with intent. However when I've spent countless hours training and put myself in the correct spot to run at 15km/hour and you are running at 11km/hour but you've chose to stand in front of me, well we are going to meet very soon and if I need to pass you to get my position and I have 6,300 people on my heels you can expect a few bumps. 
I saw one girl being knocked over, it was a nasty fall but my sympathy was for the guy who did it. He stopped to help probably feeling guilty, his race was ruined because she was way out of her comfort zone surrounded by people running much quicker than she was capable of maintaining.

A new PB 1hr28min16sec
I caught the pacer within the first kilometer and settled in to a good rhythm, I'm not near peak performance so my goal was to try and run in under 1hr30mins. The morning before the race I ran 15km on my first outing with Portmarnock triathlon club. And in the early kilometer I was questioning if that was a good or bad idea. This race was really a gauge of my fitness, a test to make sure my marathon training was going to plan. I drank a few sips of water at every aid station. At the 12km point I snacked on a small box of raisins and at 17km I took a gel from one aid station. I had been feeling really comfortable running with the pacer. At the 17km point I felt I had a little bit in reserve so I grabbed a caffeinated gel, took two mouthfuls, tossed the rest and put my head down for the final 4km. I pulled away from the pacer I'd been drafting on all day and as the gap opened I sensed a PB becoming more likely. In retrospect that was a gutsy move, I really could have ended up walking the last kilometer at that pace but I was sure I had enough fuel in reserve and I took the chance.
Sometimes those chances pay off in a race and sometimes they blow up in your face, however if you are feeling good in the later stages of the race I'd say always have a go.
I crossed the finish line with a time of 1hr28min16sec on my watch. I'm not sure of the official time yet. My previous PB was 1hr29min12sec so I was really pleased to have pulled that time out unexpectedly. 

I owe a big thanks to the pacer, I personally thanked him after the race and got his name and club. My pacer "Brian Maher" of Kilkenny City Harriers has some notoriety in the Irish running world. He came second in the National half marathon in a time of  66mins40sec. He paced today's race perfectly, he didn't change speed on the slight inclines or declines and he kept it all very steady right the way round. He even threw in a bit of wit and a joke or two, which helped settle the nerves on the day.

The aid stations were well stacked, they had plenty of water and lots of gels, energy drinks and bananas too. There is no need to carry anything with you when this race rolls into town again. And personally I wouldn't miss it, especially if you want a good day out, a fantastic course that takes in a lot of the marathon route and some live Rock 'n' Roll music. I'll be at the start line next year!

My wife ran with her friend who was doing her first half marathon, her longest distance before today I believe was a 10k. They both finished in a very respectable 2hr18min and looked good running the final 400m.  I always say if you finish well you'll have no regrets, they both finished well and we very pleased with their time, which included a toilet break,,, GIRLS!!!

Myself and my fantastic wife!