great ireland run

Great Ireland Run finish

On Sunday 29 March 2009, I ran a distance of 10km in 42 minutes and 27 seconds around Phoenix park, Dublin.

No, I wasn't being chased by a giant panda bear. No, you wouldn't commonly find panda bears in Dublin. Besides, there is still some controversial debate on whether pandas are actually bears.

I ran in the Great Ireland Run 2009, one of the top running events taking place in Dublin. The race attracted over 11,000 other participants and was even televised on the national channel.

I covered the 10km distance in 42:27, finishing in position 392. I was delighted with the result!
I had set my heart on running the race in under 43:00, so I patted myself on my back after crossing the finishing line. Mission accomplished!

The whole experience was very enjoyable. The weather turned out to be perfect for running, with blue skies fluffed up by scattered white clouds and a warm temperature.

This is not to say that it was an easy race. On the contrary, it turned out to be much tougher than I expected. I had done a few 10km runs during my training outings, but the race proved to be a more challenging task than my previous training workouts...

The race started with a considerable 20 minutes delay, which I found annoying since all runners had already lined up in their positions on the starting grid, leaving little room to stretch or mantain warm-up conditions.

I positioned myself near the front of the mass of runners, in grid section reserved to runners expecting to complete the race within 35-45 minutes. I could not believe the massive number of people there, waiting to spring into action. I managed to cut in through the side of the starting grid, as I would have never been able to get close to the starting line from the very back of the queue.

I remember being calm and relaxed before the start, thinking that I should try not to overdo it and run too fast at the beginning of the race.

Despite that, that's exactly what happened... The first 3 kilometers wizzed by fast! I remember dodging and passing some slower runners (how and why did they position themselves so far up the starting grid anyway?) and marveling at the fact that I had already reached the 1km marker. I kept the same pace for the next 2 kilometers, until I passed the 3km marker, at around 12 minutes. Wow, an average of 4min/km, I was flying (well, for my standards anyway...)

Then, I realized I was falling into the trap of running too fast too soon, so I managed to control my excitement and slow down. Good thing I did because hills came into play at around 5km. I distinctly remember the 5km marker, positioned half way through the first tought climb, saying that the race only really started there.

I took a water bottle from the kids at the water station, and had a few gulps of water. I would have liked to drink a bit more than I did, but the prospect of having to carry the water bottle up an approaching hill was to daunting, so I ditched the bottle by the side of the road.

At around the 7km marker I felt like I wanted to stop. Obviously, I didn't stop. But I definitely hit the wall.

Great Ireland Run finish celebrations

At this stage, I kept a steady and constant pace. There wasn't much energy left in me. There mustn't have been much blood reaching my brain either, since for some obscure reason I managed to convice myself that after the 8km marker, the finishing line would come, with no intervening 9km marker.

You can then imagine my consternation when the 9km marker came into view, proudly standing its ground, abruptedly reminding me that it had a right to be there, and reprimanding my attempt to ignore it by making me run yet another 1000 meters before I could get to the finish line.

My excitement mounted as I approached the finish line, joyfully announced by the increasing number of spectators at the sides of road and their inciting encouragements.

I had planned to sprint for the last kilometer, but I couldn't find the energy for it. I managed to gradually increase my pace though. As I approach the finish line, I became aware of a big timer clock. The first time I looked at it, it said 42:12. As I was only a few hundred meters away, I knew that a sub 43:00 time was within my reach.

Sure enough, my stopwatch confirmed that I crossed the line on 42:28. The official time registered by the RFID tag I wore around my ankle shaved one more second off my figure, declaring that I completed the distance in 42:27.

I made my way towards the end race water station, where I collected my race finish pack which included, among other things, water (immediately gulped down), a power bar (immediately devoured), and a medal (immediately worn) and then staggered towards the designated meeting point to find Wala and Louise, who had come along to offer the much needed support and encouragement.

After some recounting, rest, and stretches, we made our way to the nearest pub for a chance to replenish most, if not all, the expended liquids. It wasn't until long that the pub filled up with many other runners. All in all, it was a very enjoyable experience, which I looked forward to repeating next year!