Last year after my disastrous experience at the Clontarf Half Marathon, I decided I was done with that distance and I would stick to the 5k and 10k races. For the whole rest of the year my running was sporadic and I let my performance in one race ruin 6 months worth of running. So this year as my training for the Mini Marathon ramped up, I got the bug back and decided I was going to try the half again. So a couple of months ago I signed up for the Rock'n'Roll Half. The one thing I decided at the time was that I was not going to let whatever happened on the day get me down.
Started out Sunday with my usual prerace breakfast of a wholewheat bagel, peanut butter and banana. This was the earliest start I have had for a race so I was up at 5:30am to make sure I had enough time to digest breakfast before the race. Being up that early was tough, as I was on my own just waiting until I could leave and head to the start. Finally the time came and I jumped on a Dublin bike and hit the road. I could see loads of people making their way along the quays to the start and I started to get butterflies.
I have to say the buzz at the start was great, so many people in great spirits. I was doing my best not to let my nerves get the better of me and I have to say the atmosphere of the crowd really helped. It's tough being at the start on your own and the wait can sometimes take ages, for this race it seemed a lot easier and the time went by really quickly. Before I knew it we were off.
I did my best not to think about how far I had to go and just enjoy the run. I walk through Dublin City centre, but its a different perspective when you are running it and so I just let the metres go by and took it all in. I know I don't do enough training on hills, and this was very apparent when we hit Whitehaven Street and I had my first mini uphill. I did have to stop and walk, but I took it in my stride and got going again as soon as possible.
The first half of the race went by so slowly, I wasn't struggling but the miles were not flying by. At about the 7km point I realised I needed to pee, I've never had to stop mid race to pee before so I tried my best to ignore it. Every port-a-loo I passed had a bit of a queue and I really didn't want to stand around wasting precious minutes. It did mean that I couldn't really have any water at the next couple of water stops. Finally when we pulled into the Phoenix Park there was a loo with no queue, so I gave in a stopped. The stop definitely helped, but at the same time finding your rhythm after stopping like that can be tough. Luckily as we were in the Phoenix Park there were loads of people cheering us along.
Around the 15km point I saw a couple of friends who had completed the 10km and their cheers gave me a little bit of a boost and I had a renewed bout of energy. I couldn't believe that my runkeeper app was telling me I was keeping up an average pace of under 6 minutes per km with only 6km more to go. The wind really did start to pick up at this point and that part of the park is particularly hilly so I did need to do a little bit more walking at some of the tougher hills, but I felt strong and I just kept pushing through.
I passed the 11km marker but missed the 12km, so when I heard someone say there was only 400m to the end I couldn't believe I was nearly there and well on track for a personal best so I dug deep and tried to speed up as much as I can. As I rounded the corner and saw the finish line I got a serious rush of emotion and felt myself tear up just a little. I was wrecked but felt amazing.
I knew I had a personal best and I was delighted too see just how much I had improved on my best half time. The Galway Bay half back in 2014 was my first and I did that in 2 hrs 15 mins 19 seconds, and up until Sunday I hadn't beaten that. Sunday I ran the same distance in 2 hrs 10 mins and 8 seconds, over 5 minutes faster than my previous best and I had to stop to pee. I seriously could not be happier with it.
After a quick pint on the way home, we went out for the afternoon for drinks and food (wowburger in the Workmans, best post halfmarathon meal!) and had a really lovely afternoon. I probably shouldn't have done quite as much walking as I did (clocked up over 40,000 steps for the day) and I felt it the next day but oveall the whole day was incredible!
I'm currently trying to figure out logistics but I am pretty sure I am going to sign up for the Galway Bay Half in October. I have the momentum going now and I just want to keep on it! One thing I know for sure is I will be back to do next years Rock'n'Roll