Amsterdam and Dublin- 2 marathons in 2 weeks!

The Journey to Amsterdam!

The journey began one Saturday night  in January when my husband got a mad notion, lets go to Amsterdam and do the marathon. Twenty minutes later, flights, hotel and marathon was booked! Its that easy! Instantly I texted some other enthusiastic Craughwell members and soon everyone was being cojoled and even begged to come along. Not long we had 12/13 runners signed up and the journey began….

The training schedule came round soon enough and the long runs soon kicked in. Plenty of early Friday morning starts were had meeting up with others along the way. Running the marathon is the easy part, it’s the training that’s tough! Two twenty milers, a twenty two miler and a nineteen. All was going well and the hopes were rising. I kept telling myself not to focus too much on time, it being a first marathon on foreign soil, but the inevitable always happens and you always secretly set a goal in your head, racing against yourself as always!

The build up to Amsterdam was amazing. The whole parish knew we were going, the whatsapp group set up, the best wishes, the chats, the planning. I had never been so excited about a race. There was unfortunately a couple of casualties in the group, Irene  and Noel through injury and sickness.

Eventually the weekend arrived, water was drank, bags packed with everything you could think of to cover all eventualities. Hubby and I and 7 other ladies met up in Dublin airport that morning bright and early – 1 ¼ hours later we were landed in Amsterdam. We then checked into the hotel and found our way to the ‘’rip off’’ expo where of course tops, hoodies etc. were purchased.

The morning of the marathon dawned, the day was finally here. The sun was shining and a hot day was promised even though it was October!!. Under the supervision and guidance given by Aine – who had tended to all our transport needs, we arrived at the Omympic Stadium. Our first task was of course a toilet stop – given the state of the toilets it was really only a needs must! The men got a better deal with their shared urinals that the girls thought were bottle banks!! The best laugh ever was when the girls decided not to use the facilities and make their own toilets screens using the plastic sheets provided. We had started a trend and a queue of other runners soon formed!

Final well wishes were exchanged and we headed off to our respective starting areas. The butterflies were starting to get busy in the tummy at this stage, but were helped by chatting to a gang of fellas from Sligo.

All too soon we were off – it was hard to believe we were finally running the street of Amsterdam after all the months of planning and training previously. With great enthusiasm I headed off running comfortably at 8.10/8.15 per mile for the first 7/8 miles leaving Brian behind!!

Heading out into the countryside along the Amstel river with sun shining, music roaring from the barges it was amazing and I remember thinking, this is the best feeling in the world. Water stops were every 3 miles or so but only plastic cups were provided, which of course I wasn’t going to dream of stopping to drink as it is impossible to drink from a cup while running, however the sponges provided were a welcome relief in a bid to cool down. As I moved on feeling good, I thought to myself this could be the day for a PB!!

Approaching mile 19/20 the pace start to slow down – still ok, keep going, keep upright, take in a gel. However by mile 20/21 the fuel tank was empty and the energy just seemed to drain from my body and my pace has slowed considerably now. It was now time for mind over body telling myself to keep going and put one foot in front of the other. Soon my loving husband came from behind and put his arm around me asking was I OK? I told him to stay going and I would see him at the finish line. This was a battle I had to fight on my own and that’s what I did – 5 miles at this stage seemed like a marathon in itself but I kept focused and counted down the miles running at 11/12 minute  a mile. Eventually the Stadium was in sight – where it all started, I crossed the line in 3.49 – the hopes of a PB of 3.39 were well dashed. Brian had finished in 3.43 – a PB for him, was waiting at the finish line with Kay Tuohy who had an amazing run coming soon after me with her PB of 3.51.

On reflection the temperatures had soared to 22 degrees and I had not taken enough water on route – Plastic cups!! Did I say marathons are easy? Well I take it all back. Claire Callinan sailed home with a great time – achieving a PB also while Fiona, Noreena and Breda found the heat tough going but turned in fine performances. We felt sorry for Betty, Aine and Edel who had yet to go out for the half marathon at 2.00 in that heat, but fair play to them they took it in their stride and came home in fine times.

We all assembled back at our arranged meeting point at the Haribo stand!! Brian and Claire were savouring the local beer chuffed with their times. We sat there in the sunshine exchanging laughter and tears – its such an emotional roller coaster!! All in one piece we went back to the hotel proudly displaying our hard earned medals – Brian looking after his Girls – as we were now known!!

We all reconvened at 6.30 or so for a big night out on the town. The spirits were high along with some of the girls shoes – enough said Betty! Such fun and laughs were had and Brian was just blessed amongst women, he has some patience!! ( he added that in) Having came to Amsterdam as friends we were leaving as the very best of friends, it was a trip of a lifetime and one always to be remembered. It was one of the most amazing enjoyable weekends ever spent with wonderful people, all of us on our own personal missions.

Marathon completed we all arrived home in one piece and as they say “ what happens on tour stays on tour’’ but what a tour with great clubmates and one to be recommended.

2 weeks later Dublin Marathon day has arrived!!

Having a two week turnaround it was time to head back on the trail and face DCM. A smaller brigade travelled to Dublin, but nonetheless a good display of Craughwell AC vests were visible around Merrion square.

A beautiful day dawned, not a puff of wind with just a few clouds in the sky. The legs had just about recovered from Amsterdam and the hopes of a PB were definitely on the back burner. We met for the ritual club photo, wished everyone well and took our place amongst the 19 thousand hopefuls at the starting zone. Soon we were off and the buzz and atmosphere was electric. Brian had warned me to pace myself and take water on board – I was going to listen to him today unlike Amsterdam!! We paced ourselves well and running together at 8.30 minutes /mile. The miles just flew by with great banter amongst the runners, music bellowing from the street entertainers along with the fantastic support from the crowds on the side lines. It wasn’t long before we had passed the half way mark and were feeling good, drinking water from those precious bottles – no cups in Dublin thank God. We upped the pace a small bit and before long we were heading up heart break hill mile 21/22 with Ray Darcy shouting us on. We were getting close to home with just 2 miles to go. Brian pulled away as my legs were beginning to feel the effects of the day. The crowds were deafening with their support and definitely brought us home for those last few miles. Now I could see the finish line in sight, crossing the line in 3.45. Brian completed it in 3.43 only 12 seconds slower than his Amsterdam run and 12 seconds off a PB !!

At the finish we met Deirdre Devane, Stephen Carty, Tony Nevin, Niamh Flavin who all turned in brilliant times and PBs also, not to forget the mighty Tom Tuohy who flew home in 3.24 – some running.

There is something magic about Dublin City Marathon that keeps bringing you back year after year. On a great day one of the happiest people was my own sister Mary, who on her maiden voyage,  just took it in her stride and is now hooked and has the marathon bug!! As we always say no one can ever take it away from you and I often remind myself if you can run a marathon you can achieve anything. There is a marathon in all of us, it just depends on how badly you want it.

So who knows Dublin again next year, maybe Craughwell AC on tour again – Berlin – New York who knows? It’s such a privilege to be able to run and a privilege to have been in such great company – long may it last – Brian, as the girls, said you are a Saint!!!

Tuesday the 20th. .