Sunday was the annual Dublin City Marathon. The day that 20,000 brave souls go for a 42 kilometer jog around the city.
I have never run a marathon. The only ‘competitive’ race I have participated in was the 16km ‘Dam-to-Dam Loop’ between Amsterdam and Zaandam, several years ago when I still had some hair colour. That memory still makes me happy.
Yesterday I joined the celebrations with some successful participants in O’Donoghue’s bar on Baggot Street, after the race.
I had been contacted by a friend in London, who was running in the competition, asking if I wanted to meet up afterwards.
I agreed. Feeling like the Michelin Man, I waddled over to the bar at the appointed time.
I was regaled with the tales of the day’s adventures.
My friend was running his first marathon. I was deeply impressed. What amount of determination must it take to actually complete such a crazy distance. The training involved must be monumental.
He was traveling as part of the Front Runners – a gay running club based in London. Four of them had made the trek to Ireland to participate. I paled in terror when I heard that Dublin was the 29th marathon completed by one of the group. It was marathon number seven and number five for two other competitors from the group.
I felt positively blimpish in their midst.
I learned some interesting facts about the Dublin version of this ancient Greek race.
Apparently the route is not as flat as it’s claimed. Which is a good thing, as on a flat track you use the same muscles in your legs for the duration and that this is more tiring on the body.
Running through crowded streets is not particularly pleasant as it can feel claustrophobic. The park sections are more enjoyable.
Miles seventeen to twenty are the worst as this is the section where an existential crisis tends to descend. Break through mile twenty and you get a psychological lift from being on the home stretch.
I stood there in awe, at the crowds of people in the bar who were having a post race, celebratory beverage. You could tell who the runners were – not just by their clothing, but by the delicate way they were moving their limbs. Some must have been in real pain.
Dublin also has an LGBT running club called Front Runners (this name tends to be the name of LGBT running groups the world over. It’s chosen in honour of the 1970’s classic book ‘The Front Runner’ by Patricia Nell Warren, about the love affair between a long distance runner and his coach. I saw a crowd of the Dublin crew enter the bar – recognisable from the logo on their jackets (apparently the Dublin group has much nicer kit than the London one, although I’m no Project Catwalk judge). Apparently they had cheered the London contingent earlier that day.
Front Runner solidarity.
I recognised one of the Dublin group, so I called him over.
I was going to achieve something that day after all – I introduced the two teams.
It’s good to mingle.
As I wandered home later, I got to thinking whether running a marathon is a goal to strive for.
Perhaps? Although maybe I might start with a more modest goal – to reach my bus stop in fifteen minutes in the morning instead of twenty?
And from there?
Well who knows where.
To the stars, baby. To the stars.