The Dublin Mountain Plod (aptly named….)
This year I was looking for some running routes that were a bit different and challenging. I looked up the IMRA website after a few friends recommended it. The thought of running up mountains scard me a bit so I decided I what is the cheapest repair shop would probably love it!
The Irish Mountain Running Association (www.imra.ie) run some great leagues and races throughout the year and this year the schedule was jam packed. They offer races from 3km up to 51km or opt to take part in a relay of the Wicklow Way. These races offer something different and challenging to your usual road races and promise some gorgeous views of our landscapes. The IMRA races cater for all different levels of fitness and abilities with way marked routes on some races to help those navigationally challenged (moi!) The website has some great advice for beginners here http://www.imra.ie/beginners/
I decided to aim for a weekend race, the Dublin Mountain Plod, a half marathon, 13.1 miles, around the Dublin mountains. A friend of mine, Eimear, who had already run a few IMRA races was entered too so I had 2 training buddies! Ourtraining for this was so great, I discovered such beautiful trails and woods just a 20 minute drive from the city. I felt like I had uncovered another world and it was beeeeeeeautiful. My dog Ted (training buddy numero uno!) loved it too! Once a week we left the house early in the morning and collected Eimear who would be patiently waiting with 2 cups of coffee in her hands She definitely passed on her coffee addiction to me, thanks Eimear! We would pick a route then go to our chosen start point ie. Cruagh, HellFire Club, Massey Wood, Pine Forest and then proceed to get lost and run around looking for little yellow way markers. It was far more interesting than pounding the pavements!
Race day came really quickly, I don’t know why but I get so nervous and anxious before any race. But this one had a cut off point at 10 km, you had to make the 10k mark in 90 minutes or else…. Well I think maybe you just weren’t allowed go on. Anyway, this kept me awake the night before thinking of excuses I could use in case I didn’t make it -
- I had to fight a bear
- I had to fight a gang of squirrels
- I had to fight, um, some wolves?
- I was on my second lap (it wasn’t a lapped course so this was useless)
- I love you?
So I got very little sleep the night before and mostly dreamt of fighting bear/wolf/squirrel hybrids. I picked Eimear up and we headed out to Marlay Park. Here’s a map of the route we ran
It was a brilliant route. The first test came as we wound our way up through Massy Wood, things sort of slowed dramatically and I was glad to use the scrambling over the stiles as a little rest from running Plenty of people decided to walk up these inclines but I was determined to run as much as I good, also because I wasn’t sure of the route, what was easy and what was a difficult patch. I wanted to pace myself too as this was my first mountain race and it didn’t have any km markers. I knew there was a water stop at 10k and 15k so they were my pace measures. The weather was just about holding up for us and it wasn’t until we ran passed a group of hikers all wrapped up in jackets and hats that I realised it must be chilly if you’re not running uphill! The course wound up and up and my legs and lungs were beginning to burn but in a way that you really know you are working honestly and breathing in such clear crisp air.
To my relief I reached 10km cut off well inside the time, I think I had 20 mins to spare so no need for any excuses or pleading, phew! From this point it was climbing up Cruagh, then Tibradden ridge then a swift descent home. I got a horrible cramp in both my shoulders as I was heading up Tibradden and had to slow to a plod, not cool. Eimear was ahead and I knew she had glucose tabs so I plodded my fastest plod to catch her and get a sweet. Luckily that sorted me out along with some water at the 15km station. From here it was downhill all the way home and I just ran my short little legs off. I knew it was only 6 km home and I had plenty left in the tank. The scenery was gorgeous and I just enjoyed every step, winding down off Tibradden and through Kilmashogue back to Marlay Park.
I made it across the finish line in 2.04, 9th woman home and very happy with my run. I’m definitely going to be back again next year, now I know the course and I have a goal (top 5!) I’m already itching to see what next years event calendar is going to look like.Eimear had a great run, coming in 14th woman overall and pulling off a race double that weekend having run the 5 mile in Phoenix Park the day before!
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