Still in the afterglow of an amazing experience, I wanted to write down my observations before I forgot them. This was my first race in Ireland and I picked a good one. I've been training since March but took a big fall on a training run this past Tuesday, just four days before the race, which means I had to bring these beauties with me on race day...
TL;DR I felt strong the whole way, went faster than anticipated and didn't have any pain or goop oozing from my knee. Plus, the Irish are awesome.
The costumes. This weekend was the Dublin Comic Con and while I'm not sure if this influenced any of the runners, there sure were a lot of them dressed up. There were the many superheroes (including multiple Wonder Women and a whole gang of women dressed up as different heroes), those that stuck to the Rock and Roll theme, dressing up as specific rockers (KISS) or generic ones (dudes with long hair wigs and blow up guitars). I also saw Leprechauns, a Super Mario brother (possibly Mario) and a runner dressed up like an American tourist, although they might have just been an American tourist.
The accents. It made me incredibly happy to hear the Irish volunteers say 'well done' in their many varied brogues. There's something quite civilized about it and it never ceased to make me smile.
The weather. You could not have asked for more perfect running weather. 60 degrees F (15 C), overcast and a slight breeze. I spoke with runners from Texas who honestly could not believe how wonderful it felt. They rarely get the opportunity to run in weather in like this.
The music. This was my first Rock and Roll race and it did not disappoint. There were 12 bands spread out on the course, which meant almost one per mile. Just when things were getting tough and you needed a little pick-me-up, you would turn a corner and have a band rocking out. They added to much to the energy of the event and it was simply divine. I know understand why people love this race series so much.
My training, especially the hills. Thanks to Yogi Triathlete, I had nothing to worry about (besides my scabby knees) on race day. I stuck to the plan BJ created, except when road tripping with in-laws, and again, he did not disappoint. His strategy was spot on and I could hear his voice in my head many times during the race. Additionally, I did lots of meditation with Jess over the course of my training, including some serious race visualization after I took my fall. I credit this for making the race feel easy. And I especially thank my Tuesday lunchtime running group for getting me ready for the hills today. There was nothing during the race that was worse than the hill I run every Tuesday going up the Bray Cliff Walk so shout-out to Nikki, Haley and Kate for making me do that consistently.
The course. It was such a blast to run through the streets of the city centre, past sights I've seen before and ones I was just noticing for the first time. I ran on trails through Phoenix Park that Adam, Eli and I have biked on before, past attractions we've checked out like Kilmainham Gaol and right in front of one of the AirBnB locations we stayed at last year. I loved the sense of familiarity coupled with the sense of novelty of checking out neighborhoods I've never seen and parts of Dublin that were new to me.
The community. A race is a race no matter what country you're in. The energy and the camaraderie of a starting line is same the world over. I talked with lots of different people during the race, especially making it a point of saying something to those runners I knew were American. And those dressed in costume, of course. In the final few miles, I also found myself encouraging my fellow runners...as I passed them.
The water at the aid stations. The volunteers were handing out medium-sized full water bottles to runners. Not cups of water, like I've seen at every other race I've done, but individual plastic water bottles. I could feel Mother Nature cringing and there was honestly no reason to waste this much plastic. Most runners were just taking a few gulps from the bottle and then throwing the bottle into the dumpsters or on the road. Still a ways to go to make this race greener and easier on the environment.
The beer at the finish line. We were served non-alcoholic beer at the end of the race. This was a slap in the face. Non-alcoholic beer is the least rock and roll thing ever, and at the end of my hard-earned finish, it's quite honestly the last thing I want to drink. Why do I run if not to drink a beer at the end of 13.1 miles? And in Ireland? You've got to be kidding me.
Another big fall. Fortunately, it wasn't me this time. But unfortunately, it was a woman running right next to me. She tripped and went down hard. As this just happened to me, I could totally empathize and definitely felt her pain. It sucked but she got back up and continued running.
I would recommend this event to anyone. It was wonderful, I had a fun time running it and it was a fantastic introduction to Irish running. Rock on!