T-Rex Goes International – Dublin Marathon Race Report

So, as you might have known because I ceased to shut up about it for like 3 months, I went to Ireland last week to run the Dublin Marathon take a vacation with AJ. It was my first international marathon and actually my first real trip overseas, although I’d been to Canada and Mexico and some of the Caribbean and whatnot. In typical T-Rex fashion, I did zero research about the course, the expo, and the race in general. I was too busy planning day trips and figuring out the best pubs to go to.

We got super lucky on the day of the marathon in terms of the weather. The whole week leading up to the race, unbeknownst to me, there was some Super Storm that was supposed to hit Ireland and was calling for winds upwards of 80 mph and driving rain and possibly hail. When I finally started checking the weather once we got to Ireland, I felt a little panicked because um, I’m not running in a fucking Irish hurricane, thankyouverymuch. At the last second, the storm turned to the south and ended up hitting London instead, so the only thing we got were 20 mph hour winds, cold temperatures and plenty of sunshine. Whew! Although that meant I had no excuse to skip the marathon.

If this guy can run the marathon dressed as a rhino, clearly I can too.

I made plans to meet up with my favorite Swedish person, Anders, who I saw at many races last year but haven’t seen in probably almost a year since he left the US to go back to Sweden. We were trying to coordinate a Maniacs picture at the start line, but the corrals were taken very seriously and there was no way my slow ass was going to be allowed anywhere near the corrals at the front. Instead, I stood in line for the bathrooms for 45 minutes just for something to do, and I met a woman behind me who was from West Virginia. We talked for quite awhile and I decided to run with her for a bit because a) I’m afraid of running marathons alone and b) I didn’t really have a plan for the race aside from telling AJ I would finish under 5 hours.

We crossed the start line around 25 minutes after the race started, which was just fine with me since I actually made it to the front of the bathroom line right as our wave started. So basically, my friend and I started in dead last, but we quickly made our way through the crowd. I knew I would be seeing AJ around mile 1.5 (solely because he had to walk less than a quarter mile from our hotel to get there) and I would be able to dump my blanket (yes, I started the race wearing a blanket) and my gloves (actually socks) off on him. After that, I would be on my own with no spectators.

Allllll the way in the back of the last corral as we moved towards the start.

Miraculously, I saw a jovial Swede not too far ahead of me, taking pictures and harassing the spectators. It was Anders! I sprinted ahead to catch up and found him running with Wendy, a fellow Maniac. They told they were doing a 3:1 run/walk ratio, which sounded positively delightful to me. Hooray! People to run with!!

Anders is really into getting arrested at every marathon. I’m not totally sure why, but it’s fruitless to argue.

The course started out in the Dublin city center and then eventually wound around somewhere. Sorry, that’s all the information I have given that I know nothing about Dublin. All I know is that we stuck to our 3:1 intervals faithfully and ran at about 9:30 pace during the running parts. We ran through Phoenix Park for several miles, which was really beautiful, and at this point, we caught up to the 5 hour pace group, which held a fellow Maniac. Someone asked me how many marathons I had run, and when I said that this was number 42, everyone was very surprised. I’m used to that, though. We passed the 5 hour group not too long after that and vowed never to see them again.

Running through Phoenix Park in what can only be described as the world’s least coordinated race outfit. Lime green and orange for Team T-Rex, red/white/blue stars for the USA (that skirt was mailed to me by a very thoughtful reader, btw), black tights to keep out the wind, and a white hat because that’s the only color I own. Perfect.

There weren’t too many Maniacs in Dublin, but we did manage to catch up to Lichu at one point. She runs marathons in countries all over the world and is completely amazing. She was home (in New York) for a week between a trip to Slovakia for a marathon and then the trip to Dublin!  What a life.

Wendy and I with Lichu! Running past some beautiful houses in Dublin.

We hit the halfway point in almost exactly 2:25, which I was very pleased with, and our splits were quite consistent. The pace felt easy. One thing that surprised me about this race was that the water stops were about every 3 miles, so much less frequent than I am used to here in the States. I always carry my own bottle, but still, it was weird. At the few water stations, though, they gave you a full bottle of water or the Irish equivalent of Gatorade, which is called Lucozade. I felt like taking a risk, so I decided to test out the Lucozade and see how my stomach handled it because really, what’s the worst that could happen? Don’t answer that. Turns out, it was DELICIOUS and I carried that bottle with me from mile 8 through the end of the race, taking really small sips at a time so as not to upset my stomach.

Running past the Museum of Modern Art. This was also right after we ran past the famed Kilmainham Gaol (jail) that AJ and I had toured the day before.

Wendy was struggling during the race with her asthma and her legs were feeling like lead. The road had a good bit of camber to it, so my knee started to randomly hurt. That was very alarming because I take great pride in the fact that despite all non-runners thinking my knees are slowly turning to sawdust, my knees have never, ever hurt me since I had some cartilage removed from my right knee ten years before I ever started running. It seemed like just a fluke thing that was flaring up based on the course, but I was still frustrated. I mentioned it to Wendy, and she suggested stretching, but I wasn’t sure how to stretch my knee. Don’t worry, she showed me.

I think somewhere around mile 18. I’m just so glad Anders was there to document this. Unrelated – WHY IS MY ARM WRINKLING LIKE THAT?

Awkward as it may have looked, it did help just enough to get me through the race without total panic. At this point, Wendy really wasn’t feeling well, so our 3:1 intervals were somewhat disintegrating. When we did run, it was much slower than we had been, but I wasn’t too concerned. That is, I wasn’t too concerned until the 5 hour pacer ran up alongside me right before mile 20 and said “Surely you don’t want marathon #42 to be over 5 hours, do you?” And I laughed and said “Eh, plenty of the other ones have been, why not?” But then I remembered that I had promised AJ that I would finish under 5, and I really did feel perfectly fine, so there was no reason why I couldn’t. So I bid Wendy and Anders adieu and picked it up until I caught the 5 hour group. “You’re right,” I said. “I don’t want #42 to be over 5 hours.” And off I went.

They placed the Lucozade “Wall of Support” at Mile 21 at the top of a hill that no one wanted to run up. Fail.

Running by myself, I noticed even more than I had before that the crowd support at this race was not only ample, it was also super cute. Everywhere you looked, precious Irish people (they’re all adorable, I don’t even care) kept yelling “Well done! Brilliant!” It was great. Notably, there was a lack of beer on the course, which I found extremely concerning for obvious reasons. So even though I was looking at a chance to negative split and finish the second half faster than the first, when I came upon some college-age looking boys holding what appeared to be shots at Mile 23, I thought “FINALLY!” They had signs that said you had to make a shot to get a shot, and there was a soccer goal set up with a ball and a goalie to block it. I’ll be damned if I wasn’t going to make that shot, despite the fact that I have not kicked a soccer ball since I was exactly 7.

I’m pretty sure this is excellent form.

I obviously made the goal, but tragically, they were NOT shots of alcohol. No, they were shots of Lucozade, which is one of the greatest disappointments of my life. But it was a cute set up anyway. Nonetheless, I picked it back up until mile 24, when my heart condition, which has been giving me a bit more trouble than usual over the past few months, reared its ugly head and reduced me to a walk for a few minutes. It’s not very often (ok, it’s never) that I negative split a marathon, so I was disappointed, but there’s really nothing I can do. I have to respect my heart because it actually could kill me, which would be even more disappointing. Anyway, I continued to run as much as I could and walk when I needed to as I wound my way to the finish. The crowds from mile 24 to the finish were really intense, and it was an exciting atmosphere! That being said, I was glad to be done, and I finished in 4:54 – not too bad at all considering we did run/walk the whole time!

The closest thing to a finish line photo that apparently exists.

I was FREEZING as soon as I finished the race (it was about 40 degrees and windy, by the way) so I immediately grabbed my medal and finishers shirt and headed to our designated spot to look for AJ. He had been tracking me during the race, so I 100% expected him to be there when I arrived, or at least close. He was not.

I sat there on the steps and waited for what seemed like hours but was probably 15 minutes before I got so cold that I started crying, which has happened once or twice in similar situations. I started walking around the area, but I couldn’t find him, and I didn’t have my phone because it didn’t work in Ireland and seemed silly to carry since we had a designated meeting point. WRONG. I finally got so frustrated that I asked a passerby if I could text him from their phone, and they (being Irish and therefore ridiculously friendly) of course obliged. Also, they were possibly afraid I was about to have a complete meltdown. The family even gave me their jackets while laughing and saying “we’re Irish, we don’t need them!” And eventually I called AJ only to figure out that he was not really nearby and had no idea how to get where we were supposed to meet. I knew where he was, and even though it was much farther away than I would have preferred to walk, at least there was hope. He had my jacket and a hat and gloves. So I bid the world’s nicest Irish people adieu and set off at the closest thing to a run I could manage. Then I weaved through the crowds in the finisher’s area for what seemed like forever and finally found him. I didn’t know whether to punch him or hug him, so I just took my jacket instead and we started walking as quickly as possible to our hotel, which was about 1.5 miles away. As long as I was moving, I felt fine.

After the race, AJ was very tired from not spectating or running so he took a two hour nap while I got some work done. Later, we went to an authentic, hole-in-the-wall, completely non-touristy Irish pub called Mulligan’s where JFK drank his first ever Guinness. It seemed like a fitting place for my post-race brew! Or three.

Enjoying a celebratory post-race Guinness with my medal and finisher’s shirt!

All in all, the Dublin Marathon was a really great experience. With the exception of needing more bathrooms at the start, it was perfectly organized and coordinated. The volunteers were great, the crowds were enthusiastic, and the course and the city are beautiful. Oh, the only thing I meant to mention is that they bill the race as “completely flat,” but that is a bold-faced lie. It is not prohibitively hilly by any means, but there are some long, slow inclines that definitely take their toll and a couple get-your-attention hills along the course. But hey, how much can you complain when you spend your race looking at things like this?

I would probably go to church if churches in America looked like this. But they don’t, so I guess we’re out of luck.

LEAVE A COMMENT: Have you ever run a race in a foreign country? What was it like? 

27 thoughts on “T-Rex Goes International – Dublin Marathon Race Report

    1. Yes, I did! I knew this was the perfect occasion to wear it and I could not pass it up. Thank you so much for sending it 🙂

  1. This is the 1st time I’ve been jealous. One of these days I will make to either Dublin or London, although there is this marathon in France that sounds like too much fun. Marathon du Medoc. Instead of water stops there are wine stops.

    Congratulations 🙂

    1. You mean to say that you were not jealous of my trip to Fargo? That seems ridiculous. 🙂

      I have heard of Marathon du Medoc! It sounds awesome minus the alcohol poisoning I would have by mile 4.

  2. I’ve never run a race out of the U.S. but I’ve been to Ireland and would go back again for any reason!! I can’t even imagine the sheer wonder of running through Dublin :):)

  3. I ran a 10K in Ireland in 2011 (Donadea 10k) and it was great! I’m a sucker for accents, so I just listened to everyone around me like a creeper. I did notice that while we’d probably have a water stop or 2 during a 10k, this one didn’t. They’re just less into water stops?

    Congrats on another marathon!

    1. Oh, totally. I told AJ that there was a 50% chance I would leave him for an Irishman if offered enough Guinness. He was displeased.

      And yeah, I guess since it’s colder maybe they don’t drink as much water during races? WHo knows.

  4. Congratulations on your 42nd marathon! It’s kind of a big deal, since marathons are 42 km long.
    I did a “fun run” in Rome, as part of the Rome Marathon. It was about 5 km long, we started at the Colisseum and ran through Rome’s historical center. It was so pretty I wanted to cry all the time.
    And my second international race was a 5K in Regent’s Park, London. The fun part is that as it was Easter weekend, you had to run in a bunny suit. Best race ever.

    1. Ah, that’s true! I never thought about it like that 🙂 Um, racing in a bunny suit sounds both amazing and terrifying, since one time I tried to run 200 meters in a T-Rex suit and my head fell off.

  5. Great read as always!

    I can’t believe AJ couldn’t find you – I mean, the start and finish are pretty close together!

    Hills are also a funny thing – I remember looking at the race when you had mentioned you were doing it and seeing a relatively hilly course – not huge gain/loss but loads of rolling hills of a couple hundred feet. It made me think of the half marathon I ran this weekend – there is a hill that is only ~200 ft of ‘steep’ slope, but how it features into the race has everyone talking about ‘The Hill’.

    Yet compared to what I run regularly it isn’t much of a hill … certainly not compared to the 1400+ft hill I do every couple of weeks. It is a mental thing, like so much of running!

    Congrats on the 42nd race and a great time! Stay healthy!

    1. To be fair, he’s not terribly dedicated to spectating. And since he’s never been freezing cold after running a marathon, I’m not sure he understands the vital importance of finding each other immediately after. He didn’t come to the start with me, though, so I guess that didn’t help.

      I never look at the elevation profiles for races, mostly because I’m lazy, but this is a good example of why I should. It wasn’t crazy hilly or anything, but being told something is completely flat and then having it be not even close is moderately irritating. You must be a pretty awesome hill runner! 1400 feet is no joke!!

  6. Congrats Girl! You looked fantastic – the hair, luxurious as always! Great job – sub 5! And although it was a mix & match, the outfit had meaning and I loved it! You rock!

  7. I would have FREAKED OUT not finding my partner in a foreign country… I freak out when I lose my husband at Walmart, what am I talking about?

    I’d get some firming cream on that elbow STAT!!! (No, I’m not a professional)

    1. Oh, I definitely freaked out, but not because I couldn’t find him. I knew where the hotel was so I could have just walked back there and eventually he would have headed back too. I just REALLY wanted my jacket!

  8. Sounds like AJ is a typical man. 🙂 So, the race director gave you some blarney about a flat course. That’s not too surprising. LOL Honestly, I’m envious. Some year, I’ll make it to Dublin

  9. Jealous! I’ve wanted to run a European marathon since before I ran my first one. I wonder if the old country looks to the US and has similar thoughts — “Oh, to run in California! Ah, to run in New York! Mama mia, to run-a in the Miss-a-ssi-ppi!”

    Probably not, but that’s how I am about France, Germany, Ireland, England, hell, even Hungary if I could get there. Part of me dreams of taking a 3-month sabbatical with Steph and journeying around the continent, running a half or full in a different city every weekend. I’ve already planned it out. I just need to amass ponderous wealth.

    Anyway, sounds like Ireland got a nice taste of the T-Rex experience — though I was surprised that you didn’t mention the name of the lady from West Virginia — did you two not stick around for long?

    1. It’s funny that you mention that, because a lot of people from other countries did actually mention wanting to come and run in the US. I mean, they didn’t mention Omaha or Mississippi, but NYC, Chicago, Boston, etc are definitely high on the list. I basically want to run and go everywhere, and I definitely would take a 3-month sabbatical if I didn’t think AJ would kill me. It would be amazing. But you’re right, the ponderous wealth issue is a bit of a problem.

      Well, the reason I didn’t mention it is because I’m not 100% sure I remember. I am PRETTY sure it was Beth, but I’m terrible with names, and at the time she told me, I didn’t think we would be running together, so I promptly forgot. Also, we only ran together for a mile and a half, so not much time to revisit the discussion.

  10. By Irish standards, that is a flat course. I don’t know if you got out of the city while you were there, but most of the roads (excusing the newer motorways to Belfast, Galway, and Cork) are just a continual undulation from your starting location to end location. One hill? That’s bloody flat, I tell ya! 🙂

    Sounds like you had a fantastic time! And I was very jealous to read that you got to Croke Park for the internationals. It’s no All Ireland final but it’s pretty darn close!

    1. Well, that’s true! I didn’t think of it that way. I’m used to flat being actually flat, so yeah. It wasn’t too bad, I was just surprised!

      Oh, we absolutely loved the game! I couldn’t believe how much fighting there was – it’s like hockey, but without helmets and pads!

        1. We actually saw hurling at the game! They played at halftime. Then we were REALLY confused about what we were watching.

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