Oh Connemara…

Last weekend was THE weekend. The marathon weekend! And not just any marathon, but the one in the wild, wild west with breathtaking scenery and quite a few hills. It will be a challenge, but it will be worth it I thought as I was signing up for it, comfy on the couch by the fire sipping my wine… Connemarathon here I come!!

 

Yes, they seem like great ideas until you actually have to do it. The weather forecast was changing by the day so at some point I just stopped checking. Saturday lunchtime we hit the road with a friend of mine, full of excitement and anticipation. We stayed in Clifden Station House  and I must say it was brilliant. There were dedicated buses in the morning to bring us to the start and those buses would also bring us back from the finish so there wasn’t any hassle with transfers. It all ran very smoothly and we were making jokes on the bus about how crazy we must be to be paying for doing this… The things we didn’t know yet… We got the first hint of the conditions as we got off the bus. It was very cold. I did see a strip of blue sky at some stage, or maybe I was dreaming. At least it’s not raining, we said.

 

The full marathon started at 10.30 and after dropping our bags to the bag drop lorry and visiting the loo we started to make our way to the start. Laughing away, a bit nervous but also hopeful and expectant, looking forward to experiencing the route. So how did it go? Well, here are my thoughts straight after the race:

Jesus I am never doing this race again, it was horrendous! Galeforce winds, drenched three times (my underwear was wet!), hailstones bashing onto your face like mini bullets.. The hills would have been fine, but the weather killed me.

1-3 miles
Happily chatting away with different people and taking a few pictures, running just behind the 4.30 pacers thinking this is lovely and comfortable. First water station at 3 miles I was smiling and thanking everyone.

3-6 miles
At around 3 miles it started drizzling a bit but that was fine, still chatting. Life is great!

6 miles, second water station, rain starts getting heavier, first hill to tackle but went up with a spring in my step.

 

Until the Galeforce arrived..

7-9 miles
Horrible, hailstones bashing against the face, soaked to the bone. Got jelly beans at the 9 mile water station and I think they saved my life for the next couple of miles. They were the tastiest jelly beans ever. Winds died down for a mile or two. I hope that was it!

Couple of smaller hills here until 9/10 miles then downhill to Leenaun. By a lake so it was wet and windy. Miserable.

13-15 miles
13 miles in Leenaun, first half done. I want to take a taxi back to Clifden.

Second half started off with a climb for about a mile, with heavy winds on and off then nice and calm for a couple of miles. I enjoyed the scenery and thought hey maybe I can do this after all!

At around 15 miles we came around a lake so got the rain and strong gusts, again. Had to walk a bit, I was faster that way! I wanted to cry. I wanted to stop so badly but how the f*ck do you get back to the hotel from here?!

16-24 miles
Downhill and calmer weather until about 20/21 miles and time to tackle “the Hell of the West” with our companion rain and crazy wind. Climbing up that bloody drag until 24 miles… walked a good bit of this hill. Started to feel a bit better as I knew it was coming to an end..

Last two miles
Downhill for about a mile, nearly got blown back up to the top of the hill. Legs so so so sore… but only 2 miles to go! Just keep going before the weather gets any worse.

Last mile, I’ve been hearing the people at the finish since mile 24… Legs are tired and the rain is getting heavier again so better keep going quickly. Where the f*ck is the finish, can’t see it anywhere. Surely it should be here already?! The legs are barely carrying me, I just want to stop. And then there it is, the finish line, only 100 meters to go. I can’t believe it, I made it after all.

 

I finished, only because there wasn’t any other way to get back! Had it been a training run I would have taken a taxi home.. I pushed myself that bit harder, trying to go faster thinking the quicker you run the sooner it will be over!

My fingers were so cold during the race, I was hardly able to take out my energy gels! I was so cold afterwards. I changed into a dry top but my socks were wet so I was shivering the whole way to the hotel.

I had the best shower of my life. Long and HOT. Felt amazing. And the coffee afterwards was divine. It’s done now, no need to do it again… Dublin will be a walk in the park compared to this!

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