Ode to marathon day – all those long miles of training, can’t waste them now

 Participents make their way down Chesterfield Avenue  in the Phoenix Park during the Dublin Marathon yesterday.  Photograph: Barry Cregg/Sportsfile

Participents make their way down Chesterfield Avenue in the Phoenix Park during the Dublin Marathon yesterday. Photograph: Barry Cregg/Sportsfile

Tue, Oct 29, 2013, 01:09

Up 6am. Bathroom. Porridge. Stretch. Light jog at dawn, past drunks staggering home. Shower. Stretch again. Dress. Apply Vaseline to any rubbing parts. Bathroom again. Pack and go.

Mercifully dry. Arrive at start. Smells of embrocation. Sounds of hydration and what follows, urination. Forget to take picture.

Go, past piles of discarded clothing layers. Through town, russet leaves on the Dáil plinth, the gates of Trinity shut. Feeling good.

Phoenix Park beautiful in the autumn sunshine. Boy: “High five – or else!” Lots of posters. “Smile if you’re not wearing underwear”. I smile. “Where are you all going?” Indeed. “Less than 10 water stops to go.” “Chuck Norris never ran a marathon.”

Oceans of time to contemplate. Who is Chuck Norris? Shouldn’t that be “fewer than”? Sausages sizzling cruelly on a barbecue in Chapelizod. Friends – Ursula in Phibsboro, Jo in Inchicore, others heard but unseen in the slanting sunlight. Winds buffeting on the long haul up to Crumlin children’s hospital. Half way already. Still good.

Moist eyes and fleeting kisses for the family at 18 miles. Ella, Rosa, Tana bearing jelly beans, Luca sleeping. Uh-oh. Not feeling so good now. All those long miles of training, can’t waste them now.

Groove is in the Heart pumping out at 20 miles, helping with the last big hill. Gonna make it. Yet miles to go still. A battle over Mount Street bridge. Slow. Motion. Past Trinity again, this time with the head down. The din of encouragement up Nassau Street. There.

lPaul Cullen completed the marathon in 3 hours 27 minutes. It was his 10th Dublin marathon.