Dublin is not my town anymore, though it used to be. I lived there for 10 years through college and my first job before moving west to Galway. My alma mater, UCD, is on the Marathon route, and so much of the course is flavoured with memories of growing into myself.
I was mostly broke and unfit back then, and it was before the boom changed Dublin unrecognisably (for better and for worse).
Unless you grew up in an enclosed order, you've probably been in Dublin at least once before, so at the very least, the city centre is recognisable to most Irish marathon runners.
There is great delight in running around a familiar city, on roads normally reserved for motor traffic; no pedestrian lights, no impatient buses, just empty roads. Let's take a little look around.
We start impatiently on Fitzwilliam Street, which now echoes for me with ghostly marathon feet the rest of the year when I visit. Miles one and two are a gleeful, rushed parade of the city centre, passing curious onlookers at the Shelbourne Hotel and galloping straight up the centre of O'Connell Street.
A gentle hill up Dorset Street reminds me I've probably started out a little fast.
At mile four, we reach the Phoenix Park, marking the end of the beginning: a few miles under the belt and a great place for family and friends to spectate.
The route through the park is pretty but deceptively long, hitting eight miles before exiting the Chapelizod Gate. Here I brace myself for that nasty short, steep hill somewhere between miles nine and 10.
Down through Dolphin's Barn and the Crumlin Road – I love the feeling of old Dublin, locals coming out from their homes to line the road, offering jellies and orange slices.
The halfway sign is on the Drimnagh Road, and here I celebrate a milestone. I always enjoy the second half more than the first – knowing that I am closer to the finish than the start gives me a boost.
Miles 15 to 19 are getting closer to my south Dublin college stomping grounds. These roads are mapped on my brain – Terenure to Rathgar to the dip-and-rise hill in Milltown.
The Clonskeagh Road takes us around the back of UCD and to the struggle up Roebuck (aka Heartbreak) Hill, right on 20 miles. I am excited at this point because I know what goes up must come down, and sure enough, there's a rewarding cruise downhill on Fosters Avenue, with less than 10k left to run.
The Stillorgan Road is not pretty but it's a gentle downhill drag (in my head anyway) to Nutley Lane and Merrion Road.
The last few miles through Ballsbridge and across the Grand Canal include increasingly manic flurries of noise and cheering and distraction.
The last mile, I am holding on, waiting for that amazing moment when I round the corner on College Green to pass the front gates of Trinity College with the crowd roaring just for me and knowing that in just a few steps, the finish is in sight. My Dublin. The marathon runner's Dublin.
I am regretting the fact that although I promised I'd be in Dublin to pace, I'm stuck an ocean and a continent away for this year's marathon.
Instead, in consolation, I'm lining up for an off-season (slow) half-marathon in November across the Golden Gate Bridge.
I'll be sorely missing the Dublin Marathon weekend rituals (and my reward dinner in the Green Hen), but I'll be watching you from California. Good luck, runners!