Tuesday 27 September 2016

‘When the legs are gone, there are no gels to get you going again’

Despite suffering a recent injury Joe Davitt yesterday ran his first Dublin Marathon – it proved to be a long day

Joe Davitt

Published 27/10/2015 | 02:30

Debutant Joe Davitt, from Co. Dublin, in action during the Dublin City Marathon
Debutant Joe Davitt, from Co. Dublin, in action during the Dublin City Marathon

I had decided to run my first Dublin Marathon back in August as I had spent most of the year jogging as a time-efficient way of keeping fit.

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I might as well have something to show for the effort. I spent the start of the year trying to sort out a knee injury after a long season with Ballinteer St Johns.

The heavy toll on the body pushed me to retire – plus my wife was sick of me heading off for three or four hours to matches!

In the meantime, I was lured back to playing football again! A few runs up to Marlay Park from Rathmines in the summer brought about a comeback.

We ended up getting to the final and beating Castleknock. I tore my adductor magnus in the leaping for a last-minute comeback victory and put the marathon, which was three weeks away, in jeopardy.

Thanks to Joey Boland and Riain Casey of Sports Physio Ireland I was able to do my last long run (30km) after a week and a half – 11 days before the marathon. Not ideal preparation.

My fears before the race were: 1) Would my injured leg last the 42km? 2) Would the body last after 30km, the longest I’d ever run?

I had put myself down for a 3.50 finish. My plan was to do a negative split – running the first half under two hours and then putting the boot down to finish. How naïve. That kick I needed never came.

I took in the sights and sounds of my city for the first few kilometres. Out of Georgian Dublin, past Christchurch over the Liffey and into the Phoenix Park. The injury started to gnaw a little but I kept a steady pace back to the southside through Chapelizod. The hill in Ballyfermot was hard-going – I was only an hour and a half in.

As we neared the halfway stage in Crumlin the steady inclines were hurting. The rain and the wind didn’t help either. So much for the quicker second half!

The crowd were really playing their part and seeing colleagues and former team-mates gave me a real lift.

By this stage I had pulled out my trump card – the iPod. A bit of Led Zeppelin would push me on – and they did… for a while. The family were waiting for me at the Nine Arches in Milltown, a perfect tonic for the last six miles.

After I got up Milltown Hill the prospect of the long incline from Clonskeagh to Roebuck Hill was hard to stomach. From here I walked, stretched and staggered my way to the N11.

Even the sight of Dublin full-back Rory O’Carroll couldn’t spark a comeback.

When the legs go there are no gels, crowds or potions that can get you going again. I felt I was running with someone else’s legs.

Yes, the final few kilometres were horrible, I felt embarrassed to be reduced to a stumbling mess. I could see the finish line from the canal and was mighty relieved to make it home in one piece in just over four hours.

Two and half hours later I dropped my daughter out to Dundrum. I drove down towards the Dropping Well and there were still some runners out there. My suffering seemed small in comparison.

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