The Great Ireland Run

A couple of weekends ago I had the opportunity to go to Dublin to race in the Great Ireland 10km as part of the England team. Doing a 10km race 2 weeks before a marathon is always a good sharpener and to represent England is always an honour.

I was due to travel on the Saturday with an early start of 5:30am. I had arranged for a taxi to come and collect me at 6am to take me to the train station. I always worry slightly that the taxi might not come and in this case that worry became a reality. 6 am came and went, 6:05, 6:07 and by this point I needed a plan B. I had tried calling the taxi company and was greeted with an automated message to call back later. I tried another company and there was no reply. I ran upstairs to try and wake Rich but he didn’t even stir. I had calculated in my head that by the time I had woken him and we had got Josh up and all bundled into the car I would have missed the train.

One of the advantages of being an athlete is that running to get to places is always an option. I didn’t know if I could run fast enough to catch this train but I was going to try my hardest. I had already checked google maps and seen that it would take 41 minutes to walk and I didn’t have 41 minutes to spare. For those of you that have been to stay at our house you will know that we live up an enormous hill that is very steep in parts and is more like a mountain than a hill. I ran with my wheelie bag as fast as my legs would carry me. I then had to negotiate steps through the John Lennon Garden until I reached the old town. Here the streets are cobbled and my wheelie bag made a tremendous amount of noise clattering against the cobbles. I was aware that this could be disturbing people’s sleep but I didn’t have time to worry. I swerved past a small group of people who were in their way home from their night out on the town. I reached the cycle path that leads to the station and put an extra burst in, my legs were burning by this stage. The train station was now in sight and to this day I don’t know how I made it. I arrived at the station with 1 minute to spare, enough time to purchase a ticket and run to platform 1 as the train pulled in.

I climbed onto the train and sat down with a sigh of relief. I then quickly took off  my 5 layers and was sat in my vest top feeling as hot as could be. This must have made me stand out as  the few passengers that were in the same carriage as me had their winter coats and scarves on. I didn’t care. I desperately needed to cool down and was so happy to have made the train.  I was planning on doing a run when I had reached Dublin but decided that my efforts to catch the train would be enough! I decided that it was a good time to eat my porridge which had thankfully remained in it’s pot without exploding everywhere. The banana on the other hand had turned to liquid but had at least remained in the skin.

I arrived at the airport with plenty of time and thought that the rest of my journey would go smoothly. I should have known better flying with Ryanair. The first hurdle was that I hadn’t printed my boarding card resulting in a 50 Euro fine! I couldn’t believe my ears! There were about 10 other people who had also been sent to a booth to pay their 50 euros before being allowed any further.

Eventually Ryanair announced the departure gate. At Barcelona airport you go through passport control before you can access the specified area where the gates are. Here the queue tailed back a long way. I got to the back and waited and waited and realised that there was a possibilty of missing my flight. There was no other way so I jumped 2 of the cordoned off barriers and pushed my way to the front of the queue. This caused an uproar. The passport man sent me back and then a French family copied my manoeuvre and were let through. I had managed to remain nearer the front of the queue and got through and again ran to the gate where they were making last calls. I was then told that my bag had to go in the hold so quickly fished out my racing kit just in case my bag went amis. I joined the queue behind the French family to board the plane, A lot of people arrived on the plane stressed and there were a lot of empty seats despite it being a full flight.

The rest of the trip was pretty smoothly. The Great Run Company came to meet me from the airport they were with Alex who I had raced with in Bermuda. We joined the rest of the team at the hotel and were very well looked after. I was expecting to share a room but 1 of the girls had pulled out due to injury so I was on my own. This did mean that I could get a well needed nap arfter the eventful journey.

Next day was race day. The race was in Phoeonix Park an undulating beautiful park and despite it feeling a bit chilly when we left the hotel the sun started to shine. We had the luxury of an elite marquee to wait in which also had the most fancy porter loos that I have ever seen at a race before. More like ones that you would get at a wedding. Whilst we were all waiting we were approached by the media to all pose and try and look fierce as it part of this race was England verses Ireland. I struggled to look fierce and probably ruined all the photos as I couldn’t stop laughing. We also had to do some cheesy poses but again I couldn’t help but laugh.

Soon after it was time to warm up. Thankfully my legs felt OK despite the epic sprint for the station the day before. There was a fantastic atmosphere with music playing to get everyone in the mood. We were called up to the start line where we could do our final drills and strides. Here the crowds were out in full force and some girls asked us for our autographs and wanted a picture taken. That ‘s a first! They must have thought that I was someone else! After the final few strides we were called up to the start line and were announced by name. Needless to say that the Irish girls got louder cheers!

The count down commenced and off we went. It was a bit breezy and I was expecting everyone to go off at a faster pace but it seemed that no one wanted to take the lead. After the first half a mile I decided to push on and Gemma soon came with me. The tunes continues to spur us on as thre was a big sound system with speakers spread out over the course. The first 5km came and went and then the hills began. I enjoy the hills and this was where Gemma and I broke from the rest of the group. Towards the end of the race Gemma pushed on and I couldn’t keep with her. I knew that Kerry was not too far behind as I could hear people shouting her name. I kept pushing and pushing. I caught a glimpse of the French family from the airport out on the course watching the race before coming into the final straight which went on forever. I tried my hardest to close on Gemma but she proved to be stronger and took the victory and I came in 9 seconds behind her. It was not the fastest 10 km that I have done but a strong performance on a tough course. Ireland won the England verses Ireland match…just.

All in all it was a fantastic experience. We were so well looked after by the Great Run Company and it was great to run for my country. I feel very blessed so far to have raced in so many places over the world this year: Spain, Bermuda, Portugal and Ireland. The next stop is the London Marathon on Sunday. Watch this space!

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