August 11, 2014

Rock 'n' Roll Dublin Half Marathon Race Recap

This morning was like most race mornings in that it started early and we enjoyed our normal pre-race breakfast of bagel with peanut butter and a banana. What made this race morning a little different was navigating to the start on public transportation in a city that was mostly new to us. 

Leaving the hotel to head out…note my oversized half zip that
I borrowed from Adam since my luggage was still MIA
Luckily, our hotel wasn't very far from the Luas, which is like a tram/light rail through the city. We were easily able to get tickets and took it to the last stop, The Pointe, which was near the starting line. When we got off, all of the runners sort of looked at each other to figure out which way to go which was a bit comical; eventually we figured out which way to go.


It was a clear, crisp morning and the starting line was very relaxed. We walked around a bit to scope out the area and then dropped off our bags when we realized we could manage without our long sleeved tops and just our throwaway blankets. 

Easy to navigate bag check
The starting line area along the river, looking back from the starting line
After some stretching and a final porta potty stop, it was time to get into our corral. We were in corral 6 which was about a 1:57-2:00 time. We met another American woman who was running by herself and enjoyed chatting while we waited for the start. I was surprised by the friendliness of the other runners, particularly the Irish. People were asking about anticipated finish times, other races we had done, and our plans while we were visiting. It was a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere. 


At last the race was underway and we were surprised to find that there was no national anthem played despite the fact that this race was the Irish national half marathon championships. Curious indeed! We also were running well before we crossed the starting line which I haven't done in many races. For the first few miles, we settled into a comfortable pace of 9:15-9:20 and really enjoyed ourselves. We passed the famine ship, statues from the famine, the new Samuel Beckett Bridge (a white, harp-inspired bridge), and Temple Bar. We made our first major turn around mile two and headed up a very steep hill under the Christ Church arch. It was beautiful and brutal at the same time. And just as quickly as we got to the top of the hill, we were heading down an equally steep hill around a corner back to the main road. 
Beautiful views of the river at the starting area
Samuel Beckett Bridge
Looking down the hill under the Christ Church gate
(not from race morning)
Next we passed Four Courts, the Guinness Brewery, and Kilmaninhaim Gaol (the jail). The course took us past some houses and then into the Modern Art Museum grounds that were dotted with sculptures. Over my right shoulder, I looked over the hill and back into the center city where we had just run. This race course was simply spectacular!


Jail entrance (not from race morning)

The legendary brewery (not from race morning)
Just before mile 6, we made the turn into Phoenix Park, where we would finish the race and obviously we still had a ways to go! We were warned that the park contained a lot of hills so I tried to prepare myself for that challenge. We hit the 10k marker in about 57-58 minutes which wasn't too bad, pace-wise and then we noticed that halfway sign shortly thereafter. Through the park, we traversed several hills and saw the Papal Cross, Wellington Monument, Irish President's home, and the American Embassy. We knew that the final mile or two contained a very steep hill (up and down) so we needed to conserve a bit of energy for that. I told mom to find a power song to help ease the pain. At this point, she was feeling a lot stronger than me-my legs were pretty trashed! Once we hit mile 12.5 or so, it was mostly flat roads to the finish. And once we sensed the finish line nearing, our pace dropped a bit. The finish line stretch is always fun and this was no different. I scanned the crowd for the boys but didn't see them. We crossed the finish line with big smiles and holding hands. 
Happy finishers!
The finish chute was similar to other races-water, medals, bananas, electrolyte beverages, and other snacks. As we were taking pictures with our medals, I heard a familiar voice and we found my Dad and Adam. We shared tales of the awesome race course and of course, the pain from the hills. Our final times seem a little off-my time is nearly 90 seconds faster than Mom's time even though we ran together. 
Photo-bombed!
After reuniting with the boys, we all grabbed some snacks and enjoyed the awards presentation. After the awards, we heard a few songs from the finish line band, the Frank and Walters, and reveled in our latest half marathon. At around 11:00 or so, we decided it was time to head back so we could enjoy some more sightseeing that afternoon. There was a shuttle that took you back into center city which was fabulously convenient but unfortunately the line was pretty long. Dad managed to figure out there was one line that was much shorter so we only waited about 10 minutes. 

Getting some snacks

Finish line party in Phoenix Park

Race stats:
Total half marathoners: 7,500-8,000 (we heard a range of total runners)
Countries represented: 46
Race corrals: 13
Men's winning time: 1:05.19
Women's winning time: 1:16.02 (also her first half marathon!!)
Christine's time: 2:02:04
Pam's time: 2:03.29

Pros:
- Fabulous, scenic race course
- Plenty of aid stations with water and gels plus several medical stops
- Course never felt overly crowded 
- Easy, low-key start and finish area
- Powerade was given out in bottles along the course, so if you don't like carrying a bottle, this would be a con for you 
- Variety of post-race snacks including power bars, gummy bears, chips, pretzels, bananas
- Finisher certificates to print at home - love this for my race scrapbook!
- Awesome race medal and addition of a race challenge with the family fun run 

Cons:
- Inconsistent race timing (gun and chip times are still listed as the same on the results site)
- Some of the bands weren't playing when we ran by but this seems inevitable
- Post-race shuttle had a very long line
Enjoying the post-race party
Overall we loved this race and found it very low key. And the differences between an international race and what we are accustomed to in the U.S. were negligible. If you get the chance to try this race, we highly recommend it. It was really fun to see so much of the city on foot in just a few hours!  And a word of warning-Guinness, pub food, and jet lag don't make PRs so don't get your hopes up for a fast race. Just enjoy the experience-we did! 

As Rock 'n' Bloggers, we have each been provided with a free race entry into the Rock 'n' Roll Dublin Half Marathon.  We are encouraged to support the race through social media and our blog, but are not required to do so nor are we compensated for this post.  All opinions are our own.

21 comments:

  1. Way to go ladies! Looks like an absolutely gorgeous race course! Not every race is meant to be PRed at, and sometimes you just have to enjoy the scenery and the company of who you're running with. :)

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    1. It really was a fabulous course and the company wasn't bad either!

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  2. So glad you enjoyed your time in Ireland! One of my favorite places, and this is now on my bucket list!

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    1. Thanks Lois! It is definitely a good race to add to your list.

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  3. Sounds like a fun and beautiful course! I am so glad y'all had a blast!

    And that is impressive that the winning girl was doing her first half - wow!!

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    1. Isn't that insane?! I was so impressed...of course her time is amazing but for her first half?!

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  4. Sounds like a great time. Your pictures are beautiful! Cool medal! ~L

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    1. Thanks girl! I love that the medal has a little sparkle to it

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  5. Congrats! This looks like a really fun race, and I think if I did an international race, a Rock and Roll one would be a good choice just because it's a brand people know. Plus the pictures are so beautiful- doing a race in Ireland has to be the best way to see the country.

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    1. Yes, I think there definitely was a comfort factor in doing an international race with a well-known race organization.

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  6. Nicely done! Great pictures and awesome medal! Looks like it was a fun race. It's nice that they have so many scenic areas on the course.

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    1. Apparently the race course was changed due some major construction in the city but we loved the new course. The contrast from the city to the park was nice.

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  7. AWESOME! i've been waiting for this recap ;) so fun, ladies!!

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    1. You win for best comment, Courtney! :)

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  8. How amazing! I'm so glad you had this opportunity - would love to do this one some day.

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    1. Thanks Amy! It was definitely a race to remember.

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  9. How amazing! I would love to visit Ireland in the worst way, and how awesome to be able to do so with a race in the mix! Congratulations on a race well run! Enjoy the rest of your trip!

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  10. I loved following your trip pictures on social media. Seems like the coolest experience.

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  11. Beautiful, just beautiful! So glad you had a good race! Loved all of the pictures along the way. So strange about the timing issue. Congrats to you both!

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  12. Enjoyed reading your review..have often wondered what overseas folk make of races on these shores!

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  13. Enjoyed this race recap - seems like it was a great race/vacation.

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