My name is Brendan Farrell and I am a 31 year old marathon runner from Templeogue in Dublin.
There was a time when I had aspirations of running the Dublin Marathon at some stage in my life but little did I know it would take me a long time to start. My first race was the Simon Community run in October 2010. At this time, a 5 mile race was a huge deal for me. I wasn’t very fit but I put a lot into it. I was obsessed with my time which if you’re starting out, don’t be. Focus on all things positive. I completed it and I felt such a sense of pride. Although I remember saying after the race, I wouldn’t have any interest in running anything more than a 10k but in the end it turned out to be quite naive. Something which I honestly smile about now. At this stage I was 14.5 stone and a 5 mile was my limit. I did refrain from partaking again in anything for a full year. Why? I have no idea but I do regret it.
In 2012 I completed my first Half Marathon in Wexford. It turned out to be a brilliant day. At this stage I got the bug and got it big time. I just wanted to keep going so I completed the Clontarf Half Marathon in 25 degree heat in July and the Tullamore Half Marathon in August. I then proceeded to the Athlone three quarter in October. Perhaps this was a step too far too soon. I learned here that patience is very important. I completely ran out of energy. This developed into a rough stomach by the end and severe leg cramp. Definitely a mental setback. I was only three quarters of the way there. Just about. The extra 10.5k I really felt. However, hydrating and getting some food makes you see sense. You’re three quarters of the way there and you got there from sheer hard work and a refusal to give up. No way I’m stopping here. I’m so close.
I decided that 2014 was going to be the year so I sat down with my Irish Runner calendar and filled it out. I also sought the help of a Sports Therapist friend of mine who specialises in training programmes and sports massage (very useful if you get in contact with one). My first race of the year was the Wicklow Gaol Break which I highly recommend for some great wind and hill training. It’s tough but very beneficial. My worst Half Marathon time but it was a tough course. Move on.
I was warned that recovery times after marathons are 6-8 weeks but I love a challenge and I set 2 for myself. I set the goal of breaking my personal Half Marathon time in Wexford 2014 which I dually did and hit 1:42. I was delighted. I then completed the Samsung 10k on the same evening with my girlfriend by my side. The goal was to complete this race and survive. No PBs here obviously. I came out unscathed. Luckily as I had many a person telling me it was crazy. My second challenge was the Marathon. I wanted it so much that I signed up for 2 of them. 7 weeks apart. Dingle and Dublin.
The remainder of the year was dedicated to building up the miles on a Saturday afternoon. During one in particular I ended up stranded in Crumlin Village barely able to walk. I got the fuel all wrong. Lucky I had a few coins for the bus. I got home and didn’t get bogged down. I learned from it.
Then came the big day. Dingle September 6th 2014. I’ll never forget that date, or the emotion around it. Don’t kid yourself. Marathons are tough but worth it. The first three quarters went to plan but the inevitable wall then arrived. Cramp, lack of energy, drained mentally. It was never going to stop me. I eventually crossed at 4:14:37 and 3 stone lighter than the top of this article. It took food, water and a few hours to feel human again and put it all into perspective but it was a great feeling. On to food, water and pints. Delighted.
After Dingle, I think my body hit a wall in the form of sluggishness and flu. I got over both but a full 5 weeks passed before I could train again. I went out and got back spasms after 10 minutes. Without sports therapy, I doubt I would have been able to do it. The day of Dublin arrived and I had heard it was unbelievable for support. It was true. The support is unparalleled. Cramp was again my enemy for the entire second half but I crossed the finish line and felt amazing. My childhood dream of running the Dublin Marathon was complete and it felt huge. I’m now setting goals for Paris, New York, London, Chicago and whatever I can afford over the next few years.
So my tips for 2016:
Be patient. You will get there.
Mark your dates in the Irish Runner calendar.
Always bring bus or taxi money on the long runs. There may be days when you don’t fuel correctly.
You are guaranteed setbacks. Learn from them and DO NOT quit.
Run with people.
Be strict with yourself.
Give yourself adequate time to recover before your next challenge.
Finally, don’t underestimate the sense of achievement you will and the sheer goodwill amongst other runners and supporters. It’s second to no other sport.