Throwback: 2005 Dublin Marathon

It’s time for another throwback race report. This one pre-dates Facebook, so I’ve had to dig into my archives to find details. The Dublin Marathon was my second marathon ever, as well as my first international marathon. I trained with the now-defunct National AIDS Marathon Training Program, just as I did for my first marathon in New Orleans, and had to raise thousands of dollars for my race entry. After a few weeks of training with my pace group, several of us decided to stay in Ireland for several days after the race and road-trip around the country. I’ve lost touch with these folks now, as our primary connection was this race and the Ireland trip. But we had a great time!

In the finish chute at 2005 Dublin Marathon

Training for Dublin began in the spring of 2005. I had just run my first marathon in February at a glacially slow pace. Part of that was because I was a novice runner when I started training, and I was simply just slow; part of it was because I had tendinitis in my knee on race day. Without the injury, I could have finished faster. But I was just happy to have done it! Then I took some time to heal my knee through chiropractic combined with ultrasound treatments. When I felt ready, I started running again, and was able to do shorter distances at a much faster pace than my previous marathon training pace. On the time trial day for the training program, I placed in a faster pace group, with most of my teammates younger than me!

Travel planning for Ireland was easy for me, as I took a back seat. This was unusual for me, but very freeing to let someone else take control – as long as I was happy with the results, and I was. The training program booked our flights to Dublin and our hotel in Dublin for the first couple nights. Then my teammates handled the rest of our trip through the Tourism Ireland website. I did do my part in mapping out each of our driving routes, and putting together a book with the itinerary, the maps and travel confirmations. Everything was set before we left the US. I would be traveling with Christine, Courtney and Carla. Shane and his girlfriend shared most of the same itinerary with us, but would travel in their own car.

Upon arrival in Dublin, we had a solid day for sightseeing and visiting the marathon expo. My friend Matt traveled separately to Dublin to cheer me on. The highlights in Dublin included a bus tour, which provided an overview of some of the marathon route, a tour of the Guinness Storehouse, and of course, several visits to pubs in the Temple Bar area.

The River Liffey in Dublin; they yellow building toward the right was our hotel 
Christine, Coutney, Shane, Carla and I enjoying our Guinness at Guinness
Matt came all the way to Ireland to spectate; what a good friend!

The morning of the marathon there was a pouring rain, but we were prepared. Since we had to walk a fair distance from our hotel to the start, we suited up for the weather wearing large trash bags or ponchos on our bodies and tying small plastic bags over our shoes. The bags really helped to keep our clothes and shoes dry until the start. I have vivid memories of all the runners getting ready to run, and trying to keep dry, but I have no photos. I don’t remember much about the beginning of the race. I don’t remember when I shed the bags. I don’t remember much at all until we were running through Phoenix Park (after Mile 3), which is when I remember the rain stopping. It was a welcome relief.

My pace group and I on the course while most of us were still together; I'm in the red hat on the left 
We look so serious!

I didn’t document my race experience back when it happened in 2005, and at that time I didn't run with a camera because they were too big! So, I’m somewhat at a loss for the true sequence of events. The memories that stand out:
  • Shane had a knee injury and had to drop out rather early in the race (mile 7-ish). We were sad for him, but glad that he still managed to enjoy his Ireland travel experience.
  • Matt found me out on the course and took lots of pictures. It was awesome to have a friend spectating for me at an international race.
  • The Irish spectators were awesome. Their cheers of “Brilliant!” and “Well Done!” helped to pull me through.
  • I learned how wonderful it is to wear your team shirt (we all wore our AIDS Marathon singlets) so that you could identify fellow teammates. At one point I was running with an AIDS Marathoner who I did not know. She confided in me that she had dropped and lost all her gels early in the race, and I gave her one of mine.
  • I remember running to the finish in the last half mile and seeing faster marathoners coming out to cheer us in, already wearing their finisher t-shirts. I said to one of the men, “that shirt will be MINE in a few minutes!”
  • I remember how much my muscles cramped up after I stopped, and that I could barely walk. I wasn’t running so many distance races then, so my recovery time was not as fast as it is today. I walked to the hotel going against the direction of the finish chute, and cheered in all the finishers who were behind me. Unlike my first marathon, there were still a lot of people behind me.
  • Finally, I remember logging into my email at the computer in the hotel lobby, and emailing my family to tell them I had finished. This was before smartphones, iPads, and ubiquitous wifi.

Crossing the finish of my 2nd marathon in my 2nd marathon country

The next morning, after having set a new PR (yay!), my teammates and I picked up our rental car and headed to Galway, where we would be staying the first night. Only Christine and I were brave enough to drive on the left side of the road, though it was the first time for both of us. I think we did very well, and I even managed to parallel park on the left side, to the admiration of my travel mates. Galway was rainy, like it had been on race morning in Dublin. We found a popular pub which had a lot of stairs. You could tell who had run the marathon the day before by how well they negotiated the stairs.

Musicians in the balcony at our pub in Galway
Driving around the country we saw lots of green and lots of stones
After Galway, we headed south to the Cliffs of Moher, which were spectacular! And that night we stayed in a corner room at Dromoland Castle. It was awesome! We went out that night to pubs and clubs in Ennis, and drank lots of cider.

My favorite pic of the Cliffs of Moher
Here I am outside Dromoland Castle
A "session" in a pub in Ennis

The next stop on our itinerary was Blarney Castle, and then on to Killarney for the night. We opted not to drive the Ring of Kerry due to time constraints. I don’t remember much about Killarney, but the next day was memorable. We drove to Cobh and visited the Titanic Museum. Cobh was the last stop of the Titanic before it set out on it’s fateful voyage.

Blarney Castle; yes, we climbed it with still-sore legs and kissed the famed stone

Our last night was spent in Kinsale, a very quaint port town in the south, which I liked a lot. I recall delicious Irish Brown Bread at this B&B. As a vegetarian, the traditional Irish breakfast didn't appeal to me, but I sure did love the bread with fresh butter.

The view from our B&B in Kinsale

And then we returned to Dublin, completing our circle of the south of Ireland. We stayed close to the airport because we’d be flying home the next day, but we still managed to get back to Temple Bar, and actually close down the pub called Temple Bar.

Last night in Dublin, probably at Temple Bar

After Dublin, I knew that if I ran more marathons, I’d want to combine them with travel. But it took several more years before I did another foreign marathon at Loch Ness. But now I have the bug again. I’m almost finished with marathons in all 50 US states. While I’ll continue to do more marathons in the US, I’ll choose them wisely, just as I’ll be choosing international destination races wisely. I have to thanks AIDS Marathon (even though they’re no longer in existence) and my pace group/travel mates Christine, Courtney, Carla and Shane for helping to make my first international race a good one, and for sharing some Irish castles and pubs with me!


  1. Bill SchwabenlandApril 13, 2015 at 6:18 PM

    Thanks so much for writing this up! I ran the Berlin Marathon last Sept (my first international marathon) and we traveled to Ireland and England afterward. We spent 5 days driving around the South of Ireland, visiting several of the places that you did, and "previewing" the course for the Dingle Marathon. But I think I would rather do Dublin.

    We drove the opposite direction that you did - from Dublin (two nights) we went to Powerscourt (that was awesome!), then spent the night in Cobh. Then we drove to Kinsale and spent the night there. Then we drove to Dingle, drove the course, and spent the night in Tralee - flying out of Shannon Airport the next day.

    My favorite part of the trip was driving through Killarny National Park and visiting Muckroos House. (we only skirted the edge of the Ring of Kerry - same as you; not enough time). While driving through there we noticed a LOT of bicycles on the narrow, winding, steep road. Turned out we were in the middle of an "adventure race"! (run, bike, canoe, run)

  2. I didn't get to Dingle, but it seems like a marathon there and the Dublin Marathon would be quite different. A small countryside race versus a crowded city race. I guess it's all in what you prefer. I like both at times.


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