Monday, 1 June 2009


I had my very first DNF today, although dropping out of a marathon after 3 miles probably doesn't even qualify for a DNF (If it was a shorter race with a proper warmup I probably would have not made the start line). I lined up with Denis Looney of Eagle who was aiming for a sub 3:30. With my primary target as finishing without walking 3:30 (8 minute miles) sounded like a reasonable pace to start with. I tested my calf yesterday morning with a 10 mile warmup on the bike followed by a 2 mile run and apart from the heat everything appeared to work fine. With clear blue skies and only sporadic shade throughout the course I knew the sun would be a major factor. However I could handle the sun through proper pacing and hydration, if my calf behaved. Denis wanted to head out at 7:50 pace so that he would have a bit of a cushion built up for the second half. Our first mile around the Mall, Parnell Place and down the Quays was covered in about 7:38 which felt comfortable so we drove on. We maintained a similar pace as we headed out to Blackpool. I took my first (and only) gel at the 2 mile mark- still going strong. Just before the 3 mile mark I felt the pain coming on my calf and knew it was only a matter of time and sure enough shortly after the 3 mile water station I sent Denis on his way, wished him luck and slowed to a walk as the pain intensified - race over. I must have walked (limped) another 3 miles as I first made my way to the half way mark (about a mile from town) and back to the finish to see the leaders come in. The lead guy passed through halfway in about 1:11 with a 4 minute gap to the next guy. I met Joe Roche and Pat Murphy waiting to start the second half as part of relay teams - Pat ultimately came in with a sprint finish for the line in 2:59:58 with Joe not long after him. No sign of Puds until his first half runner came in and he appeared out of nowhere to take the baton (wrist band) for the second half - he covered his half in close enough to 1:30. Conditions were hotter than expected and even at the halfway point there were a number of casualties. Denis came through a shade under 1:45 complaining about tripping on a gully - he was just about on target for 3:30 but without any cushion left and a tougher 13.1 miles to go I feared that 3:30 was not on (I left the finish area with 3:40 on the clock and still no sign of him) Richard came through in 1:46 or 7 and stopped in front of me - he'd had enough - HR in the 170's and 10 minutes behind pace. We chatted for a while as I headed back to town and he for home. Well done to those who ran today in such challenging heat.
So!...My marathon build came to nothing much - all the 5 am mid-week long runs - sprinting up hills before dawn in February - weekend sleep-ins till 7 am ahead of 20 milers - I sometimes think it's the training that keeps me going not the goal. Why else would I contemplate my next marathon build with such relish.
What next and no running over the next month with a switch to bike and swim for my first tri in 5 weeks time. At least I can concentrate on these disciplines without going crazy.


  1. I have a few Did Not Start's to my credit due to injury. It happens. Your DNF was more like a DNS anyway. You can't race on an injury. Heal up. You won't lose the benefit you gained from all that work.

  2. Sorry to hear about your race, hard luck. Try not to get too down, all those miles (early and otherwise) that you logged amount to a lot. They will bode you well on the future, and there will be a future.

    What's that saying, "what doesn't kill you...". I'll be thinking of you looking forward to a healthy return!

  3. I think you have the right attitude Grellan. You have to enjoy the training or else you don't really have all that much to hang your hat on.

    Get healthy, keep up your fitness through x-training and have at it again when you're able. As long as you x-train, your fitness level will stay high.

  4. Sorry about that Grellan. At least you didn't make it to 23 miles before the calf snapped!

    Get well and try again.

    I'm with you on enjoying the training (almost) more than the racing. PBs are a bonus!

  5. Thats a bummer! especially as thats the second time you've had calf trouble just before your marathons, maybe a good idea to spend a bit of time reflecting on why it happened and how to stop it repeating!
    Any way its a good time to be out on the bike enjoying the sun!

  6. From the sounds of it it was carnage on the roads of Cork yesterday. To have the temperatures jump like that the week of the marathon is a tad unfortunate, but in your case it didn't really matter anway.

    A DNF is not very nice at all, but they say the best thing for your body is to train for a marathon and not run it. Marathon training is cumulative, and the training will eventually pay off at a later date.

  7. Tough luck Grellan but it's good that you played it smart and listened to your body. Get healed up and you can get back to enjoying the running and racing again.

  8. I agree with Andrew that this was more of a "did not start". Sometimes I think I am the same as you as I train more for the training than for the actual race. Hope you get better soon and can carry on with your training.

  9. The first DNF is only a matter of when, not "if."
    Your approach to this occurance is admirable, to say the least! I would be sulking even more than I am at the moment...and I haven't run yet!
    That's it, I'm shaking off the shadows. Thanks, Grellan!

  10. Hey Grellan

    thanks for dropping by. It seems that your running history reflects mine. I also seems like a good Idea to train for a Tri over the summer and come back refreshed and fit for races in the fall.

    I was seriously thinking about that too, but I'm afraid I might get hooked and I don't want to have to be buying new bikes every year.

    Anyway, all the best with your efforts, I'll be following with interest. And yes don't worry about wasting that training it will reveal itself in time.

  11. good decision to pull out early.. ideal point on the course to make sure you didn't miss the race!!

  12. HI Grellan

    Sorry about the DNF. That can certainly happen to us at anytime and the marathon can certainly break you down. I do agree with what Ewen said in that probably better early in the race than with just a couple miles to go.

    Best of luck with the continued training and I honestly believe that is what drives us all. I love the training and it seems that most of my consternation about my running only comes during the races.

  13. Hi Grellan,

    As you mentioned to me, we did indeed have similar experiences at this year's Cork city Marathon. I could have almost copied and pasted for my blog!