Mission accomplished for Callaghan in Rotterdam

The Jumping the Gun blog success continued as Eoin Callaghan matched James Thie in achieving his ambitions. We look like a good luck charm but we won’t jump the gun just yet! Enjoy Eoin’s final blog. We’ll post up his complete training tomorrow. For now, enjoy his final race blog.

This could be Rotterdam by Eoin Callaghan

Now that the dust has finally settled I suppose I better write up a race report and provide my final week of training to finish off this blog. I have also included an attachment which shows my full training log from January 1st to the day of the marathon, for anyone that is interested.

The week leading into the race was obviously a very easy one, with full taper madness in place – worries about not having enough training done, constant phantom niggles etc. etc. were a common theme. I ran 9 miles on Monday and 8 on Tuesday. I did a bit of a session on Wednesday – 2 by 2 miles at marathon pace with 1 mile float recovery. I ended up covering 5 miles in 28:17 and the legs felt pretty good. Thursday was 6 miles easy, followed by 5 miles and packing on Friday afternoon.

We flew to Amsterdam on Saturday morning at 11.30am. This was perfect as it allowed me to get a good night’s sleep in my own bed and not have to get up at the crack of dawn. Having said that, there was quite a bit of travelling involved and I was a bit tired when we finally got settled into our hotel after 6pm. We went out for a short 3 mile jog to get our bearings for the next morning, before getting the obligatory plate of pasta. I retired to bed around 11pm and was happy to get at least a few hours’ sleep.

Finally the big day had arrived. I was up early and after a bit of a row with the hotel receptionist I managed to get my bowl of porridge heated up and got a good breakfast into me – as well as the porridge I had a bagel with Nutella and a banana and orange. We walked down to the start line and after eventually finding the elite athlete warm-up area I did a short jog and a couple of strides.

The race started at 10.30am on the button, after a rousing rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. I’ve read a number of race reports over the years and it always amazes me how much detail people can remember from their races. I don’t know if it’s a good or a bad thing but the races I run usually go past in a blur and I find it hard to remember a whole lot. Having looked over some of the pictures and videos of the race over the last few days, however, I’ve a clearer picture in my head of how the race panned out.  This might be quite different to how I remembered it when talking to Feidhlim on Tuesday – or it could also have something to do with having drunk a couple of pints before we started the podcast!!

The race began and I found myself in a nice group with, Juan Carlos, a Spaniard looking for 2.25ish, the leading elite ladies and a few others. After a few miles the leading ladies started to pull away. I asked one of the pacemakers what pace they were aiming for. When he replied 2.22 I decided to let the gap open.

We still had a good group of about 8 athletes but I kept finding myself right at the front. This was as much my fault as anyone else. I don’t like running in the middle of a big group but it is something I need to learn to become more comfortable with. I tried not to look at the Garmin too much in these early stages. I sneaked a glance after 10 miles and although we reached that point a tad ahead of schedule the pace was dropping and so I forged on, on my own.

The next 3 miles were tough – it was windy, I was on my own and I wasn’t making much ground on the group ahead. I hit halfway in just under 73 minutes but to be honest I expected it to be a lot faster than that based on how I felt. I didn’t feel overly comfortable and I started to worry. At this point I decided to get after it – I might as well be suffering running fast, than suffer running at a slower pace. I picked up the pace, running low 5.20s for the next few miles and immediately I started to feel better. I picked off a number of runners and everything was going swimmingly until 20 miles where I had my first serious wobble.

 We went up an ever so slight incline but it felt like Mount Everest. The crowds were massive at this point but the noise was almost disorientating. Thank God, we turned a corner and I found myself on a quiet straight stretch of road. I composed myself here and the legs came back under me. I still wasn’t sure what pace I was at though and just hoped to God, it’d be faster than 6 minute/mile pace. I was shocked and delighted to see sub 5.30 on the watch and although I was running fast it felt relatively easy. I was tempted at this stage to push it on again but I was wary of dying a death altogether and so I decided to just clip along at this comfortable pace.

It was a strange sensation- I was coming towards the end of the race and yet I felt good- as anyone who knows me will know this is not how I usually feel towards the end of the race!! The pace did start to slip out a bit after a couple of miles and no matter how much I tried I couldn’t pick it up so the effort was obviously there. Eventually we reached the last mile and with 200m to go I figured out I needed a fast finish to break 2.25. I put the foot down and thankfully nothing cramped up. I completed the last 200m in about 34 seconds and was absolutely ecstatic to see 2.24.xx on the clock as I crossed the line.

Mission accomplished and now it was time for the celebrations to begin. The day only got better with Liverpool beating City 3-2 and the second rendition of the day of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” was even more emotional than the first!! People were asking me in the pub after the race about my plans from here. To be honest I don’t have any. When training for a marathon I don’t think beyond the big day. I think this helps me to keep focused on the job at hand. Now that the race is over I’m going to enjoy myself for the next couple of weeks before coming up with a new master plan!!

Before I go I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their words of support and encouragement over the last few months- it means a lot and makes it easier when slogging out 100 mile weeks. A big thank you too, to David Campbell for keeping my body in one piece and to Emmett Dunleavy for helping me devise a training plan. I had a training partner for the first time, my brother Neil, and this made training a lot more enjoyable, particularly during the dark winter months. (Neil had a great race, running 2.33.04 which, he was quick to remind me was faster than my marathon debut- must be the coach!!) Finally a massive thank you to my girlfriend, Gillian, who put up with me through thick and thin and provided me with an immeasurable amount of help and support throughout this training block.

Training Monday April 7th to Sunday 13th -70 miles

 Monday- 9 miles easy (6.57 pace)

Tuesday- 8 miles easy (7.14 pace)

Wednesday- Session- 2 by 2 miles with 1 mile float recovery- Set 1- 5.29 pace, Set 2- 5.26 pace

Thursday- 6 miles easy- 6.49 pace

Friday- 5 miles (7.06 pace)

Saturday- 3 miles- 8.48 pace

Sunday- Rotterdam Marathon- 2.24.58- roughly 73 for first half, 72 for second

Neil Cusack
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Feidhlim Kelly

Feidhlim Kelly

Con Houlihan once told me that tomorrow is now. In taking on this venture I’ve started to try and put his words into action.

I worked for Con from 2007 till his passing in 2012 taking down his copy and a whole lot more. I have a Con Houlihan section which will go in to more depth on that.

I’m a long-time contributor to the Irish Runner magazine and am also working for the Irish Examiner.

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