Colin Griffin’s Marathon – Pt2

By Colin Griffin

I completed the Dublin marathon in 2.33.16. I finished 23rd overall; a performance that somewhat exceeded my expectations. In my pre-race blogwhere I described my preparation and some limitations, I was genuinely concerned as to whether I had sufficient training done to race a marathon.

I set off at 5.53 per mile pace for the first 6 miles. I felt very easy for the first half which I went through in 1.16.42. I found the section from 13 to 20 miles very challenging. We had long exposures against the wind with no shelter. I was working hard to hold 6 minutes per mile pace throughout that section. This was where my race could easily have unravelled, as it did for many. I was also racing on my own, which I was very comfortable with. There was a small group ahead of my for most of the race and I kept a close eye on. At 18 miles I could see that group come apart and I began to pick them off. Once we got to the 20 mile mark through Miltown, I was prepared in my own mind to attack the last 6 miles. The so-called ‘Heartbreak hill’ through Clonskeagh around the 22 mile mark, was a long climb with the wind against us. I attacked it knowing it was the last difficult section. After that I was clipping along at 5.45 per mile all the way to the finish. I felt very strong right to the end, but the only thing that held me back was I felt my calves were about to cramp.

Colin picture 2

I have to say I enjoyed every inch of the race, even the tough bits. The atmosphere and support around the course was great and uplifting. People stood out in unfavourable weather and got behind everybody. There were plenty of familiar faces out there too from the athletics community and friends shouting support.  It was a nice feeling to enjoy the run-in to the finish and cross the line having achieved (or even bettered) my target.

My 5km splits were as follows:

18.21, 18.09, 17.55, 18.15, 18.27, 18.25, 18.03, 17.36 and 7.57 for the last 2.2km. My last 10km was close to 35.20. My best time for 10km is 34.05.

My fuel strategy worked out very well and I would like to particularly thank Eugene Coppinger and the Dublin Marathon organisers for accommodating me. I took a self-prepared drink every 5km and a gel with some extra caffeine at 25km. I always like a caffeine hit with an hour of racing to go. In my drinks I consumed approx. 15g of mixed source carbohydrates with 250mls of water. In my previous blog I outlined some advice for race-day fuelling. That strategy worked well for me. I completed some training session on low carbohydrate stores to stimulate fat oxidation and metabolic efficiency.

I did two lactate tests in the months leading up to the marathon. The first one was four days before the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in August. It involved did a 5 x 2km on the track taking blood lactate after each 2km. The results are outlined below:

2km     Pace per mile     Blood Lactate

  1. 7.41             6.09                 1.8
  2. 7.22             5.54                 2.4
  3. 7.11             5.44                 2.9
  4. 6.57             5.34                 3.3
  5. 6.47             5.25                 5.5

As you can see my lactate turn-point (point before the biggest shift in accumulation of blood lactate) was at 5.34 per mile pace. In that half marathon I did 73.52, which works out at 5.38 per mile. I didn’t have much lactate stability at my first 3 stages, so I wouldn’t have been efficient enough for a marathon at 6 minutes per mile back then.

Last Thursdays, just four days out from the marathon, I did a similar 5 x 2km lactate test with data below:

2km     Pace per mile    Blood Lactate

  1. 7.36            6.05                 1.4
  2. 7.24            5.56                 1.4
  3. 7.15            5.48                 1.4
  4. 7.03            5.36                 2.4
  5. 6.46            5.24                 4.1

Based on those figures, I knew if I was feeling good and conditions reasonably favourable, I could sustain 5.50 per mile, with the reserves to drop down to the low 5.40’s for a limited duration. I was also fitter and more efficient across all intensities. Despite my limited volume and frequency of training, that data gave me good reassurance of my fitness going into the marathon.

There was a lot of interest generated in my lead-up to the marathon and my performance on the day, given my previous career as a race walker.  There was a lot of speculation as what I might have run in more favourable conditions and a less hilly course. I honestly haven’t given that much thought. I would certainly like to continue by running one or two marathons each year. Who knows what my marathon potential might be with a little more focus and preparation.

Congrats to all those who completed Dublin Marathon and a huge thank you to the organisers, volunteers, as well as the thousands to turned out all along the course in the bad weather to support. It all made for a great event.


(Pictures Courtesy of Colin Griffin)

Athletics Ireland Enterprises Ltd., Unit 19, Northwood Court, Northwood Business Campus, Santry, Dublin 19 © Athletics Ireland 2015. All rights reserved. Company Number: 427261