Posted by: smithdavid | February 19, 2012

The Dublin Marathon Made Me Do It

My head is light – like nothing I’ve experienced before. Light – like how it must feel when the body and soul detach. Only this is no ethereal ascent towards the light. No – this is savage and brutal. And self inflicted. Each footfall spears agony through all of me.  One after the next after the next after the next. If I stop, I will surely die. If I continue – I will surely die…

Phoenix Park - beautiful but not the ocean...

In my hand is the same water bottle I gathered six miles ago – I’ve neither drunk from it nor discarded it. It is doing me no good – yet I can’t let go. The only souls I pass are those walking or those fallen.  Am I still running? Or have I left my body and am I just a single breath from purgatory? Still one foot smashes into the tarmac after the next. Twenty-two miles – just four left. Soon it will be Merrion Road, then Shelbourne Road and then Grafton Street. And finally Merrion Square and the finish line. But my mind is beyond comprehension – logic has no place here.

There has to be a better way – something gentler on the body.

Now my mind drifts away – to PhoenixPark, to one of the countless training runs with Brian. He’s telling me about Strandhill and Lahinch and how he often goes down on a Saturday morning if the swell is right. And I’m thinking – you, a Paddy, telling me, a South African (albeit a landlocked Vaalie), about surfing – you’ve got to be kidding. But he isn’t and there is a certain look in his eyes.

And I think of Emmet, friend and flatmate, asking all the important questions of new accommodation – ‘Where can I store my board? Where can I wash my wetsuit? Where can it hang?’ Actually seeing the room he will stay in is way down the list. And I think of the times he has come back from the west or Portugal or Australia and radiating from him is vitality – not just the glow from the sun but something else. And I think of that distant look in his eyes.

At last I cross the line – deflated – eighteen weeks of sacrifice and I missed my target time – not by much, but I missed it. Yes – there is elation when I realize that I will not die, at my own hands, at 36, and that my time is respectable.

But I walk like John Wayne for a week thereafter and it is eight weeks before I can run again (bruised foot) and still I am eating family sized pizzas by myself.

There has to be a better way.

...and maybe curls into a glassy barrel or explodes into a white cloud.

So I listen and I hear a distant, compelling call – if you listen carefully you will hear it too – I can hear it right now. Somewhere, in the blue beyond, a swell of water is rising, rising, rising. It rises until it can no longer hold its shape and powerfully, inevitably it crashes down and maybe curls into a glassy barrel or explodes into a white cloud. And if you look through fresh eyes you will see every facet of life mirrored in this single natural event.  And if you hear and see, as I do, you will not be able to turn your back.


  1. Great blog Dave, well done. Look forward to more!

    • thanks brian – took me a while to figure out approving comments…i’ll get there…

  2. Welcome to WordPress and well Done David. A great first post!

    • thanks suzie, did the four hour work week club meet tonight?

      • i don’t think so. I am off duty with winter lurgy and didn’t hear anything.

  3. Hi Dave
    Good work! Beautifully put. Loved the photos too. Got a contact number for the girl in the blue bikini?

    • thanks van d – if i had her number i think i’d keep it to myself! hope all good the lewis house…

  4. Well done Dave, look forward to the next installment!!!

    • cheers dee, watch this space…

  5. Nice writing!

  6. You left out the damp wetsuit in a windswept carpark bit 🙂 Great blog, look forward to more, Andrew

    • cheers andrew – plenty of damp wetsuits to come. and getting into them at 0deg ambient temp…

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