There is no better way to prepare for the Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon than by doing a practice run of the actual route itself. Obviously this isn’t an option for anyone living outside of Dublin but for Team Vhi & The Herald’s Lisa & Annmarie Boon who live just around the corner in Ringsend it was a great opportunity for them to check out the course and to give themselves a boost before the big day.
We set off at around 6pm on a Monday evening from Baggot St and although the aim was to set a pace equivalent to what the girls hope for on June 6th- we knew that there would be more obstacles like stopping at traffic lights and having to contend with people walking from work etc, so we could expect to be a few minutes slower.
The sisters took off at a great pace and they weren’t lying when they said they were fast walkers. We combined walking and jogging but the walking pace was probably faster than the jog! “I just love power walking” Lisa told me.” “We usually train at a fast enough pace to build up a sweat and raise our heart rate but can also manage to keep chatting”.
We jogged the first 2km comfortably –zig zagging in and out of the office workers on Baggot St and around Ballsbridge but when we reached the RDS it was a straight road from there out as far as The Merrion Shopping Centre. The first 3km of the Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon is usually the easiest as everybody is soaking up the atmosphere, there is good support from the crowd and the road is generally flat.
Then we reached the famous Nutley Lane turn where there is a deceivingly long incline taking us up to the 4km mark. The girls were in good spirits and I was impressed at how they managed to keep a good pace of around 7 minutes per kilometres alternating between jogging and power walking.
Turning left at the top of Nutley Lane and onto the Stillorgan Dual Carriageway is where we really had to push ourselves as we wanted to reach the halfway mark in good time and it is still slightly hilly there. Because it was during rush hour traffic we decided to take the old route and cross at the UCD flyover rather than further out as it was much safer to do so (we had decided to make up the distance at the end of our run).
Crossing the Dual Carriageway is, in my opinion one of the best parts of the route – as you are facing the home stretch and it’s flat all the way. Although Lisa and Annmarie were still feeling good, they would be used to jogging around 3-5km in training and now we were up to 6km and aiming for the 10km so it was important to keep up the pace and keep them motivated. We chatted loads (admittedly I did most of the talking) but as the Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon is such a social event I think it is a great way to pass the time and get through the distance, before we knew it we were up at 7km and approaching Donnybrook.
At the hour mark we were over 8km and for the last 2 we continued at a consistent pace trying not to slow down. We approached St Stephen’s Green and because we had cut the journey short at the flyover we headed back up Baggot St and left onto Merrion Square to make sure we reached the 10km mark. We did it! The time on my watch was 1 hour 15 minutes but as I mentioned due to the stopping and starting at traffic lights the girls can easily knock 5 minutes off this time on the day itself.
Lisa and Annmarie felt great and didn’t seem too out of breath or tired. They stayed positive throughout the whole run, their consistent training has obviously paid off and I am certain they will achieve their goal of personal best times on June 6th.