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NCBI service user Peter Phelan talks about his experience of training for the Dublin Marathon.
Training for the Dublin city marathon began in the first week of March. I would always give myself three month’s full training before the day and since I am more active than a lot of people I know, I find that sufficient. So ten weeks of hard training were completed when I received notice from Beaumont hospital that I would be having my second operation to help my epilepsy.
Surgery didn’t go as well as we all thought and epilepsy has remained ever present in my every-day life. It has resulted in the loss of a significant part of my visual field and has made me feel twice as bad about taking the decision to go down the surgery route. However, I can’t say I wasn’t warned. My neuro-surgeon told me I would be left with a curtain like effect down my left eye and that is exactly what has happened.
In effect, it meant that to see anything on my left I must turn my head fully. I very easily walk past people, to whom I would normally say hello, without seeing them; knock over glasses; turn into walls — once I ran out in front of a car, only to swerve back in again. Seven weeks resting post surgery and with only eleven weeks to go to the marathon I decided it was time to get going again. The majority of my hard training had been done so I was still reasonably fit; however I was still coming to terms with my new way of life. With this in mind I cut back on my usual strenuous regime and ran five miles each day from Tuesday to Friday and a long run every Sunday starting at 10 and working up to twenty three miles. I got used to running with my visual condition, learning to cope with traffic. I had set routes for training so that I would never get into trouble when approaching a cross roads or junction. My long early morning runs were calculated to avoid traffic.
The marathon came and went like Christmas — all that fuss and training for just one day! It started at 9am and with over 13,000 runners I thought I might have a little difficulty; luckily nothing major, apart from bumping into a couple of runners on my blind side and almost running into a lamp post — oh!, and running past a water station without seeing it. Initially I had planned which side of the road I would run on, to prevent bumping into people but this plan went out the window — I already knew the course, knew where to expect people and knew where the fast runners would separate from the slower ones to leave open space.
To make things easier for myself I went slowly for the first ten miles which meant I didn’t break into much of a sweat. By then the field had opened up. This gave me free reign so I picked up my pace and ran a faster second half, finishing in 3hrs 27mins.