Stablemate Iain O’Callaghan took to the streets of Limerick for a marathon of epic drama. He overcame deep, dark thoughts—and a neuromuscular sniper shooting him with a horrendous hamstring cramp—to slap 4’ off his PB, clocking 2:57:01, and placing 37th overall. Unfortunately for O’Callaghan, there was no M40 category, so he didn’t reap any benefit from reaching that recent milestone.
The Stable News received this detailed dispatch from O’Callaghan as “the Chin” sang his wee heart out at Little Mix in Glasgow:
“Arrived in the hotel in Limerick on Saturday evening and had the nice surprise of an upgrade to a fancy room overlooking the bridge we crossed twice as part of the course. Rooming right on the 21-mile mark was to lead to some fleeting bad thoughts of DNFing the following morning.
The race went pretty well. Had been training with fellow Stablemate Darren O’Connor, and the plan was to run 6:40 per mile through 20, then see where we were, and push on or hold on. The first half of the race went by quickly, and we formed a good group with a few other runners at the same pace. That group broke up at halfway (on the drag back into the city centre), but we were a few seconds ahead of schedule, going through 13.1 in 1:27.
The humid day meant that around 18 miles the stomach wasn’t feeling great, so I started to slow slightly. At around 19-20 miles, on the climb back into Limerick, I slowed a little and let Darren motor on. I skipped the Maurten gel I had planned to take at 21 miles or so because the stomach didn’t like the idea. At this stage of the race, I had resolved that marathons are a terrible idea, and that I wasn’t running any more.
Things settled a bit over the next couple of miles, which was good. At that point, I had slowed by 20’’ (or so) per mile but knew a good PB was still on the cards. But I got a fright with less than a mile to go when my left hamstring cramped up, and I had to take 30’’ to give it a good stretch.
There were some frantic calculations done to confirm I couldn’t walk it in and get under three hours if I didn’t get the hammy going again. That stretch, and a nice rolling downhill finish, got me home in one piece for a 2:57 finish.
Met Darren in the finishing area; we shared a congratulatory high five and a short sit-down. Felt a few spits of rain in the finish corral, so blagged a bin bag off a volunteer to keep me dry for the walk back to the hotel, which was timely, as the heavens opened a few minutes later!”
While the Chin was being showered with confetti, he sent us a WhatsApp … We received it three hours later (phone signal overload in the Hydro): “Congratulations on snaffling a sub-3, Iain. The cramp almost had you done, but you knew to gently loosen it off to get the time you were craving. Nice one, bud.”
The News stopped by Coach Stazza’s office as he was busy—no, not writing the weekly training, kids—playing Solitaire! “And what of it? I need to take a break now and then, and this game really gets the brain juices flowing, along with testing your patience. Our man Iain certainly kept his cool in Limerick, banished the negative thoughts, and conquered the dreaded cramp. Great job, Iain, good man.”
So what’s next for O’Callaghan? “We have our first baby arriving next week, so this marathon was a desperate attempt to get a sub-3 before my training window is shut by sleepless nights. I do have a full marathon entry for Dingle in September, but that will be just to enjoy the west Kerry scenery and the event rather than racing it flat out. Or could just change to the half! Will probably give Boston a go next year as a bucket list race.”