#DreamRunDublin17 – Less than a week to race day! We chat to Denise Logue about her journey towards Dublin Marathon 2017!

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Special Feature:  #DreamRunDublin17 countdown to race day!

There is now less than a week to one of the biggest races on the European race calendar, an epic race in terms of Northern Ireland participation – that is of course the SSE Dublin City Marathon, which incorporates the AAI National Marathon Championships.

You’ll hopefully have been keeping up to date with the #DreamRunDublin17 project which we are involved in within Rio Olympian Paul Pollock? Paul is taking his first steps into coaching and has chosen a group of 10 athletes who he will help towards a sub 3-hour finish at the Dublin Marathon.

We decided – 10 weeks to go, 10 athletes in the group… so we’ll feature one athlete each week (except for the final week… when we’ll hear from two!) and ask them questions about the project, their training and their hopes and expectations going forward.

Our interviews so far have proved popular – they have provided an excellent insight into how the athletes have progressed; their open and honest answers have also allowed us to experience the highs and lows which have occurred throughout the process.  There has been a mixture of fantastic news and positive stories, and of course not avoiding the disappointment of losing two athletes through injury.

This week, we have the pleasure of chatting to Ballydrain Harriers athlete Denise Logue.  Denise has really impressed this season, with some notable podium places.  Is this down to the #DreamRunDublin17 programme?  We’ll hear this from Denise herself… have a read!

How do you feel training has been going since you joined the DreamRunDublin17 team?

I joined the team a couple of weeks into the programme as a replacement for one of the original ten.  Getting the email to confirm my place was like getting a golden ticket.  I was delighted and felt extremely lucky to be offered a place.  I have loved the training from the word go and feel it has been going really well.  It has made my training much more structured and given me a focus that I desperately needed.  So far, I have only missed 5 days due to illness.  Luckily, I have had no injuries yet!  However, with only 1 week to go, I am keeping my fingers crossed as I don’t want to tempt fate!!

How has your training changed since joining the DreamRunDublin17 team?

My training has changed dramatically.  Before the programme a really long run for me was 10-12 miles.  Now I consider that short!!! I have also learnt so much about pacing.  It feels like my right arm has been cut off if I go out without my Garmin watch!

My training has become much more structured and I love getting my weekly plan which includes sessions, distance and pace for each day.  These weekly plans have given me a much more positive and focused approach to my training.  Paul invests so much time in his planning of these sessions that the least I can do is go out and give each one 100%.

The focus is of course on getting that sub 3 hour finish time at the Dublin Marathon 2017, do you believe you can achieve this? How things progressed the way you’d hoped?

This is the burning question!!! I have never done a marathon before so whatever time I get will be a PB for me.  However, I feel that if I don’t reach my target of sub 3 hours I will have let Paul and myself down.  I trust Paul’s programme and so far I have achieved personal bests in my 5k, 10k and half marathon.  I hope this pattern continues!  With only 1 week to go I have to push those negative doubts out of my head and believe in myself as this is the first secret to success.

You’ve raced a few events whilst being part of the DreamRunDublin team – What was your favourite event and why?

It would have to be the Fingal 10k.  This race gave me the opportunity to travel down with others from the programme and get to know everyone a bit better.  The atmosphere at the race was brilliant and I achieved a personal best of 38:01.

What had been your highlight in terms of your own personal favourite performance since joining the DreamRunDublin17 team? 

As I have mentioned before I have never run a marathon before so clocking my longest run of 24 miles was a great achievement.  This has definitely boosted my confidence for the big day!

What has been your favourite training session since commencing training with the Paul Pollock and the DreamRunDublin17 team?

I have had so many enjoyable training sessions it is hard to pick one.  However, the one that I felt the most achievement from was on a hot summers night at Island Hill near Comber.  Luckily, I had my running buddies from Ballydrain Harriers who have been a great support during all my training.  This session included 20 minutes warm up, 2 miles in 12.30 mins, 5 x 1km – pace 3.35, another 2 miles in 12.30 and 20 mins cool down.  Although this pushed me to breaking point I took great delight in ticking the box and knowing I would benefit greatly from the ‘no pain, no gain’ attitude.

The atmosphere and camaraderie at the group training days is very clear – are you enjoying being part of the team?

Having been a bit of an individual sportswoman until now I love being part of this team.  It has been brilliant fun getting to know everyone in the programme.  I feel everyone has been so supportive and I couldn’t have asked to do this with a nicer bunch of people.  We all have the same end goal and I wish everyone luck for the big day. I know you will all smash it!

Finally, a few words to Paul Pollock and Ryan Maxwell.  Ryan thank you so much for the write ups, support and photographs.  We never know which hedge you will jump out of next to capture that photo!!  A massive thank you to Paul for organizing the challenge, all the time he’s devoted and for providing such a great opportunity to achieve our best.

What does the coach say!? … enter Paul Pollock:

With less than ten days to go until the Dublin marathon, nerves are beginning to show. Each athlete is experiencing a heightened sense of awareness of every ache in their body. The light hearted, jokey atmosphere in the Whatsapp group is beginning to fade, as the realisation is sinking in.

This coming weekend is race day.  The taper in training, and the preparation for the startline, has well and truly started. It is the day that we have all been building towards since the start of this project, at the end of April. All the pain, the commitment and the sacrifices. The end, and the potential it brings to realise the group’s goal, is in sight.

Denise, like Paul G, was a late addition to the group, joining four weeks into the programme, after Liosa decided to withdraw due to her pregnancy. She is the only one of the group to have never attempted a marathon before. While some may view this as a hindrance, I believe it to be a blessing. Denise is an exceptionally talented athlete, there is no question. Having achieved podium places in several of the build up races to the marathon, her confidence is, and rightly should be, high. She has been fortunate to have not suffered any injuries throughout the project and her body has responded to the training better than I could have ever hoped.

This weekend will be the first time that she has ever covered twenty six miles in one go before. It will be a new experience. But that is what is so exciting. She has a clean slate. It is completely new, unknown territory. A personal best is guaranteed. Physically, she is in fantastic shape. Mentally, she should be too. If she arrives at the startline, prepared and ready to race, another podium position is well within her capabilities.

For now, however, it is time for Denise and the rest of the group, to simply rest, allow their bodies to recover and prepare themselves mentally for the challenge that next Sunday will present.