Dublin County is comprised of 921 km2 (355.6 miles2 for those of us that are still adjusting to the metric system!) with 23 postal zones and countless roads. (I attempted to research just how many streets are in the county but had no success.) I am here 91 more days, which equals 2,184 more hours. I’m not a mathematician, but I’d say if I go about my daily routine, there is a 100% chance that I will not cover every square kilometer nor every street in Dublin County. I have, however, found a way to increase the area that I will cover!
I am training for my first ever marathon. My rationale for doing so is multifaceted. My reasons include proving my mental toughness, reveling in the amazingness and strength of the human body, exploring new places, and finding a healthy hobby. I have always had the desire to do a marathon at least once in my life, and as I am embarking on this new adventure of study abroad, I thought, “Why not now?” And if I only intend to run one in my life (assuming I don’t catch the so called “marathon fever”), why not the original marathon that begins in Marathon, Greece? But the focus of this blog is Ireland and not Greece so let me get back on track….
Prior to leaving for study abroad, I was fortunate to have been given advice from those who had studied abroad before me, both fellow Hoyas and friends from home. Two pieces of advice especially stuck. One.) Do not get so preoccupied with traveling to other countries that you miss being a part of the country and city in which you are living. Two.) Explore every chance you get, keeping in mind that exploration has no formal definition. It can be as great as traversing the country to see the Cliffs of Moher or as simple as wandering the aisles of a grocery store that I have not yet visited before. Though, these examples are quite different, their level of exploration is equivocal.
I have heeded these two pieces of advice by vigorously training here in Dublin County. Since this post has been quite numerically heavy, why not add some more. I have run 67.52 miles since arriving in Dublin almost three weeks ago. (My total mileage, including everyday walking and stair climbing is 178.68 miles! Granted that includes some extensive Dublin walking tours and a weekend trip to Paris.) I have challenged myself to never take the same route twice… And doing so has certainly helped me to cover a more vast array of streets! My runs thus far have taken me to the National Botanical Gardens, Glasnevin Cemetery, Dún Laoghaire, and Phoenix Park, just to name a few. Though the destinations I have run to have been absolutely spectacular, the getting there has also been quite enjoyable. There are not words to express the feelings that overcame me when I saw an elderly man hanging an Irish flag from his window or when I took a pit stop into a local shop in North Dublin and found that everyone inside was speaking Irish (the native language which some refer to as Gaelic). By journeying through different neighborhoods, I have been able to appreciate the cultural differences that exist within the city. Additionally, the experience has helped me to make friends. I am always seeking out running buddies who want to partake in an adventure with me. The caliber of conversation with these new friends has been impressive, challenging my point of view and helping me to grow. Plus, they are also helping me to increase my running speed. (Needless to say, everyone I have run with has been much faster than me!)
Though it is still highly improbable that I will hit every street in Dublin County, I know I am on the right track to getting a glimpse of this wonderful city, immersing myself in Irish culture, making new friends, and burning off all those fish ‘n’ chips and Shepard’s pies!