Fly to Dublin, train or bus to Galway. Free buses to marathon start and back again. I did the race this year, my first marathon. Well organised, superb scenery and a very tough hilly finish! Would thoroughly recommend it.
Similar story. PFPS surfaced with me the morning after a 16 miler, my first week of taper and three weeks from my first marathon. Didn't run for 12 days then did an easy 5 miler followed by a 10 miler during which I had discomfort throughout but only that. Physio gave me stretches for the glutes and quads and I did a lot of foam rolling which I think was a big help. Anti-inflammatories for three days before the race and on race morning also helped and I got thru it in a respectable 3.45 -delighted to have finished. Again discomfort for first 15 miles then pain disappeared. That was a fortnight ago and just the last couple of days have been niggle-free, fingers crossed so I guess 6 weeks is probably about right re recovery period. Good luck with your first marathon!
Foz35, I started running more seriously last autumn and bought Forerunner 110 which has proved great buy. Makes training much more interesting and informative re pace, etc. Make sure you buy a heart rate monitor as well - I got both for £130 on amazon. Easy to operate and upload to pc. Ran my first marathon on Sunday!