Month: April 2016

The Road to Rose

So I’ve been a bit side tracked the past few weeks.

In early March after a Friday Funday, where we nearly got stranded on Newcastle Beach as the tide came in, Lauren announced she was going to be a part of the Down Rose this year.

For those of you who aren’t aware of the Rose of Tralee, it’s basically a festival which goes on down in County Kerry every year where over 60 different centres send a young lady to represent their county/centre.. So we have 32 here in Ireland then the others are all over the world.

The winner embodies all that is pure and beautiful about Ireland. Everyone in Ireland has watched it at least once, it is pretty much part of religion to sit down and watch it in August with your granny.

However as a prestigious competition there are careful selection processes in place to determine who represents each centre. For the Down Rose Centre …that was 6 weeks of fantastic outtings and opportunities to try new things, make new friends and have the best of craic.

I’ll admit I was envious of seeing and hearing about where the Roses where now but it was a nice type of envy as I heard about the friendships and the laughter, wondering to myself the whole time…I knew I should have entered this when I was 21.

I was lucky enough to get to go along to a fabulous event at Jack Murphys Jewellers on Thursday after our breakfast hike up the mountain. I got to meet most of the girls and try on items of jewellery that would pay off my mortgage (yes I’m that old and sensible). I came to the conclusion that I shouldn’t have married for love…money would have been better. (Only joking Iove is better. ..but love with money is a bonus)

I was blown away by an abundance of beauty and more so the cracking personalities that the 2016 Down Roses had. Each one of them special and unique yet equally full of the joys of life.

Behind the well posed pictures where a group of now friends for life, just out to have a good time and broaden their horizons.

I seen first hand why every young girl should be part of this process and was welcomed with opened arms to join them for some food after wards.

When I say food…I mean fast food, yes they were all human with good appetites. All dressed in the best of frocks we went from a high class jewellers to Friar Tucks and everyone sat down to chips and chicken. It was awesome.

As they chatted about the selection night, plans for gifts for the organiser and important items to pack, I actually felt like I needed to be packing a bag and joining them. I laughed and I also cried inside. All of these girls had their own reasons for doing this and it amazed me how fabulous and selfless they each where. Here were girls barely in their 2os making a huge impact on society daily beyond the normal daily grind.

Fast forward to Sunday. 

I had been getting updates from Lauren throughout the morning and needed to calm my own nerves. I felt so nervous for her and everyone else involved. I know standing  on stage or in front of a room of hundreds of people is something I can do and it doesn’t phase me. However I am 10 years older than most these girls and some where going to be singing and dancing, playing instruments and well Lauren was lifting weights ( classy chick).

I took myself out for a run and thinking about what lay ahead that night I pushed myself to complete my first 10miler. If they could get on stage and do that outside their comfort zone.  I could hit double figures. 

I lay about all afternoon…I felt useless. I could have been helping give them pep talks or being in room entertainment.  It was just awful knowing that between having their hair dragged out of them and make up on. They where having to answer questions and endure interrogation from a panel of judges.

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As I arrived into an sparsely filled room (to be on time, is to be late) the stage area that was to host 17 nervous ladies was luminous. After working in the Slieve for years as a teenager at various events and weddings the room had a completely different feel about it. It was personal now. The Roses would all take to the stage over the next few hours and for one of them the dream would continue on to Tralee.

I have taught many a young person in my time, every single girl who took to that stage was a credit to themselves and their families.  It’s a daunting prospect and they all nailed it. I honestly could have stayed there all night listening to them. Such powerful talents where on display and I am sure Gemma the organiser felt like I do on results day. All her hard work and inspiration clearly had rubbed off on the girls and they delivered.

I didn’t envy the job of the judges. I am sure before anyone took to the stage they were daunted by the task ahead after meeting them all earlier in the day and realising that there was no clear winner.

I was never so glad to know Lauren was 4th on. At least I didn’t have long to wait and as each girl before her came up on stage, I got more nervous.

As she took to the stage she relaxed into the atmosphere. Connor Phillips, the compere for the evening, straight out attacked my hard work in my very homemade banner.  I am not the world’s most artistic critter. ..actually I’m woeful but I put hours of work into it and was more so delighted that it would be more of a souvenir than anything else. The banner made it to the stage and I was totally mortified, yet strangely proud that everyone was forced to admire my hard work even if it looked like 30 kids had made it.

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After the poster hype Lauren was fabulous. She didn’t show any nerves, was clear and precise in her answers and I was so proud of her (I don’t think I can stress just how much so).

Just when the room thought she couldn’t shine anymore she came out to do her talent. I think the whole room was in shock at the little 5ft2 Lauren stepping up to do Deadlifting. 

Working her way up through the weights she was confident in her own ability and made it look effortless. At 110kg (twice her body weight) she had everyone in the room on their feet. I am sure she could have comfortably PB’d on the night had she went up to beyond her 140kg pb as the atmosphere was electric and I am sure the adrenaline was taking over. Though she had no need to, she had put on a fantastic show and everyone was in awe…exactly what doing a talent is all about.

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In the end only 1 could win. I’m sure if many of the other girls where in a different county, they’d have won. The title of Down Rose went to the very deserving Fainche who will do a fantastic job representing the County, I’ve no doubt about that.

I feel very privilege to have been able to be apart of the Down Rose journey and I will encourage anyone who isn’t as old as me, not married and living near a Rose Centre anywhere in the world, to get involved. 

For now though I have my memories and count myself exceptionally lucky to have a friend that rocks as much as Lauren! #alwaysnextyear #dontgiveuponadream

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I did it 😀

So proud of my friend Caroline completing VLM. Such and inspiration and hope she can join me in Dublin!

Training Mum

London was AMAZING!

The crowds and atmosphere were fantastic, just a wall of noise at times pushing you along.

We arrived on the Friday morning and made our way straight from the airport to the Expo, it was rammed being the Saturday and last day to collect your packs. Brilliant variety of stalls, it would have been a lot better if we didn’t have our cases with us, it was too busy to be lugging cases about. I managed to buy some arm sleeves as I was panicking about what to wear as it was predicted to be a lot colder than I was anticipating. We briefly saw Paula Radcliffe giving a question and answer session 😊

Headed back to the hotel quick rest and then out to try to find a bar to watch the United match, we were so close to getting tickets a few times but had…

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Life after 10k

I’ll be honest, I’ve been avoiding it like the plague.  I know I can run 10k, I know I can walk twice that. However going beyond 10k running is something I have yet to manage…until yesterday.

It is amazing what your body can do when it finds the zone. I set off in hope of reaching 8.5 miles. I was pretty sure I could make it, telling myself that it’s only 3 times around the lake plus a wee bit.

I was trying to avoid real life, with Laurens Rose Selection underway and feeling helpless and a friend running VLM I was trying to not be stuck to my phone or laptop checking up on them!

As I hit the lake for the first lap I knew I wasn’t feeling the lake vibe and as always, veered off up Crow Road to take on the infamous Born 2 Run Castlewellan 10k route.

Let’s face it…It is not a flat route, actually it is hell and the route near made me hang up my trainers in February. So as a soared over the hills and found my stride I began to do the maths. At 7k I thought yeah I could do another 7k at this rate.

As I approached 12k I was flying (siobhan speed flying not normal runner flying) I felt so comfortable and started to debate possible routes home, how many km that would be and would I look odd running around my street to make up the numbers.

At about 14km I realised that I hadn’t even fueled properly for this run, a small bowl of bran flakes and an Alpen bar at 7.30 wasn’t sufficient at 11.30 and I began to feel the hunger.  I didn’t even have water with me. However I hadn’t come this far to stop so pushed on.

I spotted my house at 15km and knew I had to keep going so off I went out towards the dump knowing I could stretch this a bit further and make the illusive 16km.

Then my doubts in my maths skills kicked in…is 16km 10 miles. I remembered trips to Dublin as a kid and doing the maths to change the km signs into miles…0.8km is half a mile, so 1.6km is a mile so 10 of those is 10mile.
I was stalking my garmin hoping for the beep. My playlist had run out but I ran on. As I crossed the road to my street there was the long awaited beep for lap 10.
And I fell through the door.

Once I sat down the magnitude of what I had just done hit me. I could feel and smell the sweat pouring out of me. But I was elated.

The first time I’ve thought wow I can actually manage a half marathon.  I can do this. So with 6 weeks to go I know that I can do it and I will make it.

So I will skip over I was so exhausted afterwards that I lay in bed for 3 hours. But I’m sure that’s why I don’t even have a niggle today. Body is feeling fresh!

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Lost without moving

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View from the bottom of the Trassey Track

Nothing beats the early morning sunshine.
Ireland was blessed this week with a few days of Spring and with it came daily clear views of the mountains. I’ve had very little luck this year with the joys of getting a cracker view from any of my mountain walks…mist and clouds seem to follow me. However getting up at 5.30am and hitting the mountains as the sun came up yesterday was the best decision I’ve had all year.

Of course wee Lauren got talked into it…well let’s face it , I suggested it and she didn’t hesitate to agree to come along. So the yellow bug picked me up shortly after 6 and we headed for the Trassey.

We couldn’t believe our luck. Pure blue skies and no sign of even a low lying hill mist. Today was our day. FINALLY!

Off we set with our hearts set on settling a score with Slieve Bernagh. A few weeks back we had done the same mountain however it was miserable and I’d fallen and badly hurt myself.  So today we were going to recapture the love for Bernagh.

There wasn’t a sinner about and as the birds sang and the low spring sun came up over Hares Gap, you couldn’t help but just settle into the landscape.

The thing about Bernagh is…There is no clear cut path to the top like there is with more popular mountains like Donard or Commedgh so it’s a keep walking and hope you make it, with some hands and knees scaling up the side of the mountain.

We were soon thinking we were onto the right path and then ending up being

surrounded by bog. Although the sun was shining, it hadn’t been for a few weeks and this became very evident as we tried to head up the mountain. Slowly we gained elevation and with that came a whole new perspective on the Mournes.

We where in the actual heart of the Mournes.  With Donard to our right, Binnan in front of us and views right as far as Rostervor to our left. 

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Nearly at the top we found a non boggy, non heather covered tuff of grass and sat down to enjoy breakfast with a view.

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The sun beamed down, the air was still and the view breathtaking.  I could have easily sat there all day and watch the world pass  by.

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You can easily get lost in it without moving and not a word was said between us. The feeling was obviously mutual. I’ve spent many an hour up the mountains but it was the first time I felt in a completely different world and a new sense of respect for the world around me. Here we were literally only 6 miles from home, surrounded by an absolutely stunning area of outstanding beauty. Without any other person, no cars, no noise and none of lives distractions. Just us and a huge pile of granite.

If I never ever go up the mountains again I won’t feel cheated or that I’ve missed out on anything. I’ve had that experience and count myself lucky that I was able to do it.

Our way back down off the mountain had us realise that there is no easy way to tackle, the now appropriately named, boggy Bernagh. We talked about the next adventures up the mountains and of course the impending Down Rose Selection on Sunday. There was the usual stumbles and falls alongside the craic but thankfully no injuries. 

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It took 3 and a half hours before we came across human life form again. The feeling that at 10am we’d already been up and down the mountain and people where only starting out, gave me a huge sense of achievement.

So that’s a big ✔off my list and looking forward to when I can head up again.

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If there was ever a challange…

If there was ever a challange…

This was it.

It’s been a month since our last race and the medal collection was getting lonely without a new addition.

Today we took on Born 2 Run Castleward Challange with a 10k and a Half Marathon option.

It had already been touted as a tough course and with the route, rerouted like an Orange Parade during the twelfth, it was apparent that the trail would be mucky and tough.

Amongst the grounds of Castleward lies the infamous “Winterfell” from Game of Thrones. So the place was hiving with tourists as well as runners.

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As the half runners lined up for 13.1miles of misery, Michael  (bare arms and black and red vest) fought with his Garmin, a regular scene at every race. I thought to myself as I stood on the side lines that in 2 months that will be me lining up to take on my first half. I felt physically sick and emotional as I watched him set off with a field full of all shapes and sizes.

After returning to the car to dump the baggage and get ready for my own race, I headed to the courtyard to find someone to chat to.

This was my first race as an affiliated club member. I’d the vest and was in the hunt for those in similar colours. It’s amazing how that even as a newbie to the club that people you have never met before will automatically start chatting to you and making you feel welcome.
Even more so throughout the course as the half marathon crew and faster 10k runners passed me, all the Murlough runners spotted my vest and gave me a tap on the shoulder and wished me well. Absolutely fantastic support and encouragement throughout the whole field. If you haven’t joined a running club…do!

The Claxton sounded and we were off. I usually procrastinate and spend the first 2 k wondering why I even thought this was a good idea but as the sun beamed down and the crowd of over 400 passed in the shadow of the Castleward Mansion out to the boundary,  I settled into the race swiftly.

In the early stages of the race it was clear that we had merged with the half marathon and I wondered at what point Michael would catch up with me. We had talked about if we both paced as planned we would end up crossing the line together. However a mixture of not exact start times and different paces meant he had caught up with me by the 5.5k mark.

I’ll admit I was glad to see him looking fresh, considering he had already done 9 mile and as he powered on ahead I knew he was enjoying it as much as one  can enjoy a half marathon.

As we swept around the corner to be greeted by Strangford Lough I realised the mile and km markers where not matching my garmin distance by over 3/4 of a kilometre!
This began to really grind on me as my time was based on my garmin distance which is never out. I tried to ignore it and focus on the race but I am sure it had a huge mental affect on me.
Nothing as bad as knowing the finish line is further away when you have been mentally prepared for.

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At 7.5k I had my own personal cheer squad in the form of Mrs Marshall for the day, my bff Tara who had her camera poised with the hope that she could capture some awesome pictures in transit.

Ok the distance markers where out but if that didn’t upset things enough…the hill at 9k was something else. It was horrid…not one person in the field in front of me was running it. I can be thankful for my mountain walks as I dug deep and power walked that hill like my life depended on it. I knew Lauren would be so proud as I tackled that hill like it was the final ascent of Slieve Donard, telling people to move as they were in my way and out for a chat…I’d a race to finish.

I watched my pb time slip away but knew the end was near…or at least falling on my ass on the grass path wasn’t going to happen.

As I spied the Mansion in the distance and looked ahead at the pure mud bath that lay ahead and seen others going round it…I just threw the head up and went straight through it, belting down the grass hill and onto the final stretch.

In true Siobhan style, I was flying towards the finish line and taking over a few people while I was at it. Nothing was stopping me. And I came across the line into the arms of one of my fellow Murlough members who was giving out medals clocking 10.48km on my garmin.

So the times came in and I managed a 1.15.09 however if I cross it with the additional stats from strava and garmin I’ve 6.14 to take off that for the last 0.4km giving me a pb of 1.07. 55

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It doesn’t feel like a pb as the distance was all wrong etc but hey I know it’s in me and will manage it again someday.

Afterall I’ve a marathon to run and that’s technically 4 attempts in 1 race to break it..not that it works like that. The theory is good though.

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So another medal for the collection and so begins the 60 day count down to my first half. But before then…Belfast Marathon Team Relay on the May Bank Holiday.

Moving through the Mournes

I do look forward to Friday Funday every week.

It doesn’t even need to be a Friday…Any day during the week when I am able to get out into the fresh air, leave the headphones behind and enjoy righting the world’s wrongs with Lauren.

Our weekly adventures have had us encounter some near death experiences,  lead way to many awe inspiring ideas and of course the added bonus of spending time in amongst the fantastic landscape that is where we live.

It is a fantastic feeling to stand on Newcastle Promenade and look up to the mountains and say ” I’ve been there and there and there and there” we’ve worked our way up and down the mountains and across them, into the trails and woods that surround them and  beyond.

Ok we’ve been chased by deer, braved the elements and near got stranded as the tide came in but hey its all in a days craic.

This week we took ourselves to the other end of the mountains. Rostrevor is at the far end of the Mournes where they begin. The mountains span roughly 26 miles to Newcastle.

It’s not a place I’ve ventured to much. Let’s face it I was in Kilborney Park for the first time in January when I done a 10k. So was up for checking it out.

I have never encountered such a huge hill. I swear I would have felt safer walking up it than driving it. The car slowly pulled it’s middle class ass up the hill in first and I just hoped to god anyone coming down remembered to follow the one way signs! The laughs and giggles of the two of us as the car climbed.  It was soon becoming evident that this week’s Friday Funday wasn’t going to be about excerise but solely the adventure.

The view of the car park brought relief however even when the car should have been free wheeling it protested at us.

A short 5 minute walk straight uphill lay ahead. I could feel Thursdays circuits class burning in my thighs and being on my toes was the only way I was going to make it. There on the hill stood a big lump of rock, also known as Cloughmore Stone.

For once the views across Carlingford Lough into the Cooley Mountains where clear and you could take in the breathtaking views right as far as Warrenpoint.  It was beautiful and definitely on my list of places to take the kids this summer.

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It wasn’t long before we were back down again and back in the car for what was a downhill haven for the car that worked so hard to get up the hill.

We decided to take the scenic route home and scope out the other possible routes for Friday Funday. Well who’d have guessed we’d bump into Santa and his Reindeers. Santa’s Cottage is on the road and daily the man who plays santa walks the Reindeers.  It was a lovely sight to see on an April morning and nice to be so close to such beautiful creatures.

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So concludes this week’s installment of Friday Funday.

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It’s Race Week

So its race week.

When I give it that title it makes it seem like I’m going to be doing a half or full. However I am still very content with 10k. It’s been a month since my last race and ready for some bling.

Born 2 Run Castleward Challange is this weekend and although Michael and Tara are braving what has been called a brutal half, I’m sticking within my comfort zone and doing the 10k.

But when it’s race week I’ve several things I do different..including my usual morning plans which are usually running.

1. Spend more time at the gym doing core and strength work
2. Do 1 run and try to keep it to trail early in the week
3. Make sure I take a full rest day on the Thursday
4. Friday Funday obviously so a wee walk
5. Try and I mean try (sometimes I don’t manage it) to eat well
6. Do at least 2 Spin classes
7. Thoroughly clean my house. Odd but let’s face it if I’m not out running I need to be productive. Day time tv is mind numbing.

I’m learning as time goes on about things that work and things I should avoid. One thing I have learned over the past few months is to not over think the race.

I got myself so worked up over my local 10k that it was the worst run ever. Let’s over look that I shouldn’t have been running it as I was ill and literally running on empty but it near drove me to hanging up my runners. If it wasn’t for an unplanned 10k the following week which I decided to do at 9.30pm the night before and knocked 6 mins of my time, I wouldn’t be contemplating a marathon that’s for sure.

So race week this week begins with Spin and Circuits tonight…

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Good Runs and Bad Runs

The body is a funny thing…

One day you can be totally on fire, everything falling into place and running is a gift you embrace and love. Fast forward 24hrs you feel like you’re running through peanut butter with legs of lead and each footstep is a struggle both mentally and physically and you wonder why you haven’t turned around to go home.

This week…that was me.
Yesterday I had a beautiful run around the route I clocked my first 10k distance. It’s a special route to me. Unbelievably scenic as it goes along the promenade and then after a climb through a woods it sweeps around the foot of the Mournes and along towards Tollymore and back into Newcastle.

I had tentatively agreed with myself on leaving the house I was going to do 10k. After dropping my gear off in the gym, as I’m still bathroomless, one of the personal trainers asked about my plans for the morning as I was missing his class. I promised I’d present my garmin on my return to prove I’d done it and he challange me to a ridiculous finish time which I ignored.

So I set off and everything felt good. The early spring sun shone down on me and the glistening heights of Slieve Donard where clear and towering over the town. As I turned off the promenade I knew my head was going to take its usual 4-6k mental fight of take a walk. Nowadays I challange myself to do runs without stopping to walk and not be worried about pace and was doing so well until I met mega hill 1. I managed half of it but had to walk. Let’s face it I was never going to make it and had the same issue with mega hill 2. However I remember the days I didn’t even attempt the hill so it’s improvement.

As I hit 6k I was well and truly enjoying the run knowing that I was heading back in the direction of the end. I wasn’t at race pace but I was comfortable and the cross country route home smelt of spring tinged with the scent of muck spreading. As I entered 9k I decided to push myself and clocked a fastest km.

I  loved everything about the run and was on a high all day…however today was not going to mirror the day before.

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The strava stats 5th April

I usually try not to run on consecutive days however Michael had an appointment at the dentist and I had to pass 45 mins so I could have the car. I set off starting at the promenade and had outlined a rough 5k route.

1 word…Headwind
Every corner I turned – there it was. It was stalking me. No matter where I ran be it along built up area and park land the wind appeared. Not once did I get a tailwind to help me.

I struggled,  I felt sore and I wished I’d taken the car key and just have got a hot drink and sat playing on my phone in the car.
I enjoy much of it and the clouds agreed with me,  as their angry, dark grey mist engulfed the mountains which only a day earlier glistened.

My heart sank when he phoned to say he’d be a bit longer than planned and I had to add a bit into the run to cover the time. My route was so erratic that even a mum on the school run said “seen you out running this morning, every corner I turned, there you were” it was her “you’re doing so well” comment that helped pick me up as even whilst I felt I was dying and looked like a womble, other people where acknowledging that I was out there and trying.

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The view from the 2k mark on the bad run overlooking Murlough Bay

So good run vs bad run..I think there is only one thing to learn …

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It’s booked!!

Dublin Marathon … I am officially coming for you.

All paid for and booked so no turning back.

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Hitting that payment complete button was so nerve wrecking however I know that if I can dream it, I can do it. The only dream not to become a reality is winning the lottery and at that I would still run Dublin!

So that’s us all entered and no turning back, you can’t pull out, you can’t defer and I can’t waste money…so watch out…I’m coming for the medal!