Month: June 2016

Doctor…you need to rest

Ok it’s not as drastic as the title. I’m not injured per say…though I had a 5cm lump removed from my left breast yesterday so I am on doctors orders to not run for a week…A whole week.

Day 1 of rest
I’ll be honest it was lovely not having to get up this morning. Michael got up and went and lifted the kids from his mums to take them to school. 

Usually when I have a morning like that I am dying for a run but the after effects of the general has really taken its toll on me.

Ok it could also be the fact whilst fasting yesterday morning before the operation I done a 1-2-1 session with Shane at 7am, spin at 9.30 and abs at 10. Well I knew I’d be resting for a few days so might as well hurt all over.

So let’s just see how the resting goes…

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What you should see in your race photos

Don’t you just love race photos…not!
I had my first half marathon on Wednesday night. It took me 2hrs46. I was near the back of the pack but didn’t care, I knew I could do it in my own good time.
Photos have emerged from the night and at first I cringed. I had done 12.5 mile, 12.5 very very lonely miles at this point and all I could focus on was how my legs looked like tree stumps.
I looked at it again today with a different view…those wee tree stumps are filled with determination, they are relentless, they carried my 14stone body 13.1 mile, they are full of power and strength. They kept going to the end and held me up in the queue in mcdonalds afterwards as I waited for a strawberry milkshake which was better than the tea and toast after labour.
They might not look pretty and I’m stuck with them however they did a mighty fine job on Wednesday night and I salute them!

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The First Half; from a backrunners perspective

Sitting here with my Finishers T-shirt on, I have been wondering how I would go about detailing the ins and outs of my first half marathon. Of course it came with the usual pre race tears, even tears at the start line. I obviously had the overwhelming feeling of invincibility which has remained right throughout the day and a great nights sleep after it all. However the one thing that sticks with me the most is the fact that it was a very, very lonely race.

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Lisburn Half Marathon was an evening race. I am used to morning races so I had to be sure I fuelled right for the race and didn’t over or under eat. Every mouth full of pasta was a challenge to swallow as butterflies consumed my tummy and even my thoughts. It got to the point that I was struggling to swallow water. I just wanted the race to be over. I had spent weeks worrying about it, strategy, what could go wrong and then of course there were the long runs which differed on performance with good and bad runs.

It was a very humid evening and as much as I tried to be strong and joke pre race, I was broken inside. I knew I could do it, but the task ahead was daunting. I had managed to just about hold it together for the start, which we nearly missed as couldn’t hear announcements.

*At this point I took a break from writing this piece to write a complaint to the race organisers*

I am not one to complain, however the pre race build up was over shadowed by the announcement 48hrs prior to the event about the use of headphones being prohibited which sparked outrage on social media. However by the time the race was underway a whole new host of issues arose and I had to let the organisers know how I was let down and treated as a back runner.

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I set off way too fast at the start but I was pulled by the crowd and I was comfortable enough. Running with Caitriona for the first 3 mile was a pleasure and made the start of the race go in quickly. I am pretty sure my rendition of Taylor Swifts Shake it Off was the turning point when Caitriona decided I should run on and give her head peace. Note to self…don’t sing when other people are about, its how you lose friends. So I pretty much spent the next 10 mile all alone.

I recall the 4 mile mark and thinking to myself, sweet God Almighty I’ve another 9 mile to go. However hats off to the locals and their kids who came out to offer support, run with me and also let me high five them for a bit of encouragement. Without them I would never had made it. I had no idea where I was for most of the race, asking on route whereabouts in the country I actually was.

At 6mile I was horrified by comments by the Marshals. Two young lads as I turned the corner saying this must be the end of them, look at her and they then laughed. There was no one else around me and I looked at myself. OK not the ideal half marathon runner but one striving to be. However I am human and  can hear. I was seething. Luckily I was confident in my ability and pushed out when I could have very easily bowed out and called it a day.

My first 10k came in under the planned time and I was feeling strong but I was very aware that around me there was no one. In front about 50m was a man in back and a girl in front of him who never really left my sight. Behind me I seen no one. I kept hoping Caitriona would come out of no where as at the half way point I began to feel exceptionally lonely. I knew I was hitting half way so only the same to go again, I also knew that at that point the lady winner of the half would be finishing her race. I wondered about everyone else I knew doing the race and how they where getting on. Was Michaels knees holding up, had Tara and Thomas fallen out on route and where they on track for their sub 2 hours, how was the Murlough crew doing?

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The biggest thoughts that consumed my head throughout the race were those of the mathematical kind. My maths is poor at the best of times but I spent most of the race working out my Kilometres into Miles and vice versa. How far had I come and how far to go. Monitoring my fuelling and working out when next to drink. What pace I had to keep to make my aim time and essentially how long my wee legs kept moving.

Mile 10 was the killer for me. I walked like I was on a walk with my mother in law, I glided like there was just air below me and I am pretty sure I was walking faster than I was able to run. Again I had forgotten to remove Coldplays “The Scientist” from my playlist and I was nearly reduced to tears once again as the song reminds me of my Granda. I thought typical that when I was struggling most, he would pop into my head to keep me going. I was nearly for lifting my phone out and calling Selena for company but I was feeling mentally stronger than I had assumed I would and pushed through.

At Mile 11 I was sure there was a water station. There HAD been a water station but at this stage there was just a tap in the ground and 2 men told me I could drink from it as there where no cups. So last water stop, half marathon, participants had been on course for over 2 hours and we were being treated like second class citizens being told to drink straight from a public tap which would involve stopping as they didn’t have enough cups. Scandalous. Also at that point I seen the events media partner Cool FM, entertainment bus doing a 3 point turn to go home, did I not pay the same amount of money as those in front of me to experience the same level of service throughout the race? Apparently not. This has really sat with me and overshadowed my whole experience.

I stood for 7 hours on Saturday at the Mourne Way Marathon being a marshall and I cheered on and presented medals to each and every participant at the end of the event. I was impressed by those who came first however the respect I had for those at the end of the pack was everything I had. As they were relentless in the pursuit for race glory and they deserved more cheering and congratulating than anyone else. They earned the same experience as everyone else.

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I picked up pace after 11 mile and began to feel that the end was in sight. I spotted the Toys R US store in the distance and knew the last mile started around that direction. As I turned onto the main road I caught up with the woman I’d been chasing the whole race. I powered on past her and as I approached the hill at the final km, I seen a familiar outline of Michael standing on the brow of the hill. I was never so glad to see him. Although I had made him promise that he wouldn’t come back for me, I had been so lonely the whole race and I was dying to speak to him. As I picked up pace into the final km, I chatted and found out about the way his race went, he filled me in on Tara and Thomas making a sub 2 hour and let me know what lay ahead in the final 500m.My last 2km where 2 of my fastest kms.

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As we turned the corner there was the remaining Murlough crowd waiting for me and Caitriona to take on the final stretch of the race. I recall just shouting, “I am actually going to do this.” Michael left me at 250m to go and I found the power in my legs to push and came through the barriers up to the finish line where Michael had taken a short cut to meet me at the line.

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That beep was an unbelievable sound to hear and I fell into his arms. Yet again I was shocked that there was no marshalls there to greet me, to show me the way to getting medals or water. I looked around and everyone was clearing up and few supporters waiting on their friends to finish. If I didn’t have Michael there I wouldn’t have known where to go to get my medal or hand my chip back. I was empty, totally emotionless. Feeling that I was an inconvenience to them as they wanted to get home. Lacked the expected feeling of achievement and invincibility which I had imagined.

A few minutes later Caitriona turned the corner and the Murlough crew ran with her to the line. I was so proud of her. I know that I twisted her arm to part take in the race, I knew how hard it was on her mentally and physically and the tears that rolled down her face afterwards where tears of accomplishment in the face of a very lonely struggle. I was just so glad that she had realised the extent of her ability that I had seen and pushed right through to the end.

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I guess on reflection and reading back my outlook on the race, I should be in foul form and pissed off with they way the race organisers managed the event. Yet in amongst the bad management, I ran 13.1 mile.

I didn’t give up, I never felt like giving up either. I felt mentally strong (probably why the upsets along the course didn’t deter me from finishing) I was still moving and boy did I nearly murder that strawberry milkshake afterwards. I feel elated and glad I have written to the organisers to voice my thoughts. Hopefully they have something worth saying to me in reply to it.

 

But for now… I am Siobhan Grant…half marathoner.

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My first half…the big countdown begins

When I started the training on my rocky road to Dublin I knew I’d to hit huge distances 4 times that of what I was currently doing.

In the past 10 weeks I have progressed well and had some really shitty runs thrown in there for good measure.
However we are now less than a week away from my first big training milestone…my first half marathon.

Opting for the flat and fast urban half of Lisburn, it is 6 days until I have to force myself through all 13.1mile.

I’ll be honest I’ve enjoyed my long runs aside from them lasting forever and being unable to achieve much the rest of the day afterwards. They have been very slow and very steady. I can run for the majority of the distance and I’m getting good at the fuelling aspect of a long run with my lucozade sport and powerbar caffeine sweets recommended to me by my friend Caroline who has just completed VLM that I take every 5k.

I know I CAN do it and I know I WILL do it but I am filled with dread. What happens if it is one of those bad running days?

I have an irrational fear of coming last anyway in every race and based on last year’s times I’d be in the last 10. That I can cope with and I’ve made Michael promise that he will ensure that the finish line isn’t taken down until I cross it.

Even now I’m getting palpitations thinking about it.

I’ve to now consider my diet and liquid intake over the weekend and not let my head win. I want to rest but not too much so I can’t get going on the night
Does everyone feel like this before a big race? With my first 10k I was nervous but this is unhealthy. I’ve cried so much about the race and even though I know my wee legs can get me there it’s the fact I may be running 3 hours in order to achieve it.

I do love that I broke Caitriona and she’s joining me at Lisburn half. It’ll be her first half too and this is pay back for her encouraging me to do my first 10k. We are a similar pace and going through the same emotions so not totally alone. Lucky thing is she probably hates me as much as I do myself for signing up to this.

All tips for coping with the build up much appreciated

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Caitriona and I at club run on Tuesday

When you get a “great” idea

…I use the term great very lightly.

I’ve been dying to get a long run in for 2 weeks but between holiday and building myself back up to being able to run 10mile it was last night that I got a fab idea.

I was due today to be at our clubs New Recruit session for the c25k session as I’d a friend joining and wouldn’t let her go alone.  So in all my wisdom I thought I’d be a good idea to run to club run. I see people every week running to park run so maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea.

I had a rough idea that it’d be a fair few mile (10k exactly it turns out) then I could run about the nature reserve until I hit 10mile.

I set off shortly after 7 giving myself enough time to pace myself to get there in one piece but not overly fast as I’d have an additional 5k to do afterwards.

So aiming for 40 minute 5ks was the theory as to not push myself to exhaustion.

I set of knowing I was starting with a nice 5k downhill. However 3 k in the fact my bowels hadn’t moved that morning kicked in and I needed to go badly. I had 2 options. Swing my leg over a fence and poo alfresco or motor on a few more kms and dash into the hotel attached to the gym. I opted for the physical toilet and after that I found a nice pace and settled into the run.

Reaching the meeting point with an hour to spare and only 10k completed I ran on into the nature reserve and clocked up a further 6km to make it to 16km/10mile I was feeling epic, even though I got sort of lost at one point.

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The stats from the 10mile

As everyone started arriving for New Recruit day I was glowing bright red and obviously fresh from a long run.

I was delighted that Sinead my friend had come along for the c25k session and start this running malarkey. I’d also pointed out to her that I needed a lift home so she had to turn up or I’d have been  technically stranded.  She wasn’t amused but got stuck in anyway.

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Sinead not amused by either the camera or the task that lay ahead.

There where a few hiccups along the way including her throwing up but she got to the end and was sure she wasn’t ever going to come back. Since this morning she has changed her mind after realising that it can’t get any more worse than today. So looking forward to the positives.

Today ended up as10 miles PLUS the additional 5k from c25k completed and feeling positive about Lisburn Half Marathon in 11 days. Ok I had a 10mins break in between the 2 parts of the run but still…I did 13+miles today.

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Murlough AC ( the MAC-avists) and the New Recruits on this fine Saturday morning

Running on holiday

Let’s face it…I was going to pack my running gear and my garmin to go on holiday.

We had booked a week all inclusive in Menorca before Christmas so the fact that back then I didn’t even think I’d be running 10k never mind have a half marathon 3 weeks afterwards.

After what can only be described as the worst pain ever a few weeks back, I was feeling a lot better and ready to get running again.  A session at the gym with Shane before going on holiday focused on core and upper body so I was able to walk with a few sprint intervels as my only leg work.

I had great intentions of early morning sunrise 5ks and hoped for a possible long run but the reality was much different.

That’s not to say I didn’t get out.  We got a few hours of a break whilst the kids where in Kids club and Michael and I took off about 10.30 am to see how far we could go before turning back. The first mile was tough. I have never ran in the summer never mind the Spanish summer so I was struggling to find my breath. By 2 mile we had ran out of road and stood over a cliff edge.

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Being a fan of trail running I didn’t mind that we had come completely off the beaten track but when we ran out of road we where forced to walk as volcanic debris surrounded us and neither of us wanted to risk injury.

We managed 4 mile that day and I was happy enough but it wasn’t fast and it wasn’t pretty.

Took me 2 days to get out again but I had reduced my water in take and everything felt wrong as we set off. By 1 mile my calves felt like concrete and we both knew it wasn’t going to happen. Instead we took to the hills and scaled the surrounding area. Finding the highest point and Michael rebuilding the mound of rocks to ensure his was definitely the highest.

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So what have I learnt about running on holiday?

• It’s a whole new type of heat
• fueling is important prep
• take her slow and steady
• never trust that a road leads somewhere
• it does feel like a huge accomplishment to actually run on holiday

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