Month: August 2016

Would Be Wiser Eating Grass

Would Be Wiser Eating Grass

It could be said that some runners would have been wiser eating grass than running on Saturday morning. With rain coming from every direction and Silent Valley resembling a bad day in Mordor, the hardcore runners took to the start line of Born 2 Runs, Dambusters Half Marathon whilst the fair weather runners rolled over in their beds.

Let’s face it, I made a point of running through every storm that the alphabet threw at me this year. Even running like a mad woman through the burst banks of the lake and the floods running down the mountains. So I’m not one to fear the wind and rain but I do detest beginning a run in the rain. 

You see the issue with this race was simple. It was in the middle of the Mourne Mountains. The part of the land that has a weather climate all to itself.  So if it’s sunny and lovely at sea level you can bet your ass it’s lashing rain and gale force winds up the mountain. 

As Michael drove up the Slievenaman Road towards Silent Valley the clouds began to decend upon us. It felt like a trip to a race during the winter series not in the middle of August. Yet after collecting our registration packs the mist lifted and hopes grew that it might actually dry up. 

Dambusters is not your average half marathon.  Some would say that it would count towards more like 15/16 miles in your legs than 13. It offers elevation of over 1000ft over multi terrain in what is essentially the heart of the Mournes. 

The elevation map

We boarded buses to the start line that was 3 mile outside of the park. I was full of mixed emotions. I have proven that I can run 13 mile, I don’t mind a few good hills, I love the mountains abeit walking them but I was doing this on a day that holds some strong memories for me and I wasn’t sure how I’d hold up emotionally.

I did have Michael to one side of me and Caitriona to the other. I was sporting some fantastic bling on my shoes also that Caitriona had got made for me for inspiration for Dublin. She couldn’t have nailed it any better. 

Caitriona was gearing up for her second half marathon which she was gently convinced to do as I owed her money and thought I’d put it to good use and sign her up. I thought after Lisburn she learnt her lesson to not listen to me but seems not and she was along for the ride again.

As the runners embraced the steady climb up the Carrigenagh Road, the rain began to pour. It was a small field of 200 runners so it didn’t take long for Caitriona and I to own the back of the pack. You see the thing about doing any distance is to run your own race. Being able to ignore those in front of you speeding off, ignoring the cars, medical team or police behind you crawling along slowly and have the self believe in your legs to make the distance is what you need to succeed. And boy do Caitriona and I know how to do that and do it well. 

After a mile we gradually split from eachother. I was determined to make it to Silent Valley without stopping to walk. I knew there was at least 300ft of a gradual climb to there so took it slow and made it within my time frame. Yet I spotted a familiar body in the distance. It would have been too much of a coincidence for two people to be wearing exactly the same gear, it was Micheal.

I have serious respect for anyone to drop out of a race. They’ve paid the money, geared themselves up for the race and took to the line. He wasn’t the first body I’d seen drop out, even in this race. Someone barely made 1 mile. But to know it’s just not worth putting your body through everything and accepting a DNF, I’ve the upmost respect. 

When I reached him I knew he’d already debated carrying on with me and decided even that would be a bad idea and he called it quits and saved his knee from any further injury. To say I was gutted was an understatement with DCM 10 weeks away, I hope it’s something that doesn’t hinder training for him or I’ll have to listen to him the WHOLE way round. The plan was suppose to be; do the marathon to get away from eachother!

Anyway, I carried on and reached the reservoir where I was greeted by fellow MAC Clare on marshalling duties, cue photo above. It was clear that the 10k was about to kick off so I needed to get up the path to the dam as far as I could before being flanked by the 10kers. As I progressed, the leaders of the HM passed me and support was aplenty either way from me to them and them to me. Strangely a few of the faces where familiar ones from Cookstown and also some of the MAC crew showing off that they’d already been up and down the hill I still had to face. They weren’t really showing off..I was just jealous they’d a big hill under their belt already.

I spotted the tree. A lonely tree that sits on a corner like the middle of a roundabout. I knew around the corner I was going to be faced with “that hill” the hill I had familiarised myself with a few weeks ago. I kept the head up and set my sights on the foot of Ben Crom Dam. The water was gushing out of it with all its might and as refreshed faces made their way back down the hill after surviving the climb and enjoying the water station at the top…I wanted to be like them. So digging in, I got to the top and reached what was essentially the half way point of the race.

The next 3 mile was pebble dashed by all types of rain. Rain from the left, rain from the right. Rain that came at you and rain that jumped up off the ground. The surrounding and usually dynamic landscape was immersed in mist and the rain rolled down the valley. 

The hope of a tailwind never appeared and at 9 mile I looked to my right to see people running across the mountain. That couldn’t be right! I knew the end was trail but a mountain? I reached into my hydration belt and pulled out the gel.  My normal powerbar sweets where not going to cut it at this point. As I turned and broke away from the 10k, a much needed hug from Clare at that point helped me pull my emotions together to tackle the end. 

I ran across the front of the Reservoir I spotted Brendan on the final stretch of his 10th half marathon and he was making great time. It was like his high five had special powers and I entered the forest with gusto.  

To be honest I felt like a fairy lost in the glen. I was very alone but comfortably so. You could hear rain drops fall from the trees and your feet crunching on the path. I was nearly ready to put a complaint on my list when I saw the water station packing up and you know how I feel about that, luckily they where able to muster together a glass for me and remind them that I wasn’t last so to hang on.

The next mile passed by and I kept saying to myself I’ve only a lap of the lake to go so motor on. However mile 11 happened, a mountain happened at mile 11. In the approach to the climb, I was met by organiser Jane bracing horrendous rain, which by now I didn’t even notice anymore, she coached me along the straight to the foot of the hill and I took on that hill like my life depended on it. One thing about this climb was…what went up, definitely was going to coming back down. Through a track that was essentially 1 big puddle I knew if I just kept steady I’d come in well below my 3hr aim. 

Down the mountain I came and onto the flat again. I could see the finish line downhill and waved at what was clearly Michael and some other MAC folk waiting for me. That’s one thing I can say about the club. They know to hang about for you to finish and cheer you home.

The last km was fIlled with pure relief. I seen the 13 mile sign and then the finish line. I knew I had the sprint finish in me and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I glanced at my watch to see a 2hr 44. 2 minutes faster than Lisburn and only 2 minutes slower than Cookstown on what was a desperate and challanging course. I was delighted.

Not far behind me, Caitriona graced the front of the Dam and came across the line with a smile plastered right across her face with a half pb!  What an achievement.

What was even more of an achievement was that we didn’t come last either…ok we where 3rd and 2nd last respectively but that still isn’t last…give me a cheer!! Wohoo!

Soaked right through to our knickers, we celebrated with Brendan on a series full house. We took our sodden feet to the car and headed for the hot tub and showers at the Burrendale. 

My feet where wrinkly, the blister on my hand had the top layer of skin peel off and my sock line separated the clean skin from the dirty skin. But I felt so badass. Definitely running in the rain makes a race twice as great to finish.

So for now, I’ll sit and admire the medal…a very nice one with the mountains and the Dam on it and remember everything that was thrown at me during that race. Ok I did cry twice during the race but I was working through the thoughts in my head that plagued me from 4 years previous. I remembered that the same determination and belief that I acted on that day got me through a challanging part of my life, is in fact the same determination and belief that got me through that race- seems it’s something that I’m sure is embedded in me now. 

There is no challange too big, not a complete life upheaval, not a half marathon in questionable conditions and landscapes or a full marathon.

10 weeks to go…

Murlough AC. ..MAC the smiliest club in the country

Thank you to Mervyn Mc Keown for the fantastic action shot mid race. Looking for the race pictures is my favourite post race ritual www.mysportsphoto.uk

And to Clare Murnin for enduring all that rain and providing the mugshots of all the Mac team in the collage above


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Throwback to Craic 10k

Throwback to Craic 10k

​Working backward to fill in the blanks before the blog began.

Funny enough the blog became a thing because I was already writing about all the races and runs I was doing so made sense to have them on a blog.

So Craic 10k, 17th March 2016. Belfast bound for St Patricks Day with Michael and Lauren.

So I tentatively pulled on the trainers this morning with the knee niggles hanging over me like a dull cloud and enough ibruofen in me to ensure I felt no pain. Stupid fall up Slieve Bernagh in the snow. Grrrr.

I had made a pact with myself that if by 3k it was still sore…I’d drop out

It was cold…but we where greeted by a sea of green and some great beats as we approached City Hall. Where Michael got to tell his old PE teacher he isn’t a lazy so and so and realising he had 2 cousins running the race too.

After a short delay that felt like forever in the cold March morning sunshine we got going.

I wasn’t feeling the love by 2k but after being spotted by Jane and Gérard from B2R and getting a high five it reenergised me going up the Falls, nothing beats someone shouting your name. Note got a pb fastest km in the first km strangely. 

Another high five from Alex Maskey ex belfast major, then the dreaded tap of Caitriona on my shoulder at 4.5k. It was like Castlewellan 10k all over again.

Knowing she was on my heels I had to regroup with her very encourging. ..just push through the pain and worry about it after, I pulled away from her gradually and by 6k on the Grovenor Bridge I jooked behind me to see she was about a half km behind me and I was safe.

The last 5k came and went and seeing the finish line from 8k was soul destroying as well as all the fast people on their way back into town finished up! Show offs! 

As I swung around the Titanic building (casually) I spied the final corner and put the boot down. Side note in hindsight it was WAY too soon but had to keep going as you do.

The sausage sandwich that the thought of it, kept me going through the race was pitiful and I will be making me one tomorrow using Cookstown Sausages and not Denny. Dan the Avonmore man shared the love also with big hugs and some Protein milk.

I have finally completed a race with an average sub 7min km. Ok it was 6.59 min/km but still not the 7.02min/km I’d bagged at Carlingford and it says 6!! 

Not liking the chip times as they all started at the gun time and not as you crossed the line so we’re going with our garmin times as it was a good 40sec difference.

A few hills and a buzzard

A few hills and a buzzard

Although Facebook can be blamed for many things, the one thing I love about it is the fact that everyday they do a throwback of memories. The posts from the past 7 years are an eye opener to the point of who was I and look how far I’ve come.

This time 7 years ago I was congratulating my A-level Philosophy students on their results and patting myself on the back for a job well done. This time 4 years ago, I posted about the madness that was having 2 very small babies consuming my life and today, well today I posted about the fact I ran a 10k race last night and had the thought of “oh 3 mile done, only 10 to go” yes mid race I forgot what type of race I was running. Note to self too many long runs lately.

Never in a million years did I think I would ever be a runner. If I was running, you would be pretty sure there was something worth running from, chasing me. Yet here I am in recovery from the 2nd race of the week and preparing for my 3rd race in 1 week on Saturday.

So after saying back in July that I wasn’t going to run another 10k race until after Dublin, I’ve ran 2 this week. Running Blind that you can read about here and last night tackled Rathfriland 10k.

To be honest I can’t tell you now if it was a bad idea or a good one until I run Dambusters Half on Saturday, but I tell you this, it has given me confidence for Saturday I’ve gone from completely shitting myself about it, to just shitting myself!

It was a perfect evening for running. Overcast, not too warm and very still. A local race that was to be a small fundraiser welcomed record numbers to the Milestone and I don’t think anyone was prepared for the vast number of participants for both the 10k and 5k.

I honestly have to say before I go any further I had one huge highlight of the evening that was nothing to do with me, the course, the people or water stations (that where aplenty by the way). My heart beamed with pride and love when I seen Tara and Thomas had brought along Aimee to the race. There is nothing as fantastic as sharing your passion and love of something with your kids. When its your best friend turning up with her daughter, kitted out for her first 5k, I swear I couldn’t cope. A picture perfect moment caught by the photographer. Two very proud parents and a nervous but determined little girl, who I am sure is aspiring to be as fantastic as the two people in the world she looks up to. Thomas was going to do the 5k with her and Tara was taking on the 10k with me. Well she done a 33 minute 5k and boy did she nail the race pose. She has nothing to learn and I’ll put it out there…she’s faster than me! Absolute superstar and a medal well earned. Definitely one to watch that’s for sure.

As I have said, there where record numbers at the race a quite a few of the MAC crew turned up for the race too. The fear of several hills had plagued many of us, including the fact that the fabulous hill we ran down in the first km, we had to run back up at the end, it was like reliving Cookstown all over again.

I settled into the race quite well and didn’t at any point feel that I was struggling. I was in the mind frame that this was hill training for Dambusters and I wasn’t out to bust myself on what was a challenging course. It was well supported as we headed out into the countryside by both marshalls and the locals. My favourite comment from one of the supporting locals was “just freewheel her on down the hill” classic!
By the half way point I was motoring along nicely, I thought to myself, oh yes 3 down 10 to go. No Siobhan it was a 10k not a Half! I did eventually catch on it was a 10k. A mammoth hill at 6k and time lost on it, was soon made up at 7k when the signs highlighting the we were in the Buzzards territory and boy did I pick up pace in fear. Today the eyes of that buzzard stirring at me is still haunting me. As the evening was so still, by 8k I could hear all the people finishing the race with times and names being called out at the finish line.

Nearing the end and knowing I had that hill to do again I did hope I had it in the tank. I just can’t not finish strong. I think its becoming a complex with me now. So as I neared the foot of the hill and spotted the slacker Micéal on the corner (he should have been running but fell asleep- whatever) I got the head up and felt like I was flying up that hill. I even caught up with Geoffery a fellow MAC on the line. I must have been the only person to love that last hill. I felt invincible on it. I finished with a 1.11 which for me is pretty damn good on such a tough course.

As I crossed the line it became apparent that with so many people running, they had ran out of medals. They were quick to take names and numbers and assure us that they would get some ordered up and sent on. Also I didn’t get any ice cream, but oranges and Mars bars done the job rightly and lets face it ice cream was maybe just being greedy.

I have to say I wasn’t too bummed about the running out of medals, no one could have anticipated the crowd last night and the more participants resulted in more money going to Cancer Focus and Pips Newry & Mourne. I guess this is why I don’t mind doing some races. The local races support a whole host of local charities where every little does help.

I was even “treated” to a quick rub down afterwards from Artie Quinn, who is very good at his job and although made me jump in pain a few times was able to give me a few hints and tips to keep the legs on track for the coming race. I will be seeing him again soon as if he can sort me out like that in 5 minutes, I wonder what he can do with 40!

But there is no doubt about it though, last night belonged to Team O’Boyle. From Aimees awesome first 5k performance, to yet again another classic Thomas finishing face, to Taras amazing 52 min 10k. I’m so proud of them. Took their home race and totally made it theirs.

 

 

 

 

Running Blind – An Eye Opener

Running Blind – An Eye Opener

There was an abundance of races to choose from today in the race calendar. Something for everyone you might say. If it was distance you wanted, you could have tackled Groomsport Half Marathon. If it was elevation you wanted, you could have got over 3000ft worth at the Seven Sevens in the Mournes. But for me this weekend I went for a different challenge on a scale of its own. Not only testing my abilities to run, it tested the strength of our marriage too.

Good aul parliment buildings at Stormont

So Michael and I set off for Stormont today to take part in the Running Blind 10k. A random name for a race however it is exactly as it seems. Partnered up, you get to experience the challenges faced by both guide runners and those runners who are visually impaired. You spend half the race as a guide for your blindfolded partner and then you swap at half way.  There was a 5k option as well as a 10k, but we are off the opinion that if we are going as far as Belfast, we are going to go for the longer option.

I’ll be honest this is something that I would never do with someone that I didn’t trust. As much as we joked about the potential thoughts of the company who supplied the hundreds of blindfolds to Tony for what they could only assume to be a huge kinky party of some sort, the essence of the race was to fully embrace the inclusive nature of Running as a sport for everyone. Opening opportunities to those who feel that they can’t because of a disability and sharing the experience that both the guides and the visually impaired face in every race.

I wondered why there where so many more pairs opting for the 5k and only 16 pairs going for the 10k. I knew the challenge ahead was going to be tough, the route alone was, let me say…interesting. However I panicked a bit when I realised we where in the minority, did they know something I didn’t?  We were soon off down the Avenue leaving Parliament buildings in the background.

I opted to be the guide for the first half, mostly because I’d know what was coming up when I was blindfolded for the second lap. I know, I know, defeats the whole purpose but still. Lets just say I am a terrible guide. Either that or Michael is a terrible blind person. Of course we run at different speeds but he didn’t get the concept of Siobhan Pace so as he ran I was always behind and unable to effectively navigate so we had a few near misses. I must learn to stop saying “watch” as well, he can’t see anything to watch out for. Amazing how that is your first reaction regardless and you miss the fact it is a pointless command to someone who can’t see.

Michaels cheesey mid race selfie

When we changed over on the flat I knew what lay ahead. The first 500m was grand as it was tarmac but the trail and woodland gravel underfoot would be fun. I found it easier to just run with my eyes closed and that all important 3 mile headblock was lifted and I found my comfortable pace. It did suit this time round that he was faster and his sheer strength meant that I was easily navigated and “dragged along.” We did have a laugh to ourselves when I randomly came out with the words of Irelands newest Olympic medallists , the O’Donovan Brothers “just close your eyes and pull like a dog” as basically that was what was happening; me eyes closed and Michael pulling me along.

It is amazing how your senses come alive when blindfolded. You feel every last bump in the road and when the surfaces changes, its quite unnerving. Kerbs, fences, other people talking, its all amplified. I swear I haven’t held Michael Grants hand that long in my whole life and we’ve been together 16 years with 2 very long labours in the middle so that’s saying something and I wasn’t for ever letting it go either. Hills up and down are a whole new ball game, the downhill that is usually a welcomed break, is more like jumping off a cliff when you can’t see it.

The welcomed voice of the marshall on the final straight that we could remove the blindfolds was lovely. We ran the last 500m side by side and definitely not hand in hand. It was lovely to come across the line to a huge hug from Tony Barclay the lovely gent who organised todays race and the very man who got me around Cookstown Half only 2 weeks ago.

With the medals the kids think have mammy and daddy on them 

I have promised Tony I will run as his guide come the Winter Series in a race or two. However I am sure that Michael will warn him now that that is a terrible idea. I will need to brush up on my guiding skills that’s for sure especially if I am to help him survive the likes of the Castlewellan 10k which I am sure  I definitely can not do blindfolded as I previously thought I could.

Picture of the immense hug at the end with Tony and Michael just interested in the bling

So today I had my eyes opened. Opened to the trust people put in each other, the fact that marriages and friendships can survive a whole array of challenges and that Stormont Estate is a beautiful place to run. Most importantly though I had my eyes opened to the fact that I am very lucky, I am very lucky to only have to look ahead and remember to breathe when it comes to running. The skills required by a guide are those which surpass a normal persons understanding. The language used, the foresight required on route and the ability to read and pace your partner is vital to make it to the finish line. Then of course I had my eyes opened to the challenges that many visually impaired runners face and surpass on a daily basis. Yes I was able to take that blindfold off and return to full sight taking in the sights of the finish line. Many people can’t do that yet they refuse to let that beat them and power on for the same feeling of elation and success as I feel. And to them I take my hat off.

Should you ever think you can’t because you are too slow, can’t run, too old, too heavy, have a disability…Don’t! There is always a way and running is the sort of sport that promotes inclusivity and today proved that at Running Blind. Don’t let the what ifs stop you. Its better to have tried and done than wondering what if.

Thank you Tony for hosting a fantastic event today and we will be back next year again.

 Team MAC ready for the challange ahead

 

 

 

Catch yourself on Siobhan!

Catch yourself on Siobhan!

I woke up this morning to get up for my usual 7am Wednesday morning session at The Burrendale with Shane. The alarm went at 6.20am and it was like an outer body experience. The voice in my head was floating above me telling me that I needed to catch myself on. I was not fit for it.

The voice was right, I had really pushed the boundaries last week and my body was about to give up. So I reluctantly messaged Shane to say I was broken and resorted to feeling sorry for myself and reflecting on why it was taking me so long to recover after Cookstown half when I bounced back after Lisburn half.

So on reflection this is how last week went…

Sunday 24th July – Active Financial Newry and Mourne Womens Mini Marathon

You can read about the race here. I went out to PB and done so at every distance minus the 30sec I couldn’t find to make it a 10k pb. So I had mentally and physically pushed myself to my limits on a course that was very challenging.

Monday 25th July

I wish I could remember what I had done that day as I’m definitely sure I wasn’t at the gym, or out running as my Garmin would have picked that up. So I am going to settle on drinking tea (probably at Moiras), being on facebook and snapchat whilst the kids where at Summer Scheme. So essentially a rest day.

Tuesday 26th July

Ahhh what a cracker day was had. Set off after dropping the kids at Summer Scheme with my lunch in the backpack and away I went with Lauren to check out the Dambusters route. I was still a bit sore and achey from Sunday but no running was involved, it was refreshing as Lauren had busted herself at the gym too so we were a right state between us. We walked all the way up to Ben Crom dam and assessed strategies for the race and how to best deal with it on the day. As well as how lovely a route it is going to be as long as the rain stays away. We covered about 9 mile that day, obviously there was the usual craic and banter along side our solutions to world problems.

That evening I was in with Patricia McGrady to get a sports massage and boy does she know how to work those nasty lumps and bumps. I have decided to put her in the same category of Shane, Dermot and all other PTs, job satisfaction comes from pushing people to their limits. But totally worth it for the client! ( I get it, its just unpleasant at times)

Wednesday 27th July

Wednesday was my session at the gym with Shane, with various squats, lunges, intervals, weights and comparing notes on training plans. I just always know that after death hour with Shane, I will suffer the next two days.

Thursday 28th July

I hadn’t planned to, but I ended up at Dermots final session with MAC. I was only going to stay for the warm up and do a lap of the lake, but I stayed on as I didn’t want to leave someone on their own in a pair and although I felt like I was going to die at several points of the session, I learnt a lot and dare I say, enjoyed it.

Friday 29th July

I knew I should have been resting at this point for Sunday. However opening the curtains on Friday morning the sky had Friday Funday written all over it. So Lauren and I done the usual, picked a spot with no plan in mind other than to keep going until we run out of path.

For all the blue skies and endless views, there was a cloud following me on that hike up from Letirim Lodge. Lauren is leaving for London next month to do her PGCE. I am bloody delighted for her don’t get me wrong, we worked hard for this, but I lose a great friend who would happily get lost with me in the mountains at a moments notice. Not that easy to do when she’s across the water. So when we reached the end of the path, high on a hill with the most beautiful views I have encountered yet, I sat and cried. Little did Lauren know when she was taking this picture of me that behind the sunglasses I was crying.

Saturday 30th July

I did rest!

Sunday 31st Cookstown Half Marathon

You’ll find all the details on the events of Cookstown half here. I had pushed myself to a 4 minute PB and obviously 13.1 mile takes a lot out of you.

So…

Yeah I know, I know. I have over done it. Its not like I have the body of a super athlete who would laugh at the fact I am beat out after last weeks events which probably look like a walk in the park to them. Last week was pretty intense, with the CHM hanging over me all week and the various things I got myself into no wonder this morning I couldn’t motivate myself.

In true fashion as I’ve come to expect and respect, I got the brutal, honest and with love telling off from Selena to remind me that I need to give myself time to recover, to recharge and to stop “running” on half empty. So I’ll listen to her and I will take a few more days to fully recover. Then I will be a better runner all round as I’m fully ready to run. Also I guess the fact I am sporting a lovely cold sore too also points to the fact I need to chill.

So taking this all on board… my house is really clean now.

Where I do most the blog writing. .but today not surrounded by mess

 

 

 

 

 

All about the Avonmore

All about the Avonmore

A wise friend once told me that rest and recovery is just as important as the training.

I’ve a half marathon this weekend in Cookstown. Its Thursday and I am already thinking about what I need to be doing now to prepare for this race. 

I’ve upped my water in take already, I’ve planned rest days so my legs are fresh. I’ve dinners planned and kit is ready to go. 

Yet I should really have a plan for recovery post race. As fueling the body post race is just as important as fueling it pre race.

My friends will tell you that I have a love affair with Avonmore. Their Protein Milk to be specific. A discovery earlier on in the year when I read about the importance of protein and carbs post workout to help repair muscles and so began the introduction of Avonmore Protein Milk to my post work out routine.

Also it helped that they had been at many of the races I was doing and was able to find out more and love to see Dan the Avonmore Man at the end of the race…It became part and parcel of my race etiquette.

So you can imagine my excitement when after a “hit and hope” message to Avonmore HQ they agreed to supply 20 pints of protein milk for the clubs last session with Dermot Mathers from the Running Coach.

Michael has been part of the group of lucky participants taking part in Dermots sessions. Sadly we both couldn’t do it as someone has to have the kids! During his week 1 review of the session with Dermot, Michael mentioned how I was aready doing something right…protein milk (Dermot says Avonmore is the best) so I may not be the quickest but boy I was nailing post work out recovery.

Team MAC with Dermot and their post workout Avonmore Protein Milk

So what does Avonmore Protein Milk offer…

  • 50% extra protein to give you 25g protein per 500mls in comparison to normal semi skimmed milk which is only 18g per 500mls
  • The additional protein comes from hugh quality whey and casein in the proportions naturally found in milk
  • It is a low fat milk with only 5g fat per 500mls in comparison to 8.5g in semi skimmed
  • A source of calcium and vitamin b12. With added Vitamin D which helps maintain normal muscle function as well as healthy bones.

Fabulous modelling guys

All of this found in a small carton that you can pick up in the shop on the way home for less than 60p. Is a easy and convenient way to get extra protein in your diet. Yet consumed within 30mins of your workout ended will fuel those tried muscles and aid repair and recovery. You’d be silly not to have a few cartons in the fridge if you’re training.

Just get me past 3 mile

Just get me past 3 mile

I had an epiphany yesterday whilst running Cookstown Half Marathon, if I can get past 3 mile I am home in a boat.

Lets briefly rewind.

I signed up to Cookstown Half Marathon after doing Lisburn Half, which if you look back at the race report here you can recap on my unhappiness. Although I had had a cracker of a first half marathon physically and mentally, there were various different parts of the organisation and execution of Lisburn that failed to meet the standards required in my book for equality and inclusion. So on signing up to CHM I did contact Eamonn, the main man in charge, to let him know how Lisburn could have improved and what mistakes not to make, but he was already very aware and reassured me that I would not feel like I did at Lisburn.

CMH from the outset marketed itself on inclusion. To me that meant that not only did the race welcome those with varying disabilities, such as assisted running teams and blind runners and guides, but to all runners, those who are elite runners to the forever back runners, like myself.

Of course I signed up to the race alongside Michael without even knowing anything about the route or Cookstown for that matter. Well the next day I came across the elevation chart and thought to myself…what was I thinking? It looked like hill after hill after hill. Luckily I like a good hill or 20!

Being fresh from surgery and recovery well under way 2 weeks afterwards, I had 3 weeks to get myself together. I headed out for a long run on the 8th July and those 10miles where the longest I ran until the day. I did have 3 10k races in the middle including Shore 10k, Sea 2 Sky and the Womens Mini Marathon which where not short of a few hills themselves, training with the club and also time spent wisely at the gym. So nerves where high when race day rolled around after a failed 10miler the previous week had knocked my confidence.

Team MAC, (L-R)Brendan, Wendy, me, Michael

The sun shone down on us at the start line. Finding our destination, getting parked and picking up our registration packs was no problem. With our race packs we picked up our lovely yellow technical t-shirts, free energy gel and a fab reusable bag. A woman can never have too many bags and all that!

As the runners came together at the start line I came across the same familiar faces from other races in the past few months. I love this about running, I spotted the lady I had spent most of the mini marathon chasing , the other members of neighbouring clubs who you always see and of course sharing the pre race nerves with new people also.

I won’t lie, I checked the watch just before we started and my bmp was clocking 174. I was in heart attack zone before I even started! I think the next for me was passing out on the spot. Shortly, we where off and flanked by all the runners I made my way out of the arena to face the 13.1 mile ahead.

The lovely 1k downhill start was overshadowed by the fact on the way back we had to make our way up that hill to the finish line. By the 1 mile mark we had embarked on the first of many, many hills. I have never known a main street to seem so long and hilly. I had the dreaded thoughts of wondering where I was going to find the miles, why was I even doing this and my usual “who’s bright idea was this” obviously another one of my great notions. The good thing was that the town was busy, plenty of support, a water stop with jelly beans (never too early in a race for jelly beans) and that kept me going. By 3 mile though my head turned on me. People talk about the wall in long races, for me it was the wall being bulldozed down. Exactly the same stage as last weeks mini marathon, I relaxed into the race and began to enjoy myself. Knowing you’ve only 10 mile to go is a lot nicer than thinking gosh I’ve 13 to go.

Tackling the first hill with a smile

At this point we had went into the countryside and the pressure of people watching was long gone. I had seen the race route before hand and knew there would be an overlap of the runners passing the front runners. By the time I reached the start of this the leaders had already been through, me at 5 mile, them at 7! Yet it was the most fantastic thing that could have happened in the race. I always thought the really fast people where so focused on their race that they wouldn’t even acknowledge someone else on the road. Well I was wrong. In normal Siobhan fashion I did shout encouragement and smile at them. However the positive support and encouragement that they gave me was overwhelming. There’s me, the most unnatural runner in the world, plodding along and the “super athletes” cheering me on. I swear it was such a boost.

I did hope to see some of my Murlough team mates at this point but as I turned off onto the road to loop around I seen the 1.45 pacer and knew I’d miss them. As I reached the half way mark I’d well and truly found myself and my pace. I knew I was homeward bound and my race plan was on point time wise.

What I think I loved about this race was that I was always within reach of someone. Lisburn was so lonely with ample empty roads with no support and no runners near me, yet I pretty much spent the second half of the race playing cat and mouse with Tony Barclay and his guide Karen. They made the toughest point of the race go by smoothly for me. A total gentleman and great runner who literally held my hand as we went through the 8 mile mark. “Never leave a man behind” he told me and encouraged me to pace him in front to keep momentum. As I entered into the final 3 mile I glanced down. I knew Michael would be near finished and again still hitting 10mile at the 2hour mark as planned. The “I can walk 5k in 45 mins” kicked in and knew I had to pick up the pace in the next 2 mile to deal with that final hill.

The legend that is Tony Barclay and his guide runner Karen

On the homeward bound stretch the heavens opened, it was like it had waited for me. I love running in the rain and did feel as if it meant to be, just in time to allow all the elite through bone dry and to cool down the runners still out there. Another water stop, positive support from the marshalls and the PSNI, beeps from runners in their cars and shouts from passers by. It was a fantastic atmosphere.

Still smiling at 11.5mile 

The hill in mile 12 lay ahead of me. I remembered everything that Dermot Mathers had said at coaching on Thursday and kept the head up and focused on the top aiming to pass the girls in front of me, which I done. As I reached the final hill I dug deep (not with my feet but with the arms, thanks Dermot) and the hill breezed by allowing me the final straight sprint to the end. I seen the finish line and the timer and couldn’t believe it. Coming over the line I stopped my watch and there it was a 4 minute PB over Lisburn. I have no idea where it came from but it was there.

If the watch says it…It must be true

Michael and Brendan where there at the end waiting for me with a much needed hug and finally getting a glimpse of “that” medal. I swear if the girl had put it round my neck at that point, I’m sure I would have hit the floor. It was more of a plaque than a medal. But I’m not complaining, I earned it!

With plenty of sandwiches, water, bananas, complimentary protein milk, I cant fault the end, even all the railings where still up and unlike my last experience I finished the race feeling no less important than those who came first. Treated equally and feeling fully included right to the moment I was going home.

The post race glow

So to Eamonn and the team at CHM, what a job well done. No wonder your numbers have grown 3 fold in 1 year, next year I am sure you will need to order more medals as there is not one thing I can fault about the whole day. You even had the rain come on for me! I hope that you have raised a lot of much needed money for Tiny Life and once all the post race madness has ended that you all sit back and enjoy a nice gla0ss or two of whatever takes you fancy.

 Also if you are available on the 13th August, Tony is hosting “Running Blind 5k/10k” at Stormont. A fabulous race where you run half and your partner runs half blindfolded being guided by eachother. All for a fantastic cause.  Find Out More