Month: October 2016

I wouldn’t have gotten this far without…

I wouldn’t have gotten this far without…

You!

I can hardly believe that this is it. 32 weeks of training and now about to embark on the final run. 

Scarey biscuits. 

There are so many people who have made this journey so special. People who didn’t laugh when I signed up, people who have waited at finish lines for me, those who endured the endless blog posts of my ramblings. The list goes on. 

But before I take to the start line there are a few bodies I have to thank especially. This has taken me a few days to write as I keep ending up in floods of tears as I’m just so grateful to be lucky enough to have such people in my life.

Michael

It would just be thoughtless to not have him top of the list. OK Dublin was his idea and it’s all his fault.  As always though he continues to indirectly open doors for me to an even better life just when I think things couldn’t get any better.

His support and encouragement, although underhanded mostly, has been above the call of duty as a husband. He’s ran at my painfully slow pace for serious milage so I’d company. He has come back for me at races so I don’t give up most notably at my first Half in Lisburn when I needed him more than ever. He has also endured the extended verbal version of the blogs as I go over every last thought of every run. 

Not once has he told me to catch myself on or to give up on the marathon idea. He’s ran baths for me, never extensively complained about the need for a new watch, trainers, socks whatever sports paraphernalia I fancied that week to “improve” my performance. 

Let’s be honest he’s a saint and I already know how lucky I am as he’s held me up through more things in life than I’d like to mention. I just find it amazing that this time 7 years ago we where preparing for our wedding and here we are about to embark on our first marathon.

Selena

It all started in the shop, the grumpy girl on the till and her acknowledgement of the poor critter just in from her morning run on route home. Turns out that that job just sucked all the joy out of her as she has since lighted up. ..A LOT since she changed jobs

Now it’s a daily fix of Selena in my life that has added motivation, grounding and a friendship for life. If I ever thought I had a twin…it’s her. Similarities are uncanny and creepy at times. 

Thing is she always said I had everything a runner needs. I’m still not sure what that is, but I like being referred to as a runner. She’s my go to girl for clearing up those running questions you don’t want to ask publicly. ..like is it normal for your pee to be florescent when taking berocca, sort of questions. 

She knows exactly what I need to do, keeps me in check, brutal at times which I appreciate and know is with love and even came out and seen me through my 17 mile run. She writes the best motivational poems and reduces me to tears with them. Although she does come across like a hitler to the untrained eye, behind the assertiveness is a friend who is caring,  supportive and a special angel in my life. 

Caitriona

It all began at Slimming World. Come on do Tollymore 10k. There’s a selection box. Bet she wishes she never suggested it! 

Every runner needs a running buddy. I’ve got the best one though. Not only does she run and own the back of the pack with me, she keeps me in craic and isn’t afraid (anymore) to go along with my mad ideas. As they’re always an adventure of some sort.

OK she may not be a fan of my mid race singing or dancing, but she loves my ponytail (the way she locates me in a race). She is more relentless than me and determination that would frighten you. After giving in to 3 weeks of torture, she finally agreed todo Lisburn half with me. From there it hasn’t taken too much to twist her arm to do longer races and longer runs…a marathon may soon be on the agenda me thinks.

I will run Dublin like Caitriona is going to beat me, as that’s what the trainers say. Thank you! 

Forever at my side in training and in battle. I’m ready for a Country after DCM with her after a wee 1 mile because we’ve earnt it! As long as DCM doesn’t kill me.

Lauren

The wee woman who in the early day of marathon training listened endlessly to me on Friday mornings going on about strategy, plans and general thoughts on righting the world’s wrongs. Friday’s haven’t been the same since she left for England. Though she is keeping me busy with revisiting my degree and therefore invaluable in keeping my brain focused on something else than the marathon.  

My number 1 blog follower without a doubt and can’t wait to get her back at Christmas for Kilbroney 10k and maybe I’ll not have to drag her off her sick bed this year! And hopefully she can fit in a winter trek up the mountains. As I have so so so SO much to tell her about the marathon.

Tara

In this together.  Look how far we’ve come Tara from random friend in the computer to about to tackle a marathon. 

I recall the marathon conversation on snap chat.  Thinking about doing Dublin…aye Michael said he’s doing it..sure why don’t we do it! 

It hasn’t been an easy road to Dublin for you but we all have a different path to get to the same destination.  Those last 26.2 mile though is the same and I can’t wait to see you as I come towards the finish line, a sight I’ve seen many times throughout the past year. You’ve seen me through some tough times and some tough races. But we’ve made it and nothing is going to stop us now.

Shane

The only person in the world who can tolerate me at 7am in the morning – fact!

Wednesday mornings have been spent at the gym being put through my paces. There have been times that I’ve walked out of the gym on him and times I’ve nearly been sick. I have spent countless days in agony because of him but it’s all worth it.

Thankfully since minor injury 6 weeks ago we’ve laid off the legs and moved to me not being able to lift the milk out of the fridge some days. 

I will hear him in my head during Dublin telling me he has faith in me, like he does every week when we’re trying to get those 50 more metres on the rowing machine or extra 100 strides on the cross trainer to beat last week’s target. Sorry you can’t do Dublin but you’ve been an invaluable piece of the puzzle and I can’t wait to get back to you trying to kill me ..I’ve missed leg day. (Not really) 

Dermot

Well wasn’t he just a random addition to the list. But seriously the first night I was roped into a session by Dermot it lashed out of the heavens as we done hill reps up and down the back way of Maginns. Funny I had my first encounter with vodka up the back way too and we’ve become besties- Dermot better hope that things dont go the same way as the vodka relationship  But seriously…

Taking to the second set of sessions I was determined I wouldn’t let this scarey running man win. Turns out…he isn’t so scarey but by God he knows how to get the best out of you. 

So as the weeks went on and he failed to kill me in his Death By Dermot sessions, I actually learnt a lot about running, my form, having my style critiqued and most importantly I wasn’t alone in how I felt when I ran.

So I guess I’ve a lot to thank him for and also for entertaining/enduring my sometimes distracting behaviour.  However a hug from Dermot is now mandatory at each session and wish him all the best at Dublin too. Even though by the time I’m finished he could be home and all doing his recovery run around Kilbroney but more likely in the pub. 

Caroline

I remember seeing Caroline post that she was doing the GNR and VLM to raise money for The Miscarriage Association. Thinking to myself at the time …wow she is absolutely bonkers. Only crazy people run that long. As she took to the line to do the GNR I was only getting into running. 

By the time she crossed the line in London, I took myself out to push my own limits as I couldn’t bare to track her on the live tracking. I hit my first 10miler that day. When things got tough I thought of Caroline in London and everything her run meant to her. 

She made running accessible to me. Made me realise that you can do a marathon and not be a professional athlete. She met me at my first race in Tollymore  (a bit hungover) and waited for me to finish before having to dash off. It meant so much to me. I hope before the year is out or in 2017 we line up together at a race again. 

The MAC crew

I don’t even know where to start here. It deserves a whole blog piece of its own. There has been no better decision I’ve ever made than making that move to join Murlough AC, even if it took Selena and Caitriona 5638288171 times of asking me before I finally joined. Shouldn’t play so hard to get!

Everyone from the super fast to the mountain runners, the injured to the ones just out for the craic. EVERY ONE  has been fabulous. Always supportive, always encouraging and most of all always inclusive.

Joining a running club is scarey, especially if you are someone like me who isn’t particularly fast. But I found a home and a family in Murlough. Not only do I never be alone in a race or training, I’ve always someone to turn to, someone to laugh with and someone to hug. 

The faith they have in me is something I have never ever experienced and it is so overwhelming. I know I can be overexcitable, talkative, hard to listen to and darn right annoying but they make you feel loved, wanted and appreciated. 

I’ll go out on Sunday and take to the start line, proud to be representing the club. I know I’ll probably be the last to cross the line for the team but they want me in that team and make me feel a part of it. Even if it’s going to take me at least 2hours longer than some of them to finish. 

Gosh I sound like a right saddo. Though I know running would never be what it is now to me without them all. And for that I am so grateful.

And to my fellow DCM marathoner’s good luck and go and show Dublin what MAC is all about!

Everyone else

You all deserve a mention but this blog would be an epistle all by itself. So quick shout out to other important people and don’t give me jip if I forgot you. As everyone who has liked or commented on anything, I love you too.

Sinead, Nuala and Moira for the daily dose of keeping me in non running “normal” craic.

Rachel for always keeping my hidden insane side entertained and sharing cups of tea with me virtually all the way from Oz.

Micéal for his daily dose of love via Snapchat and unnecessary Snapchat stories on a night out as Johnny Bradys Groupie,swing dancing.

Brendan for just being him. He has been at the end of every one of my half marathons in the sunshine and rain waiting on me to cheer me on home. Means a lot to me. Plus he knows that you can never have too much ice!

Artie, the man with the magic hands which quite frankly create biblical miracles. I’d have written off Dublin if he hadn’t have worked religiously on rubbing out my kinks and keeping the legs fresh.

The crew at school run for entertaining me daily in my active wear and indulging me after a run. Especially Patricia and Connaire who’ve kept faith in me right through. (keep the future inlaws sweet ūüėČ)

Auntie Tina & Maria for always looking out for me and being there when there was no one else in the family who believed in me. And well Granny Josie for all her prayers too- very important.

And of course my in laws, Karen,Shauna, Finbar and I suppose Liam too. Always encouraging and accepting my craziness and embrace it. 

But the big mentions go to…

Collette
No one has any idea what an important piece of the puzzle she is. Actually she is the board on which the puzzle is built on.

I’ve the world’s best mother in law. Collette has been ridiculously accomodating and supportive when it’s come to this running bug we both have.

It was her, who 2 years ago arrived into the house with the forms for me to join the Burrendale.  She seen something in me that I didnt see myself, even when I tipped the scales at 21stone. 

Always encouraging and beyond accommodating. From those first few spin classes to the marathon. Obviously with both of us running and 2 young kids it hasn’t been as difficult as it could be to fit in races and long runs because of her.

I’ll be honest I think the kids love when we say we are going running as that means they get to go to Grannys (and don’t forget Grandads). It’s kind of a double win for them, hanging out at the farm and a medal.

I’m sure she can’t wait until the marathon is over so that we can abandon the kids with Michael and go for good long walks with no plan. Where I’m sure she will hear about every aspect of marathon training. 

But I am forever grateful to have someone like her in my life. Who need’s a mum when I’ve got her as not only someone to watch out for me but a friend too. Michael loves you, the kids certainly love you and well I love you too. None of this would be possible without you, physically or mentally. 

The crazies aka the Grant Babies 

Well they are the reason I get up every morning. ..because they wake me.

I hope some day they’ll look back on this blog and see that hard work and sheer determination (and stubborness) can get you anywhere as long as you have the right attitude and the right people around you.

I know they’ll love this medal as much as the plastic ones they get at sports day and not really know just yet the work that had to go into earning it. But I live for pulling up the drive post race and seeing their excited faces as they come looking the bling 

They see going to the gym and running as normal and I hope that they take that with then through their life and not end up with an exercise phobia like me.

All this aside as any parent wants, I want them to be proud of me. Lead by example and hope that somewhere along the line my good habits rub off on them and you never know maybe someday I’ll be cheering them on in a race. If not we’ll do laps of the garden and use the medals we’ve amassed in the drawer.

And breathe …

That’s a long one. An emotional blog but although it may come across as I’m going to climb Everest and might not come back. I’m going to climb my very own Everest (although elevation at Dublin is pretty mild in comparison) but you know what I mean. Just wanted to say a huge Thank you to everyone for keeping me going, it’s become more of a journey for everyone than just for me. I know come Sunday everyone will be on the live tracking sitting by their phones awaiting me checking in. Don’t worry I promise I will as soon as I get across that line. Might even check in mid race, you never know! 

Love you all xxx

Advertisements

Some of my favourite pictures from Marathon Training

Lisburn half.  The first big milestone of marathon training. I postponed surgery to do this race. gosh it was a very lonely race. But as I hit 12 miles I had the “I’m actually going to do this” and started to enjoy it. 

Cookstown half 12 mile photo. A great race and I fairly enjoyed it. The rain had just come on and was welcomed. first time I believed that I could really just keep on running lol

Running Blind at Stormont. What an eye opener to what the visually impaired experience in a race. Cemented my resolve to run as Tonys Guide indefinitely. 

Rathfriland 10k. I had no intentions of running it initally as had Running Blind and Dambusters either side of it but sure what the hell, it’s only 10k. Met magic hands Artie who I’m sure with the massage afterwards saved my legs for Dambusters.

Dinner after Causeway Coast at the MAC away run. Death defying course but the craic and company was the best

Dambusters, 9 mile in and buzzing. there’s nothing more I an say lol

The GR8 Marshalling duties. In a bid to avoid injury I donned the florescent jacket and instead embraced the MAC love mid race. This is what being part of a club is all about. 

The early morning summer runs. this was the morning I done my first big run of 14 mile.

The result of the early long runs, wanting to sleep at 10am

PB face straight after Cookstown. Jaysus yon shower was freezing

Siobhan vs the Lake on a wet day.

First marathon experience at the Belfast Marathon relay

I swear to God I had promised to finish the race with Caitriona…don’t know what happened to me in the last 200m. I grew rockets on my feet.

Supported by Avonmore after my 20miler. to date…my longest run

Some love from Michael after Sea 2 Sky I’m July

On the quest for a pink medal, I finally had one to give Aoife after the mini marathon. 

I think now I’m about to reach that summit Lauren..what do you think?

That’s it! This time next week I’ll be a marathoner

That’s it! This time next week I’ll be a marathoner

Well it’s not the final run, it’s an end to any substantial miles.  With 1 week to go…shit just got ridiculously real.

This morning Michael and I got up and headed to the lake for a few laps. Full dress rehearsal so right down to the underwear I’ll have on. 

Boiled egg’s in a cup and a cuppa, trip to the loo and off we went. If only things would go so swimmingly next week I’d be onto a winner before I even start running.
I’ve spent so much time at the lake that I would feel like I was cheating if I ran anywhere else at this stage of training. So it was only right I do the last long run where I’ve broke all my own records over the past few months.

With 58 laps of the lake to my name since the start of this campaign what was a few more (61 completed now). I’ve seen the lake through every season this year and even now as the leaves fall, it takes on a whole new look and in a sense it’s like running somewhere new. 

Anyway some dynamic warm ups (as per homework set by Dermot #modelstudent) and off we went. I do appreciate any company on a run and I know how tough it is for a faster runner to run with me. Somehow though Michael seems to plod on and clock watches quietly without a mention.  He’s sneaky, he knows exactly what pace we are doing and will push me that bit more. 

I know I’m capable of faster for 3 or 4 laps of the lake. I’ve got so used to endurance running that the push to go even 10/15 seconds faster a km is a big ask, even though I know I’ve pulled up to a minute quicker per km out of the bag on 10ks last year over 6 mile. Lap 1 did see me PB on a lap of the lake, all procrastinating aside. Plus he is determined to push me after the marathon to break even those pbs.

Lap two I was feeling good and enjoying the run but I knew I was holding him back and maybe even hindering his training. Luckily in the distance was the world’s number 1 running buddy out walking and stretching out an injury.  

Now after all the laps of that lake Caitriona has done with me it would be mean to run past her, on the same stretch of Lake that I left her for dead at 9.5k in Castlewellan 10k (had to get that dig in), I told Michael to run on and I happily settled for a good power walk. 

It was refreshing and exactly what I needed. I’ve been an emotional bag of uselessness the past few days and it was great to throw my ideas for strategy and coping methods out there. Before we knew it we’d a lap done and minutes later Michael had finished his 4th lap.

So a tidy wee 5 mile for Caitriona,  7.5 for me and 10 mile for Michael. 

This time next week it’ll all be over and I should, all being well, be still alive. Don’t worry I’m well insured and have checked that I’m covered for marathon running (no joke) so at least you can all have a great party on me if I don’t make it! 

The usual Thursday night antics

The usual Thursday night antics

You know what…I really enjoyed tonight’s session with Dermot. OK I was prepared for sub zero temperatures when realistically it was a beautifully mild evening but hey! That’s why you layer up, so you can take some off! I could have been a bit more extreme, however Selena embraced that by bringing a fluffy covered hot water bottle with her. 

Anyway I’ve been banned from the gym. Well when I say banned…more so told that I’m not allowed to do any more classes until after Dublin. 

I suppose when the pts are seasoned marathoners,  they know their shit so where horrified to see me at spin and ab’s,  twice this week. So after Wednesdays class I was told that they should only see me there if I’m going swimming or my shower breaks- fair enough. So I was buzzing to get out tonight after only really 1 day of tapering. 

I don’t even know where to start with the session. So many bits I loved. A bit of everything. Love me some theory and yes I am the sort of person who needs to be told things over and over again for it to sink in so big benefit to me to hear it numerous times.

Obviously the pairing of Siobhan, Kate and Norah was soon causing minor disruption.  However sometimes it just can’t be avoided. 

That’s my theory though I’m still working on the first 3 but I’ve totally nailed surrounding myself with good people.

With Dermot doing his duck running style and noticing how turned out his feet where lead to thoughts on maybe he’s a good dancer with feet like that and with good ABCs a definite shoe in for Lord of Dance. 

I kind of like to think I’m doing OK at the running form. I do consciencously fix myself mid run as I guess conserving energy is the key to Dublin for me and it does make you feel better. Thankfully not singled out so nothing glaringly obvious/lack of time to tear me apart.

I really loved the mini sessions ran this evening by Hugh and Selena. I can only imagine the pressure they are currently under with their assessments and study for their coaching qualifications and although a friendly and welcoming bunch, we are very easily way laid and sometimes hard to grab our attention which is difficult for anyone.

Hugh done a great 90m challange of 30m acceleration, 30m sprint and then 30m deceleration. Even something that you can do on your own some morning. I did have a lot of built up energy to let go off so although I didn’t push myself as hard as normal, I loved the wee burst. 

You see if I could just figure out how to spread that energy out over a race I’m sure I’d do alright. Though I’m forever conserving it throughout a run, hence the reason I can always have a strong finish whether is a 5k, 10k or a half.

Selenas session was over a 100m and as the distance was longer it meant holding the pace that bit longer. I’d have loved to have done a few more of them just to see how I held up but I’m sure I’ll get a chance during “wintervals” come November. Also hearing as you’re running past “slow down Siobhan, you’ve a marathon” was something I thought I’d never ever hear..slow down and marathon.

The highlight of the evening though had to be during a q&a session afterwards. As we all sat on the wall in hope that the cold stone wouldn’t cause piles, I was again moved for talking. It’s like GCSE Business Studies all over again. Luckily though I’ve not been put in a corner on my own yet. I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t have talked as much during school my Bs would have become As. Funny how my As where in subjects with elements of oral assessments.

With some really good questions and even more eye opening answers that I’ve definitely to take note of, we got onto the subject of breathing. 

Cadence breathing. For once I actually sort of knew what Cadence was as it’s one of the wee options on my watch that I had no idea what it was. So breathing in rythmn with your feet is what I assumed. So progressing from why army people chant to “uh ha ha” had me dying inside to start singing. I’d vision of the Ooga Booga mask in Crash Bandicoot and know I’ll pass a few mile in Dublin Ooga boogying my breathing. So please do take time to focus on your breathing and for some help do feel free to listen to the song.

 „ÄčSong to help focus your breathing „Ää

I don’t know is it because Dublin is just literally around the corner but I was buzzing after tonight’s session. Although it was more coaching and the toughest bit was the warm up, I just came home feeling really positive. I still wonder to myself every time I run how the hell I am going to find 26 mile. I know I can definitely find the 0.2 so just 26 more to find. 

So hoping to get out for a few more laps of the lake this weekend as my final longer run. I feel I’d offend the lake if I didn’t do the final victory laps round it. But for now I’ll leave you all with this. I’m available for hugs at all training sessions! 

Let’s go round and round again

Let’s go round and round again

Mother nature has decided to throw Ireland a curve ball this week and the weather has gone from fabulously mild to absolutely horrid in a matter of days. 

Hours of thunder and lightening, rain that came from all directions and it is definitely getting colder. 

Looking ahead to training for this weekend it had a nice wee 13 on the plan. However with the world against me at every opportunity and a mega dose of antibiotics, a long run was looking bleak. 

I’d hoped that maybe I might be able to pull it out of the bag. However after the weather forecast update via weatherman Mckenna on Friday, who isn’t afraid of the dark and happy to run about like a nut in the dark playing tunes out loud for all to hear, I took to the met office and tried to engage everything I learnt in Alevel Geography to see if I could find a break in the weather. 

There wasn’t a chance in hell that I was going to get a run in early. The band of rain coming up from the south was going to be a complete wash out until lunch time. 

I’d hoped that by 2pm the weather might clear but I tell you this,  at 10.30 you’d have thought it was here for the day as it jumped back off the ground. I stirred out the back window feeling sad. I refused point blank to get out of my jammies. I was for putting on my training gear and I was running today- end of. 

Looking out the window at the rain

At 1 o’clock I gave in and got into my running tights and a tech tshirt to go to the shop. I’d decided after I sorted lunch I’d go to the gym and put in a good hour on the cross trainer and try again tomorrow. However shortly after I got back and started cooking, I glimpsed out the window and there it was- the mountains AND blue skies coming towards me from Newcastle. Was I going to wait to see if it was going to hold? Hell no! I rushed upstairs, got my gear on and threw dinner on 3 plates and left them to it.

So 5 laps of the lake. I’m sure by now my legs should just go into auto pilot now round it. 

Lap 1: Oh dear God it was horrible. Everything felt sore. I realised I’d forgot my buff or any deep heat before I left. I’d the dreaded thoughts of 5 laps of this. I swear I could have easily just went on home. I had played with possible routes to make the miles up, run to the spike and out to Dundrum and get Michael to collect me, taking to the hills maybe or even towards Newcastle and loop in back down the Burrenbridge Road. But I didn’t want the lake to beat me. 2 weeks ago I owned the lake and showed it I didn’t fear it after 8 laps. I wasn’t going to give up.

Lap 2: ahhh there’s the nice running feeling. I found my pace and settled in lovely. The sun had come out and I was able to go along saying get to the next gap of light to find my way around. There was a rally on so although I had one ear of music in, I was able to hear all the racing sounds and spy a few cars as I came around the top of the lake.

Never have thought it had been a minging morning
Lap 3: as I began lap 3 I was greeted by my number 1 supporters. Michael had obviously, after only an hour, lost the will to live and put their coats on to feed the ducks. Needless to say this then lead to being accompanied by the crew the WHOLE way round. I loved having company but it did mean I practically walked the whole lake whilst putting up with the whinges that the play park was SO far away. Next time I’ll just get Michael to get them to make a banner and cheer me on as I near threw Ronan in the lake to shut up! I didn’t mind, I knew I needed to take it easy and miles are miles either way. 

Lap 4: I’d began to pass people numerous times now and trying to explain nicely that you aren’t in sane and yes I am actually training for a marathon was getting exhausting. I was chased by a dog off its lead. Between the 3 humans they had 8 dogs and 2 without leads. I’m not normally scared of dogs but I don’t trust them. Especially when they’re big and don’t listen to what their owner says. Why can’t people keep their dogs on a lead in such a public place. Of course they got informed of how dangerous this was and lucky it wasn’t a lap earlier when I’d Aoife as I’d have knocked them out as she’d have got so upset.  Luckily the man behind me backed me up and we finished the hill together. Agreeing that some people need to buck up their act. 

Before I began lap 5 a lady was finishing who I’d passed for the 3rd time and she stopped me. Now I honestly thought she was curious about why I was running so many times but then came the sales pitch! A Forever living rep trying to sell me Argi.

” I’m sorry but I wouldn’t put anything into my system at this point so close to the marathon. ”

“But it’s natural”

“Yeah not to my system, look I’ve got to go I’ve another lap to do and my Garmin isn’t on pause”

Like some people need their heads looked. Who does that sort of thing.  I’ve passed you 3 times, I’m headed the same direction again. So let’s stop me and try and sell me some random additive that might give me “the edge”- little does she know I’ve more edges than a bread knife! It doesn’t mean the Argi does or doesn’t work.  I just have no interest in it.

Lap 5: the victory lap. I was still in disbelief at being marketed to at the beginning but the usual menality of the final lap meant there was no fight with the head and time wise I was doing OK considering I’d walked the 3rd lap with the kids. The temperature had evidently dropped and  I was ready to go home.

It would be rude to not!

As I finished the lake and headed out for home. I knew I’d hit 13.1 pretty much on the nose by the time I reached the house. There is always something nice about the last mile in any run. Maybe it’s a “the end is near” scenario but I always feel epic. 

I got home at 13.1 but ran around the garden to get to 13.12 just to be sure strava would log a half marathon.

I’ll be honest, I felt better after my 20 miles. Right now I want to curl into a ball and never run again. I know I wasn’t firing all cylinder’s and let’s face it, to do the 13.1 in 3hr9 was good going considering I’d a walking lap. I was aiming for 3 hours anyway as didn’t want to put myself and my broken body under too much pressure to run race pace. But I needed that run. Missing last week’s long run because I was sick was tough so I needed this for me, I needed to know that after a tough week I still “had it” as such. So feeling content as I sit here hurting a bit more than I wanted to be. 

So taper…it’s time for me to embrace you and let’s nail these last few runs. How scarey – Tomorrow fortnight is race day. Holy shit!

Tea + running = life

Tea + running = life

Now we all know that in Dermots sessions we always learn a lot. How to have good form, how to drive those arms, how to challenge our own limits both physical and mental.

However tonight I learnt that coach Dermot is a tea-o-holic. The man was like a child at Christmas when Selena arrived down on the promenade after some passing comment about tea with a takeaway cup of tea for Dermot. Teachers pet. Turns out that Dermot loves a wee cuppa and for once I actually have something in common with a real athlete. My answer to everything. ..tea (and a good hug)

 So session was getting off to a good start. But before the whole tea epiphany I was going to do the friendly act when I seen Selenas label sticking out of her trousers and was going to tuck it in. On closer inspection they were actually inside out. The Shame! And now EVERYBODY knows. I believe her claims she was in a rush (you should have heard the voice message I got) but come on..somewhere between Killough and Newcastle you would think that you’d figure out they’re inside out. Anyway made me laugh.

The sad thing about tonight was that I’m not having a great week. Taper has taken a hold of me and dragged me down. Last week’s voice losing episode, turned into a sinus infection and to ensure no more nasty bugs annoy me the next 3 weeks, I’ve 7 days worth of 500mg of Amoxicillian , 3 times a day.

I missed my 16 mile run last weekend, so only the whole 2.2 mile from the GR8 home straight. I managed a good session at the gym on Tuesday, died a death afterwards which made me go to the gp and just surviving now. I’ve 13 mile on the plan for Saturday but I’m playing it by ear and see how things go. I’d love to go and do a slow and steady 13 but I’m also aware it’s only day 5 of antibiotics and my body is absolutely useless right now.

Anyway I digress…session tonight was more of a observational experience for me.

We knew it wasn’t going to be fun. However I think the MAC crew have hardened up to the challenge of the sessions and are mentally stronger and not giving up as easily to the fear. 

 Showing no fear

400m followed by 200m blast intervals on the agenda with a focus on recovery. It looked tough going. The 20 hi vis clad MAC crew running up and down the promenade was a fabulous sight. I’m sure to passers by they either thought what are those buck eejits at or look at how they are supporting each other. 

I could hear words of encouragement as the runners approached the final stretch where the group had merged as one. I’m sure those words helped spur a few members on when they thought the line was still far away. 

Hats off to Paul though. At first I wondered if he was just mixing it up and going at a slower pace for his own benefit but it quickly became apparent that he was pacing others in the group to match the time they wanted to achieve. By pacing them and giving them the encouragement by their side demonstrated the qualities, attributes and heart of a great teacher. 

Dermot drank his tea, offered hints and tips and was able to see improvement from the newer members of the group almost instantaneously. It just shows that it takes someone to highlight the right way and that’s the habit broken. 

It was hard being on the side lines at training although you can see the pain and hear the panting of everyone as well as be grateful it isn’t you, I was sad as I was dying to get out there and join in. Think it was taking its toll on Selena too who took herself further up the promenade to the half way point to encourage them and remind everyone of form.

My positive head is saying; yeah luckily I’ve had to go on antibiotics now, not ideal but could have been marathon week. It’s not like I’m on the actual injury bench, I’m hovering inbetween on the ill bench…if that even exists. So this should pass quite quickly.

But all hope is not lost. I had company build on the sidelines throughout with Caitriona not able to cope without me and joining me. Seriously hoping whatever is up with her sorts itself out. Shes actually injured and not just grumpy as I’m not running. Then had Eileen who is as stubborn as me and tried to run whilst sick. Eileen take note on the above…I’m on antibiotics it doesn’t work out well!  

Bringing it home for another session

As the session drew to a close and cool down was well underway I had an opportunity I couldn’t miss. Being near the promenade we where surrounded by Pampas Grass. Finding a stray bit of grass I couldnt resist sneaking up on Kate and scaring the absoulte bajaysus out of her by tickling her leg. Absolutely hilarious and I apologise also for disrupting an effective cool down. It turns out that Kate now feels that I  was attempting an underhanded hint at Swinging.  As apparently according to Google (random fact of the day) pampas grass is the symbol of Swingers. Don’t worry Kate, I think you’re safe from me but now I’m worried as it is you who knew such meaning behind it lol

But you know what, for now I’ll stick the kettle on and have a cuppa because tea + running = life. 

The GR8 …the race through the eyes of a Marshal

The GR8 …the race through the eyes of a Marshal

It is that time of year. 

The annual club run. 8 mile of everything a race can throw at you, road, gravel, sand, boardwalk and grass, finished off by a nice stretch on road to the finish line. At least the weather was nice to us this year.
With near 1000 participants taking to the start line it proves that everyone loves a challenge or at least a good view as the route is encased in the beauty of the mournes from every angle.

The GR8 for me this year was a race I would be a Marshal at. I know with Dublin so close that if I where to take to the route, I’d be unlucky enough to get injured. I might as well wrap myself up in cotton wool the next 3 weeks. 
I have to admit I was very excited to find out I was on the beach. Right in the heart of the action. My positivity at times can be overbearing but definitely perfect for that part of the race where after 2 miles on the beach, you need some annoying positivity.
My day started nice an early. Plenty of sandwiches made and biscuits bought. Off to Dundrum Hall to get registration underway. It is such a team effort. As each MAC member arrived whether running or not, they came adorned with goodies for the runners. 

MAC hard at work

I think full marks go to Selena for the 60 Hot Cross Buns that where served up as a pre race treat to keep everyone’s bellys warm. 

I love the pre race excitement as there are so many different people in the room, with such a mix of emotions but there are mainly three types. 

The returning runner; those who know exactly what lies ahead

The friend; where their mates have recommended the race and thought “sure why not”

And the first timer; no idea what lies ahead, picking up passing thoughts and views from others in the hall and wonder why the hell they signed up to it.

As registration came to a close, we jumped in the car headed for our checkpoints.

Selena and Moira had the fun of the water stop whilst Mic√©al and myself heading down the board walk to our stations on the beach. 

Team water station

Doing the route backwards I knew that at this point which would be 6 miles, would be tough for the runners. The boardwalk was springy but with the wind being quiet mild, it was the lack of breeze to cool them down after coming off the beach that would be a killer and they’d be glad to get to the water station. 

As I reached my very well signposted station I waved goodbye to Micéal as he trudged up the beach to his station.

I was all alone. 

I assumed the race would be soon underway so in my quest to pass some time, I found a stick and as any respectable adult would do. I began writing in the sand. Productive art work obviously.

Just incase someone missed me

I finally got a sensible Snapchat from Mic√©al to say the first runner was on route. Let’s be honest, David O’Flaherty could have been mistaken for a lone runner, as there was no one near him. No stranger to the route, he knew where he was going and flew past, confident in his ability to make this race his own. 

Shortly in the far distance, the most fantastic sight greeted me. A sea of brightly coloured runners consumed the shore line. It was something a camera couldn’t catch. I knew right then that I was apart of something special. Our club had done this. Our club had enticed all these people to take part in this challenging route and pulled it together. These where the people who had to eat all the sandwiches at the hall after! Glad we made extra.

As the runners started to filter up through the stones and sand towards the beach exit,  I wondered what would I like to hear from someone at that point. 

So I complied a list and these where some of my favourites. 

“Keep er lit” (obvious one)

“I am the end of the beach”

“Don’t let the beach win”

“Show the beach who is boss”

“Looking strong” 

“The water stop is half mile that way”

“No I’m not getting tarmac for next year”

Gosh the pain in some people’s eyes. That 2 mile on the beach had sucked everything out of their legs and let’s be honest, my positivity didn’t always go down well. It was great though to see some of my encouragement got people digging that bit deeper at a tough part of the race. 

Also fantastic to cheer the MAC crew on as they came through along with the club pacers who worked very hard to keep the pace for their allocated time. Always a joy to see the runners I know from previous races, some who had obviously forgotten about how Causeway Coast made them feel and came back for some more sand!

Of course you can always count on the MAC runners who where out for the craic. Time for laughs, hugs and selfies was the only way the race was going to go. 

Mic√©al and I began the trek back to the car park after we thought everyone had been but luckily enough the man on the quad came back and let us know 1 more was still coming. Mic√©al went back and I went on with bags to the car. That moment I was filled with intent and only 1 mission. I have ranted so much in the past about back runners and not getting the same treatment as other racers. I knew the club would wait for the last person and I wasn’t going to let them finish the race alone.

So as I got to the car,  I literally stripped in the car park as I’d my winter Base Layer on underneath and it wasn’t going to be kind to me over 2 miles, great for the beach though!

I was honoured to accompany Rosy on the last 2 mile to the finish.  There was no other way I could imagine that would be a better way to end the day. 

We chatted on route home about the race, the joys of being a back runner,  running your own race and about how life had thrown us some bad hands but we were still to be beaten. 100% success rate.

I admire her strength, her resolve and her pure grit and determination to get those 8 mile done. If the world gave half of what she did today finishing that race, it would be a much better place to be. 

As I imagined, every Marshall was still out and cheered Rosy on right to the end where she ended the race the same way she began it…a runner. 

Rosy to the left and Selena to the right

So as the rest of the club go out to toast what was a pretty flawless day, I’m sitting at home, writing. Debating my 16 mile for tomorrow, with a pint of Avonmore. Life of a Marshall is really rock n roll.

A huge well done to everyone who came out today and took on what was a challanging 8 mile. I hope you are all looking forward to coming back next year and owning that beach! Don’t let it beat you!

Fun with Dermot???

Fun with Dermot???

Fun and Dermot. Not 2 words I would ever have put in the same sentence when it came to a training session.

For the record it’s not that I don’t think Dermot can be fun. I’m sure he’s the best of craic on a normal day to day basis and let’s face it, he isn’t all that bad…just when it comes to running. I suppose he’s being paid to be a coach and not to be part of the gang,  so has to have some element of fear. Even though I’m convinced he wants to be part of the gang.

Anyway fun…

We all took that with a pinch of salt. The usual suspects turned up to continue the sessions this week. It’s like it’s become so engraved in our weekly activities that we can’t cope to be without Dermot or each other. 

Be safe, be seen  high vis time

This week we where fabulously dressed in our high vis gear and taking to the promenade in Newcastle. There was no missing us, except Kate who came all in black and was more of a shadow than a shining star. 

I have to admit the back drop to the session was perfect.  The crescent moon sat to the left of the top of Slieve Donald whilst dusk set upon us. The wind which made me reroute on Tuesday was replaced by a clam and mild evening. Just perfect. 

We set off in our speed appropriate groups to do 500m reps of “Train.” Of course since our group have become so well used to each other we took that quite literally and at every lamp post and change of leader we honked. When someone fell behind we shouted that we lost a carriage ensuring our train stayed together as a team.
It got tough at times but by the 4th set we had found our pace and knew when the group would need to rein it in to keep us together. We didn’t care that we were being overtaken by the other groups. We started together and we finished together. Even so quite literally on the 8th rep we crossed the finish hand in hand. Sometimes I wonder does Dermot not just think to himself “I’m surrounded by buck eejits”

One thing I will take from the session other than it not being a good idea to hurdle the speed ramps, is to keep the chin up and focus on the stars. 

This has 2 meanings for me really. 

1; I should know by now to keep my head up at all times anyway as Dermot mentions it every week, it will sink in eventually, I promise.

2; keep my head up. With the marathon fast approaching I have to keep my head up and remember that I have trained for this, I can do this and believe in my training. I should be proud of what I’ve achieved so far in my running..even if I’ve went from 0 to 26.2 in a year which was pure madness. I’ve persevered and need to keep my head held high regardless.

A favourite saying of mine that I always told my form group in school

So was it fun, it was. I fairly enjoyed it and although we were all out of breath we were still smiling and working together as a club. The comaradery within the club continue’s to strengthen and that mutual respect amongst the runners is very visable.

For now though, I’m going to enjoy the fact it was a good session and a fun one as I’m sure Death by Dermot will be back next week with a vengeance with his usual sadist flare laced with blood, sweat and a few tears.

I’m running a marathon this month

So its October.

That means it gets darker, earlier. It gets colder, the wedding anniversary is on the 30th, oh yeah the same day I run my first marathon.

The past number of years have been tough. I’m not your average, normal girl. I am going to find the run up to Dublin exceptionally tough as it was only this time 3 years ago I was neck deep in a court case that would define me in more ways than I can imagine. Even though it was always in my control to pursue such matters, it wasn’t an easy road. Although I came out of that with my head held high and justice served. It has been the foundation to the relentless daily battle with myself to figure out who I really am and rebuilding the Siobhan everyone knows today. So venturing into the unknown which was the gym, extensive weight loss and then running and finding who I think now is the real me, I know that although I will never forget the past, it has made me who I am today and I’m not the worst in the world.

But even as I thought life was settling down, this year has been pure madness,  in a good way. I remember standing in the changing rooms at the Gym after Christmas Day Spin class (its for charity so don’t shout) with my sister in law and one of the trainers and saying to the girls, you know what, 2016 is going to be my year. Little did I imagine that the year was going to pan out like this.

I had just, a few days previously, survived my first ever 10k and had no intentions to even do another race until the end of February. Now we all know how things went from there. The next week I was lining up on a very cold January morning in Kilborney for another 10k and that seen me through the following two months of the Born 2 Run, Run Forest Run Winter Series. Mount Stewart on my Birthday, Antrim Gardens and Castlewellan in February and really the race bug continued from there. March gave me pbs at Carlingford and Belfast Craic. April was the 10k Castleward Challenge followed by the Belfast marathon relay in May. June I hit my first big marathon milestone of 13.1 mile at Lisburn with Shore 10k, Sea2Sky, the Womens Mini Marathon and Cookstown in July and August was the month of unplanned madness doing Running Blind 10k, Rathfriland 10k and Dambusters half all within 1 week. I threw in a sneaky 5k race for Cancer Research with a 5k pb on the bank holiday and Causeway Coast Half rounded the latest race list off.

So its been a big year and I do really need a medal hanger.

Looking at all that, I’m extremely proud of my achievements this year as it is, marathon training aside. Ok I admit I have found it exceptionally hard in the past few months doing a 10k and not being able to find my 10k pace which I should essentially be improving on. Especially since I can now run 3 times that distance.
Already though I am beginning to fear the post marathon blues. I have put so much into this and I fear the what will I think about after Dublin. I’m emotional at little things, the fact it was October, I cried. I cried on the way to physio as its the first time I’ve went without a niggle, I well up at the thought of it being over.

I know I have a million and one things I want to improve on in my running. The illusive sub 60 10k, a 2hr 30 half, nailing a sub 2hr 10mile even a sub 30 5k. I’ve my eye on the Half marathon series 2017, I want to spend more time on intervals and putting all the things I’ve learnt from Dermot into practice. I want to see my Vo2 Max go up, I want to lose that final 2 stone. I know losing 8 stone is a huge achievement but imagine how much better for my joints and my running saying goodbye to those final 2 stone would be.

So although my list is extensive, I know I’ve a lot to improve on and there is a life after the marathon. Yet I know I will spend this month an emotional mess as it has been an amazing journey and although its been a rocky road to Dublin, I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve still the final run to do in Dublin on the 30th as well as so much more to write but I’ve never been more ready for something in my life. I know I can do it, alas in Siobhan time.

So for now, I’m running a marathon this month.

Who’d have thought when I saying I do in marriage that 7 years later we would be in the heart of Dublin Marathon. Crazy.