Category: change

High on a Hill – The Mourne Walking Festival 2017

High on a Hill – The Mourne Walking Festival 2017

So with Derry Marathon now confined to the memory bank, it was time to find myself again for a few weeks before launching into another marathon training phase.

Not one to stick with the mundane, I set myself a challenge on a whole new level. The Mourne Walking Festival. Lets face it, I love the mountains, I’ll never run in them but I do love getting lost in my thoughts as I trek my way over them, never walking the same step twice.

It might sound a bit odd that I would take myself off on a walking festival- sure is it not for retired people? WRONG! I arrived to be greeted by those who like me just wanted to get up the mountains. People from all over the country, from across the water in England, Belgium, Germany and even as far afield as the US.  It was very multicultural and with that came the mutual respect for everyones beliefs, values and a common goal to enjoy the experience.

Being my first walking festival I was feeling very out of my comfort zone surrounded by people I didn’t know and no idea what lay ahead in the coming days.

Day 1- Spelga over the Mourne Way to Rostrevor.

So after a cracker few weeks weather’s.. .the weather gods decided it would be perfect to open the heavens and let it rain.

Standing at Spelga it was minging. But the Mourne Way was calling and with a spring in my step I was off. It wasn’t long before I found myself surrounded by those who were my pace and unlike running, I was in the lead group.

  I am convinced that I couldn’t even get that wet in the shower. However the craic was mighty, the stories and journeys of those out enroute where interesting and as we came down of Rocky (the mountain that I had a few weeks earlier watched runners catapult themselves down) I knew the track ahead well having run it a few times, including in pitch black at the 26 Extreme 10k Night Race in January. 


With it being a mixed ability group we stuck together between the guides. But day one was done and that evening I had the best shower ever! 

Day 2 Carricklittle Annalong to Ott car park, Slievenaman Road.

So this was the big Challange of the weekend. Right across the heart of the Mournes from one end to the other. There was going to be some big climbs but as always I kept in mind what goes up must come down.

Day 2 started with seeing all those drier versions of the people I had spent the previous day with. The sun had come out and knowing the route I couldn’t wait to get to Binnian and look over the middle of the Mournes. By far my favourite mountain ever.

We set off and as the first hour passed the group split up into those who where out to walk and those who where out to walk and take in the views and photo’s. A natural split in the group was welcomed and as we sat on the side of Binnian overlooking Ben Crom eating lunch, I felt that mountain moment set upon me. I relaxed, I felt calm and counted myself lucky to be apart of this festival. I love how the mountains are able to do that to your mind.

Discovering the actual way down from Binnian to Ben Crom was a tick on my list of things I wanted to figure out but the descent was short lived as we began the ascent back up at the other side of the Dam on the approach to Doan. 

Over marshland we went, navigating the bog cotton, hidden trenches and rivers we arrived in what I would say is the heart of the mournes as we where surrounded by the main mountains associated with the Mournes. On the climb to Loughshannagh the sky was clear and the rain from the previous day had left the ground green and glowing. 

Adding on an additional 2 peaks to the original route was welcomed by me as we climbed Carn and Ott before descending onto the Slievenaman Road. 

Growing up at the other end of the the Slievenaman Road it made me think about why it took me so long to get up the mountains in the first place. Maybe having them as your back garden I took them for granted but finishing that day I knew that I’d be back on that route again soon. 

The walk was finished off with a cool bottle of locally brewed beer with thanks to Mourne Mountains Brewery.  Perfect end to the day.

Day 3 The Rostrevor end of the Mournes

There was a choice to go for as multi peak walk on the Sunday but I had enjoyed the weekend so much and with an impending half marathon in 5 days I opted for the moderate walk and this time I had brought along Michael for company.

Lesson learned…never take someone with fresh legs with you on the last day of a walking festival. He was motoring up the tracks and cross country mountains with ease and although my legs where still hanging in rightly. I was glad when he finally took the pace back and realised it wasn’t a race and more an experience. 

With some members of the group recovering from the blister ball the night before and others who had been by my side for the past few days. 

As we made our way from Ballintur to Knockshee across the skyline we could see Slieve Martin in the distance. Again another hill and Dale classic where I wondered what lay beyond Fiddlers Green that had runners looking so ruined on the way back down. Although the weather wasn’t as nice as the previous day, the ground was still tight and as we went up and over many smaller hills and mountains it was let’s say, refreshing. 

With views out into Carlingford Lough to one side and the whole collection of the Mournes to the other. We could see the Tors of Binnian, the scene of the previous days adventure. And across the way Slieve Gullion poked out from behind the Cooley mountains. 

As we descended down past Cloughmore stone and into Kilbroney I was saddened that after nearly 5000ft in elevation gain and over 20hours out in the mountains that the weekend was coming to a close. 

Of course we finished the day off with another cool one and toasted a successful weekend where new places where visited, new friends made and where I saw through a challenge which was not only tough going  but enlightening and restored peace in my mind and body. 

Remember that time is ticking on the chance to vote for me in the Dublin Rock n Run Idol competition. As always scroll to the bottom and vote for Siobhan Grant!

http://www.runrocknroll.com/dublin/rock-idol/

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Throwback to the first attempt

I do regret never keeping an active log of runs and thoughts. Actually there is so much I wish I had kept a written log off however I have been part of a group of friends on facebook trying to encourage and keep each other going and the so called Siobhan Stories did feature with all the thoughts I would share on here. So I am going to dip into some of those status’ and share them here to make up for “lost time”

 

12th November 2015

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I only took up running in October so was building up. I remember lying in bed the night prior to this and saying to myself I am going to do 10k. It was a huge jump from maybe the run/ walk 5k I was just about managing but faith in my legs and not my head convinced me to give it a bash.

I am pretty sure that it was the fact that my car was sitting in front of me which made me give up instead of pushing that bit further. 5 days later I actually did do a 10k, with both music in my ears and running until I was 5 k away from my car and turning back.

 

5 days later I managed this..

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I had made the distance and began to think that I was actually capable of doing a 10k race and getting to the end. This was the beginning of the story that I am now living. Everything from here in, is full of happiness, change and self belief that anything and everything is possible.

I can honestly say that the best thing to come from this point is the friends I have made. Without them I wouldn’t keep going. Be that to the races, to the club runs, to nights out, to senseless snap chats. Just such a new lease of life for me and for that I am grateful and glad I pushed on.

 

 

 

 

 

Difficult roads do lead to beautiful destinations 

I’ve been having random musings today. Must be the effect of an early morning session at the gym and the kids being off school.

I don’t like to look back, I’ve had a difficult past, one which would shock most people who knew me, as the usual reaction results in them wondering how I turned out the way I did considering the circumstances.

What I don’t think a lot of people realise is that the reality for most people who suffer trauma or something horrific is that they don’t know life any different to how it is at that time. They just get on with life as if it was part of daily struggles. For those looking in from the outside this is hard to understand. 

However it is hindsight that makes reflection on the past, that you can see and realise the severity of the situation. Looking back I realise that a smile can hide a multitude of things, I also know that those who seem to be ok are the ones who are struggling most.  

 Probably the reason why I went into teaching…I wanted to be the teacher I never had. The person who was able to pick out those students who, like me, put on a fantastic show and to the world where totally happy and secure when inside they feared going home, feared what lay ahead of them that night and was crying out inside for someone to notice I needed to talk.

Now talking is something I am renouned for being very good at. I’ve even caught myself talking out loud to myself several times whilst out running. I count myself lucky that I run in pretty secluded areas as I’m sure I must sound like a right nut job (and there’s me not so long ago saying I turned out alright)

When it comes to talking I am able to manipulate conversation with people to suit me. Mind you I don’t do it all the time only when I’m in difficult situations or if I don’t want to enter into a certain topic. This stands true with years of counselling and able to twist conversation away from the core issues. As with everything there is a time, place and person who will break down that wall whenever you are ready. No amount of skillful help will break that wall down if you aren’t ready to let them.

I guess this reflection today is building up to the point of the title. Here I am today, training for a marathon. Me, Siobhan Grant, with a past that would frighten some people. Sticking two fingers up at the people who my whole life tried to control me and stole so much from me. I’m surrounded by real love and real respect. I’ve some absolutely fantastic friends who have and will support me through thick and thin, including numerous races, post work out DOMS and of course the marathon itself. 

So am I at my beautiful destination…I sure am.

Change is afoot

We are constantly growing and spreading our wings.

Who we are is defined by so many factors. I have spoken with many people about their inspirations, reasons for choosing a certain path and most importantly where they get the drive and energy to continue to strive for better.

I’d like to think that by now at 31 I’ve been through the mud and somethings I’d never wish anyone to experience. Yet I wonder what defines me.

Running has gave me an outlet to settle my inner battles in the wake of a huge battle that consumed my life for a long time. I am the crazy person who runs past you talking to herself or even with tears running down their face. I’m a very emotive runner and the littlest thought can spur me on or stop me dead in my tracks.

Yet in amongst the tears and the talking to myself I find peace and relax. Every step is one more step than I’d ever thought I’d manage.

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Tonight I stepped out of my comfort zone. I have ditched Slimming World and joined a Running Club. I have a lot to be thankful to Slimming world for, friendships, great craic and of course weight loss. However with a Marathon in the near future and my love for running growing, Michael and I joined the local running club for support as well as a new focus. So an investment so to speak for us both. He has spent every Tuesday night in watching the kids for 3 years..its about time he got out.

Thankfully it was a local run, sadly at that fecking lake! Grrr. I managed a lap without stopping and running with a lady who was running my race pace as her easy run pace. So for me it was tough but really enjoyable 

So change is afoot. Change to my Tuesday night routine, change to my training and change for the better.

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