Category: forest

Friday Funday… Good Friday shenannigans

I’ve a friend…shocking, I know. I’ve a few good ones actually.

Lauren has come into my life like a breath of fresh country air. Although a few more years younger than me than I’d like to admit, I couldn’t see life without her. A bundle of unending energy, something you wouldn’t expect of a student in her final year. With drive, motivation and a sense of adventure which would scare Bear Grylls yet refined enough to be a hot contender for the Down Rose 2016.

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What started out as a wee walk to pass an hour every now and again has progressed into the blind leading the blind through the various tracks and trails of the Mourne Countryside on what is usually a Friday..hence Friday Funday.

Today’s hike was roughly planned. We knew where we were starting and knew roughly where we’d finish. However the middle bit was a bit blurry.

I woke to clear blue skies and the excitement when I could see the mountains from my window. Not a cloud in sight and for once I thought..yes this is it. A day to scale a few peaks and admire God’s country from the top of Northern Ireland.

The Yellow Bug pulled up outside my house at 7.30am and with our packed lunch we headed to the foothills.

Up we climbed to Hares Gap…followed by a drone which was creepy. The air was still and skies still blue. However that was soon to change. We opted for the lower route across the Valley as we knew it had a path and as we were getting to where you could see right into the reservoir the mist descended and what are normally stunning views where engulfed by it.

After a good few km we locked eyes on the summit of Slieve Donard, Northern Ireland highest Mountain. We had both been to the top a few times but the excitement as we caught a glimpse of the tower on top glistening in the sun there was only one way we where heading…and that was UP.

My heart broke as we began the final ascent and the mist which ruined the views across the valley an hour previously had completely taken over the mountain. It became cold, dull and felt like walking through a wind tunnel. Sheltered only by the Mourne Wall.
The pull in the back of your legs was burning and as you climbed on…you felt that reaching the end was never going to happen.

In the distance we seen the tower, beside the tower was a man beginning to get undressed (free strip show) sadly it was just to change into dry gear. I felt it extremely fitting for it being Good Friday to recite a biblical quote of “my god my god, why have you forsaken me”
As although we knew the end was near and the suffering was going to end shortly…the surroundings, the weather and the struggle was still to be endured. Maybe not on the same scale as Jesus in his dying moments on the cross but still sort of reflected the pain and mild anger within us.

The sighs of relief from us both I am sure could be heard for miles around. We made it but.

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Yip could see no more than 10metres! Not the 360 degree view we were expecting or quite rightly deserved.

Sure if the sun had shone we wouldn’t have been able to procrastinate the whole way back down and for the rest of the day essentially…actually I think I can moan about it for a while.

Anyway 4.45mins, 14.5km and over 700m gained in elevation later, we grinded to a halt at Nugelato where we shared the most immense chocolate egg with ice cream and covered in badness.

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So today…Friday Funday from the top of Slieve Donard. I had 4.8km on my training plan today…think I can tick that off as well and truly complete.

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Already Overcoming Challanges

Already Overcoming Challanges

Where I live is any trail runners paradise. At the foot of the Mourne Mountains, with unending tracks and routes through numerous forests.

CS Lewis claimed the Mournes where his inspiration for Narnia and even multi award winning Game of Thrones use the surrounding area as their base for shooting their show.  I do realise how lucky I am, I open my curtains every morning and take in the breathtaking view. However I have one place that I can never enjoy running around.

Castlewellan Forest Park has an unendless amount of routes and track to follow however it is most famous for its Lake. The Lake has been that place I was unwillingly dragged around as a kid, schools forced you to do sponsored walks around it and half the country visits it on sunny days. It’s not that it’s not pretty, I’ve had some awe inspiring moments around the lake, it’s just not as exciting as the other wee paths that lead off it up the hills that I usually detour off to avoid doing an actual lap of the lake.

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Which brings me to today…

Run 2/127

The training plan had stated another slow run, 7.2km. So where to run so I don’t over do it. Ah the lake is 3.6k…twice that is 7.2k. ….The lake, the one place that just doesn’t make running enjoyable.

So I had a brisk 700m walk to the lake (yes I literally live at the back of the park) and set my garmin. I thought so many times about veering off track into the hills but kept on course. The first lap took me 32 mins.  The only thing that kept me going through the second lap which was 2 miute quicker, was the fact I was meeting people from my previous lap and was feeling epic…hearing their thoughts of how impressed that I’d already passed them once. Even got a few comments to push on! I still ran like I was constipated as I was trying to stay slow and steady but I made it nonetheless again a minute quicker than plan had outlined.

So today was the first of many mental battles I have to overcome.

I conquered the lake…not once, but twice. A small victory but a victory nonetheless