Category: Ireland

Rockin N Rollin in Dublin

Rockin N Rollin in Dublin

Ok I know this is well overdue but with having the Ultra at Knockagh the week after Rock n Roll, I found myself immediately on my return from Dublin launching straight into the zone and spending the week afterwards, recovering from it all.

I had always had my sights set on the Half Marathon in Dublin as an opportunity for me to go out and leave nothing on the course. It had been over a year since I’d clocked a half personal best, putting it down to simply pushing up the miles for DCM and then Derry. But with the huge increase in miles over the past year, I began to wonder why I wasn’t getting any faster.

Ok it was obvious that my training held the answer to that. The lack of speed training in my then non existent plan meant that yes I was happy to plod along for 13, 17, 20 miles but although building endurance my speed never picked up and actually went the other way.

So with being crowned the Ulster Rock n Run Idol, this was my chance to shine. After Derry Marathon I got my act together and began intervals with the girls on Wednesday nights and it wasn’t long before not only I, but Jennifer started to clock better times. With Summer upon me also, it freed me up to take to the mountains on active recovery days and even the mental advantages of that where priceless as I wondered aimlessly up the Mournes for hours on end, sometimes on my own, sometimes dragging someone along.

At Ards Half, I was a mere 50seconds of my PB and I was treating the race as a welcome back to running after Derry Marathon a few weeks earlier. And then the bright idea of tackling Knockagh 50k Ultra presented itself, so no more excuses, it was game face with Rock n Roll now being an invaluable race as part of taper and endurance.

So the weekend went like this.

Friday

Note this became a weekend away with the girls. It was Brendas birthday and Michael being on the bench didn’t mind staying behind. So off we set to Dublin on the Friday evening. I had flirted with the idea of even a 5k PB on the Saturday at the 1st race. That all went out the window as we arrived into the RnR VIP party on Friday night.

Teaming together with the Dublin RnR Idol, Keith and his dashing significant other, Stephen, I would love to go into further details on what happened next but its a bit hazy so the general consensus was that maybe it was a good thing that Sinead won the competition as the two of us where certain to be liabilities in Vegas. When you feel the need to teach a barman how to pour a proper glass of wine, this is where we went wrong. It was gone past 2 before we crawled into bed and alarms set to get up for the 1st of 3 races that weekend.

 

Saturday

Not good. Not good at all. I will say this, the best thing I could have done was get up and go outside, even to run (using that term lightly). Serious case of being hungover, but thankfully I wasn’t the worst, isn’t that right Jennifer. Who cares about Personal Bests, Saturdays race was solely about Personal Worsts. Together we made it round the course in just short of 43 minutes and a valuable lesson was learnt! NEVER AGAIN- at least as an ensemble we looked class together as the mini team of little misses.

The welcome taste of Mega Meanies and Lucozade (the staple diet of the weekend with Eddie Rockets) got me going post race and we spent Saturday chilling and fuelling the appropriate way for the Half Marathon on the Sunday.

Sunday

In all honesty I was just glad to be alive on Sunday. The antics of Friday had me wondering if I was even going to be fit for 13.1 mile. So with the intentions, sponsored by the toll bridge on the way down, to just arrive alive.

It was an early start. I had to be at the start line for a photo call with other idols and people involved and we had opted to walk to the Point/O2/3Arena or whatever it is called now. All dreams of a PB had gone out the window and I was just going to take things as they came.

Bumping into some other local running celebrities, The Roddy Sisters, we made our way to the start and spirits where high. I forget how big some events can be. So used to smaller scale runs, it was lovely to be surrounded by a sea of runners. The serious athletes, the groups tackling this together, those in fancy dress and then your average joes like me out to pass a Sunday morning and earn some fabulous bling.

Everyone within the RnR team where fabulous. A great family of event organisers who knew exactly how to work of eachother. Photos taken and it was a matter now of waiting for everything to kick off.

With Jennifer returning home on Saturday evening to compete in Monaghan 10/5 miler, it left Caitriona, Brenda and myself to tackle the half. We had stolen Janet to keep us in craic and little did I know that she was to play a huge part in my race in the latter stages.  It was a perfect day for running, overcast but not cold. Though it was to heat up.

As corrals began to cross the line from 8.30. It was nearing 9 before we crossed the mats and we stayed together as a threesome for the first mile or so. Losing Caitriona quite early on, Brenda and I ran side by side round Christchurch and past the Guinness Factory. What still to this day gets me wondering is why everyone was waiting to get their pictures taken mid race, outside St. James’ Gate. I get that its iconic but swing by after the race and get your photo!

Shortly after 5k, Brenda told me to motor on and she’d catch up. As we hit 4 mile, I wasn’t to see Brenda again and found company with the lovely ladies of Star, Derry. I always worry when someone knows me and I don’t know them but knowing a few of their clan, I was glad it wasn’t because I had been banned from Derry after the marathon after party!

I also began to notice a lot of the course was like DCM backwards and got this strange fuzzy feeling inside. I fondly look back on my run at Dublin and it was lovely, yet petrifying to be back on those roads again.

Losing the Derry girls, I entered into Ballyfermot with 2 lovely ladies from Sloggers to Joggers. They were upbeat and just what I needed. Full of craic and support. At around 5 mile as we swept around the corner to the climb to the back of Phoenix Park, I met a first time half marathoner from England. At this point also it began to heat up, the clouds had started to lift and the sun peaked out. We ran together until 8 mile. Her determination to not stop to walk was fabulous. In all honesty she kept me going as I thought to myself, there’s no need for me to stop, I’m fit to keep going. At the 8 mile water stop as we arrived in Phoenix Park, I told her I’d catch her and took on some water and a gel.

Here is where my race picked up no end. Janet came beside me as I was getting stuck back in. Janet and I have spent many miles together and as a fellow guide runner, we always have plenty to talk about. Yes I know if I’m talking, I’m not running hard enough but I love the company and she is faster than me so its a challenge to keep alongside her and one I contently managed on the day. As we fell in with some ladies from Duleek who were brilliant to pace off, we hit 10 mile.

I dared to look at my watch and knew that I was well ahead of where I had hoped to be. However, I was no sooner thinking about saying something when I spotted the medical team on the hill. And there was some poor soul flat on the ground. I knew after the way I died the previous day that anything could happen to me over the next 3 mile. So I kept it to myself and enjoyed the tale of Janet and Tony at the Twin Peaks Half Marathon.

At mile 11 I spotted Sinead, Sinead and Eileen on the brow of the hill and as lake buddies who I have passed multiple times in the past week going the other way it was nice to mob them and share the love for the lake!

Mile 12 I caught sight of my friend from earlier in the race, still going. Janet and I had picked up Donna, one third of the infamous Roddy Sisters and plenty of abuse was being hurled of course all with laced with love and respect. I knew I had the personal best even if I crawled the last mile but I was feeling strong and I was buzzing. The end was near and as we turned onto the final straight I could feel the overwhelming emotions of achieving the long awaited Half PB. This was made even more special as with 100m to go there where the cheers from my southern running family, Drogheda and District AC, who I adopted at Derry. 2.36 saw me knock over 5.5 minutes off my time from Cookstown Half in July 2016.

I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t get through the finish funnel quick enough to phone Michael and tell him. I really missed not having him patiently waiting for me and unable to share the moment with him. I could barely talk and for once he was genuine and said well done, when I got home the next day, he was sure I could do better. Which I am not going to argue with.

Walking back to the DDAC contingent to cheer the girls home allowed me to share my excitement with everyone. It wasn’t long before we welcomed Brenda across the line and she was followed by Caitriona shortly after. We all arrived alive.

On completing the Half we had half an hour to get ourselves sorted for the fun run. 1.5 mile which we were treating as a cool down. Seems nearly everyone was doing the same but we crossed the line earning ourselves the 4th medal of the weekend.

A quick interview with the RnR crowd and we were free to bask in the glorious August Sunshine in our nations Capital.

Best way I can describe Rock n Roll is; It’s like Christmas for Runners. Plenty of bling, well thought out and organised route and surrounded by your running family. The craic was immense and no doubt I will be returning but think I will be avoiding the wine next time.

 

 

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I can’t imagine life without you

I can’t imagine life without you

Very few things in life make you smile like this….

In all honesty, in the year that you have been in my life, we have been inseparable. You are the first thing I check in the morning and last thing at night. Even during the night I am checking on you. Even when I can’t sleep you are the light that keeps me company. We go everywhere together, I can’t even go to the toilet without you there. I don’t mind, you where my choice and I knew that this would happen from the moment you arrived.

I coveted you for so long, I hmm’d and haa’d over how you would fit in my life. I had coped well with your sister and the immense changes that it brought to my life. But you would be much more different. You would feel my every breath and heartbeat. You would know my every movement and be able to read my emotions. I had so many other options to weigh up, so many other things that would maybe fill that void in my life. Cheaper options not requiring such investment of my time and effort. Yet I couldn’t shake the longing for you.

I spoke at length with my husband, as you would expect any wife would do when it came to big decisions. He was also unsure if this was exactly what I needed in my life. Of course he knew only too well that it would be loved and cherished just as much as the previous one. That it would bring that something extra to my life but he wasn’t convinced I was ready for such a commitment.

I had friends who empathised with the dilemma. Those who had been in the same situation, some who understood the gravity of the decision and the impact it would have on my life. Of course there is always the ones who didn’t get it at all and queried what was wrong with what I already had. But that’s the thing, there was nothing wrong with what I had, it was perfect but I wanted more, I needed more. It was just an empty gap in my life and I needed it.

So I took the plunge.

It wasn’t as hard as I had imagined, it was literally as simple as a click of a button and I was lucky to not have to struggle to achieve it. I guess this was a blessing that I was able to do this when so many others battle and have to work harder to get what they want.

When the day arrived to welcome it into my life, I was nervous. My whole body was buzzing. I just couldn’t contain my excitement, actually nobody could, as I got messages asking had the big arrival appeared yet? Oh but it was worth the wait even if it was going to hit the bank account a few £££.

It was everything that I had imagined. Perfect in shape and form. I guess not everyone saw the beauty of it but in my eyes there was nothing to fault. Promising such a bright future. There was a long run ahead for us both from this point. A steep learning curve but such achievements and memories to be made. I knew I had made the right decision and got ready to welcome it into my life.

It was such a game changer. So much so it wasn’t long before the husband was bowled over by the new addition that there was another on the way. It even won over a few close friends who also started to see how much my life had changed and they too joined “the club” and where soon expecting their own bundle of joy.

This year, together, we have covered endless miles, climbed many mountains and shared in many special moments. You are the only constant in my life, day in, day out and you are the last thing I look at when I’m about to embark on my next challenge, keeping me grounded at all times throughout.

Who ever thought that I would become so attached to you. When you have to sit out a day or two when I’m not allowed to bring you along, it brings a smile to my face when we are reunited as you are missed in that time.

Like my two children, I can’t imagine life without you in it. There are times, I don’t like what you say and other times I get you to tell me over and over again because it is just what I need to hear to make it all worth while.

Dear my Garmin Forerunner 235. Thank you for always keeping me right, be that pace, heart rate, step count or just simply telling me the time. I owe the tan line around my wrist to you but no one ever sees it as you never come off, only when I am having a shower. You have saw me through marathons and many, many miles of training. You have known when I was at breaking point long before I did. You will continue to always be there, beeping when I need reassurance and tracking me when I’m lost.

Together for many more miles and many more smiles.

 

Don’t forget there is only a week left to vote for me in the Rock n Run Idol competition with  Rock n Roll Half Marathon Dublin in conjunction with Affidea Ireland.

VOTE SIOBHAN GRANT

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

 

Hi ho, hi ho,  it’s up the mountain we go

Hi ho, hi ho,  it’s up the mountain we go

OK so next quest is the Christmas Cracker. 

Run by neighbouring club Newcastle AC, the route is nothing short of challenging.  Each year the route changes and spans anything from 8 to 10 miles. 

That’s alright if on road but since its Christmas, it’s a bit of Craic and sure we’ve plenty of hills on our doorstep they might as well throw in Slieve Na Slat and some muck too. I imagine this may be on par with Causeway Coast and as a Christmas Cracker Virgin I say this might just be the death of me.

Also the great thing about this race is the fact you do it in pairs! So who else fits the bill other than similarily mental running buddy extrodinare, Caitriona who I am desperate to get off the bench and back out there doing crazy things with me.

So the only way to train for this is really to embrace the hills. I’m still trying this embracing concept. In fairness I like hills and mountains and have walked too many of them the past few years. However I just don’t think I’m cut out to run up them. 
Though when has that ever stopped me from doing something?

So a Saturday night chat with Caitriona resulted in us deciding that instead of going round the lake to break her in again…we’d go up Slieve Na Slat. Sure it’s only 220m elevation. Not a patch on Donard or the likes more of a hill.

So as I woke on Sunday morning and looked outside, a heavy frost had descended upon  Castlewellan and it was starting to look a lot like Christmas.

Though the clear blue skies meant that on a hill you’re sure to get great views so in a bid to take advantage of the weather and get back up where I am happiest the time was set and at 10.30 Caitriona was there ready to rock n roll.
Layered up and ready for a few hours passing a Sunday morning. We headed for the hills. It had been brought to my attention that Caitriona had never been up SlievenaSlat so I was looking forward to the stark realisation of what exactly the cracker was asking of us as we began the short but steep climb to the top.

It wasn’t long before her face was as picture. Each corner brought another even steeper hill and even though I’ve been up it a hundred times it never gets any easier. 

Though as the tough bit was over and more stunning views came into full view, she began to see the reason why it’s worth it.

It was like a winter wonderland. The trees where thick with ice and as the ground began to thaw you could hear the leaves crunching and crackling. Icicles fell like rain drops and as you looked up beyond the trees there was a low mist engulfing the foot of the mountains as they towered above the white fields surrounded by cleat blue sky.
That’s it right there. That’s the feeling I love. Nothing beats being up the mountain..fact. Standing there, there was no denying the existance of a God. There was no way this can all coincidently occur at the same time. 

The walk was finished with all wee tour round the hills and down into the Cyprus Pond finishing the lake. 

I returned home less than 2 hours later; refreshed, content and realising I’ve a hell of a lot of work to do for the Cracker in 5 weeks. 

Today I woke up a marathoner…

Today I woke up a marathoner…

……

It was like the past 48 hours was all a dream…until I tried to get up to go to the toilet. Yeah definitely not a dream.

Beside the bed lay my Murlough jacket, the bright green finshers t-shirt and the coveted centenary medal. My first thought was “Oh my God, I actually done it, I ran a marathon.”

48hours earlier

The double and triple checking of lists and making sure everything was packed, was well underway. The sun wasn’t shining down on Castlewellan but there was an element of feeling warm with pride inside. We were about to embark on what was to be the biggest challenge of our lives.

We left the kids at Grannys and knew the next time I would see them, it would all be over. Brendan and Aine pulled up at the house and at that point, there was no turning back. We were bound for Dublin.
Arriving at the Expo you could feel the excitement and anticipation building, thousands of participants walking around the stands and eyeing up new running gear, the latest Garmin and an array of fancy pieces of bling from races to entice you to sign up. And no joke, I need to remortgage and sell my kids to enter all the races I want to, to earn all the medals I want! Clonakilty and the Quadathalon in Donegal rated high on the list along with the Rock n Roll and 3 medals for 2 races.

I had a wee go in the recovery boots and hung out getting some love from the Born 2 Run crew where I was honoured to meet and finally hug all of Team Kerr who not only where taking to the start line but receiving the mayors medal to award their success in raising awareness of inclusion and promotion of wheel chair assisted running. Making running a more accessible and inclusive sport for everyone, breaking down barriers which where once there.

I enjoyed reading the mentions on the wall and adding our own mark to the collection. We spoke with the pacers who lets face it must be magnificent runners to be selected to do so. Also great to see a few women in the pacing line up given that the number of women doing to the marathon has steadily dropped over the past few years.

After a hectic few hours, it was time to find the hotel and go for a prerace recce to find out where we needed to go in the morning. Dublin is one of those cities that once you get your bearings it is easy enough to get around on foot. We were close by staying near St. Stephens Green so just a stones throw from the Start and Finish Area. We were able to see the Start line being erected and walk around the finish. I could feel excitement building but I was also starving so ate in a wee Italian place and surprisingly had pasta!

An early night was on the cards and after setting everything out and pinning on race numbers I was soon out like a light and that was me, it hadn’t even gone 10. According to Michael one minute I was awake and the next I was fast asleep. I actually thought I would find sleeping tough but I guess the 15k steps that day helped.
The next 24hours where huge. Not only was it Michaels Birthday and not only was it our 7 year wedding anniversary, we where going to run our first marathon. Definitely not something I would ever imagine being on the hit list of ways to spend this weekend.

I woke up and didn’t feel nervous. Actually I was strangely calm and collected. I tooted about with a cuppa, checked in with the world online and got ready. I swear though I never imagined I’d need so much Vaseline. But I have realised that you can never have too much Vaseline as I found out when I got into the shower afterwards. Words of encouragement from friends online where lovely. Some fab motivational quotes and I knew they were all rooting for me to go out there and do it.

We headed to a nearby café to have breakfast and 2 perfectly poached eggs, some bacon and a round of toast was just perfect. We met Clare, Eddie and not so wee Eddie to hand over his race pack. It was lovely to touch base and walk down the road towards the bag drop together. Clare and I have walked some long roads together in the past but I know its never lead to a marathon. Some hugs and good lucks and we left Eddie to get a bite to eat and we headed to the bag drop.
I have to admit what a smooth operation in place. From entering into the bag drop area to the start line. Smooth filtering from side streets onto the main starting straight and it was flawless. Exemplarily organisation from the DCM team.

As Michael, myself and Brendan waited in the wave 3 holding area, I still didn’t find the fear I was expecting. I had no tears of impending accomplishment, my heart rate was normal and I was very gathered considering what lay ahead. It wasn’t until I heard Amhrán na bhFiann that I welled up. Here was me, Siobhan Grant, ready to take on Dublin Marathon with a send off of the national anthem. Proud of how far I had come to get to this point, proud to be representing the club and proud to be Irish I guess.
We began to hear the waves moving through and began to move towards the start ourselves. Surround by thousands of people, the atmosphere was ridiculously upbeat and jokes about what else would you do with your Sunday emerged. Turned out many went to Mass the night before (only in Ireland) and really I felt that I should have went too but with an RE degree I was hoping I had a golden line direct to God or at least Granda had sorted something out with the big man on my behalf. After all he has been up there for 5 years!

With the start line in our sights there was only one thing left to do and that was to run 26.2 mile. A quick good luck kiss from Michael and a hug from Brendan and I watched the two of them head off together. And that’s it, me, myself and I for 26.2 mile. I had no idea what was ahead, I had no idea who I would meet, if anyone. I had a fear that maybe no one wanted to talk and I’d have to play all the games I had made up in my head to get me round. I knew though, that I had to keep following the people in front as I had no idea of the map or how I’d get back.

I had several plans of how to get around the course, so if one didn’t work I’d switch to another. Though all plans where built upon 1 single foundation. I was going to smile the whole way around. I may not be the fastest runner but boy I know how to smile.

So this is how it roughly went

Mile 1; Ok I’ll go with the crowd, after all within a few minutes we will break up and settle down more…oh look there’s Clare and not so wee Eddie. Nice wee starter boost to keep me going. Remember the plan Siobhan and stick to it.

Mile 2; oh that’s a wee hill, still going quite strong and out the side of my eye I catch the NCR colours and there’s Tara. I veer across the pack for a hug and run on. Ah ha! what goes up, must come down and heres the downhill. I’m still going a tad too quick though not overly beyond where I want to be. I’ll use this hill though as feeling ok.

Mile 3: Tap on the back and its Eddie, going great and water bottle in hand which I was glad to see. Making his way through the pack effortlessly as he works his way from wave 4. I swear though some of the wave 4 who got in by the lottery, where scary fast. That’ll teach them to leave entering to the last minute. I did feel a bit sorry for them as the energy they used to weave through the pack I’m sure was something they didn’t have to spare over the distance.

Mile 4: This is going quite well and I’ve a few minutes to spare in comparison to the 5.30hr wrist band I have on (they didn’t do any longer times). I hear shouting as we turn a corner and there’s Thomas flying by, I catch up with him to wish him good luck and to keep er lit. Ok the thought goes through my head, I’m not sure if I have anyone else due to come by, nope that’s it. Really on my own now. It’ll be a long 22 mile. By this stage I had barely exchanged pleasantries with the runners around me and started to doubt DCM as “the friendliest” marathon.

Mile 5; Into Phoenix Park now and being passed by a Minion. A bloody Minion! I guess I may just get used to this as you wouldn’t run a marathon in dress up unless you knew you had it in you to begin with, so go on ya good thing. In well under the hour and I can hear Selena telling me off (in my head obviously) that I am going way too fast and to remember my pace. However with the water bottles being green with yellow tops they blend into the grass and from a distance look like primroses lining the Avenue.

Mile 6; Lets face it if I keep this pace I will burn out before half way. If I was doing a 10k I’d be happy with this performance but as I cross the 10k mark I give myself a virtual slap as there is no way I can do this 4 times over. I rein her in and vow to stalk my watch. But 20 mile to go, I  know I can do this distance, just looking at it as a 6 mile warm up.

Mile 7; Feeling a bit more confident that I’ve slowed back. Plenty of water on route and happy to carry a bottle along with me. Into Castleknock  *I think* where the crowds where beyond fabulous! Between the music and support there was no way you couldn’t smile. Definitely the winners of the best support across the whole course.

Mile 8; And back into Phoenix Park, felt like I was back in Castlewellan at the lake. I was now in my head entering into lap 4 of the lake and feeling good. The weather was unseasonable mild but made for a lovely run through the woods so to speak. Pace has began to steady at my training pace thankfully.

Mile 9; You would have thought you where in Tollymore- flat course my ass. It was easy to spot the flat road runners and the trail runners a mile off. I remembered all my hill training and smile as I tooted up. I had fallen in with 2 Dubs and the craic was mighty. Strangely it was the first people I had talked with the whole race. And was to play cat and mouse with them the whole way to the finish line.

Mile 10; Came in on plan but knew I was capable of better. I wasn’t at all annoyed, I just knew that I have done better, but a few minutes wouldn’t kill me. I did know one thing, I needed to pee. That was a long mile after I decided to stop at the next portaloo.

Mile 11; Marathon Portaloo…oh sweet mother of God. It was minging. I was heaving but I had to go, so deep breath and emptied the bladder as I hoped not to throw up. Definitely the worst experience of the day. boke boke boke. Note to self, figure out exactly how much water I can take on board before I need to pee.

Mile 12; At this point I decided to play my ABC game. I was meant to be on letter L at this stage so a mile of what begins with the letter L, I knew I would hopefully be seeing some friendly faces by this point as Cheer Squad MAC was due on route and boy was I delighted as I spotted the banner high at the brow of the hill. It was 3 much needed hugs and support from Pat, Caitriona and Clare, who had been there a long time waiting on me as all the super speed MAC had passed long before me. But as I neared the half way point Caitriona was able to assure me I was on track and that I was going well. Stupid App tracking my every move.

Mile 13; Half way there. There was a sense of achievement and relief from the field, many, including myself, taking selfies and the sun shone down on the bright green makers. Encouragement from everyone saying we need to go and do the same again spread across the pack. I began employing more coping mechanisms. I was beginning to feel lonely so I checked in on the progress of everyone else on my tracker. Michael McKenna and Hugh where powering through and entering the last stage of the race. Michelle and Nicola right on point and a smile crossed my face as I wondered if Nicola had burst out crying on Joe yet. Eddie, Sean Looby and Sean Armstrong where putting in great times and there was Brendan and Michael at exactly the same point. The Bromance has made it to 18 mile together and I knew then that they would see each other through to the end of the race safely. I knew they wouldn’t leave each other in their final stretch. With everyone on point, I knew I didn’t have to check in again.

Mile 14; We passed by Crumlin Childrens Hospital. I was content in knowing everyone was doing well and that spurred me on. No need to sweep anyone up from the club but at this point I began to see more and more bodies at the side of the road. Between people stretching and those receiving medical attention I counted myself lucky that I was having a good day and sticking to pace and not busting myself (like I ever would anyway) nothing wrong with comfortable.

Mile 15; I met Sarah, we had passed each other  a few times but it wasn’t until now that we realised that we where going to spend a huge proportion of the next 11 mile together. We watched a man in bare feet running by and between us laughed at the thought of him slipping in dog poo.

Mile 16; I hit here just outside the 4 hour mark. I knew once I broke 16 I was going to be ok. I don’t know why, but I knew I could always find 10 mile. I had hoped to hit nearer 18 mile in 4 hours to allow for a cushion of 15min miles all the way home but I knew it wasn’t to be and that was ok. A few gels popped in the belt for later and delighted to see Michael McKenna hadn’t cleared the station and lined his own pockets leaving a few for the mere mortals like myself.

Mile 17; Still plodding along with Sarah and I hear my name being called. It was Young Young. Kieran shouted from the side lines and I was never so excited to see someone. I wasn’t expecting him, but the MAC mountain goat had pulled out all the stops to make it to Dublin and be in the 1 place where I was fading. It was the worlds best hug, ok I mobbed him but I couldn’t do anything else. I smiled from ear to ear and with that boost I powered on for the next two mile.

Mile 18; by now I had resorted to conversing with the supporters on route, with DJ booths about, I was powered by music. I was out on my first run and first marathon without my headphones. So although I have been reducing my dependency on them, it was liberating to know I was running fuelled by the crowd. Though I felt like I was on some special liquid diet with the gels and my stomach was beginning to become wishy washy and I feared that I might throw up. Though it was here that I received a shock revelation. A man running passed me “Rocky Road to Dublin, its your fault I’m doing this” seems the blog had gave someone an idea that Dublin was a good idea and he signed up. Travelling from across the water. He must have recognised the club vest and then my smiley happy face.

Mile 19; Saved by a water station which had a few bananas. Solid food is what I needed and that banana was like a steak. So plain, not sugar laced and mopped up the gel filled belly. I was soon sweeping around the corner and heard the music of the Born 2 Run team. A huge hug from Gerard to power me up and then I was joined by Jane and Carol as they accompanied me for another half mile. Providing jelly beans, a run down on how everyone else with the club was going and positive encouragement. Again full marks for the club support.

Mile 20; Met a few wee hills and was waiting in anticipation for Heart Break Hill at the next mile. I celebrated with Sarah that I had broken the milestone of furthest run ever and now I knew I’d have to find anything I had left to finish that last 10k. By now I had resorted to “uh haha” to pass the mile as I needed some sort of distraction. So I done what Dermot had asked of me, I kept on smiling and I focused on my breathing.
Mile 21; The mile that I wish never happened. Well this and mile 22. I was powerwalking quicker than I was running. I wasn’t ashamed but I just couldn’t find momentum in my running so I channelled my inner Collette and I power walked like there was no tomorrow. I don’t think I hit the wall as I was still in the game in my head but for that half hour- lap 9 of the lake was getting the better of me. I actually ran Heartbreak hill as I was powered by Faithless “insomnia” which is a staple on my playlist and the DJ belted it out.

Mile 22; I’ll be honest I have no idea what happened in this mile I was just so focused on keeping going and getting to 23 mile so I’d only 5k left. Anyone can do 5k right?

Mile 23; Right 3 mile to go, just a wee 5k. yeah after doing 37k before it not as easy as I have imagined it. Also Heartbreak hill wasn’t as heart breaking as the slip road off the dual carriageway! Here I met the man with the Effil Tower (what a nut job) Rather him than me. But between us all, we knew the end was near and that we were going do it.

Mile 24; I’m looking for the RDS, I am looking for 2 strong miles. The sub 6 hours is possible if I pull out 2 10k race pace miles. However the reality is I am so buzzing that I was going to do it that I forgot about time and want to just finish strong in the home straight. I fall in with 2 Belfast lads and they keep me paced and focused.

Mile 25; the RDS, right now, come on Siobhan you can do this, its just a mile.  Though I’m a lot more noticeable than I thought. One of the supports shouts “Murlough I recognise you, you finish strong, don’t stop now” I didn’t realise my finish was famous, so to speak. I see the 800m metre mark and pick up pace, I hear my name and there’s Pat and Caitriona, flag still flying. I just shouted to them “I’m about to finish a marathon, check me out” I was in disbelief.

Mile 26; I missed the 400m marker and I could see the line, the street lined with supporters, and runners as happy as can be. I see a marshall try to usher an imposter off the course and it was a bit distracting as it was right in front of me, but I focused my eyes on the finish line and went for a modest finish in the hope of a good finish line photo (not like me to be vein). I look up and see the time and just smile to myself and cross the line.I just completed a marathon! 26.2 mile. Mental!

I came across the line and walked towards the medal collection. I got a great hug off the medal man and held the bling in my hand. It was so much more than I had imagined. I was holding the medal I trained for, for 6 months. I, me, little old me, was in Dublin, had ran around it and earned it. There was no blood, but a lot of sweat and a hell of a lot of smiling. No tears. I collected my t-shirt and there at the exit, at the front was Michael and Brendan waiting for me. Such elation, I literally danced towards them. Oh my god it was just so unreal.

They had stuck together every step of the way and even waited for me together. As I heading into the baggage collection I had to stop and admire the medal. The Grant selfie happened and I motored on to collect my bag. As in my bag was the coveted Vodka and Diet Coke. I passed many of the participants I had ran with in the area and exchanged congratulations and hugs.
Though I spotted the legend who is Bootsy, about to get stuck into a can of beer and for once I was prepared to be part of some sort of gang and joined him for a drink in baggage. Probably a sign of what’s to come at Derry in June. Start as you mean to go on and all that.

Michael commented on how fresh I looked and how it took nearly an hour for him to come around afterwards whereas I was walking and talking as normal. But lets face it, I wanted to get to the pub and share the moment with everyone. We were met by Pat and Caitriona at the exit to the baggage and got proper hugs. I cant thank the two of them enough for giving up their day to travel to and around Dublin to support us all. Again I highlight how special it is to be apart of not just a club, but a part of Murlough AC.
I switched my phone on to see millions of messages and snapchats of support, even as everyone else in the club had finished, they continued to track me. As I walked into O’Donaghues I spotted Nicola and as we made eye contact you could see her eyes fill. After pulling out a fantastic PB she was visably moved by the occasion and I guess to see me, meant the Dublin 10 made it across the line alive. Surrounded by the MAC and neighbouring Newcastle AC crew, I stood proud with my medal and tshirt. The same medal and tshirt as those who came in under 3 hours, athletes who I stalk on race results to see how unreal they can put out times.

I couldn’t stop smiling. After a few drinks we headed back to get washed and fed. The usual post long run shower brought your attention to areas that needed more Vaseline. As small areas showed signs of chaffing but not on the same level as after Lisburn. So as I said earlier, you can never have too much Vaseline.

A quick change and we headed out for dinner. I should have been starving  but my eyes where bigger than my belly. But we headed to Eddie Rockets and massacred buffalo wings, a burger and chip. Polished off with an immense strawberry milkshake. The thought though of going out after soon passed and by 9 oclock we where back at the hotel and in bed.

So I woke this morning a marathoner. In disbelief, pinching myself to ensure it wasn’t a dream. Am I proud, extremely. I stood at the GPO this morning with my medal, I thought about the struggle of 100 years ago and the events that unfolded over the years. I fought my own battle, ok it didn’t result in huge political upheaval, or impact on the countries history, but I came through one of the toughest things you can put your body and mind  through in one piece and smiling, that’s got to stand for something. I thought about my Granda at length on the way round, which I do from time to time, and how he would have been so proud of me and would have loved the medal.

I was annoyed briefly that I didn’t make the sub 6 hours, but I know exactly what I need to change both in training and during the race. And its only 2 minutes, if I didn’t stop to pee I would have come in on point, with wet pants. But I loved nearly every minute of it. I never once faltered in my head or doubted that I wasn’t going to do it, I was just going to do it in my own time. Could I have dug deeper, of course I could have. But as the toll says on the road to Dublin, “Arrive Alive.” That was my main priority.
It gives me a bench mark. Will I come back, damn right I will. Am I scared to never run a marathon again, certainly not! I’ll not be turning them out every week but I may tackle one or two a year. A marathon is 90% mind and 10% physical fitness for sure. I have a plan now for the next 4 months after I recover from the marathon. But I will be quite content to run 10ks and halfs for a while.

But adding a disclaimer here as I know I might be a bit influential. Do not sign up to a marathon just because I made it seem fun. I didn’t find out about myself over the 26.2 mile, it was the training that built the relentlessness and I was born pure stubborn. I knew standing at the line that I had it, just didn’t have a sub 4 hour or anything like that. I knew mentally I had it, I just hoped and prayed that I my legs would have it too.

Tomorrow and everyday afterwards I will wake up a marathoner. A fantastic title that I can boast about forever. A quarter of a days work, for a lifetime of pride and achievement.

So next challenge has already been accepted. Derry Marathon in June. I am unbelievably honoured that Tony Barclay has asked me to be his guide for the event and lets face it I do think he is bonkers to think I’d get him around alive. So not one to pass up an opportunity, I will work on my guiding skills, after Running Blind turned out to be pretty iffy on the not letting someone get hit by branches front, I foresee a few 10ks and halfs spent with Tony in the coming months.
However for now, I am going to recover, I’ve been promised the week off from the gym and I’ll find a mile or 2 for a recovery run.

But I want you all to take away 1 thing from this round up. Believe in yourself and all that you are. Always know there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle, its just a matter of locating it and utilising it. And as I always told the kids in school…

 

 

 

 

 

Putting your faith in a shoe

So here they are…the footwear that is going to take me around Dublin Marathon.

Asics gt1000

I’ve been a Brooks girl to this point. I love my GTS14 however I was struggling to get even 150mile out of them before holes began to appear so knew I’d struggle to break a pair in right for Dublin and for them to be in a wearable condition..that and I couldn’t afford to keep buying new trainers every 4 months.

So after doing Belfast Marathon I spoke with the Asics people and had my gait done. They recommended the Gt1000 and I set my heart on them. 

Obviously living in Ireland and choosing Dublin as my first marathon I am very patriotic and also loving that the medal this year is a commemorative medal for the 1916 Easter Raising. So I knew I had to some how stick to my roots if I could when picking shoes.

The bling for the marathon

So ladies and gents I give you my tricolour trainers. Adorned in green white and orange to ensure I pound the streets of Dublin with our nations flag on my feet! 

I did hit lucky with the colour combo and I am delighted that I’ve the perfect trainers in time for marathon training kicking off next week.


Planning ahead

Actually running the marathon I assume is the easy part and that is why now over 200 days before the event I’ve found myself sorting out hotels and childcare.

Where do we stay, do we drive, how long do we stay, when do we need to be in Dublin and most importantly … what do we do with the kids.

Currently there are 4 of us taking on Dublin Marathon. Michael, my husband and Thomas and Tara.

Strangely this couples friendship has blossomed from running. Tara, a friend of a friend, was super encouraging in my very early days of running and promised to meet me at my first ever race to make sure I wasn’t on my own even though we barely knew eachother in real life. What rapidly grew from that gesture is a friendship which feels like it’s been growing for years, not months. Also it has hit my bank account hard too in race fees as together we have completed 4 races so far this year and have the Team Relay for Belfast Marathon and of course talked eachother into thinking Dublin was a cracking idea.  Without fail she meets me at every finish line and has a collection of sprint finishes from me on video.

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This is us before the Born 2 Run, Winter Series, Antrim Castle race 2016 when I got my first sub 70 10k

There are very few moments of the day that go unnoted between us via various forms of communication and we love that our husbands have formed a running bromance and take themselves out for long runs and encourage eachother to push further. It’s just nice to know, in a world where many people are bitter and self absorbed, that there are still people who are genuinely nice and who get joy out of seeing other people succeed and do well. Tara is the personifaction of the latter.

So on Saturday the phone pings…Tara has signed up!  I’m not allowed to actually sign up to the Marathon yet as well the money is better sitting in my account than that of the event organisers.

Cue the beginning of what the hell do we need to sort. We have to be in Dublin the evening prior and with an early start on the agenda a hotel for the Saturday night is a must. Also it’s a long drive home so maybe a second night staying somewhere is a good idea too.

Obviously prices are inflated for the marathon weekend so was delighted to get the Travel Lodge in St.Stephens Green for a reasonable price, its not like I’m going to sleep much that night as I’ll be nervous but excited.

The debate on what to do the night of the marathon continued. Do we fork out for another night in Dublin or do we find somewhere where we can chill.

Cue booking the Carrickdale Hotel and Spa. Where we’ll get a great feed, chill out and ease tried and sore muscles in the hot tub. We’re very good to ourselves. Even better that it was a complete bargain at £62 and technically brings us half way home.
It’s Michaels birthday and our wedding anniversary as well as *hopefully* having completed our first marathon, so why not!

So we may not all be booked to do the marathon yet but you can rest assure that we are well sorted when it comes to travel and accommodation.

Tick…another thing off the list.

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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.

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