Tag: 10k

I didn’t sign up to guide oversized Hippos

I didn’t sign up to guide oversized Hippos

So you are going to run Newry 10k dressed as Henry the Hippo…this I’ve got to see.

It’s not like Michael to have a random idea involving dressing up and let’s face it I married him in the hope he would balance out my crazy. Always the sensible one in the marriage even the suggestion of this to raise money for Cash 4 Kids caught me off guard.
As always I’m such a supportive wife and collected the suit and took the pictures however it was 24hrs before the event that the bombshell was landed on me.

“I can’t see out it”

So there was me on Saturday, getting my head around the fact I’d to guide run with him dressed as a hippo. When I completed my guide running training in the view of raising awareness of inclusion and getting visually impaired runners out there, I didn’t think inclusion would extend to oversized hippos, especially my husband dressed up as one. We don’t run well together…ever. My first 10k I told him at 7k to bog off and leave me alone as his form of encouragement enraged me. At Running Blind I nearly killed him more than once you can read about it here: Running Blind – An Eye Opener. So my confidence wasn’t high that the marriage would make it through this latest challange.

So here we are before hand. Happily ignorant to the 6.2 mile ahead of us. I donned the tutu as if he was going to look an eejit, I might as well join him.

I had so many worries. Primarily the fact he could easily over heat in that outfit was at the forefront of my mind. Usually a 50min 10ker he knew he had a big drop in pace required and when it comes to slow and steady, I’m your woman. I told him it would be more near 1.15 factoring in some breaks to let him breathe and drink.

As we set off the kids in the street loved it. Who doesn’t want to high five a huge Hippo. The adults too just loved seeing the familiar face of a childhood icon again. On the lap of the town we had our first and ONLY mishap where I told him to wave right and he turned right instead and went straight into a cone but didn’t fall.  As we entered into the second mile, we were going strong and hit the Tow Path where we knew the only people we would see where the other runners.

Even the Psni where going to lock him up for his random idea.

It was warm, although the sun was firmly behind the clouds, I was feeling the heat. Yet I was tied to Michael in the Hippo suit, tied together by the strap of the child’s Trunki skilfully looped so he could be guided safely. I kept checking was he ok and reminding him to slow down. The leaders in the 10k race passed, with local NAC member David O’Flaherty in 1st and the main man himself Dermot Mathers in second. We got the look of “what the hell are you two at” from him as he cruised down the familiar tow path that he runs a few times a week. I don’t think anything I do now, surprises him.

With the leaders coming our way it wasn’t long until the rest of the 10k runners came past. Shouts of support, high fives, laughs and giggles from the runners made what could have been a lonely part of the race more fun. Michael did offer them at times to swap but there was no takers. At 3.5 mile we had the well needed water stop. I knew I was making good time in general and when Michael took the head off for a drink, the sweat was running off him, he had to take his glasses off as it was steaming up inside and the buff he was using as a sweat band was wringing.

The next 2.5 mile was going to be hot but we were homeward bound. By now we had a steady stream of half marathoners passing us. Many familiar faces and continued support. On the return leg we met Peter for a selfie, wouldn’t be a race for me if I didn’t get the craic with him!

As we came off the towpath with under a mile to go, Michael took a breather as we walked for a minute. After all the rest of the race was going to be amongst the eyes of the public so we had to at least let on we were loving life!  The fact of the matter was, I was feeling great as he melted to death in the hippo suit. We came into the final half mile with Michael waving and giving thumbs up to everyone about. Turning onto Hill Street, the announcer had spotted us and the cheers where mighty. Not only from the spectators but the fellow runners who had finished and had passed us on the way.

We clocked 1.11.24 – lets face it, not to shabby for me and a hippo.

With Gillian Fitzpatrick Chair of the Council, Fiona Valentine from Newry Branch Ulster Bank and my side kick always willing to support the Grant madness without question…Caitriona. 

After a quick breather and meeting up with Caitriona and Fiona who had been shaking buckets for change and showing flawless support of Michaels endeavour, the head was put back on and Michael kindly posed for photos with runners and children. I have to admit I was taken back by the way he interacted with the crowd, I knew he couldn’t see who he was shaking hands with or who was in front of him, high fiving little babies, talking to the toddlers and letting wee kids kick him. Though what stood out for me was the fact there was a family with a child with special needs and he didn’t think twice when the girl asked for a hug. He then had to hug the whole family including the dad. Admirable and made that families day.  I guess that there are a lot of things that the money he has raised will go to help and support within the Cash for Kids charity however sometimes its just the simple things like a hug or taking time to listen a child that is priceless and something money can’t buy.

On the marriage front; we are still together, it was actually a really enjoyable outing as I couldn’t hear what he was saying so we didn’t fall out. It was great practice for guiding Tony next week at Derry marathon and hey it was a comfortable 10k for me and gives me hope that the past 6 months of big miles hasn’t totally ruined the smaller run, so after Derry I might give the shorter races a bash again before jumping back into marathon training.

As always everyone, make sure you have voted this week for Rock’n’Run idol. Brining a whole new level of inclusion into my journey and Michael being inspirational (and absolutely crazy) this week, it would be lovely to represent Ireland in Las Vegas.



Sure what else would you be doing on a Friday night?

Sure what else would you be doing on a Friday night?

Exactly. ..I can think of 20 million other things I could have been doing with bath, jammies and a wee drink in front of the TV top of my list of potential options.

Caitriona and Siobhan on another whirlwind adventure

But no… another ‘great idea’ unveiled itself and low and behold there was Caitriona and I out in our brightest of bright, lining up with not only the other mad hatters of the MAC Machine but 500 others to take on the 26 Extreme, Mourne Way 10k, Night Edition race.

The mad eejits of Murlough AC with smiles through fear of the unknown 

It was reassuring to know as we lined up for our packs that everyone was thinking the same thing. Why? Why? Why? Did we really think this would be a good idea 2 months ago? But all forms of hi vis and head lamps where aplenty and it was again an unseasonably mild January evening. 

With glow sticks in hand which I have to say was very exciting indeed as we relived the night’s out in the 90s. We headed to the buses that where to transport us to the start line by Santa’s Cottage.

I was secretly hoping that Ian and the guys at 26 Extreme could have talked ‘santa’ into lighting up his cottage for us however not this year…maybe next time.

Spirits where high and as the MAC crew comendered the back of the bus like school kids on a field trip everyone was in good spirits. (I don’t know why none of us took a picture of that)

Driving up the pitch dark road, the grandeur of some of the houses in and around Kilbroney became very apparent. Also the question of their lack of blinds to leave something to the imagination for those passing, did come up. 

As you looked down the bus there was many a creative way to wear the glow sticks. From the normal round your wrist and around shoe laces to being braided into your hair and as Kate described it…ponytails that looked like a game of Kerplunk. 

As we filtered off buses and to the start line, the many torches lit up the night and all the hi vis clothing along with it including Caitrionas sight for sore eyes jacket. It also was very clear to spot those who had done Dublin Marathon  with their head torches courtesy of the goodie bag. I was very grateful for mine that’s for sure.

Caitriona lighting up the night

Lining up we bumped into many familiar faces and it was the face of Newry City Runner, Jennifer Mc Ateer that was to stick by Caitriona and myself to help turn this race into an experience full of craic and laughs whilst we spent 10k righting the world’s wrongs.
I knew to enjoy the first 1km as it was going to pretty much be the only tarmac we would be running on. However I’d too many layers on and the jacket ended up round the waist pretty quickly. As we entered into Leitrim Lodge the rough terrain was the start of 2 miles of challanging terrain under foot.  

However putting aside the terrain, what could be experienced by the eyes was majestic. Ahead and behind was just lines of lights and his vis. I wasn’t too familiar with the route as I marshalled last year at the MWM so putting faith in Jennifers ample experience of what lay ahead was reassuring.

Photo courtsey of Macscape Photography

There are so many things I loved along the way. The fact it was just us runners. No cars,  not many people about, just us plodding along. The sight of the people in front lighting the way. The team work of everyone ensuring that lumps, bumps and stumps where highlighted down the line. The night time views of the lights below. And of course the infamous 26 Extreme cake at the half way point. Which to be fair just transported me back to mile 9 of Causeway Coast in Sept when it was like the lamb of God. Good times.

The pictures just dont do it justice

Pace was steady minus the second mile where we had to be that bit more careful. However it was Friday night and let’s face it we had all had a tough week at work so treated it like as an opportunity to destress, laugh and take a few pictures. 

It was definitely a course of what goes up, does come down. And boy did it come down very quickly.  I had totally lost my bearings but following the lights ahead I had no fear that I was going to be lost indefinitely at any stage.

Finally I hit a familiar track from the ladies mini marathon/b2r Kilbroney 10k and loved the fact that I knew it was all downhill from there. 

As the sound of 96 classic by JX- There’s Nothing I Won’t Do, blasted out in the distance, we knew the finish line was near. As we turned the corner to the finish I was soon mobbed by Jennifer on the line quite literally.  Caitriona did add that it was a hilarious scene as we both scrambled for the finish line. Times showed we finished exactly the same time. Much to our amusement. 

Happy post race smiles 

What started off as a ‘what the hell were we thinking’ sort if evening, ended as a ‘when can we do it again’ night.

Flawless the whole way, from pack collection to buses, the route was well marked and marshalled leading to an upbeat and smooth operating finish line. Well done 26 Extreme, logistical nightmare turned into the perfect dream by your team. 
On another note though…Caitrionas jacket that she picked up in Primark was a hit. Literally a sight for sore eyes every time I turned around to talk to her. However she did say she’s glad the jacket stopped me from turning round as my torch was too bright. So moral of the story when night running is just keep looking straight ahead unless you’re watching out for the blue lady in Tollymore, the headless horseman in Castlewellan or Michael Mc Kenna in general.

Always beware when Kenny is about!

Winter is coming…

Winter is coming…

…This phrase might excite many a GOT fans however to the runners in and around the north of Ireland it simply means that the Born 2 Run, Run Forest Run, Winter series is back!

The 7am alarm on a Saturday morning means only one thing. As I open the curtains and embrace the view of the Mourne Mountains on a clear morning, I am soon to realise that clear blue skies on a November morning means that it will be bitter cold and involve a lot of jumping up and down under the Born2Run arch followed by unlocking hidden gems during a 10k run.
This weeks hidden gem was Minnowburn. Set just off from Shaws Bridge, the race would take in the calmness and beauty of the Lagan Towpath at the end of Autumn, the hills and views of the Giants Ring and you’d feel like a proper athlete as you start and finish on the Marys Peters track. There was nothing more the race could offer to a runner other than a pair of speed boots to get me going a bit quicker, post Dublin.

What I love about all the Born 2 Run events from the Winter Series, to the Castleward Challenge to Sea2Sky and Dambusters, is the people. The atmosphere from the minute you get out of the car is electric. The Born 2 Run crew are always smiling, even though they are trying to manage 20 million things at once and will take their time to stop and chat, personalising the race for each runner. I got the most immense hugs from the team after they waited for what I am sure was forever for me to make it to 19mile at Dublin Marathon last week. This was above and beyond the call of duty but made such a difference to me on the day. It’s the little extra touches like that which make this events team more than just race organisers. Respecting every runner from the elite to the plodders like myself. Fully inclusive right across the board.

The Forest runs have also become more of a social event for me. Arriving early you get to catch up with people you may have ran with or supported in a previous race, the usual suspects who make the races fun to run on route from the four corners of the island and get the craic from the world of running as we all try to forget that there are 6.2 miles of running ahead of us.
Minnowburn was no different, smiles and hugs as many of us had finally got the chance to congratulate each other in person for what we accomplished at Dublin. I was sure Mary Peters wanted in on the action too but she was a bit cold towards me and left me hanging. The usual antics and support from the Murlough crew was aplenty. You can’t beat these guys. Always buzzing and ready to enjoy the day.

As we set off, I could hear the “I told you so voices” in my head. Those of Michael, Dermot and Selena resonated within my head. I’d been living on the marathon high and feeling invincible that I could easily manage a wee 10k trot. How wrong was I? Lets be fair, the first 3 k where great. As we came off the track and embraced the long drag to the top of the hill, I felt awesome. The downhill after was even more impressive. However as I got to the second bridge and began the climb to the Giants Ring, I felt it. 26.2 miles of pain shot up my left leg. Wishing I had done the 5k instead, I had to motor on but 7k seemed a long way.

I had to drop my pace, even though I had planned to take it easy I was hoping I could have at least done myself some justice. However I was comfortable at my half marathon training pace and was pretty consistent throughout the rest of the race.

Because I was slower than usual, I found myself alone and not with the usual pack. Though as the sun shone down on the towpath and the leaves crunched underneath my feet, I was able to just take in the world around me. The sounds where really intense, the plodding of the feet coming from across the towpath from the other runners, the odd fish jumping from the Lagan and the rustling of leaves and trees as birds made there way through them was so calming and peaceful. I reflected on what I have achieved 6 days previously and although in discomfort, I was really enjoying the run and realising there was no where else I’d rather be at that moment.

The support on route from the volunteers was, as always, next to none. With familiar and new faces popping up at marshalling points encouraging you on and willingly taking any abuse I was to throw at them gave the race that extra special touch and a few extra smiles.

As I approached the track, I was met by the MAC crew at various points. In fairness they had to wait for me as all their gear was in my car and I had the key but I am sure they would have still been there even if that wasn’t the case.  A hug from now Coach Selena as she took a brief break from her course to run onto the track to push me through the last 200m. I guess in the absence of Michael she was doing his job of pushing me in the final part of the race.

I finished with overwhelming applause and cheering from those along the finish straight. Caroline was there with the Morris clan, Joe was at the finish line egging me on and the Mad Macs where at the side giving it their all. I may have come in at 1.20, over 10minutes slower than normal but I felt like I was first! Bang on Half Marathon pace and as always living by the mantra finish lines not finish times

In true Born 2 Run fashion the medal was just the best, I’m not materialistic, ok I am, I’m all about the bling and now after seeing all the bling for the series, I will find it hard to not go to every race and collect them all. Soup, water, banana and Free’ist bar, all you could want from a race finish, no wait there in the distance, I spotted Artie and his table! I was sure he was going to tell me off for running too but as always he was supportive and took one look at my legs and rubbed them enough to get me home in one piece. Promising that I’ll get to see him early next week for a proper go. So yeah all the stuff and your sports therapist in the one place. Full marks B2R!
So today I am a bit sore, finally the pain I avoided last week has been unleashed however I fairly enjoyed my run yesterday. What a location! That’s what I love about the Winter Series and Born 2 Run, they live up to their tag line of “Great Races in Great Places.”

Here’s to four months of unlocking more hidden gems and adding to my own wee forest animal medal collection.


Throwback to Craic 10k

Throwback to Craic 10k

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A few hills and a buzzard

A few hills and a buzzard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





Chasing the pb

Chasing the pb

Sunday seen me take to the middle of the Mournes to run 10k back to Kilborney Forest. 

I won’t lie…as the last 10k before I start hitting the big miles, I was going out to PB. I wanted that personal best so bad. I’ve had 3 x 1.09 10k results and I just want a 1.08.59 so badly. 

Yet I woke that day and knew something wasn’t going to go to plan. Just a gut feeling that it wasn’t in me. I knew Caitriona had her sights set on a 1.10 and I’d every faith that she wold give me a run for my money today and beat me. 

She is coming on leaps and bounds. Doing Lisburn half and surviving I think has made her realise that yes she can do this and do it well. So fresh off her holidays with a fancy tan, new hair do and a good few runs in the heat under her hydration belt she was ready for this 10k.

Tara had also got herself into the race and had sights set on a pb of her own. She’s been progressing so well since joining Newry City Runners and she is so happy and determined with her running I’d no doubt in my mind that she was going to smash it. Plus she really suits the club colours! 

The weather was onside and with an eclectic warm up of some dodgy shape throwing to Maniac 2000 we where off. Which by the way Tara…Bootsy has captured fabulously on camera lol

It was definitely a race which was missold to me…predominately downhill my ass. I forgot my favourite saying of what goes up must come down so I was met with the 3k gradual climb at the start and a monster hill at 8k. But other than that the garmin stats on elevation look favourable. 

Yet a km in and I was feeling a tugging on the back of my left heel. I’ve heard horrible stories about snapped legiments etc so feared the worst if I continued on. I knew there where walkers in the field so I avoided stopping at the 5k mark and said sure I’ll walk if I have to. 

And as I had predicted Caitriona was in fine form. Passing me at 1.5k and was forever in my sights, I just couldn’t catch her.  It was lovely in a way as I was glad to see she was in front of me, I don’t have the nicest ass to be following and I’m sure she knows every colour variation in my pony tail. But it meant she was improving and pushing and that made me smile. 

So I used her as my marker trying to not lose her. I met a lovely lady at 6k who chatted away to me as we enjoyed a nice downhill part of the course. I think this helped turn my race around. Her name was Francis and she was from the fabulous Ormeau Runners who always brighten your day in races. We chatted about Ballycastle and caravans totally taking my mind of the potential snapping of something in my foot.

At 8k we met “the hill.” 

I watched people stop dead in their tracks when they seen it. However as much as a scarey hill it was, I don’t spend hours upon hours up mountains to be put off by a short hill. So I put my Lauren head on and powered up the hill.

I always think of our trips out when I tackle a hill, we have embraced the biggest hills in the Mournes together and procrastinated about them no end. So any hill that scares me I just think of how Lauren would love to tackle it head on and smash it. 

On the hill I made ground on everyone.  A welcomed feed stop had me spot Caitriona in the near distance. I know I finish races strong and after conquering that hill and entering into trail running territory, I knew I would be content with my pace. As I gained ground on her I became aware of the time. Her aim of 1.10 was within sights and knowing my pace was strong, when I caught up with her at 9k, we agreed to run it home together. 

On down through the caravan park she encouraged me to stretch it out knowing I’ve a fear of downhills. We kept eachother at a steady pace and on the final downhill we came down it side by side. 


Yeah a bad friend moment…with the momentum of the downhill and cheers of not only Michael and my baby girl, but on the far corner there was Tara and the Newry City Runners shouting for me. Then as I took the corner, Paula a fellow team mate was shouting and I was off. I couldn’t hold back. I hoped Caitriona would follow but as much as I tried, my legs had a mind of their own. 

I glanced down at my watch…1.09.47. ANOTHER 1.09 finish. At first I was delighted as it was a 2 minute improvement on Shore 10k. Also after having a bad start to the race, I was surprised to be coming in at that time. 

However I was gutted as I drove home. Another 1.09…that was 4 now. I just want to see 1.08.59. Ok ok it’s still a great time for me. Also I didn’t feel on form so that’s a valid excuse. I’m training for a full marathon..another great excuse.  I could go on.

However…I had a collection of pbs to celebrate.

1k, 1 mile and 5k pbs….that’s something to focus on.

After a few days reflection am I still disappointed? Yeah I am but I’m happy to have achieved the time I did. It was mentally a tough race for me probably overshadowed by Cookstown half this week.  

The event itself was well run, great craic and the atmosphere was fantastic.  I totally massacred the hot dog at the end. And of course…the medal…finally a pink sparkly medal for my baby girl who was so excited by it. And her comment of “mammy I seen you run really fast” melted my heart. At least someone thinks I’m fast!

Also Caitriona got her 1.10 and Tara blew us all out of the water with a speedy 51! Well done girls!

An open letter to my friend Moira

It was only a little over 6 weeks ago I picked you up for your first session of c25k.

You were determined to prove everyone wrong and silence the laughs and snigger you got when you had informed them that you where going to join a running club. 

I’ll never forget your first night as it lashed the last 10 minutes of the run and in all my very positive and probably annonying attitude I told you running in the rain was the best…I’m not sure if you ever got that feeling but I’m pretty sure running in the rain is something that doesn’t phase you now. 

Each week we upped the training and I’m sure you never called me Siobhan once however I’m sure the French dictonary was filled with what you where calling me . 🙈

Thing is Moira,as the number of new recruits dropped as the sessions got tougher…you still came out and cursed me up and down. You didn’t even let me having a few weeks off due to my operation put you off and your drive to want to run even got Michael up off his ass to go to training with you.  That is no easy task..believe me! 

You had spoken about Sea 2 Sky and actually part taking in it. I’ll be honest I thought to myself she’s mad to do this. As far as tough races come…Sea2Sky is up there. Even worse than Tollymore that was my first race. However I knew you would be capable of it and I wouldn’t deter you from earning that medal..afterall it was a pretty medal which also doubled as a bottle opener. 

We spoke on race day and I assured you that all the pre race feelings of feeling sick and wondering what the hell you where getting yourself into where normal. You turned up at the house a few shades lighter than usual and I felt sick for you. But you where there and ready to take it all on. Fair plays!

It was a pretty overwhelming experience as we arrived to pick up our race packs and we got you kitted out with a Murlough team vest and tried to break the pre race nerves with a few lighthearted conversations. A team photo made you go into panic mode as you realised you’d more than likely end up in the Mourne Observer this week for everyone to see you. 

We set off together and you lost your hat not even a half a km into the race but it was picked up and handed to you and it made it the whole way round the course. 

I knew exactly what was going through your head.  Gosh it still goes through my head every race…why am I doing this, omg I’ve another 9 of these kms to go, I’m going to kill her, not another hill, does this ever end, I swear to god I’m going to kill her, oh look a down hill, I’ve been running forever, what was I thinking listening to her she’s a liar, ah I know where I am, must be near the end, wait til I get my hands on her, I think I might die, oh wait there’s the finish line,ah jesus she’s come back to run with me and I don’t have the energy to kill her followed by you crossing the line and realising that you made it. Water,medal and gathering your thoughts. 

Moira I’ve been proud of my own kids, hundreds of past students doing their A levels and Gcses, I’ve even been proud of my own running achievements but I put you crossing that line up there with my proudest moments. 

I know you wanted to kill me but you have just in a matter of 6 weeks went from nothing to running 10k…that’s over 6 miles!!! Your pure grit and determination to make it around that race and finish shows that you are one tough cookie and a complete superstar. 

Be proud and embrace how sore you might feel. I promise the more you do it the easier it gets…but it never gets easy if you know what I mean. Just more manageable. 

I hope anyone who thought you joining Murlough was funny or a ridiculous idea are eating their words. You have showed that not only have you smashed the c25k training..you’ve doubled the distance! 

So the big question now is…when’s your next race? 

Sea2Sky…a tale of what goes up, must come down 

Sea2Sky…a tale of what goes up, must come down 

There are times that you just have to set aside all your principles and tackle a race for what it is.

There have been too many times that I have lost sleep and panicked about a race. Ok I am not the world’s fastest but isn’t the want to always improve competition enough? It drags me down constantly and after Shore 10k on Monday night I felt that I needed to set my own competition aside and just enjoy the impending Sea 2 Sky route for what it was.

What is that I hear you ask? Well let’s back track. Sea 2 Sky is exactly that…a run from the promenade to half way up the mountain and back down again. A perfect example of what goes up, must come down race. 

Sea2Sky is a highlight on the July running calender.  A race organised by local running events team, Born 2 Run, who host “great races in great places.” I didn’t once doubt that this again was going to be one of those race. After doing the majority of the Winter Run Forest Run Series I knew along side the scenic route, awesome medal and great crowds the race would be amongst the most challanging. 

A mixture of road and trail running all thrown in for good measure and the way the weather was shaping up it was going to be a wet race too.

Starting at the end of Newcastle Promenade the route took you up the South Promenade and climbed onto King Street.  Reaching Donard Wood, the main elevation gain began at 3k right up to 6k. With water stop, some rather moivational qutoes and plenty of mutual feelings being shared on the go,  the route descended out of Donard Wood into the bog which separates it from the Tollymore Boundary wall. A single file system did grid lock you in your position for about 1k but as you hit the Tullybrannigan Road and on into Tipperary Wood the field would spread out again as you took on 2km on relatively flat paths back into town. The final km seen you arrive back onto the promenade with Slieve Donard back in full view (abiet on the night it was wrapped in sheets of rain) and a fast finish to the end.

I had heard from those who had taken part in the race previously and knew it wasn’t going to be easy. With even the strongest of runners knowing that they would have to sacrafice an additional few minutes throughout the race due to the complex nature of course. Yet still over 800 people graced the start line on the night ready for the challange ahead.

So off I set with a clear aim to just enjoy the route. I set off with race virgin Moira, my next door neighbour and friend who i had dragged along to club run 6 weeks ago to do c25k. I will elaborate on this in my next blog as it deserves a piece all to itself.

I have to admit, I love the pull of the crowd on race day when there are vast numbers. In contrast to Mondays 10k at Killough, where I was basically on my own from the outset,  at no point was I alone during this race. There was always plenty of people infront, behind and beside me.  

It’s always pretty clear who knows and doesn’t know what the route offers ahead of them. I had walked it a few times but the language from some of the participants who didn’t know what was coming was really entertaining, for me at least. Yes everyone knew it was a big climb but then again under race conditions the normal elevation seems twice as high. I was surprised myself post race to see that elevation didn’t even hit the heights of Slievenaslat which I can normally do without must bother.

The head wind on the first 3 k was exhausting as we headed out of Newcastle. I’d thought to myself that maybe that’d be a bonus as it would obviously be behind me as I was finishing…how wrong was I. Many club members passed me but with encouraging taps on the shoulder and smiles greeting you, it is always a welcomed addition to any race.

Heading up into Donard Wood the climb went on for what seemed like forever.  Of course Race Photographer Mervyn Mc Keown had stationed himself on the hill to capture everyone in all their glory. Trying to pull out a race pose mid hill climb was a challange all to itself! 

The water stop did offer a much needed refresh however as I motored on toward the 6k mark the famous Mourne rain that comes at you sideways had arrived and although at the start very welcomed ..It was brutal as we headed through the winds and onto the bog. 

For once I was able to put to good use the hours I’ve spent up the mountains in terrible weather.  As the field split right and left to avoid the bog I looked ahead and could see my path appear through the middle of it in the shape and form of grass tuffs.  I laughed at myself as I could imagine Lauren on the side lines reminding me to plan my next 5 steps and I literally took over about 20 people at that point. I came out of the bog, my feet barely wet and heard the screams and shouts of those behind who ended up submerged in the boggy bits. 

Grid locked into single file the craic was mighty. I guess maybe this is something the lads at the front don’t seem to experience in races. However it is possibly the one thing I love most about them. With Brenda, a fellow Murlough team mate, 2 people ahead of me and an ormeau runner between us we came down off the hills surrounded by laughter and revived for the final stretch home. 

It’s this sort of commardary that makes it worth while. As we came out of single file we pretty much stuck with eachother keeping one another going when we started to find it tough. Shouting to eachother when we got to the 8k and 9k milestones. Even picking the pace right up when we felt the tiredness set in. 

We were being beaten by all the elements. Said head wind at the start had reappeared and together with the side ways rain I was surprised we kept going.  Fair play to all the marshalls out on course who stayed there to the death as I wouldn’t have wanted to stand about in it. A special shout out to Gerard Rowe who somehow managed to appear at 3 different locations across the course.  I’m sure he must be able to teleport himself and the Born2Run jeep as I’m sure it’s not human or legal to get around courses so quickly! 

As I neared the promenade for the last 500m I spotted the woman herself, clad in her Newry City Runners gear being blown and soaked to bits. I’m sure patiently waiting for me to make her marshalling duties worth while! Seeing Tara I knew that just around the corner was the end. A small S Club 7 “Reach” jump to brighten her wet and miserable evening and off I headed around the back of the Tropicana.  Knowing a marshall on route is beneficial for the morale…Having your best friend marshall gives you superpowers.

I must have been on supercharge mode as I turned the corner there was post race Michael standing waiting for me for the final push and his now infamous words of “go now” rang through the air but I was sure I didn’t have it in me as the finish did still seem quite far away. However before my head had processed all that…my legs automatically reacted and I was off. 

As I crossed the line I fell into the arms of Selena who had shouts of encouragement for me at the 3k mark too. Couldn’t have asked to have finished the race any other way. A strong finish and a great friend there to catch me. I’d literally just stopped my watch and a immediate post race selfie. Thank God for Double Wear foundation! 

So 1 hour 19mins.

I have never been so not bothered by a time in my life. As I had such a great race, in a great place, surrounded by great people. The hotdogs afterwards at Ohares where fabulous and after a quick trip home to get showered and changed we headed back for what was a fantastic evening…even better that I woke up hangover free too!

So that was an eventful first week of Marathon training. 2 10k races, a trek up Binnian and well I’d to walk the 5mile on Saturday morning to pick up my car in Newcastle so that counts as training right…even if it involved a stop at Nugaleto? 

We did share it between us!

Facing the fear

Facing the fear

I’m a self proclaimed back runner, I run for leisure and not speed. Well I’m sure if I could run faster I definitely would but for now I’m happy in my skin doing the pace I am.

I have had an irrational fear of small races basically because I always check the previous years times to see where I would end up. Most the time I’d end up last. So taking on Shore 10k on Monday night was a mental challange for me to over come more so than a physical one.

There is no doubt I can run 10k, flip I managed a half marathon 3 weeks ago. However it is fighting the fear of small races and coming last kind of puts you off.

Monday marked Day 1 of Marathon training for Dublin Marathon and I decided I should face the fear.

Afterall I’d promised Selena I’d visit her in her new house and it was in a part of the country that I’d never ventured to so was a win win. Michael had a last minute head stagger to do the race and off we went.

It was a lovely summers evening and it looked like they had pulled in a sizable crowd in comparison to last year. Yet when you look around and see the vast array of club colours about you know there was going to be very few “amatures” like myself. But I was there and if it took me for ever, so be it.

As always the support of Murlough pre race was fantastic. Although I was anything from 10 -30 minutes slowere than them everyone wished me well and made me feel no less than them. 

The race got underway and within half a km the group of just under 90 participants took off. I’ll be honest by 1k I asked the marshall if there was anyone behind me as I began to see people disappear into the distance. Thankfully he replied there was so my aim was not to let them catch up. 

I plodded on and at 3k took a bad cramp.in my leg. I managed to shake it off but feared it had eaten into my time and flow. At that point I ditched the headphones and just ran for the view. 

As a back runner its a completely different race. You have the medics follow you the whole race, you have cheers from the marshalls wondering if they can leave their posts and the support around the course sometimes feels like pity. I try to keep up the craic and banter with anyone on the course and this meant even taking the hand out of the police motorbike crew on route. 

I don’t think people realise that I don’t require pity. Yes I may be 5 minutes behind the next person but this time last year I wasn’t even running. This time last week I was only coming back to running post op and my first 10k ever took me 1hr28mins so I am improving and know my own abilities.

 It was a beautiful run and I suppose if I was focused on actual racing and being fast I’d have missed out on some absolutely stunning views. 

By 8k I had the mental block lifted that the end was in sight. I spotted a murlough vest on the horizon coming towards me and it was Sean. He was running back to his wife who must have been behind me. Absolutely delighted someone else comes back for their significant other.

As I came down the last hill onto the main street I spotted Selena in the distance. If there’s one thing I love about being part of the club is the team spirit. Now I’ll be honest I’m not sure what it’s like for the front runners but for me there’s always plenty of love. I had picked up my pace knowing that I’d only to run the length of the street but boy is it a long street.  

It went on forever but crowds cheered and Selena kept me in great spirit. Michael joined the entourage at the pub where I arrived to cheers from the tipsy men. 

But I was no sooner coming down the street and behind me I heard the sirens of the police motorbike. ..He was getting even probably for my comments around the course. So literally I got a police escort down the road and also caught on camera too. 

Seeing the flags of the end in the near distance meant I kicked a bit too soon but still with Selena and Michael at my side I kept on and even registered a km pb for my final km. Wherever that came from. 

Crossing the line my legs bagan to give in. Once I stopped they both seized and even hobbling on my toes wasn’t helping.

After the prize giving, I walked up the road with Selena and Joanne…who actually was the first lady home. So the race selfie goes like this… first lady home, middle lady home and me…Nearly last lady home (3rd last to be exact) lol

So I didn’t come last last, just nearly last. I done a good enough time in 1hr 11. I’ve to get myself gathered now for Sea 2 Sky on Friday. 5k climb for a 5k downhill. This should be fun

So who is really to blame for Tollymore 10k

So who is really to blame for Tollymore 10k

Continuing the throw back…

I know at the time I took a lot of convincing and there are many people who may have had a hand in convincing me to undertake my first 10k. Actually more than I originally thought when I looked back on it.

I have to admit, I love Facebook and I so glad I am part of many groups where I can sound out the thoughts in my head as has proved priceless in my quest to build the back story.

I know that there are many people and factors that helped in pushing that button to enter.

Michael; As always he pushes me to the brink. Convinced I should end the year on a high after all my “achievements” in the gym and with my introduction to running. If I thought I could do it, I should just do it! Even doing a trial run with me 2 weeks prior whilst probably still drunk as you could have got drunk of the fumes from him regardless of what side of him you ran on.

Caitriona; the girl at slimming world who took up running with some running club called “Murlough” the girl who 7 months later I convinced to do Lisburn half with me. Bet she never wished suggesting doing the Born2Run series with! That’ll teach her! Hmmm you’ll never be ready..sound familiar Caitriona?

Jackie; see above…she was also in on the act and herself wanted to finish the year on a high. And her and Tara getting lost on a training run in Tollymore because they cant follow a map, was the highlight of my year.

Her year has continued to build on Tollymore more with some awesome times in races, a half marathon and a week worth of 10ks for charity.  All whilst she prepares for her wedding…tomorrow! Eeekk

Selena; the “grumpy girl” in the shop. Well she was grumpy until she stumbled upon me going into the shop post run and enquired about what I was at. Another “Murlough” member who didn’t think doing Tollymore was a bad idea. And another staple figure in my everyday life now that I’ve become embedded in the running world. Sometimes I wonder if we have some odd connection as the similarities are uncanny, if only I was as fast as her, I’d be home in a boat.
Jane and Hazel; ah the ladies I met up the top of Slievenaslat when I took on some hills to get over my fear of the potential hills in Tollymore.

Lauren; forever the optimist and little voice that makes me think it’s going be ok. But look..someone else seems to be an enabler…


Yes it was Tara…she was the first one to suggest it- facebook proves it. Tara now my bff, who at the time I don’t think I had ever met face to face, just knew her through the group and that she was Rachels friend. This suggestion was the start of the most important friendship in my life. But now I can officially say that she is the one with the first ever “bright idea” mwwwhahhahahahhaha.

I honestly think as a whole everyone played their wee bit in getting me to that line and over it. ..actually I think just the thought of a selection box was enough!