Tag: fitness

On the road to 50k 

On the road to 50k 

Lock me up now. I am now one of those runners where distance doesn’t scare me anymore. This time last year I was beginning to build my miles for Dublin City Marathon, venturing into milages above 13.1 for the first time ever. Fast forward and here I am about to tackle my first 50k.

Again I have no idea really why I am doing it. Obviously I bent the fine line between madness and the craic yet again. After Derry I knew I had more to give. I let myself down (and Tony) due to 1 minor flaw in the build up to the event in my prerace prep- only myself to blame. Yes I got round it and never gave up but it’s haunted me the past 2 months. I’d worked for a better time and I knew it wasn’t a reflection of what I was capable of. So my attentions turned to DCM 17 and I sorted out the training plan and got focussed. Aim number 1 to knock my 10k time out of the water by the end of July and by the time Rock n Roll came round to get a my half time down.

A few weeks after Derry as I was beginning to embrace speed training there was whispers of the Knockagh Challenge coming back. Brenda and myself had tackled 2 of the 10.3 mile loops in April for her VLM training. It was the best run of the year. It was brutal but the support from fellow runners to get round it and up and down 900ft of elevation each lap was vital. It was also helped by the smooth running and invaluable support of the EAMs crew round each lap. 

Then the post went up. Knockagh was coming back in August and offering the same choice of 1,2 or 3 laps. It would have been rude to not sign up. Though the voices in my head started. Why do 2…sure you could do a 3rd. It’s only 5 more mile than a marathon. You were well able for a 3rd in April. Afterall when are you ever going to get a bash at an Ultra. I knew in my heart it wouldn’t take much to sway me. 
Cue a message on Facebook.

 “You going to Knockagh, would you mind me tagging along?’ It was Tony. This was my opportunity to pay back the million sorrys from Derry. It was another person to add to the ‘team’ on the day. A strong, supportive and encouraging one at that. It was a no brainer agreeing to guide him round. 

So Siobhan 10,20 or 30? 

Sure why not let’s go for the 30! (What is wrong with me?)

And here we are. Of course it wasn’t long before Brenda was signing up…like me she loved the day at Knockagh and even though she knew what was ahead she was all over it. Caitriona was reluctant to follow suit but after about 10minutes she gave in to joining for a lap or 2 and the team grew.

It took some subtle work on Jennifer to come round to the idea but soon we had her thinking about embarking on the challenge. This is going to make it her 10th Marathon and 1st Ultra in one. Quite poetic if you ask me!

Ok the girls are blaming me for all this where I am blaming EAMs for presenting the opportunity to me lol 

I have worked hard the past 2 months, yes you can always work harder but I had for the first time – structure. However I achieved the aim of a 10k PB knocking 3 minutes off my time at the end of July, the same week I had clocked up 50k in training including a 20 miler on the Monday. 

I’m just back from taking nearly 6 minutes of my half marathon time in Dublin so things have been falling into place as per the plan.

The Challange of the Knockagh was daunting until that first 20 miler. I knocked over 15 minutes off my time for the same route 8 weeks previously proving to me that Derry was solely a bad day and not the fact I thought I could do better. After that 20 on one of the hottest days of the year, I had a new lease of life come over me and the game face was well and truly on.

I put in solid training and with the support of the girls over the next 20 miler 10 days later I was feeling in control and strong. It’s amazing what a good run can do for you. I do have to offer a lot of the success to the fact the kids where in various summer camps. This gave me the opportunity in the mornings to get stuck in and the weather has been  kind to me. Weekly sessions torturing the girls at intervals also proving to be effective. 

So here I am in recovery from a tight run on Sunday in Dublin and I’m free from any form of maranoia or fear about the run on Saturday. I know it’s not going to be easy, I know I’m venturing into the unknown in the distance stakes but I’m comforted knowing I won’t be doing it alone. 

Ok don’t get me wrong it wasn’t part of the actual plan post Derry but aren’t I lucky that I am able to actually even believe that this is possible and that I hopefully can do it? A distance like this was something totally unachievable 2 years ago. Even this time last year I’d have laughed at the suggestion. 

So roll on Saturday. It’ll take me a while that’s for sure but I’ve yet to give up and I’ve got a fantastic team of equally crazy people surrounding me on the day and in the wings and for that I’m blessed.

Kilbroney Parkrun Round Up

Kilbroney Parkrun Round Up

They do say the best runs come when you least expect it. Today I couldn’t fault that.

Caitriona had mentioned that she was down to marshal today at parkrun. Doing her bit and all that. She did ask if I fancied going but with a glass of vodka and diet coke in my hand as I wound down from a mental week of wedding madness and my legs recovering from a day in heels- yes I got doms after the wedding. There was no way I was getting up to run.

Of course I woke shortly after 8 and as I turned my phone on there was the snap chat.

Beautiful blue skies and parkrun?

I replied ‘meh’ however I’m sure Caitriona was having withdrawal symptoms as it had been 5 days since she last saw me, she insisted she’d pick me up in 20minutes.

I briefly debated it replying… sorry I’ve got the kids. Damn her goodness (potential madness) she said bring them along and they could marshal with her. So there was me jumping out of bed, sticking on my gear and throwing the kids together. Off to Kilbroney we went.

As we came over the hill into Rostrevor I was able to explain to Caitriona where my escapades during the walking festival went. Pulling up to Kilbroney we had a few minutes before starting.

I absolutely detest 5ks. Give me a half marathon anyday. Yet even I couldn’t have faulted the weather, atmosphere and stunning surroundings. Kilbroney parkrun offers everything. A challanging route, well supported by marshals and other public users of the park and breathtaking scenery as you weave in and out of lush greenways, riverside track, woodland and through Narnia-twice. Ok there are 2 hills but it adds to the challange and makes finishing that bit sweeter.

I’ve a Rostrevor parkrun personal best of 38.06. As I took off lap 1, pace was strong as the field spread out. Smiles and encouragement from marshals and also those staying in the caravan park. Before the descent into Narnia I was greeted by the personal cheer squad and made the resolve that I was going to push on and not let the next lap beat me. I crossed the start line in 18mins dead. I was delighted that for once I wasn’t lapped by the winner!

So realistically if I kept the same pace this lap, I’d blow my PB out of the water but without the field pulling me the first km I went back to my usual chanting and focused on my breathing to get me to the next hill. I didn’t get as far up it as I would have liked but with only a short uphill to go I knew I would do myself justice on the downhill.

I also knew that Rónán would be asking to run with me when I met him and as I opened up on the downhill I shouted for him to join me and the little ginger head took off in usual fashion and I chased him right into Narnia. As we turned the corner to the finishing straight he was in full flight and me too. Together watching eachother we emptied the tank taking the person in front and finishing neck in neck.

Some people do say you should let the child win. But he’s beaten me so many times I needed the victory of the final half kilometre.

I looked down to see 36.51. A new personal best by over 1 minute. Can’t be bad to that and for the record slightly hungover and definitely not in racing shape.

That’s the thing about parkrun though. It’s not a race. It’s a community event for everyone to join in and set themselves a goal. I always welcome getting new bests, who doesn’t? Yet the only pressure you have is yourself. Today for me though it was a gentle nudge from the running buddy who either knew I needed a good run, knew I was fit to do myself justice or just plain mean and wanted to laugh at me running. Either way… thank you Caitriona for getting me to run this morning and also for marshalling. Without the volunteers, parkrun wouldn’t happen.

Also want to draw your attention to another local event for both runners and walkers alike for a very worth while cause. Will be a fantastic way to spend a Saturday evening with friends and family.

And don’t forget to keep voting! 

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

Motoring on rightly

Motoring on rightly

It was just one of those minging evenings.

Cold -check

Windy- check

Wet- soaking

It had all the signs of a group run being called off and I knew Dermot had considered it earlier in the afternoon. Secretly I was waiting for the message. I’d had such a pain of a day and an unendless list of things to do, I could have done with skipping the session. 

However I missed my long run yesterday and let’s face it if I skipped session what type of example is that setting to those who made the effort. 

So week 4 and the first real test of the commitment to the programme. As 7pm came and one by one everyone stepped out of their cars it became apparent who the hard core crew where and there was more than just a handful.

Soon we were warming up and getting set for what lay ahead. 

I had made the decision after last week that tonight I wasn’t about time. I was going to avoid the clock watching and just run. It was the best decision I’ve made all week. I was relaxed and I was just going with the flow.

Even when we reached the half way point and got to turn, leading the group I was confident in my pace and that it wasn’t beyond the pace of the group. Normally I’d be stuck to my watch, watching every second of the pace and trying to maintain it. But just trusting my feet and going forward was liberating and enjoyable.

We easily managed 2.8 without stopping at below 12.30min/miles. A respectable pace and one that I am sure many of the group can exceed already in training runs. Not that the aim of the group is time, hopefully they don’t become as attached to the machine on their arm and just run without the self doubt and reliance on a watch making the run. 

So new week ahead and a positive start to the weeks training. In just a few weeks the group has grown in confidence and belief that what they thought was impossible is every much within their abilities. I’m excited what the final few weeks hold for the group. But right now I hope they’ve all warmed up and dried off. 

Also for the record…didn’t get a hug this week…gutted.

When you know the “beginners” are already faster than you.

Endurance.

 The only skill I have on my side. As the 3rd session of The Running Coaches does Newcastle came to a close.

Work on endurance first and then focus on speed and distance, Dermot says. Hmm I thought to myself, OK they may all be faster than me but I know I’d be the last one running if it was who the last one to give up was. 

Tonight the group was pushed to hit the 5k mark, they actually went beyond that mark. It’s so clear how strong the group is and they were more than capable than running the distance with the short breaks in between. Definite talent and hopefully faces that I’ll see in the future more often.

However when I looked down and looked at the time I actually felt really shit. OK I was buzzing for the group. It was a fantastic achievement for them and I was really proud of them all. Yet inside I got a wake up call. 3.2 mile in 40minutes. Running, walking and talking and I was able to get that time with the group messing about. But why so sad…well my Kilbroney Park Run was just over a minute faster than this and I did sort of try at that.

Like seriously.  It’s embarrassing. OK my time trial on similar terrain is 33 minutes and I should essentially be focused on that but although I can seemingly run forever I still should be better.

So although tonight was a magnificent achievement for the group it’s opened my eyes to my own running. I’m feeling a bit sad in myself yet hopefully that maybe this epiphany will be the start of me doing something about it.

So back to the plan and sticking by it. The runners in the group are sticking by their weekly plans and improving …only right that I do that too.

Hello double figures and hello old faithful 

This week I turned 32…this was also the first week I pretty much stuck to my training plan. With age comes maturity and ability to stick to a plan…well for a few days anyway.

Saturday saw the plan dictate to me that I’d to break back into the double figures. I know I managed Castleward a few weeks back and pulled 17mile out of the legs that day, but it was strategy and suited my style of running. However 10 solid miles with no breaks was a different prospect. 

Of course there is only 1 place I would tackle such milage and well I was last there the week before Dublin marathon. So a return to the lake for multiple laps was long over due. Of course it was only right that my company for the run was to be Caitriona. 

Waking up on Saturday morning the ground was covered in a heavy frost. Every blade of grass was thick with bright white frost and you could feel the chill down your body as you contemplated why in God’s name where you even thinking about going out in that. 

The previous nights plan of capri trousers was soon replaced by fleece lined long tights. 

Soon it was 9am and we headed for the park. We were no more than a mile in and I had to ditch the jacket. The advantages of the park are many, access to toilet, good routes and water. But my favourite bit of the park is the rangers hut. My very own personal storage station. So dropped my jacket there and headed for a few laps of the lake.

Caitriona did question my seemingly mad reasoning to opt to take a layer off so early but I overheat quickly. However we were not even a lap in and she had to ditch a layer too. Of course the one thing the lake doesn’t have is somewhere to change enroute. So right in the middle of the path there was Caitriona stripping down to her bra to take off her base layer and put on her tshirt and jacket again.

Luckily there wasn’t many people about but as much as I wanted to take a photo to use a leverage, I’m a good person and rather write about it and let you all visualise it. 

As the miles clocked up slowly and steadily, what was a frosty and cold start had turned into a beautiful mild winters morning and as each mile passed more and more people were seen on the lake. 

I’ve missed the lake. The initial procrastination through the first KM as you start yet another lap. The inner joy as you reach the first hill as you’ve over come the urge to walk. Hitting the top of the lake and the view right down to the far side. And of course my favourite view on the home straight which was just majestic 

So the love affair has been rekindled just in time as I flirt with the start of the Derry Marathon training.  

So another week begins and although I’m sitting with ice packs on my legs right now. I know that there are many more miles to be done, many more views to enjoy and most of all many more hours shared with those who fancy a wee run out with me.

The craic at the back 

The craic at the back 

Tonight saw the return of the Newcastle group with the addition of some new faces also to get stuck into week 2 of The Running Coaches, Coached to 5k sessions. 

I’d stuck to my own plan today and had done 4 mile on the hills, quick dip at the Burrendale and was in a cracker mood. Good days like this don’t happen often. I didn’t even give off during homework so running this evening was the only way to round a great day off.

An upbeat and a lot more relaxed group this week as week 1 nerves had passed and confidence that they would survive the session after last week.

Also it was an added bonus to be an unseasonably mild January evening, I really am convinced the weather is bi-polar, with the temperature flirting with double figures after last Fridays deep freeze. 

The sea was calm and a gentle breeze was welcomed. Hats where definitely not required but hi vis was still essential. We were also very glad to welcome Coach Hugh into the group to lead and support the group throughout the session. 

We’re very lucky to have Hugh at Murlough and delighted to see him spreading his knowledge, encouragement and expertise with those new to running. And as always there was Caitriona and myself to balance the boat with a female perspective on running. More on that later.

The group had tried hard throughout the week to make a go of some running in their own time. Some by themselves and some with support. It’s  not easy taking yourself out to train. I myself hate running in public places, probably why my 20 mile training run for Dublin was 8 laps of the lake! Not too much in the open like for example, running road or busy promenades.I could happily do all my training in the confines of the forest park. Less eyes to spot you and in turn talk about you. Paranoid much?

Session got off to a good start with an enjoyable warm up which always gets the heart racing and reminding me I really need to warm up more thoroughly in future a wee skip, hop and jump isn’t sufficient.
As we set off down the promenade in side by side formation, Dermot and Hugh kept everyone right with their form and Caitriona and I kept to the back to keep spirits high. Seemingly now classed as the ‘craic at the back’ catchy lol

The promenade was a lot busier tonight and many fellow MACavisits where out stretching the legs probably saving what they have for Wintervals tomorrow and 6x 800m, boke. 

Some fantastic points and lesson learned at the Slieve Donald Hotel where I was delighted to know we weren’t running the full lap as I’m still scarred from last week’s time trial. 

And we where soon returing to base. 

It was obvious that this week the breaks where getting shorter but it was also clear everyone was beginning to be that bit more comfortable with chatting and balancing the breathing alongside it.I must admit my first session with MAC I could barely say hello during it. I had trained for 6 months on my own, not talking to anyone and then to be expected to hold a conversation…catch yourself on. Needless to say, I have had lots of practice now and can do the running and talking really well.

A thorough cool down by Hugh and feeling well stretched out. The session came to an end with hope that the crew will dig that bit deeper this week and be ready to kick ass next week as  the running becomes longer and the walking shorter.

I’ll admit I’m pretty sure there are quite a few of the group who are well capable of kicking my ass already. Which is great, hopefully they get the bug and realise their potential. I see it.

I am really enjoying being ‘a presence’ at the sessions. I don’t think I’m much assistance however what the male coaches don’t understand is the many obstacles that woman face even in a cool down. There is only so much a sports bra can do to haul ya down. But giggles where had tonight as something as simple as getting your arm to go straight across the top of your chest becomes hard work when you have self grown obstacles in the way! 

And on that point…until next session.

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…

 

 

 

 

 

I’m running a marathon this month

So its October.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Shit Just Got Real

Today we took the kids to the Zoo in Phoenix Park, Dublin today. And as we drove up to the zoo I was totally overwhelmed by emotions as in 8 weeks time we will be driving to Dublin for marathon weekend and the next time I see Phoenix Park…I’ll be running up it. 

Shit Just Got Real for sure.

This week has been jammed packed. Tuesday I took myself to club run. It was more an attempt to sweat out the copious amounts of alcohol in my system from the bank holiday weekend. A slow and steady 4 mile put me in good form and ready for a good session at the gym on Wednesday morning.

The usual 6.30am alarm went off on Wednesday morning for my weekly trip to my pt session with Shane. It was a nice session with some cardio and upper body work. Shane knows my legs are getting enough abuse so abandoned any lunges or squats. Thank God!  

I followed the session up with Spin class as obviously I was again feeling invincible. 

On Thursday I completed the intervals session with Dermot which was tough going. He did warn us not to over do it for the next few days…hmmmm. 

Then on Friday morning the 6.30 alarm went off again and I was up and away for my long run.

This was going to go 1 of 2 ways. Way 1…I’d be ruined by 2 mile and I’d give up and try again on Sunday or 2, I’d push on through every mile,  slowly, and my stubbornness would get me through.

Well indeed it was number 2. I pushed through 15mile. I must say the thoughts in my head went like this;

Mile 1: ok so I’m up and out. Let’s get to 4 mile and reassess
Mile 2: Dermot said any small niggle..don’t run. Am I sore or wishing I was sore, when in doubt keep going until you’re sure.

Mile 3: I’m up the hills so take advantage of the downhills and relax but even that is tough.  Maybe I should just call it a day.

Mile 4: wohoo Frankie is in the Hut I can stop for 30sec and tell him my route so he knows to keep a look out for me to see if I’m still alive.

Mile 5: shit phone Michael and make sure he has kids up for school and offer for him to join me for a lap. Don’t let on I am struggling

Mile 5:only 4 laps of the lake..4 WHOLE laps am I kidding myself? This is my worst nightmare. 

Mile 6: god I hate this lake and this must be my slowest 10k ever. I’m sure I’ve walked this distance quicker before with Lauren and that was way more fun and had loads of hills. 

Mile 7: lap 2. This doesn’t seem so bad. But omg my legs are starting to get sore. But I’m half way there so keep going.

Mile 8: need a gel. It seems a long road ahead and I’ve still another 2 laps to find. Gels are magic aren’t they. Like a drug or alcohol to make the situation more enjoyable.

Mile 9: is that my car…wohoo Michael has come up to join me. Wait he’s demanding I get in the car and go home. Who does he think he is! I’m not giving up. So him and Aoife reluctantly join me for a lap 

Mile 10: yes I’m walking but miles are miles and means I can give the last lap a good bash. Oh shit what’s that…Rain. ..no its not rain it’s a torrental downpour and Aoife is not happy and neither is michael and we’re only half way round. I feel so bad for suggesting they join me.

Mile 11: I’m told to run on after another brief hint to just going home. But only 1 more lap to do and then home. Nobody in their right mind would give up after what is over 2.30hrs invested in a long run

Mile 12: so I’m going dead slow…its over 3 hrs on the go and makes my half marathons feel like Usain Bolt pace. But I’m doing it and I’m in no rush. I run my own race and screw anyone who thinks different

Mile 13: the final straight of the lake. You know I deserve a medal for doing the lake 4 times. My body is tired but push on 

Mile 14: I reach the hut at 14 mile dead. Frankie is delighted for me. I’m just glad i judged the distance so perfect knowing it’s exactly a mile to home from this point.

Mile 15: a mixture of walking and running out the Avenue and then the obligatory run down through the town so I don’t look like a buck eejit in running gear, walking in public. Half the world sees me but I’m moving fast enough and reach home eventually.

I stop…and my body crumbles. My cool down essential went…ankles, calves…climb the stairs and shower. Washing my hair was the cool down for my shoulders and a few in shower stretches. 
A workout in itself to get the compression socks on and 30mins to gather myself 

Another long run done.  But lesson well and trely learnt. Never EVER  long run without at least 2 days rest in between last session and LSR. 

So a hectic week. Where I got the reality check, over done the training and clocked another longest run ever. 

But it’s done and I’m motoring on. Now if anyone can suggest how I regain feeling in my legs. I’d much appreciate it

A sneaky 5k pb

So following my 14mile long run on Friday I welcomed my visitors on Friday evening. It was going to be a busy bank holiday weekend and obviously I was looking forward to getting a run out with Angela at a local 5k.

I’ll be honest, I did not expect to even be fit to rin on Saturday but I woke able to walk, so obviously I could run.

So I put on my Murlough gear, pulled the hair back and laced up the trainers for the Shore to Shore 5k race in Newcastle for Cancer Research UK.

With a few fun Zumba warm ups the race was underway. It was more of a fun run and a field of about 80 took to the promenade. A mixture of runners, walkers, buggy pushers and kids. 

Caitriona had taken her nephew Oisin with her for his first race ever so we weren’t technically cheating on eachother, as I’d Angela with me. 


The weather couldnt have been more perfect. A beautiful sunny afternoon with a nice breeze.  The route was scenic and quite flat. We set off at a nice pace and kept quite steady through the first half of the race. I’d hoped to keep a 12/12.30 min/mile as I didn’t want my legs to give out. However my legs had other ideas and wouldn’t slow down. 

There’s a lot that can be said about running with other people. It does keep you going and with the promenade being so busy it was nice saying hello to everyone as we passed them.

As we neared the end of the race I spotted our finish line and Angela informed me we were at 30mins. It was a kick in the ass moment and a pb was in sight. I kept at the same pace and even at that we came across the line at 32.14 more than a minute off my 5k pb. 

I was absolutely delighted. Never knew I had that in me after what was a horrible long run the day before and should have been a recovery run. 

But I’m not complaining and happy to take that and take a break from races until Causeway coast on the 24th September.