Tag: friends

18 miles of ‘Rolling Hills’ around Annaghmore

18 miles of ‘Rolling Hills’ around Annaghmore

The last time I toed the line for a race was 6 weeks ago for my biggest running accolade yet… the Knockagh Ultra.

In the time since I took myself and Tony around 50k, I have taken my training pretty seriously (about time) and have put everything I can into my prep for Dublin. 

I had toyed with doing the Irish 3/4 marathon however the hefty price tag put me off. I spotted the Annaghmore Running Festival which seemed to know that there would be a few critters like myself looking something beyond a half to fit into their DCM training plan. This was perfect – 18 mile, ‘ rolling hills’ and didn’t break the bank whilst all fitting in with the long run plans. This appealed to all bodies in the Grant household.

Cant beat a race where organiser don’t take the piss on price plus funds where donated to the Southern Area Hospice a charity close to my heart.

A perfect opportunity to trial race day, pace, fitness, outfit, fuelling etc. I’ve always had my sights set on Annaghmore as a true indication of how well the 40+ miles a week was influencing my running. So when I had a week where my 18 miler was a tad off desired pace, a dodgy hip encounter but cracker mid week endurance runs I was feeling optimistic about the run ahead.

With everything ready to rock n roll we set of for County Armagh from Castlewellan. The weather was perfect, although there was an autumn chill in the air, the sky was blue, the sort of morning that does your heart good. 

Arrived in Annaghmore after taking the scenic route there and picked up our packs. Caitriona had seemingly signed up for the race in her head and not actually done it. But the guys where great at sorting her out with a number and didn’t openingly judge her 🙈 me on the other hand… I found it absolutely hilarious! Nearly as funny as watching the fella pin the race bib to a girls boobs. 🙈

The crowds rolled in and within them a surprised addition of Alan Johnson who had only 2 weeks previously told me he had planned to wash his hair that morning when I suggested doing Annaghmore. He had obviously delayed that to run 18mile around the beautiful Armagh countryside.

It was great to see familiar faces, Hugh had popped along for the half, Eamon was out to do the 5k, Caroline had on a whim signed up mid week to do the 18 miler and Micéal donned his NCR vest for a long run also with fellow NCR team mates Patricia and Cathal there too. Also I had to admire that Michael had pulled on the trainers yet again for another marathon crash training course including the 18miler. He knew worse case scenario would be falling back to run with me. But I knew that wasn’t going to happen. At worse I’d have to drive home.

Setting off to the start line

We set off and within 0.3 of a mile there was the first of many, many hills we were going to encounter. Seeing that the half and the 18 miler set off together, I was optimistic that there might be a some people in around my pace to keep as markers or company even. But from about a mile in, I was alone. However I’ve ran many a race where I’ve been on my own for a long time and I’ve enough confidence in my pace and ability to finish longer races and to keep focused, running my own race and not try to keep with the crowd. 

I settled in quite quickly with the game plan of simply keeping under 12.30s to come in at 3.45. I’d hoped to hit 5 mile on the hour, 10 mile just beyond the 2hr mark and a 1.45 8 mile to finish. 

Aye the biggest understatement of the day

As we set off in to fantastic country roads lined with orchards and endless green fields everything was going great. Plenty of marshals in place and markers which where bang on distance wise and arrows to help. 

The first water stop at 5 mile was welcomed and I noticed that we were to come back that road. We turned into a trail section which was like something out of a fairy tale and there was the front runners coming my way. I didn’t know whether they where half runners or 18 milers but they where flying. 

Hats off to the leading man who was full of encouragement and even high fived. I was to meet him again later on towards the end of his race where he was just as humble and supportive. 

 For the record Caroline took this picture of the Orchard

 wasn’t surprised to see Alan cruising along, with him at around his 11 mile and me at just short of 6. Was quietly all biz that for once I was over half of where Alan was meaning I wasn’t as per normal practice twice as slow… I was getting faster 🙌🙌🙌

The middle section of miles flew in. I’d hit 5mile at 1hr on the nose and 10 mile I was delighted to have come in under the 2 hours. I was bang on target and the race was going to plan. I was feeling fresh and in control. Passing Alan again, as he made running look easy, I was delighted that he had decided to not wash his hair as he was taking a comfortable 2nd place. 

As I entered into mile 12 I knew I was making good time. I clocked a 2nd fastest half marathon and as I passed this point a drive by marshal checked in on me to offer water/sweets and check I was ok. 

I reassured them I was fine and would make 18 mile so not to worry. I knew from the 12 mile water stop that I was self sufficient for the rest of the race. Afterall there are many races where the backrunners are left without marshal support and/or fuel stops have been packed up so I’m always prepared just in case. However I can not praise the organisers highly enough as 3 times throughout my last 5 mile I had drive by Marshals as well as marshals still in place in many spots. A true testament to the conscientious planning and execution of the event.

Highlight of the race… Mile 15

Watched beeped for mile 15 and had just finished a gradual incline at 14. A tight hill faced me and I made it but after the plethora of hills earlier on I didn’t recover from that hill as quick as I had wanted. At 15.5 there was another hill. I spoke to myself and said wise up Siobhan you’ve yet to be beaten by a hill today and haven’t stopped so motor on. So I did and got to the top and enjoyed a wee downhill. However… 15.75 there was another hill and it was a lot bigger than the previous 2. Out loud, I cursed the hill and declared that I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to run it and I walked it. First time the whole race that I actually walked. 

I just knew it wasn’t worth fighting my way up it as I knew there where a few more hills ahead that I had already ran down. Once I got to the top it was back on it and headed for home. I was again delighted to be greeted by marshals still at their posts and the support from runners and locals in the last mile was much appreciated as going against everything else the race had thrown at me….it finished on a cracker downhill.

As I turned into the club grounds I was greeted by applause from everyone on site and there was Michael, Caroline and Micéal waiting on me to finish. 

Yay for a run that we all were happy with

I glanced down at my watch and couldn’t believe it – 3.40. I may have been one of the last to finish, 2nd last to be exact but I felt like I had won. I’m never going to be a podium finisher but when a race plan comes together flawlessly and I crossed the line knowing that my DCM dream was very much alive and on track. That’s what I strive for from a race.

I got congratulations from the organisers and they knew I’d Pb’d as I was buzzing as I crossed the line. I was even more delighted that Michael had come in, in good time and so did Caroline giving her the reassurance for DCM too.

I was offered freshly cooked burgers and an array of sandwiches. All was plentiful and even had a bottle of Coors Light. Now I know there was no medal for this run. But let’s face it, I have a t-shirt, burger and beer. That is a perfect substitute for any bling. For what we paid to be apart of the event, this was beyond expectations. 

Finding out also that it was an inaugural event was even more impressive as to me, it ran flawlessly.

Caitriona finished proceedings for the day as she came in well ahead of her estimated time also getting her back on track for Dublin. 

So will I be back… definitely. Even though I know the hills will still be there, it was a solid training run with many challenges including making heartbreak hill in Dublin look like a speed bump. There was a huge crowd for the multi race event considering it was competing against Bangor 10k AND Monaghan Pheonix Marathon. A great foundation for next year. 

So resting up now before a very tough week of training ahead. This time 4 weeks it’ll all be over. 🙈

Advertisements
Rockin N Rollin in Dublin

Rockin N Rollin in Dublin

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

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

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

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

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

So the weekend went like this.

Friday

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

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

 

Saturday

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

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

Sunday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Guide Running – 13.1 mile of guaranteed company

Guide Running – 13.1 mile of guaranteed company

So today was finally the day I took my duties seriously as a guide runner and held onto that black strap and headed off through Larne Town Centre with Tony for 13.1 mile.

I’ll be honest I wasn’t too nervous about any of it. 

Half Marathon- done a few of those.

Guide running – I’d certificate in that.

Putting up with company the whole way round – a perfect combination for a long run.

I met Tony away back in July at Cookstown Half whilst I was finding the race tough. He literally held my hand and got me through mile 7 and 8, sending me on ahead to ‘pace’ him to the end. I got a 4 minute pb that day and I’m sure it was all down to his belief and support.  From there a friendship blossomed. I took on the 10k at Running Blind highlighting that I was a terrible guide as Michael ended up in a few trees. 

Then just before Dublin Tony asked if I fancied doing Derry with him. I’d yet to even make it round 26.2 mile but I was blown away that out of all the people in the world he could have asked, he asked me. So always up for a challange  I agreed and so began my venture into guide running.

I completed the Athletics NI guide running course in addition to my Lirf course and just in case got me my first aid certificate. Can never be too prepared says me.

Making my way through the Guide running course 

Looking at the race schedule I knew we would be pushed for events to practice running together and Larne Half came up. Perfect, however with the event selling out Larne AC where super accommodating and the two of us had the green flag to run together. 

With the weather indicating a complete wash out we travelled tentatively to Larne as clear skies and lack of rain followed us. With Michael having to stay at home with the kids it was me and the girls destined for 13.1 mile together. 

I have to admit I love how within the last year between Caitriona, Brenda and myself that we’ve racked up some serious milage and didn’t even flinch at the thought of another half marathon even if we are forever the other end of the ‘MAC sandwich’ when it comes to results 

Team MAC at Larne

The girls had pre race gitters whereas I was in search of a blind man. As the hall filled at Larne Leisure centre I began to wonder where Tony had gone. He knew I was here as we were thankfully early but where was he! I kept circling the place just in case I’d missed him.  Thankfully I got a call and he was outside with all his County Antrim Harriers team mates. This was it…game on!
As the race got underway we waited for the majority of runners to pass before joining the madness. Caitriona and Brenda passed and we followed in behind.

The first 2 mile of the course was lined with spectators. The atmosphere was buzzing as around us there were those taking on their first half marathons, crossing the line to taking the first steps into a new distance.  As for me it dawned on me as we passed the start line that ‘crap I’ve to run a half marathon and guide run.’ 

It’s not like I didn’t notice I was attached to Tony, but with the reality of having to run and then be sure I was taking in and sharing everything happening around me was overwhelming.

I spent the first mile at Tony’s pace just to see how things panned out after the first mile. Surrounded by the familiar faces of those from other races and exchanging the usual pleasantries.  It seemed that Tony was running royalty in his own right. Everyone knew him and as we cruised through Larne town centre and he encouraged spectators to join us. This wasn’t the last time he’d invite people to join us.

Picking up randomers, the Craic from Derry in the form of Peter

As we made our way out to coast the sun shone down on us. Possibly a terrible weather trick before the flood of rain arrived but it showcased how beautiful the route was. At 3 mile I looked down at my watch. By now the Pack fallen into it set order and we were comfortably motoring along. Comfortably…I had just blew my time trail time out of the water. I could believe it. Although we had slowed down  bit it wasn’t sore or too much effort. I then got the head up and headed for the 10k point. 

As we began to pass the runners on their return leg it was clear we where headed for a strong time. When I saw 1.09 10k on the clock I knew I’d over 9 minutes advantage over my first half marathon time and relaxed into the second half of the race.

By now Tony and I had worked out each other. 2 kindred spirits out for the craic and a few mile. It was lovely to find out more about him and share many times of laughter and many times of sadness. I run for the journey and what I learn along the way. So between cheering on others and getting there ourselves, it was a mighty race. 

The weather continued to hold and it began to heat up.  At 10 mile the blister that Tony first detected at 7 Mile was becoming an issue. With procrastination and history of running shoes it was decided that a run walk to the end was the only way we’d get there. Let’s be honest it’s the best way to get there.

Crossing the line to the familiar faces of runners right across the board we clocked a decent 2.48. And when you look at it, that was 5 minute quicker than my venture out at Carlingford 2 weeks previous so was delighted. 

I am really looking forward to Derry Marathon now. It’s going to be the best quarter of a day of my life and lucky me that I get to share it with Tony.

Guide running is like running with a mate and being stuck with them the whole way. I didn’t suffer in anyway from additional post race pains and it was a great 13.1 mile. 

Team MAC had outdone themselves again and with a rake of pbs to boot everyone had a great race.  

Although only a small contingent of the club ran Larne, it was lovely to cross the line to all but 1 of them for post race support. It’s that which makes being part of a club- worth it.  

Hugging Tony goodbye for the second time in 2 days after he accompanying Michael the day before at Craic I knew I’d see him the next day as he went for his 3 in 3 at the EAMS event. I reflected on the way home about my running journey so far and what opportunities that it have afforded me.

Always a great believer in inclusion myself I never knew running would allow me to explore that further and be able to be useful to someone. Over the 3 race days I shared the events with not only Tony and Peter his VI friend but also Team Kerr who have been at the forefront of inclusion in running in NI with son Aaron through an assisted wheel chair. Just showing that running is an option for many and that there are people willing to support and event organisers who will do what they can to make their events fully inclusive to all.

A huge thank you to Tony for last weekend at Larne.  Here’s to the best 26.2 mile of our lives in June.  

Couldn’t be any luckier to have met this man on a dodgy country road in Cookstown in July . 💗

I am no longer a Parkrun Virgin!

I am no longer a Parkrun Virgin!

There comes a time in every runners life when you just have to let it go. Over the past year I have ran every distance from 5k to Marathon and still held onto the fact I’d never ran a Parkrun. I wasn’t willing to just let any Parkrun be my first. I had flirted with going to Lisburn or Belfast to break my Parkrun virginity but with word on the street that a team was working hard in Kilbroney, Rostrevor, to bring Parkrun nearer to home, I held off waiting and hoping it would be the perfect one for me.

Low and behold the promise of Parkrun coming to Kilbroney materialised and under the wing of “Race Director” Dermot Mathers (why does he keep stalking me and my life I’ll never know) last week saw over 130 participants take to the trails of Kilbroney to mark the inaugural Parkrun.

Sadly I missed out on it as was busy learning how to save lives in case I ever come across a runner in need of more than hug. So clearly on the calendar I had marked this weeks Parkrun as a must.

It was an unseasonably mild December morning and as we left the confines of our cosy home in Castlewellan to make our way to Rostrevor, we had no idea what lay ahead. I have encountered Kilbroney a few times over the year in various races, so I was under no illusion that it was going to be a flat and monotonous course.

Over 100 parkrunners took to the start line and before we knew it we were off.

As we set off towards Fairy Glen, the sea of runners stretched the length of the path. As a 2 lap course my aim was simply not to be over taken by the front runner. It was great to have Caitriona back out running and keeping me right. She even requested for me to sing which is usually the reason she lets me run on as she doesn’t want to hear me. A rendition of Jiggle Bells was soon cut short as we approached the first hill.

As we climbed up through the twisty gravel track we were able to gain a place or two. Met by a lovely and very positive volunteer who directed us on up another hill. At this point on the loop the other runners came down the other side and spotting Michael with those who I assumed where in around the mid 20s, I knew that the front runners wouldn’t be too far behind me.

It was a relief to see the second hill end and know it was all downhill from there. As we came in through the caravan park, we where greeted by the Narnia Trail Door and like little fairies we ran through the woods towards the start again.

I could have easily stopped after 1 lap but as I crossed the line for the 2nd lap I spotted Don Travers coming across the finish and although I had made it a lap (just about) without being lapped, I know next time to get my ass moving a bit quicker!

The second lap didn’t have the fear of the unknown. You knew where to push yourself and where you needed to contain your energy. I’m still trying to figure out if that’s a good thing or not but I enjoyed the second lap more even if I did shed a tear as couldn’t shake off a niggle. I was able to take in the surrounding mountains that tower over the forest, listen to the leaves crunching under feet and appreciate my procrastination on the last hill that bit more.

It was exciting to come back down through Narnia, though it was more like a heard of elephants than a collection of fairies. The end was near and everyone knew it. Getting to the finish and smoothly going through the post parkrun motions, I was finally not a Parkrun Virgin anymore.

I have to give a shout out to all the volunteers, from the moment we arrived they where on hand to help with informing you about what is happening, what the route was and keeping you in the craic. Nothing beats fun and laughter first thing on a Saturday morning. Through out the course they were very encouraging and also empathy was aplenty as probably runners themselves, they knew the story that our faces told. We were treated to cake and sweets afterwards which was a fantastic surprise and finished the event off lovely.

It was great to see 6 of the Murlough crowd making the Parkrun also, well there where 5 until we realised Michael had decided to tackle a 3rd lap as punishment for that 3rd helping of Jameson last night, as that’s what sane people do obviously.

So Parkrun done and home for 11am. So this is what everyone raves about…I totally get it!

So was it worth waiting for the right Parkrun to be my first, definitely! I couldn’t have picked a more scenic yet challenging route. It was also helped by the fact that the weather was perfect and the seasonal changes in the surroundings added to the beauty. I just love running in the forest even if it does mean that I am faced with some “mild” elevation.

I will definitely be back and think if you are still waiting to pop your parkrun cherry, this is the one to do it. Friendly volunteers, great route, a few wee challenges to wake you up and plenty of fellow parkrunners ready to share their Saturday morning with you.

Running friends make the good runs better and the hard runs easier

​Well it was coming…17 miles on the plan.

Again taking my legs to the forest park to procrastinate about how much I hate the lake, every lap. Its not like I’m short of routes, places or roads to run on. I just know mathematically how far each route takes and that if I am near death and need to make it home, I can roll down the back way. No need to panic about being miles away and getting a taxi.
This week was going to be tough, to me that meant a whole additional lap of that damn lake. Jumping a whole 2 mile seems scarey but it had to be done. However I’ve had enough of running on my own. Team MAC where on hand to literally hold my hand every step of the way. 

I do worry that my marathon training rants undermine those who are going out and doing really fast training runs. I know by the time I get to 3hrs into the run a lot of marathoners are finished 26.2. 

I am slow, I get there eventually but it is tough. I fear someone would enter a marathon based on the fact “Siobhan done it” it’s not easy, it is mentally and physically exhausting yet I still smile through the training..why…because if I wasn’t smiling I swear I would be crying no doubt. 

Caitriona led the support through the early stages. Let’s face it, if there is someone who has more determination and relentlessness about them..its her. With the plan to stick with me to 14mile to break the 13.1 she knew that it would take everything she had to get round. 

I don’t feel any pressure running with her. We are well matched as we both know when we are going too fast and both respect that when one or the other needs to gather themselves, it’s not a problem. 

The first 4 mile around the hills we obviously had the usual complaints of tight legs, breathing and general why the hell are we doing this. 

Getting onto the lake to begin the laps, I knew she was thinking the inevitable “I’ve 4 laps of the lake todo” it is daunting but after a while it strangely becomes a victory that you kept going for so many. Each lap is 2.5mile but years of going around it for family walks, sponsored walks with schools and now running it. It does get a bit monotonous and at times you want to blow it up.

A strong first lap went by followed by a second. As we finished the second, I spotted the brightly coloured top of Selena at the hut talking to my main man Frankie. We were at 9 mile.

Selena brought her desire to always take the perfect picture and beautiful singing voice to todays run. It takes a special sort of person to run with me and she appreciates my need to go at my pace even if it’s slower than her normal pace. Let’s face it she’s great to run with as she knows so much about running and happy to impart knowledge to help.  

So together the 3 of us ran yet another lap. With 2 more laps to go Caitriona took a break to refill on water and catch her breath. So the plan was run on, and catch Caitriona and let her do her final lap and we’d meet her after our 2 final laps.

My 13.1 came in at 3hrs and knew I was doing better than last week. So it felt promising. I began to have the mental fight with myself at around 15 mile about this is the furthest I’ve gone but Selena kept me focused and kept me running when I didn’t want to run anymore.

I seen 16 mile come and Caitriona had met us on the final straight of the lake so I knew I had to go on that bit more to make the 17. I kept myself going and strangely picked up the pace. However at that point, it was just a matter of getting it finished. A wee 0.2 extra round the lake path and back seen the watch clock 17 mile and the relief that it was done sank in.

So we did what any athlete would do after a long run…We got into the lake to cool the feet and look at the times and pace….well it seems I totally smashed it today, clocking 17 mile only 20 seconds slower than it took me to run 15 last week. 

So it just shows you how effective it is to have friends to run with. I don’t think I’d have got this far in running if I hadn’t joined a running club. It was even more for the times when taking it easy that your thoughts aren’t consumed by the doom and gloom, keeping things upbeat. 

I really enjoyed today’s run though. I laughed, I smiled, I had great friends sharing in the “fun of 17miles” but most of all I felt very lucky. Lucky to have people in my life who knew exactly what I needed and when, to get me through that run. 

Of course it was finished off with a pint of Avonmore 

So after my half an hour of euphoria it hit me…I’ve to find 18 mile next week. 🙈🙈🙈

A good filter hides how I really felt in this picture after 17miles

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. 


 

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.

 

 

 

 

Catch yourself on Siobhan!

Catch yourself on Siobhan!

I woke up this morning to get up for my usual 7am Wednesday morning session at The Burrendale with Shane. The alarm went at 6.20am and it was like an outer body experience. The voice in my head was floating above me telling me that I needed to catch myself on. I was not fit for it.

The voice was right, I had really pushed the boundaries last week and my body was about to give up. So I reluctantly messaged Shane to say I was broken and resorted to feeling sorry for myself and reflecting on why it was taking me so long to recover after Cookstown half when I bounced back after Lisburn half.

So on reflection this is how last week went…

Sunday 24th July – Active Financial Newry and Mourne Womens Mini Marathon

You can read about the race here. I went out to PB and done so at every distance minus the 30sec I couldn’t find to make it a 10k pb. So I had mentally and physically pushed myself to my limits on a course that was very challenging.

Monday 25th July

I wish I could remember what I had done that day as I’m definitely sure I wasn’t at the gym, or out running as my Garmin would have picked that up. So I am going to settle on drinking tea (probably at Moiras), being on facebook and snapchat whilst the kids where at Summer Scheme. So essentially a rest day.

Tuesday 26th July

Ahhh what a cracker day was had. Set off after dropping the kids at Summer Scheme with my lunch in the backpack and away I went with Lauren to check out the Dambusters route. I was still a bit sore and achey from Sunday but no running was involved, it was refreshing as Lauren had busted herself at the gym too so we were a right state between us. We walked all the way up to Ben Crom dam and assessed strategies for the race and how to best deal with it on the day. As well as how lovely a route it is going to be as long as the rain stays away. We covered about 9 mile that day, obviously there was the usual craic and banter along side our solutions to world problems.

That evening I was in with Patricia McGrady to get a sports massage and boy does she know how to work those nasty lumps and bumps. I have decided to put her in the same category of Shane, Dermot and all other PTs, job satisfaction comes from pushing people to their limits. But totally worth it for the client! ( I get it, its just unpleasant at times)

Wednesday 27th July

Wednesday was my session at the gym with Shane, with various squats, lunges, intervals, weights and comparing notes on training plans. I just always know that after death hour with Shane, I will suffer the next two days.

Thursday 28th July

I hadn’t planned to, but I ended up at Dermots final session with MAC. I was only going to stay for the warm up and do a lap of the lake, but I stayed on as I didn’t want to leave someone on their own in a pair and although I felt like I was going to die at several points of the session, I learnt a lot and dare I say, enjoyed it.

Friday 29th July

I knew I should have been resting at this point for Sunday. However opening the curtains on Friday morning the sky had Friday Funday written all over it. So Lauren and I done the usual, picked a spot with no plan in mind other than to keep going until we run out of path.

For all the blue skies and endless views, there was a cloud following me on that hike up from Letirim Lodge. Lauren is leaving for London next month to do her PGCE. I am bloody delighted for her don’t get me wrong, we worked hard for this, but I lose a great friend who would happily get lost with me in the mountains at a moments notice. Not that easy to do when she’s across the water. So when we reached the end of the path, high on a hill with the most beautiful views I have encountered yet, I sat and cried. Little did Lauren know when she was taking this picture of me that behind the sunglasses I was crying.

Saturday 30th July

I did rest!

Sunday 31st Cookstown Half Marathon

You’ll find all the details on the events of Cookstown half here. I had pushed myself to a 4 minute PB and obviously 13.1 mile takes a lot out of you.

So…

Yeah I know, I know. I have over done it. Its not like I have the body of a super athlete who would laugh at the fact I am beat out after last weeks events which probably look like a walk in the park to them. Last week was pretty intense, with the CHM hanging over me all week and the various things I got myself into no wonder this morning I couldn’t motivate myself.

In true fashion as I’ve come to expect and respect, I got the brutal, honest and with love telling off from Selena to remind me that I need to give myself time to recover, to recharge and to stop “running” on half empty. So I’ll listen to her and I will take a few more days to fully recover. Then I will be a better runner all round as I’m fully ready to run. Also I guess the fact I am sporting a lovely cold sore too also points to the fact I need to chill.

So taking this all on board… my house is really clean now.

Where I do most the blog writing. .but today not surrounded by mess

 

 

 

 

 

Throwback to the first attempt

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

 

12th November 2015

PhotoGrid_1467839920642

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

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

 

5 days later I managed this..

12274724_10153708964990797_857395168215038811_n.jpg

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

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