Tag: friendship

The road to the final 26.2 miles of training

The road to the final 26.2 miles of training

So here it is… the round up of another marathon training phase.

Finishing Derry as deflated as I did, I was still able to look at it and say well I did xyz wrong and was only 7 minutes behind where I was in Dublin (and I’d just basically walked 13 mile) so knew I had so much more to give.

I set my sights firmly on DCM17 and knew what I had to do. The thing is come the end of June I was unwillingly forced to assess my position as a member within MAC. A club that I had devoted my last year to, spent hours weekly happily putting together race reports, travelling to support races quite literally climbing mountains to cheer; I was proud to be a part of the club.

I took the decision to remove myself from the social aspect of the club and just be a paid member on the books. Life is too short to have individuals try to cloud your life and I took to the roads to remember why I ran in the first place. And it was there I found me again. Much to the joy of some family and friends who had seen how things had taken it’s toll on me.

I didn’t think twice the next week about signing up to tackling Knockagh Ultra. I felt I had to push myself to the brink of blowing up. And with the miles still in the legs from Derry I’d a point to prove to myself.

I arrived at Ards with the girls in the Little Miss vests that Caitriona had bought us all as a present for completing Derry. I put a strong performance in and got to see Brenda over the line for her to gain a half PB. Somehow now I’m known by the vest at races. Wonder why ūü§Ēūü§Ēūü§Ē

10k pb followed for myself at the Mini Marathon. Taking 3 minutes of my time on the same course the previous year. 

A mad weekend in Dublin for Rock n Roll with the girl’s gave me a severe hangover but also a half PB… improvement was already visable.

I took on Knockagh with Tony and we had a blast. I flirted with death at mile 28 but we got there and gained Ultra Status – at the point in marathon training when I should have just been pushing past 13 mile.

So there was no question that I could manage 26.2 mile now. 

Whilst discussing Knockagh with Dermot one day, I had asked if he could take a look at my plan for DCM. I had the thoughts of Derry consuming me, I had the fact I could run an ultra sitting there so it was time for me to pick up pace and focus for what I wanted. And really there was no one else I knew who would be able to point me in the right direction.

With 9 weeks to get my act in gear Dermot offered to coach me. I won’t lie.  I was filled with dread. I see the man daily on Strava and the sessions he puts in. I’ve flirted with death in his interval sessions and although it was a take or leave option. Something inside me wanted the challenge. I had to be accountable to someone for what I did and to do it right. So with fear in my eyes I accepted the offer and training began full steam ahead the week after Knockagh.

Every Friday my phone would bing with the next week’s schedule. Each day I’d to report back on my session and I had to leave not only the lake behind but the girls. I’d to spend a few weeks finding my pace and the head space. It was tough going those first few weeks. I’ve never clocked so many miles. But each session reflected on different aspects of my running and my confidence grew week on week, as well as my need to nap everyday.

As the miles got longer I was allowed to bring back in support on the weekly long runs even if it was just for a handful of miles. Laura Jane joined the 7am Saturday morning long runs and over the weeks built herself up to half distance from 10k. Jennifer also made some early morning starts to help her training for the back2back at Monaghan. 

I was clocking 40+ miles a week and I could feel my fitness improve in all runs. I have to admit my favourite run every week was my mid week endurance run. 8 mile at race pace. I was joined by Theresa and Sarah for a few of these and that allowed me to up the pace alongside stronger runners. It was a run that always went well. Regardless if the previous runs that week went to pot. Thursday always set me up with drive for Saturday’s run.

Annaghmore 18miler was the perfect oppertunity to give pace and race day a bash. I loved every minute of the day but training had begun to take a it toll on me and had to take a few days off afterwards to recover. 

The last month has been up and down. Though I’ve had to rein it in towards the end. I know I am capable of doing what I want, if everything falls into place on the day. Though I have experience of things going pear shaped and I won’t be toeing the start line in the shape I want to be.

But a marathon is what it is. Marathon training is a bitch and in the words of Dermot -I’ve to just suck it up. I’ve made peace with myself and all I can do is go out and run. Right, left, right, left. 

My emotions are all in tact and nerves are no where to be seen. But I’ll tell you this?after an ultra and 3 marathons in a year. I’m taking a break after this carry on. I am only human and what I’ve achieved this year is beyond my wildest imagination. I never saw the past year panning out like it has.

Thank you to everyone along the way who has supported me, near and far, cheered me on, held my hand and offered hugs. Those who daily dealt with my post run selfies and pre run procrastination. Those who put in the miles with me in training and in races.  Those who watch on over the computer and like a post. 

And of course good luck to everyone in the running community who will rock up on Sunday in Dublin and knock out the last 26.2 miles on the training schedule.

  Let’s do this -these 2 are looking new medals for the collection

Advertisements
What you doing today…running, I’m always running

What you doing today…running, I’m always running

I’m still going 

With the absence of the requested scheduled naps on the plan… I’ve ditched them for going to bed earlier. Which seems to be working.

I knew there was 40+ miles on the plan this week afterall this week was the start of endurance weeks and although grateful for minimal speed work and lung busting sessions. Lots of miles where to be covered. 

Day 1: 

Back on it with a lovely 4 mile round Murlough with Mic√©al who was in need of a recovery run after his long run last weekend so didn’t mind slowing and meeting my pace as we went through a multi terrain route dodging rabbit holes and over the sand. 

However a morning run meant that I had to do it all again in the evening at The Running Coaches beginners graduation. 3 strong mile with the beginners on Monday as they completed their first non stop 5 k was a great way to end of what was a lovely beginners group who had worked hard over the past 6 weeks.

Day 2

Speed work got dumped this Tuesday for a 6 mile run. It must be a Tuesday thing for me to have a crap run. I made it but it wasn’t pretty or enjoyable. Also got told off for over thinking every run. Guess having what is essentially high functioning anixety will drive me to mental break down before the actual marathon. Get the hard hat on coach… My maranoia will be tough to handle come the middle of October.

Day 3

I opted for the shorter run today as legs where hanging in there. With a mini fartlek session in the middle of the run I took note of my telling off and decided to not think about the run and just tick it off as done.

Day 4

Mid week endurance at marathon pace.

That run again…8 mile. Last week’s this run was the highlight of my week and this week it didn’t disappoint either. 

Joined by Theresa at the start of mile 3 it was lovely to have company and especially company of a runner who you have watched come through the ranks of The Running Coaches beginners and progressive to become a fantastic runner. It was the perfect morning for a run and the time flew in. So much so that I forgot to watch pace and clocked 11.45 min/miles over the 8 miles. 45sec a mile quicker than marathon pace. I wasn’t busted and was really comfortable. Best run of the week and definitely up there with the best run in the whole plan so far.

Day 5

Ah Rest Day. I’d been to see Grainne for my overdue rub down on Thursday and my right quad still feeling a bit tender, loved the rest. Good to know all muscles are in good order given the intensity of the training. 

I did get to thinking about a comment regarding me not being as excited about this marathon. It’s been a mental year of miles. Dcm16 was my first, Derry offered challenges of Its own as I was guiding. Knockagh Ultra was just a bat shit crazy idea and now dcm17. 

It’s not that I’m not excited about it. I can’t wait for it. However it’s my race. As in no one is relying on me and no pressure of it being my first. I’ve proven I can do 26.2 mile and beyond. Only person this race matters to is me. I’m the source of the pressure, I want to do my best and that doesn’t give me my usual – lets go out for the craic and do it vibe as I know how easily all the training can fall apart on race day. 

Again the analogy of all your eggs in 1 basket on race day and I may crack the whole lot like I did at Derry. Though if I’m well trained and practised it should be a great run, with some craic and a fab session at the pub after! 

Day 6: Long Run Day 18 mile


Another Saturday I sit in the 12 Arches at 7am wondering why I do this to myself. Again joined by the ever improving Laura Jane we set off. It was a mild morning but clouds did begin to engulf the mountains at the end of the first 6 mile. She was planning to go to 10 mile this week however when we reached the turning point that would give her 10 mile, Laura Jane casually said; sure let’s go to 12. 

Once again I had appealed to the crazy in Laura Jane which she is very aware of how easily happens after meeting her at a Sling meet and teaching her the skills of babywearing and cloth nappies. Resulting in her training also to become a consultant. I always said to her that I open doors but she chooses to go through the doors. And here she was about to own the double figures.

From mile 10 the wind began to pick up but pace was steady and still comfortable. Reaching 12 mile I was absolutely estatic to see LJ finish her run- still in one piece and buzzing from what she had just achieved. With a 12.22 min/mile average I couldn’t complain. 3 weeks ago she hasn’t ventured past 10k. So proud of her and also grateful for the company for my first 12 mile.

That did mean I’d 6 mile to do on my own. Well I wasn’t… ok it wasn’t in human form but the wind that didn’t exist at 7am had appeared and boy did it kill my mojo. As a battle it pushing at me from the side and head on I kept thinking about how I missed the shelter of the lake. 

After a few choice words at Stephen and Darren as they passed me with the wind at their backs (lucky friggers) at mile 17. I knew it was only one more mile. It was first class resistance training as I refused to let the wind beat me.

On reaching 18 mile and the clock showing 12.35min/mile over the 18 mile I knew the wind had hit me hard and although it could be windy on race day, it definitely wouldn’t be a coastal wind in Dublin City Centre.  

I felt exhausted after but that was definitely more the wind. Legs felt fine though however it was the worst post run shower ever. Guess that’s a sign that a new sports bra is required. So another is on route so hopefully normal service can resume again. Chaffing is something I’ve never had issues with so definitely was more clothing related than a bad relationship with Vaseline ūüôą

Day 7; she rested and  instead sent Michael out for his long run.

Hooking up with Joe and a few from Murlough AC between them a lot of miles where clocked up and I tell you this… if I came home from a long run and lay dead on the floor, I wouldn’t get away with it! 

So another week ahead however this time I’m working towards an 18 mile race at Annaghmore on Saturday. I hear there’s a few hills but in that part of the country you wouldn’t expect anything less! This will be the real test of where I really am and give me the perfect oppertunity to trial pre race and in race fuelling. As well as continue to freak out about everything. 

5 weeks to go…

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.

 

 

Being taken up the Knockagh backwards РA tale of my first Ultra 

Being taken up the Knockagh backwards РA tale of my first Ultra 

Limits…everyone wonders where their limits are. I know I prefer a mild curry but I like my baths very hot. How far can I push myself running was something I’d never thought about much. 

Still quite a baby within the running community, this time 2 years ago I could barely run a tap never mind a mile. Yet after only 2 marathons I found myself flirting with the idea of a 50k.

So quick rewind. As part of Brendas London training we took part in East Antrim Marathon Series or EAMS as better known, Knockagh Challenge. It was more the appeal of a medal for a 20 mile training run that drew us in and the flawless reputation of their events. Smaller more intimate event but great bling and super supportive. What’s not to love. 

Mile 16 of the April Knoackgh Challenge with Brenda 

In short these are the stats of this particular route:
10.3 mile a loop

900 ft elevation each loop

Choice of 1,2 or 3 loops

Big ass hill leading to a monument 

2 laps in April was everything I had imagined the race to be. Yes the elevation was tough but we had a blast and was cemented as one of the best races of the year. I even took a small obsession with finding various Knockagh-likes on training runs.

Top of Slieve Martin, Rostrevor 

I had guided Tony round Derry Marathon and we had talked during the run about teaming up again in the future. The return of the Knockagh challenge was one that I had said I’d happily join forces with him again whenever it rolled round. Well I didnt have long to wait. 2 weeks post Derry marathon ..whispers of a return of Knockagh where heard for the end of the summer.

Derry Marathon June 2017

It was almost immediate when word went live, that up popped the message on messenger. Tony didn’t waste anytime and with it being so close to Derry I still had the miles in my legs so ramping up the miles in training would be safe enough and managable. So when the question of 1,2 or 3 laps appeared…it was no contest 3 laps it was.

So I had until August 19th to get my ass in gear and attempt my first Ultra, roughly 6 weeks. I kept it to myself for a few weeks though. The girls had followed suit to tackle the Knockagh but once 2 x 20 milers appeared on Strava in quick succession I had to admit what I was training for. 

I had plans this summer to work on my 10k and half time so this wasn’t really in the plan. Yet amongst intervals and better structured training I managed to get my 10k down another 3 minutes. I was beyond ecstatic to even manage 5.5 minutes off my half time at Rock n Roll the week before Knockagh. A testament to how hard I had been working between the crazy long runs. 

The day was soon upon us and using her brain to make a sensible call, Caitriona dropped to the 2 laps. Brenda and Jennifer had their hard hat’s on and where going to go the full distance too.

With a 5am start on Saturday morning we arrived with plenty of time to spare. Nerves where high. I had my own mini meltdown on Wednesday about the event but didn’t let onto the girls that I was suffering acute maranoia. Afterall this was technically my bright idea and I’d to be strong for us all. However once we got out of the car and got mixed up amongst the participants I relaxed and had a very much ‘nothing I can do about it now’ attitude.

I looked up and there is was. The Knockagh Monument towering over Greenisland. I aimed to visit it 3 times over the coming hours. A message from the wise man to take my time with no silly messing at the start and ease into it, brought me firmly back to earth. What was I doing? You fecking eejit Siobhan! So with the plan being to arrive alive each lap. I didn’t think in distance and embraced the only way I know how to run which is to smile and count the laps. 

Tony arrived and although I was accused of being too full of beans for the start of the days proceedings, he knew he was stuck with me for the next 31 mile. 

EAMS had kindly suggested that the resident “Knockagh Knuts” lead off the race. So there was Tony and I about to set everyone off on their days adventure. After a chilled, animated briefing we were on our way. 

8.30am as everyone took to the line

Lap 1 was relaxed. The weather had been kind and although a tad windy it was refreshing and cooling. Being a clockwise course it meant that Tony, who prefers to run to my right, was to the inside of the paths. This meant only one thing, brambles, nettles and brackens. I admit,I missed a few to warn him about but considering I am a bit shorter and they didn’t reach my head I’m easily forgiven. Though I am sure there were a few bad stings that I swear I couldn’t avoid. I ran along a grass verge and on the road at times to ensure I didn’t have him running in the ditch itself. 

We had agreed to tackle this as a team. We had welcomed Susan with open arms into the team knowing she was of the same pace and she had also hoped to take on a marathon the next day in Letterkenny. At that she was more than mad enough to be hanging with us. 

The turn to the climb was soon upon us in the 2nd mile. Up, up and up it went. Then it got steeper and steeper. Forever in the shadow of the Knockagh Monument as it looked down on us laughing at how silly it must have thought we were. 

The whole team together on the approach to Monument Road.

That last turn was heaven, one more push got us to a gentle incline followed by a banana like down and up. As we picked up pace again we were soon welcomed by the 2 most amazing marshals to ever grace any race. Lorraine and Michael were there for the duration and offered hugs, encouragement and an array of goodies. This fuelled us for the final climb to the monument. Meeting others as they descended was filled with encouraging and supportive words which is always fantastic to hear. 

And there it was… Knockagh. Looking out onto Belfast Lough the sun shone for miles around. Doing the obligatory lap of the monument I had forgotten how beautiful and peaceful it was up there and how God damn big the thing was. 

The big lump of stone on top of the hill

But knowing we were coming back 2 more times we set off on our way. The team firmly together as we made our way to the corkscrew bends. Definitely Knockagh clockwise is a nicer way than the anticlockwise direction. Even on the downhill the corkscrew goes on forever! 

As we made our way back to the road we began to spread out. Probably safer. Tony, Susan and Myself close together as we made the final stretch to the start/finish line. We arrived at the checkpoint and as I stopped I felt it. I couldn’t believe it. My bloody right leg began to cramp. Stopped too suddenly maybe, I don’t know but thanks to the paramedics on site I had half a can of deep heat sprayed on me and I had to get going again as quick as possible. So we were forced to leave Jennifer, Brenda and Caitriona behind and off the 3 of us set off. 

It wasn’t long before Jennifer caught us just before the bend. But I felt my leg ease or maybe it was the can of coke kicking in but I took on the hill the second time like a woman on a mission. I’d my mountain head on and I was not going to let a hill defeat me. It was here I had a very humbling moment. We had begun to be passed by those on their 3rd lap. With 10 more miles completed than us, I was amazed to see them stop to walk parts of the hill. These are marathon runners who run 6 minute miles on normal runs being reduced to walking on the hill. I did look upon it as a way to conserve energy but it was reassuring to see that those who were leading the pack had similar tactics just a lot quicker. 

By now my race stories had become deep and meaningful. Reaching the half way point at Knockagh, Tony took me to the edge of the grass to let me see over the drop. I’m not a fan of heights and knew there was a sheer drop there. But I was tackling an Ultra – I was fit to embrace the height. 

As we reached 18 mile I was comfortable, had found my groove and poor Tony had to listen to Susan and Myself swap motherhood stories and remedies. In the distance there were dark clouds. The weather had said there would be showers but these clouds were nasty looking.

As we approached the final half mile to the end of the 2nd lap, rain began to fall. Of course this lead to the ground being wet and me totally missing a mud pile after a footpath, nearly losing Tony as he slipped. I really am a terrible guide on open roads. Quick reaction meant he stayed on his feet but I was sure I had hurt him. Though being the man he is, he ran on saying he was fine and didn’t tell me until after the race he had pulled something in his knee. As we reached the end of the lap the heavens opened. Thankfully it was a short, sharp shower and soon gone.

Before lap 3 Susan had gave me some magic magnesium spray for my legs which was unbelievable. It instantly loosened my legs and I was ready for lap 3. No sign of the girls behind. I took on what I could stomach in solid food. I was heading for marathon distance and beyond this lap. 

I was lucky to welcome Gillian (first lady home) and Stephen (strava buddy) across the line before setting off on my final lap. Time wise I was doing ok. Second lap was a bit slower than the first but I put that down to the pull of the other runners in the first few miles in lap 1. 

Off I went on lap 3. My legs were fuelled by magic spray and knew this was it. Even if I had to crawl I was going to do it. And surprise, the hill was still there. Looking a lot more steeper and higher than before. I am so grateful for my trips up the mountains, they served me well. Tony was great and my wee legs managed to keep up with his long strides. We lost Susan on the climb but knew she’d never be too far behind. 

Oh my god my legs were in bits at the top of the hills. I don’t know if it was a thank God that hills done but knew marathon distance wasn’t far away and as we met marshals extrodinaires at the bottom of Monument Road we where 1 hill away from 26.2.

Hitting marathin distance

Saying goodbye to Knockagh 1 more time was a relief. The steps back to the road where the hardest part of that lap no joke. As we descended back down we passed Susan followed by Jennifer and her colourful language and greeted by a positive and smiley Brenda who we met at 26.2 on the nose. 

Stephen and Gillian had come up in the car with beer on offer. In fairness if I had accepted, that would have been me. My body would have shut down thinking it was party time post marathon. So politely declining we used the downhill to take on the final 5 mile.

Excitement came over me at 27 mile that I was actually going to do this. My body was beginning to wonder why it wasn’t at the pub as per normal marathon tradition. We had been met by Tonys team mates for his next big challenge the PAT 2018, Pete, Matthew and Janice up on the bikes with Pete on the tandam piloted by Matthew. It was a great boost.

 By this stage Tony was sure I should write a book on my life as he thinks I’ve some worthwhile stories to tell from my past. Both entertaining and enlightening. We had some lovely moments on those final miles. Just me, him and road in front. Both of us about to achieve something people would have deemed impossible for us both. Making dreams a reality and showing the world there are no barriers, it’s just finding a way to get around them.
Mile 28 saw my legs begin to protest. I felt a blister pop on my right foot and knew this was going to take all the positivity I had to get to the end. Obviously if I had trained harder over a longer period of time I wouldn’t have had this minor struggle but my body was in uncharted territory and it knew it. 

Yet it wasn’t long before we were preparing ourselves for the home straight. The medics had been past to check on us and informed the finish line of where we were. And there waiting at the line I saw Caitriona popping her head out to see us coming, Wallace Tonys guide dog, Emma Tonys fabulous wife and a number of the EAMS team and runners. 

I have been so happy to see a finish line

We crossed the line, hand in hand to rapturous applause. I couldn’t believe it. It was the best hug I’ve ever had. I didn’t want to let go of Tony. We had done it. 31 mile/50k/a lot of hill.

In amongst the haze I wanted to ensure I had clocked over 50k so took myself for a short third of a mile recover run to push the numbers up. Yes everyone thought I was mental. But I needed that minute to gather myself and my emotions. 

I arrived back and text Michael followed by checking in with those on Snapchat awaiting my finish photo. Tony got mobbed by Wallace and I stood in disbelief. An Ultra marathoner. That’s me.

What people don’t realise is that I had more than determination and madness driving me through the miles.  This day 5 years ago I made a phonecall that was to turn my life upside down and inside out. From here I broke into little pieces and began to build myself into the person I am today. Against the odds and losing a lot of people who I thought cared, I fought for justice and had my day where I was proven right and a burden eased (I would say lifted but the past never goes away).

I found running in my journey to find who I was and it was so appropriate to cross that line at 50k when I did. A true indication of how far I’ve come in the past few years and the how I didn’t have anything or anyone holding me back.

As I pretty much ate everything in sight, Susan crossed the line and had picked up the two lads, Ivan and Ronnie, out on course to accompany her through the final miles. 
It wasn’t long before we welcomed Jennifer and Brenda. Smiling together they crossed the line and hugs where aplenty. I feared that I was being cursed up and down that Knockagh by them. Brenda not so much..she knew what she was in for but definitely sure Jennifer had lots of choice thoughts for me. 

So here we are…Ultra Runners. Jennifer marking her 10th marathon and Brenda going from 10k in January to Ultra in 8 months. Unbelievable stuff. I’m so proud of everyone. I think you need some sort of crazy idea radar as we’ve seriously pushed the boat out this time.

Whats the next challenge planned… is what I keep getting asked. Well nothing I haven’t done before- DCM17 where all the madness began last year. For now though I’m resting my wee legs, showering my feet with love and I’ll get back to proper training for the marathon once I’m fully recovered.

I’ll wake up everyday for the rest of my life an Ultra runner. However the reality is I’ll forget somedays what I’ve achieved after all its just a very long run. Guaranteed though everyday I’ll be woken by my kids, who although don’t understand what I’ve achieved, will someday be proud of how far I’ve actually ran. Proving to them that they can achieve anything they can dream of. And that alone is an invaluable lesson to be taken from being taken up the Knockagh … 3 times… backwards.

A huge congratulations to Susan Dixon on completing not only 50k on Saturday but also on getting up the next and completing a marathon. Just unbelievable. 
Thanks to everyone for all the photos especially Lorraine and Simon from Seapark AC. Just lovely to have the day also in pictures. 

Wintervals. ..Go Hard or Go Home

Wintervals. ..Go Hard or Go Home

A winter tale devised by Hugh and Selena.

Tuesday seen the start of the club’s “wintervals”

In short for those who don’t feel like thinking today that’s the Winter Interval sessions. 

Only joining the club at the end of March, I was late to the Winter Party so didn’t get to do sessions however from my 2 sets of Death by Dermot, I really enjoy intervals and the visable improvements it offers to your running and your ABCs. I can now even stretch my quads without the need of a pillar or person to steady me-wohoo!

So after months of hard graft, very long days and very late nights, Hugh and Selena gained their coaching qualifications. This is fantastic news for the club given that we now have two coaches who are not only dedicated to expanding their own knowledge and skills within athletics but also willing to dedicate their time, effort and expertise to the members of the club to improve our overall performance at no additional cost to us yet at probably a detriment to their own training. How lucky are we?!? And to Hugh and Selena…thank you in advance of the next few months!

So we kicked off with a time trial. The dreaded phrase everyone shutters at when they hear it. 

3 Miles from one end of Newcastle to the other. Doesnt seem too hard…yeah unless you are currently struggling to break the 13 minute mile barrier since DCM. 

Fridays run around the hills was one of those just plain hilarious runs when all you could do was laugh at how pathetic you imagined you looked. On a route I was familiar and confident with, although very hilly and challanging, I was 7 minutes slower over the 4.2 mile than I was achieving back in April before the madness of Dublin began.

So I had hoped a 38minute 3 mile would be achievable. I was going to give it all my wee legs could manage even though I’m still holding onto the “marathon legs” excuse. So it was simply go hard or go home. No point going to intervals for a chat and craic, you go to do what your told, bust yourself over the short period, embrace being out of your comfort zone and be assured that everyone else around you is feeling exactly the same as you. Chat and craic running is for other nights. 

So meeting Caitriona, who is thankfully on the road to recovery, we set off for a quick half mile to test her legs from the Pearcy to the Bridge and back. Sitting at 10 minute miles I kept saying we’re going too fast and to slow the hell down! Seems after weeks on the bench her legs had to stretch out where mine just got a rude wake up call.

Happy to hear there wasn’t any immediate pain and discomfort we set off for the start of the time trial. 

I knew myself that if I started with everyone in the club I’d have been busted before I even started. I don’t mind a wee half mile but 1.5 mile would have ruined me. You’d think after everything training for DCM I’d have confidence in myself. I do – just in my own speed and ability to eventually get there. I hate holding people back or people waiting on me and someday I might blend into the group but knew it wasn’t going to be this week. 

So I was happy to set off that bit earlier and with the company of Caitriona who was going to walk it back to the car afterwards, it was a rather enjoyable warm up. 

It wasn’t long before Selena and Hugh arrived followed by over 30 of the club members. Absolutely fantastic turn out, showed how much everyone wants to improve and take advantage of what the club has to offer. Plenty of the Death By Dermot crew returning who I’m sure like me are missing the kick you get from a short sharp session. Nice to see those who have been on the injury bench back out and also fabulous to see so many faces that I’ve only ever seen in the computer too! Hello!

So after our safety brief and the route outline again, we were put into our speed appropriate groups and off we went. 

I knew that I was going to be passed by everyone and it’s actually a nice wee boost to have the faster runners come past. Psychologically it stops you from walking as you don’t want to show weakness to the better runners in the club. Also the verbal words of support are a great kick. As for the physical support Mic√©al, you near had me jumping the barrier into the sea. Scared the bejaysus out of me! 

I’d hoped to manage 12 minute miles and keep it steady. Allowing for a drop in pace later on. By the time I’d reached 1 mile, Phil from the last group had caught me with ease. 

By the time we’d reached the Slieve I could see Sinead and Maria at all times in front and knew Norah wasn’t too far behind me.

Passing the other runners who had already lapped the Slieve was the highlight of my run. It was so lovely to see everyone going strong and exchanges of encouragement across the road. I was particularly impressed with Laura who was looking so on point and comfortable in amongst the “middle of the pack”.  I may get into this cross country malarkey as I want to run like that! 

Selena was at the exit to the Slieve to mark the 2 mile point. As I picked up pace up Golf Links Avenue I could hear talking and then Selena shouting encouragement at me. She had obviously joined Norah to run it home. 

No joke. I could hear them getting closer and was prepared for coming in last. Soon enough the 3 of us where running together. As I spotted the Holy Grail that was Hugh in the distance I was delighted that the end was near as I’d gave my all and there wasn’t much there…or so I thought. 

The usual head stagger hit and knowing I’d only 200 metres left, I did what I wish I could do right throughout any run and I emptied the tank for a strong finish into the crowd of 30 runners waiting for us to finish. 

Looking down at my watch I couldn’t believe my eyes. 

Not only had I broke the 13 minute mile that has been plaguing me since DCM, I smashed it with an 11.15 minute mile average. And low and behold not a kick in the arse of my 5k pb set at the Women’s Mini Marathon in July. I have found my legs again. *insert happy dance*

The dream is alive again. Short distance running is something I want to improve on as let’s face it, it’s as slow and steady as my marathon running after a few months of several 1.09/1.11 10ks. I was sure since August I was never going to find the next gear up again.  

So targets are a plenty for me. Big aims for me, like any runner, is to break into the next time barrier, so I’d love a sub 30 5k but I’ll be delighted with seeing 31.59 and anything below a 1.08.59 10k. 

This is my focus for the next few months until half marathon season kicks off in February. 

So ready to get stuck in with renewed hope next week and ready to take on whatever Coach Hugh and Coach Selena have to throw at me. From moments of pushing the limits, to moments of elation.

Right MAC, let’s do this!  

That’s it! This time next week I’ll be a marathoner

That’s it! This time next week I’ll be a marathoner

Well it’s not the final run, it’s an end to any substantial miles.  With 1 week to go…shit just got ridiculously real.

This morning Michael and I got up and headed to the lake for a few laps. Full dress rehearsal so right down to the underwear I’ll have on. 

Boiled egg’s in a cup and a cuppa, trip to the loo and off we went. If only things would go so swimmingly next week I’d be onto a winner before I even start running.
I’ve spent so much time at the lake that I would feel like I was cheating if I ran anywhere else at this stage of training. So it was only right I do the last long run where I’ve broke all my own records over the past few months.

With 58 laps of the lake to my name since the start of this campaign what was a few more (61 completed now). I’ve seen the lake through every season this year and even now as the leaves fall, it takes on a whole new look and in a sense it’s like running somewhere new. 

Anyway some dynamic warm ups (as per homework set by Dermot #modelstudent) and off we went. I do appreciate any company on a run and I know how tough it is for a faster runner to run with me. Somehow though Michael seems to plod on and clock watches quietly without a mention.  He’s sneaky, he knows exactly what pace we are doing and will push me that bit more. 

I know I’m capable of faster for 3 or 4 laps of the lake. I’ve got so used to endurance running that the push to go even 10/15 seconds faster a km is a big ask, even though I know I’ve pulled up to a minute quicker per km out of the bag on 10ks last year over 6 mile. Lap 1 did see me PB on a lap of the lake, all procrastinating aside. Plus he is determined to push me after the marathon to break even those pbs.

Lap two I was feeling good and enjoying the run but I knew I was holding him back and maybe even hindering his training. Luckily in the distance was the world’s number 1 running buddy out walking and stretching out an injury.  

Now after all the laps of that lake Caitriona has done with me it would be mean to run past her, on the same stretch of Lake that I left her for dead at 9.5k in Castlewellan 10k (had to get that dig in), I told Michael to run on and I happily settled for a good power walk. 

It was refreshing and exactly what I needed. I’ve been an emotional bag of uselessness the past few days and it was great to throw my ideas for strategy and coping methods out there. Before we knew it we’d a lap done and minutes later Michael had finished his 4th lap.

So a tidy wee 5 mile for Caitriona,  7.5 for me and 10 mile for Michael. 

This time next week it’ll all be over and I should, all being well, be still alive. Don’t worry I’m well insured and have checked that I’m covered for marathon running (no joke) so at least you can all have a great party on me if I don’t make it! 

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 Mic√©al 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.

 

 

 

 

Running Blind – An Eye Opener

Running Blind – An Eye Opener

There was an abundance of races to choose from today in the race calendar. Something for everyone you might say. If it was distance you wanted, you could have tackled Groomsport Half Marathon. If it was elevation you wanted, you could have got over 3000ft worth at the Seven Sevens in the Mournes. But for me this weekend I went for a different challenge on a scale of its own. Not only testing my abilities to run, it tested the strength of our marriage too.

Good aul parliment buildings at Stormont

So Michael and I set off for Stormont today to take part in the Running Blind 10k. A random name for a race however it is exactly as it seems. Partnered up, you get to experience the challenges faced by both guide runners and those runners who are visually impaired. You spend half the race as a guide for your blindfolded partner and then you swap at half way.  There was a 5k option as well as a 10k, but we are off the opinion that if we are going as far as Belfast, we are going to go for the longer option.

I’ll be honest this is something that I would never do with someone that I didn’t trust. As much as we joked about the potential thoughts of the company who supplied the hundreds of blindfolds to Tony for what they could only assume to be a huge kinky party of some sort, the essence of the race was to fully embrace the inclusive nature of Running as a sport for everyone. Opening opportunities to those who feel that they can’t because of a disability and sharing the experience that both the guides and the visually impaired face in every race.

I wondered why there where so many more pairs opting for the 5k and only 16 pairs going for the 10k. I knew the challenge ahead was going to be tough, the route alone was, let me say…interesting. However I panicked a bit when I realised we where in the minority, did they know something I didn’t?  We were soon off down the Avenue leaving Parliament buildings in the background.

I opted to be the guide for the first half, mostly because I’d know what was coming up when I was blindfolded for the second lap. I know, I know, defeats the whole purpose but still. Lets just say I am a terrible guide. Either that or Michael is a terrible blind person. Of course we run at different speeds but he didn’t get the concept of Siobhan Pace so as he ran I was always behind and unable to effectively navigate so we had a few near misses. I must learn to stop saying “watch” as well, he can’t see anything to watch out for. Amazing how that is your first reaction regardless and you miss the fact it is a pointless command to someone who can’t see.

Michaels cheesey mid race selfie

When we changed over on the flat I knew what lay ahead. The first 500m was grand as it was tarmac but the trail and woodland gravel underfoot would be fun. I found it easier to just run with my eyes closed and that all important 3 mile headblock was lifted and I found my comfortable pace. It did suit this time round that he was faster and his sheer strength meant that I was easily navigated and “dragged along.” We did have a laugh to ourselves when I randomly came out with the words of Irelands newest Olympic medallists , the O’Donovan Brothers “just close your eyes and pull like a dog” as basically that was what was happening; me eyes closed and Michael pulling me along.

It is amazing how your senses come alive when blindfolded. You feel every last bump in the road and when the surfaces changes, its quite unnerving. Kerbs, fences, other people talking, its all amplified. I swear I haven’t held Michael Grants hand that long in my whole life and we’ve been together 16 years with 2 very long labours in the middle so that’s saying something and I wasn’t for ever letting it go either. Hills up and down are a whole new ball game, the downhill that is usually a welcomed break, is more like jumping off a cliff when you can’t see it.

The welcomed voice of the marshall on the final straight that we could remove the blindfolds was lovely. We ran the last 500m side by side and definitely not hand in hand. It was lovely to come across the line to a huge hug from Tony Barclay the lovely gent who organised todays race and the very man who got me around Cookstown Half only 2 weeks ago.

With the medals the kids think have mammy and daddy on them 

I have promised Tony I will run as his guide come the Winter Series in a race or two. However I am sure that Michael will warn him now that that is a terrible idea. I will need to brush up on my guiding skills that’s for sure especially if I am to help him survive the likes of the Castlewellan 10k which I am sure  I definitely can not do blindfolded as I previously thought I could.

Picture of the immense hug at the end with Tony and Michael just interested in the bling

So today I had my eyes opened. Opened to the trust people put in each other, the fact that marriages and friendships can survive a whole array of challenges and that Stormont Estate is a beautiful place to run. Most importantly though I had my eyes opened to the fact that I am very lucky, I am very lucky to only have to look ahead and remember to breathe when it comes to running. The skills required by a guide are those which surpass a normal persons understanding. The language used, the foresight required on route and the ability to read and pace your partner is vital to make it to the finish line. Then of course I had my eyes opened to the challenges that many visually impaired runners face and surpass on a daily basis. Yes I was able to take that blindfold off and return to full sight taking in the sights of the finish line. Many people can’t do that yet they refuse to let that beat them and power on for the same feeling of elation and success as I feel. And to them I take my hat off.

Should you ever think you can’t because you are too slow, can’t run, too old, too heavy, have a disability…Don’t! There is always a way and running is the sort of sport that promotes inclusivity and today proved that at Running Blind. Don’t let the what ifs stop you. Its better to have tried and done than wondering what if.

Thank you Tony for hosting a fantastic event today and we will be back next year again.

 Team MAC ready for the challange ahead

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Binnian Bitches

Binnian Bitches

So Binnian. ..A mountain I’ve wanted to get up now for a few months.

It has also been a long time since Lauren and I set off on a mountain adventure. Life just got in the way so sitting painting the fence yesterday evening it dawned on me that I fancies a wee trip up the mountain…Cue snapchat to Lauren at 7pm “Binnian?” And from there an adventure was born.

Within 10mins we where in The Bug with an additional passenger in the form of our now Ozzy family member Rachel who because she lives at the otherside of the world got to finally be an active part of Siobhan Stories. I know it’s been a life long dream!

Having never been up Binnian before I was excited as I heard the views where the best in the Mournes and a hands and knees type of climb. 

Literally as we entered into Newcastle, Lauren said it’d be great to have a wee drink up the mountain so Rachel jumped out of the car and ran in and bought 3 cans of Magners. 

As we hesitantly approached the road to the car park a bit of the Lion King soundtrack in the back round got the excitement going. We did pull the car in to make sure we were on the right road to “bunnon” as the other driver called it. And within minutes we were on the ascent. 

Even as we bagan the path the views where fabulous 

Looking out towards the back of Donard and Commeadgh, you really couldn’t beat it. However we looked at the task ahead…It looked a long way up. But as always just focus on the next 5 steps ahead. 

It had more of a path than I had thought, I was expecting another trip like Boggy Bernagh and guessing the route. I also had the panic in the back of my mind that sunset was on its way and the one thing that scares me more than mist on the mountain is darkness.  So it was an onwards and upwards sort of hike.

Great laughs where had and action shots taken to prove to the world that Rachel was climbing a mountain . 

A few wee stops for water,gathering thoughts and tricking our legs into thinking we’d finished when there was still a bit more to go. Lauren, forever the optimist, was always looking at how we had only so much to go and me with pretty much ruined legs from Shore 10k the night before was thinking this wasn’t the brightest idea I ever had. But in true TOB style we took it slow and steady and made it.

In the last 20 metres, I found a lease of life and ran the end. Telling myself I will never make a hill and daler as my legs where busted about half way up. I guess the trick with doing mountains is never to look up at the summit. Keep telling yourself you will get there and each step is a step closer. 

As I came around the corner I caught sight of “that view” Silent Valley, the heart of the Mournes and right over to Donard, I even got to curse Bernagh, the mountain where there is no love lost between us.

  And as we sat and took in the view those 3 cans of well earned Magners where a refreshing treat at the top 

But sadly our time at the top was short. It was now nearly 9pm and we could see the rain rolling in over the mountains and sunset would come within the hour. So we took the drink with us and headed down.

When I say down, I mean we couldn’t see anything infront of us as the misty rain had caught up and our only navigation was to aim down and hope we find the wall. The wall will always get you home.  

I do panic in the mist and Lauren is well aware of my hatred for it. BUT I can be grateful that we actually got to enjoy the view, something I usually don’t get the joy to do as the mountains hate me. 

The mixture of knowing we where heading down and no more climbing involved, paired with a wee drink made the descent some craic. We did find the wall and shortly after it started, the rain did ease off and give us the beautiful views back.

No need to right the world’s wrongs this time. More chat of the good aul times and what we could remember given that at the best of times we were all in some shape back then. 

Both Rachel and I had had our feet submerged in the boggy parts of the mountain on the ascent. However Lauren was to get a soaking of her own as we neared the end by slipping on a rock through a deep puddle and having both feet soaked to the core.  I swear a perfect end to a perfect hike…put a dampener on her optimism.

So what did I learn from Binnian;

Best views of the Mournes by far

It does have an excuse for a path

Morning hikes require Avonmore, evening hikes…Definitely Magners.

Nothing beats an unplanned spare of the moment adventure

Hikes are always awesome when done with friends

Finally. ..I wish Rachel didn’t live in Oz as we’ve so many more mountains to climb but glad we had her for this one! One is better than none