Tag: marathon training

I didn’t sign up to guide oversized Hippos

I didn’t sign up to guide oversized Hippos

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

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

“I can’t see out it”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Back where I belong 

After a few weeks of playing with new routes it was clear there was only one place where we should be doing our 20 miler.

The Lake.

2.4 mile of trail in the shadow in Slievenaslat, bordering a fresh water lake in Castlewellan. Literally on my door step.

As you all know, I grew up disliking the lake and being dragged around it. In all honesty I am still not too keen on it. Actually I hate it. So why am I always drawn to it when I do big miles?

  • It’s 2.4 mile, makes the maths easy
  • Has a car park on the route, handy for fuelling/water stops 
  • Elevation isn’t overly extortionate in comparison to other routes round here
  • Secluded, no one sees you 
  • Not on the open road, not as dangerous
  • As mentioned right on the door step so near to home
  • Finally laps means symmetrical elevation chart

However like doing laps of anything it is tedious and considering I never turn to go the opposite direction opting for the long gradual hill over the short sharp hill it is monotonous. Kieran Young would rather run up and down Binnian 4 times than run the lake… using marathon chaffing as the closest analogy he could find to how he feels about the lake. Which trust me is a horrendous side effect of long distance running. And speaking of Binnian. Climbing 750m mountains 2 days before a long run is not advisable. My quads where on fire.

Primarily for me 8 laps of the lake is a mental battle. If I can survive that I can survive anything. It served me well in DCM training when I did it on my own and I hope it will serve me well this time round in Derry.

So what happens on 8 laps of the lake? It’s pretty basic. It’s 8 times of looking at the same things. But each lap is different and defined in it’s own way.

Lap 1 … tough getting started. The head is riddled with wtf I’ve to do this 8 times. Both of us wondering why we even signed up to a marathon in the first place never mind 2! 

Lap 2 … wow there’s loads out runners this early in the morning  oh wait crossfitters…7am is a lie in for them. There’s loads of them.

Lap 3 … Jesus where’d that lap go. It was like oohhh we’ve started and bam we are finished. I’ll take that.

Lap 4 …the lap of the red squirrel. After last week’s thoughts of being attacked by a flying squirrel we were greeted by the rare sighting of a red squirrel which thankfully didn’t have wings.

Lap 5 …geography lesson on wind. Why is it is the wind picking up Siobhan? Cue me launching into the an in-depth explanation of isobars (not isogels) and  weather patterns. Caitriona wasn’t as impressed as I had hoped 

Lap 6 … was there not always a bin there? We’ll keep going to the bin. Caitriona swore there was a bin there. Nope no bin just a tree trunk. Then she totally missed the tree we pointed at every lap. Running amnesia in full flow.

Lap 7 … the death lap. Started slow finished strong. End is near but not quite. I did pick up pace this lap. Feeling exceptionally comfortable and embracing the fact the miles where flying in and I knew 26 was very possible. Must have been the pickle onion mega meanies last night .

Lap 8…victory lap. We offered up the final mile to the MAC members who have left us for yellow and red pastures this year.

Last 0.75 mile … I’m gonna sprint finish the last 0.2 mile like it was race day. Which I did at 8.50min/mile pace. Empty the tank!

So all done and dusted by lunch time and fit for bugger all else the rest of the day. The Lake didn’t beat me, dare I say I even enjoyed it. It was a new mileage milestone for Caitriona and belief that her first marathon is now possible.  

So bring on the taper I guess. 17, 13 and 7 milers in the next few weeks and no more going up mountains on Thursday at Hill and Dale anymore the poor quads have seen better days…must phone Grainne for a rub out. 

Getting taken up the Knockagh

Getting taken up the Knockagh

Well I seriously need to catch myself on. 

Brenda…when’s your 20 miler for London, Just saw a 20 mile race. Fancy it?

Yeah because I’m fit for 20 miles and obviously ‘the plan’ is for 20 the weekend of the 1st April. How about…thats all lies! 

But the seeds had been planted and well it involved a big and long ass hill so if I walked that and ran the rest I’d be alright…right? Michael had signed up to it and I will never forget being so gutted not having a medal after my 20 miler for dcm that I wouldn’t let Brenda feel the same. So at that we were headed for the Knockagh with the East Antrim Marathon Series.

The medal was something else. In fairness a good bit of bling can convince me to take part in any race. But with it being April Fools day and all that it paid homage to B.A with ‘i pity the fool’ and the medal wasn’t far wrong. With a choice of as many laps (1,2 or 3) as you felt fit for on the day of 10.3 miles which included a long drag of 900ft to the Knockagh Monument which I was soon educated in regarding it’s significance of it as a war memorial, thanks Eileen! It was a race fit for those who wanted to push beyond 10k, those on long runs for marathons and the ultra runner alike as well as eejits like myself with no focus or plan.

The 5.30am alarm went off and I had my normal, I don’t even like running moment which lasts until I see the finish line at the end. Also it was a big day…the last race for my DCM trainers that have served me well but not much life left and breaking in new trainers is well underway. 

It wasn’t an overly long drive to Greenisland and let’s face it we’d have been covering a lot of miles on the road anyway if we hadn’t have signed up to this event with either Omagh or Subway half…lets face it we’d have gone to Omagh so not as far just an early start.

We collected Brenda enroute and enjoyed Michael’s poor sense of direction round Belfast. As we came up the M5 there it was…the monument. Sitting at the top of something that replicated Cavehill. I have never really ventured beyond that end of Belfast except to go to Ballycastle or Portrush. So all new territory and totally unfamiliar with surrounding routes and attractions.

Whilst doing Larne, Tony had tried to educate me on being taken up the Knockagh. It sounded daunting but one things is always sure in cases like this…what goes up, has to come down and that is what I held on to the whole time.

Arriving at the registration there where familiar faces, those I’d ran with before and those who I had recognised from other events such as Last One Standing and the previous 6hour challenge that Michael done. Yet the mood across the field was definitely one of ‘what have we let ourselves in for?’ Add ‘again’ for many others on their reruen trip to Knockagh.

Race brief done and we were set off down the road. With no idea what lay ahead other than the mileage we planned to hit.

To fit in with the VLM training plan for Brenda we had to do 2 laps which would equate to 20.6 mile. This would be only the 3rd time I would have ventured beyond 30k and I know I didn’t have the miles in the legs that I wanted for the distance.

It wasn’t long before the group of runners spread out and as Brenda and myself motored along, there were two runners running quite close to us. I did step aside and asked if they wanted past but it turned out they were using us as pacers. 

Alison and Mairead from Ballymena Runners where to spend the whole 20.6 mile with us. Mairead training for VLM like Brenda and Alison the wayward friend who like me was along for the craic. A perfect match. 

We were also joined by Janet, who I first met at the Last One Standing recce, Caroline who I picked up at the Christmas Cracker for a few miles of laughter and honoured to have the Dame herself with us also, showcasing that anything is possible whilst severely hungover.  

So as we turned the corner to be faced with the hill that went on forever there was no doubt that together we were going to survive. I do love the moaning and procrastination on any run and as the hill kept going the laughs where a plenty and as long as we were moving forward that was us winning. 

Sharing tales of our big races, the fears for the upcoming ones and life in general we were soon greeted by the always smiley face of Adrian at the bottom of that infamous Monument Road which after a nice gentle incline looked like Everest. 

As runners came down the way and filled us with reassurance that ‘you’re nearly there’ we tackled the last of the climb for that lap  and there towering over us was the Knockagh Monument. I now understood the significance of it and of course why Tony had that evil laugh when I said I was doing the race. 

Yet with the weather gods on side the views where great and breathtaking. A perfect opportunity for some pictures as let’s face it… Who goes through all the elevation and doesn’t take a picture of the view. Even at the top of Slieve Donard encased by rain and clouds I take a picture and I could well be at sea level for all Joe Bloggs knows. 

So the promise of a big down hill was ahead of us however it wasn’t all immediate. As we pushed on another half a mile we soon found ourselves faced with one hell of a decline. As a guy on a bike flew past us I wondered how he was going to even stop at that speed. 

Watching from behind I watched Brenda enjoy the downhill shouting from behind to relax her shoulders. I thought back to January and the day Brendas name came out of the hat for the club place at VLM. What a whirlwind of a few months for her. Having only gone as far as 10k, in the past 2 months she’s tackled her first half and endured every horrible drop of rain that could fall on long runs. I’ve enjoyed training along side her and grateful for her support as I took ill mid race at Dune and she got me to the end in one piece. Here she was on her 20miler…20 miles! I was so proud of her and loved hanging back watching her enjoy the run. 

I spent a good part of that hill trying to convince Caroline and Eileen to do a second lap ‘for the craic’ but it wasn’t to be. I finished the first lap with Eileen as we swapped our own antidotes on life and realising we weren’t too different other than a few years difference. As I crossed the line for lap 1 Brenda was waiting on me and a quick drink and some positive thinking and we were off again for another 10.

Soon joined by the Ballymena girls and Janet the 5 of us went past the same squashed rat, the nappy at the side of the road and a random collection of bones again.

And there was that fecking hill again. However we were soon to be graced with the presence of the first Ultra runner coming round on his 3rd lap. Such encouragement from him as he pushed up the hill effortlessly. Not far behind him was another on his third lap. Spirits where high amongst those on the Ultra lap. A reflection on the EAMS event and the calliber of runners that it attracts. Able to laugh, enjoy and also offer constant encouragement regardless of how far you where running.  

And still, standing at the bottom of the last hill was Adrian and his 4 legged accomplice Disco handing out jelly babies and chocolate to ensure we got up that final stretch. This time round it didn’t seem so bad. As let’s face it we knew what came next and it was the homeward bound road. Yet with 4 more mile still to go at 16 mile I was buzzing and in the words of Lauren…loving life. Here I was on top of the world or East Antrim really with a great bunch of girls, having a great laugh, in awe that my body was able to cover this mileage and about to start the decent to one big ass medal. Life couldn’t have got any better at that moment. Lucky and blessed.

We made our way to the last downhill and Brenda and I chatted as we let our legs take us down the hill. Brenda got the Siobhan take on cadence breathing mixed with some accompanying lyrics. Alison and Mairead where just ahead as we turned onto the final 1.5 mile. 

It wasn’t long before their hand waving to tell us to hurry up was spotted and we put the final mile in together. 

20.6 miles completed and official start of tapering for Brenda and Mairead. As for Alison and myself, miles where miles and what enjoyable miles they were. 

Seeing Michael at the end confirmed he had stopped after 2 laps and didn’t tackle the 3rd. Which let’s face it was of no advantage to his vague and not well planned training schedule. Post race refreshments where spot on too. Everything you need after a race…coke, salt and vinegar crisps and a snickers. Perfect!

So being taken up the Knockagh twice was an experience. One that I am sure I’ll do again. However I’ll be checking in with the crew to see if they’re doing it. As let’s face it…its the company that makes the race a good one. The medal helps  😉 

A huge congratulations to fellow MAC Jackie Moore on making it round 3 laps to earn her first Ultra Marathon. Well proud and great running from a great athlete. Team MAC are very proud of you.

Brenda hits the first big milestone on the road to London

Brenda hits the first big milestone on the road to London

I have been hoping to get out with Brenda on her training runs the past few weeks but one thing or another hindered the occasion. So as the weekend drew closer and talk of the long run began, it was looking likely that all 3 of us where going to make the run. 

Caitriona and myself had joined the Ultra training contingent on Friday evening in the pouring rain at Tollymore for 5.5 miles at easy pace where we ran the flats and walk the hills a per the required pace for Last One Standing. 
As rain came from every angle we were soon aware that our training run was turning into a wildlife expedition as either side of us where deer grazing and wondering I’m a sure who these buck eejits with head lamps where annoying them on a Friday evening.

A particularly hilly route with some shocking climbs lay ahead but what goes up must come down and there was a very welcome downhill around mile 4 to stretch it out.

On Saturday morning Brenda, who had taken a hitus from running this week laced up the trainers for the Antrim Gardens 10k. She put in a strong performance, out doing every time she has clocked since Christmas. 
So as Sunday came the 3 of us met and headed for the only place I felt Brenda needed to put the miles in- the lake. 

The foundation of all long runs and complete and utter mental torture to the best of runners.  With intentions to do 12 the girls where warned that if we made the 12 I would be pushing onto 13.1 regardless. So that would equate to 5 laps of the the glorious 2.4 mile route and a wee bit more. 

The weather was perfect. Although cold at 1 degree and very crisp, the sun shone down and the air was still, making it perfect conditions to just keep running. 

It is a daunting prospect of 5 laps of anything be that a football pitch or the lake though what I have found is that it is always a lot better and easier when you have someone with you. And today we had plenty of laughs and giggles as we watched the time tick by.

The first 6 miles flew in and between us we didn’t have the usual 3 miles of procrastination and Drill Sargent Caitriona tried to push us on for steady 30minute laps. However as she took off up the back hill she seemed to be graced with the presence of what we can assume was a single, hot male. 

As we watched her head turn to have a better look and speed up to try and keep up briefly did make the laps enjoyable. So if you where one of those fellas in shorts at the lake today and are available please do let me know so I can pass you onto Caitriona.

Brenda had to endure mini interviews the whole way round as we assessed her experience of Lake laps and how she was feeling as the miles built up. 

As we hit the 10 mile mark, Brenda entered into unchartered territory. Not only that but she was running on legs that put in a strong 6 miles the day before. I knew this last lap would involve her having to dig really deep and find everything she had to get through the last few miles.  Although pace dropped slightly she was always in good spirits and not willing or wanting to openingly stop.

The last mile was soon upon us and as always I found a bit left in the legs. Having been told I’m a terrible leader as I pace it too fast, I went out in front to drag them over the last mile. I heard Michaels words fall out of my mouth “the quicker you go the sooner you finish” and glancing at my watch I knew a nice wee cosy sub 3 hour half was achievable. As we turned to finish the last half mile I’d miscalculated the distance and finished on a hill. 

But the thought of the end is near was driving me up it and that last 0.1 mile seen the clock stop with 2 minutes to spare. The last mile was my fastest mile the whole run.

Turning to see the girls behind was a joy. Not only had Brenda ran so well to push through the boundaries, Caitriona had put in a strong run, the best I’ve seen her run in a long time. Which just made me so proud of what we had all achieved as a team. 

So next week sees the first half marathon since August. I fear what lies ahead. I don’t think I’ve got any faster but I am very aware that I can nail the miles. Dune half will be a return to racing and at a distance I enjoy doing. 

Sadly I’d no medal for Brenda today to mark her achievement but I have no doubt that she will earn that medal next week and continue on her road to London stronger and finish the race with the thought “I’ve to do that twice to get to the finish in April.” 

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! 

Let’s go round and round again

Let’s go round and round again

Mother nature has decided to throw Ireland a curve ball this week and the weather has gone from fabulously mild to absolutely horrid in a matter of days. 

Hours of thunder and lightening, rain that came from all directions and it is definitely getting colder. 

Looking ahead to training for this weekend it had a nice wee 13 on the plan. However with the world against me at every opportunity and a mega dose of antibiotics, a long run was looking bleak. 

I’d hoped that maybe I might be able to pull it out of the bag. However after the weather forecast update via weatherman Mckenna on Friday, who isn’t afraid of the dark and happy to run about like a nut in the dark playing tunes out loud for all to hear, I took to the met office and tried to engage everything I learnt in Alevel Geography to see if I could find a break in the weather. 

There wasn’t a chance in hell that I was going to get a run in early. The band of rain coming up from the south was going to be a complete wash out until lunch time. 

I’d hoped that by 2pm the weather might clear but I tell you this,  at 10.30 you’d have thought it was here for the day as it jumped back off the ground. I stirred out the back window feeling sad. I refused point blank to get out of my jammies. I was for putting on my training gear and I was running today- end of. 

Looking out the window at the rain

At 1 o’clock I gave in and got into my running tights and a tech tshirt to go to the shop. I’d decided after I sorted lunch I’d go to the gym and put in a good hour on the cross trainer and try again tomorrow. However shortly after I got back and started cooking, I glimpsed out the window and there it was- the mountains AND blue skies coming towards me from Newcastle. Was I going to wait to see if it was going to hold? Hell no! I rushed upstairs, got my gear on and threw dinner on 3 plates and left them to it.

So 5 laps of the lake. I’m sure by now my legs should just go into auto pilot now round it. 

Lap 1: Oh dear God it was horrible. Everything felt sore. I realised I’d forgot my buff or any deep heat before I left. I’d the dreaded thoughts of 5 laps of this. I swear I could have easily just went on home. I had played with possible routes to make the miles up, run to the spike and out to Dundrum and get Michael to collect me, taking to the hills maybe or even towards Newcastle and loop in back down the Burrenbridge Road. But I didn’t want the lake to beat me. 2 weeks ago I owned the lake and showed it I didn’t fear it after 8 laps. I wasn’t going to give up.

Lap 2: ahhh there’s the nice running feeling. I found my pace and settled in lovely. The sun had come out and I was able to go along saying get to the next gap of light to find my way around. There was a rally on so although I had one ear of music in, I was able to hear all the racing sounds and spy a few cars as I came around the top of the lake.

Never have thought it had been a minging morning
Lap 3: as I began lap 3 I was greeted by my number 1 supporters. Michael had obviously, after only an hour, lost the will to live and put their coats on to feed the ducks. Needless to say this then lead to being accompanied by the crew the WHOLE way round. I loved having company but it did mean I practically walked the whole lake whilst putting up with the whinges that the play park was SO far away. Next time I’ll just get Michael to get them to make a banner and cheer me on as I near threw Ronan in the lake to shut up! I didn’t mind, I knew I needed to take it easy and miles are miles either way. 

Lap 4: I’d began to pass people numerous times now and trying to explain nicely that you aren’t in sane and yes I am actually training for a marathon was getting exhausting. I was chased by a dog off its lead. Between the 3 humans they had 8 dogs and 2 without leads. I’m not normally scared of dogs but I don’t trust them. Especially when they’re big and don’t listen to what their owner says. Why can’t people keep their dogs on a lead in such a public place. Of course they got informed of how dangerous this was and lucky it wasn’t a lap earlier when I’d Aoife as I’d have knocked them out as she’d have got so upset.  Luckily the man behind me backed me up and we finished the hill together. Agreeing that some people need to buck up their act. 

Before I began lap 5 a lady was finishing who I’d passed for the 3rd time and she stopped me. Now I honestly thought she was curious about why I was running so many times but then came the sales pitch! A Forever living rep trying to sell me Argi.

” I’m sorry but I wouldn’t put anything into my system at this point so close to the marathon. ”

“But it’s natural”

“Yeah not to my system, look I’ve got to go I’ve another lap to do and my Garmin isn’t on pause”

Like some people need their heads looked. Who does that sort of thing.  I’ve passed you 3 times, I’m headed the same direction again. So let’s stop me and try and sell me some random additive that might give me “the edge”- little does she know I’ve more edges than a bread knife! It doesn’t mean the Argi does or doesn’t work.  I just have no interest in it.

Lap 5: the victory lap. I was still in disbelief at being marketed to at the beginning but the usual menality of the final lap meant there was no fight with the head and time wise I was doing OK considering I’d walked the 3rd lap with the kids. The temperature had evidently dropped and  I was ready to go home.

It would be rude to not!

As I finished the lake and headed out for home. I knew I’d hit 13.1 pretty much on the nose by the time I reached the house. There is always something nice about the last mile in any run. Maybe it’s a “the end is near” scenario but I always feel epic. 

I got home at 13.1 but ran around the garden to get to 13.12 just to be sure strava would log a half marathon.

I’ll be honest, I felt better after my 20 miles. Right now I want to curl into a ball and never run again. I know I wasn’t firing all cylinder’s and let’s face it, to do the 13.1 in 3hr9 was good going considering I’d a walking lap. I was aiming for 3 hours anyway as didn’t want to put myself and my broken body under too much pressure to run race pace. But I needed that run. Missing last week’s long run because I was sick was tough so I needed this for me, I needed to know that after a tough week I still “had it” as such. So feeling content as I sit here hurting a bit more than I wanted to be. 

So taper…it’s time for me to embrace you and let’s nail these last few runs. How scarey – Tomorrow fortnight is race day. Holy shit!

Fun with Dermot???

Fun with Dermot???

Fun and Dermot. Not 2 words I would ever have put in the same sentence when it came to a training session.

For the record it’s not that I don’t think Dermot can be fun. I’m sure he’s the best of craic on a normal day to day basis and let’s face it, he isn’t all that bad…just when it comes to running. I suppose he’s being paid to be a coach and not to be part of the gang,  so has to have some element of fear. Even though I’m convinced he wants to be part of the gang.

Anyway fun…

We all took that with a pinch of salt. The usual suspects turned up to continue the sessions this week. It’s like it’s become so engraved in our weekly activities that we can’t cope to be without Dermot or each other. 

Be safe, be seen  high vis time

This week we where fabulously dressed in our high vis gear and taking to the promenade in Newcastle. There was no missing us, except Kate who came all in black and was more of a shadow than a shining star. 

I have to admit the back drop to the session was perfect.  The crescent moon sat to the left of the top of Slieve Donald whilst dusk set upon us. The wind which made me reroute on Tuesday was replaced by a clam and mild evening. Just perfect. 

We set off in our speed appropriate groups to do 500m reps of “Train.” Of course since our group have become so well used to each other we took that quite literally and at every lamp post and change of leader we honked. When someone fell behind we shouted that we lost a carriage ensuring our train stayed together as a team.
It got tough at times but by the 4th set we had found our pace and knew when the group would need to rein it in to keep us together. We didn’t care that we were being overtaken by the other groups. We started together and we finished together. Even so quite literally on the 8th rep we crossed the finish hand in hand. Sometimes I wonder does Dermot not just think to himself “I’m surrounded by buck eejits”

One thing I will take from the session other than it not being a good idea to hurdle the speed ramps, is to keep the chin up and focus on the stars. 

This has 2 meanings for me really. 

1; I should know by now to keep my head up at all times anyway as Dermot mentions it every week, it will sink in eventually, I promise.

2; keep my head up. With the marathon fast approaching I have to keep my head up and remember that I have trained for this, I can do this and believe in my training. I should be proud of what I’ve achieved so far in my running..even if I’ve went from 0 to 26.2 in a year which was pure madness. I’ve persevered and need to keep my head held high regardless.

A favourite saying of mine that I always told my form group in school

So was it fun, it was. I fairly enjoyed it and although we were all out of breath we were still smiling and working together as a club. The comaradery within the club continue’s to strengthen and that mutual respect amongst the runners is very visable.

For now though, I’m going to enjoy the fact it was a good session and a fun one as I’m sure Death by Dermot will be back next week with a vengeance with his usual sadist flare laced with blood, sweat and a few tears.

Siobhan Verses The Lake

Siobhan Verses The Lake

A story of 20 miles.

OK I know it’s odd to do your long run mid week but I’ve a totally valid excuse. I’ve a friends wedding on Saturday and the thought of getting up on the Sunday and running after it, is just daft. 

I’m going to dig deep and try Sober October so I don’t plan to drink at the wedding. But I’ll be honest a marathon will be easier than trying to keep me away from a wee vodka.

Any who, I knew I wasn’t feeling where I’d like to be before attempting 20 miles since Causeway Coast had taken a lot more out of me than I had expected.  But life doesnt stop for marathon training and there I was at 6 15am dragging my ass out of bed to long run.

The orginal plan was to be at the lake for 7am. Though I shit you not, it was pitch black outside and even I wouldn’t run in that. So I debated the options. (Spot the person who doesnt get up before 7.30)

Firstly Michael was off today so he was on school run duty and planned to join me at 10mile to see me through to the end. 

Secondly although I had everything sitting out and ready for the kids to go to school I feared the state that Aoife would be in if Michael done her hair so I resorted to a new plan…breakfast club!

So at 715 when the sun began to come up  I pitched the idea to Michael and he seemed happy enough.  Also meant he would be able to get plenty of miles in given that his marathon training has went from 0 in 8 weeks to a 5k on Tuesday,10k on Thursday and a half marathon on Saturday. Not ideal. 

So at 8am, the kids got dropped off at school to breakfast club and we drove to the lake to see how we went.

What lay ahead 

8 solid laps of the lake. That’s right 8. You all know the lake and I haven’t a great relationship and I try to avoid it at all costs.  I’ll do part of it and then veer off up a different track. Though I recall Shane telling me about his 7 laps back in April when he trained for VLM. He’s kept me right this long so I thought mentally if I can do this alongside the hell I went through on Saturday, I’d be capable of anything.

It went like this;

Lap 1; sweet holy mother of God I’ve 8 of these to do. And Michael is being all negative about I’ll be lucky to make 10. Does he not get I procrastinate for the first 3 miles regardless.

Lap 2; I’m feelin a bit better now I’m 3 mile in. Think Michael gets the picture that I don’t do negative thoughts on a long run and has become a bit more.positive. should count himself lucky. I was going to throw him in the lake.

Lap 3; doing OK,not bad. Oh there’s that tree again. Was expecting by this point to see some more people on the lake being such a nice day but nope. Nice and peaceful.

Lap 4; feeling comfy, nearly half way there. Now spending the laps chasing Michael. I don’t blame him, it takes a special person to run with me. But he does have very nice calf muscles.The view is good.

Lap 5; Half an alpen light bar and some water at the car and off we go again. Pace is totally on point. I’m clocking half marathon pace and still feeling strong. 

Lap 6; get half a mile in and my watch buzzes. Missed call from the school. Aoife is coughing up a lung and needs to come home. Michael is given his marching orders at 12 mile and he leaves me to sort her out… feeling very lonely all of a sudden and struggling to keep myself going. But now I don’t even realise I’ve done the route 6 times.  

Lap 7; ah I stopped to relieve myself and i swear to God it was the worse thing i could have done. Getting cramp is not fun. My poor right leg. And with no headphones with me and the demons fighting I take my phone out and put the music on loudspeaker. If anyone dares comment on it or asks me to turn it off they’ll be told to feck off and asked how they’d like to run 20 miles on their own.  The local fishermen have given up giving me odd looks and giving great support when I pass them.

Feeling elated as I go into mile 19

Lap 8; wohoo final lap. All the same trees, stones, potholes and path. It’s bitter sweet actually. A victory lap as such. I inform all the Fishermen that this is the last time they will see me and I head for home. Watching the lake come to an end and going down the back way home was immense. In through the door at 20.08miles.

So what I have learnt from this long run. Don’t stop running, keep moving. Avoid toilet stops at all costs but when you gotta poo…poo. 

Need to drink more water in the run up to the long run so that I avoid cramp.

I done 3rd fastest half marathon today

My mins/km where EXACTLY the same as my 17miler. 

Run when you can, crawl when you have to

The lake won’t ever beat me.

Oh and as for mid week long runs,  you’ve still to do the child’s homework and it’s twice the battle and effort after 20 miles

Death by Dermot Week 4

Death by Dermot Week 4


Nope that’s what it was called…Mental.

Now let’s face it, many of the MAC crew are already aware that this is an underlying attribute that they have grown and nurtured within themselves. So to take on this session we were all shitting ourselves. 

Dermots usual break down of the plan for the session was pretty vague. As in we are going to run on the whistle and after that just do what he says.

The fear I get with Tollymore is that there is so many options for what a training session could be. So basically being told to run results in 20million possibilities.

After such a nice run on Tuesday post rest, pain quickly found me at this session. A great warm up from Hugh to kick start the session was enjoyable and we headed to the entrance straight which was roughly a 1km long to the gate, all tarmaced. 

Split up into 4 speed appropriate groups  we set off on the whistle as requested. We were meant to be running at uncomfortable pace however we were still able to talk back in our group. Between Norah, Maria, Kate, Eileen, Caitriona and myself there was running happening but just as much talking. However there’s no flies on Dermot and it wasn’t long before we were being escorted down the road to ensure we kept our mouths shut and went a bit quicker, funny that. 

Yet there was this nasty pull in my thigh. I sat a rep out and gave it a good rub. There was no way I was going to pull out again this week on when I’d such a great run 2 days previous. It was all in the head  (and partially in my leg). I was capable of the session and was curious what the final challange was which Dermot remained tight lipped about. Then the chasers became the chased. Yeah it was like a hare trying to catch the tortoise, it wasn’t long before I was flanked by the other groups and even Michael McKenna flew past and I didn’t even notice until we turned round and the bright luminous man with the long legs was nowhere to be seen.

The the big reveal happened. We all lined up, slowest to fastest and told that it was a time trial. That phrase alone gives you the hebbies. How far did we have to go? Well let’s just say no one knew…as far as the orange cone which none of us knew where it was. 

So off we went and we kept going and going, the next fastest group had caught up and so forth. Soon we were to see the leaders turning and that marked “the cone” at half a mile. So we’d to run just a mile. 

The first half mile was nice as it was relatively downhill however we had to go back on ourselves and when I was averaging a 8.30 min/mile I knew I had went too hard and was no way in hell I was going to be able to keep it going up hill back to the start. 

I kept picking points and saying I’d get there and then reevaluate.  I’d Caitriona beside me at all times so that was encouraging as well as being able to see others out in front. I do laugh at myself doing things like this as only 2 weeks ago I ran 17 mile, and I’ve to find a Half marathon on Saturday. A mile should be no bother, right?

As we came into the last 300m I found a nice pace and began to stretch it out a bit. So seems after having the “jesus I can do 17 mile” thought, it kicked in my reserves and all of a sudden I was running like I knew what I was actually doing. I’d my sights set on Eileen and Norah in front and when I came up behind them I knew I’d the final push to keep going and I did.

I know it was only a mile but I nailed the finish. Not a surprising trait, those who know me will know I empty the tank at the end of every race. Whilst people where commending my finish, Caitriona rolled her eyes as if “yeah she done it again” 😂

That finally was the last of the running. A nice wee cool down full of laughs and underhanded inappropriate comments from the usual suspects and we were off home.

So that’s the end of session 4, so only 1 more left. I’m actually quite sad at the prospect of regaining my Thursday night. 

So next is the MAC on tour trip to the North Coast. Last race before Dublin. Boke.


I’m not broken! 

I’m not broken! 

Praise be to the baby Jesus…it wasn’t the beginning of the end.

Taking a few days out and regrouping was exactly what I needed it seems. Making the decision to not long run meant my body got a rest both mentally and physically. I can’t describe the elation I felt taking to the road last night and apart from my normal I think I’m going to die first few km, I was pain free and feeling good. 

Caitriona and I set off with a few for club run and although pace was faster than I liked, we both knew we where just out to see what state we were both in. So a steady 4 mile and boy was it just good to get out and move. 

So I’ve learned a valuable lesson. The hardest bit of marathon training is staying injury free and keeping the body from internally combusting from exhaustion. 

It is ok to take a break. Your fitness doesn’t disapper overnight so the miles are still in the legs and ready for this weekends race.