Tag: run

I can’t imagine life without you

I can’t imagine life without you

Very few things in life make you smile like this….

In all honesty, in the year that you have been in my life, we have been inseparable. You are the first thing I check in the morning and last thing at night. Even during the night I am checking on you. Even when I can’t sleep you are the light that keeps me company. We go everywhere together, I can’t even go to the toilet without you there. I don’t mind, you where my choice and I knew that this would happen from the moment you arrived.

I coveted you for so long, I hmm’d and haa’d over how you would fit in my life. I had coped well with your sister and the immense changes that it brought to my life. But you would be much more different. You would feel my every breath and heartbeat. You would know my every movement and be able to read my emotions. I had so many other options to weigh up, so many other things that would maybe fill that void in my life. Cheaper options not requiring such investment of my time and effort. Yet I couldn’t shake the longing for you.

I spoke at length with my husband, as you would expect any wife would do when it came to big decisions. He was also unsure if this was exactly what I needed in my life. Of course he knew only too well that it would be loved and cherished just as much as the previous one. That it would bring that something extra to my life but he wasn’t convinced I was ready for such a commitment.

I had friends who empathised with the dilemma. Those who had been in the same situation, some who understood the gravity of the decision and the impact it would have on my life. Of course there is always the ones who didn’t get it at all and queried what was wrong with what I already had. But that’s the thing, there was nothing wrong with what I had, it was perfect but I wanted more, I needed more. It was just an empty gap in my life and I needed it.

So I took the plunge.

It wasn’t as hard as I had imagined, it was literally as simple as a click of a button and I was lucky to not have to struggle to achieve it. I guess this was a blessing that I was able to do this when so many others battle and have to work harder to get what they want.

When the day arrived to welcome it into my life, I was nervous. My whole body was buzzing. I just couldn’t contain my excitement, actually nobody could, as I got messages asking had the big arrival appeared yet? Oh but it was worth the wait even if it was going to hit the bank account a few £££.

It was everything that I had imagined. Perfect in shape and form. I guess not everyone saw the beauty of it but in my eyes there was nothing to fault. Promising such a bright future. There was a long run ahead for us both from this point. A steep learning curve but such achievements and memories to be made. I knew I had made the right decision and got ready to welcome it into my life.

It was such a game changer. So much so it wasn’t long before the husband was bowled over by the new addition that there was another on the way. It even won over a few close friends who also started to see how much my life had changed and they too joined “the club” and where soon expecting their own bundle of joy.

This year, together, we have covered endless miles, climbed many mountains and shared in many special moments. You are the only constant in my life, day in, day out and you are the last thing I look at when I’m about to embark on my next challenge, keeping me grounded at all times throughout.

Who ever thought that I would become so attached to you. When you have to sit out a day or two when I’m not allowed to bring you along, it brings a smile to my face when we are reunited as you are missed in that time.

Like my two children, I can’t imagine life without you in it. There are times, I don’t like what you say and other times I get you to tell me over and over again because it is just what I need to hear to make it all worth while.

Dear my Garmin Forerunner 235. Thank you for always keeping me right, be that pace, heart rate, step count or just simply telling me the time. I owe the tan line around my wrist to you but no one ever sees it as you never come off, only when I am having a shower. You have saw me through marathons and many, many miles of training. You have known when I was at breaking point long before I did. You will continue to always be there, beeping when I need reassurance and tracking me when I’m lost.

Together for many more miles and many more smiles.


Don’t forget there is only a week left to vote for me in the Rock n Run Idol competition with  Rock n Roll Half Marathon Dublin in conjunction with Affidea Ireland.




Me?  A Rock n Roll Idol…Here begins another story

Me? A Rock n Roll Idol…Here begins another story

“The judges loved your story”

Story? I don’t have a story as such but one thing is for sure, I tell a good story.

I received a message from fellow club member Michelle Mc Cann back in February. Michelle and running pal Nicola are the Rock n Roll queens of the club. They love a bit of bling and love the Rock n Roll series. On seeing that Rock n Roll Dublin had released their Rock n Roll Idol competition for 2017 , Michelle thought of me and sent me the link to enter.

I played with the concept of entering for a few days. I didn’t feel I had a story as such to tell. Everyone has a running journey story and I didn’t think mine stood out as something spectacular. Though that got me thinking of the question on the form about why I run. I’ve spoken at length about it over the past 2 years, what I love about running is being part of other peoples journeys. Especially being able to help and support beginners as well as affording everyone the opportunity to run. This can be summed up under the title of “inclusion.”

Running is not just for the athlete, even defining what an athlete is indefinitely is not possible. Everybody has the opportunity to be apart of the running community. There is no criteria that you have to fit to be classed as a runner. You just have to believe that you are.

Like anyone new to running I had my reservations about why I was even doing it but as I entered race after race I found my place in running. It wasn’t far from the back, but it is at the back that I found myself surrounded by so many people who felt just like I did. They had the determination to turn up and cross the line that day and take part. The stories I hear about peoples journeys, what made them run and supporting them through their own race walls is where I found joy in running. I began to make friends with those from all over the province, it was the same faces at every race that you spent the miles with and picked up a few more new faces along the road. Even when you got to the finish line there were new people staying to cheer you home and none more so than the members from Murlough AC who I had joined after signing up to Dublin Marathon.

It was during Cookstown Half Marathon that my running objectives changed. I was running alongside Tony Barclay who was a visually impaired runner.  He was being guided by the lovely Karen and I was beginning to hit my own running wall in the race. He literally took my hand and ran with me for a few miles setting me out in front to pace him to the end where I pb’d over the 13.1 mile.

From there I made a resolution that I had to run with him as his guide. Little did I know that just before tackling my first Marathon I’d have agreed to do another with him only after he signed a waiver that even after 26.2 mile with me he may also be profoundly deaf, we were good to go!

So began my whirlwind adventure into guide running. I had earlier in the year signed up to the Athletics Ni LIRF coaching course to become a Running Leader and having done so made me eligible to take part in their Guide Running course alongside Disability NI. I also got myself First Aid trained as I was going to be prepared for all eventualities.

In my house, training for a marathon is a well oiled machine, juggling two training schedules and two mad kids wasn’t easy, with both Michael and I passing each other at the door and fighting over 5.30am runs round the lake. Yet the exhaustion was always worth it when I eventually got round to share my long run thoughts on the blog. Many people where emotionally wrapped up in my training and I knew going round Dublin on October 30th that there were more than a few friends tracking me!

Dublin came and went, a momentous occasion and I danced across the line in 6hours 2minutes, pretty much bang on where I knew I would be after all it is finish lines not finish times. As my blog went live 48hours after DCM, I had a resounding response to what my Granda would have called “an epistle” which was my mile by mile break down of my thoughts and the people I met on course. Everyone that day had their own story and reasons for being there. It was refreshing, motivating and lovely to share the experience with them.

I have been privileged to lend a hand with The Running Coaches Beginners and Intermediate groups which kicked off local to me in January. I have been able to learn invaluable skills in coaching and be there at the very beginning of peoples running journey convincing them that they can to 6 weeks later watching them complete what they thought was unthinkable. That feeling is indescribable and now many of them can kick my ass pace wise which is strangely, pretty great to see.

Derry Marathon is just over a month away, I am looking forward to picking up where Tony and I left off at Larne Half back in March. I cant wait to share the miles with him, in fairness he is just as mad as me so its all good, there will be an abundance of smiles and laughter out  on route. The main thing being, there will be some stories to come from it and afterwards my attention is refocused to DCM part 2. As what else would you want to be doing on your anniversary weekend other than running round the nations capital, miles away from each other for a medal, t-shirt and a bottle of water?

So I am sitting here still trying to get my head around this whole Rock’n’Roll Idol competition. For me I am looking at this as a great opportunity, if anything, to raise awareness of inclusion within running. Vegas wouldn’t be half bad either if I was lucky enough to win I must admit. There are plenty of reasons out there why people won’t run however there are options people can avail of. There are plenty of people willing to guide VI runners over all distances and there are many events organisers who are fully inclusive like East Antrim Marathon Series, Born 2 Run and Dublin City Marathon who go the extra mile to support Assisted Wheelchair teams such as Team Kerr to allow them to compete.

For me, it is about removing obstacles and creating opportunities for everyone to enjoy, embrace and love running just like I do. And if its the fact that I tell a good story that will raise awareness, I have plenty more stories to tell.





I’m not “Dune” yet

A wise man once told me, you can prepare all you want for a race and your training can be perfect however you have no idea what will happen on the day so just run the best you can. Running a race is simply putting all your eggs in one basket and hoping you don’t drop or crack any of them. Sometimes you make it to the end of the race and sometimes not, however there is always another race on another day.

Dune Half Marathon was one of those races for me, where I knew I was fit for it, though all it took was the onset of a wishy washy stomach at 7 mile for me to falter and face 6 mile of trying not the throw up. However on the up side I experienced serious camaraderie and was able to accompany a fellow friend and club mate through the final miles of her first half marathon.

No joke but the air would have cut you in two, Slieve Donard had its little snow cap on and there we were getting into the car to take on the 13.1 mile between Newry and Dundalk. Classed as a Cross Boarder experience, where actually “no passport required yet” was the tag line, it was sure to be an experience. I wasn’t going out for time, nor did I really care, as long as I came in under the 3 hours I was going to be happy. I don’t train on road very often however my trainers do love not being soaked and mucked to the eye balls after a race.


The T-shirt was epic, just like the race

I honestly spend more time trying to figure out what to wear for a race than I do to go out. Weather is always a big factor when it comes to a training run however at a race there usually isn’t the opportunity to strip off etc, so I braved the very cold temperatures in my capris, short sleeved top and my MAC vest for the cross boarder trip. It turned out there was a vast collection of choice of clothes that the runners opted for on the day, from the hardcore, I’m not afraid of the cold, vest and short shorts, to the more sensible, Layer up and hope for the best runners.


We feel no cold, the shorter the shorts the better- Joe and Tony showing some leg

Setting off within a field of 800, Brenda, Caitriona and myself, flanked by the usual suspects of the naughty club including Eileen, Jennifer and Peter, set off from Newry quayside shortly after 10am. The first mile was a long drag, more so that fact that we knew at the end of it we faced a long steep climb of roughly 460 feet, to the dual carriageway. As you know I don’t mind a hill or two but this was one of little hope at the end of it, it just kept going. A few seconds relief in between though and whenever you have Eileen and Marion behind you “checking out your ass” willing you up the hill, there nothing like a wee wiggle to make you smile and remind you why you do this to yourself as a smile plasters itself across your face at the hardest part of the race.


Been chased up the hill by Eileen and Marion as we pretend that we really love this hill

On climbing the hill, Brenda went out in front and after last weeks training run on tried legs I could have swore that she was out to leave me and Caitriona behind to eat her dust. However it wasn’t long before Caitriona made use of the extra leg extension and powered her way up the hill. As we enter onto the old road, the 3 of us had separated and where running alone.

I don’t mind running alone and lets face it, I wasn’t alone for long as I found 2 cracking girls from Derry to pass the next few miles with as I watched Caitriona put in some lonely miles and when I looked behind I could still see Brenda and knew she was still with us and doing well. As we made our way through miles 3 and 4, with the 2 best coordinated runners of the day, we were greeted by snow flurries and I wondered to myself why I had opted for short sleeves.

At mile 5 I hadn’t held back since leaving Newry, pace felt strong and I was settling into the miles nicely. It had been a long time since I was turning out 11 minute miles and for once I didn’t feel like I was going to die. Reaching the Carrickdale and the half way point I was in good form, mentally and physically clocking a 10k time to be proud of based on current form. As I took on the hill at Jonesborough I felt a little queezy and overlooked it as I was distracted by fellow MAC Norah out cheering us on.


But I wasn’t distracted for too long. I had made up some distance on the hill between Caitriona and myself, however the queeziness got worse and the feeling like your tummy is a washing machine was embedded in my core. I had to slow down to nearly a walk and breathe through each bout of potential vomit. It wasn’t long before Brenda had caught up with me and I think if she hadn’t have done so, my race could have been over shortly after.


Through the next few mile we ran and chatted about all things running, the roads we were on, the drivers who tried to run us over and how I can run and direct traffic all in the one movement. It made such a difference to what could have been a potential DNF situation which would probably haunt me forever. As we tackled the section of hills after it wasn’t long that we were looking at the last 3 miles.

Looking down at my watch I wondered if Michael had broken his aim of a sub 2 hour half. I wondered had he ran with Brendan again and the bromance still lived on.  I also thought about how this time next week, I’d be finished my 8.4 mile trail race at Castleward and beginning duty at the Ultra race. I also knew that I’d definitely make the 3 hour cut off even if I had to walk.


Spotted together on camera, Brendan and Michael chasing down Davey the 1.55 pacer

Brenda and I smiled our way through the final 3 mile as we watched Caitriona up ahead dig deep to 1…finally beat me and 2…smash her PB. We willed her on and cheered for her, both exceptionally excited and proud of her. The last 2 miles where tough but together we made it not as painful. We did decide in advance that we would cross the line together as without each other the race could have been a different story.

I didn’t realise that Dundalk was such a big place as the finish line was, what seemed, miles away. The mile markers along the course where spot on and as the watch buzzed for 13 mile the end was in sight and we cruised to the finish, together hand in hand. Brenda has just officially became a half marathoner and I was super proud of her as she came in bang on target at 2.45.


The 10.5 mile point where the end was near but not near enough

Crossing the line to a host of familiar faces and hugs from many including Tony, Bootsy and Patricia Brown was a perfect end to the race. I looked around searching for Caitriona and Michael. I spotted them and ran to mob Caitriona. I honestly could feel myself welling up after the emotions I was feeling after making it to the finish in one piece and seeing Brenda so happy, I knew Caitriona had PB’d on such a tough course and her smile said it all. I turned to Michael hoping for more good news. I looked at him and tentatively asked…well? He said nothing and took out his phone to show me his Strava stats and there is was. Not only did he break the 2 hour mark, he smashed it with a 1.52. Who’d have thought! I was just so overwhelmed with excitement as I stood there. The fact my race didn’t go to plan didn’t matter, what mattered was Michael pulled out a spectacular run and went beyond his own expectations, Brenda nailed her first half and Caitriona had exceeded her own expectations and ran the race of her life.

I have to admit I was annoyed at myself and beat myself up briefly, though I have learned that the past can not be changed and I need to look forward and take the positives from the day. I didn’t freeze to death, I still finished, the t-shirt and medal is awesome and it wasn’t even my slowest half either… Lisburn still is! So as I reflect on the race I have much to celebrate. I put in some strong miles even during the later part of the race when I was under the weather and I have said it once and I’ll say it again, I am lucky to be apart of such a great club where I have made some fantastic friends and running has brought even more amazing people into my life from right across the country and I got to spend my Sunday with them.

Better luck next race and I can always give it another blast next year. Lets be having you Dune 2018- hopefully a passport isn’t required then!


Some of team MAC as we smile through the fear of the unknown







Motoring on rightly

Motoring on rightly

It was just one of those minging evenings.

Cold -check

Windy- check

Wet- soaking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It never fails to amaze me…

It never fails to amaze me…

There is nothing I admire more than someone stepping out of their comfort zone and deciding they are going to so something.

Tonight I witnessed 26 strangers come together and make a stand by taking that step out the door and saying “I’m going to do this.” Whether it was to get fitter, lose weight, do something with friends or just to meet new people, they were there.

I was flattered that Dermot…yeah him again…asked if I was going to put in a guest appearance at the latest addition to The Running Coaches schedule in Newcastle.

OK I’m sure he was taking the piss when he asked but nonetheless I called in my own moral support and Caitriona and myself popped our heads in as people stirred out their car windows and debated about opening their doors to take on the Coached to 5k session.

We honestly had planned just to say hello and go for a dander as we have Time Trail tomorrow night but ended up actually doing the session. 

As the number of very impressively turned out runners cautiously approached the group…I’ve never seen so many high vis jackets all together. There was no missing this squad.

Nervous, uncertain and probably feeling way out of their depth, I’m sure as individuals they didn’t realise everyone else felt the same.

What they hadn’t realised though was that they had already conquered the hardest step, the one out the door. It was essentially the first real night of winter as the wind literally howled and warnings of snow ahead it would have been so much easier to just say nah some other time.

As the session pleasantries where over and warm up began, everyone was in high spirits. I could see on the faces of some that the warm up alone was tough..trust me I have been there and remember thinking after my first “Death by Dermot” warm up that I wasn’t going to be fit to put one foot in front of the other after I finished. So it does get easier!

Nothing beats a visit back to fundamentals and techniques refreshing. It’s even been put in as part of my training plan now..on Mondays funny enough. Drop those shoulders, keep the head up, arms at 90 degrees, you know the drill.

As we set off in pairs Caitriona and I decided our place was firmly at the back…nothing new there. At least this meant that no one felt any pressure to break away from the crowd as we wouldn’t leave a man behind. After all I always think about Dambusters Half and how after half a mile we had watched the speedies fly away off and we settled into our own pace and were very comfortable in our own skin to be there. 13.1 mile later and we both finished a few minutes apart in the toughest half marathon of the series in horrendous conditions. But to get to that stage of believe in your training it takes a lot of falling behind and self reflections to be comfortable with it. So we weren’t for letting anyone begin to comprehend that. Running is inclusive whether you run a 6minute mile or a 16minute mile. It’s still a mile.

As a steady walk run continued up the promenade we were met by a fierce head wind. That alone was a struggle to push through but the group was determined and kept it steady and pushed on. 

A brief lesson in the car park to fix style and technique *reminding myself what old habits I’ve fallen into* and it was time for the return journey.

At a pretty good pace we went back down the promenade and enjoyed a strong tailwind. Bouncing across the bridge and praying the impact didn’t bounce one of us over the edge, we made it back to solid ground, all accounted for. 

Finishing up with 2 mile under their belts, the look of relief, satisfaction and accomplishment could be seen across the faces of all the runners. A nice set of cool down stretches and the session was over.

So week 1 done, a great bunch of people taking the first big steps to endless possibilities. Running has helped me in so many ways both mentally and nd physically and the benefits are numerous. I wish every single person who this week or maybe next, takes that step out the door and starts putting one foot in front of the other, the best of luck with their journey. 

I can’t wait to see how the group fairs over the next 6 weeks, it’ll not be long before they’ll be lapping me at parkrun. Onwards and upwards so they say!

Death by Dermot Week 3

So tonight we pushed past the half way mark of our training sessions with Dermot.

I do look forward to the sessions. Its nice to have so many of the club together yet still gain from it physically too and not just a hangover. 

I’m not undermining the effectiveness of club runs, it’s just that when Dermot has a plan, the plan works and we all do the same thing, not just go for a run.

I haven’t been feeling the love this week at all. I have spent more of the week with my foam roller than I have my husband. In fairness, he’s spent just as long with the ice pack than with me. The joys of 2 of us training for a marathon, even though his training is pretty much non existent as he tries to fully recover.

Random twinges and pain that isn’t subsiding with ibruofen and rolling have plagued me. I even cut back on a run this week to give me a chance. But I was going to give this evenings session a blast anyway as I do enjoy them and the sense of achievement afterwards.

Tonight we were tackling hills and well didn’t he have to pick the biggest hill in the area. Mill hill is a mile long and in the words of Yazz…the only way is up. The running down bit at the start was managable but after 2 reps I felt shooting pains up my right leg. So I done what I refuse to normally do and sat the rest of the session out, for my own good.
God I felt crap. I know I’m usually one of the last, the trier as such but I just felt useless, I guess it didn’t help that I’d hardly ate all day as I was busy doing grown up paperwork, but behind the smile, I was crying inside. 

I just wanted to run, pain free. I wanted to struggle and push myself up and down that God foresaken hill. Dermot spoke about negative thoughts to the group and my head was full of them. How was I to manage my long run this weekend if I was sore. What about Causeway Coast and even still…what about Dublin? 

So as I sit here with my ice pack and avonmore, I wonder about the long run this Sunday. I wonder how I’ll feel, maybe it was just the steepness of the hill or maybe just no fight left so panic at the slightest twinge. 

So I didn’t die this week personally, everyone else did. And I’ll be getting stuck into my Hail Marys and Our Fathers over the next few days and hope it’s just minor that between medicine and God I’ll get through it.

Going further 

Going further 

I had been telling myself all week that I was going to do 14 miles. 

Even when people asked me how many miles I’d to do on plan this week, I was dead casual and the number 14 rolled off as if it was no bother to me. When in reality, I was absolutely bricking it.

Although only 0.9 mile more than what I ran the week before. Its a really long way in general. I’d spent 3 days eating my way through house and home after Dambusters Half but returned to the gym on Wednesday with Shane for my one to one and whilst feeling invincible I came back to the gym an hour later to do spin and abs class. I wasn’t worth buttons on Wednesday evening.

I knew I had to do my long run on Friday morning. A day sooner than I would have essentially have liked after the session I put in on Wednesday but with visitors coming for the weekend, I’d no other choice. 

So I set the alarm for 6.30am and prepped all the gear so I’d no excuse.

The alarm went off and I reluctantly got up.  The sky was blue and it was warm. I fired in my bowl of cornflakes and the heel of the loaf with jam before setting off. 

As I took on a brisk walk up the town towards the park. I’d several potential routes that would take me 14mile. As I hit the gates of the park I got stuck in. But from that very moment I had no drive and was ridiculousy uncomfortable.

As I set off down Crow Road I knew it would be a miracle if I hit 4 mile never mind 14. So my mindset was negative and in true Siobhan fashion, I headed for the back hills to find some inspiration from the views. Yet it never came. However as I looked up as I came towards to parking hut, I spotted Frankie. He’s been an awesome support for me in my random runs so at 4 mile (which took me a painstaking 58mins) I stopped to talk to him and told him my planned route. At least I knew he’d give me the thumbs up everytime I passed the Hut and give me something to look forward to. 

And that was me…on track to complete the Born2Run 10k route which would bring me up to 10mile. Gosh I just couldn’t get into it at all. At 6 mile I called Michael to see if he could take the kids up to do the final lap with me as I was mentally struggling. Sadly he wasn’t going to be able to make it so I was on my own. 

As I hit the 2hour mark I was of the opinion that if I have to walk the rest of it I might as well as if already invested 2 hours into the run. Reaching 10mile after 2hr20 mins I knew I’d be on the go for another hour as legs felt like lead but I just had a lap of the lake left.

As much as I detest the lake route. Knowing it was the last batch of miles todo made it not too bad. I managed to pb on and anticlockwise lap of the lake. To finish off the run I headed back out the front entrance and homebound I turned the corner of the street at 14.03 miles. 

So I made it…somehow. I know now that mentally I’m a lot stronger than I thought or maybe I’m just plain and simply a stubborn aul cow. But 14mile in the bag and looking for 15/16 mile for the long run ahead.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So 1 hour 19mins.

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

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

We did share it between us!

Putting your faith in a shoe

So here they are…the footwear that is going to take me around Dublin Marathon.

Asics gt1000

I’ve been a Brooks girl to this point. I love my GTS14 however I was struggling to get even 150mile out of them before holes began to appear so knew I’d struggle to break a pair in right for Dublin and for them to be in a wearable condition..that and I couldn’t afford to keep buying new trainers every 4 months.

So after doing Belfast Marathon I spoke with the Asics people and had my gait done. They recommended the Gt1000 and I set my heart on them. 

Obviously living in Ireland and choosing Dublin as my first marathon I am very patriotic and also loving that the medal this year is a commemorative medal for the 1916 Easter Raising. So I knew I had to some how stick to my roots if I could when picking shoes.

The bling for the marathon

So ladies and gents I give you my tricolour trainers. Adorned in green white and orange to ensure I pound the streets of Dublin with our nations flag on my feet! 

I did hit lucky with the colour combo and I am delighted that I’ve the perfect trainers in time for marathon training kicking off next week.