Tag: running buddy

Ards Half- the return to racing ways

Ards Half- the return to racing ways

Marathon training does take over your life and not essentially in a bad way. However I learnt a few lessons after DCM. 1. Don’t race too soon after a marathon and 2. Don’t leave too long until your next race.

Doing Minnowburn 10k 6 days after DCM near killed me but the post marathon blues set in afterwards as it took 6 weeks to race again at Kilbroney and then the Cracker, where I found my love of running lay beyond 6miles. So this time round I agreed with myself on a happy medium. 3 weeks. Ok I did throw in the Mourne Walking Festival but that’s not really running, more extensive 3 days hill training. Ards fell lovely just short of 4 weeks after Derry. I had felt great post Derry physically, mentally I was still beating myself up.  So Ards was my come back. I had done enough training but no where near what I was doing in the run up to Derry, though I think my body thanked me for that.

I had cleared my head of cobwebs, lingering worries and concerns that where weighing me down whilst up the mountains and I was feeling fresh as the end of term set in and I was ready to run, for me.

I have to admit I love how this year has panned out for me with running. Training with Brenda for London and seeing her through all her milestones, then straight into tagging Derry training onto the end of that with Caitriona as she hit the same milestones and embraced 8 laps of the lake. And of course being privileged and honoured to run Derry with Tony being able to carry out the promise I made in October. In amongst that I had completed my LiRF course, guide running course, trained the school cross country team to gain a 1st place and shortlisted as the Ulster Representative as 1 of  the countries 5 most inspirational runners. It’s been a hell of a 6 months.

So Ards was technically the first race of the year I was running, for me. No one else was relying on me and that quite frankly scared the shit out of me!

Ok I had talked Caitriona and Brenda into the race as well as Jennifer so I wasn’t alone and obviously signed Michael up for good measure. As with all running events there was a plethora of runners and supporters who I’ve come to know over the past 2 years who where there also.

I procrastinated something shocking on the start line. I never really get the reality until the field starts moving and then its like ” holy crap I’ve 13.1 mile to find!” So all you really can do is put one foot in front of the other, a lot of times.

It was also the first time I choose to not run club colours after deciding to step back from club running for a while. So here I was at the start of what was billed as an undulating course, setting off with a whole new way about me.

I settled into the race fine. It was a strong start but I knew there were hills ahead and I wanted to make the most of the flats whilst I could. At mile 2 the hills started. As we climbed towards Scrabbo Tower, the town below got smaller and the views over the countryside widened. Normally this would be my worst nightmare but from the word go, the marshals out on course where so supportive, encouraging and quite frankly, everywhere!

At the first water stop I was greeted by the legend herself Rosy Ryan out selflessly on the eve of her 100th parkrun lending a hand and of course a much needed hug. This set me off into mile 4 and the headwind that whistled over the hills was proving to be a bit more challenging than I had expected. I played cat and mouse with Caitriona and Brenda at this stage but as we began to come off the hills around 6 mile, I found my happy place.

My body and mind had found comfort in the miles and as we came towards the half way mark, I pulled a bit further away from the girls. I hit the half way point at 1.20. I knew in my head that Alan Johnson was about to finish in the same way that he had finished in Derry when I had reached the half way point. And on finishing, I was spot on. 18th place in 1.20.

Though as I gained ground on the runners in front, I knew this was where the months of long miles would pay off, after all during a LSR 8 mile was only half way and you where only really getting stuck in. The support and encouragement from everyone was phenomenal. Residents in Comber stayed out to cheer on the back runners, this is something that I can’t praise enough. Usually they stay for the fast runners and as the field thins out they go back inside, however this wasn’t the case as kids lined the streets with jelly babies and marshals and supporters shouted encouraging things. There has been only 1 or 2 events to rival this in my opinion.

Onto the carriage way I went and set my sighted on Tony in front, him and Becki where about 500m in front and I had so hoped my wee legs would get to him, however I had another person inbetween to catch first, as I turned the corner onto Ards’ own heartbreak hill, I’d caught the fella in front but Tony and Becki where out of my reach. Together we motored up the hill but I could sense a body not far behind me – Brenda. We had merged in with the walkers at this point and as we passed the water stop, Brenda caught me and cursed the sight of my ponytail which she had been chasing for 5 mile. I was glad to see her. I had spent most the race on my own and although you can keep going for 2 more miles, its always better when you have a friend beside you.
As we entered into the final mile and my legs turned to concrete coming off the hill onto the final flat into Newtownards, we knew a good time was within reach. Doing our usual “at most its a 15minute mile” we pushed on and as we turned the corner to see the finishing arch, 2.43 had just turned on the clock.  A PB for Brenda and a 2017 best for me, both outdoing our joint effort at Dune in February of 2.45 dead. Caitriona wasn’t far behind us and that was us all home safe.

Only 50 seconds off my all time PB, in a race I knew was physically tough. It was just what I needed. The demons that haunted me after Derry disappeared and I proved to myself I did have it all along, I had just had a bad day on June 4th.

I was delighted to see everyone had made it alive, some in not so great shape others lapping up the awesome donuts and Suki orange juice post race. Based on the exemplary attention to detail of the marshals and their guidance I will be coming back next year to Ards Half. Yes its a tough course and its anything but flat, however it is priceless to be treated exactly the same as every runner on the course from front runner to back runner. Equality across the whole field, inclusion allowing everyone an opportunity to take part and respect, many of the marshals out on course where runners themselves and not one negative comment the whole way round. Yes I was in the last 50 finishers but I felt valued and supported throughout and that is something every event needs to strive to achieve whether its 5k/10/half/full/ultra.

So July sees me on bridesmaid duties, working towards my 10k time and then launching into August with Rock N Roll Weekend and of course the EAMs Knockagh Challenge where I’m pairing up with Tony again for some uphill and downhill fun. 

Don’t forget to vote for me as the Ulster Representative in the Rock’n’Fun Idol competition as one of the countries most “inspirational” runners. Would quite fancy a trip to Vegas to represent the country and I am sure I definitely need a holiday.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Of course it was finished off with a pint of Avonmore 

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

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