Thursday, 30 May 2013

Ice Cream - Pro Pointed

Seen as the sun is out, I was curious of the pro-points in different ice creams so I went looking them up to help me make wise choices while standing over the freezer in my local shop as opposed to regretting that Almond Magnum when I get home :)

99's (with Cone - No Flake)
  • Small: 4 pps
  • Medium: 5 pps
  • Large: 6 pps
From the Freezer:
  • Mini Twister: 1 pp
  • Ribena Ice Lolly: 1 pp
  • Mini Milk: 1 pp
  • Twister: 2 pps
  • Orange/Super Split: 2 pps
  • Del Monte Smoothie Lolly: 2 pps
  • Fruit Pastilles Ice Lolly: 2 pps
  • Loop the Loop: 2 pps
  • Skinny cow: 2 pps
  • Solero Exotic: 3 pps
  • Orange Calippo: 3 pps
  • Mars Ice Cream Bar: 4 pps
  • Malteaser Icecream Bar: 4 pps
  • Toffee Crisp Icecream Bar: 4 pps
  • Wibbly Wobbly Wonder: 4 pps
  • Dark Choc Ice: 4 pps
  • Mint Cornetto: 5 pps
  • Iceberger: 5 pps
  • Milk Choc Ice: 5 pps
  • Dairy Milk Caramel Cone: 5 pps
  • Mini Magnum: 5 pps
  • Cornetto Enigma: 5 pps
  • Cream Egg Ice Cream: 5 pps
  • Dairy Milk Button Cone: 5 pps
  • Strawberry Cornetto: 5 pps
  • Maxi Twist: 5 pps
  • Cornetto Enigma Cookie: 5 pps
  • Smartie Cone: 5 pps
  • Brunch: 6 pps
  • Classic Cornetto: 6 pps
  • Snickers Icecream Bar: 6 pps
  • Magnum White: 7 pps
  • Magnum Classic: 7 pps
  • Cadbury Flake Cone: 7 pps
  • Magnum Almond: 7 pps
  • Feast: 8 pps
  • Galaxy Caramel Ice Cream: 8 pps

So don't sweat the ice-cream decisions you make while the sun is shining!

My winner out of all these has to be the Tangle Twister for 2 pps or the Ribena Ice Lolly for 1 pp (I have only seen the Ribena Ice Lolly's in Tesco/Dunnes in multipacks).

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Race 5 - Galway Racecourse [Galway 5K Series]

It wasn't until 6pm yesterday that I knew I'd be able to take part in the 5th Race of the 5K Series so I was a bit all over the place. My knee was still sore from the Half Marathon at the weekend so I had booked an appointment with the Physio (will tell ye about that in another post). She gave me the all clear to take part in the 5K but had warned me to take it easy and not go for a new Personal Best of anything. To be honest I was just delighted to be able to take part.

Two injuries and no babysitter resulted in our gang of 6 being reduced to 3 for this weeks race which was in the Galway Racecourse. I know the racecourse well - I work right beside it and have walked/run it many times before. The Great Race Galway started and finished there so we had been there earlier this month for the Great Race Galway.

Race 5 - Ballybrit Racecourse

I had told myself to take it easy and just go for the run to enjoy it without the pressure of pushing myself like I felt I did last week in Craughwell. Myself, Brad and Sinead gathered at the start line just before 8pm and found ourselves yet again at the back of the runners. That keeps happening us. Maybe we aren't as eager beaver-y as the other people there. Tonight it paid off though the first 2K of the run was on a quite narrow path as we made our way around the Grandstand and onto the Racecourse.

The sun had come out while we ran which warmed the run up for us considerably. As the Racecourse Track looped, it was kind of impressive yet scary to see how much further ahead the front runners were. It's not something you can see on other routes so seeing people running towards you as the track looped around the 2K mark was impressive and intimidating at the same time.

I'd love to think someday I'll be able to run a 15/16 minute 5K but I'm not so sure I'd be able to. My ultimate goal is to run a Sub 20 5K which I am hopeful of achieving some day. Hell, I've gone from a 37m 5K in January to a 23m 5K in May. I suppose anything is possible but for now, my target would be one day to run 5K in under 20 minutes.

Anyway, I'm digressing - My knee held up ok for the race but I did feel I was taking it relatively easy. I didn't push myself despite wanting nothing more than to plough straight ahead and through the people in front of me. We looped back on the track at the halfway point and ran back the same way we had come to the finish line.

My official time for last night's race was 25m 44s which I was quite chuffed with considering I was 'taking it easy' on myself. My knee was a bit niggly after the race and I did feel it as we came up the racecourse hill just around the 4K mark. Considering I didn't think earlier today that I'd have been able to take part - I'm quite chuffed with how the penultimate race in the 5K Series went for me.

And then there were 3... Myself, Brad and Sinead

Next weeks race is the last in the 5K Series and I will be gutted when it's all over. It has been so much fun! Hopefully all 6 of us will be back together (injury free) for the last run in Tuam. We have already put our own plans in place to continue the Tuesday night running throughout June when the Series finishes to keep us on our toes. It'll be like our own 5K Series - except it's going to be 10Ks - and in exciting new locations (i.e. near each of our houses) - at an earlier time.

Coming in for the kill (Pic on Maree AC Facebook Page)

Monday, 27 May 2013

But it's only once a year...

As the June Bank Holiday approaches, I had a fleeting moment of panic about how easily events like that can throw off anyone on WW. We hear it all the time in class how Bank Holidays and Weddings etc are a 'danger zone' for people as they are out of their routine. I'm the exact same. I have Friday off work this weekend giving me an extra long 4-day weekend - which means 4 days faffing around the house, potentially grazing on stuff in the cupboard/popping out to friends houses/grabbing lunch in town etc.

I was just thinking about how often events come along and can potentially derail any idealistic Weight Watchers plans I have made. That got me thinking about the throwaway phrase we are all guilty of using every now and then when we splurge out - "But it's only once a year". While this is fine in theory, it got me thinking about how often 'once a year' events occur.

I came up with the following 'once a year' events (I'm sure I've missed out loads but):
  • New Years Day
  • Valentines Day
  • St. Patrick's Day
  • Easter
  • Halloween
  • Christmas Eve
  • Christmas Day
  • New Years Eve

Then throw in some birthdays:
  • Your other half's birthday
  • Your best friend’s birthday
  • Your birthday
  • Your parents/brothers/sisters/child's birthday

Add in the 4 Bank Holidays in Ireland:
  • First Monday in May
  • First Monday in June
  • First Monday in August
  • Last Monday in October

Throw in another few 'once a year events' like:
  • A Wedding
  • A Hen or Stag Party
  • The Company Christmas Party/Summer BBQ
  • Your Anniversary
  • Other Events like Reunions/Communions/Christenings
  • Summer Holidays (1-2 weeks)

Doing these calculations myself result in 28 'once a year' events and that's before I add my 14 days of summer holidays into it. That's over 40 days in the year where if you apply the "But it's only once a year" rule to it's over 10% of the year. Also bear in mind you have to add on regular weekends (which account for 104 days in the year).

I'm not saying I don't deserve to enjoy my Bank Holiday - I know I will. It's just interesting to see them all laid out like that and think "Hmmmm? Either I have to learn how to cope with them all or plan for how I am going to handle them better". 

I just have to keep in mind that you cannot go WW-AWOL over every break as there are too many of them in the year! You can't go into 40 weigh-ins out of 52 in the year feeling guilt-ridden about what you did/ate/drank over the weekend.

Here's to the Bank Holiday Weekend :)

Sunday, 26 May 2013

What's next for me?

Since I have started running in January, I have always had something over the horizon to keep me focused on my training and running plan. In January, I signed up for my first 10K (in Kinvara) with a gang from work. That pushed me to train and push myself from the Couch-to-5K program to running 7K to running 10K the week before Kinvara.

The week I ran the Kinvara 10K, my friend Clair signed me up for the Half Marathon in May (the one I ran yesterday). That gave me 10+ weeks to bring myself from 10K to 20K which I managed to do successfully - finishing yesterdays Half Marathon in just over 2 hours. Everyone had said the Burren Half Marathon was a toughie and yes it was hard - but I think the fact I didn't know any better stood to my advantage.

So now I'm looking forward again. May is nearly over and I have a two 5K's remaining in the Galway 5K Series still left to do. I am planning to do the Tonabrucky 6K Challenge on June 8th and hopefully another 10K before the end of June (where I hope to break my 52m PB). July will be a busy month for me too as we are off on holidays for two weeks so I need something to keep me focused and in the words of Lady Gaga... On the right track!

So... I have signed to the Rock n Roll Half Marathon in Dublin! BRING IT ON!

The Rock n Roll Half Marathon takes place August 5th (August Bank Holiday Monday) and features a live band every mile along the route. The course profile is fairly flat (TG!) and I hope to smash yesterday's time on this course. Now that I know I can run 20K, I can plan a few over the next 10 weeks to get myself prepped and ready for it. Registration for the event is open here (Link). Registration is €49 but I got €10 off entry using the promo-code ‘OOYO’ when registering. Offer is only valid until 5th June 2013 though.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

The Clare Burren Half Marathon

My alarm went off at 6.15am this morning but I had been awake before it went off. I didn't sleep too great last night with nervous apprehension of today's Half Marathon. I got out of bed, had my porridge for breakfast, showered and got ready. Brad, Cathal and Aisling were up by 6.30 and we all had a quick chin-wag and coffee before loading up the car and heading off down to Ballyvaughan by 7am.

Brad, Me, Aisling and Cathal

Brad and Cathal were running the 10K, I was running the Half and Aisling was walking the Half so we all assembled at the start line at about 8.40am after picking up our registration packs and parking the car. The start line was full of people buzzing while a DJ pumped out some tunes to get us psyched up for the race ahead.

The only annoying part of the whole thing was the way the race started. When the fog-horn went off, everyone started at the same time. Runners, Walkers, Joggers for the 10K, Half and Full Marathon. I spent the first kilometre avoiding people with walking sticks and children as we ran through the village of Ballyvaughan. There had been no clear directions so as we ploughed on (at around 3K) I was still unsure if I was on the right route.

Around 4K signs appeared splitting the 10K'ers from the Half and Full Marathon routes. That was when we went off the road for the first time and took off uphill through a dirt track. At the top of the dirt track, the route winded uphill actually giving us a beautiful view of the Burren. I had to keep slowling myself down to match my planned pace (5m 30s/km) as I was afraid I would kill myself out too early on in the run and burn up my energy too soon.

We continued to climb at a steady pace until around the 9K mark when the Full Marathoners were split off from the Halfers. It couldn't have come at a better time as the Full guys were continuing on uphill while I could see we had a lovely downhill bit lying in front of us. I had always thought that the downhill parts would be nice but I was wrong. They are nearly worse. As we were on dirt tracks, I spent more time looking down at the loose rocks and stone to avoid going over on my ankle. 

I was happy to see the road again at the half-way point as I managed to pick up some time there that I had lost on my uphill parts earlier on. This didn't last too long though because as soon as we hit the 12K I could see the uphill windy path which lay ahead of me. I took water at the water station and walked for about 30s as opposed to trying to run uphill drinking water (which had resulted in me half drowning myself at the previous water station).

I knew from looking at the course profile that once I hit 15K the route went downhill and on to the main road, so I figured I'd suck it up and plow straight into the uphill 3K in front of me. Jesus it was killer. Again as we ascended I couldn't help but admire the surroundings. This is the sort of stuff American Tours would spend a fortune on but as we were off-road, I reckon they never see!

At the top of the uphill section, we ran about half a kilometre across the top and I couldn't help but think how beautiful the place was. Scattered with little purple flowers and a stone walls, the whole place reminded me of the Wall from Stardust. It's the sort of place I would love to revisit (walking) and bring a camera as the place was just beautiful.

Stardust or The Burren?

The biggest surprise of the whole race was still ahead of me. We ran from over 200m elevation to 0m over about half a kilometre. It was like running down from the top of Croagh Patrick. The route was wide enough for one runner so it was difficult to overtake the person in front. It was actually the slowest part of my whole race (my pace fell to 8m 30s for that kilometre). 

I was never as happy to see the road again at the 16K mark. I really picked up the pace then (probably thanks to the 'slow' previous kilometre) and just went for it. 17K has been the furthest I had run before so I took huge strength from the fact I was running longer than I had ever done before. Passing the sign announcing that we were back in Ballyvaughan was like music to my ears. I could see the pier getting closer so I knew the finish line was also getting closer.

I finished my first Half Marathon in 2 hours, 1 minute. Flipping delighted. I had set myself the goal of finishing it in 2 hours so you can't get more bang on than that! The best part of the race was seeing the guys waiting for me at the finish line (Poor feicers had been there since they finished their 10K). 

You can see from my Running app below the slowest parts were the uphill (6K to 9K and 12K to 14K) with the slowest part being just after 15K were we went downhill to the road (16K). The Blue line at the bottom shows the elevation while the green line shows my pace. You can see the two biggest dips in pace were the up-hill and down-hill battles.

Nike+ App captured my run

Me coming in to the Finish Line

All in all... I'm ecstatic! If someone had told me this time last year that I would run a Half Marathon - I would have laughed in their face while munching a Mars bar or something. I'm absolutely over the moon. The biggest problem now however is... I need to beat my 2:01:10 time which means... I need to find another Half Marathon (preferably a flat one) so I can beat my time :) I'm never happy.

I did it...! 

Friday, 24 May 2013

My Motivation Playlist for Tomorrow's Half Marathon

The Clare Burren Half Marathon is almost here... At 7am tomorrow morning while you are sleeping tight in your bed I'll be making my way down to Ballyvaughan to run my first Half Marathon. I can't believe I am saying those words: 

Half. Marathon.

Two words which I have used many times seperately in my life before but in a complete different context. For example: 

"I'm going to fanny on the couch all weekend and have a Greys Anatomy marathon"
"Half Portion? Do I look like I'm 4. I want the Works!"
"Why did they rename Marathon to Snickers? Ooh I'd love a Snickers"
"I'll have half Caramel Chew Chew, half Cookie Dough"

I am nervous but it's excited nerves for tomorrow. I am going to partake in something I never ever thought I would be able to do. It's not that I had told myself "You CAN'T do it!" more that it had never even crossed my mind as a possibility. Now I know it's possible - I'm excited to see how I get on. I don't really care if I have to crawl across the finish line - or if I cross it at the 3:00 hour mark - I'll still have taken part in my first ever Half Marathon.

I plan on keeping myself motivated throughout the race by holding this picture in my mind:

That's over 6 stone... 84 lbs... Or if I break it down, it'll be 1 lb for every 250m I will run tomorrow. I've said before I've always seen my weight-loss as a series of smaller goals, and while the big picture has always been at the back of my mind, I don't know if I even believed in my own determination and myself to get there. I see my weight-loss journey as a staircase so only ever really look at the next few steps on the stairs instead of taking time to look back at how far I've come.

In the 9 months since I started on my journey I have changed so much. Of course I am the same person on the inside but with added improvements. I am a much more positive person with a healthy lifestyle (*cough*If-you-ignore-the-smoking-part*cough*) and have a healthy attitude about my own future, weight, health and lifestyle. I am not living in ignorance anymore and I know that I am in control of my food choices (good or bad) - what I eat has always been a choice. 

I have also found something I love in running. I have found something I think I am good at. Now while I know I will never set a new World Record for running the fastest 5K or anything, I know I will continue to get better and enjoy the journey on the way. 

This is what will keep me going tomorrow. My playlist tomorrow won't come from Britney or whoever is pumping into my ears, it'll come from within myself. I'm running this for everyone who has supported and helped me along the way. My family, my friends and the people I know from Twitter/online but not in real life. From the words of encouragement I've gotten on Twitter/Facebook to the compliments I've received to the deep & meaningful conversations I've had with my brilliant friends - I am extremely grateful. The support I have gotten has been such a fantastic pool for me to pull motivation from when I have seen a dip in my own personal drive.

There is however only one person without whose incredible support I wouldn't be where I am today - and that's my other half. He has been there for the past 9 years, through my previous weight-battles, my ups and downs in weight. He was there for me when I came home from my first WW meeting completely in shock at the fact I weighed 19st 2lbs. He was there when I rejoined WW for a few weeks back in 2010. He has never once laughed or snigger at me or fuelled any doubt-sparks that I sometimes spout out. He has done nothing but encourage, champion and support me.

For this reason, the second track on my motivation playlist tomorrow will be for him. He is an incredible person - anyone who knows me (or him) cannot deny what a caring, thoughtful, compassionate and friendly guy he is. Knowing he will be waiting for me at the finish line tomorrow (as he has been at every race I have run to date) cheering me on is what will get me over the finish line.

For C (Image from Exploding Dog - link here)

Anyway, that's enough of my ramblings for now. I'm off to work and afterwards will enjoy my 'Rest Day' making sure I get plenty of carbs in for dinner tonight. I'm looking forward to getting a good nights sleep and I'll talk to ye on the other side. 


Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Race 4 - Craughwell [Galway 5K Series]

For what started off as a crackin' day in Galway, the closer to home time it came, the more clouds seemed to appear in the sky. Despite the threat of rain, it stayed off a nice warm-ish (but cloudy) evening for the 4th race in the Galway 5K Series... Craughwell.

Race 4 - Craughwell Race Map

We gathered just outside Craughwell National School before 8pm. It made a nice change this week to be at the start line a good 20 minutes before the race started as opposed to the gout of last weeks run to the start line thanks to the uber-slow level crossing in Oranmore.

Myself & Brad making our way to the start line (Pic found on FB)

The race started at 8pm on the button. The Craughwell run was actually lovely. It started on the school road and turned out onto the main Oranmore - Loughrea road so we had a lot more room to manoeuvre in and out amongst the hundreds of other runners. Despite having seen the route map before the race, I had imagined we turned off much sooner than we did, so taking a run through Craughwell village was actually quite a pleasant surprise!

This week I decided not to bring my headphones kind-of as a test to myself as I found having them last week threw me off a little as I knew my pace and time as I ran around Loughrea. I found the first two weeks I performed better when I didn't know my time. I figured I would try that again this week. Not knowing my time and pushing myself worked to my advantage but semi killed me out too.

I don't know if it was exerting myself or my sore rib (from Zip-lining last Saturday) but something just felt slightly off kilter last night. As I ran past the 4K marker, I figured I would push myself that little bit more as I was starting to be over-taking by the dozens. This always happens near the end where people put the foot down and use as much gas as they can to get them across the finish line. My 'problem' was, I couldn't shift up a gear.

Anyone know knows me knows I am crap at judging distances, heights etc. My spatial awareness is crap - yet I can still park my car no problem. To date, I've never hit a wall/another car while parking so I must have some spatial awareness. Anyway, a good bit past the 4K marker I saw a 800m sign. WTF? I've never seen them before but it threw me a little. I prefer the blissful ignorance of not knowing how far into my kilometre I am - I just keep visualising the finish line just around the corner.

I continued on to the 400m sign, still perturbed that I wasn't at the finish line yet. As we turned the last corner, the finish line appeared in front of me and I liked what I saw on the race clock! I was in a position to smash my 5K personal best. That shifted me into 5th gear and I picked up enough energy to cross the finish line in a time I knew would make me happy.

My official chip time: 23 minutes 22 seconds!

I knocked more than a minute off last weeks race and over 30s off my previous Personal Best in Claregalway. TOOT TOOT! I'm absolutely delighted. Considering back in January by PB for a 5K was over 37 minutes, I can't believe my progress myself. My over-all goal for this 5K Series was to try get one of the races in under 25 minutes (as I'd never done that before). To have all 4 come in under 25 minutes has been amazing.

Gordon, Brad, Myself, Sinead and Clair

Now I'm off to take my rest day today before a gentle run on Thursday in prep for this Saturday's Half Marathon - Eeeek! Thanks Craughwell, you were amazing! Week 5 of the 5K Series continues next Tuesday in Galway Racecourse. 

Sunday, 19 May 2013

What 6 st / 84lbs / 38kg looks like...

I got my 12th Silver 7 in Weight Watchers this week... meaning I'm 84lbs (38kg) down since I started in WW back at the end of August last year. That got me wondering what 6st actually looks like... First off, here is what it doesnt look like on me :) Here is a before (taken at the Galway Races last year) versus today:

So, what weighs 6st? I'm finding it hard to visualise to after a little google, I have discovered the following things weigh the exact same as what I have lost in weight:

  • A 12 year old child (source here):

  • Half of David Beckham (who weighs 77KG):

  • 8 Adult Male Bichon's (at 7 - 12lbs each):

  • This Model (who weighs 84lbs):

  • A New Born Calf (weights 70-100lbs - so 85lbs on average):

  • 15 x 15'' Mac Book Pro's (which weigh 5.6lbs each):

  • This fish (source here):

Wow! Even I'm impressed. I'd love to try on one of those suits bringing me back up to my starting weight just to see what it feels like to carry that around again. Even for an hour.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

There are plenty of difficult obstacles...

Yesterday evening I got an email from the Clare Burren Half Marathon organisers with the race information for next weekend and something funny happened... A little flash of self-doubt flickered across my mind and hung around for some time like a lingering bad smell. I don't know whether this has been fueled by some other peoples comments on how hard/not nice the course is meant to be or if it came from somewhere deeper inside me.

Up until this point, I have always had the frame of mind of 'Of course I can do it' but now, with just over a week to go to the event I am starting to doubting myself and my ability. The furthest I have run up to this point is 15K - and that was only one time! I haven't come near it since. I had set myself a private goal of completing it in 2 hours, but after a friend who had run the course before said "add twenty minutes" to that - it kind of scared me.

As I was driving home late last night, Niall Boylan (4FM) was blabbering away on the radio (I love tuning in to catch some of the crazies on his show) and he was talking about weight. A 24 year old 24 stone guy rang in from Cork who spoke defeatedly about his weight and how 'he had tried everything but never lost a pound'. 

My heart went out to the guy, probably because I had always felt like that guy and could identify with his struggle! Niall asked him what his daily food intake was like which he justified every way possible in a similar light as I used to. He said he didn't have time for a breakfast, his lunch was quickly grabbing a hot chicken roll (and a Diet Coke) and for dinner he ate less than his 11st brother - so he couldn't see where he was going wrong.

All I could think of while listening to him talk was how these were all my excuses in the past. I am by no means saying I am a role model or source of guiding light for him, but it made me think about what I had previously thought as impossible or too large a challenge (i.e. losing weight) and the excuses I had used in the past such as: 
  • I don't really like breakfast
  • I don't eat THAT much chocolate
  • I don't know how I got this big
  • I've tried before and I just can't lose weight
Thinking about it now, I can see a million miles off that these were all lies I had told myself that were being driven by my overall defeated attitude toward my own weight & body size. I've said before how I had found ways to trick or fool myself around the fact I was over 19st such as in the way that I hadn't weighed myself in over a year and I only uploaded pictures of me to Facebook which were from the neck up or of me behind something/someone.

This phenomenon is called 'Cognitive Dissonance', which (here comes the science) is "the discomfort experienced when simultaneously holding two or more conflicting thoughts". When we have a discrepancy between beliefs and behaviors, something must change in order to eliminate or reduce the dissonance. A perfect example of this is the fact that I smoke. Smokers know smoking isn't good for them in any way shape or form. Smoking costs a lot of money. Nothing good has ever come from smoking. So why do I smoke? I had always told myself I would give up by the time I was 30. I'm now 30. I've now told myself I know I will give them up "soon" yet don't have a time frame on how soon soon is.

Anyway, I'm digressing from the point, my realisation in the car as I listened to the 24 st guy from Cork was that all I wanted to do was phone up and tell him he would be ok, that he could make a change and that he would surprise himself if he wanted to. That was when it hit me. Why am I doubting myself before I've even taken off from the starting block...

If I run 15K (which I know I can do) and walk the last 6K (which I know I can do), so what! I'll still have completed a Half Marathon. I'll have a finish time which I can work on and try improve on over the next few months/years. Everyone has to start somewhere and next weekend will be my first Half Marathon, my baseline. I've made a plan for this coming weekend and I am going to attempt to run 18K in a single run. If I don't do it - I'll know not to push myself that hard next weekend.

I can learn from my mistakes OR I can making an excuse to avoid experiencing something in order to avoid a possible mistake in the first place. I could not take part in the race, I could change my registration back to the 10K run, I could focus my energy on my self doubt, growing it to a crippling size.

I have made my mind up...
I have made a choice...
I am going for it...

Next weekend I AM running my first Half Marathon.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Race 3 - Loughrea [Galway 5K Series]

In a week of unpredictable weather, I saw a mixture blue skies, heavy downpours and gusts of wind from my desk as the day progressed. The sky seemed to clear as I left work at 6pm to head home and get ready for the Loughrea stint of the Galway 5K Series.

Race 3- Loughrea Race Map

We have been taking it in turns to drive to the race venues (because we're environmentally conscious like that) and tonight was Sinead's turn. Brad was running a little late so when he arrived at 7.10 we set off on our way to Loughrea - only to be haltered at the first hurdle... The bloody level crossing in Oranmore.

Level Crossing in Oranmore

Now what harm is a level crossing you might think? Not if you know this one. It's even been in the local newspaper this week for it's excessive 'down time' (link here: We waited... and waited... for 10 minutes! When the train finally passed we took off on the motorway out to Loughrea.

The closer we got to Loughrea, the darker the sky became. As we came off the motorway, the skies opened and it started lashing. It was now 7:52, we had 8 minutes to find parking and get to the start line. This was entirely the level crossing's fault. The only advantage to being in the car was that we weren't standing at the start line in the rain - but it was still a little bit stressful. We abandoned the car in Loughrea as the traffic (and rain) was so bad and ran (yes RAN) over 1K to the start line. We joined at the back of the waiting runners at 7:59. We hadn't 30s to catch our breath when the race started. Being at the back sucks.

The first kilometre was spent jumping over puddles and swerving around other runners who were avoiding puddles. It seemed a lot of the girls were screaming as they were getting splashed or had to tip-toe through some of the puddles while the guys were just ploughing on straight through any water on the road.

The route was quite narrow which also slowed everything up at the beginning but by keeping my head down and having Olly Murs singing to me (I remembered my earphones tonight!), I found myself out of the muddle of runners and had some space as I crossed the 1K marker. The rain continued to belt down for the next K while we found ourselves running straight through large puddles as the entire breath of the road was water-logged. I soon found out why.

The rain stopped shortly after 2K and that's where the route went uphill - that explained the volume of water at the earlier parts of the course as it was all coming back downhill. 2K to 4K was uphill which slowed me up a bit but I kept persevering. At the 4K marker, the road (and finish line) came into sight and it was all downhill from there.

Last minute dash for the finish line 
(Pic from the Maree AC Facebook Page)

I upped my pace and crossed the finish line before 25 minutes on the clock. My chip time was 24m 34s - the exact same time as I got in Athenry three weeks ago. I was delighted. In our post race analysis - despite us all being soaked to the bone, we really enjoyed it! The puddles and rain added a little bit of excitement to the whole thing and the course was lovely.

Me, Sinead, Gordon, Yvonne and Brad post race

While I didn't break a new PB (hey, you can't win them all), I was well chuffed with my time especially considering we cut it close to even taking part! Next week, the Galway 5K Series rolls into Craughwell. It would be nice to not have to sit in the car on the way home with wet boxers next week. C'mon sun, it's May FFS :)

Monday, 13 May 2013

Out with the old...

Last Monday (Bank Holiday), I found myself clearing out the wardrobe as it was getting to the point where the doors wouldn't close. Since starting my weight-loss journey, I've had to buy loads of new clothes (I'm not complaining!). New work clothes, new casual clothes and best of all... new exercise clothes. The result of all this new buying lead to a wardrobe full to the brim with a mishmash of clothes in different sizes.

One of my shirts

My work shirts have gone from 17.5in collar to 15in. My casual shirts have gone from XXL to M. My jeans have gone from 38in to 34in (although I still have my butty 29in legs). I found myself putting clothes in the 'to keep' pile for no other reason other than the memories associated with times when I wore it. That was why I had to be cruel and ruthless. Clothes don't hold any memory and keeping them around for that sake only is stupid as they remind me of the where I've come from (weight wise). I don't want them hanging around just in case.

August 2012 vs May 2013 in the same jumper

I did try on some of my clothes just to see the difference. Ignore the crazy hair/PJs etc I have on in the May photo as it was a Bank Holiday morning and I was busy at work cleaning. Hard to believe there is over 80lbs of a difference between the two photos. Between stopping to try on clothes and sifting through shelves and shelves of hoodies, shirts, jumpers etc, this was the final payload of clothes I was getting rid of.

My supervisor was paying close attention to what I was getting rid of

On Friday, I filled FIVE black plastic bags and went to the Galway Simon Community with them. The guy working there couldn't have been happier to see. He was saying that they have a big demand for mens clothes but so rarely get them, so I was happy to leave my 5 bags of clothes and my entire old wardrobe with him. 

It's such a great feeling not only to now have a tidy less full wardrobe, but also to feel like my clothes will go some way to helping fund-raise for a local charity. The Galway Simon Comminity (website here) have been providing services for homeless people in Co. Galway since 1979. Even if they make €100 from all my clothes, it's €100 more than they had before I cleared out my wardrobe - and it cost me nothing but my time to sort out my wardrobe.

My clothes that are too big for me

Friday, 10 May 2013

The Clare Burren Half Marathon is just two weeks away!

Where the hell has the time gone? I can't believe the Clare Burren Half Marathon is only two weeks away! I have kind of been distracted with the Galway 5K Series and the Great Race Galway that I kind of didn't notice the weeks flying by. Just this week I had my first look at the course map for Saturday 25th of May:

I don't know how familiar you are with Co. Clare (my home-county) but rugged would be a good word to describe the general landscape. The Half Marathon starts and finishes in Ballyvaughan on the coast, looking across the Atlantic at New York. Ballyvaughan itself is a beautiful little town filled with lovely small pubs and places to eat. I remember not too long ago heading on a night out in BallyV with two friends of mine Clair & Aisling and I ended up passed out on the pier at 5 o'clock in the morning. Something tells me the next time I pass out in BallyV won't be from drinking too much ;)

Anyway, I'm digressing. The Clare coastline is jagged to say the least. I was curious about the profile of the course and that was when I found this:

Are. You. Kidding. Me?

The route brings you from Ballyvaughan, up the Fineona road, past the Burren College of Art, and the ruins of Rathbourney Church and onto the green trail road. Half way up Poulacapple the route turns right heading and on the trail back down Poulacapple Gleninagh, the Aran Islands, Gleninagh Castle, the Rine, and South Galway Coast will all be in view. The course then joins back onto the main road, along the coast, passing the Pinnacale Well, and back to the finish line. The route is approx 3 miles on road, 3 off road, 3 on road, 2 off road with the rest on road back into the village.

It most definitely doesn't sound like a walk in the park! That being said - I'm looking forward to the challenge of it!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Thought for the Day

Race 2 - Claregalway [Galway 5K Series]

The grey sky grumbled above as we gathered in Claregalway for tonight's 2nd run of the Galway 5K Series. Waiting around tonight before the race started was a lot easier as there was less hanging around than last week seen as we had already registered and had our bibs/chips etc so all we had to do really was turn up at the start line before 8pm.

Race 2 - Race Map

Clair, Me, Sinead, Gordon, Brad & Yvonne before the race

The race started bang on time and as the roads were wider than last weeks 5K, I found moving around the crowd a lot easier. Again I forgot my headphones so had to run to the beautiful sound of myself huffing and panting as we tore off up hill for the first kilometre. 

I find not having my headphones in I don't get notifications of my pace - I should probably invest in one of those cute GPS watch things as its much easier to look at as opposed to fumbling in your pocket to take out the phone. Not having any idea of my time, I kept ploughing on. The rain (thankfully) stayed away for tonights race which was nice as I think everyone was waiting for the impending downpour.

I play this stupid visualisation game in my head when I am running and tonight found it really useful. I know the distances in km around my house, so when I saw the 4K sign mark, I knew I was only from 'the wall by the big house' away from my house. This mind-trick clearly worked as my official time for this weeks race was 23 minutes 52 seconds.

I even clocked a 4min 32sec KM which is my fastest KM to date... All in all, not bad for a Tuesday evening hitting the tarmac! 

Interestingly, last week I placed 322nd of the 660 that ran in Athenry. Tonight I placed 266th out of 606 runners. Not too shabby!

Coming up to the finish line :)

Monday, 6 May 2013

Great Race Galway - The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

I signed up for the Great Race Galway last week when I realised that I wouldn't be able to do the Samsung Night Run in Dublin the weekend before so I was quite excited about running around the Galway Racecourse (an area I know well as I work beside it)... Now don't get me wrong, I'm no race expert but the whole experience was full of ups and down.

The Good:

I got a new Personal Best - 52m 15ish

The Bad:

The official times still aren't online so I cannot confirm my time exactly but thanks to my friend Rob's pic of me crossing the finish line, I know what my race finish time was.

There were no medals :( 

The Ugly:

As we came back into the racecourse, we were passing people with race numbers on running in the opposite direction. It was all very confusing. Turns out that when the leaders came back into the racecourse they were sent in the wrong direction, crossing the finish line after 8K instead of 10K. 

How the hell does that happen? Surely the race stewards are briefed on the course, especially those who are directing the runners!

Anyway, back to the race:

The Good:

I started off like a greyhound out of a trap and ran my first 3-4km in great time (under 5m/km). I was well chuffed with my pace.

The Bad:

That pace couldn't be sustained. I found myself slowing progressively. I hit 5K at 24m 58s so I knew my dreams of a highly ambitious 'under 50m' were dashed from the point.

You'll also notice a big red line on my time map - that was thanks to the Parkmore Hill coming up from the Claregalway Rd into Parkmore. It's steep enough and my plan was just to hit it running but I think the hill got the better of me and slowed me down a good bit. It took quite some time to recover from it.

The Ugly: 

Post 'that hill', I was drained. I could feel it in my legs and shoulders. I think I ran the hill hunched over/looking down as when I straightened up - I felt like my shoulder needed to 'burp' or something for the rest of the race. It was really uncomfortable.

Papped leaving the Racecourse

Crossing the Finish Line

All in all, it was a good experience made great by my friends who where there. Rob followed us around and papped plenty of pics of us on the route (Thanks Rob). This race was also my first 10K with Bradley who helped me out so much when I was starting my running journey and it was my other half's first 10K race which he completed in a fantastic time.

My new aim is to run a sub 50mins 10K but it's a goal I'll have to put on the back burner for the time being as I have less than three weeks to the Burren Half Marathon (which will be my first half!). No more 10K's for me until June but that doesn't mean I can't work towards trying to improve my time in the mean time!

(If they decide to release the official results, I'll post them there. For the time being, I'm using 52 minutes 14 seconds as my time for this 10K - knocking 2 minutes 16 seconds off my previous 10K PB - All in all, there may have been some Bads and Uglies along the way... but it was a Good Day!)

Update 07/05/13: My chip time was 51:55. Delighted

Thursday, 2 May 2013

April Review & Goals for May

I had set myself two goals for April:

Goal 1:
  • Top March's figures:
    • Run for longer than 9 hours
    • Run further than 91K
    • Obtain a better average pace (5m 55s/km) 
Goal 2:
  • Run 15K in a single run

Here is how I did:


While I didn't run for longer than 9 hours (clocked 8h 28m), I ran further and faster than the previous month therefore beating the goal I had set myself to run further than 91K at a better pace than 5m 55s/km. I clocked 92K over 12 runs (Average Run: 7.6K) as opposed to 91K over 16 runs (Average: 5.7K).

You'll also notice my Monday-Wednesdays looking very bare in there but that is because I have been going to bootcamp on Mondays & Wednesdays which has covered my two cross-training days each week.

Also, last Saturday I reached my 2nd goal for the month - Run 15K in a single run.

Overall I feel absolutely amazing like nothing can stop me now :) I ran 5K on Tuesday in 24m 34s which was my new 5K Personal Best. I am also 10lbs lighter going into May than I was starting off April. Win win!

So... What is my goal for May?

My #1 priority goal is to run the Clare Burren Half Marathon at the end of the month which I am signed up for and excited for despite having never run 21K before in my life. But hey, it's a new month so a new challenge :)

Goal 1:
  • Complete my first Half Marathon in 2 hours (give or take a few minutes)

Goal 2:
  • Top April's figures:
    • Run for 10 hours
    • Run 100K
    • Obtain a better average pace (5m 32s/km) 

If I apply my SMARTER goal setting strategy to May, I get the following:

  • Specific - Run further, longer and faster than April (as specified above) and finish the Half Marathon
  • Measurable - Use the Nike Running App
  • Attainable - Of course it is :) Think Positive
  • Realistic - Between the Galway 5K (4 in May) & the Half, along with my training runs - it is!
  • Time-sensitive - 31 days (May)
  • Evaluation - Aim for 25k / week (2 hrs 30 mins commitment a week)
  • Reward - New Running Shoes (my Green Shrek ones have seen some milage at this stage)