Monday, 30 March 2015

Run Clare - Race 3: Eamon Moloney 10K

I was really looking forward to the Eamon Moloney 10K for a number of reasons. The race is in its 3rd year and I've taken part in each one so far. Myself and Aisling headed down to Ennis early Saturday morning (after stopping for a coffee en route), we headed straight to the registration hall to check-in for the race. We stayed in the car until 30 minutes before the race as it was so cold out. Following a few warm up laps and stretches around the Fair Green we lined up with the 800+ other runners ready for the 10K.

At the Start Line with Aisling

My plan was to try stay ahead of the 50 minute pacer. I ran Kinvara earlier this month in 49:26 despite finishing behind the pacers (I started near the back of the pack) so this time we were prepared. The 50 minute pacer was behind me. The 45 minute pacer was in front of me. The clock hit 11am and the race started on time.

Start Line

We took off (through the stopped traffic) but the first 500m was very choppy - lots of people, lots of cars. Once I found my way out through the crowd I was running steady but someone how the 50 minute pacer had gotten in front of me. I pushed a 4:30 first km which was a bit risky (I haven't run that fast since last Summer) but I got ahead of the balloon and I ran on happy.

Thumbs up from me (Pic from John O'Neill's Facebook)

The route was the same as previous years - and every year I seem to forget how not flat the route really is. About 2.5km out the Tulla Rd, we turned down through Ballymaley before coming back out on the Gort Road at 6km. The last 4km was running straight into the wind - but the last 4km was my favourite - I pass my parents house at the 7km mark.

For the past two years my grandparents & parents have been out to cheer me as I passed (last year my grandfather commented afterwards on how far behind the leader I was - thanks like for the motivation!). This year I knew there would be no one at the house as everyone was away. As I turned the corner I saw my little nephew wrapped up in his giant puffy orange jacket waiting on the wall with my dad and it honestly was just the pep-in-my-step I needed.

I ran in the rest of the Gort Rd pretty easily (despite the wind). As I turned at the Courthouse, I could see the finish line and made a dash for it - crossing it at 48:02! By no means my best 10K but my fastest this year. I felt good and will definitely be pushing closer to 45 minutes on my next 10K.

3rd Eamon Moloney Medal for my collection...

I stood by the finish line and watched others speed home. Aisling followed shortly afterwards - so after a few stretches, we made our way to the hall to sample some yummy cake (purely research of course). The Run Clare series has been fantastic so far - next (and last) stop: The 10 Miler in Kilnaboy after Easter.

BOOM! Race 3 of 4 done




Sunday, 22 March 2015

Thank You Fidelma

The Marriage Equality Referendum will take place in Ireland on May 22nd where every Irish citizen (who is over 18 & on the register of electors) will be asked whether "marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex". That's it - a simple question. Do you believe two people can be married regardless of their sex. A man and a woman, two women, two men - All equal in the eyes of the law in our country. Nothing more, just equal. 


I had (up until last week) naively assumed that this was a foregone conclusion. I assumed the people of Ireland would come out and stand side by side with their LGBT brothers and sisters and Vote Yes for equality - vote yes for a fairer Ireland where people have the same right to marry regardless of their sexual orientation. I assumed incorrectly. 

Last Sunday, I ran a marathon, then went home to Ennis where myself and my husband spent the day with my dad (it was his birthday), my mum (it was mother's day) and my uncle and his wife who were christening their baby. I drove my grandfather home after the meal as he was tired. I got to spend time with my nephew (and Godchild). I chatted with my cousin and my brother. It really was a lovely day filled with love from all sides.

As the evening drew to a close, I was flicking through Twitter and I saw Fidelma Healy Eames had posted the following:


Fidelma is a local senator in Oranmore (where I live) and while her tweet really didn't sit well within me, I chose to ignore it. Fast forward to Tuesday, St Patrick's Day - I was standing watching the parade go by with my brother-in-law, his wife and their three children. We got ice-cream from the ice cream truck, we clapped as the first class kids dressed as shamrocks walked past and at one point I had my nephew up on my shoulders because he was tired from all the standing around. I looked up at the grand marshal's stand and low and behold... Fidelma.

In one of those moments I can only put akin to the resolution-part of a movie when the main character finally pieces everything together only moments before something dramatic happens - everything clicked together for me. I am at one point of the voting spectrum with my opinion, Fidelma, although she hasn't stated how she is voting, appears to be at the other side with hers. Both of us are equally entitled to our opinions and while I personally don't agree with hers - she may not agree with mine.  

The following thought crossed my mind: 'What will happen if on May 23rd, the day after the referendum, the votes are tallied and Ireland  has voted No?'. I can't begin to imagine how I'll feel let alone the tens of thousands of other Irish LGBT people (both here and abroad) who have been told NO by the rest of our country. 

NO we don't see your marriage the same as our marriage. 
NO we don't think ye deserve the same rights as we have. 
NO we don't see your love as equal to ours. 

My mind continued to wander - If Ireland votes No, I will be devastated. I'll ask myself "Was there anything I could have done differently?". My conclusion will probably be that Ireland hasn't moved on, Ireland just isn't ready and that there are more people living in this country that see their marriage as more superior to the civil partnership I have here in Oranmore with my husband.


I realise that doing nothing is going to be worse than doing something. For that reason I want to thank Fidelma Healy Eames. Thank you for giving me the kick I needed to wake me up to the fact that Marriage Equality can and will be won in Ireland - but only if people care enough to fight for it. And while the focus of the Marriage Equality campaign will be focused on cities and larger towns around the country, this St Patricks Day has shown me the latent power hiding in plain sight in all the small towns and villages around our beautiful country.





Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Tralee Marathon - Marathon #3

I cannot believe how quickly the marathon weekend came around. Myself, Cathal, Brad and Rob made our way to Tralee on Saturday afternoon and I had a lovely evening carb loading while the others enjoyed wine, cheese and bread. I disappeared off to bed around 11pm as I was tired and looking forward to a nights sleep. My alarm woke me at 7am and after eating my weetabix out of a tupperwear container (how glam), I spent the next hour reading my book. I left the hotel at 8:40am and made my way to the start line.

Outside the hotel before the race...

Myself, Cathal and Brad made our way to the Start Line which was by Dunnes on North Circular Road. The place was buzzing with music pumping and people excitedly talking. Sometimes you hear the best things before a race, and sometimes you hear something that scares you. I overheard one guy say "after the last hill at mile 25 - it's all downhill from there" - Ah here, LIE. The only people that should never lie to runners are spectators as their idea of "nearly there" and "just around the corner" are grossly miscalculated :)

Start Line...

The race started shortly after 9.00am and I was off. There was plenty of support on the route as it left Tralee and headed for Ardfert. I will admit I was a bit surprised when the 3:45 pacer passed me out at Mile 5 as I didn't realise I was going faster than planned. It was then I decided to stall up a bit and try keep my km splits to 5:30/km and I stayed with that as best I could going forward. The route bought us out around the Tralee Golf Club before we met some of the leading Half Marathon runners. To see people overtake you at such speed half way though is quite disconcerting but I kept my head in the game and ploughed on.

The First Half - Time Splits

From where the Half Marathoners and Full split, the marathon became more of a solo effort. There were 360+ taking part so I found most of the route there was one or two behind and in front of me. No one overtook, no one was passing you out. Having that one blue t-shirt about 100m infront of me didn't really encourage me to overtake him so I just ran with it.

I have to say, this run was one of those that just went with me - The mile signs clocked by one by one and before I knew it, I was in Fenit where the course looped. This was the first point in the game when I knew how far "back" the 4:00 hour pacer was from me. As I passed Mile 19, the pacer was coming towards me so I knew I had about a kilometre distance between me and him. 

I hit Mile 20 just under 3 hours so that was the first point at which I thought the 4:00 marathon was still achievable but I'll always remember what someone told me before: "A marathon is a twenty mile warm-up followed by a 10km race". I had an hour to run 10K, very doable but when you are that drained. My legs were starting to hurt and stamina is hard to persist when you pass people walking (or limping). I never thought about the end line, just the next mile marker as I kept on going.

My only criticism of the race would be the fact there was no energy drink on the course. I really felt like one around the 20 Mile mark would have helped but I had to make do with water and my jelly babies as I ran back towards Tralee along the coast against the wind. We turned off the main road with three miles to go and I still hadn't been overtaken by the 4:00 pacer so I ploughed on, sniggering at the "If you collapse, we'll pause your garmin" sign stuck on a farmers gate. My time splits got slower but I kept going - one foot in front of the other!


The Second Half

At the 25 Mile sign the 4:00 pacer finally caught me! He was really sound and really pushed me on for the last mile as we rounded downhill and straight back into Tralee. As we turned onto the home stretch I saw Michelle Burke (@chelleburke) and Joe Galvin (@galvinjoe) who were cheering like loons. It was so nice to hear someone roar your name.

Coming up to the Finish Line (Pic from Michelle Burke)

As I got closer to the finish line, my eyes weren't on the line or the clock but Brad, Cathal and Rob cheering from the side line. Made a quick detour and high-5'd them as I was oh so happy to be finished. Brad even made a little video of it (I love it).


I crossed the line at 4:00:47 - a fraction over the 4 hour mark but oh so happy. Maybe self doubt had taken over but in the run up to the run itself I really thought 4 hours would have been out of the question so to finish there was more than I could have asked for. I felt the best I've ever felt post marathon - no cramps, no feelings of nausea. Ya I got cold pretty quick and my legs felt like they weighed 10 tonne but nothing a hug & a kiss from my husband didn't solve!


You can see from my time map above how excellently I started out and how my pace gradually got slower. The last 10K was tough but it was fine. Every cloud has a silver lining and for me, mine came in the form of the 'Longest Run' award. Yep, I've never run for 4 hours straight before so that's quite an achievement. Even in Connemara last year I had to walk a lot of the uphill near the end - this was like a walk in the park in comparison.

Marathon #3 in the Bag... Roll on #4!

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Want a look inside my Marathon Kit?

I've just finished packing my bag for Tralee and I've realised I don't travel light. As long as I have my runners, shorts, a number of t-shirts (as it depends on the weather tomorrow morning whether I'll go long sleeve or short, under-armour or not), Garmin watch, headphones, phone and RoadID - I'm happy. (Will all that weigh me down?)


I'm packing something a little extra to get me through the 26.2 miles on Sunday as I've just seen the participant numbers. There are 360 doing the Full Marathon so I'm expecting it to be a lot of me on my own. I remember Connemara was twice that number and I was on my own for the first half (before meeting the Half Marathon runners). Around the same number took part in the Marconi Half Marathon and it was just myself and the pacer for most of it. I'd rather be over-prepared instead of wishing I'd brought some things along to help me on my way. This is what I've packed:

1. New Podcasts - I have more Jillian Michaels, RuPaul & Serial. These are my typical weekly long-run go-tos so I know I can rely on them to keep me trucking on. Jillian can be great for the inspiration and motivation, RuPaul is always great for a chuckle and Serial... well, half way through I still think Adnan is innocent.


2. AudioBooks - Amy Poehler's autobiography & The Collectors (Short Story) by Philip Pullman but narrated by Bill Nighy. I've never listened to an audio book before but thanks to my new Audible subscription, I have two lined up and ready to go should I need them.


3. New Music - Thanks Madonna, Marina & The Diamonds & Kelly Clarkson. I have picked my own personal highlight from each of their albums here:

Madonna - Iconic

Marina & The Diamonds - Blue

Kelly Clarkson - War Paint

So that's it... I've my bags packed and I'm Tralee bound with Brad, Rob & Cathal. I'm a mixed bag of nerves and excitement. I'm ready for 9am tomorrow. I've been putting the work in since Christmas and my legs are ready to run. Parts of it will be tough, parts of it won't be fun but I'm ready for it. I can't wait to get that medal across the finish line.




Friday, 13 March 2015

Time flies when you are busy running...

The Tralee Marathon is a mere TWO days away and I haven't had a chance to start hyperventilating about it as I haven't had the chance to get to grips with the fact I'll be running in my 3rd marathon this coming weekend. My week has just been mental but it's all good. 

Last Saturday I ran the 10K in Kinvara:

Two thumbs up (Pic taken from Rock & Road Facebook)

On Sunday I ran my last long run (14km) in prep for the Marathon:

My run was powered by the new Kelly Clarkson album and a Jillian Michael's podcast

On Monday I went to the Maree Athletics Club AGM where I became the PRO for the coming year, so expect lots more Maree AC updates from me over the coming twelve months.


The power has gone to my head

On Tuesday I was invited to the Gort Weight Watchers class by the lovely leader there, Catherine. To be honest I didn't know what to expect or what even I could bring to the class but I turned up and gave it my best. There were loads of questions from the class and I was as honest as I could be. One lady asked "Was it easy to lose the weight?" to which I replied, It's not easy but it's not impossible either. It takes the same amount of effort to lose the first half stone as it does the last half stone and little changes were the key for me. Jesus, I nearly inspired myself by the time class was over. It was really lovely to have been asked to attend and I was honoured to be in a room alongside so many others on the same road as I am.

I was tempted to tipp-ex out the "lost 7st" part and update it :)

On Wednesday I went for a pre-marathon sports massage. It was an hour of muscle chopping, back stretching, knot kneading bliss. I loved it and my legs, hips, calves and back felt so un-taut.

CJ waiting for his massage...

On Thursday I had my last pre-marathon bootcamp session. I'm looking forward to getting the marathon behind me as I've found the past week I've been unwilling to give it as much welly as normal. About two weeks ago, after a tough squat/wallball session, I was sore two days later. I've been afraid I'll pull a muscle (even though I never have) that I'm being a bit too precious. I'm looking forward to getting back to it 100% from next week. 

Throwing Balls (Pic taken from French Vanoli's Facebook)

So here we are... Friday morning! I've had a busy week at work, busy week at home and have a busy weekend ahead. My plan is to take it easy for the next two days, eat healthy, stay as hydrated and get as much sleep as possible. I've 26.2 miles waiting for me Sunday morning and do you know what, it'll probably be the only me time I get this week... 

I'm as prepared as I can be so now all that's left for me to do is to turn up at the start line and believe in myself. Marathon #3 - Here I come!



Sunday, 8 March 2015

The 2015 Kinvara Rock & Road

The 2015 Rock & Road took place yesterday, and myself and 25 others from work lined up at the start line ready to show Kinvara what we were made of. The Kinvara Rock & Road will always be special for me - it's right back to the beginning. Two years ago I lined up at the start line and ran my first ever 10K. Last year I ran the Half Marathon but this year I was back for some 10K action.

Ready for the Start

It was overcast and windy but that didn't dampen the atmosphere around the Quays in Kinvara as 800+ gathered in the starting area. For some reason, I keep forgetting to place myself appropriately before the start, so both myself and Aisling started near the back. It made the first km more difficult overtaking groups of people walking or running in groups.

By 2km, I had found my stride and caught up with Caitriona (from work). This year we all had nice luminous green t-shirts from work so it was really easy to spot a fellow co-worked from the distance. Myself and Caitriona ran side by side talking until the half way point when she told me to go on. (If running was war, I'd be useless!).

The wind persisted for the first half of the race but it was fine. Running down the wet muddy side roads felt good. My legs (and niggly hip) felt great and I continued to clock 5 minute km's so I was happy. I'm taking it easy in anticipation for the Marathon next weekend so I was happy with my time and efforts.

I knew the dreaded hill was coming around 7km and when I hit it, I was surprised with how fine it actually was - third year in a row running up that hill near the end of a race (its on the half marathon route too) reminded of that quote: It never gets easier, you just get better at it. I powered on and before I knew it, I was turning back on to the main Kinvara road at 9km. I ran happy, ran strong towards the quays and the finish line thinking back to the two previous times I crossed the finish line.

In 2013, my mother, grandmother friends and other half were waiting at the finish line to surprise me as it was my first ever run - and they were there when I crossed my very first finish line. In 2014 I ran the Half Marathon course in just over 1hr 40 and so this year as I ran towards the finish line I thought about the other lines I've crossed over the past two years and how the next finish line I hope to cross will be after running 26.2 miles in Tralee next Sunday.

2013 Rock & Road

2014 Rock & Road

2015 Rock & Road

I crossed the finish line in under 50 minutes (49:26) delighted with myself. The Kinvara Rock & Road will always be my favourite race. They say you never forget your first time... I know I haven't! 

Another medal for my collection

Red Faced and Green Tee'd - Post Run Work Gang



Friday, 6 March 2015

Run Clare - Race 2: Michael Egan Memorial 5 Mile

Last Sunday (March 1st) was the second race in the Run Clare. Run Clare is a 4 month, 4 race series bringing people from 5K to 5 miles (8K) to 10K to 10 miles (16K) between January and April. What is so different about this race series is that similar to the Galway 5K Series, each race is someplace different, so last Sunday myself and Aisling headed off through the snow storm for Quilty on the west coast of Ireland.

Next Stop: America

We checked in for the race in the Quilty Tavern where we had a few minutes to hide out from the cold. At about 12:30 we headed back out and started do our warm-up before gathering at the start line for the 1pm kick off. Unsure if it was going to rain, snow or if the sun was going to come out, this was the first time I've run a race with a jacket on (just to be sure!). I'm in that pre-marathon-oh-christ-everything-could-kill-me-phase.

Before the Start

The run started bang on 1pm and over 500 people took off into Quitly. It wasn't long before we hung a left and ran along the coast for 2km. The wind battered into us for the first 2km but honestly, the views of the angry restless sea below us was spectacular. I love running in places I've never been before as it gives you something to look at. I had set myself the target of 40 minutes for this 5 miler (5:00/km).

Always camera ready (Pic from John O'Neill's FB)

The race followed a square shape about 2km each side. From 4km the wind was at our backs which certainly helped as we ploughed onwards back towards Quilty. I was happy enough with my pace as I really didn't want to push myself incase my hip started to flare up again (I sound about 90 don't I), but I had just run 21km the day before as my last long run for Tralee so didn't want to push it.

There was a nice uphill around the 7km mark but I knew once I hit the top of the hill, it was all downhill from there and true enough as soon as I hit the peak, I could see the finish line at the bottom so I sped up and crossed the finish line in under 41 minutes (Chip Time: 40:43).

Done!

A great race in a beautiful part of the country (I'd never been before). Aisling followed shortly behind me and with that, we jumped back into the car and headed for Ballyvaughan for some lunch. As I crossed the finish line after running 5 miles, part of me ignored the fact I've another 21 miles to run on top of that in two weeks time. Eek. 

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Looking back at February...

I know February is the shortest month but bloody hell, that was blink and you'll miss it. This was probably helped by both being in the thick of Marathon training and our trip to New York in the middle of it. New York was amazing, it was everything I had thought it would be and more - We had Afternoon Tea in the Ritz, Walked through Central Park, Ate Street Pizza, Visited museums, sipped many Cocktails, had a Cupcake from an ATM and more!

Central Park (it was -16 degrees)

As for the marathon training, that hasn't been going so well. About half way through the month, I noticed a niggle in around my hip/glute. It just didn't feel 100% but I went on regardless. I'd asked Tom at Bootcamp if he had any recommendations and he showed me some stretches and told me to roll it out on a tennis ball as often as possible. It was like a dull throb but I wasn't too concerned about it until it forced me to stop a run half way through.

I was out for my long run on the Friday before NY and about 6K in, my hip started to really hurt. The pain was moving towards downwards my knee and was starting to affect my gait. This was a different kind of pain to my IT band which I had before. I stopped at 10K as I was afraid continuing running would cause more damage. My left glute was rock hard, it was like the muscle was in complete spasm. So I waited in the rain on a wall in the back arse of nowhere (excuse the pun) for my sister in law to come rescue me.

I had planned on running in NY but with the niggly hip/glute, I think the week off the road actually helped it more as since I've been home, I've been running without problem. The only problem with this however is I have missed two long runs! I did however go out yesterday and clocked up 21k in the rain. I felt fine afterwards so at least have the reassurance that I can get through Tralee in one piece regardless of time. I've the work put in, I'd hate to have to have deferred my entry at this late stage.

Two weeks to go!


So, back my 2015 goals, lets see how they are looking two months into the year:

Weight: 

A 1lb loss a week will have me at goal (12st 7lbs) by June. I've been tracking towards goal by trying to keep south of the Target line and as you can see below, I'm half a pound over it but I am oh so happy NY didn't do any damage considering. I'm psyched and ready for a good March now and to bring the green line well under the blue. My current weight is 13st 7.5lbs which is a half a stone loss since January. I'm happy.



Running:

This month I clocked up 118km which is pretty poor considering my target is 170km/month if I am going to hit my 2015km in 2015 goal. That being said, the noticeable gap mid month may just have saved me from injury so I won't be too hard on myself. I have been going to Bootcamp three times a week to keep my fitness levels up. Besides, I have an 8K, 2 x 10Ks and a Marathon in March so my running schedule should be back on track this coming month.



Reading:

Total Fail. My hardly ambitious goal of reading two books a month has seen me read a total of ZERO so far this year.

Eating More Fish:

This weekly goal of eating fish twice a week was no problem when I was at home but I completely skipped over fish in every menu while on holidays.

Overall this month, I have no greens (oops), three yellows and one red but I'm happy. I feel getting three of these back on track is 100% doable this coming month. I'm looking forward to the evenings getting longer and starting back running with other people (Aisling I'm looking at you!). I also hope to have an extra few medals in my possession by the end of the month *fingers crossed for Tralee*