Saturday, 25 April 2015

Running for equality...

I've been troubled about the upcoming marriage equality referendum since a local senator in Oranmore posted on Mother's Day (link here). This was the catalyst which started my involvement with the YesEquality group but more specifically, the Galway wing. Through YesEquality Galway I've met some absolutely incredible people who have really shown me the power of a community once they get together.

Street canvassing in Galway

Anyway, last Sunday I was out doing what I love to do - run. I had a long run ahead of me so for nearly three hours it was just me and the road. While I run I'll either listen to a podcast/audiobook, blast some tunes or else just think. I've said before how running is the only real time I give in the week to myself to think/reflect/plan/plot... and somewhere around the backroads of Clarinbridge I had an idea.

There are so many incredible LGBT people and supporters around the country that are out on the street canvassing, calling door to door and fundraising for YesEquality. These people connected through their belief in an equal, fairer Ireland where marriage is marriage regardless of whether its between two men, a man and a woman or two women.

I've experienced this sense of community before... with my running buddies. I've turned up at races on my own before and you'll always find someone to talk to. People have their own stories, their own reasons why they run and their own motivations. Regardless of your past (remember I used to be over 19st), all that goes out the window as you run towards the finish line. I know runners who were told they'd never walk again after an accident let alone finish a marathon. My point being, all is fair in running - no one is judged on anything other than the race, and in that regard the only person you are in competition with is yourself. 

This is why I decided to set up the Facebook group: Runners for YesEquality, where runners joggers and walkers both LGBT and straight can show their support for their fellow LGBT runners.
Since Monday, the page has gotten over 450 likes. I've contacted as many running & athletics clubs I could find on a county by county basis. So far I've contacted all the clubs in 15 counties to which 8 have already supported. 2 counties (Roscommon and Dublin) jumped onboard without any prompt which was amazing!

I've also contacted some of my own running heroes and asked them to support Runners for YesEquality. I've also contacted some running related businesses to see if they'll pledge to support. I'm not looking for anything other than their support come May 22nd. 

Sean from Amphibian King pledging his support

The running community is amazing - I'm proud to be part of it and hope the running community is proud to have me and all the other LGBT runners part of it. This time four weeks the ballot boxes will be opening and they'll count the ballots. I know the running community will stand up for the equality, dignity and respect of the people the share the road with. I've never experienced anything like the love, support and camaraderie shared by runners either on the road, in training or at a race. 

We start at the same start line. 
We cross the same finish line. 
We are equal.

Please support Runners for YesEquality here: www.facebook.com/YesEqualityRun

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Looking back at March...

Ah here, where are the months going? Three months though 2015 and I feel like we haven't had a proper chance to get started yet. March was busy - I had a run on nearly ever weekend from the Kinvara Rock & Road (link) to the Eamon Moloney 10K (link), throw in the Tralee Marathon (link) and the Michael Egan 5 mile (link) into the mix.

Despite all of these going on, I feel like the work I am putting in isnt showing on the scales. I'm going to bootcamp two/three times a week, getting in loads of walks with the dog and back out running more yet I'm falling short on all of my targets and goals!

Happy out!

Here's how my goals are tracking after the end of March:

Running:

I just looked up my total as I was writing this and I'm really disappointed to have only clocked up 105km - 42km of that was the Tralee Marathon. I know I was in taper in the run up to it but there is a huge gap around the 15th which probably accounts for the low milage covered.

March Running

Weight:

I'm ending the month 1lb heavier than I started but that goes nowhere towards helping me track towards goal. The Marathon kinda 'messed' things up in the middle of the month in terms of I wasn't tracking to lose weight, I was eating to survive the marathon! While finishing +1lb isnt a big deal, it has thrown my projection way off resulting in me being 6lbs away from my target at the end of this month.


March Weigh-Ins

Reading:

Forget it! This one has gone right out the window... To be fair, I keep buying books with the intention of reading them but I still haven't finished reading a single book this year despite having a backlog of about 10.

I'm actually feeling quite deflated after reading back at all my goals/targets and realising I've falled hugely short on all of them. To run 2015km this year requires me to cover about 167km a month - or just over 500km so far this year. My year total to date: 380km. My weight has gone back to last years trend of fluctuating weekly and of the 6 books I should have read, my tally is zero!

My friend Lisa Regan wrote a piece for the Huffington Post last week (You Are Enough - Improving the Relationship You Have With Yourself - link) which was a great read and just what I needed to hear. If you don't step forward - you're always in the same place. This month may not have been perfect by any means but I ran a marathon. The purpose of having goals in the first place is so you know where to aim. I can see my aim is as bandy as my kick (Have you ever seen me play football?) but with this information I just need to re-calibrate my goals for going forward. 

There is no point tracking to something no longer achievable within the original timeframe. I'm heading out the door right now for a run and to clear out the cobwebs - I know I'll come back with an updated plan! Happy Easter!



Saturday, 4 April 2015

Please (please) double check the register...

The Marriage Equality Referendum is fast approaching (May 22nd) and every day closer we get to it, I'm getting slightly more anxious about the outcome. The thing about this referendum is how personal it is to thousands of people living in Ireland right now. While each amendment to the constitution has affected "the people" of Ireland, this one 100% impacts me, many of my close friends, hundreds of thousands of people I don't even know and countless others who will grow up in this country and want to marry the person they fall in love with regardless of their gender.


The message the YesEquality campaign has been promoting so far has been: Vote and Vote Yes. Seems pretty simple - however for a referendum to pass - 50% of the turnout + 1 vote is all that is needed. This sounds achievable in theory however time and time again I find myself worrying about how possible this actually is.

I was driving home from work on Thursday when I heard Matt Cooper (Today FM) talking about the Dunnes strike. The spokesperson for their union said something along the lines of "everyone know why we are striking - we have been publicising heavily in the media over the past few weeks" yet here I was only hearing about it on the day. My point is, you also cant assume other people will know

1. That a referendum is happening.
2. Why it is happening?
3. Why their vote is important?

It is happening on Friday May 22nd.
It is happening because gay and lesbian people cannot get married by law in this country. We can have a civil partnership which is not the same as marriage which is currently only possible between a man and a woman, not a two men or two women. Not the same means not equal. Not equal = inequality.

The constitutional amendment for marriage equality, if passed, will mean that lesbian and gay couples will be able to marry. This will not impact on any existing marriage or on any future marriage between a man and a woman. Allowing lesbian and gay people get married just like everyone else will take from no one and will have no effect on anyone else’s marriage.

It can be taken as a guarantee that anyone against it (the Vote No side) will definitely turn up on the day and vote - it's getting the Vote Yes side to turn up. Now, I'm thinking pretty much all of my Facebook friends will vote yes and you might be thinking the same - but how many of them can and will turn up on the day. While I don't doubt my friends will want a yes vote to go through - Things happen - life gets in the day. I'm as guilty as the next person when things don't directly impact on me that sometimes things slip my mind.


So I'm asking each of you to please please double check the register. Make sure you are registered and able to vote. And make a promise to the LGBT in your life that you will turn up on May 22nd and vote. If this referendum is lost it will be because more people turned up on the day and voted no- it will break my heart!


So please - regardless of whether you are gay, straight or however you identify, whether you believe in marriage or not, this referendum is simply about equality.

Go to www.checktheregister.ie and make sure you are registered to vote. While you are there, make sure everyone else in your house is registered - don't just assume they are! (I just found out both my brother-in-law and sister-in-law aren't registered as they were taken off the register when they left home for college). Don't worry if you aren't registered you can still get included on the Register if you take action before May 8th.


Secondly, pledge to vote!

Go to YesEquality on Facebook and click Pledge to Vote. Update your Facebook/Twitter profile picture to either the YesEquality or the Straight Up for Equality logo or the watermark for over your profile picture.


I believe in a fair and equal Ireland and I hope you can take 5 minutes this weekend to double check the register and make your pledge to vote next month. If you stand up for equality you can and will make a difference in Ireland and for the generations to come.