Friday, 29 May 2015

Galway 5K Series: Race 3 - Craughwell

Craughwell was back on the 5K series this year after being substituted by Maree last year. The route remained the same as before, starting at the National School and running down through the village before swinging left by the GAA pitch and left again around to the train tracks. Myself, Aisling and Yvonne headed out together and got in a pre-warmup selfie before running up and down the main road to get ready.

Myself, Ais and Yvonne

My goal for this race was to Sub 22, which would have involved knocking 5 seconds off per kilometre based on the previous race time. I forgot my headphones (second week in a row) so ended up running this one blind. My watch was bleeping every KM along the way but I wasn't really paying much attention to it, I just kept running. 

The finish line in Craughwell is around a corner and up a small hill (bit sly really) so I kinda happened on the finish line sooner than I thought I would. I crossed at 22:13 so knew I had beaten my previous run in Loughrea, so when my official chip time came in at 21:50, I was delighted! With 21s standing between my 2015 5K series times and last years, I'd three more 5K races left to kick some ass.

Ian, Yvonne, Myself & Elaine in our Runners for YesEquality t-shirts before the race

Myself and Brad

I also had the pleasure of meeting Matt Bidwell (from Fitness Analytics) before the race. His attitude and words of wisdom always stick with me - he recently said (which regards to a 5K race): If it ain't hurting, you aren't pushing yourself hard enough. Which really got me thinking, I don't know if its ever run hard enough that it hurt... Maybe I really need to up my game?

Friday, 22 May 2015

Dear Ireland, Just Say Yes!

May 22nd is finally here, that hashtag I've been using on everything Marriage Referendum related. First off I want to apologise to all my friends and family who I have neglected over the past few weeks. I know I've been a crappy friend, a neglectful brother, an absent partner - I've missed many cups of tea, many phone calls. I'm sorry if I didn't call you back or didnt text you when I really should have. 

My life has been turned completely upside down by the YesEquality campaign and while I'm looking forward to everything settling back down, I know the person I have become through this campaign is a stronger, more confident individual who knows how much love, support and sense of community is out there within the LGBT community. I have made more friends in the past few months than I had over the past five years and for that I'll always be grateful.

At Caher Castle in Craughwell with Daniel and Maria

It hasn't all been fun and laughs - over the past few months I've also seen a much more grim part of the world we live in. If you shine a torch on anything, you'll see the blemishes and cracks and Irish society is one of those things that appears pretty from a distance but look closely and you'll see how really horrible it can be.

Canvassing, street and going door to door has presented us face to face with what seems like other peoples latent issues which have been sitting just under the surface but have now reared their ugly head. I've had people sneer or laugh in the most condescending way when I've asked if I could count on their support in the voting booth. I've had a man shoo me away from his door like you would a stray dirty dog. I've been called a paedo and disgusting. One woman (last night) came up to me and said 'No no no... that's three no's for the three people in my house who think you are disgusting'.

These are only my experiences - I've had friends reduced to tears at a strangers doorstep, I've had friends who have had to stop canvassing as the strain was affecting their mental health. Everyone you ask will have different stories of different ways they've been hurt by strangers while going around basically asking if they can acknowledge the love they have for someone else. That's all.

The next 36 hours are going to be torture, while we wait to see if Ireland has said yes - yes to love and equality (that's all). This is my last attempt to encourage you (yes you reading this) to go out and vote. This isn't plain sailing or a guaranteed victory. If you had spent one night out canvassing you'd see why your vote is important. There are so many No's out there that we need each and every one of the Yes's to turn up and vote today.

The thing is, if this referendum passes EVERYTHING changes for every LGBT person and children of LGBT couples around the country. We become equal. For the No side, nothing changes only the definition of what constitutes a family. This does not affect them in any other way. If this referendum doesn't pass, nothing changes for the No side while every LGBT person and the children of LGBT couples remain unequal.

The polls open at 7am - make the effort to go out and vote today, do you bit for the future of this country. Lets help heal the cracks in Irish society, for me, for you, for future generations. 

With some of the 48 amazing canvassers in Ennis on Wednesday night

With the Runners for YesEquality

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Galway 5K Series: Race 2 - Loughrea

I'm starting to think the skies know when I am about to go for a run these days as yet again, after looking out the office window at clear skies all day, We headed to Loughrea for the 2nd run of the Galway 5K series in the rain. 

<insert inspirational quote about not having rainbows without the rain>

Myself and Aisling arrived in Loughrea before 7:30 and after a few minutes warm-up, we made our way to the Start Line where we met up with the usual suspects :) Last night was a lot more relaxed than Athenry last week as everyone had their timing chips and the rain had subsided which lead to a few nice chats before we were rounded up like a herd behind the starting mat - The mat was shorter than the road so after a tight squeeze, we took off at 8 on the button.

Myself, Brad and Paula before the Start

This years Loughrea route was different to previous years - two loops of the town which lead to a flatter, nicer course. I'm still not sure how I feel about passing the finish line half way through a race but anyway... We ran though the rain & wind and I don't know if it was because of that or the fact I'd forgotten my earphones but the run definitely felt more laboured - listening to other people gasp for air certainly isn't music to my ears and made the run feel longer. I missed the input of fizzy pop music right into my ears - I usually judge distances while running in terms of number of songs e.g "this is the last song, so make it count".

My first and last km were 4:15/km with the kilometres in the middle coming in around 4:30/km bringing me across the finish line at 22:24 - three seconds slower than last week which actually isn't bad at all at all considering the Half Marathon at the weekend. Sub 22 is my next mini-goal, I've my eyes on the prize - just need to step it up a gear... Next stop: Craughwell.

Myself, Elaine & Marie making up last nights YesEquality brigade :)

Monday, 4 May 2015

The Great Limerick Run - Half Marathon #10

I was excited for this years Great Limerick Run for a number of reasons - The course is my fastest Half (last year in 1:40), I was running it this year in my YesEquality t-shirt, I haven't run a Half since Waterford in December but mainly because it meant doing only 13 miles as my long run this weekend instead of the planned 19!

Start Line warm-up

Mam dropped me off near the start line area on Sunday morning just as the rain stopped pouring over Limerick city (Thanks for the lift Mam!). I made my way into the runners starting area where there was Zumba going full force. There I met with Noel & Rob (the lovely guys also in the Yes Equality t-shirts in the pic below). I also met with Jason who I met at the starting area of the Dublin Marathon in 2013 along with Dermot from the Dublin Frontrunners. 

Noel, Myself and Rob pre-starting whistle

The run started bang on 11:45 and I kind of didn't really have much time to think about anything. I remembered the route from last year but in my head it was a lot flatter than I remember. I took off way too fast and I knew it, but what did I do... Kept on going. I clocked the first few km's in 4:30/km which I knew was too fast to sustain but I kept on going powered by the fizzy pop music blaring in my ears.

I hit the 10K mark (around The Crescent) at 48 minutes and things started to get tougher from there. The day was humid and clammy. It really needed to rain but the clouds were holding out on us. It was a lovely treat to hit the city centre again around the 12km mark as the buzz and energy from the crowd (mainly the 6 milers waiting to start) was brilliant. I clocked up another 4:30/km there but I really felt it from there.

As I crossed Sarsfield's Bridge (13km) I could see the 3:45 Marathon pacer cross past me and I could feel how close they were to their finish line. I remember in Connemara how hard it was to keep running past the end of the Half Marathoners but here was the complete opposite - for the next few miles all the slower marathoners were being overtaken by the Half and then the 10K'ers. That must really such but fair bloody play to them for trudging on - every time I passed a Blue Bib I gave them the supportive 'Good on ya' nod.

The last few kilometres were tough and I was really starting to slow down/stiffen up - punishment for going out way too fast. My last few were around the 5:15/km-5:20/km mark and I was hoping I'd done enough to hit 1:45 and the earlier few km's would compensate. As I crossed the 20km mark and we turned back onto O'Callaghan strand (parallel to the river), I took off again, crossing the bridge and onto O'Connell Street crossing the line at 1:45. I couldn't believe it - delighted with myself! Half Marathon #10 in the bag...

Boom! Another medal for the collection!

I really loved the support on the route during the run. I don't know if it was the bank holiday weekend or the River fest in the city but I do feel like wearing the YesEquality t-shirt definitely brought out some extra support - I got a load of 'Vote YES' or 'Gwan John Q' when people saw the message on the t-shirt - and what a better way to get that message across to so many people who were watching from the sidelines waiting to support the special person in their life.

Myself and a YesEquality street canvasser
(Thanks for the pic Cillian!)

As I left Limerick, I caught the start of the 6 miler (10K) and saw quite a number of other YesEquality t-shirts in the field which was lovely to see. Looking on Twitter I see a number of people had written 'Vote Yes' or 'YesEquality' on their bibs, others painted their nails and wore the YesEquality badge while they ran. It was so fantastic to see - Limerick, you were awesome! Until next year :)

One of the YesEquality t-shirts zooming off ahead of the crowd

Friday, 1 May 2015

Galway 5K Series: Race 1 - Athenry

The 2015 Galway 5K series kicked off on Tuesday night in one very wet Athenry! For the first time it about three weeks, it rained. Myself and Aisling collected our bib and timing chip and then hung out in the car in the run up to the 8pm kick off. It was a shame really as there is always such a great vibe at these races but hiding out to stay dry for as long as possible was more important.

Car Selfies!

I was aphrenrsive about how this run would go. I've been clocking up my milage in training for Cork (which is 4 weeks away!) but haven't been working on speed/short distance stuff. My average 5K at the moment is about 25 minutes (5:00/km). Last year I was running these 5K's in 21:30 which is about 4:20/km. I was aiming for somewhere in between the two times - around the 23:00 mark.

We made our way to the start line at around 7:50pm as the rain alleviated slightly. I met up with the gang from work (who I had cajoled to join me in wearing YesEquality running t-shirts). We warmed up and shortly after 8pm the race kicked off. 

Ian, Myself, Aisling & Elaine
(Pic taken from Maree AC's Facebook)

On your marks...

The route was the same as last year, taking us up around past the GAA pitch (and the finish line) at the 2km mark. I felt good and was happy to be clocking 4:30 per km. The route isn't particularly hilly so I just stayed focused on maintaining pace. The last 3km passed without much incident, I focused on pace and breathing as I crossed the line around the 22:30 mark. My official chip time: 22:21 - making me 50 seconds slower than my fastest 5K (21:29) but OMG oh so happy. My goal is to hit 21:28 over the next five weeks. Thats 10s I need to knock off each race, a measly 2s per km. 

Post run selfie!

We waited around the finish line for the rest of the gang to come in. I've said it before and I'll say it again - the camaraderie within runners at a race is like something I've never experienced anywhere else. You'll talk to someone you'd never met before because they unintentionally motivated you during the run. You'll hug people you wouldn't normally hug. All's fair in love and war... and running! 

I really enjoyed the wet first night of this years 5K and I'm looking forward to the next five Tuesday nights. Next stop: Loughrea