Saturday, 27 June 2015

To weigh-in or not weigh-in...?

Guilt is a beast of an emotion to battle. Everyone battles with it in different arenas, under different circumstances and with different outcomes. Sometimes, you can collapse and give in. Other times you can fight through it. On Monday night I was at home raiding the presses for something to nibble on before bedtime. I found a bag of nachos so I tucked in. Half way through stuffing my face, my other half said to me: Are you being a brat?

I went to bed Monday night thinking "I'll go back to WW next week as I'm going away this weekend and want to eat whatever I want" but woke Tuesday morning with the thought "If I leave it another week, I'll do even more damage which I'll have to reverse the following week" and with that, I got up and went to class at 8am Tuesday morning on my way into work. 

Hiding from reality

The damage - Up 8lbs - OUCH! It's confession time - My last weigh-in was the day after the Cork Marathon. That was three weeks ago and through one excuse after another, I'd been delaying my weigh in and suddenly three weeks had passed. I knew things weren't going to be pretty as my clothes were starting to feel that little bit more snug and I hadn't been for a run or to bootcamp since the start of the month. The ice creams on the way to the beach, the ice creams at the beach and the ice creams on the way home from the beach had taken their toll...

In the car on the way to work I started to like crap, like I was failing or something. I was expecting the increase yet when faced with it on the scale I was somewhat surprised by it. I knew I had two options - Continue on the guilt rollercoaster or jump on to a more positive train. I am a firm believer in the fact that there is an opportunity for personal development in every situation and here I am again staring at what I consider failure yet again.

I feel its important to point out that Failure is different for everyone, in the same way success is. Failure for me wasn't because I'd put on 8lbs, it was in the fact I'd let myself slip and derail for three weeks. Earlier this year I had set myself the goal of hitting 12st 7lbs for the start of June which at the time was a one lb loss each week for 16 weeks. I failed - I went on holidays weighing 13st 5. I then went on holidays and put on another 8lbs, bringing back to 13st 13lbs. That is a giant fail in my books.

I'm currently on holidays again (Hello Belgium!) and I'm surrounded by mouthwatering homemade chocolates, beautiful desserts and homemade waffles - it would have been so easy to just not go to weigh in last Tuesday and delay the inevitable but the thoughts of another week off track scare me more than the temporary delights I'd get from binging this weekend would. It's tough, it's always been tough but it's always been worth it. My next weigh-in is Wedneday, the day I come back from my this (second) holiday. I'm not looking for a loss just trying damage limitation at the moment. 

Monday, 8 June 2015

Marathon #4: Cork City Marathon

As Marathon #4 edged closer, something strange happened - I was actually really looking forward to it! I was feeling charged and ready come the June Bank Holiday weekend despite not getting in as many mid-week runs as required due to the amount of time I'd been spending canvassing in the weeks running up to the referendum or just busy with work and life. We (myself and my other half) decided to make an even longer weekend out of the already extended bank holiday weekend so booked into the River Lee Hotel in Cork Sunday and Monday night.

We arrived in Cork around lunch time Sunday and went straight to the registration hall where I collected my race bib and had a look around the expo before heading into Cork city to meet friends for coffee (and cake!) and do a spot of shopping. I also finally got to meet a long time Twitter friend Karen (@KarenCoakley1) in person as she was staying in our hotel too. We spend the night before in the bar drinking water and talking about everything from pre-race nerves to how we were planning to reward ourselves once the race was over.

At the Expo in Cork City Hall

My alarm went off at 6:30am Monday morning and I made my way down to breakfast where the room was full of fresh faced eager looking runners all eating porridge. I had weetabix and a coffee (worst use of a hotel buffet breakfast ever!). At 8:30am I met Karen and along with her family, we headed into Patricks Street to the start line where we stood around chatting for a while. It was a great distraction to help ignore the pre-race jitters as they started to build within me. My goal for this marathon was simple: Finish it! I originally signed up for Cork as a bridge between Tralee (March) and Berlin (September). I figured Cork would keep me ticking over and it had already achieved its intended purpose so running it was the final step in the chain.

Ten minutes to kick off...

I kissed my husband goodbye before heading off into the starting pen - I lined up half way between the 3:45 and 4:00 pacers as my time goal was just to beat my Tralee time of 4:01. In my head (and over on I had set myself the target time of 3:55 so figured having the 4 hour guys behind me would be enough to keep me motivated. My plan was simple: Stay on pace - don't go out too fast - Keep to around 5:30/km.

On yer marks!

The race started bang on 9am and I took off around Cork at my planned pace. It started raining less than 2K in to the race which was expected but still made for a more of a challenging run. The route took us out along the quays before crossing over the bridge and back the far side of the river. We ran out the N20 and doubled back to the quays where we headed straight out to the Jack Lynch tunnel (12K). Ships docked along the quay honked their horns, people stood in the rain and cheered us on. I genuinely mean this, you could feel the support hanging in air. 

The absolute highlight of the entire run was when we entered the Tunnel. In the silence, one person belted out 'Oggy oggy oggy' and the entire tunnel erupted with 'OI OI OI' - twice! Everyone at this point was soaked through, the rain continued to fall but it really did nothing to dampen the spirit of the runners or spectators alike. 

Always ready for a photo! (Picture taken from Paul Condon's Facebook)

We turned off the road just past the Cork Camogie Grounds (18.5K) and ran the next 7K off the main road. We ran alongside Lough Mahon, passed the half way mark, over the bridge over the N40 and along this incredible forest park before joining the main road and the half marathoners at the 25K mark. At this point, the route became busier again as the thousands of half marathoners were now on the course also. 

I overtook the 2:15 pacer for the Half so knew I was still on track for a Sub 4:00 marathon time as the Half started 1 hour 45 after the Full. We came off the main road at 29K (by running up an off ramp) which was followed shortly by another big hill at Lower Friars Walk. I actually don't mind hills but I did mind the lady standing at the bottom with the sign saying 'This is THE Hill' - I'm still not sure what she meant but she's lucky I didn't snap her sign off her (How is that meant to be motivating at the bottom of a hill?). I passed Mile 20 (32K) with 2:51 on my clock so I was still pretty confident I could Sub 4 hour it despite the heavy rain and blasts of wind.

The crowds remained to line the streets, we even passed a brass band out playing in the rain. There were also a few DJ's and speakers blasting some tunes to motivate us the last few miles as we ran out Model Farm Rd. When we turned back on the Carrigrohane Rd I knew we had "just 3 miles left". Despite people flagging around me, those last 5K felt like my strongest. As Cork got closer and with each passing kilometre, I was surprised at how I was holding up. 

We ran through a small park (just off Mardyke Rd) at 41K where a man with bagpipes played us across a bridge while at the same time another man was being stretchered away. Everything about the run was quite surreal - I suppose I'd let myself get lost in the run the entire way around. I'd been in Cork city centre before but never around it and despite the rain (and the physical fatigue which was building up), I could really see what beauty Cork holds in its parks, in the river, in the city and the area around it.

I passed the Mile 26 sign just before the bridge bringing me up to the finish line on Patricks Street. There really is no feeling like the one that rolls around inside you for that last quarter of a mile as you approach the finish line. I crossed the line with a time of 3:54:37, absolutely delighted! My husband was waiting just outside the runners area with a towel, umbrella and jacket for me.

Soaked to the core but as proud as punch, we made our way back to the hotel. The 'Oi Oi Oi' from the Jack Lynch tunnel will resonate in my memory forever. The entire experience was incredible. With Marathon #4 notched under my belt (well... in my legs), I left Cork a happy man. I also got to meet a number of incredible people I've been following on Twitter for ages like Rory (@EatDrinkRunFun), Fiona (@CorkTweetyBird), Kevin (@KevinReihill) and Alan (@HeadChefAlan). Cork, you were awesome - a marathon I would definitely recommend every marathoner should consider. 

Friday, 5 June 2015

Galway 5K Series: Race 6 - Tuam

Tuesday was the last leg of the 2015 5K series in Tuam and it was with the heaviest set of legs ever I arrived at the Ard Ri Hotel before the race to collect the elusive 5K t-shirt which is awarded to all entrants who take part in at least 4 of the 6 races. My legs were heavy as less than 36 hours previous I completed the Cork Marathon (post to follow) so my joints were a little stiff but I felt I could manage a grand soft recovery run around Tuam.

Yvonne, Gordon, Elaine, Ian and myself before the race

This is the end of my 3rd 5K series and I've loved every second of it. The first year I was full of newbie excitement for each run - new courses, new people, new finish lines. The second year I was full of competition and pushed myself to clock up my fastest 5K time yet (21:29). This year I just wanted to run. I ran with friends, met new people, ran for equality, clocked up some sub 22 minute 5Ks all over a few Tuesday evenings.

With the Maree AC Gang (Pic from Maree AC Facebook)

We gathered at the start line before 8pm where I hung near the back. It was actually really really lovely to just run, I never looked at my time/watch once as myself and Yvonne made our way around the course. It was a completely different experience - many people overtook us (Hi Phil) as they had arrived late so therefore had to speed their way around the course despite missing the starting mat.

We ploughed on regardless, clocking up each kilometre at around 6:30/km. As we turned the corner with the finish line in sight, Yvonne commented how we'd both run our first ever 10K together (back in February 2013) and here we were finishing a race again together. With Gordon, Aisling and Elaine waiting by the finish line for us, we crossed the line hand in hand.


With a chip time of 32:19, this was my slowest yet most most enjoyable 5K race yet! I cannot think of a better way to have rounded off the series. I've said it before but for me, running has always been about challenging myself while on the flip side, appreciating what I have and can do. 36 hours previous I was running a marathon in Cork in the rain and here I was running what felt more like a cool down lap taking it easy.

Until next year Galway 5K Series... thank you - its been a blast! :)

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Galway 5K Series: Race 5 - Galway Airport

This year, the Galway City leg of the 5K series changed venue from the Racecourse to the Airport in what was a first for me - running on an airport runway. The route was two laps (a shorter 2k followed by an extended 3K lap) of the main runway in Galway. The sun was out and there was plenty of parking which lead to a really easy evening. The atmosphere was great around the place while people wandered air-side to see what the penultimate leg of the 2015 5K series had in store.

Myself, Gordon, Aisling, Brad, Marie and Elaine before the race

I was apprehensive about the route because it's as flat as they come - no twists, no hidden surprises, no sneaky hills to throw you off. I also wasn't feeling 100% following a weekend of drinking (oops) and a hangover which ran in Monday but either way, I said I'd give it my best shot. I'd also missed the previous week's run (Claregalway) as I was canvassing ahead of the marriage referendum. 21:50 was my best so far this year, with 21:29 still within reach - I figured I had nothing to lose by giving it what I could.

And we're off (Pic from Maree AC Facebook - Link)

The first lap (2K) painted the picture for the second lap - the runway was long and bleak. With nothing to take your attention, it was straight ahead. Seeing the leaders coming back up the runway toward you is a bit of an eye-opener but the opposite was also true. As I turned at the bottom of the runway, you really get to appreciate the volume of runners both ahead and behind you. It's something you rarely see when you are in the middle of a race.

Cleared for take-off... (Pic from Edenhill77's Flicker - Link)

We passed the finish line at 2K and took off back around the runway (this time with an extra bit at the beginning). Again, distracted by watching the people both behind and in front of me, it helped pass the otherwise long stretch back down the length of the runway before we turned (4K) and headed back to the finish line. I crossed the line under 22 minutes with an official chip time of 21:47 - three seconds faster than Craughwell two weeks previous.

Finished! (Pic from Maree AC Facebook)