Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Marathon #9 - Dublin 2016

Some runs just stay with you forever. They live on in your heart and head. For example, I can recall the precise moment during my first marathon (in Dublin three years ago) when I realised that I was actually going to finish. I can still recall the lift that feeling gave me about 23 miles around the marathon course as I made my way with such steely determination towards the finish line. Fast forward three years and I find myself rushing, hesitant and slightly fuddled to the start line my ninth marathon just minutes before kick off.

At the very back of Wave 1 - Approx 8:55am, Sunday 30th of October

I didn't want to run with Wave 1, I'd forgotten my pacing band, I'd missed my friends outside their hotel as the taxi dropped me at the opposite side of Merrion Square. I debated whether I'd hang back and start with Wave 2 but once the klaxon went off, I followed the crowd out and under the starting arch and over the mat. 

I told myself to take it easy and run about 5:30/km (which I had been running all my long training runs at) so I found the first few kilometers actually flew by. I felt it was particularly warm/humid for early on a crisp Sunday morning but just brushed off the sweat gathering on my forehead as I made my way up through Phoenix Park. My pace was pretty consistent and I felt alright.

Snapped as I passed Stephens Green just after the start

I made my way through Inchacore (16km) and Dolphin's Barn (21km) hitting half way with 1:56 on the clock (I was aiming for a 4 hour) but something happened as soon as I went over the half way mat that changed the rest of the race... I started to pay attention to that nasty little negative back-chatter that was rolling around in my mind all race. As soon as I'd given it a scratch, it needed more - the next five miles dragged. I felt every step and couldn't lift whatever weight had come down on my mind/mood/mindset. 

I started chastising myself over my lack of commitment to my training plan, began doubting my ability of go the distance, thought about every 'bad' food choice I'd made over the past week. It was like a spiral, with each unwrap I could feel my motivation trickling away. When I got to the 30km mark I broke... and started walking.

I told myself I'd walk 1, run 1 but I just didn't have it in me. I walked from 30-31, ran from 32 to 34 and then started walking again... I told myself I wasn't taking a medal once I crossed the finish line as I'd let myself down and I didn't deserve it (I was in a really bad place!). At this stage I was 3:25 into the marathon and all I could think about was how different this experience was to my previous marathon a few months ago when I powered home in Waterford in 3:46.

I have always said how amazing the crowd in Dublin are but bloody hell, they really pulled out the stops. Maybe they felt sorry for me, maybe they could see I was broken on the inside but honestly, I've never received such encouragement, applause and back pats from random strangers in my life. Despite the continual support and words of encouragement to persevere, I just didn't have it in me. Even at 40km, with just 2km to go I started to run but stopped almost immediately. I walked right up to 41.5km and ran the last few hundred meters up Mount Street and across the finish line with 4:37 on the clock.

2016 Race Bling

As I crossed the finish line I saw the shimmer of the medal and thought 'F*** it, I've just clocked up a marathon distance (even if I walked the last 8km)' and I graciously received my medal as a symbol, a physical reminder of whatever the hell just happened out on the course I didn't quit. Despite the ample opportunity to come off the course and head home, I kept going. I'm not proud of my effort and most definitely didn't finish anywhere near empty. I still haven't fully processed what happened out there but I've been doing a lot of soul searching since.

My official time is 4:37:23 making this my worst marathon performance to date. Ironic really considering earlier this year I clocked my person best. That being said, my phone did notify me that I'd just completed my longest ever workout. 

Dublin, you were amazing. I was not. But in the words of the Terminator... I'll be back!





Sunday, 2 October 2016

Galway Bay Half Marathon - Half Marathon #16

Considering the fact Run Galway Bay is the largest road race in Galway, Its kind of funny that I've never run it. This race attracts huge numbers across its three distances (10K, Half & Full) and is always at the start of October and is one of the last big races in Galway of the year. I actually only signed up for this race last weekend (I won a free entry on their Twitter) and decided to roll my scheduled long run into the Half so planned on going out and taking it easy for 21km around Galway Bay.

I made my way to Claddagh Hall (start line) for around 11:30 as most of the 10Kers had finished (they started at 10am) and some marathoners were passing by doing loops (they started at 8:30am). The route consists of a 10K loop from Claddagh out along the Prom through Salthill and out to the Barna Rd before doubling back. The Half has a single lap of South Park (1.1km) and the Full had two laps (2.2km) before heading out on the 10K. Sounds complicated but really was quite straightforward.

Hanging with Toby before the race start!
(Check him out on IG: www.instagram.com/tobyonhenrystreet)

Start Line

The Half Marathon started at 12:15 and after one loop of the park, we made our way out along the prom and into Salthill. Honestly, the kilometers were rolling by without much thought so I wasn't going to question it. The route was packed with runners in both directions which made the run quite pleasant as you always had something to keep your attention. I was conscious of my pace as I was consistently hitting 5:00/km which is faster than my planned long run pace (around 5:30/km). I think actually the 1:45 pacer losing his balloon half way around helped be ease back a little as I wasn't trying to keep him in my sights.

Snapped by Lisa (thats me with my hands up)

We looped back around by the Finish Line at around the 11.5km mark which was actually the only low-light of the entire experience. Having to pass the finish line and know you have the same loop to do again is kind of disheartening. I don't know how the marathoners did it four times! As I made my way back out the prom (12/13km) the lead male was already on his way back past me. They were actually the things that made this race special. I passed friends and fellow Maree AC members on route a few times which is something that rarely happens in a race.

Before I knew it I was down to the last 5km as I made my way back in along the prom. At this point I knew I was in trouble. I committed the biggest sin known to runners, I broke the 'Nothing new on race day' rule in that I was wearing brand new shoes as last weekend, my old pair kicked the bucket when the insole shifted and left me with a large blister on the side of my foot. I said I'd try new shoes on this run but 16km in, I could already feel the blisters on both my feet. Ouch.

The last five km passed as quickly as the first five as I made my way back to the finish line. I crossed the finish line with a chip time of 1:47:23 - delighted! The finishers tent was crammed with cake, coffee, water, sandwiches and beer but I was more concerned with getting back to the car and taking my runners off than I was about cake (first time ever thats happened I reckon!)



Overall, this was a thoroughly enjoyable event, excellently organised and well worth doing. From the O'Hehir's lady giving out sweets at the end of the prom, to the marshalls, the route, the crowd and the overall atmosphere, I'd definitely recommend this for anyone next year. The sun even came out for us (its October and it felt more like June). My only gripe was what seemed like the random start times but I'm sure this decision was made from logistical point of view (the best way to spread out the runners over the day instead of crowding the course at any point with thousands of runners). 

I have one last long run next weekend (32km) and then its taper for Dublin Marathon at the end of the month. I always love the training after its done but when you are in the middle of it sometimes its hard to see the woods from the trees. Am I looking forward to Dublin? I don't know... Was I looking forward to Galway Bay? Not really but I did really really enjoy it. Never second guess how a run will go on any day!

Half Marathon #16 in the bag - next stop: Dublin Marathon






Thursday, 15 September 2016

Two weeks in to the 8 Week WW Challenge

So two weeks ago, myself and The Skinny Doll challenged ourselves (and anyone else who fancied a kick-start) with an eight week challenge. The rules were simple, if you were down weight on the scales, the other has to cough up some money (€5). If you are up on the scales, you cough up more (€20). All money goes into a pot for Breast Cancer Ireland (you can donate here if you'd like to help: https://give.everydayhero.com/ie/wwchallenge).

For me, week 1 was a great re-start. I've always believed in the power of small changes so I set myself the mini goal of tracking everything for the month of September and so far, I've stuck to it. Tracking keeps me accountable to myself as I have an uncanny knack of forgetting the sweet treats I eat along the way and that 11am coffee break biscuit followed by the 4pm half a twix and the post-dinner square (or two) of chocolate all add up! I've decided not to cut chocolate/treats out as I find sometimes this backfires when I snap, so by tracking I can have my cake and eat it too (so to speak).

My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard...

My Week 1 result was down 2lbs. Doll was down a seriously impressive 6.5lbs so between us we've clocked up €10 for Breast Cancer Ireland and lost 8.5lbs.

For Week 2, my little change was to be more active. Now, I already do a good bit of running but I wanted to vary my exercise routine so I started yoga at work, brought the dog on more walks than usual and started back at Bootcamp (which I've been neglecting all Summer). It's easy to make excuses and complain about the weather/how dark it is in the mornings/evenings but we are going into Winter and a little rain/darkness never stopped me before.


Office Yoga/Snoozing (snapped by a work colleague)

Walking in Renville Woods

Saturday Morning at Oranmore parkrun

My Week 2 result: Down 4lbs! Skinny Doll was down 1.5lbs. That's another €10 in the pot for Breast Cancer Ireland and in the battle of East vs West, Boy vs Girls, Doll vs JQ we are down a total of 1 stone in two weeks. Our battle plans drawn up, we both advance on into Week 3 with guns blazing!


I'll leave you with this thought - I was visiting a friend in hospital (UCHG) last week and the lobby area there really is some amazing thought-provoking artwork. A great Galway artist (Finbar247) has painted many positive mental health messages all over the walls there, its impossible not to feel inspired walking by. This is probably my favourite and sums up a lot of what this challenge is teaching me - Start today (Day 1), take baby steps repeating your positive actions (track, walk, be accountable to yourself with what you eat) and within three week, you'll have formed a new habit/routine. That's the essence of the eight week challenge to re-ignite lapsed ways and get back into gear!


Friday, 2 September 2016

Its John v Doll - Our 8 Week WW Challenge

Myself and The Skinny Doll (who you all know from her amazing blog - The Skinny Dolls Journey) came up with a master-plan to kick both of our one-too-many-summer-BBQ arses back into gear as we head towards the Winter months. I'd be telling Doll about how I've found myself losing and gaining the same half stone all year and I can't seem to just keep on a good wave once I get on it. Back in June I was at the lightest I'd been in over two years and something just switched off and I'm back at where I was in March of this year. With me it's like two steps forward two steps back. I'm going nowhere and its getting frustrating.

So we decided we'd fuel each others fire for the next few weeks with a spicy little challenge. The rules are simple - for every week I'm down, Doll throws €5 into the pot and vice versa. For every week I'm up, I put €20 into the pot. At the end of this, the pot could contain anywhere from €80 (if both of us lose for 8 consecutive weeks) to €400! Doll then came up with the great idea of putting our money where our mouth is and donating our challenge winnings to charity, specifically Breast Cancer Ireland. 


Why BCI? Well the one thing we agree on is that week by week we get so much support from our Weight Watchers leaders, and a good friend of ours, Catherine Ryan (who is the brilliant WW leader in Gort/Ennistymon) is just about to start her treatment for breast cancer... and we can't think of a better way to let Catherine know that we are all behind her and wishing her the speediest recovery to full health. So in the mean time while Catherine isn't around to kick our asses into gear, we'll just have to kick each others asses!

So, its John vs Doll but we are encouraging everyone else to get on board and start their own one on one challenge. Start from this week. Don't worry about what has happened before or how many weeks you've been off the wagon. There is a great quote I love which says: The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now. So if you've had a bad day/week/month/few months, start back on it today just grab a friend - all you have to do is be accountable to each other. Your prize can be whatever ye deem suitable: Free Babysitting, Money, Gift Card etc. My leader in Oranmore told me about three women who put money into a kitty and whoever losses the most by the end of the year gets a handbag from Brown Thomas. What ever you decide to use to motivate or incentivise yourself, working in a pair will add that extra spark of competition which will keep you on your toes.

Its September now (Hello Autumn) and I'm not going to get caught up in what went wrong this summer or how I put back on that half a stone I'd lost, I'm just going to look forward and concern myself only with what I can do NOW and thats look forward and smash this challenge! Have a look at Doll's post introducing the challenge and see what you think (link here), we'd love if more people came along with us on this challenge and let us know how they are getting on each week.

Just to give a quick background - myself and Doll are old-school WW veterans we've been in the game so long at this stage. I remember a time when a banana was half a point. I also remember a time before SmartPoints when a Curly Wurly was like a gift sent from the Gods at only 3pp. Neither of us have felt the glistening Gold Card between our fingers but despite the many ups and downs both of us have been through, neither of us have thrown in the towel. Remember, quitting is always the easier option but strength comes from deciding to try again/try harder instead of walking away.

The Skinny Doll has lost 133lbs (yep, that's 9st 7lbs) and really wants her 20th Silver 7 in time for Halloween. At my lightest, I'd lost 99lbs (7st 1lb) and was 1lb off Goal - that was when I decided to quit smoking. I'm over three years off the cigs (yay!) but quitting derailed me at the time and I never fully recovered. I've been playing with the same stone for the past three years but never stuck my head down and focused on reaching goal. I'd love for this challenge to get me back within reaching distance of goal.

The Skinny Doll - Now vs Then

Me - Now vs Then

Here's the tally sheet if anyone wants to take part themselves, just right click on the image below and click 'Save Link'. Pop in the two names and let the battle commence... See you next week for the Results of Round 1 *eek*












Monday, 8 August 2016

The 2016 Rock n Roll Half Marathon

Without really realising it, the Rock n Roll Half Marathon has become a bit of a staple in my life. I really really enjoy it and look forward to it. This is a great race, starting up near the 3arena on the Quays, bringing along the Quays alongside the Liffey, around Christchurch and into Phoenix Park. This year the event changed to weekend (the one after the August Bank Holiday) and now has a 10km rolled in to the main event. I've taken part the past three years and finished in 1:51, 1:50 and 1:49 respectively. My goal was simple, finish in 1:48.

Myself and Al before the race

Myself and Alan turned up at the start line just before 8am where the crowds were gathering and following a bag drop-off, I met with the other Rock Idols for one final photo. Myself and Al parted ways five minutes before kick-off as we made our way into our respective corrals. I don't know what 'Target Time' I had given myself but from Corral #3 I could already tell I was out of my depth as the 1:45 pacers were way behind me.

On your marks...

The race started shortly after 8:30am and I found myself running slightly faster than I had intended but the energy of the crowd carried me the first few kilometers to the water stop at Christchurch. It wasn't until I turned into Phoenix Park (around 13km) that I really started to feel the strain of keeping it under 5:00/km. The sun had come out yet there was a strong wind blowing down Chesterfield Avenue which lead some strangely enjoyable relief at that point.

We followed the same path as last year but that still didn't help when it came to the hill around 17km in. All I kept thinking as I made my way to the Finish Line was 'How the hell am I going to do double this in just twelve weeks time?' as the Dublin Marathon looms just over the horizon like a grey cloud. I pushed through for the last few kilometers and have to say, passing the 10K'ers who had just finished was a great boost.

Nearly home...

As I rounded the corner towards the finish line, I saw my friend Elaine (who took the snap above) which was just enough to push me over the finish line with a burst giving me a finish time of... 1:48:54. That was my 15th Half Marathon in the bag and they really don't get any easier. That being said, I still love them and think a Half is one of my fav distances to cover. 

As an aside note, my finish times over the past four Rock n Roll Half's are 1:51 (2013), 1:50 (2014), 1:49 (2015) and 1:48 (2016). So if you extrapolate a trend from this data it's obvious that I'll go on to win the National Championships in 2067! So stay tuned...!

2016 Bling...

Alan finished shortly after me (with his fastest half at 1:51) and as we lay on the grass covered in Nature Valley Bars and bottles of water. Another nice perk was the Trinity medal (below) which was given to runners who had completed three of the previous Rock n Roll's in Ireland. With heavy bling around our necks, both myself and Alan left Phoenix Park happy out with the mornings effort. The next time I run in Phoenix Park will be the marathon in twelve weeks time, better get training!



Friday, 29 July 2016

The Killarney Ultimate High Peaks Challenge

Without much thought, myself and Aisling signed up for the Killarney High Peaks Challenge a week before the event itself (July 9th). The 25km route sees participants trek up Gap of Dunloe and across the MacGillycuddy Reeks, with Carrauntoohil (Irelands highest mountain) being the last peak before finishing. Myself and Aisling collectively had very little mountain/orienteering experience but figured we'd be fine as this organised event would be signposted and have many walkers following the same route. We hadn't considered the most important thing though, the mountains themselves!


We headed for Killarney on Friday evening, arriving in Cronin's Yard just before 7pm where we pitched our tent for the night before heading back to Killarney for a bite to eat and to pick up some last minute essentials. We were booked in on the 5am bus to Kate Kearney's Cottage (the start line) so went to bed early enough with our alarm set for 4am. Between the rain and the campsite, I think I slept on and off but not too great. It lashed rain as we got ready for the day ahead.

Myself & Aisling - Ready for the High Peaks...

We boarded the bus at 4:45 which made its way to the start point where the first few participants started on the journey up the side of the Gap of Dunloe. I was excited and looking forward to seeing parts of Ireland I'd never seen before, especially from such a vantage point but as daylight slowly pushed the darkness away, our vision was limited by the rain which made for a disappointing ascent. 

5am - Kate Kearney's Cottage

The rain never let up and the higher we climbed, the more challenging the conditions became. We reached the first peak (Tomies) about 1hr 30 into the trek, just under 4km of ground covered. The wind was so strong you couldn't stand at the top so we took shelter behind a stone wall. There we met a woman who's pink jacket I had been following the entire way. I couldn't believe how disorienting the whole thing was. The woman told me she had done this the previous year so knew the route. When she headed off, we decided it best to follow her so we caught up with her and followed behind her like some weird stalkers.

Visibility was poor once we got up the mountain

We reached the first check point on Purple Mountain by 7:30am but things were starting to look grim. We'd been two and a half hours trudging through mud, ferns, fields and swamp. My feet were wet, my map was in bits and because we were following the woman in pink, we couldn't take it at our leisure. In my head we were going to have a lovely relaxing 25km trek over the mountains but this was becoming a challenge. 

As we made our way down the Gap of Dunloe, we spoke to the guy at the next checkpoint who said there were only 7 other hikers ahead of us which meant there were still 190 people behind us. Most of the signage and red tape had blown away in the wind so we were pretty much banking on the lady in pink to be our walking map/compass. She ploughed on off up the Reeks towards Peak #3 and we followed suit. 

Looking down at the Gap

At the top of the third peak 4hr 30 into the trek where we had a chat with the woman in pink we were following. She felt the challenge would be called off as the previous year, once they got to Carrauntoohil participants were sent down for their own safety. According to her, this years weather was much worse so we were going to have to see what the marshals at the check points were going to say. At the top of the fourth peak (and over five hours trekking), myself and Aisling decided to call it a day.

Game Over - Top of Peak #4

We had no map, we were soaked to the bone, we may as well have been walking around a field at home for all the view we had (i.e. none) and in our opinion, it would have stupid and dangerous for us to continue considering we didn't have the experience or skill to navigate a mountain in the conditions. The marshal at the check point showed us the safest way off the mountain and we made the hour long bog walk through a muddy field back down to the main road.

Downward Bound

6 hours after we started, we made our way back to the road and Kate Kearney's Cottage where, to be honest, the thoughts of hot coffee and some chocolate kept us going. It was disappointing to have to call it a day but in hindsight it really was the right thing to do. We met the lady in Pink afterwards who had gone on to the 5th peak before turning around and calling it a day so I'm calling our decision a success. 

We stopped into Kate Kearney's Cottage where we had a beautiful cup of steaming hot coffee which was enjoyed as we sat in our damp clothes on the bus back to Cronins Yard. We clocked up 16km walking in just over 6 hours, we got to the top of 4 of the 12 peaks and we even finished with a medal (which felt a bit bittersweet but I still took it all the same). 


I'd really love to have completely the challenge but the conditions just weren't in our favour. I'll definitely return to Cronin's Yard again to complete Carrauntoohil as its something I've really wanted to do for a while but for now, it'll just have to remain on my Bucket List! We fought the mountain but this time, the mountain won... Next time, I'll be prepared!


Sunday, 26 June 2016

Marathon #8 - Waterford Viking Marathon

I headed across the country to Waterford early enough Friday to ensure we'd get there in plenty of time. After a lunch stop in Lismore, we made it to Waterford around 4pm where I stopped off to pick up my race pack in WIT and what a pack it was... Two t-shirts, crisps, water, multivitamins, flapjacks and a bag. I love a quality goodie bag and this one definitely didn't disappoint. I was parked and in the hotel before 5pm where I had the evening to relax before Saturday's 9am start.

The Registration Hall in WIT

I woke at 6:30am and followed by (now typical) pre-marathon ritual. Had coffee and breakfast in the hotel room and showered, which may seem pointless but I like to be fresh at the start-line. We left the hotel about 8:40am and walked to The Mall, where the start line and hundreds of runners were already gathered. There were 2000+ runners across all three events (Full, Half and Quarter) each identifiable by their bib colour. Full in red, Half in Blue, Quarter in Yellow. 

At the start line...

The race started bang on 9am as the WLR radio were reporting live from the start line where the countdown started bang on the 9 o'clock news. The first two miles were in and around the city, turning up side streets and back on the quays before doubling back and heading around People's Park and back into the city centre for the next mile or two. The route was dotted with great bands who kept the spirits up as we followed the red, blue and yellow arrows around the city.

Red for Full, Blue for Half, Yellow for Quarter

Out around the 5 mile mark, a guy beside me started chatting to me and honestly this was a godsend. We hung together until around mile 11 just talking about work and running etc. He was a far better runner than I was (his PB is around 3:15, mine was 3:51 from back in 2014) but we maintained conversation as I was slightly wary of the pace I was maintaining over this distance. I was clocking around 5:15/km which I knew was way too fast but decided against my better judgement to ignore and plow on.


The road to Tramore was just perfect. The weather conditions were spot on as we made our way off the main road and up a side road and passed over the half way mark at 1:51. At this point, I was still ahead of the 3:45 marathon pacers (but only just) which I couldn't believe. At 23km, we turned left and ran straight down to the beach in Tramore where the course got a little confusing as we made our way along the promenade with other runners coming towards us who had already completed the loop of Tramore.

It was here, around 27km the 3:45 pacer and group of about 6 runners with him passed me. I decided I'd keep them in my sights as we made our way back on to the promenade and back on to the main road back into Waterford. Here we hit the 20 Mile marker and I couldn't believe how well I felt, my watch read 2:50 - it was at this point I realised 'Bloody Hell... I could PB this!" - I had one hour to cover the 10k that stood between the 20 mile marker and the finish line and I just ran, one foot in front of the other as I made my way back into Waterford.

The marathon field was quite small (I overheard someone say it was around 400 runners), which meant once the Half's left us at Mile 10, runners were quite spaced out but not as much as other marathons I've run like Tralee where I remember only one other guy in front of me for most of it. I overtook a few people on the way back to the city but had lost sight of the 3:45 pacer.

At Mile 23, we re-joined the route the Half Marathoners originally split from us and it was quite desolate as I made my way up along the River Walk. People had started walking (which is always really hard to motivate yourself through) and I ran with one guy who had to stop because his calves started seizing. We turned into Waterford Nature Park at Mile 24 (just 3km to go) and I saw one guy buckled over vomiting. The end of a marathon is an absolute beast of a thing, you are running on empty, really digging deep. My pace had slowed (by about 15/20 seconds to 5:35/km) as I ran around the park pretty much solo.

I hit 41km with 3:40 on my watch and I knew I was going to PB. It actually lifted me so much, I returned to form and clocked up a 5:15 kilometre as I made my way into the Waterford RSC and onto the race track there where we had to do a lap of the track and across the finish line. I did it - I ran a personal best wherever the hell I pulled that one out of! Even my watch congratulated me...


As I gathered my breath (and lay on the ground), what I'd managed to do sank in. I'd run a marathon (which in itself is a mountain of a challenge), but I'd managed to knock 5 minutes off my previous best (Connemara - 2014), 10 minutes off my best time last year (Cork, June 2015) and over 35 minutes off my last marathon time (4:21 in Sixmilebridge) without setting out to do so. 


Waterford was an absolute gem of a course and one I'd recommend to anyone. Not because of how well it worked out for me but the support around the course and the sheer volume of water/gel/energy drink stands was incredible. With water every 2 miles (and in bottles not plastic cups), and so many supporters out with tubs of jellies/orange slices, no runner can say they were left needing anything out there. There were plenty of porto-loos dotted along the course and loads of volunteers guiding the way, I honestly cannot fault the efforts that went into organising (and delivering) what was quite simply, a fantastic marathon.


Also, I forgot to pack running socks and only realised after 9pm on Friday night so I had to run in regular socks (which I borrowed from my husband). He reckons they were the secret to my success so a special shout out to my big blue socks! 









Friday, 24 June 2016

The Road to Marathon #8

I signed up for the Waterford Marathon back in March. I love it when you have months ahead to plan, run, and train. Everything will go to schedule. You plan on getting in the weekly long runs but this time, you'll do more, you'll go further, you'll train harder. But the funny thing about time, and life, is that is consistently gets in the way. Weeks passed and yep, I clocked up the miles out on the road but it I didn't really follow my training as I had planned it. I maintained the weekly long runs but started faffing around with other things - no speed training, no intervals, no easy runs. 

I'm reminded by the phrase 'Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.' - For me, this will be marathon #8 and I've done the exact same thing I've done for all the previous ones. Am I training just to clock up another notch in my belt or am I training to improve, get better, improve?

5 weeks to go...

4 weeks to go...

3 weeks to go...

2 weeks to go...

1 week...

I'm not being hard on myself, more-so just reflecting at the end of another round of marathon training. The funny thing is, I've always really enjoyed completing the marathon training. I also become extremely grateful to my body for getting me, injury free, through weeks and weeks of high milage and hours of road running relatively unscathed. 

Waterford, I'm coming to get you! 

(Side Note: There is less than two weeks left in voting for the Rock n Roll Idol competition which could see me run a marathon in Vegas if I win - so if you'd be so kind, I'd really appreciate your vote. Pop over to the website and give me a vote. It takes less than a minute and if I win, I'll bring you back a stick of rock - Link: www.runrocknroll.com/dublin/rock-idol/)

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Race 4 - Tuam [Galway 5K Series]

I've always loved the Tuam leg of the 5K Series - probably because it's always been at the end. There has always been a great atmosphere and the course is usually littered with locals cheering on the runners which is always an added bonus. Tuam and traffic also go hand-in-hand, so to be prepared, we left straight after work, arriving in Tuam an hour before the race.

With Yvonne, Gordon & Aisling

The race started shortly after 8pm on the same side road off the N17 . There are roadworks going on at the moment (building the new motorway) which added a little kink to the route but once we hit the first kilometer mark, we had a steady downhill for kilometer 2 which gave me enough time to pick up what I'd lost at the beginning of the race.

As we turned on to the Ballygaddy Rd (2.5km), my friends kid was on the wall roaring "Gordon's ahead of you!" - the running joke for the past few years between Gordon and myself has been that I will push him into a bush if he ever tries pass me in a race. I'd lost sight of Gordon as soon as the race started so had no idea where he was on the field but thanks to Cian, I knew Gordon was ahead. I trundled on up the road before turning back onto the N17 (4km) and making my way to the Ard Ri Hotel finish line. 

My chip time was 22:39 which another disappointing run. I don't know how well marathon training and speedy 5Ks work together but I haven't gotten the hang of it. In Craughwell two weeks ago, I ran my fastest 5K this year but had done my long run on the Thursday before (as we were away over the weekend). I can only assume the five day break between the two has something to do with it. Regardless, Gordon not only beat me, he went an PB'd with an incredible time of 21:09. The next bush I see, he is going into it!

With Noel, Richie, Rob & Elaine after the Race (Pic by John O'Connor - link)


Thursday, 12 May 2016

Race 3 - Loughrea [Galway 5K Series]

Race 3 saw the return of the old Loughrea route which was a bit of a shame as I had enjoyed last years loop around the town but I understand the logistics of organising a race like that. My Tuesday was a bit mental and I had left work early to visit Catherine and the Weight Watchers class down in Ennistymon. I miscalculated my return time and ended up parking/abandoning my car outside some poor woman's house about 3 minutes to start time. I jumped out of the car, changed and ran to the start line just before kick off.

An Yvonne Selfie

The weather was clammy and humid, I was wearing long-sleeves, I was bothered arriving (due to my fear of missing it) and I hadn't had a proper lunch. I'm not blaming any of these factors individually but together with my heavy legs following this morning's bootcamp, I crashed big time during this race.

My kilometer splits were: 4:11 (nice), 4:16 (ooh also nice), 4:37 (eh, pull it back John), 5:15 (wtf) and 4:32 (last km was downhill), resulting in a chip time of 22:56 which was extremely disappointing considering last weeks stellar performance.

Crossing the finish line (Pic by John O'Connor - link)

In my defense (not that I need one), but I'd also just run my longest run in marathon training less than 72 hours before hand and I feel like my body hadn't fully recovered. There is something funky going on at the moment as after my 30km run on Sunday, I crashed bad. I lay on the floor for 45 minutes considering whether I was going to vomit or if I needed food. The humidity is killing me at the moment and think I need to look at my salt/electrolyte intake during a long run.