Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Running is my life

If you’re a runner, Christmas is cancelled - there’ll be no rest for us during the holidays. Instead, the season of goodwill is the season of more miles. 
And really, we can’t afford to put the feet up. The time is going by so fast and it won’t be long before the big day on March 17th. 
I’m trying very hard not to panic here, but someone put up on Facebook last week that it’s only 100-and-something days to the marathon. I nearly had a nervous breakdown. 
It feels like we only started training recently but we’re in week nine already, and at eleven miles. And it’s fantastic to be nearly halfway there. I did this week’s run alone and only did ten miles, after somehow picking the highest route I could find, at home in Kilgarvan. 
For those who know it, I ran to Morleys Bridge up to my house, which is seriously high. It’s towards the highest pub in Ireland, which says it all really.
I missed the company of my fellow runners when times got tough, but it’s a long one done and dusted - although I’m feeling a bit stiff two days later. Not sure if that’s a good sign or a bad one. 
My pelvic and hip injury is still flaring up, which is really not helpful to my training and although it eases out when I run, I know its probably not going to get better if I don’t rest.
But I can’t rest - because I’d miss running too much, and it’s too close to the big day. 
However, I’ve become very good at doing my stretches and strengthening exercises, which is one good thing I’ve learned this time around. So hopefully I won’t have to take time out. 
I am really enjoying the shorter runs and I’m definitely improving my speed a bit - not much now, but I can see an improvement, which really pushes you on. 
I love the routine of running and meeting at the Aquadome every evening after work for a chat and a run. It doesn’t even feel like you’re going training, just going to meet friends after work. 
Many of my friends who don’t run just don’t understand why I hate missing a run, but it’s seriously addictive once you start. 
It’s not only about the running but about meeting people and reaching your goal. Like maybe doing the three miles faster or running up Ballyard without feeling like dying. 
I wasn’t even sure after last year’s marathon that I would ever want to do one again, but I actually can’t wait to increase the mileage after Christmas to the really long ones - 16, 18, 20 miles. Madness I know, but there’s a great sense of achievement on the long runs. 
It’s hard to get all the training done and the run up to Christmas is the hardest. This weekend I have two Christmas parties which is going to really affect my long run - sorry Marcus, I know I shouldn’t miss one, but this might be a slight exception. God, I feel guilty and I haven’t even missed it yet! 
But then, running becomes such a part of your routine that if I you don’t do it you just feel bad, so it’s nearly easier to do it than to live with the guilt. 
It’s a bit like having that extra chocolate when you know you shouldn’t, but you do anyway and feel bad afterwards. I can’t miss a long run without feeling like that. 
I suppose that’s a good thing. Maybe it means I really am a runner.  

It's tough going

Marathon training is tough, there is no doubt about that, I was completely wrecked after running 10 miles last Sunday. In fact you would think I had done the marathon itself I was so tired. So after completing the double digit number it was off to bed for a few hours to rest. At least I have an excuse for going to bed in the middle of a Sunday afternoon! Time seems to be going to fast this year I can’t believe we are at double digits already. Only a few weeks go we were only working our way up to long mileage and this weekend we did 10 miles. Its sounds fantastic to say I ran 10 miles on a Sunday morning before most people were even up. Yep, it is boasting but all of us training should be -after all we are getting out of bed at 7am on our weekend to run. The nine mile run was tough I felt every mile and couldn’t get into the run. They say you have days like that and definitely the nine miles was one of those days when running was not my thing. Such runs actually help get ready for the marathon though as you have to learn how to keep going when you don’t really want to and this is how you are going to finish on the big day by pushing yourself forward when you don’t want to and you can’t. So, a bad run is actually a good thing the trick is not to give up and keep going no matter what you just have to finish the long run. And again this is where Born to Run comes in all of us have had bad runs and good runs and the group are there to support you and help you finish, so Gretta thanks for coming out to meet me on the last of that nine mile run. I am glad when it was over but overjoyed that I finished. The nine mile route took us around the new bye-pass and although there is some sneaky hills they were worth it for the run down Oakpark. It’s actually a nice running route around Tralee for anyone looking for somewhere different to run. 
I don’t care what anyone says it is an achievement to finish nine miles and the buns and jaffa cakes served at the ‘Dashboard Diner’ is an incentive to keep all of us running again Gretta and Catherine thanks for the mobile 
cafe that is there to meet us every Saturday morning! 
Thankfully, the 10 mile run was not as bad as the nine mile run and I enjoyed most of it although I still can’t find some-one who runs at my pace and I end up behind or ahead of most of the group. 
Hopefully my next run will out on the marathon route. I missed the first excursion out there this week. 
I am both dreading and looking forward to doing that route again. I haven’t been out in that direction since completing the marathon last year but at least this year I already know every bump and lump in that road and I will know them even better by the time March comes again this year. Sometimes I think I am mad to be doing any marathon training - it takes up so much time, its all I think and talk about and its tough and then I remember that it is all worth it when you cross that line. I am feeling the pressure this year to do the marathon faster, I am after all supposed to be fitter this year, but 26 miles is still 26 miles, so I can’t see how I am going to do it that much faster but we will have to wait and see. In the meantime, its onwards and upwards in training although I have to admit I’m going to be bold this week and miss training all weekend as I am away for a few days. And already I feel guilty that I am going to miss it not sure if that is good or bad but I will make up for it I promise!

Thursday, 14 November 2013

I'm back

It’s official - I’m going to do my second marathon on March 16th next year. And just to scare you all, that’s only 16 weeks away from this Sunday!
I sincerely hope I’m fitter than I was when I started running this time last year -  although I’m not so sure about that, having seen how fast those first-timers are moving already. 
I’m kind of regretting cutting down my running during the summer months now, as I see how many people have improved by doing Dublin City Marathon and other runs during the summer. 
I decided not to do so many to concentrate on training for the Ring of Kerry Cycle, and the rest of the time on my social life and holidays! I have done a few runs, so it’s not as if I’m starting from scratch - but still, the thoughts of building back up to the 26.2 miles is daunting from where I am right now. 
I know everyone thinks the second marathon is easier, but I’m not so sure. Last year I had no idea what lay ahead, and how tough the long runs would actually be. This time, I know all about it!
There’s a certain sense of achievement in managing your first eight, nine and ten miles. I’ll never have that back again - so all first-timers, enjoy those milestones. They’re what marathon training is all about. 
Still, I was fairly chuffed with myself last Saturday, when I finished my first eight miles in a long time. I have to say it’s the support of the all the Born to Run members that got me through. 
In my defence, my recent lack of running is also because I’ve been injured with a rotated pelvis for the past four weeks since the Carers 10km run. 
According to my physiotherapist, Miche├íl Lynch - whose patience I definitely push to the limit  - I should be taking more time off. 
But I miss running too much to take that on board - sorry! It’s only when you’re told not to run that you realise how much you love it and you don’t want to miss any more training.
Having tried cycling over the summer and swimming with the Tralee Triathlon club, there is nothing that compares to running. 
The buzz of completing a long run - or even a short one for that matter - just can’t be beaten. 
When I come back in the evening after a run, I feel like I’ve achieved something even if it was just a three-miler. 
The eight miles were tough enough, as my longest prior to that had been four, but I took it nice and easy and managed it somehow, and thankfully we had no rain. 
I did struggle for the last two miles but all in all it wasn’t as bad as I expected. 
The Born to Run group has definitely expanded since last year, which is fantastic to see, and I’m in fact quite jealous of the first-timers who will get to cross that line for the first time in March. 
I’m also going to try to cross it again, and just because I did it once doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy to do again. 
I’m actually quite nervous about what lies ahead, particularly because I’ve missed training in recent weeks, and also, I still can’t imagine running 16, 18, and 20 miles again.  
Oh God! The thought of it is enough ! Last January and February was the last time I did that sort of mileage. 
This week, the training target is nine miles. Sounds great doesn’t it? Nine miles! 
See - that’s why we do it, just be able to say next Saturday, I ran nine miles. It’ll be worth it all. 
Won’t it?

Friday, 30 August 2013

You can't have another first!

I’m actually jealous - that’s a terrible thing to say - but all the newcomers will this year get to run their first-ever marathon, and I can’t ever have a first again. 
I remember someone telling me last year to enjoy every minute of your first marathon because you can never have it again.
It’s the one piece of advice I’d pass on to anyone thinking of the Kerry’s Eye Tralee International Marathon next March. 
I didn't listen at the time but I wish I had because honestly the lead-up to the marathon is as good as the day itself and over the next few months your life will change. Yeah, I bet your are laughing, but it is true. 
It may not seem like it now, but if you’ve signed up the next few months will be like nothing you have ever experienced, as you face some of the toughest challenges you’ll ever have. 
Of course not all of it will be a high but the highs far outweigh the downs and even if not the more difficult it is is the more of an achievement it is. If it was easy it wouldn't be an achievement.
And believe me it is all worth it!
When you cross the line on March 16th, the sense of achievement will be overwhelming.
I met many of the new runners last week, some who were even afraid to come out of their cars, others who said they wouldn’t be able for it, more who are unsure if they can run or if they are fit enough.  
Well, forget all your doubts -just do the training and the Born to Run Club will get you across that line.
You may crawl, you may walk - you’ll probably run, but it doesn’t matter. You’ll finish the marathon.
I know anyone who’s only beginning training, and has never run before, will find that hard to imagine. 
But it’s true. The one thing I learned along the way as I trained last year, is that the only thing stopping you is yourself. You must never give up that's the secret. Keep training no matter what and if you have a bad run put it behind you and keep going. 
The fitness and the running will come with training, so don’t worry about that. But you have to convince yourself that you can do it - and believe me, you can.  
So enjoy your training for the next few months as a new chapter in your life. This time next year, you’ll be a marathon runner encouraging others to take their first steps too.  
Some-one told me that when you look back on your life, running a marathon will be among the best memories you will have and it will be. 
Signing up to do my first ever marathon really did change my life. 2013 was the year of first's for me and not just my first marathon. Doing a marathon gave me the confidence to do other things I never thought I would do. I did my first Ring of Kerry for example. I never even thought I would cycle not to mind do the Ring of Kerry and I managed to cycle 180km in one day. It was a wonderful achievement and I am delighted but it didn't beat the marathon - that still stands out in my mind. 
I actually am looking forward to my next marathon and getting back to training for the big day. It may be my second but it is still going to be a great journey. And first-timers enjoy it. I mean it, I wish it was me!

Saturday, 15 June 2013

For the love of running

Since my marathon I have only been running sporadically mainly because I decided I needed a new challenge and took up cycling.  I am currently in training for the Ring of Kerry - a 180km cycle around Kerry and while it is fun I miss running and cycling has made me realise just how much I love running.
Yes I love running. When I originally started this blog it was to record my marathon but I never thought that I would be sitting here months later promoting running and encouraging others to take it up. I want this blog to continue to support runners all around the country who like me know the sheer joy of putting on your runners and heading out the door.
This blog will share my experiences of running as I prepare for my next challenge - The Dublin City Marathon - and also share what I learn along the way in the hope it will inspire more runners and help them on their own personal running journey.
While I have not done any long runs since the Tralee International Marathon I have been trying to keep my fitness up in between cycling with a few three and four milers and each one reminds again why I enjoy running. During the warm weather I took my runners to the beach in Derrynane and put in my training while working on my tan. That is dedication for you but it didn't feel like training it felt fantastic to know that I was exercising and enjoying the sun at the same time. I managed four miles in the beautiful surrounds of Derrynane House and it was amazing. Sometimes it is nice just to run for the sake of running and not training. That run gave me time to think, enjoy the sun and at the same time get some exercise and that's exactly what makes running so addictive. You can do it anywhere anytime and a run will always brighten up your day. 

Sunday, 24 March 2013

I'm a marathon runner

It’s official - I’m a marathon runner! Yes, I did it! It was the toughest thing imaginable, but I ran the entire 26.2 miles. They say a marathon only starts at mile 20 and that’s certainly true - the last six miles last Saturday were hell on earth. 
But the sheer joy and elation of crossing the line just can’t be explained. I’ve been trying to think of words all weekend to describe how I felt when - five hours, four minutes and 45 seconds after starting - I ran through the finish at the back of the Ashe Memorial Hall.
Happiness, sadness, relief, pride - every emotion you can think of, all mixed together.
And there were tears.
I crossed that finishing line in spectacular fashion, collapsing in a heap and crying like a baby. But I couldn’t control it. I think the entire finish was overwhelming - I’d  pushed myself to the limit for over five hours, and when I saw the finish, I just broke down. 
The months of hard work, the early morning runs, the alcohol ban, the healthy eating, the missed weekends out with friends because of training - and most of all the mental strength needed just to make myself finish - all combined to overwhelm me, and I couldn’t stop crying. 
Truthfully, I think I started to cry at mile 22, after I separated from the group and I had to fight to continue. 
That’s something you learn on the way: a marathon is more about making yourself believe you can do it than the actual run itself. 
Crossing the line is still a bit of a blur. I collapsed, cried, got up and composed myself, and then was on such a high I don’t know who I talked to.
But it was absolutely wonderful to see all the ‘Born to Run’ members there - mainly because at least they knew what we had just been through. 
Since then, we’ve talked and talked about the ups and downs of the day, the good parts and the bad, and many of us are disappointed or upset that we didn’t do as well as we’d hoped. 
But I think maybe we’re being too hard on ourselves. We’re marathon runners now. It doesn’t matter whether we walked or ran or crawled the 26.2 miles - we did it!
When I began training last November, I had only ever run six miles. Now I can run 26.2 miles. The official time sheet doesn’t lie: I did it in 5.04.45, to be exact. 
I’d hoped to be home in about five hours, so happy days! And I managed to make the entire distance without walking and of it,  although how, I’ll never know. I literally gritted my teeth from mile 21, balled my hands into two fists, and drew on all my willpower to get through. It was the toughest thing ever. I never even knew I had it in me to dig that deep.
Lining up at that start line had been amazing - I felt great, the crowds were all there to cheer us on - and believe me, that really helped. It still means so much to us that everyone came out to see and support us.  
The first few miles are a bit of a blur, mainly because you feel like a star with everyone shouting for you!
The first six miles to Ardfert weren’t that bad. The Born to Run club stuck together, and that got us through. 
It actually took a while to settle in to the run with the nerves but once we hit Ardfert, we knew the route so well that it felt just like a training run. 
There is a lot to be said for knowing the route, as it doesn’t seem as long, so thankfully as far as the Oyster Tavern was familiar territory.  
Barrow Hill was actually not too bad, in fairness. It’s short and sweet, and our pacers were a great support along the way. 
There were up and downs along the way, of course. Around mile 12 and 13, I was wrecked, but I got over that tiredness with Jaffa cakes and jelly beans, and the music coming into Fenit at mile 14 and 15 spurred us on for another while.
I actually was fine again until I hit the Oyster Tavern in The Spa, although the hills coming up towards there were hard. 
The stretch from Fenit to the Oyster Tavern was not as bad as I feared although I’m not sure I remember it all. 
I began to struggle coming towards the Oyster, but by the time I turned off to The Kerries I had lost the pacer, and that was where I started to get into real difficulty. 
I think this was probably what set me back most. I was on my own and I thought I was way behind. 
From the turn into The Kerries until we turned left into Lohercannon was torture -  so long and boring, and by the time I reached the tax office I felt like I had been running for days. 
Knockmoyle was awful, and all the way to the Lough gates was even worse, but running along the Canal was like running in No Man’s Land. There was nobody anywhere! 
This section was the longest and loneliest run of my life. I nearly felt like jumping in just to end the marathon - but of course I had to finish. I literally had my hands balled into fists chanting to myself while crying. 
I had hit the infamous ‘wall’ at mile 21. And it nearly finished me. 
But in between the tears, I had to psych myself up one more time to keep going, focusing on every step to make myself run.
At one stage, I was nearly hyper-ventilating and I thought I couldn’t continue. But I kept talking to myself to make it through. 
There were people along the route cheering us on, and it was absolutely fantastic of them, but at one point I wanted to kill them all! Had they any idea of the pain I was in? 
I thought I must be at least an hour behind the five hour pacer, and that really got to me then. 
I was too afraid to look at my watch in case it was six or seven hours, so I just kept pushing myself until the end. 
Actually, at one stage thought I was lost, which was why when we turned into James Street and the Brandon, it was a massive relief to see people and know the end was in sight. 
And when I saw 5.05 on the clock, I thought the clock must be wrong. Surely I had been running longer? It certainly felt that way.  
Now, days later, I still can’t remember much of what happened on the day. And I know I can never have a first marathon again, which is so disappointing! I already envy all those who’ll be starting out again next August as first-timers. 
I can still remember my first 10 miles, my half marathon, the 16 miles, the 18 miles and the 21 miles. I’m actually jealous of anyone starting out for the first time! 
But you know what? Even though Saturday was the toughest thing I’ve ever done, physically and mentally, I’d do it all over again in a flash.
That’s how good it was. That’s how good it felt to finish.
When I was coming down the canal I swore I wouldn’t do it again, but two days after finishing the marathon, I was already looking for a new challenge. I’ve always told the truth in my blog and I will admit at times it was torture - but it’s all worth it.
The past few days I have been reflecting on the whole process from last November to now and I am finding it hard to believe I’m here. 
It has been a long journey, but despite all the difficulties I wouldn’t change it. Someone told me to enjoy my first marathon, as I’d never have another first one, and they’re right, which is actually really upsetting. 
Everyone keeps asking if I’m elated, and to be honest I thought I would be on more of a high. But I think the downer is probably because I’m sad it’s all over. 
But I would urge anyone thinking of doing the marathon to get out and try it. 
Yes, it’s is going to be tough, and yes there will be pain. But nothing in life is easy. 
Marcus Howlett told me it would change my life, and I laughed at him. I thought he was half-mad. But he was right. Training for - and then doing - a marathon is life-changing. I’m fitter, more confident, I’ve made great friends, and I have a new outlook in life. 
And I know my marathon-running days are only beginning and I am even considering a triathlon.
I also want to say a quick thanks to everyone who have read my blog over the past few months. It meant so much when people came up to say they loved my blog, and I hope that it will encourage people to do a marathon.
Last, but certainly not least, thanks to the ‘Born to Run Marathon Club, which helped me cross that finish line.
And of course to Marcus Howlett and Jim McNeice, who encouraged me to get involved, and here I am - a marathon runner!

Monday, 11 March 2013

The end is in sight

I’m getting kind of nervous now as the big day comes close. I can’t believe it’s finally here. I’ve lived and breathed the marathon since last November, so it is very strange that it is coming to an end. 
My whole life has been about the marathon and in one way I’m glad the finishing line is in sight, as I am tired from it all. But at the same time, I’m very sad it’s come to an end. 
I honestly think I have the post-marathon blues even before it’s over! 
I didn’t ever think I’d be saying that when I started last November. I’m not even sure that I thought I would be here, and certainly not as dedicated to training. I’ve rarely missed one, and even fitted in a run when I couldn’t meet the group. 
It will, of course, be nice to be able to go out for a night when I want to, but truthfully I’m not all that excited. 
I have to admit that I have loved training and I’m really delighted to be running my first ever marathon. I still have trouble believing I am going to run 26.2 miles but apparently I am. 
I really am advocating taking up running - even if it is just shorter distances. It is great for getting fit, you can eat what you want when you’re training, and most importantly, there is great sense of achievement. 
Everyone I meet says that they can’t do a marathon - but if I can do it, then anybody can: all you have to do is train. 
One of my final long runs was 12 miles and to truthfully it seemed quite short - a far cry from the first 12 miles I did, according to my diary. I can still remember struggling my way through and wondering if I’d ever do it. 
I actually did this twelve on the same route as my first one at Christmas, and the difference was unreal.
In the past few weeks, I’ve noticed that I’m much fitter. I would have struggled more previously but I feel faster and stronger now. Actually I have noticed my thighs and legs are indeed muscular. I’m still trying to decide if that is good or bad but it’s probably a sign of fitness at least! 
This week is only three four milers and one five miles, and my very last long run of eight miles on Saturday. 
No more getting up at 6am! This is at the reasonable time of 9am  but in fact I think I will miss the routine of my early morning run. 
I didn’t think I’d ever say that. I still remember getting up at 8am one morning in the beginning for a run and nearly dying of shock. Before this, I never got out of bed on Saturday before 10 or 11am, but I’ve been getting up at 6am pretty much since Christmas to go training. 
God, my life has changed.  
With the countdown officially now I am trying to follow all the rules - eat lots of carbohydrates, drink plenty of water and rest - to be ready for March 16th. 
And I keep dreaming I’m going to get lost on the marathon route. I’ve already had this dream at least three times in the past week. 
I actually dreamt that I was running along doing well, when someone came up to me and asked what I was doing. 
When I said the marathon they told I should have turned the other way and I was miles from the finish line. 
I hope it’s just a dream and that I don’t get lost. To be fair, my sense of direction is pretty poor, so this dream has merit! 
Well there are only days to go now, so I must do it nerves and all, but hopefully training will stand to me and I will cross that finish line on March 16th. 

Thursday, 28 February 2013

On a running high!!

I ran 21 miles last Saturday. Elated is the only word to describe it. I honestly still can’t believe that I ran an entire 21 miles - roughly the distance from Tralee to Killarney - without stopping. 
Last November, that milestone seemed so far away, but now I’m here. I was on such a high on Saturday, anyone would think that I’d run the marathon itself. But apparently, the big event on March 16th will be just a lap of honour, now that we have all the hard work done.
Congratulations to all the ‘Born to Run’ members who completed the 21 miles last Saturday. We all deserve to be proud of ourselves. They say self praise is no praise  - but someone has to pat us on the back! 
I went around telling everyone on Saturday about my achievement. I was on such a buzz that I thought the whole world should know about it! I’m afraid most didn’t really share the feeling, or even really understand what it means to have reached that barrier. But it is just a fantastic feeling. 
So for anyone who is thinking about training for their first marathon, get out and do it. The high from having managed to reach this far is worth all the ups and downs -  and they’re soon forgotten anyway. 
I know I still have to run the actual 26.2 miles, but after Saturday I’m pretty confident. Well, here’s hoping anyway - maybe I should err on the side of caution just in case. 
It was tough going though, and there’s no doubt about that. You really have to push yourself when you get tired, physically and mentally, but you just have to keep reminding yourself that you can do it.
Don’t focus on how tired you are, or how sore your legs are, or the pains. Just focus on something else and you will keep going. Anything will do - I planned my whole outfit for St Patrick’s Day in my head to keep my mind off being tired. It seemed to work!
Company is also the key, so thanks again to the ‘Born to Run’ members who provided the chat along the route. 
I was told not to reveal anything we spoke about, so scouts honor and all that, but believe me, all topics were thrown in. After all we were running for more than four hours. 
Thanks is also due to the huge support from the public and in particular Sheila Kelly who supplied us with jelly beans and Jaffa cakes, both of which definitely kept me going. 
I haven’t stopped talking about Jaffa cakes since. They’re my new secret weapon for the big day. I think I ate a box of them on Saturday, so that might explain why I’m not losing weight. 
So anyone who is free on March 16th - line up along the way with Jaffa cakes to keep us all going.  
I am actually kind of sad that Saturday was our final long training run. I think I’m already getting the post-marathon blues, as there are less than three weeks to go to the actual event. 
It is sad that it is all over. I have focused on the marathon since last November and I’ve rarely missed training, so it has become a huge part of my life. 
I’m sure my friends and work colleagues will be happy it’s done with, as it’s all I talk about these days. Yes, I have turned into a marathon bore, inside and outside the pub! 
Just four months ago I was more likely to be going home from a Friday out at 5.30am than getting up to go running. Imagine I got up at that time to go running. I must be mad!
However I must admit despite my upbeat mood, I am physically wrecked from it all. I may be the healthiest, fittest, most rested person ever, as I don’t go out, I eat well (except for the chocolate, which I deserve anyway), and I sleep like a log - but I’m still tired.  
Your body does get exhausted from such intense training, but I’m told as we reduce our long runs, I will be fine. 
So now for the taper down. Just my short runs during the week and only a 12 miler and 8 miler to get through and I use the world ‘only’ as they are genuinely short now, relative to last Saturday and what we’ll do on March 16th. 
Once upon a time, even those short runs would have been considered a challenge but nowadays they come easy. Cocky I know, but so true!

Friday, 22 February 2013

I conquered 18 miles!

Eighteen miles conquered. I actually ran 18 miles on Saturday. It was extremely tough going, but I did it - and I felt on top of the world afterwards. 
It really is the best feeling when you actually manage to undertake such a momentous task. 
Yes, I was wrecked. I could barely walk to the car, and all I wanted to do was lie down as every muscle ached. 
But behind it all there was such a sense of achievement - all those evenings putting in the miles paid off. 
Each and every run is part of a learning curve. I learned this week that marathon running is not just about the running and fitness, but about thinking positive. 
If you start thinking you can’t do it, you won’t - that really is the truth. I’m beginning to sound like a self-help book. But honestly you have to make yourself believe to get over the hurdle. 
I started flagging around mile 14 or so, but once some-one distracted me, I forgot  I was failing, and I finished the 18 miles - and possibly could have managed one or two more. 
It was by no means easy, but it goes to show that you can overcome the tiredness. And God, was I tired! Everything ached - I honestly don’t know how my legs kept going. 
Someone asked me during the last few miles if I’m still considering doing a triathlon, and I swore I there wasn’t a hope. In fact, at that stage I was considering never running again.
But I’ve already forgotten those tough few miles. And I’m kind of secretly looking forward to running 21 miles next week - there is a sense of dread and excitement mingled together. 
I mean I am really going to be running 21 miles how mental is that! Last November when I started this lark I didn't think that I would get to 13 miles, not to mind 18, and this week 21. 
Last Saturday, all I could manage after the run was to get back into bed after my chocolate and coffee, followed by more chocolate. I’m allowed all this because I burned off loads of calories - there has to be some justice to it all. 
But fair play to anyone running a marathon who has children, I honestly don’t know how you all go home and actually have to worry about someone else. I, on the other hand, could barely look after myself.  
Even two days later I’m fairly wrecked. I must admit I am kind of looking forward to tapering down in the run-up to the marathon, as I really am tired. 
We’ve been training intensively for 20 weeks and it does get to you, so a few less miles in the run-up to the big day will be a treat. 
Thankfully, although I’m a bit stiff I have no major injuries although unfortunately I do have a blister from chaffing from my sports bra. It’s pretty painful, but all part of the fun, I’m told. 
Broken toenails, blisters, stiffness and exhaustion -all the joys of being a marathon runner but despite all that the sheer elation at managing to achieve the mileage is really worth it all.
I know those that are not running think that we’re mad, but everyone in the ‘Born to Run’ club knows what I am talking about. 
Even saying 21 miles sounds mad - but we can do it. That’s the best thing about running: it gives you confidence to do anything. I know - back to the self-help mantras, but it does. 
Because if you can get over that 10 mile mark, 12 mile mark, 14 mile mark and so on, then you can do anything. 
And for all of those laughing at my triathlon ambitions I’m not ruling anything out. In fact I got offered entries to a Toughathlon and a Duathlon this week, so who knows what’s next? Or maybe I should stick with another marathon. 
On another note I have also decided to raise money for the Kerry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre and Build4life. 
If I’m doing this marathon I think I had better help local organisations and I chose those two for personal reasons. I would appreciate any sponsorship at all and I can be contacted via Facebook or on my email or her on my blog. 
And now to eat lots of pasta and chicken in preparation for the 21 miles this weekend!


Friday, 1 February 2013

I'm a real runner!

I’m a real runner now. I think I can say that now. I can actually call myself a runner, having managed to complete 14 miles and having run every single week since last November. I am officially giving myself the title. 
I was dreading the 14-mile run, but I made it through and I learned that every run is different and you can’t dwell on the bad ones. 
The previous 12-mile run was awful. I thought I’d never make it, so I worried that 14 miles would be impossible. 
But I was in flying form, and made it up those hills from Fenit to the Oyster Tavern better than I expected. 
Now that’s not to say it was easy - but it wasn’t as difficult, or as bad as I feared. 
I must admit though that I decided it’s time to refuel on long runs, and being armed with a protein bar and energy gel was a help. You need that extra energy on long runs, so stock up!  
But they are terrible - they really don’t taste good and they are far too sweet. Nevertheless by mile 10, I’m hungry and have to eat hence the protein bar, and yes, you can run and eat. 
Last weekend was a rest week so only 10 miles, and I did those on my own on Saturday morning. I got absolutely drenched from head to foot, so please pray it doesn’t rain on the big day as that really won’t make help my marathon. 
I was so wet on Saturday I could hardly lift my feet but 10 miles did not feel bad.  
The snow hindered training last week and I was forced to go to the gym and use the treadmill one evening. 
I won’t be doing that again. I nearly fell off it because I don’t know how to run on it and it feels so unnatural. I’m definitely only going to run outside - sorry to those who do train indoors, but it’s so much better on the road.
I’m now gearing up for 15 miles this Saturday. I’m like a new person, although if I could lose a few pounds to complement it, that’d be nice. 
I’m telling myself muscle weighs more than fat, which is the reason I’m not dropping the pounds. Or maybe it’s that I eat whatever I want because I’m running but on the plus side I am definitely fitter anyway.  
The next couple of weeks are going to be tough as we go from 15 to 16, 18 and 20 miles.  
But first let’s get the 15 done. 
Let’s hope that it is as good as my 14 miles but I kind of fear I may be in trouble. I am injured - and this is no ordinary sports injury. This time around its my foot, or rather my toe - I’ve lost a toenail and the pain is excruciating. 
It’s making it very difficult to run and is not very helpful. It is the last thing I need at this stage, so hopefully it will get easier to run with it in a few days. 
Other runners have told me this is quite common, so I guess I will have to live with it but it’s not a nice side effect. I’m hoping I don’t lose any more as apparently this could happen too. 
So here’s what I’ll have on my 15-miler: a bandage, a toe cover, disinfectant and painkillers, as well as protein bars and an energy gel. It’s going to be fun. 
I’ll turn people off running with all that, but seriously running is great. There is such a sense of achievement when you complete a run no matter what the distance. 
That’s what keeps me and all runners going and it is why you do make sure you put your run first, no matter what else is happening.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

The count-down has begun!

Nine weeks to go to. It’s scary to think that it’s so close. The next couple of weeks will see us increase our mileage significantly.  
Last week was a ‘rest’ week - apparently. We only did 12 miles - imagine saying only 12 miles! But yes, that is the case. 
I feel like I am kind of showing off when I say it but seriously, once upon time that was a long distance. Now it’s short. 
However, having said that, the twelve mile run definitely wasn’t a good one. By mile 10, I could barely lift my legs, and I was not very impressed at all with the marathon route - talk about hills! 
A warning for those who have not yet run the route - that stretch from Fenit towards the Oyster Tavern has more than its fair share of hills, and on the day that will be miles 16 - 20.
I’m really not looking forward to it. I remember when we started training, Barrow Hill was the big one, and of course it’s still there, but give me a short, high hill any day. And keep your long, unending inclines.
I think I kind of hit a wall in training on Saturday. Apparently this is common, but it’s still very off-putting. And by the time I finished, I didn’t want to run the marathon at all. 
In fact, I really felt like giving up. So thanks to Rosaleen for keeping my faith up and getting me past that point. 
I did manage to complete the 12 miles though - so I must look at the positive.
I’m hoping this little slump will pass, but either way, in nine weeks time, I’m going to cross that finish line. Although I do warn - it may be on my knees!
My social life has also seriously deteriorated and I think it’ll go way downhill from here on, as I’m up too early on Saturday to go out Friday nights and on Saturday night I’m too wrecked to move: I could easily be in bed at 10pm. 
In recent weeks, I have done a lot of my long runs at home in Kenmare, and not at 8am in the morning, but I know I have to train on the actual marathon route, so I’m back into the routine of the early Saturday morning run. 
It’s no wonder my friends are concerned about me. I used to be the one out all the time. I’ve even passed up a weekend in Galway because I couldn’t miss training. 
I will definitely be looking forward to a pint after I cross that finish line. Actually I probably won’t be able to drink, as I will be on my hands and knees crawling. 
I wonder will I even be able to celebrate St Patrick’s Day - that day after the marathon - or will I in bed recuperating?
However, there’s a bright side. I’ll be able to say I ran the first-ever Tralee International Marathon. Well here’s hoping I will anyway. 
Fourteen miles is my long run this week. After last week’s ‘wall’ I’m dreading it. But  I’m trying to keep reminding myself that every run is different, and that I will make it to 14 miles. 
By the way I hardly notice the short runs anymore. It’s just ‘get out and do them’. Between now and the big day, it’s all about the long ones.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Half-way there

I'm officially half way there! It’s actually quite hard to believe, but I ran a half-marathon last Sunday, completing over thirteen miles - yes, thirteen miles!
When I started off training in October, thirteen miles seemed a long way. 
But to be honest, I still can’t imagine doubling it for the full marathon. Another thirteen miles seems a long, long distance but I have to keep reminding myself that ten weeks ago, I couldn’t run thirteen miles. Now that’s done. 
Everyone keeps asking if it was tough, and of course it was, but not as bad as you think. Once you starting running and get into it you just keep going. 
The worst thing is that it can get quite boring. I definitely need more songs on my iPod, as I listened it twice over on the thirteen miles.
And of course, there is a bit of pain involved. Every now and then your body says ‘I can’t do this’. And you have to tell yourself to keep going. 
I did my thirteen miles on my own, so I missed running with the group. But I did it, and that’s what important. And of course you do get a great buzz when you manage to complete it. Then, the pain is forgotten and you feel on top of the world. 
Although I have to admit I pretty much fell back into bed after doing it, and slept for a few hours. 
So I’m now back on track with training, and actually I did pretty well over Christmas. 
Despite all the festivities, I managed to keep to the training schedule and I even did a four-mile run on Christmas morning and again on St Stephen’s Day. 
I never thought when I started off that I would be so committed, but I missed training so much when I was injured that I didn’t want to fall behind anymore. 
I have to admit I missed my 12 mile run on Saturday before Christmas, as I went out the night before. 
But I rescheduled and went on Sunday instead - so that’s commitment for you. 
It’s weird, but I don’t honestly feel any fitter. But I suppose I must be. 
And any weight-loss has been wiped out by the Christmas festivities.  On the plus side, I pretty much ate everything I wanted over the holidays as I ran it off - that’s my defence anyway. 
I probably have toned up a bit since I started, and running is definitely part of my life now which was the aim of the programme. 
Now I just have to complete 26.2 miles. I get a lot of moments of panic when I say this, especially as the marathon is getting closer and closer. 
March 16th is not that far away. I’m very afraid of getting more injuries which would set me back again. I can’t afford to take any more time off from training so fingers crossed that all goes well from here on out. 
New Year’s Eve has upset my training this week, and my mother who is accompanying me on this marathon training, is celebrating her birthday this weekend too. It’ll will further put training in jeopardy, but from next week on, it’s head down and ten full weeks of training to get ready for D-Day. 
Well at least I have a New Year’s resolution to run a marathon.