Thursday, 16 March 2017

I didn't come this far, only to come this far!

I don't really know where to begin with this other than, denial is a bitch! I started off the year with the 'New Year New Me' mindset which up until very recently I believed I was following. I had turned a new leaf and was trying to get back into a rhythm I didn't realise I had fallen out of. Everything came to a head last Sunday when I stood in front of my bedroom mirror in my 'old' cycling kit. Just like how I'd imagine a wrecking ball hits, I immediately sobered up and the rose tinted glasses shattered.

In my head, I've been keeping my head well above water. I run 8km every Wednesday morning with my friend, I do parkrun on Saturday but only when I'm around. I've started Yoga at work. I stopped going to Weight Watchers and Bootcamp as I felt everything would naturally fall back under control while I trained for the Paris Marathon - which will be my 10th marathon.

On one hand I was looking forward to the challenge of getting back out on the road clocking up the miles and long distance run, building myself back up to take on 42.2km in April. On the other hand, as the weeks passed and the countdown grew smaller and smaller, I never let go of the Paris dream. On Sunday, as I stared at my reflection wondering 'What happened? Where did the time go?', I knew the time had come to have a proper conversation with myself.
I've always believed in SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound) yet here I was with the notion that Paris was still a possibility. In my head I know its not realistic for someone to run a marathon when the longest run they've done in preparation is 10km. Yes I could run/walk/crawl to the finish line but where is the achievement in that? I know I can run one, I know I can do it in a time I'd be proud of and why should I compromise that?

So here I am... My very first DNS (Did Not Start). I didn't even make it to France let alone the start line! I cancelled my hotel reservation and realised I've lost out on the experience of running the 2017 Paris Marathon. Of course I'm disappointed with myself but this was entirely of my own making. No one stopped me going to bootcamp, no one hid or sabotaged my training plan. I have to accept responsibility for the fact I am where I am today because of the choices I made (or didn't make).

On Tuesday, I took the first (baby) step back in the right direction and I went back to Weight Watchers. I've always believed in the power of taking even a small step in the right direction. I didn't come this face to only come this far. My story won't be 'Remember that guy who lost the weight, ran a few marathons and then put it all back on again' - thats where I'm heading if I don't stop this weird funk I'm in right now. Every week I'm going to change just one thing - this week it was going back to Weight Watchers, next week I'll head back to Bootcamp because what I've been doing hasn't been working - the proof isn't in the pudding!

Thursday, 5 January 2017

When the going gets tough...!

Disclaimer: If you are looking for an inspirational weight-loss post, I'm afraid this isn't going to be it. This also isn't a pity post, I just wanted to come back online and write out how I'm feeling as I've always found this blog a great way for me to be accountable to myself. 

I have been absent from the blog for the past two months - Here's a quick overview: I ran the Dublin City Marathon at the end of October, went to New York on holidays, celebrated my birthday, enjoyed the run up to Christmas, still went out for a few runs, stopped going to weigh-ins, fell off the wagon, ate, drank and partied. It was all fun and games until this Tuesday just gone (Jan 3rd), when I went back to work and back to Weight Watchers for my first class in seven weeks.

I was up 13lbs. That's 13lbs on top of the small weekly weight-gains that had been creeping on in the latter half of the year but I hadn't really been paying attention to. This meant, as I stood on the scale on Tuesday evening looking at my weight: 15st 2lbs I've realised that I've only let myself down, I've slipped up badly!

The pic on the left (above) was taken in June this year just after I crossed the finish line after the Waterford Marathon with a PB (3:46). The pic on the right was taken at the Fields of Athenry 10K on Stephen's Day. I actually don't even know what to say - I'm annoyed with myself. I'm disappointed that I let myself slip so far backwards while at the same time I was aware of what I was doing along the way.

Not only have I been carrying around extra pounds, I've also been battling big time with a negative mindset/attitude towards myself - both of which have been weighing me down in more ways that one. The funny thing is, I know exactly what I would say to a friend in the same boat but for some reason, I don't know why I can't tell myself. 

The fact that I've done it before (lost weight) doesn't make this any easier. I've said before and I'll say it 1000 times: The first pound is as hard to lose as the last. Unfortunately Losing weight doesn't mean that it's gone forever and on the same hand, gaining weight also doesn't mean its forever! If there is one thing I know to be true, its the power of starting now and taking things one step at a time. I'm not going to stare half way down the corridor at where I was, I'm going to focus on the next step. 

On Tuesday I faced the scale. Yesterday I laced up and went out for my first run of the year. Today I'm facing you guys with the blog. I know there is no quick fix solution. I know I'm not happy heading in the direction I've been heading in so thats why I'm dusting myself off, turning myself around and focusing on just taking the next step.

First Run of 2017... 5K in the bag!

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:

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