Monday, 31 March 2014

Eamon Moloney 10K

Following a 10 day bout of non running, I was back in action. I ran Wednesday, Thursday and Friday but was careful not to overdo anything so close to the Connemarathon. I had already signed up for the Eamon Moloney 10K in Ennis on Saturday with Aisling so I was looking forward to that. Following my first Sub 45 minute 10K in Newmarket on Fergus two weeks ago, I was hoping to break my time again as I was familiar with both the course and felt back in the zone.

Myself & Aisling ready to kick some ass

I had collected our timing chips and bibs before the race so myself and Aisling just had to rock up to the start line 15 minutes before kick off. We used the time to our advantage and we warmed up running around the Fair Green before making our way over to the start line and finding out place in between the pacers. Again, for the 2nd time in a row, I'd forgotten to pack my headphones so I was running this one with just my own thoughts to keep me company. As the race start drew closer, it became immediately apparent the numbers this year were down on last year (its 1st year) and the race just didn't have the same 'vibe' as before.

Pre race crowd gathering at the start line

The race started off shortly after 11am and I tore off like the clappers heading off out the Tulla Road. I was slightly concerned that I could still see the 40 minute pacer just ahead of me for the first 2km but seen as I didn't have my headphones I couldn't hear my pace as I was running. By the time I reached the 3km marker, I knew I was in 'trouble' from the point of view that I had gone out too fast. The 40 minute pacer was lost in the distance yet I could see the 45 minute pacer over my shoulder. The next 2km along Ballymaley were slower and gave me a chance to gather my pacing.

As I turned out on to the Gort Rd at around the 6km mark, the 45 minute pacer caught up with me. I felt deflated to think I wouldn't do better than my planned 44m 30s goal I had set two weeks before hand. It's really hard sometimes to push through when a pacer catches you like that. I remember during the Kinvara Half at the beginning of the month, once the 1:40 pacers caught me, I let them swallow me up and I never caught them again. I wasn't letting this happen this time.

My Mam caught this snap of me at 7km (notice the pacer behind me)

I pushed on just in front of the pacer who was (in fairness) amazing. He kept saying things like 'All downhill from here' and 'Take it easy for this kilometre and then I don't want to see you again'. I passed my parents house at the 7K mark where my mam, dad and grandparents were out in the garden waving as I passed. It was exactly what I needed to give me a little extra pep in my step and off I took secretly hoping to put a few seconds between myself and the pacer.

Like last year, one of the most challenging parts of this race was running alongside and through traffic. I understand it might be difficult to close the Gort Road but bleedin heck, the McDonald's roundabout by the hospital was a mess despite the Gardai presence stopping and directing traffic. That being said, I navigated my way around cars, over the roundabout and across the road towards the Court House. With the finish line just around the corner I pulled out all the stops. I crossed the finish line just before 44 minutes on the clock. My official chip time: 43 minutes 52 seconds!

I love adding new silverware to my collection

Delighted with my time, I stood at the sideline waiting for Aisling to come in when the 45 minute pacer who had nudged me on came up to me to say 'Great running out there' which I thought was lovely. I've never gone up to anyone I didn't know after a race but it is something I will definitely do the next time the situation calls for it. I could see Aisling heading for the final turn and I roared as she sailed across the finish line knocking two minutes off her own previous best. 

We. Mean. Business.

So with the Eamon Moloney 10K behind me, that leaves the Connemara Marathon as the next hurdle in front of me. This week is most certainly going to be a challenging one - I hope I don't go too Taper mad! Roll on 10:30am this coming Sunday morning... 26.2 miles in Connemara - I'm ready for ya! Eeek! 

Friday, 28 March 2014

Here is my Motivation Puncture Repair Kit

As you may have read from my last post, I have been on a bit of a motivation slump recently. I'm finding Weight Watchers quite tough at the moment but that is 150% to do with me and not the program. I seem to be playing with the same 7lbs - up and down and up and down for the past 3 months. I'll have a 2 week block of being brilliant and I'll lose 4lbs, then I'll be up, then I'll stay the same, then I'll be down half a pound. My motivation has been flowing coming in dribs and drabs. Some days it feels like my motivation tank is guzzling the gritty deposits that lurk at the bottom of a fuel tank as my 'Fuel' light has been on for the past few days. 

I have always had a problem with standing where I am looking at how far away the end point. Instead of even attempting to tackle the insurmountable task in front of me seems, the old me would have shrugged his shoulder and plodded off resigned to the fact the task was too large. I'm not specifically talking about weight loss here, this applies to everything in my life from career aspirations to life goals. For example, a few years ago I wanted to change my career completely but that would require going back to college, re-training and starting back at the bottom again. I front-load the obstacles in front of me with 45 million other blockers that I eventually just call it quits before I've even gotten started.

What I have learned about myself in the past two years is that although you need the bigger picture, you can't focus too far on what you have to do just chip away and do what you can with what you have right now. So if that means opting for fruit instead of a biscuit at coffee break or taking the stairs instead of the lift - you are still doing more at that point than what would you have done if you had just given up at the first hurdle. I need to remember this fact... Maybe a hand tattoo would help.

So [in true Carrie Bradshaw/SATC style] this got me wondering: Who are my motivators? Who helps me when I feel I need a boost/refuel? Who do I admire? Who inspires me? Who do I identify with? To be honest, I didn't have to look very far as I knew exactly where I draw my inspiration and motivation from:

The Skinny Doll - Just got her 12th Silver 7 at Weight Watchers this week
Follow her on Twitter: @theskinnydoll

Anthony - Lost an amazing 171 lbs since March 2013
Follow him on Twitter - @Anthslife

 Elinor - Lost 60lbs and running her first Marathon (London) next weekend
Follow her on Twitter: @ElinorGM 

Andy - Lost 3st 4lbs on Weight Watchers
Follow him on Twitter: @abinito1980

 Siobhain - Recent WW Gold Member
Follow her on Twitter: @ShivsterShiv

Rob - Fellow Oranmore WW Classmate and Real Life Bestie
Follow him on Twitter: @RobDoofus 

Zoe - Over 1 year at WW Goal
Follow her on Twitter: @ZedC

There is a life quote somewhere (I'm surprised actually I don't have it favourited) which reads something along the lines of: You get back/attract what you put out. I cannot think of a better way to say it other than that. Unlike 'The Big Loser'/'The Swan' style transformations, what I absolutely love and can really identify with is the realness of the story of each and every one of the people mentioned above. No one had a team of people cooking for them, making plans and monitoring their progress on a daily basis - they've done it all on their own, for themselves!

Some are at goal - Some are not. Some run - some do no exercise. Some aren't doing Weight Watchers.

The how isn't really important - it's the why. While Zoe could tell us HOW she got to goal, I find they WHY more fascinating. Being connected to each of the above people through Twitter gives me the advantage of having little motivators appear in my timeline throughout the day. Someone might post their dinner along with the Propoints value, someone else might post their progress on the Couch to 5K program.

What motivates them motivates me on some level too - it's like a ripple effect. It's not a competition thing where I am trying to compete with someone elses weight-loss or running time. I am fully aware of the fact that the only person I am in competition with is ME. I just wanted to thank those mentioned above and a million others on Twitter/Facebook/Real Life who motivate me without probably even knowing it, but I see you working away and I admire that. 

It's easy to forget how far we've come. It's easy to be hard on ourselves. It's easy to quit. Zig Ziglar said it best, “Motivation is like showering. The effects are not long term – but that’s why it’s recommend that you do it daily”. So thank you Olivia, Anthony, Elinor, Andy, Siobhan, Rob and Zoe. I am sharing my motivation puncture repair kit (ye) with others so hopefully your work and efforts can be felt elsewhere.


Wednesday, 26 March 2014

I think I've fractured my motivation...

I don't know if I'm going taper mad or if I have indeed hit a motivation hurdle but I have found the past week particularly challenging. I ran my last Long Run (32K) Paddy's weekend, I knew the marathon was three weeks out and then... nothing. I hadn't laced up my runners once since! WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH ME?!

Last week at work was mental, I stayed back working late every evening. It rained for most of the week. I did try. I packed my runners with me and brought them to Ennis when I was at home visiting my parents but I didn't get a chance to go out. I brought the same runners to Belmullet over the weekend when I was away with friends but the boot of the car was as much of Belmullet as my runners ever saw! I was planning a run Monday evening but I called up a friends house which over-ran and next thing it was 11pm. I was planning a run yesterday evening after work and instead I made cookies! 


Yesterday evening, between making cookies and watching RuPaul's Drag Race (essential things that I had priorities higher than my need to run) I read something on The Lucky Rainbow's blog (link here) about running and running motivation. Rebecca (who owns the blog) used the following image and quote which has really struck a chord with me:

As those words bounced around in my mind, the following email arrived in my Inbox:

It was like the stars aligned and were lighting the way out of my run-slump back onto the main road. I went to bed last night with something stirring in the pit of my stomach. No, it wasn't the cookies - it was the spark of hunger reigniting within me. I set my alarm for 6:30am.

At 6:42am this morning, this happened:

And I loved every minute of it! Boom! I'm back in the game! 

Monday, 17 March 2014

Three Weeks till Marathon #2

So I've been following my Marathon Training plan, maybe not to the same level of detail I did last year when training for Dublin, but I'm finally here - The taper! The taper basically is the 3 weeks before the marathon where you run less and rest more with the intention being to give your body time to repair itself. I hadn't planned on running my last long run yesterday, it just kinda happened that way. 

Basically there was a Liverpool match on TV (snooze) which my other half was glued to so I just thought to myself 'Well if I go on my 20 miler now, I won't have to do anything tomorrow and can enjoy Paddy's Day to the max'... Within 10 minutes I was warming up with my handful of jelly babies in one pocket and my water bottle in the other. Again I decided to go with a Podcast approach as I had enjoyed it so much last time. I picked 4 podcasts at random from the 'Stuff You Should Know' series and decided to educate myself on 'How Chocolate Works', 'How Drag Queens Work', 'What makes a one-hit wonder?' and 'What would happen if the world stopped spinning?'. After each podcast I'd play 10 minutes of music just to mix it up and I have to say, it was brilliant! 

Fuel for the next 20 miles...

I ran from Oranmore out to the wall at the end of the Prom in Salthill and back in what was actually quite a tough run. My legs were tired (probably from the tough/fast 10K I had run the day before). Either way, bang on the 3 hour mark I made it back home from my last 20 miler before Connemarathon. This was my 4th 20 miler in the lead up to the marathon (as opposed to 3 the last time) and I feel confident that despite not covering as many miles as before, I've run as best as I could have and just have to trust in the miles I've clocked up.

Sunday's Run

On April 6th, when I stand at the start line for the Connemarathon it'll just be me. Last time I was running around Dublin and knew friends and family would be sprinkled around the course. I knew Brad and Phil were running it too. I knew I had the determination in me to complete the course (even if it meant crawling across the finish line). I knew people would be waiting for me. I was raising money for charity at the same time and I was accountable for that too.

This time it's just for me. And I'm excited for that. I'm also a little bit scared too. I haven't heard one person say 'Oh Connemara is a GREAT course', its usually 'Jeez god that's tough' or 'Isnt there a mental hill near the end?'. Eek! That being said, I don't think I've ever heard anyone say that running any marathon course was easy. 

I'm psyched and I'm ready... but first I taper! 

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Pakie Ryan 10K

I was quite excited for the Pakie Ryan 10K as it was my first 10K race since Athenry just after Christmas which left me 9s short of my Sub 45 minute 10K goal. I thought this would be just great to try push myself to smash my 45:09s PB. With the marathon only three weeks away, I'm conscious of the fact I will be ramping down in the coming few weeks so was looking forward to going hell for leather on this run.

Myself & Aisling headed to Newmarket-on-Fergus on Friday evening to pick up our race packs. Aisling was doubtful that she would be well enough to run as she has been suffering from a cold for the past few days, but she collected her bib regardless. I wouldn't normally be that organised that I'd pick up my pack early but we were on our way to the 9pm Fuerza Bruta show in Limerick on Friday night which is currently showing as part of the City of Culture line-up. The show was an Argentinian multi-sensory 360 degree spectacul-tastic performance. It was so different from anything else I had ever experienced.

Encore encore! Fuerza Bruta 

We left Limerick at 11pm Friday night soaked to the bone. I drove back to my parents house in Ennis with the sound of drums still ringing in my ears and in soaking wet jeans (No I didn't piss myself, you'll understand if you see the show). When I got home,  I showered and went to bed to catch as much zzz's as possible. Saturday morning was filled with a massive bowl of fruit-crammed porridge which has now become part of my pre-race tradition. It was also my dad's birthday so it was nice to be at home for that! Aisling made a miraculous recovery overnight and felt fighting fit and ready to run so at 10am we hit the road for Newmarket.

On your marks...

Myself and Aisling gathered at the start line with over 1000 others who were taking part in the 10 miler that was happening at the same time (same start/finish point - different route). I positioned myself behind the 45 minute balloon poised and ready for the gun. BANG we were off. (Here comes a mini rant: I just don't understand why walkers line up ahead of runners and then insist on walking four abreast! Rant over). I passed out the 45 minute pacer and hoped never to see him again (Sorry pacer!)

Get Set... GO!

After scuttling around a few people as we ran through Newmarket on Fergus heading out the old road towards Shannon/Limerick, I found a steady pace and just kept on going. I had forgotten to pack my earphones so unfortunately had to run this race sans-music. It's been so long since I have run without music in a race, I found the sound of my own breathing quite unnerving. I felt like I was in the middle of tense horror movie. If anyone has Wes Craven's phone number, will ye let him know I am available to voice overs?!

At the 3KM mark, the 10 mile runners split from us and the route became more interspersed which made for easier running. The sun was out in force and my eyes started to sting with the salty swear falling from my forehead. It's been so long since I've run in proper sun, I felt a bit like a bear post hibernation. Running without headphones gave me an appreciation for the support runners give to other runners as you trek around a course. People were nudging each other on and would ask if others were ok as the passed them out. It was really nice to see.

I kept going, head focused on breaking my 45 minute barrier. I hadn't seen the 40 minute pacer since the beginning and seen as the 45 minute pacer hadn't passed me, I was hopeful... that was until we reached the 8KM marker and the road in front just seems to endlessly incline. I'm kind of glad I didn't know there was a hill at 8KM - I'm also glad I didn't know once I got to the top of it, there was another one as I think it would have killed my 45 minute dream.

As I approached the village, I heard someone shout "Go ON 500m left" and it really nudged me on in the right direction. With great gusto, I plowed straight for the finish line. About 200m from the finish line I could see the clock edge close to 44 minutes. I crossed the line after 44 minutes but before the 45 minute pacer meaning I'd smashed the Sub 45 Barrier and given myself a new PB on what was quite a hilly tough course.

My official time is 44:27 (although I suspect if the event had been chipped, I could knock another 20s off that!). Either way, I'm delighted. I've raised the bar slightly and set myself a new time to beat when I run in the Eamon Maloney 10K in Ennis in two weeks time. Overall I finished 57th out of the 716 who crossed the finish line.

Post Race Refreshments 

After the race, we were funnelled into the Sports Ground where there was a huge marquee filled with fruit, water, sandwiches, tea etc. I had a few minutes to recover before I spotted Sean from Amphibian King (who was the 50 min pacer) and we had a great chat before Aisling sauntered in cool as a breeze. For one who was sick the past few days, she certainly knocked out her second ever 10K without bother.

All in all, it was a great event around a tough hill-ridden course with the sun shining down on us but I really enjoyed it!


Thursday, 13 March 2014

Magazine Hat Trick...

So today at lunch time, I stopped in to my local Spar to grab a yogurt for my post-lunch treat (I know, I know... I lead such an exciting life!). I was in a bit of a hurry for no reason other than it was lunch and I wanted to plonk myself at home for an hour. As I went in the door, the sandwich lady came up to me and said "I saw you in the magazine, you look incredible!" *cue me going bright red*

I grabbed my yogurt and headed for the counter where the lady at the checkout said "I saw you in this months magazine". *cue me going even redder*

Praise be to whoever was looking down on me that I didn't have a half eaten Moro hanging out of my mouth rather I just had an Organic Natural Yogurt. I don't know why the thoughts of people who I know from my periphery life make me more shy about knowing my story when at the end of the day, I put it up here for everyone to read.

Anyway *cue shameless plug* if you happen across this months issue of Galway Now magazine, have a gawk through it and you might just see me :)

 That's not me on the front cover... I'm sassy (but not that sassy!)

It was Phil, my WW leader who asked me if I would take part in the photo shoot and I jumped at the opportunity. Not because I secretly aspire to be a model or anything, but simply because I cannot believe I have been asked. I imagine its like asking a piece of chalk to become cheese. The amount of opportunities that have come along where once I might have shied away from, I have grabbed by the horns. Anyway, I'm stashed away about half way through the magazine if you want to take a look.

I do love a good 'Before' and 'After' side by side comparison

I have some of the proofs which I'll share with ye again, but for now if you want to see the pics you can at your nearest news stand :) I can't believe I've left it nearly 2 weeks to post about this! The magazine came out on March 2nd which was the same day as the Half Marathon in Kinvara and after the initial excitement wore off, I kinda forgot about it until the ladies in the Spar said it today. Funnily enough, this evening I got a text from a friend who unexpectedly saw me in the mag while she was at the hairdressers!

My 15 minutes of fame must surely be over by now... I've been in a Sunday World supplement, a Doctors waiting room magazine and now a local magazine publication... Ding ding ding! It's a hat trick! The only thing left for me now is Vogue surely *bows out gracefully* but I'll still be around don't worry! Ye haven't gotten rid of me that easily :)

Friday, 7 March 2014

In a change to the scheduled broadcast...

The Connemarathon is just 4 weeks away! Where the hell has that time gone? I'd been planning this week's long run for first thing this morning, but one thing lead to another and next thing I found myself drinking tea and hiding from a 2 year old in a Wendy House and it was after 11am.

All work and no play makes Dan a dull boy...

I nipped home and got changed. But just before I headed out the door for my scheduled Long Run of 24km, I decided to do something I have never done before. I went on iTunes to see if I could find something else to listen to instead of my usual Britney/Girls Aloud/Lady Gaga-fest I normally run to. I made the executive decision to try running to a Podcast. I wanted to go with something educational, something inspirational and something for some light hearted relief.

For that reason I went with the following:
  • "Finding Time for the Creative Exploration process within Software Delivery"
  • "Do objects or experiences make us happier?"
  • "Fascinated: Meet Your Heroes"
I started my run with some music just to get me warmed up. Two of my new favourite songs right now are:

So once they were over, I moved on to the educational podcast on Software Delivery. I don't know how many of ye know what I do for a living but I'm a software developer. I figured hey, why not run and listen to something which will have my undivided attention. Ah, no. I stopped this podcast after 15 minutes as it was completely unconducive with running.

From there I moved on to a 'Stuff You Should Know' podcast on 'Do objects or experiences make us happier?'. I loved it. I found myself nodding along It felt like I was part of someone elses conversation and before I knew it, I had over 12K clocked up while enjoying a refreshing healthy debate. The conclusion of their findings was that experiences make us happier, but on the flip side have the potential to be recalled as more horrific if it was a bad experience. Moral of their story: Objects make us happy but only for a 6 to 12 week window, then we get bored and move on to the next desired object.

After that I moved on to Gearoid Farrelly's Fascinated Podcast which I've been meaning to give a go. I actually found myself laughing along to his brilliant podcast. This episode was about meeting your childhood heroes and featured the Oscar nominated Granny O'Grimm writers story about meeting George Clooney followed by Gearoid's phone conversation with Gillian Blakeney about scarves. 

Fascinated Podcast

Before I knew it I was on the home stretch, I barely had time to get through to the album version of Girls Aloud's Untouchable when I hit 25K. Delighted with myself and I think my new found love for a Podcast, I think I could have found a new way to spend my time while running either by educating myself or having a laugh. It made for a really enjoyable change to my usual broadcast. 

Anyone have any recommended podcasts / audio books I could listen to? 

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Kinvara Rock & Road - Half Marathon

The Kinvara Rock & Road yesterday marked the one year anniversary of my very first run, so I couldn't think of a better way to mark the occasion other than signing up and taking part this year. I decided to go for the Half Marathon this year though as it fell in with my Marathon Training Plan but I was sorry not to be able to re-run the 10K route.

Myself, Aisling and Gordon headed to Kinvara yesterday morning where, once we had registered just hung around near the start line taking in the atmosphere. As the race was sold out (1500 runners), the place was buzzing. I met everyone from my previous boss to people I worked with in Tesco over 10 years ago. There was such a great pre-race vibe down around Kinvara Pier you couldn't help but soak it up.

Me, ready to kick ass!

This was Aisling's first 10K race, so herself and Gordon lined up at the start line and bang on 12 noon, they were off. Everything seemed to move really quickly after that. They called the Half Marathoners into the same Starting Pit and within 5 minutes, we were ready for the off also. I had positioned myself in front of the 1:40 pacers. My previous PB for a Half Marathon was at The Flatline in Athlone last August. This was my first Half since then so I was aiming big and planning on knocking 5 minutes off my time.

Ais & Gordon ready to go!

The Half Marathon started at 12:10pm and we took off around Kinvara before making our way out of the village heading towards the Burren along the Killina Road.I took off at a steady happy pace ahead of the 1:40 pacers and by the time I reached the 7K mark, I could hear the stampede of feet behind me. I took a quick look back and saw the pacers and a group of about 30 runners snapping right at my heels.

I pushed on but didn't want to burn out too quickly. We turned on to the New Line Road which has to have been one of the most amazing stretches of roads I've ever run on. It was the straightest road which made for difficult processing when you just turn on to it and can see runners ahead of you as far as the eye can see but regardless I trugged on. My times were coming in about 4m 40s per km which I knew was leaving me quite close to 1:40 pacers behind me.

As I passed the sign saying 'Half Way There', the pacers overtook me. Suddenly I was running in the middle of the pack and I found the restriction in space uncomfortable. I made the executive decision to fall behind, but only just a little, to let them run ahead of me. I kept them in my sights for the rest of the race. I was glad I did this to be honest.

As we took the last turn heading back to Kinvara, we passed a sign saying '6K' and I knew we were on the homestretch as we were back on the 10K. Its crazy how much of those last 4K I remembered from the year before. I knew there was a b***h of a hill coming up at the 7K mark (I was right), and I knew we'd turn back onto the main Ballyvaughan-Kinvara road around the 9K mark (which we did).

Sprint for the finish line

I crossed the finish line after my goal time of 1:40 but finished well ahead of my previous best so I was delighted! Aisling & Gordon were cheering me on for the side-line along with a friend of our Irene and Aisling's mum who had come to Kinvara to cheer her on for her first race. After taking a breather for a minute, myself and Aisling were happily chatting and hugging at the finish line. She had just finished her first 10K in under 55 minutes, I had beaten my Half PB. This guy comes up to us and hands both myself and Aisling a "spot prize" of a bottle of wine each as "we both looked really happy!". Hey, I'm not one to complain :) FREE WINE!

Spot Prize :)

Myself, Gordon, Irene and Aisling headed to the local pub where we relaxed with a drink on the couch as we chatted about both the race and the developments on last night's Late Late Show (Linda Martin, put yourself away!). Feeling victorious after a brilliant day in Kinvara and a cool refreshing bottle of Bulmers in my belly, we headed back home to Galway with a new piece of silver-wear for the collection.

2014 Medal

My official chip time for the 2014 Kinvara Rock & Road Half: 
1 hour, 41 minutes, 48 seconds