Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Race 1 - Athenry [Galway 5K Series]

The sun most definitely came out to welcome us to Athenry yesterday evening! After a busy day at work, followed by rushing to Weight Watchers and then out the door again to Athenry, myself & Aisling made our way to the Race HQ to pick up our chip and bibs for the series.

Myself & Aisling

The buzz before the start line this year was completely different. I re-read my report from last year (here) and I remember how worried I was about pacing and speed over a distance of 5K. Definitely feeling more confident this year I missed out on something quite crucial - I didn't warm up and I didn't have a plan. This was my first 5K since Tuam last June so thinking about it now, my plan to 'wing it' really wasn't the best idea.

The race started bang on 8pm from the same spot as the Fields of Athenry 10K on Stephens Day so I was confident I had an idea of where we were going. I took off like the clappers - clocking my fastest ever 1K time (03:54). I was feeling on top of the world and actually thought to myself 'Oh my god, I could break Sub 20 if I keep this up'. I hit 2K maintaining the same pace. 

BOOM! First under 4 minute kilometer

Just after the 2K marker was something I wasn't expecting... The Finish Line! It was devastatingly crushing having to run straight pass the finish line. It was like a mirage in a desert considering how warm it was. I trudged but my legs felt heavy. There comes a funny point in every race when your mind goes looking for reasons as to why it can't run as fast as you want. I had it put down to the fact I was completely dehydrated (my mouth was so dry) and I had been rushing so much in and after work, I hadn't eaten anything proper since lunch time.

In the Zone?

3K and 4K passed in some weird mind battle with myself. I was thinking 'Just keep going' but I could feel myself slowing down. I had re-assessed the entire situation and decided that I had started too fast and that was why I was struggling now. Looking at my pace chart below, you can see how I progressively slowed during the race. For the first time ever, I had nothing left in the bank on approach to the finish. My legs felt so heavy as I crossed the finish line under 22:00.

My official chip time was 21:37 making it my fastest 5K ever! That's an average of 4:19/km which is quite disappointing considering the strong first 2K I put in. I got caught in a mind battle half way around and finished weak. Maybe I was built for distance not speed? Unlikely... I have my eyes set on a Sub 20 5K and my goal is to get there. It may not happen during the next 6 weeks but it will happen!

As with last year, the best part of the 5K Series for me... is the people! There was such an amazing sense of achievement in the air yesterday evening as different people crossed the finish line! A massive big shout out has to go Yvonne (who is amazing!) and Rob (who is also amazing!). Of course everyone else is amazing too but for them, Race 1 was definitely a hurdle they were going to have to jump and boy did they clear it!

So... I've a week to regroup and re-strategise before the next race next Tuesday in Loughrea. But before that, I have the GLR Half Marathon on Sunday. (For one who said he was cutting back on running to focus on cycling, I seem to be spending a lot of time running!)

Gordon, Yvonne, Deirdre, Maeve, Aisling, Me, Maureen and Elaine post 5K

Rob finishing his first 5K! Brilliant :)

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Looking back before this years Galway 5K Series...

The 2014 Galway 5K series starts tonight and I'm so excited! 

I couldn't tell you the exact point in time last year I fell in love with running but I'm almost sure it happened somewhere over the magical 6 weeks of last years 5K series. I loved everything about it... Turning up at the start line every Tuesday, eager to see what this weeks course and result would bring. They were and still are my only timed 5K races.

It started off with my first Sub 25 minute 5K in Athenry and finished with a 23 minute 5K in Tuam. May not sound like much but it showed me how regular running helped my overall time. It also taught me that the only person I am in competition with is myself. I also ran my first Half Marathon in the Burren in the middle of all these races and I really got into the rhythm of running. For me, the best part of the whole experience was sharing it with the same people week after week - especially those closest to me. Looking back and looking at now, its crazy how much can change in a year. 

One of my friends who ran it last year with me has since been diagnosed with cancer, gone through chemo and radiotherapy and had a double mastectomy. She is amazing, nothing will stop her. I've never seen someone so determined - she will be at the starting line again this year ready to kick some 5K ass! One of my friends who ran the 5K series last year is now 7 months pregnant (so obv not taking part this year). Another friend has moved from Galway :( but is taking part in another 5K series closer to where she is living now.

Then there will be loads of new faces! Two friends from Weight Watchers starting running with the Amphibian King Zero to 5K (same as how I had started last year) are also ready to also kick some 5K ass. I've said before how in a weird way I get kinda jealous of people doing certain things for the first time because I remember how much I enjoyed them and I'd love that feeling again.

2013 was awesome... 2014 is going to be even more awesome! Bring on the 5K Series! 

Race 1: Athenry

Race 2: Claregalway

Race 3: Loughrea

Race 4: Craughwell

Race 5: Galway

Race 6: Tuam

Sunday, 27 April 2014

By all means have the cookie, just remember to appreciate the cookie!

After my semi-breakdown last Tuesday, I was really touched by the amount of people who reached out and left me a comment either online or in person.. So thank you! I think for me, half the battle sometimes is just writing something down as once I have it all mapped out in front of me, I have already worked out the answer. 

I think the root cause of my angst came from both finishing the last week in my current WW Card and the supplement in the last weekend Sunday World. I had been contacted by Weight Watchers to see if I could give some quotes just about accountability and choices so I did - Have a read below:

The conflict within me comes from the fact that I:

   1. 100% believe every single thing I said in the article above
   2. Feel like a liar or cheat for saying those things and then putting on weight over the past 6 months

This effectively means my logic is flawed but I have found it's source. The problem isn't having the cookie, its remembering to appreciate the fact you have had it. Let me tell you a story about last weekend: Last Sunday was Easter Sunday, and I had a massive Lindt Easter Egg (which came in at 57pps remember!). It was delicious, I earned it and I ate and enjoyed every single bit of it.

On Tuesday I was up 1lb. People were trying to comfort me and say 'Feic it, you deserved the Easter Egg' or 'it was a treat, you'll have the lb gone next week', but it wasn't the Easter Egg that did the damage... it was the day before.

Last Saturday morning I got up and went to Bootcamp for an hour. When I got home I had not one but two big bowls of Muesli. My brother in law called around with his kids and we had pancakes and nutella, orange juice and yogurts. I then went into Galway as the Galway Food Festival was on. I wandered around stalls picking at free samples before settling on the Dough Bros where I had a pizza.

After my pizza we met up with friends and went to a local bar for a drink, then on to another restaurant for another coffee and while I was there I had the chocolate dessert (which was caramel-y and chocolate-y and delicious).

We left town and called into my parents-in-laws where I had a cup of tea and a Cadburys Mini Roll (hey, I couldn't have a cuppa all on its own). While we were there I got a text from my friend Sinead who wanted to see if we were around as she'd call. I made a quick detour to the shop and bought 2 magnums and a pack of biscuits. Over coffee, we worked our way through the pack of biscuits.

We had dinner plans made with our friends Brad and Rob, so I left home at 7:30 and headed to the guys place where they had tortilla chips and sweets as pre-dinner nibbles lying around. I tucked in (naturally). Dinner was a delicious and I ate until I was full. Now... On reflection: Was it was the egg or Saturday that was the cause of my weight gain this week? 

Saturday was only one day last week. This has been going on for some time! Another thing I've found myself doing is substituting 'healthier snacks' for actual treats. I bought a thing of chocolate covered rice cakes the last week (Hey, they are only 69 cals a rice cake) but then ate all 6 over the course of the day (It's only 69 cals, sure that's nothing). The problem however is 6 x 69cals = 414 cals = 10pps. I'd have preferred to spent my 10pps on a Mars Bar to be honest.

This 'failure' on my behalf hasn't broken me - in fact it has taught me something about myself which I hadn't realised until now. I am giving myself lots of 'non-treats' which are in fact treats. I don't count a yogurt or a rice cake as a treat when in fact, they are!

I love eating, I still love pizza and I still love cupcakes. No body is expecting me to give them up and I know that if I was to, I'd only end up putting them on a pedestal. I've seen people go without carbs or bread or pasta only for them to become so obsessed with the one thing they've given up that they eventually crack. I just need to remember that I can have the cookies, I just need to appreciate the fact I've had it and keep myself from wandering down the self fulfilling 'I deserve it because...' path which I seem to have found myself on quite often.

This week has been good. And I still had pizza and cocktails at a friends house last night but that was a treat for a week of staying on track and propointing fully. 

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Same Old Brand New Me?

Yesterday was an interesting one... It marked the end of my 3rd Weight Watchers card:

Thats 78 weigh-ins, 78 times I've stood up on those electronic scales and watched either in earnest or with bated breath as the digital display flashed up a weight. You can probably guess but for most of the first two cards, my + or - value was a minus, and if it was a plus, I knew the reason why. 

On Tuesday, July 30th last, I got my 14th Silver 7. I was so happy. 7 STONE! The following tuesday I weighed in at 12st 1lb. I was 99lbs lighter, just ONE POUND away from goal. That was when I gave up smoking. Now, I'm not by any way shape or form putting the blame on cigarettes but it has felt that since that point, I haven't been able to regain my feet on the ground. 

For the past 30 weeks I have played with a stone! Up one, down two, up three, down one. Today, as the last line on my card was filled, it was 13st 2lbs. Exactly 15lbs up from my lightest weight which was 1lb away from goal and my 100lb cert. So bloody frustrating. I've had my eyes fixed firmly on hitting 12st. I think in fact, if I'd only just hit it and then moved off it, I wouldn't be so obsessed with hitting 12st. 

Anyway, I'm fed up. I'm annoyed with myself. I'm disappointed in myself. This is hard - working towards something without seeing any progress - it is really hard to keep motivated and I've found myself starting to slip. Stupid old habits have started to creep back in and I feel like my footing is starting to slip more and more.

This isn't a 'Poor me' or a 'Give me sympathy' blog post, I'm just venting about how difficult it is. I think the reality of the situation is: Losing weight is tough... maintaining weight loss is tough... staying in control is tough and staying motivated is tough. 

As I faffed around online today, I came across this on Chinie's wonderful blog - Fab After 40 (link here) and it was exactly what I needed:

Of course I'm the same old brand new me! In those past thirty weigh-ins since I was one pound away from my goal weight I have accomplished so much.

I ran TWO marathons.
I did not smoke 5000 cigarettes (which I would have had I not given up).
I have learned more about myself and what I am capable of than I ever could have imagined.
I bought a bike.
I experienced things I could never have imagined - the companionship in sportsmanship, the opportunity to just go for a 3 hour walk with friends, the ability to just sign up for a half marathon without giving it much thought.
I am running faster.
I know muscle weighs more than fat.


I know, know deep down inside if I am really honest with myself that the reason I haven't gotten my weight under control is because I have left old habits slip back in to my life. I eat what I want without properly tracking, sometimes I over eat, knowing that I really don't need the second bowl of museli or pasta but I still go for it. My problem has never been having one biscuit or treating myself to a cupcake or a curly wurly, my problem has always been in knowing the biscuit that's one biscuit too many and walking away.

I really need to regroup, refocus and re-strategise.

Monday, 21 April 2014

The Easter Challenge...

I woke up yesterday morning to find the Easter Bunny had arrived...


I reckon trying to beat The Crystal Maze or The Cube would have been easier than trying to work out the propoints on these bad boys. You may think, why bother propointing a massive giant egg but I 'm trying to be good and reckon... why not? If I propoint it, I can work with it and try balance it out.

I was faced with three options:

1. Just eat it - worry about it later/forget to propoint it 
2. Google it - pick a propoint value of another egg close to it
3. Work it out - actually try calculate the propoints in it.

Now, I can be guilty of taking Option 1 when it suits me - Sometimes I fall into that trap of 'Sure I was out for a run today so that will cancel out this'. I knew though that this was going to be more than a run.

Route 2 turned up a Propoint value of 15 for the egg alone and 2pp for each sweet. There was about 10 in the pack so 35pp seems legit.

Route 3 nearly reauired a degree in quantum physics. The Lindt Egg had calorie information but it was per 100g for the egg and 100g for the sweets. The entire pack weighted 355g but it had no information on how much the egg was. I manually weighed the egg (it comes in at 185g). So 100g of egg was 15 propoints. That makes 185g off egg 28 propoints.

My egg came with loads of Lindt sweets - I worked out 100g of them came in at 17 propoints. The egg was 185g of the 355g so the sweets were 170g. This made them 29 propoints.

In total: 57 propoints.

57 propoints is a hell of a long way off the 35 propoints I would have guessed had I gone down Route 2. 35 propoints is a galaxy away from the 0 propoints I would have accounted for had I gone down Route 1.

All this for only ONE of the two eggs.

The Butlers Egg (Yellow one) had NO nutritional information on it making it impossible to propoint. I googled, I checked their website, checked their Facebook - nothing! 

This poses an important philosophical question: If an easter egg has no nutritional information available and it gets eaten and no one sees it... does it still count? I suspect the answer is no (Damn it!)

So... I ate the Lindt Egg. Yep, all 57 propoints of it! Yep, it was delicious. Yep I loved it and yep... I propointed it!

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Let me introduce you to my new BFF...

On Tuesday, I bought Leslie... my bike! I don't know what deluded planet on live on but clearly its a great place to be as I think I'm loaded (Disclaimer: I wish!). I had been checking the usual places like and DoneDeal but everything that I saw was either way outside my price range or was a tricycle. I remember forwarding a link of a bike I thought looked like it was a great deal on to one of my friends who knows stuff and his response... "They stopped making those bikes in the mid-80s". Feic!

Resigned to the fact I clearly know nothing (I couldn't tell a Tesco Value from a Mona Lisa from a line-up of one), don't know what to look for (oooh this must be the deluxe model - it has a basket on the front!) and am the most gullible person in the world (how many go-faster stripes does it come with?), I opted for the safest option. I bought a new bike.

I had been checking around online and found what I have been told by three differing friends who cycle is a pretty good entry level bike. The Carrera in Halfords was on Easter Sale so came in under €300 but at least I knew I was getting something alright, and something in good nick and all set up. On Tuesday evening I picked her up. I've christened her Leslie!

Myself and Leslie

Yesterday after work, I geared up and cliped on my cycling helmet and took to the roads with a gang from work... and I ate dirt! Yep, I was Billy-Back-Off-The-Class but there was something quite interesting about it! I don't know what I was expecting. I was hardly going to hit the road running! In fairness, they stuck around for the first 10K offering words of advice - the scariest of which was 'Cycle right up behind me as there will be less resistance'. My biggest concern was what if I needed to stop quickly, which they pointed out wasn't a concern. Them stopping quickly would be my biggest concern! :)

I learned loads on my 2nd ever bike ride - I watched as the cyclists passed signals back the group highlighting loose gravel, potholes, debris and potential hazards thrown along the hard shoulder. I learned how to play with my gears and what combinations work best (for me) and where to use them. I'm still not convinced I have the rules of cycling on a roundabout down - so I should probably brush up on my rules of the road (as a cyclist!)

Anyway, 1 hour 17 minutes after leaving work yesterday evening, I finished my 2nd cycle since I was a kid - 30K! Now at the moment, I can't see how possibly someone can do that another 6 times (The Ring of Kerry is 180K) - I found the cycle tough but I enjoyed it. I'm sure my legs (and backside) will kill me today but I'm quite chuffed with myself.

My 2nd cycle

I'll definitely be back out on Leslie over the weekend (probably to work off some of my Easter Egg!)

Monday, 14 April 2014

It's a new dawn. It's a new day.

From my first 10K to the Dublin Marathon and last weekend's Connemarathon, I have challenged myself in ways I could never have imagined. I've loved it. I've learned so much about myself in training. My running has gotten better, I'm stronger both mentally and physically and I am in the best physical condition I have ever been in. I'm ready for a new challenge.

I love having a goal. I love having a goal I can work towards. I love pushing myself beyond what I ever thought possible. Some of my favourite quotes are: The expert in anything was once a beginner, Everyone starts somewhere and The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step... So I am taking some of my own advice and going right back to the beginning.

I have signed up to cycle the Ring of Kerry! Yep... 12 weeks from now (5th of July) I'll take to the Ring of Kerry for the 180km cycle! I've never done the Ring of Kerry in a car let alone on a bike. Last Wednesday, for the first time in over 15 years, I climbed onto a bike and went for a cycle!

Kitted out and ready for road

I'm such a beginner, it pains me! I didn't know how to change gear while cycling. When I got to the traffic lights I panicked and mounted the kerb instead of waiting in line at the lights like regular people do. When I got to a roundabout I came to a complete stop, then moved back through the gears (back down to the start like a car) so when I went to take off, I failed miserably as the chain gave way. In fact, I don't know if you can see in that photo but it wasn't until after the cycle I realised I had the gloves on backwards for the entire cycle.

The end result: 18km in 50 minutes! I loved it... Now I do realise there is a huge difference between a post work 50 minute cycle with some of the guys from the office and a 180km cycle of the ring of kerry, but I'm excited. I'm looking forward to working on and trying something new. I'm looking forward to seeing if I like cycling, if I can make it. I'm sure cycling will pose new challenges (like finding nice padded cycling shorts and dealing with punctures) but hey, whats the worst that can happen?

I'm scared to be pushing running to the back burner while I focus on cycling. I'm worried I may have bitten off more than I can chew - why not start with a smaller/shorter cycle? I don't even own a bike FFS! I had to go out and buy a helmet at lunch time last Wednesday and I borrowed a colleagues bike (Thanks Ger!) for the cycle. It scared me. Cycling on the road scares me. Tyre Pumps, Lycra Suits and Potholes scare me. Its outside my comfort zone - and that's exactly why I'm doing it.

I have 12 weeks. I have to buy a bike. I have to train. I have a new challenge. And as the song goes: It's a new dawn. It's a new day... and I'm feeling good! 

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Unsung Hero

This morning I was out for a walk with CJ (my dog) and I clicked on this video from a friends Facebook. At 7:30am this morning, while walking along road to Renville Park in Oranmore I cried.

I am a sap. 

Everyday heroes are hidden in plain sight. They are hidden around us, making our worlds (and others) a better place to live in.

Just wanted to share this video with ye all cause I loved it.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

48 Hours Later: A Cold Bath and Afternoon Tea

It's been 48 hours since the marathon and seen as I bored ye with a countdown, I figured I'd bore ye again with an update of my recovery since crossing the finish line. I think my Facebook status really shows how exciting my Sunday evening was after finishing the marathon:

Yep, I got home and went straight upstairs into an ice cold bath for 10 minutes. It has to be the most unpleasant thing in the whole world... but the soothing feeling that washes over aching muscles can't be described! I was planning on going to bed for an hour or two but once I realised I had left my phone downstairs, I had no choice but to go back downstairs. I couldn't bring myself to tackle the stairs again so I spent my Sunday night on the couch over indulging in treats. I had a constant stalker watching my every move:

Mine? Mine mine?

Thankfully I had Monday booked off work so I was surprised to wake up at 9am full of beans. My calfs were still quite tight so I was planning on taking it easy for the day. I met with my friend Yvonne (who was also off work) and the two of us headed off into town and treated ourselves to a spot of Afternoon Tea... I KNOW - on a Monday! How posh!


After our slice of luxury, we wandered around some shops in Galway spending money on shite like flowers and runners. It really was a lovely relaxing way to spend the day eating cake and drinking coffee, gossiping about everyone and anything. When I got back home I spent the evening catching up on TV and faffing around the house - I even hoovered out the car. - that shows how bored I must have been! 

Yesterday [Tuesday] morning I woke up feeling refreshed and back to normal. I can't determine if it was the Afternoon Tea, cold bath or the light walking around town that loosened up my calf muscles but something worked! Everything was back to normal. I went to 7am Bootcamp, went to work and then went to Weight Watchers! Down 2lbs this week. Woooop! Now I can't determine if that would have been more had I not had the nachos and Afternoon Tea but do you know what... they were worth it!

I'm busy looking for what I'll do next - I've had to stop myself looking at marathons coming up this summer! I wonder are marathons like tattoos or child birth? Do people quickly forget the pain in search for their next hit? If thats the case... consider me hooked!

Monday, 7 April 2014


My alarm went off at 7am Sunday morning and after a quick shower and breakfast, I was heading in to the bus collection point before I knew it (Thanks for the pre-8am-on-a-Sunday-morning lift Kieran). In the car on the way in to the bus, I wrote a little message on my hand that my other half had said to me earlier that morning. I put it there to remind me if the going got tough out on the course today that a lot of the time its just putting one food in front of the other and keep trudging onward.

Mind over matter

The cathedral car park was overflowing with buses and runners all making their way on board the buses to the start line. The atmosphere on the bus was one of eager excitement mixed with nervousness. I got talking to the guy beside me. This was his first marathon but from listening to him, his preparation was much more rigid than mine. We chatted about work, running and Connemara as the bus made it's way to the start point for the full marathon.

There, at the side of the road somewhere along Lough Inagh in Connamara, the bus pulled over and off we got. We were the first bus to arrive which was great as everyone had time to use the port-a-loos and find a spot on the side of the road before about 10 more buses pulled up. There was about 600+ people waiting at the Start Line for the Marathon.

Sunday, April 6th - Full Marathon Start

Just before 10:30am we were all gathered at the start line as the first of the Ultra Marathon runners passed us. Jay-sis! I was talking to a few people in the crowd about how mental it must be for the Ultra guys having to run 39 miles when I said 'I'm sure all the people at the start of the Half Marathon are saying the same about us'. That's what I love so much about running. Every race, any distance is a challenge for the person running it. You can push yourself beyond your own limits and thats the real beauty of running.

Waiting at the start

At 10:30am on the button we were off. The first 10K flew - I was in the zone, I was in my stride and I was happy out. Despite the overcast morning, we were waved on by a beautiful rainbow which came across the mountains as we ran along what has to be one of the most beautiful roads in Ireland. At 10K we turned on to the N59 which is part of the Connemara Loop. I happily plodded along maintaining a consistent pace as we ran alongside Killary Harbour.

I hit Leenaun (Half Way) with 1:45 on the clock. I was delighted with myself. I had maintained a 5 min/km pace for the first half of the race (which is only 4 mins slower than my best half marathon time). Maybe I should have read this as a potential warning but instead I got carried away with myself and started to think that a 3:30 marathon was on the cards... Big mistake!

First Half Time Split

Something that I have been in denial about since the first day I ever signed up for this marathon was the course profile. I have heard many people (even as recent as during the bleedin race) say that the second half is a much tougher course than the first. I knew there was a incline as soon as we got outside Leenaun so I wasn't surprised to see it - I just wasn't expecting it to be so... incline'y.

Full Marathon Course Profile

From about Mile 14 on, it was a completely different run. I found myself mentally having to push myself onwards. It was nice to catch up with the Half Marathoners which started at 12pm as it meant there were more people around. Interestingly, I found the pace of the crowd extremely off putting. As glad and all as I was to see lots more people, when you are trying to motivate yourself to keep running and everyone else is walking, its extremely difficult.

I bundled on past each mile marker, recalculating the % of the race I had completed once I passed each one. Up and down up and down. I stopped and walked through each water station, partly for the break, partly because my legs were starting to burn. You can see from my times, I knew about about 30K that my short lived dreams of a 3:30 marathon were starting to wash further and further away.

At about 37K I reached the dreaded HILL! This was the one everyone had been talking about on forums, on Twitter and in person. This was the most horrific thing I've ever experienced for so many reasons. It was raining. It was extremely windy and you were completely exposed on top of the hills of Connemara. The worst part was that you could see for miles. You knew exactly how much further you had to go.

I walked a lot of this part of the course. Mainly because my calfs were starting to scream at me, partly because I was resigned to the fact I didn't think I'd be able to beat my Dublin time (3:52) by this point. At the top of the hill (Mile 24), this wonderful man coached me and gave me the spark to keep on going... He was like 'Cmon, we are so close and so nearly there. Get in under 4 hours!' and with that he was gone ahead and I fired on after him.

Around Mile 25 when everything started to hurt, a girl with a Marathon bib beside me gave me a pained look. I paid the kindness that was shown to me on and I caught her arm and said 'Come on, we can do this... I can see the roof of the hotel at Maam Cross, thats the finish line!'. The two of us ran together for the rest of the race.

As I passed the sign for Mile 26 I started to well up when I saw the clock, it was 3:50. I was going to come in under my Dublin time! Despite this being one hell of a challenging course, I was going to beat my 1st marathon time. That was when I saw my other half, my mum and my dad cheering from the crowd around the Finish Line.

Second Half Time Split

Broken, in pain but oh so happy I got the biggest hug from my other half. It felt like it took away so much of the pain that was flowing through my body. I remember being sore after my first marathon but not this sore. I collected my bag from the baggage area and hobbled along to car. Praise be to the Running Gods that I didn't have to get on the bus back to Galway as I think that would have killed me! After celebrating for a few minutes with my parents, we headed back to their car which was loaded with sandwiches, a flask of tea and muffins :)

I came, I saw, I beat Connemarathon

Standing at the side of the road at Maam Cross about 10 minutes after I finished - my legs went into complete spasm. I had to lie on the ditch at the side of the road and hold back the tears as I could see the calf muscles in my legs spasm and contract. I think it was more horrific than the last few miles put together. When I eventually climbed into my mum's car (this was due to the embarrassment of everyone stopping to see if I was ok), I has thankful - thankful that I get to run, yes a consequence of this may be painful leg cramps but to experience both extreme joy and pain at the same time is rare I'd imagine.

Marathon #2 was without doubt 'My Marathon'. I ran it alone, for me. I knew no one else doing it. I trained on my own. I knew I wouldn't meet anyone at the finish line who experience it the same as I had. It was a completely different experience to Marathon #1. I reckon across the 26 miles there was about 50 spectators unlike Dublin where the streets were lined. The profile was completely different, my energy and self belief were completely different. I always knew I was going to finish Dublin regardless of what happened. I knew I'd finish Connemara too but I didn't know how much I was going to have to dig deep and pull myself together to do so.

Overall I'm delighted. Considering 18 months ago I was a 19st smoker who had never ran more than 20 seconds in his life before, here I am nearly 8 months off cigarettes and with 2 marathons in the last 5 months under my belt. I'm excited for my next challenge... Stay tuned :)

Saturday, 5 April 2014

24 Hours to Go: A Bag of Nervous Energy

After what can only be described as a terrible night's sleep (woke up twice thanks to different nightmares which weren't running related), I had an epic breakfast with my other half before we headed into town. I suspect the trip into town was more for my benefit as it kept me preoccupied for four hours as we went around looking at suits, buying shoes (and buns) and having coffee.

What has been lovely has been the trickle of texts and phone calls I have been getting all day wishing me luck for tomorrow. My friends and family are awesome! Also, big shout out to Kieran who arrived at the house yesterday evening after I posted last nights blog post and offered to help in any way he can so he is going to bring me in to the bus tomorrow morning - Super! He also brought some of his homemade blueberry muffins which went down a treat :) Thanks KC!

Freshly baked yummy deliciousness :)

I also stopped off in Elvery's on the way out of town and picked up my Race Pack for tomorrow. Now that I've the race pack in hand with my bib, wristband and bag for the baggage drop, it's all becoming very real. I'm going to have a mega pasta dinner this evening and try get an early night again tonight! Hopefully the next time I post on this blog it will be great news. 

I'm trying hard not to set myself a target time for tomorrows race but I suppose if I'm honest, I do want to beat my Dublin time (3:52) but know this course is meant to be particularly challenging (Hey, name one course that isn't going to be a challenge!). That is not going to stop me though... Hopefully I can channel all of the nervous energy floating around inside me and put it to good use. 

Number 5321!

24 hours before the Dublin Marathon I posted this:

Whatever happens tomorrow, whether I run the only marathon I ever run tomorrow or whether this is the start of a journey to 100 marathons, if my nipples start bleeding from the chaffing (sorry for the image there) or I have an emotional breakdown half way around, I'm proud of me. I'm going to go out there and give it my best. My best doesn't mean the best I will ever be capable of, just the best I am capable of giving right now.

If I had stopped running after my first 10K, my 'best' would have been 61 minutes. I kept running, ran numerous 10Ks since and have a best of 46 minutes. This is the attitude I am bringing into the marathon tomorrow with me.

This still rings true today - I can't let nerves and self doubt get the better of me. I've done this before. I can do it again. I read somewhere that a marathon is just a "twenty mile warm up followed by a 10K race". Take from that what you will but I see it as a race of two parts. Both parts I have done on my own numerous times in training up to this point. I just have to put these two together and hope for the best! :)

See you tomorrow Connemara - Be gentle with me! :)

Friday, 4 April 2014

2 Days to Go: I've gone all crazy cat lady!

I'm feeling very off-kilter this evening. Sunday's marathon is creeping up on me faster than a ninja cat! 

This marathon has such a completely different feeling about it compared to my first marathon in Dublin last October and the only thing I can put it down to is the fact I'll be flying this one solo. 

Because the race is out in Connemara, I have to get the bus from Galway at 8am so I'm starting to get stupidly worried about being on my own all day. 

I haven't thought my day through yet. I don't have a plan. What time I should get up? What time I need to eat? How will I get in to the bus? How will I get home? Will I have enough charge in my phone for the day?

I need to get my sh*t together and spend tomorrow making a plan.

In the meantime, my plan for the next 24 hours is to stay hydrated

And relax

I have the hard work done, I have worked up the miles in my legs and more than sufficiently carb loaded this week *cheeky grin*

I'm thinking/hoping an early night tonight will sort me out. Eeeek! 2 DAYS!

Thursday, 3 April 2014

3 Days to Go: Ditch Your Monkey

With Weight Watchers, it easy to track your progress as its a physical number. You weigh what you weigh. With Running, its also easy to track your progression. You can track distance, time or speed. The one thing which we are all guilty of overlooking is our mental health. 

This week launched their #DitchTheMonkey campaign which is not only brilliant, but the series also has these epic videos accompanying it. There are 5 videos in total: Contribute, Accept, Be Healthy, Connect and Be Aware. The series is based on the 'five ways to wellness', a set of evidence based actions which promote positive mental health. Often, our own negative thoughts hold us back from being happy and healthy. (That's SpunOut's line but I like it)

Here are my favourite 3 videos:

#1: Be Aware
Choose to ignore negative thoughts and try to stay positive - Article Here

#2: Be Healthy
Just 30 minutes a day - Article Here

#3: Contribute
Contribute to friendships, family and the community - Article Here

What monkey are you carrying around with you?

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

4 Days to Go: Whats your Power Inspirational Quote?

Anyone who reads this blog or follows me on Pinterest will know how much I love a picture with a quote in it. I think I am more in love with the fact someone else has or is experiencing the same realisation/enlightenment that I am going through right now. Here are 4 of my all time favourite quotes:

#1: Don't wait until you reach your goal to be proud of yourself. Be proud of each step you take toward reaching that goal

So true. I've was so goal focused starting off, I never realised each notch along the way should be celebrated. So regardless of whether its running for 5 minutes when the goal is 5K or losing half a stone when the goal is 5 stone - celebrate each success! You deserve it!

#2: Life hits you with choices

Every morning when my alarm goes off I have a choice - roll over and catch another hour in bed or get up and do something. When you forget to bring a packed lunch to work with you - grab a hot chicken baguette in the local corner shop or go to a cafe and have something proper like soup & a sandwich? 

Everyone has good days. Everyone has bad days. How you react to them is everything. I can lie to anyone but really whats the point when you can't lie to yourself. Am I putting on weight because I'm building muscle or eating more junk food - you decide?

#3: No one's really keeping track of how many times you screw up... so chill the fuck out.

This one speaks for itself. I am so self critical - so easy to blame myself for whatever goes wrong or off track but really... what good does beating yourself up about it do? Nada! 

Is it really a mistake if you learn from it?

#4: The finish line is just the beginning of a whole new race

Starting off 18 months ago, I never knew what the finish line was or how I was going to get there. I just knew I needed to start. I've tried many avenues some of which I embraced and stayed loyal to (such as running) and others which I have decided aren't for me (such as Yoga). 

When I started running, the goal was to get to 5K. My first race was a 10K. The day I finished my first race I signed up for my first Half Marathon. Each time I finish something, I set a new goal - be it to run faster, run a new distance or something else. Every time I seem to cross the finish line, some new goal is set. It just unfolds in front of me like the next logical step.

These are my favourite quotes that inspire me - What are yours? What quotes/sayings/phrases motivate you?