Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Run Clare 2016 - Race 3: Eamon Moloney 10K

Last Saturday saw the third race in the brilliant Run Clare series, the Eamon Moloney 10K. This race is now in its 4th year (and I've run them all) so I was particularly looking forward to this one. I turned up Saturday morning to check in (as we use the same race bib for all 4 races) and was surprised to get a fab black & red long sleeve t-shirt and a goodie bag with a travel coffee mug, lucozade sport and reflective running gear inside.

The Start Line

The 600+ runners gathered outside the CBS school and despite the looming threat of rain, the clouds held it together and it didn't downpour. The run started bang on 11am and followed the same route as before, heading out the Tulla Rd before turning off (2.5km) onto the back roads. It was at this point the 45 minute pacer caught up with me. I was hoping I'd be able to a 45:00 finish after my 46 in Kinvara earlier this month but it just wasn't in me to keep up with him and somewhere along the back roads of Ballymaley, I lost sight of his blue polka-dot balloon. 

We rejoined the Gort Road around the 6km mark where we ran into the wind. I'd love to blame the wind on my slower last few km's as I made my way back to the Fair Green (and the finish line) but I'll own up to the fact it just wasn't in me. I crossed the finish line at 46:18 fairly pleased with my performance. Was that extra minute in me to shave off my time? Possibly... I'll just have to sign up for another 10K to see!

I didn't hang around the finish line for too long as the promise of a scone and cup of coffee at my sisters (who lives nearby) was strong! The finishers medal was fab - I love race bling, especially nice quality race bling. After I scoffed a banana I made it back to my sisters just before the rain started! Winning :) Next up for me is the last race of Run Clare, the 10 Mile in Kilnaboy. Oh, and loads of Marathon Training...! 

The Medal

Monday, 28 March 2016

50 Hour Challenge: Mission Accomplished!

On February 10th, I set myself a 40 hour Lent Challenge which I then adjusted to 50 hours (blog post here). I've been tracking each activity through Google sheets and as Easter Sunday came closer, I was confident I was going to hit 50! That was until Easter Sunday morning itself when I realised I was 2 hours 52 minutes short... so I did what I do best - laced up and headed off for a run!

I clocked up a Half Marathon yesterday morning which still left a 58 minute balance outstanding. After lunch I laced up again and took the dog for a 6km walk around Renville Park bringing my final total to: 50:00:04

My Gold Bunny was well and truly earned (and subsequently demolished!)... along with anything made of chocolate that was in the house! 

I've spent today (Monday) trying to figure out what new challenge I can pore my efforts in to and then it came to me. I'm going to mash my challenge into The Skinny Doll's 100 Day Challenge but with a difference... February 10th (when I started the 50 hour challenge) to June 25th 2016 is 136 days. 

My challenge: Clock up 150 hours in 136 days. I've really enjoyed clocking up a mix of time across Hot Yoga, Bootcamp, Running and Walking. I have 46 days worked through, 90 days remaining. I have 50 hours in the bag, 100 left to earn.

I know what you are thinking... Why Saturday 25th June? Well... I've had a treat in mind for when I achieved my 50 hour challenge so today, I've just cashed it in and bought my entry to the 2016 Waterford Marathon! Running a marathon might not sound like everyones idea of a reward but I can't wait to get stuck back in to the training!

So now I've just updated my spreadsheet and it just looks so bare, but here I go again! I also clocked up a lovely 6km walk today with Aisling (and the dog). Waterford/150 hours... Here I COME!

Friday, 18 March 2016

My Lent Challenge

Lent began on February 10th and with it, I started my lent challenge. The rules (which I set myself) were simple:

  • No sweets or chocolate
  • Clock up 40 hours activity
I love a challenge and figured 40 hours over 47 days was achievable so I set a further goal:
  • Do something everyday (Walk, Run, Bootcamp or Yoga)

Like any goal, I believe you need two things - A Plan and a Tracker. I find a plan helps me think and smartly schedule my week. I used Google Calendar (free) every Sunday to block in what activity I was doing each day. It wasn't set in stone so I was free to move workouts around (e.g. Walk on a day I didn't want to run or Yoga on a really wet day instead of having to go out in the rain). Having a plan also helped by making me commit to a time to get something done. As I use Google Calendar for my own reminders, so for example, if I knew I had something planned for some evening, I would do my workout in the morning. Having this planned out made sure I didn't find myself in a time compromise.

Once I'd complete an activity, I tracked it in a Spreadsheet. I had a goal: 40 hours and a current value top center along with a pie-chart so I could track my progress towards 100%. Again, I used Google Sheets so I could track it on the go. I colour coded what I was doing to ensure I wasn't "clumping" too much of the same activity together (i.e. not just running) and my sheet currently looks like this:

It's all a bit spreadsheet-y but really the principle is the same regardless of how you track it. I currently have 35 'move' hours clocked up since the start of Lent so am just 12% off hitting goal. I've just realised however that there are 10 days left of Lent so I'm going to ramp up my challenge slightly for the last few days - by adding 10 hours to the Target. 50 hours in 47 days certainly puts the fire under my feet to work that little bit harder for the next week and a half. I keep thinking of how amazing my Easter Egg is going to be at the end of this! 

So here we go, 15 hours over the next 10 days... LETS DO THIS! 

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Lessons learned from Sonia O'Sullivan

Last week, I attended 'An Evening with Sonia O'Sullivan' in the Salthill Hotel. The night was organised by a Galway Physio (Cradock Performance) with all proceeds going to Connacht Schools Athletics Association. The night was a mixture of talks about Nutrition, Training and Mobility followed by the main event which was an interview and Q&A with Sonia herself. I love events like this as I'm always jotting down nuggets of wisdom imparted from people who know what they are talking about.

Greg Muller, Maev Creaven and Eimear Cradock

Sonia came on stage around 8pm where she spoke so humbly and honestly about her attitude and mindset when it comes to running. It was obvious to everyone there just how dedicated and grounded Sonia is when it comes to her passion, Running. (Backstory: Sonia won the 5000m gold medal in the 1995 World Athletics Championships and competed in four Olympics). Sonia is without doubt one of the greatest Irish sports stars and it was an absolute pleasure to sit there and listen to her speak for an hour.

The main thing that struck me as she spoke was how un-embellished her memories of her youth, her training and her efforts are. When asked about motivation, Sonia simply replied that she motivated herself through difficult times/training sessions with the simple desire to just not let herself down. She knew when she had an opportunity and she always viewed it like she was taking the place of someone who was working just as hard as she was for it so she was going to give it her all. 

Sonia O'Sullivan

Her love of running is evident in everything she does and I think that is what I admire about her the most. Running continues to teach me that I am capable of so much more than I had ever imagined possible for myself. Most people believe things change once you cross the finish line in a race but I know changes happen once you cross the start line. My sister-in-laws husband is currently training for his first marathon and I'm jealous. That's kinda weird right? I'm jealous of someone who has yet to run their first marathon as I know how much the training and journey TO the start line of my first marathon was so much more than I could have imagined.

The other speaker on the night which piqued my interest was Greg Muller (from Pure Athlete) who talked about Smart Training. Greg put up a slide on Motivation vs Inspiration, showing the difference between the two words. On the surface, they appear similar in terms of sport and training but really, apply them to anything: College, Diets, Work and the worlds of motivation an inspiration are miles apart.

Motivation comes from a place of making yourself do something: a training run, an essay, a weekly diet plan. It comes from the place where you think you SHOULD be doing something as opposed to something you WANT to do. Using the slide below, Greg explained the starting point (the left of the chart below) of any action and how you need a drivers to re-enforce and push whatever you want to do higher and further than you can on motivation alone. Having a 'WHY' (i.e. Inspiration) for doing what you are doing will push you higher and further when working towards a goal.

All in all, I had a super evening absorbing the information being presented to the room. Similar to Joanne Murphy's Tri-Talking Sport event a few weeks ago (link here), I'm loving the energy and enthusiasm around running and goals from people I would consider inspirations in their fields, all happening on my doorstep. 

And while we are talking about people doing stuff within the running sphere, I've just been appointed Chairperson for my running club, Maree AC. So lets see what little changes I can bring to the table along with the new committee around the topics of running and goals for the members of the club, Start small - Lets see where it goes from here!

Paul, Catherine, Myself, Helen and Phil from Maree AC
(Pic taken by edenhill77 - link)

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

The 2016 Kinvara Rock & Road 10K

Similar to the way in which a wheel turns, there is something quietly significant that happens inside when you notice something make a full turn. Last weekend saw the Kinvara Rock & Road 10K (and Half Marathon) take place which marks the beginning of my 4th year running. This blog was set up back in January 2013 originally as a place for me to write about my experiences and training up to the start point of the Kinvara 10K race... and suddenly here I am four years later lining up yet again to take on a route that I know I'll never forget. 

I remember so much about my first run but for some reason, as I ran last Saturday, I thought about my Grandfather. My grandfather happened to be in hospital in Galway on the day of the race back in 2013 and I visited him before the race as he had just had an operation. As I was leaving, he loudly told the man in the bed beside him I was off to run my first marathon - I didn't correct him but distinctly remember feeling pride in the fact my grandfather was boasting about what I was about to take on.  

At that time, running 10K was like a mountain I was about to climb, a rough sea I was about to navigate through. I believed I'd do it but lacked the confidence to know how unscathed I'd come out the other side of it. I crossed the finish line that day in 1 hour, 1 minute and 21 seconds. Four years later and it remains my worst 10K time but the one I'm most proud of.

First Race - The Kinvara Rock & Road 10K, March 2013

Anyway... I've gone completely off topic but just wanted to mention how much I've been thinking about the wheel coming full circle as I lined up for my fourth Kinvara run and all that has happened in between (which is all written about here on this blog). So, fast forward to March 2016 and I'm in Kinvara with Aisling, Yvonne and a gang from work and I'm feeling hopeful. I'm really getting back into the swing of running and pushing myself during a race so I had a Sub 50 (but ideally closer to 45) in mind as we took off from Kinvara village at 12pm along the route I know so well.

On route to Kinvara with Aisling & Yvonne (and two bananas)

The first 2.5K takes you away from the village towards Ballyvaughan and I was pretty happy maintaining a 4:30/km pace. The route turns left down country roads for the next 2.5K before a timely water station just before the 6K mark on the Moy Road. I was still maintaining my pace up to this point (22:24 at half way) but the remaining half wasn't as easy. I knew the hill around the 7K mark was going to hit me and it did (4:50/km). The last three kilometers passed relatively easily and I crossed the finish line at 46:09 - Delighted!

Around the 6K mark (Pic from Kinvara R&R Facebook - link)

I don't know if it was the weather (which was fresh but cold with some scattered showers) or a decrease in numbers but the finish line and atmosphere seemed somewhat subdued this year. I waited around the finish line and cheered my friends and work colleagues home. We had a quick banana and bottle of water before heading to the Hall for a great spread of donuts, brack and biscuits. The coffee did the job warming me back up and I left Kinvara happy out with my effort on the day. My next mission has been set - 10K under 45:00!

With the gang from work after the run

Note: I've only run a Sub 45 10K twice before, both times in March 2014 with my 10K PB at 43:52

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Run Clare 2016 - Race 2: Quilty 5 Mile

Its funny how much of a difference the weather makes when recalling a race. Last year in Quilty it rained, it was cold and windy. I usually don't mind the weather, the worst part is hanging around at the start line but this year, the clouds parted and blue skies graced the small coastal village of Quilty as over 500 of us rocked up for the 2nd race in the Run Clare series - The Michael Egan Memorial 5 Miler.

Quilty, Sunday Morning

Myself and Sinead checked in at the local pub (if you take part in all four races in the series you'll get a fine piece of silver wear I can't wait to get my hands on!) before making our way to the start line area. Again, as I'd taken part last year, I knew the route - it followed a square pattern through the village, out along the coast and back around to the start. So we gathered at the start line half way up a hill and waited for the whistle...

Myself and Sinead at the Start Line

Waiting for the GO!

My aim was to run it faster than Gort a few weeks ago (38:13) so I was watching my pace as I made my way around the course. I stayed just under 4:30/km for the first half of the race but I hadn't accounted the fact the second half of the course is on an uphill gradient. The weather conditions were perfect, the water stop at 5km had paper cups (pet peeve), a man tried to have a conversation with me around 6km but I was having none of it... that being said, I was still ready for my photo-op when I saw the camera man :)

Thumbs up from me (Pic by John O'Neill - Facebook)

At the 7km mark I was confident I could break 38:13 but I just had that last hill before the 250m downhill to the finish line. I powered up the hill and down the other side, crossing the finish line just before 38:00. I sat on the wall with my bottle of water happy out watching the others power across the finish line. Fab run, super conditions and a great spread in the pub afterwards where I finally got the coffee I'd be thinking about throughout the run.

Race 3 awaits - The Eamon Moloney 10K, which takes place in just three weeks time (Saturday 25th March) in Ennis. Before that though, I'm going back to Kinvara this weekend, back to where it all began - The Rock & Road 10K.