Thursday, December 21, 2006

Ha Ha - Tony will love this.......(it's from flickr toys)

Reasons for Running/ My First Marathon

A lot of people start running in an attempt to lose weight or get fit or be healthy. I don't fall into those categories even if I did want to lose weight/ get fit/ be healthy. Those just aren't my reasons and I'd say for most they aren't the reasons people keep running especially after those goals are achieved.

When I started running 3 years ago at the age of 32 (I had run as a child but stopped as a teenager) I had one purpose and that was to complete a marathon. I looked on this as the ultimate goal and looking back now it really was. Now matter what running goals I've achieved since, even completing or even winning much longer ultra events, nothing would ever surpass the magnificence of training for and completing a first marathon. I had an image as I stood on the start line of ''putting my head above the parapet'' for the very first time in my life. Other more important events had occured in my life, like having Grace or getting married, but for some reason though this seemed to be a much more public endeavour. I was on my own, stood on the start line with tears in my eyes, scared sh*tless of what was about to occur and more fundamentally scared of FAILURE. What if I didn't complete it? What if I just collapsed in a heap at 18 or 20 miles. I would have been devastated beyond comprehension.

It was May 2003 when I decided that I was going to enter for the Dublin City Marathon in October of that year. So I thought I better start running and went out in my Penneys gear and ran about 2 - 3 miles. It wasn't that bad but it took a few weeks for the feeling to subside of "I just want to stop" the whole time I was out. I had plenty of trouble along the way, I should have done what I would do if I was tackling anything now, and that is, read a book telling you how to do something properly. I didn't know about increasing mileage slowly or taking water on board. I wrecked both my knees by July of that year and could barely walk never mind run. But they did heal and I got myself up to 17 mile runs on my own at night through Clondalkin and Tallaght. Not to be recommended to any woman running solo. I tried a 20 miler, on my own, without water, and collapsed at 17 miles, puking my stomach up on the Belgard Road.

But there I was that October, tears welling up, on the start line. I stayed well at the back too scared to be in the crowd. And then the gun went and then nothing. No movement for a couple of minutes which was really spooky. And then we were off. I was fine for about 12, 13 miles but I hadn't taken on enough water at the earlier stations. Tony was on the course on my Vespa scooter but I didn't see him between miles 10 to 18 and there was no water at 15 so I was dying! I was so thirsty I even considered taking a gel! Lucky enough I ddin't as that would have made thigns much worse. Eventually I got to 18 and Patsy and the Kiernans were there in force with Tony. I was in so much pain at that stage. I was too mortified to stop and walk. By 20 when I saw Lucy it felt like someone was beating my with a club and saying ''stop runnning!''. The pain was incredible! I kept going.

By the time I crossed the line at just over 4 hours I was ready to collapse. I did manage to walk to the baggage area where Eugene was. I cried and cried for ages, having no idea why really. I remember speaking to a woman who seemed to completely understand, even though I thought I was the only one to cry after their first marathon. From all accounts it seems to happen to almost everyone.

I met Tony at the meeting point and collapsed into his arms. I went home in a taxi, puked a few times and got into bed. I could barely walk for a whole week, luckily enough I was off work as I was changing jobs.

Nothing will ever live up to that first marathon. Getting yourself there is the biggest battle. Months of training and personal commitment. But the sense of achievement far outweighs all the pain. People talk about their 'marathon moments'; something special that sticks in their mind about the day or something that happens along the way which makes them sure they're going to make it. I can't think of one particular moment from that day, it was the whole experience, tears, pain, pride, everything.

I trained for my first marathon on my own but soon after Tony took up running too and we both joined Clonliffe harriers. It's been great and we've had 3 wonderful running years since. we've travelled to some amazing places, the Pyrennees, the Alps, Chicago, New York and hope to add to that list in the coming years. We've also made lots of new running friends with whom we've shared some real life changing experiences.

Here's to many more successful, happy, healthy running years!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Ben and Sue's Wedding

I didn't want to blog about Ben and Sue's wedding in Jamaica until I got my flickr photos sorted. We had such a brilliant time and it was great to be a part of their big day. It was well timed too as it came just after our big trip to Mont Blanc. Myself, Tony and Grace flew out from Dublin via Amsterdam, Cuba then Montego Bay. Grace had one of her fainting spells at the airport which, if it had been any more serious, would have meant Tony going alone. Lucky enough she was ok.

Our hotel was themed on Sesame Street and was all inclusive so we made sure to eat at least 5 meals a day, since we weren't getting our money's worth cos we don't drink!! Cookie monster cookies everyday too!

The wedding itself was really special, lovely romantic ceremony and music. Sue looked absolutely stunning and together they looked so perfect. The meal after included dancing waiters and a proper reggae band! Some of the photos are from our boat trip the next day, organised by Ben and Sue (big thanks!) The braver souls took some dives from some very imposing cliffs (scared the hell out of me, I couldn't even jump from the boat).

I'm so glad we were able to go on the trip. The holiday was terrific as we did lots of things like scuba and gorge walking that just made it great!

Here's to many happy years together!
For the photos go to the badge I've created on the sidebar.

Monday, December 18, 2006


Grace was assaulted by a couple of girls on Saturday evening. Herself and Sarah were coming from the Luas station at Lucy's house and one of the girls grabbed her by the hair and pulled her to the ground. They didn't steal anything and luckily they didn't hurt her, they threw some water at Sarah. They weren't known to them because this isn't where we live so it appears to be completely random and unprovoked. There were two girls and two blokes. What kind of people raised children/ teenagers to do something like that. Although it's not at the most serious end of the spectrum, I believe this is only the beginning of what could be something very serious. Grace was understandably very shaken and upset. We drove around the estate in the hope of seeing the thugs but couldn't find them.

Later that night we got the luas with Hope into town and wandered round the Christmas market near the IFSC. I posted some shots on flickr but I'm not great at the night time ones! You can use my new flickr badge on the left to access them.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Happy Birthday to me........

I'm 35 today and in running terms that makes me a VET.
Because of my obsession with flickr and all things photographic (I'm not a good photographer just an obsessed one) Tony bought me my own digital camera with loadsa millions of pixels (and also the running book Feet in the Clouds by Richard Askwith which I've been trying to get my hands on for about a year).

Gary, Eugene and myself did a run around the featherbeds in the Dublin Hills this morning, about 17 miles, and it was just a beautiful morning. Tony cycled alongside us because he's injured and so he took these photos while we ran.

We're heading into town this evening for a birthday meal and a walk through the kriskindle market on the docks.

Great birthday so far!!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Alpe d'Huez

We'll be watching out for a meteor shower as we run over the hills this evening (sounds very Sound of Music doesn't it?). We actually saw what must be called a lunar rainbow last week. It was incredible! Don't I sound like a right anorak.....
The picture below is what it was like but darker sky. They seem to call it a Moon Bow. I got the picture from Atmospheric Optics, I hope they don't mind.

It's mad the things you see when you're running, we saw a horse being born once.

We do a run of 13 miles each Wednesday evening around Ballinascorney/ Glenasmole/ Tallaght Water Works. It's a great run during the day also as it's so scenic and only minutes from Tallaght. There's two savage hills on our usual route, one of which Tony has christened Alpe d'Huez!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Dublin Port Tunnel 10K and Milano's with Clonliffe Girls

Well it was great! We arrived good and early and landed ourselves up at the front. Clonliffers did a brilliant job, the baggage area was super and the place looked great. Tony had spent Saturday helping set up so he knew where everything was. We had parked at Spencer Dock and walked down. The walk down was just like the very early bit on the morning of the marathon; lots of worried looking beginners heading towards the start.
Of course Liam knew absolutely everybody, Tony calls him the Lord Mayor. There were lots of familiar faces when myself, Tony, Liam, Gary and Tommy (who disappeared, barely saw him the rest of the day, never met Ken either) landed ourselves on the start line. Zoe was there stewarding at the start along with Jean Carr and Eugene. There was great atmosphere; eager and exciting (and Frank handing out new Irish Runners annuals!) It felt like such a long wait till we finally got going adn the gun went, downhill start but relaxed enough pace.

Soon as we got into the tunnel it was spooky but in a really good exciting way! Lovely surface to run on and the gradual hills didn't start for a couple of kilometres from what I can remember. Myself, Liam and Gary had done a long run the day before and were probably feeling the slopes more than most and we actually stayed within metres of each other the whole time. The best bit of the tunnel was the amazing mexican roar that happened about 3 times while we were in there. It was UNREAL. It sounded like a jet engine coming behind you, and then suddenly you realized it was a roar from the crowd moving it's way through! Bloody brilliant.

People complained of the heat in the tunnel but I wasn't overdressed so was OK. It was warm but tolerable for me anyway. After a couple of kilometres you were dying to get out of it though, even for just a couple of seconds at least! As you came out of the tunnel at halfway you could see a bridge with a big banner for the race and the only spectators we saw for the whole race. After a really sharp turnaround we headed back into the tunnel again. Lovely downhill for a couple of kilometres which was great! I never spotted any mile markers so was just guessing from my watch but with about a kilometre to go my legs went completely to jelly. Liam reckoned it was some kind of lactic acid thing in the legs cos of the long run we'd done the day before. We finished together in about 41 minutes, not a PB but it was still a great experience. Tony was a few minutes behind in about 46 minutes.

After we finished we had mucked in to help in the big clean up. (Included in the things we picked up from the START line were lipstick and a pair of knickers!) There was a great atmosphere among all the finishers including all the mountain runners we met. I think people really felt they had taken part in something special and because it wasn't a long difficult event everyone could really have fun with it. I really enjoyed it, the whole day was great from beginning to end. I met up later with the girls from Clonliffe for a meal in Milano's in honour of all the hard work done during the year by Bronagh and Eugene. They both deserve medals for their commitment to the club and all the personal time that their efforts must take from them. 3 cheers!!

If I get some photos I'll post them here

Friday, December 08, 2006

Happy Birthday Grace!

Check this out for some historical events on this day and this from the BBC also................
Have a great 15th. Big hugs and kisses.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Grace's birthday tomorrow!

Tomorow it will be 15 years sine Grace was born. She was born on a Sunday at 4:44pm. It was all very laid back; there was no crazy dash to the hospital, no mad car chases like in the movies! She was 8 days late when she did decide to arrive. She had white blond hair and lots of it, and was the only baby on the ward who looked like that. She was super-beautiful and still is!!

She's going out for a meal with her mates in TGIF. How grown up does that sound? Better than drinking in a field I suppose!

Years ago my mother wrote a book for us, her children. It was like a family history with lots of memories from everyone. Everytime I browse through it I see something different. Grace will have to make do with a blog instead of a book (though so far this blog is all about running!) I'm sure if my mother was alive today she'd be a brilliant blogger! She wouldn't have to spend time and money making her way into Reids in Nassau Street to do colour photocopying!

Anyway here's hoping Grace has a great day tomorrow cos I think it's the first time she's ever had school on her birthday.

Some history of this famous date!

Snow Race 2007

I still haven't got round to sorting my photos properly. I wanted to sort them into categories/ online albums but I wasn't able to do that with Flickr, maybe it's just me, so I'm looking at another website where I can store them properly.

Well the gang met last night to go through the details of our trip to France in January. We're doing the Trail Blanch Font Romeu 2007 and staying with Barry and Sharon Phelan. See previous post about last years race. Those going are Bronagh, Fionnuala, Karen, Tara, Tony, Niall, Kevin Grogin and myself. The girls are far outnumbering the men this year!

Here's the Document put together for the trip:

Snow Race 2007
Trail Blanch Font Romeu

Packing Light. Baggage limit of 15 kilos which is size of average sports holdall. Previous hand baggage allowance was: max weight 10 kilos and dimensions of 55 x 40 x 20cm.
New rules about flight carry on items: see attached.
Info about new carry on restrictions

Warm clothes needed for everyday wear, not excessively cold last year though, jeans are ok with jumper/ warm socks/ jacket. Very cold at night particularly.
Warm fleecy pyjamas for bed and warm socks! (Seriously very cold at night!)
Not much “dressing up” gear needed.
Hairdryers and tea/ coffee facilities in each room, I think.
Swimwear for two trips to thermal baths.
Water bottle for carrying around or for making up drinks
Bars/ food/ high 5/ electrolyte stuff etc. especially if carb loading
Tylenol/ Anti inflammatories/ Bio Freeze for after race
Sun block/ lip balm
Aspirin (we took one a day before, during and after trip– supposed to help with flight and altitude sickness).

Pre-Race Running Gear:
Gear for two short running outings before race day. (Leggings, long sleeved top and jacket – probably re-use as you won’t get very sweaty!!).

Suggested Race Day Running Gear:
Jacket (may or may not be needed/ compulsory?)
Long Sleeved Top
Full length leggings
Trail shoes (see bit at the end……)
Gloves (I swear by my Lowe Alpine pair that I lost!)
Buff/ Ear Warmers or Hat (I didn’t wear one)
Cropped top/ underwear
Tissues/ wipes
Camelback or means of carrying compulsory items:
 Water, bars, gels
 Whistle
 Survival blanket
 Head Torch
Running watch
Vaseline/ Deep Heat if you use it
Tylenol or Nurofen
First-Aid Items – up to yourself

Gear to change into after race and bag/ backpack to put it in: leggings, ski trousers, ski jacket, dry gloves, tops, hat, dry runners/ trail shoes, underwear. Bag for wet/ dirty gear.
Baby wipes for after (no shower facilities after race that I can remember).

In total at least 4 pairs of running socks.

Ski Gear
Ski Gloves/ Hat etc.

Requirements and things to remember:
To do now: Race entry form to be filled in and posted off to Barry
To do now: Payment with euro cheque or money order – can’t use regular cheques even though it’s all euro – made out ARAVO Aventure (€25 or €30) and it willm cost €6.35 for this.
To do now: Barry’s form for skiing/ hire etc.
Medical Cert (Barry knows someone in France will do it for €21 – bargain!)
Flight codes/ print outs (Web check in?) (7036 and 1985 our flight numbers).
Holiday Insurance – bring details with you esp. if it includes ski insurance
Payment for B&B
Money for Ski Hire/ Ski Lessons: private ones can work out better and save lots of time/ hassle than being part of a class.
Camera/ Video Camera
Don’t forget the tri-colour for photo-ops with the gang! (Clonliffe vest even just for the picture?)

Flight is at 6pm Thursday 18th Jan. Check in will probably be from about 4pm.
Arrange to share taxis/ book a taxi or book parking, Quick Park , although their website only works half the time. €6 per day.

Snow Race
Cool website for Packing Tips .
To keep an eye on the weather: Local Ski Weather .
Does no harm to brush up on the French!
Gauche is left
Droit is right
Tout droit is straight on
There’s lots of websites with free lessons!
A good phrase to learn is ‘’How Much further?’’ cos the route isn’t marked in kilometres! (When you find out let me know).

Shops for Gear:
Great Outdoors off Grafton Street.
Amphibian King in Bray. Only sells shoes but they do that gait analysis thing
53 Degrees North, Carrickmines (website not working), great shop though.
TKMaxx for ski bargains.
John Buckleys sports shop in Cork.
North Face New Shop on Temple Lane South

Just a bit about trail shoes:
Salomons Trail Shoes: about €140 in the Great outdoors. I have these and they’re pretty good.
Inov 8 and Puma Trailfox available from Amphibian King. Inov8 are very popular among the Adventure Racing community so they must be good.
Nike Gortex off road shoe available in 53 degrees north and you could try the Nike outlet in Kildare for a bargain.
Walsh’s available from John Buckleys in Cork, by post about €90.

p.s Grace will bring the GHD.