Monday, January 29, 2007


The car is sold and I am gutted. Never in a million years did I think I would bat an eyelid at selling a car, in fact I thought I'd be happy. But I'm almost ashamed to say I am distrauight that it's gone.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Trail Blanch Font Romeu 2007

What a week! We set off last Thursday afternoon on our flight to Girona, Spain. We had heard reports of snowless hills but were unconcerned. For me I hoped it meant the race was over-with quicker than in snow. Niall and Finn were set for the 11k along with Barry, who we were staying with. Kevin, Bronagh, Tara, Karen, Grainne and Greg were entered for the 23k and myself and Tony for the 51k. The first couple of days were spent relaxing in Perpigan and registering with the organisers.

It was an early start on race day, getting up at 5 and heading for the hills in Barry's van. There was the usual chaos at the start which was handily located in a gymnasium. Although we were due to head off at 8am there was a half hour delay for speeches etc., which caused much irritation as the nerves took over!

Then we were finally off! The 3 distances started together from a track and stayed on an icy trail together for a few kilometres. By the time we separated the sun was out and I was feeling quite warm already. The course took us off on some open mountain trails for a while till we regrouped again at the top of a cable-car section. this was the first really severed downhill and lasted about a kilometre. I was finding the ice very tricky and parts of it were starting to melt which meant mud as well as ice under foot. This wasn't my favourite section and it meant I was very slow descending. As soon as it levelled out onto trail I felt better but as soon as I picked up some speed I tripped on a root of a tree and badly hurt my hand. The French were so encouraging, every time I fell someone would ask if you were ok. They would offer a hand going across icy/ muddy sections. I think at one stage Karen got offered a hat to keep her warm, which turned out to be her own!
Luckily enough my hand wasn't too sore and I continued on to what was more and more icy sections and unfortunately rocky steep sections which had to be scaled with your hands and feet. I was finding this difficult (constantly in fear of falling) with the big lump on my hand and at one stage wanted to just give up! There was even a roped section we had to swing down! At this stage I was in 4th position of the women.
By the time I hit the 30k mark I felt better though. I decided it was time to start fighting back and lucky for me after one more tough climb there was lots of running could be done. There was lovely foresty zig-zagging sections which allowed for much greater speed and my spirits were really lifted to be finally moving quickly through the kilometres. We eventually got onto the Nordic ski tracks and although they were completely iced over I felt much happier to be climbing upwards with small steps. A few more kilometres of this and I was catching lots of people, many of whom were walking at this stage. Moving quickly through muddy forest trails and with about 5k to go I reached the woman in second position, Corinne. She appeared to be limping badly and struggling. We exchanged some words and she said she was ok. The last couple of kilometres included running up a ski slope, which last year I had to walk up at the end of 32k, but this year I was flying! I couldn't believe how quickly then that the finish arrived. I crossed the line in 6 hours 40 minutes, about 20 minutes behind the first woman. I really enjoyed the last 20k!

I was eager to find out how the others had done, and how they had coped with the conditions. Bronagh had been badly bruised and Kevin had gone off course! The results were pretty spectacular. Finn had won the 11k. Niall was 3rd. Not sure of Barry's position. Bronagh and Karen were 2nd and 3rd in the 23k with Tara not far behind. Grainne and Greg had good runs also in the 23k. I'm sure Kevin was very disappointed, it's so frustrating going wrong, and especially if you've travelled a long was for a race it's a real shame not to finish. Tony finished strongly in 8 hours, finding like me the treacherous ice and rocks difficult but the finish runnable.

When I analysed my splits it confirmed that I had been moving much more quickly in the last couple of hours. After about 4 hours I was in 64th postion. The split that they call the 'retour' had me at the 12th fastest for that section. I finished in 42nd overall.

The next couple of days were spent skiing, which I was really unsteady at! I was petrified of falling but I suppose that was from all the falling during the race. Grace and Hannah also got to ski the day of the race which was thanks to Barry for looking after them. So they got three full days skiing overall and were experts by the end of it! The Clonliffe ladies ski team were ably assisted by Irish instructor Niall!

We stayed with Barry and Sharon for the week again this year in Villefranche de Conflent. We couldn't have been looked after better. Barry drove us around everywhere and saw to everything. Even at night time he was ferrying us around when he could have been at home with his family. We couldn't thank him enough for everything. Their home is so stunningly beautiful it's a real privilege to stay there. It looks like something from a fairytale!

I've put up photos here.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Dublin Masters Cross Country

I ran my first race as a Vet yesterday in the Dublin Masters Cross Country. It was held in ALSAA after the Council wouldn't let the event be run in Tallaght. Anyway it went well for me and I was happy. I've put up photos here. There seemed to be a friendly, laid back atmosphere to the whole event and that was great cos some of the other events at Dublin or National level can be quite nerve wracking and tense.

Fionnuala and Bronagh had brilliant runs in the Hellfire Mountain race,see results here. Well done!

Next up is the Trail Blanch Font Romeu. I blogged about it here and also here when I listed what we might need for this years race. We're flying out on Thursday but there's not a lot of snow yet so it may be more like a regular mountain run. That would hopefully make for a faster time as we spend less energy and time tredging through waist deep snow!
Looking forward to the holiday too and the couple of days skiing.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Tom Crean - Antarctic Explorer

Tony and I went to the Olympia Theatre the other night to see 'Tom Crean - Antarctic Explorer'. It was absolutely brilliant. It's a one man show - Aidan Dooley - and it recounts the adventures of Tom Crean from his life in Kerry, to joining the British Navy, which led him to his 3 expeditions with Scott and Shackleton. It is hilarious and poignant and sad and wonderful all the time. The stories and adventures are recounted so brilliantly that it seems completely effortless on Aidan Dooley's part, almost as if the man himself is telling it just like it was, for the very first time. The humour in it is totally unexpected and the way he addresses the audience is so surprising and engaging.
Well done to Aidan Dooley, incredible performance. The Olympia looks beautiful too. We must get out more often. I took some photos before and after the show but will add them later.

This is from Frank the Monkeys Entertainment Guide:

Written and performed by Dooley the story, a testament of human fortitude against all the elements of Antarctica, is brought to life in this dramatic solo performance. Crean’s thirty-six mile solitary trek to base camp during the Terra Nova expedition to rescue his comrades Teddy Evans and William Lashly; has been described by Antarctic historians as the “the finest feat of individual heroism from the entire age of exploration”. He was subsequently awarded the Albert Medal for his bravery.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Navel gazing? - 101 things about me

I've read a few blogs with '101 things about me' so I've decided to try do the same but feel I will probably run out of things at about 20 so here goes. Is this what they call 'navel gazing'?

1. I love to eat.
2. I love to run.
3. I remember the day Grace was born like it was yesterday and not 15 years ago.
4. I don't drink at all because it just makes me dehydrated.
5. I stopped smoking 6 years ago and that alone was life changing.
6. I wish I was an astronaut (love to go to the moon).
7. I hate not being in control which is why I'm no good at running or cycling downhill.
8. I love making lists and getting through them.
9. I wish I played a musical instrument (piano maybe).
10. I would never have believed in all that soul mates muck till I met Tony and now it feels a bit like we're one half of the same person, very Bert and Ernie.
11. I hate moody people.
12. Earliest childhood memory was aged 2 after drinking bleach. Lots more accidents followed.
13. I'm the youngest of 12 children.
14. Still find it hard to believe my mother is dead and that's after 8 years.
15. Favourite books are non-fiction and almost always about human endeavour e.g climbing Everest etc.
16. Favourite music of all time is probably The Smiths and Radiohead.
17. Favourite song of all time is Town Called Malice by The Jam
18. Movies: Cinema Paradiso, ET and To Kill a Mocking Bird.
19. No matter what we earn, we spend, so Tony and I have never had any money and never wanted for anything.
20. Always wanted a big family.
21. I drive a Beetle (for now), am selling it soon.
22. I'm essentially a very happy person.
23. Audrey has been my best friend since school.
24. We own two homes, the plan being when we're old enough we sell one and live off the proceeds.
25. My fastest marathon time was Chicago 2005 in a time of 3hours 13minutes.
26. The only pets we've ever had (besides fish) were two rabbits.
27. Favourite body part is my arms, least favourite is the shortness of my legs.
28. I hate bad manners and bad punctuation/ spelling. Especially when people leave a space before a backslash.
29. I have quite a severe fear of heights. I get dizzy and want to fall over at the thought of being in a high building or structure.
30. My middle name is Mary.
31. I'm really unphotogenic, every picture of me is bad.
32. I always vote Left.
33. Love holidays (don't we all!) but we don't go on half as many as we used to. Running takes up a lot of time and weekends away etc. I miss all the city breaks we used to have just for fun.
34. My job involves working mostly with men which is great as you don't have the bitchiness associated with working with women and I have found this to be true. The men I've worked with have also been much more open about their private lives and feelings than any woman I've ever worked with. That has surprised me.
35. I have scars from chicken pox which I got when I was 18 and doing my Leaving Cert. I sat my Aptitude Test for college with a face full of chicken pox sores. I remember thinking: I'm in a room full of people going to all corners of the country and I have a contagious disease....
36. I never forget any number, whether it's a sixteen digit credit card number or a hotel or flight booking reference. Tony thinks it's freaky and calls me 'rain man'.
37. I have size 4 feet. Handy for the sales, most women being size 5 or 6 and up and I can also fit into kids shoes.
38. I have a huge fear of failure. This became quite apparent before I ran my first Connemara Ultra. The thought of not completing it (which was a possibility since I'd never ran 39.3 miles before) was making me cry a lot.
39. I one dressed up as Wonder Woman for a fancy dress party. Tony was a lounge lizard.
40. I have a Diploma with Merit in Architectural Technology. Grace and my parents were at my graduation.
41. I have been running for 3 and a half years and have run more Ultra Marathons than Marathons.
42. Some day I want to climb Everest.
43. I once met Jamie Leigh Curtis getting onto the Channel Tunnel (Eurostar).
44. I won prizes in school for baking and English.
45. Only Tony gets who I am. He seems to understand.
46. I received contamintaed blood products in 1991 (Hep C/ Anti D Blood Scandal) but luckily didn't contract anything.
47. I cry easily at movies, even crap movies. You know that scene at the end of saving Private Ryan where the now elderly Ryan breaks down at the graveside and asks if his life has been worth it? I find that unbearable.
48. The first car that technically belonged to me was a Renault 5 that I never actually drove.
49. I've had a lifetime's ambition to drive an Aston Martin. I read a blog once where someone said they had always wanted to do this and Aston Martin arranged it for him. You never know.
50. When Tony met me he said I was the only girl he had ever met who watched/ taped Top Gear.
51. I am right handed.
52. I got married in Rome.
53. I hate crowds or being round lots of people (odd for someone from a large family?!)
54. I have blue eyes.
55. I've never lived more than 15km from the house I grew up in.
56. My husband Tony's real name is Robert.
57. I can get my toes in my mouth, if i want to that is!?
58. I hate scary movies.
59. And rollercoasters.
60. I am extremely stubborn.
61. I don't drink alcohol.
62. Tony and me judge every restaurant on how good desserts are. We love Eddie Rockets.
63. I passed my driving test first time at the age of 25.
64. I'm obsessed with flickr photos, I think it's fantastic!
65. Myself or Tony never pass a homeless person without giving them money (or gloves).
66. The number of the house I grew up in.
67. I did a gardening course once. I propogated hundreds of plants, gave loads away, then moved house and now have none of them myself.
68. I learned to type properly when I was fifteen.
69. I have a huge collection of shoes (not expensive types) but get to wear any of them rarely as I wear steel toed boots in work at all times.
70. Favourite food is Italian.
71. I own 3 bicycles.
72. I've been clay pigeon shooting twice and loved it both times.
73. I went to the first midnight screening of Star Wars Episode 1. I'm not normally a fan.
74. I love camping.
75. I love rain.
76. I once owned a beautiful racing green Vespa scooter for 4 months. It had a brown leather seat.
77. It was stolen from outside my house.
78. I'm very analytical.
79. I haven't made a Will.
80. I don't know why I like to blog.
81. Family nicknames for me are Asho and Ashbox(?). Some workmates call me AK cos they think I should have my husband's surname. I find that quite sweet for some reason.
82. I never drink coke (or any other fizzy drink besides water).
83. I can juggle to balls one handed and 3 balls two handed.
84. My blood type is O-Neg. (related to point 46).
85. The kiddy-catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang bang is the scariest film baddy of all time. My niece can't watch it without Tony being there to bash him.
86. I love idealists and those who strive for things.
87. I've never bought or sold anything on e-bay. But I have searched on it for moon astronaut stuff.
88. I reckon I eat twice as much as a person of my size.
89. I absolutely hate when people make noise as they eat or the noise they make while sucking their fingers when they eat. The noise drives me crazy and I can't eat myself then.
90. I can't dance.
91. I'm going to the Olympia theatre in 2 hours to see 'Tom Crean'. *Went to see it last night, it was brilliant, must do a post.*
92. I love buying stuff in Penneys but you can't help thinking with clothes that cheap that someone is being screwed over.
93. I can't sleep on my side if my knees are touching. Have to use a pillow or I'm in pain.
94. I was a vegetarian till I was 20. Started eating meat again when I was expecting Grace.
95. The first album I ever bought was 'Everything But the Girl's' Love Not Money.
96. I am a person of complete polar opposites. I have lots of really-girly-pink-fluffy tendencies on the one hand but am also one of the toughest people I know on the other. Everything with me is either black or white, no grey areas.
97. I once went to a modern ballet with Audrey and we had to leave as we could not stop laughing. We found it to be the most hilarious thing we had ever seen even though it wasn't meant to be.
98. We had gotten free tickets and met our Business teacher at it.
99. I love buying jackets, they are my favourite item of clothing.
100. I used to be great at de-cluttering and throwing things out. That was until Tony built us a walk-in wardrobe and now I can't bear to throw anything out.
101. It has taken me three days to write this list (not continuously).

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Goals for 2007

Looking back over 2006 it was a very successful year for me in the 3 main areas: personal, running , job.

Personally I'm essentially a very happy person and that doesn't ever change much. It was a good year for getting my Dad sorted as he is now well cared for, clean and safe. It is still upsetting seeing him disoriented or confused or agitated but the main thing is that he is well looked after, well fed, clean, has company and is minded by caring professionals.

Running wise, it was a great year. I won the Trail Blanch Font Romeu 32k event. I won the Connemara Ultra. I came 2nd in the Scottish National 50k. I won the Leinster Mountain Running Championship for the second year and the Mountain Running Winter League earlier in the year. I completed the North Face Ultra Trail du Tour du Mont Blanc.

Jobwise: I've had a good year but am intending a big move!

For 2007 in reverse order:

Job: Hopefully the big move happens soon!

Running: After Font Romeu this year and Connemara Ultra again, I might consider the Anglo Celtic Plate 100k depending on when it is run. It might occur too close to Connemara though. after that I'm hoping to train for a good fast marathon in the Autumn.

Personal: This will hopefully tie in with the big move mentioned above which I will blog about when it becomes public knowlege. Probably later this week.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Recipe for Energy Bars

Here's a recipe for energy bars that I'm gonna try out. It's from a Runner's World forum. Wonder how long they would last (not long in our house if we cover them in chocolate!)?

Mountain Skills Course Part 1

Spent the weekend on a Mountain Skills course with Liam and Bronagh. Really enjoyed it. Had wanted to do the course in order to get the necessary skills for navigation races and that type of thing but it's good to know all by itself. We were with a really good group and had a laugh also. We started out in Laragh, Co. Wicklow and walked around Brockagh on day one and Cullentragh area day two. They are areas we had run around plenty of times before, but as usual when you're running everything just flies by in a blur. We have to practice our new skills now so we may find ourselves out roaming round the hills like those walkers we're always slagging! We'll be brushing up on our feature recognition and taking bearings all over Wicklow!

Check out these photos.