Thursday, March 29, 2007

Connemara Ultra

Myself and Tony are off to Connemara, with most of the gang, this weekend for our annual Ultra! I love this race.

Connemara is not so much a race as an experience. I've felt good for most of the race the last 2 times and hopefully this year will be the same. I love that feeling when you're running up the 'hell of the west' and you just say to yourself: "I feel f*cking fantastic". It only happens in Connemara! And that's after you've run about 37 miles and have 2 more to go! Last year I had Paul with me for the last 2 miles and we really encouraged each other along.

I always say hi to everyone I pass in Connemara especially if it's on an uphill. I'm probably more used to hills than some of the people I meet en route so I alway try and encourage others up them. It's a tough course for those of us who have done it before but even tougher for the newbies.

For those who think it's mad running 39.3 miles here's how I get my head around it: I jog really slowly for 13 miles, even slower than I think I should. I'm trying to make those miles not register in my legs. Then when I get to the 13 mile mark I forget about them altogether and starting counting up the marathon miles. So in effect I start to count the miles from scratch at that point. So when I get to mile 14 I actually count that as mile 1 and so on from there. That's cos that's how it's predominantly marked from then on. It fools your brain and so kinda fools your legs!

The next 13 miles are fairly flat so I run at my normal pace. Towards the end of this 13 miles as I'm coming towards Leenane I start to meet marathoners from the regular marathon race. This is a great distraction as I say hi and how's it going to anyone I pass.
The next 13 miles is all mostly uphill but the key thing is once you turn at Leenane with 13 miles more to go, you just keep telling yourself at that stage that you are heading for home. Just get up those hills, one foot in front of the other, that's all it is and get home as fast as you can.

Simple eh?

(It is really, it's the months of training that are the killer, the race is the easy bit!)

I was blogging on our running website about the essentials to wear/ bring here.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

From The Poetry of Robert Frost by Robert Frost

With the link above you should be able to hear the poem read by Robert Frost himself.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

JFK Arboretum New Ross Co. Wexford

Spent Sunday at the JFK Arboretum in New Ross, Co. Wexford. Great place, trees and plants were wonderful. There's some lovely walking trails and in the Summer it'd be a great place for a picnic, has a playground too. We did the St. patrick's day parade in New Ross on Saturday too! Priceless! Loved every minute of it!

Some photos here.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Fostering and the Changes Ahead Part 2

Been thinking a lot lately about the changes ahead and that makes me think; if it's scary for us it must be frighteningly awful for a child. Myself and Tony have finished the course that we had to do and we're also about to come to the end of our assessment. So it feels like it's all about to start.

There are simple things to sort out, even in a practical sense.

1. We have to have a daily routine going, something that hasn't been done by us before because we've both always had to work and were never at home during the day. I love making lists so I intend to do a daily schedule and try stick to it, that way we can hopefully have time for everyone's needs. Can't spend all our spare time running anymore!

They have a couple of children in mind for us and we have been thinking about them a lot, even though we know nothing but their age and gender.

2. Saturday morning TV is something I've not done since Grace was tiny! Looking forward to it.

3. Budgeting for holidays throughout the year, instead of booking one (or 3 or 4) and going! No more running trips together that would involve being away from the kids for long periods. But we can still do the odd marathon/ ultra but just seperately and once we have established we can afford it. Maybe a trip to Disneyland every 2 years!

4. A regular grocery shopping day: lunches for 3 children for a week, dinners for 5 for a week. Might make up a menu plan for each day and shop for the ingredients. Saw a hint on some website about doing an excel document with your shopping list and putting an x next to what you need, filtering out just those and bringing that list shopping. We need to do that as we often come home with things we have 3 of already and forget to buy what we actually need.

5. Get involved with GAA or soccer. Definitely want to bring the kids to some kinda match, must talk to some of my family members about this, as me and Tony know nothing. The zoo is also a place we haven't visited in a while. We did lots of things when Grace was small, now we can visit all these places again!

6. Have a board game night. This is something even Grace loves and it's rare to find something that kids of all ages like. Also that could include the game Buzz Junior which gives a 4 year old as much chance of winning as anybody. Maybe have a movie night, once a month? And a baking night!!!wOOt!

7. While I'm good at using my camera all the time, I want to make sure I start using the camcorder a lot of the time to record special events for children in our house. I can't wait to get started.

8. Memories, life books and treasure boxes. Keeping things safe for these children is going to be a serious priority for us. We got so much inspiration from the course about this.

9. Budget for different expensive times of year, besides holidays such as; back-to-school time, Christmas etc.

10. Maybe do a parenting course or read up on those kinda books I haven't read since Grace was born.

11. Bikes and wellies for all.

12. I plan on trying to get involved in some kinda community things, I don't know what cos I haven't a clue what exists but it might be something to involve the smaller child or it could be something I do while they're at school. Also plan on keeping better contact with my friends who are stay-at-home mothers. They're all such good parents, well behaved kids, healthy food, all that kinda stuff!

13. We have to buy some new furniture for the rooms to cater for the new arrivals. We also have to finish decorating the hall and kitchen. Do the back garden, including deck. Turn the office into a room, hopefully for Grace. Get a new front door. Organize all the junk that currently clutters the kitchen.

I'll probably add to this list as I think of things. On Friday we will find out more about the prospective new arrivals, we have so many questions. I'm so excited though.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Wednesday Night Runners blog

Wednesday Night Runners

Check out our new running blog at the link above. It has the profile of all the gang and what our intentions are, running wise, for the future. The plan for 2008 seems to be the Gobi March. From now on, myself and Tony will probably not be doing any multi stage events together as we couldn't both be away from the kids at the same time. Aw.

I'll hopefully aim for the Himalayan 100 mile stage race in 2009.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Fostering and the Changes Ahead

Tony and I have, since last year, been going through the process of being assessed for Fostering. We're nearing the end of that process now, we have a day long course on Saturday, another half day next Wednesday and then some more meetings with our Link Social Worker. The assessment process has been really good. We were warned it may get very personal or emotional or even upsetting but so far we have both found it quite a good experience.
I suppose it may have been an easier experience for us because we already have some familiarity of the fostering process.
To be honest I'm really looking forward to it. We have a good life and can afford to share it with children who may not be having such a great life at home. I love the idea of our family becoming bigger also. But mostly it's genuinely for altruistic reasons. I hope any children we encounter end up happy and stable. We would hope for us that these children would stay with us forever but if it turns out that their homes are suitable to return to, we hope that that is a happy outcome for them too.
We are both expecting our lives to change completely. In prepearation for this, we have encountered lots of change already. We are trying to get the house in order, paving the garden, decorating rooms, hanging doors, selling the beloved beetle in favour of a family sized 7 seater jeep and not least of all, me giving up work.
What effect it will all have on Grace is yet to be seen but she has experience of fostered children also and she so far seems laid back about the whole thing. I think she is looking forward to maybe having some 'brothers and sisters'.
The plan now is to give up work at the end of April. Hopefully I still have time to keep up some blogging every now and then, but particularly time for reading all my favourites.