Friday, October 10, 2008

What's been happening.....

Lots has happened since I wrote that last post. Lots and lots.

I did the ironman. I loved every minute. It proved to me I was born to run (and not necessarily swim or cycle!!). Just kiddin' really..... I enjoyed the swim but wasn't too happy on the bike. But the every bloody minute. I'm delighted at being able to run a 3:30 (apparently hilly) marathon at the end of an ironman. I'll be forever proud of that alone....I blogged about it over at Team Geared Up so I won't go into it here.

Trouble was, tend days later I felt unwell. Two days after that, when the pain became severe, I saw my doctor. Three days after that I collpased in A&E and was hospitalised. They initially thought it was meninigitis so lots of alarm bells ringing then but they kept saying there was other symptoms not matching the meningitis diagnosis. Anyway things got worse in hospital. They did a lumbar puncture and said I had meningitis, so I was isolated and people wore masks etc. if they came into my room. After a LOT more tests they said I had contracted leptospirosis from the ironman swim and that I also had pneumonia too. They did one of those camera-down-the-throat tests which I was more scared of than the lumbar puncture!! Anyway 2 weeks and 3 life threatening illnesses later, I was eventually allowed go home (that was a week ago). Happy days, hospital was killing me....I have no energy and can't quite run yet but it gets better by the day.
The whole thing has shaken me a bit. You don't imagine something is going to happen in any given day that will stop you in your tracks. What started as a bad headache and developed into the worst pain I've ever felt, could've ended differently. :-)

I started a new job today, well it was a training day. It's in retail and the store opens for real on Monday. It's a whole new direction for me.....I've only ever worked in Architectural/ Construction jobs so all is new (and considerably less well paid)!! But it's a new start and I'm really positive about the whole experience. I'm learning lots of new stuff....

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mountain Running....

I'm off to Switzerland tomorrow for the European Masters Mountain Running Champs. I have 4 million things to do today which include a 2 hour spin on the bike (did an hour and half swimming already today!!) so I better get going. I'm almost afraid to go out on the bike today, it's so windy....

In two weeks it'll be the same again as I'm off to Germany for the European Mountain Running Champs. At least it's not Switzerland again....less temptation to buy chocolate....I reckon....

Friday, June 13, 2008

Getting Through It

Well I got through the Aquathon. It was far from pretty and it was far from fast. It was quite stressful and before the start I just wanted to run away with fear and cry. I wrote an account over at Team Geared Up. If I didn't have a coach I'd have pulled out of this Ironman thing by now! It's so scary and hard.

Meanwhile Tony is in China doing the Gobi march. He's on Day 6 now which is a rest day after a gruelling 80 kilometre stage yesterday. Tomorrow is just a final dash of 10k and hopefully he'll be able to ring me as soon as he's finished. Although we've been able to email competitors they obviously can't communicate with us. The team has an excellent blog here.

Tony's doing fine and I'm just hoping he's enjoying it. It would be like him to enjoy it the tougher it got. Tony wouldn't feel like he'd participated in anything serious unless it was savage hard!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


The swimming continues. For my endurance swims I'm up to 750m. So I had my first sea swim today and was surprised at how it went. I didn't seem to mind the cold, though today wasn't particularly cold so that probably explains that. Swallowing sea water was a pain in the arse though. What was going wrong was the fact that I kept panicing, for reasons unknown to me, and stopping and standing up. I have no idea why. I couldn't swim further than a few metres without stopping. Other annoying things include my goggles letting in water the whole time. God only knows what's gonna happen at tomorrow night's Aquathon I've entered but I'm hoping that in a situation where I HAVE to swim that I'll just get on with it. Here's hoping I can complete the 750m. Otherwise I'll be gutted.
On the positive side apparently I was swimming in a straight line and that's good.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Training goes on and on and on....

Well I achieved my first goal of swimming 400 metres in a month last Friday. All thanks to Peter from PB Coaching. Swimming every day has been tiring, mostly because it involves getting up at 6am but I can always go to bed early to make up for it, which is exactly what I've been doing since acquiring a cold. :-(
The only reason I'm able to train for this ironman is simply because I've given up work. I don't know how someone could train this hard and hold down a job. I know fostering kids is a job too, and a stressful one recently at that, but I still have time now that they're at school to get training done. My day is usually like this; swim at 6am, return home by 8am, kids to school at 9am and then either cycling or running till they get home. Blogging, shopping, cooking, racing and everything else gets fitted in around all that!
Tony heads off to China next week for his big run across the desert so hopefully I'll be able to fit all my training in with him gone.
The foster kids will be with us a year in July and we're trying to think of a good way to mark that milestone. Any ideas?

Friday, May 09, 2008

Training continues.

Well I'm continuing with the swimming. The kids being off this week has meant getting up at 6am to swim before Tony goes to work. This has left me knackered because I'm not going to bed early to make up for it.

I have improved but I'm unsure if I'm on track with the deadlines I've set: 400 metres in 4 weeks. I've enlisted the help of a triathlon/ swim coach and I'm meeting him for the second time on Tuesday. He's going to make me up a training programme for the ironman suited to my strengths and weaknesses i.e. lots of swimming and probably winging the other stuff for the time being!! Like he said, it won't be pretty, I'm not looking to break any records, just to complete it. I've already agreed if he thinks it's not do-able I will scrap the idea and continue training, but for one next year.
I won't be wallowing in disappointement; if it doesn't happen I'll pick an Autumn marathon or maybe even an adventure race and try learn new skills.

Until the decision is made though it's all swimming, swimming, swimming....

Friday, April 25, 2008

Ironman Attempt

I met a swim coach early on Wednesday morning so that he could assess how my swimming is. Last January I secretly (!) entered for an ironman but always knew my swimming would be completely starting from scratch. Before the marathon I kept up basic swim lessons just to learn to swim the strokes properly. I always knew it would be after the marathon that I would decide fully if I was gonna go ahead with the training. So I met the coach and after a few minutes he said he was 70 per cent sure I could attempt the ironman in 4 months. They sounded like good odds to me. After the hour he reckoned if I could swim 400 metres in 4 weeks I would be capable of continuing with the ironman training. That sounds like a plan to me. So I will give that a shot. My technique aopparently isn't too bad but my biggest problem is the breathing. I can't get it right. I swallow tonnes of water. I panic and keep my head up or if anything upsets me in the water I stop. I can just about make a 25 meter length without stopping. But one length is it...... It doesn't sound good does it? But I'll give the 4 weeks a shot. I'll try and swim almost every single day and see if I can do it. Hopefully I can keep up a little cycling and running too. ;-)
If it doesn't work out I will go for it again next year.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Rotterdam Marathon

The Rotterdam marathon is over and all the training is long since forgotten. I'm on my post-marathon meltdown now which means I'm tired, grumpy and permamently hungry. But I'm jumping too far ahead now. I did a race report over at Team Geared Up which you can read over there or else here it is:

Marathons are scary events. Only a couple of people in the race are out to win and the thousands of others just want to do their best, whether that means just finishing or getting a Personal Best. Failure is so scary.

To say I was nervous would be an understatement but I’ve been worse, standing on marathon start lines. I got a Race number that allowed me almost right up at the start banner, so I waited till less than ten minutes before start time to get into my place. Looking around me was scary.

Once we were off I felt like I was moving quite fast. I hadn’t a clue how fast though because my heart rate went through the roof and I missed the first few kilometre markers so I just hoped it wasn’t slow!! I tried to relax and get my heart rate to settle but it wouldn’t so I chose to ignore the readings of between 185 and 190. When my foot hit the mat at 10k in 40 minutes I realised I was well inside the 3 hour mark (shock!) and decided at that exact moment that I wasn’t gonna let that go without a huge fight. I was thinking I was moving at too fast a pass to sustain for too long, but what the hell, let’s just go for it and hang on and I thought if I let it slip a little later on I could still break 3. And so I continued, despite hitting low points at 16k (feeling sick for a minute) I just pushed and pushed. It was killing me to be moving that fast while thinking I still had a long way to go. So I took a gel and as JackieO said to me “put your head down and dig in”.

I hit the half way mark at 1:27:42 so was still moving quickly enough. Finding things to focus my brain on was difficult. At 27k we came right back into the city but by 30k we were back out into a really quiet park which felt like a real lull after the buzz of the city. It was hard to push on at this stage. But I actually caught a glimpse of the leaders on the opposite side of the road who were at the 40k mark and thought, what a lift, to see them racing this close!

At 35k I was over a minute inside the 3 hour pace but the pain in my calves was increasing. I had worn super flat racing shoes and I suppose this was the price I paid for wearing light trainers. So from this point on it was head down, push hard through the ever increasing pain. But I knew the pain of being just outside 3 hours would be a pain I might have forever if I didn’t go for it! I can’t even describe what happened in the finishing straight. I couldn’t see the clock properly, but I could see metre markers counting down the last couple of hundred metres. I could hear the crowd do the countdown till the clock hit 3 and just as my foot landed on the mat the clock hit 3 hours exactly (and my heart rate hit 199). I couldn’t believe it. It took a couple of hours to get my chip time of 2:59:58, giving me a placing of 28th woman and 341 overall. Running buddy Bronagh had a PB of 3:20 and new friend Anthony ran his first marathon in 4:25.

During my marathon preparation Nige had said I could go sub 3. I didn’t believe it really, I imagined even as I stood on the line I would finish at about 3:03. I wrote before about how Nige was helping me but I didn’t imagine the help would ever get me this far. Training under pressure (with the heart monitor) made racing under pressure much easier, he said I would suffer so suffering during the race became normal, not something I should be scared of. (Normally you slow down when you’re suffering). His two words Push Hard became a mantra during the whole race and I couldn’t let it go. To run well I believe you also need a good club and a good coach. You need people to push you, to believe in you and they act like a support group. I sound like I’m doing an Oscars speech but I really have to thank my coach and brother Eugene for support and encouragement and his wife Gina who looked after my legs!

End of TGU post.

I really didn't think I would do it. A sub 3 hour marathon is one of those elusive things I thought I might spend the next few years chasing and never achieve. My previous best was 3:13 in Chicago. If it hadn't been for TGU and the help of Nige I think it would be an entirely different marathon story I'd be telling right now and it wouldn't have a "2" in it.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Lessons from Nature

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Every day this week has been a day of two halves; gorgeous weather in the morning (when I'm running!) and miserable, cold, wet weather in the afternoon and evening. It's natures way of telling us to get up early....

Friday, March 28, 2008

Taper madness..

Last long run done for Rotterdam. Woohooo! Bring on the taper!! (You'd swear I didn't love runnning.......) ;-)

Thursday, March 20, 2008


In the spirit of trying to kill time with the kids off school, we've been baking cakes (simnel cake, apparently a traditional Easter cake), shopping for Easter clothes and been to see Horton Hears a Who. Loved it! That Dr. Seuss rhyming stuff is just so clever!

Thanks God they have Easter Camp at their school next week or I'd be driven mental. The days are way too long otherwise.

Three weeks to go till the Rotterdam marathon. At this stage I want it over and done with, it can't happen quick enough. I've done more long runs and trained harder than ever before. I've done lots of marathons but this is meant to be my fast one, so for the first time ever I'll be trying to put myself under some pressure. I'm probably putting myself under pressure just writing this down.....

Sunday, March 16, 2008


I had a look on paper at what I'd been doing lately, training wise, and it looks like a lot when written down. I've probably not taken enough complete rest days recently. I think checking back over my training diary it has only been the last couple of weeks that were too much. Like instead of rest days I would swim or go to the gym or cycle, thinking they don't count as much because I'm not running. I suppose people who know me would say I never miss out on a training session, but for a few months I've been adding in other elements like the gym and not easing up on the running at all. It hasn't showed much in my long runs but when I run with other people or race I've noticed I'm not running as well.

This is all of my own doing. It's not part of any training plan by anybody but me. But really I think I just need a few "easy" days. With the kids being off school this week it'll probably mean an enforced easy week anyway.

I'm probably making much more of this than it actually is. I think that's because you always end up on a bit of a downer when running's not going as well as usual. I'll probably wake up tomorrow and wonder what I was on about...

Friday, March 14, 2008


It's been a little crazy, lots happening with the kids; stressful things that take up lots of your thoughts. At least running gets me out on my own and clears the head. Training's going fine, doing tonnes of running/ swimming/ lifting weights but feeling tired mostly. I think I'm at the stage I always reach in every marathon training where I just wanna get the damn thing over with. I've done the training already, let's "bring it on". But of course I have another month to go. I always, at this stage, say things like "I want this training/ marathon over with and I want my life back" and then as soon as it is actually over, I go and enter the next one.

We had our annual family weekend away last week in Ballinasloe (by family I mean my siblings, I'm the youngest of 12). In order to get my long run out of the way I got Tony to turf me outta the car 20 miles from Ballinasloe (before Athlone) and I ran the rest of the way. It meant the weekend could be more enjoyable. It also meant I had 20 miles facing into a headwind (and sleet and snow and hail showers but that's the west for ya!)

Since I blogged last I've been to the blog awards, great fun! Met loads of people. Really enjoyed it! All I wanted was a photo in the TGU t-shirt and here it is.

Kids are now off for two weeks which will drive me mental cos I won't have the freedom to zip off to the gym each morning so there'll have to be a couple of days when I get up at 6am and go then. Just to keep me sane. My training plans for the year are possibly changing but more about that later.....

Happy Friday and St. Patrick's Weekend

Monday, February 18, 2008

Training and blogging...

I haven't felt much like blogging here lately. I don't want to write about the kids because this blog's not anonymous and because the kids are fostered there are other privacy issues I suppose.
I'm still training extra hard to build muscle, that's what I was told to do after the physiological tests. I average 3 to 4 days per week in the gym and that's including a little bit of swimming (plus all the running!). If I didn't have to breath the swimming would be going eh....well swimmingly. I'm trying to keep injury at bay by getting regular massage which is painful but I keep telling myself it has to be good for me!

Met some more of the 4nine£ gang last Saturday in Jo's house. Great night, I haven't laughed so much in ages. Great to put some faces to the names especially Jo's little girl!

This weekend I'm doing the Women's Cycling Event in Blessington. Never having even sat on a road bike I hope I don't get left behind....

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Blog stuff

I'm taking it easy today. It's one of those days when I'm not able to run, go to the gym and none of my friends are available for coffee. So I have a morning at home, blogging (over at TGU and 4nines).

I've signed up to be a judge at the blog awards, thanks to Damien, Midget Wrangler and Someone Living for the prompt. I know I don't blog that much myself but I read lots of 'em and thought it would be fun to get involved.

Training is underway for Rotterdam Marathon. Well one long run down anyway. The reason I can't excercise today is because I'm having some physiological tests done in Trinity tomorrow and you're supposed to be rested for those. I've heard words like "you run till you drop" so I'm suitably worried. There's needles and blood tests involved too apparently. I'm told that what I'll get from the tests will be that "the heart monitor will become my best friend". I've never been a runner who used a heart monitor. When I race I just run as hard as I can and when I train I just jog. So it will be interesting to see if the heart monitor changes any of that. If I improve then that will be a bonus.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Since I last posted, in our household, there has been 4 birthdays, a Christmas, a New Year and a trip to Disneyland Paris. All has gone well so can't complain. Well aside from the stomach bugs and colds.....and that was just me.
So the focus now is on the Rotterdam marathon in April. I have to knuckle down now to some serious training and stop eating so much rubbish (which is compulsory at Christmas). Im back in the Gym regularly and took my first swimming lesson today. I swim like a person who's panicking. Panicking or drowning. Each time I put my head in the water I flail around like a complete lunatic. I thought swimming was a graceful sport, all muscles and smooth moves. Not in my case obviously.
I'll miss my second lesson as I'm off to France on Friday for our annual trip to the Snow Race. I'll be blogging next week about waste deep snow during the race and my success on the piste (my skiing is comparable to my swimming so that was a joke.....