Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fattest one of all?

You know I’m fat. You know I’m a girl. You know I run. I’ve written posts about my weight before, but how do I really feel about being a fat runner? What do I really think of my body?

Before I go on, I need to be clear that this post is about me and what I think of my body. It does not reflect what I think about other people. I’ve had enough of being judged myself to know I’d rather ‘do unto others’; so I don’t judge. Also, you’ve probably figured out by now that I am really, really hard on myself. I don’t extend that to anyone else. I would ask anyone reading this post to keep that in mind.*

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I’m so pain*: Great Ireland Run 5k Race Report

Previous PB:  36:37
New PB: 35:15

I was a bit surprised yesterday when I mentioned to someone that today’s race would be my 20th. I’ve come a long long way since my first race! And I aim to go further still with my goals for the year.

This race was pretty important to me. I wanted to redeem myself after my last race, where I finished with a PB but felt I could have done better.  So discussing the strategy for today with my coach, I knew what I had to do to really prove myself and test my training. And I trust my training. I really do. I’m in great hands with Luke as my coach, the running I’m doing is perfect for my abilities but also stretches me in order to improve. I’m loving every minute of it.

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Times, they are a changin’: MSB 5k Race Report

Race morning was a leisurely one. I got a bit of a lie-in as I only live a mile away from the start. I had my breakfast then spent some time reading and playing with my cats. I usually try to get to a race an hour early, but today the plan was to use the walk to the race as a warm up so I left later than usual.

This was the first race where I did a proper warm up, and I know it helped. Before today I was always afraid a warm up would use up too much energy, so I avoided it. Today, I knew that a warm up would help me get past that ‘first mile sucks’ hump so I did a very easy mile from my house to the start, then after I dropped my bag off and took my usual start line photo, I did a few strides which got the legs loosened. I felt pretty good when I went to line up for the start.

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‘Project Speedy’; full steam ahead!

Last December I started a new running project; my plan to work on speed and time over shorter distances. As I said in my previous blog post, 2015 was all about the distance; 2016 is all about the speed. My ultimate goals for the year are three-fold:

  • To run 5k in under 30 minutes
  • To run 5 miles in under an hour
  • To PB a 10k race this summer

Today I finished week 19 of Project Speedy and thought it was high time I posted an update here on how things are going.

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Looking back to see ahead

January (Total miles: 19.40)

I woke up to 2015 knowing this was my year.  The year of the Marathon.  My plans from 2014 had all been about building up my strength with Michael, my personal trainer and gaining a running base to take on training for Dublin City Marathon later in the year.  In January it was a long way to October but I was already excited for the year ahead! My marathon plans were still a secret though so I had to carry on as usual! I didn’t run much in January, what running time I did have was devoted to getting ready for and running the Raheny 5 mile, where I PB’d my previous 5 mile time by 3 minutes!)

February (Total miles: 26.91)

Nothing much going on in Feb, just more running. I wasn’t even running 10 miles per week! That sure changed later on in the year!

Highlight of February was visiting a friend in the Netherlands and going for a run in Utrecht! That was a great way to see some of the city!

March (Total miles: 13.65)

March was a pretty hectic but amazing month. Not only did I get to go to London (and see my favourite band play live!), but I got to meet ASD & Si, two twitter runners who were a big part of what inspired me to train for a marathon.  They were the first people I told about my marathon plans and they helped me with my big reveal!

I didn’t run very much in March and this was a last minute sort of decision. I knew that when I started marathon training in April, my year would be tough, tiring and busy. I took the time in March to rest and relax.

April (Total miles: 51.78)

So marathon training officially begins! It was quite the jump in monthly mileage! But this was the start of my marathon training, so it wasn’t surprising! None of the runs were over 5 miles though, and I was building in warm ups and cool downs into my runs.  It was fun too, to finally be able to talk about my goals and dreams. My decision to run a marathon was a little controversial in some quarters, but everyone has their own reasons to run and I wasn’t going to let anyone stop me.

May (Total miles: 76.22)

May was about starting building up the mileage. I wasn’t training for speed, I was aiming for distance. I started marathon training with a 30 week plan in mind, a lot more than the usual 18 or 20 week plans that are out there. I knew it would be safer to increase the miles over a longer period of time. That’s why I had a coach, Shona Thomson, to write my training plan for me, with my specific goals and current abilities in mind.

May was also a tough month for me mentally, and I learned some valuable lessons while out running. Lessons like knowing when to fold ’em, whose voice I’m going to listen to and that I am the meanest person I know.  Looking back over my posts, I am glad I persisted in battling the mental negativity and kept on going.

June (Total miles: 93.82) & July (Total miles: 105.25

Ahhh summer! What a great time! Nice long evenings to go running in! And in 2015, two lovely shiny PB’s to celebrate, including PB’ing a 10k race.

Other than that, not much to report. Just a lot of running at I prepared for my first half marathon. A scary but exciting prospect as I continued to build up the miles!

August (Total miles:121.47)

The Rock ‘n Roll Half marathon. Wow. What a rush! It was a great experience and I was really happy to have run and finished it. But afterwards as I reflected on the race and thought more about my performance, I was feeling more and more dejected over it.  I just didn’t tell too many people about it. I told only 3 people in fact including a woman who became a mentor to me over the course of my training.  We met for lunch and I confessed I was thinking that maybe I had bitten off more than I could chew, maybe I shouldn’t try for the marathon after all. The half was HARD. Really, really hard and I was nowhere near my target of under three hours, finishing in 3.09.08.  I started to question my capabilities, and wonder if I should put it off and wait a year.

But as I talked with my friend, I was gently reminded of my reasons for running in the first place and my reasons for wanting to run a marathon. I was reminded of how far I’d come, and how strong I really was. It was just the words I needed to hear and I went back to my training with renewed determination. Before the end of the year, I would be a marathoner.

September (Total miles:153.79)

I remember September well for three different reasons.

  1. It was the peak of my training and I racked up an astonishing amount of miles (astonishing for me I mean, it was the most I had ever run in a month!). I ran my longest run of 18 miles, which was the farthest I would be going before the marathon.
  2. I got to meet and make a number of running friends through an Irish forum, and cheer them on at the DCM Half Marathon. You guys know who you are and I can tell you now, looking back, that having you in my life during marathon training was a pretty big factor in my success.
  3. I had one of the biggest mental battles of my training that I had ever experienced. It hit me so hard I was breathless but I battled the negativity and regained the confidence I had lost. It was tough, really tough, but in hindsight I think it did me good.

September was also the month where I was able to say ‘next month I run a marathon’.  I was a bundle of nerves and excitement as September drew to a close!

October (Total miles:112.24)

‘I’m running a marathon this month!’

Taper time. Fundraising. Sport massage. Reflecting. PlanningWaiting.

And then the marathon. The buildup, the day, the aftermath; it was unforgettable.

Wow. October was beyond amazing; on so many levels. There just aren’t enough words to really express what this marathon meant to me. I don’t even want to try except to say that I am incredibly happy that I did it, that I stuck with the training and finished the race.

The friends I made, the support I received, the money donated to my charity (over €1500!)…all because I decided one day to run this marathon.  Run it I did, with all my heart and soul.

November (Total miles:66.78)

A very difficult month, after the high of the marathon I hit the post-marathon blues big time! Luckily I recovered quickly enough that 9 days after the marathon I was back running. It helped a lot to be able to run, even slowly.

November was an easy recovery month, with me just getting used to a different schedule and a variety of training runs. I started working with a new coach, Luke Coleman, who would be helping me with speedwork training.

I never quite pulled myself out of the depression, but then winter always affects me badly so it was a double-whammy for me this year.

December (Total miles: 45.7)

December was the start of what I call ‘Project Speedy‘, my attempt at improving my times and paces.  Now that I had gone the distance, I needed to increase my speeds.  December was going well, right up until I got sick with my usual Christmas flu/cold. I was down for 11 days which is why my mileage wasn’t where it should have been.  But, my body needed the rest. It had been a long, intense and difficult year so it’s no wonder!

Final thoughts

Last year, the year of the marathon, was a year of self-discovery.

As I sit here and type out what I did and thought over the last year, I’ve been reading my old blog posts. I have to admit, I’ve been crying as I relive the year, the training, the marathon. Training for and running the marathon brought me so much; new friends, new confidence, new experiences. It taught me that I can do what I put my mind to, and that I have support along the way no matter what. It taught me that I’m not alone. It taught me that I am a better runner than I think I am. It has taught me that I am strong, capable and determined.

I love running. I love the challenges and opportunities that come from running. I love pushing myself, demanding more of myself every time I go for a run.

I’m already a month and a half into 2016 and have PB’d two races.  Project Speedy is working and I’m excited to continue my training and see what else I have in me to give. My goal for the year is to run a 5k in under 30 minutes, to run 5 miles in under and hour and to PB at a 10k race this summer. After writing this blog post I know I can do all three.

After all; I ran a marathon. I can do anything!

From misery to happiness; Raheny 5 Mile Race Report

Well, my first race of the year is over and done with! I had been looking forward to this one both nervously and excitedly. It has been 7 months since my last 5 mile race, and this would be my first 5 mile race since the marathon. So I had a lot of expectations but a lot of unknowns as well. I spent January training pretty hard (as seen on Strava) and now I would find out just how much I’ve improved because of it. Big thanks to my coach, Luke for the training plans, support, discussions and advice.

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Reconciling with Mr. Sandman

Dear Mr. Sandman,

We have history, you and I, but I’m hoping we can put it behind us and start over.  I can’t remember a time we ever got along, it seems we’ve always been at odds. From the times you refuse to visit, to the times when you do visit but I refuse to acknowledge you; we’ve never seen eye to eye. But I’m starting to realize just how important it is for us to reconcile.  As a runner, I need you! As a runner training 5 days a week and aiming to improve my speed, I need you more than ever!

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Take That, Storm Desmond! Jingle Bells 5k Race Report!

Well, this was it. The big test of my fitness and abilities since the marathon. The Donore Harriers Jingle Bells 5k Race.  I’d been told so many times that running a marathon would mean an improvement in shorter race times. In the days leading up to this race I was feeling anxious, because I didn’t want to run it and discover that nothing had changed. I wasn’t chasing a PB for the sake of a PB, but I really did want to see that I had improved as a runner and that I’d be able to give it my all in a race and see a difference.

If nothing had changed, I would have been so dejected and disheartened. So I went into the race a little bit afraid, a lot nervous but also very determined.

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‘Project Speedy’ is GO!

Before I started marathon training I was running a lot of 5ks and thoroughly enjoying them. Then marathon training took over and I focused my efforts on getting in the distance.  The last 5k race I ran was way back in March! Now that the marathon is done and over (it’s been 6 weeks already!) I’m back to training for 5ks, only this time I’m training to run them faster. I call it ‘Project Speedy’.

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