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!


Making a list…checking it twice

So earlier in the week I posted this photo on twitter.

There seems to be a bit of interest in it so I thought I’d post the full thing here and explain a few things here and there. It will also help me clarify things for myself, and it may prompt me to remember something else I’ll need to add!

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Sports Massage: Touched for the very first time!

Back in August I went for my first ever sport massage. This was to help keep the legs injury free while I upped the intensity of my marathon training, hitting longer and longer distances.

Despite my initial nervousness, it turned out that the sport massage was just what I needed.  But I almost didn’t go, so before I tell you about the sport massage itself, I want to tell the whole story.

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When confidence gets shotted*

When I was a kid I went on a fairground ride with my sister. I can’t remember how old I was, maybe 12 or maybe younger. The ride was called The Zipper and from the ground it looked like a lot of fun.  There were these buckets spinning around this long oval wheel which was also spinning and the whole thing didn’t look too bad. I was tall enough to ride it and my sister was older than me so into a bucket we hopped.

It wasn’t fun; it was terrifying. I was terrified. We were being spun around and around and up and down at the same time and it wasn’t stopping, it just wasn’t stopping. The bucket spun around without warning and without any rhyme or reason. It flipped every which way while spinning around and around. The sky and the ground rushing towards and away from me, the screams of other people on the ride. It was terrifying. It seemed to go on forever. I screamed and screamed for the ride to stop but of course the only person who heard me was my sister and she couldn’t do anything about it.  I don’t remember getting off the ride but apparently I was crying and I yelled at the ride operator because he didn’t stop the ride. I was so scared and upset at being so scared.

What scared me the most was the complete and utter lack of control I had. Fair rides were never the same for me after that!

I’m sharing this story because it’s the only way I can describe what happens to my thoughts sometimes. It’s like my brain hops on a certain thought bucket and then this thought just spins around and around in my mind, always spinning, this way and that with no control. Sometimes I can take hold of these thoughts and stop the ride, other times I just can’t. Sometimes the thoughts are benign, sometimes it’s an idea or a question or a plan. Other times, it’s a dark, nasty and negative thought; usually about myself.

What does this have to do with running? Today; everything.

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All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go….run my first half marathon!

If you haven’t already heard, I’m running my first half marathon this Sunday tomorrow! It’s the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon here in Dublin.

This is rather a big milestone for me in terms of races. The longest race I’ve done so far is 10k so a half marathon is a big step upwards! My bags are packed, my fuel bag and my post-race bag that is. So I think…I’m ready to go!

But how am I really feeling about it?  Continue reading

I love the smell of a PB in the morning! Irish Runner 5 mile race report

After the success of my 10k PB earlier this month, I felt more anxious than I should have about today’s Irish Runner 5 mile race. I just didn’t want to get too confident and then have things go badly; because things DO go badly sometimes, I wanted to be prepared for that. I wavered between being hopeful for a good race and being worried it would be a bad one! This race was a big deal for me, being the first race in the Dublin Marathon Race Series it made training for the marathon that much more official in my mind.

Anyway, I gradually got myself into a mindset that ‘what will be will be’ and focused on my training and making sure I hit my distances, especially the long runs. Given that I’m currently running 9 mile LSRs, a 5 mile race really shouldn’t be a problem.

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Marathon Training update!

At the beginning of April I started training for my first marathon.  It’s taking place on the 26th of October so I’m giving myself loads of time to train for it. I thought it might be good to post a little update to let you know where I’m at, how I’m training and what my weekly training routine looks like.

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On running into ducks on a pond

This evening, when I got home from work, I was not feeling like going for a run at all. And I didn’t have to go for a run. I could have put it off until tomorrow and called it a rest day. But something made me tweet for encouragement to get me out the door. The responses I got were unexpected but highly motivating.

It was this tweet that really motivated me into going for my run, thankful that I could run at all.

I am really grateful for everyone who tweeted me. It gave me the motivation I needed to get my gear on and get out the door. And I am so glad I did. Because if I hadn’t gone running:

I would have missed hearing one of the big cats at the zoo letting out some mighty roars and growls.

I would have missed seeing some ducks using a flooded part of the path as an impromptu pond.

I would have missed breathing deeply the scent of freshly mown grass.

I would have missed the camaraderie of recognizing other runners in the park as we passed each other twice in one evening.

I would have missed the little kid waving at me from his stoller as I ran past him and his mom.

I would have missed the sound of birdsong.

I would have missed being out in the fresh air  of a cool, spring evening.

I would have missed the chance to appreciate my body and what it can do, what it’s capable of.

I would have missed being reminded not to taking running for granted.

I would have missed being able to say ‘I did it’.

I would have missed running.