Instead of Running Dublin Marathon 2016

I did not run today’s Dublin Marathon this year for the first time in 6 years. It’s been emotional folks, I’m not gonna lie.

Driving home from the city on Friday night, I passed through part of the route, spying posters and traffic diversion signs warning of the impending traffic disruptions, metal barriers stacked nearly on pavements patiently waiting to line the streets before sunrise on race day.

I actually cried.

Laughing at myself – while crying – but crying all the same.

I love the Dublin Marathon more than any other race I’ve ever done but unfortunately due to ongoing stress fracture injuries in my feet, I had to give it a miss this year. Today was the big day, with over 19,000 runners due to take part, making it the biggest Dublin Marathon yet. This year marked the first time the race has been run on the Sunday of the Bank holiday October weekend, having been moved from its usual spot on the Monday, and the result is that numbers increased by approximately 6,000 participants. Huge.

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St Stephen’s Green was picture perfect autumn yesterday as I strolled through it on my way to do some light serious shopping.

And what a day it turned out to be. THE most perfect autumn day – bright, blue skies, cool but not too cold, hardly any wind and beautiful autumn sunshine. Excellent running conditions and I could just imagine crossing that finish line, meeting up with family and hanging out in town afterwards with Dublin its very finest. Alas, at least 19,000 other people would get to this today. All that happiness and achievement makes me very happy indeed!

I considered going in to cheer on the courageous marathoners but in the end I decided against it, as I’d likely just end up crying on the sidelines and feeling bad about my stupid, seemingly endless injuries. I’ll happy to cheer at other races, but this one is the one closest to my dumb sentimental heart.

Instead, I decided a more positive approach would be to do something at the same time as the marathon in some kind of sympathetic companionship with the marathoners. So, I got up early and headed off on a long cycle into the countryside, beginning at the same time that I would’ve been starting the marathon!

It’s a little sad, I’ll admit, but you know what? Who cares?!

From Naas, I cycled to Sallins, Clane and straight on to the Baltracey crossroads, where I turned left for Timahoe. I swung a right turn in Timahoe and headed out across the bog road for Clougharinka, which turned out to be gorgeous. Honestly, I just noticed Cloughrinka on a map one day and liked the sound of the name, so I fancied cycling there to have a look at the place. It’s a teeny village but the area around it is all trees, ruins and bursting with colour at the moment.

From Cloughrinka, I turned toward Edenderry (another place I’d never been to in Ireland!) and from there, I turned right in the town across the bog road toward Rathangan. The first bog road was fine but this one… aye, it was never-ending! I could see from the map that it was just this long straight road but I didn’t think it would actually feel that long… but unfortunately the road surface was fairly poor and made for heavy cycling. Boy was I glad to get to Rathangan! Having cycled through Rathangan many times before, I knew it would be a speedy route home and I was able to re-focus and just pedal for home.

100 km round trip – making this the first time I’ve ever ridden 100 km! I know that’s not much to some people, but it’s a big milestone for me and it really makes me appreciates how the professionals will ride between 200-300km a day in the Tour de France AND with insane mountain climbs AND cycling at twice the speed that I would. Not to mention day after day after day.

Gladiators of men, if you ask me.

After my cycle, I had a long hot bath (complete with coffee and chocolate, if you’re curious 😉 ) just as I would have done if I had done the marathon today, followed by something to eat and a good movie while elevating my tired legs.

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I also dropped into M&S to get a bread roll. Where’d all that other stuff come from??? #TheM&Seffect

Today was not the day I would have liked it to be back in January, when I first signed up for the Dublin marathon but with a little bit of effort and enthusiasm, I turned what could otherwise have been a very sad day, into something very positive.

Injuries happen. Life happens. Things crop up that get in the way of good plans and the path we’ve laid out for ourselves. It’s okay to get upset, it’s okay to get angry and it is okay to cry. But get back up, shake yourself off and always have another run at it. Just never give up and never give in, because it’s a beautiful day out there and you are NOT going to want to miss it.

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Accidentally stumbling across this in M&S is also partly responsible for the joy I’m feeling right now. Never seen before in Ireland!!

Well done to everyone who braved the Dublin Marathon today, you incredible people you. Huge congratulations and enjoy your well-earned time off and celebrations. What an achievement, be proud!

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Dublin Marathon 2016

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Are you running the 2016 Dublin Marathon? If so, you are a lucky, lucky person in for a beautiful day of running. A great day to be alive! For those who are not, due to injury or otherwise, I commiserate entirely with you, being benched myself this year for the first time in 5 years.

The Dublin Marathon is without doubt, my favourite day of the year – trumping Christmas and my birthday, just to be clear. From the terrific route, unreal atmosphere and the best magnetic crowd support, this road race is, in my opinion, unrivalled on the Irish running scene.

What Do You Need to Know?

With just 7 days left until race day, the countdown to the start of the Dublin marathon 2016 has well and truly begun. Runners will be crossing off the days on their calendar as they pace themselves through the final days of their taper and preparing mentally as well as practically.

To help you out here’s a few things to keep in mind from now until Sunday:

Tapering – It looks easy on the running schedule when you see it written down and compare it to all of the other weeks of training you’ve done, but in it’s own peculiar way, it is one of the hardest weeks of training you’ll do. Personally, it wrecks my head…but I know it works and is worth the mental turmoil so just try to relax, take lots of deep breaths and trust your training plan.

You will all have your own versions of a taper plan but general rules of thumb are to incrementally reduce your overall weekly mileage 2-3 weeks before race day, maintaining the number of days you run and the usual level of effort involved in each session – but reducing the number of miles you would normally run in each session. You’re aiming to rest your legs and allow for increased repair and recovery by doing less miles, but you simultaneously want to keep your legs sharp and maintain pace memory.

Don’t freak out. Don’t be cranky. And try not to lose it. Every year, I do this – unusually high levels of energy due to less running coupled with pre-marathon jitters is a recipe for a jumpy runner! You have been warned.

Toast Honey

Food – By now you’ve practised with different food (and drinks) before, during and after training and hopefully too with races. The week before race week is NOT the time to start experimenting with new things. It’s coming to the end of a marathon training cycle and it may well be the case that you’re getting bored of your banana on toast or bagel with honey…My advice?

Suck it up.

You can eat something different next week – when you’re not about to run 26.2 miles and subject your body to massive physical demands which significantly hinges on the digestive system and your body’s ability to produce energy.

Don’t make it harder for yourself. Trust me when I say eat the foods that you know work and leave experimenting to the next cycle of training.

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Tried and tested.

Carbo-Loading – On a similar note, there is a lot of advice bouncing around about “carbo-loading” before a marathon. 2 things:

  1. White – In the days before a marathon, it can be good to reduce the amount of fibre you normally take in as this will make it easier on your digestive system on race day. For this week, it’s okay to switch from wholegrain everything to white everything.
  1. Don’t Stuff Your Face – Carbo-loading does not mean simply add extra high carb foods to your daily intake. Aim to increase the percentage of carbs in your normal daily intake of food, rather than just adding it on as an “as well as”. Eating excessive amounts of carbs, particularly on a week when you’re running less, could leave you feeling bloated, heavy and might affect your weight- the last thing you want after all your hard work is to end up feeling like crap on race day.

Gear

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Get EVERYTHING ready well ahead of time. No need for stress.

Make a list of everything you plan to be wearing on race day, as well as anything you need before and after the race. A throwaway top for waiting around before the race, a black plastic bag in case it’s raining (and a cap), food and drinks for immediately after the race, dry clothes… Try to think of everything now and get it all ready a few days before the race. This always helps to calm me and it gives me plenty of time to think of anything I might have forgotten. Leaving this to the last minute the day before a race can make you frazzled. Again, unnecessary hassle and wasted energy.

The Expo – The expo in the RDS is always great and I love chatting to visiting stalls about foreign marathons, like in Scotland or France and browsing through all of the running bling. But be selective – don’t be tempted to spend too long on your feet. More wasted energy and glycogen seeping away!

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Abandon all hope ye who enter here…

Route

This year will see the route remain the same as last year, having incorporated a few changes in last year’s edition to accommodate ongoing Luas works. A few tips:

  • 2 Mile – Watch your pace after you pass the 2 mile mark. You’ll come along the quays of the Liffey, cross over and head uphill on Blackhall Place. It’s early and you’ll be a combination of nerves and wanting to set a good pace BUT Blackhall Place up into Stoneybatter is all uphill so don’t push too hard. Be patient here.
  • 3  – 7 Mile – Mind the Incline (again) This is a more subtle gradient than Blackhall Place and because it’s early on too, you might not pay as much attention to this as you should. Listen to me when I say this – IT IS ALL INCLINE THROUGH THE PHOENIX PARK as you make your way along Chesterfield Avenue. DO NOT worry about your pace and DO NOT push too hard here. I did that a few years ago, being anxious about not getting too far behind my goal pace in the early miles and the result was my quads blew up after 16 miles. Once you’ve left the park and passed through the great crowds in Castleknock, there’ll be a sharp left turn and a nice downhill. Just be patient for it.
  • 21/ 22 Mile – Clonskeagh and Roebuck Hills – Heartbreak Hill. Beware Be aware that there is a climb awaiting you as you turn onto Clonskeagh Road and make your way up Dublin’s version of Heartbreak Hill around the back of UCD. There’s a Lucozade station to look forward to here so focus on that, just keep tapping forward and keep in mind – once you get over this hill, you’re downhill onto the Stillorgan road and on the home straight. This is always a favourite point in the race for me – it’s at this point I know roughly what time I’m going to finish in and more importantly, I KNOW I’m going to finish the race and I can really start to suck up the atmosphere and just enjoy every last minute of it.

Relax. Marathon day is reward day. You’ve done the hard part – the weeks and weeks of early mornings, late evenings, speed sessions, long runs, disciplined diet and social life. Now is your time. Now is when you get to do what you love most – lace up your runners and run one of the best marathons there is (if you ask me!). If your nervous, that’s ok – it would be frankly quite inhuman if your body was not nervous about what you were about to physically subject it to. Nerves are natural. Nerves are good. But control them and don’t let them take control.

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Chill time people, don’t fight it.

Rest. As much as you can this week, don’t walk if you can drive and don’t stand when you can sit. Sleep properly and early. And do not fill your extra time with spinning classes, housework or clearing out your storeroom. Your goal this week: avoid spending any energy you don’t need to. Energy conservation is your mission should you choose to accept it. Regular stretching and foam-rolling are also good to keep your muscles from getting too tight.

Enjoy This Time. You’ve spent ages getting to this point and often we blitz through the run-up to a marathon fretting about getting organised. It doesn’t need to be that way. Sit back, soak up the excitement and look forward to Sunday.

Because it is going to be truly great and you are not going to want to miss it 😉

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Fitzwilliam Place, starting line. Best place to be this Sunday at 9am

Are you one of the lucky ones taking part in the Dublin Marathon this year? Best of luck to you and would love to hear from you if you are! Go n-eiri an bothar leat!

Dublin Ironman 70.3: Race Report

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There is something in life that human beings crave above all else. Emotion, elation, ecstasy – teetering on the brink of an out-of-body experience that allows us mere mortals a momentarily glimpse of what heaven must be like. For some people, that’s sex. For others it’s heroin, cocaine, MDMA or other chemical formation that sets the senses alight. And for those who enjoy a bit of suffering and endurance as foreplay, that’s a marathon.

I can still remember that wave of ecstasy and joy as I ran the final mile of my first marathon in 2008 and the overwhelming bombardment of emotions as I crossed the finish line. Delighted to have completed the distance, utterly exhausted, aching all over, while bursting with pride and joy, and all I felt like doing was crying. Completely ridiculous, but there it was.

Ever since then, I’ve been chasing that same rush – that level of emotion, ecstasy and sheer satisfaction of achievement. Much like any addict, I’ve experienced similar highs since that first one, completing other marathons and triathlons of various distances, but never to the same extent. In fact, my times have come down quite a bit and I’m a much more accomplished runner/swimmer/cyclist now, but not since that first marathon have I ever experienced that same level of utter overwhelming emotion and satisfaction at the end of a race where you’ve had to dig down deep into your soul to get to that finish line.

Until yesterday.

I did it. I did IT. I DID it.

I did an Ironman 70.3 yesterday.

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Got my tats.

It might not have been pretty, it might not have been a winning time and God knows, I will NOT be buying those race photos, but I did cross the finish line, I did get a medal and yes, I now have the t-shirt.

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The race could not have had a better day. The morning started off dry and warm as the 2000 odd (in more ways than one…) triathletes assembled at the Forty Foot in Sandycove for the first leg of the race, a 1.9 km swim out into Scotsman’s Bay. The course was lined with yellow buoys, most helpful as compared with most triathlon swim courses which often only have a single buoy at each turning point. The extra buoys allowed you to keep on course more easily and thereby give more energy to the actual swim as well as avoiding being kicked or punched in the head. I actually did get quite a bash to the head at one stage but having remained conscious, I considered that a victory 😉

The conditions in the water were good, not too choppy or windy and I didn’t notice much of a current. From about 1.4 km onward (ish) I did start to tire a bit and was glad when the course turned back into the bay. On towards the giant yellow Ironman banner and we were soon out of the water and onto the bikes, after a quick dash and grab through the blue bag transition area.

I loved the bike leg. The cycle used to be the worst part of a triathlon for me. I was crap at it and it’s always the longest part, so not a winning combination. But since my foot injury and not being able to run, I’ve been cycling a lot more and as regular readers might tell you, have become a little obsessed with it. So when it came to the bike leg yesterday, I was game ball.

The roads were all closed for the race which allowed competitors a rare experience of racing through Dublin city centre in the middle of the road. It was such a treat. From Dun Laoighre, the cycle route ran straight along the Coast into Ringsend past early morning walkers and supporters (and people merrily making their way home after a night on the town…!) Across the Liffey, we then powered along the quays, securely held by watchful Gardai and more late night stragglers 😀 The course then passed along the outskirts of the Phoenix Park, up Chapelizod hill and out towards Lucan, Maynooth and Dunboyne, taking in 3 counties, before looping back to the Phoenix Park.

I felt good on the bike and despite some rain for much of the second leg, I really enjoyed it. Marking the longest distance I’ve ever cycled before, I expected to feel tired by 70/80 km but the reverse turned out to be true. After 50km I began to feel strong. My legs felt good and despite some lower back pain, I was able to push on and found myself flying the last 30km, sailing past strong, toned, young men on fancy dancy carbon bikes. Me and my entry level alloy certainly had fun in this race 😉

A final spin around the Phoenix Park and the bikes were docked and swapped for running shoes.That was where the pain began. I did not intend to do the run at all. I’ve been injured and have not ran for 4 months, apart from one moment of madness. I had decided I was going to “play it by ear” –  a phrase I’ve never really understood but you know where I’m going with it. Popped on the shoes and tottled out onto the run course, where I swiftly realised my legs were borderline useless and making it to 1km was going to be hard.

I shuffled at a rate of next-to-useless. It was not a good run and it was certainly not my strongest moment. I took it 1km at a time and decided I’d just finish the first lap and then stop. I walked a couple of times and I stopped at every feed station. But as I approached the finish area, I found myself deciding that maybe I might just do the 2nd lap and then I could stop. I still hadn’t spotted my Dad at that stage so also thought it might be no harm to go around again in case he was standing somewhere else along the course and I didn’t want to miss (or lose!) him.

On the 2nd lap I knew this was definitely DEFINITELY the last lap, legs were not working and my energy levels were zip. More water stations, stopped a couple more times to walk for a second. But as I was shuffling along, I was looking at everyone else around me, also suffering, also grimacing but nobody giving up. Then I started to ask myself – do I think I should stop because of my foot injury or do I just want to stop because this is really f-ing hard? My foot actually wasn’t hurting (very oddly) so I quickly came to the conclusion that if I did quit the race early, it would not have been justified and I’d likely go home that evening feeling guilty, that I’d wossed out and quit. And above all, I did not want that on my conscience.

Bobbing along up to the end of the 2nd lap, I’d already decided I was going to do the last lap, whether it meant walking, shuffling or crawling. I spotted my Dad, gave him a high five and told him “1 more lap!” More water stations, more walking and more shuffling. The only plus side was that every time I passed something now, I was reminded that this is my last lap and I will never be seeing that tree, person, water station, etc again and let me tell ya – for the suffering runner, that gives you an almighty boost! By the last 2 miles, everything was hurting and my legs were simply hanging.

Chesterfield Avenue, final kilometre – I found my legs. Started passing people for the first time in the entire 13 mile leg, and as the Ironman finishing gate came into view, I could feel a final sprint coming on. I rounded the corner, high-fived the race commentator and bounded toward the line with the stupidest grin on my face you could imagine. Crossing that line, I felt every bit of emotion, ecstasy and elation I felt in my very first marathon and more.

Relief, achievement, pride, joy, excitement, disbelief and absolute sheer physical exhaustion and satisfaction. An overwhelming wave of emotions washed over me and there it was- bursting to cry. It only took 6 hours 28 minutes of swimming, cycling and running, physically pouring out every drop of energy in my body into the earth, sea and air around me.

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Got the bling bling

This was an exceptionally well-organised event and fair play to Ironman who obviously know how to run a good race. The swim, the bike and the run legs were well marked and marshalled. Not all good however and I do have a few complaints, as others did too and for future events I think it’s good to bring up:

1. Finishing Area – Athletes Only. After collecting medals and white after-race bags, finishers had to cross a path and walk a short distance to a tent for t-shirt collection and food. Not a problem. The problem is that the walk across and indeed the actual tents, were open to the public too which meant a battle to physically find and get into the tent and then squeeze past people to get into the queue for food. When I arrived, there were kids all over the tent eating food that was meant for the racers. That’s not really on, to be fair.

Better thing to do – organise it like you would the end of a marathon, a long finishing chute where you have bag collection, medals, t-shirts, water and food, all in a line and closed off completely to the public. Quick, efficient and so much less hectic and messy. I was too exhausted to keep battling in the tent and fight my way over for food and ended up just leaving it. And I really wanted cake 😦 That’s a big thumbs down lads.

2. Bike and Bag Collection

Poor, poor, poor. This was shockingly bad. The bike racks were to be open from 2.30pm for athletes to come and collect their gear. When I got there just after 2.30pm, I found that the truck containing all the blue bags from the swim transition was only just arriving in the park…. a generous 6.5 hours after the last swimmer would have docked their blue bag in transition. So why did it take 6.5 hours to make a 30 minute trip (being generous here) ?

By 3pm, I was standing in the middle of an ever-growing throng of tired athletes who wanted to just get their gear and go home but now all of sudden found themselves virtually caged into a tight space waiting for the gates to open. It was like another leg of the race. Knackered, low patience, growing faint at all this body heat around me and having not had food due to tent debacle… this was a nightmare.

I made it through in one of the first waves of people they let in to collect their blue bag and bike but many after me were still not being allowed in and I can only imagine might have waited for another hour or so.

THIS WAS VERY VERY POOR ORGANISATION. I’m loathed to let something like that ruin a good race and day out but this should not have happened and really should not have been an issue for people to have to deal with at the end of a half-ironman race. It would be great if they could sort this out for next year.

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Smiling all the way home, despite the kerfuffle!

Overall, I loved it and am so glad I did it. My legs are in bits today, I can’t do stairs yet but I am smiling all the way. Now, all that’s left for me to do is decide firstly, where I’m going for a massage and more importantly … what next?

Terminal???? Probably.

My First 70.3: Dublin Ironman

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Your mission, should you choose to accept it.

 

That moment, that day, that ultimate mother of all events has finally arrived. Am I ready? No – in fairness, I may never be ready to take on a 1.9km swim, 90km cycle and half-marathon all in one swift block, but if it weren’t for my current and ongoing foot injury dilemma, I’d be a lot more prepared than I happen to be right now.

I will swim. I will cycle. I will not/definitely not/ probably not/ really should not might do part of the run. I haven’t been able to train properly at all since April on the running front, so I’m a million miles (or at least a few hundred…) from where I would want to be to run a good half-marathon. Finishing a 70.3 on a good day, when I’ve been able to train and put in some proper running training in the months leading up to the race, would be a stretch for me. For me, this is the next big leap forward. The next big challenge where a good old fashioned, honest-to-God, reaching-into-your-guts, all out effort would be needed – just to finish.

All those snazzy bikes. I do love a bit of bike bling 😀

Tomorrow, I will be going at it with virtually no running training and while it makes me a little sad that this is the situation I find myself in, having been looking forward to taking part in this event since last summer, it is a reality I have had no control over. Injury is a bitch like that. Sometimes all you can do is wait (and not go insane…!) I am grateful that apart from my feet, my other bits and bobs are still working reasonably well, which means that I can still do the swim and cycle. Ironman have also conveniently arranged for the run segment to be a 3 lap course of approximately 7km each, which means that if I feel like it tomorrow, I can try out a lap of running, see how I feel and then either stop or go again.

The forty foot, calmly awaiting the assault of 2000 triathletes.

Dublin 70.3 is going to be a great event and I’m stoked about being able to take part. The race kicks off in Scotsman’s Bay in Dun Laoighre, from where athletes will complete a single lap 1.9km swim. Then on to the bikes and into the city on EXTREMELY rarely seen closed streets. This I am going to love. Never are the streets of the city closed and never are cyclists given free reign like this over the much fought over tarmac that pave the way from the leafy south-side suburbs down to the city quays, heading out towards Lucan, Kildare and Meath. After the 9okm cycle, the run consists of 3 laps of a largely flat course in the Phoenix Park.

All racked and ready for action.

Pops has informed me he’s coming with me (on instruction from the mother) This is most kind of him, given the long periods of waiting around involved in an event this long and it’s always nice to know there’s someone there cheering you on in a tough race. Not sure he knows just how early the race starts however… that might be a kicker 😉 !

It’s also my birthday this weekend. Call me crazy but this is what I chose to do as my birthday treat. Does that make me iron?

#pre-iron

Is anybody else taking part in Dublin Ironman tomorrow? If so, I’d love to hear from you and best of luck tomorrow if you are!!

 

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Women’s Mini Marathon: The Race That Was Not Meant to Be

 

I’ve blathered on about my foot injuries and ongoing frustration at not being able to run for an eternity the last few months. I’ve talked about patience and the importance of paying heed to injuries and respecting your body’s demands for healing and recovery.I visited the physio, the GP, the X-ray department and ran blood tests up and down the yazoo, as well as ice-bathing like an eskimo.

I did everything I was supposed to do as a runner in the midst of injury. And then I did something stupid, impatient and childish. I ran a race.

The Irish Women’s Mini Marathon takes place on the June bank holiday in Dublin every year and it’s one I’ve done since I was 14. It was the first race I ever did and I started out just walking it with my Mum. My gran had walked it with her CIA ICA friends for years for charity and we followed in her footsteps, pardon the pun. As the years went on, I roped in school friends and gradually started running more and more of the 10k course until eventually myself and best friend decided to try and run the whole thing. It was the first race I ever ran and my first taste of running. Basically, it was what got me inspired to run in the first place.

The Mini Marathon has become a family tradition in my house, with my Mum, my godmother and I taking to the streets of Dublin every year, alongside 40,000 other women. It is the biggest all-women’s event in the world and the best craic and atmosphere you will ever find at a running/walking event.

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The Bottom Line: This race means a lot to me and despite telling myself over and over again that I’d just have to accept not being able to take part this year, when the day of the race came, I seriously struggled with that decision. Common sense just flew out – actually,  just flung it out – the window. I put on my running gear, marched to the start line and ran the 10km.

Stupid, right?

Yep.

From the moment I started running, I could feel my whole body tense up in revolt and if it could talk, it would’ve been saying “Holy god woman, what are you doing to us?  I do NOT recognise this movement pattern!!! Stop it, stop it!” I hadn’t ran for 10 weeks and the moment I started into a running gait, I realised I had lost all my running fitness. I was completely and utterly out of running shape. I may have been swimming and cycling but apparently that was of little help to my running fitness…

I finished the 10km but it was hard work the whole way around. It’s been a very long time since 10km has felt like hard work and it was definitely a reality check. My legs were stiff and ached most of the way around and my arms felt weak. I’d be lying however, if I said I didn’t enjoy taking part anyway, being back in my running clothes and that oh-so-good feeling of finishing a race. Further clarification if you ask me that running is a drug… and I am an addict.

I have not ran since and it is taking all the self-discipline I have in my being not to lace up again. This is my confession folks. I should NOT have ran this race, it was stupid and reckless. This is everything you should NOT do if you are injured or even if you are not injured. Running a race without any training is perhaps one of the stupidest thing a person can do. DO NOT FOLLOW THIS EXAMPLE.

It was a moment of impertinence and impatience. But it was also just me being human. We are emotional creatures by nature and emotion will trip you up every time. We can make plans, draw up logical, sensible programmes and schedules, which, if we were robots, would be executed flawlessly. But we are neither robots nor flawless creatures. Emotion will trip us up occasionally and mistakes will sometimes be made.

But it’s not about falling down. It’s about learning to get back up again.

(Thank you Batman 😀 !)

 

Being Patient, Not Being Patient, Being Patient

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I used to be a very patient, quiet little child. My Mom would always tell me I had my Dad’s amazing patience when it came to working out problems, figuring out how to fix something or just waiting. Used to.

I’m not quite sure when it happened but in more recently years I’ve noticed that I’ve migrated more towards my maternal genetics when it comes to patience, temper and impetuosity. The Mother describes it as “wearing your heart on your sleeve”, which is really just a rather poetic, soft way of describing someone who reacts instantly in the moment. You don’t want to wait, you want it resolved now, you need to get your emotions and thoughts out right now… in other words, someone who lets their emotions get the better of them.

I love heart-on-sleeve-wearing people and their way of dealing with things – gets everything out there and nothing is left unspoken or unresolved. It can be a bit crazy at times, but it can be very effective. But there are also times when reacting in the moment, emotions and hormones all over the place, you can say or do the wrong thing. Not so good.

Time to talk feet. I’ve talked in previous posts about my ongoing feet injuries and as it stands, I am now 10 weeks not running and still without a diagnosis. To update:

1. Physio Visit #1 – After examining my feet and taking a history, the physio was of the opinion that my feet had likely just taken “quite a pounding” training for the Paris marathon and just generally with doing a lot of running. She noted the tendons in my feet and the left in particular were very tight and tender, including the plantar fascia. She recommended ice, no running and a review appointment to see the orthotic specialist.

2. Physio Visit #2 – This time I saw a different physio (same clinic). Jonathan didn’t think it was a soft tissue injury necessarily and noted (a) that the pain was diffused over a number of different areas of both feet, (b) poor circulation in my feet and hands and (c) my feet were very “puffy” or swollen. All of this led him to think that I might have a rheumatologic condition that is causing the pain, such as arthritis… (which scared the crap out of me!) He recommended I see the GP…

3. GP Visit – GP McDonald was great and very thorough in taking a detailed history, as well as taking her time to assess me. She agreed that I had poor circulation and Raynaud’s disease (where you regularly lose circulation in your fingers and they go numb and white!) Raynaud’s can be a stand-alone condition or it can be symptomatic of a more serious rheumatic condition. Nothing further could be pinned down and she directed me to have blood tests and x-rays done. Doc’s approach is to try to rule out any other conditions and thereby narrow it down to what could be causing the pain. Prescribed Difene (anti-inflammatory) to trial for 5 days and a steroidal gel to clear a teeny blister clutter rash on my feet (which she doesn’t think is connected- phew!)

Good god, when will this foot saga ever end? Where Next? I hear you say! Blood tests are done and I’m awaiting an appointment for an x-ray as I type. Both should be done in the next 2 weeks and then back to the GP asap, where I am hoping and praying to have some definitive answer to what’s going on.

In the meantime, the races I signed up to in Spring are rapidly approaching, my running fitness has become completely shot and I’m starting to get seriously impatient… which is why I did something (probably…) really stupid on Monday. I ran the Women’s Mini Marathon 10km in Dublin with my Mum, Godmum and 35,000 other lovely ladies…

So bold.

So impatient.

Soooooooo bold.

Pop back in a few days to find out what happened…

Finding My Feet

FindingMy Feet

I haven’t posted for a few days because with not being able to run for a never-ending lifetime the last few weeks, I started to feel like I had nothing to contribute to the running community.

Not true.

Most runners will have periods in their running lives when they can’t run, due to injury, life changes, medical reasons or otherwise. So not running is actually probably a big thing for runners. I know it certainly is for me.

Not being able to run is a bit like grief. You go through stages…

1. Disbelief / in shock

You guys have nooooo idea what you’re talking about. Ha, but you do amuse me.

2. Panic.

WWHHHHAATTTTT????????!!!!!

3. Non-acceptance / denial

Nah, it won’t take that long to heal. Sure, I’ll just take 2 weeks off running, roll it out a lot, do some stretches and employ lots of ice baths. I’ll be grand for all the races I’ve signed up to this summer. S’all fine.

4. Frustration. A combination of an unusual and rarely experienced surplus of energy buzzing around your body, combined with the horrifying prospect of not being able to return to running for an unknown time…as realisation of your injury starts to sink in.

Ay, all this worrying is making my head hurt…

5. Anger. At yourself for not being diligent and disciplined enough to stop running earlier when you first felt a niggle and treat it properly then. At the universe for not making my limbs stronger. At everyone who tells you it’s no big deal and sure you must be sick of running by now anyway. At life for being a big meanie and stripping me of the sole remaining positive, good thing I had left in my teeny world.

 

Grrrrrrr….

6. Uncertainty and Self-reassessment. When something that makes up a large part of your life or who you are changes, it forces you to stop and re-think things. You think about how you feel now, how it makes things different. Am I different now? Am I the same person? So much uncertainty…

Am I staying??? Am I going???? What is going on here?!?!

When I stopped running first, I was cool with it – I needed to allow time for my foot injuries to heal and this was just something I had to bite down on. Then I rapidly progressed into the above stages and in short, went a little batty.

It wasn’t helped by the realisation that cycling was not aiding the process, nor just being a benign companion alternative activity and had to be stopped immediately. All I was left with was swimming and while I like swimming, I’m finding that twice a week is really my limit. After that, I find I get a bit bored with it, it makes me sneeze a LOT for days afterwards and it’s expensive to pay the use the pool every time.

My week at the moment is 2-3 swims (2km -3.2km each), foot massages with a frozen golf ball, ice baths for the feet, anti-inflammatory gel and ibuprofen. I try to keep walking to a minimum and avoid putting any pressure on the sore parts of my foot whenever possible. I have a date with the physio on Wednesday and hoping for some kind of positive outcome or analysis.

Injury and rehabilitation are part of the running life and are therefore part of what makes a runner, a runner. So talking about this and including it on my blog are as important as writing up a weekly running report or telling you about the latest race I took part in. The feelings of loss and great uncertainty are massive. Far more than I ever would have thought they would be. I don’t know how long my foot will take to heal, I don’t even know if what I’m doing is helping or improving my condition and I have no idea how long it will be before I can start running again, or even cycling.

I am still me. I know this but yet I have that feeling that something is missing. Every day, I feel that there is something I’m not doing, that I’m leaving something out, that I’m forgetting something.

I miss running. I miss cycling. And right now, I’m missing my training cycle for the upcoming Women’s Mini Marathon 10km and for all the summer races I’ve signed up for. I’m working on accepting that I may not be able to run any of these but there’s a lot of resistance and I’m not very good at this awl acceptance malarky.

Alas, I’m still trying to find my feet.