Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Sonny Murphy Memorial 10 Mile | Run Clare Series 2016

Despite the horrendous weather conditions last Sunday, Orla and I went up to Kilinaboy for the final race of the Run Clare Series, the Sonny Murphy Memorial 10k. 

This has always been the race that i dread, for a number of reasons, it's bittersweet really. The 10 mile distance is daunting for new runners like myself and It's also race 4 of the series. Yes we finally get to wear our medals but it also means the series is over. 

The Route

Again we ran the same route as last year, taking in the beautiful scenery of The Burren. It once again started, and finished, at Kilnaboy church. We ran along one giant loop, running along some lovely quiet country roads into Corofin and then back to Kilnaboy.

My 10 Miles

I woke up on Sunday morning to sleet, snow, wind and a bitter sting in the air. This wasn't going to stop me from heading to Kilinaboy though. I had that amazing medal in sight!

Luckily when we got to Kilinaboy the weather had improved so we only had to deal with the wind. The rain manage to hold off while we ran the 10 mile route.

I had been extremely happy with the two most recent 10k's that I had ran so I felt positive heading into the 10 miles. I would be lying if I said that I wasn't nervous though because I always get nervous every before any run. 

Orla and I said our usual goodbyes at the start line and each set out to run the 10 miles back to Kilinaboy. There was a huge burst at the start and everyone was jostling for position. I just ran at my own pace and tried not to get caught up running at a fast pace.

I aimed to run 11 minute miles so I was delighted that I ran the first mile in 10 minutes and after that I averaged 11.5 minutes. I kept running at a comfortable pace while at the same time pushing myself as far as I could. At the 4 mile point I felt like I had a burst of energy and picked up the pace, running that mile in under 10 minutes.

I ran past the first two water stations, taking my gels instead. At the 6.5 mile water station I took some water and then ran on to the 7 mile point befor I began walking for a little bit.

Shortly after this we ran into Corofin village and at this point I was running again. All was going well, that was until I jumped up onto the footpath to avoid an oncoming car. I must have landed awkwardly because I felt a pain shoot through my right knee. I had no choice but to walk for awhile. I was gutted because I was on track to beat last years time by 10 minutes.

After walking for a while and shaking my knee out I tried running but I wasn't able to run for long as my knee felt weak. Once saw the last incline towards the finish I decided to run again. With only 400 yards to go Orla met me along the road and ran back with me. I was so delighted to see the finishline and despite hurting myself and having to walk I crossed the finishline in 1:54:18. I am delighted to say that I ran the race 6 minutes faster than last year! 

Finally I got to meet the lovely John from "From 19st to 10K". We have both ran this series for the past two years and finally met one another. He is an inspiration to anyone struggling with weight and thinking about running.

Once again Kilinaboy did not disappoint. The series was fantastic and thoroughly enjoyable. Jason and Lorraine have done an amazing job putting this race and the whole series together. Well done guys and roll on 2017!!!

What's Up Next?

For me next up is the Joanne McMahon Thanksgiving 10k, which takes place in the morning. Followed by the Doolin to Liscannor cliff top walk and the "Footsteps to Freedom" next weekend.

Some very exciting news broke during the week: Entries to the Run Clare 2017 have opened!!!!! The early bird entry is €50, in May it will increase to €55 and then to €65 in September. I signed up straight away as this is a huge motivating factor for me and it's something to look forward to in January!

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Eamon Moloney Memorial 10K

I ran Race 3 The Run Clare Series, the Eamon Moloney Memorial 10K on Easter Saturday in Ennis. This was my favourite race don't last year so I had high hopes this year, in patricular considering how great I felt following the previous weeks  Pakie Ryan 10K, link here.

The Route

The route was the same as last year, starting and finishing at Rice College. It was relatively flat, however there were a number of inclines from the 2-5k marks. The road surface was quite rough throughout this stretch. Water stations were located in 2 places along the route.

My 10K 

As usual the girls and I said our good byes and best wishes at the start. We each ran/walked to our own pace. 

I was so nervous last year and I felt similar this year, although not as badly but at the same time I felt good and fairly confident. I was very happy with the 10K from the previous week so I knew I would do ok.

As usual I started at a steady consistent pace. In saying that though I ran the first kilometre in 5 mins but I felt quite comfortable doing so. I ran each kilometre after that in either 6 or 7 minutes and ran the final kilometre in 5 minutes.

This year I have been timing each run with my watch and I've noticed such a difference. I'm now more aware of my timings and I'm consciously trying to push myself harder. It's definitely more motivating!

I found running from the 3km point to 5km point the toughest. My head was telling me to stop, this is probably due to the uneven road surface, the inclines and the fact that I had known the route quite well. It can be much harder running a familiar route because you are constantly watching the landmarks and thinking that you should be further down the road.

Once I had gotten over my "wall" of negativity I pushed myself through the full 10k. Upon reaching the 9km point I decided that I would pick up the pace. I lengthened my stride and actually felt very comfortable. 

Rounding the corner at the Courthouse, with only 100 yards to go, I began to sprint to the finish. My husband, son, sister and some friends were all there cheering me on and it was the best feeling to finish with a smile!

My time was 1:08:16. Although this didn't beat last years time, I'm delighted with my performance. This race has made me realise that I am capable of so much more than I give myself credit for. 

I spoke with my husband afterwards and he felt that, even though I was out of breath and tired, I still had plenty in the tank. He was right. I know that I just need to step up my training and use my watch to push myself even further by timing each km and setting achieveable goals to get to where I want to be.

Jason and Lorraine and their team always run a fantastic event. This year the goodie bags and medals were bigger and better but the t-shirts were just fantastic. Those of us lucky enough to get one were delighted with them. I have been showing mine to anyone and everyone!

I have to say that although my husband and son didn't run or walk, due to my husband having an injured back, Jason and Lorraine were so generous and welcoming towards them and this is what I love about coming to their events so thanks guys!

What's Up Next?

Race 4 of The Run Clare Series, the Sonny Murphy 10 Mile is my next race and I'm feeling good about it. Last year I was extremely sick prior to the race so I wasn't very positive but this year I'm feeling much better about it. It's the 4th race in the series and I'm so excited to receive finally my medal!!!

Thanks again to John O'Neill, Eamonmoloney10k.ie and Jacqui for the photographs.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Pakie Ryan Memorial 10K Run 2016

Last Saturday I took part in the 7th annual Pakie Ryan Memorial Event, 10K race, in my home town of Newmarket on Fergus.

The Route

At 10.30am the 30k and 50k cyclists took off, followed by the 10k runners and 5k walkers at 11am.

The route was exactly the same as last year, starting at the soccer club and finishing at the gaa club. 

We ran out the Limerick road before turning left, at the 3km point. Running along a relatively straight road through Ralehine and again turning left, just before the 6k mark. The next 1.5k was relatively flat before heading up a long sharp incline in Ballycar. The last 1.5k was relatively flat before coming back into the village, finishing at the GAA field.

My 10K

Orla, my mother, Colin and I walked the 1 mile distance from the house towards the start line. We used this as our warm up.

We were lucky enough to see the cyclists set off at 10.30 from Halpins garage. My little man was facinated to see so many cyclists in one place!

My mother took Colin around the 5k route so we said our goodbyes at the start line. The nerves were hitting me in a huge way and I felt it in the pit of my stomach. Standing waiting for the horn to sound I felt a tap on my shoulder. A lovely lady, who is met at a number of races last year, told me how she was following my progress ever since meeting me last year. Honestly it was such a nice thing to hear and made me smile and forget about my nerves!

Orla and I set off and stayed together until the 2k before she took off at her own pace. To be honest I was quietly delighted because I had gotten so used to running on my own, listening to my running playlist, so running with her almost put me under pressure as I felt that I needed to make conversation when I just wanted to concentrate on my breathing. I'm sure Orla too was happy to run at her own pace.

We passed my parents house at the 1 mile mark and I would have loved to have gone in for a cup of tea with my dad and not bother running!! It's just as well that I didn't because dad passed us on the road at the 2.5k mark! 

I wasn't too confident going into this race because my training has been so poor this year. I had decided that I wanted to run 5k and anything after that was a bonus. 

I passed the first 2 water stations, at the 3.5 and 6k points, feeling good. I had brought gels with me so instead of taking water I had taken the gels and felt great. At the 7.5k point I drank some water and began walking, I probably could have kept going but the hill in Ballycar was just ahead and I knew from last year that it was tough. I was happy with what I had done up to that point so I didn't feel bad walking. Once I reached the top I began running again.

Upon reaching the top of the village the support was evident, with the spectators and stewards cheering us on. As usual I sprinted to the finish and I'm delighted to say that I crossed the finish line with a smile and absence of pride! Last year I was miserable, even crying afterwards! I ran the 10k in 1 hour and 8 minutes and I'm thrilled with that!

This race gave me such a buzz. I thoroughly enjoyed it and felt like doing it all again the following day. It's given me such a lift and I'm filled with confidence. I now feel ready for my next 10k.

I have to say that this event is fantastic. It's clear to see the passion of each and every committee member and volunteer. It's an event that they should be hugely proud of and the fact that it is in its 7th year says it all. I didn't know Pakie Ryan himself but I have no doubt that he would be proud of all that has been achieved in his memory and for such wonderful charities. 

What's Up Next

Next up in race 3 of the Run Clare Series, the Eamon Moloney 10K. This was my favourite race from last year. It was my first time ever running a full 10K non stop. The buzz that I felt was amazing and I hope it will be the same again this year!

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Michael Egan 5 Mile Quilty | Run Clare Series 2016

Sunday was Race 2 of the Run Clare Series 2016, in the beautiful West Clare. The day was perfect, a slight bit chilly but dry and sunny.

The Route

This was the same scenic route as last year, starting at the GAA field and running back in towards Quilty. Once in the village we turned left and ran along the beautiful Atlantic coast before turning left again. The next stretch of road was relatively flat. Just after the half way mark we turned left and ran slowly and steadily up a slight incline, passing the water station at the 3 mile mark. We took another left turn at the end of this straight and ran down hill under the old railway bridge. It was at this point that we took the final left turn and had to run up a tougher incline. At the top of this hill, just beside the primary school, we began the final descent towards the finish line, in the grounds of the GAA field.

My 5 Mile

The day itself was glorious. We couldn’t have asked for nicer weather. It was cold but the sun was shining and with beautiful scenery to look at, it was hard not to be in good form. Orla, Ruth, Caroline and I met in Ennis and travelled back together. There was an air of anticipation and excitement in the car. We chatted and laughed all the way back to Quilty. We had been in the car approx 20 mins when we hear an almighty bang on the roof of the car! I thought that it must have been a branch that had fallen onto the roof of the car as we passed by but there were no trees near us at the time. We then thought that maybe one of the roof racks had come loose on the car, not so. One of the girls (Who shall remain nameless!!!) then realised that she had in fact had left her phone on the roof of the car and that it had managed to survive for 20 mins before falling off! At this stage we were running late for registration so we said that we would collect the phone on the way back as we “knew” where the phone had fallen off. Yeah right! We laughed all the way back to Quilty!

Once we got there we registered and got ourselves ready for the off. We did a nice warm up on the Kilmurry-Ibricken GAA grounds. Once ready we lined up at the start. I could feel the nerves tingling in the pit of my stomach, but that’s normal for me prior to any race. We each said our usual goodbyes and best of luck and agreed to meet each other at the finish line.

I ran slowly and steadily and found that I didn’t really settle into the race until well into the second mile. I wanted to walk after 100 yards so I didn’t know how I would manage the full 5 miles. The scenery of the first mile was beautiful and I found that it was a great distraction from the negativity running around in my head. Mile 2 to mile 3 was relatively flat so this was also a help to keep the motivation going in my head, however the sun was beating down on us so any thoughts of being cold were well and truly gone. My freckles were on show for the world to see!

There was a water station at the 3 mile mark and at that stage I admitted defeat and began to walk. I felt exhausted at that stage. It didn’t help that our son hasn’t been sleeping well at all recently, waking up to 6 times at night and for long periods and the 2 nights prior to the race were no exception. Needless to say I was shattered. I ran and walked until there was ½ mile to go and only at that stage did I push myself to my limits. I took off running as fast as I could, trying to make up lost time. I was wearing my watch so I knew that my time wasn’t good enough to beat or match last year but I felt better sprinting to the finish line. All the girls were waiting for me, having all come in faster than me. The relief was huge!

Last year I ran the race nonstop in 55:42 where as this year I ran and walked it in 57:09. It’s disappointing really. Was I prepared for this race? In one word “NO”. I thought that after the Resolution Run in January I would find my motivation and step up my training but due to various reasons my training was lacking. I have been quite focused on Kickboxing recently and have allowed that to take away from my running training. This race has now given me the realisation and the kick that I needed. It was only when I was at the 3 mile mark that I realised that I am a full stone heavier now than I was this time last year. Running with this extra stone and a lack of training has resulted in a disappointing race for me. I’m not going to let this upset me though and instead use it for motivation. I am now going to dedicate 3 days per week to running and 1 day for Kickboxing. I have even downloaded a training plan for the 10 mile, just to keep me on track!

Following the race the girls and I headed back towards Ennis. We had decided that we would stop on the way back to find the missing phone as it was still ringing. We knew where it had fallen so it would be a quick 5 minute pit stop to locate the missing phone. Our only worry was that it would be pretty smashed up. Ha Ha what were we thinking? Trying to find a missing phone, that was on silent, along a very busy road? Madness is all I can say! We walked different parts of the road for over an hour, as well as driving up and down the same stretches of road (Apologies to any local who thought that we were crazy). Needless to say the missing phone still remains missing. We were unsuccessful even though it was still ringing. It was so disappointing but we couldn’t spend all evening looking for a needle in a haystack. We did get a huge amount of entertainment from the whole thing though!

500 people had preregistered for the race but 100 of these did not turn up on the day. Another 100 did turn up for this individual race though. Refreshments were provided for the race participants in The Quilty Tavern. I have to say the 2 cups of tea that I had drank afterwards were the best. Once again Lorraine, Jason, their team and the people of Quilty organised a fantastic race. Well done to all involved and thank you for our race Mugs (Even if I did manage to break the handle off mine!!!).

What’s Next

For me the next race will be The Pakie Ryan Memorial 10K Run in my home village of Newmarket-on-Fergus on the 19th of March. One week later, on Easter Saturday, 26th of March, I will be running Race 3 of the Run Clare Series 2016, the Eamon Moloney Memorial 10K (I’ll be one step closer to getting my finishers medal!)

Monday, 29 February 2016

Kickboxing | Sparring For the First Time

So as you may already know I started Kickboxing in January. The classes are run, by Rebels Kickboxing, on Wednesday nights from 8-9.30 in my local hall in Dromcollogher (For €6 per class it's a bargain). At the start I really didn't know what to think about the classes as I never really saw myself doing something like this but after the first class I loved it and was hooked!

At the start our trainers, Pa and Damien, had mentioned that there was an option for us to try sparring down the track. To be honest I actually never thought that this day would come but 2 weeks ago, after only 7 weeks in, we began sparring. I still can't believe that I, the biggest wimp on the planet, began sparring. My head was buzzing so much afterwards that I couldn't sleep.

Since I started kickboxing I've felt great about myself because not only am I trying to get fit but I'm also doing something for me and slowly building up my confidence. This has all been helped by the support and encouragement from our trainers. Yes they are tough on us and sometimes I feel like screaming at them but they have a huge deal of respect for each one of us. They are so encouraging and constantly tell us to "Listen to your body, not your mind" and to "Push yourself to your limits, not someone else's limit".

Pa and Damien believe in the importance of explaining why we do certain exercises/stretches and what areas of the body it will target. They are huge on the belief that if you are doing something wrong then we all need to stop and see how to correctly perform an exercise/stretch. This is not done in such a way that it singles one person out but rather to correct everyone and to explain the reasons for performing each exercise correctly. They emphasize the importance of using the correct technique so that we get the most out of the exercise or stretch, otherwise we may as well stay at home on the couch. They also don't want to see any of us getting hurt and like to keep the environment comfortable and enjoyable for us all.

When the first sparring class itself rolled around I was excited but nervous. I genuinely did not know what to expect from sparring. This was so out of my comfort level that I wondered if I would be able. At that stage there was no going back as I had already purchased the gear, shin pads, mouth guard and gloves. Once I got inside and saw that everyone else had the same feelings and apprehensions as I did, I felt some relief.

We all wore our new gear, shin pads and gloves, for protection and to start we took the pace nice and slow. We started off with a few drills, working in groups of 3. I found myself constantly apologising every time I hit someone else's gloves incorrectly or had a poor kick. The main aim of last night's sparring was to teach us to keep our hands as high as our eyebrows, so mentally training ourselves to protect our faces.

For the actual sparring, we were only allowed to use 2 moves, a jab and kick off our front leg. We were told that the hits should be soft but that we were to try to outwit our sparring partner. The hits and kicks should only be soft enough to push a fly out of your way and not to kill it! This was all to teach a lesson on how to protect ourselves without hurting ourselves.

Now if I were to say that I didn't end up hurting myself I would be lying. First of all I threw a kick but instead of meeting the pads I hit my toe off my partners elbow. It brought tears to my eyes but I just thought that I needed to suck it up as it was my own fault for not aiming correctly and watching what I was doing. I also ended up with 3 large bruises on my shins, even though I was wearing the shin pads but this is because the skin on the shin is quite thin and so bruises easily.

Regardless of the few bruises, because these really are only a minor thing, I loved my first sparring experience. It helped hugely that I got to spar with one of the trainers so this encouraged me to think more and to focus rather than just having the craic. For the next few sessions I need to work more on breathing correctly, in through the nose and out through the mouth, and perfecting my kicking technique so as to prevent any more bruises.

That night when I went home I was on such a high after the class. The buzz during the class was fantastic and it was clear to see that everyone enjoyed themselves. Yes we are all at different stages but everyone got so much enjoyment out of the class. Sparring isn't actually as scary as it sounds. Roll on next Wednesday night!

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

5K Resolution Run | Run Clare Series 2016

Saturday saw Race 1 in the Run Clare Series 2016, the 5K Resolution Run. Having thoroughly enjoyed last year’s series, link here to last year's post, I was delighted to be participating in the series again this year. The series is such a unique event and gave me the motivation and encouragement to get out and start running again. The series involves 4 races (5K, 5 miles, 10K and 10 miles) over 4 months. My running training has been lacking slightly so Saturday’s 5K was a great push to get back to where I was with my training.

The day itself was horrible. It was very cold, wet and miserable. There was a cold damp feeling in the air but that didn’t stop almost 600 people from turning up the Lee’s Road Sports Complex on the day. As usual there was a good mix of beginners and seasoned runners and the buzz was as good as if the sun was shining!

The Route


The route was the same as last year. We started along Drumcliffe Road, just past the entrance to the Sports Complex itself. Turning right we ran along the old Lahinch Road then turning left onto the N85 where we ran uphill before turning left back on to the Drumcliffe Road, finishing just before the entrance to Lee’s Road Sports Complex. The first half of the 5k was the hardest with a number of inclines to deal with. Shortly after a long steady incline at the 3K mark the road levelled out so finishing the 5K was much easier. The finish line was along the straightest part of Drumcliffe Road.

My 5K

This year both Orla and I signed up for the Run Clare Series 2016, along with Caroline, Mary and Christina. It’s always lovely to arrive at a race and meet others who are as excited as you are to be taking part. Each of us is at a different stage of our training, with some in better shape than others but we are all of the same mindset and that is that we are participating to enjoy ourselves and if a PB comes out of it then bring it on! The cold and rain made the day itself so miserable but luckily it didn’t dampen our spirits. We stayed in my car until the heaviest of the rain had passed before making our way to the start line where we had a fast warm up, and I mean fast! The buzz at the start line was fantastic.

As usual we each said our goodbyes and each ran the race on our own merits. I knew before starting that my fitness was nowhere near where it needed to be but I knew that if I focused I’d reach the finish line without stopping to walk. I set out with the aim of beating last year’s time. This year I decided to time myself and use this as a form of motivation. It was great because I knew at each point whether I needed to push myself on or not but this also had its negatives as I was constantly looking at the time trying to figure out whether I needed to push myself even more or if I could slow up a small bit.

As usual my head began to take over. I don't know why I let myself listen to the negativity but I did manage to ignore it and pushed myself to finish without walking. Mentally the first 3K were the hardest for me as there were a number of inclines. The mental side of running is always the hardest for me. I think that I can physically push myself more that I give myself credit for, its only when the negativity creeps in that I find it hard to keep going.
What I loved about the 5K on Saturday was that, even though 3/4 of people had finished before me, I was so delighted to see such a huge crowd cheering us on. As usual Orla was waiting at the finish line to cheer me on. I thought at that stage that I had no energy left but I somehow managed to sprint the last 100 yards to the finish line. I beat last years time by 60 secs, crossing the finish line in 33:42 so its easy to see why I had a smile on my face!!!

Lorraine, Jason and all the Run Clare team did another great job in organising this 5K. They organise these event using their passion for running as motivation and that alone is inspiring. The figures speak for themselves really (518 signed up for the series, although not all turned up on Saturday, and approx 120 extra people on the day ran the 5K). Well done guys, looking forward to race 2!

What's Up Next

Next up is the Michael Egan Memorial 5 Mile race in Quilty. This is Race 2 of the Run Clare Series. Although entries for the series are now closed, you can still take part in the individual races on the day. I'm hoping once again to beat last year's time at the 5 mile race! With only 3 races left I'm so much closer to getting my fabulous finishers medal! You can get more info on the series and individual events by clicking here.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Run Clare 2016 Expectations

This Saturday sees the first race of the Run Clare Series 2016, The 5K Resolution Run, taking place in Ennis. As a result I thought it was a good time to look at my expectations for the series. The series is 4 races over 4 months, 5K, 5 mile, 10K and 10 miles. I thoroughly enjoyed the series last year and so I want to make the most of it again this year.
Last year I ran 3 of the races without the need to walk but the 10 mile was the one that beat me. I had been very sick in the weeks prior to the race, having been signed out of work, by my doctor, and advised to get as much bed rest as possible. This affected my mentality and fitness, approaching the race. I am proud if the fact that I ran 4 miles before walking so this year my goal is to beat that.

I have compiled my times from each race, below and
5K Resolution Run: 34:51
Michael Egan Memorial 5 Mile: 55:42
Eamon Moloney 10K: 1:07:22
Sonny Murphy Memorial 10 Mile: 2:00:59
This year I am aiming to beat each of the above times, even if it is only by a single second. I also want to be more aware of my mental attitude before, during and after each race as last year I allowed my head to rule and let negativity swallow me up after some of the races. I don’t want to feel any disappointment this year as it’s such a fantastic accomplishment to participate in the series, regardless of the results. I don’t think I’m asking too much of myself. I know that I can do this and reach my goals. My nerves are setting in already but I’m also filled with excitement at the thought of getting back into running and aiming for better times.
If you haven’t already signed up, it’s not too late, just click here. Alternatively you can register for each race individually, on the day. The only down fall for not registering for the full series is that you will miss out on the chance to get the specially designed medal. 

For more information on the series, you can click on the below links:
Eamon Moloney 10K: Website and Facebook