Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Track! Kind of....

Finally got back to the track tonight.  Yay me!  I hadn't been purposely avoiding it but it's just the way things have fallen.  I was a bit under the weather about two weeks before the Limerick Half Marathon so just did laps that night.  The following week I did 7 miles easy instead as I didn't want to risk injury right before the HM but had itchy feet.  Then came the holidays.  And now no more excuses!

I was almost making an excuse for myself as I ran Monday and Tuesday and could have convinced my lazy self fairly easily to skip it.  I caught myself at it and got out the door quick!

Wasn't particularly feeling it so did a mile warm up and then 3 x 800m....will build back up to 5 x 800m and hopefully get up to regularly doing 10 x 400m when I've some more fitness back.  That's about it for today.

Oh except I was about to leave and got surprised by the coach with my AAI County silver medal! I had almost forgotten about it so it was nice, especially when I'm feeling so unfit right now.  Good motivation!

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Back in action

I'm gradually easing myself back to reality after my amazing break.  I managed to drag my bloated and unfit body (plus my inflamed liver) around 8 miles yesterday and 4 today.  Yesterday was only alright and today was predictably a disaster but then it could have been worse and at least it's lovely and warm.  In fact I got sunburned on the roof of my apartment building today despite spending two weeks in Africa and catching only tan.  Something weird about Irish sunshine that I need to be filled in on?

Not back to work until tomorrow which has been lovely so I can spend some time with my kids and get some real life stuff done.  I'm trying to distract myself from the post holiday blues by planning lots of races, meet-ups with friends and activities with the kiddos once school is over.
Time is flying by so I might as well make the most of it and not hang about waiting for life to pass me by.

Despite being down about the long awaited holiday being over I'm so glad I went.  It was a great way for me to get back a bit more of myself after the knocks my confidence took in the last while.  Being around so many people all the time and not hating it was a revelation.

In addition there may or may not have been some eye candy around.  More than one in fact but one in particular that I took great pleasure in having an innocent flirtation with.  It may have been mostly one sided but who cares....I had fun and got to remember how nice it is to really fancy someone.  And someone who had my back at every turn is not the worst person to have a crush on.
I had honestly thought I might be going through an extremely early menopause as I've had no interest in looking at a guy ever since my break-up.  Well I did some looking this holiday!  I honestly think I checked out his arms and the way his hair curls on the back of his neck for a solid four of the five hour drive back to Harare from Chirundu.  Perhaps now my hormones have been reactivated I'll be more interested in going out more now and not come home at 10:30 like recently.

Back to the track tomorrow night which should be interesting.  I think a full week back should see me feeling back to normal.  Here's hoping anyway!

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Underwhelming performance

Back in Ireland as of today.  Didn't get to blog at all from Zimbabwe but that was due to lack of access to wifi or indeed any phone signal at all.  The lack of running was due to not having a death wish.  I managed one run and that was on a safari park and by far the safest place to run despite constantly having to make sure nothing was going to jump out of the long grass at me.  

Harare itself was out as there are no footpaths and all the drivers seem to be insane.  We then went to Chirundu on the Zambezi river and the only running you would do there was away from crocs so I gave up and stopped stressing about it.  

Despite these restrictions this was easily the best holiday of my life and I fell in love with Zimbabwe and more specifically the Zambezi river more than I thought possible.  

We arrived in Harare two weeks ago to perfect high 20's temperatures during the day and cooler nights.  It's winter there.  The first full day we had my cousins "kitchen tea" which is basically a hen night but usually starts earlier and is lulls you into a false sense of security as there is some actual tea and scones etc. See below!

However this later degenerates into a full on session except in someones back garden instead of a pub.  

The wedding itself took place at a safari lodge about 1.5 hrs north of Harare.  While there we were treated to a game drive where we saw zebra, impala, lions, warthogs.  The day of the wedding the bride was followed to the fig tree that the ceremony was held at by a family of three elephants.  It was magical.  

We returned to Harare the day after the wedding and spent two more days there preparing for a trip to the river.  At the time I wasn't too enamoured with this prospect as I reckoned there wasn't a chance in hell of getting me out on the water.  The six hour drive up to the border of Zimbabwe with Zambia didn't help my mood but as it turns out I was so enchanted by the place when I arrived that I was out on the boats or messing around on sandbanks from 7:30am to 5pm every day and would have been out longer only the sun sets so early!  It was the most beautiful and peaceful place and I had to be dragged home.  Also I want a boat.  Just a small one!

Monday, 12 May 2014

In flight blogging

I've been quiet on here recently. Part of the reason for that is I was coming up to my holidays and had a lot to do! As I type I'm on my way from Dublin to Harare via Amsterdam.  Exciting and a bit random right? Hope to record some sights and sounds of a country I know very little about right here for posterity.
At two weeks this will be the longest I've ever been away from my kiddos which is making me weepy even thinking about it. A bit embarrassing as I'm surrounded by strangers!  Note to self: middle seats suck.
The trip is for my cousins wedding so I'm not travelling alone and it couldn't be coming at a better time. I'm not as tied down in my home life or professional life just now so I can afford the time to do this.
On the other hand I'm probably financially more constrained than I ever have been but it's amazing what you can do if you just don't go into a shop that's not for groceries for six months and eat a lot of eggs, rice and beans!
Also running as much as I have been recently is virtually free, tends to take up a lot of time when I could be spending moola and makes me far too tired to go anywhere after 9pm.  Winner on all sides!
I have brought no less than 3 sets of gear with me so I have no excuse not to run.
Looks like temps are mid twenties so will probably be slow paces.
Also beer.  That's my other excuse. Additionally the bottle of Patron I bought in duty free.
Basically there is going to be running but I'm not promising anything under a ten minute mile! But pretty pics I hope at the very least.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Great Limerick Run Half Marathon - Race Recap

I've been a bit uninspired to write recently but that doesn't mean I haven't been running.  Nothing fast since the Parkrun as I was cutting back on the intensity in the lead up to my first real goal race of this year, yesterdays Great Limerick Run Half Marathon.  It was my eldest's birthday over the weekend so both kiddos got dragged along to Limerick with me for the weekend so I wouldn't feel too guilty for being away from them.  Mother of the year award right here!!

We arrived at the race expo at the University of Limerick with the minimum of hassle just after noon on Saturday.  No queue to pick up the race number which is great but to be honest I've never really had hassle with that so I don't know why I worry about it.  There was a bit of a queue for the goody bags but that mostly seemed to be due to a gaggle of not particularly organised/bothered girls who were looking after that part of things.  They didn't seem to have any sort of system organised and they created a bit of a bottleneck with a lot of volunteers standing around with nothing to do just down the table from them.  Anyway I got out of there eventually and had a quick look around the expo.  I wouldn't have minding having a better look around or a cup of coffee there but as I knew I was heading into an expensive weekend I thought it was a better option to get out with my wallet untouched!

The traffic getting out of the expo was predictably awful and not helped by the first of the rain but we got to the hotel in the end and checked in.  It was fine....nothing fancy but comfy beds and not too noisy so that was what mattered.  Also about three minutes walk from the start line as it happens which was just lovely.  The joy of not having to use any of the portable toilets provided is difficult to measure in euros....probably well worth the price of the room alone.

I had a light dinner the night before the race and a fairly substantial breakfast (kaiser roll with 1 sausage and 1 egg) as I figured that with an 11:45 race start I would be starving if I had something too light but didn't want to go mad altogether and have a full Irish or something and feel like a nap at 10:30!
The nerves had set in by about 10:00 and I was raring to go but I managed to hold off on heading down to the start until about 11: 30....mostly cos I told a friend also doing the half not to let me go down too early!

I lined up about 10 rows back from the 1:50 pacers thinking that was plenty close.  This was a mistake and next time I'm going to superglue myself to them on the start line!  Not much fanfare for the start...a bit of a countdown and we were off!

The problem with the start area was that it was about 4 times as wide as the arch we had to go through for the start so by the time we got through that bottleneck I couldn't see the pacers at all.  Minor panic!  I caught sight of them a few minutes later but they were at least 40 seconds ahead at this stage.  Needless to say I decided not to do any sprinting this early in the game and set my mind to catching them by 5 miles.  This worked out ok and I did catch them on schedule but it did make my pace feel a bit harder than it needed to for the first few miles which was mentally a bit tough.  I found myself feeling a bit negative at how hard I was finding the pace and had to give myself a good talking to.  I concentrated on smiling even though I didn't feel like it (and it might have looked like a grimace to onlookers) and this helped my mental state quite a bit.  By mile 6 I settled in right behind the pacers and gave myself a bit of a breather.

From here until 10 I let myself relax and be dragged along by the group.  The pacers were great and didn't go too mad banking time but gave us enough leeway to not have to kill ourselves totally on the hills.  To be honest the hardest part of this section was keeping an eye out for kerbs, speedbumps and the infuriating traffic cones, the latter of which seemed to have been placed mostly at random!

By mile 10 I had gotten my breathing back under control and I knew I had to push on now if I was going to. I moved in front of the pacers on a downhill and used that momentum to give myself a nice little gap without blowing too much energy.  With 3 miles to go at this stage I knew I could afford to push myself further out of my comfort zone so I tried to keep the pace just under 8 minute miles.  I can't say it was easy but the sound of the pace group behind me was enough to gee me embarrassing would it be to be passed by them after going off on a solo run? The last mile was tough as I was getting to the end of my rope and there were a lot of corners, curbs, a false alarm finish-line arch and a spectator who walked straight out in front of me when I was full on sprint/hobbling for the line.  But I got there in the end for a new PB of over three minutes of 1:48:18.  Yay!!

In general it was a well run race with some good and bad points.  The course itself was enjoyable.  Not as flat as I had thought but I don't necessarily love a dead flat course and the bits in the city centre were well supported with good music and crowds.  They could do with being a bit more organised at the start line so there isn't so much of a bottleneck and have the mileage marked better....I didn't see a single sign for miles or kilometers except sprayed on the road.  Fine if you have a GPS but not everyone does.  Water stations were good and not a war zone as I've seen at some races.  The finish went fairly smoothly and I got my medal, banana and water in short order.  There wan't any other food at the finish that I saw but I was rescued by the kiddos quite quickly and got my warm clothes and money so pizza slice and can of fanta it was!

I didn't use any fuel except for two fizzy worms that my son gave me and a few mouthfuls of water.  No stomach issues and I didn't feel like I ran out of steam, but then it's only 13 miles and I'm not sure I would have been alright for a longer distance.  All in all a successful day with lots of lessons learned!