Friday, 30 January 2015

Commitment! The art of dodging excuses.

We got away with it in Limerick City once again in the last few days. Here; no snow or hail or other inclement weather situations. Actually yesterday evening was pretty much my favourite weather conditions for running. Cool and breezy, a drizzle would have made it perfect.

Yet I saw quite a few pictures on my timeline of people braving the elements in other parts of the country to run, cycle and exercise outdoors despite snow, hail and less than ideal conditions. So why do most of these people do it? I can't answer for them but what I do on a bad weather day is dress appropriately and train according to the circumstances. My Why is bigger than my excuses.

I run because it's part of my lifestyle, I run because it keeps me energised, I run because it is my meditation, I run because it frees me spiritually, I run because I want to help give female farmers in Africa an opportunity, I run because I know I inspire others to run or exercise. And there is more.

All these reasons together form my Why. And my Why is bigger than any weather. And that's the reason I exercise nearly every day.

Here's this week's Running Schedule (take note this is the first week after a Marathon Race) to give you a taste of the commitment it takes to run 12 Marathons in 12 months in 2015 for Gorta Self Help Africa:
Monday: 6.21Miles (10K)
Tuesday: 6.21Miles (10K)
Wednesday: REST
Thursday: 6.21Miles (10K)
Friday: 6.21Miles (10K)
Saturday: 9.15 Miles (14.5K)
Sunday: 13.81 Miles (22K)

With this challenge just like with anything in life, your WHY needs to be bigger than your excuses. As a Life & Personal Coach that and motivation is a particular expertise area.

What do you want to achieve in 2015 or beyond? What is your WHY to achieve it? Is your WHY big enough? It would be good to answer those questions first.

Meanwhile my 2nd Marathon of the 12 is tomorrow 4 weeks on February 28th around the University of Limerick area. If you are in Limerick come give us a shout that day. And you can sponsor me in my Gorta Self Help Africa challenge on

Talk to you Monday, Running Miles with Smiles!!!!!

Monday, 26 January 2015

The effects of ice on an empty stomach! A race report!

Limerick, Friday January 23rd 5pm. We set off in the dark direction Tullamore. I just had a Dioralyte solution to rehydrate as I am still not recovered form the food poisoning earlier that week. I have never felt less ready for a long distance run, let alone a Marathon. Half way up the road I realise I have not said a word and that's not me. I'm anxious.

Tullamore, Friday January 23rd 7pm. Staying in familiar surroundings sounded like a good idea so I booked the Tullamore Court hotel where I have stayed numerous times. The rooms are excellent here and I always sleep well in them.

Tullamore, Friday January 23rd 830pm. When in Tullamore you have to go to the Captains Table. It is an Italian restaurant in the town that not only has superb food, it also has some of the best customer service I have come across and the (Turkish) owner is a true charmer and gent. My first hot meal since Tuesday. Pasta Carbonara and a Vanilla Crème Brulee with copious glasses of water. Excellent dinner!

Tullamore, Saturday January 24rd, 7am. The 2 dishes last night were creamy. Silly that, Patrick!! Not the fault of the food but I still I wake with stomach cramps and irregular bowel movements :) No breakfast other than a banana, 2 chocolate chip muffins, a bottle of water, a dioralyte solution and some bowel regulating medication.

Tullamore, Saturday January 24rd, 8.15am. It's +1 outside the Hotel and we need to scrape ice of the windows. It's going to be a cold start.

Lilliput Adventure Centre, Lough Ennell, Westmeath. Saturday 24rd, 9.10am. It's -2 at the Start line and the early 8am start (Marathon Club Ireland have an early start at their races to accommodate those who have to travel back long journeys or will take more time) has been delayed until now because of ice on the roads and conditions not fit for running.

Lilliput Adventure Centre, Saturday 24rd, 9.50am. It's time for us to start. It's still below Zero and there is still ice but in patches and the sides of the road are clearing slowly. There is 120 doing the Full Marathon today covered over both starts and 40 doing a Half marathon. We have a small loop of about 2 miles and then 4 loops of roughly 6 miles. There is a 1.5 mile off road jeep track we cover each way (making it 3 miles per lap) and that will be the longest part of each lap and morally the hardest in Laps 3 & 4. The good news is that this is a Marathon Club Ireland Marathon. The women and men of this Club are the cheeriest most positive can do people in this country, FACT! The encouragements are endless and from everyone involved, regardless of speed, seniority! What a Club!

There is food and drink stations at the finish line and half way at the jeep track. I settle in a rhythm of coke and sweets at the finish line and water and sweets at the half way mark. I manage to run the first 20 miles and then walk/run the last 6. The reason being is that the icy roads, great camaraderie and easy going chat took my mind of the stomach cramps I had for the entire race. As tiredness set in after 20 Miles so did the cramps make a great comeback. So Ice settles a stomach, there you have it!

Llliput, Saturday January 24rd, 2.27pm. I finish the 1st of my 12 marathons in 2015 for Gorta Self Help Africa in the company of Ray O'Connor. Ray is the founder of Marathon Club Ireland (MCI) and organiser of many races across Galway and Connemara. Shower, AGM of the Club and back to Limerick in nearly 1 go. The elation has dissipated the stomach cramps!

Big thanks to Vincent Guthrie, race director! To all at Marathon Club Ireland, this is the best organisation ever I have been a member of, you are all awesome! To Maura Coppinger, for all the support, driving and looking after me!

Limerick, Sunday January 25th, 2pm. I set off for a 5 mile recovery run as the training and preparation for the 2nd Marathon on February 28th begins NOW!

You can donate for my chosen charity, Gorta Self Help Africa on

Friday, 23 January 2015

From food poisoning to a Marathon start line in 4 days - the journey continues!

A challenge would not be a challenge if it were easy. A challenge would be boring if everything happened exactly the way you planned it.

I've kept saying that to myself for the last 72 hours. You see all was going dandy, except for the tired runs last weekend, until Tuesday afternoon. I had even run a very satisfying 10K on Monday evening. I was travelling to Dublin Tuesday to attend a Book Launch and would come back to Limerick Wednesday morning. So I went to a well known establishment to have a hot lunch before heading off.

I started to feel rumblings on the train. Later that evening at the book launch I got uncomfortable and dizzy and had to apologise myself in the middle of a conversation and sit down. 30 minutes later I made it back to the Hotel and stayed between bedroom and bathroom for 13 solid hours. Food poisoning.

It is now Friday morning and after tablets and rehydration with Dioralyte I feel half human again. Now this would be a very banal story if it was not for the following wee detail. I have a Marathon at 9.30am tomorrow morning in Lilliput, Westmeath and am travelling to Tullamore tonight.

Then this morning as I woke to that realisation 2 things caught my eye;
1- The Gorta Self Help Africa T-Shirt I got from Ciara Tallon in the Charity to wear for a pic after the race tomorrow. This brought me back to the reason I am doing this challenge, creating opportunities for sustainable farming for women in Africa.
2- The Special Olympics wrist band I wear at every training run because I like the slogan on it: Be brave in the attempt. This brought home to me how privileged I am to be able to undertake this challenge of running 12 marathons in 12 months.

So that's what I'll do. Stand at the start line, go and be brave in the attempt. Don't expect a Personal Best in my Monday blog, just expect honest endeavour! For my Belgian friends I'll say it in my Tervuren Dialect: 'k'goen maan devuure doen en op maan szjik baate'

You can sponsor the women in Africa via this link:

Monday, 19 January 2015

Heavy legs under broad shoulders!

It's a chilly Monday morning in Limerick as I am reflecting on the past week's running and events. The making or breaking of this challenge is not in the Marathons itself. If I fail to finish 1 of them there should be enough races to complete the 12.

It's the weeks like last week where you train in the dark from Monday to Friday and put on the running gear even before many are having their breakfast while reading the paper on Saturday and Sunday. I wouldn't want it any other way. For me running is fast becoming part of a lifestyle and part of my week. I look forward to the runs (95% of the time) and enjoy doing them, even though it is not just for me anymore; it's also for those women in Africa who deserve the opportunity of getting help setting up their own farm in order to create a sustainable living for their families. As if I needed more motivation I hear some of you say. Well yes I do!

I'm cranking up the mileage to around 40/45 miles a week right now (that's the equivalent of running from Limerick past Nenagh to Roscrea every week) and that hurts sometimes. Like yesterday.

I had run every day bar Tuesday and had done my Saturday 9 mile run half a minute per mile faster than planned. When I woke Sunday morning I had very heavy legs, from 20 miles a week over the festive season to 40+ in 2 weeks was manifesting itself. Plus there was ice on the road and paths in the estate and I had a race in 6 days and the mood wasn't there. And I still had to walk the dog we are minding before thinking of running.

It is moments like this when decisions and promises made to the charity act as the extra motivator. The 2014 me would have stayed at home. The 2015 me did 10 Miles. Instead of the 16 planned, but still 10 done. With the words of Gerry Duffy in his brilliant book 'Tick, Tock, Ten' ringing in my ears: 'Control the controllables!'

I know it's my ego talking but I still felt a bit of pride in myself for going out. It is the responsibility and accountability that partly drove me to put my shoulders under my legs and make the first step. And that's all running takes, one single step!!

You can sponsor me during 2015 on

Talk to you Friday when I will be within 24 hours of attempting the 1st Marathon of the Year in Co. Westmeath!!!!

Friday, 16 January 2015

It's more than a sporting event!

Apart from icy conditions I love this time of year for training. It's like a metaphor for life really. It's not always easy to get up and go (for a run). The (weather) conditions are not always ideal (for running). Getting up early in the dark or keeping going later in the day in the dark can be a challenge.

Yet all it takes is the first step (sometimes that means the first Mile) to get going and warmed up. And then the joy of having had the courage to take the chance makes you feel accomplished and real. You did it, you had the guts and put on the brave face. And the momentum of that mind set and all your experience to date does the rest and before you know it you are flying down the road.

On the road there are obstacles. Things (in running that is cars, dogs and bikes) come from nowhere to challenge your stability, you need to stay fresh and renewed to keep going (hydration is crucial) and you have to keep a balance (check speeds and length of runs) to stay happy.

Within weeks you have what's called a habit. I run now because I can, because it is part of my day. It is no longer if but what time and how far. I'm clocking 40 mile weeks without feeling in trouble within weeks of starting my new habit. If I can do that with running, I can do that with anything. And so CAN YOU!

Back to the challenge of 12 Marathons in 12 months in 2015. My first Marathon as you may know is Lilliput, Westmeath Saturday 24th of this month (in 8 days crikey!!). I also received the good news yesterday that the amazing people of Marathon Club Ireland (MCI) are organising Back to Back Marathons from UL Boat Club on February 28th and March 1st. I'll do the Saturday as my 2nd Marathon.

Other than that I did train through the conditions this week (3 sessions in 4 days) and am doing 10 K tonight, around 9 Miles tomorrow and whatever I get to over 14 miles on Sunday!

Please share my blog and donate on
This is your challenge!! Are you willing to accept it? Donate and share my Blog and make me sweat buckets in the freezing cold!!!!!

Talk to you Monday.

Monday, 12 January 2015

40 plus a week! From cigs and drinks to Miles!

Lots has changed over the last 8 years in my life. It's been a long road full of learning and it's taken me that long because I made the mistake to do it alone most of the time but I'm getting there faster now that I know to ask for help more often :)

Far from me trying to bore you with my life story, here's what I think is an appropriate synopsis:

January 2007: Dislike my job, smoke 20+ a day, Drink 20+ a week, unfit, overweight!

January 2015: Loooove what I do, run 40+ miles a week (43 last week), no smoking for 7.5 years now, gave up drink completely for 2015 after cutting it down gradually since 2007, running 12 Marathons in 12 months for Gorta Self Help Africa!

Training schedule for last week: Monday OFF, Tuesday 6.21 Miles, Wednesday 4.67, Thursday 4.67, Friday 6.21, Saturday 9.15, Sunday 13.81.

I'm planning something similar for this week, maybe adding a mile or 2 on the Sunday run!

There are a few things you can do to help me:
1- Tell everyone I'm doing the 12 Marathons in 12 Months by sharing this Blog on your Social Media!
2- Sponsor me on
3- Introduce me to a corporate or business sponsor. There are sponsorship packages available. Sponsors get mentioned online, on t-shirts, in all materials and in a Gorta Self Help Africa newsletter which I think (I'll get back with the accurate figure) has a reach of 40.000!
4- Run a Marathon with me.
5- Ask me to speak at an event you organise (I'm a motivational speaker as part of my business) and raise money for Gorta Self Help Africa!

Have a wonderful day and talk Friday for my next Blog!

Friday, 9 January 2015

It's all about the base, about the base!

It’s the same with this challenge. The 12 marathons in 12 months are the highlights, where I dance in the lights, run through finish lines, the adrenaline rush of race day.

Before and after the starting and finish lines are numerous mornings and evenings before and after work where I get to enjoy what I do most, being present from within accumulating miles. All going well this week I will break 40 miles, as I will next week. And then in 2 weeks’ time, Saturday 24th it’s race day number 1 in Lilliput County Westmeath with all my wonderfully inspirational buddies from my running club, Marathon Club Ireland!
Sometimes help comes from angles you weren’t looking at. Collette O’Hagan, an amazing member of the club from Dundalk, decided to launch a challenge on Facebook; and is inviting people just for fun to run either 2015 Km or 2015 Miles this year. Challenge accepted; it will make training in all weather that bit more interesting again. Thanks Collette!
I have also the pleasure to announce that John McNamara from Evolve Life Coaching and Ronan Scully from Gorta Self Help Africa have committed to run at least 1 (maybe 2) marathons with me to help raise funds. Thanks guys, really appreciated. If you want to run one with me as well, please let me know on 083-3008963 or
That’s it from me this week folks. Talk to you on Monday!

Monday, 5 January 2015

It's all of a sudden become time to get serious!

Checked my calendar to find out it's actually January 5th 2015! I'm 5 days into my 12 Marathons in 12 Months year. So what's happened since Friday?

Yesterday I made a rookie mistake. It's good I made it during an 11 Mile training run as I would have been in trouble if it was in a race. For the last 2 weeks I had trained with double tops and the leggings of a track suit as the temperatures had dropped for my darkness runs. Yesterday it was 9 degrees and I wore the same. I overheated after 4 or 5 miles and was uncomfortable the whole way through my run. TIP: Dress for 7 to 10 degrees warmer than it is as that is how you will feel after 5 or 6 Miles.

Anyway I made it through the run and am increasing the distance again next Sunday to somewhere between 14-18 Miles. Meanwhile I will spend a minimum of 2 hours each day on either training or the organisation of the events. That's a minimum of 14 hours by 52 weeks = 728 Hours! And all I want from you in return is €12! (Or more if you want and can afford it).

Also I have given up alcohol for the year! I know that by staying completely sober me and my running will benefit. I'm changing my diet as well slowly in the next few weeks, more about that in next blogs!

Oh, here's the address on the Web where you can donate:

Friday, 2 January 2015

12 marathons in 12 months start lines!

It’s the 2nd of January, 2015. Wait, does that read 2015, like Two Thousand and Fifteen? Flip, that means it’s challenge time. I have been thinking about this and training for this for a while now. 12 Marathons in 12 months for Gorta Self Help Africa. In 2015. That’s NOW!

I’ll let you know more about my first event in my blog on Monday, so keep your eyes and ears out for that!! Today I just want to let you know what Gorta Self Help Africa do so you get an idea where your sponsorship money will go to. Talk to you again on Monday! BTW the page you can donate at is: 
And if you know farming or sports related or any other companies that want to sponsor me, please put me in touch via 083-3008963 so I can tell them what they get back!

Self Help Africa is an international development agency that seeks to end hunger and poverty in Africa.

Their efforts are focussed on farming and food production.  Why? - because 80% of Africans rely directly on small-scale farming for their survival, and because most land has the potential to grow much much more.

They help rural households to grow more food and earn more from their work.  They help families to diversify farming activities, and to access markets for their produce.   They help African women - who do the bulk of the work on most small farms.

For 30 years Self Help Africa has been working to with rural communities in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Benin, Malawi, Togo, Uganda and Zambia.

Self Help Africa provides training and technical support, and assists rural poor communities in a wide variety of ways to produce more food, earn more from their land, and create opportunities to improve their lives and circumstances.