Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Belleek Marathon Challenge Back to Back Race Reports.

I love running and I find loads to love in every race I do. Whether it is the people, the organisation, the weather, the course, the scenery, the food, the volunteers. I could go on. And then some races stick. They stick because they just somehow had it all that day. Or those 2 days.

Belleek Marathon Challenge this weekend was one of those. It joins this year's Portumna 50K, Connemara Ultra and Tralee 40 Mile in races I will never forget.

My sincere thanks and congratulations to Cezary Lubinski and Daria Lubinska for what was a marvelous, beautiful and friendly running weekend. A lot of races could learn from people like you. Your personal touch, friendliness, calm approach and attention to detail made it one of my favourite running events. I really hope to be back soon. To anyone reading this who hasn't been to their races and likes old school Marathon running. Go! On my recommendation. You'll thank me for it.

2 days, 2 different courses, 2 Marathons, 1 wonderful event!!

Those of you that may know me a bit know I love listening to music and though I'm a rocker at heart I  have quite an eclectic taste. On the bus home to Limerick from Ballina yesterday I put on YouTube and headphones to stop having to listen to 2 students sitting behind me loudly devouring the contents of 2 massive bags of crisps.

One of the first songs that came on was Van Morrison's 'Days Like This'. It struck me as an appropriate way to celebrate the weekend just gone.

'When you don't need to worry there'll be days like this
When no one's in a hurry there'll be days like this
When all the parts of the puzzle start to look like they fit
Then I must remember there'll be days like this'

When arriving on Friday evening for the weekend's Back to Back Marathons I settled into the Ballina Manor Hotel, laid out the gear for the 2 days and had dinner in the Hotel Bar. The food was of a higher standard than you would expect from a 3 star hotel. Off to bed soon after for a 6.30 am rise and 7 am breakfast.

I really love my running family. Nothing is an issue when it comes to helping each other. I had just checked in to the Hotel on Facebook (I know, tech nerd) when I got a message from Sheila Masterson saying she would pick me up at 8am and give me a lift to the start. Sheila would run the Marathon on Day 1 and also act as support at the food and drink table on Day 2. Thanks so much Sheila, I really appreciate it!!

You also make new friends at these events. This weekend I had the pleasure of meeting Richard Shannon and Donna Owens. Both hail from Omagh. Richard gave me a lift back to the Hotel on Saturday evening and to the start on Sunday morning. Donna took lots of pics of us all and shared them on Social Media. She also made for wonderful dinner conversation on Saturday night. Nice to meet with both you and see you on the roads soon! Thanks!

 Donna Owens from Omagh who took these pics and was 1st Female on Sunday!
Sunday morning happy bunch with Angela Murphy, Suzy Taylor, Paula Wright, Finn O'Mara, Jill Mc Cann, Donna Owens and Patrick Roche.
Look at the smiles after the Back to Back with Paul Comerford and Donna Owens.

When we arrived at the Ballina Soccer Club grounds on Saturday I spotted many familiar faces. Lots of MCI members and other regular Marathon runners. There was a Full Marathon, Half Marathon and Relay Marathon and about 140 people turned up. We had our usual relaxing pre-race banter and after a race briefing by Cezary Lubinski we went on our way. 

We were completing 8 laps of 5.3 Km. For the first 2 and a bit kilometers we followed paths alongside the River Moy in Belleek Forest. It was peaceful, beautiful and relaxing to run the path covered with fallen leaves giving the Autumnal feel of this race a distinct natural colour. Then we would take a left turn into the Forest for the remainder of the lap. The course is fully trail here with many twists, turns and little yet sharp inclines and descents. You have to keep your wits and I found that relaxing into this section was the best way to deal with it. It allowed me to stay running at a natural pace which seemed appropriate in these beautiful forest surroundings. 

4 hrs 47 later I ran through the Finish line feeling a bit sorry this was over. I thoroughly enjoyed running the trails. Richard gave me the lift back to the Hotel. As this was my 4th Back to Back I know what works for me to recover. I spent 3 hours or so with the legs up in bed resting and devouring recovery food and drinks. Then I got a message from running legend Collette O'Hagan that about 10 runners were meeting for a meal in town that evening. I met with them in 'The Broken Jug' and had a really nice meal there. That's 2 for 2 in Ballina, is this a secret foodie town?? :)

 Receiving the beautiful wooden bling on Saturday from race organiser Cezary Lubinski.

I love listening to people at these gatherings. What a wealth of positivity and running knowledge we had around the table. In front of me was Collette O'Hagan with 400+ Marathons, to my left Dave Brady with 600+. We were also joined by the organisers Cezary and Daria and another bunch of multiple Marathon runners. After a wonderful meal it was back to the Hotel where I met with Anne and Brendan O'Mahony. We stayed for 1 more bit of chat in the Hotel Bar. Thanks for the company!

Sunday morning we headed back to the same start line for Day 2. 31 runners turned up for this Full Marathon on a 1,522 meter loop which meant 28 loops were to be covered. Most there were B2B runners but we also had some new faces on the course including Paula Wright who was my running partner at my first ever Back to Back in Tralee. We ran away from the start line then took a left turn up a hill for a couple of hundred meters into a stiff breeze before heading downhill around the rugby and soccer pitches. I settled into a rhythm that I felt comfortable with and after 5 laps (the time to start loosening up from the previous day) started picking up the pace a bit again.

 The medals, t-shirt, buff, sticker and hat from Belleek Marathon Challenge.
 Conquered the 2 day 52.4 mile challenge!
Theresa Grimes from Kerry Crusaders and with my BTR Tralee top I ran in on Sunday. 

I have known for a while that I have a preference these short loops of 1.5 to 5 K. It is either that or a full 26.2 or more loop. I ran the first 10 loops and then decided to walk the last 100 yards of the hill on each lap. Doing this only slowed my pace by 10-15 seconds per lap yet I was able to keep up the tempo all the way to the end and finish strong in 4h17 or 30 minutes faster than the previous day. And all this without a watch or taking too much notion of the clock.

I really, really enjoyed day 2. This reinforces the mindset that I am an endurance runner rather than someone going for times. I am planning to get into more multiple day events and ultra's next year.

The medals, goodies and food we got from Daria and Cezary are absolutely first class. (I'm serious about the food in this place. The Chicken Curry sandwiches after the race on Day 2 were gorgeous!!). These people are passionate about their sport and it shows. They know what runners want and need because they are runners. Thanks again for a wonderful weekend. As mentioned I hope to make it back on February 25th and 26th for your 3 in 2  event. Thanks also to the volunteers, marshals, the Galway Cow, the fellow runners and my ever present friends of Marathon Club Ireland.

What's next? Next Sunday. On a 1 mile loop through Sixmilebridge County Clare. 30 laps, 30 miles. The annual Eddie Murphy Memorial in the Bridge!! Bring it on! :) 

30 miles, 30 loops next Sunday!

Miles with smiles,

Patte xxxxx

Monday, 3 October 2016

Run Galway Bay race report and some food and drink related stuff!

For the last few years September has been the month I go on holidays. This year was no different as I headed to Lanzarote for 2 weeks R&R from the 5th to the 19th. I sampled excellent food, found a genuine Belgian Beer Bar, read some books on NLP, happiness and running; and met with some friends. Good times.

By the way, nobody brews beers like the Belgians. And that is not open for discussion! :) You haven't tasted real beer until you sampled a Trappist beer. There are only 10 Trappist beers in the world and the vast majority are Belgian. Beers like Rochefort, Orval, Chimay, Westmalle, Westvleteren and Achel. In La Casa Belga on Playa de los Pocillos they had them all. And I tasted (you drink these yokes slowly if you want to walk home) most of them. Accompanied by portions of cheese covered in celery salt. Great stuff. When you get a chance to try these anywhere, go for it!

The Belgian Trappist family.

Another thing I did differently is that I went for a daily 10K at the warmest part of the day, some time between 11 and 1. Daily meant daily. 14 times 10K in 14 days holidays. And I did a good bit of swimming too. Which contrary to running is a lot easier in 35 degrees. ;)

Anyway I got back to Ireland and looked at the running calendar. First race marked on it was Run Galway Bay Marathon on October 1. I missed this race last year as I covered the beautiful route of Brussels Marathon. Did 6 more 7 to 8 mile training sessions in the 2 weeks before it to get ready.

We travelled on the Friday evening to avoid getting up at silly o'clock as the Full Marathon race was starting at Nimmo's Pier in Galway at 8.30am with a 10K at 10.30 and Half Marathon at 12.15. Found the Adare Guesthouse easily enough in what for Galway was light traffic. Went on a recce and by total accident discovered Deli La Tasca, a Spanish Tapas Bar on Dominick Street Upper.

Deli La Tasca in Dominick Street Upper.

Next time you're in Galway do yourself a favour and pay this place a visit. I know this blog seems to be all about food & drink. But I love those too and the running bit will follow soon :) Really though, this place is ran by Spanish lads and they know their stuff. Had Iberico Ham Croquettes, Spanish Veggie Omelette and Spanish Meatballs washed down with 1 A.K. Damm beer and 1 Alhambra Reserva 1925 beer. Absolutely divine. When in Galway, go try for yourself.

To the event now. Got up at 7am to get ready and have some breakfast. We were registering for the Full on the morning in the huge Marquee on Nimmo's Pier. That's one plus for this event already. The possibility of registering and collecting your number on the morning of the event. Not only that but there was food, tea and coffee for anyone taking part. Well done to Ray O'Connor, race director. That scored major points on my happiness scale.

Got the cuppa and so it was time to meet the family, the Marathon Club Ireland family. There was about 40 of us assembled Saturday morning to take part. And what a pleasure it is to meet up each time. I hadn't seen a few of the members for months and yet it felt like just hours had gone by. The connection is real; full of love, friendship, care and jolly good fun!! I love being part of this wonderful group. On top of that we had Team Kerr at the event together with a couple from the Netherlands, both promoting inclusion for wheelchair assisted running.

Ray O'Connor assembled us all before the start to give us a wee pep talk and encourage all the first time Marathon runners. Once again a nice touch for a big city Marathon. Totally put at ease by all this we started around 8.30am on a foggy, fresh morning. Soon the sun would pierce through the fog and add an Indian Summer feel to the rest of the day's running. The views from the Prom at Salthill and the rest of the Bay are stunning to say the least. Add to this scene the very cheerful Galway people shouting plenty of encouragements as they had al fresco breakfasts outside the Cafe's all along the Bay.
Running is high up on my Happiness scales (Thanks Mary Mockett for the pic)

I ran with several people I know from the Club throughout the morning. I'll forget plenty so apologies for that but I distinctly remember running miles with Pat Torpey and Kevin Murphy. Stopping to say hello and give hugs to my tagging partner Theresa Grimes. And Meadbh O'Leary. And Mary Hanly. And Valerie De Burca. Meeting the effervescent Tiger O'Flaherty. Spotting Sheila Masterson donning the Mayo colours. And her fellow Mayo long distance runner Geraldine Cawley. Of course Rachel Stokes and Eamonn Egan were there from Kerry Crusaders and Simon Hallissey, Jim McNeice and Brian O'Se from Born To Run Tralee. My Limerick pals Michelle Burke, Liz Leonard, Paddy Mockett and Katie Sheehan. Brenda Francis was there. Mandy Prendergast. Aidan Hogan. Got a shout out from Gerry Duffy. Mirko Warnke and Wojtek Musial. Maighread Ryan and Rebecca Carroll. Paul Hogan. Colm Fearon. Alan Gorski. Rita ni Riain, Suzy Taylor, Valerie Fogarty and Tena Griffin ran with Team Kerr. Got my picture taken many times by our resident photographer Mary Mockett. Shouts of encouragement from our resident supporter Maura Coppinger. To many to name them all. So sorry if I forgot you. One big family at one big happy running event! If Carlsberg did Saturday mornings ....................

 After the race with Liz, Brenda and Geraldine.
Enjoying the complimentary alcohol free Erdinger with Paddy, Katie, Alan, Brenda and Geraldine

Photo Wall pose with Rachel Stokes, winner of the Ladies Marathon!

Thanks to these people and the immense work of all the volunteers, marshals, water station staff and the sugar fairy lady at the sweet stand I was able to stay in tempo for a 4.05-4.10 time (not that times matter) until Mile 22 and then the not Patrick weather and a couple of blisters slowed me down a tad until I reached the finish line in 4.20. A few firsts. First time doing 20 Marathons in 1 calendar year. First Galway City Marathon. And the counter now stands at 53 Full or Ultra Marathons.

What's next? A couple of training runs this week and then next Sunday the 9th a number of the MCI family and some from North Cork AC are gathering for the Marathon Club Ireland Charleville Marathon. We run from Charleville to Kilmallock in Limerick and back twice for our 26.2 fix.

If you do what you truly love, you will do things beyond what you thought possible!!

Keep running, miles with smiles!

Paddy Le Belge (thanks to Colm Fearon for the new nickname). xxxxx

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

New Race! Race Report East Cork Harbour Marathon.

About 4 or 5 months ago I heard about a new race on the calendar. In a place I hadn't visited before nor heard of. All good reasons to travel and try it out.

The Race: East Cork Harbour Marathon. The place : Aghada, County Cork. The race is organised by members of Aghada GAA club with the support of Aghada AC.

Aghada GAA is the club of former Football All Star Conor Counihan. In the neighbouring village of Cloyne you can see the statue of the infamous Christy Ring outside the Cloyne GAA ground. There is a very strong GAA background here.

Christy Ring statue in Cloyne!

Arrived the night before the race and stayed in a B&B in Shanagarry. To get there we had to drive passed the gates of the infamous Ballymaloe House and Cookery School. Once we found the B&B and settled in we set of to Aghada GAA for the number collection. This went smoothly and was accompanied by a big welcome and even bigger smile.

This demeanour was a constant for the duration of the race on Saturday. Scores upon scores of marshals and volunteers all with big smiles and matching attitudes. This alone will make you want to come back. A huge, big thank you to all at Aghada GAA and the organisers for such a fantastic event held in great spirit.

Then on Friday evening things got a bit hairy. Setting off for Dinner in Garryvoe Hotel 1.5 miles from the B&B the weather turned within minutes. By the time we arrived at the promenade in Garryvoe the waves were literally crashing over the rocks onto the promenade flooding it and some of the roads around the Hotel instantly. Got to the Hotel and had a nice Dinner during which the weather became even more inclement. The walk back ensured being soaked to the core.

Yet this is Ireland. So when waking up at 6.30am for breakfast the skies were blue and free of clouds! There was a 10K and Half Marathon at 10am and the Full Marathon at 9am. We had separate car parks that were a good walk away from the Start and even further from the Finish. I suppose you can only use the space you have :)

As usual the Marathon Club Ireland gang where there in full force. Great chats were had pre race with wonderful people who travel the length and breadth of Ireland nearly weekly to do what they love most. Inspirational people they are; like Collette O'Hagan, Eimear Hurley, Ann Moloney, Catherine Guthrie, Gerard Fay, Derek Mackessy, Adolfo Garcia, Brian O'Se, Jim McNeice, Simon Hallissey, Conor Cusack and so many more!!

You can watch their official Video of the races here https://www.facebook.com/EastCorkHarbourMarathon/videos/512480955622447/

I also spotted another familiar face in the crowd. I hadn't seen Noel McCarthy at a race for a while. This is the man with whom I ran the second Half of the Limerick leg of his 6 Marathons in 6 Days in 6 Munster counties for Bumbleance exactly 1 year ago. It was great to meet up again Noel and thanks for the excellent company during the first 10 miles (and no I don't know where the 7 mile marker went either :) )!

Here's picture of Noel and myself after finishing Day 2 of his 6 in 6 last year!

As for the race I felt great throughout on Saturday. I'm running more often during the week again and that is the secret for me to feel better during races. Nearly 0 tapering, just 6 to 8 milers during the week beforehand. I'm not asking you to try this at home, just like the 3 pints of Smithwicks the night before a race this just works for me ;)

Though I don't run on times anymore as regular readers might know, I effortlessly moved from the 4.45 pacers to the 4.30 group and at mile 14 was about to tag along with the 4.15 crowd when we took a left turn up a hill. It might be my imagination but we climbed all the way to mile 22 (there was a few downhill sections but they were tiny compared to the uphill sections). This made for a very interesting, challenging section which I thoroughly enjoyed albeit at a slower pace.

At Mile 14 just before the 'hilly' section!

Just as the hills were starting to take their toll a vision appeared. A white car. With a hand sticking out. Holding Jaffa Cakes. And a voice shouting 'Look what I have for you Patrick!'. Add to that an ice cold energy drink and I owe a massive debt of gratitude to Dolores Duffy, the angel in the white car! Your generosity is remembered and you came at exactly the right time as I was being caught by the 4.30 gang again. And you helped so many others too. Thanks so much Dolores!

After that boost came a downhill and a straight few miles to the Finish line. It was on that straight I met Philip from Waterford. Philip was running his 5th Marathon, his first in 2 years. We started chatting and easily ran ahead of the 4.30 pacers, reeling in a few runners as well. Thanks Philip Knox for the company Mile 22-26!

Finish East Cork Harbour Marathon with Philip Knox!

At the Finish Line we got personal congratulations from the Race Director, a nice t-shirt, medal and burger with Ballymaloe relish!! There were plenty of activities at the GAA pitch for all ages and tables in tents with all kind of goodies too.

This was their inaugural Marathon and for a first it was very well organised and the friendly faces and great energy were infectious. I recommend this race and will try to come back myself!

To top off a wonderful Saturday for my 51st Marathon, I also received the 50th Marathon medal of Marathon Club Ireland from an absolute legend in long distance running; Collette O'Hagan. I have immense respect for Collette and she is my number 1 running inspiration. To get the medal from her made it extra special for me. Thanks Collette!!

Getting the 50th Marathon medal from Collette!

What's next?? In 4 days I'm running Craughwell AC Marathon in yes you guessed it Craughwell, County Galway. It is my 2nd time doing this race, I'll let you know next week how number 52 went!!

Miles with Smiles!!

Patte xxxxx

Friday, 19 August 2016

Race preview: East Cork Harbour Marathon.

And we're off! To a place I've never been before. So that's a double whammy then. A Marathon and travelling to new places. 2 things that make me happy.

Destination: Aghada, (East) County Cork. Event: East Cork Harbour Marathon.

This is a new marathon on the scene, organised for the most part by members of Aghada GAA Club supported by Aghada Running Club. I met these wonderful people at the Expo of the Barrington's Hospital Great Limerick Run. The were very enthusiastic and energetic about the whole thing so I decided to sign up.

With new events comes wonder, another thing I like. Wonder about the course, wonder about the people, wonder about the facilities, hills, scenery and so much more. And even the course profile is full of wonder as I am completely new to the area. Here's a link to the routes for those in the area or taking part or supporting! http://eastcorkmarathon.com/the-routs/ And here's their Promo Video which looks great! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHbSks1QMXg

This time 2 years ago I had completed 15 Marathons, in the next 2 weeks I am running numbers 51 & 52 and I am privileged and very thankful to receive my 50th Marathon Medal from the amazing and wonderful people at Marathon Club Ireland tomorrow.

I'll let you all know here on Monday what East Cork was like.

One more thing. A Big Massive Thank You to all of you who read and share this Blog. A Big Massive Thank You to all of you who have ran with me over the last 2 years or more. A Big Massive Thank You to all who support us running.

Thanks to all of you this Blog is possible. And thanks to all of you this Blog has been shortlisted for the Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards 2016 in the Sports Section. You can vote here until Tuesday: http://blogawardsireland.com/

Have a wonderful weekend,

Miles with Smiles!!
Patte xxxxx

Friday, 12 August 2016

Tralee 100K inspires!

I thought about writing a race report for last weekend's Tralee 100K. Then didn't. Because I didn't race, I crewed. And learned. And was in awe. And learned. And got inspired. And learned. And saw pain. And learned. And saw persistence. And learned. And saw elation. And learned. I will write to people individually over the next few days/weeks to congratulate them.

100K is more an experience than a race. Just like the 40 miler was for me earlier this year when I fell in love with the unknown. http://howmanybelgians.blogspot.ie/2016/06/run-kingdom-40-mile-ultra-race-report.html

Crewing for Shane Dunphy (Congrats again on your wonderful achievement), who ran with an equally impressive Derek Mackessy, was an experience too. I saw the highs and lows of Ultra running. The beauty of growth through pain. The pureness of mind over body. The graciousness of people in flow.

 Crewing the 100K for Shane Dunphy with Brenda Barrett Dunphy was quite an inspiring experience! (Pic Run The Kingdom - Frederick Loveridge).

The magnificent tandem of enhanced human endeavour and natural beauty of places like Kerryhead, Ballyheigue, Banna Strand, Fenit Pier, Barrow Hill etc...

It was poetry in motion. Movement through stillness. Calmness in wilderness.

It was utterly beautiful. And inspiring.

Count me in. Next year. Tralee 100K.

It's prominent on my list of so far 8 Ultra's for next year. I'm hooked to the beauty and mindfulness of the solitude of the long distance runner. With a bunch of wonderful running mates thrown into the equation.

I'm taking the rest of this year to prepare for the running experiences of 2017 by training 5 to 6 days a week, eating better, cross training and doing 6-7 more single Marathons and one 30 mile Ultra. Pure fun!

Congrats Marcus Howlett and Jim McNeice for the experiences this year in Tralee. I'll be back!!

Miles with Smiles,

Patte xxxxx

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Why crew when you could run? Crewing at this weekend's Tralee 100K.

All the reasons I am starting a new venture called The Intentional Academy are in it's mission statement. It reads: 'Our vision is to promote, communicate and inspire belief in a way of life that is based on purpose, self-reliance, contribution and well-being.' For those who may be interested I've started a new blog on this at http://itsallintentional.com/

Distance running fits in beautifully with that vision. Among other things it serves the purpose of creating headspace, facilitating meditation and meeting like minded people. It can be quite self reliant at times when running on your own at mile 29 of 39 in a 50-60mph head on wind & hailstorm on top of a hill range (Connemarathon this year). It most certainly assists with my well-being both physically and mentally.

Now for the contribution part. I am happy to assist novel runners with training programs and even to go run with them. I am happy to share my stories in order to hopefully inspire others to start moving and exercising. I am happy to help out at running events because runners know what runners need.

What I haven't done yet is help crew for someone at an Ultra Marathon. Having run my first 3 ultra's this year (Connemara 39.3 mile http://howmanybelgians.blogspot.ie/2016/04/connemarathon-ultra-race-report.html, Portumna 50K http://howmanybelgians.blogspot.ie/2016/06/portumna-forest-marathon-race-report.html and Tralee 40 Mile http://howmanybelgians.blogspot.ie/2016/06/run-kingdom-40-mile-ultra-race-report.html) without crew I guess that once you go towards 100K or more it might be nice to have a crew to look after food, ailments, mental health, support etc...

As I am preparing for longer races in 2017 and because I like to contribute and give back I have volunteered to help crew for a good friend, Shane Dunphy, who is doing his first 100K race this Sunday in Tralee! http://runthekingdom.ie/events-calendar/aug-tralee-100k-ultra-marathon/

Shane will do the running, his fellow Marathoner wife Brenda is in the car with another Marathoner Paddy Mockett and myself. We start Sunday at 6am with a 9pm cut off time. The Cut off time means we all work together to get Shane to the Finish Line before that time, with Shane doing most of the work obviously. Personally I have agreed to jump in and run the last 20 or 30K with Shane if wanted/needed. Here's the route! http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/926232191

I am so looking forward to what will be an adventure, a long day and an exhaustive day. I'm also looking forward to supporting all the other athletes en route, many of them come from our wonderful circle of friends in Marathon Club Ireland, Born To Run Tralee, Kerry Crusaders and many, many more! What a glorious way to spend a Sunday! And don't tell to many people, yet this race if still on next year is on my to-do list. :)

I'll be sure to have a report here on the event and how we got on next Tuesday as I'm staying in Tralee Sunday night and returning Monday afternoon!

In the mean time I'll just go for a wee 6 to 10 miler each day this week to warm up for it!!

Miles with Smiles,

Patte xxxxx

Monday, 25 July 2016

Race Reports: #50at50 completed at Marathon Club Ireland B2B in Offaly!

I am purposefully choosing a life of intention, direction and being present on a daily basis. This means perpetually doing more of what I love most. And trying to contribute with the same level of intention and direction to the world around me.

Doing this releases you of a burden. And once you drop that burden, there is actually no need to pick it up again.

What is that burden? Others' expectations.

I recently decided to remove some of them to check what would happen. It is liberating. So now all your and others' expectations of me are of no more use to me anymore. I'm giving them back to you, they are yours to keep.

How does this Intentional Living work? I'll keep it short. You figure out what you love doing most and then simply start doing it. Then set an intention. Case in point is my love for long distance running.

My intention is to run for as long as I can, as often as I can, as far as I can go, as long as I keep loving it. Then I set a direction I want to take it in. This year that was #50at50. To have completed 50 Marathons before my 51st birthday. Then on a daily basis I do what I love most to move me toward that direction. Simple and oh so effective.

I try and do what I love most every day. Makes me happier, living in the moment, creating moments as they happen.

My 51st birthday is in February 2017. I completed the #50at50 yesterday, with more than 6 months to spare. Why? I just kept doing what I love most on a daily basis. Simple. And effective.

Medals 49 & 50, completing #50at50
On Friday we travelled to Tullamore, Co. Offaly for my third ever Back to Back Marathon weekend. 26.2 miles on Saturday from Clonmore Harps GAA club. 26.2 miles Sunday around Mount Lucas Wind Turbine Farm about 5 miles South of Rhode.

These weekends are never just about running. They are about an extended family of friends who genuinely care for and support each other. Whether they are from Marathon Club Ireland, East of Ireland, East Antrim Marathon Series, Kerry Crusaders, Born To Run Tralee or any other Clubs that come to these smaller races. This was more than evident this weekend.

Big, massive thanks go to Brenda and Shane Dunphy who put us up in their home for the weekend and provided shelter, food, hot drinks and more. To Elaine and Denzil Jacobs and family for opening their house on Friday and Saturday evening to about 15-20 people and again providing food and beverages. To Maura Coppinger for the wonderful MCI Rocks cake. To Mary and David Toomey for the company and lifts. To Maryse and Derek Mackessy for being excellent company. To Catherine, Lindsey and Vincent Guthrie for everything you do for us and the Club. To Aiden Swords and Johnny Healy, Race Directors for 2 excellent courses and races!!

 Running is Fun with Mary Toomey Roche & Brenda Barrett Dunphy.
 The gorgeous MCI Rocks cake!!
MCI is one big happy family, hydration with Maryse O'Connor Mackessy, Derek Mackessy, David Toomey, Shane Dunphy and Brenda Barrett Dunhpy.
With Shane Dunphy in the 'Bog' on Saturday.

Big, massive thanks to all the runners both Saturday and Sunday for your messages of support and your well wishes (Yes Shaun Boyle that's you too and you are in the Blog :) ). Your words and hugs were very much appreciated. To Tiger O'Flaherty for your inspiring speech to celebrate your 100th Marathon, respect and congrats. To Eimear Hurley for the biggest hug I have gotten in ages and your kind words. To Theresa Grimes for continuing our Tag games. To Tiger, Shane and Valerie De Burca for the company in the bog. To Angela Ross Ines for the 20 odd miles of excellent company on Sunday.

The happy 4 who finished Day 1 together. With Shane Dunphy, Tiger O'Flaherty and Valerie De Burca. Both Tiger and Valerie ran their first ever Back to Back's.

Ran from mile 6ish to 26.2 in the Wind Turbine Farm on Sunday with Angela Ross Ines. Thanks Angela!
 The hero of the weekend! Tiger O'Flaherty accompanied by his son Paul getting the 100th Marathon medal from Vincent Guthrie.
Group picture with 100th Marathon man Tiger!

Big, massive thanks to Carol Madden, Philip McEvoy, Carmel Doherty, Brenda & Mary for the pictures to remind me of #50at50.

And I'm probably forgetting people. Thanks to you all!

Saturday we started at the Club house of Clonmore Harps GAA club. Here's another thank you. To them for opening their facilities to us. We ran a 6.5 mile out and back route twice to make up the 26.2 miles. Some of this on country roads and then a couple of miles on trail of road. Trail? Or Bog? You decide. To navigate this section was interesting and a nice change. It was a warm and humid day and the lack of rain made the bog easier to negotiate. For once no rain was better :)

 The Bog that was part of Saturday's Marathon :)

Sunday we ran the entire race in Bord Na Mona's Mount Lucas Wind Turbine Farm. This made my 50th Marathon a very unique experience indeed. We ran a 7k loop followed by 7 loops of 5K. While they are big when you stand under them, they don't make that much noise. We started of with a big shower of rain which made me smile and everyone else point at me, asking to remove the stupid grin of my face :)

The Wind Turbine Farm at Mount Lucas was Sundays scene for the Marathon.

The weather improved throughout the run and in the end we had blue skies and humid conditions.

That's it. #50at50 done within the embrace of the wonderful MCI family.

What's next? I'm taking a wee break from racing to build up some strength again via training. Next Marathon is East Cork Harbour August 20th. That's 4 weeks away for once :) After that I will run the races I feel like running for the rest of the year and see where that takes me.

Running is part of who I am and a big part of what makes me happy!

As for the intention. That stays the same. Run for as long as I can, as often as I can, as far as I can go, as long as I keep loving it. And I worked out my Direction for 2017.

12 Multiples or Ultra's for the year or 1 per month. Anyone know a good hashtag for this????

A Multiple is more than 1 successive Day racing Marathon or longer. Ultra's are any race longer than 26.2 miles. 12 of these for the year (and a few Marathons as training runs). Hopefully this will include races like the Quadrathon in Donegal, a multiple in Ballina, Connemara Ultra again, Tralee 100K and a Double Marathon in Sixmilebridge, the Wicklow Way Ultra etc...

Thanks again everyone for all your kind words, for reading this blog and for running alongside me. You are all awesome! You are all unique! You can all live intentionally too!!!

Miles with Smiles and 50 hugs each. xxxxx


Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Race Report: MCI Tralee Back to Back Marathons!

"Talk to me not of time and place; I owe I'm happy to the chase." - William Shakespeare!

This weekend to me was as much about Marathons as about reconnection with self. I wasn't in the happiest of places before heading to Tralee! I had some mental injuries and was tending to them when the weekend came up.

I travelled with 2 certainties. 1- This was the right thing to do. 2- I love running long distance and the people I meet doing it.

At the other end of the weekend I have only fond memories, renewed friendships, a stronger reconnection with my core and a sense of purpose that is rock solid. Result!

And I ran Back to Back 26.2 miles on Saturday and Sunday.

Let's start the race report with a one liner :) If a certain beer brand did Marathons they would probably not be a patch on those organised by Marathon Club Ireland.

Both days the Race Director, the volunteers, the marshals and the fellow runners were amazing. These races MCI put on are solely focused on making it easier and better for us runners. I always forget people and apologise for that but special thanks for this weekend to Race Director Brian O' Se, Vincent and Lindsey Guthrie, Kirstie McTrusty and Brian Byrne. You all did stellar work and gave up 2 days of your time just for us runners. Love and respect to you all!

On a personal note also thanks to Catherine Costello for the Tralee welcome and company on Friday evening.

Saturday morning I woke up at 6am for an 8am start. Breakfast in a local B&B was laid out for me and I enjoyed it looking out the window with a smile. It was raining. Finally! I know, I know. But this is about me OK. I looooovvvveee running in the rain.

By the way thanks for pictures Mary Mockett, Lindsey Guthrie, Vincent Guthrie, Kirsty McTrusty and Valerie De Burca!

 Running in the Rain makes me happy!
Tired but Happy :) 

Walked the 15 or so minutes to the registration in the Rose Hotel who very kindly offered us a room during the day for both days!! Met with lots of running buddies which shatters any pre-race nerves. The camaraderie and laughs are always plentiful at these events. Found out that there was a Garda enforced change in route with an initial 2.3 mile loop followed by 6 loops of 4 miles.

The same loop some of us did the 40 Mile Ultra on. Groundhog Day x 2! 2 days of 6 more loops on the same course we did 10 times 2 weeks ago.

I feel like an Army Recon Unit now. I can give you the exact location of bends, potholes, houses, gates, fences, trees and colours of bay windows on the entire loop :) There is a very disturbing looking Leprechaun on the route as well, or was that an effigy to a Kerry footballer? Repetition does strange things to the mind :) Also 13 hills each day, for 2 days! Sweet!

 Start Line Day 1!
Start line Day 2!

It rained though. Both days. Sunday heavier than Saturday. Not fun for most runners, pure bliss for me. Saturday I felt sluggish and slow. I had lost my personal mojo and was tired. This was the ideal way to shake all that off. 26.2 miles of a reconnection run. It worked. Firstly thanks to Eamon Egan for the company on the first 11 miles. It was such fun chatting with you as the miles melted away. Thanks Eamon.

With Eamon Egan on Day 1!

I have to say the same thanks for Sunday, when my good friend Cathy Quilter joined me for about the same distance of 10-11 miles. Thanks Cathy, it was as always great fun running with you!!

On both days I played a game of tag with another great running friend, Theresa Grimes. Theresa and myself would pass each other on several occasions on the laps and were always encouraging each other until we met again. Thanks Theresa, big hug!

I felt much better on Sunday. It might have been the consistent rain. It might have been as Brian Byrne reminded me muscle memory, your legs know the course and the distance. Truth is this was only my second Back to Back and just like last time the second day was easier!

I believe on this occasion it was also the mental release I got from the Saturday run coupled with complete rest afterwards. I only got up for food and the customary 3 pints to sleep better.

2nd ever Back to Back!
Getting the hugs and medal from Paddy Mockett after Day 2!
With Valerie De Burca at the end of Day 1!

For those into results. Day 2 was about 15 minutes faster than Day 1, just like on my first B2B. And these were Marathons 47 & 48.

What's next? Marathon Club Ireland are going nuts (in a good way) this July and are organising another Back to Back in 11 & 12 days in Offaly. Saturday in Rhode and Sunday on Mount Lucas Turbine Wind Farm. I'm signed up and ready to go! You can join me by registering via the link for only €10 per Marathon!! http://www.active.com/ireland-ireland/running/distance-running-races/marathon-club-series-2015?int

As Muddy Waters used to sing: Got My Mojo Workin'

That's the Mojo workin', can you sse it yet??? ;)

Miles with smiles and hugs,

Patte xxxxx