Monday, 25 April 2016

Fatigue means time to reflect without blame.

It's been 2 weeks since the Ultra. And the body is still not fully recovered. I ran 10K on Monday, 8.5 miles on Wednesday, 7.2 miles on Friday evening followed Saturday morning by a 10.61 mile run. I could not get out for a run yesterday Sunday. My knee and groin strains are still there and my breathing during running was a tad heavier than normal.

Saying that the pace was still my usual training 8.30-8.45 min/mile. It's just that it seemed a little less easy. I also realised looking at my calendar I have just gone for 8 runs so far in April in 25 days. 2 of these runs were a Full Marathon and the 39.3 mile Ultra.

I reflected on this yesterday in the office as I am preparing for 5 races in May and June, 3 Full Marathons and 2 Ultra's.

First of all I accepted that nothing went wrong and I didn't need fixing. This is often people's starting point for reflection. Fix what is wrong. Play the blame game. I knew nothing had gone wrong as I completed both races I set out to do in April.

So what did I need to change? Doing less running is not an option. :) Doing more running is my preferred option. So what got me tired? Well the ultra was energy sapping because of the weather conditions. I had to literally empty the tank 2 weeks ago to just finish.

Then I looked at my diary for the last 2 weeks. Immediately upon my return from Connemara I had a day full of client meetings. Then I had 3 full days of giving training. That's standing up in a training room and walking around all day. On Saturday I spoke in Thomond Park, standing around all day and on Sunday I attended a Mental Health fair in Limerick Milk Market, standing all day.

Ideal recovery?? :)

Anyway this will happen again so I can't stop doing that either.

What can I control? Nutrition, sleep patterns and adding a full recovery day off my feet after a race.

That's it. It's that simple. It took a review however rather than a blaming exercise.

So that's the lesson. Regardless of what you do. Review without blame and take simple actions to make things better.

Better Nutrition, 8 hours sleep/day and 1 full day recovery sessions planned after each race.

Next up in 6 days is the Barrington's Hospital Great Limerick Run Marathon. Marathon or Ultra Race number 9 this year, number 42 in total. #50at50 I'm taking it easy running this as a training run.

Miles with smiles,

Patte xxxxx

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Phase 1 complete, Phase 2 initiate!

'But Mousie, thou are no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men,
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!'

Roberts Burns certainly had a way with words when he wrote his 'Tae a Moose' poem in 1785. And yes, he was right. Of all the plans made by all the people in the world, most don't end up working out as expected. Even though they don't necessarily all end in grief and pain!

There was no Phase 1, 2 & 3 for my running in 2016. But it ended up that way. Connemara Ultra was supposed to be my 5th race of 2016, it became my 8th.

I have mentioned before I'm getting quite good at listening to my body and getting the mind to control it better. I knew deep down I was ready for the Ultra despite some professional advice to the contrary. And despite the weather system's best efforts I made it through the race faster than expected.

I knew I needed a break now, so I took one. Full week without running. What made it easier was that I was really, really busy last week. That helps. Doing one thing I truly love doing doesn't allow time for missing the other thing I love doing so much. Went back to training last night. Lovely.

The intention and direction haven't changed, just my reaction to events and adapting to whatever happens in the moment. So Phase 1 was closed off with 8 Races completed. 7 Marathons (including a first Back to Back) and 1 Ultra.

Time for Phase 2 which as it stands runs until September 4th. (Hols for 2 weeks on the 5th). Though I love running year round, Summer is my lower preference season. I prefer hilly runs in rain and colder weather.

Anyway between now and the end of May I have 'just' 2 Marathons booked. The Great Limerick Run Marathon on May 1st and the Lakes of Killarney Marathon on May 14th. Nice and easy start to the Phase getting me to 10 races for 2016 and 43 overall.

Next UP!!! On May 1st, on Home Turf!!
These plans can be fluid as I live in the moment more consciously now. This in the Now living is responsible for the extra 3 races in Phase 1. So with apologies to Mr. Burns, I'm Living in the Now and I'm hooked :)

Miles with Smiles

Patte xxxx

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Connemarathon Ultra Race report.

Connemara was my 2nd Marathon ever in 2010 after Dublin 2008. Dublin Marathon don't have an Ultra option so it had to be Connemara. Also because of the breath-taking scenery which seen on foot is even more spectacular. And I had ran 40 Marathons previous to this so an added challenge would spice things up nicely. And 39.3 miles sounds like a real Ultra challenge :)

Collected the number in Galway on Saturday Lunchtime and had an 'unhealthy' Lunch of chips, beans and sausages. I know what works for me. Headed of to the B&B I used the last 2 years for the Connemarathon Full. Waterfall Lodge just outside Oughterard is a gem of a B&B. And Oughterard has been Connemarathon race central for me for all 5 races there to date. (1 Half, 3 Full and now 1 Ultra).

Nice meal in the Boat Inn and then to the leaba for a 6am rise. Breakfast at 6.30am as the B&B owners got up specially for it!! Left at 7am to get on the bus at Oughterard GAA pitch at 7.30am. Met Francy, Marie and Kevin from MCI on the bus and had a nice chat with Francy all the way to Maam Cross for bag drop, briefing and transport to race start.

Connemarathon allows the Ultra runners to drop 3 bags with their own food at any of the water stations. I chose 19, 29 & 35 miles for my bags stuffed with Jaffa Cakes, bottles of flat Coke, Bananas, salted crisps and Bounty bars. I also wore a Flipbelt (get one if you run long distance they are super) with sweets and a nutrition bar.

Race briefing at 8.15am. Roads are open for first 26 miles so run on left. And Enjoy!! (Didn't hear the rest as the mind was racing).

At the Race briefing with R to L Marie Chapman, Francy McManus and Mirko Warnke. (Picture Marie Chapman)
We were bussed 1 mile or so back up the Hell of the West for our start. When getting off the bus the cold and wind hit us. Hoy!! That wasn't in the plan :) We started at 9. Settled into a slow rhythm and got a nice surprise seeing so many MCI members at Peacock's Hotel after 1 mile shouting encouragements. Thanks to you all!

At mile 1 with Fleur Forbes (Caption and picture Cathy Quilter)

Found myself running with Fleur Forbes, fellow MCI member and fellow first time Ultra runner. We shared our stories, encouragements and met with 2 other ladies from Kildare and 2 lads from Italy. The Italian boys ran for one of their friends who had won the Ultra twice and had developed cancer. They were going to stop for a pint in Leenane at Mile 26 to honour him. Nice story.

We chatted on and the first 10 miles were dry, pleasant, nearly effortless and with wind in the back. Then we turned right into the Inagh Valley and it was like being hit by a 40 ton truck. The wind was merciless and started to mix with driving rain and later sleet and hail. We got through this to Mile 13 where I lost track with Fleur after a water station. I remember saying 'you will catch up' as she had a food parcel there and I didn't want to stand still in the cold rain and wind. Thanks Fleur for the company on those 13 miles. It was pleasant conversation and made the miles disappear!

I'm going to keep it simple. From there on the weather got progressively worse all the way to Mile 33-34.

Because of my groin injury I had left my watch in the bag at the start and was running on feeling. There were 2 time cut offs at mile 13 (2.5 hours) & 26 (5.5 hours). Before the weather hit us I was pretty confident of making those so decided to run watch free and stop me fretting about times. This definitely worked. I love running without a watch and have ran some of my best races like that. I made Mile 13 in 2H12 and Mile 26 in 4H35 despite the conditions.

We turned up the Hill in Leenane at mile 26 and I was running fine even though the last 13 miles had been energy thieves. At around Mile 28 the conditions went apocalyptic. At least that's how it felt. We were running head into a gale force wind which for fun effect combined its force with combinations of ice cold rain, sleet and hailstones. The Brussels Marathon buff I wore in honour of those who died in the recent attacks was a lifesaver keeping my head protected.

I started shivering and shaking uncontrollably. I started getting muscle pains in my upper arms from shaking. I felt my energy flow out of my body and at the water stop at Mile 29 (the only unmanned one all day yet it would have been inhumane to let someone stand there), I could hardly open my food parcel as the table it was on blew over and flew 10 or so yards away against a pole. This was crazy stuff. I felt very low and thought briefly of quitting there and then out of pure self preservation. There were ambulances driving up and down the course at this stage.

Then the words came to me. Words I have said so often to myself. 3 Words. Words I got from Gerry Duffy in one of his books. 'Control the Controllables'. Right, what can I control? Not the weather, not the temperature, no change of clothes, no protection from the wind in an open valley.

I often say to clients that the answer is most times inside self. That came to me too. What inside you can you use for control? I was literally standing still in the middle of the road with my back turned to hail and wind, shaking like a leaf when these thoughts occurred.

Light bulb. My breath! I can control my breath. Move forward Patrick and concentrate all you are on your breathing. I started walking and breathing consciously. Within 5 minutes I started to breathe slower and slower and my body temperature seemed to regulate itself. The shaking and shivering disappeared and my mind cleared itself of the problems that were external factors. By mile 32 I was jogging again and jogged/walked all the way over the Hell of the West climb to the finish line at Maam Cross in 7H36M33S.

First Ultra done. Definitely up for more!
First Ultra done. In horrible weather conditions. I'm an ultra runner. 8 years ago my first run was 0.75 miles and I had to walk back home after that. This was my 41st race at Marathon distance or longer.

Because I can, because I love running, because it is fun, because I enjoy it, because my body allows me.

My feeling 24 hours later? Achievement, Self Pride and Hope I can do this more often!

Sincere thanks to the Organisation, Marshalls, Volunteers, Ambulance crews and GardaĆ­ who kept us safe doing what we love most in horrendous weather conditions. I salute you all!

Next?? Great Limerick Run Marathon on May 1st for number 42. Oh and I'm booking my 2nd Ultra this week. Portumna 50K on June 11th. I'm hooked. Thanks Connemara!!

Miles with Smiles,

Patte xxx

Monday, 4 April 2016

Marathon Club Ireland Listowel Marathon race report.

Listowel was a mystery to me. 21 years long it was a detour on the 13 Bus to Tralee. That changed this weekend. For the first time ever on Friday at around 5.30pm I got off the 13 Bus at the stop on the Square in Listowel.

When getting off the bus I spotted Geraldine Cawley from Mayo had been on the same packed bus. Then a yelp. It was Tena and Rochelle Griffin with a welcome banner for Team Kerr. They were arriving in their van just as we descended. Cue lots of enthusiasm and hugs. Marathon Club Ireland is like a second family, it is always fun and emotional to meet each other.

Went to the B&B to drop the bags and headed back for the Listowel Arms Hotel were about 10 runners had gathered to meat and greet Team Kerr. It is such a tonic to meet all these wonderful people at every race. I get a real boost of mental energy each single time. After catching up for a chat some of us headed for a meal in the Horse Shoe Bar where Geraldine played a blinder of an April Fools joke on the Waitress. Ask her to tell you the story when you meet her. We were in stitches.

Following that we were waiting for the arrival of one more guest at our B&B so we headed for 'one' to John B. Keane's Bar and Eimear Hurley convinced Billy Keane to be at the 8am start to meet Team Kerr. He duly obliged.

Breakfast at 6.30am. Meet up with Team Kerr and others at 7am in the Listowel Arms and at 7.30 we were at the Community Centre for registration and later the race briefing. At 8am we started. I had decided to run with Team Kerr today. Because they need support when running with Aaron in his wheelchair, because they are the most wonderful family, because I get so much back from it, because it is a very nice way to spend 6 hours or so doing the 26.2 miles.

The first loop was just over 11 miles with 2 more loops of 7+ miles after that. Everything went smoothly at first and we even stopped at 9.40am to celebrate the exact moment 22 years ago that Sandra and David Kerr got married. It involved some Daffodils and a delivery on bended knee :)

1 mile later the first obstacle. The path had gone country trail on us and one of the tyres on the wheelchair burst. It took over 5 minutes to replace and involved lifting the chair so the wheel could be removed and put back. Team work was required for this and I am amazed how Sandra and David do this when there is just the 2 of them.

There was another banner from the Kerry Crusaders on the course welcoming Team Kerr to Listowel. Nice touch! Everything went smoothly from there on. The banter and camaraderie was great, the spirits high, Aaron beaming.

At the start of Lap 3, about 20 miles done, a piece of the rim of one of the wheels broke off and 5 spokes jumped loose. This affected the balance of the wheelchair. Luckily our mobile kit man for the day was close by, jumped into his van and went back to the Listowel Arms for 2 spare wheels from the Team Kerr van. He was back 1 mile or so later and we replaced the 2 wheels once again lifting the chair to do so. Eamon Egan was that kit man and without him it would have tough to finish. Thanks Eamon, I hope you get back running soon.

With all that we finished in something like 6h40 to rounds of applause from all gathered with local women Tena and Rochelle pushing Aaron over the line. Having performed a bit of traffic duty along the way as the roads were open I have to acknowledge the superb job one of the GardaĆ­ did for us in helping with that. He was marshalling on the Square and told his superiors he was of more use going around with us. I shook his hand afterwards as he was an integral part of the team on Saturday.

The merry band of runners that finished this epic journey of miles with smiles, I salute and thank you for your company and a wonderful day together. Aaron Kerr, Sandra Kerr, David Kerr, Tena Griffin, Rochelle Griffin O'Riordan, Eimear Hurley, Valerie De Burca, Grainne Reilly, Tara Nic Chormaic and Derek Mackessy. You are all true friends.

Also the welcome from the Listowel brigade of MCI was 110% the entire weekend. David Toomey was an excellent Race Director and the organisation was perfect. Thanks David for all the hard work. Thanks also to Lindsey and Vincent Guthrie for registration and finish line. Thanks to Mary Toomey Roche, Julie Byrne-Hilliard and Brian Byrne for the refreshments afterwards and on the course. Thanks to all marshals and volunteers. Thanks to Mary Mockett for the pictures. To say it with Arnie's words: 'I'll Be Back!'

Listowel did itself proud and is no longer a mystery to me. Although there is still an air of mystery that lingers in every nook and cranny of John B. Keane's Bar. I'll  have to revisit just to try and figure it out!

Next up is the Connemarathon. A race I always respected for it's wonderful landscape and it's tough enough course. Only this time it comes with an added 13.1 miles to make it 39.3 for the 1st Ultra. Ooops, the nerves just kicked in. I better stop writing about it :)

Miles with Smiles and until Friday,

Patte xxxx

Friday, 1 April 2016

Race weekend! Work Weekend! Doing More of What I Love!

It is remarkable how different living feels when you are doing more of what you love most.

It's Friday morning as I type this and there is a wind howling outside the window of my 5th floor office. The weather forecast is for heavy rain today and more rain tomorrow with a Yellow weather warning for excessive rainfall in parts of the country. Including Kerry where I am heading later today.

I have a groin niggle that is slow in repairing itself and have picked up a toothache that prevented me from a decent nights sleep.

Yet all I can think of is the amount of people I can reach out to today, the friends I am going to meet tonight and tomorrow at a Marathon Club Ireland Marathon in Listowel and the pleasure of assisting as an examiner on Sunday morning in Ennis with a leading Coach Training Institute.

My entire weekend is centred around running and doing work I love while meeting great people who share these 2 passions.

Any external factors including personal discomfort pale into relative insignificance.

This is what intentional living is all about! Want to find out more? Check my previous post on all the dates from April to June where I speak about how you too can live like this!!

Right, back to reaching out to people and then the 3.30pm bus to Listowel!! Bring it on!

Miles with Smiles,

Patte xxx