Saturday, 16 June 2018

I had to run naked - and it changed everything.

It happened a good few years ago. I never forget it. It was the biggest Marathon of the year. At that time about 14,000 people lined the streets for the annual Dublin Marathon. I was ready. All the gear was ready. The clothes picked out. The people on the course to support me.

The starting time was getting nearer. Nervous anticipation took over. Can't wait. Let's go!

And then it happened. It snapped. In 2. Beyond repair. 3 minutes before the start. So I had to run without it and go naked. For the whole 26.2 miles.

Yet nobody looked at me funny. Nobody stopped me. Nobody showed disgust.

As for me I thoroughly enjoyed it. Every mile of it. Every minute of it. And I ran a PB. And I have ran naked ever since.

And I have ran naked ever since.

Yes, I can hear you think. What is he on about? Running naked? Surely not.

Yes, absolutely. I haven't run with a watch since the strap broke that morning in Dublin.

Since that day, I discovered the freedom of running for pure joy and listening to my body and what it is telling me. Not my mind, not a watch. Just listen to my body.

Some days I run long, some days short. Some days I run fast (for me) and some days I run slow. some days I don't even feel I'm running.

What else changed from that day? Not a single running injury to report on since that day and I have done 70 odd of my 110 Full or Ultra Marathons since that naked moment.

More joy, more freedom, more fun, less injuries.

More joy, more freedom, more fun, less injuries.

All because of a chance moment.

The day I ran naked was the day running became fun.

And now I am learning to do other things naked. Not the way they are 'supposed' to be done attached to numbers and time. Rather how it feels and is fun.

Step by step, living consciously.

Patte xxxxxx

Friday, 8 June 2018

Living and running like the River Shannon.

This blog is about storytelling. In the last 10 years since my first Marathon I have learned so much about myself from running. And the stories helped me with that. And it changed my life.

The reason? I love running. So it comes easy. And yet a few times it became hard. Sometimes I cried. Sometimes I laughed. Sometimes I wanted to quit. Sometimes I wanted to keep going past the finish line of a 'race'.

All of those moments were what they were. Moments. So I let them in and do their thing. And let it play out. And what happened was learning.

About all the feelings attached to all those moments. And then I asked better questions. Which of these feelings did I like most? How could I recreate those moments? What was I aware of in those moments? Where did my thoughts come from? Were they real or illusions?

The discoveries were experimental and counter-intuitive. Here they are: The more I concentrated on achievement, the less I enjoyed what I loved doing. The more I just went with the flow and listened to my body (inner core), the deeper the experience.

The more I planned for a moment in the future, the less fun I had training.

So I started 'training' in the moment, aware of everything around me and the feelings inside me. And it became flow. Like a river. Like the Shannon near my house. Obstacles came and went in the flow like rocks and tree trunks on a rivers path. Sometimes there was a deluge and sometimes there was a drought.

Like the Shannon near my house.
And all was OK. It became joy over effort. Momentary joy over planned masterpieces. And the races became moments themselves. Joyful moments.

It became effortless, limitless, boundary free and utter fun.

It became effortless, limitless, boundary free and utter fun.
Now for the consciousness part. The only commonality needed for transferring this to other areas of life is LOVE. Find other things that are good for you and you love doing so much it gives you energy and makes time disappear. Then apply the same principles.

And let the flow commence. Like the mighty River Shannon. All the way to the Atlantic. To become part of something bigger. something you were always part of. Yet now consciously.

Patte 08/06/2018 xxxxx

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Tralee International Marathon, a special experience.

Most people in Ireland visit Kerry. Most use Killarney or Dingle as their base. Most also bypass Tralee. I for one fail to understand that.

On Paddy's weekend all roads lead to .... 

Every time I go there I have the most wonderful of weekends. There are great food spots, plenty of lively bars and is far better value for money than the aforementioned. And you don't have to drive far to come across amazing scenery at Fenit, Banna Strand, Ballyheigue or Kerry Head.

Banna Strand near Tralee

Then there is the people. I have lost count of the amount of the amount of friends I have made on my trips to Tra Li. This weekend was no different.

St Patrick's Day weekend means only one thing for the last few years. It's Tralee International Marathon weekend. Now managed by Tralee Harriers AC it starts and finishes at the Tralee Wetlands, a beautiful spot just across from the Aquadome. There is a 5K, 10K, Half and Full Marathon.

Tralee Aquadome

Tralle Wetlands, start and finish of Tralee International Marathon
Traveled the day before on St Patrick's day by train so as to not to get stuck behind the many parades in the towns between Limerick and Tralee. Number pick up in the Rose Hotel, meeting some good Marathon Club Ireland friends, John, Vincent, Catherine, Lindsey and Humphrey to name but a few. You see, long distance and marathon running is also about building friendships and meeting up. It's half sport, half social connection.

Off for dinner in the Brandon before bedtime and met with John and Sheila from MCI. Thanks for the company at dinner, the conversation was great.

The race was at 9.30am so there was time for a proper breakfast where I got talking to a family from Kilmallock who had 2 members doing the Half Marathon. We nearly missed the start we were having such fun telling stories. Do you see a trend yet? Marathons are FUN events with FUN people. Also at the start I met with Jennifer and Patrick from my hometown near Brussels who had come over to Tralee to take part!! It truly is an international marathon :)

After the start and a lap of the lake we started the first of two 13.1 mile loops around Tralee with a stretch of the Canal. While the route (on link below) is rolling there is only really 2 hills on each lap making it 4 hills in total. The first is actually short enough while the second is longer and gets a bit steeper later on in the climb.


This was only my 3rd run past 10 miles in over 3 months and I was surprised how easy the first lap was as I came through the first half in just a few minutes over 2 hours. Near the end of the first loop the snow came and it became colder and denser as we continued in lap 2. Thanks to Liz Leonard, Catherine Guthrie and Pat Torpey for miles of company on separate occasions. These chats are wonderful and make the miles melt as fast as the falling snow did thankfully.

There was a couple of loop backs and places where you could see fellow runners and it was great to see so many familiar MCI faces from all over the country.

While loop 2 was tougher on me because of the lack of mileage so far this year I managed to finish the whole Marathon in splendid form and with a smile on the face and a wee dance over the finish line.

Still smiling after 26.2 miles, bling included
The run was also made easier by countless marshals and volunteers some dressed in cartoon characters and most must have been really cold standing out there for hours. Without them we would not do what we love. So a big, big thank you to them :)

Oh, and let's leave the last and best mention to the most amazing group of people called Born To Run Tralee Marathon Club!! The nicest, craziest, friendliest, most compassionate group of people you will meet on the running circuit. I feel privileged and honoured to be a member! And they know how to party as hard as they run!!

Born To Run Tralee Marathon Club after party!!

As mentioned in the last blog the mojo is firmly back. Next up East of Ireland Marathon on Saturday 24th next in Longwood, County Meath for number 3 of 2018! Bring it on!!

Next visits to Tralee are July 28th for the Born to Run 40 Mile and August 25th for the Kerry 100K!!

Miles with Smiles.

Patte xxx

Friday, 16 March 2018

The Battle of Clontarf - On a Wednesday morning in March.

I love the Promenade in Clontarf. It's Dublin, but not really. It's on the coast, but not really. It's a calm place, but not really.

I has it's own feel. The people in the shops and restaurants and businesses have a distinct different swagger than those from say just one Dart station away at Connolly. It feels cosmopolitan and yet removed from suburbia or inner city at the same time. You get an idea that you are moving away from one way of life to another and you're kind of in transitional mood.

On one side Connolly, Tara Street and Pearse. On the other Killester, Raheny, Sutton and Howth. Oh Howth, I so want to run your Summit again soon, just for fun 4 times!

On Wednesday morning about 15-20 of us gathered for another edition of an East of Ireland (EOI) Marathon Series Midweek Marathon. I did this route before and enjoyed it every single time. Simple route, 8 times out and back from the wind monument to the wooden bridge. As flat as a crepe, pancakes have distinctly more undulations than this route. And if you wish a mixture of tarmac and grass. Plus the friendly banter of all EOI events.

I ran there in the sun and I ran there in the rain before. And it is always a tad breezy. Even in Summer :)

Another thing to enjoy that morning was the friendly faces of fellow midweek marathon treat (Liz Morrin's words) lovers. Too many to name in case I forget one but you know we hugged it out before starting.

Before the Start with Collette O'Hagan, Teresa Bradley Taaffe, Maighread Ryan and Philips Miles :) 

8 am. Off ye go! Our warmly dressed Race Director Frank McDermott lets us off the leash.

Well, off the leash. Within meters it becomes clear this is going to be energy sapping. The out bit of each lap is into a very, very stiff wind. I'm actually keeping the training pants and jacket on and a hat and they won't come off for the entire run. The wind is joined by a steady lashing of rain which soaks us right through on the first lap. Struggling run to the first turning point and then wind in the back to the 5K-ish mark at the start.

On Lap 2 a lot of us started walking into the breeze which is getting stronger. These are seasoned Marathon runners and they are walking after 6K!! We're in for an endurance test. At the back end off the course the sea is crashing over the wall onto the promenade and we all get drenched several times. A lot of us start taking cover on the grass beside the path but that has been soaked too. On Lap 3 the promenade at the back is now flooded and the grass is our alternative.

Flooding on Clontarf Promenade

Normally this is weather I thrive in. Today is different. This is becoming too much like a walk and run. And the fun is ebbing out of the event for me. So I decide to drop to the Half Marathon and call it a great training day. I used to continue on runs where the fun ebbs yet since I started living intentionally and putting joy and love for all I do first this has changed.

The decision is doing a Half and enjoying every minute. Instead of persisting to the Full and spending 2 hours surviving mentally. It is these things that took my mojo for a while recently. The feeling of having too.

Now I am free and secure in the understanding and awareness that in running as in many other parts of life, I don't have to. I love to or want to. Yes to those. But have to, nope; them days are gone.

So with a big smile on my face I finished lap 4 and 21K. Soaked to the core, but happy in the knowledge that one I have the mojo for running firmly back and two I know when to say yes and when to say no.

The Battle of Clontarf Anno 2018 was glorious, wet, windy and above all fun. Thanks to all my co-runners for your greetings, hugs, encouragements, smiles and company. Maighread Ryan, Elizabeth Morrin, Collette O'Hagan, Elaine McAnulty, Deirdre Dolan, Vanessa Armstrong, Teresa Bradley Taaffe, David Brady, John Chapman, Zaldy Peralta, Charles O'Duffy, James Kelly, Greg O'Beirne. Apologies to any I forgot, the wind distorted my memory.

Next adventure this Sunday the 18th I take part in the Tralee International Marathon organised by Tralee Harriers AC. See some of you there. I'll blog on it midweek.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

The world kinda runs out of you.

Whatever the day delivered to you. Whatever the traffic brought you. Whatever the people you met or engaged with did or said to you. Whatever your circumstances right there and then. Whatever you think tomorrow might or might not bring.

Whatever the weather. Whatever your mood. Whatever the time of day or night.

The moment you pull on the shorts, the singlet, the socks and the runners. Put on the head torch. Stack the keys, phone and some spare change in a flip-belt.

And you set foot outside that door.

Then all ceases to exist except for the road ahead. You might not know how far. Nor how fast. Because you are a long distance road runner.

And with every passing stride the world kinda runs out of you. And all is good.

Miles with Smiles xx Patte

PS: Mine's running, what makes the world run out of you???

Monday, 19 February 2018

Lusk and a running resurrection, kind of.

3 Months. with just a few parkruns in Melbourne, Sydney and Limerick and a 10K for Milford Hospice.

Darebin parkrun Melbourne
Milford 10K start at UL
Mosman parkrun Sydnery with Katie, Eoin and Nessa

It had been 3 months since 26.2 or more was on the diary. And no training either. As if reaching the 100 Marathon mark in November had been a finish line. Even though it was always clear it wasn't. It kind of became one. And it didn't stop at 100. Yet at 102. Odd.

And then it dawned on me. I keep sharing with people the knowledge that targets and goals have that effect. You get a brief moment of exhilaration and a sense of gratifying achievement. And then nothing. A void. Then the need for a next target. And we end up chasing forever. Or we come to a sudden halt.

Which is what happened to me. The 100 had become a target. It had installed itself in my subconscious mind and then into my logical thinking. I planned the date, the race, the people. And as predicted above after the exhilaration came the void. And it lasted 3 months.

Until I became aware that I was slipping back into habits I thought I had eradicated once I started running. That awareness led to 1 simple little act. Which is all it often takes to reconnect. 1 simple act you can do right now.

I booked a Marathon online. 17th of February in Lusk, County Dublin with East of Ireland Marathon Series. It was race 3 of a 4 race Quad with East Antrim Marathon Series. There. 1 simple act.

And act 2 followed. I set out a clear intention for running. I will run as often as I can, as far as I can,  as long as I enjoy it.

I didn't even train for the race. Just drove up on the Friday evening with my number 1 supporter Maura and stayed in an airport hotel. The days of getting up at stupid o'clock to drive a few hours to an 8am start are gone. This is about having fun doing what I love doing.

Arrived at the Club house of soccer team Lusk AFC for registration and was immediately hit by one thing. Nope, not the icy underfoot conditions. The sun would take care of those in a while. I was hit by camraderie, friendship, hugs and a wave of well wishes. I have gotten to know so many wonderful, positive, amazing, resilient, funny and caring people. And many were there. Too many to mention. (you'll get to know them all on this blog, this is about them too).

The race itself. Very well organised by Frank, Gary and Ger from EOI (East of Ireland Marathon Series) as they always are. Banter galore. Amazing and friendly marshals and volunteers. 4 loops of undulating fun and amazing views from the top of non-existing hills. I did not know North County Dublin was that beautiful. But then most of Ireland is, especially when seen on foot.

We ran wee country roads. Past farms, railways, leafy houses. We met galloping horses, dogs chasing cars and runners. For 26.2 glorious miles. I am back. And it feels wonderful. It feels great. It feels lovely.

Start at 8am in Lusk

8am start group in Lusk

We're back 

Lovely EOI bling

All it took was 1 simple act and an intention. But then doesn't everything start like that. Certainly when done with love.

Oh, and I'm booking my next marathon today. Saturday March 3rd. With Marathon Club Ireland on the gorgeous grounds of the University of Limerick. Link to Book Here

Hope to see some of you there.

Miles with smiles, intentionally.

Patte xxx

Sunday, 18 February 2018

How many Belgians does it take to start blogging again?

I loved writing this blog. People contacted me to say they loved reading it. I loved sharing my running journey and the many wonderful people and locations it lead me to. Because running had become more about people than about races. About locations and encounters rather than medals and records.

And yet it stopped.

I could try and figure the why. Or what happened. That may take some time to work out.

Or I could start writing again. Because all the loves above are still there. And still strong as ever.

I could write about my achievements passing the 100 Marathon mark in November last. And the crazy plans in store for 2018.

Or I could write with others in mind. And link this blog about running to analogies with life.

Or I could write about all the amazing people I meet both in running and in life.

Or the amazing scenery I come across. How seeing our planet on foot changes your perspective.

I will write about ALL the above. At least once a week. Or if I feel like it more often.

To share. To learn. To engage. To live. To love. To be Intentional about it all.

Hope you enjoy reading, engaging, sharing and commenting.

First blog TOMORROW Monday 19/2!! Talk soon.

Patte xxx