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Saturday @9:00 a.m 24 June 2017

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Hi again, welcome to the Mid-Term break blog. I hope you're running is coming along nicely and you're starting to feel like this marathon thing is actually possible at this stage! Not to sound like a total aul wan, but there's a great stretch in the evenings and it could even be time to move to my capri length running bottoms and put away the Helly Hansen thermals.

I've been off work on The Big Breakfast Blaa all week as the kids have school mid-term. It's been lovely to chill with them every day, and not set my alarm for 5.15am every morning! Even though I thought I'd get lots of extra running done, it hasn't panned out that way, but I'm sticking to my training schedule and can feel a noticeable improvement. I thought that working full-time would make it difficult to fit in running mid-week, but this week has been the hardest to get anything done. Being a stay-at-home mum is a very hard job and the only reason I'm here typing this blog is because Jack and Harry have gone swimming with their cousins so I have a two hour window woo hoo! You should see the state of the wardrobes.

My hat is off to all mothers who manage to stay at home with little ones and still find time for training. I've been ringing my husband at work to the point of stalking him, just to have some adult conversation this week. And it's been more difficult to get the runners on when he comes home from work at six o' clock and get out the door. Actually, I was all ready, in my running gear, on Pancake Tuesday evening, making pancakes for the troops with the intention of serving them up and getting out for a 30 minute session. But oh the hot pancake with melted nutella oozing everywhere proved too much. "Bite into this and thou shall not be able to run," said the voice of reason in my head. Nom nom nom, it was delicious. I stayed in my running gear watching the live Eastenders episode (which was very good) and 're-scheduled' my run to the following night. And had another pancake.

Long Runs

The long runs are coming nicely to me at this stage. I covered 8 miles on Sunday and look forward to bringing that into double figures soon. On Feb 7th I ran the Slaney Olympic Enniscorthy 10k in 53 minutes comfortably. I know the Anne Valley 5 mile was on the day before but I couldn't make it. Well done to all who ran it, especially the organisers who even included a race for the kids! The John Treacy in Dungarvan was a huge success recently too. It's great to see so many races at this time of year, not forgetting the weekend running groups who continue to help people build up mileage in a fun, social way. I've heard the Saturday runners are a great bunch and of course the Sunday runners that leave at 9am from the Supervalu car park. Check them out on FB, there's nothing like a bit of company on a long 10mile.

There are plenty more races scheduled between now and April/ early May that are worth considering if you're doing the Viking Marathon. You can find a list of them on Runireland.com. Race day, regardless of the event, is a great learning experience. I found myself at the start line a few weeks back, feeling uncharacteristically nervous. It didn't help that I couldn't find anywhere to park and I was a bit late arriving so I had to run with a big bunch of car keys in my hand. It was a cold morning so I decided to wear my Columbia thermal top and long skins. But it seemed like everyone else was wearing singlets and shorts. Did they know something I didn't? Aghh the panic. Too late and the line started moving, we were off. I find myself turning into a bit of a Nasty Noreen in these situations. As a runner, do you ever eye other runners up and think 'pff, she won't finish before me anyway' or 'why is he wearing those silly socks the state of him.' So there I was, running along at the 2k mark, keeping an eye on people I fully intended to pass out. There was one particular girl with a green bandana who seemed to be beside me inch by inch. I couldn't shake her off and it was really bugging me. At 8k I decided I needed to up my pace but Green Bandana Girl did the same. Grrr. Then at the 5k mark a much older white haired man breezed past me. It was when a woman with a Quinny buggy (yes, with a sleeping baby inside) came snapping at my heels that I wanted to break into a sprint. I think I was afraid of going fast with 2km to go (my speedwork needs improving) so I continued the pace, as did greeny head. Dammit if only the competitive voices inside my head would switch off and just allow me to run, I probably should have brought earphones. Green Bandana really tricked me and took off for the last 100 yards finishing before me. Next time Mrs! Thankfully my husband and kids wheeled themselves out for the occasion and had a hoodie and water waiting for me. Seriously, if you're going to take part in races the logistics of having a buddy there on the finish line, or even to drive you to the event etc is really important.

Speed Work

Speaking of not being able to up my pace at the 10k race, this is my real weakness. I finished that race, not even slightly out of breath and yet I couldn't find fifth gear in me to go faster. Why?? My training plan with Brian Swaby highlights the importance of speedwork, but dopey here can't seem to grasp it at all. Brian's been offering some great advice on how to make it easier, but I'll doing a speed session with him next week so maybe then, he'll be able to put a stick of dynamite under me. For speed sessions, I've been doing a mile warm-up followed by a fast run for three minutes, jog for two minutes, the fast again for three, repeated five times followed by a warm down. Am I making that sound very complicated? 1 mile warm-up/down - 5x3min at faster pace, 2min jog rec between reps. Maybe it's just me but it's tough. I was doing my speed reps in my local GAA pitch, but the ground is very tacky and uneven making the running quite strenuous. The road, or even industrial estates are better. Be careful not to 'speed' too much for those three minutes, as I learned, it's not a sprinting pace, more of an increase to the jog that pushes your regular comfort. I find that music really helps on a three minute so I've been banging out the classic 90s dance Euphoria skanger tunes to drive me on. My 30 minute easy run last night felt unbelievably easy and I could feel myself moving faster than I've done before. Finally I think the speed work might be kicking in and paying off.

Just Enjoy It

Hopefully at this stage, you're able to lace up the runners and just go. When did you EVER feel bad after coming back from a run, even if it was only for 10 minutes? Running is great. Runners are brilliant. Yes, it's a long hard slog to the marathon, but we'll all get there. There's something beautifully addictive about breaking through the wall of doubt, of pain and of the desire to just stop. You're sniffling, salty sweat all over your face, sports bra chaffing at you, your side is stitching, you're desperately drawing breath, the voices in your head telling you this is madness but your heart is beating strong and your legs just keep going until the pain disappears, you pick up the pace, the doubt is answered and realise you've just smashed the wall. Then it's a great run. You feel strong, powerful, almost spiritual. And as you cross that 26.2 mile finish line, I promise, you will float on air X

"If you want to run, then run a mile. If you want to experience another life, run a marathon." – Emil Zatopek

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