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3 Weeks And Counting

3 weeks and 3 days and 10 hours. That's what the Waterford Viking Marathon website is telling me as I'm plonked on the sofa typing the latest instalment of this blog. Gulp. Jitters. Excitement. How are you feeling?

The self-doubt has all but fizzled away (though I expect it to make a re-appearance sometime soon) and I'm left with a calm confidence and quiet excitement that maybe this will be a good marathon after all, and maybe I'll get the time I'm going for and you know, maybe I'll enjoy it into the bargain.

My new found running Zen is down to a number of factors this week. Firstly, a man named Davy Wade who is a Sports Psychologist and will also be Chief Steward on June 27th. I had the pleasure of Mc-ing the wonderfully timed WVM seminar which hosted by Whitfield Clinic on Thursday last. Thanks to all those who came along, it was great to chat to many first-time marathon runners and great to see so many ladies involved this year too. Girls run the world and all that! Nutritionist Charlotte Cummins had some brilliant tips especially around carb loading (you can expect to gain a few extra pounds with a steady increase of carbs in the days leading up to race day) hydration and fuelling on the day itself. I'm at the point now where 3 Weetabix and toast or porridge and a bagel are my staple food exactly two and half hours before a long run. I'm not straying from this on the morning of the marathon, along with a strong coffee to make sure all waste matter has made its exit!

Whitfield physiotherapists Orla Dunphy and Shane Walsh demonstrated some of the more common running injuries - IT band, glutes, shin splints. They suggested a good 'three strikes and you're out' policy for race day if you meet injury. If you have a troublesome niggling pain a few miles in that isn't getting any better, they've advised that a runner should stop, stretch it out and go again. This might buy you a few extra miles. If the problem continues, stop and work on it. If, on your third attempt you find that your injury is still prevalent, then it's really time to pull yourself out. To run a full 26.2 miles on a painful injury will hurt more in the long-term and God only knows what complications you could bring to yourself.

Also, with the Leaving Cert starting tomorrow, it's important to point out that unlike a state examination, you cannot, under any circumstances, cram for a marathon! I was a model student of the Ursuline Convent and earned my points well in the Leaving, but I went on to become the ultimate crammer in college ( I may have written my thesis over a weekend of coffee and no sleep) and it always served me well. Being a journalist, I work to a deadline. I will never hand something in late, but it will never be early either!

If you haven't put in the miles up to now, you need to be realistic about how your body will cope with throwing some last minute long runs at it. Do the half, or the quarter if you're not ready for the full at this stage. You can register now on this website.

I mentioned Davy Wade at the start of this blog. Thanks to him, I am now visualising myself crossing the finish line with an exact time in mind, which I can see on the clock as I cross the line. Davy's words on Thursday night really gave me the boost I needed and as I rubbed my thumb and forefinger together with my eyes closed, I could see myself finishing strong and thinking 'why wouldn't I finish strong, I've done this before, I've done the training, this is really going to happen.'

Goodbye Alarm Clock

I mentioned in my last post that some aspects of this training would get easier in the coming weeks. Well, after four years of 5am starts with a one hour commute to work every morning, I've finished presenting the Big Breakfast Blaa with Timmy Ryan on WLR FM. It was such a difficult decision to make as I love my job so much and have been so blessed to be able to work in one of the best gigs in radio. However, as with most working mothers, the guilt never goes away. The reality is, many women have to work these days. And the truth is, many WANT to. I'm all for career empowerment and totally fly the flag of the working mother, however, in my own situation, the early hours, long commute and massive commitment to presenting such a show meant that my work/life balance was all over the shop. Even though I was home by 1.30pm every day, I was falling asleep on the sofa while the kids watched TV, barely able to concentrate on what they were telling me (although Skylanders are confusing anyway) and just about able to put dinner on the table, drag my arse out for a run before going to bed at 8.30pm with the kids still awake and promising them a story tomorrow. My husband got the worst of me when he came home at 6pm every evening while everybody else got the best of me on-air at 6am. I've always relied on my own instinct when it comes to family and motherhood, and it was shouting very clearly at me to make some changes. Thankfully I'll still be working part-time with WLRfm so I won't be swilling 11am Long Islands with the Stepford Wives in the estate just yet!

Running has been my saving grace and the thing that helped me to relax, focus and stay positive even when the pressure is on. Thankfully now, I can run in the morning on a full battery when the kids are at school and since last Friday when I did my last show, I have noticed a MASSIVE energy boost in my running. Maybe it's all in my mind but I don't care, I'll take it. Here I am at 11 at night, already looking forward to tomorrow's run. Oh no, I might turn into one of those Yummy Mummies at the school gate in her Lulu Lemon skins, waving out behind her Oakleys in her SUV before she dashes off to meet her personal trainer. Give me a slap if you see me at that carry-on. Anyway, I don't have Oakley's, I have Crane sunglasses that cost me a whopping €4.99 and look incredibly like their expensive counterparts.

Running Strong

My final running plan is here, and I'm loving the plan for June 28th which simply says REST REST REST - thanks Brian Swaby! Last Saturday's 18 miles felt pain free and I was quite joyous when I finished. My 'easy' runs, like this morning, are exactly that, and I'm enjoying listening to some tunes again on these kind of runs. The distance of my Sunday runs has built up over time, and with a nice warm up it's definitely challenging but working, holding a 8.3 - 8.5 minute mile pace. Towards the 6th and 7th mile it's definitely harder to keep the pace, and I swear if that woman's voice from Map My Run interrupts another song to tell me I've dropped pace a little! These have been the toughest but most rewarding of all my runs, simply because I was stuck in a rut of not being able to run faster. Over time, I realise that I am actually running faster on these runs and the shorter distances. the long runs however are still much much slower, but I'm told everything will naturally go faster on Marathon Day. My biggest run, a 22 mile, is sceduled for this week. Yes I still feel a little nervous about it, but once it's done, I feel I'm on the home straight.

Other Random Stuff

Well done to everyone who ran the Cork City marathon over the bank holiday weekend. I think there's a HUGE lesson in that run for everyone. Torrential rain can happen. In June. So be prepared. Don't panic on the morning because you've never done long distance with rain-proof gear, or maybe you haven't brought any. Looking at the elite runners though, they never seem to wear any, they just bounce long in their singlets and shorts. Hmm, maybe that's what I'll do then. One lady in particular was tryly inspirational at the Cork run. I interviewed her two years ago when she ran WVM. Kay O' Regan is a 79 year old runner living in Enniscorthy. She has run 112 marathons and did the half in Cork. Kay ran her first marathon at 50, yes 50! I think she's an amazing inspiration to all of us, and I will never forget Kay passing me out with about 4 miles to go when I ran the marathon two years ago. Age is but a number!

Also a big shout out to the lovely ladies of the Deise who ran the Women's Mini Marathon. It's such a united event of camaraderie and fun and despite the downpours, there were lots of smiling faces afterwards. No sign of Rosanna Davison this year - remember how fresh she looked last year after she crossed the finish line. Hmmm, that will be me in 3 weeks.

I'm a big dog fan, but having being TWICE chased by the same crazy greyhound who loves to show me his big alligator teeth, I am struggling to feel the love with our canine friends lately. Also, ACE, our neighbour's docile, mute, harmless little dog Ace is becoming a bit of a running nuisance. Every time he sees me leave my driveway with my runners on, I can hear his little paws scrambling to catch up with me and loyally run beside me, no matter the distance. This would be fine if Ace had ANY road sense but I end up feeling responsible for him and get pangs of guilt when I look back to see he's stopping traffic long after I've crossed a road.

I'm also still hurting that Matisse would lie to us all like that on Britain's Got Talent. Another reason to be out with dogs this week.

Finally, thanks to Washing Machine Pieta House Challenge Man Enda o Doherty for gifting me the bible of running book -Bob Glover's runners handbook. Enda's journey begins this weekend and I can only imagine how he's feeling right now. I guess, Enda knows only too well how other people feel during challenging times and it's because of this that he's embarking on this massively courageous, dedicated and selfless journey. Best of luck Edna, so many people are behind you, and if that heavy load gets too heavy - share it. That's part of the journey. While reading my new running book I couldn't help but smile at the other book I'm also reading right now. Is there a subliminal message in there?? It's Colm Keane's 'Heading for The Light - The 10 things that Happen When We Die. Is somebody trying to tell me something? Or maybe Ace should read it instead.

Happy running boys and girls, these are really important weeks.. See you at the start line :-)


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