I met Emily about a month ago at a kid’s birthday party. That’s where we, parents, meet up these days… or during the coffee shop for morning fix. She asked if I would be okay to type an end of season blog having written my first one at the start of the season around February/March.
To be honest I’ve been trying to find the time since and now, well here goes…
Since February I’ve been training for the Castle Series first sprint triathlon in Gort, Co. Galway. Whoever is familiar with this, knows it is a series of triathlons based in castle grounds across Ireland, England and France. I couldn’t have picked better location! I highly recommend it and will be signing up again for the longer distance events in 2018. It wasn’t the best of weather in early May. The water was so cooold!! I was dreading the swim, and I wasn’t the only one. Plenty of lost souls threading water on the start line had that familiar ‘I am sh*tting it’ look, including yours truly. New wet suit, new goggles, new thoughts, will I manage the transitions?, will my legs feel like concrete blocks after the bike? Then ‘BANG!’ the gun fired and we were on, heads down in the murky water, the first experience of being swam over, kicked left, right and centre. Once you’ve come to terms with the initial shock, the next sensation is the lack of visibility, not helped by my normal eyesight running a close second to Mr. Magoo. The only saving grace was the ginormous orange inflatable course buoys. The first turn arrived and I realised my breathing had settled, my stroke lengthened and I kicked for the shore with all my might.
Out of the water, wet suit half down (careful!), run to T1, wet suit off, now hopping on one leg, helmet on, race belt on, bike shoes on, bike off the rack and I’m running to the start in 3 inches of the finest muck Ireland has to offer (see pic 1). Then back to earth, I couldn’t clip my shoes in and it was time for some foot stamping and cursing. Once I’m finally going on the bike it felt amazing. 21km passed so quickly, a quick energy gel in for that extra sugar kick and I’m cruising. T2, bugger, fell off the bike, the sweet kiss of concrete on my knee, there are children present, don’t swear. Bike racked, trainers on and now for a run off-road around the castle grounds for 4km. Surprisingly, my legs felt pretty good and I flew through the finish line at 1h 21min. My first tri (new lingo!) medal, wow, I was hooked.
Since then I’ve completed a sprint tri in Kilrush, Ennis, the Hell of the West in Kilkee (full Olympic distance, I did the 41km bike and 10km hill run) and the Castleconnell sprint tri. In meantime I’ve also done the Limerick half marathon, Tough Mudder (full 11 miles with obstacles along the way for good measure) and the Newport bike sportive 60km. Along with my road bike group we’ve completed two long rides around the lake in Killaloe. The first was in June with Group 2, averaging 22kph and more recently in September with Group 1, averaging 28kph, 8 lads and little ol’ me, the only woman! Wonderwoman, imagine the theme tune, haha. And I did my second Dublin marathon which sucked! Running did not come easily to me this year, but another one under my belt is ok for now.
Basically, my Summer consisted of 5-6 training days a week. Swimming in the lake or pool 3 times a week. Not running much, just twice a week while my son had his athletics but it felt like I was cycling constantly. Every Wednesday, evening sessions, 500m swim and stationary bike intervals afterwards, hill repeats.
Every Sunday morning session with the lads, 70-80-90km routes with a restorative coffee afterwards.
I do rowing and bike turbo sessions at home, often at 6am, before heading off to work or else at 9pm in the evening before heading to bed.
My home also seems to have turned into a mini gym. Bikes and a turbo trainer, Concept2 erg, chin-up bar, 3 sport bags always ready, one swim bag (indoor), one swim bag (wetsuits), and yet another packed specifically for each race. It’s funny but as I look around me it’s still the same now!!
Looking back you can get a bit rose-tinted but it wasn’t easy at all. In the middle of all the mayhem I started a new job in June, but I had to keep my old job as well, such is the modern world. So it was 2 jobs, an active 5 year old who was on ‘his’ summer holidays, entertaining, training, cooking, shopping, the lot. Don’t ask me how I did it by myself, I truly don’t know. I had my ups and downs, more than my fair share of complete meltdowns and plenty of sleepless nights.
But despite all this, or perhaps because of it, I learned to be organized like the CEO of multinational. Dinners were prepared in advance and child care always had to be planned well in advance based on my training schedule. Although food was quick I tried not to let that lower the standard of nutrition. I’m also a firm believer in organic produce and most meals consisted of meat (lamb and sirloin steak mostly), fish, tuna and lots of veg, particularly sweet potatoes and avocados. I found I was snacking constantly on nuts, dried fruit, crackers, quark (I had to look it up too), nut butters (yum!). Now when I think back, I often ended up having a second dinner around 10pm at night. It actually felt like I was eating constantly.
Despite all this, motivation for me was never an issue. Once I’d signed up for a race, that kept me going. The high I felt was amazing. Meeting like minded people at the events or even while out training. People for whom this lifestyle is our normal, is a tremendous feeling.
What’s for the future? Well, next year I plan on doing my first half Ironman, and all going well the year after my first full one. In order to prepare for the step up in class I am planning on hiring a coach to help me to train more smartly and effectively.
I am also hoping Santa will be kind and I’ll find a new carbon-fibre bike under the tree this year (no I’m not demanding at all!).
By the way, I can’t let the opportunity go by without mentioning how expensive it is to exercise in Ireland?
Membership fees, race fees, decent gear… thousands upon thousands of euro… but hey, who needs high heels anyway?!?!
Running is often met with a great deal of groaning, moaning, complaining. People don’t like it! It seems repetitive, tiring and loooong. When I discuss running I’m often told that people would rather do something more fun with their time, that exercise shouldn’t be a chore. And I whole heartedly agree. Exercise should be fun! But running is fun, we’re all just looking at it wrong.
The other day I was thinking about all the times we run (or could run) and not think of it. When it’s an asset and a not chore. I thought I would list them to see if I can’t shed some of the running’s bad rap.
Running from the bedroom to the bathroom when you’re naked.
Running after your kids.
Running away from your kids.
Running down a long corridor in a hotel while semi-intoxicated.
Running to the loo.
Running to shelter whenever it rains.
Running to get that thing you forgot when you’re next at the check-out.
Running because you’re scared.
Running because you’re giddy. (Is this just me???)
Running after a bus, train, taxi, that friend who promised you a lift!
Running into the sea because walking is just not an option at that temperature. Hello Ireland!
Running after your dog when he’s spotted the local cat.
Running after your dog when he’s noticed someone eating.
Running after your dog because he’s found a herd of deer.
Running out to the car to give your husband his lunch when he’s leaving in the morning.
Running to work yourself because you’re late (again!)
Running to get shotgun (of a car) because let’s face it, nobody abides by the laws of shotgun.
Running to stop your nephew getting hit by a swing.
Running to win your league’s rounders tournament.
Running to de-stress.
Running to get the last seat.
Running to your family at the airport because you missed them soooooo much.
Running down hills because it’s super easy.
Running on flat surfaces and feeling like a plane taking off (seriously, still only me???)
Running so fast you feel like you are going to keel over.
Running when you’ve gotten in trouble.
I am sure there are many more instance where running is beneficial and, what more, lovely. If possible, it’s something that should be embraced. It can be hard when you are pushing yourself but remember, exercise isn’t always about pushing yourself. It’s also about living your life, getting things done, feeling free and de-stressing.
So enjoy you’re run, even it’s just to the the loo.
Firstly, my apologies for the lack updates. I had been put on a training ban by my doctor while an investigation into what happened with my face during the 5k took place (my face dropped on one side half way through the race). This meant I had no training and nothing really to blog about for two weeks. And then once back training, I spent a good couple of hours writing my next blog post only for it to go missing. Like I can see it in the recent items but when I click on it, it says it’s not there but there is no sign of it in the trash or any other folders. You are just gonna have to take my word for it that it was an awesome read! Hopefully, this re-write will be at least half as good.
I was rather upset with having to lay off the training for two reasons. Firstly, I didn’t want to break my stride. As a really lazy person, I was quite nervous about being idle for any period of time. Afraid my bad habits would rear their ugly heads. My doctor had really stressed the need to take it really easy until I got the all clear. Secondly, I was half way through my six week intense kickstarter at the Womens Fitness Gym and I really didn’t like the idea of losing out on any of the weeks. I mean money is a bit tight at the moment and I knew I wouldn’t be in a position at the moment to do another round for the moment. I was going to have to save up for it and I have few other demands at the moment. But worry I should not have. I got on to the gym to explain what happened and they allowed me to suspend the program until I got the all clear. So I only had to worry about reverting to my lazy ways. Eeek!
Eleven hours, three trips to have an MRI, half a meeting with the doctor before I was taken out for the second failed MRI, a lot of miscommunication between the medical staff, one negative pregnancy test, one rushed final consultation and a rather vague explanation was my experience in CUH. At the end of the day, I left really rather frustrated about our health system but with a letter in hand saying I was fit to resume training. The explanation was it is unlikely to have been a Transient Ischemic Attack (or a mini stroke) but it possibly could be the training.
I was prescribed some blood thinners and cholesterol medications to avoid any reoccurrence. I don’t like taking meds and I try to avoid them when I can. The best thing about trying for kids was no more pill. But then there was the PCOS and underactive thyroid and I have proven to be not the best a taking them. My bloods in the previous month had shown good levels for cholesterol, and with all my training surely they could have only have gotten better. So at the behest of my mother, I’m not taking the cholesterol until I speak to my own doctor.
Before the tests, I wasn’t worried about what had happened. But now, I was. The vague explanation had scared me some what. Would happen again? Would it be worse? Why is my neck feeling sore? Did it always twinge like that? I felt like I was overanalysing everything. Could not tell was there actually pain or was I imagining it. My session back with Denise was on a Sunday and the closer I got to it the more “the fear” grew. While on the bike warming –up, I didn’t even notice that I was crushing it at a level I used struggle before. I was so focused internally, am I feeling dizzy? Was this room always spinning? I should leave, just go home. And then there was Denise, “Where the heck have you been?” I sheepishly explained and she responded with, “we’ll take it easy so.” Though I did proudly tell her I did the run in 34 minutes and that earned me a high five.
Even though we scaled it back and took it very easy by comparison of what she normally puts me through. She is doesn’t go easy on you normally but doesn’t kill you either. She’s great for the banter and the giggles, which makes the session seem to fly by. It’s why I keep going back to her. But today, even with her pulling me right back from my previous level of intensity, everything was a struggle. Things I was smashing a couple weeks ago, were a struggle with the light weight. I mean it was easier than my very first but it was one of my worst sessions. I didn’t even make it the whole way through. I had to skip the kettlebell swings, the strain on my back from not doing them correctly was quite severe. (I don’t know what it is I just can’t get the technique right with those.) And the last set, well, that had to be abandoned even though I tried to solider on. Denise was telling me to stop as I had gone all grey. I put down that 5kg plate so fast and ran to the nearest bathroom to say hello to my breakfast. That session couldn’t have gone worse. But I was back in the swing and for me that was the main thing.
My fitness level had clearly taken a big hit, but the fear remained. I didn’t do a single class in the week to come for fear of overdoing it. I had a PT session with Michelle on Wednesday as Denise was off. And that went well-ish though my legs were trembling something terrible and she made me do a plank. I geared up to do my own session on Saturday before my weigh-in, but I missed judged the time and wouldn’t have had enough time and then chickened out to do it after. I was down a pound in the weigh-in but that more muscle wastage rather than actual weight loss. Though Lorraine advised with everything that I had gone through I should consider that a win. She advised me to take it easy and only do a session or class if I really feel up to it.
I did come to the conclusion that running the 5k at the pace I did with the little running training I had done might have been the main factors in what happened. I decided that once my current cycle was up that would try to focus more on the running training and supplement it one or two classes at the gym to shake it up a bit. While finances did play a role in not being in a position to actually do another session, should I have been able to afford it I would still opt for this plan.
While I do need to take care of myself and not push myself way out of my comfort zone, I can’t let “the fear” imped my process. I mustn’t use it to excuse myself from pushing myself and allowing my laziness to slink back in.
This is a funny one because obviously not everyone can actually do this. Buuuut… If it’s possible for you and your are sorta on the fence as to when you want to train then please allow me to advocate for the lunchtime slot. It sounds like a drag but I think you might be pleasantly surprised!
1: It’s time sensitive so you gotta be proactive
So most people have an hour for lunch, right? And for most of us humans 45minutes to an hour is LOOOOADS of time to get our sweat on per day. I find when I’m training after work I dawdle, dawdle something fierce. I come home, check the post, clean the kitchen, watch some telly, get changed, chat on the phone, stare out the window, take a nap, lie on the floor, dust the windows, shave the cat and before you no it it’s quite late and I’m rushing to get a good workout done before dinner. However, in work I need to be done by 1.45pm so I can eat in peace. So I hop out the door with my gear on as soon as I can to get a 4-5k run done, sometimes more, sometimes less. Be back in time to de-sweat, eat my lunch and chill for a few minutes. And then I’m done for the day!
2. You can usually coerce fellow colleagues to train with you
I’ve done this loads, I get everybody to run with me! Usually someone who wants to get their fitness back up and (like me) wants the company and the constant distraction/encouragement. It keeps training social so you aren’t totally losing your lunch to fitness. So instead of dragging your ass to the gym and training by yourself you can get active and get the office goss!
3. It’s a great excuse to wear activewear
I’m going to assume I’m not alone in this, leggings are just too comfy. I’m a graphic designer in a company with many marketing peeps/account manager types, so the likelihood of me meeting a client is really slim. Really, really slim. So on the days I want to squeeze in a jog at lunch I come prepared! Donned in my nicest activewear, feeling comfortable yet still quite chic! It means I can be lazy and wear comfy clothes in the morning while still be fit and active later on in the day with minimal effort! Of course if your are the super duper sweaty type (or have client meetings after lunch) you can always bring a change of clothes.
4. You have the evening to get sh*t done
Over the past few weeks my life has been turned on it’s head. Frankly, right now, I couldn’t train in the evenings. My weeknights have become a well-oiled routine of dinner prep, lunch prep, laundry prep and then out the door not to return again till 11pm at the earliest. Training at lunchtime still allows me to do something for myself in a day that is now filled with everyone else’s needs. It’s almost like a bubble bath, with no bubbles or scented candles. Just sweat and rave tunes… And even if you’re not like me and you have the evenings free, having your training done for the day means, you can hang out with friends, go to the cinema, go out for dinner, hike a mountain etc. Stuff you can’t do in an hour lunch break. You can still live your life.
5. It gets you out
I bring my lunch to work, I rarely have out of office meetings. So the lunchtime run is a perfect excuse for me to just get out of the office. Take a break from deadlines and processes and just have a proper break from your work. Sometimes it can be hard to switch off if you stay in the office and it’s not always possible to eat outside(not in Ireland at least), but you can run in most weather.
Keeping active with and hectic life can be a struggle. Family, friends, bills, meetings all get mushed in together and sometimes it’s hard to find time for a wee jog, yoga session or whatever else you’re in to. So if you feel like you want to add some training to your day but already feel a bit overwhelmed, maybe your lunch break is the perfect slot. Just maybe…