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…
The First Race
This week finished with the first milestone of this journey the Castleconnell 5 k run.
Sunday morning, I was up early for the race. Rushing because I was supposed to be on the road at 9am as I was meeting my sisters at 11am in Castleconnell. Thankfully(?) Pierre was injured and could not run his Ballycotton 10 so I dragged him with me. We arrived there at 11:15 and texted the girls to say I was there and where were there. “Eh I’m like an hour away” replies Rhona. That’s when I double checked the text and realised we were meeting between 12 and 12:30. Oops. Better early than late, right? So I grabbed myself a hot chocolate and some cheeky sausage rolls and sat back into the car to wait. Eventually, the elder sister arrived with the nephews and we headed up to the community hall to sign in and meet Rhona. We chatted for a bit before heading down to get ready. With the boys in the buggy, we walked to start and a good bit past it to World’s End as it is called. When we walked back up, the active warm up had started and I tried do it to but I did feel very self-conscience. I have no idea why. It’s hardly any different from the warm-up in the bootcamp. Dad made it to the start line to wish us good luck before the off. We left the boys with him and Pierre and got ourselves ready.
And then we were off, slowly at first as there was a lot of people surrounding us. Eventually it spread out a bit so we could run beside each other. The first kilometre seemed to go by quickly and without too much struggle. I was falling a little behind my sisters and was not able to chat like them. After the 2km mark it started to get worse. I was struggling to get breathe in and everything started to hurt. My mood was very sour. Karen and Rhona said they were happy to take my abuse. I did also warn Karen she better move to the inside or I might throw her out on to the road. (I didn’t mean it, really, I swear!) I slowed to a walk briefly. As I approached the halfway mark, the pain really started. All on the right hand side of my body. My shoulder, torso, hip, leg and knee were very sore. But in hindsight, what was more worrying, the right side of my face drooped. I don’t know how long it lasted, I was just trying to keep going through the pain. Trying to breathe in enough air, I was very aware of my lip drooping. But I wasn’t even sure was it real. Just thought it can’t be a stroke otherwise I would not be able to keeping running. It wasn’t really until Rhona said she noticed the drooping too that my concerns started )I am going to the doctor to get it checked out and hopefully it won’t be anything.)
But I kept going, the 3km to 4km seemed to never end. There were moments when I just wanted to cry. I wanted to quit. I walked again briefly two more times. Karen and Rhona trying to encourage me forward but their words just annoyed me more. I revolted against the encouragement taking longer than I had planned for to get going again. The last km seemed as short as the first. Or maybe it was just that the last one was just so everlasting. I could feel the pain of a blister on my arch of my foot. It felt so uncomfortable. As we rounded the bend, I saw my mother with my eldest nephew, Conor, who then ran the last stretch with his mother (though I think he was actually dragged over the line at the end.) I just focused at the line, trying not to cry. I ran straight through the crowd at the end. I didn’t even go to get my mug and water. Just found somewhere alone and pulled the runners off of me.
I ran it nearly entirely in 34 minutes. I had barely ran 2.5 km in interval runs. I should have been so proud of myself. But I wasn’t. I felt nothing. I felt distant. My mood was very poor. I was very grumpy. Even now, I still feel very emotionless thinking about it, which if you know me, emotional is normally my status. I really can’t explain it. Maybe, I just don’t believe that I actually did it. But the first big milestone on this journey has been passed.
And that’s something.
The past few weeks have been really tough for me. There is a lot of stuff going on in my life at the moment. And it all has me extremely stressed out. It always feels like it one step forward two steps back. Every time I seem to make progress towards potentially having a baby, some new obstacle rears its stupid ugly head. It’s so frustrating and de-moralising. It’s so hard when these road blocks crop up, to keep going forward. I am a very emotional person. I can very excited over things. It can be quite a rollercoaster. Sometimes, I wish I was more like Pierre. He is always in the middle emotionally.
I had taken a day off work as I had to go get a glucose test done. It’s not easy trying to drink Lucozade when you are not hungover! But thankfully, all is good. I did arrange for my personal training with Denise a bit earlier than normal. We went down to the new personal training centre. We started off with step ups alternating with the battle rope. Man, that thing is not as ease is it looks. Trying to keep that up for 30 seconds was really tough. This was followed up with three round of bench presses using a 20kg bar. Finishing up with squats with the 10kg powerbag and my all time favourite walking lunges. Urgh. Nearly fell over on the third round. Afterwards, I had booked myself in for a new gym programme. I felt like I had outgrown the circuit room. So, Denise whipped one up for me. Looking forward to giving it a go at the weekend. I was quite stiff the following day but yoga loosened that up a bit.
Wednesday arrived, and all the emotions I had been trying to shove down came bubbling to the surface. I came home from work. I felt so lost. I didn’t know what to with myself. Everyone seems to have an opinion on what I should be doing. I ended up having a fight with Pierre and then with my mother and father. I even hung up on my mother, when she agreed with Pierre. Seriously, can anyone just be on my side once in a while. Instead of going to Bootcamp, I sat on the couch and cried. I thought what was the point of going. Everything was conspiring against to keep me from being a mother. Even if the regulating of my periods was the first step to being in a position to conceive, current events meant that it wouldn’t be advisable to even try, at least not for now. Maybe, it was down to turning 31 recently. Maybe, it was down to me having my period (yay?). This is the first time in my entire life where I have had a natural period back to back. I should be happy about that. But with the things going on at the moment, it was having the opposite effect. It was like my body was taunting me. Oh, look you have a normal cycle, but you can’t do anything about it!
Even in work the following day, I just wasn’t right. I was just so upset. I just felt that it was so unfair. I just threw myself into a set of accounts. I was so stressed out and upset, Judi even recommended going out for some air. But I didn’t go, I probably should have. I came home and didn’t go to pilates. I sat down, ate my dinner. And wrote. When I wrote the first blog post, it felt so good to get the feelings down. So, I hoped doing it again would to. It didn’t. I felt so lost. I feel like I am a shadow. A leaf being blowing around by a gust of wind but not in the direction I want to go in.
I had another personal training session on Friday, as it was only time available with Denise. I couldn’t miss that too. Denise would certainly kill me for that. So, I bucked up and went. This was the start of the final week after all, I got in early so I could talk to Susan on the desk about my options going forward. After discussing how I got on and what I enjoyed. I really love doing the PT sessions and its mostly down to Denise being great craic. So, I signed up for the intense kickstarter package for another six weeks. With the intense kickstarter, I get two personal training sessions and three classes. So no excuses! Its an extra €100 but thankfully they are flexible with the payment.
We were down in the personal training centre again. And this time, we had it to ourselves. It didn’t take long for Denise to grill me on my classes. I did confess to her that I didn’t do them this week and why. I started off with upright rows with two 8kg kettlebells while lying face down on a bench. I had done this in the second week session but with two 6kg dumbbells. This was paired with kettlebell swings with one of the 8kg. I have to say, I POWERED through these. This was followed up with using the beast of a leg press. It was massive. It was tough. I was a bit scared that it would crush me. This was paired with steps up intertwined with the chats about all the shit that is going on. We finished up on with the squats with the powerpivot bar and the rip60 rows (the leaning tower of pain). And then it was over, with it a lot of the stress that had been ruining my week.
It was a very good session. It certainly made me regret not doing the classes earlier. I took my frustrations out. I chatted about it all with Denise and the other girl in our session. She had such a positive non-stress attitude. I was certainly envious of that. She was all “Ah sure fuck it!” Man, I wish I could be like that. My life would be so much easier if I could just let all the stress and shit go.
Saturday morning as usual is weigh-in. No change on the scales, I was so disappointed. I was quite pressed for time, as we were going over to our friend’s house to watch the Ireland match. So I didn’t do a full routine. My sister Rhona was pestering me about not doing enough running. Well, no running. But it is hard to find time to do it! So instead of doing a full routine, I just did 20 minutes of intervals on the treadmill. Got through 2.5 km with roughly half and half walking and running.
I went for tea and scones with the girls on Sunday, while of husbands trained for the Ballycotton 10. We chatted, looked at an ultrasound scan and I had a scone (bold I know!) The boys joined us for lunch/dinner and I had a bun burger (bolder I know but I only ate half though). It was very enjoyable and it was so destressing. Nearly more so than, the personal training. Sometimes, all you need is your girlies to set you straight.
Weight: 12st 8.4lbs
Run: 2.5km on a treadmill. (walk/run intervals)
Feelings: Emotional, Raw at the start of the week. But feeling much better at that end of the week.
Back in the Saddle
Last week I let pain and fear throw me. But this is a new week, and it’s time to get back in the saddle. As I said before, it’s a marathon not a sprint. It is ok to fall down, it’s human. What is important is that you pick yourself back up and try again. So, I am dusting myself and getting back on this horse. And I am very much hoping it doesn’t put me through the wringer again. There is only so much debilitating pain a lass can handle! But despite the excruciating pain, I really do enjoy going to the gym. Rhona had warned me about women only gyms being a bit more judgmental than mixed gyms. But honestly, it doesn’t feel like that at the Women’s Fitness Plus gym. And what way to start the week other than having a go in the newly fitted personal training studio. It looks amazing, they have this huge multi-purpose gym monster thing, three squatting racks, and apparently, there is a lot more to come. Denise, my personal trainer, was super excited about it. She hadn’t left there all day. To be honest, I was pretty excited too, and a wee bit scared. I had seen a video on their Facebook page of one of the personal trainers testing it out. It looked awesome but she was doing shit that I could not possibly imagine doing myself.
First up was step-ups paired with kettlebell squats. These were done alternating as usual for 3 rounds. The first two rounds I used an 8kg kettlebell with a 6kg dumbbell for the last round. I followed that up with chest press with two 6kg dumbbells alternating with an upright row with 8kg kettlebell. The final combo was high knees and “PowerPivot” arm raises. Finishing up using the straps, leaning back and the pulling myself back almost upright or the leaning tower of flab as I called it. It was very hard going doing it all but once it’s all over I feel so pumped. I was soaked in sweat. Denise joked about her barely being able to do a pull-up on the rig. And I, stupidly, challenged her to one. Seriously, what was I thinking. I think weights make my brain fuzzy. She did two. The first seemed easy but the second was a struggle. She dropped down quite triumphant, and then it was my turn. I stood up on the bench and grabbed on to the bars. I was barely able to lift myself up by an inch or so, before my arms gave out. Pathetic I know. But if someone super fit like Denise found it tough, that brief tango with the pull up bar, is surely nothing to be sneered at.
I was very much relieved to find myself not in too much pain the next day. I was stiff, but nothing to write home about. And I had yoga with D to look forward to. While some poses were sore from the stiffness, it was quite enjoyable. Plus, the gossip in the car rides to and fro certainly is enjoyable. Hard to have a proper goss session if the hubbies are in tow. As I stretched to take off my bra, there was a flash of pain across my shoulders, tensed me right up. Flashbacks from last week’s agony surfaced. “Oh, don’t tell me it starting all over again.” Went to sleep, dreading what tomorrow would bring.
So, morning came, but the pain did not! Hurrah! No excuse not to do boot camp tonight then. Yeah!!! Denise came bouncing in, super giddy, after her body combat class. She spots me straight away and asks me “how’s the pain?” I was a bit cocky, “Yeah, no pain at all!” “So we can go harder next Monday then?” she laughs back at me. Oh no, landed myself in it. As there was twelve of us, we were paired off rather than going in groups of three or four. I was paired off with Joan who had similar fitness level to mine which suited me. Everyone else seems so much fitter and more able than me. Like with the personal training session, the exercises were done in alternating sets with 3 pairs of sets. The first set was one person sitting up against the wall (obviously not on the floor) and holding your arms out, which was a whole lot tougher than it sounds. While the other person, did high knees and trying to touch the other person hands with their knees. Again, quite tough. On the last set, I struggled to keep up on both. But I shaked it out and kept trying.
The next set was press ups with every time you push yourself up, you clap hands with your partner. Changing the hand each time. This was paired with mountain climbers, which for love nor money I can’t just get a handle on. Seriously why do I have so much trouble doing these, everyone else makes it look so easy. It’s the same with the elliptical I just can’t handle it; I can’t do it. The next set was one person doing ab crunches and the other standing on the first’s toes for their balance and with a kettlebell lifting it above the head. The last set, oh the last set. I did not enjoy the last set. The first person leaning against the wall did arm extensions with the kettlebell while the other is did lunges across the room and back twice. And that was the torturous part. I hate lunges so much. Lunges and burpees with equal venom. I thought I was going to collapse after the first one. I wanted to cry it hurt so much. But I kept going trailing behind everyone else. Now, I completely forgot to mention that Denise was literally dancing around while we were torturing ourselves. Which was quite funny, and dulled the pain somewhat, but not totally. So, halfway through the last round of the kettlebell extensions, Denise told us just to dance it out with her. To finish, we did intervals of jogging on the spot and sprinting. Exhausted was an understatement.
Both me and my husband work in the Cork city centre which is totally handy for commuting seeing as we only have the one car and Pierre has a car space at work. But the carpark is a twenty-minute walk from South Mall. This is normally not much of a problem. I just stick on the music and walk away. Anyways, I normally end up waiting for Pierre. But when it is lashing rain like Thursday was, it’s not so much fun. Even worse so, when after walking all the way within spitting distance of the carpark, (well a world record setting spit really!) some complete and utter b*****d tore around the corner, straight through a puddle drenching me from head to toe. I was as miserable as the weather. Sopping wet. All I wanted was a bath and my bed. And you are probably wondering why I’m talking about this, as opposed to my fitness journey. See on Thursday’s I have Pilates, and I was so miserable, cold and wet, I decided to skip the Pilates class this week. I just seem to be working, exercising or sleeping, and I felt a little rest was in order.
So, I had my weekly weigh-in on Saturday morning as usual, it was a little later than normal. Poor Pierre had to work so I dropped in him and got my gym session in first, and then into Dee for the all-important weigh-in. I was down another 2.5 pounds. I was now just shy of half stone in total. I was now half way through the Kickstarter program and was making steady progress towards my target of 10-14 pounds. I was supposed to go for a run on Sunday, but instead I cleaned my oven. My house is seriously being neglected at the moment. I need to get better organised, it’s not going to get any easier if and when there is the pitter patter of little feet.
Weight: 12st 8.8lbs
Run: 1km on a treadmill.
Feelings: Feeling much better this week. Mood is definitely boosted (apart for the soaking by the jerk in the white Ford Focus)
Monika The Brave.
New challenges await us all, if we’re just open to them. Rower Monika has a few great achievements under her belt, not least of which is tackling this blog post, along with just a few other challenges 🙂
It has been on my mind to contribute to this blog for a good few months now. Since November 2016 to be exact. How do I remember? Easy. I ran my first full marathon in Dublin on 30th October. I would have done something sooner, but I think low-self esteem held me back (believe it or not, that’s why I exercise), and I lack confidence to write in English, as it’s not my first language. But now, I’m ready!
It only took 42.126km. That’s 42,136 metres of of pure determination, willpower and self belief. If I can do that, I can blog, right? But now, how to write about marathon training, and for it to be interesting, and funny… There are bucket load of articles out there. Everybody is having a different experience. Also, half of my friends have completed a marathon. What else is there to say?
To be perfectly honest, I think training sucks big time. Pounding footpaths for hours on end, energy gels tucked behind my belt, asking random strangers for sips of water ( thanks Sean), checking pace, cadence, heart rate. One week I counted a total of 140km, and then the weekends were around 100k mark. I was panicking the milage wouldn’t be enough. Was it necessary? For me, absolutely. I just wanted to finish with my head held high.
But then, after all those distances, disaster. A torn ankle tendon three weeks prior was massive set back, physically and psychologically. Calm, rest, focus. It was the hardest thing. But just in time, it came right. The day dawned bright and clear. The training kicked in, the lungs did their job. I made it through the finish line and it was awesome! The best feeling ever. Now I am aiming to do one again this year in sub four hours. A new challenge!
Two things I’ve learned. My body is awesome, it allows me to do crazy things like this one. Also, based on my experience, I believe that my body is made for endurance rather than speed. I want to add that I’m a 36 year old mum and that now I’m fitter than I ever was in my 20’s. This experience has also been under the watchful eye of my fit bf, he was full of encouragement and confidence. We ran it together. Well, actually I ran way waaay behind him, but it was an amazing experience to share with each other. I still remember the walk back, I always laugh out loud when I think of it. Holding onto rails along Merrion square. Our legs were totally fucked for days afterwards.
But now that I’ve started writing, I realise that this story is not about running a a marathon. And it’s not about rowing – a sport which is in my heart forever and still identify myself as a rower (I miss you girlies already). This story is actually about trying something new. I tried marathons. And for me, my next new thing is triathlon. Because two sports are not enough obviously. Three sports which are combined, that I think I do like very much. And excuse my pun, but life’s too short not to try a tri!
It actually all started with the half Ironman event in Dublin last August. I completed one as part of a relay with my dad, with me running. (That’s us in the very first picture) he’s a 63 year old MACHINE on the bike. Oh my, how proud was I? What an honour to share this experience with him. Since then I’ve had this conflicting ideas in my head. Will i do more, will i not? Will I leave rowing for a while? I was afraid to loose the idea of belonging to my club, the support of training, the gatherings of friends. But thanks to 70.3, i found my tri boyfriend and gained even more amazing friends, like-minded swim, bike and run enthusiasts.
So here I am, beginning of February 2017, full of beans, can’t wait for the next adventure to begin. Tri-ireland licence renewed, first race in May paid for.
I have started to run again when-ever possible (though I really didn’t feel like it for a while). I’m now swimming three times a week and I began cycling last December. A good few lessons in the pool were necessary to be honest. They still are and I have a personal coaching lesson booked for next week, so i don’t go backwards or sink when I make it to the open water. I bike every sunday morning here in Killaloe with great bunch of people. Sure, my life isn’t busy enough as it is 🙂 #rolls eyeballs.
I’ll be taking it nice and handy this season. Some sprint distances (750/20/5) and Olympic distances (1.5/40/10) #read swim /bike/ run, they will do me nicely. With some duathlons ( run/bike/run) lined up in next three months. Cold water is my enemy, (Emily do you remember? A few splashes of cold water in the boat and I nearly ended up in A&E with pneumonia) Some triathlete, what?
I intend to keep in touch with #PBM over the training and race period, and report back on how it’s going, with it all being new to me. For now, there’s more excitement than fear, and I’m happy to be able to share it with you!
Wish me luck!
My new favourite tourist discovery…
On a recent work trip to Amsterdam, my friend Andy and I decided to go on a running tour. Concept? Simple. 7.5km running around Amsterdam in a small group, visiting the sites. No buses, no cars, and no trams – “we go where we want”.
We met our tour guide, Hans-Peter (HP), who came to meet us at our hotel. We were the only two booked on so we didn’t have to meet anyone else, and off we went.
HP set a nice steady pace, jogging up alongside the Amstel (not just a beer!) for about 700m until we stopped at our first point, a nice town house with signs on the sides. HP explained that this was to identify who lived in the house back when there were no street names. I’ve been to Amsterdam once before and had never noticed these. After the run, they were everywhere!! From boats, to quills and even a modern-looking sign that had a Euro on it! We went over bridges, HP explaining their history (Amsterdam has a lot of canals and therefore a lot of interesting bridges!). We ran through secret archways which led us through the university. We saw statues made by unknown artists. A favourite of mine, near the Leidseplein, was a bronze statue made in the 80s of a man sawing a tree branch. In the 30 years since, the tree has now grown around it and it looks amazing. As we were coming through the red light district we stopped at the Old Church and HP told us a lovely story. When Saskia van Uylenburgh, Rembrant’s wife, died he had her buried in this church and once a year the sun shines through the window onto her grave – How lovely is that???
I could go on for ever, but I don’t want to ruin it for if you ever go to Amsterdam (do it! it’s brilliant!).
The main points I want to mention is how truly amazing I found it. I’m not the world’s quickest runner but HP kept a good pace, slowed down when he saw I was suffering a bit after the previous night’s beers, and was really a fascinating guy. I saw things I would never have spotted, or thought to look for, like tiny little courtyards in the Jordaan, gorgeous bakeries that smelled phenomenal, statues of musicians that I’d never heard about but I will now look up.
I fell in love with the city of Amsterdam not as a tourist but as a local.
The freedom of being led through a beautiful city when most tourists are still asleep, by a local who clearly loves where he lives and loves running is something truly special. Hands down would do it again!
Bits of interest to note:
- Stumbling upon the red light district comes as a bit of a shock, lots of naked ladies at 9:30 in the morning is not something you see every day!
- No matter how unfit you think you are, it is totally worth trying this out. You stop quite often and you go at the pace of the slowest runner, it’s not about the running – it’s about visiting a new city.
- Dam Square, at 9:45 is remarkably empty and looks very impressive
- 5km can turn into 9km, but that’s ok! If you’re interested in something, in this case Andy wanted to find out more about breweries, your tour guide might make a slight detour. I don’t know if this is the norm as it was essentially a private tour, but it felt really special.
- If all running was like this, I’d enjoy it a heck of a lot more
- As an avid “I hate running but it’s good for me” person, this was fantastic. Sometimes stopping and appreciating where you are and where you’re going is what you need and I am going to use this for my training.
You don’t know what you miss, if you never look!
I can’t wait to go on holiday to a new city and do it all over again! (Got my eyes on Barcelona!)
( http://www.touristrunamsterdam.com/ was the tour company we used. I wasn’t asked to write this by them, nor was I given any incentives to do so. My thoughts are my own. All that said, I highly recommend them if you’re ever in Amsterdam and fancy a run! )