My Why

I left you with an edgy cliffhanger..almost like a sudsy tv show trying to reel in us vulnerable folk.

What was my epiphany? I discovered when reading this article, in order for me to run/walk/move I need to have my Why. The Why that makes me slather on the lycra, lace up the overpriced runners, face the wind and rain and chest heaving. I need a Why.

Last year, my Why was to get in shape. To become a leaner, stronger, thinner, possibly younger version of myself. And the running goals were secondary.  Like, maybe I would do a sub 50 10k. Or ah, shur, why don’t I run a marathon, so? But all the while what was actually motivating me was that I would end up looking like a star in one of those aforementioned sudsy dramas.  Sleek, perfect skin and hair. An airbrushed Elaine. Finally. I could literally have my cake and eat it too.

Newsflash. It did not work out that way. My legs got stronger.  Like, Helga the First Female Scandinavian Lumberjack strong.  And nothing else. My posture improved and I gained weight.  Oh and I lost six toenails (some twice). And my skin got worse. I basically turned 15.

The sad part is this. I ran a 10k in 50:42. And I completed a marathon. A MARATHON. Running wise these were incredible achievements. My Why failed me. And instead of being chuffed at my achievements I was wincing at the mirror.

I ran to become someone else. A new version of me on the outside. And when the results went the other way I felt deflated. What is the point? I mean, seriously?  I am running 40 miles a week and I STILL don’t look like a supermodel.  Give me a BREAK.

My Why is revealing. I think it is. As I sit here and write this I am still processing it. What did my Why say about me.

Time to ponder….

Cue surprising drum beat and sudsy end credits….


Why Running?

Running has been *cough* running through my mind these days. Ahem! The New Year brings this proverbial reset button that we feel lured into pressing.  A chance to evaluate. Clean house. Restart.

And so I find myself questioning how I want to spend my time. There is always an opportunity cost with time. Right now I am typing this. I could be playing the guitar.  I cannot do both because I have to leave in 15 minutes. My life feels very full of these choices in this current season. And it isn’t always a right vs a terrible choice. Well….I will be the judge of that, thank you very much.

So. With running. For me it is a constant choice.  Running takes time. There is the dressing in lycra which is exhausting. The actual running.  The recovery and drinking. And the showering and changing.  Does this sound like excuses to you???? Whatever. (Hello late nineties!). It is where I am at.

I have limited time and so much I would  like to do. And do I want to spend most of it out of breath and sweaty…and yea, of course getting healthy and doing something positive. But running is not all I am. In fact I do not see myself as a ‘runner’. Yet…that seems to be all I can fit in. And cleaning/hoovering/cooking. So…then I am Elaine…The Maid who Runs. I mean, would you watch that B movie?? Even Netflix would not show that.

And then this morning. I had a thought. An epiphany if you will…

Want to hear it. Ooops. Got to go. My 15 minutes are up. Opportunity cost, how are ya!

Downuary Greys

I didn’t realise it until I closed the door at 9:05am. I sat into the warmed car and became instantly surrounded by velvety soft silence. Quiet. Stillness. For a few seconds before I turned on the engine, all that could be heard was my breath. Breathe.

What I didn’t realise was just how noisy my world has been this last two weeks. I have been over stimulated. People. Talking. Television.  Sweet wrappers (mostly mine!). Shops.  So much activity.

Driving home from the school into the murky greyness of a January morning, I actually felt joy. Christmas is supposed to bring joy and peace. Except it is more like toys in pieces. And in turn, yours truly in pieces. But freshness and newness await. On this uninspiring Monday morning I am grateful for that which I forgot I desperately needed. Stillness. 

I will run/walk today. I am saying this as a commandment to myself. My love for running is starting to fade. I am hovering. But I will run for enjoyment today. I have to find the joy in it again. Help me!

Thankfully I am Grateful

Should I do a Thanksgiving post? Eight reasons to be thankful. Four secrets to eating enough to feed an obese elephant and not gaining a pound. Twelve tips to keep your creamy mashed potato warm. Nah. We all know there will be plenty of that. Anyway, Ireland does not have Thanksgiving. That is right, we are ungrateful and enjoy the taste of bitter a bit too much (in all senses of the word!) despite our freedom. It makes for good poetry. 

I ran today.  My 10k at Christmas is edging ever closer. The elusive ‘sub 50’ looms large. Today was a tempo run. Oh yes.  I have the lingo, the lycra, the missing toenails….in other words: the WOYYYKS. Officially a runner I am. I was killed out after it let me tell you. Fifty minutes of pacey-ish running (not the endearing,sheep skin coated, late nineties kind). Phew. Sometimes I go running and wonder if I have EVER run before. Why is this?

Running, like the roads my feet travel on, is so full of ups and downs. The top of the hill moments are rare and so fleeting you forget to enjoy them. I have been runnimg consistently for a year now. First time in my life. I wish I could say I FEEL like a runner.  I mostly feel like a pretender. But I am still running. And I will continue to run.

And guess what….wait for it….I am THANKFUL for being able to run!

Yay. So nicely tied together.

**Gloaty Exhale**

And time…goes by…

Is it just me or do years melt into one another. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Christmas is only x number of shopping days away. What?? But it was just March. Actually no, it was just 2008. Scratch that…I am still 19. Is it a ‘having kids’ thing, a school thing, a getting old thing. I never wanted time to slow down as much as I do now. I remember being a child and waiting 36 days for Christmas was agony. It would just never come. Crossing days off like some sort of isolated prisoner and wondering if I could take any more waiting. Or being older and waiting for the summer holidays. Or being older again and waiting for the days to disappear so I could be reunited with my separated love. And pregnancy. And babyness. And toddlerness. But now…I feel like I am skidding down the side of mountain trying to dig my feet into something to stop the movement. Nooooo….not teenagers…..noooooooooo…..not my forties….NOOOOOOOO…..hold on…hold onnnnn…..just let me take a breath at least.

From wishing for time to speed up to willing it to slow down. Each day as it comes. I must take each day as it comes.

Right then,who is for some calendar crossing off!

Not So Super

I just got in the car to drop sports gear to my oldest son. It is really raining. And it is November. But I wanted to be his hero today.  I wanted him to feel like I do actually care and am there in those moments when you are feeling vulnerable and foolish. Swoop in. Superhero Mother to the rescue. 

Except whatever sports I thought they had does not seem to be happening. And I left my warm house one hour before I had to so I could feel good about myself when I went to sleep tonight.

Guess who is feeling vulnerable and foolish now?!

Eight Marathon Mistakes You Don’t Have to Make

Well, I think enough has passed and I can now reflect on my marathon with critical eyes.  It seems you have to run one to learn how to run one. Pity. Because I have said this would be my Rick Astley (One and Only…get it?!)

I made monumental mistakes and I committed grave errors.  I did not run the race of my life and while I finished, I did not finish well. My time was a hugely disappointing 5 hours 5 minutes. 11:40 min miles.  Up to the first 20k I was running 10:13 miles but once I passed the half way point it all fell apart.

Settle in. Get comfortable. This is a long one.

My shoes. My shoes died about four weeks ago. Worn out heels with nothing left in them. I should have been watching but didn’t.  And then it was too late. By mile 11 my feet just started to hurt. Fatigue and soreness.  I might as well have been running in flip flops. 

Cover your eyes because the cliche is glaring here. I ran too fast in the beginning. Yup. Guilty. How many times did I hear and read this advice?? But somehow I convinced myself I was feeling good. Mile 8, 9 and 10 I did at around 9:20 min pace. Wha???? It was downhill. I knew the boys were at mile 10 and I really wantes to catch the 4hr20 pacers. Which brings me to..

Absolutely unrealistic finishing time in my head. Had done no real calculation or prepared properly for what time I would do. I kept saying ‘oh, I just want to finish’ and then on the day, on the DAY I decided I would go for a 4hr20 time. Hello?? I should have started with the 4hr40 and had enough left to finish strong.

Prideful competitiveness. Speaking to a girl as we queued for the bathrooms/grimechambers before the start we talked about times. She was going for 4hr30 and seemed pretty comfortable with how she was going to get there.  All of a sudden I heard 4hr20 come out of my mouth. Why?? Something in me just wanted to beat her. As I ran and saw the 4hr20 pacer ebb away from me I fell in with the 4hr30 crowd. They seemed older, less fit. I didn’t want to be seen with these people!! Time to run fast. Stupidly. Well. Joke’s on me. Because not only did the 4hr30 crowd pass but the 4hr40 crowd and 4hr50. When I came out of the swill pit that was a Porta Potty at mile 22 and watched the flag saying 5:00 tottering by, I finally accepted my humiliation. All this because I wanted to be something I wasn’t.  Story of my life. The marathon can humble you says Bill Rodgers. It certainly did. 

Nutrition.  I had no nutrition plan. Lining up I saw all these people with belts stacked with little energy gels and Mars bars. Me, I had my person. That was it. I figured I would get an energy gel on route along with water/Lucozade. I should be fine. Newsflash.  I was not fine. There was a reason those people had boosters. I wouldn’t normally go five hours without eating something and that is without running for those hours. Sweets were being handed out by all the locals and I took some of those but I should have had my own supply that I had tried and tested and knew worked. At mile 21 I took two energy gels. Moments later my stomach lurched and the familiar gurgles of diarrhoea started. Thank God there was a Porta Potty just at that moment because that would have been a whole different level of humiliation.

Complete and utter lack of proper preparation. All of the above point to that. I ran the miles but that is only half the battle. My mental edge needed to rely on my being somewhat in control of proceedings. I had no plan. Even though I struggled in every long run I took the foolhardy attitude of ‘ah it will be alright on the day. One foot in front of the other’. RUBBISH. Although everything in me did not want to become one of those intense runners with all this runnery talk and lycra and gels and Garmin watches. There is a reason they finished two hours ahead of me and fitness is only a part of it.

Not having a Garmin watch.  Oh they all had them. All the cool kids. I was offered a loan of one twice. I turned it down in favour of my tried and tested phone with Runkeeper. I will be grand, I said. But my phone was in one of those protective arm holders and trying to look at it was impossible. I couldn’t see it clearly and therefore never knew what pace I was running at.  Poor decision.

Mistake #8
Going it alone. I am a loner. Okay not in a trenchcoat/tinted glasses/catfood way but I am happy enough on my own. Running affords me that time. And I feel intimidated and a little bit intruded on when running with people. But I see the value in it now. Company. Advice. Encouragement.  Comradery. I was completely on my own during the marathon.  No familiar faces. No connections to be made. I could have done with a buddy. I would have done better with a buddy. Yeeesh. I should join a club.  Be a joiner. A groupish person.  Shiver.

And I think that covers it. My list of don’ts. Does this mean I have to do another marathon and listen to my own advice?? Mmmm..