Despite illness, wonky knees, cartiledge problems, and consultants telling my I wouldn’t…… I’m running again. Well, if you call putting one foot in front of the other at a slightly more animated pace than walking, then I’m running again.
It’s all coming together rather nicely. I’ve had a couple of sessions at Le Cheile AC and each session felt better than the last, the lovely folk at Run Kildare have invited me back again this year, and I’m off to Limerick this weekend with ‘Get Off The Couch’ participants, Karen and Cathy to take part in a triathlon workshop.
I really believe in learning about technique. When I started getting out into the great outdoors and trying out new, activity based hobbies, I was on my way back down from 23 stone. I really didn’t think I’d be able to do anything, and as soon as I discovered that I could, my whole world changed. Training helped though, and I’ve a huge amount of people to thank, for sharing their knowledge and passion for sport and the outdoors. I will be thanking people for the rest of my life, and whenever I catch up with the thanking bit… I have a whole new wave of people and blessings to be thankful to and for.
One of those people who helped me then and is helping me now, is the hugely generous Irish ulra runner John O’Regan. We’re pictured here at Run Kildare last year, when he spotted me about to jog out – knowing darned well that I’d just been told I shouldn’t. Thanks to John’s advice on the day, I got around the course without further damaging my knees – and he’s been giving me great advice ever since.
Starting back running again 2 weeks ago wasn’t easy. It hurt, my chest heaved, I couldn’t breath and I really wondered if I’d just imagined being able to run. But this week felt better. I know it will take many more weeks to get back to anything like the fitness I had before. But something wonderful happened this week, as I ran I remembered that I like it. I got that feeling that runners get, where your body does what you ask, you find a rhythm and you’re suddenly confident that you can run for ever.
Even on a rainy day, you feel the sun on your face in those moments.
It was a busy weekend – on Saturday I met the gang that are joining me in a brand new TV programme called ‘Get Off The Couch’.
This 6-part series with Athena Media & the BAI on Setanta TV, is aimed at encouraging a bunch of enthusiastic candidates from all over the country to get healthy and improve their fitness, using our beautiful great outdoors. Say a big friendly adventurous ‘hello’ to Damien McElligott, Karen Bowers, Joe Grey, Maryanne Treacy, Cathy Whyte, and Eamonn Waldron – our GOTC team for 2013.
Adventure is the name of the game, but if Saturday’s ‘meet and greet’ was anything to go by, it’s also going to be a lot of craic, fun, and teasing the girls….. The boys wound us up a bit over a fitness test. They had to do it first – and they let on it was much worse than it was. I’m not sure they knew what they were unleashing. Girls never forget!
We started out on Saturday with a leasurely ‘walk in the park’ – the Phoenix Park that is. It was beautiful; fuelled by yummy scones and lashings of tea from Helen, in the park’s gorgeous Visitors’ Centre. Ok – it’s Lent now, and the scones may have to go, and the exercise will have to get a bit more animated. Yes it’s all ahead of us!
Next weekend, the girls are off to Limerick to bond and learn about triathlons. Lads – I think ya better look out! 😉
I got a shock today when I groaned to my gym guru Dave Dunne, about how quickly I lost my fitness (about 3 weeks) after being ill last month. As I strained to lift weights that wouldn’t have cost me a thought before Christmas, I asked if it was going to take 3 weeks to get my strength back. To my horror, Dave informed me that it would take double that. I asked if I could speed that up by exercising harder and more frequently, and he warned me that I’d only weaken myself, slow my recovery, and end up in a worse state than I am now. Now that all came as a suprise, although I vaguely heard my consultant saying something like that weeks ago… ahem. But I want my fitness back and I want it NOW. I’m prepared to work extra hard to do it, but according to Dave, I have to take it slow and just wait for it to happen. OK, I see some sense in that, but it seems very unfair. Six weeks to pay for 3, and that’s over two months gone out of the year. Grrrr….
Dave did say that I could cross-train. So I’m going to the gym 2/3 times a week, going to hot yoga 2/3 times a week, cycling to work, and tomorrow I start running at Le Cheile in Leixlip. Wish me luck – I’m not sure about the running….
PS…I bought a new bicycle jacket today. It’s hi-vis and it’s PINK…. Growing up with two big brothers, I never admitted this girly side of me before, it’s only emerged since I hit my 40’s… I don’t really need a new jacket, but if I’m honest I put on a few pounds when I was off sick, and my old bike-jacket feels a bit snug when I wear a fleece under it. After 10 mins cycling I’m sweating like a thoroughbred winning the national (I wish) but the first 10 minutes have been painfully cold these dark winter mornings. I think I’d be willing to put up with the nuisance of stopping to layer down, if I got to be nice and snug heading out. That’s the plan anyhow. I also bought a nice, light, silk balaclava, to slip under my cycle-helmet. So now I can prevent ear-chill as I head out to work in the morning – and rob a bank on the way home, to pay for all this new gear and training… 😉
Around this time last year I took my brand new bike on the road and I blogged about how slow I was, how it took an hour and a half to get into work, how I was overtaken by an octogenerian riding a rusty Raleigh, and how I expected to be overtaken by a mum pushing a pram!
Today I felt just like that again. I huffed and I puffed as I slogged into work against the wind – and the rain caught me just before I reached the quays. As my mind drifted, I suddenly realised I was headed for my old radio building near the mouth of the Liffey, and not our new offices near Stephen’s Green. Cursing into my soggy buff, I swung around against the traffic, trying to figure out how I’d just managed to put another 10 minutes on my journey. Later, after finishing work for the weekend, I growled again, when a perfectly dry and bright day disappeared into a snarling storm just as I pushed my trusty steed out into the evening rush-hour.
As I heaved against the uphill homeward haul through the Phoenix Park, I reminded myself that I’ve been here before, and today doesn’t feel quite as bad as yesterday, and Monday won’t feel quite as bad as today. I’ll get there.
The rain eased and so did my mood. I didn’t even curse when my chain jammed as I switched down gears on Castleknock Hill. So nice of the Prince Charming who came to rescue me. The poor chap abandoned his own bike to help me in the fading light, and when he failed to free the pesky mechanism, he left with good advice to bring it to the experts, and try using oil in future! He was right of course, as I looked at my once shiny chain looking sadly back at me – but you know that female thing, where you just can’t give up and you just have to have one more bash… 5 minutes later I’m cycling down the hill at Castleknock with a sneaky, self satisfied grin.
Apart from showing off my technical expertise with a jammed chain and a handy rock, I’ve just remembered another reason why I keep on doing this. In the dark hours this morning, just before the rain got me. I pedalled out of my estate, gazing in disbelief at the frosty brightness of the moon and stars; and as I headed towards the park my arrival was heralded by the dawn chorus. The birdsong swept out of the darkness with it’s cheerful embrace, the first time I’d heard them singing this year.
Early morning commuters may not have noticed it as they drove into town or listened to their iPod on the bus or Dart – but today, February 1st, Spring arrived in Dublin – and I was there….