It was dark and damp as I turned the corner onto Accommodation Road in Leixlip. Some of the streetlights were out and it made the darkness more intense. Behind me I could hear the Westie gaining on me, I took a deep breath and ran a bit faster. My legs were tired now but I couldn’t let him catch me; him or the man who was with him. I heard the click of nails on wet concrete and I swore my red-face got a little redder. It was bad enough being so far behind the other C25K runners, but to be overtaken by a man walking a dog was a step too far. He caught me on the hill…
This is my FOURTH time to join the Le Chéile AC beginners’ running group and I’m not sure whether to be embarrassed or proud. OK so I’m starting again, but I still haven’t given up on my dream of ‘being a runner’. Not only that, I have managed several 5k parkruns in recent weeks, and last night I ran 4.2k on cold, dark roads, and I didn’t need to walk at all. I felt comfortable in my runners – apart from being slow (although I think that Westie had been in training).
We are now into our last two weeks, but I believe that myself and my Aware challenge buddy Elaine Crowley are on course for our #Couch2Christmas 10K on December 12th. It was Elaine’s idea to train and do this run for Aware, to raise awareness about mental health; about the all-round benefits of physical exercise and how good it makes you feel. The idea was born on the Midday Panel when we were talking about the importance of being active, and how you shouldn’t ‘wait to be fit to get fit’. We’ve done our best to do that idea justice, dancing, swimming and running our way up to our big run in the Phoenix Park. We’ve had lots of support along the way and even Dublin GAA star Bernard Brogan has got behind us. Speaking recently at the launch of the Federation of Irish Sport Manifesto, the All-Ireland winner said there are a lot of challenges in terms of health and mental well-being that sport can help: “If you’re fit, healthy and active you’re feeling good and you’re enjoying it, it can prevent those problems developing further down the line”.
I hope you come out on the day and support the runners at the Aware Christmas Run – or even better, join us. There are only a few days left to register for the run on aware.ie/events.
We had some fun this week. Fiona Egan, the owner of the Irish designed sásta fitness pods delivered one to the TV3 studios to help us meet our fitness goal. The pod is bright green and looks a bit like a Dalek machine. The idea is that you are sealed into the pod with a skirt that looks a bit like a kayak spray-deck, then you run on a treadmill in a vacuum. The vacuum technology makes your work-out harder and apparently you can get the benefits of a 3-hour workout in a 30 minute session. That should make a big difference to our fitness levels and I’ll let you know how we get on. After day one, I can tell you that my bum is screaming at me, which isn’t a bad thing, all things considering!
As you know there was a storm last weekend, but I polished up my halo and went to Griffeen parkrun as planned on Saturday morning. I’ve got to admit it was cold and horrible, but I felt amazing afterwards. I felt a bit guilty because I was last out on the course, it took me 46 minutes to get around, and I was sorry for the volunteers standing waiting for me in the driving rain. They really are amazing people, they were so encouraging and one of the other runners hung back and came and ran the last few hundred metres with me, which really helped. I have decided that I shall repay the debt by joining the bank of volunteers so that I can have a chance to encourage others too. Their cheerful encouragement really made a huge difference to how I finished my run and it inspired me to go out again myself on Sunday.
Be safe – always, but don’t always hide away without a glance
The storm was meant to be at it’s height on Sunday and winds were gusting severely when I left the house. Without much hope of a swim, I made my way to Malahide to drop in on the Eastern Bay Swimmers. To my surprise the sea was calm and we got in and swam at Low Rock in bright sunshine. Encouraged, I drove over to Glendalough in Wicklow and ran about 6k around the Upper Lake. Again, I found I was sheltered from the wind by the surrounding mountains and only the very tops of the magnificent pine trees were stirring. It was like I was running in my own private dreamland, on a woodland trail softly padded and springy with pine needles. I seemed to dodge the raindrops all day and I ran in a vest, warm from the heat of my own body and flushed with the exuberance and delight of being alive and one with the elements on such a stormy day.
I learned a lesson. Be safe, always, but don’t always hide away without a glance. Nature was lovely in the wind and the rain.
Later I had my reward with a yummy carvery in front of a turf fire in Lynam’s of Laragh. As I toasted my toes in front of the fire, I ended up surrounded by a variety of friends from different adventure sports who had been out enjoying the elements too. Conversations were had, promises made, and I found myself jotting down next year’s Moxi Adventure race in my diary for 2016.
The scene is set now, and I’m confident and happy about the challenge, although I’m a bit nervous too. Joining the TV3 Midday panel this week to update our progress, I found a flutter of butterflies in my belly as I realised how close the run is. But we’re going to do it. We’ve worked hard, put the effort in and I’ve lost a good bit of weight which will help. More importantly I’ve had lots of messages from people who are starting to walk and run, simply because they’ve seen Elaine and myself have a go. That means so much, seriously, it’s better than getting a medal. Thank you for all your kind messages of support over the last few weeks. Don’t stop now. Consider joining us at the Phoenix Park; run, walk, or simply come out and cheer on the runners. You will really make a difference. xxx