12 Down: The Race is One!

Race week had come around at last! I did a short run on Monday, bringing in the last tricky (ie hilly) section of the course.

On Tuesday, I started to worry – I hadn’t received my pack with my number and time chip, nor an email telling me where to collect it. My husband worried me even more by asking if I was sure I’d actually registered.  I flicked back through my emails, back to January, where this had been a New Year’s resolution.  The sign-up email said that pack collection details were on the website.  The website gave me the collecting times from the leisure centre.  A quick check of my watch confirmed that I could go and get it right now, so off I sped.  Notices on the way into the pack collecting room advised you to have your registration number handy.  I tried to bring up my emails again on my phone, but to no avail.  I asked the assistant if my name would be sufficient, as I couldn’t remember my registration number.  She easily found me on the list, and announced:

“You’re number one!”

I laughed, and joked that it would probably be the only time you’d see that number next to my name, but it did feel special pinning it onto my running vest.  I made sure I had everything ready for the race on Wednesday evening, fixed the time chip to my shoe-lace, and went to bed content that I had done all I could.

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Wednesday dawned sunny, and just got warmer and warmer as the day wore on.  I took my dogs to the agility-fun park in the afternoon, mainly to take my mind off the race, and I ate fairly carby things during the day – overnight oats with berries for breakfast, cheese and crackers for lunch, some nuts a couple of hours before the race.  And lots of water.

At about 6, we drove as close to the leisure centre as we could – there was also a 10k and a fun run being held, so parking was scarce.  I went inside to join the queues of final-pee-ers, and didn’t have too long to wait before lining up with the other 975 half-marathoners.  I positioned myself near the “2 hrs 15” corral, though having done a mere 12 miles in 2 hrs 18 last week, that was an ambitious placing.

A cheer went up, and off we went, all the time chips clicking as the runners’ feet crossed the mat.  I pressed START on Mapmyrun, screwed my earphones in place, adjusted my Oakleys against the sun, now lower in the sky, and told myself “Let’s run this mother”.  I’m so glad I’d run about 80% of the route during training runs – there’s nothing quite so reassuring as turning a corner and going – Oh I know this road, I know where the hills are, I know what’s round the corner….I can do this.  Running is mental, and the more confidence boosts you can add the better.


By contrast, we got to the one bit of the route I was unfamiliar with, as it’s on a dual carriageway.  It doesn’t seem that steep when you’re driving it in the car, but it was a killer to run.  The “Mile 6” marker was half-way up it, and I slowed to a walk and fished out my energy-jelly, nibbling it as I marched to the top of the hill.


It was really warm, but I was struggling to take on water at the stations.  I tried once, and then felt very uncomfortable, almost nauseous afterwards.  I’d never used water during training runs, and it’s maybe something I’m going to have to look into further.  By the time I got to about Mile 12, I was feeling a bit light-headed, due to the heat and the dehydration.  But I knew this last part well, onlookers were great at clapping and cheering, and the iron-on letters of my name which Clic Sargent had provided meant I was getting personalized shouts of support!  I was feeling a surge of emotion building up through me, and I consciously had to tell myself not to cry until I was over the line.


As I turned into the finishing stretch, I could see the elapsed time just passing the 2 hours and 30 minutes mark, and for a moment I was disappointed that I hadn’t broken it.  Then I remembered my chip time would be a good 20 seconds off this – and indeed it was: 2 hours 29 minutes and 21 seconds!


My legs were in agony, and the first bottle of water barely touched the sides.


But I did it.  I run this mother.  Or rather, One runs this mother.  And I got a medal to prove it.


11 down – here we go!

11 weeks of training over – this week it’s the big race!

Running in Rain

It’s taper week, so no big long runs this week.  On Wednesday, exactly a week before the race, I chose to run late in the afternoon, as the race is in the evening.  I picked the final section of the race route – a not terribly attractive section through an industrial estate.  And it was raining – but then, it might well be raining during tehr ace, so its best to train in all sorts of conditions.  Actually, I don’t mind running in a fine mizzle – it’s almost nicer than running in blazing sunshine.

Running in Rings

I was heading to France for the weekend, but manage to sneak a quick run in on Friday morning before I left for the airport.  I took Max with me – he’s pretty good MOST of the time, but if he sees a bicycle he’s inclined to get over-excited, and start running behind my legs, then in front of me, and as soon as I switch the lead over to my other hand, he’ll run behind my legs again.  Daft mutt!

Running in Reims

After a lovely weekend with friends in Reims, I kept to my training schedule and found a wonderful space to do my Sunday morning run.

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La Coulee Verte is a streims 021retch of pathway beside the canal, and it was full of runners, rollerbladers, dog walkers, cyclists.  The canal itself had many ducks, houseboats, fishermen, kayaks,as well as some locks to run past.  The path was pretty flat, no hills to contend with, and absolutely beautiful, with fields of poppies, cherry gardens and ranks of tall trees to admire.

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Running to Raise…

I’m doing this to raise money for Clic Sargent – thank you to those who’ve given so generously, still time to make a donation!


10 down, 2 to go

This was the week of The Big One – the longest run in my training Plan. After this we’re into a taper period to ensure legs and feet are in tip top condition.

For my Tuesday run, I did my consecutive-dog trick again.  This means I can exercise both dogs, one after the other, and still get my requisite half an hour in.  The weather was glorious – almost too hot – and I think the dogs enjoyed it as much as I did.

I was planning another run on Thursday evening, but my stomach had reacted badly to something I’d eaten, and I spent the evening just curled on the sofa.  I felt very guilty about missing a run, but it’s better to err on the side of caution.

Saturday’s ParkRun was bathed in that elusive sunshine, but sadly I discovered as I was leaving the house that my iPod was flat.  So I had to run without music.  This would be a good test – does music help me run faster or not?  I found the sounds interesting as I ran – Mini’s wheezing as she galloped along beside me, my own odd 2 in-3 out breathing rhythm, the slap-slap of my trainers. But what I discovered was that the real benefit of music is that it drowns out the negative voice in your head – I was still battling with the urge to stop, give up, just quit.  I tried giving my brain something else to do, so I started composing rhymes for my fellow runners;

Girl in purple, girl in blue, How to catch them, what to do?

Two young lads all dressed in white, Look like they could run all night

Passed by bloke all clad in yellow, He’s a very speedy fellow!

And the result?  28:44.  So I didn’t beat last week’s PB of 28:16, but I wasn’t far off!  To me, a sub-30 run is still a good result.



So Sunday dawned, still sunny.  I wanted to get out early in the day before the heat built up, and I was aiming to run 12 miles.  This was the longest of the training runs, and it would be my lifetime longest run.  I’d carb-loaded with spelt pasta the night before, spelt toast for breakfast, and ensured I’d been to the bathroom before leaving.  No dogs, and in the clothes I was intending to run in.  I started off running to the leisure centre, where the race will begin.  I followed the 10k course, keeping the Sprucefield ariel in my sights.  I’ve loved the way my runs have always been in the shadow of this iconic landmark – when I lived abroad, and was flying home via Dublin, passing the Sprucefield mast was always a sign that I was nearly home.  My charged-up shuffle was in good form, and gave me the beautiful 100 years by Five For Fighting, which reminded me of my old room-mate Anne-Marie, and made me smile.


Running along Blaris Rd, I felt the need for a bathroom, so I took a small detour off my planned route to McDonalds to use the facilities.  Better that than trying to carry on for the rest of the run in discomfort.  A short sharp uphill section on Ravernet Road, to omit the race section on the dual carriageway, and I was back at Waterloo Road.  This is a bit of a slog, but I’ve run it 4 or 5 times now, and I know where the tricky hills are.  Some fabulous views, though!   From there, it’s a lovely long downhill stretch of Ballynahinch Road, and other small hill at Altona Industrial Estate, and from there I just ran home.  Just under 12 miles, in 2 hrs 18 mins.

My new KSwiss trainers are pretty good – I’ve had no shin splints since I changed to them.  But they have a velcro-like attraction to bits of gravel, so I had to stop now and then to hoke these out of my soles.  And I was glad I was dog-less – there were lots of bikes about, Max’s nemesis, and more than a few runners, no doubt like me doing their long run before the race.

When I got home, I found that my lovely husband had posted a link on Facebook to my Fundraising page.  I want to publicly say how much his support has meant to me – he’s never complained about the time I spend running, or how the dairy changes to accommodate my runs, and he’s always keen to hear about my pace, and concerned about my safety when I run.  Had a great week fundraising, and a huge thank-you to my Scottish Dancing class who donated over £100.  The grand total is now around £300.


6 down, 6 to go

My goodness, half way through the training plan!

Quick and Dirty

I was a day out of synch this week, after delaying my long run last week from its usual Sunday slot to the Bank Holiday Monday.  So I had Tuesday as a rest day and started on Wednesday with my favourite 5km run round the river.  My shins were really sore afterwards, and I was feeling a distinct lack of support from my shoes.  Do I have time to switch to new shoes and get used to them before the race in 6 weeks?

On Thursday I took myself down to the lovely people at Pure Running in Wellington Place, and having had my gait measured while running on a treadmill, and a selection of 6 different makes to try out including being able to run on the treadmill in them, I settled on a rather gaudy pair of KSwiss trainers.

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I also bought myself a little belt – ostensibly for gels, but its got a handy waterproof pouch for my phone, if I’m ever running without my jacket.  The weather hasn’t been great this week, but we live in hope of sunnier days!

Thursday’s run was a very quick 3 km round the block to try the new shoes.

On Saturday I was full of confidence for breaking the 30 minute target at the ParkRun, but when I arrived at Wallace Park it was full of vehicles and stalls getting ready for the Lord Mayors Show.  I’d checked the ParkRun newsletter for amendments, but not the actual Wallace Park page, which would have told me that the event was cancelled this week.  I quickly changed plans, got R to drop me at the back gate of Hillsborough Forest with Max, and we did the same circuit of the lake that I’d done last week in 19 minutes – this time in just over 15!  So I was really pleased with my pace, though R was less impressed with the mucky state of Max and me when he picked us up.

Sunday was my long run.  I pored over maps, anxious to avoid the problem I’d had last week of not choosing a long enough route.  I also wanted to run some of the actual race route, in the right direction.  It was raining, but I didn’t let that put me off, and I mentally got into the zone, and ran, and ran.  15 km later ( almost 10 miles), I was delighted with my longest ever run.  The shoes had performed well, my legs felt good, and I’ll probably run this route again to get more familiar with some of the notorious hills.

Many thanks to those who’ve generously given me sponsorship monies this week – it’s all mounting up!


3 down, 9 to go

Week 3 of my training for the Lisburn Half-marathon, and I got my 4 training runs in.

Monday started the week in a sombre mood, as news of the tragic events at the Boston Marathon shocked the world. All those runners and supporters, trying so hard to make the world a better place, under attack from as yet unclear people and motives.

On Tuesday, I did the Hillhall Road loop to the East.  My shuffle came up with Beautiful People, which was very apt – it’s my daughter’s theme tune, and she was flying in from London today, but I also dedicated it in my head to the beautiful people of Boston.

My next run would usually be on Thursday evening in the gym, but I had planned to go out for dinner that evening with my daughter. So I took Max for a short run round the block instead. In the rain. The distance and time was much shorter than I’d thought, so it was only a 15 minute run, at a pace of 7.10 mins per km, exactly the same as Tuesday’s pace.
On Saturday morning I was taking part in the Chartered Accountants ireland charity weekend. This was taking the form of a Park Run, though it wasn’t in my usual venue. Instead I headed to the Queens sport facilities at Upper Malone. I hadn’t been here for a while, and I mistakenly went to the old buildings, but I soon spotted a group of runners hangin around at a newer pavillion. There were about 30 of us CAs running to raise money for Aware, and I managed to catch up with a few people I hadn’t seen in a number of years. No chance of catching u with them on the course, though – twice round the Trim Trail, no very steep hills, thankfully, but I managed it in EXACTLY the same time as last week’s Parkrun = 31.15. I’m a wee bit annoyed at myself that I didn’t push just a little bit harder and knock even one second off my time, but hey, I’m consistent!

Sunday was my long run, and I’d signed up to do the Titanic Quarter 10k.  I’d done this race last year in 1 hour 15, so I was aiming to beat that time, though I knew from my Parkrun 5k times that a one hour time was very ambitious.  I’d carb loaded with spelt pasta and 4 cheese sauce the night before, and had a breakfast of oats soaked overnight in orange juice, with some added flax seed and dried sour cherries.  The free TQ10K Tshirts were a lovely mesh material, so I chose to wear that one, with my long trousers, as the weather was looking a bit mixed.  We headed downtown in good time, called into St Georges Market en route to pick up some bacon and black pudding bread for friends, and I didn’t eat anything more, apart form the wee samples of cheese, curry sauces etc.  I sipped on a Herbalife energy drink.


Over in the shadow of Titanic Belfast, I did a bit of last minute adjusting to my wardrobe – I wanted to have my name and number displayed, but I also wanted to wear my jacket, as it had the zipped pockets where I carry my phone, and hence my MapMyRun app.  So in the end I pinned my number onto the back of the jacket.  A quick warm-up provided by Fitness First, a moment of silence to remember Boston, and we were off!  I tried to keep my pace steady, about what I’d do for the Parkruns, and tried not to worry about everyone passing me.  Once we’d passed the 5km mark, I was able to pick off a few runners who were starting to fade.  I slowed down at the water station to catch my breath, and then continued at a good pace.  I identified a good pace setter, and used her to guide me home for the final 2 km, where I was pushing myself hard.


I didn’t catch the time displayed at the finish line, but MapMyRun suggested it was MUCH faster than last year, and when the official time was texted to me later that day I was thrilled that I’d done it in 1 hour 3 minutes!


My shuffle was on excellent form too:

Phoenix – Run, run, run

Terrorvision – Do you wanna go faster

Silhouette – I Can’t Keep Up

This last one is my TQ10k anthem, so it put a smile on my face when it came on.

Thanks so much to all those who’ve donated so far – I also have a  sweepstake going to guess my finishing time – pay a pound/ a euro, closest to actual time wins a bottle of wine!  If you’d like to have a go, let me know.


2 down, 10 to go

Second week of full-on training for the Lisburn half-marathon, and I successfully completed my 4 runs.

On Tuesday morning I did a quick half-hour before breakfast, and my time would’ve been better if I didnt have to cross a rush-hour traffic-laden road!  Ran 4.56km at a pace of 7.14 mins per km.

Thursday was a fasting day, but I still managed to run for 30 minutes on the treadmill at the Leisure centre.

Saturday was the 5km Wallace Parkrun, and having smashed my PB last week I didn’t know if I could match that this week.  I started off quickly, but after the second lap I was finding my breathing difficult, and I even slowed down to walk up the hill section on the final lap.  But I did shave a whole minute off last week’s time, and ran it in 31.15, an average pace of under 10 minutes a mile, which I never thought I’d achieve.

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For Sunday’s long run, I joined up 2 of the loops that radiate from the house.  I started with the Waterloo Road southern section, and came home via the Lagan tow-path.  This run was punctuated by many stops – Max-pee-stops, re-attaching my wayward iPod shuffle, and chatting with the viszla that lives round the corner.  It was a damp morning – you know what they say, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only badly dressed people?  Well, these were definitely the wrong trousers, Grommit.  Jersey is too absorbent a material to make running in the rain a pleasant experience.  Still, I did 10.29 km at an average pace of 7.10 mins per km, a total of 1 hour 13 mins.  Since I ran the Titanic Quarter 10 k last year in 1 hour 15, I’m pleased with this progress.  We shall see what next Sunday’s race brings!


This week’s fave running tracks have been

Spek – I’m a Hippie (but I got a tattoo)

The Smiths – What Difference Does it Make?

Thicke – Get You Alone

A big thank-you to the nice people at Just Giving – I’d stupidly managed to set up 2 pages, so they quickly helped me to delete the wrong one.  The right one is


and thank you to the generous donors to date.

Half-marathon: 1 down, 11 to go

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to complete a half-marathon. I’ve done a few 10ks in the past, so this seemed like the next step, and I’ve signed up for the Lisburn Half-Marathon in June. That’s 12 weeks away, so the “beginners” training programme that I’m following kicked in this week. Prior to this, I’d been running 1 or 2 times a week, but that’s now upped to 4 times.

I have several routes that I run from my house, which is on the edge of the city. Heading North, I can run on the tow-path and cycle paths by the river, which is a very pleasant environment for running, is dead flat (once you’re there, although there’s a hill back home), and I love seeing the signs of spring.  One day maybe I’ll get to see a kingfisher!  Most of this is within the Lagan Valley Regional Park http://www.laganvalley.co.uk

Heading east is the Hillhall Road.  This is a fairly busy route, but at least there’s a footpath to keep out of the way of the traffic.

If I head south, there’s some quiet country roads to run on.  If I take the short 4 mile circuit anti-clockwise, there’s a steep hill early on, but after that I have gravity on my side for the most part.  Doing this in the other direction means a long slow slog uphill, and a very fast descent at the end.

Heading west I cut through the back of Dobbies car-park, to some more quiet roads, some of which are on the actual half-marathon route.  Each of these can be done in a circuit, can have little bits extra added on, and will link together when I get to the stage of seriously long runs.

On Tuesday I took the river route, for a “30 minute easy” run.  I took 38.37 minutes at a pace of 7.34 mins/km.

On Thursday, I did the west short route, managing 34.03 minutes at 7.40 mins/km.

I was aiming to do the Wallace Parkrun on Saturday morning, a timed weekly 5k.  But in the middle of the night, I got up to tell Max off, tripped on the stairs in the dark, and badly stubbed my toe.  Max himself has been in the wars recently, and had just had a bandage removed from a badly gashed paw, so we were sore-paw-pals together.

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I did wonder about the wisdom of running on it, but was keen to try incorporating some sprint intervals.  The parkrun is 3 circuits, and I had picked out a flat 100m section which I wanted to try really increasing my speed over.  Bruised or broken toe notwithstanding, I just got in the zone for the run, and smashed my personal best time with a 32.21 – an astounding 70 seconds off last week’s time!

On Sunday, since Max is still out of action as my running mate, I decided to try Mini.  However, this was her first time jogging with me, she’s inclined to get excited every time she sees a bird, and her long hair gets very mucky and matted.  But we managed to get round the south route and do 6.49 km at a pace of 7.32 mins/km.  Sundays will be my distance run each week, increasing by about a mile each time.

My favourite running tunes this week have been:

Kasabian – Club Foot

Led Zeppelin – Moby Dick

Annie Lennox – Little Bird

Oh, and I’m not just doing this for the good of my health, you know!  I’m raising money for Clic Sargent, who do wonderful work for children with cancer.  You can sponsor me at



Or you can give me a pound/ a euro and have a guess at my finishing time – closest to the actual time gets a bottle of wine (supplied by me).

Rest day tomorrow – thank goodness!

Half-Marathon: 1 Starting Out

Well, having come to running late in life, I managed last year to complete and enjoy a couple of 10ks, as well as a relay leg of the Belfast marathon (about 6 miles). So I set myself a greater challenge this year – a full marathon is beyond me yet, I’m sure, but I think I could have a go at a half-marathon at 13.1 miles. I found that entries for the Lisburn half-marathon opened in January, and so I have duly paid my fee and downloaded the training plan!

Another of my resolutions is to average a mile a day, which really translates to a pretty feasible couple of good 3 mile runs per week. And with a half-mar in June that average should be as good as in the bag. I’ve just completed my 3rd run of this year. I actually ran on New Year’s Day, which was a great start to the year! And last week I found a new route which I absolutely love – it’s nice and quiet, mostly footpath when its on a main road, not too many steep hills, is part of the half-mar route that I’ll be doing later, and is only 400m from my front door (out the back of Dobbies car park, for any locals.) I ran it again today with one minor change – I’d cut through a muddy field on the way home last time, which was a mistake, so I wanted to do it properly again to set a base time against which I can measure my improvement.

I’m using MapMyRun to record my routes, speeds, pace etc, and I find it excellent. The only thing is I cant work out how to automatically tweet or facebook after the run, but I shall investigate the settings.
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I invested in the January sales in a proper running top. The temperature is barely above freezing out there, and I wanted something that would keep me warm. This grey and pink number from MPG is great – the long sleeves have little thumb hooks to keep hands warm, it’s really light, body-contouring, and most useful of all it has a little zippy pocket on the back for keys, phone, some change etc.

It’s a real motivator to see my pace getting better each time, even if only by a small amount. I’d love one day to run 10k in under an hour, which would be a pace of 6.00 min/km. I’m a bit off that so far, but heading in the right direction. My last 3 runs were:

1.1.13 7.19 min/km

5.1.13 7.15 min/km

9.1.13 7.12 min/km

I have my iPod shuffle on to keep me motivated – today’s surprisingly upbeat track was The Feeling “Fill my little world”.

And my big dog Max is a brilliant running mate – not much in the way of witty conversation, but unbeatable at pulling me up hills!