I’m thrilled to say that RandRuns has made the final of the Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards for the second year in a row! Thank you to everyone who voted for this blog.
We’ve made the final in the Best Sports Blog Category. Fingers crossed for the win!
I was sent a Karkoa Tepee sports bag recently, with a view to trying it out as a triathlon bag.
My first impression was that the bag was a really interesting and innovative design – a lot of thought has obviously gone into it. It is a “duffle bag” style, and has lots of neat little design features.
It is laid out in several distinct and separate compartments, each of which has a specific purpose. These include a shoe compartment, an insulated bottle compartment, and various small pockets for holding all your gear. It also comes with a nifty little toiletries bag, and a waterproof bag for dirty clothes.
I found the bag to be an ideal triathlon bag, as it is large enough to hold all the necessary gear, but small enough to carry into transition. The main compartment can easily carry the wetsuit, tri suit, spare clothes, towel, helmet, etc. while the shoe compartment is big enough to take both my running shoes and my cycling shoes. There is separate compartments that I can use for goggles, number belt etc. so everything has a place – very important to reduce stress on triathlon day!
Although not designed specifically for triathlon, the Karkoa Tepee fills the requirements for a good tri bag very well. I’ve also used it for my marathons, and it is more than up to that job.
The quality looks great, with strong handles, and the interior material can be wiped clean.
Overall, I am impressed with this bag, and would recommend it – my hardest job is keeping it as my wife has taken a fancy to it!
I have run this race every year since it started, and it is one of my favourite events – there is always a great atmosphere, as it coincides with the International Rose of Tralee Festival, and draws a fairly eclectic crowd, different to most races.
This year the start was slightly different, as it went from the Rose Hotel. The weather hadn’t been great, and it poured rain all morning, so I had worn a compression top inside my running top, but, at the last minute I decided to ditch it, as it got very humid – I was glad I did, as it was very warm during the race.
After the usual preliminaries, we set off, heading out the exit road of the hotel, before cutting back along the Dan Spring road towards the western edge of the town.
I had planned on taking the first half of this race easy, as the first 5 or 6k is mostly gentle climbs, while the last few k’s are mostly downhill, but I was so keen to get back on the road that my plan went out the window from the start.
I definitely wasn’t back to 100% fitness, but I felt mostly ok, though the race was much harder work than it should have been.
We had great support despite the conditions, and I heard my name being called a good few times, and met a lot of runners I knew (mostly passing me in the later stages!).
I pushed as hard as I dared on the climb up Caherslee and the long drag over Bracker O’Regan road (known to us locals as The Fat Mile), but the heat, my lack of restraint in the early part of the race, and the after effects of the Tralee 100k soon took their toll, and I slowed considerably from 5k on, as we hit the last of the climbing section on the Killeen road. I knew the next section, Oakpark, was downhill, so I wasn’t too worried. I was delighted to finally make this stretch, though by now I had nothing left in the tank, and even the downhill didn’t help me pick up the pace much.
All that was left for it was to grind out the last few kilometres, and that’s what I did. I didn’t look at my watch, but I knew coming up The Mall towards the finish line at Denny Street that I wasn’t going to do a decent time, so I just got on with it, and enjoyed the last bit. As usual, it was a fantastic feeling coming up to the finish in Denny Street, though for the fist time in this race, quite a few people passed me in the last few hundred meters – my usual sprint finish just wasn’t there.
I crossed the line just 5 seconds under the hour, which is the slowest I’ve ever done this race, and the first year I’ve run a slower time than the previous year – this says a lot about where I’m at in terms of my fitness and recovery, and points to a lot of work required before the Kerry 24 Hour in a few weeks. At least now I have a benchmark to work from.
This was another brilliant event by Run The Kingdom, and fair play to the people of Tralee, and the many visitors to the town who turned out to run and support.
I’m delighted to announce that RandRuns has made the shortlist for the 2016 Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards in two categories – Best Sports Blog, and Best Health & Well Being Blog – thanks again to everyone who nominated me!
Public Voting opens today, and I’d love if you could take a moment to vote for RandRuns if you enjoy this blog.
I’d like to welcome one of Ireland’s most exciting young triathletes, Cillian Tierney. Cillian is a fellow member of Tralee Triathlon Club, and he has decided to start a blog of his own. When he told me this, I invited him to kick it off with a post here – welcome to the blogging world Cillian! I’ll post a link to Cillian’s blog as soon as it’s up and running.
So this is my first (of many hopefully) blog posts that I am writing. I am lucky that Randall has let me use his very successful blog RandRuns as a platform to get mine out of the starting blocks.
For those who don’t me I’m an elite triathlete competing on both the national and international triathlon stage. My plan for this blog is to talk about the day to day elements of triathlon training at this level and attempt to give a somewhat clear insight into my thoughts (the sane ones anyway).
The topic of this post is something I have been playing around with for the last few days and I have decided that it would be a good idea to start at the start and try figure out what got me to where I am.
The whole triathlon malarchy kicked off in 2011 when I competed in Seven Frogs Triathlon in Castlegregory organised by Nuala Moore. I was very young at the time (16 according to the entry form but not quite….thanks Nuala). But I was old enough to have figured out that football, rugby or soccer were not my calling (when I say not my calling I mean I was stone cold useless). At this point I was swimming and running with clubs and a small bit of cycling under my belt. My goal was to beat my dad. Which I did. But it was tough.
I remember really suffering for most of the run. Despite this I was eagerly awaiting my next one. This came in the form of Sive triathlon in this time a little bit faster and little bit further ahead of my Dad. Which made me happy. But I also made the podium in the Seven Frogs that year which made me feel like the dogs bollocks.
The next year 2013 was when things started heating up a small bit. I managed to do some different events this time on the Triathlon Ireland calendar which complicated matters somewhat, because age requirements are more strict. I was keeping under the radar by doing small triathlons in the back arse of nowhere. These were mainly in Cork region where nobody knew me. There were some sticky moments where officials grilled me on my date of birth but I always managed to get in. One of the defining moments of not only this year but in general was the Dingle triathlon. It was to be my first Olympic distance race. My parents weren’t too keen on it and the officials on the day were even less so, but my enthusiasm made up for both. So I found myself floating in the water in Dingle harbour awaiting the start, on what was the foggiest Saturday morning ever. We set off into the sea mist and disappeared out into the bay. This was surreal I remember looking around to get my bearings at one stage and there was nothing only the small group of swimmers I was with. No buoys, No kayakers, No harbour. It may seem like an exaggeration but anyone there that year will remember. Anyway after a while of swimming in the rough direction of where the buoys should be reached one and then the other and then headed in to complete the 1500m swim. Then the bike started and the fog continued. It was virtually impossible to see where you were going but I got around. Feeling good I pushed on at the start of the run and was catching guys I knew. It felt good. It was soon after the half way point it hit me. I just blew the lights and hit empty. I slowed and even went to a walk for a bit. One by one runners came past as I barely kept moving. The fog was worse than ever, and it felt like I was going nowhere. Then I finally made it back to Dingle and crossed the line. I was shattered. I remember eating a few bars and getting back to the car and going straight to sleep. It was after I realised I should have eaten something during the race.
A year on in 2014 I met some of the other young guns. Guys who I train with today like Chris Mintern and Darren Dunne. These were the buckos that put me back in my box. They were a little bit older but they were also faster. I met Chris in Valentia where he won it outright and was in a very different league to me. I admired him a lot. At the time I was thinking this is the fastest guy ever. This was who I aspired to be. Later in the season I came across Darren who beat me to the Junior prize in Kilrush triathlon. This was when I figured out that things can’t always go my own way. Since then I have been racing and training a lot with these guys, and a few others picking up Aichlinn O Reilly and Kieran Jackson at different points. These guys are excellent, they have a state of mind and an ability that make them the best be with for getting better and training hard. It’s with the help of these guys and top class coaches like Stephan Teeling Lynch and Lynne Algar and sponsors like Verge that have stayed with me from the start that have got me to where I am. I have had a good season with third in Hell Of The West, third in Sligo and coming second in the Super Series overall.
I decided to start a blog now because I have been asked a few times and I think now is a good time to start. I plan on doing it in monthly instalments after getting a website set up. I’ll try keep it as interesting as possible. I hope this post gave a different perspective on sport. Realistically it’s probably not as hardcore as Randall’s ultra running but what can you do. Thanks again to Randall for giving me the opportunity to use his website for my first post and Ibike, Verge, Landers, and Surf and Sail for the continued support.
On Sunday, the day finally arrived that I have long dreaded, but never fully believed would come to pass – I DNF’d in an ultra. After 19 marathons, and 8 ultra marathons, I failed to finish for the first time, in the Tralee 100k. This is how it played out.
I arrived at the start line bright and early with the rest of the runners. After a bit of chat and banter, and lots of photographs, we got the countdown from Race Director Marcus, and I set off on my third Tralee 100k.
We did a short lap of the outskirts of Tralee, then headed out Caherslee towards Ardfert.
If I’m honest, I wasn’t feeling this from the start. I lacked energy, and just felt sub-par. I tried not to worry too much, as I have had good runs in the past in races where I didn’t feel good at the start, but deep inside, I think I knew that this was more serious.
I made it to Ardfert in reasonably good time, on par with last year, and grabbed a quick snack and drink from the aid station manned by Danny, before heading on towards Ballyheigue.
The road to Ballyheigue again passed without incident, and, although I was passed by a couple of runners on this section, I was still happy enough with my progress, and my time. It was getting hot though, and the niggling feeling that everything wasn’t right was still there – I felt flat and listless, with a distinct lack of energy.
When I got to Ballyheigue, I met Marcus (who’s brainchild this race is) manning the aid station, and he gave me a few words of encouragement, before I headed up the (very) big hill out of town towards Causeway.
This was another very warm section, but I made sure I got plenty of Elivar in to prevent dehydration, and I ate plenty of crisps and chocolate for energy.
The Ballyheigue to Causeway road wouldn’t be one of my favourite sections, but it seemed to pass quickly enough, and I soon reached Causeway. I paused here to check my pace and time, and was surprised to discover I was very close to last years time (when I did this section quite quickly), and was well on track. Just outside Causeway was another aid station, and I got another pleasant surprise here, as I caught up with a lot of the runners who were ahead of me. I also met Mazza here, and discovered that she was suffering a bit – she was carrying a leg injury, and was also feeling ill. I joined her, and medic Caroline, who was biking the entire route, as they climbed the monster hill out of Causeway.
This was the start of the long, hilly, and hot loop around Kerryhead, which would eventually bring us back into Ballyheigue. This is usually my second-least favourite part of this race (though it is the most scenic part!), after the Fenit-Tralee road, but there was nothing for it but to get stuck in.
Myself and Mazza (and Caroline) more or less stuck together on this section – sometimes she’d go ahead for a bit, sometimes I would, but most of the time we were close enough to chat and have a bit of banter. There are lots of hills here, and one of the toughest issues turned out to be a fairly strong headwind, which blew straight into our faces for most of it. The only advantage to it was that at least it kept us cool, but it made the run a bit of a slog.
I began to flag a bit from here on. The lack of energy, and general feeling of being unwell got worse, and I had to walk a lot more of it than I had intended. Myself and Mazza were like two elderly people as we spent most of the route complaining about our respective illnesses! I had occasional bursts of energy, when I’d put in a good mile or two, and one of these came to an abrupt halt when a farmer stopped me, because his cows were coming up the road, and he claimed my “bright colours” would frighten them. I had to wait until they all passed (eyeing me suspiciously) before I could continue.
The last few miles of this section are downhill into Ballyheigue, and they couldn’t come fast enough for me. I had suffered far more on this section than I had the year before, and I was worried about my rate of progress. As soon as we reached the downhill, I pushed it as hard as I could, and I made some good miles into the halfway point in Ballyheigue.
By this time, my sister Gillian had arrived with my two boys in tow, to act as crew for me for the rest of the race.
I changed my clothes here, got some food and drink, and checked my pace notes again. I was surprised to find I was still on track timewise, and I hadn’t lost too much time on Kerryhead. However, it struck me that I was still lacking in energy, and I felt nothing like I did at this point last year. I knew I had a tough 50k to go.
I set off for Banna with my crew keeping an eye on me. For the first 3 or 4 miles I felt OK, but about halfway between Ballyheigue and Banna, I started to feel really unwell. I walked a bit, hoping it would wear off. Suddenly, I was violently ill. I just about had enough time to step off the road onto the grass margin, before every drop of fluid I drank came up. I felt really bad. After a few minutes, I came around a bit. I took some anti-nausea tablets, and got back on the road. For a few minutes, I was alright again, but the sickness soon came back. I felt weak and miserable now, and was starting to get worried. The few miles to Banna seemed to last a lifetime.
Eventually I got there, and I turned off the Banna road at the Roger Casement memorial, to head towards Barrow. Gill pulled up at the 60k marker sign, and was in the middle of saying “Let’s get a photo…” when I was violently ill again. This time my legs went completely, and I could only kneel on the side of the road, retching my guts out. Danny, and Mazza’s crew came along to see if they could help, but there wasn’t much that could be done for me at this stage. I knew now that I was in deep trouble. I felt weak and drained, and it took every ounce of my willpower just to stand up.
Lee, my youngest son, decided to run and walk with me for a few miles. It was slow progress. I was reduced to a shuffling run/walk, and every now and then had to stop for a fresh bout of retching.
The next 10k or so were truly awful. I ran when I could, but most of the time I walked. I met Jim, who was course director, and he warned me that I was dicing with the 80k cutoff time. I knew it would take a miracle at this stage for me to make it, but I was determined to give it everything I had. I slogged on to the bottom of the infamous Barrow Hill. My sickness was getting worse, and by now, every drop of water I took was coming back up. I had absolutely no energy left, and felt awful. I slowly climbed up Barrow Hill, with Caroline sticking close by in case I needed a medic in a hurry. I hardly went 50 yards on this section without retching, and I thought the hill would never end. My wife Catherine appeared at this stage, planning to run the home stretch with me, but she got a bit of a shock when she saw me. She, and my crew told me that the time had come to call it a day. It was obvious now that I couldn’t possibly make the 80k cutoff, and I was going to be pulled off the course. I couldn’t quit though. I tried to accept the inevitable, but I couldn’t. I pushed on, with Caroline’s help. I made the turnaround at the top of Barrow, and set off down the hill. Just after the top, Caroline gave me some more nausea medicine, and some rehydration drink, and I started to feel a little better – it stopped me getting sick, but by now I had nothing left in the tank, and was badly dehydrated. I was joined by Terence, who has run this race before, and came out to see how some of us were doing. He spoke to me about letting it go, and between him, Catherine, Gill, and Caroline, I started to accept that I couldn’t finish.
I made the bottom of Barrow, where I met Jim, who told me that I had missed the 80k cutoff, and would be disqualified. I decided that I would go to the top of Churchill, and would bow out then. Jim agreed to this, and myself, Catherine, and Terence set off. I managed to run Churchill, and made it to the top, where I finally accepted the inevitable. My race was over.
I’ve now had a few days to digest this setback, and get some perspective on it. In the immediate aftermath, all I felt was relief, as I had suffered so much. In the day or two afterwards, I felt a bit down about it – seeing the pictures of the finishers, hearing how others had battled through, and so on, made it hit home. When a runner suffers a DNF, only the runner themselves can honestly and objectively evaluate it. When you are alone with your thoughts, there are no excuses, only the raw truth. I always said that if I ever DNF’d, I hoped that it was because I couldn’t carry on, and not because I wouldn’t carry on. I am satisfied that I did that. I am satisfied that I pushed myself beyond the point where my honesty and integrity as a runner could be questioned, even by myself. I know in my heart that I gave it my best shot, gave it all I had, and it simply wasn’t enough on the day.
In the past I have been dismissive of runners who drop out because of minor ailments, or because they didn’t have the heart to go on – If I felt I was one of those runners, I would call a halt to my ultra running career right here and now. I would rather not run at all, than run without honesty. I will be back for the Kerry 24 Hour endurance race in a few weeks, and I will give it everything I have. It may be enough, or it may not be, but I will again give it all I have. I owe myself and my sport no less.
The day after the race, I was feeling a bit sorry for myself, when my eldest son came over to me, threw his arms around me, and whispered in my ear “You’re still the best, Dad”
Fuck DNF’s, there are more important things in life. I’ll be back.
Thanks to Gill, Catherine, Adam, and Lee for crewing and caring, to Caroline for putting up with the world’s worst patient, to Mazza, and her crew for helping me, and to all the other crews, runners, volunteers, and everyone else who looked out for me.
Well done to everyone who ran. Well done to Marcus, Jim, and all at Run The Kingdom on another great event.
I’d like to introduce you all to SlowRunnerGirl, who writes a very entertaining blog. I’ve invited her to share her story here on RandRuns – Happy Blogoversary SlowRunnerGirl!
When Randall asked me to write a guest post, I felt honored. I’ve read his blog posts, race reports and info about ultra running a lot and he keeps providing helpful tips to newer runners like myself.
I thought “Yes. How cool is that?!”. Then I realized, I have no clue what to say. What interesting thing could I possibly write about, his readers didn’t already know? I know I can sit down, after a run and just blah on and on and obsess about running on my blog … writing for someone else’s blog is different though! As I sat down and thought about it, it reminded me of writing my first blog post. I realized I had felt the same way – not knowing what I to write. Then it looked at me. The date of the first post. It was one year ago … and an idea came to my mind. How cool would it be to write a post on my first year of run-blogging and then celebrate my blogoversary with everybody here – right on Randall’s blog! I mean that’s what you do if you plan a wild party right? Go to someone else, have everybody bring their own booze links and make a mess out of the place, by sharing the dirtiest craziest running stories!
So let me get this party started with my story, which goes something like this:
Once upon a time there was a fat, unfit, lazy girl with a dream. The dream to become a runner one day …
… this girl was me.
I’ve had the dream to become a runner for a long time. I tried many times to make it real. I never succeeded. Until I decided it was time last year – time to become a runner.
In the beginning, I was out there, all alone, following a sad Android computer voice telling me “run for 2 minutes” and “walk for 3” … I couldn’t do it. I tried and I tried again. I persisted and kept reading more and more blogs of runners that had been at the same spot than I was at.
For months I kept on going, forcing myself out the door and putting one step in front of the other. Music was my life-line. I created playlists to match my walk/run intervals, where I knew how long a song will take and I knew exactly when I could finally walk again. It was so hard!
I ran in the very early mornings. At a time where nobody cares what you are doing out there. Hoping no one would see my red face and me carrying my wobbly bits around. I did everything to avoid meeting people out walking. Most of them I couldn’t pass due to my slowness. I was embarrassed having to walk after just 3 minutes …
At some point I started to take photos and notice the beautiful world around me more and more. I added them to my running app and started to look back at them, when I didn’t feel like going out for a run. I looked at my improving stats and I decided I want to start recording my journey.
The Start of my Blog
When I wrote my first blog post on the 7th August 2015, I was running 3 times per week, trying to achieve the feast of running for one full hour! … and I was still oh so slow! Everybody else in the blogosphere and all the running books, was so much faster. Surely something was wrong with me.
There came a point when I decided I didn’t care. I had come to enjoy the early morning sunrise and being out at the beach. I got used to feeling good and having more energy that usual. I kept it up and I started to post my photos and write about my runs. It was a relief! Finally a place where I could obsess about my running and health, without annoying everyone around me!
Through blogging, I got to think about my runs. Through running I began to think about the food I was eating. I had started to log what I ate from the start and began to notice a pattern emerge. I slowly began replacing foods I didn’t fancy anymore and my thinking switched from ‘food’ to ‘fuel’. When I decided to eat only what I fancied, I started to love cooking again. I am plant-based ever since.
I also kept writing about my experiences. When I hit a rough patch, I came back to my blog and looked at all the photos of beautiful moments captured on my runs. I had started walking for 20 minutes, 3 times per day in late April 2015 – I couldn’t run I was so unfit. Seeing my progress on my blog, gave me a huge boost and I kept it up – the running and the writing. When something was wrong, I figured it out and documented it. Resting heart rate to high? I learned about over reaching and over training. I slowed down more … I learned to include recovery weeks. I learned to embrace slow. I learned to love running.
Through having my blog and sharing stats like above, I started to connect with others. Before I had my blog, I’d just be lurking and reading, now I was getting more passionate and much more opinionated! I was curious and dared to ask more experienced runners questions. And guess what? They replied and I’ve learned so much from everyone I couldn’t be more thankful! In the beginning, I thought I better hide and let no one know about my crazy plan of slowness – to run only at or below my aerobic heart rate – but it turns out, going slow, is the best thing ever! By now, I not only know it’s working for me, after months of slogging I see my paces improve and I am still running injury free. My blog also helped me to connect with others on a similar path or with similar experiences. Without everyone’s encouragement and motivating words, I doubt I would have persisted.
Now I run 6 times per week, my long run is 2 hours. I learned to love running and I am plotting future running adventures. I don’t fit in any of my old clothes and still need some time to adjust to my new self. When I bought my first pair of new jeans, I had to try 3 different sizes and couldn’t believe I would fit into the one that I finally got … I also have much more energy than ever before!
Here is some data showing my change from fat, lazy, unfit girl with a dream, to SlowRunnerGirl:
Resting Heart Rate
I still have a long way to go – as I plan to become quite old I might add – I am sure however, that with the support and encouragement as well as unbelievably helpful tips and advice from everyone here, I will figure it out.
… and with this my beginner run blogger story ends and I’m hopeful to run and blog slowly and happily ever after …
Thanks guys for all your help, motivation and support!
Now let’s get this party started!
Grab a piece of blogoversary cake and get cracking and link or write up your own story!
I arrived at the park to find a few of my Born To Run buddies were also running today – several of them were using it as a warm-up for a marathon tomorrow, while I was preparing for my first Olympic-distance triathlon with Tralee Triathlon Club tomorrow.
I had received the Kinematix TUNE on Thursday, and, after initially contacting the company to tell them my units were faulty (only to discover, embarrassingly, that I had them turned upside down!), I got them set up ready for today.
They consist of a pair of insoles that fit in your shoes, under your existing insoles, and a pair of electronic senders that clip to the side of the shoes. I was a little worried that I would find the units uncomfortable to run with (or that they would fly off into the bushes while I ran!), but, in truth, once I started running, I wasn’t conscious of them at all.
The devices upload to an app on your phone, and this gives you a huge array of information on your run.
Back to the parkrun, and I had no Lee with me today, as he is still suffering the after effects of his recent illness, and we decided it would be better for him to sit this one out.
It was very humid from the start. I ran with Conor and Kirstie for the first lap, as Brian and Simon took off at a faster pace.
I took the first lap nice and easy, but began to push on a little faster on the second lap. I kept in mind that I have a tough day ahead tomorrow, and tried not to go too hard.
I began to really feel the humidity towards the end of this lap, but I tried to keep my momentum going for the last lap.
By the time I crossed the line, I was really feeling the heat, and was pretty well done in, though I had managed to run each km faster than the last for all of it.
I was keen to have a look at the info from the TUNE app, and have a go at interpreting it.
It certainly looks impressive – as well as the usual pace, speed, distance etc. it also gives ground contact time, heel contact time, 5 of heel striking steps (way too much in my case), and cadence. I look forward to going through this, and seeing where my form needs improvement. More to come as I continue to test this interesting device over the next few months.
Well done to all the park runners today, and especially to race director Pat, and all the volunteers. See you all next week.
If you are thinking of doing the Landers Tralee Triathlon next week, you better get signing up quick – places are nearly all gone!
It’s really, really far, and really, really tough. When you complete it, you might just feel a little too epic.
You would become one of the .02% of the population that has completed an ultra – who wants to be part of a group that exclusive?
All that training will make you super fit – you’ll get sick of explaining to your doctor that 40bpm is actually your normal heart rate, and have you thought of what you’ll do with all that extra lifespan you could get?
You might offend your marathon runner friends by referring to 26.2 miles as a training run.
Every time you go for a 4 or 5 hour drive, you will be annoyed by the thought that you would have enjoyed running it more.
You will spend weeks resisting the temptation to start every conversation with “When I ran my ultra…….”
When anyone tells you about some tough task they have to do, you will want to sigh and roll your eyes.
Ultras are addictive – one is never enough.
Think of all the poor shoes you’ll kill.
When you complete an ultra, you will realise that nothing is impossible for you. Do you really want to change the way you look at the world that much?