Gosh, darn…. Juneathon. It`s a bit like sitting in front of a bowl of olives. You don`t really want another one but it`s there and hey, it might actually be even good for you.

Yep, you need to be addicted to olives to get that. Insert addictive, but reasonably healthy, food of choice. No, that does not include anything with sugar, fat or alcohol. Sheesh. People!

My running has been going downhill lately, even when I`ve been running downhill. I just can`t get the speed in there and I am struggling to get the distance. Feels like I`ve been running into a wall.

I`m barely hanging on in this, the fourth week of my Hal Higdon half marathon plan.

Been wondering what all that`s about. Laziness?Old age? Or just a severe case of avian flu, perhaps?

Time for an MOT from the doc.

He trawled through the usual list of questions. Did the blood pressure thingy,the vampire thingy, and then he got to listen to my heartbeat. Lucky guy!

Had the runners`conversation because yes, he runs and so, gets running.

“Maybe it`s motivation” he said. Hmmmm, maybe he`s right….

I decided to put the theory to the test that evening. If I did my scheduled three mile run I would reward myself with a glass of pinot noir that night.

Well,I could hardly get my little skinny legs into my running shorts quick enough. My body must be craving all the vitamins in the wine. Belted around the three mile route. Well, not exactly speedily, but in old hen fashion. Practically tore the supermarket door down then, in my rush to grab a decent pinot noir.

Ran all the way home.
Scoured the kitchen for a corkscrew.
Couldn`t get it into the cork fast enough.
And then…

Ah! The Prize

Ah! The Prize

Cue angels with violins, cue smooth oh-so-relaxed feeling.
Cue alcholism if I don`t find another motivator.

And that`s where Juneathon comes in.

For Juneathon, we`ve to jog and blog every day for the month of June. Yes, I know, I get bored even saying that.

I sorta did Janathon. And, reflecting at the end of it, the most important lesson I`d learnt from it was never, ever, on no account, sign up to daily blogging. For lots of reasons. Most of which are connected with the sanity of my poor readers.

But then, I met some really nice fellow bloggers, through those efforts. And it did whip me out onto the cold January pavements most days. In short, it gave me much needed motivation.

And I plainly need that.

Juneathon might even be more fun. My northern hemisphere almost midnight runs might actually be more cheerful affairs than the wind whipped and woefully wet January ones.

Meanwhile, I await the results of the doc`s bloodtests. Maybe he`ll tell me my throid`s shot and I need the new drug of choice among athletes:hypothyroid medication. Maybe he`ll tell me my liver`s done in and I`ll have to give up alcohol. Sigh.

Or maybe he`ll tell me it is a case of dwindling motivation after all.

In which case, I`ll tell him “Thanks doc. I`ve got it sorted.”

Ok, Juneathon. I`m in.

The Battle of the Boyne

In the Battle of the Boyne 2013, I have yet to make up my mind if I am the victor or the vanquished.

It`s known as the Boyne10k run. It swings out west from Drogheda, loops around the Boyne at the Battle of the Boyne site at Oldbridge and clips along the river back into town again. It`s scenic, its terrifically well organized, it has great crowd support and anything from 1,500-2,000 runners sign up for it each year.

I`ve cut my running teeth on this race. But the past two years`runs were relatively flat PB courses. This year, the council`s unfinished riverbank works determined an alternative route would have to be taken. One that included less scenery.

And a gawdawfulneverending hill.

In addition, I`d less training than in previous years. My feet problems have me treading very gingerly. And I am now in an entirely different age category.Though that has maybe, turned out to be a very good thing.

So, with all those things in mind, I found myself suitably togged out and lining up with all the men in the Sub 50 category.I`d opted for there because my last 10 km in August saw me finish at 54 minutes.Why not give myself the chance to do even better this time?

Well, yes but what they say is true. If you look around you at the starting line and see no one who resembles you, then you are in the wrong Wave. Bail out. Or bear the derogatory stares. The choice is yours

Of course I stayed put. Suck it up guys. I`ll show you a thing or two. I ran my last ten km in 54 min. Maybe I`d go under the fifty minutes for this one?

But of course, I didn`t.

Gun sounded and suddenly we were off. Like, I mean suddenly. And I couldn`t even keep up. The legs did all they could and my poor lungs complied with that wheeze I`d last heard at Raheny 2012.(Where, coincidentally, I`d also taken off with pack of Garmin clad males. I am impervious to learning…)

Uphill after the first kilometre and I was feeling comfortable but concerned. Whole waves were passing me. I felt like a rock in a river. Damn all I could do about the forward swell of the crowd, except hang on in there at a comfortable pace.

Second kilometer and I`m feeling ok. The route is familiar at least. I remembered that the uphill was followed by a downhill. ( I am no bird brain, after all.) And I also realised that I tend to feel a tad better after the first mile or two is done.

First hot day of the year. Of course. But at least I was suitably clad.

Lay Out Gear

Lamb Gear for Mutton Me

Shorts and sleeveless t shirt. Mutton dressed as lamb, to be sure but I can ignore public opinion in favour of comfort any day.

Half way point, and I ditch my visor. Too damn hot. Didn`t bring headphones either. And that worked very well.

Looping around the halfway mark, over the River Boyne, and I was tempted to evaluate my own position in the conflict. Garmin was giving me crap readings. Wedged in between 9-10 min miles, I hadn`t a hope of sub 60 min if I didn`t run harder.

I tried. And, for a little while, I actually felt myself sprouting wings. Killer Hill was coming up and I`d put in Killer Hill hours in my training. I clip along fairly ok there. Managed to pick off a couple of those young `uns actually. Lost count after passing ten of them and then eased myself up to the crest. It seemed to take forever though.

Caught up with an aquaintance then. I`d met her at the starting line too. Her first ten km race, she`d said, and she only started training a couple of weeks ago. Sickener. I arrived at her shoulder and declared

“Flip you!” Or words to that effect. “You weren`t supposed to pass me out!”

She laughed. Which is about all she could do. She apologised for not being able say much more. Like me, she was feeling the pain. We shuffled on more or less together after that, though silenced by our discomfort, and determination to finish.

Downhill towards town and along by the River Boyne. This is where half of the run should have been had the riverside works been completed. Oh well. Nice to get back there anyway. The steady rhythms of Drogheda`s Samba band hastened our feet back over another Boyne Bridge, another climb from there took us to the main street and cheering locals.

I heard my name called out from the crowd. A couple of kind pals had come along to cheer me on. I`m guessing my ungainly sight puffing towards the finish line entertained them mightily. I didn`t care. With Finish in sight, I heaved my tortured body through the final two hundred meters and over the red mat.

Time? One hour, one minute. Three minutes and a bit slower than last year.

The good news came later. Out of a field of thirty one, I came sixth in my category. And, as son pointed out, four of them are in a running club.

Ok, lots of lessons here…

I need to train harder. Intervals are badly needed. I need to get my bike out too because I want to build the aerobic stuff without sacrificing my feet. I need to swim. I need to participate in parkruns. And I am seriously considering joining a running club.

Running is, for me at any rate, a constant battle with myself.

So, no PB for me at Boyne this year. But Red Hen ain`t won`t for quittin`.

And she`ll be back to Battle Boyne again next year.

Love my Boyne T!

Love my Boyne T!

Running Wisdom

Teen trainers

I took this pic of my teens`shoes this morning, in anticipation of writing about their impact on my running. In the process, however, I somehow managed to get a pic of me scowling at the camera, dressinggowned and wearing my very early morning face. It was quite a shock.

Ms Trunchbull

I looked like Mrs Trunchbull on a very bad day.(Remember? The sadistic school principal in “Matilda”?) I looked so bad, in fact, and was indeed, so shocked, I recoiled in horror and went back to bed.

I`ll spare you the pic, right now and hit for a word pic instead. My face had been snapped from chest height-my worst angle: I can`t pull that look off in the glow of a tealight, nowadays. My neck was, well, more turkey neck than hen`s neck. The camera gleefully caught each of the folds on my lowered chin. And cruelly picked up the Rift Valley of a line down the centre of my forehead.

Plainly, I was in need of more beauty sleep.And a swift injection of youth.

While basking in the warmth of my duvet, however, I hit philosophical mode quite quickly, as we elder Hens tend to do. I can run after all. I can outrun all of my neighbours, my three children and most of my siblings. Sure, they`ll pass me with speed on a four hundred metre sprint but none of them have the proven ability to plod on forever, like running a marathon confers.

Not bad for a fifty year old, eh?

And I realised the reason the pic came as a shock was because, as a runner(well, of sorts) I really believe my body can do all the things it did in my twenties. And maybe even a bit more. Running is part of my fantasy of being forever locked in my twenty two year old self. In fact, my body is even fitter than my twenty two year old Spring Chick`s ever was. My face may tell my age, but my quads are fantastic. Gotta take my word for it. Pics to follow. Maybe.

Why, way back in my twenties, the only running I could possibly manage was a totter to the pub at closing time. And the only marathon was the six drinks I poured down my gullet before being decanted into a taxi toward  any nightclub. My forays into the world of fitness consisted of buying a tape of Jane (Go For The Burn!) Fonda`s aerobics class, running once around the block, and dancing around handbags in nightclubs with my pals.

Listening to Ms Fonda did nothing for my waistline. It may even have had an adverse affect on my hearing.

The run around the block gave me my first dose of shin splints.It took years to recover from that one.

And dancing around handbags looks, and is, plainly stupid.

Once I step into my running gear, I feel empowered.  I`m all squished into my lycra gear, feeling like a Sex Goddess.(Puleease, no links on that one…) My quads(see above) distract every eye from my widening midriff. And my trainers are like winged gods ready to whisk me to the fantasy island of Tír na n-Óg ~ the Land of Everlasting Youth.

But it is a hard slog. I cannot lie. My Inner Bitch often whispers in my ear “You are too old for this. You look ridiculous.” But Better Self trumps her most times and the endorphin kick after the first couple of miles sends Inner Bitch reeling. The truth is I am mentally stronger since I started running. I am more able for all challenges because I know I have stickability and I know I for sure that I can achieve what once I thought was impossible.I am running for my health, I am running for my children and I am running because I can.

See, in our fifties, we know time is precious. We know the true value of everything. We know what to run after and what to leave behind. It`s called wisdom and the Rift Valley on my forehead and my turkey/hen`s neck are sure signs that I Have Arrived at that Glorious Age of All Knowing. Smirk! Put that in your pipe and smoke ye young wans!

And if it makes us feel fresh and good and strong and able isn`t that I fine thing? Almost like putting a young body under an old head and reaping the benefits of both.

As for my teens. Yes, I envy them the years they have stretching ahead. It would be good if they could use them all wisely but that, for a human, is impossible. They will have drunken nights of their own, dancing around handbags, they will upload the latest fitness fads and offload them in disgust, and they will get hurt along the way.Some day they will remember that their mother ran her first marathon when she was forty nine and maybe that will inspire them to rise to challenges of their own.

Well, I`m all showered off now, make up on, hair done and, in a good light, I don`t look half bad. Next time I`m near a camera I will hold my head up high and relax my forehead. That way, the turkey neck and the Rift Valley won`t seem so bad.

See? Life`s just all about getting wiser…

Getting Back on Track

Dammit, but its hard combining the day job, with the domestic/kids job, even without the running job. And I have to say, that while the day job and the dom/kid thing is ticking along, running has taken a big hit.

I`m only posting today because I`m an optimist. I truly believe that this time next year I`ll be wondering just how much running I`ve got up to in March 2013 and I`ll be running so much in March 2014 that I`ll laugh at what I`m doing now.

But I`m not laughing yet.

This week I ran twice. And just a tad above two miles on each occasion. Work has been mental. An upcoming inspection from an outside agency is sending us all into overdrive. It`s not a bad thing from the point of view of work productivity, work buzz and general work satisfaction. But it`s shattering.

The home/kid thing is as demanding as ever too. I`ve done really well with the housework end of things. And the kids are having an extra busy year as its Big Exam year for two of them.That means I`m on a path smoothing mission. Trying to keep the home fires burning and everything relatively sane and pleasant for them. And also taking them to extra tuition or whatever else they need to give those exams their best shot.

So running isn`t getting too much of a look in.

As for swimming…. What`s that?

But, TA-DA! Two weeks hols are looming. Cue major kicking of fat arse out the door and down to a friendly neighbourhood park land to build up the miles.

AND can I say a word for my pal, Saint Patrick? If it wasn`t for that guy turning up almost on my doorstep some eight hundred years ago, I wouldn`t be having a long weekend off. Yep, Paddy`s still making an impact in these parts.

So,I`m out the door tomorrow morning. No when/where/how long plans. I`m just aiming to Enjoy! just to get my running spirit motivated.Having a night out with Big Sister tomorrow, so I doubt Sunday will be LSR day as well. But Monday, what with us being off to celebrate the patron saint, has LSR potential too. I`ll see on the day.

OK, crawl to bed time. For all my lack of running I`m still eating and sleeping as much as ever! In fact if I keep the eating up. I`ll be rolling not running!