Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Tralee International Marathon, a special experience.

Most people in Ireland visit Kerry. Most use Killarney or Dingle as their base. Most also bypass Tralee. I for one fail to understand that.

On Paddy's weekend all roads lead to .... 

Every time I go there I have the most wonderful of weekends. There are great food spots, plenty of lively bars and is far better value for money than the aforementioned. And you don't have to drive far to come across amazing scenery at Fenit, Banna Strand, Ballyheigue or Kerry Head.

Banna Strand near Tralee

Then there is the people. I have lost count of the amount of the amount of friends I have made on my trips to Tra Li. This weekend was no different.

St Patrick's Day weekend means only one thing for the last few years. It's Tralee International Marathon weekend. Now managed by Tralee Harriers AC it starts and finishes at the Tralee Wetlands, a beautiful spot just across from the Aquadome. There is a 5K, 10K, Half and Full Marathon.

Tralee Aquadome

Tralle Wetlands, start and finish of Tralee International Marathon
Traveled the day before on St Patrick's day by train so as to not to get stuck behind the many parades in the towns between Limerick and Tralee. Number pick up in the Rose Hotel, meeting some good Marathon Club Ireland friends, John, Vincent, Catherine, Lindsey and Humphrey to name but a few. You see, long distance and marathon running is also about building friendships and meeting up. It's half sport, half social connection.

Off for dinner in the Brandon before bedtime and met with John and Sheila from MCI. Thanks for the company at dinner, the conversation was great.

The race was at 9.30am so there was time for a proper breakfast where I got talking to a family from Kilmallock who had 2 members doing the Half Marathon. We nearly missed the start we were having such fun telling stories. Do you see a trend yet? Marathons are FUN events with FUN people. Also at the start I met with Jennifer and Patrick from my hometown near Brussels who had come over to Tralee to take part!! It truly is an international marathon :)

After the start and a lap of the lake we started the first of two 13.1 mile loops around Tralee with a stretch of the Canal. While the route (on link below) is rolling there is only really 2 hills on each lap making it 4 hills in total. The first is actually short enough while the second is longer and gets a bit steeper later on in the climb.


This was only my 3rd run past 10 miles in over 3 months and I was surprised how easy the first lap was as I came through the first half in just a few minutes over 2 hours. Near the end of the first loop the snow came and it became colder and denser as we continued in lap 2. Thanks to Liz Leonard, Catherine Guthrie and Pat Torpey for miles of company on separate occasions. These chats are wonderful and make the miles melt as fast as the falling snow did thankfully.

There was a couple of loop backs and places where you could see fellow runners and it was great to see so many familiar MCI faces from all over the country.

While loop 2 was tougher on me because of the lack of mileage so far this year I managed to finish the whole Marathon in splendid form and with a smile on the face and a wee dance over the finish line.

Still smiling after 26.2 miles, bling included
The run was also made easier by countless marshals and volunteers some dressed in cartoon characters and most must have been really cold standing out there for hours. Without them we would not do what we love. So a big, big thank you to them :)

Oh, and let's leave the last and best mention to the most amazing group of people called Born To Run Tralee Marathon Club!! The nicest, craziest, friendliest, most compassionate group of people you will meet on the running circuit. I feel privileged and honoured to be a member! And they know how to party as hard as they run!!

Born To Run Tralee Marathon Club after party!!

As mentioned in the last blog the mojo is firmly back. Next up East of Ireland Marathon on Saturday 24th next in Longwood, County Meath for number 3 of 2018! Bring it on!!

Next visits to Tralee are July 28th for the Born to Run 40 Mile and August 25th for the Kerry 100K!!

Miles with Smiles.

Patte xxx

Friday, 16 March 2018

The Battle of Clontarf - On a Wednesday morning in March.

I love the Promenade in Clontarf. It's Dublin, but not really. It's on the coast, but not really. It's a calm place, but not really.

I has it's own feel. The people in the shops and restaurants and businesses have a distinct different swagger than those from say just one Dart station away at Connolly. It feels cosmopolitan and yet removed from suburbia or inner city at the same time. You get an idea that you are moving away from one way of life to another and you're kind of in transitional mood.

On one side Connolly, Tara Street and Pearse. On the other Killester, Raheny, Sutton and Howth. Oh Howth, I so want to run your Summit again soon, just for fun 4 times!

On Wednesday morning about 15-20 of us gathered for another edition of an East of Ireland (EOI) Marathon Series Midweek Marathon. I did this route before and enjoyed it every single time. Simple route, 8 times out and back from the wind monument to the wooden bridge. As flat as a crepe, pancakes have distinctly more undulations than this route. And if you wish a mixture of tarmac and grass. Plus the friendly banter of all EOI events.

I ran there in the sun and I ran there in the rain before. And it is always a tad breezy. Even in Summer :)

Another thing to enjoy that morning was the friendly faces of fellow midweek marathon treat (Liz Morrin's words) lovers. Too many to name in case I forget one but you know we hugged it out before starting.

Before the Start with Collette O'Hagan, Teresa Bradley Taaffe, Maighread Ryan and Philips Miles :) 

8 am. Off ye go! Our warmly dressed Race Director Frank McDermott lets us off the leash.

Well, off the leash. Within meters it becomes clear this is going to be energy sapping. The out bit of each lap is into a very, very stiff wind. I'm actually keeping the training pants and jacket on and a hat and they won't come off for the entire run. The wind is joined by a steady lashing of rain which soaks us right through on the first lap. Struggling run to the first turning point and then wind in the back to the 5K-ish mark at the start.

On Lap 2 a lot of us started walking into the breeze which is getting stronger. These are seasoned Marathon runners and they are walking after 6K!! We're in for an endurance test. At the back end off the course the sea is crashing over the wall onto the promenade and we all get drenched several times. A lot of us start taking cover on the grass beside the path but that has been soaked too. On Lap 3 the promenade at the back is now flooded and the grass is our alternative.

Flooding on Clontarf Promenade

Normally this is weather I thrive in. Today is different. This is becoming too much like a walk and run. And the fun is ebbing out of the event for me. So I decide to drop to the Half Marathon and call it a great training day. I used to continue on runs where the fun ebbs yet since I started living intentionally and putting joy and love for all I do first this has changed.

The decision is doing a Half and enjoying every minute. Instead of persisting to the Full and spending 2 hours surviving mentally. It is these things that took my mojo for a while recently. The feeling of having too.

Now I am free and secure in the understanding and awareness that in running as in many other parts of life, I don't have to. I love to or want to. Yes to those. But have to, nope; them days are gone.

So with a big smile on my face I finished lap 4 and 21K. Soaked to the core, but happy in the knowledge that one I have the mojo for running firmly back and two I know when to say yes and when to say no.

The Battle of Clontarf Anno 2018 was glorious, wet, windy and above all fun. Thanks to all my co-runners for your greetings, hugs, encouragements, smiles and company. Maighread Ryan, Elizabeth Morrin, Collette O'Hagan, Elaine McAnulty, Deirdre Dolan, Vanessa Armstrong, Teresa Bradley Taaffe, David Brady, John Chapman, Zaldy Peralta, Charles O'Duffy, James Kelly, Greg O'Beirne. Apologies to any I forgot, the wind distorted my memory.

Next adventure this Sunday the 18th I take part in the Tralee International Marathon organised by Tralee Harriers AC. See some of you there. I'll blog on it midweek.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

The world kinda runs out of you.

Whatever the day delivered to you. Whatever the traffic brought you. Whatever the people you met or engaged with did or said to you. Whatever your circumstances right there and then. Whatever you think tomorrow might or might not bring.

Whatever the weather. Whatever your mood. Whatever the time of day or night.

The moment you pull on the shorts, the singlet, the socks and the runners. Put on the head torch. Stack the keys, phone and some spare change in a flip-belt.

And you set foot outside that door.

Then all ceases to exist except for the road ahead. You might not know how far. Nor how fast. Because you are a long distance road runner.

And with every passing stride the world kinda runs out of you. And all is good.

Miles with Smiles xx Patte

PS: Mine's running, what makes the world run out of you???