#Couch2Christmas: A Run in the Park
I said from the start that I want to be one of those people who wakes up and to go for a run. This week I realise that while that might happen, I will probably never be one of those people who wakes up and wants to go for a run in the rain!
I hauled myself up in bed and peered out from behind my window blinds to confirm what I already knew, the sound of the wind and the rain wasn’t in my imagination. The cars and trees in the front garden were glistening with an overnight deluge and wet leaves clung miserably to the water-slicked pavement. I texted Sinead Merrigan, my running buddy for the day ‘pick you up at 0830?’ The response was quick ‘I’ll be ready’. I was gutted. As I dragged on leggings and runners and headed for the car, I knew in my soul if she had said ‘no’, I’d have rolled over for a second sleep.
We arrived at Porterstown parkrun wondering whether we’d be last and foolish (we’re both new to running). We didn’t know the course, we hadn’t been to this parkrun before, and we learned from some of the runners lining up that it’s new and has only been operating for 4 weeks. We huddled together for the briefing, then reluctantly peeled off our coats and began to jog. After the first few minutes, I stopped dodging raindrops and allowed the dampness to take over as I shuffled along. After the first ten minutes I stopped dodging puddles and just ran through them with my heavy, sloppy, wet trainers. I amused myself looking at the kids playing football nearby, they didn’t mind the rain. I admired the colour of the leaves. I made bets with myself about how many trees I could run past before slowing for a short walk then running again. Something under my leggings started to dig into me and I began to learn what runners mean when they talk about chafing. Approaching our second loop of the parkrun, Sinead commented to one of the stewards ‘nearly there’ only for the steward to grinsympathetically and inform us there are three loops in this parkrun, not two. There was nothing for it, only to dig in and go again. It’s amazing what the power of the mind can do, the third loop felt like hell because we weren’t expecting it – and yet the whole distance was just 5k, like any other Saturday morning parkrun. As I finally jogged towards the finish-line I realised that the ‘walkers’ had actually finished before me. Mortified I pointed that out as I crossed the line, but as always the parkrun officials were quick to support and reassure: ‘you’re lapping the runners sitting at home on the couch’ one commented. ‘I started a couple of weeks ago and I couldn’t run at all then’ another volunteer piped up. Yep, Sinead and I had finished last, but as we legged it back to the car in the rain, I’ve got to say we didn’t feel foolish.
Later on Saturday I went rafting with a bunch of swimming friends on the river, 5 rafts racing down the weirs with http://www.rafting.ie – it was great fun, and not quite as wet as the run earlier in the day! It involved over an hour of paddling and throwing myself around in the raft, so I’m adding it into the fitness pot. You can be active while still having fun! I also had a giggle launching the RNLI Reindeer Run and taking pictures with ‘Rookie’ the Reindeer up at Marlay Park, Rathfarnham. Their fun run takes place on December 6th and I’ll be doing the ‘Rookie Warm Up’ for the little ones!
Sunday dawned bright and wet. Today I was running with 3,000 others at the Remembrance Run in the Phoenix Park. I had no personal running buddy with me though, this one I was doing on my own, in memory of my old mate and colleague Johnny Lyons, the 98FM Sports Editor who died suddenly earlier this year. I felt sad as I walked the 3k from my car to the startline. As I walked towards the registration tent along with hundreds of other sodden joggers and walkers, my mood lifted. People were there with T-shirts proclaiming who they were running for. They were running in memory of friends and loved ones, alone and in groups, but they were bright, and shiny and happy – despite the rain, which had now turned to a deluge. I got my number pinned to my shirt and huddled under a tree with a group of girls, all looking upward and laughing giddily, as we recognised that the tree had no leaves left to shelter us. ‘Who are we kidding?’ laughed one of the girls. The tree’s branches held no shelter, but there was warmth in that Irish humour. The run’s organiser ‘Frank Greally’ from Irish Runner Magazine started us off and we jogged into the rain. I was getting used to this running through the puddles lark. It was ok, but I was soaking, cold and suspected I was getting ‘trench foot’. It was with a sense of relief that I finished and headed back another 3k to where I’d parked my car.
The rest of the week was a mixture of swimming at DCU and the NAC, gym-work at CrossFit Powerful in the Roselawn Industrial Estate, yoga at Porterstown Community Centre, and a couple of spins on the treadmill at Ben Dunne’s. I also managed to fit in a hike with a mate in the Dublin Mountains. It was an active week and yet I wasn’t happy with the ‘numbers’ I was clocking up on my Fitbit wrist monitor. I have a 10,000 steps ‘goal’ logged in there and I didn’t hit it every day, even though I did something active every day at least once, and sometimes twice. I’ve decided I’m going to step things up next week and make a definite attempt to run or jog for half an hour every single day and see what happens. I am also logging what I eat, and I’m going to be more organised about my food preparation. The weeks are flying past and I need to make sure I don’t wake up unprepared for our Aware 10K on December 12th.
Half way around the world, our coach John O’Regan is preparing to guide the amazing vision-impaired Sinead Kane, as she runs a marathon across an active volcano. Reading John’s updates on Facebook, I learned the altitude is hurting Sinead’s eyes, John’s finding it difficult to guide Sinead across the rough terrain, and they ran out of water on one of their training runs. They’ve had a tough week. Now THAT’s a tough week. When I look back at my own grumbles, I feel inspired because my few miseries are really just ‘a run in the park’.