A Pain in the Arse

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Only a wee short post to keep the blog rolling. To keep things direct, here’s a no-nonsense list of how things have been going since the Dublin Half Marathon and what’s up next.

1. The Dublin Half was a great experience, but my legs really hurt for the rest of that day. I pushed myself a bit harder into a 12 minute mile which, for me, is nippy over a longer than 10k distance.

2. I downloaded my official marathon photos – hilarious. I look like a sweaty fridge.

3. During the half marathon, I could feel what I believe to be my glutes tightening up. I went to physio a couple of days later and got some deep tissue massage done in this area.

4. It hurt.

5. I tried running again a day or two later, things felt tight still.

6. The morning of the trip to Blackpool, I got up early to do a five miler. Tighter still. I tried lengthening my stride to stretch myself out a bit, but that hurt even more and I ended up doing a brisk walk.

7. I took my running gear to Blackpool as I fully intended to fit in at least a five mile run along the prom! This did not happen. Instead, I got pissed and ate Wagon Wheels. Not an entire waste of a weekend to be fair! I had great fun. But as I plodded around the Pleasure Beach, I could feel a dull burn in my right bum cheek/lower back area. Hmmmm. More drink!

8. Home from Blackpool too late to attempt the 18 mile long run that was scheduled. So I ate crap and planned to do it the next day (Monday).

9. It rained so heavily and consistently all day, that I reckoned it would be a good idea to do the 18 mile run in the gym. I brought wet gear with me in case things dried up, but it didn’t. And I didn’t do 18 miles on the treadmill. I did three and a half, and it hurt like hell.

10. The next day, I tried again. I drove to where I knew there was a totally flat route. A mile along, the feckin path was flooded because of the biblical rains! I turned back, and plodded another two miles. Pain pain pain, limping, half skipping, walking – a mess.

11. Panic is setting in at this stage.

12. What the feck do I do now? My arse didn’t hurt like this til the physio told me it was tight! I went in with a dicky hamstring and got my bum rubbed – apparently it was being caused by my tight glutes. I did all the stretches she told me to, but they kinda hurt. Is this good or bad? Do I go back to her? Do I go to my GP? Who will probably refer me to physio anyway?

13. Lightbulb. Dr Rebain. He knows what he’s at! He fixed me before! I rang, I got an appointment for the next day (so lucky by the way). My panic was still simmering, but I felt happy to be going to see him. Is this what faith is?

14. Sure enough, my pelvis was out of joint again. That bastard injury bestowed on me in the early 90s in a car accident. It was out on the right side, thus affecting everything downward. Hamstring, dicky under-ankle-foot pain, the works. As I explained my various ills to him, he nodded knowingly and a quick check confirmed his suspicions. Pelvis. Crunch crunch, Cheerio. Rest for the remainder of the day.

15. Day after osteopath, things feel good! They feel a bit…..normal? Better not jinx things. A five miler awaits me. Slow and steady. I’m shitting myself, because I am seriously sick of having to stop my run because of pain. Worried sick to be honest. Anyway, off I went. I decided just to start walking, for a mile at least, to warm everything up. Things felt good. That weird feeling, like a tight rubber band around my arse and thighs, wasn’t there. That arse pain wasn’t there. In short, a very slow but consistent run – completed! I was so happy.

16. I ate a bag of Marks and Spencer’s Salt and Black Pepper pretzels and drank some chocolate milk to celebrate.

17. That was yesterday, today is today. I’ve been walking around gingerly (nothing new there I know), worried that the pain is going to return. I can’t ‘run through’ pain. It disrupts my train of thought and panics me. Sometimes I think I can feel it returning, but I try not to think about it in case my brain makes it real.

18. I will end on this point. I have my eighteen miles to do tomorrow. I’m so worried that I won’t complete it. There’s only one more long run to do after this, and then it’s taper time. I’ve run 14 and 16 miles before, slowly of course; but I finished them both. I don’t want to be standing at the start in New York, with a cloud over me because I hadn’t completed all my long training runs.

So if any of you out there are reading this, say a prayer to whatever God you subscribe to that I succeed in my running endeavour tomorrow. I don’t care if its a sixteen minute mile, I just want Lance Armstrong to congratulate me on my longest workout on my Nike Plus app.

Fingers crossed.

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I stuck this photo in because it’s funny. And true.

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Craicpool

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Guess where I was this weekend?

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Not Paris – Blackpool!

What else would take a group of five sexy young harlets (and me) to the Las Vegas of the north but a hen weekend! Yes, my first ever hen party. My ye olde school chum Ann Marie is getting married in November! So off we went to the bright lights of Blackpool to celebrate this joyous event. By getting pissed and making fools of ourselves!

And what fun it was. I loved every minute of it. Despite spending a large portion of Saturday in bed suffering a foul hangover, the drag cabaret brought me back to life and I was ready for round two. Round two involved the systematic assassination of the dancefloor, in typical ‘white girl’ fashion – it was messy, unattractive, but unbelievable fun!

I’ve never enjoyed a weekend as much before, because it was my first proper ‘night out’ in a club as a not-so-fat person. I spent five years working in a nightclub, and I loved it, but I always felt out of place and conscious of my largeness. Don’t get me wrong, all shapes and sizes frequent the discotheque, but your enjoyment depends upon how comfortable you feel in your own skin – and this was the first time I felt truly comfortable. The only thing I had to be conscious of was my exuberant and idiotic dancing!

In one way, I was kicking myself for not having lost weight sooner – I missed out on years worth of acting like a tool on the dancefloor just because I was too embarrassed to do so. Having said that, I did throw some shapes when I worked in The Bank, but I was a big fish in a small pond and that made it easier to pretend I didn’t care. Excuse the pity party! But here, it’s all good now. Hopefully there will be more of these messy nights out!

My point here is, if you’re feeling uncomfortable in your own skin, just draw a line under it and make the changes you need to. It might not be easy at first, and there might be things you have to sacrifice; but the results will more than outweigh all these. I spent a good two to three years sitting in at the weekends, not drinking etc, because it would have interfered with the weightloss. Yes, it was boring at times and the odd time I would feel like I was missing out, but I’m glad now that I put the effort into it. I’m still not happy with the way I look, but I’m not ashamed to pose for photos (mostly), and I don’t spend the evening shying away from a boogie with my mates.

So many thanks to Ann Marie, Aine, Ruth, Cousin Deirdre and Leeanne (who organised the whole thing and did a class job), for a brilliant weekend and for being there through the thick and thin of my tubby existence.

Roll on the wedding!

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Congratulations Liam & Ann Marie

Nothing to Report(er)

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Greetings!

If you’ve arrived here after seeing the article in this weeks Newry Reporter then hello! Well done for being arsed either typing in the address or for Googling – I probably wouldn’t have bothered! Unless you’re interested in weightloss, marathon training or random Slimming World recipes, there’s probably better things on the Internet for you to be looking at. But if any of these things do interest you, have a look around and feel free to comment and give a bit of feedback – even if its to rip me out for sounding like a middle aged life coach in a shit women’s magazine.

On a lighter note; well, in this case, a heavier note, how brutal is that ‘before’ picture in the paper?? I have to say, that photo makes me cringe – there’s not a single redeeming feature to be seen there. Woeful. It’s probably the worst picture of myself I’ve ever seen, though there are probably worse out there – I never liked posing for pics back in the day, for quite obvious reasons. If any of you out there have some surreptitious shots from The Pie Years, feel free to send them to me. The one good thing about that photo though is that it scares the bejeesus out of me. I don’t ever want to be that size again. It’s not a good look!

If you want to create some ‘before and after’ pictures of your own, you could do a lot worse than give Slimming World a try. It doesn’t work for everyone, but if you don’t try you’ll never know! The Bellini’s group on Wednesdays and Thursdays is where I lost the bulk of my weight, and although there’s no difference in what you’ll be learning – there is a difference in how it’s taught. Naomi’s group is very easy going and welcoming, without being intimidating, so if you’re the type to feel a bit shy or apprehensive, try that group out. She really does make everyone feel at home, so no need for nerves. If you’re still not sure but would like to know the basics of getting going with Slimming World, don’t be afraid to have the craic with me if you see me about Newry. Any excuse to talk shite and have a laugh! In a serious way of course.

Anyone who fancies making a donation, click on the ‘marathon donations’ tab at the top of the page and work away. All donations will go 100% to the charity you choose. You’re not paying for me to go on holiday! Times are tight, so I have no intention of running round Newry with a sponsor card like a tit. Having said that, Newry Hospice and the Alzheimer’s Society are two great causes – even a pound can make all the difference.

Anyway, that’s all the craic for now. Despite the initial scunderment of being in the paper, it’s nowhere near as embarrassing as being a big fat hallion. Or as embarrassing as being on the front of the Newry Democrat with Anthony from Big Brother. Who? Exactly.

All the best,

McCooey

P.S. Many thanks to Aoife McKeever for writing the article that made me not sound like a total douchebag. My blog hits are through the roof! Cheers our one, the very best of luck – I owe you a drink!

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Glass Half Full

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This time four years ago, I was twenty one stone.

Today, I ran a half-marathon.

That sounds like a lead story in Pick Me Up magazine, but it’s a fact! At just after ten o’clock this morning, I lined up with 8,249 other idiots in Phoenix Park to begin the Dublin Half Marathon. I was apprehensive to say the least, after almost three weeks of niggly and persistent little injuries. Nothing specific or traumatic enough to render me immobile (thank God), but just painful and persistent enough to cause me to cut short my smaller runs during the week; and to give me sleepless nights about my long run at the weekend. Hmmm. What to do, what to do? First it was the phantom tendon, then the gammy pelvis, the dodgy hamstring after that, followed by the quad of doom. A physio session on Monday identified my weak arsecheeks as causing the leg issues, but because I had so much thigh action ongoing, I neglected to mention the little pain running along the side of my right foot, just before my ankle….. I figured it would go away.

It did not go away, and on Thursday evening I found myself slowly limping home after 1.86 miles. It’s a long walk home when you’re walking like a war veteran in a pair of fluorescent trainers with a face like absolute thunder. I went to the doctor on Friday evening, and dropped the half-marathon bomb to him. He looked surprised, possibly because he was the very man who berated me for years about my vastness. Anyway, he prescribed some anti-inflammatory medication and told me about the oul ‘alternate ice and heat’ treatment. I had hoped for a very sportsmanlike injection of something to quell my pain and give me a boost, but I guess I didn’t really need it. It would have been a great story to tell!

So off I went this morning, slightly rattling with tablets, and shaking with nerves at the prospect of having to sit on my arse after mile three. Luckily, everything went well! I ran consistently for the first three miles, with two or three quick pauses to pull my M&S wonder pants back down my thighs – they decided to roll up underneath my groovy Nike shorts which was uncomfortable and unflattering. So far so good! I kept a decent pace, and made a few chums along the way. Namely Chris, a pleasant South African dude who complimented the aforementioned groovy trainers; and a New Yorker called Carl/Karl, who is a previous NYC Marathoner. I get the feeling that being a slow coach is better craic – you meet people who have time to talk and are just delighted to be out and moving. Admittedly, there are those who look like they are literally inches from death, but they’re still moving! All shapes, sizes and abilities are out there – so for anyone who has doubts and fears about being last, don’t. If you can jog consistently for the best part of the distance, you won’t be last. Remember, there are always walkers in these events – some fast, some slow. Don’t let fear stop you taking part! Says me…

In conclusion! My trusty Nike Plus told me I had ran 13.11 miles, so I stopped the workout then. The course was around 0.4 of a mile longer, as confirmed by three or four others I was talking to at the end. My Nike time was 2hrs 37mins. I’m quite happy with that! Jussssst under 12mins per mile, which is my usual pace on shorter runs. I guess the adrenaline had an effect! The gammy foot started throbbing around mile eight, due to some slanty footpath action, but I employed some positive thinking to keep me moving. Hilarious – I started talking to myself in the third person and everything. What a douche. Needless to say, the Other Half zoomed through it all in 2hrs 19. My ‘official time’ for the 13.5 miles was 2hrs 42mins, and I wasn’t last. All in all, a win.

All this optimism can’t be healthy.

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How to Shit Yourself Without Really Trying / Felix Felicis

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I am a worrier. I think far too much. I have a splendid ability to turn my mind inside out by thinking and over-thinking things that really don’t deserve such mental anguish. It doesn’t do me any good, but I still fret to the point I wish I could extract my memories and thoughts like Professor Dumbledore, bottle them, and come to back to them individually when I’m feeling more rational. Despite my fondness for panic, this whole marathon business has largely passed me by. I’ve been going through the motions of training, getting kitted out, blogging about, telling people about it, boring everyone to tears with tales of chaffed bottoms and sweaty cleavage etc etc… but it didn’t really hit me until yesterday that I am actually doing it. I had to log on to my profile on the ING New York City Marathon site and fill in some information about baggage and transport etc, and there was a link to print out my registration card. This card has my bib number and start time on it. Helpfully, the site also had a countdown timer on its homepage. 52 days and counting. Suddenly, I had am image of me standing at the start line, pinning my number onto my shirt, checking my watch and waiting for the klaxon to sound.

Oh Jesus.

I have to run a marathon.

I have to spend almost six hours walking/jogging/running.

It was like a giant comedy Acme anvil with ‘marathon’ written on the side had just fallen from a great height, smashing me into the ground. I could feel the distant rumblings of childlike scaredy-farts approaching. Then another thought exploded in my mind: Oh Christ! I have to run a half-marathon on Saturday! Adding insult to injury, I realised that The Dublin Half Marathon has stealthed its way into my calender with disturbing haste. It seemed logical to squeeze in another event before November, plus I’ve ran 12, 14, and 16 miles already. Surely a wee 13.1 will be childs play? Possibly, if the child in question is particularly whingy and pathetic. I am still in the throes of the seven week itch – yet I’m into my ninth week of proper training. I am awash with aches and pains. There is always something hurting, especially from the waist down. I’ve had to cut runs short; due to either my head working against my body, or my body letting me down. Hamstrings, quads, and now glutes (though the glutes may be the root of the problem) – it’s like my lower body is teaching me a lesson for giving it so much stress to deal with in the Fat Years. Then again, despite spending all of last Friday limping because my left quad felt like it had been attacked with a cheese grater, I completed my longest run to date the next day. I did sixteen miles at a very very slow pace, taking very short strides as I didn’t want to cause myself any significant pain/damage that would cause me to stop. I endured, and could maybe have squeezed another mile or two at a walking pace. Based on my long run times, I reckon I’ll be lucky to finish this marathon in around five and a half or six hours. I always say I’ll be happy just to finish, but with running being such a fashionable endeavour these days, I don’t want to feel ashamed of my time!

So much to think about. For now though, I guess there’s nothing else that can be done. I just have to keep my head down and try hard. At least I have my outfit for Saturday planned, and I know where I’m going for a dirty big feed when the race is over. It’s just the bit in-between that I have to worry about. Hopefully I will have one of those days everything seems to go my way, hence the term ‘Felix Felicis’ in the title. For those of you who aren’t Potter enthusiasts, this is a potion also known as ‘liquid luck’ – it makes the drinker lucky for a period of time, depending on how much is taken, during which everything they attempt will be successful. I have decided to create my own version of this, a mixture of St John’s Wort, ibuprofen, Alpen Bars, and a Slimming World fry two hours before the race. Hopefully the Dublin Half Marathon will be magical.

I still have 51 more days to worry about New York.

Dear Shane….

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Dear Shane,

Congratulations! I see from your Twitter updates that you’ve decided to take up running! Have to say, I didn’t really think you were the sporty type, but I guess you don’t need to be. God knows I was never sporty. I thought I’d take the liberty of writing you this letter, as I have four months experience of running behind me – thus making me an expert – and I feel you can only benefit from some pearls of wisdom to help you along. It’s essentially a list of dos and don’ts. Do try and keep up, I know you have trouble with big words so I’ll try and keep it simple.

First off, know your limitations. Most inspirational sports quotes will say you have no limitations, but you do. Everyone does. It’s all well and good sitting on your arse watching the Olympics, thinking “I could do that” as you watch Mo Farah leisurely stride his way through 10,000 metres; but it’s doubtful that you could. For example, I could base my running ambition on Paula Radcliffe’s stunning career, but it would be pointless. For a start, I would need to have began training before my early teens, but I chose to spend those years eating sweets and listening to boy bands. Also, Paula is 5ft 8in tall. Her limbs are long and lithe, she hasn’t an ounce of fat on her, and she weighs in at 120lbs (8.5 stone). I, on the other hand, am almost four stone heavier. I’m also four inches shorter. My limbs are short and thick, and I have significant deposits of fat all over the place. When I think about it, nobody in my family has a typical ‘runners body’, or even the potential for one, so rather than bust a gut trying to achieve it – I have to accept that it’s not for me. I can try my best of course, but there’s not much point huffing when it doesn’t go to plan. Realistically, I’m not built for it, and not many of us are.

Secondly, I see you got yourself a pair of running shoes after having your gait analysed. Sorry to piss on your parade, but most stores offering gait analysis are merely doing so in order to sell you shoes. I’m not saying they aren’t accurate, but I think it’s better to go to a physio or podiatrist and get them to tell you what they think. At the end of the day, they don’t have sales targets to meet! Don’t feel obliged to buy the trainers the sales person suggests, just because they say you need them. If they don’t feel right when you try them on, they’re not going to get much better when you’re running in them. Try on as many different types as you can til you get the ones that suit you best. Don’t get blinded by science – this goes for all running gear. If it feels comfortable, wear it. If it doesn’t, don’t. Simple as that.

I hope you’re taking things easy at first. One sure way to poison your enthusiasm for running is by starting out at a crazy pace. Never be ashamed to walk. Walking at the start will warm you up and break you gently into the workout. Trot along at a comfortable pace, try and get yourself into a nice rhythm and enjoy it once you’ve found it. Don’t worry about what you look like, what your arms are doing or what your legs are doing – just keep your head up and look straight ahead. If you drop your head, you’ll drop your shoulders and you’ll get uncomfortable; so maintain a strong posture and the rest will follow suit. Do cast your eyes downwards from time to time, as nothing ruins a confident running stance like standing on dogs shit and emitting a stream of profanity/squeals.

One thing I still have to be aware of is climate. Never underestimate the effect the weather has on a run. Most people think that a sunny day is perfect for running because it’s dry. In reality, it’s torturous. Remember that you’re in constant motion, even if you’re just walking, so your thermostat is already higher than normal. Add a constant blast of midday sunshine, and things get very sweaty very quickly. Having said all that, as a fellow ginger, you know the risks posed by the sun. But the sun doesn’t have to be out for you to boil. Still, humid, breathless conditions are almost as bad. Wear as little clothing as is decent and legal. If it’s raining, you don’t necessarily need a waterproof jacket. These things are like wearable saunas – approach with caution. Running in the rain is great fun – once you’re wet! You can’t drown, so just enjoy it!

Being a tech nerd, I’m sure you’ve got yourself an app to track your progress. I use Nike Plus, as it works seamlessly with the iPhone, but there are tonnes of other GPS apps that measure distance, time, pace, calories etc. These are all great when it comes to monitoring progress, but don’t get bogged down in statistics. No two runs are the same. There are so many things that can affect your run (time of day/night, weather, how well rested you are, how well fed you are, your mental attitude, the clothes you wear etc etc), so it’s counter productive to rely on the stats alone as an indication of how well you’re doing in general. This last fortnight has been hell for me in terms of training – a great run followed by a terrible one, a comfortable run one day and then having to abandon the next one halfway through. If I was to become a beginner again, I think I’d just use my watch and nothing else. Bear in mind that Kenyan runners don’t even use watches, let alone Garmins or iPhones – they just run.

So on that note, I shall leave you to it. I hope these few tips give you something to think about. I look forward to seeing your tweets about how you’re getting on! Which reminds me – my final tip: don’t become a running bore. Nobody will ever care as much as you do about how many miles you ran today, yesterday, and what you’re going to do tomorrow. Updates for milestones – yes, but keep social networking social. Remember there will always be a fat person watching, feeling guilty.

Yours sincerely,

McCooey

Red and Blue – no white.

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It’s Saturday morning. I’m up and about and having my first coffee of the day! In a few hours I’ll be running around Newry City’s sexy new running track, so I need a wee injection of caffeine to get me ready. It’s part of the ‘ritual’, that and a shower. Does anyone else shower before a run? I always seem to have a good run when I’ve showered first! Lord knows, if I thought covering myself in shit before a run would guarantee a successful one, I’d probably do it.

I reckon I’ve hit a running crisis. The honeymoon period of my training plan has passed me by, and I’m now into a seven week itch. Example – last Sundays long run of fourteen miles was fine. It was my longest yet, and despite walking the last three miles due to it being a constant hill, my pace was dead on. Tuesday called for a five miler, which I decided to do in the gym. I also decided to forgo my ‘wonderpants’ (these hold all my swaying skin in) and wore ordinary wags. Bad idea. They burrowed their way into my arse like they were hunting for diamonds. So I went into the toilets and ditched the boxers! I tried going commando. WORST IDEA EVER. I did thirty minutes on the bike as it was the only way I could ensure I wouldn’t circumcise myself.

Wednesday came, another five miler. On the road, very few hills. It was magical. My first five miles in under an hour! Wheeeeeeee! I felt great, though my legs were getting sore. They seem to be constantly letting me down.

Thursday. Another five. I just couldn’t be arsed. Everything hurts. My legs feel heavy and tight, my tendon/bone thing is throbbing, and now my right ankle is starting to feel sore too. I also spent the whole day feeling cold, I couldn’t get warmed up at all. I opted for a long sleeve and headed out to do a route that would be fairly flat, and gentle on my legs. I walked a mile and a half in 26 minutes. Not because my feet were sore or because my legs felt like phone boxes, I just couldn’t have been arsed. I had no inclination, drive, or enthusiasm. My mind was full of things that had happened that day, and my negative inner monologue was stronger than my Olympic spirit. People say running clears the mind? Bollocks. My mind needs to be clear when I start.

I came home, sat down, and cried like a big baby. Big, fat, marathon tears.

So today, I hope to do something half decent on this new track. It’s flat, so hopefully my legs will thank me for that. I’m blue about my poor form, but I think part of my blue is caused by Red. As in Red Days – Slimming World speak for restricted carbs. In an effort to drop weight, Red days (Original plan) are the way to go. But coupled with regular distance running? Possibly not the best idea in the world. I have lost four pounds since we spoke last, so there’s no denying its effective; but running requires energy, and lean meats and vegetables just won’t cut it. It’s back to Extra Easy for me.

So there you are. Red, blue, and no white – I got scorched on Sundays long run and now I look like Dougal from Fr Ted in his holiday snaps. Sigh.

I hate running.