Scratching the Surface of Janathon

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So after all my yapping back in June about how I’d never do Juneathon again, here I am doing it again – just in January instead. I figured I would appreciate the structure of it all as a way back into running, given I literally haven’t engaged in any form of exercise since November 4th! I have missed it a little, though was quite content to do nothing for a while. 2012 was just a sportsfest for me, how the hell I ever managed to source the energy for it all I’ll never know! But my epic weight gain over Christmas means that I need to employ all resources to get back to normal, so back to the sportswear I go.

Needless to say, Day One of Janathon was a physically muted affair. I was crashing badly after a weeks worth of shameless eating, which culminated in the destruction of a giant Dark Chocolate Toblerone and a quart of Christmas Spiced Fudge from Lidl (which was spectacular) ; and I knew my time would be better spent preparing meals for the next day to keep me from falling off the wagon. So I did ten sit ups and ten press ups before bed, and that was that. Today however, I got ready for the road as soon as I got in from work. A pleasant two miles, one walked, one jogged. I’m determined not to overthinkthe running I do from now on, as it’s obvious that I cannot deal with statistics rationally, so instead of Nike Plussing I used the stopwatch function on my phone. The time was fine, and not a million miles away from what I was used to during my training for New York, so I can’t complain too much. Day Two done. For motivation, I am going to start crossing off the days on my Tom Daley calendar! I know it’s wrong……. Don’t judge me. Doesn’t matter what way you swing, we can all appreciate beautiful things!

Laters!

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Final Score

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So it’s just over a month since……….the marathon. I have come to loathe that word. The whole thing took over more of my life than I ever thought possible; and it seemed to be all I thought about, talked about, and looked forward to for the best part of a year. You can imagine the disappointment when the whole thing was cancelled – the first time in its history. The year I picked to run! Well despite the cancellation, we ran anyway. Laps of Central Park, followed by a very meandering route back to the hotel. No starting line, no finish line, no official time, just 26.2 miles completed. A marathon in New York.

I know all of you out there were probably fed up listening to the endless updates, not to mention the requests for donations to Southern Area Hospice Services and/or Alzheimer’s Society. There’s nothing worse than a timeline bore, but in this case I don’t feel one bit guilty. The BigFatMarathon Attempt 2012 has raised £4620.50 in total. Moody and I both paid our own way to get to New York, to stay there, and to enter the race – so this amount, in its entirety, goes straight to the charities. So thank you and fair play to everyone who donated online, to the local businesses who supported us, to the random people who gave me money in the street, and to the people I’ve never even met in person but only know of me via Twitter and this blog. We’ve raised so much more than we ever anticipated, and that’s the big result from this whole endeavour. I always said that I was running the marathon because it was something I wanted to do, just to say I did it; but it would have been remiss of me not to try and raise some money at the same time. I’m glad I did it this way. It wouldn’t have felt right signing up to run on behalf of any old charity, just to secure myself a holiday. That’s maybe a wee bit cynical of me, but that’s how I roll. Anyway, a list of thank yous, just to get them out of the way. Needless to say, this list isn’t exhaustive, and I apologise if I’ve missed anyone out.

Thank you to:

Moody – for supporting me throughout the whole weight thing and for running the marathon too
My parents – for putting up with my marathon huffiness, and for whipping up sponsorship
My Granny – for threatening the local community for sponsorship
Aunts and Uncles – for the same
Roisin, Fiona, and Shane – for providing listening ears on a daily basis and enjoying the gory details of training horror stories
Potat – for being an oasis of sound advice in a desert of fitness shit talk
The Twitterati – for all their kind words of support and empathy regarding running and weightloss

To everyone who beeped their horns at me when I was training, who roared out their windows, and politely ignored the sweat, snot and camel toe.

To the local businesses who gave generously:

John Mc Mahon and Co Accountants
Newry and Mourne Enterprise Agency
Whitegates Community Centre
Art Bar Funkel
Hughes Central Filling Station Camlough
McElroys Butchers Newry
The Bank Bar and Bistro
Deirdre Donnelly Massage Therapy
Cranney & McCabe Communications
Flogas
Northern Confectioners Dungannon
Sweet Supreme Fermanagh
Tullys Bar & Lounge Belleeks
Urban Roots Hairdressers
O’Briens Sandwich Bar Buttercrane
Seamus Mullan Newtownhamilton
Eugene Hughes Whitecross
Commons Furniture Newtownhamilton
Floral Expressions Newtownhamilton
Today’s Local Newtownhamilton
Elegance Beauty Camlough
O’Reillys Off License Camlough

Special mention also to the pupils and staff of St Malachys Primary School Ballymoyer, including Mrs Kathleen O Hare, for their generous donations and for inviting me to the school to say hello to the enthusiastic and inquisitive pupils!

Like I say, I will most certainly have missed someone out. I can only apologise and blame it on the fact that running makes you lose brain cells. I actually believe this. What other explanation can there be for all these people I see running around in the frost? I will finish on this note – what has running a marathon taught me?

1. Running can be fun.
2. Running isn’t always fun.
3. Always keep at least £2 in your bra for emergencies.
4. If you meet someone who knows everything there is to know about running, listen to them, then forget everything they tell you. You need to work things out for yourself.
5. Keep your iPod playlists fresh, but don’t run with music all the time. You don’t really need it.
6. Your underwear is more important than your outerwear.
7. There’s no shame in walking. Just don’t stop.
8. When you truly believe you can’t do something, that’s the time to try.
9. Give yourself a break. Just because others are faster, or more consistent, or thinner, or more beautiful – who cares? You’re doing your thing, your way. Don’t compare. We’re all different.
10. Don’t listen to the haters – when’s the last time they tried something new?
…..and finally
10b. Try to heed your own advice.

So that’s that. If you’re a local yokel, keep an eye out in the paper over the next week or two for cringey novelty cheque photos. For the not so locals, thank you all once again. I never thought I’d buy into the whole notion of cyber friendships, but I have been pleasantly surprised! I owe you all a drink. A real one, not the stupid Facebook ones from years ago. I faithfully promise not to pollute your timelines again with endless rants about running. If, and I stress if, I run another event again – I will be keeping it on the down low. And I will never mention the M word again.

Toodles,

McCooey.

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Right Decision, Wrong Time

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So.

After yesterday’s post about how I was convinced that this marathon would be a bit of a fail, I closed up the iPad and made my way to a movie theatre in Times Square. I had never been to the movies over here, so thought I’d give it a go. As we were hunkering down with some VERY salty popcorn to watch the new Denzel Washington movie (which was fairly good), Moody received a text from a work friend telling us that the marathon had been cancelled. Now before leaving the hotel, we had been reading online that calls to cancel were being made, but Bloomberg and NYRR (New York Road Runners) were adamant that the race would continue as normal. I figured that the said work friend had misinterpreted the news reports about this, so I contacted my trusty triathlete buddy Leeanne and got her to check online. According to the NYRR site, it was business as usual! Happy days, more popcorn please! Then I got another text. And another. Soon it became clear that the marathon was indeed off. We came out of the movies to see this in Times Square:

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And that was that. No marathon. The announcement made at 6pm local time, a mere six hours after we had collected our bib numbers and race goodies; and bought ourselves official Asics marathon gear. A bit of a kick in the balls to be honest. Speaking of honesty, is it weird that I feel relieved at it being cancelled? That was my first reaction, though it gave way quite quickly to utter disappointment. Yes, I spent all day yesterday shitting myself at the very thought of lining up, but there was no way I was going to back out of it. I knew in my heart that, despite all the dread, I would love it. So the decision has been made to run tomorrow morning anyway. It may no longer be The New York Marathon, but it’s still a marathon in New York. I am still shitting myself, partly due to the distance, and partly because with a seriously depleted number of other runners – my chronic slowness will be more obvious! A lot of disaffected runners are planning to do their own thing tomorrow, but I think a fair number will be heading for Central Park – the location of the finish line. Despite shitting myself, it feels like a lot of the pressure is off now. It’s just like my last ever long run as opposed to an event. The one thing I am very disappointed about is not getting a medal, though the tour operator we are here with are trying to remedy that.

I think if the race had been cancelled before we left for New York, I would have been more gutted. I would have gone down the route of “Why me? I worked so hard! This cost me thousands of quid! It’s not fair!” etc etc, but I am comforting myself in the notion that the decision to cancel probably had been made then, but it was easier to let the thousands of runners and their families/friends come into the city and spend some money before letting them know the race was off. Maybe that assumption is a bit cynical on my behalf, but having seen the crowds of runners at the expo yesterday buying official gear, new trainers, endless Powerbar products, and God knows what else; I think it’s a poor show that the whole thing wasn’t called off sooner. Of course it would have been wildly insensitive to launch the race from Staten Island, and when you watch the news footage you can see the devastation in that part of the City. Could the route have been changed though? Was it even seriously considered? Who knows. Like I said yesterday, there’s no point crying over spilt energy gels. But I think the New Yorkers doing most of the yapping about the marathon would do well to remember the revenue generated every November by the ‘selfish runners’ who spend money getting here, and spend even more over marathon weekend. Even my crude arithmetic concludes that this runs into the millions. It’ll be interesting to see if the numbers are as buoyant next year.

I don’t know if I’ll be here next year, as I don’t know if I can allow the fat child inside me to experience the Big Apple three years in a row. All in the quest for physical perfection though, so who knows! One thing’s certain though, I won’t ever forget my BigFatMarathon. Or the people who supported me on the road to it.

Until the race day that never was,

McCooey

All My Time is Gone

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Why didn’t I start training sooner?
Why didn’t I lose more weight before now?
Why didn’t I try harder?
I should have started my training plan earlier.
I should have put in more time at the gym.
I shouldn’t have had that pizza and bottle of wine last Saturday night.
I look fat.
My tummy looks huge.
I feel like a fat bastard.
What if my running gear doesn’t fit properly?
What if my fat stomach makes my capris roll down and my top ride up?
What have I done?

Just a little excerpt from the Madness of McCooey which reached fever pitch this morning when I made my merry way down to the Jacob Javits Center to pick up my race bib and goody bag. It was all going so well! I got my number and my timing chip, and I got my Asics ‘marathoner’ technical long sleeve t shirt. Then we went for a nosey around the Expo. I got me some nifty armwarmers, the Other Half got a t shirt. We sampled some Powerbar stuff. Then we spotted a wee crowd of people sitting down and looking up at a screen. A screen displaying a speeded up street view of the marathon course. My heart jumped into my throat, and then slid the whole way back down into my stomach. I don’t know these streets! I don’t know where I’m going! As the distance counter at the bottom hit 18 miles I was thinking – I haven’t run this far before. I’m not ready for this. What the fuck am I doing? I could have cried.

But there’s no use crying over spilt energy gels. All my time is gone, and I can’t change what I’ve done in the past which has brought me to this point. There’s not a great deal I can do in the extreme near future which will affect the outcome of the marathon. Apart from keep my head, take things slowly, and not dwell on the negatives. Whatever happens on the day, happens. I’ll finish this race, even if it kills me, but it isn’t going to be pretty.

Until race day,

McCooey

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Hope

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So it’s been a week since my last post. That’s a pretty long time in Internetland, so I feel guilty! The reason for my online silence? I now spend my days in a permanent state of alarm, due to reality having set in. The reality that I’m running a marathon in less than a fortnight. I could literally spend hours staring into space, thinking of everything and nothing; preferring to obsess over how little time I have left to go, rather than use that time constructively and do something that will actually help. This is my thing you see. I am a champion procrastinator. Here are a few examples of the bullshit promises I have made to myself, and the tasks I have told myself I’ll complete in the last year:

“Strengthening my core muscles will help me run better. I’m totally going to do 20 sit ups in the morning and before bed.”

“If I do Red Days for a fortnight, I’ll get below twelve stone and then I can just go back to Extra Easy and maintain”

“I’m going to make sure I can run 30 miles, that way I’ll know I can definitely run 26.2”

All of these make me LOL as, although achievable, they are fairly unrealistic goals. Especially as I am a lazy idiot who can’t concentrate on one thing for any more than twenty minutes. The will is there, but I never seem to find the way. Needless to say, I haven’t completed any of these tasks! It’s like when I was doing my A-Levels, I churned out the most elaborate and comprehensive study plans, but did little to no actual study. That’s why I got mediocre results. I don’t want mediocre results in New York. In my quiet moments of rational thinking, I say to myself, “Look at what you have achieved so far. Who gives a shit if it takes you five, six, or seven hours? You lined up! You’re taking part!” But it isn’t enough to take part, I want to excel. But what is excellent for me, is not necessarily excellent for others…. I feel like a fraud when I talk to other runners! They assume I have big miles under my belt, and that I’m loving it. That I am ‘a runner’. Little do they know how I secretly squirm as I recall my lamentable pace, and the fact that my longest run to date is only 18 miles. Not the thirty I told myself I would do. Sigh.

So, with 12 days left to go, how do things stand? I have no idea! I have tried my best to stick to my training plan, and I did it well for the first seven weeks, but then the aches and pains and niggles and bla bla bla started. Sometimes I’d have to cut a run short, sometimes I’d miss a run. Then I’d feel guilty, try to catch up, and end up getting frustrated and tired. Then I’d think, are these injuries even real? Or am I ‘thinking myself injured’? Are they just aches and pains that I can run through and ignore? Am I a giant drama queen? I swear, if marathon training was measured in thinking time and brain space being taken up, I would kick ALL the asses! I am just about reaching the point of “Fuck it. I don’t care anymore.” I know I can finish the race, that’s not my fear. I have read that at six and a half hours, a bus thingy goes around the course and offers a lift to the stragglers. My image is of one of those council street sweeper vehicles with the rotating brushes underneath it, clearing the streets of unsightly debris – plastic cups, gel wrappers, portly non-athletes etc. I can’t stress how much this freaks me out. So my current strategy is – try to minimise pains, whilst keeping active. Also, to try and drop as much weight as possible before the big day. Another two tall orders that will no doubt remain unfulfilled.

The content of this post isn’t really in keeping with the title is it? Not so. The Other Half pointed out to me that we will be in the US for Election Day (barely). It doesn’t seem like four years since Mr Obama was elected. It also doesn’t feel like four years since I went to New York for the first time. On the flight over, I struggled to fasten my seatbelt, I dropped my iPod shuffle on the floor before take off and was too fat to bend out of my seat and pick it up, and I spent the whole flight in various states of discomfort. Mostly due to the fact I didn’t want to use the toilet because I feared I wouldn’t fit in it! I’m not even lying! It also doesn’t seem like four years since this t shirt fitted me….

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There is hope for us all.

Mildly Tipsy

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This will be my first, and possibly last drunkish blog post. I am currently lying on the sofa beside my huffy teenage cat who is ignoring me as he cleans his balls. Fair enough. The Star Trek Family Guy episode is on, but I have it muted because I’m listening to the new Calvin Harris / Florence and the Machine track which I just downloaded – class by the way. I had my chum Roisin round tonight for X Factor and a massive Slimming World curry, though I complemented mine with a bottle of Stowells Pinot Chardonnay; hence my merry disposition. I’m great sport when drunk. Full of hugs and over-sharing.

I’m feeling melancholy. This marathon is wrecking my head. It’s all anyone talks about, and it’s invading my headspace. The injuries are mounting, and I seem to have constant hip / lower back discomfort. I’ve spent the week in the gym, cross training my scheduled shorter runs. I have a long run of 10 miles to do tomorrow, which I have no confidence in completing at all. I’m still pissed off I had to finish short last week. Then again, I’ve done 18 miles, which is supposed to be a ‘solid base’ for the main event in November. Having said all that, I’m back at 12st 5 as of this morning which is good. My only strategy for New York is to drop as much weight as I can between now and then, and hope that being skinnier will somehow make me a super athlete. Tchaaaa……. I think I drank that bottle of wine because I’m past caring about my training plan. I’m almost looking forward to using the hangover as an excuse to lie in bed! Don’t think there’ll be a hangover though, I’m not drunk enough. That curry was huge enough to line my tummy and keep me at least 20% sober!

I’m also pissed off because a guy I worked with in The Bank died this week. He was only 40. He just collapsed in the street and died, presumably from a heart attack. Don’t get me wrong, the last time I saw him was around 2007, so we weren’t besties; but we got back in touch via Twitter a few weeks ago and were going to ‘do coffee’ and catch up etc etc. I kinda wish now that I’d been more proactive in organising that coffee. I’m sick of bad things happening to good people – I can’t think of anyone more full of life than Dee. Full of laughs and smiles, and an all round nice guy with a wicked sense of humour. My abiding memory of Dee is of him dancing on a table in Milk (Belfast) with a drink in his hand, a bouncer coming over to reprimand him, and both of them ending up half-dancing/half-hugging on the same table. His good humour was infectious!

Life is too short, and that cliche is overused. But it’s true.

God bless xxx

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0KlAI7oNtw&feature=fvwrel

One of the many tunes that remind me of the good old days

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Support

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A brief update: Sundays long run of eighteen miles went surprisingly well. An average pace of 13mins 38secs per mile saw me finish up in just over four hours. Yes, it’s a ridiculously long time to spend running (as such), and there are a lot of runners who would be embarrassed to run at anything more than a ten minute mile- but it’s important to get things in perspective. I ran my first 5k in May. Seven months later, I’m going to be running a marathon. That’s a fairly exponential journey in fitness! I tend to forget this, and get bogged down in berating myself for being slow and generally inconsistent, but it’s no mean feat when you think about it. It’s also proof that anything is possible. Anyway, I’m really glad I finished the distance. I’m starting now to think about how this marathon is going to go, what I should wear, what I should eat/drink throughout and so on. It’s definitely all in the mind, so creating a positive feeling before starting the run is crucial. I like my little routine beforehand: a decent Slimming World fry and a good coffee about two hours before I go, coupled with a shower and careful selection of the running outfit. I don’t know if its an OCD thing, or a big-girls-blouse thing, but I like everything to match colourwise! I don’t feel right otherwise!

With a twenty mile run coming up this Sunday, I’m finding it a little difficult to formulate routes that will take in the full miles. Ideally, I would leave the house and do enough miles to leave me with a three mile ‘back home again’ straight; but no matter what way I go, that means a good two miles of uphill. I know in a way that’s probably a good thing, but the mental toll of the inevitable walking would throw me off. There’s nothing worse that being ‘on schedule’ for say 80% of the run, only to slow up at the end. I know it flies in the face of my opening paragraph, but I don’t like seeing my average pace take a nosedive compared to previous runs. I shall have to get my thinking cap on! Running around the local area can be both fascinating and incredibly boring, therefore effecting overall enthusiasm/enjoyment. I had plenty to keep me occupied on Sunday, between squirrels, rats, and semi-decomposed kittens (very unpleasant); not only that, but as I ran through Newry City, preparations were in full swing for the arrival of Jedward! Unfortunately, I didn’t bump into those two squirrels, who would have no doubt joined me on my plod.

I did bump into a lady who’s daughters I went to primary school with though, just around mile three of the run. Now I’ve never had a full conversation with the woman, but I know her to see and would always say hello. I could see her in the distance and as I got closer, I said hello but kept jogging slowly as it was one of those ‘do I stop/does she know me’ moments! She gave me a big broad smile and said “Lianne! I’m following your blog and it’s brilliant! Fair play to you!” I actually can’t put into words how much that made me smile. I was embarrassed in a way, because of the compliment, and bewildered at the same time by the fact that this lady actually reads the nonsense on here! It’s surreal! I think I have severely underestimated the effect of broadband access in South Armagh! Mental note: no slagging anyone off online – the world is getting smaller by the second. Seriously though, getting support like that is worth it’s weight in gold, or miles in this case.

Since the article in the paper, I’ve been getting lots of kind words and praise from both strangers and people I’ve known for years. I’ve also had lots of donations, which is genuinely humbling and really appreciated. I don’t like putting people on the spot for donations, partly because of the times we live in and partly because I didn’t enlist in this event with the sole motivation of raising money for charity. Having said that, because absolutely all of the money raised will go directly to the charities I’ve chosen, I don’t feel bad about accepting it. Speaking of which, I’m readying myself to head out to my old primary school this afternoon. I received a phonecall yesterday from my Primary One teacher, Mrs Delaney, where she told me they had read the article in the paper and that the school would like to make a donation. Given I left the school in 1994, and have only visited a few times since that, to say I’m chuffed is an understatement. I loved that school, and although there are much larger and more cosmopolitan schools in the area; I’m very proud to say that’s where I was I taught. Not many people can say that.

I shall have to keep my profanity in check for this visit. Despite receiving excellent instruction in St Malachys, I realise the colourful nature of my writing does not suit everyone. However, sometimes the only word that fits is a bad one! So to anyone reading this who didn’t realise McCooey likes to swear, please accept my apologies.

Thank you to everyone who has donated money, kind words, thoughts and/or prayers to the BigFatMarathon attempt. You don’t know how much they are all appreciated.

McCooey

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Proof of the 18 miler!