Pre race sports massage with Peter Matthews.
Pre race drinks – a few days before.
On Monday 1st of June 2015 I competed in the VHI Women’s mini marathon in Dublin.
A moment we didn’t think would happen as originally my guide runner John wasn’t allowed take part because he was ‘male.’
I came 1st in the visually impaired category.
I was just outside the top 100 – my race position was 104. Not bad considering there were almost 40,000 participants.
I couldn’t have done the race without my guide runner, John O’Regan.
Myself and John at the Expo, RDS, collecting our race numbers.
Last Friday, I was on Ireland AM talking about my preparation for the race. After Ireland AM I was on The Anton Savage Radio Show.
Here is a collage of pictures from the weekend which has given me some memories which will stay with me for a long time.
After the race I went on Newstalk and did an interview. Here is the link:
Thanks to my sponsors – The Great Outdoors for kitting me out for the race and for continuing to believe in me.
I came to running late in life starting a little over 2 years ago at age 30 and today I’m still running. For the first year and a half my running wasn’t really consistent and I just ran when I had time but there wasn’t any structure or plan. I would run one or two days a week for a few months and then give up for one of many reasons with the major one being not finding a guide which is more essential to me than a pair of running shoes would be to the average runner as I can’t run without a guide.
From March to June 2014 I managed to run an average of 3 days per week and completed the Cork city Half Marathon in June.
When setting out my New Year’s resolutions back in January 2014 I didn’t have any desire to compete in anything longer than the Half Marathon but because it went so well I began to wonder and think wouldn’t it be great if I could run a full Marathon. I put the thought to the back of my mind but in July I began thinking the same thought again and then decided I am going to do it – I am going to do a Marathon and in doing so use it to fundraise for a charity.
I made the decision without really knowing the: ‘how’ part and I didn’t really know how hard it would be or how time consuming the training would be. All I knew was the why of why I wanted to do it and the ‘why’ was because I wanted to help others by doing it for charity and I wanted to do it to raise awareness and increase the visibility of runners with sight impairment.
I told myself once I do the marathon the running bug will be out of my system and I won’t have any craving to do any further running. I did the Dublin marathon in October 2014. Looking back over the last four months I have achieved a lot in my running journey in a short space of time.
In October 2014 I completed the Dublin Marathon and unexpectedly became the first ‘female’ visually impaired finisher on record.
In November 2014 I was fortunate to have the opportunity to meet some of the greatest Irish runners of all time namely Sonia O’Sullivan, Catriona McKiernan and John Treacy.
In December I did my 2nd Half Marathon and to my surprise I managed to knock 5mins off my time from June.
At the end of last month I did my first 5k where I met the inspirational Rob Heffernan.
This month (January) I had the opportunity to visit the Human Performance Lab in Trinity College and took part in some physiological testing similar to what the elite athletes would undergo and I’m hoping that these results will help me to get a better understanding of what I need to do to help get myself fitter as it should help to make my time more productive.
I have also been nominated in the ‘Outsider Magazine People of the Year Awards’ which takes place later this month.
I’m now training for a big goal next month with John O’Regan, ultra-runner – the 50k National Championships.
Later in the year I plan on doing something very big which will really test my mental and physical fitness so watch this space. It will be with ultra-runner John O’Regan.
All will be revealed later in the year but in the meantime I am doing gym training at No.17 Personal Training http://www.no17pt.com/
Last weekend, I completed my first parkrun with John O’Regan at Griffeen Valley, Dublin. It was a frosty morning and the paths were slippy in parts but a good challenge for me. It was a 5k run.
In a short space of time I have achieved a lot in running more than I could have imagined. What I have learnt over the last number of months is that my running journey is going from strength to strength because of hard work, determination and being around people who are encouraging to me. What I love about running is that the definition of being a “runner” is simple. If you run, you are a runner. It does not matter how fast or far you go; it does not matter how often you run; it does not matter how old you are; and it certainly does not matter what you look like. Runners come in all shapes and sizes. I think as a new runner, at least for me this is encouraging to see. You don’t have to have a perfect runners body to achieve greatness. You need to have patience, endurance, and perseverance no matter what size you are. Whether we are running alone or with friends, the entire running community uplifts one another.
I have decided to keep improving in running that I will no longer tell myself the following:
- I am so slow!!
- I’m not good enough to run with the real runners.
- I can’t do this!
- I’m not improving fast enough.
I need to remember that being a runner isn’t determined by how many medals you have or how fast you finish a race. Being a runner is about me. Doing things and accomplishing goals and feeling good about myself on my time.
In 2015 I am looking forward to the changes I will see and the challenge of listening to and learning from my body. If you would have told me a year ago that I would achieved such things I would never have believed you. Running really snuck up on me. I had modest aspirations and didn’t really care if I was great at running. I just wanted to show that I could do it. Now I want to push my body and mind to see what they are capable of and I want to show people my ability despite my disability and that I can run just like everyone one else with just a bit of help and kindness from others.
In the coming months I will be featured in a documentary about my preparation before the Dublin marathon. I will keep you all updated as to when this documentary will be on our TV screens.
Life has a unique path laid out for all of us. Accept wherever the road will take you, and RUN WITH IT!!
In July 2014 I decided to run the Dublin marathon. Last January when I made my New Year’s resolutions I never had any gaol to run a marathon. My only goal regarding running was to complete the June half marathon in Cork in June 2014 because I was meant to do the Dublin half marathon in September 2013 but because of dehydration a few days before the half marathon I couldn’t do the race. I did the half marathon in June and I thought to myself this is good I have completed my goal then at the beginning of July I started thinking to myself how it would be nice to see more visually impaired runners in running. I was the only visually impaired runner in the Cork half marathon. Also it had been on my mind how Childline were low on fundraising because of the scandels that have gone on with charities over the last year and so I just said to myself one day in July – do you know what I will do the Dublin marathon. Hence, not a lot of thought went into actually making the decision. I suppose if I had of foreseen all the obstacles then that I have encountered I don’t know would I be as enthusiastic about doing the marathon. I suppose I was naïve. I thought I would get a guide straight away. I didn’t. My running guide from the half marathon in June said he wouldn’t be around during the summer to train and he said he may not be around in October hence that was him out. Ironically, though at the end of September this same guide came back on board and it is him who I am running the Dublin marathon with. However in July when I thought my current guide wasn’t available I was looking for other guides nobody from the running community in Cork came forward which was very disheartening. I suppose I am a person who gives a lot. I do ALOT of charity work and so I just assumed other people would be like me and would be charitable and be willing to give their time. I then went on a local radio station to seek a guide and still no one came forward. I then took to twitter at the end of July and a guy came forward but he was based in Dublin. Hence, this will show you how determined and hard working I am – I was travelling up on the train each week in August for 3 hours up on the train to do a 2hour run to then go back to Cork on the train for another 3 hours – in total 6 hours travelling for a 2 – 3 hour run. To me this is sad that no guide in Cork would offer their services. I then had people promise me that they would get their friends to get me guides – the same people never followed through on their promise.
There has been male blind runners run the Dublin marathon before but when I rang the marathon office in July and spoke with Carol she told me that the marathon office has no record of any female legally blind runner. I think there is definitely a ‘failure’ somewhere along the lines – why am I the only female legally blind runner to go on record to run the Dublin marathon?? Is it because the government isn’t doing enough to include people with disabilities in sport? Is it because organisations aren’t doing enough? Is it because communities aren’t willing to source guides for visually impaired people? Or is because visually impaired runners themselves are just too lazy to train and participate? Whatever the answer I think my story highlights ‘exclusion’ that people with disabilities face. In 2014 that there is only one female legally blind runner participating in the Dublin marathon – to me there is something seriously wrong about that. Some people feel I shouldn’t talk about the ‘exclusion’ and system failures but if I don’t talk up then who will. The bottom line is that if more was done by government, communities and visually impaired people themselves then I wouldn’t be the only female legally blind runner standing on the start line for the Dublin marathon. It is great that male blind runner have gone before me and done the Dublin marathon. It is great that there is another runner participating in the Dublin marathon named Tom Briggs who is doing the Dublin marathon this year. But for me I want to see more than just 1 female and 1 male visually impaired runner. I hope that this time next year when people line up to do the Dublin marathon that there will be a lot more than 2 visually impaired runners – 1 male and 1 female.
I hope by doing this marathon that good will come from it that:
1) that I will reach my 3,000euro target for Childline
2) that more guides will come forward to allow more visually impaired people to train and participate in more races.
The job search is stressful. It can be tiring and mentally challenging. It can result in anxiety and even feelings of depression. It is important to minimise risks to your health when job hunting. I hope my tips below can help you stay healthy while searching for a new job.
- Keep it simple
Simple actions everyday can improve mental wellbeing. Try smiling more throughout the day or taking a stroll in your local park and appreciating its beauty. Small things can be rewarding and help you appreciate what matters to you.
- Keep moving
Physical and mental health is inextricably linked. Regular exercise can improve confidence and even your mood.
- Get your nutrients
Eating a balanced diet that contains enough of the nutrients your body needs can decrease your risk of many diseases and health problems. You will also have more energy, better overall health, and better chances of successful weight management.
- Make a plan
Planning how you intend to approach your job search will help immensely.
Break the tasks up into small manageable chunks and set a time limit to restrict how much time you will commit to job search each day. Fix a time limit that will suit the time you have available.
- Enjoy the little things
Don’t pin your contentment on one-off treats like holidays. Or even if you don’t get the job that you applied for it isn’t the end of the world. When job hunting try to find happiness not by pinning all your hopes on a job offer but by engaging in activities that provide small and frequent boosts such as a regular exercise class or going out dancing once a week. This in turn will improve your mental wellbeing.
- Love your friends
When job hunting your friends can provide vital support. We are social creatures and crave contact, support, and comfort from friends. Having close friendships will help maintain well-being.
- Energy Levels
Job hunting can take up a lot of energy especially if your trying to raise a family and/or run a household. It is important to not ‘burn out’ in the search for a job. When energy decreases mood swings happen. The best ways to maintain steady moods is to keep energy levels stable. So don’t skip meals and keep yourself fuelled with: ‘slow release foods’ such as wholegrains, nuts, and seeds. It is also vital for energy levels that you get enough sleep. A good night’s sleep makes you feel energized and alert the next day. When you wake up feeling refreshed, use that energy to get out into the daylight, do active things, and be engaged in the world.
- Do something different
What makes job hunting boring is the same routine day in day out of searching newspapers for jobs, writing cover letters, and posting letters. To help you from feeling the bored factor then do something different each day. Even if it’s something small. By adding mixture to each day creates variety and in turn decreases the chances of the job search being viewed as a chore. For example, you could keep your mind active each day by doing brain exercises that challenge the mind. Doing brain exercises will not only add variety to your day but will help your mind become focused and disciplined when trying to apply for jobs.
- Reduce Stress:
Easier said than done. Spend 30 minutes a day doing something you like. (i.e; walk on the beach or in a park; read a good book; visit a friend; play with your baby; listen to soothing music; watch a funny movie. Get a massage, a facial or a haircut. Meditate. Count to ten before losing your temper or getting aggravated. Avoid difficult people where possible. You could also uplift and balance your mood by adding six to eight drops of orange essential oil into warm water in an aromatherapy diffuser.
- Don’t smoke
Most of you already know this, but it bears repeating because smoking significantly weakens your immune system.