Running over the Glens

The Glens of Antrim are in my DNA. My biological male parent is from the area, and I spent many a summer as a young child there, or travelling along the roads to visit my grandparents.

But I have only been back a handful of times since I left primary school, indeed you could comfortably count my visits on the fingers of one hand, and even then it has only been for funerals.

So what in the name of goodness was I doing there this morning, on a cold, foggy Saturday less than 12 hours after running five miles around the my hometown?

Training for the annual Race Over The Glens on New Years’ Day, that’s what!

It’s a staple in the club calendar, like a rite of passage we all have to go through when joining up. It’s the law. Well, almost.

After last night’s run Parveen declared she was still up for going this morning. I hesitated to commit myself there and then although I knew deep down I would … so it was absolutely no surprise to myself that I was standing in pitch darkness at the side of the road shortly after 7am waiting to be collected.

We made our way along the 20-odd mile route to Glenarrif Forest Park to see one other vehicle in the carpark, it was Aidy who was to be our guide for the morning. We were joined soon after by Deborah, Grace and Kim and after a few minutes chatting we started off running … uphill! It was going to be that sort of a morning!

Thankfully it was very gentle. As this was the first time for most, if not all, of us Aidy gave us certain points to run to before we gathered for further instructions.

It was *very* undulating, some of the climbs seemed well nigh impossible to run up but, to be honest, I’d imagine after a few weeks training I can fully see how they could be tackled head on.

I love sprinting up Princes Street at home and whilst most of what I faced today was just as steep they weren’t as long so you never know what I’d do once I find my mountain legs.

There’s not an awful lot to say about today’s route. I knew where I was but, equally, I also hadn’t a clue! It was full of little trail tracks, but not muddy, so it was quite easy to keep my footing although I did have to impersonate a fighter plane (outstretched arms in full flight) when descending in places but it was fun. Lots of fun. And some more fun.

The Glens are, rightfully so, a world famous tourist attraction for their scenic beauty and, my goodness, some of the views this morning were outstanding. Waterfalls everywhere, mountains sweeping down to the sea in the distance, trees, paths, little bridges and huts … it had it all.

My pictures could never do it justice but, hopefully, you get the idea. At one point Aidy held us back just around a corner before inviting us to go round the bend … and, wow!, what a scene awaited us, another waterfull but an absolutely stunning one. A definite photo op!

I surprised myself by how comfortable I found the running, especially on the back of last night’s efforts. I didn’t push myself unduly but even then I was very pleased with my time. As I said earlier, it was a gentle run but given my pace it has left me quite confident that if I exerted myself on race day and, with the benefit of a couple of months training, that I wouldn’t disgrace myself.

What an absolutely amazing morning, what an experience. Totally exhilarating.

Relive my run

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Sound the klaxxon …

… because tonight I achieved a PB! Woo-hoo!

This evening I went out on another training run with three other members of my Belfast Marathon relay team (Karen, Iverene and Parveen), increasing the distance to five miles from last week’s four using a route devised by Judith who, unfortunately, has been ill for the past few days.

It was also my first run with a head torch, which promised to be an interesting experience.

We started off at the Countryman’s Inn, at the very opposite end of the town from me, and set off along the Grove Road which – thankfully – was mostly downhill.

Going onto the Fry’s Road, the downhill continued until we got to the bottom and turned right to go onto the Broughshane Road … and that’s where the fun ended!

We trudged up to the top of the road to the bottom of the Cushendall Road, cut through the Demense Estate onto Thomas Street, down Parkway, did a loop of the little row of houses before turning to go up and up and up the Ballymoney Road!

But, bugger it, we were 400 metres short! So back we turned for 200 metres and then returned to the carpark for a quick lap. That was bizarre enough, but at the end we then did our cool down exercises which I’m sure must have looked absolutely terrifying to anyone passing … all that squatting and stretching in a pub carpark, and not a drop of alcohol amongst us!!!! However, it was a fun end to a fun evening.

I set the pace for most the of the night. That was because I knew the route better than the others so they let me take the lead – it also helped me go at the speed I did, I could feel the others just behind me and it spurred me on, partly because I didn’t want to let them pass me – although I found out later they were following me because they wanted to push themselves, so we sort of worked with each other!

The route was quite challenging in places so I was absolutely delighted at my time. I knew I was on course for a PB going into the last mile or so which was also at the top of the long climb but yet I pushed on and on, finishing quicker than I’d started.

I was very conscious about perhaps pushing the others too hard at this stage but they stuck with me so I was absolutely delighted when it turned out to be a PB for us all. Personally, I took 16 seconds off my previous best 5-mile time. As runs go it’s hard to get much better than that!

Relive my run

Ecos intervals 25.10.17

If it’s Wednesday that must mean intervals training at Ecos!

I thought I’d add a little extra tonight so instead of walking all the way there I decided to run from the top of Suffolk Street into the grounds and then onto the normal starting point.

Except, tonight, the starting point had changed! I knew the parking arrangements had changed but I didn’t pay much attention to that because I wouldn’t be driving. What that meant was that the pre-session warm-up was in a different place even though the actual sessions would be beginning at the same place.

I decided not to join everyone in the warm-up run because I had already done my warm-up getting there in the first place, so I just made my way to the barrier as per normal to prepare for the sessions.

Tonight was 3-3-4-4-3-3 with two minutes active recovery between each split. It seemed a bit daunting and, indeed, I found it tought going at the beginning and even walked for 15-20 seconds during the first four minute run.

However, something kicked in and I actually found the second half easier and more comfortable. I didn’t ease off either, my stats showed that I kept the same pace so it was quite encouraging to maintain my speed throughout.

This was only my third night attending intervals but I’m definitely showing signs of progress.

Next up is a five-mile run on Friday night with my Belfast Marathon relay team, hopefully a more sedate outing than tonight!

Relive my run