Hazelbank Christmas Run

Two days ago I had no intention of running a race today, yet here I am on Christmas Eve just after finishing a 5-Miler along the shores of Belfast Lough dressed up as Santa … and ending up with two medals to boot!

The race itself was the Hazelbank Christmas Run, organised by Leg-It Events – a Northern Ireland based company that host a variety of runs aimed at runners, walkers and families.

Today’s event, given the time of year, had a festive theme hence the Santa gear. I went to the race with Grace, Kim and Bronagh from the club who also, thankfully, donned costumes for the occasion. At least I wasn’t the only odd looking one, a fair few others dressed up too, it was nice to see so many enter into the spirit of the thing.

My suit wasn’t of the highest quality and after being already worn on Tuesday night for the club run had started to fray in, ahem, certain inappropriate places … so some discreet adjustments needed to be made in order to keep me on the right side of the law!

As I said, this was a 5-mile race. It started from Hazelbank Park in Newtownabbey and, after a loop around a bit of the park, hugged the coast road in the general direction of the Ulster University Jordanstown campus before turning to come back to the start/finish line.

The first couple of miles were grand, we had the wind at our backs for most of it which helped blow us along … then we turned at just after the halfway point into a beast of a headwind. I was already hot and bothered by that stage – it’s bloody warm running in full Santa regalia! – but when the wind caught my coat it acted like a sail which meant I had to work even harder to keep going.

It was difficult, but it was fun. The encouragement from the passing motorists and from my running companions made it an enjoyable outing. I’ll admit I struggled a bit during the middle portion, but as we entered the last mile I began to find my legs more and felt a lot more comfortable than I had been, I could have gone on for much longer had I needed to which, as always, is encouraging. I’m slow but I can keep plodding away.

Thanks to Bronagh, Kim and Grace for a brilliant morning, for all the laughs and for your great company.

Oh, and how did I end up with two medals? The organisers had advised that those who entered before a certain point would receive a Santa themed medal, whilst those late entries would get a different one but, seemingly, a number of people didn’t turn up so a quantity of both designs still remained so I was given one of each. I’m never one to turn down a bit of bling so I didn’t need to be asked twice!

I’m still 10.8k short of my 50k target for the Run Up To Christmas which means just one thing tomorrow morning … a wee Christmas Day run! Sure, if nothing else, it’ll mean I’ll have earned my dinner.

Run Up To Christmas progress (39.2k)
2nd December – 5k
4th December – 8k
9th December – 2.9k
17th December – 10k
19th December – 5.2k
24th December – 8.1k

Relive my run

 

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Santa Run 2017

Something a bit different tonight – the club Santa Run! That one night of the year when I put on clothes I don’t normally wear and make a fool of myself running around the streets of my hometown.

Oh. Wait.

Anyway, as I said, tonight was Santa Run night. It was my second year doing it, I had fun last year and I had fun this year. Thankfully my trousers stayed up this time!

As always, the purpose of the run is to raise much needed funds for charity, with TinyLife being the beneficiaries this year.

TinyLife are the only premature and vulnerable baby charity in Northern Ireland dedicated to reducing illness, disability and death in babies born too soon, and since my eldest daughter arrived over five weeks early back in the mid-90s and spent the first week or so of her life in a special care unit it was a charity I was only too happy to support.

Because I needed to make up for some lost miles this month (thanks snow and ice) I decided to run up to the meeting point in the town centre (Montgomery’s), whereupon a very pleasant young chap sold me my Santa suit and after chatting and getting the Elf & Safety briefing (Elf? Geddit?) we set off … to walk into the Tower Centre across the road to sing some carols and festive classics with the Ballymena Chamber Orchestra.

That done it was time to go for a wee bit of a run, exiting the shopping centre out onto Wellington Street, up to Broadway, down the full length of Church Street, along Mill Street to the Adair Arms Hotel, group photo on the steps and into the bar for a quick drink!

After that it was back out of the hotel, a return via Lower Mill Street and up Wellington Street for a loop of the town centre (Ballymoney Street, William Street, Broughshane Street), stopping off for a while at the bandstand in the centre of town to sing some more … and then back to Montgomery’s for some food.

All in all, an enjoyable night out and a fantastic £890 raised for charity. As they say in these parts, sure where would ye get it?

I decided to run back home again to squeeze another mile or so into my Run Up To Christmas total … but only after changing out of my Santa suit! It’s one thing dressing up along with 40 or so others but an entirely different proposition doing it on your own!

All told I managed to squeeze in another cheeky 5k and although I still have a bit to do I’m confident of at least reaching the 50k mark on Christmas Day for #RU2C.

Run Up To Christmas progress (31.1k)
2nd December – 5k
4th December – 8k
9th December – 2.9k
17th December – 10k
19th December – 5.2k

Relive my run

Getting going with Galloway

Given the recent inclement weather conditions this was my first run in eight days. It has simply been too treacherous to get out, the freezing snow, slush and ice meant it would have been foolhardy to even attempt it.

Even walking was difficult. If you’re on Facebook you might have stumbled across a video (10m+ views and counting) on the UniLad page of a girl struggling to walk up a path to her house and failing miserably to much hilarity … this video was filmed across the road from me which will give you some idea of just how slippery it has been lately.

Much to my growing frustration I couldn’t get out. The last few days have brought a little hope only for overnight conditions to worsen again until, thankfully, today when some warm rain and increased temperatures finally washed away the not insignificant amounts of black ice scattered around the place.

Of course, this inactivity also led to the same old thoughts entering my head – could I do this again, will I be rubbish, will I give up after a mile or so etc. etc.

I did have a motivating factor in two virtual runs to keep me going. One, the Run Up To Christmas, has been causing quite a stir on Twitter. The minimum qualifying distance to attain by December 25th is 50k but, due to the weather, I was only on 15.9k before today’s run.

The other, via the Virtual Runner UK website, finished today and whilst there was no distance requirements for this one I did want to do one final run for it. Plus the medal was a penguin and anyone who knows me know I love penguins. I wanted this bling!!!

So this double dose of motivation meant I decided to do 10k, a little more than I’ve run lately, but a decent distance in order to get back into it. I wanted to be careful not to injure myself by doing too much too soon so elected to adopt the run/walk/run method as pioneered by Jeff Galloway.

Route wise I improvised … a polite way of saying I had absolutely no idea where I was going. To amuse myself a little I decided to run along roads and paths I haven’t been to before, partly to scout out potential new routes and also because I’m bored of the same old same old.

The run itself was ok. Because I was Jeffing it I knew I wasn’t going to go fast but that was fine, this was just all about getting back out there again. My running portions were faster than normal according to my watch and I felt good during them … so, in that light, I have to report a successful run.

Today’s 10k brings me up to just over halfway in the Run Up To Christmas challenge, I’ve got another week to make up the difference but a couple of 10ks followed by a Christmas Day parkrun will see me over the line.

Run Up To Christmas progress (25.9k)

2nd December – 5k
4th December – 8k
9th December – 2.9k
17th December – 10k

Relive my run