I ran two runs/races in the last two weeks; a 5k and a 5 mile. No big deal i know, many runners do that before dinner. But these were two special outings for me. The first was at 4.00 am on a Saturday morning. The wonderful Darkness into Light in Marlay Park.
This run/walk is so full of imagery and meaning for so many people. It takes place at several different centers across the country, over 80 in Ireland, and in many other countries scattered around the globe. The event raises funds for Pieta House, a charity for helping those with suicidal or self harm thoughts or intentions. The event starts off in the dark and ends up in the light as dawn breaks – what beautiful symbolism.
As each of us suffer, and Buddhists tell us that life is suffering, we become more aware of, and sympathetic to, the sufferings of others and so these last few years haven’t been entirely wasted on me. This run was special for me too because my daughters were doing it with their school class. The 3.30 am squeals of delight as the friends spotted each other will remain with me for a long time. One of my stated aims when i started to run was to become fit enough to run a 5k ‘anywhere, anytime’. This proved a good opportunity to test myself. We had travelled to Galway in the west of Ireland, about a 2 hour journey on our new modern motorways, on Friday afternoon for a family event and returned to Dublin that night, hitting the leaba (Irish word for bed) after mid-night, only to rise again at 3.00 am. Anytime, anywhere. Marlay Park was the venue, a beautiful urban park nestling against the Dublin mountains. A park i have ran 5k in many times with the wonderful parkruns. So the ‘where’ wasn’t too challenging but the ‘time’ certainly was. Afterwards, the girls went off with their friends back to the school for a well-earned breakfast and i rewarded myself with a coffee, or two and got ready for my later chauffeuring duties.
There was a lot of light in Marlay Park that morning.
My second scheduled run was to be the Terenure 5 Mile, a timed race in its 31st year, as venerable as many of the participants. I had run it the two years previously and i’ve found you get rather fond of a race after a couple of years – rather like an favourite old pair of boots.
Terenure is a local urban village and it’s always great to get a chance to run through the local streets, especially when they are closed to traffic – with apologies to commuters.
In the week between the two events, i did a bit of training. A few evening runs and a bit of work in the gym. Training is one of my weaknesses, i love the events, the buzz, the challenge, the crowds and the colours, but the training – that’s another thing altogether. Probably one of my weaknesses in life too – love living it but preparing, planning, organizing – how i admire those who are good organisers! So, come Saturday morning i was as ready as i have been in a while. 11.00 am start – how civilized is that? I headed off to Terenure full of excitement, anxiety and weetabix – in equal measures.
The pub at Terenure cross, also known as Vaughan’s Corner is famous as it was the birthplace of James Joyce’s mother, Mary Jane Murray. Joyce, himself, was baptized in the local church, St Joseph’s Church, just around the corner. A nod to the occasional cross-over in these blogs between books and running – if you enjoy both you are truly blessed.
And before we knew it, it was 11.00 am and we were off. I stationed myself behind the 45 minute pacemakers but trailed them after a while. The enjoyment of a run like this is hard to explain, every moment is a pleasure, even when it is pain-filled. You become so aware of your component parts, heart, lungs, legs, feet, and determination – probably the most important part. Because i hadn’t run this distance in a long time i was afraid that i would cave in and walk part of it. Now, you often see people walking part of these runs/races and i only have admiration for them because who can tell where they are on their journey to fitness. I knew though, that if i conceded and walked part of the course, it would be a failing in determination, rather than fitness. They say the mind gives up a hundred times before the body has to – an underestimation in my opinion, they didn’t know my mind, whoever compiled those statistics.
This year, the organisers, who keep getting better even after 30 years, and we already know what i think of great organisers, offered the opportunity to get a word of seven or eight letters printed on your race number. If i didn’t love the Terenure 5 Mile before, i certainly did now – a personalized message on my bib with seven or eight letters to play with. My choice –
– how great is that! The aforementioned daughters weren’t too impressed but i was delighted. I still celebrate being able to run at all having suffered one of those totally debilitating chronic fatigue illnesses in my youth plus, of course, this was to guard against me walking part of the course. How could a man with ‘TEDRUNS’ emblazoned on his chest WALK? Auto-correct has just, rather frighteningly, offered me the alternative, “TRUNDLES” Away big brother, away!
So i ran, even quickened my pace for the last hundred metres or so turning another ten or fifteen runners into a posse and crossing the line at a time of 47:10 and a personal time of 46:10 as it took me a minute to get to the start line in the first place – the wonder of chips and no, that is not product placement or an add for the takeaway. Although refueling was high on my agenda at that stage – after breathing normally again of course.
High on endorphins, i staggered into the Terenure College hall and received a congratulatory cup of tea and faced the longest table of biscuits i have ever seen – another nod to the organisers. Half an hour later, as i left the hall, the tables were bare except for the occasional broken biscuit and a few piles of crumbs – hungry work running a 5 mile. The other 1200 participants had also all feasted well.
More light – this time in Terenure College.
Blessed are they who run for they shall know the frailty of body and spirit and, knowing that, shall embrace life with relish – with another nod to Joyce and Leopold Bloom’s enjoyment of the inner organs of beast and fowl.
Keep active my friends.