My Trip to Ireland Part Dhá ~ Aer Lingus

Now that I’m back and recovered it’s time for the whole recap and nothing but the recap of my latest adventure.  For this post I will cover the second part of my trip to Ireland.

I arrived in Chicago with a three hour layover.  One of my biggest fears was the possibility of losing my luggage, but with a three hour layover you would think that there would be plenty of time to get my bag from one plane to the next.  One would think.

In an earlier post I spoke about wanting to experience Ireland…including air flight.  I decided to try the Irish airline Aer Lingus that is now owned by British Airways.  Admittedly the reservation process wasn’t especially easy.  I tried to book my flight through the website, which also wasn’t easy and ended up having to call anyway because the order wouldn’t submit online.  I got the confirmation email but when I checked my account it said it wasn’t booked.  After holding for about 30 minutes a nice Irish lass helped me out and the ticket was booked.  The flight ended up being smooth sailing.  The flight attendants were friendly and the aircraft wasn’t packed.  The only criticism I had was the metal box that took up half of my leg space and was a little cramped.  The flight took about 6-1/2 hours before landing in Dublin.

If you have traveled to a foreign country before you know you just don’t get off the plane, collect the baggage and hail the taxi.  There is a process for foreigners and it usually involves very long lines.  I had forgotten how it felt when you get to customs and nationals fly right through the lines and everyone else is in a very long line for passport check.  Even though the line was long it moved very quickly and I was on my way!  Now to collect my bag.

I go to the baggage claim and patiently wait for my bag.  I’m sure everyone has experienced the nervousness of watching others pick up their bags while you wait for yours.  There I sat and waited as the bags got less and less.  Finally, I came to the bad realization that my bag wasn’t coming.  Trying to placate myself I went to other turnstiles to see if MAYBE something got messed up.  No, the realization finally hit me that my bag didn’t show up.  Somewhat frantically, I walk over to the baggage information center and filled out my claim.  They were very nice and I told the attendant that it was very important I got my bag because I was running the race in two days.  She found out that the bag was still in Chicago (really Chicago) and that it may be here tomorrow but technically they have 72 hours to get it to me. 72 hours!  Uh, no.  I need my bag.  I will admit panic started to take over.  There I was in Dublin Ireland with the clothes on my back, a toothbrush (thank God) and a pack of Doritos.  All my running gear (and clothes) were in my suitcase.  There was nothing more to do but wait and hope that my suitcase got to me on time.

I exited the terminal to find my friend, Diane who would be meeting me for the trip.  After a lot of Facebook IMing we finally found each other and were ready for our Ireland adventure to begin.  We hailed a taxi that took us to our first stop the Hilton at Charlemont.  I chose this hotel for two reasons 1) it was close to the start line for the marathon and 2) you pretty much know what you’re getting with a Hilton.  The hotel was great and reasonably priced.  Best of all I could walk to the start line.

Once settled in the hotel it was time to go to the marathon Expo and check in.  I had some important decisions to make.  If there was a possibility that my bag didn’t come in I would have to buy all new gear at the Expo. I had two days before the marathon and a scheduled tour the next day, so there wouldn’t be any time to go buy gear.  I made the decision to buy all new gear at the Expo.  When I say all, I mean shoes, clothes, underwear, and sports bra – the whole shebang.  I had trained so hard and had come so far that I couldn’t take the chance that I might not have my stuff.  The silver lining to all of this is I bought….more shoes.  This time the Hoka brand.  There were no Brooks or Asics to be found.  So Hokas it is…  I liked them…a lot but I didn’t want to run the race in new shoes.


Signing my mother’s name, Karen Dennis, on the dedication board.

My friend Diane enjoying the expo with me.

Woke up the next morning and no bag.  Trying to put that aside it was time for a little Irish sightseeing.  We booked a trip to take us to the Wicklow Mountains and Kilkenny.  Once out of Dublin, we traveled to the Glendalough Monastic Site originally built in the 6th century by St. Kevin.  It truly was a beautiful placae in the Wicklow Mountains with streams, trails and ruins.  It was truly beautiful.  Here are a few pictures.

My favorite photo.
































I just love all that Irish green.  Happy Miles to You!!

My Trip to Ireland ~ The Plane Ride Part Uno

Thank goodness I got to the airport on time. Checked in with no issues. To fly to Ireland all you need is your passport. Upon checking in I was able to upgrade to economy plus. I figure this is a great option to give me a little more leg room. I was only able to do it from Phoenix to Chicago so here’s hoping that I will get to do it on the flight to Dublin. 
I get to my gate and have about an one and half hours to spare. This isn’t the biggest part of the airport so the food offerings wear a little slim. There was a coffee shop, Wendy’s, and a bar. Guess which one I picked? The coffee shop. I was good too! I had a banana, some bad cheese that tasted like something from an expieremental project (I may regret that later) and some hard boiled eggs. I take my treasures and find an empty seat near my gate. Flying is always interesting. Sit back, people watch and listen to those who talk extremely loud. You can always tell the bs crowd too…just chatting about everything and nothing. Continue to eat my snack when a lady with a stroller decided to spike her garbage in the trash can so hard waking the guy sitting next to it. I guess she didn’t like her fake cheese either. 

After finishing my snack I decide to stroll around. I forgot to bring my little note pad so I thought maybe I’d pick one up in the “News Stand”. Yeah, no dice just dried fruit snacks and Maxxim magazine. Bathroom break..hey do you tip the person cleaning the bathroom? Sometimes I do. Then back to a seat and wait on boarding. 

I get to the gate to find everyone lining up. Ah, the boarding cluster has begun. I’m just looking at everybody. I love the people who shoot up out of their seats when it’s not their group’s turn. Somehow snaking around and getting in line is going to make this pony ride more enjoyable. I’m sitting and there are people standing in front of me for group three. It’s 11 am and I’m already a little tired. There is this young kid, I don’t know, maybe just graduated college. Young. He yells out “hey dude what seat ya in?” Dude says, “oh man, I’m in row 34 brah!” Dude 1 yells, “oh dude, I’m in row 35. I guess we’re not sitting together!” Yeah brah that’s what that means. Then the lady sitting next to me says, I’m in row 34… I just look at her, no words. Now compound that with the worst morning breath I have ever smelled every time Dude 1 opened his mouth. This has all the makings of quite the party. 

On the plane, I always say a little prayer before we take off. Yes, I’m one of those. Maybe a few Hail Mary’s and a quick scan of my sector. I start as I enter the plane and give everybody a good look in the eye. I want them to know if there are any in flight shenanigans I will be at your seat!  

Loving the extra leg room, money well spent and I’m by the exit door, just how I like it. Stewardess comes by and asks can I perform the exit row duties. Yes. Yes, I can ma’am. 

I did buy something to eat on the plane. There were quite a few choices and the protein box caught my eye. Of course when the flight attendant gets there, I find that lunch item has been discontinued. I opted for the Tapas box. Not bad, it had nuts, fruit, crackers hummus and a cup of coffee. 

Another flying time favorite is post meal potty breaks. Yep, you know what I mean. People have been eating and drinking for at least an hour and now 150 people need to migrate to the back of the plane to use those two flying outhouses. I affectionately call this the “lean and turn”. You lean over in your seat and casually turn to look at the back of the plane to see 1) how far of a perp walk you have and 2) is there a line. You never thought 10 rows looked so far. Especially when everybody else is watching you make your way to the back of the plane. Or perhaps you like the “stand and stretch”. Stand up and act like you are stretching, maybe even checking your overhead bin and causally look back to see…repeat one and two. And by this time there are definitely those who need to make it to the back of the plane STAT, as all those delightful smells start permeating this giant metal flying tube.  

Mileage Recap ~ Week 15 Dublin Marathon Training

I ran out of time so now I am blogging on the road. I will do my best to keep spelling errors and poor grammar down to a minimum. I can’t promise though as I’m using my iPad. 

I finally made it!  I am sitting in the Chicago International Airport as I write eating some really bad chicken teriyaki.  I’m ready to go and run for the most part.

There is the shoe story too. I feel like I didn’t find the right sort of shoe this time around. I went from a full size shoe to two different brands that I thought were good for me. But both seem to be less than stellar. Or it could be that I was doing a lot of pounding and my feet have had enough. 

So the running shoe story goes like this. I don’t like my Nikes and I really don’t care for the Asics I bought. I also am not someone who has tons of shoes either. So the fact that I have three pair at the moment with two being new is fairly large for me. I started off with the Asics. Went to a store they watched me run and fit me with a shoe. I’m used to wearing Brooks  shoes. For me it’s all about the toe box. I have long toes and I need room. The first pair of Asics were a full size larger. This was the first time I have ever gone up a full size. When I was running in Belleville I went to this great family owned store called Toolens. It’s owned by a gentleman who is in his eighties and has been running all his life. He knows what he is doing and he fit me for about 3 1/2 years. He never suggested going up a full size. The purpose of going up a full size is your feet tend to swell. This is true, they do but I have never had my feet swell that much. I also never really experienced foot pain like I did this time around. I think it comes down to personal preference. So although I started with a full size larger I went down to half size larger for the next pair. 

The Nikes

I’ll be straight forward I don’t like Nikes. I find them too narrow  and I have never had enough toe room. When I went to buy a new pair of shoes I tried a different store that was recommended. They didn’t carry Brooks. Matter of fact it seemed like they didn’t carry too much at all. I tried on a couple of shoes and Nikes were one of the suggestions. They were the last pair I tried on but after all was said and done they had the best toe room so I walked with those. They are the black ones in the picture. A little too plain for me too! Ran with those for a bit and really started experiencing inner arch pain and I lost the typical two toenails faster than I had before. I felt that these shoes were not doing what I needed them to do so off to the store to buy something better. In my humble opinion you can skimp on the clothes but your shoes should be of good quality. There are some good buys out there that don’t break the bank. You don’t have to go walking away with 200$ shoes. 
I did some research on stability shoes with good arch support. And of course Brooks was in the top 10. I thought there was a Brooks outlet store close by but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. I get there and it’s all Asics baby! Ugh. I walk in and begin the process of trying on some shoes. I don’t hate Asics but at this point in the training I didn’t have time to order shoes. So I walked out of there with some Asic Gel Nimbus. I also love how they make “years” in running shoes. Like, “this is a 2016” almost comparable to a car. To make you feel like yeah…. You’re getting last years model. Boy, somebody in the shoe industry is very very smart. 
I started running in these and they’re ok. I’m not sold but it is what it is. At this point I’m not sure what shoes I will be running in. 

I don’t have my mileage calculations in front of me. Will just have to wait until I get home.  I will be blogging through this journey.  Happy Miles to You!!

Mileage Recap ~ 10 – 15 Oct…Week 14 Training – Keep Calm And Go Irish

It’s hard to believe that in a week I will be in Ireland.  Roughly 10 months ago on a whim I decided that I would run the Dublin Marathon for my 50th birthday.  Thus began 8 months of training that will end next Sunday, 20 October.  While I was doing my initial planning I had to decide if I would run the race at the beginning of my trip then tour the country or at the end. To me it was an easy answer…beginning.  I wanted to be able to enjoy myself while traveling and this means being able to eat what I want, when I want.  If I toured first then tried to run the race I imagine that would have been 1) boring and 2) a big ‘ol mess. So, I opted to run first then enjoy myself later.

I believe my biggest hurdles are acclimation and sleep.  Anyone that has gone to a foreign country knows it takes a bit to adjust to the time change and I won’t really have enough time, only two days.  I have made peace with that fact that this may be…harder than I thought.  Meaning, this is going to be harder than I thought.

I searched the inter-webs and came across How to Adjust to Moving to A New Timezone – Bekins

Some take ways:

Before the flight

1. Slowly adapt to the new sleeping schedule.

Ok. I did think about this one, but my favorite line states (…a month or two weeks before) uhhhh ain’t nobody got time for that!  The article suggests changing your sleeping habits 15 minutes at a time.  I think I will give this a go for as much as I possibly can.

2. Rest for three days before you leave.

Ok.  Cats/house you’re on your own – peace out!

3. Cut back on alcohol, caffeine, and sugar before you leave.

What that he**!!  Do you not know it’s October Fest and almost Halloween????!!!  I have already bought my candy, and yes I have to sample!!

4. Drink plenty of water.

Done and done…I live in the desert.

During the Flight

1. Drink some more water.

If there is one thing I hate is having to go to the bathroom on the plane.  I’m not kidding either.  Transatlantic is the worst.  I’m tiny and I can barely fit in that tube – but I will have to do it because the flight is about 7 hours… drink water I shall!

2. Sleep or stay awake (depending on arrival time).

Oh don’t worry…I will.  Someone has to keep an eye out for shenanigans.

3. Reset your watch.

But it’s so much more fun if I didn’t…no?

After the Flight

1. Go to bed or eat breakfast (depending on arrival time).

I’ll be arriving in the morning, so eating it is…which there is never an issue.

2. Use melatonin.

Baaawwwwaaaawwwaa!  Nice!  I have the system of a horse, melatonin won’t help this gal cut some ZZzzzzs.

We’ll, there you have it ~ Important information about time change and travel.  I will do my best to make the transition as painless as possible.

My week 14 training was very much welcomed.  Time to start focusing on resting the body a bit and my long run was only 9 miles!  Hallelujah!  For the most part feeling ok.  I’m not at 100% on feeling great and there are some aches and pains.  Most runners will read that line and say “when are there not”, but it is possible to run with minimal pain.  There is going to have to be an in-depth after action review on this marathon and my training when it’s all said and done.  But like they say ~ the train has left the station, hop on board!

This weeks mileage came to 22.81.  I have 6386.71 miles gratefully remaining.  Happy Miles to You!!

There’s an Irish party in third class!!

Mileage Recap ~ 1 – 8 October…”If you do not sow in the spring, you will not reap in the autumn – ~ Irish Proverb

My week 13 marathon training plan calls for a long run of 20 miles before the taper period begins.  When I trained for the Saint Louis Rock and Roll Marathon in 2013, I fell short of the 20 mile mark by 3 – 4 miles.  I’ll be honest, I thought I had mapped it out, but I think my training week timing/calculating was off a bit and I just didn’t have time to finish or make it up and I never ran the 20 mile training run required in the plan before the actual marathon.  I was determined this time around not to deviate from the longer runs.  Things happen such as injuries and life but I really wanted to at least complete these longer runs this time around.  I was looking for an appropriate quote to fit this run and I couldn’t believe I found the one I placed in the title.  The story goes like this….

There is no doubt that this time around has been a little tougher to train for a marathon.  I just seemed to have some things working against me that I’ve made note of and will try to improve next time.  (Yes, I plan to do another one)  Some things you just can’t change, like the environment.  It was very important to me that I complete the majority of the runs outside, which I did.  There were a few smaller runs that I completed on the treadmill at the gym, but mostly to give my feet a break.  But I’m happy to say 99% were out in this hot-assed weather!  Not carrying that around as a badge of honor, but let’s be for reals ~ it wasn’t no picnic.  I was lucky the 20 mile long run took place in October where there was a little bit of relief.

Pain and recovery ~ I had a lot of little pains this time around.  Started off with the resurgence of the calf-injury, then the right leg pain and finally the feet.  The physical therapy did help, but also brought about things that needed to be tidied up and addressed.  Of course there is always the time factor, which there seems to never be enough.  I feel that I did well in this training, but I always feel I could have done a little more.  A little older and a little slower….but still ready to keep going forward and achieve this goal.

This weeks run was a pretty good one.  I woke up with a bit of a headache and I won’t lie I did think to put it off until Wednesday.  I ran on Sunday this time because the race will be on Sunday October 29th.  But the first thing I said to myself was “pay now or pay later“. With that I rolled out of bed at 4:15.  When I started off it was chilly (that never seems to last long) clear with no wind.  One thing I need to work on is my warm up, meaning I could do more and better.  I think I don’t like wasting time with the warm up.  Just ready to get this party started.  Not really sure why though, because it seems to take me until mile 5 to start feeling “it” so a proper warm up would be a good thing.  I opted for gel blocks, a couple of Stinger™ gels, and some banana chips for my fueling.  I’m not a big eater before a run or during.  Had my…you guessed it…Eggos™, a cup of coffee and tried to chew down a fourth of a left over power bar for breakfast.  I make good meals after, but the before might be due for an upgrade.  Any way I felt fine.  Around mile 4 or 5 I was feeling pretty good – or maybe that’s when the Aleve™ kicked in ~ pretty sure that’s what it was.  The right foot started hurting early on – pinching – and I adjusted my stride and was feeling good and running pretty steady.  Around mile 15 I just decided that I wasn’t going to run past some of the same houses – again.  I literally was like – uh no.  “Pay now or pay later“.  I can’t stand to see this same route for the 3rd time today! So, I mixed it up and ran around the field at the park while people were playing cricket.  With one eye on the ball and the other on mud puddles from over watering – it wasn’t pleasant and I canned that after three times around.  Then I decided to run up this other road that circles the back of the neighborhood.  It has a pretty steep hill “pay now or pay later“……………………………………yeah that sucked, I won’t lie, but I did it.  Oh this was nice too, while I was running up this hill I was already at mile 19 – I’m telling you this so I don’t feel too bad.  There was this guy and his kid riding bikes on the road up the hill while I was running on the sidewalk.  This is a steep hill.  I remember riding up this once and it wasn’t easy.  I was impressed this little kid was attempting this hill.  So, here I am shuffling along and what looks to be a 7-year-old kid passes me on his little bike that I think he just took the training wheels off.  Yeah, good times.  But, hey what do I care, that Garmin™ buzzed on my arm and I was like ~

Eat that!!!

Yeah baby – 20 done and done!  My average pace was about 13.37.

So, what does the quote and my saying have to do with anything?  I thought it funny, because there were a lot of times I was just like man…this is tough…but I would tell myself “pay now or pay later” every time I started to feel a little overwhelmed.  I was looking for snappy Irish sayings and “If you do not sow in the spring you will not reap in the autumn”  popped up ~ “pay now or pay later“.  I want to reap on 29 October – so I paid now.  Overall I completed 35.87 miles for the week.  Let the taper begin!!  So happy to just say I have a 9 mile long run this week.  Despite the drawbacks, I am enjoying the process and forever grateful.  There are 6409.52 miles waiting in my journey.  I can’t wait to be listening to music like this live!

Happy Miles to You!!

Mileage Recap ~ 25 – 30 Sept…”Your Feet Will Take You Where Your Heart Is” – Irish Proverb

Week 12 Dublin Marathon training is complete.

It’s hard to believe that October is here and my race is in less than a month.  I can remember just thinking about it as something that I wanted to just do, now it’s coming to pass.  I’m looking forward to it, but I don’t think I’ve reached the point of excitement just quite yet.  I’m excited ~ but not crazy excited.

One of the neat things about running this race is I am “meeting” different runners through Instagram who are running the same race.  I get to see their progress and the different types of training they’re doing to get ready.  Even funnier there is this one gal I follow and she is from Dublin and she will be traveling to run the NYC marathon on November 5th.  I’m going to Ireland and she is coming to NYC.  She is doing really well with her training and looks fabulous. It’s fun, almost like an electronic pen pal.  If you want to follow me on Instagram, it’s #11315miles.

It’s also been fun watching my running friends complete their marathons.  I love the bib tracking.  It’s almost like being there watching the race.  You can get notifications sent to your phone so even if you can’t “be” there physically, you can spiritually!  Lots of fun and I would suggest doing it to show your runner support.

This weeks training was fairly decent.  I’m on schedule and I can really feel myself getting stronger as a runner.  In other words the training is paying off.  I feel I could be a little bit stronger.  The training this time around has proven to be a little more difficult than in the past.  As I typed that sentence I was like…uh what?  Yeah, sometimes you don’t see the results you hoped.  Or maybe it’s the dreaded “A” word.  Never!  I refuse to say it’s age!  One thing for certain is it was just harder this time around.

The shorter runs were really good this week.  I had a steady pace around 11:21 and my breathing felt strong with no stopping.  This week’s long run called for 18 miles.  The first half of the run was really, really good.  I didn’t stop for a break and ran straight through for 12 before I started slowing down.  It’s funny to see the metrics on my Garmin because it shows where it went to crap.  What did me in was the foot pain. This time both feet.  Foot pain led to sporadic breathing that led to some upper back pain.   I would have to double over a bit every now and then just to stretch the back out.  I bet some people driving thought I was nuts.  It’s the damn shoes,so I bought new ones today.  Definitely its own blog post.  My arches were hurting so bad that I just couldn’t wait to sit down and rub them and get some relief.  I wasn’t going to be denied any miles so I kept on going.  I completed 18 miles with an average pace of 13:26.  Not sexy, but I did finish and that means more than my pace…at the moment.  One more long run then the taper begins!  Which means no more really long runs until the actual marathon.  I feel I need to have a taper party!!  I finished 32.66 for the week bringing the monthly total to 132.72 miles.  I have 6445.39 miles left on my mileage journey and I’m “feelin good”.  Happy Miles to You!!


Mileage Recap ~ 18 – 24 Sept…”There Is No Luck Except Where There is Discipline”

I love that opening quote.  So many times I hear people say, I just got lucky, to explain their accomplishments.  They got lucky on a testgetting a certain job or any other positive event in life.

The definition of luck ~ success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions.  I guess you could argue there is luck in some things, like being in the right place at the right time or meeting someone by chance and winning the lottery.  But I think most “wins” in life are a conglomeration of little steps that brought you to that final “lucky” place.  So the Irish saying (Yes it’s Irish) in the title, “There is no luck except where there is discipline” just proves my point (or so I like to think:-) )through hard work and discipline…things happen.  Luck, really has nothing to do with it.  What does this have to do with this weeks running mileage recap?  Well, this week was tough for me mentally when it came to my long run.  The running schedule called for 17 miles and I r-e-a-l-l-y didn’t feel like running.  I’m tired of the heat, the nasty gels, the electrolytes, before workout products, recovery protein, my feet hurt and oh by the way I’ve already lost two toenails – WAY before the normal nail losing process.  I lose the same two every long run event, but normally after it’s done.

I know quit whining…right?  I just didn’t want to do it.  But, I got up at 4:30 am and went through the pre-run ritual and was out the door around 5:45.  It wasn’t luck that was going to take me to the end, it was going to be discipline.  Discipline to get up and do what needs to be done to reach the end goal.  This goal just happens to be the Dublin Marathon…and I’m not that lucky.  I had a guy tell me one time that he just went and ran a marathon, no training – just did it.  News flash  ***There will always be people, better then you***.  In everything you do, so know yourself and just get used to that fact.  With all things in life, for most of us, discipline is the key to your version of winning.

I kept mulling it over in my mind that any time I feel like this, it may be a good day!  For the most part the long run was a good run.  The temperature was 66 when I started and I ran that first 10 miles easy with a break for water, some dried banana chips, and a gel.  Got back out on the road and two miles in my stomach felt a little queasy (thank you gel) but that feeling quickly went away.  The next five miles were good, but a little slower.  My feet started to hurt a bit and I actually thought about quitting and finishing up at the gym.  I kept going and the last two miles were difficult.  My breathing was good – but I’m still dealing with the arch pain in my feet.  Not a good sign with brand new shoes (another post).  When my legs and feet starting hurting I focused on using my core and hip swing that does amazing things for the pain in the lower body.  I swung by the house before the last two miles and had some water.  Needless-to-say I had too much water….sigh another lesson learned (many times before – ha!).  Need to watch how you consume. So at mile 16 I was doing the sprint home!  All ended well and I got it done.  Discipline.  My average pace this time around was 13:05.  Hey, I own that pace.  I ended with 32.94 miles for the week that brings the monthly total to 100.06 so far.  I find this song was appropriate for this week.  One of my favorite Irish bands.  On the playlist for sure.  With all the aches and pains that “Linger” I continue on with 6478.05 gratefully remaining.

Happy Miles to You!!!