So I was at a bit of a loss as to what I should blog about this week. On Wednesday, I went to the athletics club and did some hill repeats – a great session with four other club members who were much faster than me but were very supportive and encouraging. But I blogged about the joys of athletic club training last week, so I can’t really go there again so soon. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday I had my usual very long, on-my-feet-all-day shifts, so the legs were complaining about being tired and I was tempted to forego my entry to the Operation Transformation 5k. I wouldn’t stay in bed, I’d do my local parkrun so that I still got a run in, but without too much hassle of being up very early, getting parking and all that generally goes with race-day. However, I decided on Friday night that the Phoenix Park was the place to be. I still remember completing my first ever 5k race and what a big deal it was. I felt that there would be plenty of people in the Phoenix Park working really hard to complete 5k, which would have been unthinkable a couple of months ago, and I really wanted to be part of their celebration of fitness and achievement.

There was no hassle getting parking in the Phoenix Park, so I’m glad I didn’t let that put me off. It was lovely to see current and previous Operation Transformation graduates getting ready for their run, enjoying themselves in spite of the wind, rain and cold. There was a great buzz about the place with RTE filming, and the OT team psyching us all up and leading the warm-up. As usual, I ran as best I could. In the beginning, I felt very good, made sure I didn’t go out too fast, but was very happy with my pace. I felt that, if I could keep this up, I would be in for a good time. As we were going down the hill into the valley, with beautiful trees ahead of us in springtime blossom, I thought “I love running in the Phoenix Park” (OK, I confess, I didn’t just think it, I shouted it out). However, I began to struggle a bit after 3k, heading up the only hill on the course – we all know, if you go down a hill, you have to go back up one. But I checked my pace on my watch and was pleasantly surprised – I hadn’t fallen back too much. My mind played roller-coaster over the last 2k, one minute thinking I was going well and might get a PB, the next minute thinking that not only would I not get a PB today, but might never get one again as I’m working so hard each race and don’t feel that I have any more to give. As I neared the finish line, I thought I could get a sub-32, but was just over it. And I started to think about what I was going to take from this race, telling myself “Remember, Teresa, accentuate the positives”. So, I had completed another 5k, had run all the way, had improved my physical and mental fitness, I had stopped when I heard a young lad give a squeal behind me, and went back to see if he was OK (he was), walked with him a bit to encourage him to take it easy and see if he needed company (he didn’t) and still had finished in a very reasonable time. Lots of positives, but not exactly riveting blogging material.

And then I met Paul Sinton-Hewitt! OMG! For those of you who don’t recognise the name, he is the man who invented parkrun. He is the reason that I run either a parkrun or a race every Saturday morning. I had seen this chap before the race and thought “That looks like Paul Sinton-Hewitt. Nah, it couldn’t be”. Then during the warm-up it was announced that indeed, he was here, celebrating the partnership of Operation Transformation with parkrun. And I got to meet him after the run. Now, I confess, I made an absolute show of myself! I was wearing my parkrun 50 T-shirt, but had to let Paul Sinton-Hewitt, CBE, know that I hadn’t just run 50, I had run 78. This is me, Teresa ’78 parkruns’ McCarthy, talking to the man who is wearing a parkrun 250 T-shirt. And I had to tell him that I had volunteered 35 times. I mean, I’m sure he long ago lost count of how many times he’s volunteered. Then I had to tell him how I had encouraged 13 people, friends and family, to their first parkruns. This, to the man who has brought 1,397,428 (and counting) people to run parkrun all over the world. What was I like?? And that’s not all. Paul was with the lovely Daragh Kelly from Marlay parkrun. Daragh very kindly offered to take a photo of me with Paul. Again, much to my embarrassment, I totally neglected to have my photo taken with Daragh too. I must have seemed very rude. All I wanted to do was talk about MY running, and how much I love parkrun. Yap, yap, yap out of me, they couldn’t get a word in edgeways. I even told them about my blog!! The more I think of it, the more mortified I feel! I can only offer to Paul and Daragh an apology for my self-absorption and rudeness. My enthusiasm totally got the better of me and I forgot my manners – I offer this as an explanation, not an excuse. But in spite of my mortification, I’m so delighted that I got to meet them both. parkrun has been a massive influence in my running, and is the reason that I have the confidence to enter so many races that would have otherwise been unthinkable for me.

Then on Saturday evening, I attended my first awards evening for Le Cheile Athletic Club. There were athletes from all elements of the running club, (track and field, mountain running, fit4Life and Seniors). It was lovely to meet fellow athletes (I know, me, an athlete?!) in something other than running gear, but we ended up mostly talking about running anyway! I knew in advance that I was among the nominees for ‘Most Improved Athlete” but what I didn’t know was that all nominees got themselves a medal and certificate. So, while I didn’t win the award (sincere congratulations to all the nominees and winners), I’m absolutely delighted with myself to have a lovely club medal ‘in recognition of my performances throughout 2015”.

So, what started out as a seemingly quiet week of running turned into a really great time (for me, anyway, if not so much for Paul Sinton-Hewitt and Daragh Kelly). I’m having so much fun. Looking forward now to the East Of Ireland 10k in Lusk next Saturday, see if I can improve on my time in Staplestown, wondering (but not worrying about) whether I’ll be last again!

Until then, happy running.

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