My Breakthrough!

I find it hard to believe that I invented the word Phunning back on August 14th ~ just over three months ago now.

Lest you’ve forgotten or didn’t see the post, this was the day I made a commitment to myself to get back to running before it was too late in my life. However, because of a whole wadge of past injuries and illnesses (one of which banjaxed my back for an agonising four years and made walking up the stairs seem like climbing Mount Everest), I decided that I’d have to take it nice and   s  l  o  w  l  y  and have plenty of  fun and photography along the way.

My big ambition was to get to be able to run the Anne Valley Trail that links Dunhill Village here  in Co. Waterford to the stunning ruins of Dunhill Castle that is said to predate even Waterford City itself (and it’s the oldest city in Ireland).

Dunhill Castle, Co. Waterford.
Dunhill Castle, Co. Waterford.

The trail is 2.2km each way so the aim was to do up and back ~ 4.4km. It started with far more walking than running; walk 30 paces, run 10 paces; walk 20 paces, run 20 paces. In the early days, the counting was key!

I’ve been hammering away at this on a fairly consistent basis and have seen the Anne Valley Trail in all weathers, at all hours and move from Summer into Winter.

About two weeks ago now, I went out there on a damp, misty day and started from the castle end. I didn’t even have the camera with me as the vision was dire. I ended up running the whole way to the bottom of Dunhill Village. I was so delighted with myself, I headed up to Harney’s Pub for a snack and found myself in the middle of a pre-wedding gathering at 12.45pm. The wedding was due to take place in the nearby church at 1.30pm.

Dunhill Church, Co. Waterford.
Dunhill Church, Co. Waterford.

Sustained with good coffee and the perfect ham sandwich, I made my way back down to the trail and with thoughts of weddings and romance bobbing around in my head, found myself jogging all the way back.

As you can imagine, I was was pretty stunned and nearly afraid to go out there again in case it had all been a figment of my vivid imagination.

Dunhill Castle of my Mind
Dunhill Castle of my Mind

The great news is that I’ve now run the 4.4km on two separate occasions (without making the detour to the pub.) It feels like a huge thing to me (and it is!) but I realise that it’s a far cry from the marathon I’d really love to run one day.

The wonder of it all was sealed for me the other day when I found that the swans I have long associated with the Anne Valley had come back up-river to where I feel they belong.

Gracefulness
Gracefulness

So, now it’s all about keeping it up and making sure to keep the fun and relaxation built into this personal endeavour.

Little wonders will never cease!

 

Phunning Light

It’s almost two weeks now since I embarked on my quest to get back to running. As you may recall, I’ve designated my approach as Phunning ~ a combination of gentle running and taking a few photographs along the way.

I’m delighted to report that I’ve now had six outings to The Anne Valley Trail in Dunhill and that it seems to be getting shorter by the day.

Yesterday was one of those stressful days with a few fork-in-the-road kind of appointments so I tore out of the house early this morning to find the calm that phunning is now bringing with each stride.

There was a lovely soft light and I found myself doing a lot more running than walking. Among the biggest changes since that first day is that I’ve now stopped counting paces and am letting my body dictate when it wants to stop for for a breather.

Reflections
Reflections

I’ve also reached a point where I’m less likely to stop running just because I see people coming towards me. It’s nice, though, to stop and have a little chat with fellow travellers, like this friendly man this morning:

Anne Valley Trail, Dunhill, Co. Waterford
Anne Valley Trail, Dunhill, Co. Waterford

Dunhill Castle overlooks the Anne Valley Trail and I can’t seem to resist going up there to soak in the history, scenery and tranquility:

Dunhill Castle, Co. Waterford.
Dunhill Castle, Co. Waterford.

It’s fascinating to think that the sea used to come in as far as the Castle and this morning there was a real sense of sea as the wind was coming from that direction and I could hear the waves back the mile and a half or so:

View towards Annestown Beach from Dunhill Castle
View towards Annestown Beach from Dunhill Castle

Within the ruins of the Castle itself, the light danced on the old, thick walls:

Dunhill Castle, Co. Waterford
Dunhill Castle, Co. Waterford

This new exercise regime requires plenty of healthy eating:

Refreshment
Refreshment

There’s no doubt that blogging about Phunning is adding greatly to the experience and I got a great giggle from Roy’s reference to ‘Phogging’ in his latest post and Robin’s comment about ‘Phalking’ in response to my first post on this new madness.

I hope, dear Readers, that you’ll come up with some more thought-provoking words to keep me motivated over the coming weeks!

Come Phunning!

Sign on the Anne Valley Trail, Dunhill, Co. Waterford
Sign on the Anne Valley Trail, Dunhill, Co. Waterford

You’ll have to understand that cinder paths put a spring in my step and you’ll also have to understand a few other things too.

I used to run a lot to build stamina for tennis and have a fiercely competitive streak within myself about times and distances. There’s the little issues, though, of having broken my ankle twice and banjaxed my back in the years since I was running pretty much daily.

My main running started on a wonderful cinder track at the Lourdes Stadium in Drogheda, Co. Louth, which had been built for either the European or World Student Games back in the 1960s. It was way ahead of its time and made one glide along like a true athlete.

I’ve reached a stage in my life when I feel that if I don’t get running NOW, I never will again and that thought is horrific.

Sooooooooooo, I’ve come up with the idea of ‘Phunning’ ~ that’s gentle running+walking with absolutely no emphasis on times/distances combined with taking a few photographs along the way.

The Anne Valley Trail in Dunhill here in Co. Waterford is the perfect place for this pursuit. It’s a 2.2km (each way) linear path that brings one from Dunhill Village to the magnificent elevated ruin of Dunhill Castle.

Dunhill Castle from the Anne Valley Trail
Dunhill Castle from the Anne Valley Trail

The path is the nearest thing to cinder that one could find and it twists and turns around the Anne River.

The Anne River
The Anne River

I’m setting myself the grand goal of trying to run at least one way by Christmas and have been out twice already this week, interspersing walking and running. So far, so good in terms of the creaking bones.

The Audience
The Audience

I hope that by writing about it here and declaring my intentions to the world, that I will manage to keep going.

I’d love to have some company on this little adventure so maybe some of you former runners would dust down your shoes and find a trail near you and share in my de-stressing!

De-Stressing on the Anne Valley Trail
De-Stressing on the Anne Valley Trail

and yes, my hand does fit!

Anne4
Worry Tree on The Anne Valley Trail

Little First Times

Puppy Stan
Puppy Stan

I get a reminder of ‘little first times’ every single morning when I hear Puppy Stan bark. He didn’t make a sound for what seemed like months after I got him and then one morning I heard a single deep bark emanating from the back garden where he was having his dawn sniff.

While I heard that first bark, I attributed to a huge German Shepherd who lives down the road a bit. But, it has happened every morning since and it was Stan. It’s like his bark was made to match the depth of colour of his black coat.

Every morning when I hear that single bark, I still get a jolt. The jolting has made me think of all the ‘little first times’ that occur in our lives. I’m not talking about mega first times that have been designated in ‘rites of passage’ terms. No, just little things.

However, the more I’ve thought about all this, and I’ve been thinking about it for about nine months now, I’m reckoning that ‘little first times’ can, in fact, be hugely important even though we don’t realise it until later on. Also, when you think about it,  every single day is a ‘first time.’

Guess who has just come up to drag me away from the computer and off to see some more Summer colour?

Montbretia

I’d love to hear your thoughts on First Times, especially little ones!

Greet the Day!

Tramore Bay. Co. Waterford
Tramore Bay. Co. Waterford

Tramore was deserted this morning as the high tide greeted the day.

I was more determined than ever to see it this morning having met a very dear friend yesterday who is now feeling old age creep up upon her. She was once very like me ~ an early riser, a sea baby, a sports fanatic, dog lover and a great walker.

She was looking well but confided in me that the thing she misses most about ageing is not having the energy, balance and mobility that she once had to savour the delights of  Tramore which is her natural habitat.

The longing and memories in her eyes  were etched in my mind as I walked along the beach  bewitched by every single wave that hesitated ever so momentarily before breaking into a white foamy smile.

Salty Waves
Salty Waves

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,

Old Time is still a-flying;

(Robert Herrick)

No Ordinary Sunday ~ Part 2

Passion
Passion

July 12, 2015 is winding to a close here in Ireland and it’s tinged with a sadness which I feel every year as Wimbledon ends. It has been a brilliant two weeks ~ and already I’m dreaming of next year.

I was hoping to see Andy Murray win and when he was out, then Roger Federer was my next hope but alas ….. Brings me back to years I sobbed over Billie Jean King, when son Harry was inconsolable over Lindsay Davenport.

And while Roger was losing, the Waterford hurling team were being edged out by Tipperary. My heart bled as the team played their hearts out and we now have to face the famous ‘back door’ and meet Dublin in the knock-outs instead of sitting pretty in the semi-finals. This is serious stuff for me, as you can see, and it will take a while to deal with it.

Sport is a great teacher; always has been. It’s all about highs and lows, winning and losing. Most of all, it’s character-forming and shows the importance of talent, dedication, teamwork, physical fitness, mental agility, strategic thinking and passion.

So, as always, I return to Rudyard Kipling’s great poem, If, as it never fails to bring calm and perspective about both sport and life.

No Ordinary Sunday

Stanny
Stan

Stan and I had the beach to ourselves very early this morning when the tide was out and all was calm.

However, it was like the sea was full of anticipation for the flood of sporting energy and passion that is just waiting to flood this special Sunday afternoon.

My beloved Waterford are playing Tipperary in the Munster Hurling Final in Semple Stadium in Thurles ~ throw in at 4pm ~ and the ‘boys’ have headed off with the mandatory sandwiches and bananas. Only problem is that hubby is mad Tipperary and son (like me)  is Waterford to the core and both are lunatics when it comes to supporting their teams. At least, one of them will be happy when they return! Let’s hope it’s the younger lemon!

Looking out for Waterford!
Looking out for Waterford!

Meanwhile, there’s the mega matter of the Wimbledon Final that’s almost upon us. My heart is skipping beats already and hoping, hoping, hoping that the brilliance of Roger Federer will shine through with all his grace, glory and greatness.

Legacies
Legacies

‘You Know What …..’

Words, Words, Words
Words, Words, Words

Am I the only one who has become obsessed with the extent to which commentators and contributors on radio and television, are using the expression You know what … over and over and over …..

I even heard Hilary Clinton using it in one of her big political speeches the other day when I thought it was just an Irish habit.

It’s tossed in, it seems, to try and catch our attention, just in  case we’re drifting off somewhere.  You know what, this movie is one of the worst I’ve ever seen;  You know what, this weekend is crucial for the people of Greece. 

For some reason,  You know what always makes me think of silly exchanges in my childhood relating to why that went like this:

Q. Why did he go out in the dark?

A. That’s the why. 

And while I’m at it, I may as well mention my other pet word trend at the moment ~ narrative. People seem to be consumed with concern to highlight the narrative associated with events and happenings. Everything has a narrative. Yes, everything probably does have some kind of story or even conversation attached to it but how did we come to a situation where the word narrative ends up being used about 10 times in any 5 minute discussion of current affairs?

So, go on, tell me about the expressions/words that you think are being over-used in public discourse at the moment.

 

 

The Learner Driver

I put out a call for HELP  in late November as I was approaching the role of being the experienced driver to accompany our son who was about to start learning to drive.

Well, there was a bit of a delay but we are now four weeks into it and I’d like to thank you all for your words of advice and reassurance.

It’s proving to be quite enjoyable, much to my amazement, and it’s like we’ve developed a brand new bond. That’s not to say that there aren’t some hairy scary moments when I’m grinding my teeth and gripping my hands so tightly that the blood supply as well as my breathing stop.

What has surprised me most of all is how the colour yellow and my perceptions of it have changed very dramatically.

There was a time when yellow was about nature:

Y2

But now it’s all about road signs like this:

Y3

and this:

Y4

I’m looking forward to the day when yellow and driving look like this again:

Copper Coast, Co. Waterford
Copper Coast, Co. Waterford

The Secret Ingredient

I’ve been thinking a lot about ‘confidence’ over the last while ~ really since this bag was given to me and became the bag for my swimming gear.

Confidence 2

Every time I look at it, and that’s about ten times a day, I ponder more and more about the relationship between confidence and money.

I would like to believe that confidence has nothing to do with money but I simply can’t and it’s all because of a little boy with immense talent for tennis from a very poor area whom I sort of ‘adopted’ many years ago.

I got to know him when he was about seven. He had beautiful blue eyes and a head of tousled blonde curls. He was waif-like but his hand-eye co-ordination was amazing and he was incredibly speedy around the court.

I knew that he had oodles more ability than the vast majority of kids his age but was also aware that his background was going to militate against him when it came to competing in tournaments.

He came on in leaps and bounds with practice and loved the racket that had once belonged to my brother.

Every time I look at the ‘confidence’ bag, I think of the day I brought him to a tournament in Dublin to give him a run against some of tennis kids of his age.

 

Before he even got to the court, I could see that he was intimidated by the posh surroundings and the cliques of players who were dressed in great style. He played his little heart out and lost about  6-2 6-3 to a highly ranked player.

The awful part was that no one talked to him or made him feel remotely at home. In fact, he felt so totally uncomfortable and overwhelmed  that he said he couldn’t face playing in any more tournaments like that one.

He was one of  many highly talented kids I’ve known who fell by the tennis wayside. Perhaps, I was overly innocent in thinking that he could overcome the obstacles and grind his way through, even though was like a fish out of water.

Or perhaps, he was was just too sensitive and wasn’t able to ‘Act as if it were impossible to fail,’ as Dorothea Brande suggests.

I often wonder what became of him and hope against hope that he remembers those childhood tennising years with a sense of happiness and that he learned lessons from them that enabled him to realise his potential in life.

What do YOU think about confidence and its relationship to socio-economic circumstances?