My Running Thoughts During a Half Marathon in Ireland

June 25, 2015
My Running Thoughts During a Half Marathon in Ireland

This spring my sister and I ran a half marathon in Ireland while on a backpacking trip in Europe. We signed up for the Tullaroan Athletics Club’s second annual distance festival. It featured a 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon. Tullaroan is a small village outside of Kilkenny, Ireland.

I warmed up with my sister, jumping around and trying to control my pre-race jitters. Our friend Sam stood with us at the starting line (which would also be the finish) as our cheerleader. Before I knew what I had gotten myself into I was running my first half marathon.

When I run, my mind runs. My thoughts have so much energy. They become a needed distraction from the strain on my body, from the monotony of repetition of steps. Right. Left. Heels up. Arms moving. My runs give me answers to questions. It’s the same thing as when you’re in the shower or driving alone in your car—from nowhere a thought comes alive that gives life a deeper meaning. Longer runs give me time to reflect.

Here’s what I thought about during the half marathon in Ireland:

Ireland has hills? Who would’ve thought?

In fact Tullaroan, or in Irish Tulach Ruain, means “Rowan’s hill.” My run was mostly uphill, something I hadn’t considered while training. The hills at first can be daunting but I began to get used to them. If you go up, you must go down. There is a balance of difficulty and ease. When you put work into something there will always be a result, maybe even a time that follows that is easier—a time to coast.

I wonder where my sister is…

Even before running, my sister made it clear that she runs better alone, so I didn’t see her after the second mile. There are times in life when you don’t have a partner. This loneliness is quickly lost to the task at hand. Your battle is yours alone. There were a couple dogs at some of the farmhouses along the route that looked like they wanted to run with me.

Breathe in, breathe out

Breathing is all about rhythm and balance. When you’re out of balance, like your body is during a difficult workout, you need to put effort into regaining it. When I stop fighting the elements around me and within me everything becomes easier. I allow my body to relax. It’s like swimming with the current rather than against it. Rounding a corner, I would breathe in the stench of manure. The smell was a reminder of where I was. That is when I would look up and see cattle and sheep grazing on the lush green countryside. Beautiful.

My Running Thoughts During a Half Marathon in Ireland

Perhaps a beer too many… nah it was worth it

Call it carb loading but the week before my half-marathon you could still find my sister and I with beers in our hands. While it is great to have health goals during travel, it is important to make sure they don’t take away from the overall experience of being where you are. In Ireland, you can find as much culture in a local pub as you can a castle. Be realistic when making sacrifices. Is it worth it?

I’m in complete awe of the body

It is not about getting my body to look a certain way but it is about testing my body—finding its strengths. I am surprised at the pain my body could heal from. My body is not just a capsule; it is me. I can accomplish anything if I integrate the willpower of my mind with my body.

Tullaroan- isn’t there a chocolate called that?

I bribe myself like I would a child—“If you do this, I’ll give you chocolate.” We know what the finish line is supposed to look like but sometimes when we are heading there it seems further and further out of reach. It takes discipline to achieve a feat. For me, small incentives can motivate me to keep going. I’m lucky that my run actually did have chocolate at the finish line.

Time to put the backpack back on

I could barely feel my legs, except enough to know they were shaking. I looked at my pack, hoisted it up over my shoulder and started walking once again. The journey continues.


Photo for My Running Thoughts During a Half Marathon in Ireland by Unsplash. 

About Laura Zakrzewski

Laura Zakrzewski is a Marketing and Journalism Mass Communications at St. Bonaventure University, New York. She studied abroad in Australia and has backpacked in New Zealand, Italy, France, England, Wales and Ireland. She loves drawing, painting and running. After graduating she plans on working abroad in advertising.

One thought on “My Running Thoughts During a Half Marathon in Ireland

  1. Bethany
    June 29, 2015

    I am constantly in awe of your thoughts and your execution of them. I wish I had a personal mind recording device but sometimes running is like a dream and you only remember fragments of your thoughts and the only relics at the end are your emotions. I can’t wait to read more!

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