Back to basics in more ways than one

We are 6 weeks into our new life in Ireland and the family seems to be adjusting well. Relocating always involves lots of little details that must be set up for the first time and with an international move, even more so. Each detail has its own, separate process that must be endured, many of which are very different than the processes I’ve known in America. From arranging refuse/recycling collection and paying for a TV license (!!), to preparing for a new school year in a new country and finding a new soccer club for Liam, nothing has been more challenging than navigating the driving situation.

Long story short, motor insurance is crazy expensive, even if you have a full Irish driver’s license, but even more so if you are an American with little experience driving in Ireland. I have passed my theory test (YAY!) and am currently taking my required 12 hours of driving lessons. Admittedly, I am a new driver here. But I have driven in America for nearly 25 years and consider myself a fairly intelligent woman. The learning curve of learning the Irish driving expectations are humbling to say the least! I am literally retraining my brain to change routines and habits that I have been doing since I was 16. It’s exhausting! I will be done with my driving lessons by next weekend and will take my test soon after. Wish me luck because I am certainly going to need it!

Running wise, I started off with a bang! I literally ran everywhere I went, so excited to explore my new environment and terrain. While I have enjoyed exploring on my own, I find myself eager to meet new people to run with. My husband recommended that I check out a club called Irish Mountain Runners Association (IMRA) that hosts a trail running league in the Wicklow Mountains on Wednesday nights in the summer. I found their website and immediately joined the next event, excited to learn about the trail routes surrounding my new home. I thought I'd be joining a group run of 20-30 runners (at most) who got together for a social run through the mountains. Instead, it was a well-organized, timed race of almost 200 runners, complete with post run pints at the local pub with raffle prizes and awards for top finishers of the night! There were runners there for socializing, but many runners were flying up and down the mountain at speeds I can not even match on flat roads. I was completely blown away! Everyone there just truly loves running and being outdoors in nature. They welcomed me with open arms and I look forward to growing as a trail runner with this group.

The 8K course I ran took us through the Glen of the Downs and was my first real mountain running experience. Since all my running gear is packed in a box that is slowly crossing the Atlantic, I showed up in what I had, which included my hot pink Nike Pegasus shoes that I use for road running. Yeah….these were NOT going to cut it for this kind of running! Running down the steep descents had me landing HARD on sharp rocks and roots that left me with a deeply bruised foot. My biggest concern was to avoid twisting an ankle or breaking my teeth, which I am happy to report full success. However, my thrilling new interest was quickly stalled a few days later when I felt a pop in my left hamstring during a track workout.

This is the same, stupid hamstring I pulled back in March. And if I’m honest, I probably never really rehabbed it properly. Since I keep focusing on getting back to training, I’m not giving my body enough time to heal and recover properly. You would think I have learned my lesson by now! Apparently not. Not only did my mileage volume increase too quickly, but the hilly terrain is something that my body needs some time to adjust to.

I’m not going to lie, this injury has taken the wind out of my Irish sails. Running is such an anchor for me. It makes me feel normal, strong and alive; especially now, during a time when everything around me feels new, uncertain, lonely and even a little bit scary. In the past, this kind of misfortunate would snowball into a river of negativity, but I’m working hard to change that. I got myself into physio, volunteered with IMRA even though I could not run, and began rehabbing this hamstring like it’s my job!

Entering this last full week of summer before school starts for the kids, I am happy to report that I am back running...cautiously. I still have a long way to go until the Dublin Marathon, but I will adjust my training accordingly. I'm more interested in staying healthy in the long run, then achieving a fast time at the risk of a permanent injury. So, I joined a local gym and try to attend a few classes a week to mix up my fitness and give my hammy a break from running. I start my personal training course at UCD in September, which I think will be a great opportunity to meet people who share a passion for fitness. In the meanwhile, I will continue to do my best to stay present.