Post Derry and Belfast – week 28, runs 27 and 28

Well – what a week! Just recovering (almost) now.  This week we went to Ireland to run in Belfast and Derry.  When I say we,  I mean me, my mam and my dad. Can you imagine?  Well, I tell you – no you can’t!

As you know, we had discussed this, discussed this and discussed this – what to take, what to take it in, what to wear, what to carry, what could go in plastic bags, what was a liquid, what counted as a medicine – the discussions were endless! 

In the end we got stopped at the check in as Dad’s bag of liquids was not sealed – that had not even come up as an option in all the things that could go wrong!  Anyway, with what was to become a familiar routine, mam told the guy checking dad’s stuff about my challenge and dad gave him a card with the details of Luca and my challenge on….more of this to come I assure you!

We got safely through check in and started to casually have a look around duty free.  We then ambled over to get a coffee – just as the last call to boarding was announced.  How that ever happened I do not know but there was no way I was going without coffee so mam ran ahead to check us all on and then …..ran back – remembering that going ahead to board us all without actually having us with her was not going to work. 

We juggled coffee and baggage and made it onto the plane. Safely landing an hour and a bit later, we got off the plane into freezing cold and rain – yay! Welcome to Ireland – it was pretty much like being at home.

We hired a small car (mam told the guy about my challenge and dad gave him a card with the details of Luca and my challenge on) and off we drove to Derry.  It took most of the 2 hour journey for me to get used to the car and I was tense and irritated so my poor old mam who was acting as the “holder” for my sat nav dared not move – thus ending up with a claw like hand stuck in the shape of a sat nav holder for quite some time after we arrived at our guest house. 

The guesthouse (Arkle House) was fab.  An old house that was beautiful and was run by a lovely lady called Sally who made us feel very welcome.

We were shown to our room (a triple room with a double bed and 2 single beds) and we got really overexcited about the amount of choice of beds we had.  As there were 3, we decided to use them all and thus I ended up with a double bed and dad and mam slept in the single beds.  Not sure how I got that fab deal but it was lush!  The only trouble was that  I had got completely chilled to the bone because I was tired and it was freezing and I just couldn’t get warm. 

We therefore quickly went out for food to a very reasonably priced restaurant across the road which had a fire in it.   We got very excited about the lovely menus and ate a ton of food including a totally lush apple pie and custard served with ice cream (never had that combo before!)

On the way back to the guesthouse I discovered a shop with cheap hot water bottles (random!) and so bought one to help me heat back up.  Later in the night mam discovered we all had electric blankets and the rest of the night I enjoyed hot flushes induced by the combination of too many nightclothes, a hot water bottle and an electric blanket.  It was heaven!

Breakfast was superb and dad made the most of it.  I had a bit of toast as I was off to run.  Sally showed us where a monument donoting the City of Derry was (for the obligatory photo) and also where it was good to run (mam had told her about my challenge and dad gave her a card with the details of Luca and my challenge on)  We went through the now familiar routine of mam taking a photo of me around 10 times to get one that included all the important bits in one picture (me, my hand, the sign saying Derry) – it’s so much harder than you imagine!

I then ran off (to start my 10k, not to avoid my parents).  I ran into Derry City Centre and actually stopped at around 5k. This was because the murals on the walls were amazing and the signs saying “you are now entering Free Derry” really made me quite emotional.  Added to this being International Womens Day and I became all overcome.  I must have looked a bit of a sight trotting round taking photos, dressed in weird gear and intermittently crying.  Anyway,  it made me think of Luca again.  This was because I thought of all the struggles for freedom and for peace and how lives had been so hard for so many but how so much had been overcome.  I think the hormones were working a bit overtime but it was a really quite emotional run. 

I ran back and the poor nights sleep hit me at about 7k when I really slowed down.  I kept myself going by reminding myself out loud that Luca would never be able to choose to give up walking on clip on legs and go back to his own legs if he got fed up and so the least I could do was continue to run for just 3k more.  I eventually managed it and got back to the guesthouse for a much needed shower. 

I drove us back the way I had run and we did a mini tour of Derry – stopping at the murals and then stopping to walk round part of the wall enclosing the City. The wall was pretty amazing and we all decided (too late) that it might have been nice to do my run around the wall (dad said I could always come back again and do it another time – hmmm???)

The rain, which had held off for my run, started in earnest as we returned to Belfast City airport to return the car.  We had all forgotten the instructions for where to fill up with petrol so had to drive into the airport to ask where to go.  The guy gave us complicated instructions that I switched off at the start of and mam couldn’t remember and dad didn’t hear so it was a bit of a fraught journey to find petrol (managed eventually- after some discussion about 1) was the car petrol or diesel and had any one asked or did anyone remember being told and 2) where was the petrol cap – congrats to dad on finding out the answer to that one!)

We got a (very expensive due to Friday night traffic) taxi to our new accomodation on the Lisburn road.  We were given a little flat which was awesome.  We had a bedroom each and a kitchen, bathroom and a washing machine!  We did a mini tour oohing and aahing as if we had never lived in a house before!  There were a few minor hitches along the way but once we got used to the fact that the Irish “be there in 5 minutes” equated to enough time to grow your own vegetables from seeds, we were well on our way.  We found M and S and bought fab food which meant we didnt have to keep eating out.  I also managed to wash my running kit in the machine so didnt have to wear yucky stuff twice. 

The owner of the B and B was fab (mam told him about my challenge and dad gave him a card with the details of Luca and my challenge on) and even gave us some money towards Luca’s funds!  We all went to bed tired out and hoping for a good nights sleep.

The next day at breakfast we were sat with a lovely lady who asked us what we were doing in Belfast (bet she regretted that as mam told her about my challenge and dad gave her a card with the details of Luca and my challenge on)  Anyway, we were totally taken aback when she reached into her purse and gave us money for Luca, having been touched by his story!  We were overwhelmed. 

After she left,  we started chatting to the waitress and yes, you have guessed it, mam told her  about my challenge and dad gave her a card with the details of Luca and my challenge on!  She then took our plates and came back with some money to give to Luca! We felt really quite choked with how generous people were being.

We spent the day being tourists.  We did an open top bus tour of Belfast in the pouring rain peering through steamed up windows and listening to an extremely funny tour guide.  We missed the Wales match as we went to the Titanic exhibition in the afternoon (dad made me have a photo with Kate Winslett’s dress from Titanic – don’t ask!).  Anyway, it was fab and we returned by taxi to M and S (for more food) at the end of a long day.  The taxi driver was lovely and …….mam told him about my challenge and dad gave him a card with the details of Luca and my challenge on! Mam paid for the taxi then he gave her half the money back for Luca!!!

We had a very lazy evening with me varying between being chatty and a total teenaged brat and then went to bed, swapping rooms as I hadn’t slept too well in the slightly noisier room and mam and dad decided I needed a good night sleep before the run the next day.

We got very stressed leaving the next morning (all due to my sudden desire to be at the venue ridiculously early) This pushing went particularly well with mam’s anxiety and I nearly drove her insane. 

We did get to the venue on time (with 1.5 hours to spare!) and mam and dad were able to settle down a bit (and only remain slightly anxious about me finishing in time to get our lift to the airport in time to fly!)

The run course had had to be altered as the off road bit had turned into a mud river so we had to do 4 x 2.5 k laps of mostly tarmac around the Queens Sports centre.  This involved 4 journeys past the teams practicing hurling and dodging some very fast moving hockey type balls which kept me fairly alert!  By lap 2 the hail had set in.  It addded nicely to the wind and made the perfect combination to drive directly into my face and provide a free exfoliation of my skin (more like a total peel) which went on for around 2k. 

I was pretty thankful to finish but annoyingly my runkeeper told me it was 9.6k so I had to do the obligatory run round the car park 20 times to finish the 10k.

Mars (the lady from healthspan – the company who had given me some money towards travel etc as part of their healthspan heroes scheme) came to pick us up and take us to the airport.  She was hysterical (as in funny – not panicking – don’t worry).  We started with her poor little car refusing to reverse out of the parking space we were in.  I could read the stress in mam’s face through the back of my head as I imagined her thinking we might have to drive the half hour journey in reverse and then going through all the things that might happen if we actually had to do that! 

Anyway, we got to the right airport (Mars told us she was prone to go to the wrong one to take and collect people) and said goodbye after a very entertaining journey.

Dad got searched and was cross.  He announced that next time he would save them all the trouble and just go through check in naked.  I am hoping it is not on a journey that I am also on!  We boarded our plane and made a turbulent return to Cardiff (the weather – not a family fallout). 

There was a lovely gentleman sitting next to Mam and, yep, you’ve guessed it, she told him about my challenge and dad gave him a card with the details of Luca and my challenge on!  He also donated some money for Luca and again we marvelled at the total generosity we had met with when people heard about Luca and his journey. 

We were picked up at the airport by my brother in law, deposited at home and I then drove mam and dad to Liverpool where we were attending the funeral of my lovely Uncle Rob.  It was a very sad day but I am glad we were there as a family and know that Uncle Rob would have appreciated it. 

We are now resting for a few days and am off to Southampton this weekend.  I am leaving mam and dad behind this week so that they can recover their energy and their nerves.  It was a fab adventure and great to have their company and I know I was difficult to travel with so appreciated their patience! It was especially good as the Sunday was Mother’s Day so it was fab to share it (however ill temperedly on my behalf) with my Mam. Thanks mam and dad for an awesome trip! Luv ya x

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