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So I figured I better recap my trip down to Cork with the University athletics team before I leave for Dublin to celebrate St Patrick’s Day… I went down this past weekend, and I’m really glad that I went. It was weird to be racing cross country in March but that’s how their season is set up. I asked one of the boys on the team, and he said they race cross country from November until March, and then track is from March until August. All the University competitions are squished into a 3 month period in spring, though.

The conditions for the race couldn’t have been any better. I started to panic a few weeks ago because I realized that I was potentially going to be running a rough cross country course without racing spikes… One of the other girls brought an old pair of spikes for me to wear, but the course ended up being super dry and super flat [we did loops around athletic fields; there wasn’t even a proper hill]. The course itself must have been short because I ran a 19:22 for a 5K and there is NO way that I am in that kind of shape. Judging by the other times, I think it would be safer to say it was around 21:22 but there’s really no way of telling. It’s interesting that a competition like this could be so horribly off, though. If that happened at the championships at home there would be outrage… I guess everything is just so much more laid back here, and they just don’t have the resources to support a more professional atmosphere.

The girls team didn’t score as a team. You only need four to score, but our fourth girl dropped out because she was sick but wanted to try to run it anyway. The boys, on the other hand, did SO well! They got 2nd and only lost to first place by 2 points, which surprised just about everyone I think. After the awards and everything, we went back to our hotel and the hosting University had a dinner and night out planned for all the participants, which was a ton of fun… Reminded me of being out with my team at home =) It was so weird running with another team, though. It was hard to be motivated to compete on behalf of the University here because it really means nothing to me compared to my University at home. That sounds a lot worse than I mean it to sound; it’s just that I am so close to my team at home and feel responsible to my teammates, but it’s just a different dynamic here. Definitely missing my team back home…

Okay, so there’s the recap in a nutshell! Getting the 7AM [!!!!!] bus to Dublin in the morning so I need to be off to bed before the long day tomorrow! Happy St Patrick’s Day!

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I went to my first live rugby match today! It was actually a ton of fun and I think I’m even starting to understand some of the rules of it (okay, not a lot, but some… it’s a start anyway).

It wasn’t a particularly amazing game or anything, not the Ulster Rugby team or anyone like that. It was Belfast Royal Academy versus Wallace HS in the semi-final game of the Schools’ Cup, so really I guess it would compare to like the playoffs for two high school football teams before they go to the State championships?

Anyway, a bunch of people in my class graduated from Belfast Royal Academy so they were going to go watch the game and invited me along since I hadn’t seen a live rugby match yet. It was really funny because a bunch of the guys I went with played rugby for BRA when they went there, so they all wore their old blazers [think letterman’s jacket but a preppy school uniform version] to the match even though most of them were too big for the blazers now, haha.

The match was really exciting… the stands were PACKED with cheering fans from age 8 to 18. And when I say cheering, I mean nonstop yelling and singing and banging drums and all kinds of stuff. They don’t have cheerleaders but somehow they all knew the same songs and motions and could do them in unison. It was so funny just to watch, and I really missed that kind of excitement at sporting events. Even though I got to watch the Super Bowl, I didn’t really get to experience it like I would have back home. This at least reminded me of how crazy people get for sports… It helped that it was a close game; Wallace was up by 10 at the half and BRA only took the lead in the last 2 minutes so it was pretty exciting!

So, first rugby match a success =) The final is on St Patty’s Day and I already have plans to go down to Dublin, but I’m sure there’ll be quite the celebrations in Belfast for the rugby supporters if BRA pulls out another win!

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So, I DID get to watch the Super Bowl over here! A lot more people were watching it than I expected, and I even heard a few people talking about it today in classes. Since I don’t have a TV or really proper couch or anything, it was really nice to be in someone’s house, sitting on a couch, drinking beers and watching the game. I know that sounds really silly but you take those things for granted.

It was obvious that I was watching the game in Northern Ireland, though. It was broadcast through BBC1 and Sky Sports over here, so I didn’t get to see ANY of the commercials (we YouTubed a couple) and the commentators were terrrrrrible. They were either really terrible no-name college coaches from the states or British guys who didn’t even seem to take the time to Wikipedia American football or the teams in it. Not that I ever pay too close of attention to those guys when I watch it at home, but the difference was THAT noticeable. Oh well, I got to watch the game, I’m happy.

The only downside to the evening was the time difference… The game didn’t start until 11:30 PM here, which means by the time I got home and went to bed it was 5AM. Guess who has class all day on Mondays starting at 10:15? Yep. Time for a quick run, then passing out…

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