Thursday, July 29, 2010

Weaving my way at tempo pace...

I know it is fuzzy but I was running backwards when I took this photo!  It doesn't look like much of a house now but as a young lad it seemed to be quite grand in comparison to the other old ruins around the area.  And it was a ruin all through my lifetime and for much of my mother's. The place is interesting for two reasons:  1) there was an old weaving machine left to rust and rot in one of the rooms and 2) the place is known locally as tí Chóil an tSappar (meaning Cóil,or Coleman the Sapper's place).  Now as a grown-up, working in a museum, I regret that the weaving machine wasn't kept and I'm interested in the casual way that the place was known to belong to a 'sapper').  Sappers were soldiers, mostly infantry men with some kind of an engineering background.  This is remarkable when considering that where I live was a very poor area back in the late 19th and early 20th century, when this man would have lived.  He would have joined the British Army, and probably fought in either the South African Wars or possibly the First World War (I must find out!).  This area is now and has always been an Irish speaking part of the country - hardly the breeding ground for sappers!  Not only this, but the man was obviously an entrepreneur because the weaving machine was certainly there for commercial use...
As for my run... I had to run two miles easy (which is how I could take a photo at all), then three miles at a tempo pace and finally two miles easy again.  I ran up to the village and down to the Coral Strand.  There was a viciously long and steep incline from the mid point of the three mile tempo but I kept going as hard as I could.  Boy was I glad to reach the top!
Lost a good old mate today - I bet he's up there somewhere stone carving!
Distance:  7 miles (2 easy, 3 tempo, 2 easy)
Route:  Up the village to the coral strand.
Satisfaction:  8/10 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Gate Parking.

Today's Irish lesson is 'Ná Páirceáil sa nGeata Led' Thoil' (Don't Park in the Gate Please!).  That's right - it's common practice around these parts for people to park in gates...  This doesn't even take into account those who smash into gates coming from the pub after buckets full of stout, this is just plain old gate parking, full stop.  Around here the most common misdemeanors include: parking in gates, driving on sidewalks, picking fights with hedgehogs, stealing moustaches, tickling tadpoles, walking two abreast on country roads and snorkeling in potholes.
Enough messin'... intervals again this evening but slightly more difficult this time.  After a ten minute warm up I had to run four by 1600 meters at pace, with rests of 400 meters slow in between.  I found the first set tough, the next set very tough and for the last set I felt like Willam Defoe dragging his wounded body out of the burning jungles of Vietnam in Platoon!  Great to get it finished though and to start on that slow warm down when you know you can glide to a nice and easy finish!
Distance:  Intervals, 5 miles
Route:  The football pitch
Satisfaction:  7/10

Monday, July 26, 2010


I started this twelve mile run at the most strangely situated art gallery in the entire world.  Fermoyle House was once the domain of a wealthy English landlord, who delighted in the beautiful isolation of Seanféistín.  The place is truly spectacular, surrounded by lakes and mountains, but it lacks what you would think is required for a successful art gallery - passing trade!  This week's long run brought me six miles from the cross at Ros an Mhíl, parking the car at the art gallery and then running over to the cross and back.  I can't say that there was any spring in my step but I ran at 9.30ish pace, which is on target according to my furman training programme.  I felt a bit of a strain going up hill 3, which stretches a good 700 metres long, but at least there is a mile and half of flat running from there to the end.  Next week is a slight step back (ten mile long run!) so I'm delighted to get to this point on track.
Distance:  12miles
Pace:  9.30
Route:  Seanféistín
Satisfaction: 7/10

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Up the hill and dog is gone.

Five miles with a solid tempo throughout was the task this evening. I thought I'd slack off the pace at some point but was delighted to find that I could stay with it all the way.  I'm beginning to feel a definite upward surge in my fitness level, which I'm delighted about!  The pic I added is of Ard na Bleaistéirí (Gaelic for the height of the blasters!).  This is a short, sharp hill, which used to be the bane of our lives as young fellas who would have to carry buckets of water from the spring below the hill up to our house at the top!  The other big news of the day is that Robbie, the dog who had befriended our house and become part of the clan for the past month, was claimed by his rightful owner.  So no more running partner Robbie!  I'm sure the poor fella is delighted not to have to run those 11 milers any more.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

From Tired to Energetic in Five Interval Miles

Firstly, I hope this local football pitch never gets a notion to modernize it's signs - you definitely can't beat a homemade timber board sign that says 'Páirc Dúnta' (Gaelic for Park Closed').  'Dúnta' it wasn't though...  Secondly, isn't it strange that the best cure for tiredness is to run?  I came home from work after 6pm, with interval training ahead of me, and felt that I was so tired I should take this day off.  I lay down into the couch and started to nod off when the phone rang.  After that, I decided to go ahead with my scheduled training session - and I'm happy I did.  On the menu this evening:  1 mile warm up, followed by 2 laps fast six times with 90 second rest in between, and then another mile of a warm down.  Five miles in all.  Again the local football team were out training, but this time we all got a nice dry evening.  These intervals are definitely tough but I'm sure it will all pay off.  By the third set of 2 laps I was puffing and panting.  However, by the last set I was flying again.  My wife has been away for three weeks now and will be away for a few more and in this time I've set about living like a healthy monk.  I have been eating very healthily, running well, no excess tv, working hard, cleaning house outside and in and generally keeping things on a steady course and paring back any of the excesses of life.  A by product of this is that I've dropped a trouser size and lost my wedding ring after it fell from a thinner finger!  There definitely is a great joy in this kind of simplicity - I reckon those monks were on to something (but at the same time I would like my wife back, thank you!). 

 As for the football pitch - the lads were still training when I was driving away home, they have a big game coming up this week and look in good shape.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Today (Sunday) was my long run day this week.  11 miles in Seanféistín.  Conditions were perfect, dry and calm. I drove 5.5 miles and dropped my car at a lovely spot overlooking some lakes and mountains, then ran towards the cross and back again.  I brought Robbie with me today... by cripes dogs are fit.  I think he was getting a little dehydrated by the end of the run however, as he was darting off the road every now and then and licking some water from the bog streams.  
Being a long run, this was meant to be done at a pace that was 45 seconds slower than my predicted marathon pace.  Since I hope to nip in just under the four hour mark for the Dublin marathon, I would have to run flat nine minute milers.   This evening's run was probably a little bit faster than that (still have to get watch or garmin!). Feeling tired but good now.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Up to Loch an Mhuilinn.

Another tempo run this evening - 6 miles of village running with Robbie.  My normal village route is only five miles long so I added a little extra this evening to take in the lake - Loch an Mhuilinn (Gaelic for the Lake of the Mill).  I was required to run one mile easy, followed by four at a decent pace, and then the last mile easy again.  I lost Robbie for a small while when I actually hit the village - there were a load of children outside the summer school and he got lost in the crowd. I caught up with him on the turn around though and dragged him away from all the crack he was having.  To be honest, I didn't fancy going out for this run - I felt a wee bit weary beforehand.  However, it was definitely a good idea to press on as I feel much better for it.  Next run is 11 miles on Sunday.
Distance:  6miles
Pace: Tempo
Route:  Village with Robbie, taking in the lake.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Better After-Feeling After Short, Sharp, Running.

Back to the football pitch this evening for more interval training.  Yet again the GAA football team were training and yet again God turned on the sprinklers.  Our beautiful summer is becoming a memory.  Still, there is no better way to enjoy rain than to get out and run in it.  This interval training, or 'repeats', gives you a great buzz afterwards.  Although it is far more enjoyable to go out for a run in the countryside, I have to admit that the after-feeling is definitely better with these short sharp sessions.  Today called for a 10-20 minute warm-up, followed by 12 laps of the pitch at a fast pace, with a 90 second rest between laps.  To end the session there was another 10 minute warm down.  I found the going tough from lap seven but managed to keep a decent pace (no clue what pace though - must get garmin!).  I'm definitely starting to feel a bit fit and that feels great.  Still, there is a long way to go until the Dublin Marathon so, whatever you say, say nothing.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Dog is No Fool.

Robbie is no fool.  The minute I mentioned the word adventure he turned the other way with his tail wagging with fear.  But, like Shaggy in Scooby Doo, I eventually got him to come along.  There is a lane that leads to the house of a long deceased bachelor who lived not far from where I live now.  He was a nice and very quiet man.  We would often see him pass our house on his bicycle - a very quiet hello was about all you'd get from him.  
His house is tucked away beneath a swarm of sycamore trees - unusual for this area to have so many of them.  It has been years since he passed away, and no one has ever done anything with the house or land.  At first I felt that I shouldnt enter but after awhile I decided that the twin hosts of time and neglect were offering a respectful viewing.  There were many novels and history books lying around the place, and more interesting again were the copybooks with reams of his notes about economics! You couldn't but feel respect for the man who had lived in quiet isolation for all those years.  He was a true scholar but yet all we ever knew of him was that he pushed a bicycle up and down the road and spoke very quietly.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Mad Man on the Moor...

Seanféistín is dotted with these little stone huts with their red corrugated roofs. As children we believed they were inhabited by ogres and wildmen and in truth I'm still not exactly sure what they were for. I heard it said that they were lookout posts to catch salmon poachers in days gone by, but it is more likely that they were just dumping sheds for those who worked the bogs. At any rate, I decided to start my ten mile run this evening at this very spot.

Although Seanféistín is my regular running route I usually start at the cross at Ros an Mhíl and head towards this little hut, but today for my ten miler, I decided to head in the other direction.  Conditions were not that bad - a bit of rain and slight wind, but nothing major.  This new direction put all the easy bits first... a long down hill start and a two mile flat before hitting the first of the hills.  However, what goes down, must come up!  According to my furman programme I was to run this ten miler slower than my projected race pace.  Not having a watch or garmin, I wasn't entirely sure what pace I was running at but it felt like 9.40.  I felt good all the way through - knew I was running well within myself.  The very last bit of the run was a long slow climb - about 600 metres uphill.

My running presence scared some horses who were grazing at the side of the road and they legged it up to the pull-in where my car was, and there they decided that I was no threat so they started to munch again! 
First week of the real marathon training complete.  Happy with that.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Foto Friday

Specking through some runner blogs from the USA I came on an interesting idea called Foto Friday on  RunningLaur's blog (you are supposed to post five photos on a Friday). I said I'd give it a go, but forgot until 8pm this evening.  However, between that and 9pm it turns out that I got a few interesting pics!
First pic I took on leaving the house to visit my mother.  This little foal stands in the field just outside our house , looking in at us...
Next pic I took of my mother (middle) with her cousin Debbie from Boston and Deb's daughter Maggie.  I haven't seen Debbie for years so it was a pleasant surprise - and I'm glad I had the camera!
Next pic was of my father, a proud Sligo musician who squared the shoulders for this photo!
Nice flowers in their front lawn...
The fun started when I came back to my house to find Paddy the neighbour outside my backdoor chasing his friend's cattle - who had strayed wildly in past our house and over the fields!
So this Foto Friday was a good bit of fun and only took an hour!  I might do it once a month!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Not a Good Look For Me...

Being the unorganised eejit that I am, I rushed from work to meet Conor at the Cross at Seanféistín for a five mile tempo run, when I discovered that I had brought no running shoes.  And a man can't run in a pair of black slip-ons.  Conor was under time pressure so he had a good laugh at me at headed off on his run while I went home to put my feet into asics.  Being back at home I decided to do my tempo run through the village route.  One mile easy, three miles at slightly slower than 10k race pace and last mile easy.

Robbie, the dog who has been hanging around the house for the past few weeks (and may become a member of the family if not claimed by some tearful child), took Conor's place as my running partner for the evening!  I really should invest in a watch or garmin, because I have no clue whatsoever what pace I run.  I should have been running the tempo miles at around 8.10, but all I know is that I ran at a faster pace than I'm used to - and felt strong enough.  So far I'm enjoying the variation of the furman programme (I know it's early days...).  Next up is a ten miler on Saturday.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

All Eyes on Dublin

Off I went to the local Gaelic Football Pitch pitch today for interval training - my first such session as part of my Furman marathon training programme.  This football pitch is unusual in that it was carved out of bogland and once hosted a UEFA Cup match between Galway United and Gronigen of Holland, back in 1986.  It still ranks as one of the most unusual sporting occasions ever held in this country - a small rural village of about 2000 people, with three pubs, two shops and one post office hosting an elite European soccer match, but since the City team had qualified without an adequate venue then this newly built Gaelic Football pitch was the prime choice!
The weather was awful this evening - with constant drizzle and a bit of a stiff wind.  It was tough to get out into it but funnily enough it was nice to run in after the first few minutes (once I had soaked to the bone anyway).  Training consisted of a four lap warm up, followed by four 1.5 laps fast, with four 1.5 laps slow in between.  To warm down I ran another four laps.  This all amounted to five miles but it didn't feel like that at all.  I must say, I didn't think I'd enjoy the interval training but it was actually nice enough, and I felt great afterwards.
The local men's and women's teams were training and it was nice to banter with them.  The lads are gearing up for a championship game against Salthill in three weeks time and looking fit enough.  As for myself - nice start to the Dublin Marathon training.  Next stop is a tempo run on Wednesday. 

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Furman Marathon Training Programme.

Energised by yesterday's long run I've decided to start my marathon training for Dublin (October 25th) in earnest next week.  The marathon training I aim to follow is the Furman, three day a week 'First Marathon Programme'.  Rónán has been following a furman programme for some time and it hasn't done him any harm!  Seeing as I am a little late starting the progamme I will take yesterday's nine miler with Conor to mean that I can step straight into week three next week... On a by the by, just added a nice pic here of Monasterboice, in County Louth - where D (there she is in the pic) and I went for a stroll a few weeks ago.  The Round Tower was built by monks in the 12th century, supposedly to keep themselves safe from viking raiders looking for their loot!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

9 Miles of Seanféistín with Conor

A run of two halves.  The first 4.5 miles smooth and easy with a good pace and a nice breeze at our backs.  The second half - excruciating uphill agony with a hurricane pushing us back.  Okay, slight exaggeration - no hurricane but a very strong wind.  And actually, strange as it seems, 'invigorating agony' is probably a better description.
This was my longest run for some time, and a definite move towards 'marathon' training.  This distance in Seanféistín throws everything at you - two long and slow inclines at the start, the mother of all long inclines at the midway point and then a short, sharp shock two miles from home. And in between all this there are some nice downhills and good flats.  All the while, if there is any wind at all it seems to funnel wildly against you and only mildly with you!  The run also has the best scenery you could ask for (though there are times when you couldn't give a damn!).
I was surprised by how solid I felt on the first half of this run - taking both of the long slow inclines without any difficulty.  We had a decent pace here - about 8.15 according to Conor's garmin.  By the time we reached the 3.5 mile mark I felt well up for what I thought would be a killer incline.  Mentally I break this climb into four sections and get the head down to get through them all.  The climb itself goes on for over half a mile but we made it without much stress, and our half way mark was right at the top, which meant we were in for a long downhill on the turn.  Easy?  Not at all!
We only noticed the full scale of the wind when we turned at the top of that hill.  It was pushing us back and making it difficult to move with any pace.  The next hill was at the 6.5mile mark and by now I was wheezing and panting like a sumo in a sauna.
But, thanks to Conor waiting for me I got over the trauma and trotted out the next mile and a half before finishing strongly enough from mile 8 onwards.  We finished the nine miles in 1hr 18 - an average of 8.45.  Happy enough with that - the October marathon may just be on yet!

New Review: A Month in the Country

I have just reviewed 'A Month in the Country', by J.L Carr... See the column on the right, about midway down...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Peninsula With Good Runs.

Living on a peninsula like An Cheathrú Rua, with so many roads shooting this way and that, means the runs can vary a great deal. I did a good six miles today, turning down Gleann Mór (Gaelic for 'the big valley') and back into the main village. I decided to spice things up on the way home by doing the cruel climb that is Bóithrín an tSagairt (the Priest's Road in Gaelic!). This really is a climb, not just a wimpy incline. Its a steep jolt that lasts a good four hundred metres and takes the wind out of you for sure. There's a great feeling of satisfaction at the top, and the most spectacular view of the entire peninsula and out the bay. From now on I'm determined to take a camera with me on at least one long run a forthnight, and a lot more than this if I can... the best thing from Juneathon was that it brought me to other sites where bloggers take time to enjoy what's around them and take photos. A special word of mention here for a running blog that wasn't part of Juneathon (I can't comment on any Juneathoners - they were all fab) but is well worth checking out... Run For Your Life, by the OldRunningFox is very interesting and very inspirational. Running Fox is 78 and is fit as a fiddle. What's more, his accounts are well backed up by lovely photos and great writing. Well done my man and keep it up! As for all the Juneathoners - here's to life after June!