Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year One and All!

My internet connection is back, just in time for my New Year's round up! Much has been achieved in 2011 and there are a few goals ahead for '12.
The running story of 2011 has to be the 'Run-a-Month' journey, that brought myself and brothers Kevin, Cormac and Richie, joined by sister in law Ruth, to all corners of Ireland for 10ks, 8ks, and lastly a half marathon in wonderful Waterford City, and a brand new PB!  My stand out races were:  the St. Patrick's Day Dublin Run, The Tombrack 4 miler, 10k Chonamara and of course the Cúigéal 8k that I ended up winning!  And while I'm on the subject of winning - I also won the Peg Christmas Race for the second year running (a major family event!).  
I trained well this year, though not half as well as last year... I half stuck to the Furman training programme, but mainly just got out and ran whenever I could.  My biking experience in August was the stand-out event of 2011.  From a zero biking history I bought a new racer, raised nearly 5k for charity, and cycled across Ireland on my own for most parts.  It was an incredibly enjoyable few days - unforgettable.  
This coming year I'll be training for another marathon - Barcelona in March, and I'm hoping for a time in the 3.30s (3.39 will do fine!).  My main concern though is to enjoy my running - and keep on keeping on!  Happy New Year to all the other bloggers and runners - let's keep in touch in 2012!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

New Year Coming... New Challenge? What Say You All?

Before I get on to the meat and drink of this post, let me record tonight's three mile threadmill run.  Only three miles, because I hate the threadmill and it's impossible to do much more than this amount on it! 

And now to the nub of this post:  end of year is fast approaching and this will mark the end of the second year of this blog.  It's time for a new challenge.  A big one.  I've been giving this some thought... I love challenges; running marathons, cycling across Ireland etc, and I also have a self-sacrifice streak - punishing myself by cutting out drink, or meat for periods, staying off carbs, chocolates and more!  For next year, however, I am looking at something entirely different... My mission:  to pay off my mortgage in one year, in order to commit to a life of helping the less fortunate.  Can it be done?  My mortgage is HUGE.  My house is not huge, but my mortgage is. How can I pay this off in a year, I hear you ask?  My wife and I are both employed, but our salaries are just average and this Government has cut cut cut cut.  So how could I pay off my mortgage that quickly?  Well - I'm not sure!  But anything I've ever done has started with a wild statement of intent:  I'll run a marathon, I'll cycle across Ireland, I'll give up drink for a year... etc.  All pale in comparison to this challenge, perhaps... what do you think - am I daft to set this as the year's challenge? 

I still have another week before I commit to the 2012 challenge, and between now and then I'll discuss other possibilities:  giving up meat for a year, running a marathon under 3.30, raising 20k on my charity cycle... and it goes on.  But for now, let's ponder:  could I clear the mortgage?

Friday, December 16, 2011

2 Mile Night Turn-Back.

I picked up Conor at 8.30pm and headed for the bog road of Seanadh Phéistín.  I thank the man for introducing me to night running, and furnishing me with the loan of a spare head-torch.  This beats the hell out of the treadmill any day (or night!).  Last night was particularly cold - two minutes into the run and our hands began to ache with the freeze!  We had definitely underestimated the severity of the conditions prior to setting off.  With only a mile gone into our run, and heading into some height, when it became clear that the road was far too treacherous to tread.  A sheet of fleet was settling into ice and our every step was a wary one.  We decided to turn back at the one mile mark and head towards the car again.  A pity, but a two mile run is still better than watching the latest episode of Eastenders.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Great Time in Waterford.

Well the weekend came and went and left us all the better for it!  The culmination of a year of races for the Run a Month Boys and (Girl) was the wonderful Waterford half marathon.  It was a real family affair, as Kevin and Niamh brought the kids, and Richie and Deborah came along to cheer the rest of us on... Kevin, Cormac, Ruth and I lined up at the start on a cold but very crisp and clear Saturday morning.  There was a huge turn out for this race - well over a 1500 I reckon.  We each arrived in different shape - Kevin hadn't trained for three weeks but had a good year up until now, Cormac has been struggling with injury and Ruth was coming to her first major race after a good half year of training.  I felt fine, but not at the peak I had hoped to reach.  Still, my tentative aim was a sub 1.50 min run.  I settled into this run nice and slowly, and tracked the 1.50 pacers.  After a couple of miles I felt good, chatted away to the pacers and decided I would track these guys until the ten mile mark.  The course was flat enough until the six mile mark when there was a bit of a drag uphill for a quarter of a mile.  This is the second time I've done this half marathon, and the last time out (four years ago) led to a time of 1.59.  All went according to plan this time around when I cranked up the pace at mile ten and entered the athletics stadium and finished at a time of 1.48.18.  Happy with that!  Ruth came in at 2.11 and Kevin and Cormac crossed the line at 2.17.  Everyone happy with their achievement, and ready for a drink or two!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Waterford Looms.

Saturday is fast approaching, and with it comes the Waterford Half Marathon.  The Run a Month Club has held this great event in the highest of esteem since we ran our first race of the year back in Tuam last January.  This was to be the pinnacle of our efforts - the climax to our year of races.  However, the confidence that should have accrued from a year of races is not really that high right now.  I ran five miles on the threadmill yesterday and another four in Salthill this evening, but if truth be told it feels like too little too late.  I should have been running ten milers regularly these past few months but I rarely got past the 10k mark and a recent tragic family bereavement left me with a few weeks of little or no running, very late nights and a bit of drinking.  The other Run a Month brother has been flat out busy with work and hasn't run in two whole weeks!  We'll also be joined by Cormac, who has been injured most of the time!  Excuses... excuses!  On the bright side Ruth is flying and young Richie is in a constant state of fitness!  Máirín is in great shape and Big Ron is too fit!  Hopefully my last two sessions will have brought the body back a bit to some semblance of fitness and a bit of more regular rest will see me in a better state come Saturday.  Time will tell!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Quick Post...

Just a quick post here to let all know that I'm alive and well and even running a bit!  It has been difficult however to find time lately to post anything due to the fact that we've been between Louth and Galway helping out as much as we can with a tragic situation for my wife's family and the passing of a little angel.  I'm back in Galway this week again and hopefully I'll get out for a longish run some evening... last week I managed a 4, 4, and 5 mile combination - which is just not good enough preparation for an imminent half marathon.

Monday, November 21, 2011

5 Miles on the Prom.

It looks like the Run a Month Club have lost out on November, but we're still gung-ho for the Waterford Half Marathon in three weeks time and training lately has not been an entire disaster.  This evening I went for a five mile run on the Salthill prom.  The night was cold and clear... but thankfully very dry.  I had a bit of zip in the legs today, thank God (it happens sometimes).  We are blessed with the prom in Galway - it's a beautiful way to spend an hour, with the waves lapping against the coast and the place lit up with walkers, runners, strollers - dogs, cats and more!  The funniest site tonight was a small terrier dog, down by the gravelly unlit path, who had a torch connected to his head!  A canine flashlamp... 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Slow Blogging, Fast Running.

For some reason I've been slow with my blogging this week - even though I ran on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.  Two four milers and a three were the order of the week and at a fast enough pace to compensate for the short distances involved. I had intended to go for a night run last night but things fell apart on the aul schedule side so I postponed!  Hope to get out for a longish run this weekend - weeks are rolling by up to the December half marathon and the Run a Month club looks in danger of a collapse as we reach the penultimate stage...

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Decent Five Miler Around Gleann Mór.

Tí Chóil an tSappar at the turn to Gleann Mór...

Out the house and down to the pier... then up again and around Gleann Mór.  Gleann Mór is Gaelic for 'the Big Glen' and a big glen it is - at least in one spot!  This was a nice run on a lovely evening - the only mistake I made was to leave it a little late before going out, as it became quite dark for the last twenty minutes (and I didn't have my flash light friends to guide me around!).  I reckon I ran it all at around an 8.10min pace - which was not too bad for me!  The run definitely kicked off a few cobwebs.  On the sporting world front:  our soccer boys beat Estonia by four goals last night, thus ensuring their safe qualification for next summer's Euro tournament (although there is another leg to go, but surely 4-0 is a safe advantage to bring home...).  Crack open the polish beer...!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Night Run Mark II

Following last week's debut night run in Seanadh Phéistín, I took to the old road again tonight - once more accompanied by Conor but without Big Ron.  Conor had his trusty head torch and it was enough to guide us along that most lonely of roads.  Tonight's run didn't set the world alight from a pace point of view - five miles in all, varying from a 9min mile start to a respectable last 7.30min miles. I found this night's run a good deal easier than last week's - okay the night was brighter, but there's no doubt I was taken by surprise last week and felt less disorientated by night running tonight.  Trouble is though:  I neglected every night since last week AND EVERY DAY TOO!  So it's time I copped on to some serious training...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Night Run.

The rarest of combinations:  Big Ron, Con Job and I, at night in Seanadh Phéistín.  This was my first excursion into the great mystery that is night running.  I can't say I enjoyed the experience wholeheartedly... truth is, I felt it a bit disorientating.  The little head lights provide good light, but only for the very immediate road ahead - which leaves you with the feeling of running in tunnel.  Hills seem to go on for miles at night and there is a general sense of disorientation.  Having stated all the negatives, I should mention the positives - and they are there in spades.  For starters, it beats the heck out of running on a treadmill.  Secondly, it's always good to run in good company and Big Ron and Con Job provided that in spades and lastly, the night air was fantastic.  I'm also pretty sure that I'll get used of this (and will have to if Ron and Con are to be taken at their word regarding another run next week). In all, we ran 5 miles, varying from 7.30min - 8min miles.  Ron and Con ran the last mile under 6mins.  Needless to say, I was left behind!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

4 Miles in Galway, 7 in Louth

The Waterford Half Marathon grows ever nearer - only 6 weeks to go now and I'm at least recovering from my recent wobble!  On Friday I trotted a decent four miler along the Salthill prom and out as far as Knocknacarra Cross.  No problems there!  The weekend brought me to County Louth where D and I supported the wonderful Stabannon Ladies Football team as they won a very hard fought Leinster title.  Inspired by their great achievement and that of Máirín who was completing her very first marathon in Dublin on that day (fond memories of last year), I went out for a 7 mile run on Sunday and was accompanied by Benny for the most part.  It's always better to run with company, and especially good to run in Benny's company.    So now:  I hope to get a few good runs in this week, starting tomorrow, and culminating at some stage with a 13 miler.  Yes I can?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Back to the Mill.

There's been a lull.  For nine days now I've done nothing.  Nada.  Haven't run a mile, or cycled or even played hopscotch outside the parish hall (not that I ever did that).  And why?  Have I been injured?   - No.  
Busy at work?  - No more than usual.  
Bad weather?   - Well, we live in Ireland... 
Any excuse then?  Not a one.  
But, there you go... it happened and I'm now over the lull, following a three mile threadmill run.  No more negative ninny - there's a lot of training to do between now and my Waterford Half Marathon on December 10th.  Let's get to it...

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Con Job and I Beat the Elements.

What a difference a day makes - this glorious pic was taken only yesterday, down at Trá na Reilige.  

Day off, and run due.  Conor and I were committed to running Seanadh Phéistín and it would be the first time for us to run together for many, many months.  However, I awoke this morning to the worst weather we've had in this country for a long time (which really, really says a lot!).  Lashing rain and fierce gale made me think that today's run would not materialise... but then I remembered the commitment had been made by Conor - a man who would run in an earthquake!  So we met at the cross at 12.30pm and with my trusty windsheeter I set off with the Con Man.  The first mile of Seanadh Phéistín is a long and slow incline and much to our great pleasure the wind was at our backs!  We were pushed up the hill, with minimum effort being expended!  There were points on that section of road where I swear my feet didn't even touch the ground (slight, ever so slight, exaggeration).  I had hoped to tick 6 miles today but we had to decide to turn at the 2.5 mark, as the rain became too much to bare and our run was entering the realms of pure lunacy!  After the turn there's another, sharper, incline - this time with no gale to assist.  As luck would rarely have it though the wind and rain definitely seemed to die down on the way back and we decided to push the pace a bit from the two mile mark.  Conor's garmin made for decent reading at the end of our run - mile 4 was clocked at 7.12pace, while our last mile was run at 6.40m/pace.  Shockingly quick for me!  All in all -nothing beats a run against the elements and thanks to the Con Job for making it happen...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Slight Slippage but Keeping it Going..

Not a great week - especially when taken in the context of the past few weeks when I was well and truly motoring in training.  This Tuesday I did some interval training, but couldn't manage the required amount from my Furman schedule.  I had to pass on the tempo run on Thursday and didn't do my full long run today.  The body just needed a pair back I reckon - a recharge of batteries and some muscular rebuild (that's my story anyway and I'm sticking with it!).  Hopefully next week will be a bit better - I have Monday off and am hoping to do a 13miler.  Meanwhile, I have nothing to practice as regards my showboating style finishes to races - as the pic below shows!
Kevin and I finish the Conamara 10k last week - image from TríSpórt's facebook site...

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Run a Month Boys do the Conamara 10k!

It's been a week since my last entry, but far from being a neglectful runner, I've actually had a good week's training.  It consisted of : intervals on Monday, tempo run on Wednesday and then the long weekend run.  This weekend saw my own club's big event - the Conamara 10k - held in Carna, give myself and Kevin (the Run a Month Club!) an opportunity to click our 10th month.  The day was a bit drizzly and dark to start off with, but by the time the race got underway it turned, well, just a little less drizzly and dark!  Kevin and I started and finished together, again, and this time we finished just a few seconds outside the 53min mark!  The course was very scenic - starting off outside of the Connemara Bay Hotel in Carna and then winding it's way around the outskirts of this gorgeous village.  There were hills - but they also went downward!  Full credit to the lads in the club who organised this event - including the oft mentioned Big Ron! - it was a really fun day out and well geared for families.  We were all thrilled to hear some advice from the great Caitriona McKiernan (former Cross Country Champion) after the race.  The other great thing about a local race is that friends are met that are rarely seen these days (due to mundane adult responsibilities).  One such friend was Aideen, who finished the race in 47mins and is in flying form.  
On another, unconnected matter:  our poor rugby lads lost this morning to Wales in the world cup... pity for them.  They should, however, hold their heads high for one particular reason:  they just may have fostered a new habit in Irish people, that of getting up at 5.30am - now this could lead to a healthy and productive economy???!

Monday, October 3, 2011

12 Miles on the Old Ardee Road.

I was in the Wee County this weekend and decided that a good long run with a wholesale change of scenery with be just the thing for me.  I'm now following the Furman First Half Marathon Training Programme, and have dipped straight in to week 11 of 18.  My aim is to set a PB for the Waterford Half Marathon on December 10th, to finish off my 'Run-a-Month' project on a high.  This sounds more difficult that it is - my old PB is just 1.56mins, and was set back in the days when I used to have beer for breakfast (slight joke).  I had company for some of my weekend run - Benny came three miles with me, and ended up doing a very creditable six himself.  The old Ardee road is a very pleasant run - not much traffic and enough ups and downs to keep a body on it's toes.  I felt great throughout and kept a very steady pace of about 8.40mins.  Of course it rained, and rained, and rained... but that mattered not a hoot while I was out in it.  The good thing is that I'm hitting a wee bit of form at last - and what better place to start hitting a wee bit of form than up in the wee county!

Friday, September 30, 2011

One of Three Great Routes.

Dinner party to organise for 8pm, work to finish at 5.15pm, an hour's commute and shopping to consider - would I be cutting it fine if I did my 5 mile tempo straight after work?  Well, that's what I did, and finely I did cut it!  My route was the Salthill prom - out to Mutton Island, around South Park and back down towards the prom, and my training schedule called for a 'mid-tempo' pace.  I'm not quite sure what a mid tempo pace means, but I took it to be 'quick enough', so I ran at a level above the norm.  There were times during this run when I thought I was going to konk out, but I kept going and discovered a second, third and even a fourth 'wind'.  I'm blessed with great training routes:  Seanadh Phéistín, An Cheathrú Rua, and Salthill... each has it's own merit, but the one factor in common to all is wonderful scenery.  The Salthill route is probably the easiest of the three in terms of being flat as a pancake, but this allows me to concentrate on building a little speed.  The 'prom' is an old walkway that hugs Galway Bay and is used by thousands of walkers every day - so the scenery, both human and natural, is always interesting.  I even managed to finish this particular run with a spring in the aul step.  And believe me, I needed the spring in the step to prepare for a dinner party with very little time to spare!  By the time I got home my wife and I went straight to peeling spuds, carrots, parsnips - sticking them all in the oven with some chicken, rushed a shower, got dressed, quick kitchen clean and hey presto, guests arrive (never knowing the panic of the preceeding 30mins!). 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Full of Beans After Last Night's Repeats.

I sprung out of bed this morning at 6am .  Surprisingly I was full of energy, something I didn't expect following yesterday evening's interval training session.  What was required of me was 6 by 800m repeats at 3/4 pace, with the obligatory warm up and down.  This was my first session of interval training since early August, so I didn't know how I'd react.  After the second 800m set I nearly collapsed, put my hands on my knees, gasped for air as my chest contracted, and thought I would drop dead there and then on the football pitches of South Park!  And what a place to cork it -  with the sun shining on Galway Bay, boys playing hurling, women out walking and jogging and life whizzing all around me... and there, in the middle of it all, am I - having a collapse!  I recovered enough to run the third set of 800s at a slightly (ok, significantly) slower pace.  And then the fourth set, fifth set and finally sixth set of 800s - hey presto, job done!   A hell of a tough workout.  And the effect of it all:  I sprung out of bed at 6am this morning, went for a walk, cleaned the kitchend and am full of beans and ready for work!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Run a Month Club - Grey Lake 10k

We cheekily asked the local hotel if they would allow us the use of a room for a quick shower following our run and they duly obliged for a very small fee... young Kevin looks satisfied.

September's 'Run a Month' effort brought us to the lovely town of Loughrea to participate in a very popular 10k.  Cormac is currently injured but both he and his good wife, Ruth, were at hand to mind Kevin's young ones while the Keester and I set about the Grey Lake run.  To make a real family occasion of it my mother and father came along.  This is a fine race, very well organised and an obvious favourite with running clubs up and down the west.  As Kevin and I trotted down towards the starting point I took a bad fall on the wet sidewalk.  My legs went from under me on a slippy surface that had some kind of liquid (coke perhaps) spilt on it.  I was lucky not to have been hurt and, thank God, I was back on my feet and heading towards the start line in a matter of seconds... Following some terrible morning showers, the day cleared up very nicely. The first few hundred metres were very congested and it was hard to find a clear running path, such was the interest in this race, but when things settled down Kevin and I fell into a nice, steady pace - around 8.30mins/mile.  It wasn't an easy 10k (most of the first half was uphill), but it was extremely enjoyable.  We chatted our way around the course and I could definitely see a big improvement in Kevin's fitness since the Breaffy 10k a month ago.  Our aim was to bring it home inside 53mins, and the clock at the end read 52.44, so job done!  It was comfortable and highly enjoyable.  Next up is the Conamara 10k, organised by my own club Tríspórt - then it's off to the Phoenix Park for a 12k in November, followed by the grand finale of our 'Run-a-Month', the Waterford half marathon in December.  Santy should be very good to us this Christmas.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Back on the Bike...

It wasn't a long cycle, but it was great to be back on the bike this evening for the first time since my epic Conamara-Louth trek earlier this summer.  All I had to spare was about 40 minutes so I hared up the road, over to Dóilín strand and around the peninsula... I was finished in 35minutes with only around 7.5 miles done, but it genuinely felt great to be ploughing through the air at the pace of a racing bike.  It also brought me back to those heady days of August when I roamed free and easy through the Irish countryside on my own little odyssey.  There's a spring in my autumn step at last!

Monday, September 19, 2011

7.5 Miles.

My 'Dóilín' run - the Dóilín is the coral beach which lies on the other side of the peninsula...

My work roster gave me a free day today and I used it productively, thank God!  Apart from tidying the house a bit the number one thing on my agenda was to get out and run... These past few weeks have been very stop start and I've been in dire need of a mid range run to boost confidence and get back on course for my half marathon training.  So I decided to do the Dóilín route - a handy local run that amounts to 7.5 miles.  Today's weather was absolutely beautiful (if you're a runner), and absolutely miserable (if not).  Yes, drizzle, and lots of it...  The trick with drizzle is that you have to get out and get warmed up asap, preferably during a dry patch.  Once warmed up the constancy of drizzle is akin to being in a jacuzzi - lovely and refreshing, and very, very wet!  My pace today wasn't too fast but I felt good throughout and this will do wonders for my resolve to eat well and train well for the next few weeks and months.  A word on the weekend's sporting action:  great win for Ireland against Australia in the Ruby World Cup - I think they can make semis now, and good to see Dublin win an All Ireland footbal final at last (but I hope it doesn't become a habitual thing!).

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Never Underestimate the Prom...

And after the storm... all calm on the western front!  A beautiful evening in Galway, hurricane Katia is well gone and the city of the tribes returns to it's usually happy self.  And I took full advantage by stopping off in Salthill after work for a nice six mile trot.  I ran the prom - that most famous of seashore walkways - and then headed out to Mutton Island Lighthouse, before circling South Park and heading back towards the prom again.  I'm not zipping by any means, but at least the upward curve continues!  The mackerel fishers were back in force - one old man carried a pastic bucket in one hand and a fishing rod in another as he made his way to a prime spot by the shore.  A little boy stood five paces behind his father who pointed a strange looking, half-size rod at the horizon.  'You'll catch nothing with that thing', I thought to myself, and just then his line strained and he began to reel like mad...  Never underestimate the power of the Salthill prom!

Monday, September 12, 2011

3 Miles Salthill, 5 Miles An Cheathrú Rua

I thought I was a brave and hardy soul venturing out into the tail end of hurricane Katia for a five mile run yesterday morning, until I was firmly put in my place by Big Ron.  Startled by a passing car going 'beep beep' as I passed through the village - I hopped on to the path, and viewed Big Ron as he whizzed by with an upward thumb extending through the car's front window and a racing bike on the back rack.  Last week's ironman was on his way to compete, and ultimately finish in the top 15 of the Loughrea Triathlon!  I could barely fight the winds on a short route, not mind struggle with rough water and a light bike! Congrats to the big man, but I really am babystepping my way back to form.  On Friday I jogged three miles on the Salthill prom, so a five miler shows some improvement.  Whatever summer cold I picked up after my big cycle is taking ages to evacuate the system (man flu my wife would say).  I need to start looking for a September run for the 'Run-a-month' club... onwards, brave soldier!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

3 Miles Up and Down the Blustery Road.

Winter is coming early this year by the looks of things.  We've already begun putting down fires and it's starting to darken a good deal earlier.  The rain lashes and the wind howls - they love each other really though....  I stepped out into the wild this evening for a short 3 mile run up an down the road.  The past few weeks have been slightly slow for me on the running front, so I took this evening nice and slow.  There won't be a Dublin Marathon for me this year, unfortunately, but the big aim is to finish the 'run a month' adventure with a half marathon in the beautiful city of Waterford... breaking my half record and enjoying some pre-Christmas bevvies - now wouldn't that be nice!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

4 Miles at a Stretch.

I don't know what's in the water these past few weeks but following a bit of a tummy bug last week I still haven't been 100%.  I thought my Breaffy 10k on Sunday last would put an end to the lethargy but once again, this week, I was more inclined to rest than run.  However, a man has to push on at some time... so I drove to Seanféistín today for a 4/5 or 6 miler - depending on form.  Well inside the first mile I had resigned myself to completing the shorter distance.  My legs were almost wobbly weak!  The first two miles of the Seanféistín stretch is basically a slow incline, so it didn't help much!  However, I stuck with the task and completed the distance - this run should help me along my road to full running... HOPEFULLY!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Run a Month Club: Breaffy 10k!

Eight months into our 'run a month' project, Kevin and I travelled to Castlebar, County Mayo, to compete in yesterday's Breaffy 10k run.  We came from opposite ends of the province, as I had spent the previous night in Sligo at a friend's stag party.  This was a very well organised event, which obviously had the support of the local community as it weaved in and out of the village's little back roads.  Young and old stood outside their houses clapping and cheering the runners as they passed and many provided water and refreshments along the way.  Kevin and I were a little apprehensive about performance at this run - I had a bit of a tummy bug for the previous few days and Kevin's training had slowed slightly, but we performed well enough.  We ran the first 2k well within ourselves, finding a steady pace, letting the crowd run on ahead of us and settling in to the run.  From then on we gradually overtook many runners, keeping our form and pace.  We finished in 52.57 - happy enough with that and ready to up the training for autumn time.  A nice steak and chips were the order of the afternoon after the race while we watched the football on tv... life could'nt get much better!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Ger Kearney 4 Mile Memorial Run!

A few days after my mammoth cycle D and I took the two hour southerly trip to Wexford, where I would link up with brothers Richie and Cormac to compete in the Ger Kearney 4 mile run.  They call this part of the country the 'sunny south-east', but it was as rainy as any other part on the day of our run!  It didn't matter a hoot for us trotters though, and amongst the many competitors was our Mom - celebrating her 70th year in style!  My mother and father had six children and all, barring myself, are scattered to the four corners of the island - all married and rooted elsewhere.  Richie is well settled in Wexford now and a regular first team player with Tombrack United!  Hence the reason for this run:  to raise money for their football club and to honour the memory of a much loved local runner.  

Cormac romps home in the Ger Kearney Run and we join Mom for her heroic finish!
The course, though short, was fairly difficult and well packed with hills.  Cormac and I set off at our own pace, running initially within ourselves and picking it up as we went along.  I could definitely feel the long cycle on my legs and couldn't stretch as I would have wanted but still I was happy enough with the run.  I finished in a time of 31.45 with Cormac coming in at 33.54.  Richie himself was the chief organiser (and he did a fantastic job) so he didn't actually compete.  

Cormac and I doubled back after the run and walked the triumphant journey with Mom and Deborah (Richie's wife).  We had a fantastic night in Tombrack afterwards - Dad played a starring musical role!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I Cycled Ireland, I ran Wexford!

These last ten days have been an internet-free zone, as I trudged the country on foot, cycle and tyre!  I set off on Monday, 15th August, on a personal odyssey - to cycle across Ireland in three days to raise money for the Jack and Jill Foundation (to care for sick children).  The idea came to me a month earlier - so I had to buy a bike!  Relearn how to cycle!  Acclimatise my posterior...  And start fundraising... My brother Kevin and brother in law Mark had hoped to join me on the full cycle but unfortunately they could only make it for parts of the journey, yet were it not for those two lads I wouldn't have done the requisite training or planning.
The lads and I set off to BT's positive sign!
Monday morning:  up with the lark and feeling great.  Had breakfast, packet my gear (light change of clothes in rucksack!)... watched  a 'youtube' video on how to change a bike tyre!  Kevin and Mark were to accompany me on the first 30k, out towards the village of Maam.  We were delayed slightly due to a tyre problem on Kevin's bike (youtube video came in handy already) but we were on the road by 10am.  I'll never forget climbing up Ard na Bleaisteiri to see my cousin, aunt, father and mother out waving us off with makeshift banners!  We were doubly waved off by sister Roisin and friends Ronan and BT up at the village and away we went... The first 30k were a delight, with great banter between the three brothers.  Weather conditions were perfect - no wind, no rain.  I felt sorry for the lads as we descended toward Kane's pub in Maam, because the descent, which ran for at least 4k, would have to be climbed by the boys on the way back!  After a cup of coffee and warm toastie, I set off on a long solo journey, while the lads cycled heroically back up the hill towards home.  I would link up with Mark again on the third leg of the journey, from Cavan to Louth.  
Maam to Cong was absolutely stunning, but slightly tough.  Lough Corrib was beside me all the way, providing the eye-candy!  I broke for another coffee in Cong, and felt strong.  My plans were to cycle 114k that first day, going as far as Castlerea.  From Cong I continued up through Ballinrobe and Claremorris, where I broke for a light lunch.  At this point the idea occurred to me for the first time to journey 55k further that first day to the beautiful town of Carrick-on-Shannon.  Could I do it?  I said I'd assess the situation in Ballyhaunis.  By this time the rain was heavy and falling steadily, I was wet to the bone but not overly affected by it.  At Ballyhaunis I pulled over, got my phone out and called my brother Richie:  'book a hotel room for me in Carrick-on-Shannon, I'm going for it!'.  From Ballyhaunis to Loughglynn and from there on to Frenchpark I felt great, but the rain got heavier and heavier, and the sky began to darken.  It was past six now, but Carrick was just about 20k away.  My legs were beginning to tire but I kept going on and on and on, wondering 'where is Carrick'?  Eventually I saw the beginnings of a town and a sign that broke my heart: 'Welcome to Boyle!' AAAGH!  I had taken the wrong road and ended up 15k off track!  The constant rain and tiredness had left me dazed and dopey (what's new??!).  I reached for the map in my rucksack but it was all wet and torn.  As I stood forlorn  on the side of the road a kind stranger put me on the right road again and I just put the head down and went for Carrick, reaching that wonderful town with clothes dripping wet at 7.30pm.  170km done.
Beautiful Carrick on Shannon, where I stayed the first night...

Tuesday:  Following a sound sleep I awoke at 8am Tuesday morning, had breakfast, walked around Carrick and got back to my hotel room to prepare for the big cycle when the local radio station, IRadio called to arrange a meeting for 11am.  Thank God, and Ronan, my runners were now once again dry (I had stuffed them with newspaper the previous night on big Ron's prompting).  The radio crew were there to lead me all the way to Cavan, much to my shock and delight (word of my cycle had been spread by my radio-working sister in law, and I was the 'colour-piece' of the day!).  This day was absolutely beautiful: sunshine, little breeze and the most beautiful lakeland countryside of Cavan and Leitrim.  Thanks to my very long cycle the previous day, I only had 74k ahead of me on day two.  I got to Cavan town, where the Fleadh Ceoil (trad music fest) was in full swing.  I was so chipper I even had three pints of Guinness that evening!

Fleadh Ceoil in Cavan, and the girls from IRadio who led the way there...

Wednesday:  Day three was a pure lap of honour!  There were only 74k left in my mammoth cycle and I was to be joined by brothers-in-law:  Michael Woods, Michael Minnock, Benny, Mark, sister in law Theresa and friend Brian Murray.  We set off from Cavan around 1pm, leaving a very busy road to head for Ballieborough, Kingscourt, Dromcondrath, Ardee and finally Stabannan.  Outside Dromcondrath we were joined by Ciaran Maloney and the 'Champs Elysée' atmosphere was beginning to build!  The town of Ardee, being our last 'town stop' was the start of the 'carnival' atmosphere, as we were greeted by 20 supporters, family and friends alike -most of whom hopped on a bike to join us on the last 9k journey to the village of Stabannan.  On entering the village we were joined by about 50 others, children and adults, all cheering and supporting (little did I think this crazy idea of mine would grow such legs!).  We raised €3,300 for the Jack and Jill Foundation and had a whale of a night!  Men and women in the pub that night vowed to make it an annual event, in which they would all join in ( was that drink talk?)!  All in all:  170k in day 1, 74k day 2 and 74k day 3.  Not too bad!

I still have to write about the Wexford 4mile Run - that should be a post of it's own tomorrow! 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Big Cycle Starts Tomorrow!

The day has finally come... tomorrow morning at 9am I'll set off for a 320k cycle from one side of Ireland to the other.  It should take me 3 days - barring injury, extreme weather, bicycle damage or alien abduction!  This is my little fundraiser for the Jack and Jill Foundation, to help parents of extremely ill children, and I'm delighted to say that I've collected well over a thousand euro so far... Thanks to everyone who has contributed - I'll let you all know how I got on and take some photos of the lovely countryside!

Friday, August 12, 2011

No Fear, No Doubt.

Two of the lads who'll join me a part of the way...Mark and Kevin

I am but two days away from one of my life's greatest sporadic challenges!  Three weeks ago I decided that I would cycle from An Cheathrú Rua, where I live, across Ireland to County Louth - from where my wife hails.  Although I run, and love to run, I haven't been on a bicycle 7 times in the past 20 years!  And those seven times were probably jaunts to the shop or around the green area in Knocknacarra... Now, I've set myself the challenge of travelling 300 miles (not 200 as I originally underestimated!), in 3 days.  I have no fear of the distance, nor do I have any doubt that I can complete the task.  I've been collecting for a charity called the Jack and Jill Foundation and I know that the money raised will go towards an organisation that has been of enormous help to a little darling that's very dear to my wife and I and to her wonderful family that have struggled with great dignity over the past year and a half.  On top of all this - I intend to enjoy the cycle to the hilt (providing my posterior stands, or should I say 'sits' the test!).  I'll be joined by some great people along the way - my brother Kevin, brother in law Mark, sister in law Theresa and possibly some others!  Pray for favourable weather!  Donate if you wish at

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Implosion in Seanféistín...

I spent some of today's run in the 'little walking man' position!

I came a cropper on my scheduled 12 mile run today.  I finished, but only just and had to take a number of walking stops.  Why?  I'm not sure - there just wasn't any zing in the legs.  Last week I cantered the 11 mile run as if it were nothing, but I've certainly been pushed a bit with this new cycle-Ireland project, so I may be overtraining... Another reason could be that I underestimated the humidity and had under hydrated - I certainly had no water on route and had drank very little before the run.  At any rate, I ran and finished - no matter what shape I was in it will still stand to me.  As for the cycle-Ireland project:  we only have  a week left before we head off across the country in aid of the Jack and Jill Foundation, so tomorrow Kevin, Mark and I will be heading for the hills on a 70k cycle.  I hope the body recovers sufficiently in time!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Charity Challenge!

I'm planning to hop up on a bike on the 15th August and cycle across Ireland in three days, from An Cheathrú Rua to Stabannan, in County Louth, from where my good wife hails!  Nothing MAD about that?? This is way out of my comfort zone - I got up on a bike for the first time in years last week and have been hardening my posterior in preparation for this trip ever since!  All in all, it will be about 200 plus miles...phew!  Of course, this challenge is for charity - I've just set up a secure web point for donations, so please consider donating the price of a pint (€4, £3 - or whatever you can give).  Please read on - I'll sweat enough doing this so GIVE FULL ATTENTION!!

The background:  a year ago my wife and I witnessed the onslaught of a severe illness that has left a beautiful little baby girl fighting for her life and her distraught parents stretched to the limits of their vast coping powers.  They could barely manage, but for the help of a voluntary organisation called the Jack and Jill Foundation, which sends nurses to the homes of sick children and seriously allievates the stress on parents.  This organisation needs cash asap to exist -as it gets very little from our cash-strapped government.  So, my pitch to you; if we were ever to meet up away from this virtual world, would you buy me a pint or a coffee (I'll get the next round!)... if so, then please donate the price of a pint (€4/£3/$4...) or donate if you know parents who might need this support... or just if you can do it at all!  Click the link and donate!  Thanks all...

Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Good Week!

The Run a Month Club from our April Days... Kevin (Centre) and I cycled a fair distance today, in training for our cross-Ireland cycling adventure...!

Today I was accompanied by brother Kevin on a 50kish cycle (I need to consult google maps for an exact km figure) from Pointe to Leitir Mealláin and back, for what was the end of a great week of training.  Yesterday I went off to Seanféistín for an 11 mile run all by my lonesome on a windy and rainy July afternoon (do we get any other kind of day around here!).  I felt great during yesterday's run - I took it at a steady pace, around 8.30mins, but never felt weak.  This has been my best week of training for some time - including intervals on Tuesday, a tough tempo on Wednesday, a long cycle on Thursday and another today.  I'm beginning to get in good shape again - thank God!  Today's cycle had the dual effect of being A) a good bit of cross training and B) a major psychological plus as we head into the two week countdown for our cross-Ireland cycling adventure!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Tough Tempo and Twenty Five Mile Cycle.

A good start to the tempo season with Conor in Seanféistín

I went out to Seanféistín on Wednesday evening with Conor, with a tempo run in mind:  1 mile easy, 4 miles fast and 1 mile slow.  We chatted merrily for mile one and then Conor turned to me and said; 'do whatever pace you feel like for the tempo and I'll follow'.  So off I went, like the clappers.  Seanféistín is an unforgiving road which goes from one uphill climb to another and I was like a fool for a mile and a half running at a pace I had no hope to maintain.  By the time I reached the end of the first 1.5 mile my pace dropped dramatically.  I picked it up again at the turn, but then had to stop completely!  The shame!  I didn't stop for too long though and was off again, but at a steadier pace.  I finished the the tempo with a strong mile - thanks to a prolonged downhill stretch...On Thursday I took to the bike with my legs still aching from Wednesday's run... I cycled for two hours and covered a distance of 40km - which I'm happy enough about... however, I'll need to be covering three times that each day just to get to Louth for my planned epic holiday adventure!

Monday, July 25, 2011

First Intervals of the Year...

Started interval training this evening:  10 min warm up, followed by 5 by 1km reps at pace, with short break between each.  Now I really feel like I'm training!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Run A Month Club: VICTORY!!!!

Victory in Cuigéal 5mile Run!  Kevin came third - so a great result for the 'Run a  Month Club'!

Well, well, well... just when we were in danger of running out of racing opportunities to fulfill our July commitment to the run-a-month club, up pops a race that I actually win!  And Kevin came third - two O Hara boys in the top three!  Yes, the Cuigéal 5mile Race may have been low on competitors but a win is a win!  It was an extremely tough race - flat for the first mile and full of hills from then on!  I found myself out in front from about the two mile mark and extended my lead between that and mile 3.  Then, however, I became a paranoid android - wondering how far behind me my nearest competitor was!  This paranoia pushed me to produce my quickest run for some time - I attacked all the hills with gusto and really felt knackered on the home stretch... it was lovely to come in 1st and great to see Kevin come third.  Well done to everyone involved in organising this race - I'll be back next year to defend the title!  On another matter:  I brought the bike for a test cycle today, just an hour and a half... I know now that I'll need to do a fair bit of bike training before I can cycle across Ireland... 3 weeks to the deadline!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Four Miles and a Wicked Plan.

On a warm but breezy day I did a  nice four miler in Seanféistín with Conor.  He's quite a character... several years ago he took to running in a big way and is now within nearly a year of completing 100 marathons... so far, he's at number 70, and just trotted out five marathons in five days last week!  I felt a little embarrassed restricting the man to a four mile run, but as it happens the short distance suited us both this evening. I'm within three weeks now of my annual 'big' holiday, and I've hatched a wicked plan:  I intend to cycle across Ireland in three days, from An Cheathrú Rua to County Louth, from where my good wife hails.  I made my plans known last night and to my pleasant surprise brother Kevin said he'd join me - so good laughs ahead, though it will be one hell of a challenge!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

And Just Like That...

Blue sky day for the prodigal son...

as if nothing had ever happened.  As if no void had ever existed, no gap to close, no long pause to reset... As if nothing... the road arises to forgive it's prodigal son.  'You've been away, but I'm glad you're back... run on, I'll keep wind and rain away and I'll clear your lungs and rattle the rust out of your chest... go on, run five miles easy'.  And so I did... out the door, down towards the lighthouse, turning towards the village... I hoped for three miles, but soon settled in to five.  It was fantastic to be back, after over a week off - first through work, then flu, then work again.  Running into all kinds of excuses, I could have dodged this evening's run, 'not yet right, still tired, another evening's rest, working too late...'  But God spared me sense and up I got.  Loved every minute.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Cut Down in the Prime of My Running Summer.

To those many thousands of you who have wondered this past week 'where has the Connemara Bullet gone?', I say this:  fear not, I have not retired, or died, or gone to prison for grand theft and larceny, or run off with another woman for a simpler life in the Faroe Islands... plainly and simply, I have been cut down in the prime of my running summer, by a achy summer flu/cold (insert appropriate term depending on sex - male: flu, female: cold).  I've had this nasty yoke for the past four days now and feel it's finally clearing, though I'll stay away from running until Monday at least.  So ends the Connemara Bullet-in.

Friday, July 8, 2011

3 Miles Wednesday, 5 Miles Today...

'An tOileáinín' (the little island) - my grandfather had seaweed rights on this  Atlantean paradise!

I ran but didn't blog on Wednesday - nothing too hectic, just a three mile jaunt up and down the road.  I stretched the same route to 5 miles today and felt strong enough.  At the bottom of the road, just before the turn, I could get a clear view of the little island just off the shore at Pointe.  The tide was out so far that you could walk to this island - as I'm told my grandfather did in days of yore to gather seaweed.  In them days every house had seaweed rights along the shore and our's would have been on the little island.  How times have changed!  I decided to run the hills hard this evening - a sure sign that the pace of training is picking up a bit!  Felt good, probably looked awful!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

8 Miles with Conor in Seanféistín...

After my run I went for a walk to the rock, where angler's, like Rhona, were looking for supper...

It's been about 8 months since I've had the pleasure of Conor's company on the plains of Seanféistín, but, it being that time of year, I was glad to meet up with him on Ros a mhíl cross this evening, for what would turn out to be a tough 8 miler for me (and 12 for him).  Conor is way ahead fitness-wise, and intends to run 5 marathons in 5 days next week.  This evening's 8 miler was the longest run I've had for some time.  We started off brightly and I felt good for about 3 miles.  Seanféistín is a real test - the first 2 miles are all up hill, and while there are some downs the course puts you through your paces.  I had only intended to run 6, but decided to go another 2 miles, so I said my goodbyes to Conor and turned at the four mile mark to head back for base.  On the turn I hit a 'wobbly' - my legs were like jelly beneath me and I slowed to a tortoise jog.  I had hoped for a second wind but it was a struggle all the way back.  Truth be told, I even stopped to walk at the hardest of climbs, with only 2 miles to go.  Mind won over matter though and I quickly picked myself up and ran the rest of  the way home - glad to have completed an 8 miler, but with the clear knowledge that I NEED TO DISCIPLINE MY TRAINING!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

7 Miles with Kevin.

Kevin and I set off on our 7 miler...

Kevin and the clan came home yesterday evening and called to the house this morning wondering if...  Of course, says I, why not.  And so we did.  To be honest, we set off with the casual intention of doing the same as we did last week:  our three mile 'up and down the road' route.  However, when we hit the turnaround spot I asked Kevin if he wanted to push on up to the four mile mark.  When we got as far as the four mile mark, Kevin mentioned that he had hoped to get close to a 12k run this weekend, so we set off towards Doilín, and a 7 mile run. I's great to run with good company - one pushes the other and the the conversation shortens the distance.  We ran the hills with gusto and slowed down when we needed to.  There was nary a bit of rain and the weather, though gloomy for summer, was fine for running purposes.  A nice run, good company, great distance.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

3 Miles with a Twist.

Bóithrín an tSagairt

You can't beat a summer's Saturday morning.  I got early to give the students their breakfast, and with a long free day stretching far ahead, I tore into some serious house cleaning -  basically turning the house upside down, cleaning and mopping and mopping and cleaning!  After about four hours of housework I decided to reward myself with a 3 mile run... my usual 'up and down the road' jaunt, but with one little twist in the tail.  On reaching the turnaround point I decided to head right, instead of turning directly back down towards the house.  This right turn would bring me on a nice little loop, stretching the 3 mile mark marginally in terms of distance, but significantly in terms of difficulty.  The road is known as Bóithrín an tSagairt (the Priest's Road), and is basically an unforgiveable hill that leads to the highest point on the peninsula.  From here, on a clear day, you can see as far as the Island of Garumna to the west, and out to the Aran Islands to the south.  I huffed and puffed up the savage hill and felt gggggreeeeeeat at the very top.  Just like Tony the Tiger.  The rest of the run was easy peasy after this!  Throughout I hummed the infectious 'what you focus on grows' tune that I heard the last day.  Running can be a great old life motivator...!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

St John's Eve...

The lads make toast on the bonfire!

23rd of June is known as St. John's Eve, or Oíche San Seán - a time when villages along the west coast of Ireland are lit up with bonfires galore... There are 15 teenage students living in our house at the moment (learning Irish) so we gathered as much wood as we could, threw a bag of turf on top, splattered with some petrol and awwwway we went!  I got some bread and jam and the lads were trying to toast the slices as they dangled at the end of thin branches - faces were burning for the sake of the toast!  A lovely night - at least we kept up our side of the bargain.  Juneathon was ticked with some sit ups!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What you focus on grows...

There's nothing for me to do today but highlight a fantastic blog post from Julia, at Running to Learn. This post is exactly why I love to keep a blog - to find inspiration like this!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Wild Garlic.

We've been living here for three years now, in a beautiful and rugged spot by the sea.  Many years ago my father turned the boggy ground around where my house now stands to make potato beds - not an easy job in Conamara, for if you're not sinking into wet bogland or marsh then your hitting hard rock - and there's plenty of that, believe me!  What's also plentiful around here is wild garlic - standing tall and proud amidst the briar and heather.  I can't claim to be any great nature boy - it took a visit from my cousin Míchéal to point this majestic wild plant out.  Truth be told, I'm not wild about garlic, but I may just be wild about wild garlic - at least the look of it!  Exercise wise:  a paltry mile...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Ups and Downs.

Nice to run with company - well provided today by brother Kevin!

I've been letting myself down lately - dropping standards, dulling ambition, doing things badly.  I slipped with my Juneathon quest again yesterday, though that doesn't really bother me too much, it's the quality of what I've been doing recently that is gnawing at me.  This morning I had reason to be in a field beside our house and heard the clearest cricket song.  The little fellow was relentless, hiding somewhere in the long grass, he chirped and chatted away to the world like a madman amusing himself.  Our place is usually full of birdsong in the morning, but today belonged to this little fellow.  My brother Kevin was at home, so we decided to go for a run when my student lodgers left for college.  It's nice to run with a bit of company every once and awhile.  We did my usual 'up and down again' route, marking the 5k turnaround point at Cóilín Daddy's.  Our pace was brisk enough and we even decided to stretch it out for the last 1k.  I was upbeat again after this run, and decided to look at some positives:  I may not be training as hard as I was last year, but I'm still at it and, though they be short jaunts, I've still competed well enough for Juneathon.  Not too bad, an do better!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Sit Ups...

Not fun, not a run, but done.  30.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I.5 Mile.

Got up and down for a quick 1.5 miler this evening.  Not too many spectators out to cheer me on as I continue my Juneathon quest - very disappointing!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Thaaar She Bllooooowws.......

The same scene, just a few days ago, and it looks like an entirely different country...

The weather - the runner's constant companion, is fierce moody this year.  Last week she smiled on Friday and cried on Saturday.  Ever since she's blown hot and cold.  To be honest, I've fallen out with her this year.  Last year I could take her moods, actually the more volatile she was the more I liked her.  Windy, rainy, stormy - I didn't mind, I just wanted to be out there with her.  This year, though, I'm turned off by her wild mood swings.  Truth be told I've been making lame excuses just to avoid her.  It's getting a bit awkward between us... this evening I trotted down the road and up again for three miles and everything was like old times again - she smiled, I laughed, we got on so well.  Let's hope this rekindles our love affair... the ball is in her court now...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Yesterday I did some sit ups, but failed to blog them up in accordance with Juneathon rules, so technically I'm out.  However, I'm going to plough on anyway - surely a 90% success rate is better than nothing!  Today I ran a paltry mile - it's all I had time to do... better than nought.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Another Day of Sit Ups...

Following yesterday's fantastic run, and lovely weather, comes a dank and dirty day of sit ups, press ups, and not a bit of running. Still it keeps Juneathon ticking, somehow!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

7.5 miles, on a day of meetings...

My wife was the first soul I ran past, she on her way back from a walk, and I on my way to Dóilín Strand...

Upon joking about a need for drugs following a stressful day, a friend remarked that I should go out for a run to get my 'natural high' - never truer words were spoken.  Today, I finally broke the 5 mile barrier, for the first time in quite a while, with a fantastic 7.5 mile run, from one tip of the peninsula to the other.  This was a day of meetings for sure.  In the hour prior to set off Yolando and her children called to the house, followed by Big Ron and his youngest Cóil.  When all were gone I set off, down to the lighthouse first of all and then up towards the village.  The first soul I met on my run was my own dear wife on her way back from a walk - so the camera was sprung!  After this I met Síle and her young ones, crossed paths with Mícheál, Peadar and half the world... The opposite tip of the peninsula to us is the famous Coral Strand - Trá an Dóilín, so at this point I turned to head back for home.  For about a half a mile after the turn there's a steep and steady incline.  It nearly broke me!  But what goes up must come down (or at least level off!)... I trotted back home at a decent enough pace - and lastly met cousin Bríd!  A fine run, on a fine day...

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sit Up Day.

It's Juneathon after all, and though I won't be a winner, or anything near, I've decided to keep going for most of the month at least.  Today was a sit up day, just 30 - enough to make my soft stomach churn!  And on it goes...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

5 Miles.

This scraggily beauty marks the entrance to our  home in wild and windy Conamara...
Out the road at 7pm, down towards the lighthouse and back up again.  Not a mile gone when the heavens open and I'm being lashed - punished for past sins, or sins of a past life or just punished.  Or am I being treated to nature's greatest cleanse?  While the world inside four walls can look out with dread at June rain, the runner is quick to adjust, and even delight in it.  All day long I felt sluggish, but all of a sudden I'm revived, galloping up Ard na Bleaistéirí, past my mother's house, nearing the top of the hill at Connolly's and still stretching the legs.  By the time I got as far as Matt Tom's I was ready for London 2012.  My intention was to go out for 3, but I ended up stretching it to 5.  And I loved every minute!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

After Work 3 Miler...

A windy but bright June day and after work I trotted the prom at a slow enough pace.  The place was full of walkers, as always, but funnily enough it was low on the runner barometer for some reason.  Felt good, but didn't push the pace too much... Juneathon ambles on..

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Another One Miler...

It's changeable weather out here, but beautiful to catch a run in between showers...

To keep Juneathon just about going, I trotted out for a one mile run today - up and down the road was all.  I was under a wee bit of time pressure, so good just to tick a box and funnily enough, it felt like enough!  Back tomorrow with some serious running (I hope).

Monday, June 6, 2011

Resorting to Sit Ups...

So as not to fully collapse for Juneathon, I did some sit ups today... a few, maybe 40.  My stomach is in bits. Bits I tells ya, bits...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Run a Month Club are Kings (and Queen) of Cong...

King Cong (well, King of the Cong 8K!)... Deep in the woods of Ashford Castle..

The run a monthers were in fine form today for the Cong 8k... Cong is a gorgeous little village in the west of Ireland, just on the border of Counties Galway and Mayo and famous for two things: A) it was the site of a famous John Wayne movie called The Quiet Man and B) there is a beautiful old castle in the village (now a hotel) called Ashford Castle - where so many famous Kings, Queens and Presidents have stayed over the years. The run, which started on a little off-road just outside the village, was one of the most satisfying I've done for a long time.
Kevin crosses the line and checks his watch with a  satisfied grin...

Cormac and Ruth bringing it home in style...

The route meandered through woods and trail, with a good part of it on the grounds of the famous castle.  Kevin and I ran most of the route together - he is in fine form right now!  I tend to mentally break these races into sections of 2ks, and I decided to up the pace a bit for the last two, after taking it slightly easier for the previous two.  The very last km was a real up hill slog, but I was happy enough crossing the line at 40.43.  Kevin followed at 41.16 and Ruth and Cormac ran together for a time of 51mins...
We even had time time for coffee in Ashford castle to celebrate afterwards with Mom and Kevin's two youngest in tow...

Friday, June 3, 2011

2 Miles...

Just two short miles today on the Galway prom after work... It was the nicest day of the year so far - almost to hot for running!  Men, women and children were out in their bikinis in Salthill. Yes, everyone in bikinis.  Day 3 of Juneathon done!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Day 2 Juneathon - 1 Mile Run.

Didn't even need shorts for this one!

I have rarely done a run as short as this, but with time being scare and the legs being slightly heavy after two days running in a row, I decided it would be good to mark day 2 of Juneathon with the shortest of hops, out the door, down to the pier, and up to the one mile marker.  On a beautiful even, it was a beautiful idea!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Day 1 of Juneathon... 5 miles.

June is back, and so is Juneathon, that weird and wonderful jogger/blogger marathon when we sign up to run or exercise every day and blog about it, every day!  I muddled through last year with some, well plenty, sit-up days, but this year I am determined to run a bit more if I can!  I had my heart set on a run in the neighbouring village of Spiddal today with the rest of the Trísport club but had to come home and attend to some house fixing work due to the imminent arrival of 15 young teenagers on Monday (for the first of three summer camp courses for which we are a host houses!).  With my Spiddal plan scuppered I decided to do my usual up and down the road run.  The legs were weary enough for the last mile or two, but generally I did ok, for the first day that is!  Good luck to all other Juneathoners... let the games begin!!!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Up With The Birds...

In honour of my first major lawn cut of the year I decided to post this pic of a mushroom, which ended up as an innocent victim of said cutting.  PS:  what room has no windows and no doors... yes, a mushROOM.  Hardy, har, har...

I decided to give myself a kick up the jacksy this morning, by rising at 5.45am to get out for a four miler.  Is there anything more spiritually uplifting than running on a bright May morning with a cool breeze at your back and  the chorus song of a thousand birds all around?  And what a chorus... there were finches, for sure, thrushes and other little birds I couldn't recognise.  One fellow I did recognise though was the quuuuuark quark of the pheasant - we live in a marshy area and the place seems to be the pheasant equivalent of Grand Central Station! My pace wasn't too bad either - I eased into the run by turning down towards the lighthouse with a leisurely gait, but on the way back I stepped it up, almost unknowns to myself.  This was my first run for over a week, and though I've been busy at work and with some visiting guests, there's no real excuse.  I missed it, but now the decks are cleared and I'm ready to trot.  And by the way, there's talk of another marathon this autumn, but keep it quiet...

Monday, May 23, 2011

3 Miles in Hurricane!

Ard na Bleaistéirí - part of my 'up and down the road' run!

Last week the Queen of England came to town and this week we welcomed Barack Obama - a red letter fortnight for Ireland of the welcomes!  Inspired by the 'yes we can' speech, I decided to brave near hurricane conditions to do my 'up the road and down again', three mile route.  I felt grand and the wind pushed me along up ard na bleaistéirí (the hill of the blasters).  Three miles isn't huge, but it keeps me ticking along.  Summer Irish courses start in two week's time and this marks the real start of summer for me.  At this time we're constantly on the go with 15 students staying in our house for 9 weeks solid.  Strangely though it's a perfect time to train like mad - evenings stretch along nicely and I usually have between 7-9pm free for leg stretching.  That's the theory anyway... Yes I can!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Blustery, Stormy, Spluttery Seas...Wonderful Run!

Ahhh.... sometimes the worst of weather makes for the best of runs!  A four mile jaunt around Salthill, heading out towards Mutton Island while the sea swelled an spat at me... funny thing about this Mutton Island run is that one side of the causeway calm no matter what the weather, while the other is wild as starving boar...
I'm happy to have strung two sessions together this week - progress is a drug like no other!  PS:  Historic times in Ireland for sure, today we lost Garret Fitzgerald, who was Taoiseach (PM) from '82-87, and one of the very few gems... 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

3 Miles Treadmill...

Well, t'was a treadmill, and t'was but three miles. But still, it was better than I've been doing for a while, so, on the day that the Queen of England came to Ireland, I'm happy enough with that!

My thoughts on the Queen's historic visit:  well past time, and very welcome.  I'm definitely no monarchist, and like most Irish men my age I was raised on a diet of waaaaaaaaay to much history (the average Irish person knows   so much about the past that we could each write an indepth book on any period!).  England and Ireland have had a troublesome entanglement for sure, but we've also had much to be thankful for... So, I'm buying my own Elizabeth action figure and putting her up on the mantelpiece!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Calcutta Run for the one-a-month boys...

On our way back from Dublin, following another successful outing for the One-a-Month brothers!
Another month, another run for the one-per-month brothers.  It's been a hectic few weeks for me between one thing and another and I made the cardinal error of not incorporating runs into my work and life schedule, so the one-a-month club got me back out there again... This time we were without Cormac, Ruth, or Richie, but Kevin and I continued our monthly committment with this lovely 10k.  It started off outside the Law Society at Blackhall Place, and we ran around some sideroads before coming in to the Phoenix Park, where most of the run was located.  For the most part it was a flat course, with some nice downhills and very little uphill, so we had little excuses... We ran throughout at a chatting pace, but upped the tempo for the final 2ks and ran together past the 10k mark at around 53.23.  The race itself continued for nearly another half a km so our finishing time was in the 55 min bracket.  There was some wind, but by in large the day was perfect up until the final 1km when the heavens opened and it lashed rain...  All was in aid of a good cause - the Fr. Peter McVerry Homeless Trust - helping the homeless in Calcutta and Dublin.  A very enjoyable occasion - and hopefully a springboard to more regular running...