Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Six Miles in Seanadh Phéistín

It's getting close to Barcelona now - just another week and a half until I'm trotting around the streets of that wonderful Catalonian City in an attempt to run 26 and a bit miles...  Unfortunately the wheels came off my preparation these past few weeks - between catching a cold and general work upheaval, but I'll not allow the negative voices to get to me, I'm going to enjoy this marathon come hell or high water.  Yesterday evening I went to Seanadh Phéistín for a six mile run with Conor.  He'll also be running the Barcelona marathon, as will Míchéal.  We were both a little dodgy going into yesterday's run - he had lost a couple of weeks of training also, but the six miles did us the world of good - if not physically, then certainly mentally!  My plan now is to get another few mile in tomorrow, and then compete in the Craughwell 10 mile run on Sunday.  Then it's pasta and rest until Sunday week!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Jesuit philosopher Anthony de Mello had a good line; 'us humans', he would say, 'seek happiness in the way a fish would seek the ocean!  It's all around us and we don't even know it!'
How true of today... finally Spring has come to Galway and brought with it a wash of colour, a slight increase in temperature, and a real stir in nature.  I ran from Salthill after work - heading out towards Bearna village.  This time, however, rather than running into the little village itself I turned right before the church and headed down to the gorgeous Silver Strand.  This is an interesting little beach - much smaller and more secluded than it's illustrious neighbour, Salthill, but popular enough to have a car park and proper toilets!  Overlooking the beach, towards the town side, is a jut of a hill - a large grassy hill with the sides facing the sea cut straight and white with sand - like the hills of Dover!  There are actually two of them, with another to the east - closer still to the city (you can see one in the pic above which I robbed off the net...mid right of pic...I'll bring my camera next time).  These hills are strangely positioned, just on the water and resembling tall islands at times - I've seen them for years but it only occurred to me today that I might be able to run up one!  So, like a child full of wonder, I crossed Silverstrand beach, climbed up the boulders that lead to the gammy fence the council have erected to protect people like me from ourselves, and then I broke through that fence and leaped onto the first of the hills!   I was freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!  Giddily I ran up the steep hill excited to see what I would see!  And what did I see?   A lovely level run and then a sharp dart downward to the otherside.  The tide was outand it seemed that you could run from one hill to the other, and possibly cross back into town in a loop.  Could it be done?  On I ran, to find out!  I came to an estuary, exactly in the middle of both hills and under my feet were a hundred thousand mussels...  They were huge and all there for the picking.  It's not the best time of year for mussels I reckon, but a bounty like this couldn't be left unpicked, so I stuffed the pockets of my shorts with a handful and then carried on.  Unfortunately it wasn't possible to cross over to the other hill, so I turned back towards Silver Strand again.  Coming to the top of the hill from the other side was like a scene from that old smaltzy tv programme Highway to Heaven - the sun was setting just at the top and a dog was hidden in it's golden rays until I came up close! 
Of course the mussels were rattling around in my pockets making it uncomfortable to run, so I left them atop a pillar on the road outside Silver Strand - to be collected on the way back.  Later on I cooked them in a sauce of onions, tomatoes, garlic and a drop of white wine.  Delicious.
How did I feel running-wise?  Who cares - on days like these the run itself is beside the point!