Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Back on the Road.

Following my longest absence from running in years (over two months), I took to the roads yesterday evening as the sun was setting.  A beautiful evening it was too... strange days for November.  The route was simply down to the pier, up to Cóilín Daddy's house and then back - three miles on the dot.  To be honest, I thought I would suffer a bit more for my absence than I did, but having said that it was still tough enough from the two mile mark onwards.
Why did I abstain?  I wasn't carrying an injury, I wasn't sick and I didn't have a death threat hanging over me from the anti-running terrorist group.  Simply, I felt like taking a wee break.  Hopefully this has enthused me to get back in love with the open roads.
Now I'm targeting the Tombrack 4 miler in Wexford, on December 14.  Away we gooooooooooooo.... 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Stabannon 10k

My blog posts have been running low of late, and I'm considering that it may be time to call time on this project at the end of the year.  I'll continue to check in with all the great running blogs that I've grown fond of these past years - especially Old Running Fox, Coach Dion, Giorgio, Will from an Ultra Runner's Blog, Ian from Just us and a Few Friends, and many more.  I've enjoyed the experience of being in the running blog brigade, and I intend to post about races run, but only that I feel.

My last race was the Nicola Barry 10k for Cancer Care, in my wife's beautiful home village of Stabannon.  It was a great event - extremely well organised and with a great spirit of togetherness.  Nicola Barry, a local woman who has made a full recovery from that dreaded illness, was the instigator and inspiration for this event.  Teresa, my sister in law, was chief organiser - no one does it better!

As for the run itself, I just jogged it with Benny and came in around 56 minute mark.  I know I could have run considerably faster, but the day called for an enjoyable trot and it certainly was that.  I hope to take a short break from racing between now and Christmas in order to get the spirit going for a good year of running in 2014... this past year has been a disappointing one on the racing front.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Back to Interval Training...

Hopefully last night's session will mark the start of a good stint for me... I did intervals as follows:  one mile easy, one mile hard, break, one mile hard, break, 0.5 miles hard, and finally one mile easy.  Nearly killed me but I felt great afterwards.  I'm gearing up now to do the Nicola Barry 10k in Stabannon on October 3rd... I've lost a lot of training so the mind is now focussed to try to better my PB for that race.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Epic Walk Completed in Two Days!

Each year for the past three years I have set myself an unusual challenge to raise a bit of money for charity.

Two years ago I cycled solo across Ireland and last year I was joined on the same expedition by 30 other cyclists!  This year I decided to walk.  Easy I hear you say?  That's what I thought too...!
I was joined on this year's adventure by my Dutch friend, Vincent Miggels, and we set off on our two day walk from the beautiful village of Uachtar Ard beside Lough Corrib on Tuesday morning at 10.30am.  We were full of good spirit as we breezed out of the town and headed towards the wilderness ahead - a 60km trail through forest and mountain that would eventually lead us to the village of Líonán.  Our plan was to camp on the Maamturk mountains on Tuesday night and to walk along the spine of the mountain range the following day, all the way to Líonán.

The first half of Tuesday was beautiful - if a little misty.  However, as we reached the forest beyond Uachtar Ard it began to rain - not heavily, but consistently.  We were wet through by the time we took a wrong turn and went off the official 'western way' to emerge behind Peacocks of Maam Cross - a few miles off course but generally headed in the right direction and with spirits undampened by the rain.  It was just after 4pm at this stage and so we rewarded our first six hours of walking with a sneaky pint.  
The rain grew heavier for the next part of the walk, which was unfortunately over a section of busy road as we tried to connect back on to the 'Western Way' trail by going straight ahead and then turning down towards Uilinn Thoir and the holy mountain of Máiméan.  Thankfully D, her father and sisters came to the rescue here as the light was beginning to fade a little and without any footpath we were in danger of getting hit by oncoming traffic.  After five miles of main road we were delivered onto the trail again by the cavalry.
At this point we changed into our hiking boots and strapped the tent and overnight supplies.  We said goodbye to the crew and would be on our own now until the following evening.  There was a one and a half hour walk still ahead of us to the foot of the mountains and we were beginning to flag a bit.
We reached the foot of Máiméan at around 8pm with the rain still falling heavily.  The mountains were covered with cloud but we took the decision to camp halfway up Máiméan in order to have a head start the following day.  As we climbed the wind grew and visibility became an issue.  Mountain streams were gushing down and the ground underfoot was soaking wet.  What kept us going forward was the knowledge that there was a little church halfway up the mountain and that this would provide us with shelter for the night.  God would be on our side!
We finally reached that point only to find that the church was bolted.  Máiméan is a dramatic place at any time with it's little church, statue and stations of the cross, but in this weather it was like the setting of a horror movie!  Thankfully there was a grotto beside the church which gave us some shelter and we even managed to pitch our tent on the concrete floor of the grotto - safe between the altar and the back wall.  We were warm and dry there while the wind howled a gale outside and a poor lamb could be heard crying as she became separated from her mother.
We hoped for a clear morning so that we could climb the rest of the mountain and walk along the range to Líonán, however it was just as misty as the evening before.  We had no choice but to descend and to walk the long way around the Maamturks.  There was little talk between us for the first few hours as our bodies were feeling the weight of the heavy sacks on our backs and the effects of the previous days walking.  At 1pm we sat and ate some sandwiches and looked ahead to see a tiny forest miles away from us.  'We need to walk to that forest', I said, 'and then beyond it again... for miles'.  It didn't make for a pleasant conversation!
As the afternoon wore on we actually perked up again and the conversation began to flow.  Like Pinky and the Brain we had plans to take over the world - or at the very least we spoke about people who we felt were ruining the world!  We reached that far away forest at around 3.30pm and took our second wrong turn of the journey!  However, we had learned from our first mistake and rectified things without too much delay.  The forest, however, went on for miles and by the time we came through it our legs were aching and our backs and shoulders were feeling the brunt of the two days.  There were still the guts of eight miles to walk to Líonán.  Our loved ones would be waiting for us there in a little pub called Gaynors and the pints would flow!
The last section of the walk went on and on, we barely had enough left in us to finish it.  Hazel sticks that had been cut from the woods at a fresher time the previous day became our best friends as we leaned heavily on them to finish.  The up and down mountainy path that made up this part of the walk finally came to an end a mile away from Líonán and D and Ursula were waiting for us there to take the heavy bags into the car as we would walk unencumbered into the town.
When we finally reached Gaynors bar we entered to applause and hoopla! Two creamy pints awaited us - we drank them, and more, and told all of our wonderful adventure! 

Monday, August 19, 2013

70km Walk Tomorrow.

"Tomorrow will be loud with war... how will I be accounted for?"

... so asked one of our great war poets (yes we had war poets!), Francis Ledwige, on the eve of battle during the first world war.  Well, I can't really compare my task with his, but a mammoth task it will be for me.  I will set off at 10am from Uachtar Ard, on the banks of the Lough Corrib, heading towards Maam Cross, and then beyond that to mount the Maamturk Mountains, camp overnight, and then walk along the spine of those mountains until we reach the village of Leenane.  A near 70km hike in all.  I will be joined for all if it by my good Dutch friend, Vincent, and for some of it by sister in law, Teresa, sister, Róisín, and brother in law, Mark, and who knows who else!
The walk is in aid of the Jack and Jill Foundation - an organisation that help families of severely ill infants as they mind their children in the homeplace, so I'm delighted to have almost reached my target of €1000 by fundraising on the charity website, www.mycharity.ie/event/jackandjillfoundation

Training hasn't been great this summer... sporadic runs only (which explains the lack of blogging), but I'm determined to see this walk through and hopefully it will kickstart a good autumn.  My aim is to get back to running some 10ks asap - I still boast a 10k pb from this year so it's not all bad!

That's it for tonight - I will check back on Thursday with news of the mammoth walk.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Beautiful Weather, Fewer Runs, Great Hillwalk...

We've officially had the best summer on record since the early 1980s, with scorching hot weather for the past few weeks and a promise of more to come.  How can you not love that!  Maybe I'm making excuses, but I find it tough to run in this kind of weather, so without any major race on the horizon I've eased off the running until the weather cools.  That's not to say that I've completely neglected it, however, and I enjoyed a lovely four mile trot not so long ago with my good Norwegian friend, Torgeir Brathen, who was over visiting with Bente, Marie and the Dina... we certainly enjoyed their company immensely and hope to plot a visit back to Norway in the next year or two...

Yesterday I took to the hills with Brendan Mac, for a serious walk on the Maamturks... When the students leave (on the 11th Aug) I plan to walk 66km, from Oughterard to Leenane, over the Maamturks with an overnight camp.  This is instead of my Carraroe-Louth cycle, which we're taking a break from this year. So, yesterday's walk was to suss out the 'camping area', as well as to work out the routes on and off the mountain area.  It was a beautiful day for the hills - severely hot on ground level and cooling nicely as we climbed.  Brendan struggled initially as he was after a long cycle the previous day and without proper food or water taken.  However, after a sandwich and a gulp of water at the top of the first peak, he became the mountain goat that he usually is!  

The climb took us four hours in all and we finished it off with a lovely pint in Peacocks... lovely hurling!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Running on an half tank.

The summer in Conamara continues... not the sunshine of early June, but good running weather all the same.  For the past two weeks I've been dragged up and down the road for a few 7 milers by Conor and Mícheál, who are two fit and fast young men.  I kept up well the first two times but completely blew up last Sunday and trotted slowly behind.  Dejected.  There didn't seem to be anything left in the tank and my legs were half dead.
Let's make an excuse or two: run off my feet with the students staying in the house, the new business and an infant that still keeps us awake at night - not to mention labouring with the garden.
Let's give a more solid reason:  poor diet, poor quality of training.
Still, I've kept the runs going, slotted in a solo four miler on Thursday last and then went for a nice five mile trot around the village yesterday evening with brothers Richie and Cormac who were down for the weekend.  We took it nice and handily, heading up the village and around past the pitches and down by Demense... a gorgeous run with a few tough hills to boot.  Both lads are flyin.  
Disappointingly I haven't seen any local 10ks to aim for... I need to stay local while the students are in town.  

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Two weeks of heat... is it gone?

We took in a puppet show on Maoighnis beach, Carna, while the weather was fine...

Summer came at last to Conamara (and the entire Island of Ireland) and for two short weeks we were Mediterranean.  Now of course its back to the usual rain and cloud, but by God this is better running weather by a country mile!
I only managed to get out three times in the past week and a half while the weather was scorching hot  - for the rest of that time I was sweating like a pig on a roast. Still, the three times I did soldier forth were worthwhile - clocking two 7 milers and a 4miler.
I had good company for two of my runs (they were all around the village), with Conor joining me on Tuesday last and both Conor and Mícheál on Sunday.  In between I did a four mile run on my own - and suffered in the heat.
I am, after all, a pale skinned red headed Irish man, and I find the hot weather unbearable to run in.   Much happier am I with this blustery, cloudy climate.  Whisper it...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Stories on the Run.

There's always a story in a run...
Neither myself nor D have been getting much sleep these days due to the erratic noctural patterns of our little fella Murty. So, getting out for a run can be psychologically daunting; am I too tired, will I be able to do anything, would I better off waiting until tomorrow when I may be a little more rested?  Well, the answer to all of these questions is this: WHEN IN DOUBT JUST GET OUT!
So get out I did... down the road and up again, looking to clock a three miler, just to say that I'm moving.  But then it happened... the world just dragged me along!
First it was Darach in his van coming up Ard na Bleaistéirí... he drove beside me for awhile as we chatted away about this that and the other....
Then, it was a woman from Donegal called Fiona, who lives locally and is set to marry a Carraroe man this year.  She is a keen runner and is training for the upcoming Galway Women's Mini Marathon.  My three miler turned into a 5 or even 6 miler - I'm not sure.  Fiona was out with a local running group, and if my schedule suits I'll certainly be joining them again.  She was great company and we certainly dragged each other along with a story or two.
Now all I need to do is get Murty to sleep the night...

Monday, May 20, 2013

Cooley Coast Run - in the Company of Women!

Deirdre, Mary and Bernie - great company for the Cooley Coast Run.

My second race of the year, and I'm finally beginning to turn a corner!  

Set in the spectacular Cooley peninsula, with views of the majestic Mourne mountains, Carlingford Lough, King John's Castle and beautiful Slieve Foy, this certainly was one of my most enjoyable 10kms ever.  It now also ranks as my best 10km so far, as I set a PB of 49.32mins!

I was delighted to get in under 50mins, but I honestly know that my 10km PB would have been much lower had I actually focussed on this distance a number of years ago when I was a good deal fitter than I am today - however, a PB is a PB and I'm happy to have shaved a full 5minutes of the Boyne 10km, in only two weeks!

I ran Cooley in the company of women... my sister in law, Mary (who has taken to the roads with great gusto these past few months) and two of her friends, Bernie and Deirdre.  Each of us ran at our own pace and all were happy with the outcome - Bernie and Mary finishing in 60.01mins and Deirdre coming in at the 55min mark (she had run this race in 47mins only two years ago and is on a comeback trail!).

The run itself was delightful for the most part, with a kick in the tail towards the end.  We headed from Cooley's sports ground in the direction of Greenore for a few hundred metres, but then turned right off the main road as we rambled around the backways of beautiful Cooley for the first 6km.  Most of this section was either flat or downhill, with only a few minor inclines, so I found myself holding a good pace throughout.  It helped that the day was fine and all were in good humour and I knew that a sub 50 was certainly on.

Someone had mentioned a long climb towards the end of the race, so I tried to do two things:  1) run fast enough in the first half to allow for a major slow down towards the end while still coming in under 50, 2) keep enough in the tank for this 'long draw towards the end'!

The climb finally came when we were exiting the backroads and turned the corner onto the mainroad again, heading back towards the Cooley ground.  At this point Deirdre, Murty and all of the Carlingford clan were out to cheer us on and I took great heart from the encouragement.  I certainly slowed down on the incline - but knew I had enough in the tank not to die completely.  This last drag went on for a good bit and runners all round were struggling, but thankfully my training routes in Conamara have left me with a little of the mountain goat mentality and so I just ate up ground until I finally caught sight of the clock timer.  A two hundred metre dash ensured my sub 50 - the first time I've ever done this officially for a 10km.

There were great festivities around Cooley and Carlingford after the race - a great credit to the organisers.  I'll be back next year for sure.  As for the rest of this year; I finally feel as though I'm back in some kind of groove and may concentrate on bringing that 10km time down still further!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Boyne 10k

At long last I'm back on the racing circuit!  After a lay off of over 9 months I finally took to the roads of Drogheda last Sunday along with Benny for the spectacular Boyne 10k.  My time may not have been great, my PB certainly wasn't touched but what a fantastic feeling to have clocked a race again.
This wonderful race drew 1,600 runners from all over the country, with the vast majority coming from the wee County of Louth and surrounding north eastern counties.  We started off in West Street, at the steps of the magnificent St. Peter's church that holds the remains of St. Oliver Plunkett (a freakishly well preserved skull) and headed off eastward up the town, crossing the lights and running along the river.  
Benny, who hadn't really trained all that much (except for an unexpected return to Gaelic football during the previous week), shot off at lightning speed - being pulled ahead by the fitter and faster runners.  I managed to tag him back and caution him against this instinct for speed at such an early stage and so we both paced ourselves slowly for the first five kms.
Benny gets a little refreshment after the Boyne Run.

The first half of this race was sheer heaven, especially when we turned off the main road, heading downhill under the tunnels and onto the little country road that led us along the river bank.  Benny kept at my shoulder throughout the first half of the race and we paced it out nicely.  
At the 7km mark came 'Heartbreak Hill'.  Wow, what a climb.  It went on for nearly two kms, twisting and climbing ever so slowly.  It was at this point that Benny and I were cut adrift - there's only one way to do a hill like this and it has to be at your own pace.  I must admit, I loved this hill - it reminded me of the hills at home in Conamara.  I was climbing tigerishly and passing most runners.  We topped the hill at about 8.5km mark and I began to up the pace considerably, running sub 8mile for the next 1km and motoring past people.  
While it was difficult to maintain that pace to the very end I was happy enough to cross the line at 54.43mins - a tale of a race in two stages, 0-7k at a leisurely pace and 7-10 (which included that tough climb) at a decent canter.  Benny crossed the line in 57.52mins - impressive for a man who rarely gets a chance to train.
The most important thing of all - we're off!  There's another 10k in the Cooley peninsula in two weeks time and I plan to be there.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


I ran out to the tiny little island which only bears itself when the tide is very far out...

I may need to change my diet... and by diet, I mean:  cut down on sweets, chocolates, crisps, pizzas, bread and worst of all, wine and beer.  Yes, I have slipped dramatically since the heady days of 2010 when I strode through the year on a healthy diet of salads, fresh meat and fish and only 24 pints in the entire year!
It really can have a dramatic effect - this year I feel sluggish and slow and it's hard for me to get beyond a plodding 5 miler.  Thank God I did plod that amount today - up the village and down again in brilliant April sunshine.  
The little square cut holy well on the island...

Last week was a write-off thanks to a nasty bug that visited our house via Louth, but I did manage to get a few miles done on Friday.  I even managed to get out to the little island that bears itself to the world whenever the tide is very far out.  On it is a holy well (a square shape cut into the rock!).  Good to be alive on these days...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Buggin Me...

Heathery field on the way to Trá Pháidín.

I was about to declare that 'I am back', but then a bloody bug has cut the legs from under me and everyone else within touching distance!  Last week I completed a couple of five milers, as well as a three and four miler, and then, following young Murty's christening on Sunday morning I took to the roads of An Cheathrú Rua with Benny and Mary and brought them on a lovely run, down to the beach and then off track and across country until we connected with concrete and civilisation again!  It was a great run and I really felt like I was flying.
Then it happened...
Liam got sick, Cormac got sick, Caitriona got sick, Deirdre got sick, Sandra got sick, Eve got sick, Carol got sick, Andrew got sick... I kid you not.
I was the last one standing, but yesterday the bug hit me and drained every last bit of energy from my body!  
However, I'm not giving in... a day or two of rest and I'll be out on the roads again... I'm determined say 'I'm back' soon!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Why Boston was an attack on the spirit.

Everyone who has ever run a long distance race knows about the Boston Marathon, and it's strict time requirements for qualification.  I wouldn't have come close to qualifying for Boston - my best marathon being 3.43 in Dublin, but at one point, when training and fitness was going well, it was a target that I felt I could aim for. 
Running a marathon is more for the soul than for the body.  If truth be told, marathons attack the body - tearing your muscles and limbs as you pound 26 miles of pavement in 3, 4, or 5 hours.  But for the many thousands who take to the streets for a marathon the body takes second place to the spiritual task that lies ahead - to achieve something beyond the norm.  To call on reserves of strength beyond your normal bodily ability.  To push yourself to the limit.  Whether you wish to achieve a sub 3 hour run, complete your 100th marathon or simply cross the finish line for the very first time, your aim is always to raise the spirit.

And every runner will tell you that what really 'makes' a marathon special, are those very special people who come to cheer on their loved ones, and who are so buoyed up by the uplifting atmosphere that they take the time to cheer you and every other runner on as well. Most runners will write their first name on a bib in order to hear the crowd cheer: 'Go for it John', 'You can do it Rachel', 'Almost their Brendan, keep going'.  It is the highest level of human decency and an act of spiritual kindness, whether knowingly made or not.
What happened in Boston on the weekend was an attack on the spirit, on joy and on human decency.  God love all who were affected.  

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

4 Miles... The Comeback Continues!

Up and down the road today with a four miler that showed the tinest little improvement in form!  My thighs were heavy for sure after Monday's climb of Croagh Patrick but the chest didn't wheeze as much and my stamina is beginning to settle a bit.  All told, happy enough.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Ireland's Holy Reek.

For all my sporting achievements (don't laugh), it took 38 years for me to fulfil the most basic test of West of Ireland mettle - the climbing of Ireland's holy reek - Cruach Phádraig (Croagh Patrick). I put this black mark on my character to right yesterday in the company of hardy mountain climbing Mayo friend, Micí Mac an Ghabhair.

We left Galway at a little past 10am and arrived at the foot of the hill, just 3km outside the picturesque town of Westport, at a little after 11am.  After a scone and coffee in the tourist information shop we set off on our 764 metre climb, with two little sticks that the tourist info woman had kindly given us. 
The reek itself is no Everest and certainly not Ireland's highest mountain, but it is a sharper climb than many of it's more imposing cousins.  It's also Ireland's most popular climb and is populated at every turn with a great mix of first-time climbers, spiritual seekers, and experienced hillwakers.  At the top we met with a Liverpudlian who lived in Germany, an elderly man from Wisconsin who was completing his third climb of the reek and a couple from the continent who were sipping a bottle of beer.  Thousands take to the hill every year on Reek Sunday (the last Sunday in July) as part of a pilgrimage in honour of Ireland's patron saint, who spent 40 days fasting on the mountain in the year 441 (it was all over Sky news at the time).  

The climb begins with a few well laid out wooden steps that bring you up past a little gate entrance where you are met by the statue of Patrick and the wilds of the mountain side.  The incline slowly increases as you pass a beautiful little stream and slowly make your way up to the first real section of the climb. There follows a steep gravely gradient that stretches and winds upwards for a few hundred metres until the mountain turns again on the shoulder, giving the walker a nice little respite before having to tackle the head of the hill.  The views at this point are spectacular - down to our left we could see stretches of bog and woodland, whilst behind us the islands of the bay grew smaller with every step.  Of course, ahead of us we could see that the toughest section of the climb was still to come.  

The head of the mountain is a very sharp climb and deceptive in that you think at every turn that the end must be around the corner, only to see another tough incline ahead.  Mící sprung ahead of me like a cat climbing a shed and my lack of fitness really told on this section.  'One foot ahead of the other', I said to myself as I puffed my way up slowly to the top.  

The very last section of the climb was undeniably a spiritual experience as the fierce wind blew us up towards the little church that magically sits at the summit.  Micí was there before me, huddling for shelter inside of the church wall.  We sat and ate a few sandwiches while we met and chatted to our fellow climbers.  Our fingers were stinging cold at the summit - even though we wore gloves! 

The first part of the descent was very difficult as the ferocious wind that had helped us summit was now pushing us back and throwing grit at our eyes.  It settled as we got further down and eventually the descent itself became a real pleasure.  

We reached the bottom again after a round trip of about 2 and a half hours and met a very nice old Kerry man at the foot of the hill.  There was nothing to do then but to celebrate our achievement with a pint of plain in Matt Molloy's in Westport... legends of the Reek!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

3 Miles, 4 Miles and a Bloody Leg.

I had just completed a nice three miler and was walking back into the house when I decided to take a few twigs from the briar patch, to help start a fire later that evening.  Note to self:  never do this in a pair of shorts!  As bad luck would have it my laces got caught in the briars and I fell head over heals, tearing my legs on the briary ground.  What a mess!

The run itself had been lovely - in beautiful April weather.  Everyone seemed to be out and about - either walking or working, or in my case running!  I passed Margaret who was out washing her windows, Pádraic and Ciarán chatting on the roadside and Máire Nan taking the air on one of her daily walks.  Smiles on faces... a spat of good weather can really work wonders.

I huffed and puffed again - this was only my second run this week and it is proving to be a tough comeback.  But, glad was I when I finished up.

This morning I got out for a four miler - my legs still stinging from the briary scrapes.  It was a bit colder and overcast, but it was still a gorgeous day for a run.  I was happy to add a mile to my recent plodding.  And I felt a small bit better than I did either yesterday or Monday.  If tomorrow is fine I hope to get out to climb Ireland's most famous reek - Croak Patrick, with the bould McGowan.  Now that's something to look forward to!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A Lovely Three Miler.

Spring at last?

The natives were complaining about the cold.  I being one of them.  But today had at least a hint of Spring about it, with clear blue skies and the sound of chirping birds.  Late March was harsh but April is hanging it's brightest colours out to dry. 
Today I ran 3 miles and loved every inch of road.  Out from the house, down to the sea and then back up to the village and back down to the house!  There were times when my chest wheezed and my legs were leaden, but what else could I expect from them - I haven't been the best of trainers these days.  Still, no time to dwell on the downs - this was a wonderful, if short, run.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Spring Has Nippily Sprung.

Our first run together!

Springtime.  Well, freezing cold springtime.  Still, it has been a beautifully bright and green end to February and start of March here in Ireland, and for the past seven days I've spent some time on both sides of our island, and I've even run a little!
On Saturday last I was up in the Wee County of Louth and ran a four and a half mile loop around my wife's village of Stabannon.  Life is completely up different up there for a Conamara man who is used to running heathery and boggy ground.  Louth has vast fields of farming heaven, and so signs on it, for on Saturday the farmers were out in force, turning the ground for the onset of the sowing season.
I was back home in Conamara today and got out for a healthy five mile run around the village.  I actually ran the first 0.5 mile pushing little Murty around in a buggy ahead of me... this was my first time doing this and I had high hopes, but the little fella wouldn't stop crying so I left him back to my wife when passing the house again.  Maybe next time he'll be more used of it.  I continued on up the village and completed my five miler at a nice and easy pace.  Thank God I'm beginning to string a few runs together... now all I need is that race!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Clear Day For a Bog Run.

Big Ron and I took to the bog last week for a rare run together.  Rare because we are both rare runners these days, unfortunately.  We trotted shy of four miles in the most beautiful country known to God - the bogs of Seanamhach!  Ron isn't feeling the best lately - after several good years of cycling and running he's finally hit a wall of constant weariness.  I'm not that great either, but I know my good year is just around the corner...
The underfoot terrain on Seanamhach is gravelly and potholes are to be avoided, but on the positive side it feels like you are running on a massive sheet of rubber, it being pure peat.  The views out here are spectacular - and it feels like human existence is a foreign thing.  
We finished our run determined to make it a weekly calendar fixture.  The week has come and gone though.... Beidh lá eile ann.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Back to Business...

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It's been a while.  I took the start of 2013 off from blogging, and if truth be known I took a good break off from running as well.  This year has seen a huge change for me in many many respects... On top of our first child being born in October, I have recently finished work with the Museum and am embarking on a life of self-employment, with a bilingual communications company that I am launching in early March.
On the running front:  I'm yet to get outdoors, but from last week I started doing some small runs on the threadmill - to get myself in shape before I get out there.  I did a series of 3 milers last week:  Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday and followed it up with a 4 miler on Sunday - so from Sunday to Sunday that's 19miles... not a bad start back.
My intention is to do a few solid small runs and then to get out there into the wilds and photographing life as I pass it by!

On another note:  some group of annoying spammers must have hacked onto my blog... firstly, the view count is up considerably, without posts been logged, and secondly my comments are filling up with a*ssholes telling me how great my posts are and how I should get a loan on low interest or else some great way to lose weight... AAAAAAAAAAH.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Review of Time to Cross Video - Elin Synnove Brathen


Norway has got it good these days. Not only has it escaped the world's recession and avoided the wobbly euro project, on top of all of this it seems to be a place brimming with exciting new music. 

Before I go any further with my review of the highly dramatic new video from Elin Synnove Brathen, let me declare my bias... I've met Elin on many occasions here in Ireland, and as we like to say, she's a good egg! Her work has impressed me for years - all her own material, songs that have been cooked up in a poetic mind and spiced liberally with a mix of pop and jazz sounds. It is utterly unique and effortlessly catchy. In fact, you might call her the thinking man's Diva. 

What makes Brathen so interesting is that her music is all at once both complex and accessible. This comes from an almost academic dedication to her craft that few others in the industry can match these days. A number of years ago she made several trips to Ireland to learn how to sing in the old Irish 'sean-nós' style. For those who may not be aware of what 'sean-nós' is, well, suffice it to say that it may just be the most ancient and complex form of individual singing that exists anywhere in the world! But no bother to Elin...

Her latest offering is the single, Time to Cross, a wonderful song about shedding the stone in the heart and delving deep into life. The song itself is a triumph and is accompanied by a video that is both dramatic and brave. 

The video was produced by Ole Idar Brathen and directed by Lars Nerdal, and is full of characters that are shedding their own stones and crossing their own rivers, from the blind beggar to the busker. All the while Elin and her group of musicians are to be seen as they stride their way down through the centre of Oslo in highly dramatic fashion! The video's talking point arrives towards the end when two scantily clad, massively built, men caress and tenderly kiss! Crossing their rivers indeed! The final scene follows Elin's character and her smooth looking lover as they wade through the deepest river to cross to the other side.
Well done to Elin and all the crew - the quality of music and film deserves a wide and enduring audience.