Sunday, April 18, 2010

Great Ireland Run

This race was my first proper race when I started running a few years ago. Over a pint one night Tanya, Adam and myself decided to become world class athletes... we trained hard, on at least one occasion, and never forgot the social aspect of running by having a slap up meal and a rake of pints after every training session. Some may say the 5 million calories we consumed more than cancelled out the energy expenditure of the run but we knew better, after all Adam was an accountant and very good with all things numbery although he did have have a problem with decimal points. I, on the other hand, could not count past 2 but was a wizard with decimal points. He took the number bit while I worked my decimal point magic and between us we worked out that we could spend all night in the pub without any negative effects! I'm pretty sure that's how we divided the labour...

Back to this years run! I was hoping for a new 10K PB but just missed out by 50 seconds. I put it down to making a phone call on the last kilometer, it was a promise and well worth missing out on a PB for. My time was 54:58, that's an average pace of 08:46 minute miles. My best 10K is 54:07.

Here's the route of my race: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/30499471

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Barcelona Marathon

Finally the big day had arrived!! We flew in yesterday at stupid o'clock getting us into the centre of Barcelona very early in the day but it did mean that we had a Spanish breakfast which is always a treat!! In fact almost everything Spanish is a treat; one notable exception is the Spanish Inquisition which highlighted the enormous different a letter can make - it being less of a treat and more of a threat.

The race start/finish area was a hive of activity and so well organised. It was so exciting to arrive at Placa Espanya and walk through the two Venetian Towers that led up to the Font Magica de Monjuic where we all agreed to meet up. We were an eclectic bunch of runners including a professional who would easily finish in 2.30, a natural runner who hoped for 3.30, a dedicated runner who hoped to finish in under 4.00... and me!

The race started on time and that excitement and enthusiasm followed us for the entire course as it seemed that the entire city came out to cheer us on.

I ran the entire distance at a reasonable pace although there were a with a few exceptions at larger water stations where I couldn't resist the impressive spreads of fruit, nuts, chocolate and biscuits. Not only did I eat at these stations but I leave each one with hand fulls of goodies... it's entirely likely that I managed to put on weight during that marathon!

Coming back into the city for the last time I was still going well and feeling good, I was sure I would cross the line in record time if I kept it up. Curiously I don't recall hitting the wall at around 20 miles on this run like I have in the past, I have to put it down to the constant and enthusiastic spectators.

Rounding Placa Espanya the two Venetian Towers loomed high over me as I ran between them towards the finish line. I crossed the line in 4:36:01... a shiny new PB!!

Here's the route as I ran it: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/26786145

I would love to do this marathon again next year, perhaps I can make it under 4 hours then? I have the Cork and Dublin marathons to run this year, if I focus and train properly perhaps I can do it!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Barcelona: 2 weeks to go!

Another poor week of running, only getting out on Wednesday morning at dawn for a 10 miler to the Curragh and back. It was the last long run (1 hour 32 minutes) before the marathon. Anything after this will be just keeping my legs warm for the big day!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Barcelona: 3 weeks to go!

Not a single run this week, and no good excuses!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Barcelona: 4 weeks to go!

Good weekend of running... a 5 miler on Saturday and a massive 20 miler on Sunday! I finished the all important 20 miler in 3:37 and felt great after! At 17 miles I couldn't believe how well I felt and hit 20 about half a mile from the house. According to the fetcheveryone.com predictor thingy I can expect to finish the marathon in 4.49 so on the day I'll need to up the pace slightly for a new PB.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Barcelona: 5 weeks to go!

This week was a good week of running; 5 and 8 mid-week runs and a half marathon race in Brussels at the weekend. It could have been better though, I missed my Thursday 5 miler and Saturday 8 miler but I'm OK with that. Looking forward to building up to the 20 miler next weekend!

Here's the Hivernales de Boitsfort (Brussels) route I ran on Sunday: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/24572773

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Barcelona: 6 weeks to go!

I finally got my groove back on and got out on both Saturday and Sunday for a 7 and 17 mile run respectively. Keep this up and I'll be fine on the big day! A miracle a may still be required though!!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Barcelona: 7 weeks to go!

This is last week of pathetic excuses... needless to say not a single run this week BUT starting Monday I'll be running before dawn every morning. With 7 weeks to go it's going to be tough but with a minor miracle all will be well!

Monday, January 18, 2010

DC to NY Part 3

I slept really well and woke late on Sunday morning, missing breakfast yet again. I planned to spend the day in Manhattan but had nothing particular in mind. Walking to the subway station in the light of day revealed a neglected neighbourhood with abandoned warehouses, building sites and a lot of car repair shops that were hidden in the dark of night.

Manhattan was a lot of fun, I pottered all day and took in as much of the city as I could. As the evening drew in it started to rain and I occasionally dived into a few dodgy Irish bars to dry off. They were quite an experience, all owned by my compatriots but little reminded me of a pub at home apart from maybe bodhrán, tricolour or picture of the "old country" hanging on the wall. All of them had multiple TVs showing sport, any sport... something we're unfortunately adopting at home.

After another good nights sleep I woke late on Monday morning and yet again missed breakfast. Glad to find my car with wheels intact I drove towards the airport through as much of Queens as I could find to see what the rest of it looked like. It's a mixed bag, I probably stayed in the least populated part of the borough as I drove past sprawling housing projects which sat next to tree lined suburban streets next to industrial and retail complexes.

I stopped for a light lunch and spent a couple of hours in Queens Mall before heading for JFK. I was early for my flight and took the scenic route to the airport. When I finally got there I needed to fill the tank before bringing the car back to the hire company.

The petrol station in the airport was manic, cars everywhere and by the look of it most of them were limousines with bored, angry looking drivers hanging around waiting to be called for a fare. I looped the station a couple of times, negotiating narrow gaps left by the sprawl of ever moving limousines to got to a free pump. Finally I positioned the car in front of a pump and got out to fill the car.

The pump wanted my credit card so I obliged. Just as the pump started to complain about a zip code another car drew up its with stereo thumping at full blast. The owner ensured that his driver door was left open for maximum effect and leaving the car pulsating with its engine running he seemed to disappear into the petrol station shop. The pump was not accepting my card and I was getting frustrated, combined with the fact that I was getting very hungry and I could barely think over the noise from that car, the strop factor was increasing exponentially!

I decided to bail to find another, less manic, petrol station, Just to the east of the airport I came across a small, quite town that looked like the kind of place you'd get a bit of attention, unfortunately I wasn't paying much attention as I drove right through a red light. Luckily there were no blue lights around as I cruised through the intersection whee I found exactly what I was looking for, a quite petrol station with a man happy to help.

As I paid for a tank of gas I asked my new friend if there there was a good place to eat in this town, he smiled and said only if you like Chinese. Unsure if I should take that at face value or if there was a hidden message I decided to move on and get this car back to the rental lot and get to the airport.

I had checked in online for my flight and I just had to pickup a boarding card. The check-in lady asked me if I wanted to upgrade to an emergency exit seat and as she did she winked at me... I thought "hello!!"... however that initial wink was quickly followed by a series of winks & blinks culminating with an almighty sneeze... oh well!!

The flight home was bliss. There was one man sitting next to me as we boarded but as soon as the doors closed he took advantage of an empty row behind us leaving me with a row of emergency seats to myself. Happy days!!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Barcelona: 8 weeks to go!

Finally I'm back to some kind of training. I'm in the US this week and making use of hotel gym facilities. This week started with a pathetic 2 miler, not my fault... the treadmill was rubbish and packed in after 2 miles. Later in the week I managed 11 miles, all on a treadmill which was soul destroying but it was far too cold and icy to run outside. I am so far behind schedule for this marathon but there is time for a miracle recovery...

Saturday, January 16, 2010

DC to NY Part 2

This afternoon, just before I left DC, I had lunch with good company and got a lift to Washington National (Reagan) airport to pickup my car. Getting to the car hire office proved to be challenging. On our third tour of the airport the comedy had to stop and I was dropped off at the airports main entrance where the ground transportation service looked after me.

Unlike the ride to the airport, my hire car was basic but functional but unfortunately its functionality did not stretch to a GPS, comedy moments to follow! The lady that served me was impressed with my accent, she said it reminded her of a British TV show but couldn't recall its name. I was impressed with her gold and sliver teeth, reminded me of a US TV show I could recall the name of... the Jerry Springer show.

My first stop was the south West side of Philadelphia to visit some relations, and then onto New York City. My hotel was in Queens and it looked like a great location on the map, the ground level view was significantly different. Entering Queens was a scary experience, the environment took on an industrial, run down look. By the time I found my hotel I could swear I had slipped into a 1970's film set... the low budget and dirty kind!

I parked the car and as I was getting my bags a man, or something close to it, stumbled up to me and tried to sell me a mobile phone. That confirmed my worst suspicions! Needless to say we didn't chat for too long and I hurried into the relative safety of the hotel.

The staff were very friendly and quickly put me at ease. Once settled a staff member drove me to the subway station. It wasn't far, about half a mile, and a straight run down the main street so if I had to walk back I couldn't go far wrong. The subway runs a frequent all night service and I was admiring the cathedral-like grandeur of Grand Central station within 20 minutes.

After a wander around Times Square and Broadway I headed back to Queens on the subway. I exited the station and had to take a few moments to get my bearings, the streets looked unfamiliar but I soon found the street that lead to my hotel and started to walk. There were very few people around, there were very few residences that I could see and most of the buildings were either warehouses, factories or abandoned. I passed one correctional facility and was glad to know that several hundred people who probably would like to kill me were on the other side of those bars, it never occurred to me that there may be a few left on this side.

I passed a few open petrol or gas stations but little other evidence of people apart from what I thought was street art... chalk marks on the street, some vaguely resembling a person. When I got back to my hotel the thought occurred to me that perhaps it wasn't art but the remains of a several sticky ends...

Friday, January 15, 2010

DC to NY Part 1

It's been a busy week. I've been working in Washington DC for the last 4 days and plan to drive to New York for a couple of days before I fly home. The work bit was a sales conference; a seemingly endless tunnel of PowerPoint slides occasionally fractured by food. My arrival at the hotel was the first of many comedy moments. I checked-in and got my room card but as I walked away from the reception desk the clerk called me back. There was a problem with my credit card! She tried a few times but it was rejected every time. Luckily a colleague was checking in at the same time and he had room for two on his card.

This hotel has an excellent fitness centre and as I expected to be wide awake at 4am every morning I was really looking forward to getting back into a training routine. Tuesday morning arrived and as expected I was bright as a button at 4am. I got my running gear on and made my way to the gym only to be redirected to reception to be given the bad news that the gym was closed for refurbishment. But, there was an alternative! They had picked one of each machine type and stuffed them into a spare meeting room. As the only one up at that ridiculous time of the morning there the treadmill was all mine.

The comedy continued... The treadmill display warned of an error, something to do with "speed system", of course I rebooted in the hope that the problem would fix itself. It seemed to so I cranked up the machine to start my 8 mile run.

Not long into the run it seemed as if the belt was slipping. Initially I thought it was me, after all it was stupid-o-clock in the morning but as I ran I realised that it was the belt and as I approached 2 miles the treadmill gave up and returned to the error that I had started with. It was far too cold to run outside so I spent an hour on a bike to make up the time.

The remainder of my stay was uneventful and on Thursday evening my short vacation began and I transferred to a hotel closer to the city. After a few drinks in a bar close to the office I got a lift to my new hotel, or so I thought. I was totally distracted by gadgets in the car; I loved the reversing camera, I wanted to reverse all the way there but apparently the Police frown on that kind of thing. And the GPS voice was a lot of fun - we changed it to French and it sounded fantastic... we had no idea where we were going but we didn't get there in style. Speaking of not getting there I was dropped off at a Marriott hotel on the right street, shame it was the wrong Marriott! The receptionist asked me to spell my name three times, that's always trouble. Luckily the real hotel was less than half a mile away.

Today was DC day. The highlight was listening to a survivor recall his experiences in Germany during the WW2 at the Holocaust museum. It was a very moving experience and I think everyone in the room felt privileged to be there and inspired by his courage, and his capacity to forgive and for keeping his faith in mankind through it all. The rest of the museum was fascinating and thought provoking, well worth a visit but it did put me right off my lunch!

Tomorrow I leave DC for Philadelphia, New York and then home!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Barcelona: 9 weeks to go!

Yikes... nothing doing this week either! I'm way beyond Christmas/New Year excuses and it's too early for Easter.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Barcelona: 10 weeks to go!

Happy New Year!! Again, that's all I've got... I better get back to it soon, the clock is ticking...

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Barcelona: 11 weeks to go!

Christmas is over and New Years is about to begin... and that's all I have to say about that.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Barcelona: 12 weeks to go!

Let me get that broken record out... Yes another week of rubbish running. I missed every weekday run and my first weekend long run BUT I did manage my second (and the longer of the two) weekend long run on Sunday, in fact I ran an extra 3 miles on top of the scheduled 14 miles!! That proved to be a big mistake, by the time I reached 14 miles I was so tired and I had over 3 miles to run/walk before I could stop... heartbreaking stuff but it's amazing what you can muster up when you need to. The full distance was 17.32 miles in 3 hours and 15 minutes. The lesson here is stick to the plan!!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Barcelona: 13 weeks to go!

My resolve to stick rigidly to the plan is weakening as time goes on... in fact the words "plan", "stick" and "rigidly" were nowhere in sight this week, we can probably put "resolve" in that shameful group too... however, "weakening" is most certainly there... sigh...

To summarise... having missed all 3 weekday runs and 1 weekend long run I can safely say this week's training was rubbish! The only run I can claim was a 10K treadmill run on Saturday and that was a guilt run having missed a 10K race that morning.

Santa 10K Dash, Blessington

OK, this was never going to happen... last night we had our Christmas party, my 10th with Cúram Software, and our night in the four Season had no chance of ending early. All I wanted to do this morning was have a leisurely breakfast and very late checkout, both of which were performed beautifully.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Aware 10K

A few months ago I ranted about the accuracy and precision of German engineering having run out of petrol at exactly the same moment that my motorcycles' petrol gauge reckoned it would. The lesson "if it's German you can trust it, it'll do exactly what it's supposed to" had been learned and for months I had trouble free biking until this morning... the trip computer assured me that there was 50km left in the tank and from experience I felt I could trust it.

As I hurtled down the N7 towards the city there I could sense that something was not right... the engine wasn't it's usual smooth self, it felt a little rough, even spluttery at times (technical term you understand). Lack of petrol was my first thought but my trusty gauge looked up at me and said "don't worry, I've got 40km to go, you just carry on". A vision of Chamberlain holding a white piece of paper in London airport sprang to mind as I quickly lost power as the last drops of fuel trickled out of the tank.

The rescue service took about 45 minutes to get to me and quickly had me on my way. Unfortunately I arrived at the race just as the last runners were crossing the line. I was sorry to have missed this one, it's a race I do every year but as a consolation the official I spoke to (when handing in my number) took pity on my story and fetched medal for me. Sitting in the Garda boat club drinking tea and listening to post race analyses I looked out at my once trusty motorcycle and wondered where it all went wrong...

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Barcelona: 14 weeks to go!

A less than excellent week of running. Last weeks' 11 mile long run ran into this week and on Monday morning I managed to squeeze it in before work, not to be recommended as I felt tired all day and sleeping at my desk is something I need to cut down on. On the down side I did manage to miss all my weekday runs, only getting out at the weekend for the Jingle Bells 5K because I had promised to be there. I did bolt on another 5K after the Jingle bells to make up my 6 miler for the day so it's not all crap... close but not quite!

Here's a summary of the week:

  • Mon 11.36 miles in 2:00:49
  • Sat 3.12 miles in 30:53 (quickly followed by a slow...)
  • Sat 3.34 miles in 34:09

On the plus side, next week has got to be better!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Jingle Bells 5k Run

Not a great race... arrived on time to find the Police had closed off the long access road to the start line so I had to park the bike about a mile away. Once I had changed and packed my bike gear away I had to run to the start line, literally an uphill struggle. Exhausted I neared the start line fully expecting a few minutes recovery when the starting gun fired and they were off... bugger! I struggle for the first kilometer, meeting up with one of the fetchies who was running a slow one and that suited me perfectly. I left her after a while and really had to work hard until the finish line. Finish time was 30:53, possibly my longest 5K ever.

I had a 6 miler on my training schedule today so I carried on for another 5K to make up, running that one in an even slower 34:09... oh well!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Barcelona: 15 weeks to go!

Another excellent week of running, almost! I managed the first 3 runs without any deviation fro the plan, however the weekend followed a big night out which managed to sloooow everything down... Bottom line is I didn't do my weekend runs BUT I'll be up extra early tomorrow morning to get the long 11 miler done and then I'll be back on track with my short run on Tuesday. Missing Saturday's 6 miler isn't a disaster (I know, rubbish excuse but it could be so much worse!

Here's a summary:
  • Thu 3.11 miles in 26:00
  • Wed 9.56 miles in 1:37:21

Oops, looks like I missed the first run of the week too... how crap is that??

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Bike license restriction expires...

As of today I'm no longer restricted to the size of bike that I can ride!! Might think about one of those 8L American monsters...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Barcelona: 16 weeks to go!

This week has been an excellent week of running. All 5 runs have been done on time even though I had a ton of excellent excuses lined up, this could be a turning point!!

Here's a summary:
  • Sun 22, 8am: 6.531 miles
  • Sat 21, 11am: 5.49 miles
  • Thu 19, 8pm: 3.25 miles
  • Wed 18, 7pm: 5.11 miles
  • Tue 17, 7pm: 3.02 miles

Roll on next week!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Perfect end to a rubbish week of running...

After last weekend's 10K race I felt sure I would honour my commitment of sticking to the weekday program of 3-5-3 runs but as we've seen so many times before I wormed out of every one convincing myself that I'd make it up tomorrow. Well Saturday arrived with 3 miler on the calendar, quickly followed by Sunday with a 9 miler in it's box but today I managed to get my act together and get out! I planned on doing the 9 miler but it was such a beautiful day on the Curragh and I was feeling so good that I added the yesterday's missing 3 miles and ran 12 miles. It was a slow run of 2:09:55, that's an average pace of 10:50 minutes per mile, but it was more about time on my feet than speed.

Now... starting this week I am totally committed to sticking to the plan: weekday short-medium-short and weekend medium-long runs, that's 5 runs a week... seriously I'm going to stick to it!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mondello!

Had a fantastic day learning how to race around a track in race prepared Mazda3 and a Formula Sheane, it's amazing how much you can push those cars and how well they stick to the track! My best lap time was 1 minute 10, apparently not bad for a beginner and at the risk of blowing my own trumpet it was the best time in my group...

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Crookstown Motorway 10K

This morning was cold and wet... and I mean REALLY cold and very wet! Oh... and windy, lots of wind.... the unhelpful blowing in the wrong direction kind of wind and as this run was along a closed motorway I didn't expect much shelter along the way. I arrived an hour early to collect my number and travelled by motorcycle, my only mode of transport these days. Having an hour to wait and not having a warm car to shelter from the many elements I made full use of tented facilities around the start area, my favourite was the refreshments tent with it's endless mugs of hot tea... but a price was to be paid for that 5 minutes before the start!

The run started on time and everyone quickly warmed up during the first kilometer. I concentrated on keeping a steady pace, I knew I wasn't going to break any records but it was going to be close. The drinks station was close to the half way mark where I walked for a moment to drink some water but for some reason that totally knocked me off my stride; whether it was walking, drinking and a combination of the two I don't know but I struggled for the next few kilometers.

I crossed the line in a respectable 56.30. Amazing to think that a year ago getting under an hour for a 10K was massive, now it's to be expected...

Here's the map and details of my run: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/18228908.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Barcelona training week 1 of 18: 3rd weekday run...

... didn't happen BUT that's OK. the oul legs feel tired this morning and I reckoned that it would be better to do the weekend race (Saturday) and long run (Sunday) than get the 3 miler in this morning... makes perfect sense to me!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Barcelona training week 1 of 18: 2nd weekday run...

... lovely early morning run, up with the birds and out at 6am. I wanted to make up for yesterday's poor effort and stretched the 5 miler by and additional 1/2 mile. Nice easy pace or about 10 min/ml, just concentrating on getting the legs used to running after such a long break.

Tonight or tomorrow I have a 3 miler, the last weekday run this week. I have the Crookstown Motorway Run to look forward to this weekend, followed by an afternoon of fast cars on Mondello race track!!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Barcelona training week 1 of 18: 1st weekday run...

... should have been a 3 miler but I only managed 2 miles before giving up, pathetic I know but I should doing a 5 miler tonight to keep up with my schedule so perhaps an easy morning wasn't a bad thing!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Barcelona training starts...

... not this morning at 6am as hoped but sometime today. I've got to stick to the plan; there's a 3 miler on today's card and it's got to be done! I'm challenging myself to stick rigidly to the plan; every day has to be ticked off, every run has to be done and if I let it slip for even one day I know it'll keep slipping...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Lanzar-hottie

Just back from a week in Lanzarote, one of the Canary Islands. Great week, stayed in a lovely hotel by the sea, hired a car for the week and toured the entire island while managing a few days by the pool or on the beach. That's the good bit...

As to be expected there were a few hiccups along the way. The first was on day one, in fact hour one... After checking into our hotel we took a walk along the main street, I was sporting a fashionable pair of flip flops that I had worn with uber comfort earlier that year. Something must have change between then and now because after 20 minutes of strolling I felt a flip flop strap on my left foot agitate the skin near the toe next to my big toe... that's a lot of wordadge to say that they were no longer comfy!! Choosing to ignore it I got back to the hotel with a mother of a blister, not what I needed a week before the marathon.

The days that followed were fantastic,;half day at the pool/beach here, half a day pottering around the island there, a submarine trip, the odd museum and occasional gallery with a volcano just for laughs. What could possibly go wrong?

Two days before the end of the holiday was hot, very hot and we left the balcony door open for much of the evening. It never occurred to us the some tiny winged beasts might sneak in attracted by the light inside but that's what explained a high pitched buzz that I heard whizz past my ear as I turned out the light. I immediately turned on the light... it had to be a mosquito, I couldn't see it but I knew it was there. What do you do? Well I got up and tried to find it for a while to no avail. Perhaps it had gone? Maybe it had flown out under the door, they're tiny little things after all. Besides, what damage could it do? With only a few days to the marathon the worst it could do would be to bite my big toe!

Next morning I woke with a swollen big toe... the bugger had read my mind and gone for something that I really needed to run a marathon with. Now I had a healing blister and a massive mosquito bite on the same foot, if someone was trying to give me a message I can think of less painful ways...

The next morning I woke with an ear infection... another message? The flight home was on time and passed quickly. When I got home I had to decide if I was going to run. The marathon was in two days and I was feeling rotten, my head felt like it had been stuffed with an over inflated rugby ball. I decided to give it another day. Next morning I woke feeling just as rotten but I really wanted to run so I decided to give it a few more hours, the expo closed at 6pm that evening and that was the last chance to pick up my number.

As the clock ticked towards 6pm I knew I wouldn't be fit the next day and accepted that it wasn't to be. Never mind, there will be plenty more. In fact I have started planning for the Barcelona marathon in March. All the training I had done for Dublin should make my Barcelona training easy, just got to stick to the plan... and this time I'm moving from a novice to and intermediate plan which only allows one rest day per week, yikes!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Is it that the time already??

I've been going for my pre-marathon long run for quite some time now but somehow circumstances have have prevented me from getting on with it. The fact that these circumstances are entirely within my control is... well, OK... I know, no excuse! With the marathon in less than 2 weeks... time is running out and I really should be tapering off not thinking about running 20 miles. The longest I have run for this marathon is 13.1 miles (GNR and Dublin 1/2 marathon) and while I have been running faster than ever this year I do feel that I need the time on my legs that a long run will give me. However, I have no more time as running such a long distance so close to the race would be counterproductive.

So, no more thoughts of long runs! I'm off to Lanzarote next week for a weeks vacation and will bring my trainers for 4 short runs. Hopefully the marathon will be yet another faster than expected race in 2009, joining my brand new personal bests in the 5K, 5 mile, 10K, and 1/2 marathon distances... not forgetting the oddly measured (but possibly my favourite) 9.2K forest run in Boitsfort, outside Brussels.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Donadea 10K

The second Donadea 10K was a struggle to get to let alone run having polished off an excellent bottle of Chateau de something or other that night before but run it I did and in record time too!! I crossed the line in 54 minutes 8 seconds (coming in 262th out of 523 runners), that's an 8:52 pace! Not only that but for the first time ever I won a spot prize when I crossed the line!! The prize was a cut and blow dry from a local hairdresser... I wonder if they're trying to tell me something??

Here's the run: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/15751011

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Demographic shift...

Today I moved into a whole new survey category... bye bye 25-39.... hello 40-55...

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Rathfarnham 5K

My best 5K to date is 25:03 (Malahide) and I really wanted to beat that today. The course was perfect for a fast run and the weather couldn't be better. I was running with Seamus who wanted to run it in less than 20 minutes and I thought that if I kept up with him for part of the race I'd have a good chance of beating my own PB. As it turned out the only time we spent together was at the start line because as soon as the starting gun fired he was gone. I ran the first mile very quickly, possibly too quickly as I felt tired for the remaining 2 miles but the previous evening in Harrigan's drinking Eridinger may have added to my wows.

I finished in a good time, 24:43 which is a new PB. I met Seamus later and he ran it in a blistering 19.10! I wonder if I'll ever be able to run that fast? The way things are going perhaps I will!!

Here's the race as I ran it: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/15622401

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Dublin City Half Marathon

This was the 3rd race in the Dublin marathon series. It's been less than a week since the Great North run in Newcastle where I had tried to beat the 2 hour barrier for a half marathon but failed. I was going to give this race everything and try to beat 2 hours again.

I started off as I intended to finish with a brisk but reasonable pace of 9 minute miles, consistency being the key to long distance running. I felt really good from start to finish and kept an eye on my pace to make sure I was sticking to it. It paid off and I finished in 1.58, that a shiny new PB!!

Finally I have broken the 2 hour barrier... next challenge will be the 4 hour marathon barrier, that's looking more like a possibility with every race!

Here's my race: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/14823331

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Arthur's Day


A pint of the plain is your only man!

Sent from Brogans pub on Arthur's Day, just before the excellent Jerry Fish & the Mudbug Club AND the even more excellent Undertones entertained us for the rest of the night... We should have an Arthur's Day every year!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Newcastle to Newbridge

The journey from Newcastle to Holyhead was a lot easier than getting to Newcastle a few days earlier, perhaps the first trip provided some essential rear conditioning!

Although I left Newcastle early I stopped off to say cheerio to Paul in his shop and then to sample some excellent cherry crumble in Kerry's equally excellent school... OK it was actually rhubarb crumble but I couldn't resist the linkage. While I found the school alright the only door that I could see turned out to be a locked back or side door, but it had an intercom and it didn't take long for one of the students to open the door for me. He was very helpful and offered to bring me to reception but his teacher opted to give me directions instead. His offer, her overrule and why they were both in the corridor were explained as I walked away when she resumed lecturing the boy on his behaviour, homework, and the list went on.

I was so impressed with the school. At risk of sounding ancient it's literally a world away from the school I went to where we spent the first two years in temporary prefabs that are probably still there and the main school was little better! The facilities for the kids and teachers in this school are magnificent, it's hard to imagine how it could be improved. After a brief tour and a little lunch I had to go, time was ticking and I had to get to West Yorkshire to see Yvonne and James before heading South West to Holyhead for 9pm.

I had only 30 minutes with Y&J but as I hadn't seen them for years that was never going to work so well over an hour later I was back on the bike and up against the clock. As I approached Chester the petrol light flickered on and from previous experience this machine never lies. Luckily I noticed a sign for Services quickly followed by a sign for the next main exit. I assumed they were separate exits and all the evidence point that way as I approached the main exit where there was literally no sign of the Services, but as I whizzed past I noticed a really small Services sign... bugger! I had no option but to carry on to the next exit and either turn around or find a petrol station at that exit. It turned out that latter option was my only one as this exit brought straight onto a motorway bound for Chester. This was not good, the petrol indicator was down to single digits, pretty soon I'd be running on vapour. Taking the next exit brought me into Chester where I was sure I'd find a petrol station nearby but it took several miles by which time the reserve tank was virtually dry.

With a full tank and directions to the A55 I was back in the road but seriously late, that diversion added 30 minutes onto my journey and as I was running late before that comedy moment I was now in danger of an over night stay in Holyhead.

I calculated an ETA every time I passed a road sign, assuming a 100 km/h speed I would arrive at 9.30 and as the ferry was due to leave at 9.30 I was understandably concerned. As I left Chester behind the road opened where I spend a lot of time on the far side of the speed limit up to make up a little time. Somewhere after Holywell the speed limit increased to 70mph or close to 120 km/h which made all the difference, I was gnawing away at the ETA's with each sign I passed. Passing Bangor I was down to a 9.00 ETA but roadworks on Anglesea stole 10 minutes but I made it to the ferry all be it just in time!!

The ferry crossing was very rough and although I was hungry I decided not to eat to avoid a possible repeat viewing. We docked in Dublin 20 minutes late but at that time of night the ride home was quick and I was tucked up in bed by 2am.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Great North Run

Last night Paul had warned us that the forecast was sunny with a high of 20 degrees C, useful info to have before a long run but only useful if remembered and as my memory is marginally better than that of a gold fish it was no surprise that I forgot to slap on some sunscreen this morning which ensured that we had some extra comedy moment later that evening.

Getting to the start line we uneventful, which is always a good start! There were over 56,000 runners converging on the starting area which ran between two exits and used both carriageways of an urban motorway. Every runner had their own colour coded number that corresponded to a baggage bus which would meet us at the finish and a pen (not to write with but to wait in), each pen was separated from the next by an 8 foot fence so once you were in you were staying in! I left Kerry at her baggage bus and we agreed to meet at the finish, however we forgot to suggest a meeting place or time, how hard could it be to pick someone out of a crowd of 56000?

Having deposited my bag I headed for my pen which was about mid way along the queue so not a bad spot! Once inside I had a 20 minute wait for the official start time but our MC was doing a good job keeping us entertained with music, warm up leotard guy and the occasional amusing story. With 5 minutes to go I felt what I thought was someone behind me playing with my hair, when I turned around there was no one there... then I felt it again so I thought it might be a fly and tried to brush it away. Ouch!! It suddenly crossed my mind that it could be a wasp or bee as I realised that I had been stung in the palm of my hand. Getting to the start line may have been uneventful but being here was quite a different story.

The sharp pain of the sting slowly eased as numbness spread across my hand. I had never been stung before and had no idea what reaction I could expect. Would it just hurt for a while? Perhaps my hand would swell up, people might think I was running in fancy dress - like a carpenter, they're handy aren't they? Or maybe people might think I was running for a little known "massive hand" disease? What if it affected me else where?? I could have a heart attack? That would be a bummer, I hope I'd have time to tell the paramedics that it was a bee sting induced heart attack and not an unfit fat git induced attack!!

Just as these terrifying scenarios were racing through my head the MC announced that the lead singer with the Police, STING, was going to fire the starting pistol to start the race. You couldn't make it up and I had to laugh, and out loud much to the bemusement of the people around me. I thought about explaining myself but it would have sounded daft...

As promised, Sting started the race and we were off. I quickly forgot about the other sting and quickly got into the 6.55 mph pace set by my Garmins' virtual partner which, if I stuck to it, would mean a sub 2 hour half marathon. It took us about 15 minutes to reach the Tyne bridge and as we approached there was no sign of the Red Arrows, they usually do a fly past and I felt a little disappointed but I needn't have been because half way across the bridge they came screaming across the sky right over our heads... wow!! For the first few miles all went really well even though it was hot and the sun shone constantly. I took full advantage of shower tunnels to cool down even though they only lasted for a few seconds, any relief from the heat was welcome.

At about mile 10 my virtual partner abandoned me and left me behind but I did my level best to keep up. I crossed the line in 2.03, while not my best it was still a great time!

The comedy continued as I realised that I had no way to find Kerry, our "see you at the finish line" arrangement was beginning to show it's flaws as thousands of runners crossed the finish line behind me and there were thousands ahead of me. The phone networks were jammed and text messages were taking an age to get through, you could forget about getting a call through. I made straight for the baggage bus, got my bag and changed while the Red Arrows performed their amazing display overhead. I was awestruck, and amazed that everyone else wasn't as amazed as I was... some people were wandering around oblivious to the awesomeness that was happening right over their heads!! After the display the networks seemed to clear and I got through the the others and all was well!!

Here's my race: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/13866599

Friday, September 18, 2009

Newbridge to Newcastle

This was to be the first trip overseas with my motorcycle and would involve a few major hurdles! The first was particularly difficult: packing the night before and getting up at the unbelievably early time of 6am to catch the first ferry of the day which, to my complete surprise, I managed to do without any tears, bruises or accidents... well there was one little accident but it was unrelated and probably would have happened anyway!

I made it to Dublin Port with about 20 minutes spare, so that's early for me. I checked in and boarded the ship without queueing, and joined 4 other motorcycles at the rear of the car deck. Although I had worked on ferries during my time at University, for something like 5 years, and knew what to expect this was my first time on a ferry with a motorcycle and I wasn't completely confident that all would be well. But all was well; the deckhands helped me get the motorcycle into the right position and lashed it safely to the deck for the journey. They parked me beside another 1200GS, but this other one was the adventure model with all the extras making my motorcycle look like a poorer cousin, a handsome but poorer cousin... It even had the GPS system that I really want but can't justify the outrageous price tag.

I made straight for the information desk to get a WiFi card where behind the desk was a colleague from the HSS ferry that I spent most of my "ferry" time on. It was great to catch up on all the news from Holyhead, who's doing what and where they are now. We were chatting for the best part of two hours and I had just enough time to check my email before we docked in Holyhead.

Getting back to the car deck the owner of the 1200GS Adventure was powering up his fancy GPS. Not only did the bike have all the extras but he was wearing all the best gear too, I was starting to feel like the poorer cousin... Getting off the ferry was a big tricky; the deck was very wet, very smooth and consequently very slippy. I had a few "moments" where both front and back wheels lost traction, the kind of moments where you could instantly lose weight! I managed to make it off the deck keeping the rubber side down and quickly made it out of the port and on the old road to Bangor.

From what I saw of Holyhead it hadn't changed much apart from the new A55 dual carriageway that crosses the island of Anglesea and Holy Island into the heart of Holyhead. I was on the old A5 for a nostalgic ride across Anglesea, a road the I must have travelled hundreds if not a thousand times during my time in Bangor.

I took the road to Menai Bridge and the back road to Bangor passing what used to be one of my favourite pubs - the Vaults, today is has a giant shamrock bolted to it's walls with a dancing leprechaun surrounded by the words "Paddy's Irish Pub" or something like that. I was going to stop to take a photo but it was too sad a sight. With a tear in my eye I took a left at the thankfully unchanged Belle Vue pub towards the main University buildings before snaking down hill to the city centre.

After a little pottering around town I headed east towards Llandudno to call in on a former class mate and then continued east to Chester. I had planned on visiting more people but time ran out and I really had to get out of Wales and get to Newcastle for 7pm.

From this point on I was travelling on dull motorways, passing Manchester and around Leeds before heading north. It was already rush hour and I was a long long way from Newcastle but ever the optimist I was convinced that I'd be there no later than 7.30pm, maybe 8pm at a push... what could possibly go wrong?

Eventually I began to see signs for Newcastle but it was already 8pm and I had something like 50 miles to go. With something like 20 miles to go the road split, one on the right led to the Tyne tunnel and the other to the left was the A1 to the airport. I took the latter which was, of course, the wrong one. I should be heading for Whitely Bay on the east coast but the A1 brought me to the west side of the city, it was only when I passed the point of no return that I pictured a map in my head and worked it out. But, ever the optimist, I reckon that it would be easy to find my way through the city and find signs to the east coast.

I found signs, lots of signs, but none going my way. There were many moments when I had absolutely no idea where I was or which direction I was going, then I'd see a sign for something the I recognised and there was hope before I fell off the map again, wandering aimlessly until the next sign.

I had a feeling I was moving eastward the long way around but it was just a guess as I really had no idea where I actually was. Then, out of the blue, I passed a "Welcome to Whitley Bay" sign... I was so relieved. I felt I had crisscrossed the city so many times that it was only a matter of time before I came across Whitley Bay, and here I was! The next challenge was to find Kerry's street, that took another 30 minutes!! It turned out that I had passed close by several times but eventually I arrived, some two hours later than advertised!

The entire 620Km journey too a massive 8 hours 25 minutes, I reckon the next big purchase for the motorcycle will be a GPS... it may just save what little is left of my sanity!!


View Newbridge to Newcastle in a larger map

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Rantastic...

I think there's a little more to riding a motorcycle than getting to the top of traffic queues... I think we all have an awesome responsibility regardless of which mode we use; bikes, cars, horses or feet. There are gobshites in every category: some pedestrians don't look, observe traffic signals or use crossings; most cyclists don't observe traffic signals; some motorcyclists have appalling lane discipline, fail to signal and have little regard for other road users; most motorists fail to look properly at junctions, when opening doors and changing lanes.

BUT I do believe most people care, they just don’t understand how their actions can affect others until something happens, but by then it’s too late. It’s not all the peoples fault, our (Irish) attitude to road safety is terrible but it has become the social norm and as such it’s perfectly acceptable, here. Everyone else is doing it so why shouldn't I?

I have witnessed countless situations where a cyclist has stopped at a red like only to be passed by other cyclist breaking the red light and you can almost see thought process “why have I stopped, nobody else bothers...” and they carry on through the light... it’s wrong but it’s hard to blame them!

We have to change the way we think as a society, we have to remember that we’re surrounded by people just like us, we have to think that we’re all important and we have to accept that if you’re late you’re late, don’t ruin someone’s day because you can’t organise yours.

I have been riding a motorcycle for years and ride it everywhere but I am far from an expert. Every time I do a safety course I’m am reminded of how deadly travelling can be but I’m pretty sure the vast majority of people don’t get that, we don’t do road training here. Once you pass your test you’re finished! Stats show that 92% of those involved in motorcycle crashes never had formal training... NEVER!! That is shocking!!

How many cyclists or pedestrians have done a safety course? Good question... but a better question is where can a cyclist or pedestrian do a safety course???

OK, rant over; I need to do some work...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Midweek Run #2

All day yesterday my feet felt a little uncomfortable and when I got home last night I realised that I had several blisters as a result of that morning's run. I was wearing the same trainers that I used for Gael Force 6 and I was fine then so I guess something had changed between then and now, perhaps they had shrunk or lost some flexibility as a result of the thorough soaking in sea, bog and river water during that event. They were only little blisters but perfectly positioned for maximum discomfort... bless them.

This morning I was up early and eager to get a long run in but had to consider the risk of exacerbating my blister condition! Risk considered and I was off, running a total of 8.59 miles in 1 hour 22, that's a pace of 9:28 min/miles or 6.33mph and a lot slower than yesterday!

My poor little tootsies were feeling the pain and I think the best thing to do is rest until the race on Sunday to give them a fighting chance of recovery and hopefully beat the 2 hour barrier this time!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Midweek Run #1

This should have been a 5 miler but as I have been seriously slacking recently I upped (real word, honest) it to a little over 7 miles. Like all of my best decisions it wasn't a conscious one... I had a bit of a Forrest Gump moment and just kept going. Just before setting off I did have the impending Great North Run in mind and set my trusty Garmin virtual partner to 6.55 mph, at that speed I'd finish the GNR in 2 hours.

This morning I ran the 7.32 miles in 1:03:12, that's a thoroughly respectable pace of 8:38 min/miles or 6.95 mph. According to the ever optimistic fetcheveryone predictor thingy that pace would see me run the GNR in 1:57:07 and a full marathon in 4:04:12... I don't think so!

On tomorrow's list is an 8 mile race pace run but considering how little I've been doing recently I'll try to push that out to 10, maybe more.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Great North Trip...

I have just booked ferry tickets for my trip to Newcastle and as I'll be taking the 1200GS I'll have to think carefully about what to pack... hopefully I can get away with just the two side panniers, I'd rather not take the top box!

I'll be landing in Holyhead on Friday morning. It's been a few years since I've been to North Wales and it'll be great to be back. I'm especially looking forward to travelling through Snowdonia on the bike... that will be a real treat!!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Malahide 5K

This new race worked through the grounds of Malahide castle, see http://connect.garmin.com/activity/12692223 for location and route. Based on my lack of training during the week it came as a complete surprise that I would run well and it can as an even bigger surprise that I crossed that line with a new 5K PB of 25.03!!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Gael Force 6... stage 6

Our downhill jaunt came to an abrupt end as we swung left onto a semi-off road track that took little time becoming a fully off road track. There was no way my road bike could handle this terrain and I had to walk while the occasional mountain biker flew past me. This was where the mountain bikers caught up with the normally faster road bikes. This off-road bit was only supposed to last for 200m or so but someone miscalculated as it ended up lasting for 2K. The road got so bad in places that we had to carry our bikes but after climbing the Reek this was easy.

Eventually we reached a gate with a decent road surface on the other side. There was a sense of urgency as we felt we had lost so much time. I was in a group of about 15 cyclists, most of whom were in front of me, when on a downhill stretch one cyclist skidded suddenly and lost control. She came of her bike and ended up on the road but some of the following cyclist didn't have time or space to avoid her resulting in at least 3 other cyclists coming off. I was OK and pulled up to assist getting bikes of the road. We heard another crash behind us, I think it would be safe to assume that this stretch will see more than its fair share of accidents before the day is out.

Back on the road everyone was more cautious. After a few more kilometers the narrow rural roads began to give way to wider, safer carriageways as we got closer the Westport. The final straight was filled with excitement and for once in a race I felt a surge of energy as I put everything I had into moving those wheels as quickly as possible. Passing through Westport House gates was fantastic, we were almost home an the crowd was growing in number and enthusiasm .

After 12.5km of cycling we were filtered into a separate lane that led to a bike park where we dropped the bikes and ran the last few metres to cross the finish line on foot. What a feeling! That was the hardest thing I have ever done, harder than a marathon for sure. It took me just short of 7 hours to complete (06:57:11) and I came 1639th out of 2084 , not bad at all!!

My trusty Garmin lasted the entire race and, like myself, ran out of stream a few minutes after crossing the finish line as the battery gave up it's last spark. Here's a link to the entire route: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/11789048

Gael Force 6... stages 4 - 5

The transition from stage 3 to 4 took an outrageous 15 minutes. It was a chance to take a breather, eat and get some dry socks on before the first cycling stage. I only had one pair of footwear (running shoes) which were covered in mud, peat and thoroughly saturated; if I do this again a pair of cycling shoes will be top of my list of essentials.

At first my legs didn't mind the switch from running to cycling but the long down hill start to stage 4 probably had a lot to do with that. All good things come to an end and the fast down hill spin soon gave way to a very gradual but very long uphill climb that seemed to go on forever.

The route to Croagh Patrick (or the Reek) was rural, beautiful and as you'd expect from unbeaten paths the road surface was varied but luckily cycleable, if indeed that is a word. We cycled up some challenging hills and down some hair raising descends with very little level grounds to recover on. Occasionally the Reek came into sight as we rounded some corners or reached the crest of hills with uninterrupted views of the mountain. At first it looked like an insignificant spec in the distance but it grew in size and scariness with each sighting. The 32.5km stage took a massive 1 hour 58 minutes to complete when, exhausted, we parked the bikes and looked up in horror at the sheer scale of the mountain we were about to climb.

Stage 5 began with a dash across a timing mat and a hand full of fig roll biscuits. Normally I hate the taste of fig rolls but I guess my body decided that I badly need them and switched off my taste buds because I couldn't get enough of them.

We had an open field to cross before we reached the mountain. There were no tracks to follow, the the footsteps of earlier runners with ditches, streams and bog holes to navigate. It was difficult terrain to cross but it paled into insignificance when we reached the mountain.

The terrain continued to be boggy and the angle of accent was surprisingly steep; it was 1:1 in places and with no solid surface to walk on it was very, very difficult. Couple all that with exhaustion and the fact the we were only starting out assent it was hardly surprising that despair quickly set in. I'm sure everyone devised their own strategy to keep going, mine was simple one more step and try not to look up or down. It worked for the most part but every so often I had to stop and ask why, why were we doing this. That question was painted on the faces of climbers behind me, there were a sea of expressions from desperation to determination, frequently on the same face. Looking down at what we had achieved did feel good. However, looking up at what we had yet to climb was crushing and I'm happy to admit it brought a tear to my eye on several occasions.

After a hard climb we reached the pilgrims path, this is a well travelled rocky path that runs from the outskirts of Westport to the summit. Here we met a stream of pilgrims of all ages moving up and down the mountain. Although relieved to reach the path we were still quite a distance from the summit. At this point the climb became a scramble as the gradient seemed to become more extreme the higher we got but this part of the climb was the easiest and not having to battle through a near vertical marsh was something of a relief.

Eventually the faint outline of a building came into view and I knew the end was nigh! There is a small church at the summit which marks the end of this gruelling climb. There were some race stewards handing out coloured bracelets as proof that we reached the summit. I had to sit down and rest for a bit but couldn't stay long as the cold thin wind cut through me like a knife.

The return journey was so different, while not easy it was a lot easier than the torturous assent. As I climbed down I could see a track that seemed to run down the side of the mountain we had climbed up but it looked like it would take us way past the starting point so it may not be any good. When I got to the track I decided to take it and when I drew level with our starting point I left the path and headed straight down hill, through the near vertical marsh and bog. When I reached level ground again I met some surprised runners who wondered why I had taken the direct route, after all the path snaked around to here... bugger! It turned out that if I had looked at the map I been given at registration that path would have been the obvious choice for both the assent and descent. It would have been a much longer route but the effort would have been halved, oh well!

Stage 5 came to an end after 4.5km of the most difficult terrain I have even crossed, it took a staggering 1 hour 50 minutes to complete and I was so, so happy to get back on that saddle for a free wheeling downhill start to stage 6

Gael Force 6... stages 1 - 3

I managed to get 4 hours sleep which is what I need for a normal day, but this being an extraordinary day I probably could have done with a little more. After a massive bowl of porridge (oatmeal) and a last minute kit check I was on my way to Westport House.

I was part of the second wave to leave this morning and when I got to the departure area the first wave participants were already boarding their buses. Everything seemed to be running smoothly and my bus to start line departed on time at 6am. Most of the journey was familiar after last night's adventure and we reached the start line a little after 7am. After a few announcements from the organisers and a trip to the open air loo for me were were lined up for a 7.35am start which, again, happened bang on time!

The race is split up into 6 stages (that's the "6" bit in Gael Force 6) and the first stage was a run to the kayak stage 12km away. We started by running off the beach which sounds lovely but the beach happens to sit a sea level which means that straight away we're running uphill. This uphill bit lasted for quite some time and I really felt tired when we reached the crest of that very, very long hill but at least the running surface was firm. As we started to descend the copious amounts of liquids consumed before the start had caught up with me and I took the first opportunity to "off load".

Massively relieved and feeling a lot lighter I rejoined the race refreshed, until I reached a bright red arrow pointing towards very high, very steep and very rough looking hill. The assent very uneven and a little wet but I reached the top without any comedy moments. The decent could have been a different story as most of the water seemed to be hiding on this side of the hill, the terrain became very rough and there were huge bog holes and muddy puddles to navigate. Initially everyone put a lot of effort into avoiding stepping into water but that soon changed as one by one everyone had slipped and slid into bog holes and streams by the time we reached the bottom. Views of Killary Fjord were stunning as we descended but I didn't get much time to enjoy them as most of my energy was focused on maintaining and upright position, unlike many of my companions who had more than their fair share of comedy moments.

Upon reaching the bottom we had a fairly firm track to run on for a few hundred meters but before we reached a paved road the track disintegrated into an obstacle course for about a kilometer. We completed the 12km of hard cross county running in 1 hour 28 minutes before we made it to the shore of Killary Harbour where our kayaks awaited.

As a non-swimmer this stage, stage 2, worried me the most but it turned out to be the easiest one, perhaps the additional buoyancy of salt water made it easier to move through when compared to the freshwater we trained in. We flew across the 1.6km harbour in a little over 10 minutes where we crossed from Co. Galway into Co. Mayo.

On this side of the harbour stage 3 began with hard work to get across more bog and rough terrain for about a kilometer or two before getting reaching a paved road where we had another couple of kilometers to run before picking up our bicycles This stage was entirely up hill which made it extra special. In all we ran the 3.5km stage in 26 minutes.

Stage 4 was the first cycling stage and I had no idea how it was going to work out as I hadn't cycled in a full year. There were two major concerns; legs and arse! My legs were well used to running but cycling uses a different set of muscles and I had no idea how they would react to 32.5km of constant and extreme use. If you've ever seen a professional road racing saddle you'll understand my rear end fears, the saddles are so tiny that sitting on it is the last thing you'd want to do with it but I'm assured that with the correct attire they're quite comfortable. We'll see...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Gael Force 6... getting there

Friday afternoon and I'm trying desperately to get out of the office but somehow everything unpleasant managed to hit the fan at the same time! 2pm was my planned departure time but the powers that be had other plans. How can so many emergencies happen at the same time and why don't I learn how to duck out of the firing line. 2.30pm became 3pm and I was no closer to getting out. Eventually all fires had been put out and I was outta there and on the road at 4.30pm, just before the rush!

The drive to Westport was long, but it's always long especially as we have to travel through Roscommon; the longest county in Ireland! Although not strictly true it does seem that way as it seems to take an age to travel through. It's like the county that time forgot as, when crossing the border from any other county, straight wide carriageways seem to buckle and twist as if roughly reshaped to suit the landscape of Roscommon’s rolling hills and valleys. Roads seem to meander aimlessly around the county and often you get the sense that you're travelling backwards as the sun circles above you. I am convinced that the hospitality industry resist any infrastructure development as weary travellers are worn down by the gruelling drive and are forced to stop to eat, drink or check their sanity.

We were no exception and stopped in possibly the best looking restaurant in Ballaghaderreen. Unfortunately it turned out to be the worse restaurant I have even been to for food and hygiene; two things I think most people rate highly when it comes to eating!! The cafe looked inviting from the outside and at first glance it looked modern, new and comfortable inside with no expense spared on decor. Books and covers sprang to mind as I made a visit to the loo and had to battle through a dense wave of foul air. The toilets were kitted out with the most impressive and modern accessories, but obviously nobody told the cleaners they were there. Returning to my seat I started to notice dirt and grease everywhere from the water jug to the kitchen door. Unfortunately we had already ordered and decided to stay; perhaps the food would be good. Why did I think that? It was terrible! I ordered carbonara, what I got was a plate of penne pasta and olive oil (in equal measure) with a sprinkling of bacon and something that looked like cheese but really had no flavour so it was hard to tell. For the first time in my life I only ate half of my meal, normally I lick the plate clean but I could feel a coronary coming on the more I ate and I had to stop. On the up side they did make a lovely cappuccino, I guess every cloud does have a silver lining!

It was getting late and we were keen to get back on the road again. Within 30 minutes or so we slipped out of Roscommon and into Mayo where the road straightened and for the most part lost its roller coaster effect. It was close to 9pm before we arrived in Westport but we still had a lot of driving to go get to the registration area in Delphi, South Co. Mayo. After another 40 minutes driving we were getting close as more and more bicycle carrying cars joined our route. Then, just as it looked like we had arrived, we hit stationary traffic. It was dark, really dark, and although we knew we were close we really didn't know far away the registration area was and nobody around us knew any better. Some people started to assume it was just around the next corner and decided to park their cars along the road side and take their bikes the rest of the way. After much debate our questions were answered by a passing official whose advice was to sit tight and drive up to the registration area when the traffic clears, it was quite some distance and the car park was empty. This turned out to good advice as the traffic started to move and we drove what turned out to be a significant distance to the registration tents. we parked close to the tents and I had to visit a number of desks to submit my medical declaration, get my kit checked, get my timing chip and so on. Then out into the mud to label my bicycle and position it in the transition are for tomorrow's race. It had been raining nonstop for the last week or so and there was little the organisers could do to prevent the bike station turning into a mud bath. It was so muddy that some people had gone barefoot to the bike racks while others with better planning skills wore wellington boots and walked carefree to their racks. I thought I could get away with it but as I gingerly tiptoed towards my bike rack I could feel the mud seeping into my shoes as each step I took sunk a little deeper into the mud. Having extracted myself from the mud we had a long drive back to Westport and home for the night. It was already close to 11pm with a 40 minute drive ahead of us. I had to be up no later than 4.30am to get fed and dressed for the day, then travel to Westport House for my 6am bus to the start line.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Frank Duffy 10 miler

This is the annual 10 miler that forms part of the Dublin City Marathon series (5, 10 and 13.1 milers). I wasn't really sure if I was ready for this race having, yet again, failed to train during the week and on the day I arrived a tad late but one of the benefits or riding a motorcycle is that you can park fairly close to the start line.

As I parked the bike I heard the starting gun go off and the race was really on to get across the start line before they dismantle it. I had to get my riding gear off, store it in the panniers and get my running gear on. I had to run along the starting corridor and pin my number to my shirt at the same time; I'm not know for multitasking but the mixture of sharps pins and running resulted in several minor pricks that I could have done without...

Out of breath and already feeling tired I think I was last to cross the start line. I had set my trusty Garmin virtual partner to run the race in 1.32 which, if I kept up, would give me a new PB for a 10 miler. I struggled through the first 2 miles, passing a lot of walkers, joggers and eventually the slower runners. Once I caught up with the runners I started to feel better, must be a pack thing.

The rest of the race was tough and I pushed hard to keep up the pace. But it paid off and I crossed the line in 1:32:58, a new PB!! According to fetcheveryone.com my marathon prediction based on that run is 4.17 but it's hard to predict what will happen after the half marathon stage, especially after 20 miles.

Gael Force 6 is next on the list!!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

14 miler!

After a 2 week break (for no good reason) this run was an effort to catch up on lost training. It turned out to be a very slow 14.35 miler, running it in a little under 02:37, that's an average pace of 10:56 min/mi!! I did start really fast which is always a mistake but I always do it when I run on my own, my best pace was a ridiculous 5:54 min/mi!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Guitar Lesson #5

Last class tonight and we're down to 4 students. After the usual revision we got stuck into plucking and strumming!!


Tonight's ditty's included Konckin' On Heaven's Door (Eric Clapton), Brown Eyed Girl (Van Morrison), Heart Of Gold (Neil Young) and Redemption Song (Bob Marley).

Tonight's takeaways:

  • Even more strumming techniques
  • A short into to a vast array of new chords including E, Am, Dm, A7, E7, D7, G7, C7, F, Am7, B7...
  • Yet again... sore fingers!!

No good excuse...

... but I do have a bucket full of really bad excuses for not running recently. My last training run was over a week ago, that's asking for trouble... it may be early days but from experience every training run counts!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Guitar Lesson #4

After a fairly soggy ride to the class I was relieved to find that my guitar case was, as advertised, waterproof. Tonight's class was very exciting as we were introduced to the tricky art of fingerstyle which is what I'm really interested in, or at least that what I consider to be the most difficult and flexible style of playing. After some revision and more on rhythm we go stuck into plucking!!

Tonight's ditty's included Ride On (Christy Moore) and Good Riddance; Time Of Your Life (Green day)

Tonight's takeaways:
  • More strumming
  • Fingerstyle
  • More Capo
  • Cords: C, D, and Em... oh and A!
  • Yet again... sore fingers

Sunday, July 26, 2009

12... errrrrr 14 miler

Yes, did it again... this weekend run was supposed to be a 12 miler but in my bid to avoid "making up" distance at the end of the run I took the scenic route around the Curragh. It was an enjoyable run, I felt good the whole way around even on the two occasions when the heavens opened up and drenched me. The final distance was 13.71 miles which I ran in 2:21:11, that's a slow but reasonable pace of 10:18.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

U2-tastic

I never was a big U2 fan and have never had the urge to see them live before but last night's concert in Croke Park (Dublin) was awesome. I'm not one for drama but it was infinitely better than I thought it might be, the stage alone was incredible... it managed to do what all the marketing bumf claimed it would do by "establishing a physical proximity" where "the band is just sitting in the palm of the audience's hand". The entire stadium felt connected to the stage as its' claws reached out into the crowd... nowhere to be seen was the traditional outdoor concert appearance where the stage is stuck in one end of the stadium flanked by stacks of speakers.

This stage was closer to the center of the stadium and having no defined front or back it was surrounded by the crowd. The biggest feature turned out to be the cylindrical video screen which was positioned high above the band for the first half of the set and in the second half it expanded down like a giant concertina to form a dramatic cone of light that flooded the stadium and projected the performers outward.

"We have some magic, and we've got some beautiful objects we're going to take around the world, and we're inside that object."

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Last mid-week 3 miler

For the first time in ages I have stuck to the plan and ran all three mid-week runs, if I keep this up I may even get close to a 4 hour marathon in October.

This morning's run was early (7am) and I ran a little over 3 miles in 27 minutes, that's a little under 9 minute miles and right where I want to be. Next is a 12 miler the day after the U2 concert in Dublin... something tells me I may be pushing that one out by a day... BUT it will be done!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Lunchtime 6... errrr... 3 miler

Yes, the other way around today! The plan was to run 6 but on the treadmill I could only manage 3 before boredom set in and I switched to a bike. You can't beat the outdoors!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Guitar Lesson #3

After a two week gap we're back in the class room. A few faces missing tonight, I hope they haven't given up. I was late and missed the first 10 minutes, arriving just as our teacher began to inspect our homework... DAMN!!

Tonight we focused on rhythm, and how to keep it flowing... and like most things on this course it wasn't easy but there lies the challenge! Tonight's ditty's included Wonder Wall (Oasis) and This Year's Love (David Gray), and after our performance we've got a lot of work to do before next week's class.

Tonight's takeaways:
  • Even further strumming
  • A little more plucking
  • Using the Capo
  • Cords: Em7 and A7sus, with a brief into to C, D, and Em
  • Sore fingers

Lunchtime 3.. errr... 4 miler

Working from home today I could nip out at lunchtime for my first midweek run. I had 3 miles on the schedule but didn't notice my distance until I had travelled 2 miles. I finished having run a little over 4 miles in 36 minutes, a nice brisk pace.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Yawn...

An odd thing happened this morning... every time I woke I thought it was a little earlier than before, as if time was going backwards, and the really weird thing was that all the evidence supported that logic...radio, clock, etc. It was so convincing!!! And yes... I woke up late...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Adidas DCM 5 miler

I had 11 miles on my schedule for today and as today's race was 5 miles I though running 6 miles before the race would be a great idea... add that to the 5 mile race and I'll have done my 11 miler!! However, that brilliant plan scuppered due to several beers the night before, severe lack of sleep and training but above a complete absence of the will to do it... in fact the will to live was struggling to get a look in as I tumbled out of bed this morning.

Before setting off I had to fix the panniers to the bike to store my motorcycle gear while running. A major benefit of riding a motorcycle is being able to get closer your destination, frequently right beside it! This was the first time I had taken the motorcycle to a race a I wasn't sure if was practical but when I got to the Phoenix park there were quite a few other bikers getting their gear on, or off, and some getting their grove on but I think they were foreign (just a guess as they were tanned and attractive, not typical Irish characteristics).

The race started late, but we all expected that. I ran the first half mile at a pleasant pace with a fellow fetchie before taking off to catch up with my virtual partner who was fixed on a 40 minute time. I ran at what I thought was a fast but reasonable pace, I didn't want put everything into the first few miles only to lose it later in the race. I really wanted to beat the magic 40 minute barrier but I crossed the line a second over 43 minutes, while not what I wanted it was a really good time and I'm very happy with it.

We spent about an hour at the finish area eating, chatting and making plans for later and by the time I got back to my motorcycle stretching had completely slipped my mind. It was during dinner later that night that I remembered but a busy restaurant is not the place to be throwing legs over shoulders so tomorrow I will surely pay the price with a pair of aching legs...

Friday, July 10, 2009

Germans...

... or specifically German Engineers really do say what they mean! My motorcycle (German as it happens) has a neat feature that counts down remaining kilometers when the petrol level
drops below one quarter. I had the pleasure of seeing it in action this morning when, on the way into work, petrol was getting pretty low and by the time I arrived at my office it had only 2 kilometers in the tank. As an optimist (others may use more colourful descriptions) I took that as 2 kilometers and a bit extra... you know, a little bit extra just in case. That evening the first thing on my to-do list was getting to the nearest petrol station.

Luckily, I thought, it wasn't far... literally down the road. Unluckily it was a pretty long road which turned out to be 2.5 kilometers. As I approached the 2 kilometer mark and within sight of the petrol station the bike slowly lost power and gracefully glided to the road side. It was amazing... as the counter rolled from 1 kilometer to 0, at exactly the same moment, the bike ran dry.

I put the side stand down, put my helmet and gloves into one of the panniers before I stated to push. I knew this bike was heavy but after a hundred meters it started to get very heavy, and got even heavier and heavier with every step. After negotiating a major junction and two sets of tram lines I made it to the petrol station where I one last obstacle to scale, a short but sharp uphill ramp into the station. After a final big push I was in.

Never again will I second guess anything this motorcycle tells me! I've learnt the hard way that there are no if, buts or maybes... it tells you the way it is and that's that, ignore it and you will be sorry! I'm off to re-read the user manual...

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Guitar Lesson #2

With 3 cords, strumming technique and a firm but proper grip on my guitar I was looking forward to the next installment. There were a few comedy moments but that's to be expected. After strumming and a reminder of our 3 cords we were introduced to the next trio; G, Cadd9 and Dsus4. Once we'd mastered those we were making music, of sorts, by playing along to Sweet Home Alabama but it would be fair to say that Lynard Skynard did a better job, but only just.

Apart from sore fingers I am really enjoying this course, a lot more than I thought I might.

Today's takeaways:
  • A re-tuned guitar
  • Further strumming
  • A little plucking
  • Cords: G, Cadd9, and Dsus4
  • Sore fingers

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Achill Half Marathon 2009

Last year if you said to me that I'd be running the Achill half marathon this weekend I'd say you'd be right... and you are, clever thing! This is my third Achill run and every year I run a better time, thankfully this year was no exception.

We drove across Ireland to Keel (the race start, finish and HQ) the night before the race to pick up our race numbers and decided to get some food once we've got the race pack in the bag so to speak. Big mistake... Keel is not known for it's late night culinary offerings and, as we found out, neither is Achill Sound or Mulranny (now spelt Mallaranny) where all kitchens seem to close at 9pm and as our accommodation resembled a building site and only had a microwave oven for cooking our options were limited.

Later that night after a couple of tasteless re-hydrated pasta packs, ham sandwiches that tasted more like chicken and a warm cup of tea (or so it said on the box) we sat on our upturned crates and planned for tomorrow's events.

The day started out overcast and a little chilly which meant no need for sunscreen, but that gradually changed as the race went on. The first mile was nice an easy, I ran it in a little over 10 minutes before stepping up the pace a little to just beyond my comfort zone. I was going for a sub 2 hour half marathon and felt that I could do it this time.

Around mile 5 it dawned on me that I obviously have a selective memory as I climbed yet another hill having told everyone that there was only one significant hill at mile 9. The sun started to shine and the odd brief shower cooled us down, a curse in disguise as my skin baked in the sun.

As expected, mile 9 was the start of the dreaded hill... it was steep and very, very long which probably explains why it stuck out in my memory. After "the hill" the remaining terrain was undulating all the way to back to Keel. I didn't quite make it in under 2 hours but I did come close, the official time was 2:02:36... the one to beat next time!

The lack of sunscreen and the surprise appearance of the sun during the race slowly but surely became obvious as my face arms and legs began ripen like plum tomatoes. By the end of the night I was positively glowing like a man shaped radiator. Today's lesson... lash on the sunscreen if there's even a remote possibility of sun!!

Here's the route: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/8024483

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Guitar Lesson #1

I have always wanted to learn the guitar properly! I think it's easy to learn a few cords and run a plectrum across the strings of a guitar but to really bring that instrument to life takes a whole lot more, much more than I have right now. Tonight, in the hope of bridging that gap, I started a 5 week basic guitar course.

I have had a guitar since I was 21, it was a 21st birthday present, and to my shame I have rarely picked it up over the years. Having dusted off the guitar from years of neglect I checked if it was still in working order and with only one of the tuner knobs missing it was 95% there. I'm sure there is an proper name for that part of the guitar but for the moment we'll call it a tuner knob.

Next on my list was a backpack case, as my only mode of transport is my motorcycle I have to carry this thing hands free. €40 later I was all set!

There are 10 students in the class; a range of abilities, ages and instruments mixed with lots of enthusiasm... this was going to be interesting!!

We started from the very beginning; how to hold it, what the strings are called, how to tune it, and so on. I knew less than I thought and learnt a lot but that's exactly why I was there. Our teacher tuned each guitar and as my guitar had a tuning knob missing it presented a bit of a problem but he managed to find a pair of pliers and after a few comedy moments I was "in tune".

By the end of the class we understood the anatomy of the guitar, were doing a little plucking and strumming 3 cords! I wonder if Status Quo are looking for a guitarist?

Today's takeaways:
  • How to hold the guitar
  • How to hold a plectrum
  • A tuned guitar
  • Strumming
  • Cords: G, Cadd9, and Dsus4
  • Sore fingers

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sun, sea and sand...

...were all there but I just couldn't see them through that damn fog!!

Today's entertainment was in the inaugural Irish Multi-marathon in Clontarf, Dublin. So called because it is a multi-distance, multi-age and multi-ability event. The route would bring us from the SAILS sculpture along the promenade and across the old wooden bridge onto Bull Island. After running the full length of the island we'd return to the mainland by crossing the northern causeway to run along seafront to the halfway mark where we'd do a 360 degree turn and retrace our steps to the finish line.

It was a lovely morning for a walk... warm, misty and still... not sure about a run though! As it was the first event it was difficult to know what to expect, I knew part of the distance would be on sand and having only ran on sand once before (after accidentally taken a wrong turn on the Curragh racecourse in the dark) and not liking it I expected that portion to be very tough. Happily the sand was the least of my problems, it was firm and in many ways a perfect running surface. The difficult bits turned out to be the heat and (yet again) poor preparation.

The weather remained hot, humid and misty for the duration of the race. Running along the beach was particularly misty, visibility was down to a few feet and if you lost sight or your nearest neighbour there were few indicators that you were running in the right direction... it could have been another "lost on the Curragh" comedy moment but lucky for me I kept up with a group with a better sense of direction than me and made it to the causeway without any diversions. Getting lost out there could be a soggy affair.

The first half of the race was really good, I set my Garmin virtual partner to a 2 hour 1/2 marathon time and I was ahead, unfortunately I had no idea how fast I was running... it turned out that I was running far too fast and suffered on the return journey where my time slowed and slowed, eventually walking at mile 10. The last 3 miles were run/walks and I lost all the time I had made up in the first half.

And so the dream of a 2 hour 1/2 marathon slipped away this time, but next week is the Achill 1/2... another chance and I should be a better prepared!

Here's a map of the route etc: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/7675870

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Cork to Dublin...

...taking the long way there on the motorcycles. We travelled from Cork to Dungarvin, via Yaughal, for lunch. Later we carried onto Waterford hugging the south coast travelling through Tramore and along lovely twisty country roads, stopping a couple of times to take in some of the stunning Waterford coastline. From Waterford we headed north to Kilkenny, through Carlow and onto Newbridge.

Monday, June 01, 2009

The Day!!!

This was never going to be easy and while we were ready for a hard slog we knew we were going to pay dearly for lack of preparation, fully expected it to go horribly wrong at some stage.

Unlike last year we didn't get up outrageously early this time and had breakfast at a respectable 7.30am and had a fairly normal, everyday meal... it would be fair to say that we weren't as focused as last year!

An unsettling combination of fear and excitement and built up as we walked down hill towards the city center to cross the river Lee and onto the start area. I hadn't pinned my number to my shirt before we left the hotel and tried to do it while walking only to be foiled yet again by my lack of multi asking skills, I did manage to stab myself several times before I accepted that it wasn't going to work and simply had to wait until I the current walking task was complete before I attempt the potentially lethal pinning of the number to the shirt task.

More and more people joined us as we walked and by the time we got to the start line we were among thousands runners where the buzz of excitement overcame the fear. The weather was not ideal as the sun blazed in a clear sky with very little wind to cool us down. I had a few minutes before the official start time to concentrate on numbering up during which Sonia O'Sullivan gave a speech, the elite athletes started and I stabbed myself a further 3 times.

The first 10 miles were very exciting. We ran through the city heading west before crossing the river Lee and headed east towards and eventually through the Jack Lynch tunnel. I felt pretty good and the atmosphere was amazing with spectators lining much of the route making all the difference.

Miles 11 to 15 were fine but I was beginning to feel the strain of poor preparation.

Miles 15 to 19 were tough and for the first time I was beginning to doubt that I would finish in under 5 hours. it was around this time that I started to do a little walking, just occasional short walks but they were adding up.

Miles 19 to 22 were really, really tough and I was beginning to struggle. It was also the hilliest part of the course but we were expecting a monster hill that never materialised which was a little bonus. My occasional walks were becoming more frequent and longer.

Miles 22 to 23 felt like it couldn't get any worse until I got to miles 23 to 25, these were actually the worst.

Miles 25 to 26.2 were less of a struggle, we were on the flat and heading back towards the city. Once we were back on city streets we had half a mile to go and from somewhere deep inside a little packet of energy came rushing to the surface that pushed our laboured walk to a laboured run which carried us across the finish line.

Our time was a lot longer than expected, 5 hours 18 minutes, but considering the lack of preparation and the heat... well it's still pretty slow. Here's a map of our route: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/6474094.

The next marathon on the list is Dublin in October. I'm still convinced that there's a 4 hour marathon in me, all I've got to do is focus and get the training done... all of it!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

The day after the night before the day after the night before...

... and yes, it was a long one but I did manage to get to bed by 3am, I may not have slept much but I was in the best place at that time of night considering what I am about to attempt tomorrow! It took a while to pack, say goodbyes and get going but we were on the road in good time and arrive in Naas on time. The plan was to ride the motorcycles to Cork but that plan was hatched weeks before over a cold beer or two. Now that we have factored in running a marathon the next day it may not be the cleverest thing to do but in true man-style and after much debate we decided to do it anyway and worry later.

We spent so much time talking about it that we were now running late so we abandoned plans to ride the long, scenic route there and instead we'd take the direct and faster motorway route. The journey was largely uneventful but still a lot of fun. We did make a couple of stops, or bio-breaks as my American colleagues might call them... I won't go into detail but they can be multi directional and involve liquids, solids or both!! Too much detail??

The scenery was rich and varied, and half way along I realised that today was my fellow runner Monika's last day in Ireland before she heads back to Italy. I didn't get a chance to say goodbye but perhaps she'll be back, it's a very small world!

We had to make it to Cork City Hall by 6pm otherwise we would miss registration and time was flying by. We arrived with minutes to spare and were some of the last to get our packs. Just outside the city hall the owners of a gourmet coffee stall were just about to begin packing up and as they poured the last 2 excellent cappuccinos of the day we began to realise that we were here, in Cork and that tomorrow morning we would be standing less than 100m away in a long line of athletes about to start a 26.2 mile run around this undulating city... and now we were scared! The conversation turned to finishing strategies... we were going to finish but we just didn't know how. I had only ran 22 miles during the entire month of May... 22 miles!! Now that's asking for trouble!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The day after the night before...

Not the best preparation for a marathon but it was jolly good fun... did I say jolly? Anyway, it's a birthday weekend and we're staying in the gorgeous seaside village of Carlingford... gorgeous? Hmmm... Last night was great, we had divine dinner in a darling little restaurant followed by drinks in a handsome little pub on the... oh dear... divine, darling, handsome... crikey!

Anyway, after a late night and very little sleep we were up early this morning to keep the appointment we had made with a man from the Kayak trade. We struggled into our snug wet suits and after a short kayak/paddle orientation session we were on our way to the waters edge. It was a little smelly, quite gooey and very slippy but we were made of strong stuff and held it together until we were clear of the shore and into the deep blue. That's not altogether true, while the water looked deep it was in fact very shallow, no deeper than 4 feet as I accidentally found out... a number of times.

Our instructor was a man who obviously loved his job which usually makes for a memorable experience. Within the first 10 minutes he had us sitting, kneeling and standing on our kayaks. I think we all experienced several unplanned and very cold swims back to our kayaks having been separated by gravity, usually accompanied by a loud girly scream and that was just the men... there was nothing graceful about falling out, swimming to and especially getting back into our kayaks.

The session lasted for the entire morning and I was exhausted by the time we got to shore. I wonder what was in that water, I must have swallowed several litres and it left me feeling a little light headed, lighter than usual... might explain divine, darling and handsome...

Tonight is party night, and the party is in the house that I'm staying in, the same house that has several tall refrigerators stock full of beer, the same beer that will undoubtedly find it's way to me throughout the night and morning and tomorrow we drive to Cork for the marathon the day after. Am I worried? Oddly and perhaps sadly no... must be the water!