Lisbon Half Marathon

10 Things I Think About The Lisbon Half Marathon 

1. Shambles

I think that the organisers of today’s race need to go to Berlin. There were no starting pens based on times. They just let 35,000 people sort themselves out. An hour is a long time without a toilet. To make it even worse people who had paid €100 extra were in big pen jogging up and down in front of us proles. One of the proles tried to jump across into the money pen but was quickly captured by a big security guard and returned to where he belonged. I don’t like being a prole. 

2. Douro 

I think that I should have skipped the wine on Friday and Saturday. The hardest thing about racing in Spain and Portugal is that the wine is so good it’s almost impossible not to drink it. It’s fine if the temperature is reasonable but anything above 15 degrees and it’s misery. Should have skipped it.

3. Oakland not Golden 

I think what attracts the 35,000 people is the start on what looks like the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. I went on a walking tour yesterday so I know that it’s actually modelled on the Oakland Bay Bridge. Anyway it’s a very big bridge with a trainline underneath that you use to get to the start. It’s kind of scary to run on because the fast lane is a just a mesh grid and you can see the water below. It’s very long, about 3km, plenty of time to pick your way through the people who paid €100 to jog up and down in front of you.

4. Boston 

I think that the descent off the bridge with a tailwind was good preparation for my sub 2:30 attempt in Boston. Based on those two miles Boston should be easy. Michael Herlihy should be worried. I’ll be insufferable when it happens. 

5. Hot Cold Wind

I think that I preferred being too warm with the tailwind. Once we got down off the bridge we ran very fast for about a kilometre with the wind. The elites ran past on the other side of the road in a big pack, a big pack of elite runners makes a funny sound, it’s sort of like a Tesla, I’m pretty sure I don’t sound like that. 

6. Politeness 

I think that I thought I was stronger than the wind today. I had a nice little pack to run with into the wind. Two guys were taking turns with me up until about 11km, it was great fun almost easy, we even had a hand signal to changeover. A few other guys sat behind us polite fools and then ran away from us at 11km. Being polite doesn’t pay off in running. Rudeness is the best way.

7. Niggles

I think that my body is giving up on me bit by bit. It was very bad all last week. Different niggles everyday, right ankle, right knee, left calf. The sort of niggles where you worry if you’ll even be able to run. Once I got to Thursday this week I was happy as two easy days normally heals everything. As usual I was right. I was perfect this morning. No niggles.

8. Concentrate 

I think I need to practice concentrating in races. I blame my phone. I find it very hard to focus on long races, 5ks and 10ks are fine but in a half it’s so long, it’s like a boring film, about 50 minutes in you just really want to check Twitter in case something has happened. 50 minutes seems to be my limit. Today it was the same, after the 15km water station I just forgot what the point of the race was and suddenly there was a big gap between me and the guys I was running with. I wish I’d concentrated.

9. Spider Babies 

I think that my favourite part of this race was the free Solero ice cream afterwards. More races should give free ice cream. I also got interviewed by some TV people after crossing the line because it was St Patrick’s Day. I have no idea what I said because I’d just crossed the line. It’s very hard being on TV. 

10. Respectable 

I think that today’s performance deserves a headline in the Avondhu like “local man runs respectable time in Lisbon Half Marathon”. If you are in anyway fussy about races don’t run Lisbon, go to Berlin or Barcelona, they’re proper races, if you don’t care and just want to run across the big bridge then it’s great fun.

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Dungarvan 10K

10 Things I Think About the Dungarvan 10k

1. Choice is Not Good

I think that there are too many races on. I think there were five on today. Five is too many. Even though there were five choices were limited. I didn't want to pseudorace Viv again over 10 miles in Duhallow, Crosshaven had already found 800 people willing to hand over money and Killeagh was too short so it was a choice between a 10k in Dungarvan or Killarney. I picked Dungarvan because there are no cattle grids in Dungarvan.

2. ASBO

I think that trying to run 100 mile weeks is anti social. It's a ridiculous amount of running, it's even more ridiculous when you've to try and fit a race in at the weekend which means missing a long run. I did four days of 16 miles which made me very sleepy and tired by Friday and I still had lots to do. I don't even know why I do it, It's not like I'm any good at running. I think I just like the number 100. Perhaps if I keep hitting my head off the wall it will break eventually.

3. Chiropodist 

I think that I'll go to the chiropodist more often, it's a very pleasant experience. I'd been meaning to go since my toenail exploded in Berlin as it's constantly on the brink or erupting again. I'm definitely lighter after it, I almost have pretty feet. I’ll go again possibly. 

4. Burnt

I think that I have found the perfect place for pre-race pizza. It's called Burnt pizza. It's not some peak hipster place where they actually burn your pizza, they actually have nice pizza. Novocento has been relegated. 

5. Long Singlet

I think that my new long Leevale singlet is my favourite item of clothing. I had to get one as there were too many falling down shorts incidents. I asked Ronhill for a really long one as I think I'm an unusual shape for an Irish person. It's long like a dress but it covers my falling down shorts really well and won't bounce up to reveal my belly. I'm very happy.

6. Initial Nervy Giveyway Knee Pain

I think that I have developed a new niggle. I'm always worried by new niggles as I don't know how they will evolve. I developed this one on Friday morning, it's hard to describe as it's only there for three footsteps at the start of a run and then it goes away until the next day. It's like a stiff nervy outside knee pain, my knee feels like it's going to collapse for three steps then it's fine and perfectly strong. It's not pinchy knee so I'm not too worried. It wasn't really there this morning for the first few steps of the warm up but I was consciously looking for it so I'm not sure if I imagined it better. I could be going mad or just getting old.

7. Windy 

I think that my new favourite app is Windy. It's brilliant for running, you can check it before your run after you’ve checked Twitter, the arrows on the map tell you which direction to run around Blackrock. It doesn't really work for a race because you have to go the direction of the race but you can know when it's going to be most horrible. Today's route was 3 miles into the wind, then 3 miles with the wind. Very nice, ideal almost.

8. Tipperary People

I think that those Thurles guys were very crafty, they sat in behind my huge frame for the first two miles of the race until I tired myself out then motored on by once the wind was nearly gone. I didn't really mind as I got to lead the race again in my orange sunglasses and nice singlet. I like leading. It suits me.

9. Ravis

I think that Raivis Zakis might have been worried about me at the start, either that or very tired after finishing work at 4am. "You never run this race". He need not have worried. I tried to beat him but he seemed to wake up once we got to 5 miles. Then he got very fast. I'll beat him some day, he can be my Waterford John Meade.

10. Fake Distances

I think that it's a disgrace that today's course was 0.03 miles too long. This is entirely unacceptable. My Garmin cost at least €250 and I stopped it precisely at the finish line. I'm taking that 0.03 miles off my time, Strava had me 14 seconds faster for 10k like. I'm getting very tired of these well organised races charging massive €8 entry fees and then laying out inaccurate flat excellent courses. It's not on. I think I'll just take my Strava time from now on, it's far more accurate and faster.

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Kinsale 10 Mile

10 Things I Think About The Kinsale 10 Mile

1. Windy Hilly Foggy

I think I didn’t get to see Kinsale properly today. It was hidden beneath a big grey blanket of cloud and wind. It was horribly grey very unsunny, impossible for sunglasses. All I saw in Kinsale was cloud, wind, hills and a surreal fancy Dinos.

2. Forgotten Pizza

I think I forgot to eat enough yesterday. Because today’s wasn’t really supposed to be a race I wasn’t sure if I should have the normal pre race pizza. I kind of forgot to have the pizza in the end. It’s just as well I had a few brunches. I didn’t feel racy this morning. 

3. Elongated Warm Up

I think it isn’t a good idea to run 6 miles as your warm up for a race. I did 6 miles because I wanted to get 100 miles for the week which is very important because 100 is a big number and Stephen Scullion makes podcasts whinging about how hard running 90 miles a week is. 

4. Irresistible 

I think it doesn’t matter how tired I am I cannot resist trying to lead at the start of a road race. I led this one for about 100m, the start was downhill so it was inevitable. I’m very good at starting downhill. The rest of the course was like if you added the Shanagarry 5 and Ballycotton 5 together to make a 10 miler. Lumpy and windy. 

5. Treacherous Foley

I think that Vivian Foley is a liar. A terrible liar, I will not trust him again. He’s like a property developer that promises to build footpaths in exchange for planning permission not to be trusted. We were supposed to do approximately marathon pace. During the long warm up Viv was barely confident of being able to run with his terrible injuries. I was not exactly surprised to see him disappear off up the road never to be seen again after 2 miles. Treacherous.

6. Training Hero

I think it’s a lot easier to just race than to try and run a set pace. I’m very bad at concentrating, I was getting very distracted and angry at the fog, wind, hills and liars. I didn’t do a very good job at running marathon pace, it was all over the place. I’d have been better off racing or just training at home. 

7. Electrolyte Joe

I think Joe’s electrolytes were a lot nicer than the poisonous yellow electrolytes that Ken Devine gave me at 22 miles in Cork last year. I’m pretty sure it was the green high five zero ones, quite tolerable almost pleasant, I didn’t drink much of it but it distracted me from the wind for a while.

8. Confused 

I think that using races as training is a very bad idea. It’s very confusing for your brain. If I had run the same pace and distance in training I’d be delighted, it’s almost like your brain doesn’t believe you that you actually weren’t racing. Perhaps I wasn’t, perhaps that’s all I had. I hate thinking. I wasn’t racing, honest. 

9. Tarmac Track

I think a tarmac track is a great idea. It looks wonderful and it won’t get ripped to pieces like the Mardyke. Perhaps they should just tarmac the Mardyke. I’m not sure if the finish was on the right side of the track though. The Garmin read it a little long, although Garmins are often very wrong, everyone seems to trust the Garmins for some reason. Garmins are just as capable of lying. 

10. Battle of Kinsale 

I think that I will have to punish Vivian Foley for his treachery today. That wasn’t a battle in Kinsale, that was trickery. I will beat him very badly in Boston, extra badly.

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Barcelona Half Marathon 2019

10 Things I Think About The Barcelona Half Marathon 

1. Two Flights Good

I think that two flights from Cork is better than one from Dublin. There’s no Cork Barcelona flight for some strange reason. You can fly to Gdańsk from Cork but you can’t fly to Barcelona. Air France via Paris works, I like landing and taking off anyway it’s fun, especially in wind. 

2. Musik 

I think that you should never book a hotel with the words musik and boutique in the name. I normally use AirBnB but I couldn’t find a cheap one close to the start. The hotel Musik gets 9.1 on booking, you’d think it would be good. Unfortunately there was a nightclub in the abandoned adjoining building next to my room on the Friday night. I rang reception and went down to complain but they could do nothing. They gave me a free breakfast as compensation. At least they didn’t have bed bugs. 

3. Approved by El Gato 

I think that I needed a massage yesterday. I felt terrible on the run on Saturday morning. My left calf niggle was really bad and my back was rotten from the terrible bed in the hotel. I googled a sports massage and booked one online. The place was a little unusual. There was a white cat at reception that you had to be approved by. I have no Spanish so I had to point at the tight bits. Everything was perfect this morning so it must have worked. 

4. Harry Clarke

I think that a good walking tour the day before a race is essential. The one I went on was given by an Irish guy called Brendan. He used to be a stained glass artist but gave up and moved to Barcelona to paint stuff instead. It was an excellent tour, absolutely no Gaudi and plenty of politics. John Meade would have loved it. I think that I’d like to be a walking tour guide eventually, in Spain. 

5. Sin Alcohol 

I think that the key to my slight improvements in running has been to stop drinking as much. I only had wine once since Seville and absolutely no beer. I replaced it with the Blood Orange San Pellegrino and Heineken Zero Zero. I miss wine especially wine in Seville.

6. Dos Croissants, Seis Cafés

I think that the key to my slight improvement in running was the free breakfast that I had in the Hotel Musik this morning. I had six coffees and two croissants. The only good thing about the Hotel Musik is that it is 500m from the start so I could drink my six coffees, go for a 10 minute jog to get things going and return to the hotel once the coffee had taken effect. Perfect preparation, very light. 

7. Plan 

I think that I had a good plan today. I met Damian Kenneally at the start and told him my plan. My plan was to find the elite women and once I started recognizing names to try and stay with them. I ran with Duarte, Marta, McGlynn, Samuels, Barlow and Nesbitt. They all beat me except Duarte, I think I beat her.

8. Chronomentrophobia

I think I’m developing a fear of watches and clocks. I don’t want to know what pace I’m running at in race because my stupid brain will start thinking that it’s too fast. I didn’t look at any clocks all race until I saw the one at the end. Instead I tried to think how simple running is, cadence and stride length, that’s it, if they don’t change you don’t slow down. They changed but not much, perhaps I’ll change my Garmin to display those inside, then I can look at it.

9. When is It Going to Get Bad

I think that even on a good day it always gets bad eventually. I was going really well until about 17k, really good, nothing was wrong, I wasn’t even getting annoyed by other runners making noises. There were always people around to pass and be passed by. It got quite bad at 19k, I had major doubts, lots of people passing, then it got ok again. 

10. Flame Rouge

I think that the only bad thing about this race is the finish, there’s nothing wrong with the finish, it’s just that there are about 20 inflatable gantries in the last 500m, the finish seems so far away, it’s horrible until it’s over. Everything else is perfect, weather, route, length, numbers, Spain, everything, perfect.

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Raheny 5

10 Things I Think About The Raheny 5

1. Not Short

I think that the course wasn’t short. Have I made that clear? It wasn’t short. Not a short course, the Garmins and Strava showing 4.7, 4.8 4.9, and 5.1 are all wrong. It wasn’t short, not short, is that clear Michael. Not short. We all ran that fast. It wasn’t short, definitely. 

2. Taper

I think that so long as the course wasn’t short that I got my taper perfect. I only ran 7 miles on Saturday, this was very hard because it was kind of a nice day and I like running at least 10 because 10 miles isn’t lazy. 7 miles is lazy. 

3. Sleep

I think that 3pm is the perfect time for a road race. It’s no coincidence that football matches start at 3pm, it’s because it’s perfect. You can sleep in until 10 have rice cakes, lots of coffee and then have a nice empty stomach for the race. Morning races should be illegal. 

4. Boxes

I think that the warm up is the worst part of any race. After driving all the way to Dublin for 5 miles you kind of feel like you have to run outside of your normal 27-28 minute time box. It’s not like a cross country race where nobody will know if you give up after two and half miles and jog home except yourself. 

5. Penguins

I think that I was better off waiting in the pen for 10 minutes before the start rather than jogging up and down with the elites. It was too cold to be standing around in an ill fitting Leevale singlet, even jogging didn’t make it warm. It was very cozy standing in the pen, very tolerable, almost warm. The penguins are right. 

6. Short Legs Good, Long Legs Bad

I think that the worst part of the race is the start. It’s very stressful for big lumps like me. I’m not very good at accelerating in crowds because my legs are too long and I’m very awkward. I like big open spaces where I can be awkward. After 100m there were lots of short legged people ahead of me. I wish I had shorter legs so that I could run faster at the start. 

7. Street Furniture 

I think that there are too many speed bumps in Raheny. Speed bumps like the smooth ones in Cork are normally only slightly annoying but the speed bumps in Raheny had potholes in them which made them horrible. Thankfully I was wearing my trusty Brooks Ghosts so my ankles didn’t break. 

8. Familiar Faces

I think that I should have beaten Niall O Riordan. I know that he was shocked and horrified to see me at two miles because he told me. I tried to beat him but I couldn’t. I kind of got scared because I’m not supposed to beat him. I’ll try again next time, I like horrifying people, I want to be a “He beat me”. 

9. Beep

I think it was a good idea not to look at the watch for the whole race. It’s better just to try and keep up with the person in front of you. It also helped that the mile markers were invisible. It’s kind of odd to have no idea of how long is left. You can kind of tell by the beeps of people’s watches, although the weirdos who set them up in kilometers make this unreliable. I’m pretty sure Niall’s watch was in miles, it felt like a mile per beep. 

10. Big Fish Big Pond

I think it’s better to be a big fish in a big pond. I do love a podium in Spain but it’s also nice to run some-bit fast and finish nowhere. After all running is all about times and boxes, I think. It wasn’t short either, definitely 5 miles.

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FMC 5k

10 Things I Think About The FMC 5k

1. Fourteen Accidental Miles

I think that yesterday was the first time that I genuinely accidentally ran more than I intended to. Normally I just lie and say it was an accident, yesterday it genuinely was. I ran with Donal Coffey, I said we’d do 10, then I changed it to 12. Unfortunately we forgot to turn off in Monkstown and had to go up Raffeen because we’d gone too far. The other Donal was very tired after the run, exhausted almost, I was fine.

2. Funny Tummy

I think the stomach bug that I had all week helped today, I’m very light, my mother wanted to feed me which is a very good sign. I’m not sure if it was a stomach bug or a side effect of the Arcoxia and Spanish Difene gel that I was using for the vicious unprovoked kick to the IT band that John O'Connell administered in Seville. Eating food all week was a pointless endeavour. 

3. Traffic Island

I think that Little Island is an awful, awful place. I suppose it’s the price that we have to pay for an economy, god it’s awful. If Little Island was in Spain there’d be no pharmaceutical plants and some long dead dictator would have built a massive pointlessly pretty castle to protect the harbour. It would have been much nicer. 

4. Pockets

I think that I may have looked a little fat with my jacket this morning. I’ve had to fill both pockets of my running jacket with kitchen roll. It’s a precaution I’ve had to take as a result of some serious stomach incidents during the week. I think the risk has passed but better safe that sorry.

5. 5k not 6k

I think that everyone was confused over what distance the race was today. I really didn’t care, I’d prefer not to know the distance, it’s more fun that way. Kieran Mckeown told me he had it changed to 5k because people prefer 5ks. I suppose they do. I think an unknown race distance would be fun. 

6. Elbows Out

I think there was a guy with very long and pointy elbows at the start. I think he must have been a rower, they run like that because of all the rowing, elbows out. I was going to hit him but I wasn’t sure that it wasn’t just Michael Morgan so I didn’t. Tim O’Connor shouted at him. I think I beat him, I’m not sure. The first mile was fast. 

7. Looks like Wind

I think the wind was the price we had to pay for the sunshine. The wind blew away the greyness. It was exceptionally windy for the second k, the lads up front fanned across the road like a load of striking union workers at a unionised pharmaceutical plant. I ran directly into the wind because I believe most problems can be overcome with hard work plus I wanted to be sure of beating Vivian badly which I did, badly. 

8. The Eternal Happiness of the Sub 16min 5k

I think I was a little disappointed that I didn’t run under 16 minutes for 5k. As all runners know if you run under 16 minutes for 5k you’re great and you’ll finally be happy forever with running. I also wanted to do it because Donal Coffey said he’d start trying in races again if I did. I didn’t anyway, I was miles off, miles, well a mile off. I had the first two right. 

9. Fist Bump for Safety 

I think the HSE should run a campaign on fist bumping at the end of races. There must be so many diseases picked up at the end of races from shaking hands. Fist bumping is much more safe, less risk of catching a vicious disease. Fist bump, it’s safer. 

10. Flu Jab

I think you could almost see the diseases circulating in the hall after the race. I stayed for the prize giving just in case I’d won a pair of GAA socks or plates with cows painted on them. I didn’t thankfully. I’m glad I got the flu vaccine on Friday, I know it doesn’t work immediately but I did feel safer in the hall. I had no side effects, if anything I feel better, perhaps the flu vaccine is performance enhancing, all those nasty adjuvants have to be doing something aside from allowing the Russians to read your thoughts.

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San Silvestre Seville 2018

10 Things I Think About The San Silvestre Seville 

1. Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite

I didn’t think that bed bugs were a problem in Spain. I was wondering why I felt itchy and couldn’t get to sleep until 6am last night, I’d only 4 small Cruzcampos so it wasn’t alcohol related. Then I saw the round raised bite marks on my legs and the tiny black spots on the bed sheets. It all made sense.

2. Coffee, San Pell and Toilet Roll

I think I surprised the little old ladies having their morning coffee in the local pub when I arrived in with two bottles of San Pellegrino and a 6 rolls of toilet roll. I needed coffee to cure my bed bug hangover so I didn’t care. I could feel them looking at me.

3. Muy Importante

I think the last minute email we got about the race starting at 1030am was like a message you’d get sent about a family dinner. “Please be there for 7.30pm , The dinner is on at 7.30pm”. You know it’s booked for 8pm. It just helps get you there on time. In fairness it started bang on 11am. 

4. Lola

I think it’s handy to know the locals at this race, we knew Cornelio and Lola from last years race. Cornelio was genuinely worried about us I hope. Lola was able to translate and take excellent photos for Instagram. It helped to know when the race was going to start. 

5. Route

I think this years route was much better than last years route. This years route was precisely 5k unlike last years 4k and it stayed within or around the Star Wars Plaza de Espana Park the whole time. It was an excellent course, very flat and very fast.

6. Gates

I think that the gates at the start made a fast start essential. After 100m everyone had to pass through narrow gates. When the gun went I sprinted as hard as I could, not as fast as Mikey but enough to get through the gates safely. I don’t know what happened behind but it was pretty chaotic with proms and boats and guys dressed in suits. 

7. Rapido 

I think the start of every Spanish race is so so fast. They love to go off very fast. I also like to go off very fast but after 400m I was only about 12th. They don’t last long however and after 1km only Mikey and a group of 4 Spaniards including Cornelio were ahead. 

8. Triathletes 

I think that there are more triathletes in Seville than in Ireland. I don’t understand why they wear the triathlete suits in the road races, it doesn’t make any sense.. The triathlete suits only provide motivation for the runners to catch the triathletes. Mikey used it as motivation to catch one. I tried but failed. 

9. Warm Down

I think that there is always time to do a good long warm down after a race in Spain. The race finished at 1120, the podium was at 1230. In between they had kids races and a Zumba dance, it all makes sense when you see the weather. No one minds waiting when it’s sunny and warm. 

10. Podium

I think that it was great that we all got to stand on the podium. Sinéad won the women’s again for the second year running and the third year in a row for a Sinead. Michael was the first non old man and I was the third non old man. The guy with the mic and excellent hair had great fun trying to pronounce our names, we did initially get the M35 trophies but thankfully the other non old Spaniard spotted it and we got them swapped, it’s important to get the right trophy.

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San Silvestre Chipiona 2018

10 Things I Think About The San Silvestre Chipiona 2018

1. Christmas Races

I think that Christmas is a dangerous time to be a runner. There are so many races on. It’s so tempting to do them all. I nearly did Belgooly and the Parkrun on Christmas Day. Thankfully I’m sensible now after my many stress fractures so I’m only doing two. I’ve learned my lesson, I think, I hope. 

2. Jerez

I think that Jerez is a beautiful place, almost as nice as Seville. I only knew about Jerez because I remembered it from  Formula 1 when Schumacher tried to drive Villeneuve off the road in 1997 at that hairpin. It’s such a nice town and it’s closer to Chipiona than Seville.

3. Blue

I think that it’s wrong that blue is the colour associated with feeling sad or down. It should be grey. The blue sky makes me happy. The grey sky makes me sad. I prefer the blue sky, it makes me happy and able to get out of bed before 10. 

4. Vegano 

I think that it is a very good idea to stick to a vegan/vegetarian diet when traveling before a race. It’s very hard to get a bad stomach from vegetables. Plus when you order something vegan and it looks unusual the worst thing you are eating is vegetables. So long as you avoid the temptation to drink a litre of the excellent orange juice in SuperSol then you’ll be fine. 

5. Faro

I think that Chipiona is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to. It’s right on the edge of the sea with a beautiful lighthouse. It’s like those fake towns in Lanzarote except not fake but real and really nice.

6. Starting Tape

I think that I found out the reason for the tape at the start of races today. It’s used to push everyone back behind the start line. It really works. Line up the tape and push into the crowd until the crowd disappears behind the line. It really works.

7. Where’s The Other Guy

I think that Michael Herlihy was missed tonight. He would have won easily. A guy in a Jerez singlet did a good impression of Mikey at the start, it was even the same Inverse singlet. I was in a group of about five guys right behind. As normal in Spain everyone looked fantastically fit and capable of running at least 4:00 for 1500m regardless of age or gender. 

8. The Cone

I think I thought I could have been the champion of Chipiona as we came to the perfectly placed cone to turnaround. My group had just caught the Mikey from Jerez and I felt reasonably uncomfortable running with the remaining three Spaniards from Cádiz and Nerja. Unfortunately I got even more uncomfortable and dropped back. I still would have beaten John O'Connell easily.

9. Oliver Plunkett Street

I think that we need to have races at night  in towns and cities back home at Christmas time. The race tonight started and finished on a street like Oliver Plunkett Street, the atmosphere is amazing, starting in daylight and finishing in the dark. It’s perfect. 

10. Podium 

I think its a great pity that I missed the real podium while I was on my warm down. I thought I wouldn’t be on the podium but they do podiums differently in Spain. I was the second non old man so I got a nice trophy and a trip to the podium. I like podiums. I especially like podiums where little old Spanish ladies give you sweet wine from a plastic bottle produced from a plastic bag, she even let me keep the shot glass.

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National Novice XC 2018

10 Things I Think About The National Novice XC

1. Pride Comes Before a Fall

I think I thought it was all over on Monday in Lisbon. I took a tumble on a trail in the parque. I shredded my knee and took a gouge out of my hand releasing lots of blood. I think my phone saved my collarbone because I threw it away to protect it instead of using my hand to break my fall. I bled lots and screamed lots about the Novice being gone. Then John Meade took an excellent colourful photo with my uninjured phone and I was happy again.

2. Assumptions

I think we were all wrong when we assumed that today would be an unmerciful mudbath. I was really looking forward to it. We were all wrong, very wrong, somehow the course was soft but firm, sort of like a Twix  bar, soft on the top but with a firm base.

3. Purple

I think all races should start at 3pm, it’s perfect, you can have a big sleep and a nice breakfast before the race. I like big sleeps and breakfasts. I dispensed with the tower of power and had purple porridge with pomegranate seeds. Lots of digestion time.

4. Portaloo Gameshow

I think someone should make a gameshow where people try to find a non decommissioned portaloo which also has toilet paper. It’s very hard to find the golden portaloo, I think I opened 6 doors think before I found the golden one, the one closest to the coffee stall. It even had a second roll of toilet paper. Portaloos are awful, a portaloo gameshow would be fantastic.

5. Tim Crowley

I think Tim Crowley needs to moderate his handshake. It’s bad enough if you have a fully intact hand but when there’s a piece of your hand missing and he presses right into the wound it really really hurts. Con the Bus driver did it too so I stopped shaking peoples hands and defaulted to fist bumping. Fist bumping doesn’t hurt and it looks cool.

6. Perfect Course

I think that was nearly the perfect course for me. I would make one minor change, I would start it at the top of the hill. I loved the twists and turns, the hills were fantastic, a proper course, it even had lovely bushes for sheltering in and peeing in before the race. Really perfect, just start on the downhill, please.

7. Too Far Back

I think I didn’t get out fast enough, it wasn’t because I didn’t try, I always try, it’s just that I can’t run up hill from a standing start very fast. Think of the physics, heavy lumbering object plus standing uphill start equals no chance, once I got to the top of the hill I took off but I was well well back at least 100th. It did make it kind of fun pushing and pinching through gaps.

8. Assisted Falling

I think I have a sixth sense for people falling, I’m very good at staying on my feet, I rarely fall and I never fell off my bike. I think it’s all those years of being a goalkeeper, it gave me excellent feet and excellent reactions. One guy fell right in front of me at the bottom of hill at the tight sweeping corner. He was very big like me, when I saw him begin to fall everything slowed down, I calmly put my hands on him and assisted him to the ground gently while I continued on. Obviously he was never a goalkeeper.

9. Down The Hill

I think I made up at least 60 places on the downhill sections, I’m very fast going downhill because I’m much more massive than the other runners. I was flying down that hill. If only it was all downhill. The finish was uphill like the start, that didn’t go so well, I lost at least 5 places, but sure 5 places would never matter now would it.

10. What If

I think it’s very easy to think “What If” after a race like that. What if Sean Doyle hadn’t fallen at the last corner, what if Conor hadn’t had a terrible disease for the last two weeks, what if the rest of our team like Nate and Brian hadn’t been mangled by injuries. All that matters is that Togher won gold and we got bronze. I think I should have stayed with Togher...perhaps, or else just not lost those five places in the home straight. I’d have loved a gold medal, ah well at least I can still run the Novice again, I really love that race.

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EDP Grande Prémio Natal

10 Things I Think About The EDP Grande Prémio Natal

1. Coffey vs Coakley VI

I think Lisbon was a suitable venue for a rematch with my greatest rival, the other Donal. I was genuinely worried that his Runners World Style training plan of “don’t bother running, run faster” would actually pay off.

2. I Give You Sample

I think that the amount of times you are offered cocaine and hash in Lisbon is directly proportional to the colour of your sunglasses. They didn’t seem to bother with John and the other Donal. Apparently it’s all fake stuff anyway, that’s why it’s not illegal. They all offer you a sample to test it. “I give you sample, real not fake”. Not exactly the best advertising tag line ever.

3. Cunning Taper Run

I think it was an excellent idea to take the other Donal on a good long 10 mile taper run to collect the numbers the day before the race. With his Runners World training plan it totally exhausted him. It was only 8 minute miles looking at lovely bridges and towers but he looked very tired afterwards.

4. Fado Fado

I think the walking tour of the Alfama was one of the better walking tours I’ve done. Rita was an excellent tour guide, a lawyer and an actor with fantastic pink hair. We learned loads about clothes hangers made from glass bottles and the history of Fado singing, plus it made the other Donal even more tired. John Meade is indefatigable so 10 miles and a walking tour made no impact.

5. Instagram

I think Instagram is ruining the world, Lisbon is plagued by people standing around posing for photos, they’re not posing for excellent photos like I do, they’re posing for pretty photos like fashion shoots. It’s very annoying.

6. Metro

I think it’s amazing that a small city like Lisbon has such a great Metro system. It’s half the size of Dublin and is way easier to get around. The metro was free on Sunday morning to get to the race start, we felt like elite runners being ushered through the gates. It’s not as nice a metro as Berlin but it’s still very good. I wish there was a metro in Cork.

7. Meade no Warm Up

I think it’s fascinating that John Meade doesn’t do much of a warm up. It’s very unusual behaviour, I like to do at least two miles at about 7 minute mile pace. John Meade doesn’t have a Garmin just a Casio thing but he does about 5 minutes. It’s very unusual, he said it’s because he doesn’t like running slow before trying running to run fast. It seems to work, he should sell it to Runners World, “warm up less, run faster”.

8. Novice

I think the start of this race was as close to the start of the National Novice as you could get. The start was stupidly fast with elbows everywhere. There were 6000 people in the race and most of them seemed to be capable of running under 40 for 10k. Portugal is very different from Spain in that all the guys who look like they’re fast are actually fast. The lack of fun runners was clear from the lack of interest in the big rubber EDP balloon that was bouncing on the heads of the crowd, no one was playing ball, Donal Coffey loved the pre race hype.

9. Condescending Meade

I think I saved John Meades race, I passed him after about 2k, as I passed him he shouted “go on Donal” or something condescending like that, then about a minute later as we turned a corner up a hill he took off and flew away never to be seen again. I spent the rest of the race worrying that the other Donal was going to do the same, thankfully he was miles behind.

10. Waiting for Coffey

I think that was the first and last time I’ll run a negative split in a 10k. The course was all uphill for the first 5k with a downhill last 5k. It suits me perfectly being a big heavy lump, I fly down hills, unfortunately I didn’t fly fast enough to catch Meade. We came 42nd and 62nd I think, we were far too useless for the podium. Donal Coffey finished eventually.

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Black Dark Wet and Cold Tuesday

10 Things I Think About Running on a Black, Dark Wet and Cold Tuesday

1. John Meade’s Forecast

I think I should have unsubscribed from John Meade’s weather email when he gave us the chance for GDPR. Unlike John Meade’s stories it’s very accurate. Tonight’s had a big tall red bar chart for rain, lots of rain, dark black cold rain.

2. Twenty Minute Dwell Time

I think I didn’t do too bad with my twenty minute dwell time in the car contemplating not running, the Second Captains podcast on Aaron Hernandez became grippingly interesting the minute I stopped the car. I had a look through Instagram, Facebook, Strava and Garmin Connect to try and motivate myself, Alan O’Brien had a run titled “Misery”, this didn’t help.

3. Hop

I think meeting Hop as he was heading out the door made me realize that I was actually lucky to be going running in the dark cold rain. He asked if I wanted anything from the shop, I said I just wanted it to stop being wet, cold and dark. He continued on to the shop, I started my watch and turned on my headlamp, I don’t know which one of us was happier.

4. Terrible Ten Minutes

I think the first ten minutes of a black dark wet cold run in December are the worst. It’s really terrible, my teeth were chattering, my legs were cold and it was so dark and cold. Once the terrible ten minutes are over it becomes bearable, barely.

5. Reverse Route

I think it’s a good idea to keep a new route in reserve for a night like this. I couldn’t face running into Silversprings again like I normally do so I ran up Church Hill into the northside around the north ring road. It was just my normal route in reverse but it looked new and exciting to my wet cold brain.

6. Heron

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a heron in Cork before but I saw one tonight up near the Glen. He was crossing the road to  Dunnes. We looked at each other for a few seconds and continued on our ways. I wish I’d had my phone to take a photo, herons are pretty, I may have been going mad.

7. Hops

I think that smell by the Heineken brewery is my favorite mid run smell. I think it’s better than the smell as you run past a chipper. It’s a kind of full sweet tasty smell, perfect for running. It reminded me of Heineken Zero Zero, I like Heineken Zero Zero.

8. Pale Waves

I think I was very lucky tonight with puddles, I never got splashed, I saw one poor woman get absolutely destroyed by a car and a big puddle out by Blackpool. Two seconds later and it would have been me. I don’t think I could have got any wetter anyway.

9. Roadworks

I think those guys doing the overnight roadworks on the way into town are heroes. I can’t imagine how miserable it is to stand there all night in that misery turning a stop go sign. They looked how I imagined I looked, cold, wet and miserable. One of the guys made a feeble effort to stop me and direct me to the other side of the road, he really didn’t care.

10. Euphoric Eighty

I think it’s essential to do at least eighty minutes on black dark cold wet night like this. It’s like a switch in your brain goes off at eighty minutes and it suddenly becomes enjoyable. Perhaps that’s why Alan O’Brien titled his run “Misery”, he only ran for seventy minutes, I did eighty, mine was “Magnificent”, actually no it was “Epically Shite”

All Ireland Senior XC 2018

10 Things I Think About The All Ireland Senior XC

1. It’s Not Cross Country But I Like It

I think that wasn’t a cross country race, that was a road race on tightly mown grass where people wore spikes. It was way too fast and far too well organised. It needed way more muck, longer grass and a few cows to have meandered around the course in the days before. It’s no surprise that a Dub won.

2. Movember

I think no one noticed my Movember. I’ve been trying really hard but it was shorter than the grass on the course. I’ve been washing it with Alpecin shampoo from Germany and everything but it won’t get any longer. It’s just not meant to be.

3. Take a Right for Maxol

I think I’ll remember where the new Maxol is next year. Andrew and I got lost again trying to find the coffee station we went to last year with Viv. We went left instead of right again. Abbotstown is one soulless place. Pharma companies and airplanes landing. The coffee didn’t even work.

4. Warm Up

I think you know it’s not a real cross country race when people are doing their warm up on the course. Warm ups for cross country should be on the road because the field is not possible to run on without spikes.

5. The Black Tent

I think that the black tent is a mystery. I still don’t know why we have to walk through the black tent before we start. I wonder what would happen if you didn’t. You kind of feel like you have to because there is a man saying “make sure you walk through the black tent”. It’s the only race with a black tent. It can’t be important.

6. Elbows

I think there wasn’t enough elbows at the start. It was far too fast. I tried to elbow and shove people but they all just ran away. The start should be narrower and muckier with more of a downhill. No one even fell.

7. Had He His Hurts Before?

I think that it is very cowardly to run a cross country race like Conor and Michael ran today. I’d rather die with my wounds on the front, not by coming through the field methodically with purpose and a plan. That’s a road race. There should be marshal’s like in race walking disqualifying cowardly cross country running.

8. Loughlin

I think I end up running with the same people in these races every year. I’ve been running them since 2009 and it’s the same names being shouted every year at the sides, Loughlin is always there, there’s always a Paraic and a Kevin. It’s kind of sad that none of us get any better or perhaps we are just improving at the same rate or maybe there are many Loughlins.

9. Shotgun

I think I was very clever to wear my sunglasses, I knew that that sun was only hiding, and sure enough on the last lap it was blazing down blinding everyone except me. It was so strong it made shadows. Shadows are excellent because you can tell who’s behind you. I knew Tim Twomey’s shadow, I could see the guns in his hands. Then he passed me and my shadow conclusion was validated.

10. Fair is Foul and Foul is Fair

I think that cross country race wasn’t hard enough, I was on the ground at the end alright but something was missing, there were no ambulances, there were no heaps of bodies, it was like a road race, measured methodical pain. It definitely needed more mud, cows and hills. Give it to Cork or Clare, it’ll be proper then, cross country, not that, whatever that was.

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Munster Senior XC 2018

10 Things I Think About The Munster Senior XC

1. Weddings

I think that Munster Cross Country races are a bit like a wedding. No one is really sure what time the race is going to start. They give you the start time of the first juvenile race but after that it’s up to you to figure it out. You’re normally safe enough if you get there by 1.30pm. I did. It started at 2.45pm. Not too bad.

2. Blindboy

I think I picked a suitable Blindboy podcast to listed to on the drive up. It was the one about the Volcano in 1816 that changed the history of art. The weather on the way up was exactly like the year without a summer. Big dark black clouds, very angry, kind of ominous. If I was Conor I would have painted an excellent painting.

3. Pink Laces

I think my new spikes are my favourite pair of spikes ever. They are orange like my sunglasses and have pink laces like my sunglasses. They’re very lovely, very flash, very bright. Mark said that you could only get away with them at an NCAA cross country. I think I pulled them off.

4. Drought

I think the drought in the summer must have made the fields very thirsty. The fields will drink any amount of rain. Despite the miserable weather for what seems like forever the Tipperary ground was rock hard. I like the ground like this, with a little bit of bite.

5. Preliminary Disease

I think I have a preliminary disease, I’m not actually sick but my throat is tickly and my nose is running. It’s like my body is fighting the disease and winning but the battle is not over yet. I hope my body wins, I don’t like diseases.

6. Know your Station

I think the start of the race was very very fast. I tried to get to the front but failed very badly. I’m just not good enough to lead a Munster Senior, I’m only County leading level.

7. 6 minutes

I think the guys at the front were going too fast. The guy with the mic said that they went through 2k in 6 minutes, I wasn’t too far behind them. That’s too fast. I felt very bad.

8. A Lot of Running Left

I think that the guy with the mic didn’t need to tell us that we had a lot of running left with 3 laps to go. It’s a horrible part of the race, the adrenaline is gone, Barry Donovan is gone past and you kind of know where you’re going to finish except that you still have 60% of the misery and pain left to go. It’s kind of pointless, we should all just have stopped after two laps, would have been the same.

9. Togher

I think it’s great that Togher are back fielding strong teams again, they just pipped us for third team. We need more teams, if the Barr’s got back too it would be like old days a proper war. I would have liked a shiny bronze medal. I like medals but medals only mean something if you have to win them. Togher won their’s, we didn’t. East Cork hammered both of us.

10. Badly Beaten

I think I prefer racing Michael Herlihy and John Meade. I’d love to have beaten both of them today, I have a chance in the XC, I couldn’t even beat Mark Walsh today so I was probably better off that they weren’t racing. Next time, next time I’ll beat them all.

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RC.Oktoberun Half Marathon

10 Things I Think About The RC.Oktoberun Half Marathon

1. Carrigtohill

I think Redwood City is what Carrigtohill would have turned out like if the recession hadn’t happened. It’s exactly like Castlelake except they finished it, they’ve the same concrete patterns around the artificial lake and the same swans. Carrigtohill could have been great, bloody recession.

2. California

I think I like California, I didn’t really like San Francisco City, I prefer the suburbs and the countryside. The suburbs are perfectly gorgeous.

3. Waffle Fries

I think I’d like to have gone to Stanford, it’s a very pretty place, its like the best bits of UCC, Trinity and UL all combined together into one big nice place. I went to a College Football game on Saturday, my favourite thing were the waffle fries, waffle fries are amazing, I don’t understand why these aren’t everywhere, they’re perfect pre race fuel.

4. A View From The Afternoon

I think I’m designed for the Californian time zone, I felt great over there all of the time. I was never tired in the morning like I am back home, perhaps because it felt like getting up in the afternoon. The race this morning started at 7.30am, I had no problem getting up at 6am, no whinging, no sleepiness, no grumpiness, very unusual.

5. Running Full on Empty

I think this was the first time that I have ever warmed up for a race in the dark. It was kind of nice. I didn’t have any breakfast because it was too early plus I felt very fat and unhungry after all the waffle fries.

6. Stigmata

I think heart rate monitor stigmata is one of the most painful running injuries. It’s something to do with temperature, when it’s hot and I sweat a lot the heart rate strap cuts into my chest on one side. It’s horribly painful, especially in the shower. I had to take a break from the strap for a few days, it had just about healed by today. I like data.

7. Vapour Flies

I think I was scared when I saw all the Nike Vapour Flies at the start, everyone seemed to be wearing them. I stuck to my trusty Brooks Ghosts. The Brooks Ghost is the complete opposite of a Vapour Fly. Ghosts are heavy.

8. The Power of Positivity

I think I liked the course. It was, the an out and back with a turnaround at a perfectly placed cone unlike what they do in Spain. It was nice to hear everyone shouting “Good Job” and “You Got This”. So positive, so American.

9. Chip Timing

I think I should have know that there would be some fancy technology involved in the race. After the race I was asking one of the guys how the race was certified if it didn’t have chip timing. He pointed to a tiny little printed chip on the back of the number. “This is the technology capital of the world”. The best chip timing I’ve ever seen, almost invisible.

10. Mighty Man

I think I had to be mighty to win the race today. A guy named Chuck was just behind me all race. I had a guy on a bike giving me time checks on Chuck which was both handy and head-wrecking. With two miles to go one of the photographers said I had 12 metres. It must have been an American 12 metres. I still didn’t look back but I think 12m is hearable and I could hear nothing. Anyway I kicked Chuck’s ass.

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Cork County Senior XC 2018

10 Things I Think About The Cork County Senior XC

1. Michael Herlihy

I think I missed my chance to finally beat Michael Herlihy today. I was so close, so so close, I had a gap, I had a few laps of being ahead, it was wonderful, I was really enjoying it. It would have been excellent if I'd held on, I was looking forward to mentioning it to him on every single run forever more.

2. Meade

I think it was a great pity that John Meade didn't run today. I'm absolutely certain that I would have demolished him. He turned up on a mountain bike making excuses about not being entered. I was very disappointed. I was really looking forward to beating him. Beating John Meade is one of life's great pleasures.

3. Rain

I think yesterday was the worst day in history. It rained all day, incessantly, it was so dark, I didn't like it. I don't like that weather. I made purple porridge, got my haircut and watched Burn After Reading to pass the day. Thankfully it was beautiful today, almost perfect, sunglasses weather.

4. Five Coffees

I think I had five nespressos with my tower of power this morning, I wasn't counting but I think I only had six pods left, I definitely had four. I made the tower of power from corn cakes because they are yellow like my Leevale singlet. I took another nespresso with me in the car in my keep cup. I must buy more nespresso pods.

5. Rutted

I think that course was fantastic. Whites Cross is a beautiful place, its no surprise that John Meade lives there, it's perfect John Meade territory, rugged, hilly and treacherous.

6. Mushrooms

I think that I should take better care of my spikes, I made the mistake of leaving them in a bag in the car after the last cross country last year. They were in a bad way, almost as bad as an old lunchbox, thankfully no mushrooms grew in them. I took them to the car wash on Wednesday night to clean them. The car wash worked magic on them. I don't think the spikes are every coming back out of them, they'll be 12mm forever.

7. Mr Motivator

I think Andrew O'Hobbs is a great motivator. He is a very annoying man, he is especially annoying when he laughs and shouts at you "you're not just going to let Mikey Herlihy beat you, are you". This made me very angry, I may have cursed at him. I sprinted very hard, it didn't work.

8. Lead Leg

I think that every race should have hurdles. The hurdles in this race were particularly brilliant. There were two of them placed about 100m apart, they were made of a big ribbed pipe about the same height as my knees. I was getting quite good at jumping them by the end, I stuttered into them, led with my right leg and landed powerfully on my left leg, I think, well that's what I was trying to do.

9. The Bad Samaritan

I think I felt bad for Tim Twomey, he was well ahead of me all race but with 300m to go I saw him stopped up ahead like a Formula 1 car with a hydraulics failure. He looked like he was in trouble. I knew that if I passed him I'd be the fourth Leevale and get a shiny medal. Just as I passed him he got going again. I probably should have let him pass me again but I didn't know how close the rest were so I just finished. Cross Country is proper hard, this wouldn't happen in a road race. Tim will be back.

10. East Cork

I think that it was great to beat East Cork. I didn't know if we'd beaten them when I crossed the line because Donie was telling us different stuff every lap. I ended up on the flat of my back like I normally do. Then the maths started, we beat East Cork by three points, I still wish I'd beaten Michael, I would have beaten Meade.

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SMRC 10k Limerick

10 Things I Think About The SMRC 10k in Limerick

1. Cross Country

I think I would have preferred to have run a cross country race today, but I’ve been banned from running them for being too excellent. I don’t think this is fair. It should just be Cork 6k, Cork 8k, Cork 10k XC championships, none of this novice, intermediate nonsense. There aren’t enough XC races. More XC. More.

2. Anything but a Long Run

I think I had to do a race today for the sake of my own head, I don’t think I’d have managed a long run. I’d have been moaning a lot. Racing is much more fun.

3. A Sunday in Hell

I think I’ve forgotten that I used to be one of those cyclists in the sportives that block the roads every Sunday. I got caught in the middle of one outside Hospital. It’s a lot more fun if you’re on a bike and not in a car trying to get to Limerick. I know what it’s like so I was very patient.

4. Braces

I think my warm up brought back bad memories. I ran out passed the Orthodontist where I got my braces when I was a child. It looked exactly the same, exactly. I think Limerick peaked in 2002.

5. Kilometer 0

I think it was very clever of the race organizers to have a start line that was only visible to the race organizers. No one could line up ahead of the start line like they normally do because they didn’t know where it was with out the organizer. It really works.

6. Strides

I think I knew I couldn’t win the race at the start. I was one of only three guys doing strides before the race. I can normally only win if I’m the only person doing strides. This rule has never been wrong.

7. Wandering Thoughts

I think I’ll have to get better at concentrating in races, after about 6k I was really bored. If I had my phone I’d have checked Twitter for cat videos. Instead I started thinking about what would happen if the prize money in races was directly related to the number of people in the races. Then I started thinking about the prize money for the race that I was running in so I started concentrating again.

8. The Sprint

I think I made an excellent sprint today. I saw Mark Walsh do this choppy hand thing at the end of races so I thought about that when I got to 500m to go. It really works. I ran really fast and ran away from Gareth. I kind of felt bad because I’d basically sat on him for 6k but that’s capitalism for you.

9. Keep Cup

I think it was great that the race organizers were hipster enough to arrange keep cups for everyone after the race. It’s like the one that I have for my coffee except that it doesn’t have a lid. I think I was meant to give it back but I liked it so I took it home.

10. Back Baller

I think it is a miracle that I still don’t have a back baller. I have run countless races and I have somehow managed to avoid winning one. Instead I got a brown envelope containing lovely money. At least the money paid for massage. Some day, some day I’ll win a back baller.

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Culture Night 2018

1. I Like Walking Tours

I think a wine walking tour of Cork was a great idea. I didn't know that Cork imported four times as much wine as London in the 1800s. The wine tour should be a regular occurrence. I wish Culture Night was every day.

2. Hello I’m John Meade

I think that I'd like to be John Meade at least one day a week. He generously gave me his ticket for the wine walking tour because he couldn’t go. It was great, I think I did a good John Meade impersonation, no one copped that I wasn’t John Meade. I asked lots of intelligent questions and collected valuable information to be doled out during long runs.

3. Customs House

I thinks it's a shame that the customs house is only open on Culture Night. It's a fantastical building. It's like something you’d find in a proper old city like Seville, there must be hidden places like this all over the city. Tourists would definitely pay lots of money to look at the lovely chandeliers, take photos for Instagram and then exit through the gift shop.

4. Michael Lynch

I didn’t know that the Michael Lynch Bordeaux wine that you can buy in SuperValu is actually because of a clever Cork man that emigrated to Bordeaux and married into a vineyard. I always thought he was from Kerry.

5. Berlin

I think I’d still like to be in Berlin, in between the Wine Geese Tour and the Tara Flynn Tour I went to Waterstones and read a book about Berlin. It was about Berlin today, I didn’t buy the book because it just confirmed what I already know, Berlin is great.

6. No Tickets, No Problem

I think it was a great idea to chance turning up for the Tara Flynn exhibition without tickets and hope for a few no shows. We got lucky, very lucky. It was my idea, I think.

7. Lost in Translation

I think the Italian guy from Bergamo May that I met in the queue for the no show tickets may have misunderstood that the tour of the Crawford with Tara Flynn was not a serious art tour. I don’t think he understood why everyone was laughing at the paintings. He wore a very puzzled look.

8. Pockets

I think that it’s terrible that dresses don’t have pockets. Tara showed us a painting of a women protesting about dresses not having pockets. They should, it’s not right.

9. Stonecutters

I think my new favourite place in Cork is the Freemasons Lodge. It’s fantastic. I’d love to be a Freemason. The lodge is like an Instagram factory, they have thrones and flags and swords and everything. The photos were brilliant for Instagram.

10. Harry Potter

I didn’t know that JK Rowling got the inspiration for Harry Potter from the Freemasons. It’s easy to see when you walk around the big room at the top. Lots of pageantry and flags. I might even read Harry Potter after it, well maybe not. I will go to Culture Night again though, an excellent night.

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Pacing The Charleville Half Marathon 2018

10 Things I Think About Pacing The Charleville Half Marathon

1. Not Berlin

I think that Charleville is like Berlin if you knocked down all the buildings and replaced them with hedges and lots of Limerick flags. It's very very very boring. I prefer Berlin, much nicer, better walking tours.

2. Lazy Lads

I think it was very unfair of Comber and Alfie to make Conor and I do the 1:25 group. They're both very lazy. I like suffering so I had no problem accepting the faster pace group. I don't even know why I'm complaining, I suppose like complaining too.

3. Stingless Bee

I think I felt like a bee with no sting this morning. I had delusions that I could sting on the drive up but after a few steps I realised that my legs were still bad.

4. Cheesestrings

I think that the Charleville half marathon needs to get bears instead of Cheesetrings. I saw the giant Cheesetrings at the start and while I was tempted to get a photo, Cheesesetrings just aren't bears. You can't cuddle a Cheesetring, it's just wrong. I prefer bears. Michael sort it out.

5. Balloons

I think that Conor and I should have worn our balloons. It was a big mistake, no one could tell that we were the 1:25 pacers, we thought that it was too windy for balloons, it probably was but we could have let them go after a mile. We had to tell everyone that we were the pacers. My pink singlet helped.

6. Retinal Scaring

I think my pink singlet and pink sunglasses might be a bit bright. Gearóid Ó Laoi said that it damaged his camera. I still think it looks fantastic.

7. Instagram Pace

I think that the pace that we had to run was very nice. It's not easy and it's not super hard, it's the sort of effort that you'd run at if you were trying to get nice photos for Instagram.

8. Rebadification

I think that pacing the half marathon may have caused rebadification. I thought that I had successfully completed debadification on Saturday but after about 9 miles my quads we back to being quite bad. I'm not worried because debadification normally takes 10 days so I'm well ahead of schedule.

9. Old GAA Player Syndrome

I think that I should have tried the stem cells that they're selling in the Elysian for recovery from the marathon. They seem to cure everything, baldness, bad legs and old GAA player syndrome. I was slightly put off by the 10% discount for Bladez Barbers with every treatment. It's just not hipster enough, I prefer Tom Winters.

10. Pretend Pacing

I think that I should just pretend that I'm pacing someone for every run I do. I didn't whinge or moan, I didn't ask to stop for a pee and I didn't stop to re-tie my shoelaces just because I felt like a break. It was great fun, I really enjoyed helping people. It's nice. I kind of missed whinging.

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Berlin Marathon 2018

10 Things I Think About The Berlin Marathon 2018

1. Bouncy

I think I had one of those really good body days that you get every so often where everything is in a happy place. My legs felt incredible during the warm up jog from the hotel to the S-Bahn station at the Zoo, I’ve never had such good legs before, so bouncy. I wish I could have bouncy legs the whole time. I like bouncy legs.

2. Plan

I think I had a good plan in that I didn’t really have a plan, my basic plan was to keep the GPS pace under 6 minute miles while not breathing heavily, I wasn’t really worried how far below just so long as it was below. Marathon pace is easy to find, it’s as fast as you can run without making breathing noises.

3. Maor Uisce

I think we were privileged to have three fantastic water carriers. Alan, Sinéad and Frank did a great job. I wasn’t able to drink all of the water which almost feels rude but I gave it to the Spaniards in the group I was running with who said gracias.

4. Halfway

I think I was too happy at halfway, I was still bouncy and I got to troll John O'Connell mid race which was great. I wish I’d had my phone, it would have made an excellent Insta story.

5. Exploding Toes

I think I knew that something would go wrong during the marathon. I didn’t think that my toe would explode at 24k. I wasn’t too upset when my toe exploded because my toes have exploded previously. The danger with an exploded toe is that you start to compensate to stay off the exploded toe because it’s sore. I knew from past experience that if you run into the pain of an exploded toe for about 2k your brain will accept the pain and allow you to continue. It worked.

6. The Urge

I think that I probably made the quickest pitstop of anyone during the race. The urge came on me all of a sudden at 25k just as I passed the toilets, I thought about it for about a minute and decided that it was going to have to happen. I timed it at 28 seconds, although I’m not sure when the clock stops and starts.

7. Gels

I think I’ll have to start using gels for marathons. I took one from the water station at 30k because after the pitstop I was confident that my stomach was completely empty. It was a coffee cola gel, like a warm mister freeze, despicably horrible, it definitely helped a bit, I should have grabbed a few more.

8. Mystery

I think that the marathon is a bit of a mystery. It should be very easy and up to 20 miles it is. The last few miles are the problem. It’s not a heart rate thing like in other races, it’s just a gradual slowing of everything. I was trying desperately to run the same pace but the messages just weren’t being delivered to the legs. It felt like the same pace as the start but it wasn’t.

9. Bad Beating

I think I gave Vivian Foley a bad beating. He deserved it after he humiliated me at 41k last year. I was convinced that he’d appear there again this year. I was passed by a lot of people in the last k but no Vivs. In fairness Viv took his beating well and was kind enough to wait for me outside the medical tent while the carnage around my exploded toe was cleaned up.

10. Dynamic Dancing

I think that sometime I’d like to try recovering properly from a marathon just to see how much of the badness is due to running alone. My excellent dancing at the race after party has left me in a bad way. I felt and looked like John O’Connell after Electric Picnic, very shook.

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Night Before The Berlin Marathon 2018

10 Things I Think About The Night Before the Berlin Marathon 2018

1. The Fear

I think the fear is the worst thing about the week before a marathon. It’s unusual fear in that you fear not being able to run and being able to run. I’m not sure which is worse.

2. Enough

I think I have run enough miles for this marathon. I don’t know what enough is, but I think that I have run enough. I did 100s, 90s, 80s and 70s. I did a 15 mile marathon pace run a few times and a half marathon that wasn’t quite a half marathon. This should be enough, if it isn’t I’ll do the same thing again anyway and try again until it is enough, some day it’ll be enough.

3. Fresh Shoe Syndrome

I think that I have discovered a new injury. It struck me down three weeks ago. It was very scary, my lower right hamstring went bang. I screamed like I’d been stung by a massive yellow wasp. I still don’t know what caused it. I think it was the dreaded Fresh Shoe Syndrome. FSS happens when you run fast in a brand new pair of the same shoes that you always wear that haven’t been broken in fully, the muscles get confused by the softness of the new shoe and cramp up. Be careful.

4. Zero Zero

I think that alcohol free beer is wonderful. My favorite is Heineken Zero Zero, it’s possibly even nicer than Heineken. The bottle is so so pretty. It has beer flavorings added so that it tastes nice. It has definitely helped me become gaunt.

5. Alan Partridge

I think that I was very clever to book my hotel in Berlin ages and ages ago. I got a very nice hotel because of this. It would have been awful to have to stay in an IBIS like John O'Connell

6. Heroes

I think that the Bowie walking tour was fantastic. We walked for four and a half hours around Berlin learning about Bowie’s two years in Berlin, fortunately Bowie didn’t get very far in those two years. Perfect preparation for the marathon.

7. Expo

I think I really like marathon expos. I went to this one twice so I have two wristbands one for each arm. I met the bear mascot twice and got two excellent photos. I also got a massage from a very cross German physio who didn’t like talking.

8. Techno Restaurant

I think we found John’s favourite restaurant ever. They had a techno DJ in the restaurant and the walls move. The food was very hipster and very good.

9. Belly Top

I think I might not wear my Leevale singlet tomorrow. It has shrunk and become far too short for my long elegant torso. It puts my small belly and large backside on unwanted public display. I might wear my red Nike Gilead one, it’s much lighter and longer.

10. Too Good

I think that I could not be any better for tomorrow. I have no niggles at all, they have all gone away, my right knee is nonpinchy, my right hamstring is unstung and my left calf is untight. That niggle has to have gone somewhere, I’m worried, I’d rather have a niggle. I don’t like it, I’d rather have an excuse.

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