Coachford 5 Mile 2018

10 Things I Think About The Coachford 5 Mile

1. Lies, Damn Lies and Race Flyers

I think the race flyer contained a lie. “Flat Fast Course”. Fake News. If it was a Tour De France stage Dan Martin or Valverde would have won. Very lumpy, lots of Cat 4 climbs.

2. Coachella

I think Coachford is a very nice place, I’d never been there before. They should hold a music festival there like they do in Mitchelstown, there are probably some Beyoncés in Coachford already. They could call it Coachella much better than Indiependance.

3. Anti Social Eating

I don’t think people appreciate the eating habits of runners. I had to dodge a work lunch because I was worried what it would do to my stomach. I’m getting very good at slipping off unnoticed to get a familiar safe known edible form of food, it’s easier than explaining that you’ve a race. Random food causes random problems.

4. Fat Head

I think that my head has gotten less big. I wore my nice yellow sunglasses during the warm up but they were falling off my head. I had to switch to a boring black pair, I did contemplate the pink ones but they just don’t go with the Leevale singlet. It’s always a good idea to have many pairs of sunglasses in the car. I had 6 to pick from. I picked wrong.

5. The Sash The Rose Wore

I think that they should have put that the Rose of Tralee would be at the start on the race flyer. I would definitely have worn my yellow sunglasses for the photo then even if they had fallen off during the race. The photos would have been excellent on Instagram.

6. Adrenaline

I think that it is amazing how adrenaline works. I have had apocalyptically bad legs for the last few days. They feel terrible, very slow and massive. My easy runs are so bad, epically slow, it looks terrible on Strava, people must think I’m diseased or injured. Then you go to the start of race, take some Ventolin do some jumping and you can sprint off at the start like a lunatic. It’s amazing.

7. The Tortoise and The Hare

I think that the battle between Eric and Andrew was more like a cycling race than a running race. I could see up ahead that Eric had dropped Andrew after a mile, after 3 miles it looked like there was the same gap between them as there was between me and Mike and I wasn’t even dreaming of catching Mike. Then the course started twisting and turning so I couldn’t see what was happening up front. I assumed Eric had won, I even said well done to him at the finish, I didn’t know that Andrew had caught him and passed him. I felt bad for Eric. I appreciate his style though, he races like me, I’d like to be like me, just faster.

8. The Sun

I think the sun is making people faster. I had beaten Cian Murphy in The Grant Thornton 5k before I won the race in Berlin (did I mention I won a race in Berlin). I knew that he would beat me today though because it has been sunny so he would have been out running a lot. He only barely beat me though because I’ve been running more too. I hope it starts raining soon.

9. Goody Bag

I think the goody bag was far better than advertised. When I crossed the line there was a kid handing out the goody bags, I asked him if it had anything good in it. “No, not really”. I took it anyway, it had lovely biros, an air freshener which I will never use and a flapjack which went very well with San Pellegrino. An excellent goody bag. The kid was wrong.

10. Race of The Year

I think they need a podium in Coachford. The prizes for the the race were just perfect but the lack of a podium was regrettable. How can you go to the trouble of organising a Rose and then not have a podium? Shocking. Those photos could have been so much better. I was so disappointed. Voted 5 mile race of the year last year apparently and no podium, democracy doesn’t work. Fake news.

IMG_7385.JPG

Ronán, Andrew and I

IMG_7386.JPG

Cian, Damien and I

IMG_7387.JPG

After half a mile looking fantastic.

Semi Marathon des Jalles

10 Things I Think About The Semi Marathon des Jalles

1. Death

I think my mother would have killed me if I had died trying to win some rinky dink French race in Bordeaux. Normally if I run hard in anything over 20 I end up in the tent so I was genuinely worried about it being close to 30. Death should be avoided if possible, its irreversible.

2. Medical Cert

I think it’s a good idea to make everyone who wants to run a roqd race in France get certified by a doctor. I’m not sure what is being certified though? Is the patient mad enough to run a half marathon in Bordeaux in July? Certainly.

3. Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail

I think I prepared properly for this race, I went running at lunchtime everyday last week to try and get used to the heat. It’s interesting that the reaction to going out in the heat is the same as the reaction to going running in winter in Ireland. “You’re going out in that?” “Yes, it’ll be grand” “You’re mad”.

4. More, More, More.

I think I probably should have just run the 10k, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. It just seems so pathetic. All I saw was a sign for suffering, would you like more suffering? More is always better, always has been, always will be.

5. Wine

I think you should only ever drink the local wine when abroad. We went to an Italian restaurant last night because I wanted pizza. Italian wine in Bordeaux is vinegar. It burns going down. We sent it back.

6. Warm Up

I think I knew I was in trouble after the warm up. I was sweating like an Irishman in Bordeaux in July.

7. Computer Says No

I think I had the right plan for the race, I was going to run Marathon pace and see how it went, I tried a mile at 6 minute pace, my body said no. It was ok with 6:30s so I ran that. It was still torture, like running in a sauna.

8. Secteurs Jalles

I think I should do more research into these races abroad, I was almost certain that this race was 100% sur route, it was almost. After about 4k we were directed through a field for 2k. On the course map they were called secteur 1 and secteur 2, sort of like Paris Roubaix but running, they’d have been lovely if it wasn’t so hot. The heat makea everything harder.

9. Die for a Box of Vegetables?

I think I’m glad that I didn’t risk dying by trying to win. I was the neuvième. I probably could have been on the podium if I hadn’t stopped for a break at the water stations every 4K. I had to as they only had those impossible to drink out of cups and I needed at least three or five every stop. If I hadn’t stopped I would have won a nice box of vegetables and some wine. I would definitely have been in the tent, definitely.

10. The Spread

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a race with such a good spread afterwards. They had everything, wine, beer, olives, bread, even a sit down meal if you wanted it. If this happened in Ireland people would bring their families to feed them for free. I settled for a pain au raisin and an orangina. I like pain au raisins.

IMG_7153.JPG

Courtbrack 5k

10 Things I Think About The Courtbrack 5k

1. Dingaling

I think I’m officially what Donie Walsh would refer to as a dingaling after deciding to race again. The problem with being a dingaling is that you know it’s not a good idea but you can’t help yourself. Ah well I’m a happy dingaling.

2. Courtbrack

I think the Google Maps lady has never been to Courtbrack before. She stopped saying placenames after Waterloo and started using miles instead of kilometers. Courtbrack is like Churchtown South, it only exists because a road race is on there. It’s not actually a place, it’s just another Blarney suburb like Tower for people who work in Apple. Nice though.

3. David

I think I’m happy that I beat David. I told him that I would beat him in the Fran Well last night. I was worried because he’s beaten me in 5ks before. I wasn’t really sure that I would beat him but I pretended that I was sure because that’s what the best lobsters do. I did beat David so its ok. I’m sorry David, I can’t help it. It’s a sign of respect though when I consider someone worthy of beating. I like winning.

4. Mike Corbett

I think I was very disappointed to see Mike Corbett this evening. I saw enough of him during the marathon. I thought that the race would be between me and David. It would have been a better race that way. Mike is too fast.

5. Boxes

I think that all runners are in a box. I am in the B box which is from 16:30 to 17:30 5k, anything else is suspicious. Mike is in the A box which is from 15:30 to 16:30 5k. As a runner you dare not try and switch boxes as people will think that you are doping or training too much. We all stayed in our boxes tonight so people should be happy when perusing the results.

6. H&M

I think I picked the right singlet today. I picked my light blue H&M singlet, it matched my dark blue sunglasses, blue shorts and blue shoes. I like blue. I wore my Berlin Braves singlet and Berlin hat after the race to collect my prize. I like Berlin.

7. Tar

I don’t think I’ve ever seen tar melting during a road race in Ireland before. The newly filled potholes were very sticky, the potholes would have been better unfilled, less sticky.

8. Gravity

I think gravity is my enemy. Gravity means that I’m incredibly slow at running up hills, because of this Mike Corbett ran away from me up the hill during mile 2. Once we got to the downhill I was just as fast as Mike but gravity had already decided the race. I’d most likely have won if it were not for gravity. I don’t like gravity.

9. Nimble Naoise

I think Naoise is a very talented runner. I was fully expecting him to be gone once he was gone like most young fellas are in races. After a mile they’re normally gone, Naoise was gone after a mile but he wasn’t gone gone. I really didn’t expect to see him dancing away from me after 4k, I was able to trudge back up to him but I couldn’t pass. Naoise nearly got the finish wrong as the finish line wasn’t actually the finish line, he realised just in time.

10. Coakley not Coffey

I think I should wear a t-shirt with Coakley not Coffey on it. Mick Dooley was on the mic at the finish line and congratulated Donal Coffey on his 3rd place. I told him that Donal Coffey has a bad leg and couldn’t possibly have been running. I don’t know how he mixed us up, Donal Coffey has never worn anything blue ever.

IMG_6884.JPG

Berlin Baby

IMG_6878.JPG

The Start

IMG_6877.JPG

Dave and I

IMG_6854.JPG

Pointing at Dave

IMG_6851.JPG

Face Off

IMG_6880.JPG

Start 

IMG_6881.JPG

Nimble Naoise

IMG_6883.JPG

Yes I combed my hair

Helios Grunewaldlauf

10 Things I Think About The 13. Helios Grunewaldlauf

1. Ich bin Vegetarier

I think that the Germans don’t like vegetarians. I told Helmut at the factory I was at all week that I was a vegetarian, not because I am, but because I’ve a real fear of kantine food. He proceeded to laugh at me for the week. The vegetarian kantine food was actually quite edible. I almost got fat. I kept the veganism for the weekends in East Berlin.

2. Reinheitsgebot

I think the German beer law is great. It means that you can drink beer every evening and still get up and go running at 7am. I was only mouldy one morning.

3. Mein Knie

I think that my knee doesn’t like the cobblestones in Berlin. My left knee doesn’t seem to mind them but the right one hates them, it told me so. I did a reconnaissance of the European marathon lap yesterday for my run, there were only a few cobbles so my right knee was happy today, it told me so, my left knee said nothing.

4. Fur Baby

I think I don’t like being a fur baby. Due to laziness and a lack of veet I have not removed hair from any part of my body for two weeks, I’m getting furry, I don’t like it, it’s itchy and scratchy. It’s being removed, soon.

5. Rucksäcke Verboten

I think I shouldn’t have brought my rucksack with me yesterday. I went on an excellent street art walking tour in the afternoon and had planned on heading straight to the Brandenburg Gate to watch the match on the big screen. When I got there I saw the sign with the X, it was like they’d taken a picture of my bag and put a X over it. I tried anyway. Not a hope. Instead I watched it in an Italian restaurant with a pizza and some disgruntled Italian waiters. The Ku’damm was fun afterwards. The Germans drove up and down all night doing donuts like Waterford people would if they won an All Ireland.

6. Tannennadeln

I think you see something new at all of these races abroad. Today’s new thing was pine needle course markings.  The km markers and arrows were “painted” on the path using pine needles. It really really works. Fantastic. Running art. Environmentally friendly. They just brushed them away afterwards, a pity because I wanted to take a photo.

7. Streckenverlauf

I think today’s weather, route and course was ideal. It was a damp dank day in Deutschland, way cooler than during the week, almost Irish weather, but no wind. The 10k course was one lap of 96% forest path starting and finishing on a gravel 400m running track, I love that kind of surface, nice and soft. Grunewald is like a massive humongous giant Doneraile park before they put the tarmac down and ruined it, probably the best place to go running in Berlin.

8. Gruneberg

I think I thought I was going to win again until the hill. At the start line I did the usual looking around and could tell that it would be a bit harder than the Wasserlauf which I won, did I mention that I won a race in Berlin. I was in about 6th or 7th after the first pine needle km, then I moved through to the front like a boss. I dropped everyone badly except one guy who was breathing as badly as me. Then we came to the “berg” at the fifth pine needle mark and he got a small gap. The gap remained. I tried to close it but I failed miserably.

9. Podium Review

I think I’d like to have won today. It’s just not the same on the second step of the podium. The second step is smaller, the prize is smaller and the photos don’t look as good on Instagram. Today’s podium was blue and yellow, my fourth and fifth favourite colours, the top step was yellow, I had to do with the blue step for second place which was on the right of the first step as you stood on the podium. Third place was also a blue step like the second step but on the left. Having the second and third steps both blue doesn’t make any sense, the third step should have been green or perhaps white. I like podiums. They make me happy.

10. Nudie Father Jack

I think that a nudist race would have been very interesting. Apparently Grunewald is a known nudist bathing spot. An English guy living in Berlin told me this interesting fact which I later verified using google. The English guy said that the weather saved us from some alternative sights, he said that they do a nudist race sometimes. I think a nudist race is a great idea, just as long as I can wear my shoes, I need my insoles and perhaps my orange sunglasses.

IMG_6669.JPG

Lichtenauer Wasserlauf in Berlin

10 Things I Think About The 13. Lichtenauer Wasserlauf in Berlin

1. Mission Impossible

I think I left it a little tight to get to Dublin airport. I have an intensely vicious hatred of spending any time in airports so I always cut it tight. The flight to Berlin was at 17:45, when I was only on the M50 at 17:10 I was pretty sure that John O'Connell would finally get to tell me “I told you so, should have been there the day before”, I got to the car park at 17:25, sure I may as well try, short term car park and fast track fast track security saved me, the queue was gone when I got to gate 414, last on the plane at 1740, it was fun, kind of, worth it, definitely.

2. Hotel Coffee

I didn’t think it would be so hard to get a coffee this morning. Hotels are terrible places to stay, I prefer AirBnB but the hipsters banned it. The hotel breakfast has to be avoided at all costs. The coffee that they have in pots at hotels should only be available on prescription as an alternative to picolax. I eventually got two espressos. They really don’t like it when you refuse the €25 breakfast and eat your own rice cakes like a wierdo. Hotels should offer a runners breakfast, coffee and rice cakes in a separate room.

3. Recycling

I think you always see something new at foreign races. Today’s new thing was recycled numbers. If you give your chipped number back after the race they give you €5 of the race entry back. My number had been used at least 4 or 5 times, you could count the pin marks. I think my sweat finished it. I didn’t give it back, I might keep it as a souvenir.

4. Warm Up

I think it’s a very bad idea to race the day after a flight. I didn’t feel any good, I almost felt bad. It was probably the hipster Brlo Helles beers I had with the falafel burger when I arrived. There was a bear on the bottle, a bear, I know, a bear. Really good beer.

5. Course

I think today’s course was made for me, it twisted and turned along by the river spree. There was path, gravel and even a 400m stretch of grass like the farm. Two laps of 5k made up the 10k. I normally win races with two laps so I was happy.

6. Meandering Muppets

I think I liked having the two guys on bikes ahead of me during the race. They shouted at people like I would have if I had been on my own. I approved of this. I nearly came a cropper at 9km when a meandering muppet wandered across in front of me. I’m very agile so I gracefully pranced out of her way like a gazelle.

7. Heiß Plus Ein

I think it was too hot today. Cork was hot. This was a different level of hot. Hot plus one. Relative Body Surface Area. Big problem. As Martin Mc said “You looked very big out there”.

8. Cillian Murphy

I think the heat put me in the medical tent. The world started spinning when I crossed the line. I was taken to the medical tent immediately. I gave out to them because it was even hotter in the tent so they took me outside (Rome 1960). I told the paramedics that I was Cillian Murphy, I pointed at my cheekbones, I told them I was filming a terrible Irish Netflix series about an Irish runner who wins road races abroad and that the camera is in my sunglasses, they found this funny. I eventually came around and they let me go.

9. Podium

I think I really standing on the top step of the podium is hard work. I had to wait for ages as the world champion bicycle trick guy was doing excellent tricks using the podium and other boxes to do excellent tricks. This podium was very tall, much taller than previous podiums, It hurt getting up onto the number 1. I don’t know how Michael Schumacher did those star jumps, I think I did a wave. These podiums are tough work.

10. Flowers and Sunglasses

I think the organizers gave me the perfect prizes. I got 6 bottles of Lichtenauer water, a bouquet of beautiful flowers, blue sunglasses, an actual winners medal and a €100 voucher for a sports shop in Berlin. I was so happy. I had to leave the water there as it was too far to run back to the hotel. I really enjoyed running through Berlin with a bouquet of flowers and orange sunglasses, you know you’re different when you get looks in Berlin. I like Berlin, I really like winning in Berlin.

IMG_5857.JPG

Grant Thornton 5k

10 Things I Think About The Grant Thornton 5k 2018

1. Raymond Poulidor

I think losing is a bad habit, I really don’t like finishing second in races. That’s two in a row, no one remembers who came second. I’d prefer to be Jacques Anquetil or even John Meade.

2. Something To Tell You

I think I like going to gigs the night before races. I went to see HAIM last night in Dublin. I like HAIM.

3. Trinity

I think I would be more polished if I had gone to Trinity instead of UCC. I stayed in the student accommodation there last night. Dublin is very expensive, even the student accommodation is expensive. UCC is better. My mother would prefer if I’d gone to Trinity. It would sound better, “my son who went to Trinity”.

4. Roghanna

I think I prefer vegetarian restaurants. It’s much more of a skill to cook good vegetables. I ate a new vegetable called daikon, it’s like a white carrot, very good for running apparently. Cornucopia should come to Cork.

5. Richard Simmons

I think I could have a potential career as one of those pre-race jumping around warm up guys. My jump up and down on the start line was very popular this evening. It works.

6. Red and Blue

I think it was a good idea to wear my blue sunglasses this evening. I wore blue because it matched my new blue non-falling down shorts and my blue shoes. I had a red Nike Gilead singlet on. I think red goes with blue. Feidhlim said my shades were cool. This made me happy.

7. Making The Calculation

I think I’ve forgotten how to win races. It’s actually very hard. You have to be much better than the other people in the race. I tried to win by running faster than everyone else, in theory this is the most logical approach. I thought it was working because I was winning all the way.

8. Will The Real John Meade Please Stand Up

I think John Meade has an identical twin. I was very happy to be winning until 4km, I was worried about Cian Murphy because he is from Kerry and he is much better than me. Then at 4km a John Meade doppelganger came past me. My heart kind of sank. Then I realised it wasn’t John Meade so I tried to follow him. I didn’t believe I could win so I didn’t win. I came second. I don’t know why I didn’t win. Gareth is John’s name.

9. Silver Medal

I think they should stop giving everyone medals at races. When I crossed the line I was given a nice silver medal, I thought “oh great, a silver medal for coming second”, I even showed it to someone who asked how I got on, “I came second (showing my silver medal)”. Then I realised that everyone else had a medal. Then I took off my medal. I felt sad that it wasn’t my silver medal. I’d have liked a silver medal. I might still pretend.

10. Campione

I think it was great to defend Gilead’s title as best company at running in Cork. Pat and I were presented with a nice trophy and had excellent photos taken which I will post relentlessly on Instagram and send to all of the people in Gilead to get kudos for being excellent at running. I like winning.

IMG_5745.JPG

Glanmire 4 Mile

10 Things I Think About The Glanmire 4 Mile

1. Debadification

I think that I'm needing less debadification the more marathons that I run. Cork took very little, I was back running by Wednesday and felt only bad. By Saturday I was almost completely unbad and even did a double. I think the sun sped up the debadification. Burned off the badness.

2. Beethoven's Symphony No.9

I think that pink gin I drank in Costigans the night after the marathon has cured me of alcohol. It's been an effort to drink ever since. It was bad. Monday was very bad.

3. Casanova

I think Casanova Gelato is one of the best things in Cork. They have black cones. Yes black cones. Black cones are amazing. They definitely accelerate debadification. It's the charcoal. Adsorbs badness.

4. Dalí

I didn't think that Cork had clubs like Dalí. I'd never heard of Greg and Shane. John O'Connell is a small, big, big fan. Dalí has a very nice roof, Gaudiesque almost, I was way too sober due to that bloody pink gin. It's a bad sign when you're appreciating the architecture in a club.

5. Nutrition

I don't think diet matters the Saturday after a marathon. My Saturday diet was rice cakes, ciabatta toast with apricot jam, a croissant, a green smoothie, melon and berry gelato in a black cone, a blueberry skyr, a pizza bianca, some stonewell cider, two bags of walkers and more rice cakes. I had lots of coffee too and I took my tablets with a yakult. I think I ate all of the colours of the rainbow so it's ok.

6. Meade

I was really hoping not to see John Meade this morning. I had stupidly reminded him about the race via email during the week, he replied but due to the length of the reply and many european languages used in the reply I was unsure of his intentions regarding the race. John Meade is impossible to beat mainly because he's John Meade. You just look at him and go I can't beat him, he's John Meade. Conor can beat him, but he's Conor.

7. Pink

I think I looked really fantastic today. I found a pair of pink Fila sunglasses in TK Maxx a few weeks ago for €12, they were reduced from €80 apparently. I had to buy them because they match my pink singlet perfectly. It's an excellent outfit.

8. Recorrido

I think I really like that route. It's the perfect combination of mainly flat with a nice little kicker of hill at 2-3 miles so that John Meade could drop me at a respectable point in the race. Plus I could jog to the start from my house. The whole race was ridiculously well organised, chip timed from start to finish. I knew it would be when Niall was involved. It deserved more than a battle between me and Meade. Conor and Meade would have been better.

9. Juan Manuel Fangio

I think Meade only beat me by 10 seconds which was excellent although there was an element of John winning at the slowest possible speed. It's nice to think that I'm almost as good as John Meade.

10. Idiot

I think I'm probably officially an idiot after running a race the week after a marathon. I know it's not perfect, I know I should have taken many weeks off, I know, I know, I know I'll probably regret it, I’m sorry, but it was fun and it was a local race. You can't always be perfect. Perfection isn't fun.

FullSizeRender.jpg

Cork City Marathon 2018

10 Things I Think About The Cork City Marathon 2018

1. Sure You Can Always Walk

I think my mother doesn’t understand marathons. Her pre marathon advice was “If it gets hard sure you can always walk”. I think she’d have preferred if I played hurling for Limerick. I’m nothing compared to those hurlers.

2. So So Early

I don’t think 8.30am is a good time to start a marathon. I hate mornings. I had to get up at 6am to drink a lot of coffee. It was surprisingly bright, I always presumed that it was dark at that time of day. I think they should start at 5.30pm. Sleep is important.

3. 100%

I think the humidity was a big problem. I hate humidity so much. It really affects me. You don’t really notice it until you start running. If you look at the results it was pretty much filtered by height and width. The shorter less wide runners ran quickest. It’s all about relative surface area, heat dissipation. The marathon should be moved to February.

4. Bushes

I think that even if you lined Patrick Street from end to end with portaloos there would not be enough to accommodate the needs of a group of marathon runners. At least in Berlin the start has lots of bushes, perhaps we should move the start out to the Straight Road to provide more bushes.

5. Where’s Cathal

I think my plan to follow Cathal was an excellent plan. The first mile was funeral pace, after that it was steady 6 minute miles. The only problem I had was that he runs the hills hard. I let him go on every hill and caught back up on the downhills. I was very happy with my plan. I’m not sure if Cathal was very happy with my plan.

6. Does My Bum Look Big In This?

I think I’ll have to consider different shorts. I must have lost weight because they were slipping down all race. I was getting shouts of “Pull your shorts up” around the course. Thankfully they don’t normally photograph you from behind so Instagram should be safe. I have a lovely bottom anyway.

7. Holding Hands

I think it all went wrong at mile 14. I was just jogging along behind Mike and Cathal when they suddenly started holding hands and disappeared up the road. I looked at my watch to see if I was going slower but I wasn’t, they were just going faster, a lot faster. I tried to close the gap but the two Barr’s singlets just kept on getting smaller. Small and Far Away.

8. Signs

I think I like having my name on signs. They were excellent colorful signs. Signs make me happy.

9. Ken

I think I might not have been very nice to Ken on the Straight Road. I was not in a good place as I turned the corner onto the most miserable two miles in Cork. Then I saw Ken coming towards me with two bottles of luminous liquid. Off all the things to see. He tried to make me drink it, I think I might have thrown the bottle onto the ground quite hard, I wanted to do something else with the bottle. I’m sorry Ken.

10. I Didn’t Walk

I think I really suffered a lot that last mile down North Main Street. You try to think logically, like it’s only a mile it’s not even 7 minutes, it’ll be fine, but you really just want to stop. I didn’t walk and I didn’t stop. I just got home. It was grand, a Cork P.B. Cork is different.

Cork City Marathon 2018 2.jpg

Bored The Day Before The Cork City Marathon 2018

10 Things I Think About Being Bored The Day Before The Cork City Marathon 2018

1. All Ready For Sunday?

I think it’s nice of people to ask if you’re ready for Sunday, I really should make an effort and come up with some Instagram style inspirational quote like;

“I’m not ready.......I AM READY“.

Instead I just reply “I’m grand”.

2. Pinchy Knee Syndrome

I think I still have the dying embers of pinchy knee syndrome. I was hoping that the taper would kill it off but it’s still hanging around. It worries me slightly, but lots of things worry me so I’ll just add it to the list of worries. It’s a long list and that’s just the running list.

3. Jack Daniels

I think I found an acceptable taper plan. I read it in a book. It was under the headline >120 mile/week marathon plan so that made me happy. I tried to follow it. I did fairly well. I like plans. I still feel like a dog that hasn’t been walked properly.

4. Giro D’Italia

I think that if you look at the elevation profile of Cork it looks like a stage from the Giro. A stage where Chris Froome would attack at halfway, drop everyone and win by three minutes after being useless for the previous two weeks. I hope I can be like Froome tomorrow, I’ve definitely been useless for the last two weeks. I probably won’t, I did go to the doctor during the week, although he took blood from me, I should ask for it back.

5. Jiggling For Justice

I think the taper has tipped me into the jiggling when you run category. The pinchy knee syndrome induced break definitely didn’t help. I haven’t weighed myself as I don’t want another worry on the list, but the jiggling is a bad sign.

6. Frizzy

I think the humidity will be a big problem tomorrow. It causes lots of issues. It’s terrible for your hair, makes it all frizzy. The excess water molecules disrupt hydrogen bonding between the keratin strands causing frizziness. I couldn’t be bothered getting mine cut before the race because of it. The Albanian who cut it two weeks ago did a good job anyway.

7. Dracula

I think my new blinds might be my biggest worry. I got new blackout blinds and blackout curtains but they’re letting in the light at the top of the window. It’s terrible, I’m waking every morning at 800am. I’ve resorted to covering the windows in bin bags as an interim measure. It kind of works.

8. Lone Wolf

I think I’m a lone wolf tomorrow, I don’t really want to be a lone wolf. I’d rather be in a pack. I might see if I can join Cathal O’Connell’s pack. Lone Wolves have no fun.

9. I Think You’ll Find it’s a bit More Complicated Than That

I think a marathon is very simple. You just run at the pace that you’re supposed to run at for 26 and a bit miles. It’s very simple. Simple things are complicated. I hope it’s simple.

10. Karma Police

I think I might be one of those people that people follow on marathon trackers secretly hoping that the next 5k split is horrendous. “He’s in trouble now”, “I knew it, too many miles”. Hopefully the karma police are out there somewhere protecting me from such evil thoughts. 2:40 plus or minus 3 minutes hopefully this is what I’ll get, hopefully.

IMG_5457.JPG

John Buckley Sports 5k 2018

10 Things I Think About The John Buckley Sports 5k

1. Australia

I think that everyone in Ireland should get a free pair of sunglasses every year like they do in Australia. It would stop people crashing into each other on the South Ring because they can’t see where they are going in the sunshine. I don’t like traffic. It should never take 50 minutes to get from Glanmire to Pairc Uí Caoimh. Sunglasses would fix it. Definitely.

2. Runners World

I think tapering is wonderful. I had to run very little the last few weeks because of my iatrogenic exercise band induced pinchy knee syndrome. I feel really good because of all the tapering. This must be what people are talking about. I still don’t like it though, it doesn’t make sense. It’s like something you’d read in Runners World, “Get Fatter and Run Faster”. If it’s in a magazine it’s nonsense.

3. Rule 3. Never Enter The House Before Running

I think it is a very bad idea to enter the house before going running. I normally never do it because I’m permanently hungry and will end up eating the minute I walk through the door. I go so far as to park in the driveway and get changed in the car to go running, this greatly limits procrastination as there’s only so much you can do in the car. I disobeyed the rule this time and ended up drinking 5 or 6 nespressos and a packet of rice cakes. Always obey the rule.

4. Ryanair

I really really don’t like queues. I think that the BHAA should introduce priority registration, I’d definitely pay extra not to have to stand in a queue. It works for Ryanair, yes people will be annoyed but I will be happy and not have to stand in a queue any more. I didn’t like the look of the length of the queue for the online registration so I joined the much shorter registered runners queue, pleaded ignorance and just jumped across. I didn’t feel guilty, I felt clever.

5. Plumbing

I think the same guys who were responsible for the flood lightning in Pairc Uí Caoimh were responsible for the plumbing. It was bad. Perhaps they’re collecting it to try and revive the old smell.

6. Better the Devil you Don’t Know

I didn’t enjoy the warm up, I saw lots of excellent runners, it seemed like everyone was there, there were even Kerrymen. I don’t like racing people I know because I don’t like having to be nice to them afterwards when they’ve beaten me badly. Plus when they pass you it’s like being passed by a giant time sign, there goes 16:00, there goes 16:30. I prefer Spain.

7. Jellyfish

I think I’m a little bit stupid, but I like the way I am. I got a little bit over excited at the start. I had taken a lot of coffee and my salbutamol. I felt like Mo Farah before London 2012, tingling like I had just hugged a giant jellyfish. It was very stupid. I did have some logic, normally marathon training makes you lazy and lethargic so that full on effort is just the right pace for 5k. I think the tapering made me too fresh. I suppose at least I was winning for a while. I hope Gearóid Ó Laoi got a photo, I was really only there for Instagram.

8. High Tog Value

I think the weather wasn’t as perfect as it looked. The air was very very thick, like bad canteen soup, it definitely contained less oxygen. It was like one of those winter duvets, warm and uncomfortable. It was far from perfect running weather. Someday it’ll be perfect. Someday.

9. The Fallen

I think it’s important to remember the fallen on days like this. Donal has a bad leg, John has a bad knee and Ciaran has a bad tendon. I felt kind of sorry for them as it’s terrible not being able to run a race as good as this, it’s really fantastic, one of the best. I’m lucky to be so good at minding myself.

10. Marathon 

I think it was a good idea to get all of the stupidity out of my system before the marathon. I think I will be less stupid for the marathon. My knee is getting more perfect every day. I think I’ll try and follow Cathal O’Connell around for the day, I don’t think he knows this but there’s nothing he can do about it. I think it’s a good plan.

IMG_5252.JPG

Pfizer 6 Mile 2018

10 Things I Think About The Pfizer 6 Mile

1. Are You Not Injured?

I think running is the only sport where you can be injured and still compete. My knee is still not better but it is in that phase where it gets better everyday no matter what stupidity I do to it. It’s like when you have a headcold, it doesn’t just go away all of a sudden, it just gradually disappears until you wake up one morning and you wonder what am I going to do with all those tablets now.

2. Museum

I think I caught a headcold in the Picasso museum in Málaga. As a runner I have a finely tuned ear for diseased people, I can hear a headcold a mile off. When I was watching the film in the museum in Málaga about Picasso’s photographer there was a particularly diseased person sitting near me, I could hear them before I could see them. I would have left but the film was very good so I stayed. Now I regret it.

3. 6 Mile

I think 6 miles is a strange distance. It’s not quite 10k and it’s not 5 miles. It’s like a Spanish distance for a road race. I like it. I think I ran a PB.

4. Good Pharma

I think we should be thankful for pharmaceutical companies. They are great. Pfizer, Gilead, Eli Lily all great. I’d work for any of them. They make excellent drugs which make people better when they are very sick. They also pay me money which allows me to go to Spain.

5. 8pm

I think 8pm is a wonderful time for a race. I hate running in the morning. The only problem with an 8pm race is that the pre race coffee clearance routine can interfere badly with sleep. It’s going to be a long night.

6. Alan O’Shea

I was hoping that no one would show up for the race tonight and that I could win like I did in Austria. I was very disappointed to see Alan O’Shea. He must think I don’t like him because I probably always look disappointed when I see him.

7. Start

I wasn’t sure about the start. I didn’t want to do my usual nonsense because my knee was a bit sore for the first step. I still went off just behind Alan. Then I sat in a group behind Alan with Andrew, Colin and Darren for about a mile. Then I got dropped. These races have a familiar pattern, someday I’ll get bored of them.

8. Joe.ie

I ran most of the race with Joe. Joe is great to run with because he is virtually the same size as me and he doesn’t make annoying noises. This means that I can match his stride and run with him without getting angry. I could run with Joe all day. Joe beat me badly in the sprint.

9. 14 or 6

I think I have the answer to the question “What effect do shots have on running?”. The answer appears to be 14 seconds per mile or 6 places.

10. The seaweed is not always greener in someone else’s lake.

I think it’s terrible that I got older on Tuesday. It is reassuring and terrible that most of the people who beat me are older than me. I wish I could pause at this age. This is an acceptable age. I have all of my hair in the right colour. I don’t want to have to run in the old man category. It shouldn’t happen. It wouldn’t look as good on Instagram. Good Pharma should invent a drug for it.

IMG_4820.JPG

III Carrera de la Prensa 2018

10 Things I Think About the III Carrera de la Prensa (Malaga)

1. Lo Malo

I think I really like the song Lo Malo, it’s excellent, they play it everywhere in Spain, it’s the new despacito, very Spanish, it means bad. I knew about it from Valencia because I shazamed it when I heard it on the street and have it on my Spotify playlist ever since. Maria was very impressed on the city walk that I knew it. I learned lots on the city walk from Maria. Mazmorras, Ardillas and Alcazabas. It was an excellent city walk. John Meade agreed.

2. Everybody Loves Raymond

I think it was a very good bad idea to go out the night before a race in Malaga. Ray, John’s new hero, liked shots. He really really liked shots. I normally don’t drink shots but I think it would have offended Ray not to drink the shots. Ray was from Leixlip. There appears to be a great Leixlip tradition of buying a sneaky round of shots to accompany each round of normal drinks. Shots are not good for running. Say no to Ray.

3. Are Those My Legs?

I think Donal and John were very impressed that I got up for the race. I think I’m genetically superior at processing alcohol to them. I was still quite bad in the morning, but possibly in that elusive sweet spot between drunk and hungover. The warm up was very short, one mile, my running felt much more uncoordinated than normal. My knee was really really bad, not pinchy bad just general badness, my head was super bad, every step hurt twice. In general I was very bad, possibly superbad.

4. Pink Clad Lad

I think there should be more pink running singlets available for sale. I bought an excellent pink Joma singlet in the best running shop in Malaga on Saturday. Pink is an excellent colour for running, it’s almost as good as purple or yellow. Pink is really good at amplifying your tan on Instagram especially if you use a good filter. I think that we should get pink away Leevale singlets made up for away races, ones outside Cork, we could raise money for breast cancer research. I think it’s a good idea, one of my better ones, not a mad one.

5. Jordan Peterson

I think the Spaniards were very intimidated by my dancing at the start line. I did lots of jumping even though it was hurting my knee and my head. The DJ was playing excellent music and I like jumping because it makes me look even taller. Aside from John and Conor there was only one Spanish guy who looked really really fast. He looked like I think I look.

6. Parcours

I don’t think I’ve ever run such a fantastic course. The route was a point to point, like the railway run I didn’t finish. It started outside a big football stadium like the railway run I didn’t finish. From the start it went up a slight drag then out to a carefully precisely placed cone. Once we rounded the cone we were running back towards the city centre. The last mile of the race was right through the narrow freshly washed marble streets of Malaga. It’s such a great feeling running through narrow streets filled with people, it made me forget about my bad knee and bad head. Unlike the railway run, I finished this one. Pain is temporary, sprinting through the historic narrow streets of Malaga with a hangover and a bad knee is forever.

7. Martin Storey not Larry O’Gorman

I think John’s joke was lost on Los Malagueños. Like the small cunning fox that he is John registered Conor as Martin Storey. It was quite funny, although probably not worthy of the Mr Burns style laughing of John. The magic machine that called out your name as you crossed the finish line was probably a lot more comfortable with Martin Storey than Conor McCauley.

8. El Segundo

I think it is a great pity that John Meade was unable to catch the guy that looked like I think I look like. He came very close. The guy that I think I look like took off at the start at a Spanish pace, at least 2:40/km. John and Conor sat back because that’s how Cork people race. When I saw them at the precisely placed cone they were about 10th well adrift. The guy that I think I look like had a gap of at least 30 seconds. By the finish John was only a second behind in second, Martin was third. As a result they both got to stand on the podium. There was no podium for 13th. I didn’t mind as I got to do Instagram stories. I only win in Austria anyway which is still my favorite win.

9. Ask Me No Questions I Won’t Tell You No Lies

I think I was very worried about my knee after the race. It was very bad, way worse than my hangover. I think the awful football match in the sunny football stadium might have cured it though. On the walk out of the stadium after the match I felt something electrical run up and down my leg and with that my knee was instantly better. I was even able to run 5 miles in the evening and 14 on Monday. La Rosaleda could be like a Lourdes for injured runners, my knee seems to be perfect since, I wasn’t looking for a miracle.

10. Bono Estente

I think I learned a lot from this race. I learned that a bad knee is probably a worse impediment than a bad hangover. I learned that perfect preparation really doesn’t matter that much if you want to run and enjoy a race. I don’t think I’ll look back when I’m very old like John and think “I wish I didn’t do those shots in Malaga”. I wish I had a more competitive nature, perhaps this was my non-competitive debut.

FullSizeRender.jpg

Injury

10 Things I Think About Being An Injured Runner

1. Is that why you’re not talking?

I don’t think it’s possible to understand the mindset of an injured runner. It doesn’t even matter if you’re a runner yourself, runners don’t empathize with injured runners, they’re like a sub species. Other runners are actually the most annoying people when you’re injured “How’s the shin?”, “It’s not my shin it’s my knee”. “Oh ok, I hope it gets better soon, I’m off for a run now”. Injured runners are not nice people, very angry and very silent, leave them alone they know what they’re doing.

2. Just Tell Me It’s Not Meniscal

I think every runner’s greatest fear is a stress fracture. I don’t fear stress fractures because I’ve been in that boat before. My great fear is my meniscus, that it might tear, I have nightmares about torn menisci. I know all the tests, McMurray and Duck. I blame John for my fear. I probably have magnificent menisci, I was useless at football.

3. The Working Week

I didn’t like being told not to run for the working week. I love running, well maybe not love but I’m certainly addicted, so five full days or 10 no runs was a frightening terrifying prospect. I couldn’t really walk up or down stairs so it was probably logical not to run.

4. Dolphin Deficit Disorder

I think the main thing I miss about running is the way it makes my head feel. The second day of no running is definitely the hardest. There is literally nothing that would make you happy on the second day of no running. Those endorphins and enkephalins are so so good. You’d literally kill for a run.

5. Goodness is Chosen

I think it’s important to do other things when you’re injured and depressed. I don’t believe in cross training as it’s not running and I’d be afraid that I’d like going to the gym and get addicted to it. Instead of cross training I went to an art exhibition in Cobh, A Clockwork Orange at The Kino and a play about abortion at The Everyman. It wasn’t running but it helped my head.

6. RICE

I don’t think anything really makes excessive running induced pinchy swollen knee syndrome get better quicker except rest and lots of it. Despite knowing this I still took many drugs, I took Arcoxia and Ibuprofen for inflammation. Arcoxia works Ibuprofen doesn’t. I also used a magic compression ice pack wrap and rubbed wintergreen cream on my knee. Wintergreen stinks but feels so nice, it’s like the opposite of ice. The one thing I didn’t do was elevate my knee, perhaps this is where I went wrong. If I’d elevated it I’d probably have been back running immediately.

7. Knearly Better

I think I knew I was knearly better on Friday morning. When you’re injured the first thing you do when you wake up is check for miraculous healing. Every other morning my knee was unmistakably pinchy, on Friday, no pinch, well maybe not no pinch but only a subtle pinch. Friday was a good day. The Cork City match made Friday easy, I knearly didn’t miss running on Friday. I knew I was running Saturday no matter what.

8. Run Don’t Paw

I don’t think there is anything worse than the first run back after an injury. You’re never fully better, it’s always just better enough to run on. The first few steps are full of fear, you sort of paw the ground like a big dog with a sore paw, you wince with each step waiting for the pinch. I had no pinching on Saturday so I was happy, I still pawed the ground, when I was mad I would have run 10 miles as that was the minimum not to get obese but because I’m sensible now I only ran 4. Then I waited for my knee to swell afterwards. It didn’t. I was cured. I was so happy.

9. The South Ring

I think injuries breed injuries. It’s like the south ring when you’re trying to get to training, accidents breed accidents. The main cause is compensation from pawing the ground with the paw which used to be injured because of fear. This loads up the non injured paw and causes that paw to hurt. Running is so simple yet so complicated. Never paw, run, pawing hurts your calves, pawing produces many niggles.

10. Niggles

I think it takes at least a week to get back to normal after exercise band induced pinchy swollen knee syndrome. Running injuries aren’t like punctures on the bike, you don’t just struggle to change the tire and drive on. You’ve to gradually get back to normal. It takes a least a week and is very scary, there are so many niggles, I’ve at least seven niggles. The first week back is almost worse than being injured as you only get partial endorphins and you can’t go to arty stuff, it’s like non-alcoholic beer. I don’t ever want to get injured again. Niggles are normal.

IMG_4267.JPG

Railway Run 25k 2018

10 Things I Think About Not Finishing The Railway Run 25k

1. Dude Where’s My Exercise Band?

It all began on Wednesday night with “where’s my exercise band?”. My hamstring was a bit tight so I decided I’d try some monster walks to fix it. Made sense. My right knee didn’t agree. It pinched me Thursday morning to let me know.

Alternative version: I ran a lot over the last few months and have overloaded the tissue in the area of my right knee which is now resulting in the generation of pain. Yes, I know I’m an idiot, thanks.

2. Unsympathetic Fallacy

I think the weather doesn’t like me. The one day I get injured this year and can’t run is the sunniest warmest day of the year. I’ve run in all sort of terrible weather all winter and now it’s taken away from me the minute it gets sunny, why? why? Why can’t you take someone else’s ability to run away instead?

3. Impermanence

I don’t think I’m as worried as I used to be about being injured. I used to think every injury would be permanent. Very few things are permanent. Pain is temporary, it may last a minute or an hour, or a day or a year or like three years if you get a stress fracture and keep running on it stupidly, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. But if you quit it’s forever. Never quit.

4. Bookshelf

Because I had to take a day off running on Friday when it was sunny I used my free time to build an excellent bookshelf. It took approximately the same time as 10 miles to build. It was kind of satisfying. Not a run though. I put books in the bookshelf, the books were mainly about running. This made me sad.

5. Black Books

I made immediate use of my new bookshelf. I read the Knee section of my Clinical Sports Medicine book like it was 1984. Unfortunately my grievous knee injury doesn’t appear to have ever happened to anyone before. It’s an entirely new injury. Unique. Pinching Knee Syndrome.

6. Miracle

I ran on Saturday but my knee was still superbad. Very pinchy. I stopped after 3 miles because I was running 8 minute miles and that looks terrible on Strava, people would think that I was after getting bad or injured. The knee wasn’t hurting walking around so I thought a few hours sleep might fix it miraculously. I woke up Sunday morning after an excellent sleep and shook my leg left and right like a cat, no pain, a miracle. The warm up for the race was horrible but it always is. My knee seemed acceptable.

7. No

I really don’t think I should have bothered starting but if you don’t try you’ll never know. I’ve rarely run without something being sore, there’s always something, always. The plan for the race was to run at marathon pace or thereabouts. The first mile was fine, 6:05 but it felt like forever, at least 8 minutes, lots of pinching, very annoying, some steps were perfect, then pinchy. The only thing that I enjoyed was running over a No referendum poster, everything else was misery.

8. No

I think it was an easy decision to quit, pain is temporary but 25k of pain is not temporary, it’s a really really long time. I quit. Bailed. Pain beat me, badly. I tried and I failed miserably, the lesson is, never try, just stay in bed.

9. Run of Shame

I don’t think I enjoyed my run of shame, you feel like such an idiot walking around Blackrock in a singlet with a number on. I took the number off and put it in the bin. My knee felt alright running easy so I decided to do a lap of Blackrock so that I could tolerate watching the London Marathon. This made me feel happy because I realized that I would be able to run properly again very soon. Watching other people run when you haven’t run is probably what it’s like for a heroin addict to watch another heroin addict take heroin. You want heroin so bad.

10. ‘Tis but a scratch

I don’t think my knee will take long to get perfect. I think I will be better tomorrow, if not tomorrow then Tuesday or Friday. I don’t like injuries. I really really really like running.

Railway Run.jpg

Gas Networks Ireland 5 Mile Cork BHAA

10 Things I Think About The Gas Networks Ireland 5 Mile Cork BHAA Race

1. Der Meister

I think I was a little nervous about attempting to maintain my winning streak. I really liked winning the race in Austria, it was fantastic, the Austrians wrote a flattering article about me in the newspaper. I was a little worried that everyone would expect me to win again when I came back to Cork. I’m not Superman.

2. Münster

I think spending a few days in Münster (The One With The Umlaut) was perfect preparation for a race. I got up every morning at dawn to run before work around Lake Aasee with my fellow Germans. It was beautiful so calm and still, it really was very pleasant. I really like Germany.

3. Cork City

I think Cork City had a similar problem to myself on Friday night, struggling with the pressure of being a champion. It’s very hard to repeat especially when everyone else raises their level when they compete against you. I feel their pain.

4. Ironing

I don’t think Saturday evening races at 6.30pm are a very good idea. My body is much happier in the evening but it feels like a waste of a Saturday. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I ran three miles when I got up on Saturday morning because I like running. Then I went for brunch in the Nano Nagle Hipster centre. Then I ate nothing until my tower of power at 4.00pm. Between 4.30pm and 5.30pm I ironed some shirts. I dislike ironing.

5. How Many Rowing Clubs?

I think it would be a good idea to check where the race registration is. Due to the popularity of rowing and the inevitable pointless schisms that occur in Irish club sport there are approximately 41 rowing clubhouses along the Marina. Myself and Conor parked at Salt to facilitate a speedy exit after the race as Blackrock is not for cars it’s for running. We thought the registration was in the first clubhouse, but we were wrong, it was in the biggest most extravagant one in Blackrock village. As a result the warm up was a bit longer and faster, I didn’t mind as I like running and more miles is better.

6. Strategy

I think I had an excellent race strategy. I had spent a lot of time thinking about my old races and decided that I was right all along so I just went off hard with the leaders. It felt exactly like Austria, up the front and leading comfortably.

7. Pro Move

I think I made the best tactical move of the race after approximately 0.6 miles. I felt I was getting boxed in so I made one of those pro moves, you know the ones, the confident move, where Mo Farah is sitting at the back of the group jogging along and then effortlessly moves up the outside of the pack and tucks in behind the leader knowing that it’s all in hand. I could hear Steve Cram commentating in my head. It felt really good. I’m sure it would have looked excellent on TV. 

8. Ejected

I think I did very well to hang onto the lead group for 2.5 miles. It was probably the pro move that earned me the respect of the other group members. Unfortunately the respect didn’t last long. As we rounded the corner onto Centre Park road for the second time I was ejected from the pack and left to fend for myself like the runt of the litter. I didn’t cope well.

9. Synesthesia

I think I have running specific synesthesia, I can see with my ears. I knew who was coming up to pass me from the their running sounds. It’s a great superpower to have. It’s fun to play the game who’s that, I think I was four from four. I don’t want to have to use this superpower again.

10. Haiku

I think I will write a Haiku about the race, I like Haiku’s after seeing Isle of Dogs.


Blackrock is windy

Wind is not good to run in

I should have been smart

IMG_3949.JPG

Oberhausen 10k 2018

10 Things I Think About The Oberhausen 10k

1. I’m In a Museum

I think my mother’s reaction to my message about winning the race today was perfect. “Brilliant! I’m in a museum” Who cares if you won a race when you could be looking at the works of Klimt and Schiele in Vienna. There are more important things than running.

2. Der Meister Diet

I think my pre race diet was perfect, I ate very little all week except for beetroot sandwiches from the Bakestone and purple porridge for breakfast. After the vegan gorging in Valencia, my appetite had returned by the time we arrived in Vienna. Thankfully vegans are plentiful in Vienna so there are lots of excellent restaurants like Wrenkh and Veggiez. I dispensed with veganism for my pre race meal and had a pizza with parma ham and two pints of Stigel the best Austrian Bier.

3. Recovery

I think I recovered very well from the Half in Valencia, taking the day off immediately after the race is the key. Sports scientists like Ronán talk nonsense about recovery running, but running the day after a half is anything but recovery, it hurts a lot and is obviously pointless, running is never recovery it’s always damaging, it always hurts a bit. I ran plenty from Monday to Sunday because I felt less bad.

4. Hitler’s Vienna

I think the city walk in Vienna the day before the race was perfect. It had everything, Hitler, WWI, WWII, coffee and a woman from Azerbaijan with a dog called Alf in her handbag. It was an excellent city walk, one of my favourites. The only issue was the lack of street art.

5. AIMS

I think Michael Herlihy would have loved today’s race. It was AIMS certified and was wondrously flat and fast with chip timing. The two 5k laps were perfectly marshalled and unlike in Spain, the cones where you turn around had been placed precisely exactly where they should have been. It was very un Spain. It was very Austrian.

6. The Start

Unlike a proper runner I hadn’t looked up anything about the course. I had no idea where it went. I had to ask one of the guys in an Austrian singlet on the line whether it went left or right. It went right, straight into the same vicious headwind last seen in Valencia and before that in Portlaoise. It seems to be following me around. Thankfully we had a cyclist in front of us guiding us so I could tuck in behind him and draft. I led from the start as I normally do, other people followed as they normally do.

7. The Fear

I don’t think I ever felt confident that I was going to win the race. All sorts of mad thoughts enter your head, like after 5k you think what if the guy behind was only tempoing the first 5k and is going to drop the hammer for the last 5k, or what if the Austrians don’t like Irish people because of James McClean and are deliberately going to send me the wrong way like would happen in Russia or Kerry. Thankfully I’m very likeable so they let me win, they even said so afterwards. It was all very neutral really. The EU is great.

8. The Podium

I think I gave an excellent post race interview from the podium. I even sang a bit of Amhran na Bhfiann when they asked about the anthem. (It helps when your mother is in a museum instead of at the race). I emphasised a lot that I was from Cork which I think is very important. I don’t think they understood what I was saying but I think they liked my voice because it’s Irish. People were laughing even though what I was saying was very serious. Linda kindly took pictures and translated the Austrian for me which helped a lot. I had no idea what was going on really. All I understood was that “Donal Coakley” meant get up there boy and stand on that podium and look happy.

9. Bradley Wiggins

I think it was a setup that I won the “we are going to draw the raffle numbers” draw. I even knew the Austrian for my number 19. Up I marched to collect a pair of size 10 ON running shoes and a RSLAB type foot analysis in Vienna. The Austrians were going on about the luck of the Irish. Bloody stereotypes, it’s all hard work, no luck involved.

10. The Golden Cleric

I think I’d have loved to have gone on a Father Ted style “And where am I? Accepting an award for being a top runner” rant but I don’t think it would have worked well in Austria. Perhaps I’ll spare my list of liars for when I actually win a race in Cork. God it’ll be a long speech. I like winning. An rud is anamh is iontach. I doubt it will become a habit though.

IMG_3534.JPG

Valencia World Half Marathon 2018

10 Things I Think About The Valencia World Half Marathon 2018

1. Fallas

It probably wasn’t the best preparation for a half marathon to arrive in Valencia on the Sunday of Fallas. It was impossible and most likely illegal to go to bed before 3am on Sunday or Monday night. On Monday night at 1:19 am they burnt down all of the expensive beautiful arty Fallas statues in a spectacularly noisy pointless fiery waste of money. Wonderful really, so Spain.

2. Vegan Espana

I normally associate Spain with Jamon Iberico but for some reason our AirBnBs seemed to have been located in some sort of Spanish vegan colony. I was pretty a facultative vegan for the week. Vurger is the best fast food vegan restaurant you’ve never heard of with a fantastic avocado and date salad and a warm chocolate brownie from heaven. I informed Gearóid Ó Laoi of the greatness of Vurger but he said that Vurger is the Valenciano for rats guts, poor Garry he missed out big time. The next best place Aloha Vegan Delights had an açaí bowl so good that I often had two per day. Donal Coffey is converted for life, probably.

3. Divert The Lee Now

I think it was a form of torture having to make some sort of token effort at tapering in Valencia. It has the most amazing running park that makes use of the dried up river. They diverted the river in 1957 because it kept flooding just like Cork. If you go on a bit further from the park you can run on the white elephant Grand Prix track by the beach. It makes you want to run 20 miles every day. Perhaps they could divert the Lee through Kinsale and build something similar in Cork, how hard could it be, definitely be worth it.

4. Street Art

I really really really like city walks. I did three in Valencia, they were all excellent and awful preparation for a half marathon. On the first one myself and the other Donal got soaked and walked around with Helena learning about Fallas until we could no longer stick the cold and wet. On the second one I learned that Valencian paella is made from chicken and rabbit and only eaten for lunch. I also met Ashling from Wicklow who is the only Irish person I’ve met who spends more time in Spain than I do. On the third one I learned all about street art and took some excellent photos of myself for Instagram. The street art in Valencia is amazing, Limone’s Ninja is everywhere, I liked the Orwell stuff most. I like Orwell.

5. Ballycotton

I think the expo in Valencia was possibly the most pathetic expo since the expo they used to have in the hall at the Ballycotton 10. Just replace the John Buckley “stuff we couldn’t ever sell in the shop” stall with an ASICS stall and you have a good idea of it. Although the hall in Ballycotton doesn’t quite have the same impressive architecture as the science museum in Valencia. After the number collection we went to the science museum where I got to ride a dinosaur and do endless instagram stories of Donal and Conor. I enjoyed it immensely but it’s just not the same without tormenting John.

6. Buenos Noches

I think a 5.30pm start for a race is a fantastic idea especially in Spain where it’s abnormal to go to bed before 1am. It means you can sleep in until 11am and feel unsleepy at the start. It does cause other problems though as you have to reconfigure your prerace coffee clearance routine. I just about timed mine right but I had to do a lot of searching for a portaloo five minutes before the start. I followed a guy in a Spanish singlet who looked like he had insider information to a collection of totally unused loos about 500m from the start. A side effect of this unplanned diversion was that I ended up right at the back of the 1:12 to 1:25 pen. It was a big pen.

7. Echelons

I think Spain isn’t the same when it’s windy. They even issued a yellow warning for wind on Saturday it was so bad, yes a yellow warning, that’s like one colour away from a day off work, although I’m not sure how a red warning works in Spain anyway. The first half of the half was straight into the teeth of the biting wind, it was both horrible and magnificent to see the huge echelon of runners snaking over and back the road with everyone trying to avoid ending up in the gutter. It was exactly like the echelons you see in cycling races just slower, if the guy in front of you lost the wheel you suddenly had a big gap to bridge. Great fun but not so good for the head. I ran mainly in the gutter and tried to hop between echelons when the wind stopped gusting.

8. Batman

The wind on the way back was the most wonderful thing ever. It literally pushed you home. I had a fantastic idea for a new singlet design for use in windy conditions I dreamt that I had a retractable flappy sail between my arm pits that I could unfurl in a tail wind to get an extra push. It would have made a massive difference. I should go and patent my idea before Nike steal my idea.

9. ETAP

I think I felt genuinely sorry for Conor after the race, not the sort of sorry when I’m 10 minutes late for the thirty fourth time of the week, but actually genuinely sorry. I waited for him at the bag drop after the race but nothing arrived. I made an Instagram story to convey my worry to him. Unfortunately the dreaded Exercise related Transient Abdominal Pain got to him half way though the half marathon. We think it was orange juice and not veganism.

10. Coffey v Coakley VII or is it V (no ones really keeping count)

Unfortunately much like most boxing matches the much anticipated half marathon duel between the two fastest running Donals in Cork was a damp squib. The other Donal couldn’t be bothered racing so I had a walkover which I happily accepted. He probably would have run 77 anyway.

IMG_3081.JPG

Streets of Portlaoise 5k 2018 (Kia Series)

10 Things I Think About The Streets of Portlaoise 5k

1. Andre Agassi

I think it’s great that athletics has a new sponsor. The last time I saw Kia sponsoring something was Andre Agassi advertising the Kia Sportage on Eurosport during the tennis. Personally I don’t like Kias as they generally have a seat to wheel ratio that exceeds one. This is a sign of a bad car as it means you use it to transport children. I won’t ever buy a Kia. Other people should though.

2. Just Another Dublin Suburb

Portlaoise, it’s not exactly Seville is it? Maybe it was the grey weather, but it reminded me of a big Carrigtwohill. It has a nice hotel though, sort of like if you moved Fota into the centre of Carrigtwohill without applying for planning permission.

3. Spitjack

I think the pre-race meal in Spitjack last night with my two sisters was good preparation. It’s only taken 25 years but we can now sit down for a few hours and not fight even once. It’s amazing. It’s kind of boring.

4. Tower of No Power

My tower of power was bananaless this morning. I forgot to buy bananas. John had bananas but he lets them go overripe before eating them because he’s from Cullen and they’re different up there so I couldn’t even steal them. Instead I made a tower of no power. It was just rice cakes and peanut butter, just not the same. I drank 5 nespressos to compensate.

5. The Right Number of Miles

I don’t think there is a right number of miles to run. No matter how many miles I run I seem to be running too many miles. Someday I’ll run the right number of miles per week and people will be happy. I think the right number is n, where n is the number of miles that the person you are talking is running that week or ran when they were running. I’ve run 70 this week, it’s still not right.

6. Mahabis Man

I think Ronán is the only man to ever have turned up to a 5k in a pair of slippers. I had to lone him a pair of size 12 Brooks Ghosts so that Aishling could walk around with him. I have many pairs of shoes in the boot of my Volkswagen so he was never at risk of walking around Portlaoise in a pair of slippers. He couldn’t run in the Ghosts but at least he looked less ridiculous.

7. Lobsters Wear Sunglasses

I like the 12 rules, standing up straight with your shoulders straight is a good rule. It’s very important when you’re wearing a pair of €5 sunglasses you bought off a hawker in Barcelona. If you look confident you can pull anything off, well you think you can which is all that matters anyway. Mick Clohisshey was wearing sunglasses too, perhaps he’s also a lobster.

8. C’mon Ya Bollix

I had to beat Claire today. I did. She’s amazing but I had to beat her today. I did. I’m sorry Claire. We’re still friends right?

9. Ichigo Ichie

I think each 5k race is different, you could run a 5k race every day and it would be different everyday. It’s always horrible but some days it’s less horrible and some days it’s more horrible. Today was very horrible which is good. I love 5ks, especially when they’re over, they’re really horrible.

10. The Wind Up

I had the perfect view of the end of the women’s race. It was like being on the moto following the end of a stage of the Tour De France. Kerry and Shona came up onto my shoulder at the 4K mark, then Kerry launched the most vicious kick, it was really impressive considering the equally vicious headwind. Shona followed, I didn’t, they continued to weave over and across the road until eventually the elastic snapped and Shona was cut free. I caught Shona before the line but Kerry was gone. A great race to see, Kia must be happy.

IMG_2554.JPG

Snowmageddon

10 Things I Think About Snowmageddon

1. It’s Beginning to Snow Again

I think I forgot how much I like the look of snow, it’s so beautiful. It’s almost perfect like some genius artist has been out in the middle of the night applying just the right amount to that tree to make you think “I wish it wasn’t snowing so that I could go out running with out being afraid of breaking my leg and ending up on a trolley in CUH”

2. Syria

I didn’t think that snow would introduce me to Syrian bread. It was the only bread that was left in SuperValu on Monday night so I had to buy it. Well I kind of lie they also had gluten-free but everyone was kindly leaving that untouched for the poor coeliacs. Syrian bread is amazing, it’s perfect, way better than normal bread, I toasted it and ate it with some hummus. I’m almost addicted to it but I’ve run out now. I should have bought more.

3. Tights

I don’t like wearing tights for running, they amplify my ridiculously huge cycling legs and massive arse. I prefer wearing shorts, the only problem with not wearing tights is that the grit that they put on the roads dissolves skin, it’s very very painful. The advantage of not wearing tights is that the sun reflects off the snow and tans your legs even better than on a summers day. It’s worth the pain.

4. Gloves

I think someone should take a massive lawsuit against the manufacturers of gloves like they did with those silly barefoot Vibrams. Gloves don’t work they just make it worse. I never wear gloves running, it’s a con, if you wait 10 minutes your hands will warm themselves. Then the sweat can evaporate freely, with gloves the sweat gets trapped and removes more heat from your hands in order to evaporate making them colder. See it makes sense, say no to gloves.

5. Yaktracks

I’ve had a pair of Yaktraks in the boot of my car since the last ice/snow in 2010. They’re the best invention since Syrian bread, unlike gloves they actually work. You can run on any ice and you won’t fall and end up on a trolley in CUH. I might buy two more pairs in case the snow stays.

6. Enda the Snowman

I really like making snowmen, they’re fantastic, you’re never too old to like making a snowman. I gave my snowman lots of accessories, he was like one of those triathletes who buy all the gear, he had a nice NYC hat, sunglasses, ferrero rocher eyes, a banana (which unfortunately turned black), beer and some of the normal bread that I don’t need anymore after discovering Syrian bread. Snowmen love bread.

7. The Look

I had forgotten how great it is to get the look as you run along the road in a pair of shorts while it’s snowing. That owl like head rotating and nodding as it tuts at your madness. I love getting the look.

8. Aplazada Inclemencia

I was supposed to go to Spain this weekend for a 10k in Granada but literally everything got cancelled. The first thing to get canceled was the race, it has been raining in Spain which is very abnormal, it’s also slightly cold. I think they were worried no one would come out to run so they postponed it until July. Then the flights got canceled too. I miss Spain.

9. Snow Induced Obesity

I think there is a big danger of catching obesity in this weather. I have been eating relentlessly, it’s boredom eating. I had five bags of popcorn last night watching Laura Muir. Then I found a tub of dairy free ice cream in the freezer that Michael and Sinéad brought as a present when I first moved into the house. Dairy free ice cream is no Syrian bread but it did the job.

10. Here’s Johnny

I’ve never seen The Shining but John told me the general plot of it on Day 1 of Snowmageddon. After 3 days trapped with him I can understand how it could happen. Hop is lucky that I didn’t buy that axe in Woodie’s last Saturday. I did however buy a shovel and a screwdriver. It could make a good sequel, The Hoping

IMG_2284.JPG

Barcelona Half Marathon 2018

10 Things I Think About The Barcelona Half Marathon 2018

1. Tracky Bottoms Tucked in Socks

I think Barcelona has improved massively since my last trip back when I was in college. I was so scared of pickpockets from that trip that I only brought a tracksuit with zip pockets this time. I didn’t even feel a hand go near my pockets all weekend. This could have been because I looked like more of a scumbag than the actual pickpockets themselves. Tucking the socks in was a master stroke.

2. Banna Badness

I think Banna did a lot of damage this year. I caught a terrible badness in that pub in Banna, it absolutely flattened me, I was shivering and had a fever. The fever was so bad that one night I thought I was in India without internet access, it was terrifying. I even had to take a day off work I was so sick. This never happens. Thankfully I managed to fight off the badness by eating mainly oranges and pomegranates for a week. The oranges and pomegranates worked very well and I was pretty perfect by this morning, just a little bit of a cough.

3. Bats

I think a city walk is a great way to spend the day before a half marathon. I’m too useless at running to warrant spending the day resting in bed, that’s for racehorses, donkeys might as well go fooling around the place. I went on the Gaudi Tour with a South African tour guide called Luke. It was brilliant, I learned that the Spanish for bat is “murcielago” as in like the Lamborghini. I found this fascinating. The buildings were nice too, especially the half finished church that people pay lots of money to go inside.

4. Art Cave

I think the AirBnB I stayed in was the best yet. Definitely my favorite, the walls were covered in scary art and the bed was ridiculously comfortable. I slept perfectly, it was so quiet and dark. It was also 100m from the start so I could warm up and go back to use the facilities before the race. I don’t think it could have been any better.

5. Fence Hopping

I think the most athletic thing I did today was hop the fence into the elite section. It was very graceful. I felt like a giant in with all the elites, they’re so tiny, I’m way too tall to be any good.

6. Bodyguard

I think I was possibly the most useless pacer in the history of pacemakers ever. There have been pacers in 1500m races that lasted longer than I did today. I was however possibly the most suitable human being in the world to deal with the slow runner that suddenly appeared in front of us after 1km. Lizzie is so lucky that I was there to manhandle him to the ground without even chopping stride. I felt kind of bad after it, it sounded like he fell quite hard, Lizzie definitely would have died if I wasn’t there to protect her, definitely.

7. Falcon Heavy

I think my pacemaking effort was like one of those reusable rockets that Elon Musk used for his Teslaship last week. I got Lizzie through the vital one mile mark in the half marathon, that first mile is vital, I’m surprised my pacemaking skills haven’t been requested before. Then like one of those rockets I peeled off and returned safely to earth ready to be used again. It was perfect really.

8. Gaudí 

I think I think too much in these longer races. I get really bored at half marathon pace, my brain fills with lots of demons and starts thinking lots of stupid things like: “God this is really terrible running isn’t it”. “This time is going to be so bad”. “You run 100 miles a week and this is all you can run, what a lampchop”. Today was particularly bad, there were demons everywhere. After about 9km I was hoping that a tram would just run me over and finish me off like Gaudi, it would have been a good way to go. Then I was caught by the 75 minute pacers and realized it wasn’t too bad if I could keep that flag in sight.

9. Instagram Abs

I think I should have taken a picture of my abs after the race. I could have put it on Instagram for people to look at, people would have liked that #moderatejanuary. Mine were absolutely fabulous because of all the coughing I did during the race. They looked wonderful, all toned and sticking out, at least an eight pack. They were really really sore though, if having abs hurts that much I don’t want abs.

10. Carrot Cake Pancakes

I think Cork needs Carrot Cake Pancakes. I met Michael Maher during the race when he passed me with the 75 minute pacers like a guy from Clare out for a Sunday run in Barcelona. We went for brunch after the race, Carrot Cake Pancakes are as good as they sound, all the goodness of pancakes combined with the niceness of carrot cake. It’s the perfect recovery food. I definitely don’t have abs anymore after them.

Barcelona Half 2018 1.jpeg