Grant Thornton 5k 2019

10 Things I Think About The Grant Thornton 5k

1. Someday

I think that someday I will win this race. I’m a proper loyal company man,  I’ve run this race every year since 2016, I almost deserve to win it at this stage. I thought that today might be the day as there are lots of money races on Thursday and Friday that should have drawn away the mercenaries, then I saw John Meade on the South Mall and a realized that it would remain a someday. 

2. Permadusk

I think that I am the only person who does a warm up to check if it is suitable for sunglasses. The weather is very strange at the moment, it is bright but dark, dry but rainy, warm but cold, very strange, very unsuitable for sunglasses. I ran the race route for my warm up as I was concerned that it would be too dark for shades under the trees. It was very dark, too dark, so no shades, this made me sad but safe. 

3. Lizzie Gun

I think that the sight of Lizzie Lee holding a gun at the start line is one of the scariest things that I have ever seen. She had that glisten in her eyes that said “I have a gun”, she even pointed it at me. Thankfully it was only a starting gun. 

4. Countdown

I think that Lizzie needs to work on her race start countdown, it’s goes 5,4,3,2,1 bang, not 5,4, bang. It didn’t really matter anyway as everyone starts running when they hear a gun, especially when it Lizzie’s. 

5. Badness 

I think that mile one was very fast, far too fast, way too fast, John Buckey 5k fast. I think that it reawakened my marathon badness. I’m pretty sure that I am actually still bad from the marathon but that I am just immune from feeling it, it’s like I’ve been vaccinated against the badness. Anyway it definitely reawakened after a mile and I got shelled from the Meade and Mckeown group.

6. Small Victories

I think that it’s always a good race when you pass someone and they don’t pass you back. Today’s victim was Niall Touhy, I caught him after about 2k. I wasn’t very confident that I’d keep him behind because he has far more talent that me but it was worth a try. Then I tried to catch the orange vest of Kieran McKeown. This didn’t work. 

7. Tall

I think that it didn’t matter which one of Cian or Niall was behind me coming into the finish. I never look behind because that’s not allowed so I had to wait until I got passed to find out who it was. I knew it was someone tall because they sounded tall so I was sure it was one of them. It turns out that it was Cian. He was very fast, I didn’t really try to keep up, 6th was grand.   

8. Fun

I think that it’s a very bad idea to run two races within two weeks of a marathon. I know this, but if you can get away with it’s great fun. I think I’ll just  race until it’s not fun. I know it’s idiotic, I know it’s not sports science, I know that it’s mad, I know I should recover, but it’s fun and that’s all that matters.   

9. Wisdom

I think that I might be a dramatically better runner after tomorrow. I have a cracked wisdom tooth which I will have to part ways with. I’d prefer to keep it but Niamh and Ian both said it must go. I’m hoping that it has been slowing me down all this time and that just like David Beckham when he moved to A.C Milan, fixing my teeth will have a miraculous effect on my performance. Tooth doping, perhaps, hopefully. 

10. Trophy Time

I think that it was Meade’s fault that I missed the trophy presentation. Meade tells excellent stories so the warm down after the race became very elongated, I can’t remember any of the stories but they were excellent, I think one of them was about how John got great at running by not running. Unfortunately I missed the chance to collect the prize for third placed team. Thankfully Lizzie collected the trophy for us and I eventually got to go on the podium/stage after for an excellent photo with Lizzie and the trophy. I like trophies.

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Doneraile 10k

10 Things I Think About The Doneraile 10k

1. Aer Lingus

I think it is Aer Lingus's fault that I ended up running a 10k six days after a marathon. I booked the race sitting on the plane in Dublin airport while the pilot fought with air traffic control and Ryanair for a takeoff slot. I saw the words "race" "limited entry" "will sell out" and "Doneraile" on Facebook. There's something about the words limited entry that appeals to a large section of my brain. Then I saw the Doneraile House shaped medal and I simply had to enter. Then I forgot about the entry like most of the stuff you see on Facebook just before you take off. 

2. Leave Before the Taxis Have Gone

I think that this has to have been my best ever debadification. I'm not sure if I was ever really bad after the marathon. I woke up Monday morning expecting the usual headache and terrible badness. When I woke there was nothing, no headache, no badness, nothing, just morningness. It was terrible really, I like the supebad feeling, it reminds you that you've done a marathon. It's almost as important as the medal. I must make sure I'm superbad after Berlin

3. Wine

I think that wine is very important for removing badness after a marathon. I drank two excellent bottles this week, I know they were excellent because I bought them in SuperValu after scanning most of the bottles in the shop with the Vivino app. I had nothing better to do because I couldn't run as much. I think I'll stop now though, back to the San Pellegrino and Heineken Zero Zero.

4. Doneraile Park

I think that Doneraile Park is my favourite place to run after Spain, Boston and Berlin. It's super beautiful, there are deer, dogs, swans and miles of lovely trails. I used to run there all the time when I lived at home. When I first started running there were no races in Doneraile, I always dreamt of a race that would finish at the top of the hill, that never happened because it's mad but at least they have races there now. 

5. Don't be Afraid Now

I think that I knew that I might have a chance of a win at the start line. The start line was up by the beautiful gates of the Park which are very beautiful and like a small version of Berlin. At the start line everyone except me was afraid to come up to the line. This was very unusual, normally I have to push my way through or be clever. Then we started and I was still the only one at the front. 

6. Prescriptions

I think that it was nice to run on the roads which had the names of the place that I used to get prescriptions from in the pharmacy in Doneraile. Convent Road, New Road and other Roads. It was very nice to finally see those roads as I normally just ran in the park. Maureen even came out from the Pharmacy to shout me on when we ran back through the town at the 5k mark.

7. Rolling

I think that Doneraile is a very hilly place, this is surprising as it doesn't look hilly. The course is not exactly flat. It's very rolling, up and down, very little flat. The first 5k was all on the roads, then we ran back through the town and into the park through the beautiful Park gates.

8. Slippin and Slidin

I think that Doneraile has become slippier since I left, I know the park like the loop around Blackrock but I don't remember the bridge to bridge km ever being so slippy. It was like slippy ice, I couldn't run on it, at least I knew it was only a km, then we were back on the wooded trail. I don't like slipping.

9. Doonbeg

I think that I would like to buy Doneraile Park. If I ever make lots of money I will, I will turn it into a big running hotel where people can come to train in the park. It would be like Doonbeg only with me instead of the Trump and running instead of Golf. 

10. The Spread

I think that the spread in the hall in Doneraile was excellent, I have never seen such an amount of food. They even had separate vegetarian and vegan sections. It looked wonderful. I was a little disappointed that I didn't get to stand on the podium which appeared to be only for display purposes. I was not disappointed with the contents of the white envelope for first, I’m one step closer to my dream of owning the park. It can't be that expensive.

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Cork City Marathon 2019

10 Things I Think About The Cork City Marathon 2019

1. It Began in Boston

I think that it is Viv’s fault that I ended up running the Cork Marathon. Viv loves running marathons so I knew that he couldn’t resist Cork. When I found out the day after Boston that he was going to run I had to run as I get great enjoyment from beating him badly. 

2. TREMENDOUS Taper

I think that Garmin Connect is an excellent tool for psyching out your enemies like Viv before an important race. I knew that he would be stalking me on Garmin to see how my taper was going so I used Trump style TREMENDOUS titles to make him think that I was having an excellent taper. In reality I was going through the usual pre marathon random unexplained worrying and feeling apocalyptically awful on every run. Dwell times increased even for a 6 mile run and I was worried a lot about my wisdom tooth. 

3. Hangry

I think that food timing the day before a marathon is vital. A pizza takes approximately 12 hours to be processed so the last significant food intake before the marathon needs to be around 7pm for an 830am start. I’m normally not very hangry but when pizza is delayed until  8pm I get a little very fidgety. I think it was just in time as everything was perfect on Sunday morning stomachwise. 

4. Operation Drop Viv 

I think that my plan to do everything that was necessary to drop Viv before 10 miles was executed perfectly. I didn’t think that he’d go with 5:50 pace but he did. He was still perched on my shoulder like an unwanted parrot at three miles so I pushed a little harder to try and shake him off. I didn’t look at the watch or at Viv but just increased to a level that felt just about tolerable until I could no longer hear him or his supporters shouting “Go Viv”

5. Tailwinds

I think that you had to take advantage of the tailwinds for the first half of the race, it was idyllic running out to the tunnel, my favorite race conditions, a big tailwind. I’m very good with a tailwind because I’m snapped like a sail so I catch the wind and get blown along. I was at the tunnel without every thinking about how horrible running at marathon pace is. I knew it wouldn’t last but it was so nice. 

6. Negative Feedback 

I think that giving people negative feedback works. It’s a very good idea to ensure that when someone makes a mistake that you ensure that they know that their mistake was unacceptable. Two years ago John gave me very warm moldy water by Brookfield in the marathon which I can still taste to this day, I have reminded him of this on many occasions. Proof that my negative feedback works came at Blackrock Castle where Hop handed me a nice chilled bottle of fresh water, definitely the best water bottle of the day, it was at least Ballygown quality. Abuse works. 

7. Familiarity Breeds Contempt

I think that the section of the marathon on the path by Blackrock is the worst. I run that route way too often because I like it so I know what it looks like at 7:30 pace. For some reason it looks exactly the same at 6:00 pace. It’s very concerning and there’s no one there to tell you that you’re doing ok and not slowing dramatically. Then I met Ian at the rowing club who told me I was 7th, 7th meant money, Alan and Ronán confirmed the money on the John Buckley loop which amplified my motivation, I’d forgotten about Viv. 

8. Headwinds 

I think that the second half of the marathon was worse than normal. The course is bad enough without 5 miles of twisty turny hills with no one about. Up by Turners Cross was very lonely and very windy. Then the twisty turny bits start. Turning is not exactly my strength, turning and running uphill into the wind is definitely not my strength. I was getting very worried when after the thirteenth uphill twisty turny bit I suddenly heard footsteps behind me, I didn’t look back for fear that it might be Viv, then Mike Corbett powered past, this made me happy as it was 6 miles further into the race than last year. 

9. PAIN

I think that I love the pain at the end of the marathon, it’s very pleasant pain, if my toenail hadn’t exploded again I’d have had the perfect amount of pain for the day. Unfortunately my toe nail went pop at about mile 24 which meant 2 miles of real pain, real pain is ok but it’s not happy pain. I prefer happy pain. Cork is a very good marathon to run for happy pain. 

10. Caddies

I think that I have perfected gels, I took 5 gels, the Cliff Lemon and Lime ones with caffeine. The only issue with gels is that you need someone to give them to you. Fortunately I had an excellent gel caddies. Even though I was administering a bad beating to his father Viv’s son Gavin handed me three gels. Hop gave me one at Blackrock and Rhona had one for me at the Lough and another at Victoria Cross which I didn’t take. The only issue is that technically my support team are entitled to 10% of my winnings. I’m not sure if Hop deserves his yet as that moldy bottle of water was only redeemed today. I’ll think about it.

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John Buckley 5k 2019

10 Things I Think About The John Buckley 5k 2019

1. Dearest Vivian 

It think that it was a good idea to write a nice letter to Vivian on Monday encouraging him to run the John Buckley 5k. I love beating him badly because he gets so upset when it happens. I tried to troll Donal Coffey into attending too for beating but he’s too busy winning mountain races.

2. PB Amnesty

I think that your PBs should automatically reset after 10 years. My 5k PB of 16:00 has tormented me for years. I ran it when I was very young and had no idea about training unlike now when I know everything. I ran it in the John Buckley 5k in 2010 on the old loopy course. There were no Garmins back then so it might not actually have happened. I might just forget about and pretend it never happened, I tried to find the link to the results during the week but the Internet seems to have forgotten about it. 

3. Psych Out

I think that it is very easy to psych out Viv. He gets so nervous before the race, almost silent, like he’s resigned to being beaten. I did lots of things to psych him out, I ran a double the day before, did a 3 mile shakeout this morning, told him about my high haematocrit, parked away from him before the race and told him how tremendous I felt on the warm up. The race was already over before it had been run. 

4. New Course 

I think that the new course is amazing, it is so so fast and doesn’t involve laps. Laps are awful except in cross country where they are amazing. The start is a little bit narrow but that’s almost better because it makes everyone run faster at the start to get out into space. It’s a net downhill but only a small bit so it still probably counts. 

5. Mile 1

I think that the first mile of a 5k is horrendous. It’s particularly horrendous when you are not really a 5k runner and you haven’t run under 5:20 pace for a year. I had a better plan this year than last  year when I led for 800m like a calf who’d been let out after the winter. I decided that it was sensible to follow instead of leading. I even stuck to the plan. 

6. Holes 

I think that the badness of the surface on the marina only becomes obvious when you try and run fast on it, it seems fine on an easy run. There are ankle breaking potholes all the way down to the rowing club, it’s especially bad when you’re running in a group and you can’t see them because you’ve sunglasses on. Then you turn left down the hill and it all gets nice and smooth. Smooth is my favourite surface after grass. 

7. Metal Mouth

I think that one of my favourite feelings in the world is that feeling you get halfway through a 5k. It’s that feeling of breathing in sharp metal, then you start to get that beautiful metal taste in your mouth like it’s cutting into your throat. It’s horribly wonderful but it means that you’ve got the race just right. Metal indicates perfect. I really like it. 

8. Mile 2 

I think that the second mile is the most important mile in a 5k. It’s absolutely miserable but it should be, the only thing that keeps you going is that fear that you are just about to be embarrassed by Viv. 

9. Lies

I think that it was particularly horrible of Sean O'Keeffe to lie to me and tell me that Viv was right behind me after 2 miles. In my oxygen deprived state I believed Sean because he’s an accountant and they are normally honest people. In reality Viv was metres behind.

10. Eternal Happiness 

I think that I wish that I had worse eyesight. The most horrible experience in running is to see 15:4X on the clock think that you are going to run sub 16 and then realise that you aren’t going to achieve the eternal happiness of a sub 16 5k. It’s probably what it’s like to die slowly, seeing that clock tick over 16, it’s miserable, horrible. Some day, some day I’ll do it, then I’ll be happy.

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Richmond Park 10k

10 Things I Think About The Richmond Park 10k

1. What Are You Doing in Dartford

I think that Dartford is one of those places that’s only tolerable because of running. I had to go to Dartford for a training course, not a holiday. Dartford is about 10 miles or an hour and a half from nice places in London. It is the sort of place that makes you worry about the world. On a 10 mile run there must have been 42 roundabouts. They really really like roundabouts in Dartford. They also have a shopping centre. 

2. Uber

I think that I was lucky to escape Dartford. I couldn't face another roundabout run there on Friday morning so I escaped to Chelsea early. Unfortunately my Uber driver decided to crash into the back of what turned out to be an unmarked police car at one of the many roundabouts that you must navigate to escape Dartford. There was no damage to anything or anyone but it set off some sensor in the police car which meant that a police man had to come and look at it. That was going to take two hours so I had to make an Uber transfer. 

3. Van Gogh

I think that a trip to the Van Gogh exhibition on Friday cured me of my roundaboutitis. Roundabouts hadn't been invented when Van Gogh was painting so it was very good, lots of Daffodils and men with their heads in their hands. Van Gogh spent a few years in London, perhaps he had to stay Dartford and commute in to the office, it might explain the madness. 

4. Daffodils for Dinner

I think that the Van Gogh cafe was an acceptable replacement for a pre race pizza. It was very excellent. I'm not sure if it will be as easy to find Korean Pancakes everywhere but it seems to work just as well as pizza. 

5. Chelsea 

I think that I understand why rich people like to live in Chelsea. It's very beautiful and great for running. Battersea Park looks like a great place for a session and you can link it up with Hyde Park for a run. It's a pretty perfect place. I wish that I had lots of oil and could buy an apartment there.

6. Doneraile on Steroids

I think that the same person that designed Doneraile Park must have worked on Richmond Park. They are very similar except that Richmond is bigger and has cyclists. The route for the race was two 5k laps of 50% gravel, 40% foothpath and 10% grass around the north of the park. Gravel is my second favourite running surface after grass so I was very happy.

7. Uh Oh 

I think that I was worried after a few minutes of the race. They had said at the start that there was only a prize for first. I like prizes so I wanted to win one, I was very confident at the startline as there were no vapour flies around. After a few minutes it was only me and another guy who looked very very comfortable, more comfortable than me and far more talented. I was a little very worried, especially when he had a good 100m gap on me after 3k. 3k is normally the talent vs training tipping point, if I don’t get ahead by 3k I’ll never get ahead.

8. Tipping Point

I think that my tipping point theory is still accurate just a little bit off. About 1k after the 3k tipping point I closed up on the guy in front all of a sudden, he still looked very comfortable but I could tell that he wasn't going to be able to go any quicker. I would like to think that I sped past him like Mo Farah and sprinted away to the finish but in reality I kind of drifted away from him slowly like a noisy electric car. 

9. Don’t Look Back in Anger

I think that I will have to work on my end of race anger. No matter how far ahead you are in a race you always think that there is someone just behind you. I never look back because that's a bad habit so I’d no idea where the other guy was. I presumed he was right behind because people from London are normally very excellent at running. There was a lady at the last turn pointing the direction but I wasn’t happy with the clarity of the pointing, so I shouted at her as I was worried about the guy behind. I went the right way in the end. I felt bad when I won so I went back and said sorry.

10. Trophy 

I think that my favourite prizes are trophies and medals, obviously I would also like a bag of money or even a voucher for the army surplus store in Youghal but failing that a trophy is the best prize. Trophies are excellent as you can look at them afterwards and think about how excellent you are and medals are great because you can have a medal bowl in your house. It’s just a pity there was no podium for the race, they just handed me my trophy as I crossed the line. Ah well it was far far better than a solo session.

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Berlin 25k

10 Things I Think About The Berlin 25k

1. History

I think that I have always wanted to run the Big Berlin 25k race. It’s probably because of the history of the event, it’s slightly older than the marathon and it’s a rare distance. I also wanted to run a 25k race because Peter Maher was always talking about his 25k world record, I wanted to see how close I could get. 

2. Sardo 

I think that the key to my performance was my pre race meal, I always have pizza, this was special pizza though, Sardinian pizza. It was my favorite pizza ever, I think I liked it so much because according to the 23andMe gene test I’m 0.2% Sardinian. That must be where my skin comes from too. 

3. S Bahn

I think it’s good that my favorite train in the world sponsors one of my favorite races. The trains in Berlin are one of my favorite things, they’re excellent, I like everything about them, the names, the sounds, the noises, the seats, everything. We even got to get the S9 to the start at the Olympiastadion.

4. Olympiastadion 

I think that the Olympiastadion is my favorite stadium in the world. It’s perfect, it’s definitely the best athletics stadium, the European championships there last year were perfect. The race starts right outside the stadium on a big plaza. The only problem was that they only opened some of the toilets in the stadium. The toilets in the Olympiastadion are the best stadium toilets ever but the queue for the grosse toilets was far too long, I could only do a mile of a warm up because of it. It was essential though. Warm up ranks lower than than comfort on the pre race necessity scale. 

5. Plan

I think that I was right to dispense with my plan at the startline. I could see at the start that there weren’t exactly a lot of Vapourflies being worn which was puzzling as it is a pretty massive race and had previously been won in a world record time by Denis Kimetto. It was sort of like going into the A pen at the start of the Berlin Marathon looking around and seeing not a single Nike Vapourfly 4%. The original plan was six minute miles, the new plan was all out and see how far I get following the leaders. 

6. Surreal 

I think that running the Big Berlin 25k is like having a practice run at the marathon course with less runners around annoying you and far less crowds. It’s kind of surreal running up towards the victory tower and through the Brandenburg gate all on your own like you own the place and can just call the police and tell them you want to do a 25k practice run. 

7. Windy

I think that it was a mistake not to check my windy app before the race. I normally check it before every run so that I know which way the wind will be coming from. I took no notice at the start when we tore off down the hill and kept going at what seemed like 10k pace, when we got to the turn off for the 10k racers it made sense as most of the guys ahead took a right, I went straight on, I could see two guys ups ahead so I knew I wasn’t winning but I presumed there were even more further ahead. 

8. The Catch

I think that the half marathon and 10k guys helped me catch the guy ahead, he had a good 20 seconds on me going through the Brandenburg gate as we turned back for home. Then we started to meet the people in the Half marathon who turned right before the gate. Normally this would be very annoying but in Berlin the streets are so wide it was fine. I like passing people so I used the other runners to jump up to the second place guy. When I got up to him I went straight by him imagining that he was Vivian Foley. Just like as if it was Viv he gave up when I passed him and I never saw him again. Then I heard people saying zwei so I started to get worried. Fortunately unlike the rest of life worrying makes you better at running so it was easy to stay motivated.

9. Drums

I think my favorite part of the race was the entry into the stadium, the climb up to the stadium was my least favorite part. The stadium is up on for Berlin what is probably classified as a mountain. When you first see the stadium you think it’s nearly over, then you have to climb this big mountain and do a big long loop around the stadium. It’s almost worth it when you get to run under the dark belly of the stadium out onto the blue track. They have loud drums and lights in the tunnel to make you run faster which is great. I like drums and lights.

10. Worst Second Placer Ever

I think that I am definitely the worst runner ever to finish second in the Big Berlin 25k. If you look on Wikipedia the list of past winners is ridiculous, it’s a pity they don’t have the second placers as I’d like to be on Wikipedia too. The podium was amazing as it was in the Olympic Stadium, I kind of felt like I was a real athlete, I got to fist bump the mascot and got a bag of what I assumed was money and some flowers. When I opened the bag I understood why Denis Kimetto wasn’t back today. The bag contained a 12 pack of Cliff Bars. Well at least I got a nice trophy. Second is second and I prefer trophies anyway.

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Alfarnate 12k

10 Things I Think About The Alfarnate 12k

1. Hola Barr’s Guy 

I think that the 12k of Alfarnate is a hidden gem, it’s like a secret race, a secret race that only the locals know about, without Facebook and google translate it would have remained secret. Despite its secretive nature John Meade didn’t even require google translate to get his club changed from the “accidental” Leevale A.C that I had entered him as. A quick word in the ear of the local organisers and Leevale became St Finbarr’s. Mercenary Meade was no more.

2. Crushing Coffey

I think that I gave Donal Coffey every chance of beating me on his real return from a career threatening debilitating stress fracture. We could have run a normal flat road race in Málaga where I would have beaten him very badly. Instead I kindly offered him a nice hilly gravelly road race with nearly 1000ft of of climbing where he would feel at home. He has been a regular on the podium in the mountain running scene so he had every advantage and no excuses in the Millstreet of Malaga that is Alfarnate. 

3. Verde y Blanco

I think that our assumptions from the start line were very valid. The execution of strides are a dead give away, especially in Spain. The only guy doing strides was in a green and white singlet with matching shorts with his name Carlos printed on the back, always a worrying sign, he looked really fast. Our worries were magnified when the gun went off as Carlos took off at a frightening pace that would win most 3000m races. Meade and I hung back a bit behind, waiting, Coffey stayed back, unable. 

4. Inclinación

I think that us Cork runners are underrated at running up hills. It took us about a mile to gradually catchup to the green and white singlet worn by Carlos. I had to drag Meade up to him because he’s cagey at racing. When we got up to Carlos he made that sign with your hand that signifies big hill or slope, he looked afraid. We ran together as a group for a few hundred meters, when we reached the lower slopes of the hill that was the source of Carlos’s hand gestures Meade took off, I hung with Carlos for a bit, then I decided that I too could run on hills and took off after Meade. 

5. Vs and Us

I think that I had the beating of John Meade, I shouldn’t have let him go on that first hill, he was vulnerable, especially as there was a guy on a mountain bike cycling alongside him. On the second hill I was closing on him rapidly, I knew why, I could see that he was talking to the guy on the bike most likely telling him his new favorite excellent story about the Vs and the Us in the paintings in Malaga. His stories while excellent consume effort and do in fact slow him down. 

6. Man > MTB

I think that the reason that I didn’t catch Meade was because the mountain bike couldn’t keep up with him on the third gravel trail hill so he had to stop telling stories and concentrate on running. Meade flew up it, the MTB had to stop, even I caught and passed the MTB. I was a little worried that Coffey would catch me on the hills but when I passed dogs I couldn’t hear them barking behind me so I assumed that he was miles back, either that or the dogs were scared of him.

7. Underpants

I think it was a good idea to wear my Irish headband from Boston. It is very sunny and very hot in Alfarnate, the headband apart from looking excellent, kept the sunscreen and sweat mixture out of my eyes and kept me nice and cool. Meade who was sweating for the first time ever, had greatly difficulty with stingy eyes from the sweat and sunscreen combo.

8. Uno Dos Tres

I think that it was amazing that Coffey was able to finish on the podium with myself and Meade. It took him ages to get going but he did eventually. He was however much slower than me through every mile split when we looked back on Strava. Somehow he managed to overhaul Carlos for third place and secure a Cork one two three for the podium. 

9. Paella Eile

I think that the post race race experience in Alfarnate is the best in the world, they have everything, sunshine, heat, DJ, free beer, free paella, free ginger sugary biscuits and an excellent podium. The sugary ginger biscuits are the tastiest crumbliest biscuits in the world, like ginger nuts just more crumbly. 

10. Enhorabuena

I think it’s a great pity that we could only bring the trophies home to Cork. We won enough olive oil and coffee bean wine to open a small tapas bar in Cork. We debated drinking it or trying to sneak it on to the plane. Instead we had to gift it to the AirBnB host. She seemed delighted with her 7L of olive oil. It must be good stuff.

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EDP Rock ‘N’ Roll Madrid 10k

10 Things I Think About The Rock ‘N’ Roll Madrid 10k

1. Rocket Ship Train

I think we should get a rocket ship train in Cork. The easiest way to get to Madrid from Cork at the moment is to fly to Málaga and then get catapulted in great comfort at 300km/hr to Madrid. It’s definitely my favourite mode of transport ever, very nice.

2. Horseflies

I think that those Nike 4% and 5% shoes should be banned, they’re everywhere. They were selling the 4% at the Expo for €209, the guy at the stall let me try on a pair. I tried a size 12, not a hope, my feet are far too wide, I was bursting out through them, they’re just not made for fat ankled lumps like me. It’s almost discrimination. The Spanish guy didn’t even try and sell them to me, he just shook his head. 

3. Cajón 

I think that if I go to enough races in Spain I will eventually become fluent. I learnt a new word at this race, cajón, it means corral. It’s just as well I learnt it because they had put me in the over 40 minutes corral which contained about 6000 people. Changing cajón at the Expo was surprisingly unspanish and disappointingly easy, they just put a new sticker on my number over the old cajón number and I was good to go. I’d have preferred something more complicated.

4. Blindboy 

I think that Madrid has some excellent walking tours, I did three in two days, the best one was the Spanish Inquisition one which was given by a Limerick guy who could have been Blindboy without the plastic bag. Perhaps that’s what he does when he goes to Spain, either that or he used the podcast for material for the walking tour. 

5. Spain at 8am

I think that Spain does not work at 8am. Because of the Spanish elections the race was moved to Saturday with an 8am start for the 10k, 8am in Spain is like starting a race in Cork at 5am. It was great from a weather point of view as Madrid is idyllic in the morning but appalling from a coffee clearance point of view. Finding coffee at 6am in Spain is very difficult.

6. Rock ‘N’ Roll

I think that the Rock ‘N’ Roll events are really well organised but appallingly unSpanish. Nothing went wrong for the whole race, everything worked perfectly, the course was exactly 10k, people even obeyed the starting corrals. I kind of prefer a bit of organised chaos.

7. Alpha Centauri

I think that the Alan Parsons track that they play at the start of the Berlin Marathon should only be allowed to be played in Berlin. It doesn’t work in Spain it makes the already excitable Spaniards  too excited and they all sprint off at an even more crazy pace than normal. I couldn’t keep up at all. My inability to keep up had nothing to do with badness from the marathon as debadification was completed in a record three days. Perhaps there is some hidden latent badness. 

8. I Only Did the 10k

I think half marathons and marathons should be rationed, they’re like biscuits, if they are there, then there’s always a danger that you might be tempted by one. I was so tempted to change to the half marathon at the Expo, my debadification after Boston was so excellent that it almost seemed foolish not to run a half marathon. A 10k seems so lazy, you have to say “I only did the 10k” to everyone on the walking tour afterwards which disappoints them greatly. I had sense in the end. 

9. Spaniards don’t like hills

I think that Madrid is a very hilly place. The marathon and half marathon course look very hilly, far more than Boston and Cork. The 10k had a rake of hills, the worst one was at 7km, I was in a group of Spaniards when we got to the hill and amazingly I dropped all but one Spaniard. Perhaps Boston has made me good at hills. 

10. Chica’d

I think that the first thing that warned me that I was about to be chicked was shouts of Chica from the side of the road just as we passed the 9km mark by the Prado. It was actually Chicas as there were two who were trying to beat each other badly. When the first Chica went by I tried to follow, she turned and gave me that hate-filled look in the eye that you only get from someone that’s about to beat you badly and accelerated off up the road, so fast, like the rocket train. I tried again to follow but couldn’t, then the second Chica passed and I kind of gave up. My new ambition is to get good enough to avoid being Chica’d in future.

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Boston Marathon 2019

10 Things I Think About The Boston Marathon 

1. Tailwinds 

I think that there is no point in worrying about the weather for Boston. It’s impossible to predict, I spent the whole week before praying for a big tailwind so that I could break 2:30 and achieve eternal happiness. The forecasts were wildly inaccurate, we ended up with Goldilocks weather, not too hot, not too cold, not too humid, not too windy, almost perfect. 

2. What Language is That?

I think that I’m better understood in Spain than in Boston, they haven’t a clue what I’m saying. Who’d have thought that a margherita and chips could be misinterpreted as a cocktail and crisps, thankfully Sean was there to translate. Unfortunately Sean wasn’t there when I went to get my pre-race haircut in SuperCuts. I ended up with a secondary school bazzer, at least it was only $19, way cheaper than Berlin.

3. Pleasant Wagon

I think Viv’s bus made the day so easy, getting to the start in Hopkinton is a little tricky, everyone else has to get on a Simpsons style school bus in the city to get to the start 26 miles away. Viv knew some guy in a running club so we got a luxury bus ride to the athletes village and could stay on the nice bus right until the end. Everyone else just gets kicked off the school bus to wander around the athletes village drinking and eating stuff that they shouldn’t.

4. Beat Viv Badly

I think that it was very important to beat Viv badly today, Viv is a very kind man, a gentle soul with a delicate constitution and many grievous injuries, however I still had to beat him very badly as I had told his son that I would. I sat beside him on the nice bus to psych him out, I showed him my low heart rate and told him my plan, 18x5:55 then 6:10s home. I think he was rattled, he sat behind me while we did our mile warm up probably practicing what he was going to do in the race. I was a little worried as he’s very good at hills. 

5. Up the Ivory Coast

I think that I should have brought my orange sunglasses with me. I left them behind in the morning as the rain was bouncing off the ground when I was leaving to get the Uber to the bus. Instead I wore an Irish flag headband that I bought at the expo. I’m not sure about the look, it probably would have benefited from sunglasses but I did get lots of shouts. “Up the Dubs”, “Go Lee Valley”, “You got this Italy”. At least no one thought I was wearing a pair of knickers on my head. 

6. Wellesley College 

I think that the Boston course is a lot like the Cork Marathon course except that there are people on the course shouting. Cork is very similar, 16 flat miles then 5 miles of rolling hills with four flat miles home. Perhaps we could create our own girls of Wellesley college with nice signs in Cork, one guy in front of me stopped to kiss five girls, he said it was worth it, I’m not sure if he’d have stopped in Cork, “cmere boi, I wanna shift ya” probably would have scared him away. I didn’t stop. 

7. Cliff

I think I’ve been converted to gels, I took three today, they definitely help especially with the post race badness. The yellow lemon and lime Cliff ones they gave out on the course were almost nice. I’m not sure if it’s placebo but you definitely feel stronger a few minutes after a gel. I’m attributing my lack of apocalyptic badness to the gels too. Gels are great, everyone should take gels, I’ve always been of this opinion. 

8. Strava Destroying Hills

I think that the hills of Boston are very bad for Strava, they ruin your splits, make it look like you blew up, it’s very annoying, I prefer Berlin where you can just cruise and have nice even splits with a nice graph. I knew I’d lose time to Viv in the five rolling miles so I tried to bank some time over the first half. I think I did ok on the hills, never got too far beyond 6:30 pace. I’ll never be a mountain goat like Viv, I’m more like a horse, a bad horse. 

9. Toldo 

I think I should have beaten John Toldo, it’s amazing that you go all the way across the Atlantic to end up racing a guy from a few miles down the road. He passed me at about 10 miles at which point I assumed that he was gone for the day. Then just before Heartbreak Hill he came up behind me and told me that he was after decommissioning a portaloo, I thanked him for this information and we continued on. We stayed together for the next 4 miles right until the last corner when for some reason like a useless greyhound I took a wide outside line around the last corner. He put 15 seconds into me in the last 0.2 of a mile. 

10. The Greatest

I think the finish of Boston has to be the best experience in running, it’s better than Berlin even with the Brandenburg Gate, the noise is incredible, you can almost feel it, I’d love to run it everyday. The entire event is incredible, a great day out, worth every dollar that they shake out of you, especially when you get to beat Viv very badly, like I said I would and did.

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World Cross Country Aarhus

10 Things I Think About The World Cross Country in Aarhus

1. Yes The Same Race

I think this has to be my best bit of blagging ever, much better than airport lounges. I’d seen on LetsRun.com that they were letting “normal” people run in the World Cross Country so long as they had run sub 33:00 for 10k and had €100 so I chanced my arm. I’m not sub 33 so I sent them my Barcelona Half Marathon time by email which they accepted, it’s no where near sub 33 but I didn’t ask any questions when I got an email back saying that I was in. 

2. Lets Run Guy

I think that I felt a little more reassured when I met the guy that Lets Run had entered in a cafe, he was just like me just  with more talent. It’s almost like no one else knew about it, that or they didn’t want to know about it. Who wouldn’t want to run the World Cross Country like?

3. I Really Shouldn’t Be Here

I think I realized that I shouldn’t have been there when I met the Irish Team manager. I told her I was running in the race too. “Yes the same race” She looked at me like I had orange sunglasses on my head. I don’t think she was happy. 

4. No Kenyans Were Harmed 

I think my favorite part of the whole thing was the warm up, it was like being in the dressing room before a match. I warmed up with the other “sub elites”. The organizers had prepared a  lovely little loop around the gardens of an old house. I had to be very careful not to awkwardly injure a Kenyan or Ethiopian when they were passing. We all escaped injury free. 

5. Call Room

I think my favorite part of the whole thing was the call room. I’ve never been in a call room before. A call room is a big tent where you go before the race to put on your spikes and be checked for suitability, everyone has to go in there even the best guys. I was a bit worried that they would have some sort of iPhone fatometer that they would measure me with and tell me to go away. Thankfully fatometers haven’t been invented yet.

6. Can’t See The Top

I think the start line was very scary. They had fire spurting from the top of the gantry which made the air warm sort of like the opposite of the World Championships in Doha. When you looked up from the start line you couldn’t see the top of the hill. It was so so steep and long, I haven’t seen a hill that long and steep since I was on a bicycle. I’m not very good at starting uphill so I was very worried. I was right. 

7. Fun

I think that course was the most fun course that I have ever run on. It was insanely hard, but great fun. It would have been ridiculous even without the water pit, mud pit and sandy bits, they were almost normal when compared to the ridiculous hills. The hill up to the museum was fantastically awful. I’ve never used my arms so much for balance on the downhills. The only thing I would change is that I would make myself talented so that it would have been faster and more fun. 

8. Lebanon

I think that I’m going to have to move to Lebanon if I want to make a repeat appearance at world level. I spent most of the race changing places with a Lebanese guy. I could definitely be a cross country champion in Lebanon. We had a great battle, we caught and passed a Chinese and Indian singlet, I thought I was doing great, Frank and the East Cork Mafia were providing great support. 

9. Your Position has been Eliminated 

I think I was almost happy that they eliminated me from the race. The rule for us sub elite guys was that if we got anymore than 4 minutes or 85% behind the leader then we were going to be eliminated. I almost made it on to the last lap, I got to the top of the hill on the 4th lap. Then just like in the race walking a nasty official in a blue jacket came out and ushered me off the course. I didn’t really object. My Lebanese compatriot was allowed to continue on, I definitely would have beaten him, definitely.

10. Worst in the World.

I think that I’m glad that I finished the race in the end. I got eliminated at the same time as a German guy. Once the leaders had gone by on their last lap, I said to him “sure we can just jump back in here and run through the finish, be grand”. The German guy was having none of it, “It’s against the rules”. I hoped back in and ran the last bit of the race, no one suspected anything because I’d the numbers on, I got lots of sympathetic cheers. It does however mean that I came last, very last, the worst in the world.

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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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