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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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San Silvestre Sevillana 2017

10 Things I Think About The San Silvestre Sevillana 2017

1. Type 4 Fun

I don’t think I need to explain why I’m in Spain again. The weather back home is unsuitable, I don’t like it. I went running in the Ballyhouras on Christmas morning which normally would be enjoyable, on this occasion it was utter misery because of the perma-darkness, semi-freezing rain and howling wind. It wasn’t even type 3 fun, it was type 4 fun, it wasn’t fun and never will be fun.

2. The Disease

I don’t think a human being has ever suffered from as bad a disease as I’ve had this week. I had to take two days off running because my lungs filled up and stopped working. I tried lots of drugs, Sudafed, Actifed, Panadol Night, Exputex, Fluimucil and some random stuff I got in a Spanish pharmacy. Nothing worked. I even tried taking lots of Ventolin like Chris Froome but all this did was make me shake. I was utterly miserable even though I was in Spain, I even fell asleep on a small John O'Connell sized sofa in Conor’s AirBnB which was exceptionally uncomfortable. Thankfully the wine and sun made it better just in time for the race today.

3. Best Disease Ever

I think the fastest way to lose weight is to get a good disease. I think I should bottle my current disease as a weight loss drug. It’s both an appetite suppressant and a metabolic stimulant. If I could tame the minor side effects like incessant barking cough, profuse sweating and shivering then I’d definitely make millions. I was interested to see if I’d run faster today with there being less of me there than usual.

4. Safety Pins

Registering for Spanish races is very difficult, it’s all online and in Spanish, we managed to register two of the four of us that were going to run at the first attempt. Sinead’s registration seemed to get lost in the Spanish internet, and I entered twice instead of entering Conor, thankfully Conor was able to fix everything at the dorsal collection. Safety pins to attach the numbers were not so easy to come by. Safety pins are remarkably hard to buy in Spain, they don’t sell them in shops or pharmacies. I had one from the clockwork orange t-shirt I bought so I used that. They had loads at the start so it wasn’t a problem.

5. Approximados

This was a classic approximados race, everything was approximados. The start time changed from 1800 to 0945 a few days before, the race distance was advertised as 5k. All this meant was that the race wouldn’t start at 0945 and that the race definitely wouldn’t be 5k.

6. Orange Trees

I really really like the weather in Seville at this time of year. It’s perfect. It’s goldilocks weather. It’s not too hot and not too cold, it’s just right. This morning it was about 12degrees and kind of sunny. Perfection. There is no wind in Seville, it doesn’t exist, I think it’s illegal for it to be windy in Seville. I was able to wear my orange sunglasses to match my orange singlet and the oranges on the orange trees. Orange trees are my favorite type of tree.

7. Star Wars

The race started at the Plaza de España, it’s where they filmed a Star Wars film apparently, I’m not sure which one. It’s a very beautiful place to start a race. Unfortunately the race organizers seemed to have forgotten to inform the guardia civil that the race was starting at 0945. In Togher everyone would have died of hypothermia, but instead we just chatted and did some strides to try and intimidate the Spaniards. The guards arrived at around 1010 so it wasn’t too bad.

8. Cherry Cola

We got talking to a Spanish girl called Lola from Granada at the start who saw that we were from Cork because of Michael Herlihy’s beautiful North Cork singlet. She had worked in Cork and knew who Robert Heffernan was, he’s very famous in Spain apparently. She supplied us with some valuable insider information on the course like that it went left after the first roundabout and that it was only 4.2k. This made sense as all the faster looking Spaniards had lined up on the left hand side of the start and looked intent on running very fast. Normally I hate short races but as I was still a bit diseased I was happy to hear that it was only 4.2k. It was like a deci-marathon.

9. The Carrera

I think the Spaniards know how to run passionately. Every single one of them went off at a ridiculously unsustainable pace. I went off boringly because of my disease. There were many triathletes dressed in onesies ahead of me, I just about managed to stay ahead of the giant minion. After about a km they all slowed down and I started passing people which was unusual and only happens in Spain. My disease wasn’t too bad. The km markers were dramatically inaccurate, once we passed the 3k marker, you could see the finish. I wasn’t sure that it was the finish but it was. It was definitely the fastest 5k I’ve ever run. I managed to beat all of the triathletes so it was an acceptable performance.

10. El Campeón

I was very jealous of Sinéad today, she comfortably won the women’s race. As a result she got to stand on the podium and be sprayed with shaving foam by Spanish kids. Conor also got sprayed with shaving foam on the podium for 3rd place which made no sense as he came 6th. They both got excellent Spanish prizes, a voucher for El Corte Ingles, a big trophy and a massive Spanish ham. The local Spanish club ADSevilla were so impressed by Sinead that they tried to poach her. I wish that I was good enough at running that a Spanish running club would try and poach me. I’d love to be poached.

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Despicable Me (and The Minion)

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A Clockwork Orange

National Novice XC 2017

10 Things I Think About The National Novice XC

1. Instruments of Darkness

I think I should have taken the 11pm peasant wagon back to Glanmire on Friday night like I had planned. But sometimes the instruments of darkness win us with honest trifles like a box of quality street and you end up in Reardens at 230am when all the sensible people have gone home in all the taxis. Ah well at least John didn’t leave the key in the door and lock me out on the coldest night of the year.

2. Rest Day

I don’t like taking rest days, I don’t know what to do with the free time. I decided the Novice was worth one. It’s very strange behaviour really because I know it makes me perform better, it’s like having some EPO in your fridge and not bothering to use it ever, ridiculous. I felt fantastic today, ridiculously good, heart rate hit 187 during the race which is way higher than normal, I must have been well rested and very fresh. Supercompensation.

3. Fish Wife

Because I had a rest day on Saturday I had literally nothing to do on Saturday, thankfully I had been locked out of the house on Friday night at 330am so I slept in until 12. For some reason I decided that I needed a bag of chips from the Fish Wife at 630 on Saturday evening, I don’t know why, intuitive eating I think. I normally have pizza from Novocento before a race. I think the rest day might have confused my body. God it was good though, lots of salt. Salt is excellent for running.

4. Froomebutamol

I think I prepared excellently for the race, I got up at 11 had a tower of power and 5 coffees for breakfast. I took my thyroxine, vitamin D and probiotics all washed down with a yakult. Then I had a Fluimucil in some sparking water as I was a bit congested, great stuff that. Before the race I had 2 puffs of the Froomebutamol that I got in Spain. I had an Irish one too but I reckon the Spanish one has to be better. I was definitely under 1000ng/ml.

5. Warm Up

I think that I would run 200 miles a week if I lived in Waterford, not because there’s absolutely nothing else to do there but because they have that beautiful greenway. I did my warm up with Iain and his GAA short wearing friend. I’m pretty sure that wearing GAA shorts in a cross country race is more illegal than wearing sunglasses. It definitely looks more ridiculous.

6. Posers

I was glad to be back on an Irish start line today. There were no Spanish posers with impeccable hair, the closest thing to a Spaniard was probably Denis Coughlan. I couldn’t wear my sunglasses because my lux meter was reading less than 200 which means that with a pair of category 3 sunglasses you’d technically be blind. Mitch wanted to wear his too, it was very disappointing. I had bought new ones in Spain and all.

7. Doubleplusgood

I think cross country is a lot like 1984, you have to learn to love cross country. At the start line all the lads looked terrified like they were about to be sent to Room 101. I don’t think they love cross country. I on the other hand love Big Brother. I’d turn the pain up more if I could, hurt more, hurt better, turn the pain into power. War is Peace, Ignorance is Strength and all that.

8. Course

I think I hate that little evil hill on that course, if they’d take that out of it I’d probably have won, it’s too steep for my long tanned shaved legs. They don’t like it, they told me every lap, screaming they were like a GAA player in February. The main hill was ok I can run on that gradient, the descent was beautiful, I floated down it like a giant gorilla chasing a smaller gorilla.

9. Conor and Others

I think there is no passion in Conor’s running style, it’s like he has been programmed by an excellent software engineer. He pranced past me on the third lap looking like he was running up Raffeen on a Sunday long run listening to John Meade telling excellent stories. It’s horrendously irritating, I really hated him at the time. Then Brian pranced past too in a similarly detached dispassionate manner. It’s almost like he learned from Conor. Ah well at least it helped the team.

10. My Precious

I think I like winning shiny things, we somehow managed to finish as third club team so I got a nice shiny medal. It’s a pity they didn’t have a podium like they do in Spain, that would have looked excellent on Instagram especially as Gearóid Ó Laoi was taking lots of photos. Some year Athletics Ireland should run the Novice in Spain like the NFL play in London, people would like it and I could wear sunglasses. I’d probably still beat Mark Walsh too.

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Lanzarote 10k 2017

10 Things I Think About The Lanzarote Marathon (10k)

1. Alarm Clock

I think this morning was the first time that I was woken by the sound of a marathon starting. I was too lazy to get up and watch it but I did hear it going off. When I finally got out of bed I met a bear that was dressed in exactly the same colours as me. I like bears.

2. The Wheels on The Bus

I think it’s very intimidating getting a bus to the start of a race, I was on my own and everyone else was in groups, it was like being back in school. The bus driver tried to make us sing songs, it was awful at 10 O’Clock in the morning. I dislike buses even more now.

3. Inhaler

I forgot to bring my inhaler with me on the bus to the start. Thankfully this is Spain where drugs are easier to buy than coffee. I simply walked into a pharmacy dressed in a singlet and shorts and asked for salbutamol. That’ll be €2 gracias. Excellent. Problem solved. I should have asked for something stronger.

4. Coffee

I had 2 hours to kill in Arrecife before the start of the 10k so I had a wander round. It’s a gorgeous little town, genuine not fake like the rest of Lanzarote. I went into a coffee shop and ordered a coffee, then uno mas. When I ordered a third the waiter looked at me like I was asking for an inhaler in a pharmacy. I eventually got my third coffee.

5. If you don’t like the Heat in the Kitchen

I think it was too hot to run today. That was why I ran slower than in the cross country last week. Donal Coffey agrees with me. I don’t know how Brian Hegarty ran so fast. It was boiling. Really hot. Nollaigh O'Neill even said so, so it must be true. Really hot, not making excuses like.

6. Hairspray

I think I’m going to have to make more of an effort with my hair in order to run better. The start of the 10k was incredibly stylish, I was definitely the least excellent looking. One guy looked like he had my haircut but had combed each hair individually over the course of many hours and then used hairspray. It looked excellent. He only passed me after 6km though.

7. Drums

I really want to learn the drums after seeing them at the start. They’re fantastic and it looks so much fun to play them. The world definitely needs more drums.

8. Mad Dogs And Spaniards

Despite the ridiculous midday heat I went off like a scalded cat at the start of the 10k and was on the back of the two skinniest Spanish guys in 3rd place after 2k, then I started to overheat and get slower and slower. Every km a well coiffuered Spaniard would pass me in a stylish colourful singlet. It was really annoying.

9. Ultimo Kilometre

Coming into the last kilometre I was about 7th but my central governor was pleading for exit. The heat makes you question why you are running, even Gary Ohanlon said he was thinking of stopping. I kept going anyway but was passed by two more Spaniards. I didn’t care at that point.

10. Barter

After the race I met the nice lady who gave me ultrasound treatment on my knee for free last night before the race. She remembered my name which was nice. They were doing massage so I hopped on the table. It was €20 but I had no money, I said I’d come back later. At the prize giving Brian Hegarty gave me a bottle of wine. When I me met her later I gave her the bottle of wine instead of payment. She seemed very pleased. It must have been expensive wine. Lanzarote wine is really good, trust me.

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Night Before The Lanzarote Half Marathon

10 Things I Think About The Night Before The Lanzarote Half Marathon

1. The Duel in the Sun

I’m very scared of racing Donal Coffey at the moment, he told me he has been doing 5:13 mile repeats on the track, I couldn’t do that.

2. Frozen

I’m so happy not to be frozen at the moment. It’s really nice in Lanzarote, the sun removes all miserable thoughts from your head, everything becomes happy and there’s no frost on your car in the morning. It’s excellent.

3. The Volcanoes

I love running around the volcanoes, they’re fantastic, it’s like running on the moon. They’re so fantastic that I haven’t been able to bring myself to taper. When will I get to run around volcanoes again.

4. The DRN

I have a dancing related niggle, it came on after the Christmas party on Saturday night, my knee is swollen like John O'Connell’s knee. It doesn’t hurt at all running but it looks awful and feels full. I got some free ultrasound from a nice lady at the expo so I should be perfect tomorrow.

5. Radiator

I’m a bit worried about the heat, it would be easier if it was cold like my house at home. I don’t operate well over twenty, my surface area is too small because I’m too big.

6. Teachers

I don’t understand why more people don’t go on holidays in December, it’s fantastic. Everyone on the flight out from Cork was really retired. It must be because everyone else is either a teacher, married to a teacher, going out with a teacher or is looking for a teacher.

7. Moon

I think Lanzarote is like the moon, it’s a good backup plan if the place you’re living in becomes ridiculously cold and inhospitable.

8. Not Belgian Because it’s Cold

It’s very hard to take these races seriously on holidays, when it’s sunny it’s so tempting to have a cerveza or three especially when it’s served in an ice covered glass. I think they serve it that cold to hide the taste. It tastes terrible when warm.

9. Prohibido

I couldn’t believe it today when they wouldn’t let me run in the Parque Timanfaya, it’s prohibido, you can only see it by going on a peasant wagon with a load of old people, like a trip to Knock. What’s the point of a National Park if you can’t run in it. That’s like having a running track and not allowing people to run on it in case they might damage it.

10. The Fight is Off

It probably would have been a good idea to register for the half marathon before getting on the flight to Lanzarote. I kind of forgot, when I went to register over here they said it was full and that only the 10k was left. Not even Nollaigh could fix it. The duel in the sun with Donal Coffey is off, instead I’ve to take on Chema Martinez over 10k.

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National Senior XC 2017

10 Things I Think About The National Senior XC

1. The Hay and the Barn

It causes me great great great pain to say it, but I think Lizzie Lee was right on Thursday. She said the "Hay was in the Barn". She was probably right, sometimes you have to know when you've enough hay. I just like the process of collecting hay a lot.

2. Grudge Match

I think I'll have to pick my targets for these races more carefully. I think they're actually using it as motivation and thriving off it. Conor and Mark Walsh were my targets today. I was confident, I don't know why. Andrew Hobbs found the whole thing so funny he came to watch. Comedy cross country.

3. Bertie Bowl

I think that it's just as well they didn't build the Bertie Bowl in Abbotstown. It can barely cope with a few hundred cross country runners. Imagine if there was actually an event on there. It would make Pairc Ui Caoimh look like it was planned by the Germans. There were cars everywhere.

4. Cold

I really hate the cold. It's terrible. It makes men buy tights on a Saturday evening when they should be doing other things.

5. Ned Flanders

I don't think I'll wear those tights again. There were lots of wandering eyes. The lads just laughed at me, I might take them back to the shop.

6. All Duck or No Dinner

I think the only way to approach the start of this race is to go all in. It's terribly intimidating at the start to see that everyone is way lighter, much fitter and look like they live in the gym. The only way to combat the fear is to pretend that you're just as good, confidence overcomes a lot of problems, it also causes a lot of problems.

7. I Really Shouldn't Be Here

I really enjoyed being up in the top 20 or 30 after about 1 km, it was so so fast, it really really hurt. It was absolutely epic. I really felt out of place, I was right.

8. Don't Look Back in Anger

I thought I was having a great race after 3 laps, Mark Walsh had annoyingly just passed me but I was able to stay with him. There was no sign of Conor and I couldn't hear anyone calling his name behind me. I could have just looked back but that's illegal in cross country. Then I got very tired.

9. Deathbed

The fourth lap of a cross country race is I imagine what it's like to be on your deathbed. It's horrendously painful, you're running out of oxygen, you've lots of regrets, you wish you'd taken more drugs and you wish that you'd tapered, well maybe not the tapering. The last lap is probably like childbirth.

10. Ralph Wiggum

I don't think I've ever been so heartbroken at the end of a race. I was certain that I had beaten Conor badly, then coming into the home straight he appeared over my tall tanned left shoulder. It was really annoying to see that all too familiar sight of his ridiculously perfect running form sprinting away. I bet if there's a video of it you'll be able to see the point where my heart breaks. Ah well at least he didn't gloat...yet.

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Munster Senior XC 2017

10 Things I Think About The Munster Senior Cross Country

1. Glorious Galbally

I think I forgot how beautiful the Galtees are. I think I forgot because they’re normally covered in cloud and you can’t see them. It looked like they were watching the cross country race today, looming in the background. The four of them have probably seen more interesting things over the years.

2. Acceptable in the 80s

I think 100 miles a week is fine while running cross country races. You don’t need to be fresh to run cross country. I was perfect today despite 90 miles before the race. I know I’d probably have won if I’d tapered. Some day I will, be worried Mark Walsh.

3. Niggles

I had but one niggle today, the dreaded fourth toe blister. A terrible niggle to carry. It looks like my toe has a hood. It doesn’t hurt when I run fast so it was fine. This was probably my favourite niggle ever. Everything else was perfect.

4. Dreams vs Reality

I think it’s important to get good sleep before a race. I got nearly 10 hours last night. 10 hours means a lot of dreaming. I dreamt about lots of stuff. In one of the dreams I died crashing off a mountain road in Font Romeu. I hope this doesn’t happen. I’m too young to die, I haven’t even gotten the chance to run old man cross country.

5. Oakley not Coakley

I think it was a good idea to buy proper sunglasses. I bought a set of Oakleys with prism lenses at Kildare Village (I had to buy something). They amplify green and brown for trail running. It’s not marketing nonsense, they work. As normal I was the only fool wearing sunglasses at the start, however I knew that the sun was just hiding. After two laps sunglasses were almost essential. The sun is great. I felt stronger once the sun came out.

6. Semenya

As usual there was no timetable for the race so you had no idea when it was going to start. Poor Andrew was there at 11am Myself and John Shine arrived at 1230 and soon realised that the race was not going to start before 3. That’s a lot of time to kill in Galbally, it’s not exactly Ennis. Thankfully my home is 5 minutes from Galbally. I hadn’t been home in almost 6 months anyway. Unfortunately there was no one at home except Caster the cat. I made some Nespresso and caught up with the cat. This didn’t take long.

7. Plural of Chesser

I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a strong field at a cross country race. There were lots of Chessers and every runner in East Cork. I really feared finishing last. It was very scary.

8. Turn 8

I think the course was like a Herman Tilke F1 track. Probably Istanbul, although I’d say it was designed by someone from Galbally. Unfortunately the muck made it very slow. It had particularly deep, dangerously malevolent muck. I nearly fell many times, so did everyone else.

9. Humble Soup

I was very happy to administer a bad beating to Vivian Foley after he humiliated me in Berlin. He never even got close to me. It was an utter annihilation. It was so bad that he had to get soup from the organisers immediately afterwards to recover from the shock. I plan to administer a similar beating in Berlin next year.  I don’t think they’ll give him soup in Berlin though.

10. Carwash

I think I should have visited the car wash after the last cross country race in Clare. I definitely transferred Clare muck to Galbally. It might make the ground better for hurling. I transferred the combined Clare-Galbally muck to the Esso car wash in Mitchelstown. My spikes are immaculate for €1. John was very impressed. His spikes are shining too, just like the bronze team medal we got. Bloody Chessers and East Cork.

 Andrew Sheehan, Myself and John Shine. Eric Curran had gone home.

Andrew Sheehan, Myself and John Shine. Eric Curran had gone home.

Palma Beach 10k 2017

10 Things I Think About The II Palma Beach Running Course 10k

1. Jerry Kieran is Right

I think lunch in a Michelin starred restaurant the day before a race is very bad preparation for a race, lunch in a Michelin starred restaurant followed by a three course dinner in a Belgian restaurant that specialises in Belgian beer is exceptionally bad preparation. I woke up this morning feeling like one of the GAA players that Jerry Kieran was ranting about yesterday, big, heavy and not very mobile.

2. Orval

I think Orval is my favourite beer. It's absolutely perfect, I should have just had another one instead of asking the crazy Belgian guy what he'd recommend. "Ah zee Westmalle Triple, excellent beer".

3. Scorchio

I actually needed sunglasses today. I don't think you could have run the race without them. I wore my orange ones because I like them. The sun is brilliant, it makes your head happy and your skin brown. I like the sun a lot.

4. German Santa Ponsa

I know I like Germany and Spain but the two combined together is an apocalyptic vision. The race was on in a German version of Santa Ponsa just down the coast from Palma. It was horrendous, like Youghal on a sunny day with lots of retired Germans. All the signs were in German and the people were waiting at the traffic lights even though nothing was coming.

5. Queue

I think I knew that the race was not being run by Germans when I saw the queue for registration. It was very Spanish and very long.

6. The Parade Ring

I think it's great fun to wander around the start trying to figure out who's any good. It's not as simple as pick out the skinny ones. It's like picking horses in the parade ring, you've to check for conditioning. I asked one of the locals who le meilleur was, he understood my French, but he didn't know who el mejor was. He said the race would be won in 3:15kms, he was right, he didn't seem to think I was any good, he was right.

7. Start

Unsurprisingly due to the Spanish queue the race started 10 minutes late, no one really cared because it was sunny and you don't care about these things when it's sunny. Due to feeling like a GAA player I had no interest in taking the lead and decided to follow the leaders and sit in like people always tell me to. I couldn't even do that though so I settled for what felt fast which was about 6th place.

8. Traffic Cones

I think the Mallorcans may have contracted out the placing of the traffic cones that marked the two turning points at either end of the course to one of the many Germans in the area because it was exactly precisely 10k. Either that or it was pure luck.

9. The Sprint

I spent the whole race chasing a guy in a blue t-shirt who had clearly gone off too fast, he was coming back to me the whole race. I thought I was going to repeat my heroics from last weekend and outsprint someone again. I tried my best but there was no response. My sprinting superpower just doesn't work on the road, it needs grass or muck or both.

10. Majorly Spained

I thought I was going to get to stand on the podium today. I really like podiums, the photos look fantastic on Instagram. They had loads of trophies so I thought I'd a chance having finished 6th because there were lots of fast old men running. I asked one of the Spaniards if I had won anything. He showed me a sheet with my name in second place in the senior men category and said to wait one hour for the prizes. I waited and waited and waited while all the trophies disappeared, there was no trophy for me. I didn't really care mainly because it was sunny and hot, the sun makes everything better even a good Spaining.

Palma 10k Start.jpg

Munster Novice Cross Country 2017

10 Things I Think About The Munster Novice Cross Country

1. Clarecastle

I think Clarecastle is a beautiful place, it’s like the Glanmire of Ennis. They have a big Centra and a river that looks like it floods a lot. There’s a pub called The Castle too. It’s very pretty. I’d still rather live in Glanmire though.

2. Yucky Mucky

I think I was the only one there today that was actually looking forward to the muck. It probably needed more rain to be honest. The muck was absolutely fantastic, utter misery, never the same pace, slow fast, slow fast, surging and searching for lines. It’s a different type of running. It’s like Formula 1 in the wet, a good driver in a rubbish car can suddenly be the fastest.

3. Badly Behaved Boy

I think that the more I try and not care about these races the better I run. Voodoo Rooms on a Friday night has to stop. I don’t even like it, it can’t be good for running. At least I went to Badly Drawn Boy beforehand to get some culture.

4. Performance Enhancing Spikes

I think I need to get a new pair of spikes. They really don’t last more than a year. It was a big mistake to stuff them with J-cloths last year and then leave them in the boot of the car for 12 months fermenting in a bag. I reckon the green mould that grew on the J-cloths is some sort of performance enhancing drug. I might try and isolate it in the lab.

5. Fang Club

I think it was a good idea to stay out of the mosh pit in Cypress Avenue the night before the race. It looked like great fun, a lot like the start of the race today, lots of pushing, pulling and dragging for no particular reason. Nothing like a bit of grunge to get you amped up before race. It’s good stuff.

6. War Paint

I think it was a bad idea to try and daub some local muck on my face before the race. I couldn’t wear my sunglasses so I decided on a bit of war paint just to try and intimidate the others at the start. I now understand why a mirror is very important when applying make-up as I just looked like baby who’d enjoyed a chocolate ice-cream on Ash Wednesday. I think I’ll stick to the sunglasses or actually use war paint.

7. West Cork Mafia

I think I was really worried after 200m of the race. Normally I’d be well clear but today I was back in about 15th after picking a bad line into the first corner. I quickly figured out where the dry line was in by the ditch and caught up to the early leader Denis Coughla. I knew Denis wouldn’t last more than 1500m, I was right.

8. Super Domestique

I think it was a pleasure to work in the service of Mark Wals today. I felt like a member of Team Sky working for Bradley Wiggins in the Tour De France, burying myself for my leader on the front and then pulling over on the final climb with 400m to go. I even shouted “Go Mark Go”. All I was short was a team radio with Donie shouting into my ear, “Dats grand now”. Some day I might be good enough to get my own domestique. I could be the next Chris Froome.

9. Height Matters

I don’t think I’ve ever been beaten by someone who was way taller than me. I’ve been beaten by fatter, smaller, shorter and wider but never way taller. That guy from Ennis Track must be 6’6. Logic would suggest that the muck would favour the short skinny stumpy runner but it seemed to be the big lumps like me that prospered today. I’ve no idea why. It makes no sense. Perhaps it’s because it was on in Clare, things are different up there.

10. Rocket Fuel

I don’t think I’ve ever beaten anyone in a sprint finish before. I’m normally utterly hopeless. I thought all my work today on the front was in vain as I’d dropped to fourth coming into the last 200m. The Ennis giant was uncatchable in second but I sensed that Conor O’Mahony from An Riocht was vulnerable in third. I waited until we were just entering the home straight to launch my vicious kick. I don’t know where the huge kick came from but I bounded past like a rather large gazelle. The Satzenbrau from Friday night must be rocket fuel, I’ve no other explanation.

Conor and I Munster Novice.jpg

Cork County Senior Cross Country 2017

10 Things I Think About The County Senior Cross Country

1. Misery

I think I still love cross country. I really love the misery. God it's great, absolute pure pain and suffering. No cash prizes, just medals, pride and beating people. It's perfect. I was trying to explain it to Mitch on the drive up. I think he understands now. Hopefully they won't cancel it like Ballycotton. That would be awful. I don't think I'd have any reason to live in the country if both were gone. I'd probably move to Spain or Germany if they did.

2. Marathon

I think I would have beaten Mark Hanrahan if I hadn't run the Berlin Marathon two weeks ago. You're supposed to take many weeks off after a marathon. If people are right (and they normally are) then it's absolutely amazing that I was able to walk let alone run today. I have however mastered the debadification process after three marathons. Drink and eat recklessly for three days in Berlin, run 5 miles on the Thursday, 5 on the Friday, 10 on Saturday and then back to normal. Drinking definitely helps, the alcohol kills all the damaged muscle fibres.

3. Leave Before the Lights Come On

I think it's a good idea to leave Voodoo Rooms at 1am on the Friday before the county senior cross country. Any later and you might do something silly like lose your phone and want to cancel all your bank cards.

4. Polytunnels

I think that it's important to do something on the Saturday before a big race to take your mind off the imminent pain and misery. A tour of the polytunnels in the gardens of UCC with John Meade, Conor and John took my mind right off the cross country. I have a new appreciation for polytunnels after it.

5. Palmetto

I don't think I've ever run badly the day after a pizza at Palmetto. It must be the healthy sourdough base. It doesn't matter if you have beer or cider with it, it's excellent fuel for running. I had San Pellegrino this time and it still worked. I still prefer Novocento though.

6. The List

I think it's important to have a list of names of people that you'd like to beat in a race. I had a nice list, some were in red, underlined. It's not a list of hate, it's a list of respect. If you want to beat someone it means that you respect them. I hope that I'm on other people's lists if they're mad enough to have a list.

7. Tool

I think I looked like a tool running around a farmers field in Conna with a pair of orange sunglasses on. Well Mark Walsh said I did. They didn't even match my singlet. I'm pretty sure the conservative cross country crowd didn't approve. There's probably some county board by-law against sunglasses in races. There seems to be one against everything else. I did have a reason for wearing them though as on the warm up with Michael Herlihy I noticed that the orange tinting definitely helped distinguish the cow shit from the green grass on the course. Marginal gains and all that.

8. Start

I think my starting procedure for cross country is perfect. Everyone else seems to think it's mad. Someone even shouted at me to calm down this time. They're definitely right for road races but in a cross country race you need to be up the front. The places don't change much after a lap. Plus I was the only one to see that Mark Hanrahan very nearly fell and broke his ankle at the first corner. I think he was worried about me, not that I'd beat him, just worried.

9. John Meade

I was very happy to finally beat John Meade. It was more of an annihilation than a bad beating. It has been approximately 2786 days since I last beat John Meade, it was cross country then too. He tried to pass me after 3 laps but I was having none of it and immediately crushed his rebellion like a Spanish policeman in Barcelona. I think I should retire now. Although I'd like to beat him again. I really like beating John Meade because he's really really good.

10. East Bloody Cork

I think I don't like East Cork. They're very good at cross country races. We had about a million runners, they had about five and they still won. It's not fair. I don't know how they do it. It's like North Korea beating the USA in a war. That should never happen.

Cork Senior XC Start.JPG

Berlin Marathon 2017

10 Things I Think About The Berlin Marathon 2017

1. The Snip

I think I'm going to avoid Vivian Foley for a while. I'm very scared. He beat me badly today in the marathon (seven seconds). I had been promising all week that I would beat him badly again like I did in Churchtown South. The forfeit proposed at dinner last night was that I would get the snip if I lost. I really don't want to get the snip, it sounds very painful and it might impact my running.

2. Chariots of Fire

I didn't think that I would ever end up actually racing someone in a marathon but I did. I really wanted to beat Vivian today, primarily because I was afraid of the snip but also because of pride. We had a great race long battle although he did sit on me for the sum total of 41.8 kilometres before unleashing a vicious kick. The finish was like the end of a stage of the Tour de France, the two of us striding down towards the Brandenburg Gate side by side. In fairness we did agree that we would stay together until then for a dramatic sprint, we even fist bumped. Sprinting at the end of a marathon is a very bad idea, things can easily tear. I wisely decided to save myself for the XC. I can always beat him then. I hope I don't regret not sprinting.

3. Familiar Faces

I think it's reassuring to see so many people you know while running a marathon. It gives you a great gauge of how bad or good you're running. I was delighted to see Derek Griffin at 20k, I knew then that I was running ok. I was going to ask him if his glutes were firing but I didn't as I didn't want to spend the next 22k debating the rights and wrongs of sports medicine, that's what Twitter is for. I also tried to beat Derek but failed miserably. I'll add him to the list for future beating.

4. Baldricks Cunning Plan

I think it's safe now to reveal the cunning reason why I drink San Pellegrino sparking water during my long runs. It's because it makes you exceptionally good at burping. I bet no one else practiced burping before the marathon. When you're forced to drink water from a cup like you have to in Berlin, burping is an essential skill. I reckon I cut at least a minute off my time by being a brilliant burper. Although I didn't have to rely entirely on the cups of water thanks to Ian O'Leary and Ronan's daughter Aisling who had lovely bottles with sports caps out on the course. There was no repeat of the John O'Connell mouldy water incident thankfully.

5. Seagulls

I think my pre-race breakfast of three bananas, peanut butter and countless rice cakes (at least 10) was ingenious. You don't need to take gels if you can regurgitate your breakfast continuously throughout the race. Even at 40k I could still burp and taste rice cakes, bananas and peanut butter. This made me extremely confident that I wasn't running out of energy. I was right. Who needs gels when you can be a human seagull.

6. Continental Tyres

I think I know why Kipchoge ran such a bad time and couldn't break the world record. It was because of the rain last night. The roads were actually really slippy and oily, especially the busy roads. It probably doesn't matter when you're 80kg and wearing Brooks Ghosts, but I'd say being 50 something kg and wearing Nikes which don't have Continental Tyre technology like the Adidas shoes makes a huge difference. A big German conspiracy. Adidas probably made it rain last night. Next they'll have wet and dry shoes like in Formula 1. They'll double sales immediately. I should patent it.

7. Spain

I still think Spain is a great country. I followed two Spanish guys from Madrid to the start when I got the U-Bahn in the wrong direction by mistake. I was a bit worried about following Spanish people because they're normally not the most reliable but they got me right to the start without delay. In truth I really only trusted them once I saw German people wearing ponchos going in the same direction. I was wrong to doubt them. Spain is brilliant.

8. The Jagged Key

I think I have some sort of curse hanging over me regarding keys to apartments and Berlin. In the last three trips to Berlin someone has lost a key. Today it was my turn. I put the key in the pocket of my trusty Saucony short shorts before the start. I checked that there were no holes. Unfortunately it was a particularly jagged key. I think the jaggedness combined with the sweatiness and jostling over the course of a marathon resulted in it cutting itself free. I rang the owners of the apartment using a phone from a volunteer in the finishing pen after the marathon. Unfortunately the owners of the apartment don't have a spare key as some other fool lost the original key the week before and I actually had the spare. They did kindly leave me in to the apartment with the master key so that I wouldn't die but told me not to leave. As a result I'm stuck in the apartment, sitting in the bath hoping that a German locksmith will work on a Sunday. This would never happen in Spain.

9. Hypothermia

I think cold misty rain is brilliant for running a marathon but absolutely terrible immediately after the marathon. The race was like one of those rare cold calm misty murky beautiful Sunday mornings in Blackrock where running is effortless. It's not so nice when you stop and have to walk 4km back home after running 42km, I'd much rather have gotten back into my car and gone for coffee. I had the cheek to ask for a second rain poncho after the race because I was a little cold and it was raining. They literally had millions of them but no the old stern German woman policing the ponchos said "Entschuldigung, Nein". I really could have used that extra poncho. This would never happen in Spain.

10. The Science of Running

I think Ronán Boland has a fantastic marathon training group. He's like a Cork Steve Magness. Scientific training applied holistically but also great fun. Everyone of the guys he coaches ran brilliantly today including himself. Even better they're really nice guys, even if they do threaten to give you the snip. I better not drink too much beer just in case they were serious. That's if I ever get let out of the apartment.

Berlin 2017 25.jpg