Cork County Senior Cross Country 2019

10 Things I Think About The County Senior XC

1. Who's Fault Was It

I think that when something doesn’t go as planned it’s always important to find out who’s fault it was. It was probably Mark Walsh’s fault that North Cork won the county senior. Although it’s probably my fault too for not beating Michael Herlihy like I’d planned. 

2. Badness

I think that two weeks is just about enough time to recover after a marathon. I had badness in my legs up until at least Thursday. It was subtle badness, the sort that reminds you its there when you wake up in the morning with sore legs despite doing very little, it seemed to be almost completely cured by an 8 mile run on Saturday morning. 

3. Where are my Spikes

I think that the environmentalists would not be happy with the number of new spikes on display. It’s not because the spikes don’t last it’s just that after the last cross country race of the year everyone forgets to clean them, throws them into a bag and forgets about them for at least 9 months. My tip is to stop at the car wash at the way home, put in a Euro, and power wash your spikes back to new. It really works.

4. Put Down Your Vaporflys 

I think I was a little surprised that there was not a single Vaporfly on display, especially after Kipchoge in Vienna, you’d think there’d be at least one fool. Conor and Mark had spikes that looked like Vaporfly spikes but disappointingly they were just regular non cheating spikes. 

5. Labels for Numbers

I think that the county senior cross country is the only race that uses labels for numbers. The problem with the labels is that they don’t really stick as they’re just regular labels. It’s even more of a problem when Donal Coffey takes your number by mistake and sticks it onto his singlet. Thankfully when you run as many races as I do there are always at least three safety pins somewhere in the car. 

6. Six is the Limit

I think that we had to run two many laps. Six laps is the absolute maximum that the brain can cope with. We had seven, one small and 6 long. It’s a lot of laps, it feels like it’ll never end. I even looked at my watch at one stage, not because I wanted to know what pace I was going but to see how long could possibly be left. 

7. Start

I think the startline was very intimidating, everyone on the line was a good runner. You’d almost be worried that you might end up coming last, especially when you have come last before. That’s why I made sure to go off good and fast because at least then you get some confidence that the marathon badness is gone.

8. The First Small Lap

I think that Tim, Sean and Ryan were at a different level to everyone else. I couldn't even stay with them for a few hundred metres. They were gone, it would have been nice if they'd been a little more cagey as I'd planned on using them to get a big gap on Michael and Conor. I never even got a gap on Conor he seems to have learned how to run cross country. 

9. Not Mike Again

I think I’ll never get the better of Michael. It’s a repeating pattern at this stage. I go off hard, get a big gap after about four laps then like some sort of preprogrammed monster he tracks me down relentlessly before dispatching me with a lap to go. I think he really enjoys showing how useless I am. 

10. The Curious Incident of Mark and the Number of Laps 

I think that those extra laps cost us the team title. Poor Mark got the number of laps wrong. In fairness it was a little confusing when the guy with the mic said there was two laps to go when there were three left. At the end of what was actually the second last lap I saw Mark up ahead sprinting past Mikey and Paul Moloney, then he tried to turn into the finishing straight only to find it taped off. He tried to burst through the tape like a dog trying to get through a patio door but it was hopeless. He tried to get going again but that was the end of Mark and the end of our team title. It’s almost grounds for a rerun, almost.

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Berlin Marathon 2019

10 Things I Think About The Berlin Marathon 2019

1. Too Confident 

I think that if I had a press conference before Berlin I’d have been like one of those boxers saying “I’m in the best shape of my life, I’ll definitely smash John, Donal and Conor’s P.Bs, definitely, and on a perfect day I’ll take Michael’s too”. Unlike the boxers I wouldn’t have been lying, covering up a litany of terrible injuries to be unveiled only after the inevitable terrible loss. I was perfect, nothing wrong, no niggles, nothing. Unfortunately I beat nobody, well perhaps I’m faster than John Meade now, I’m not sure. 

2. Plagues and Pestilence 

I think that they should move Berlin to March. There are far too many plagues going around the place in early September. I caught a horrible disease in the dark, wet and cold doing the last 3 mile session before the marathon. I could almost pinpoint the moment the disease beat down my depressed immune system. It wasn’t a vicious disease but it was quite horrible probably a category 3 headcold, a barbed wire throat and a drippy nose. I used Strepsils and that Vicks First Defence Spray which I always thought was nonsense. The nasal spray just drove the disease into my sinuses and gave me a pain when I moved my head. Friday was definitely it’s peak, 5 miles on Friday with a sore head was no fun at all. 

3. The Cure for a Headcold

I think that the only cure for a headcold is sleep, lots of sleep. I normally like sleeping a lot but it feels like a terrible waste in Berlin when you could be doing excellent walking tours and visiting all of the Museums. To try and cure the disease I limited myself to one walking tour and no museums until after the race. I think it worked. I woke up Sunday morning feeling acceptable at worst a category 1 headcold. 

4. Parade Ring

I think I knew it wasn’t going to be a great day after 5k. I was sweating like a bad horse in the parade ring before a race. It wasn’t normal sweat, it was sick sweat, the sort of sweat that makes you feel wet and cold. I didn’t feel particularly generally terrible so I decided I was fine and kept going. I had no niggles so that probably helped, a niggle would have been way worse. 

5. Where’s My Bottle

I think I did a good impression of a large tall baby at 12km. Ronán and Lisa had kindly offered to give me a bottle and a gel at 12k and 32k. When I got to the roundabout at 12k I only saw Lisa on the left but she had no bottle for me. I was a little upset until Lisa pointed at Ronan who was jogging along on the other side with my bottle and gel. Once you starting using gels you start looking forward to your feed so to think for even a few seconds that it’s not going to happen is enough to trigger an upward lip movement. 

6. Trust in Trust

I think that I should have trusted Trust from Kilkenny instead of passing him during the race. I have run with him nearly every year in Berlin and I’d seen on Strava that he was probably in better shape than me. If I’d any sense I’d have just sat behind and ran along at his pace but my head just can’t cope with sitting, it always wants more. Instead I went after the first German lady so I could get on German TV. This plan did work in that I got on TV, but Trust put 3 minutes in me by the end. 

7. Viv of the Vaporflys 

I think it was a terrible pity that Viv was unable to run. He was struck down with a terrible injury the week before the race (almost certainly Vaporfly related). I know that he would have beaten me very badly given recent form, instead he was reduced to handing me a bottle and a gel at 21.5k. I felt very sorry for him. I’d prefer to have had a go at beating him. I think I’d have run better if Viv had run. It wasn’t the same without my enemy. 

8. Unscheduled Pitstop

I think that I need to figure out what is upsetting my stomach in Berlin. My stomach is normally well able to contain a marathon. Boston and Cork were perfect but Berlin has caught me two years in a row now. I thought I’d be fine because I’d executed the normal coffee protocol very well before the race. I’d even stopped eating at 7pm the night before the race to give it plenty of time. I felt perfect until about 32k, then the urge started coming in waves of increasing amplitude until I knew I wouldn’t make it home. I found a portaloo at 34k and made a 22 second pit stop (the splits are on Garmin). Stopping that late in the race is a very, very bad idea. I’d probably have been better off using the urge as a motivation to get home quicker. If Viv had of been running there’s no way I’d have stopped. 

9. Another Gear

I think that Viv was very wrong when he was telling me I had another gear left when he met me with a lovely water bottle at 38k. The only gear I’d left was get home gear. It was very bad, that horrible trudge where every time you look at your watch you’ve lost another second off the average pace but there’s nothing you can do about it just get to the finish. The marathon is an irritating race, I don’t think I’ve ever met a runner who was truly happy and content with their time. Everyone always thinks they could go a bit faster, always, everyone. 

10. Bekele the Traitor 

I think that it would have been brilliant if Bekele was still an Adidas athlete and had gotten within two seconds of Kipchoge in normal non cheating shoes. I assumed that he was still an Adidas man so I was already picturing the throngs of fools outside the Adidas shop on Monday morning to buy the new shoes. Then I found out that even the great Kenenisa had been corrupted by the Vaporflys and instead I was the fool stood outside the Nike shop on Monday morning. The pink ones are nice, they even have my size now. Let the cheating begin.

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Zwentendorf Donaulauf 2019

10 Things I Think About The Zwentendorf Donaulauf 2019 

1. It’s Pronounced Nuclear

I think every town has something it’s known for. I didn’t know anything about the unused Nuclear plant in Zwentendorf until Friday when I was buying hipster coffee after a run in Vienna. The hipster coffee guy asked was I doing a race. I said that I was running a race in Zwentendorf. “Ah with the Nuclear Plant”. I was interested in a walking tour but they’re only on Fridays and sold out miles ahead. Next time. 

2. Stock Photo

I think it was safe to assume that the photo that was used to promote the Donalauf in rural Austria was a stock photo taken from Ireland. When I googled the race it looked a little odd to see Mick Clohisey in a Raheny singlet in the photo used to promote the race. I presumed that they’d taken a photo from a race in Ireland to use in promotion. Sure what would Mick Clohisey be doing in Zwentendorf.

3. Mini Cooper

I think that I might have to get a convertible Mini Cooper. We had to rent a car for the day to get to the race in Zwenendorf outside Vienna. I got an upgrade to a convertible Mini. At first I was horrified but it surprised me in how excellent it was. It was even orange like my sunglasses. Rhona said that I looked like a boss in it.

4. Donal-lauf 

I think that the main reason I was interested in running in Zwentendorf was that the race was called the Donalauf, who wouldn’t want to try and win a race with their name in it. It would have made a great story. 

5. Hauptlauf 

I think that I was a little nervous about the race being 6 times around a lap of just over a mile per lap. I was worried that lapped runners would be in the way. As it turned out it was perfect, a beautiful almost perfectly flat route with a lovely view of the Danube. The weather was even better, sunny and over 20 degrees. 

6. Mick Clohisey

I think I’d like it if in 7 years time the organisers of the race remember me like they remembered Mick Clohisey. Before the start the guy with the mic broke from his German spiel to welcome his two Irish guests Rhona and Donal. We even got a cheer. He asked if we knew the “great Irish runner Mick Clohisey”. I said we did even if I’ve never met Mick in my life.

7. McDonalds

I think you shouldn’t judge a runner by his t-shirt. It upset my brain to see a guy wearing a red t-shirt with McDonald’s on the back sprinting away at the start. He went off at a ridiculous Spanish style pace. I didn’t even try and follow because it was a very crazy pace and Ronan wouldn’t be surprised if I got injured being stupid in a small road race two weeks before Berlin. I arrogantly presumed that the McDonald’s t-shirt would come back to me if I just ran steady. I was wrong, lap after lap he just got further away, McDonald’s must be good. At least the guy with the Vaporflys on the start line was no-where to be seen. 

8. Coakley Donal

I think that laps are a great idea for road races, it creates a great atmosphere running past the start/finish line six times. It’s very excellent to have your name called out every time you cross the line, I particularly liked the Austrian order and pronunciation of my name, The Coakley Donal, much better.

9. Ludwig

I think that dogs should be allowed into every prize giving. Despite the almost Spanish style weather the podium and prize giving was inside in a parish hall, it was almost Irish except that everything was really well built and well finished. While waiting for the prizes we made friends with an Austrian dog called Ludwig. There is no language barrier with dogs, he even gave us a kiss. 

10. Happy Hamper

I think that it’s a terrible shame that I can’t bring some of the prizes home with me. I got to go on the podium twice. Once for winning the M30 category for which I got a medal and once for coming second overall. For second I got the Austrian equivalent of massive SuperValu hamper. We tried to give it to Ludwig but he was gone so we brought it back to the hotel and gave it to the housekeeper. She was delighted with it. Mick Clohisey didn’t have to worry about what to do with a hamper in 2012 as he only came fourth. Perhaps the Austrians will remember me yet.

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Dingle Half Marathon

10 Things I Think About The Dingle Half Marathon 

1. Sold Out 

I think that all these sold out races are becoming a big problem. It was much better when you could easily enter the week before or just rock up on the day. Now everything is sold out months in advance. I only decided to do Dingle this week because Viv was doing it and I couldn’t face doing a session on my own. It was easier to get into the World Cross County than it was to get into the Dingle Half.

2. John “Dingle” Meade

I think that John Meade was genuinely scared that I was going to come to Dingle and steal his win with Viv. I sent him a message during the week asking if he knew anyone in the organization that I could contact about getting an entry. He said he knew nobody and sent me the generic email address from the website which I’d already gotten a PFO from. Instead I put a post on a Facebook group looking for an entry where I got offered about 50 entries. I bought one and sent another email asking if I could swap the number which they said I could. 

3. Sold Out Again

I think that it was nice to book a hotel over the phone rather than on the internet. On the internet Dingle was sold out of hotels just like the race. After my entry experience I presumed that this wasn’t true so I rang a few hotels. After a few phone calls I found a place across the road from the start and even got to do a bit of haggling. I miss haggling. 

4. 6E+13.1MP+1E

I think that Dingle is a long way to go to do marathon session. We were supposed to do 18 miles with 14 miles at MP in Cork which became a 6 mile warm up, the Dingle Half marathon at MP and a one mile warm up. During the 6 mile warm up Viv was whinging a lot, he was worried that he wouldn’t be able to do the MP. He told me not to wait for him if he died. I knew this was nonsense, especially when we got back to the car and he changed into his luminous Vaporflys.

5. He Always Wins, He Always Lies

I think that John Meade told lies to me during the week about not knowing anyone in Dingle. On the start line one of the organizers came straight over to him and thanked him for coming back. They were on first name terms, very friendly, possibly even Facebook friends. You’d almost think that he was worried about me and Viv getting entries. When the race started Meade sprinted off, I jogged alongside him for a while to torment him but he was intent on going away from us very fast. When we settled into MP one of the other guys in the group said “That’s John Meade up the road isn’t it?, He always wins, there’s no point in trying to follow him”. 

6. Mountains

I think I know why John Meade loves Dingle, it’s like he designed the route, it’s not even slightly ever flat, constantly rolling, never crazy hilly, just never flat. It’s a stunning route, I can understand why it’s in the Lonely Planet guide especially on a day like we had.

7. Bold Viv

I think that this was the first time that I had to give out to Viv. He was very bold during the race. Because he had the Vaporflys on the whole MP thing was just too easy for him. He spent from mile 4 to mile 8 running 10 meters in front of me and two other guys constantly looking back like we were a group of small children slowing him down on his run. I had to tell him to “I don’t care if you want to race and run away from us but don’t sit 10 meters in front of us”. I think this confused the other guys in the group because we were quickly down to just one other guy. 

8. The Gels Don’t Work

I think that the only problem with using a race as training is when you have the chance to finish 2nd and 3rd but there’s another guy that you just can’t drop. We had company up until mile 11, the other guy had been getting dropped and getting back on all day, when he reached for a gel at the bottom of the last climb I pushed on and Viv followed without any encouragement. I wasn’t sure we’d dropped him but as Viv was running looking behind him I was getting instant time checks from Viv. 

9. 1.1 Mile Race

I think I knew I wouldn’t beat Viv in a 1.1 mile race. It really wasn’t a race as Viv was far more comfortable than me at MP, ridiculously comfortable, I just followed his luminous shoes down the hill into the finish happy to be third and on the podium. John Meade was waiting at the finish delighted with his win. 

10. Podium

I think that it was nice to have an entirely Cork podium in Kerry. Viv was late which is unusual but I got them to wait for him so that we could take photos. We got a lovely bottle of champagne, a trophy, a little money plus most importantly free entry to next years race. Next year I’ll beat John Meade in a pair of Vaporflys. Nothing can stop me.

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The John Buckley Sports 10 Miler

10 Things I Think About The John Buckley Sports 10 Miler

1. Contrarian Luddite

I think that the longer I hold out against the Vaporfly plague the better. I’m borderline obsessed with the things at this stage, they’re to me what electric cars are to Michael Herlihy. I have watched every conceivable YouTube video and I’m a member of every Facebook group, I’m happy to watch the expensive clinical trial unfold at the moment. I really really hope they cause permanent sudden onset idiopathic irreversible achilles tendinitis after 200 miles. Remember the Vibrams. 

2. Prorogued

I think that Saturday evening races are terrible, I wish I had been working, 8pm with work is fine, waiting around all day for 6pm with nothing to do is torture. I slept until 11, got up slowly, had many coffees, a croissant and porridge in the Bookshelf and then walked around town. Then I had more coffee and another croissant before collecting the number and pointlessly driving back home to drink more coffee before going back to warm up. It would have been much better if we’d just gotten it out of the way at 10am. 

3. Plunder and Pillage

I think that there will always be someone who is more insane than you. I thought that I was great by not really tapering for races but then Jonathan told me his plan for his holiday to Ireland, 4 races in 4 days. It’s completely brilliant turning up for a 10 mile race having won a 5 miler and a 5k on the two days before. To make it even better he got up Sunday and drove to Drogheda for another 5k. He ended up with three wins and a second. You know you’re doing the right thing whenever everyone else thinks you’re insane. JEP is a hero. We need more JEPs. 

4. Prefontaine

I think that I’m getting the hang of these longer races. I used to always worry that no one would go fast at the start and that we’d all end up running slow so I would always make sure that it wasn’t too slow. I now understand that you don’t have to run off the line like Prefontaine. It’s ok to just wait a few seconds and then follow someone reliable like Michael Morgan. 

5. Think

I think that the best thing about 10 mile road races is that you have the time and capacity to think, you can take your time, there’s no real panic in the first mile or the second mile, you just find someone like Joe Cunningham and sit behind him in the windy bit because you know he’s worried about not running sub 55. Don’t look at the watch just go by feel and listen to everyone else worry about being 5 seconds faster than planned. 

6. 10 Mile Pace

I think that the best thing about 10 mile road races is how it feels after about 4 miles. It’s so nice to be bouncing along the road with a swarm of Vaporflys thinking this is grand and easy isn’t it, I’m going to show them all today, I could go much faster if I had to. There’s a great temptation to surge to the front of the group and show how everyone how great your are. I learnt that lesson 10 years ago in Ballycotton trying to run away from a big group, in 10 milers you sit and wait with your cards well hidden. 

7. Discharged 

I think that it’s amazing how quickly the 4 mile feeling disappears in a 10 miler. I knew it would get horrible eventually but I was hoping it would only be horrible for a mile. Instead it got very horrible at mile 6 out along the water. I was doing my best to hang onto the Vaporfly shod trio of Viv, Mike and Joe. It was mesmerizing to watch the six luminous feet dance away from me. I knew if I got to the windy corner by the bridge with them I’d have a chance but the aerodynamics of that pointy bit at the back of the shoes clearly made them far faster in the wind and they drifted away gradually until the mental elastic completely snapped going up the mountain over the South Ring. 

8. The Line

I think that I like running along the line on my own. It was like doing a session where I try and follow Alan in the distance except with Viv instead of Alan. I quickly gave up any hope of beating Viv once we got over the bridge. It was a little upsetting and I did get a little unmotivated but then I forgot that he existed. It was so nice, so peaceful and quiet on the line. 

9. Tugboat Dave

I think that I might have cheated a little in the last mile, it wasn’t deliberate, more circumstance. I had a bike in front of me for the last mile. Dave O’Mahony appeared in front of me and insisted on cycling very slowly blocking the horrible headwind. He was almost as much shelter as Joe on the first lap. I don’t think it was cheating as everyone else was wearing Vaporflys so a bike is probably fine. It was definitely less miserable. 

10. Hop

I think that the most annoying thing about this race was not getting humiliated by Viv and the Vaporflys, it was that I came within 3 seconds of having a faster 10 mile P.B than John. I didn’t even think about it coming up to the finish. If I’d known I’d have sprinted so hard, picturing his small heart breaking as my big lumbering frame crossed the line. I’m nearly almost there, it’s almost better to do it this way, beat it gradually, although I wish I could beat real Hop. I think he might even make a comeback if I do beat his P.B. I hear the vaporflys are very easy on the knee.

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Musgrave’s 5k

10 Things I Think About The Musgrave’s 5k

1. Most Expensive Race Ever

I think that this was the most expensive race that I have ever run. Boston was bad at €250, but the Cork BHAA Musgrave's 5k has cost me €280. 

2. Altitude 

I think that that 10 days at altitude in Font Romeu helped a little bit, not like 5% but maybe 0.2%. It's more of a placebo effect in that you feel like you've improved massively because you can suddenly power up the stairs without getting out of breath. 

3. Taper and Diet

I think that tapering is nonsense, I ran lots and lots in Font Romeu and I felt fantastic for the 5k. I also ate appallingly, bread, croissants, pain au raisins and pizza for 10 days. It makes no difference. Shoes are far more important.

4. Follow Conor

I think that I had a very good plan for the first mile of the race. My plan was to follow Conor and/or John Meade. Alan O'Shea tore off at the start, only Alan O'Brien was able to make any attempt to follow him. I sat in a nice group just behind Conor. I assumed Viv was well back. I was wrong, very wrong. 

5. Trail Expert

I think that I'm more suited to the trails than the Marina. I didn't trip or fall once in 10 days on the trails in Font Romeu despite the deadly rocks everywhere. You'd think that I'd be safe enough down the Marina but on the way down to the Marquee I nearly came undone on one of the many potholes. Thankfully I have been taking agility lessons from John Meade and I was able to recover from the stumble and continue on. A gap however had formed, a gap that would not be closed.

6. 1994 La Flèche Wallonne

I think that this race reminded me of cycling in 1994. I'm very young so I don't actually remember 1994 but I've seen YouTube videos of the cycling back then. Viv's performance in the 2nd mile of this race was exactly the same. He disappeared off up the road at an unbelievable speed, a speed that doesn't make sense to your brain. You know it's happening and can see it happening but it doesn't make sense. I felt powerless and sad. 

7. Lemon to a Knifefight 

I think that I am like the American cyclists in 1995. I'm trying to fight clean just like Lance was. Just like Lance I'm getting tired of being massacred in races. It's becoming increasingly clear that this is not a fair fight. My Brooks Ghosts just won't cut it any more. 

8. Unbelievable Viv

I think that Viv's performance regardless of the cheating expensive shoes is still incredible. He even beat John Meade. I've done most of the sessions that he puts on Garmin with him so I should be about the same as him if not a little better due to my youth. These beatings are very hard to take. I was extremely suspicious after the race so I checked his veins for signs of blood transfusions but I couldn't see any marks. He might just be better at resting and training. Perhaps my mileage is too high. I'm really confused. I don’t know what to do, I just want to beat Viv. 

9. Eternal Happiness of the Sub 16min 5k

I think the one consolation from this awful race is that I finally got a result that shows a time of 15:58 on the results page. I thought that this would bring eternal happiness after 9 years of trying but like everything else in running there is no such thing as eternal happiness just an eternal desire for more. 

10. Carbon Zero 

I think that these carbon shoes need to be banned. They are making a mockery of the sport. You should not be able to spend €275 and suddenly beat someone very badly. Perhaps there should be a separate race for the people who buy them and don't tell their wives that they spent nearly €300 on a pair of shoes they'll wear three of four times. Nearly everyone in the top 10 had a carbon plated shoe. Myself and the fair good just kind man John Meade should be acknowledged as the true winners. It's not fair.

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Cross Popular Llivia

10 Things I Think About The Cross Popular Llivia

1. Last Minute Dot Com

I think that we should not have assumed that a small tiny road race in Llivia would sell out. It was only on Thursday night after dinner that we got around to entering. I tried to enter everyone on my iPad but it wouldn’t take my credit card. Then I saw that there were only 6 entries left and that entry closed at 23:59 on Thursday. With some minor encouragement Conor used his high tech laptop to enter the 5 of us just before 23:59. 

2. Llivia 

I think that Saturday was my first time running in an enclave. Llivia is in Spain but actually in France. They forgot about it when carving up the border after one of the many wars so it’s Spain in France. I prefer Spain but also like France so Llivia is very perfect. 

3. Scheming

I think that the race in Age the Saturday before ruined our chances in Llivia. After all the conspiracies in Age we spent the night before the race conspiring against each other when we should have been conspiring against the Llivians. I told the lads I’d lead it out and try and burn off the Llivians, however this was a big lie, I just wanted to beat John and maybe Conor too. 

4. Cross Country Season

I think that August was too early to start the cross country season. The race in Llivia was an unusually great race, a mixture of cross country, trail and road all in one. The start of the race was a loop of a beautiful excellent grass cross country loop, then a mile or three of trail, a mile of downhill road and finishing with a lap of the cross country course. Perfect really. 

5. Lliviaed 

I think we should have known that the race would not start on time it being Spain in France. It was only a minor delay, perhaps 20 minutes, no one really cared because it was warm and sunny, although we were warmed up way too early. I really should have done a few strides just to keep going. Instead I did Donal Coffey’s patented zumba based warm up which made me horrendously stiff and sore. 

6. Alfie Inge

I think I should have gotten more vengeance on Meade on the cross country loop. I didn’t get a great start because my legs were dead from Coffey’s warm up so I had to work my way through the field. Conor started it all off by hitting me a shoulder, Donal grabbed my arm, then as we came to the final hairpin bend before the trail section I saw my target Meade up ahead, I knew it was a perfect opportunity for revenge. I sprinted as hard as I could down the inside of the hairpin and nailed Meade with a perfect excellent shoulder. “That’s for Age” I thought in my head. I should have hit him harder. He didn’t even fall, all that really happened was that the handy looking Catalan got a big gap on us all. 

7. Singletrail

I think that I could have beaten Meade if I’d gotten ahead of the last of the Llivians just before the singletrack trail section. After getting distracted trying to get revenge on Meade I was unusually far back for the first mile. Then as we got to the singletrack section I just missed the break and got stuck behind a Llivian. With that Meade, Conor and the handy looking Catalan Triathlete were gone.

8. Meadeless Suffering 

I think that I was very surprised to see Meade get dropped by Conor and the handy looking Catalan Triathlete. I could see them up ahead battling, surging, fighting. I was fully expecting Meade to sit and kick at the end. Then the unthinkable happened and Meade was dropped. Just like in one of the altitude fuelled dreams I dreamed of catching him, elbowing him into the ditch and running off into the distance. Sadly just like the altitude dreams I woke up and realised it was impossible. 

9. Down the Hill

I think that if I’d gotten to the end of the trail with the Catalan, Conor and Meade they would have been in trouble. I didn’t so it’s pointless to say so but it is nice to think. I was very fast down the hill and onto the cross country loop for the last time. Strava said I was the fastest down the hill. I tried everything I could but I couldn’t catch Meade for 3rd. Conor tried but couldn’t better the Catalan. An Irish 2,3,4. Donal Coffey was 7th but tried much harder than in Age and beat Spaniards so was happy. 

10. Whiskey and Beer 

I think that the Llivian with the mic liked Irish people. He even sang a little bit of the Wild Rover when Conor and John Meade went up to collect their trophies on the podium. A great race. We should do races like this in Ireland, a combination of everything, would be great, no one would complain.

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Cursa D’Age 2019

10 Things I Think About The Cursa D’Age 2019

1. Third Time Lucky

I think that I would love to win the Cursa D’Age. It’s a very small race but it’s exactly the sort of race that I’d like to win. No nonsense, €6 entry fee, nice t-shirt, abroad, in Spain, random course distance, hills, trails and road.

2. Scorchio 

I think it was a little hot for running at 6pm, thankfully we got Spained a little in that the race was actually on at 6.30pm, it cooled down a little by 6.30pm but it was still scorchio.

3. Niggles

I think that the best thing to do when you are a bag of niggles is a race. It’s guaranteed to move all of the niggles around. I had a new niggle for this race, a painless lump feeling under the ball of the outside of my foot. It was like there was a stone under my foot but without pain. After the race it was gone. 

4. Defending Champion

I think that I should have known something was up when the defending champion John Meade came to the race despite not having entered. A very unusual act. I had kindly offered to enter him despite knowing that he’d beat me, he refused saying that his old body wouldn’t withstand a race. Conor had entered but wasn’t running because of his only know weakness his Achilles. 

5. A Liar and a Thief

I think I should have known something was up when John Meade appeared at the start with Conor’s number under his t-shirt. I pulled up his t-shirt to see the number underneath which caused him to accuse me of assault. He was rather convincing in telling me that he was going to pace Sinead, I genuinely believed him especially as we’d run 8 miles in the morning and he was complaining of tiredness and oldness.

6. Footsteps

I think that the worst part of leading a race is the constant sound of footsteps behind you. It’s a horrible sound, although it is better than the sound of the footsteps getting louder. I had a quick look around after about 500m and saw nothing but Spaniards. This convinced me that Meade was actually being honest about pacing Sinéad and not being a liar and a horrible coward. 

7. Still Leading 

I think that I should have known what was going on on the windy traily bit of the course. I could still hear footsteps behind me but the footsteps were not accompanied by any great sounds of distress, it was an unusual combination of sounds considering the noises that I was making but I just assumed it was a good Spaniard. I didn’t look back as that’s not allowed. I knew the course so I decided that I’d just stay in front and wait for the downhill before making an effort for the finish.

8. The Move

I think I thought that I had made the decisive move at the top of the trail, I made an effort and could no longer hear the footsteps, then I waived the water and sprinted as hard as I could down the hill convinced that no Spaniard could follow my incredible downhill running. 

9. Pas de Cadeaux 

I think that I should have known what was going on, I knew that I’d still have to make an effort all the way to the finish especially as the last 200m are uphill. Just  as I got to the bottom of the hill who appeared beside me only John Meade smiling. I tried everything I could to sprint away from him but he seemed to be happy to just run alongside me, me sprinting him jogging. As we got closer to the line I started to think that he might just let me win like a nice man but no we crossed the line together me all out him jogging. 

10. 0.1 Seconds 

I think I was the actual winner of the race not the cowardly Meade. I was convinced that I’d crossed the line first as when I looked across he was behind me slightly. After lying on the ground for a while I went over to the guy with the mic and asked to see the result. 0.1 seconds. The coward the champion, they took the times from the chips. If only I’d worn mine on my right leg. At least I got to stand on the podium. Still an incredibly cowardly act. Vengeance will be sweet.

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Bremen Brückenlauf 2019

10 Things I Think About The Bremen Brückenlauf Halbmarathon

1. Bremen 

I think that Germany is my favourite country after Spain and Ireland and maybe Iceland. I really like being sent to Germany for work, it’s even better when you find a race that’s on at the weekend. I thought I was going to be able to run a race where I was staying in Münster which would have been perfect, but it started at 7pm on Sunday was too late so Google took me to Bremen on Saturday instead.

2. Food

I think that the reason everyone is so healthy looking in Germany is that the food is so terrible that it is impossible to eat too much. It really is bad, very grey and salty food. I ate mainly bread, croissants, jam and tomato soup for the week. 

3. Train

I think that the trains in Germany are almost as good as the trains in Spain. To get to the race I took the train from Münster to Bremen on Saturday morning after running a final lap of the perfect Lake Aasee. The train was 10 minutes late but they send you an email to apologize. It’s faster than driving on the Autobahn and way easier. 

4. Taxi or Tram

I think that Germany is the only place where public transport is better than cars and taxis. Because it was raining I thought about getting a taxi to the race which was about 6km from the city centre. I found a cab and got in but the taxi driver was very angry and told me to get out when I asked if I could pay with card. Then I clipped a cyclist with door when getting out of the taxi which made him even angrier. Then I got the tram. 

5. Next%

I think that I knew that I wouldn’t win the race at the start line. Initially when I looked around I thought that I had a chance mainly based on the shoes people were wearing. I knew from the previous years results that a fast Seb would win if he turned up but everyone seemed to have Seb on their number so that didn’t help. Then a Seb with the new expensive Nike runners that Michael Herlihy has arrived. He looked very fast. He was. 

6. Plan

I think that I did very well in sticking to the plan. My plan was to run somewhere around Marathon pace to practice for Berlin. It is always dangerous to plan Marathon pace in a race because it is very easy to get carried away if there is a chance of a podium. I felt terrible from the lack of food all week so it was easy to run marathon pace as it felt like half marathon pace. 

7. Course

I think that the course was perfect. It was on those hard straight bike paths that I love to run on. It started at the Paulaner pub and ran up along the river past the Werder Bremen stadium crisscrossing all the bridges. It was a little twisty turny but there were lots of nice buildings to look at so the 13 miles flew by. It was sort of like the route along the river in Seville but without the sun. 

8. Company

I think that I was glad to have company for the race. After the start it was clear that the Seb in the Nike Next%s was way better than the rest of us and completely unfollowable. I ended up in second with another Seb. It was perfect because he seemed to want to run the same pace as me so we ran along together. It was very handy because I didn’t understand what the people who were telling us where to go were saying so anytime I was confused I waited for him to run the right way. 

9. German Viv 

I think that the race was very good practice for beating Viv in Berlin. After about 16k I tried to run a bit faster because the wind was behind me and I like finishing second. I felt bad running away from Seb who had helped me follow the course. When we talked at the finish he said that he had run 2:29 when he was younger but that at 43 he was too old. I told him about Viv being way older and still beating me, he was very impressed.

10. Podium Beer

I think that this podium was my favourite ever. Because the race started outside the Paulaner pub they had big huge jugs of beer for us on the podium. It wasn’t even alcohol free beer, it was proper beer. Then like in Formula 1 they got the German Viv who came third to do interviews in English. I like interviews, I think I said good things, I don’t think any one noticed my awful t-shirt and burgundy pants ensemble.

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Millstreet 5 Mile 2019

10 Things I Think About The Millstreet 5 Mile

1. Don’t Poke The Bear

I think it was a very bad idea to relentlessly taunt Viv for the last 2 years. It has been a full 2 years of relentless victories, 2 years of bad beatings. A lesser being would have given up but not Viv. To be honest I was more worried about Donal Coffey than Viv in Millstreet, I spent far more time this week taunting Donal than Viv. It turns out I was very wrong.

2. Ironman

I think that it is the ironman’s fault that I had two terrible blisters for today’s race. I got them from running in the ridiculous rain on Sunday. They are horrendous blisters, one was is on the hood of my second toe on my right foot, the other is at the top of the curve on the inside of my left foot. I did everything to fix them, I used Germolene to try and numb them up but they were terrible and very debilitating all week. It’s amazing I was able to run at all. 

3. Warm Up

I think that I knew that I was in trouble during the warm up. I felt terrible when normally I feel tremendous. My blisters were hurting me every footstep both right and left foot. I ran with Donal Coffey because I believed that he was the only one that needed psyching out, I saw Viv but I let him off because I was very confident of administering a bad beating even with my badly damaged and blistered feet. 

4. Where Do You Think You Got it all Wrong Today

I think that I got the first mile all wrong. I got very excited at the start because there were so many excellent runners there that I believed that I could beat. I immediately forgot about my terrible blisters and took off down the street at a pace that I can’t run anywhere except in a race. Kevin Maunsell came past after 100m but everyone else stayed behind even Michael. I even tried pushing the pace as I knew that it would be awful for Viv and the other Donal. I knew I was also annoying Michael too so that was good. 

5. Train

I think that I knew I was in big trouble when we got to the train tracks at about two miles. I was still in the front group with Mikey, Mark Tim, John and John but I was getting much closer to the exit door. I wasn’t too worried as I was pretty sure that Viv and the other Donal were miles behind and no one ever makes time up in the last 3 miles of a 5 mile race. 

6. Water Bottle Respect

I think I knew that the lads in the front group didn’t respect me when I didn’t get offered a water bottle just after two miles. They all looked so comfortable passing the water bottle around, John Meade looked like it was just another easy run, he was almost deliberately trying to look at ease, turning around offering the water to everyone, everyone except me. 

7. Falling

I think that it is terrible the way that you get shelled from a group that you don’t belong to in a race. It feels like you are falling backwards. The third mile was very bad as the group disappeared around the many uphill corners. I could see that Tim O’Connor was next in line to leave the group so I focused on him. Then I heard those footsteps, those familiar footsteps from those Marathon Pace runs around Blackrock, I didn’t even have to look, I knew it was Viv, closing, closing rapidly, like a robot that had been preprogrammed by Ronan to destroy me. 

8. Don’t Look Back at Vivian

I think that it was a big mistake to turn and look at Viv, I have never looked back in a race before. It took Viv until well into the fourth mile to finally catch up to me. When he got up to my shoulder I couldn’t resist checking that it was him so I looked behind. A very bad idea, my heart sank when I saw him with not a bead of sweat nor sign of any great difficulty on his face, what happened next was inevitable. 

9. The Millstreet Massacre 

I think that Viv must have prepared the bad beating that he administered on that final hill into the finish. It was dramatic in its ferocity, it was if he summoned every jib, every dig, every taunt from the last two years and used it as fuel for a 200m sprint. He just disappeared up the road, gone, as much as I tried to catch him it was pointless, it was over, beaten, badly, by Viv. 

10. A Small Battle

I think that it was a very bad night. Because Viv beat me badly and all of the other lads who are much better than us turned up I came 8th. I won nothing, no envelopes, nothing. In the hall where I watched everyone collecting nice envelopes filled with money I considered total training reform, training properly, eating properly, doing everything properly. Then I thought about it again, this was just a single battle, the war is being won, Viv is well behind and Coffey was beaten very badly. There is no change required, it was just a blip, a minor blip, not to be repeated.

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Donoughmore 7

10 Things I Think About The Donoughmore 7

1. 13 Years 3 Minutes

I think that it is amazing that I’m still able to run 13 years after my first time running this race. It was back in 2006, it doesn’t seem like 13 years because if you look at the results it’s the same people still running. In those 13 years I got 3 minutes faster. That’s a lot of training for 3 minutes. 14 seconds per year improvement. Another 13 years and I should be able to win, comfortably. 

2. Excuses

I think that I was right to give myself lots of excuses for this race. I was extremely worried that Viv the mountain goat would prance past me on the two mile mountain and finally beat me. In order to ensure that I had adequate excuses I did extra miles and went to the Magic Numbers in Cyprus Avenue when I should have been in bed sleeping. I had other excuses prepared too but I’ll save them for another time seeing as I didn’t need them for this race. 

3. Shakeout

I think that it’s very important to do a shakeout run the morning of an evening race. A shakeout is any run that doesn’t exceed 5k or 25 minutes in length, any longer and it’s a run and potentially an excuse. I did precisely 3 miles before this race. The perfect shakeout. 

4. Altitude 

I think that Donoughmore is as close to altitude as you’ll get in Cork. It’s very far away up in the hills with a viciously cold permanent breeze, it reminds me of Anglesboro without the mountains. 

5. Two Miles Uphill

I think I forgot that the first two miles of the course are uphill. I tried to go with Alan, Alan and Gavin at the start to try and get a good gap on Viv and Jonathan, I wasn’t able to stay with them but I could keep them in sight. Michael Morgan came with me which was unsurprising. Then Mike Morgan dropped me which was unsurprising. 

6. Weeeeeeee

I think my favorite part of this course are the three downhill miles. I’m very excellent at running downhill because I’m huge. I could still see Mike ahead so I decided to match his cadence and try and catch up to him, this worked as I have much longer legs and running is cadence x stride length. I knew he was getting very worried because he kept looking behind him like he was being chased by a monster with orange sunglasses on. By the fourth mile I had closed to within 10 seconds by my own accurate counting, I was even catching Alan rapidly.

7. Two Mile Mountain 

I think that I probably ran up the last two miles faster 13 years ago than I did this evening. I’m way too huge to run uphill for two miles at any sort of reasonable speed. I don’t know what weight I am but it’s definitely over 12 stone. 12 stones don’t move up hill quickly. Any dreams of beating Mike Morgan quickly disappeared. 

8. Jonathan 

I think that Jonathan Murphy was probably the last person on earth that I wanted to see on that mountain. Just as I started the 6th mile I could hear him gently pawing the ground behind me, then he glided past like he was oblivious to the fact that we were running on a mountain. Jonathan versus me on a huge steep mountain is not a fair fight, it’s like Anthony Joshua vs that big Mexican guy except they have to box running up a massive mountain, there’s only going to be one winner. 

9. Fun

I think my battle with Jonathan was the most fun that I have ever had in a road race. For a mile and a half on the two mile mountain to the finish I felt like I was re-enacting Lance Armstrong vs Pantani on Mont Ventoux. I was definitely Lance, bluffing majorly and hoping that the drugs would start working soon. I bluffed a couple of times, wandered across the road, made a little sprint, tried to shake Jonathan off but each time, even if distanced a little, he’d annoyingly jog back up on to my shoulders. Then when he saw the 800m sign, just like Pantani, Jonathan happily danced away. I really really desperately tried to follow but unfortunately I am not Lance, I am Donal. 

10. Prizes

I think that there were a lot of prizes in Donoughmore. It is an excellent race if you like envelopes. I got two envelopes, one for 6th and one for winning the team prize for Leevale. I also had to collect Viv’s two prizes. I think that I should get to keep his prizes as I beat him very badly again. There should be a prize for repeated bad beatings. Next week will be a great week as I’ll get to beat both Donal Coffey and Viv at the same time in one race in Millstreet. It’ll be excellent.

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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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