Monday, December 29, 2008

Bandon 5

A very 'Irish' affair this, in mid-Cork. Registration in the local pub. A trek around the town bypass to a starting line that seemed to be decided as much by consensus as anything. Then turn around and run around a loop to arrive somehow back at the pub. The organisers were pleased with the turnout of 163, which was 18% up on last year.

After a fairly ordinary run at Athenry I was well pleased with this one. Early on I tagged on to a local guy, a better runner than me (who isn't?) Though I normally dislike running alongside others this actually worked as, after a trot through downtown Bandon, we worked together on mile 3 which consisted of a long uphill drag. Then when I might otherwise have dropped my pace I kept up with this guy until I found a bit extra with 200 yards to go and kicked to finish in 40.22. 40.02 actually on the official results for 123rd overall - well pleased. And I just pipped my good friend Deirdre who had set off with the walkers 40 minutes earlier!

And then some great hospitality at the pub - food, drink etc. Eventually the presentations and no end of spot prizes - I ended up with twin bottles of Chilean wine.

A great afternoon - well done everyone concerned.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Bannister it wasn't

Not exactly Roger Bannister, nor were the cameras there, but a milestone of sorts nonetheless. On Christmas morning I ducked just under the fabled 7 min mark in the GOAL Mile at Irishtown - yay for me! In Foster-esque style I saw off the early challenge of a couple of 6-year olds and lapped a lady with a buggy. It was a good morning all in all with about 10 'heats' including a fast one with the Crusaders' best male runners. A few of our young group had a go too, and no doubt a few quid was raised during the morning.

Then over to the west of Ireland and the Fields of Athenry 10k the following day. A very-well organised run out of town, around the 'fields' celebrated in ancient song, and back into town to finish underneath the arch. The organisers claimed a huge and record entry of just under 1,000 though there were inevitably fewer than that at the starting post. I never really got going and contented myself with enjoying the race-day experience, the scenery, and the company of my fellow runners. Still, I finished strong, picking off more than a few scalps in the second three miles and got name-checked as I crossed the line in 55.02 by my reckoning - even slower by gun time of course. (Later - 553rd out of 829 finishers including the walkers - official time 55.30)Nice spread afterwards including homemade scones. I missed the presentation which was to have been made by Paul Hession of Athenry AC. The Hesh was agonisingly one place away from making that historic 200m Olympic final in Beijing.

Right, off for a little road test to see if my legs are recovered enough for the Bandon 5 a bit later.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Racing Snake

No early mornings this week - it's going to be full-on racing! I suppose I'm in sorta average shape right now - not great, but OK. And let's face it, with the best will in the world I'm unlikely to ever be in 'great' shape.

So, Christmas morning it's something called the GOAL mile, a charity event that takes place in a number of locations. Irishtown hosts one such. I reckon on a 7.30-ish as long as there's not too many buggies and new bikes on the track as I blaze my way around.

Then off to Galway for a couple of days, and on 26th December it's the Fields of Athenry 10k. They have nearly 1,000 entries as we speak so I'm looking forward to this one. Number pickup from Presentation College for an 11am start. Time prediction? Well, my last 10k earlier this year was a nice 50.30 at Dunshaughlin - I ran the second half of that really well. I don't know if I'll challenge that, let's say 52-ish.

Finally, down to the Rebel County of Cork - my heart always lifts as I arrive in Cork. On the 28th there's the Bandon 5. Assuming my legs are in reasonable condition I'll toddle over for that, but I'll be pleased enough with say a 43. By which time my Crusaders singlet will be a bit niffy.

Then in the New Year it's back into training with Connemara the main goal race. After that...? We'll see.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Fdip 164

A pretty ordinary 10.12 miles at (strangely) 10.12m/m this morning. Couldn't get into it at all really, though it was nice to reaquaint myself with the northside.

A pretty featureless couple of hours was enlivened by listening to an excellent Phedippidations 164. Steve did a very good adaption of A Christmas Carol (or was it A Muppet Christmas Carol)? Then some good running stuff. But then the piece de resistance, an attack on CNN. You gotta hand it to the guy, he doesn't care who he takes on. This time it was in connection with some showbiz-type presenting of the Mumbai tragedy in which anchor and presenter were congratulating themselves on the superiority of their coverage. Great stuff. Now I must go back and find the episode where Steve does a critique of the running shoe industry, another perfectly legitimate and cynical target.

Unfortunately Steve then lost me by launching into prayer and the 'instrument of peace' thing which, although I can't disagree with any of it, just leaves me cold.

And thank the Lord (I'm at it now!) that Colin Murray is back at the helm of Fighting Talk.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


Our first few months of junior athletics at Crusaders AC ended today. A loyal 11 athletes turned out - indeed most of these have been with us since that first Open Day at the end of the summer. And a nicer set of kids you couldn't wish for. The session ended with an 800m, their first opportunity at the distance. The outcome was

1. Kevin Woods (U13B) 2:56.9
2. Fiachra Thirroueiz (U15B) 3:05.4
3. James Woods (U10B) 3:10.0
4. Rachel Maher (U12G) 3:12.2
5. Sarah Maher (U10G) 3:48.4
6. Ella Thirroueiz (U9G) 3:58.0
7. Grainne McGuill (U12G) 4:08.9
8. Orla Murray (U12) 4:10.5
9. Lorna Carr (U9G) 4:37.4

Running-wise I've continued with my early-morning short runs, this week extending the Thursday run out to four miles by skirting around Ringsend and up Sean Moore Road, doubling back to the East Link. Although these are undemanding runs my old legs are definitely rebelling by the end of the week. Too bad, toughen up.

Tomorrow I head up the Royal Canal for my long run - renew my acquaintance with that particular part of Dublin which I discovered shortly after my arrival in January. The final stages of that run - back through town, should be fun with the Christmas shoppers. Pretty chaotic last night by all accounts with an encounter between the LUAS (tram) and a taxi, with five taken to hospital.

And I'm trying to be serene about Birmingham's quite woeful performance at lunchtime, meaning Reading leapfrog us into second place.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Time to retire Mr Tarbuck

Back into my running with a vengeance with a strong 10-miler yesterday morning. Usual route - down the river and out to Blackrock and back. For some reason I am ignoring my previous long-run route which was up the Royal Canal to Phoenix Park, with loops and extensions as necessary. That route will, I am sure, come back into play at some stage.

And I need to find a hill or two to practice on with Connemara coming up in March. There's a great one from Howth harbour up to the village and beyond - a bit of a surprise that one the first time I ran in that direction!

But yesterday was good - a slow 52 mins for the five miles out to Blackrock but I got into it on the return trip and did it in 47 mins. It was another cold but fine day and Sandymount Strand (Dublin's very own beach) was being well used by all and sundry. I caught up with a couple of Fighting Talk episodes with guest presenter Kelly Dalgleish doing a good job as guest presenter on the first one but Jimmy Tarbuck was woeful. In the meantime I am falling behind with my Phedippidations and will probably catch up with those over Christmas.

But for now it'll be back to early morning runs this week.

PS - England lost the cricket as foretold in my 13th Dec post...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Euro Cross

A chance for Union Flag waving as GB dominated proceedings at the European Cross Country Championships in Brussells. Unsurprisingly with British success promised, BBC gave it the full treatment.

And what a start as the cameras picked up the junior women's race with Steph Twell, Charlie Purdue and Lauren Howarth occupying the podium positions at halfway. Then Emma Pallant and Emily Pidgeon came into view - the first five?! Unprecedented. No late mistakes either, across the line in that order and just when we thought that was it, Laura Park broke out of the chasing pack to make it a clean sweep. Never seen before and probably won't be again.

The U23 girls, led by Sarah Tunstall, also won gold. Then the senior women put in a very solid performance with Hattie Dean leading the team to silver.

The junior men also medalled, in third place, with David Forrester in 5th place. More gold in the U23s with Andy Vernon an impressive second. Finally Mo Farah looked set for victory in the senior race but the amazing Lebid, winning his eighth title, had too much for him. But nevertheless another team silver with Lee Merrien of Guernsey being 3rd counter on his international debut.

Ireland flattered to deceive. Mary Cullen did exceptionally well to finish 4th in the senior race. The other great white hope Martin Fagan fell early on when looking good and finished back in the pack.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Crusaders Christmas

What a pleasant morning we had at Irishtown Stadium today. A short but lively series of events in which the age group winners were

60 metres
U8G - Laura Ferry 15.1
U10G - Sarah Maher 13.7
U11G - Isabel O'Leary 12.9
U12G - Orla Murray 12.1
U10B - Alan Francis 12.6
U11B - James Woods 12.8
U13B - Kevin Woods 11.9

Long Jump
U8G - Laura Ferry 2.00
U10G - Ella Thirroueiz 3.05
U11G - Laura Shaw 3.20
U12G - Orla Murray 3.07
U13G - Isabelle Flanagan 2.73

Ball throw
U10G - Roisin McGuill 8.90
U12G - Aisling Stokes 15.50
U13G - Isabelle Flanagan 9.70
U11B - James Woods 15.00
U13B - Kevin Woods 22.50

This was followed by a little get-together in the aerobics studio with prizes, presents etc. The young athletes were delighted - as indeed was I, to meet the legend that is Mr Ron Delaney (of whom more later), He presented each of those that had represented Crusaders AC in the autumn cross country fixtures with a personalised and autographed log book.

My running has taken a little break but tomorrow I get going again. The Euro Cross - in which both GB and ROI are expected to feature prominently, is being televised at lunchtime, so the plan is an early run. My immediate race plans include the Fields of Athenry 10k on 26th December and the Bandon 5-mile on the 28th. So I'll be hiring a car and getting off 'down the country' for a few days.

I write as Birmingham City have just thrown away all three points in injury time at Preston, so lose ground on Wolves and Reading. Never mind, England are in a winning position going into Day 4 against India. However, never under-estimate England's ability to make a bollox of the most favourable circumstances.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tragedy at Tythe Barn Lane

On 25th February 1967 - three days before my 14th birthday, I went to see a football match. Although it lasted only 30 minutes or so it became one of those things that have you asking yourself 'did that really happen?'

The match was Highgate United v Enfield. The occasion was the quarter final of the now-defunct FA Amateur Cup. Enfield, from London, were aristocrats of the amateur game. Highgate were, and are, a modest club knocking around the minor leagues of the English Midlands. They were having a good season though and had done superbly to get to the last eight of this big national competition.

Highgate play on a bleak sort of pitch outside Solihull, completely surrounded by picturesque farmland. In expectation of a crowd larger than the usual handful, temporary stands had been erected and the pitch roped off. I dumped my bike in a hedge and got a good spot on the half way line. The crowd built up to maybe a couple of thousand. It was raining and very grey as the reds of Highgate and the greens of Enfield took the field. The visitors soon burst the bubble and took the lead.

Soon the rain increased in intensity and there were claps of thunder. But I don't remember any lightning until....there was an even more intense burst of rain, a deafening clap of thunder and - a surreal moment this, a fork of lightning struck the centre circle. Several players and the ref hit the ground amidst a blue puff of smoke. After a few seconds silence many of the crowd ran under the ropes and onto the pitch to help the stricken players.

As I cycled back up the country lanes the ambulances from Solihull blued and two'd their way in the opposite direction.

Some time the following day Tony Allden of Highgate died of his injuries.

The abandoned match was rearranged for Villa Park in anticipation of a large sympathetic Brummie crowd. But no one anticipated the 30,000+ that turned up, an astonishing crowd for such a fixture. (I still say the crowd was much larger and over 40,000). As one the Brummies roared whenever Highgate were on the attack. Regrettably that was rare. Enfield won 6-0 and went on to win the competition.

Today Highgate still play at windswept Tythe Barn Lane. But there have been no temporary stands since that fateful day in 1967, nor is there likely to be.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Price of Rice

Running-wise this week has been pretty non-existent, but I'm not beating myself up over it. Three early-morning three-milers is the sum total of it, and I'm contemplating whether or not to go out for a long run today (Sunday). One of the joys of amateur sport is the fact that it's not compulsory. At any given time I can make a choice to run or not to run. This makes a positive choice so much more satisfactory. I can't imagine how a professional sportsman can actually enjoy what they do, because they have no choice in the matter!

I have my mother from Birmingham staying with me for a few days. Yesterday evening we had a couple of drinks on Baggott Street - the 'traditional' old bars there were mobbed with very untraditional-type Saturday night drinkers. We then strolled in the crowds over to the Grafton Street/St Stephen's Green area. On an impulse we decided to pop into a Chinese restaurant there in the middle of Dublin's touristland. Which was almost a bad move moneywise. Rice is an inevitable accompaniment to any Chinese meal and it is usually ordered as routine. But I happened to spot the prices - Fried Rice €17, Special Fried Rice €19. Forget it, I'm not a cheapskate but I'm not paying those prices, which would have virtually doubled our bill. The word outrageous was use when the no-rice order was queried.

How many people have been unwittingly ripped off there?

Down at Irishtown Stadium it's been a cold and frosty week but the young athletes kept warm yesterday with some 60m sprints, their best times being

Kevin Woods (U13B) 9.0
Orla Murray (U12G) 9.3
Alan Francis (U10B) 9.3
Christina Francis (U13G) 9.4
James Woods (U10B) 9.6
Isabel O'Leary (U11G) 9.7
Alix Hughes (U13G) 9.8
Rachel Maher (U12G) 9.8
Grainne McGuill (U12G) 10.3
Emma Eustace (U12G) 10.5
Sarah Maher (U10G) 10.6
Jemima Mulligan 10.7
Clodagh Ferry (U9G) 10.7
Hannah McDevitt (U12G) 10.9
Roisin McGuill (U10G) 11.1
Ella Thirroueiz (U9G) 11.5
Juliet Storan (U11G) 11.6
Roisin Crowe 11.9
Emma O'Leary (U8G) 12.7
Laura Ferry (U8G) 12.7

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I would run one thousand miles

A 10-mile plod this morning on a very cold but bright and still Dublin morning. The Sean O'Casey bridge was closed for maintenance so a rare detour upriver and over the Isaac Butt bridge before heading back downriver, over the East Link to Blackrock and back. A couple of the city's many unfortunates were happily tucking in to their cider for brunch in the bright sunshine. But hey, maybe they think I'm the unfortunate one, often in a state of discomfort in the name of sport whilst they dream the day away.

I'm over the 1,000-mile mark for the year. Not bad for my age and lack of any ability. Those miles were mostly piled up in the first half of the year. Where's my old we are. I finished my final year in Jersey (2007) on 777 miles.

Yesterday was 'interesting' at Irishtown Stadium with the kids giddy in the morning whiteness and more interested in throwing frostballs at each other than concentrating on their drills. However we got some work done including a 600m, results as follows. Note the 6-year old lad who trotted around as to the manor born.

1. Fiachra Thirroueiz (U15B) 2:16.9 PB
2. Rachel Maher (U12G) 2:25.8 PB
3. Sarah Maher (U10G) 2:30.4 PB
4. Alix Hughes (U13G) 2:33.3
5. Roisin McGuill (U10G) 2:33.4 PB
6. Orla Murray (U12G) 2:43.1
7. Ella Thirroueiz (U10G) 2:45.7 PB
8. Alan Francis (U10B) 3:03.7 PB
9. Patrick Tucker (U7B) 3:11.9

And home then to see a cracking game, 1st v 2nd with honours even. Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-1 Birmingham City. I'll settle for that.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Composing of The Fields of Athenry

Young Pete: Mammy, I've written a poem but I can't finish it. Will you help? It goes -

'Low lie the fields of Athenry, where once we saw the da da da fly'. What will I put?

The Mammy: I cook and clean and slave and all you can think to do is write. Put any feckin' thing, put 'small freebirds' whatever the feck they are. Nobody'll read that shite anyway.

Then go and pull me up a cabbage.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Continuing with the early-morning short runs this week, though I thought I deserved Monday off. I've built in a little dogleg (Cambridge Road) so it's now near enough three miles though I've not bothered to Garmin it.

That's 999 miles so far in 2008!

I must say that this little discipline really sets one up for the day. Getting out of bed promptly and out the door regardless of weather and an easy (though not effortless) 30 minutes running gets one in touch with the day.

One interesting thing I've noticed is that there appears to be rare free on-street parking down Docklands way. The spaces are filling up quickly by 7 o'clock and many drivers sit there, engines running (for the heating no doubt), presumably waiting until it's time for work. One good reason for living in an expensive but central apartment.

And to add to the excitement I was nearly taken out this morning as a sudden gust of wind threw a roadside barrier across the footpath. No end of wonders to see on a Dublin morning.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Fighting Irish

Well, a steady little 8-miler on Sunday out towards Blackrock and back. 10-minute miling which has become a pretty standard sort of pace for me on my longer runs. Occasionally I'll step it up a notch but, at this early stage of base training, there's really little benefit. I listened to a Fighting Talk episode and the beginning of Phedippidations 160 (I think). A bit chilly out there.

Swansea 2 - 3 Birmingham on Friday evening. Another game pulled out of the fire and we still lie in second place.

On Saturday we had 18 in our young Crusaders' training group and we had a good session before cutting it short as it was getting wet and cold. I'd prefer an indoor venue for the winter for the young ones.

Then a first for me on Saturday afternoon - a trip over the river to Croke Park to see Ireland play Argentina at rugby. Everything about this historic but recently rebuilt stadium is impressive. It is the fifth largest in Europe and on this occasion there was a crowd of 65,000 against a capacity of 82,000. My ticket took me up many steps to a few rows from the top and, on turning around, the view of pitch and stadium is awesome (and a little vertiginous). The match itself was dour enough until the good guys pulled away in the last quarter for a 17-3 win.

With existing bad blood between the teams (Argentina beat Ireland in the recent World Cup) it was unsurprising that several impromptu fights broke out. And of course the crowd would rise as one as if at a boxing match urging on Jerry, or Hayesy or whoever to 'give him another belt'. The Irish are not known for backing down if violence breaks out. But sensibly the officials just let the boys get on with it and kept 30 players on the pitch.

Compare with soccer where you only have to look sideways at someone these days to get into trouble with the ref.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Crikey, Blog of the Week

How did that happen? You can't keep a little diary these days without someone getting hold of it :-)

Better write something about running then. I've never run in the US of A. Indeed I've only visited once. That was with the family a number of years ago. We went to Orlando and the Keys. I don't think I could run in the temperatures we had for those two weeks.

But with the vastness of that country must come many and varied running opportunities. I know many trails exist which, if not laid out specifically for running can be utilised by runners. And despite the predominance of the car you will certainly not have the invasive sense of traffic everywhere that there is in modern Ireland.

Things have changed in that regard. Ireland has changed from being a rural, slightly backward country and fairly traffic-free to a cosmopolitan, prosperous and materialistic land in less than thirty years. These changes have not been runner-friendly. Despite the still-rural nature of the countryside there are few quiet, winding lanes. And there is far less access to the countryside itself compared with mainland Britain where this battle was fought and won by walkers and hikers in the 1950s.

However you make the best of it. And you relish any opportunity to run in traffic-free environments.

And of course it's not as bad as Los Angeles where I hear that anyone not in a car is automatically labelled a suspicious character!

And finally, for any North American visitors, try to get hold of a copy of Four Million Footsteps by Bruce Tulloh. Bruce, a very good former British Olympic athlete, was the first to run the breadth of America, west to east, in 1969. This book is his record of that run.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Docklands Dublin

Running-wise I've kept up my little early morning runs this week. As Misery Hill is closed due to construction work I have instead been running along the south river bank to the East Link. And fascinating that area is being a mixture of old, abandoned quayside buildings, new apartments and flashy new office complexes and others still planned and under construction.

Across the river on the north side it is very much the same, with old Dublin still clinging on in the face of increasing development and investment. Though that may now be slowing down somewhat.

The Docklands Authority have done a good job in making good cycleways, footpaths, benches and little statues along both banks, and it is tastefully illuminated by night. The area is a little way away from the tourist trail and therefore it is still relatively quiet. One upshot of this is that the area has yet to become infested by Dublin's lowlife who can be found in profusion further up the quays. No Roma beggars either, the footfall being too low to be an attraction.

The East Link, opened in 1984, replaced - I am told, a ferry which had been in existence since 1665! This connects Ringsend on the south with the harbour area to the north. Further back towards the city the Sean O'Casey pedestrian bridge has been open for only a few years. Between the two, construction has now begun on the Samuel Beckett Bridge which will carry traffic between Macken Street and Spencer Dock. At that time then there will be no fewer than three bridges where before none existed east of the Customs House. Indeed (again I am told) that in earlier times ferrymen used to wreck attempts to build various wooden bridges as this would of course impact their livelihoods.

But anyway, I must run a little longer on Sunday. Last Tuesday we had nine in our young group. Last night it was Liz, Eoin and Patrick for a heavy session together with Brian, a strong 14-year old thrower but with whom I needed to go easier.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Germany 1 - Ingerland 2

Ha, England put one over Germany again - when it counts for very little. A confidence-boosting performance though. Apart from Carson. What the feck is it with present-day English goalies? It's come to a pretty pass when David James is the Safe Hands of the England team. Oh for the days of Banks, Clemence, Shilton & Seaman.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Munster 16 - All Blacks 18

Ow, what a game! The ABs only got their noses in front with a couple of minutes to go. Utterly compelling. Now I can't wait for my first visit to Croke Park on Saturday for Ireland v Argentina.

Lowww lie the fields of Athenry...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Autumn colours

You don't have to go to 'New England in the Fall' to see every possible shade imaginable between dark brown and bright red. Behind my office window in Merrion Square for example the trees are putting on a great show. And yesterday at Newbridge House, a dozen or so miles north of Dublin city centre it was just gorgeous. The young Crusaders were there for cross country of course. The setting was magnificent. 350 acres of parkland all beautifully tended by the present owners Fingal CC - they ought to be proud of themselves.

As to the running, well the youngsters are getting the hang of it and generally produced steadier runs than in their first excited outing at Phoenix Park. But forget the results - everybody just had a great morning and are enjoying being part of a team. So keen were they to shout home their teammates that Alix and Amy had to sprint across in time for their race, thus doing their chances no good at all. And there were a few laughs. Sarah was complaining that her white Nike leggings were muddied by the girl in front of her tramping in puddles. When reasonably asked why she didn't get in front of her rival she made us all laugh with her exasperated 'I couldn't!!'

And before all this, on Saturday, we had a good morning at Irishtown with 25 young athletes. A 60m time trial however went pear-shaped when I couldn't work the recall on my stopwatch. Must practice.

Update on Viv. She has had keyhole surgery but fortunately there is only an infection to deal with. A couple of weeks out maybe.

But, with Birmingham City coming back from 1-2 down to beat Charlton, it was generally a very good weekend!

Friday, November 14, 2008


Anyone listen to this running podcast? Well I know plenty people do actually. For those that don't, Phedippidations is far and away the most listened-to running podcast and is way up near the top of the sports category.

It's produced by one Steve Runner of New England and broadcasts (mostly) weekly. Steve alines himself with the ordinary Joe & Jane Jogger - of whom we are many, and produces a variety of shows. Most of these are at least partly recorded whilst training or even racing.

Steve is a talented guy. It's become a cliche now how he feigns surprise that more than a handful of people might be listening to him. He speaks with authority and checks his facts with others if he is unsure. The production quality is flawless and the show content generally excellent. Steve does grate a bit at times, but makes no apology for some over-emphasis on his family and his faith.

Whilst he will not have many admirers amongst the elite of the sport he has certainly been an inspiration to many lesser mortals. As for me, although he irritates at times with his good-guy apple pie delivery, I never miss an episode.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I'm rather pleased with myself having hauled my ass out of bed each morning this week for a (admittedly short and undemanding) little run. It's getting my body slowly used to regular work again and a good discipline to be doing something positive in the morning other than slobbing around. As work is less than 10 minutes walk away I clearly have time to do a bit of work first thing.

I decided I needed to be a bit more hi-vis though and trotted over to Elvery's at lunchtime. Torn between a lovely orange Nike jacket at €68 and a yellow reflective bib at €10 prudence won out. Then over to Camden Street to buy more mouse tails (aka dusters) as we didn't have enough for Cat & Mouse last Saturday. If anyone is interested they are €2 for eight in Camden Casket.

Thirteen young athletes on Tuesday, a few less tonight. I took the seniors (Liz, Sean, Patrick, Eoin) for their conditioning, consisting tonight of weights, plyo, circuit, med ball, Swiss Ball. Viv texted earlier from A&E and we await further news - suspected appendicitis is a possibility.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cold Dublin mornings

Another minor success in that I jumped out of bed at 6.30 this morning, pulled on my gear and got outta the door. Same little circuit. Only this time about 10 degrees colder than 12 hours earlier.

In the first half of 2008 I ran early mornings regularly and got used to how early things get under way in the city. In Jersey I don't think anyone sets their alarm before 8am. But well before 7 in Dublin the working day has begun. Down at Ringsend Church a bloke was already chucking builders' rubble into a skip. Along the North Quay a couple of coffee concessions were already doing a steady trade to the early starters. The Metro and Herald girls were getting into strategic positions, the easier to give away their free papers as people make their way to and from the Luas and DART, and over to the IFSC (International Financial Services Centre). There is another chill wind blowing around that place right now with the recession.

Why wouldn't I run? I'd only be messing on this laptop for those 25 minutes anyway!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

City Lights

It occurred to me, trotting along the Liffey earlier, that Dublin looked great all lit up. That man-made luminosity can actually be quite inspiring and - even though totally artificial, can disguise the mediocre and dull.

Can you think of examples? Driving in over the hill from Kinsale at night and seeing God's city laid out in lights is one such. Taking off at night in a Trislander over St Peter Port (Guernsey) is another.

In fact the most inspiring sights are to be seen from the air. In my case these are rare as I hate flying and avoid it whenever I can. But I will always remember

1. Any flight into Ireland and catching my first glimpse of the Emerald Isle.
2. Many years ago, a noise abatement takeoff out of Cork which involved a steep climb and wingtip turn with me looking straight down at the city.
3. A takeoff out of Jersey on a clear day with the port of Cherbourg laid out on the right.
4. The easterly takeoff out of Geneva on a bright, clear afternoon along Lac Leman with the mountains away to the right.

But I'd still as soon be on the ground!

Bottoming out

Ok, I've decided my running is not going to deteriorate further. I completed my one and only marathon on August 24th and it has been downhill from there really. No focus, too much Guinness. OK I completed my 8th half-marathon in that time (the virtual Worldwide Half Marathon) but generally it's been not good.

So - no long run today. Instead, in the early evening, I plodded a gentle 2.5 miler which will be my basic short run. From my apartment it's left down Hanover Street and up Misery Hill (sic), along Grand Canal Dock and over three locks, right down a lane and left over Ringsend Bridge, left down Thorncastle Street and then over the East Link - the last bridge over the Liffey before the open sea. Left at the shiny new O2 arena (formerly the Point Depot), along the North Quay and finally back over the river at the Sean Casey bridge.

Same again tomorrow (Monday) morning before work.

I have still no goals, which is bad. Certainly I have entered the Connemara Half Marathon next March and a sub-two on that course would be a first for me and pretty damn special.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Twenty three young athletes at Irishtown this morning. We have been remarkably lucky with the weather on Saturdays and today was just beautiful. Following on from Sean & Viv's lead last week we started with a couple of games. Good move - the youngsters bought into it and responded enthusiastically. Slalom relays, speed ladder, and a 30/40/60/40/30 pyramid. Finally a 600m race the results of which were

U15B - Fiachra Thirroueiz 2.18.1
U13B - Kevin McDonnell 2.54.5, Adam Lane 3.30.4
U10B - Alan Francis 3.09.0
U13G - Alex Hughes 2.26.1
U12G - Rachel Maher 2.32.1, Orla Murray 2.34.0, Grainne McGuille 2.46.1, Isobel Flanagan 2.56.9, Hannah McDevitt 3.44.1
U11G - Niamh Ferry 3.15.1, Juliet Storan 3.20.2, Isobel O'Leary 3.24.3
U10G - Rosin McGuill 2.44.0, Sarah Maher 2.45.9, Ella Thirroueiz 3.51.4, Clodagh Ferry 3.54.6

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Eleven young athletes at Irishtown tonight and they had a good session with Larry. I had a measly two seniors (Patrick & Eoin) - rumours of a party elsewhere. Anyway an introduction to the Swiss Ball + a circuit-type session on the grass on a fine evening and the two lads done good.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Eleven young athletes tonight - drills, hurdle steps, turnabouts, road run and the 'traditional' 4 x 100m relay. Filling in again on third leg I was surprised to see my outgoing teammate running towards me, hand outstretched. Cue baton practice sometime soon.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Paula Ratcliffe in New York

Awesome run by Paula - 2.13-ish. A big negative split having gone through halfway in 1.13. She relentlessly wound it up and had dropped all of her world-class rivals with several miles to go. She looks in as good shape as ever really.

I wonder what she has done to upset the BBC though? Usually they lie at her feet, and last year they gave the NY race full coverage. This year nothing, barely a mention on radio 5Live. It was however refreshing to watch the race on without Foster & Cram droning on.


I have done sweet feckall for three weeks now, other than my Sunday runs. Since my marathon finish I am totally unfocused. I promised that at least I would do an hour in the gym after coaching Tues and Thurs, but instead I am nipping off down the pub instead.

This morning it caught up with me and I was just not up for the run. On a beautiful Dublin morning I trudged down the river and across the East Link, but turned for home rather than heading out to Sandymount and Blackrock.

I badly need some resolve here.
13 young athletes at Irishtown yesterday (Sat). Fresh from their Assistant Coach course Sean & Viv took the first part of the session with a couple of games, to which the group responded well. Cue to include a few more games in the future.

Then our first-ever (well possibly not from 1942) junior track & field competition - long jump. Standard not great but (a) we're not expecting great standards at this early stage and (2) these young athletes all live within a stone's throw of the track - our net has not drifted wider at this time. Results of the LJ competition

U8 Girls - Emma O'Leary 2.50 U10 Girls - Ella Thirroueiz 2.65 U11 Girls - Niamh Ferry 2.95, Isobel O'Leary 2.60, Juliette Storan 2.53, Sarah Maher 2.45 U12 Girls - Orla Murray 3.57, Rachel Maher 3.22
U11 Boys - James Woods 3.22 U13 Boys - Matthew Behan 4.62, Kevin Woods 3.75, Adam Lane 3,35 U15 Boys - Fiachra Thirroueiz 3.50

I'm also coaching Viv who is a pleasant young lady, just started at TCD studying PE. Her event is 800m. Her PB is 2.38 but last year ran only 3.00 dead. These are self-evidently mediocre times but I am impressed with her determination to persevere with the event and to improve. She loves her running and ought to be doing far better. This autumn we started early on upper-body conditioning as Viv was on crutches after hurting her foot, and she is now working with the small track squad for Thursday conditioning. Yesterday I decided we'd do a 600/200 timed sesson to get an approximation of where she's at right now. She belted off too fast and pulled up after 300m so test aborted. However she ran 3 x 150m very well, and I see a much better flow and stride length already so cause for optimism.

Friday, October 31, 2008

I've not yet told you Moira's story. Prepare to hide behind the couch. Moira is my coaching colleague - a very well qualified and experienced coach. Eight days ago she was coaching a number of young athletes upstairs in the aerobics studio, the Dublin weather being foul as per usual. She attempted to demonstrate an exercise involving one of the Steps. Next thing she was on her back with her foot at right angles to her leg. One look and I was outta there, down to Reception, arranging an ambulance.

Remarkably Moira kept her distress under control and made it so much easier on everyone, especially the kids. I thought that was incredibly brave.

At last, when the ambulance had carted Moira away to St Vincent's, one of the parents looked at me and said 'Roy, you look like you need a cup of tea'. Yeah right, down to The Oarsman in Ringsend for a few pints more like.
Five senior athletes at Irishtown last night (Thurs) - Patrick, Sean, Eoin, Liz & Viv. That is more or less the sum total of Crusaders' regular track squad. Others come and go, and there are notable athletes that are rarely if ever seen at the track. This excludes some good middle/long distance athletes who have their seperate routines.

Anyway we had a good indoor session. Weights (five lifts, 10 reps of each), a circuit, hopping/bounding for distance, stretches. A great group though they are generally a way off where I would expect senior athletes to be fitness-wise. However we have time.

It was lashing down so the few younger athletes that turned up were sent home.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Just seven young athletes at Irishtown Stadium, home of Crusaders AC last night. These are early days indeed, starting from scratch as far as junior athletics is concerned. Drills, speed ladder, 30m repeats, and a road run of a mile or so around Ringsend, avoiding the park which is now getting a bit scary in the dark.

As usual we finished with a 4 x 100m relay and I filled in on the girls' team and ran like a girl as we lost.

Monday, October 27, 2008

October Bank Holiday Monday can only mean the Dublin Marathon. So up at the crack of dawn (in fact an hour earlier as I had assumed my mobile alarm knew about the hour change) to volunteer for duty. Received a nice hat and jacket - also a volunteer medal. This latter was certainly not wanted by me but I managed to find a good home for it a little later.

So, crowd control at the junction of Merrion Square and Holles Street. Chilly but otherwise good running conditions and a record entry of just under 12,000. More than a twinge of envy as they all stream through, followed by the family race. Then helping with the big clean-up of the start area. Some great clothing was discarded, he best of which goes to the homeless.

Then over to the finish to just miss Ukrainian Andriy Naumov cross the line first in 2:11.6. They seem to have plenty of volunteers around the finish area so I walk back along the course to clap the incoming runners. My work colleague Grainne has started, but she says her training has consisted of a taper, but with no training beforehand. I thoroughly enjoy seeing everybody come through but we really are down to the last few, 7hrs 10min with still two miles to go, when I assume Grainne has dropped out.

A very well organised race. Surprised that iPods are allowed and somewhat annoyed at some accompanying pacing bikes. Very discourteous to other runners. I'm also disappointed that the crowd support is not great - nothing like Cork.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Happy enough with that - 10 miles in 1.38. Considering I've done little proper training since finally nailing a marathon at Longford a number of weeks ago. Too little running and too much Guinness. I need motivation.

Tomorrow I'll be up early doors to help out at the Dublin Marathon. Despite my resolve not to run another marathon I know what I'd sooner be doing tomorrow - not that I'm presently in shape to do it. I wonder if anyone will be over from Jersey to run it? Though I'm perfectly happy with my new life I have good memories of Jersey and I left behind some good friends at Jersey Spartan AC.

Now, I'll be updating this blog regularly. My commiserations to anyone that stumbles across it, but hiya anyway!