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.