When I was 28

When I was 28 I was never this tired.

One of the things you look back on once you have children is all the luxurious lie-ins you had and how you squandered them. I never knew what 5 in the morning looked like – well I did, but always from the other end with a feed of pints and a bag of chips in me. Now I am best friends with 5 in the morning and not because I suffer from insomnia or like to go running before breakfast.

Back in 1998 I was working nights on a runway in Cork airport. The next time you look out the window of your Ryanair bird of freedom as you land/take-off from Cork Airport – that’s my work (well,the contractor, but I was in charge). Night work is a novelty for a while but when you’re doing it for 6 days a week for six months it tends to interfere with your social life.

You also see 5 in the morning regularly.

The big problem with working on a runway at night is that your work gets tested at 6 in the morning when the first plane lands. This can interfere with your morning’s sleep. On one occasion (well, two) I ‘got the phone call’  that tells you that the pilot of a landing plane has ‘noticed something’ on the runway.

Once one of those things was a JCB. Trust me when I say this is not a great way to be summonsed back to work after 3 hours sleep.

1998 was the year I started to realise that my 20’s would some day come to an end. But I was determined to not let them go without a fight. Firstly I sold the motorbike.

And bought one of these:



This was the fastest road bike around at the time and once I saw it I actually suffered from a physical reaction that can only be described as a combination of love and lust. I had never before and have never since felt such a deep sense of emotion for an inanimate physical object. I suppose I was living in the space in the Venn Diagram where the Honda Design and Engineering Department and thrill seeking personality types overlap.

Pure joy.

Until I went around a bend in West Cork and the Venn diagram of the ditch and my body overlapped and I ended up in an ambulance with lots of people looking at me (and at each other) with worried looks.

I think they were only worried that one of my very painful broken bones had gone through one of my soft bits (I was having great trouble breathing).

I was only worried about my motorbike, my beautiful object of desire and how sore it looked.

After lots of watching, x-rays and testing me they let me go with lots of bad bruising, a broken shoulder blade (the sorest thing in the world),  a few broken ribs,  a cracked helmet and lots of damaged leather.

I learned two things from that accident:

1. Don’t be a twat

2. Always wear your protection.

I may have forgotten lesson no. 1 from time to time but I have never forgotten lesson no. 2.

holidays in 1998 were back to the Greek Islands. Still amazing but never the same as the first time – isn’t everything in life like that?

On the running front (now, not in 1998) I am starting the slow road back to decent running. From my peak of October I dropped to a low of zero miles two weeks ago. I went from happily chewing up mid-week 10 milers to just being able to push out a long slow 5 miler at the weekend. So now I’m back to grinding out midweek 6 milers. They’ll grow to 8s, then 10s and 12s and then onto marathons and beyond.


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