Proper Marathon

I have agreed to run a proper marathon next weekend. One with numbers and chip timing and loudspeakers and crowds and a big clock.

Back when it was colder my Brother-in-law suggested we run the marathon together. I wasn’t fast enough with my excuses so here we are.

This is the Cork City Marathon which I last ran in 2010 (I think). I have no great aspirations and hope to have a bit of fun on the day. My training for it was a bit haphazard but I got over the 20 mile mark a few times and still had my sense of humour at the end of those runs.

The upside to this marathon is that it has great crowds and lots of other runners competing in the half-marathon and the marathon relay. The downside is that everyone else is running faster than you.

The weather (by Irish standards) is looking a bit warm for Sunday morning so the best I am hoping for is to work on my tan and that some kid has a garden hose and wants some target practice out around mile 22.

My taper for the marathon is going the way I like it to go – no taper. I tried the 3 week taper with the big carb loading exercise before – all you get is heavy legs and a big belly. For my taper I shorten the mid-week runs to about 10k, keep the weekend long run at 20 miles and deplete my carb stores with fasted running and upping my fat/protein intake (salads, cheese, olives, eggs, nuts, etc).

Not for everyone but it works for me.





If you are so inclined you can travel back in time in the archive of this blog to see a post about a piece of architecture in Berlin; the Shellhaus.

You’re probably not inclined so I’ve saved you the effort and taken another photo of it. The form of this building made such a lasting impression on me 10 years ago that I modeled the shape of the back of my house on it. It is modern but organic, linear and curved all at the same time.

As this is supposed to be a running blog I can update you that I’m planning a marathon in three weeks and took these photos this morning while running in Berlin. Always multitasking.

shiny new escalator handrail. So monochromatic I thought I’d lost my colour vision.

Appel Enregistre

I was in Paris for work this week. I didn’t get a run in but had had an early morning run last Sunday which made up for a few days off.

I was browsing through a second hand music store on Sunday ( and picked up a few cds (anyone for some Willy DeVille?) and a dvd from Claude Lalouch – it came with a bonus track of C’etait un rendezvous. That was good enough for me.


I’ll give a general running overview and update soon and offer a hostage to fortune by committing to a more frequent updating of the blog.

I was out for a 10 miler this evening, the usual route. 3 miles flat, 2 uphill, 2 down and 3 Home. The running equivalent of a pint of plain. With these runs you can never tell if your body and mind will agree to work together and postpone their complaining until after the shower.

Well, tonight I rolled a 7 and became a passenger in my own reality.

10 years and 32 seconds

I ran my first marathon 10 years ago. If you are so inclined you can trawl through the back catalogue of this blog and read about it in gory detail. It was in Cologne, the German party city, so it was full of people in a carnival mood banging pots and pans as you ran past. My two memories of the race were watching some poor souls running the ultra event and the fog of pain in the last few kilometers as even the gentle rise of the bridge across the Rhine felt like a Grand Tour category 1 climb.

After that race I promised myself I’d never run a hilly course and would NEVER EVER run an ultramarathon.

But, like a teenager dabbling with gateway drugs, within a few years I found myself lost on a mountain 40km from the start and 40km from the finish of an ultramarathon.

Fast forward 10 years and after a year of more or less running when the urge took me – which wasn’t very often- and with no target race or training plan I entered a marathon last Thursday and lined up in the biting cold last Saturday morning to run it. It was an MCI marathon and was a low key affair. I’m always a bit taken aback by how much the members of MCI treat running a marathon on a Saturday morning as being a bit like being involved in the Tidy Towns Committee – a bit unusual but generally normal. I feel like screaming it’s freezing and we seem to be running a marathon! What’s wrong with us? But, I suppose perception and participation are interconnected and everyone’s hobbies are a bit sisyphean when viewed from the outside.

the runners were a mix of those with natural ability (very fast) and those that found some sort of peace and freedom in activity (much slower). I thought I was part of the first group but am probably  more a part of the second.


The course was on my regular running route in Cork – around the Blackrock line and Mahon walk.

5 laps and an out and back from the start/finish line at the local GAA club. I ran on an empty stomach and had two bottles of water with vitamin tablets and a gel at around mile 23. The first lap was just to get the feel for the course and then I lost count of the laps until the end of the fourth lap when I realised that a bit too much recreational pissing, taking photographs and tweeting meant that I’d have to run a bit harder for the last lap to break the 4 hour mark. The 4 hour mark just acts as a personal goal as it tells me I’m at least as fit as I was 10 years ago (but maybe not as fit as I was 5 years ago).

With about 2 miles to go I met the Race Director, Aidan Hogan, as he was chaperoning Jerry Forde around the course. I thanked him for organising the race and told him I may have done too much sightseeing to break the 4 hour barrier. Aidan thought I could still do it, which was easy to say as he was cycling. But as I turned onto the Marina by the Atlantic Pond I thought I might as well give it a go. I finished my water and at Blackrock village I put my head down and headed for the line. If you’ve ever watched TV athletics you’ll know what the kick is. The final spurt for the line. In my head that’s what the last 1.5 miles was like. From the outside you’d have seen a man huffing and puffing a bit more that seemed healthy for his age.


I crossed the line 32 seconds faster than in Cologne way back in 2007. I collected my medal, had some tea and sandwiches and walked the half mile back to my car. After a shower and short doze on the sofa it was back to normal dad duties (shopping, dog walking, janitor, etc).


A great day and I’d recommend it to all. Thanks to the MCI for organising such an enjoyable and accessible event. I think I’ll do some more of them.


The Groove

I hit 20 miles for the weekly long run for the first time in about 6 months. I’d been hovering around 18 miles for a few months after having had a fairly lazy summer but I never felt the need to push any further given that I have no race plans.

The weeknd run was one of the rare ones where after about 10 or 12 miles of what I call process running , that is being fully engaged with the run, I finally hit the groove and the connection between physical activity, mental engagement and biological energy systems all diverged.

What does this feel like? It feels like you’re a passenger in your own body and the running feels effortless. You feel like a kid. If the run did nothing else it made me promise to try a few more longer runs.

What’s a longer run? It’s different from one person to another but for me it’s about 2.5 – 3 hours plus.