Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Holding out for the hero

OK, I admit it, every so often I get a notion that the form I would like to have is actually the form that I do have. Take last Sunday morning for example at the Fit Mag 10k at The Marina in Cork. Nice morning, Nice setting and a flat(ish) traffic free course. Alive with positive vibes I convinced myself to run out hard and hold on when the shit hit the fan, I could do that now 'cos I'm fitter than I have been see. Now how many time's has that plan not worked? I'v lost count.

But today was going to be different, I'v more running done in the last six week's than ever before (reason no.1 that my plan was to fail, fatigue), It's a perfect morning for running (reason no.2, I havn't raced an early morning race since Cork Marathon 2012, enough said!), I havn't raced since Coolagown at the end of June and I'v convinced myself I'm hardly even going to feel the road! (reason no. 3, sometime's with a lack of racing, confidence in the ability to suffer diminishes and when the hurt does come on it's hard to deal with, and to put it bluntly, you crack and pretty much fall to pieces) so the star's are aligning today. I'm going to go out hard, do the hero on it and bury myself when the hurt comes. 36 min I'd say, maybe even late 35's.

10K is 6.2 miles or thereabout's, I don't get too caught up in exact distance's, everyone has to run the same course but I do have a habit of running to mile pace. So, it's 6 mile's, the last 0.24 miles is irrelevant, just a case of holding it together to the finish line, everyone's goosed at that stage.

From the gun my leg's are like jelly. No panic settle and run through it. Panting hard as I find myself in a group of four running along the Marina towards Blackrock. The other three are more comfortable, I'm the one making noise. We hit the mile marker at 5.40, the pace has settled and I'v calmed down a bit, I'll be grand. Nice and flat.

Continuing a few degree's below 'flat out' I'm beginning to tell myself in a loud 'slightly' distressed voice that I'm fine (in my head). The hill out of Blackrock village is telling me otherwise and the conflict is starting to raise some doubts as I try to hang on my three companion's. They look like there's not a bother on them. Still four and I'm still the backmarker as we get slight reprieve on the short sharp descent at Blackrock castle. Mile 2 - 5.40.

It's four, two and four on the road, not far from the half way point of the Cork marathon and this otherwise pleasant section of pathway is doing nothing for me only bringing back memories of a badly paced Marathon where I found myself in trouble on the same section of road. I took the decision to back off (or to put it another way blew my lights big time) and waited for the next runners to come from behind ........ and the next to go hard again. As an attempt at consoling myself I'm calling the rest of the race an interval session. Mile 3 - 6.07.

The bridge over the motorway is pretty steep in this condition but I think it's flat to the finish after that. struggled to another 6.07 mile along the old line. That's the price of a fast start but you have to have a go. Back onto the Marina past the almost extinct Pairc Ui Choimh and onto the last 0.24 miles down the tree lined centre park road, training ground of many of Cork's finest runner's and cyclist's, as predicted everyone's goosed, a mix of 5k and 10k runner's struggle to the line as the clock tell's the inevitable truth about the work that lies ahead.

Having become accustomed to running 5k's over the last year or two and getting used to timing my effort to the distance the extra 5k came as a bit of a shock and I might have underestimated it a bit. Still though, had a 5.58 min/mile average, recovered well after, got a nice coffee in town and felt good on Monday's run. Have to keep the bright side out ;-).

It's only in the day's after that you can come up with a proper analysis of why you ran the way you did, the dust settles and you use the new found knowledge to mix in with whatever else you thought you knew. This is a big benefit of racing, it's important to get the balance right at the same time. Too much and you get stale, too little and you lack the intensity and speed that a regular racer will have.

Next up's going to be a 10 miler or half marathon, hopefully Sunday morning has put some manner's on me and I give the next distance a bit more respect.



Friday, 11 July 2014


I'v been fighting a losing battle with my recent diagnosis. I thought it would never happen. Me, self confessed master of the laissez faire school of training & racing, less is more, don't kill yourself etc. Anyone that already suffer's will probably tell me I had it coming and who am I to argue, I think I knew too and like many never did anything about it.

I'm told Obsessive compulsive running disorder is a lot more common than I think, a lot more people suffer from it than would care to admit. It's still a taboo subject but it still doesn't come as much of a consolation. The confusion as I jump out of bed at 6.30am (for the tenth day in a row!) and run into the morning sunrise has become the norm and The six unloved can's I bought last week stare longingly from the fridge as I increasingly opt for the water.

What make's the onset even more strange or maybe may actually be the cause, is the fact I'v only raced five times this year with three of these in January. Absence make's the heart grow fonder. The hunger has been growing under the skin. After a sluggish few month's where I couldn't get out of my own way I stopped trying to run fast and slowed it right down, got a pair of trainer's and the mileage crept up over the norm. At this stage it was too late, I didn't realise it but OCRD had already taken hold.

I came across a typical timeline on 'The Medical Mail' last week while struggling to come to term's with it.
The patient possibly
- Started running year's ago as a mean's of keeping fit during the off season for some other more loved sport, say cycling for example and 'hated' every minute of the six miles a week thro'out November. (Gave up on it in December)
- Went through a phase of 'standard run of the mill dislike' but carried on with it as a mean's of survival during a sporadic encounter with triathlon.
- Came to 'tolerate it' after discovering there were only three minutes lost to the fastest run split toward's the end of the his latest triathlon outing.
- Started 'liking it' after coming close to the thirty minute mark for five miles and comparing the varying standard of apre race tea and cakes between race's.
- Finally, chronic OCrD present's itself in the form of 'Loving it'. Clear and present challenge's pop up from time to time and resistance is futile.
So it's out of my control and I just have to roll with it. Ah well.

Being part of the organising committee at the Streets of Fermoy 5k series, a handy return to competition at the Coolagown 5K and the acuisiton by Grange-Fermoy AC of a pretty talented Moldovan to give us a few pointers have only served to compound my illness, to remedy it I'v entered my first 10k in four year's. The Fit mag 10K is on Sunday around the Marina and Blackrock area of Cork, I think there's a few lump's in it with a flat/downhill run into a pretty cool looking tree lined finishing tunnel. It'll serve as a bit of a sneak preview of a new 10 miler scheduled for September around the same road's and the Charleville half marathon in the middle of September...............

Surely they'll have come up with a cure by then.

If any readers are affected by the issues in this post go to a race and find comfort in the presence of your comrades.

Take care



Monday, 27 January 2014

Well, what would John Treacy do?

Coming through the other side of Christmas and into the new year with pretty good leg's (b.m.s) I went to Little Island last Sunday just east of Cork city to test myself at the Cork bhaa four miler, doesn't sound much but four mile's is plenty long enough to find out what kind of form your in after a three month break from racing. After forgetting the garmin I had to enquire as to what sort of pace we were doing at the half way point, this was enough to crack my shoulder companion (which wasn't my intention ..... honest) and after informing me we were running at 5.50 mile pace I was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable I was going, this time last year I struggled to maintain 6.10 pace for the same distance. A quick cup of tea, a few bun's and off home, happy to be taking my new found knowledge into the first big road race of the year, The John Treacy Dungarvan 10 mile on the following Sunday.

A far from ideal run up to the weekend had me happy enough not to expect too much on Sunday for a number of reason's, the main one being I have never ran well here and have alway's used it as a race to clear out the cobweb's and try to move up a gear from here on in toward's the rest of the season. At 10 mile's it's a bit of a stretch, although I'v eight 12/13 mile training runs in the leg's since the middle of November I still feel like I should have more at that distance to finish strongly.

Warming up with John (not Treacy) I was happy to find I still had last week's leg's on, cruising in the bright winter sunshine I had reason to believe that I might be on another good day, a vote of confidence from my shoulder buddy confirmed it, and like my last 10 miler in Mallow last March I decided to go out the road 6min. miling.

An unfortunately timed funeral procession delayed us just enough to be positioned perfectly under an impressive black thundercloud that dumped it's content's on the 1600 singlet clad runner's, nullifying any benefit that was gained from a warm up 15 min. earlier. Still, much happier here than as part of the funeral procession.

By the time we were going through the first mile marker it was a deluge, the heavy rain had formed deep pool's on both side's of the road connected by fast flowing stream's of ice cold water. Memories of what it's like to race a bike in these condition's was some consolation and going into mile two I was really enjoying it,  heavy hail being driven by 45 mph gust's from the left must have had some wondering what they were doing out here at all, but today my good leg's were having a major positive effect on my mindset.  For those with thought's of jacking it in, and we've all been there, today must have been difficult. I mean, what would John Treacy do? what would John Treacy think if a bit of sub zero hailstone was the deciding factor in any one runner calling it a day? I shudder to think. I know what he'd do. He'd nail it, he'd dish it out like there's no tomorrow, and he'd love every minute of it. He'd revel in it , his heart would sink with a break in the cloud's, the tougher the better, that's what he'd like. So, if you were to jack it in today, just don't let him see ya.

The elite's going through the first mile squinting through the downpour  (pic. courtesy Cork running blogspot)

So I'm there, cruising through mile three, mile four, through mile five at 29.45 in familiar company with sometime training partner's Mike and John from St. Catherine's and I'm totally in control with the most exposed part of the course almost behind us, around the hairpin and it's bye bye to the headwind. What would John Treacy do? he'd nail it right now, he'd do it to test his rival's, soften them up. I'm not J.T though, I'll sit tight, 10 mile's is 10 mile's and I'v still to pull off an hour at 10mph. I have to contain myself, I'm not home yet.

Mile 6 and I get a sting thro' the outside of both thigh's and it's not going away, as the meter's pass it's starting to take over all of my thought's and I'm having to reset the default setting's as the alarm bell's start to ring, this is not good. How can you go from being so comfortable to almost deranged in the space of four/five minutes. On another day I could possibly deal with it better but now I think I'm paying the price for the laid back attitude I brought to the race this morning. If I was more 'up for it' I'd have been ready for the influx of lactate and would have been ready to deal with it accordingly, I was so comfortable early on I had forgotten about the inevitable. What would JT do, he'd run through it of course, he'd look around him, feel the pain and soak it up, soak it up just that 1% more than his rival's until he'd cracked them.

I cracked with two and a half to go, mentally first as alway's. It's the head that decide's what too much pain is on any given day. the leg's concur. Massive dissapointment for a few second's, pull yourself together, go again, to my surprise I manage to get going again which lead's me to thinking I shouldn't have cracked in the first place. "FFS what was that about, there they go up onto the main road". Torrent's of personal verbal abuse ensue and the last two mile's are ran in desperation and hope, maybe the pacer is running with a lot to spare. Downhill with a tailwind for the last mile, maybe I'll make it up? I didn't look at the watch, just ran. 60.10 when the clock came into view, 60.43 crossing the line. A lot faster than what I'd thought coming down in the van, but the manner at how it came about?  Somewhere between bemused and amused it's a good start to the year and the sense of relief on crossing the line after an effort like that is worth a million dollar's.

50mtrs to go, the sufferfest is almost at an end and the winter cobwebs are a thing of the past
(pic. courtesy Dave Colman - DC Images

What would JT do? he'd give himself a good talking to, that's what he'd do.



Thursday, 16 January 2014

It's not about the bike

Scene 1

- Enter myself. Lacing up my shoes, tired and dishevelled. Still trying to wind it up after a laid back Christmas. The skies are heavy with rain and I'm somewhere between 'not giving a rat's ass' and 'I better do a bit' with two week's to my first race.
- Enter the coach. Lacing up his shoes, Motivated and eager, annoyingly so. They're not all like this. Just my one, that's how he does it. He used to cycle, now he run's. Just like me.

- Yawn's a  "Hi"
- "Hey man, your a bit sluggish? not to worry, there's a long year there."
- "Ah ya, I'l be grand"
- "Pfffft, you'll be grand! what have you been at since October?"
- "I'v been tipping away, *u*k you very much, matter of fact I'm quite chuffed with myself, you got me on a bad day."
- "Ha, your getting old I suppose. You probably need to up your game a bit. You might get in some sort of shape for April and May if you start getting a bit specific now. The impending trip to the Dungarvan 10 for your annual hiding is just around the corner, good to see your in the right form to keep up the tradition."
Coach get's dirty look.
- "What tradition?"
I get a confused one back, confused because he can't figure out why I don't know what he's talking about.
- "Go out too fast, lock up with lactate and hang on for dear life for the last 8 miles only to end up coming in a minute slower than your last attempt"...............
-"nyyeah, well, I'll probably go out handy this time"
-"If you got yourself fit you could go out fast and and hold it to the finish"
-"Don't worry, there's a long year there, Either way, It'll (Dungarvan 10) clear out the cobweb's and get the race head in gear."

Conversation fade's to make way for one of the many hill's on the route. A few lap's on a local trail. The rain's coming down heavy from a thick bank of fog clinging to the top's of the surrounding trees and the stream that split's the loop down the middle is swollen and brown. If I came on my own I'd be in heaven, but I'v got to entertain this guy. Glad to say we're on a par as I start to find my feet.

-"I can go uphill just like you"
- panting "that's promising, but I'm no mountain goat"
-"not today anyway"
-"If you've got it don't be afraid to test me"
-"Your grand, I'm enjoying this pace, today is all about the intrinsic benefit's of getting out for a run and all the benefit's that go with it. Ya know, endorphin's an all that"
-"WTF, is that really you I'm listening to? a f***in philosopher now. You must have been out last night or else your getting soft."

Conversation's die and we get comfortable in the silence. A heightened awareness of our surround's put's the small talk to bed. It's irrelevant. The rain get's heavier, the tree's get greener, eleven miles done, I could stay out here all day like this but there's stuff to be done. The deep green's and brown's make way for the drab grey's of tarmac, concrete and raincloud's on the last two mile's into town.

Whatever happen's in the meantime , come Sunday we'll get up and do it again.  



Wednesday, 25 September 2013

"This is going to be a good one"

 I entered the Charleville half marathon a couple of month's back with the intention of having a good crack off it and with a week to go I had no reason to think I couldn't. An out of focus 84min. half in Blarney led me to believe I could knock a bit off it in what was billed 'The flattest fastest half marathon in the country'. I had no reason to believe otherwise as I'v ridden the same road's numerous time's over the year's, they were flat back then and unless there were a few EU funded hill's installed in the meantime (stranger thing's have happened) it was going to be pretty flat. Flat, straight, scenic, big number's, slightly downhill first mile, all the ingredient's for a fast run.

I knew I was starting to take thing's serious in the preceding week as I started hitting the hay an hour earlier than normal, cutting back on the coffee intake and even started sitting down whenever the opportunity presented itself. With this new found dedication and the strain on my everyday willpower I convinced myself that Sunday was going to be a good one. I shoved the elephant out of the room (have I enough mileage done?, what about tempo run's?) and concentrated on the positives, (I can run three 5.40 miles in a row, surely on a good day I can run a flat thirteen at 6.10/6.20). I'll never be accused of being too scientific in my approach to racing, I like to keep thing's simple.

Sunrise over the Nagle mountain's on the road to Charleville

Sunday morning, blue skies, 16deg C. The drive across north Cork was nice, a light fog giving way to crisp sunshine over the Nagle mountains accompanied by some nice tune's and strenghtening thought's of a solid run in over an hour's time. When the head is right and the stars align there is a lovely rhythm to a race day like this. Rise early for a bite (literally) to eat, have a coffee, lie down again, get up again, throw the gear in a bag. Get in the van, put on some music and zone out, all in slow motion. Get to Charleville, runner's warming up, who's here? rising heart rate even though experience tell's me it doesn't matter who's here because I'll end up racing myself in the end. Thought's of the level's of suffering involved if I'm going to go quicker today than the last outing don't bother me too much as I'm up for it. Warming up with Mike, he's on the same boat and looking for a time to get him keyed up for Dublin in October. Runner's reducing their warmup to within a couple of hundred metres of the start line mean's it's nearly time to go. Come ........ On ........... Get the show on the road.

A wind and gravity assisted 5.50 first mile was a bit faster than intended but make hay while the sun shine's I say, I pull it back a bit for mile two and set the watch to show average pace instead of minutes per mile pace. Don't know why, never did before. Through mile two pretty comfortable, mile three doubting Thomas makes his presence felt, "thirteen mile's ooh, your feeling a bit adventurous today" average 6.10. Mile four and the road doesn't look that flat from here and my leg's concur. The group I'm in disintegrate's pretty fast and by mile five I'v found a comfortable pace at the head of a group of four or five. The strange sight of  four runner's pulling out in the space of a few hundred metres and then some more was a clear sign that the temperature was starting to take it's toll. Relieved to have found a reason for the decreasing average pace, now 6.15, and starting to feel unsure of how I might handle the next eight miles.

Approaching the halfway mark in Kilmallock there wasn't a whole lot to be happy about either, leg's getting heavier by the mile I threw back a gel. This was significant as I havn't had a gel in two year's, I'm not convinced by their effectiveness or their dental health benefit's. Five minutes later and I start to find my feet and pull back a few runner's, jesus those gel's work. "OK, time to start pulling back the average", Unfortunately I would have needed two more of them to get me the last five mile's to the finish and the 'come down' off the only one I had was dramatic. Officially 'bate' with three to go I took a stroll thro' the last water station, this was significant too, I hadn't done that since last year's Cork to Cobh at roughly the same distance. This disgust's me as I'm out for a run and not a stroll, so did I actually 'run' the Charleville half marathon?, most of it I suppose.

Post race, a lot of runner's were scratching their head's and wondering where they left their race leg's. Heat and humidity and possibly a bit of over enthusiasm to get a fast time on a fast course all played their part in the slog. the benefit of a hard day at the office will show up at a later stage in the form of a good day at the office, what doesn't kill ya makes you stronger they say.

A steep learning curve over the last few week's on the longer distance's, I'm a bit wiser now as to how to handle these race's. Increased mileage is a must, almost as important physically as psychologically. When you start to doubt yourself early on it fester's in the brain and the race to the line become's more of a struggle than something to be enjoyed.

let's not over analyse, who gives a shit at the end of the day. A run in the sun, that's what it was and who's fit to complain about that round here.

M 1 - 5.51
M2 - 6.12
M3 - 6.16
M4 - 6.31
M5 - 6.37
M6 - 6.40
M7 - 6.36
M8 - 6.24
M9 - 6.46
M10 - 7.03
M11 - 7.48
M12 - 6.58
M13 - 6.37

Av. 6.39


Saturday, 14 September 2013

To hell and back in 12 minutes

Apart from the dizzy spells and shortness of breath brought on by going from zero to 13 miles an hour in 30 second's the first mile is pretty easy. Adrenaline ease's the pain and your waiting for the moment where you find your rhythm. The journey to hell starts when we hit the one mile marker at the bottom of a 3/4 mile climb.

The last 5K of the summer season wasn't loaded with heavyweight's which made it a more open affair than normal. Frank Hayes and Brian Hegarty representing two of Cork's heavyweight club's, East Cork and Leevale put daylight between themselves and the next man from the off. This left seven or eight of us scratching our head's to see who was going to take up the running behind.

Next up was Conor Tierney, I decided to go with him. That's when the trip to hell started, joined by an inform Johnny O Sullivan (when is he not?), we were now a trio half way up the climb following the two leaders. Trying to ignore the accumulating lactic acid is a skill in itself and something you become accustomed to over time. Fitness levels will dictate how much of it you can deal with and a strong mind can put up with a lot too. I'm up for it tonight, it's kind of a home race. Neighbouring St. Nick's AC are running it and the start is a 10 minute drive from my place.

Pleasantly surprised and growing in confidence going over the top with these two, Johnny moved it up a gear to open a gap and leave us where he found us. Now I'm the weaker of the two, struggling to keep form and my breathing has gone wildly out of control. Hearing footsteps from behind is soul destroying, the thought of someone else joining the party is frightening. Then they disappear. Hey, we must be moving, whoever it was is after cracking. The intensity is insane, the noise in my head is deafening and it's just noise, no music, no word's, just a loud machine in a noisy dark factory. I couldn't be further away from the controlled effort of last Sunday's half marathon. At the end of mile two I'm pretty much out of it trying to hang onto my East Cork companion, he know's it too.

It's a novelty to see the leader of the race with a little over a mile to go, ok it's a long straight but still it's a plus to know I'm in the same parish as him. Still hanging onto Tierney inside the last mile and the head finally goes. I don't know what caused it this time, I knew the threat from behind had dissipated? I knew I wouldn't beat Tierney in a sprint for the line? am I getting soft letting him off? happy with fifth? Can't put my finger on it but the head went. When the head goes the leg's go. The head alway's goes first. You decide to give up, then you release yourself from the torture of the last 10 minute's, still suffering all the way to the line but at a different level, you still have to get to the line, your still being chased from behind, there's a good time at stake.

Pulling strange face's on the finishing straight, bystander's wondering "why do they do it at all?", crossing the line, it's finally over. The pressure release is huge, jelly leg's force me to take the nearest seat on the road against the side door of a ford focus. Quote of the night from an old friend "Sure these thing's are nothing to you".

Next stop, Charleville half, lacking on the mileage but happy with the form.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Cork Half Marathon

Saturday 6pm

"Should be done and dusted at this stage". The original plan to head for the Dingle half on Saturday morning didn't happen, working late, kid's starting swimming lesson's and life in general decided The three hour trip to west Kerry wasn't going to happen. Luckily there's a plan b and even a plan c to mull over for the evening. The Cork half marathon in Blarney is on at 11 in the morning and there's a 12 mile trail run from Ballyhooley to Killavullen and I'm finding it hard to choose. The half in Blarney is the logical choice but the trail run has a big curiosity and novelty draw. In the end a night of heavy rain has me scampering for a lift to Blarney early Sunday morning.

Indecision and a lack of conviction has thrown me out of focus and I'm finding it hard to visualise a plan. All week I could see myself running hard all the way to Dunquin, now I have to contend with trying to memorise the road out through Waterloo and to the turnaround at Grenagh. In the early nineties I'd have ridden in this same road in a group of forty or fifty cyclists 20 minutes down on the stage winner in the Blarney three day. The state I would have been in and the amount of water under the bridge in the meantime leave's me clueless of what's in store. All I'v got is a course profile that goes slightly up for the first half of the race and slightly down for the second.

Still sleepy it's a struggle to get in gear. Last night's rain has stopped which mean's I will actually line up for the start, I don't mind the rain but when your not up for it, it can be hard to face. This is my longest race in 12 month's and mentally I need to get to grip's with it without letting it get on top of me.

Sunday 11.04am

"Take it handy, ease into it". Sweating more than normal after half a mile, negativity rear's it's ugly head "f***in head cold I bet, this'll be a disaster". Looking for the positive's, the leg's don't feel too bad. One thing that's hard not to notice is the much calmer pace than I'v become accustomed to in the five milers and five K's of the past few month's.

That was quicker than I'd planned, ease off a small bit. Difficult now as already I'm part of a strong group with plenty of shelter in number's. I'm not confident at this distance, confidence can only come with the knowledge that you've got the mile's in the leg's and at this stage I'm doubtful. How can I let this group go?

Increasing gradient and a steady pace that's a bit too much for me forces me to leave them off, It's not good for the head but on my own between group's I settle down a bit. runner's are passing me in one's and two's, any encouragement from them is met with a blank stair and silence or a grunt. Oh the smug satisfaction and faux concern as one runner passes another. This time I'm on the receiving end. "well done, keep going!!" "WTF"

Ok, starting to settle in to a group here. I reckon I'm the youngest. For comfort I tell myself they're all seasoned marathon runner's, they're tough as nail's and it's a good group to be in. Sweating a lot, there's temporary relief as I start to feel the groove, The sound effects of six pairs of feet hitting the ground in unison over and over again is hypnotic, no word's spoken. I don't know if I'm totally concentrated on the job or if I'm away with the fairies. "Stay with these guy's to mile 9 and see if you can up the pace to the finish", "Top 10 in the lost sheep, where did that come from? jeez Timmy's flying",  "Might go to Lombard's to watch the match later".

There's David McCarthy. He'd walk at this pace. Nearing the end of his season he's probably down to watch a few friend's. "How do I notice these thing's?, did anyone else see him?" The incline has increased and I'm comfortable in the group but the thought of the suffering involved if I push on at this stage is keeping manner's on me and the head's not as strong as it could be. This is mile five, eight to go and it's still a long way out.

Still climbing we're fragmenting a bit and six soon become's three two's. That's Ok as I'm half of the first two heading for the turnaround. "must book the van in for the DOE", I'm starting to think that maybe I'll be able to finish strong, I'll hold on another while, I'm still a bit doubtful.

The leader's have passed us in the opposite direction, it's an out and back course, They're motoring. 66 minutes will win it today for Alan O Shea. "How do you run that fast?" They're a distraction. Big gap's between the first three open the floodgate's for the rest who've now become a steady stream of faster runner's than me. Clubmate Brian passes me looking very comfortable, I wondered if he could sustain the pace he went out the road at, now I'v no doubt, he's on the way home looking strong and can smell the line.

Five to go. This is what I'm used to, feeling Ok? I step on the gas a bit and I'm able to take it, the guy who's been dangling out in front of me for the last few mile's has just gone backward's under my left shoulder and now my back's up. "Keep it steady". I'm starting to pass and recognise some of the concerned runner's who passed me in the early stage's. "Well done, keep it going"

Hitting a few long straight section's on the approach to Waterloo I can see a lot of runner's, they're all f***ed at this stage. I know because we've all been there. I was there thirty minutes ago and I'll be there again but for now I'm running controlled and feeling strong and I'll pick a lot of them off in the next twenty minute's, still sweating a lot, worry about that later. For now just enjoy it.

Relieved to have got out of the morning stupor I'm in cruise mode, controlled breathing, controlled heart rate (No stat's, heart monitor strap went missing in February). Still holding back, this state is rare and has to be enjoyed when it come's along, leaving the leg's up to their own device's covering good ground with relative ease, I'm looking at the 11 mile marker to throw it all out there to the finish. The finish is Just short of the more intense five K's that I'm more used to.

Now I'm in familiar territory. Confident of getting to the line in one piece if  I open it up at this stage, I start to scream a bit and the muscles start to tighten. Quite alright in these circumstances, starving the muscles of oxygen, they're perfectly within their right's to make me hurt. Think of something to take my mind off the pain. "It's Kate's tracksuit day tomorrow and don't forget to put the tin whistle in her bag", "concentrate for f*** sake". I'v passed 10 or 12 runner's in the last two  mile's but one of the first I passed is still hanging in there. The fourth lady on the road has the third in her sight's and her ability to deal with the change of pace is impressive. I'm running pretty hard.

Two to go, settle a bit, still picking off runner's. It's a new experience to have a solid finish at this distance. Probably a first in fact. Now onto smooth tarmac, it's a pleasure to run on, to know what way your feet are going to land, it's just one less thing to think about. Subconciously easing off the gas "wonder who's around tonight? think I deserve a guinness, not a bad day's work" "Ah Jesus, your drifting again, get it together, take it all the way to the finish".

Nice decline and still running strong "I remember this from '91/'92. Blarney three day, covered in shite, cold, wet, numb, 20 minute's down, rolling over the line cross eyed after four hour's racing around North Cork on a wet easter Sunday". "Come on for f*** sake, finish it off". Stinker of a ramp with 100 mtrs to go, just manage to keep the form over the top and freewheel to the line.

A funny old race, 84 minutes was 6 minutes faster than my first half this time last year and has me some bit contented. Inconsistent mile time's consistent with an an inconsistent mind set. The really good day, when the concentration doesn't waver and the sweats don't come 'till near the end, going to have to wait for another day for that. They're the day's we'll alway's look for.

It was a good day all round for Grange AC. Brian ran his best race in 10 year's finishing in 82 minute's. Alan ran a comfortable 87minutes nursing an abdominal injury. Clo ran a pb in 91min., Maurice ran his umpteenth half in 92min., Joan ran 93min. Matt was one of two runner's to survive a bee sting under his eye and came home in 97 minutes. Everyone happy except for the bee RIP.

I got to see the match and have a few pint's too. Now where'd I leave that tracksuit?