Black And White Cows

Tour of Ulster Day 2 Derry to Enniskillen. Tuesday, August 12th
A second tough day with heavy rain and a fresh headwind for almost 60 miles. But suddenly, after lunch in Ballyshannon, the sun came out, the wind was to our back, and we scorched the tarmac home. This was our just reward for hard graft and minding one another all morning.
Coming through heavy rain and strong wind I thought to myself that the Irish proverb “May the wind be always at your back…” definitely did not originate in the North West.
Highlights:

  • the fantastic hard shoulder road from Lifford to Ballyshannon
  • the race to Enniskillen
  • mighty craic on the road
  • and a great friendly hotel in the town.

On a personal level, as I was hurting along several sections of the journey, I remembered my brother-in-law Jim Shine. I am grateful to be alive and able to cycle. I am grateful for buddies to pull me through the dark spots along life’s road. Just for the present moment, I am grateful that I can combine my love of the rothar with the stunning landscape by Lough Erne in Fermanagh.

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Happy birthday, Mick

Unconnected with cycling and the Endurance Challenge 2068 event, please read this final bit under strict advisement…(That worked, I’d say…now you are curious!)
I did also have a further strange thought. Be assured it is only because I have come to understand that my audience appreciate honesty and integrity that I even dare to put it in writing. This blog has developed from merely recording the factual, to seeking out my slant on life’s little treasures. You see, each one of us has a little strange thought or two from time to time, and these strange thoughts must be acknowledged. They must be loved by their owner! Here it is: I wondered if black and white cows might like to compare birthmarks! Along tbe lines of Dairy Tinder.

Harking back to last night’s quote from Robin we are given a little dose of madness and must not let it go to waste. Surely, though, someone has had such a similar thought… but may have not shared it.

I’d say two pints might go down well! But, first…a recovery drink-shake and some vitamin C. Now there’s another….

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The Derry Air. Moving Air is Called Wind

Tonight the update will be short and sweet, unlike the spin today with Endurance Challenge. A whopping 107 miles from Armagh to Derry through five of the Ulster Counties.
If Heineken did wind, t’would be the best wind, and always at your back. I think today’s wind was supplied by Murphy’s stout. Granted we had tailwind for an hour. After that, we didn’t.

Highlights:

  • group spirit, despite the conditions
  • lunch in Randalstown together with impromptu entertainment by young Irish world dancing champion
  • the view from Barnsmore Gap
  • the great people of Northern Ireland. They are so friendly and they are do delighted to welcome us here.
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Barnsmore Gap, County Tyrone.

Did you notice the GoPro speed camera on Sean Buckley’s helmet? Penalty points for some of us today!
The leaba is now calling, and I’ll not be found wanting. Tomorrow we head south to Enniskillen. I’ll be dreaming of a tailwind. Just hope it doesn’t turn into a nightmare.
Just heard the sad news that Robin Williams has died. I just had to google him and came up with… “You’re only given one little spark of madness. Don’t lose it”.
There’s a few Cork lads here who seemed to have been given a double dose, and they sure know how to use it!

 

Beam Us All Up, Scotty

The Marine Climb, Friday, 8th August, 2014.

I spoke with Michael Deegan before this evening’s race. We were discussing technology. Michael explained the wonder of an industrial machine being repaired remotely. A technician can log on to the connected machine and tweak the settings without the expense of a call-out. It reminded me of a trucker’s story. Apparently, when crossing the Alps, a driver carrying a heavy load can dial up and download extra horsepower. It can be expensive, so it is bought only for the minimum time needed, perhaps an hour or two.
For the Marine Climb, runners could do with a bit of pre-paid horsepower!  Some might need it for perhaps only forty minutes, whereas those at the back of the field might be happy to pay over the odds for any magic that would bring them from Dungarvan to Pulla to lessen time sore muscles need to work beyond exhaustion.

This is race number ten in the 2014 WWAC Summer Racing Series. It is the tenth evening of wonderfully-organised running here in County Waterford, on  the SE Irish coast. (I’m writing more and more for an international audience, wouldn’t ya know?) Following a deluge of  summer thunderstorms during the morning and early afternoon, the “Lookout” was bathed in warm sunshine for the 7.30pm starting gun. One foot above sea-level. Christy set us off on our merry way through the town and out the Cork road. There was plenty chit-chat, and some serious advice on offer, and because this was my first attempt at this tough event, I was more than happy to soak it all in. Go easy. Steady up. Save yourself for later. Made me feel like a running virgin, it did! Of course, deep down, I knew that all this expert advice was a result of experience, and I’d be a fool to ignore it.

Mile 1: nice and easy. Have the craic. Talk to the usual suspects. Mary’s doing this race next week, Johnny is doing that one. I made a point of thanking Ger Wyley, who was marshalling the roundabout at the top of Mary Street. Onwards then to the edge of town. My buddy Kevin took time out from a busy schedule at Statoil to be there to skoot  me on faster. In fact, the large number of spectators made this race easier. There’s no doubt about it…a kind encouraging word works wonders! Time: 9:30. That’s ok.  Perfect pacing.

Mile 2: I did notice that I was about three or four yards ahead of a few buddies, and it was decision time. Up ahead, at about thirty yards, I noticed a group of about four, and I ignored all my pre-race plans and moved closer bit by bit. There’s a slight rise along the seafront after Statoil Daybreak garage, and it’s not the place or the time to be a hero. It took me a full mile and a bit to close the gap. Pace: 9:34.  Feeling good.

Mile 3: On  the downhill section to Killongford Bridge, I lengthened my stride, and stood tall. I did not push hard, as I was well aware of the serious hill ahead. A hard short incline got me to ring Cross with elevated heart-rate, where I was once again guided safely across traffic by Ger. “It’s easier to drive this”, I mentioned. Hard to argue with that, says Ger! And thus, it began! The lower slopes of the Drum Hills. The mile marker ahead was hidden in slanting evening sunlight, and when I did arrive I was quite pleased that the first half of the race had gone pretty much to plan. Pace: 9:43. T0tal to there = 28:47. Knowing that I’ve not had a run since Ballymac two weeks ago, and my previous 8:45 pace of necessity slipped back towards my jogging 9:30 pace, I was exactly where I expected to be!

Mile 4: There was approx 175 feet of climbing on this mile and I was on my own. I knew that I would lose lots of time if I lost my focus, and therefore the easiest way to keep a good pace was to push on a bit harder and watch my heart-rate. My legs felt good. Again, there was a group of about six ahead of me, but in fact they were making good headway. Then guess what happened? I was a good thirty yards behind approaching the water station at the four mile marker, and some of them actually stopped to drink. Before I could say “Bob’s your Uncle”, I was right on their heels! Pace: 10:19. Very happy with that. Average HR 157, and feeling that I might be able to push on a bit and hopefully hold it to the finish.

The hardest mile ahead, I think. Mile 4 to 5.

The hardest mile ahead, I think. Mile 4 to 5.

Mile 5: The toughest mile, I think. Once again, it was made easier by virtue of the many locals out cheering us along. Similar rise again at approx 180 feet. What suits me however, is that the gradient is constant. No really steep sections, followed by easier bits. It’s a course for endurance over power. Speaking of which, I passed Onra Power and Linda. Onra’s gonna kill me for quoting this, but comments on the course are part-and-parcel of what makes a race memorable! As I passed, and offered a word of encouragement, Onra said to her running-mate  “Now, you’ll be in one of his stories”, referring of course to this blog. You see, word is getting out there that I’m doing a blog, and secretly perhaps many want to be in there!!! I was chuffed at the comment, but was unable to reply in person as my mind was yards ahead of my legs. I was feeling good, and pushed a bit harder again before arriving at the N25 Cork road junction. The section to the lay-by hurt me more as I attempted to close another gap. Finally, the turn-off at the top of the hill appeared, 560 feet above sea-level. The “Lookout” seemed a long way back, now!. Again, I want to mention that stewarding along by the Seanchaí was top-class, and traffic was halted for our safety. Finally, I upped my pace to race the much-anticipated downhill, a full half-mile of bliss that turned to torture as I attempted to pass myself out. I passed Geraldine Barry, who seemed shocked that my Ballymac buddy Tricia was not with me! Geraldine & I had mentioned before the start that we might likely be running together for much of the evening. Geraldine was having none of it, though, and was out of sight quite early on. As I pushed on at my best sprint, I realised that I was not able to hold it. Sure, I know why, as I’ve been biking rather than running between races! I had Denise  Nugent just ahead of me, but when I tried to catch her, my legs gave way. Or, to be precise, my lungs and my legs! Final mile: 8:13 Elevation: approx 80 feet for half mile, then similar downhill to finish.

The Marine Bar, Pulla. 500 feet above sea-level. Journey's END

The Marine Bar, Pulla. 500 feet above sea-level. Journey’s END

Overall time: 57:28
Verdict: Really pleased with that.
Target for 2015: with similar conditions, I’ll hit 55:00. Now, there’s a good solid goal!
Stewarding: Excellent, as per usual
Value for money: €5.00 to borrow a phrase…sure, where would you get it?

An athlete who caught my eye? My neighbour Noelle Conway. Noelle is another back-of-the-pack runner. She epitomises what running can be all about. Give it a good shot. Remember you’re not 21 any more, and enjoy the occasion. I admire you Noelle. Keep it going, girl! Separately, Noelle had been on the old railway track at the final kilometre of the Dungarvan Triathlon course at the end of June. (My first triathlon…even I gotta go back to check it out!) While a large crowd had gathered at the finish line, Noelle was about half a mile back. She was there to cheer on her husband Joe. In fact, she clapped, shouted and encouraged everybody. Not just ordinary, normal cheering support. She did, in fact, go the extra mile, showing obvious delight in seeing a tired athlete respond (myself included)!
Official results here and club race report to follow.

For my international readers, some small parts of Ireland still use the native Irish language, Gaelic. Tonight’s run brought us to one such location, and I was thrilled to get a few feedback tweets as Gaeilge…

Chun crioch a chur leis an scéal seo, fuaireas cupla “tweets”, agus ós rud é gur i nGaeltacht na nDéise a bhíomar anocht, phiocas an cheann seo:

 

Finally, finally: the lyrics of “Climb Every Mountain” from the Sound of Music struck a chord with me. (Struck a chord, get it? God, I’m sharp! There I go again!) In many ways, mountains and obstacles to be overcome and difficult life situations, require passion, determination and other admirable qualities, in much the same way as running does. Following my dream is important to me, and this evening’s tough run was part of the journey!

Climb every mountain,
Search high and low,
Follow every byway,
Every path you know.

Climb every mountain,
Ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow,
‘Till you find your dream.

A dream that will need
All the love you can give,
Every day of your life
For as long as you live.

Páraig / Pat

Altitude Training

Marine Climb: Friday, August 8th 2014

Runners swear by it. Experts promote it. Newspaper articles get churned out about it. It’s a photographer’s dream. Sometimes, bloggers even blog it! Yes, it’s that time of the year again…West Waterford AC altitude training!
The Marine Bar is calling! At an elevation of 620 feet, it’s a bit of a challenge all right. Six miles, but only four are uphill.

22nd ANNUAL MARINE CLIMB FRIDAY AUGUST 8TH AT 7.30 PM

22nd ANNUAL MARINE CLIMB FRIDAY AUGUST 8TH AT 7.30 PM

Back-of-the-bunch report to follow…

All Within for Cahir, Come Out

Tour de Suir 160k, Sunday August 3rd, 2014
When I was very young , my grandmother told me the story about the stationmaster in Cahir, County Tipperary. Unfortunately he had a speech impediment and the town of Cahir became “Here”. As the train would approach, he was heard to call out: “Here ye are for where ye’re goin. All within for Here come out”
This childhood memory came back to me as I sat outside The Galtee Inn, in Cahir during the week, but it suddenly dawned on my that there isn’t a train station in Cahir. Maybe there’s part-truth there somewhere, though. It returned to my thoughts once again as we departed Clonmel Park Hotel at 8am for the 160k Tour de Suir 2014. Here we are, for where we’ re going…

I had been very fortunate to get breakfast! No milk in the fridge earlier, and coffee and bread is not exactly bike-fodder. No milk either for my usual scrambled eggs on sportive mornings. Nothing for it but to bring my bowl, spoon and muesli with me, and I thanked heaven when I found a shop open early in Clonmel. Chatting and munching prior to the start, I knew that my day was saved.

 

Stage 1 to Aherlow: While the general feeling was that the low turnout was a bit disappointing, we did not let it affect us as the 45 headed out towards Cahir at a very lively pace. The stiff westerly breeze made it all the more important to stay within the protection of the peloton. Time to Cahir was 27 mins @ 18.6pmh
The lead car pulled aside after Cahir and we were left to our own devices. I think the wise heads at the front made the correct decision to not be tempted into race mode, because of the long journey ahead. They were surely tiring from being in the wind and soon the group got a good up-and-over rhythm going well, bringing us speedily to Tipperary and on towards the first big Tour de Suir challenge. Average pace to Aherlow was 19.6pmh. That’s fast for me!
I was in the top four at the foot of the climb. Some veterans had given me a quick summary of the profile. It rises 475 feet in 1.4 miles @ 7%. This is deceptive, as there is a short almost-flat section before half-way. Up to 15% early on and a hurting 18& near the top. Time: 9m 10s.  At the front I kept a strong tempo over the first steep kilometre and eased back into a flatter section. However, the last kilometre near the top put me in the red, and I had no choice but to back off. Once I recovered and got over, I enjoyed the downhill and waited for my group at the bottom.
Descending is a bike skill in itself, a skill I am beginning to master only recently. It involves three components (that I can think of): positioning on the bike, bike handling and confidence; and it is generally accepted that confidence is the key. On this descent, the road surface is not great, but I was glad that it was dry. The group ahead were out of sight and I was alone. This meant that I was more easily able to pick my line through the bends and be safer.
Onwards then on very undulating and unforgiving roads to a very welcome banana-stop in Galbally, where we assembled a larger possee to see us through to the next phase of the battle. Distance covered 33 miles. Exactly one third of the way.
Stage 2 to Ballyporeen. A group of 10, mostly Dungarvan-based, brought a good steady pace to the proceedings: Vincent Feeney, Frank Browne, Dave Byrne, Louie Dowley, Francis Walsh and mé féin, together with other strong and equally sensible group members. Before you could say “Are we there yet?” there we were, in Ballyporeen for more bananas! We timed it well too, as we enjoyed watching a heavy shower outside with warm coffee inside! Distance covered 51 miles. Still a long way to go!

Raining outside? Ah good....sure, the grass needs a bit of rain!

(These athletes are slightly blurred after 100k on the bikes) Raining outside? Ah good….sure, the grass needs a bit of rain!

My mother grew up a few short mikes from here in a place called Kilcaroon, on mountain farmland. It is a place in the Premier County that brings back fond memories of boyhood summers. But, as the “Airplane” script goes…that’s not important now.
Stage 3: The final 49 miles was the Big Challenge, bringing us over the Vee, and on to Lismore and Cappoquin at a fierce rate of tailwind knots. The long drag up Millstreet to the Clonmel road was tough, and it was here that we began to look around to make sure that our buddies were ok. In reality, it’s not a drag. It’s a long hill. But because its only a little hill in comparison to the three big ones, it can be overlooked. Dangerous mistake! All hills are hard, and we hit this one after 130k. Safely up, we pushed on to Ballymacarbery and stopped to breathe deeply, eat, drink and sympathise with one another in advance. We knew what was ahead! Powers the Pot rises more than 900 feet over 3.5 miles @ 5%, but it has the advantage that it’s a constant incline, rather than varied steepness as was the case with Aherlow. However, after nearly 90 miles of cranking it along it must be given lots of respect. “Multo respecto”, the Romans would say about this. Twenty-two minutes later I crested the top, unable to shake off Francis, despite trying hard! When w all regrouped at a junction on the descent, it was with a huge sigh of relief. Finally, the windy descent (as in twisted, not with wind) on good surface to Clonmel was thrilling, and we arrived safely and without mechanical mishaps to the finish line, to be presented with our unexpected medals.
Miles: 100.7
Time: 5:52
Pace 17.7 mph in old money
Verdict: A joy to be in a good working group all day!

Man of the Match: Louie Dowley, off the bike for nearly three weeks. When he needed to find an extra gear, he got it from somewhere deep! Chapeau, old chap!

Tweet-of-the-day:

 

Vinny & Dave...big engines!

Vinny & Dave…big engines need food and coffee!

Breakfast. A car-bootful of muesli

Breakfast. A car-bootful of muesli

The three-day Suir Valley race, finished on the very same Power’s the Pot the following day and was won impressively by Mark Dowling. Well done, young man! Here’s a StickyBottle. report. As we crested the summit on our version of the race, there were no supporters to cheer us on. Just ourselves and some lonely sheep!

Mark Dowling. Winner, all right! (Photo: Dave Coleman DC Images)

Interestingly, in order to add a touch of race reality to the event, we were chip-timed, and I received this text shortly afterwards. I was tempted to reply indicating that it did not take account of our time eating bananas and drinking coffee, but it was a no-reply number. All is well!

Chip-time for bananas & coffee was 44:46. Must improve...

Chip-time for bananas & coffee was 44:46. Must improve…

Finally, to round off one of my rather long event reports, I mentioned the story to Vinny Feeney about the day myself and Philip Cleary met a bull standing in the middle of the road just before Ballyporeen. Back about ten years ago, I’d say. We had been cycling from Limerick, and were suddenly stopped in our tracks. The bull looked dazed, and we ventured carefully past, hugging the ditch, walking inside the bikes for protection! Vinny laughed back, because I had forgotten one important part of the story…Vinny had been there with us that day too! Just goes to show… I would have remembered it if I’d been blogging back then.

 

Event reaction on the twitter-thingy:

 

Have you any stories of being attacked while cycling? Now’s your chance to share…

Have you an interesting story from childhood? Again, I’d encourage you to write it down! share for my readers, please.

Páraig

Fun in Meath with The Bohermeen Boys: 3 lessons I learned

Tour of Meath, July 27, 2014.

Since early July, I’ve clocked up the miles. Lots and lots of miles, amid glorious sunshine. I’ve done it right, as I increased my long-distance spins bit by bit and decreased my pace to match. Therefore, as I drove to Dublin on Saturday I was very enthusiastic about my first An Post Tour of Meath. I had previewed the route online and there was nothing there that would cause me any huge difficulty. Having cycled the Vee and Knockboy last weekend, this route looked very flat, with only one small hill along the way.

The atmosphere in Trim as I registered on Saturday evening was really good. The finish line was all set up, the PA way singing loudly, and there were many marquee events nearby. Of course, most notable were the many cyclists coming and going…but not a bike in sight! Registration was extremely efficient, and I was back behind the wheel within minutes to overnight in Dublin. Pasta & plenty fluids were the order of the evening, and I got an early night knowing that I needed to be on the stat line with my buddies at 8am.

My buddies for this one were local man Francis Walsh, and Joe Lynch from Naas Cycling Club. As arranged, we met at the startline after several phone calls, ready for road. And at exactly 8am, we were counted down and sent on our way. for the first hour, as in any long 160k event, we simply rode steady pace in a very large group, estimated at 1500. It was impossible to try to move forward, as it just was not safe to do so. It became even trickier after 10k as we moved on to narrower local roads, heading towards Kilmessan and the famous Hill of Tara. The road here was very narrow, and as many ahead of us seemed to slow down, we moved up the bunch carefully.

As the miles sped by, the groups splintered and we tried very hard to get into a groove. However, there was very little of real interest until we hooked up with Cuchulainn CC (Dundalk) They obviously had a plan. eight members in club gear at the head, working well, so we decided to sit in. Unfortunately, as soon as we hit a hard little hill, they did not stay together, and once again we went off in search of a group that might.

We arrived at the 5okm water stop, and rested up, filled up and headed on again quickly. This time, we formed our own group. There were about 12 together, but usually buddies want to cycle beside buddies and no movement in the group means no momentum. Those at the front usually get tired, and those behind are chomping at the bit! Time to crack the whip! I spoke to Francis, and we got it moving. We went to the front, and after about three or four minutes, Francis went up & over, as I urged the guy behind him to move up. That got it rolling, and within minutes the pace was up, people were chatting enthusiastically with strangers, and before we knew it, we arrived together in Nobber (who thought it up?). Onwards than towards the Cavan border, and the road began to rise. I had known that it rose to 600 feet (not much really), over approximately 6 miles. Not a hill to be afraid of. However, Francis & I left the comfort of our friendly group and we pushed on hard. Then we pushed a little bit harder again! When we got to the top, approximately 10 miles from the next food stop, we decided to go steady, and immediately over-ruled ourselves. We got a good strong pace going, but by the time we got noodles & sandwiches, we noticed that the average had dropped from 17.2 to 16.9mph, largely because of the long hill.

Tour of Meath, route and elevation

Tour of Meath, route and elevation

2014 07 tour of meath

Farmers and retired teachers. What’s the world coming to, at all?

Therefore, with full bellies and bottles, we headed onwards for the final 40 mile section. Flat, the stewards advised, and they were right. As soon as we had gotten back into a rhythm, we really opened up a strong pace in order to find that elusive group. The Gods were smiling on us, as we met fourteen Bohermeen CC warriors towing a group of about twenty behind. The Gods were not smiling for long, as the rain came down. Not heavy, but enough to make a bad drizzle, and greasy roads. This was not the time to be sitting at the back of the group, and we moved up when the opportunity arose after several roundabouts on the edge of Kells stretched the elastic. We sat in with the Bohermeen lads, and we did our turns. This group was a joy to be in. Everyone worked hard, everyone looked out for any members who might be struggling, and above all we chatted and had the craic. I spoke at length with Barry who is undertaking the Race Around Ireland in September. What a challenge!

The miles ticked on, the pace stayed high, and the legs were beginning to feel a bit tired. No matter, we pushed on  to Athboy and increasingly we had the tailwind for the first time since leaving Trim hours earlier. At the finish hands were shaken, shoulders slapped, and goodbyes said. The Bohermeen boys are coming down to Waterford in August for the next an Post event, a slightly tougher course through the Comeraghs. Needless to say, they’ll be welcomed, but won’t need much minding!

 

I learned some big lessons from the boys of Bohermeen. Much of this I’ve seen and admired in groups down through the years. They just brought it to a fine art:

  1. The group is stronger than any of its members. Strong cyclists can cause havoc in a group. These lads understood, each and every one of them, that the lad who is very strong today might need a dig-out tomorrow!
  2. Outsiders are welcome. Once they saw that we were not just going to sit on the back, and we worked to keep the cohesiveness of the group intact, they let us in. They chatted, they put us on the front & they urged us on. In fact, at one point I was expecting a reprimanding roar from behind to steady the ship, but they seemed to know that it was ok to reprimand their own, but not the visitor!
  3. These lads were locals. They knew the roads, they’d biked them upside-down and inside-out. This is hugely important on an event like this, away from home and into the unknown. I think it would be a good idea to keep a watchful eye at the start line to find the locals. It worked for us today, even though it wasn’t until the latter end of the spin.

 

2014 07 tour of meath 3

Food, friends & flat miles.

Bohermeen Boys....they minded us!

Bohermeen Boys….they minded us!

First Tour of Meath completed.

Distance: 98.4 miles.

Time: 5h 52m

Pace: 17.8 mph (17.2 at 50k, 16.9 at 99k)

Average HR: 123 (easy)

Highlight: The Bohermeen Boys

Verdict: I’ll be back.

Lots of Other Factors: Ballymac 5

Doocey’s Bar Ballymac 5, Friday July 25th, 2014

Running is not just about running. There are lots of other factors, as will be seen (clearly, I hope) below.

Now well past mid-summer, and approaching the final races for 2014, I headed towards the spectacular Nire Valley last Friday evening.

Pre-race: a sizeable number presented at the Community Centre for hassle-free registration, and outside they chatted in the warm evening sunshine. Many, I suppose, chatted about the intense heat of the early afternoon, and were glad that a cooling breeze was sweeping through. Some, I suppose, discussed the good form of friends and maybe even rivals. I’m fairly certain that Garth Brooks was not mentioned. His race was run.

Along with many others, I jogged the short distance to the start line and on towards the valley. I made sure not to go too far, because once again, I intended jogging this race. That sounds contradictory, but the plan was in place, and I intended sticking to it.

Note of interest: In recent races, I’ve noticed that athletes seem to know exactly where to position themselves prior to the starting gun. Helped by locating others with similar times in recent events, and deciding to move slightly up or down the field depending on other factors, it all works like a well-oiled machine.

3-2-1-GO: Quite happily positioned near the back of the bunch, my first mile proved to be a bit quicker than I intended at 9:10. When I passed the mile-marker and noted the above time, it was clear to me that I needed to back off a bit more. My cycling Tour of Meath 160k 36 hours later was a big priority. As luck would have it, I noticed Tricia Cullinane a little bit ahead of me, and decided to move up, but not to move ahead. Tricia was making her first appearance following her Viking half-marathon in Waterford in late June, and she urged me to push on and do my own race. However, my mind was set. I eased back into warm-up pace, and enjoyed the chat along the way. Mile 2: 10:00, mile 3: 9:57, mile 4: 9:55. Now there’s consistency, despite constant slight uphill to the wood entrance, two stiffer inclines through the wood, and some downhill before returning to the final  mile.

We pushed the pace just a little bit, and just a little bit again with 800 metres to go. I was anxious to follow the pace rather than set it, and we had a small little skirmish, without any major injury or fatality. Then out of the blue, with 200 metres to go, my running buddy showed her competitive fangs as she sprinted hard. To her credit, she did shout out “Come on, Padraig”, as she left me two yards behind. And so, battle commenced. I did not realise that it was to turn into several smaller battles, each slightly more intense than the last. As soon as we were once again shoulder to shoulder, off she went again…and again, until by the time we crossed the line, it is likely that the officials thought we had battled in such fashion for a full five miles!

Friendly rivalry

Friendly rivalry

Final time: 47:53, average HR 145. Happy with that. Number 9 completed.

My photographer buddy, John Coleman caught the agony and the extasy of running. Looking at these pictures later, the thought struck me that running is such a powerful thing. It mattered not a tad to us that we were fighting it out for 156th place. The level of intensity that an athlete can pull from deep within, based on training and lots of other factors, is significant. This intensity is very empowering, as it shows (well, it does to me anyway) that the human spirit is designed to feel at its most magnificent best when the unachievable has been achieved; when hard work is rewarded; when a journey is shared; when partnership and quest for victory can live side-by-side.

I knew I'd been outsprinted, so I put on my "camera face"

I knew I’d been outsprinted, so I put on my “camera face”

Finally, thinking a little further about this blog in recent weeks, I’m looking for ways to move it outside the box of an entirely personal perspective. I have received some interesting feedback about the personal participant slant of running or cycling, and it will remain my primary focus. However, beginning with this post, I’m introducing an element where I “notice” and acknowledge an athlete for one reason or other (factors, again!).

Mary Mangan Dyer ran this event in 37:11. and as she mentions in her post-race interview “I’m one happy bunny”. Here she is coming home to a wonderful PB. Well done, Mary.

A personal best to remember! 37:11

A personal best to remember! 37:11

Other other factors:

  • I am sure that the good local folk appreciate the beauty that surrounds them on all sides. Ballymacarbery and the Nire valley area is a truly spectacular place, from the lowlands of the village, changing several times on the approach to higher ground to Powers-the-Pot. Now, there’d be an amazing endurance run!
  • Many locals came out to watch the event and cheer us on tonight. On such a beautiful evening, they sat on garden walls or stood by the roadside. Many were small children, perhaps runners in-the-making.
  • Perhaps there are further other factors, not mentioned here. Do feel free to add your own other factors as comments.

 

Official WWAC report: The link is here and Race results here

20th ANNUAL GER WYLEY SPORTS/SKINS SUMMER SERIES 2014-RACE 9.

19TH ANNUAL DOOCEYS ORIEL BAR BALLYMACARBRY 5 MILE ROAD RACE

You can’t get to much better than this as our race sponsor commented ,Yes the sun was shining and one of the largest turnout of runners seen for many a year attended last Friday evening’s Ballymacarbry 5 mile road race, the third last race in the 20th annual Ger Wyley Sports /SKINS summer series for 2014. Anyway, The Doocey’s Oriel Bar sponsored Ballymac 5 mile road race saw a field of 175 complete the scenic course on the night. Our sincere thanks go for the 19th time to the Doocey family of Doocey’s Oriel bar who once again this year sponsored the race.  Thanks to Michael Doocey who was on hand to present the winners with their prizes. We are indebted to Race director Frank Bolger for all his practical help ensuring the runners had a safe and enjoyable run in the Nire Valley. Frank was one of the founding race committee members way back in 1995 when this race started and his still the leading figure each year since. Frank was our honorary race starter last Friday evening also and finished off his evenings work by also doing race sweeper, many thanks Frank. Our thanks to Coillte and local forester Kevin Power for his ongoing help and assistance with holding the event through the wood . Thanks to Danny O Rourke all at the community centre for permitting the use of the fabulous facilities, entries were taken at the hall and changing and showers were also available which was really appreciated by one and all.  We would like to especially thank John Condon once again this year as indeed he has now for many years given us permission to go through his land which is part of the race course. Thanks to our committee members who made the sandwiches, to John of DC Images on camera duty.To Ann for the prizes and to Brid, Megan, Shirley, Sharon and Liam for the entries and results. Our thanks to Jim Fleming for all his help with this race also.Thanks to Conor ,Jamie and their new assistant Patrick who were on duty out on the course and to Liam O’Donnell on the van duty. Our thanks and appreciation to the Spellman family who provided the water station at mile 2 mark this was much appreciated by the runners. All in all another great community effort saw a most enjoyable nights racing in the beautiful Nire valley se you all in 2015.

KEVIN MANSELL GIVES POWERFUL DISPLAY TO WIN HIS FIRST.

Running the Ballymacarbrty 5 for the first time is a goal for many but for one individual who not alone was running the race for the first time last Friday evening but he actually went on to win the race, now that is defiantly some achievement. One of Tipperary based club’s finest athletes on the circuit presently Kevin Mansell put in a brilliant run to take the title for 2014 with a time of 25.55.Holding off a stiff challenge from previous race winner Philip Harty West Waterford AC who was 2nd in 26.11 .The two battled together for the first 3 miles with Philip actually setting the pace for all of the first 3 miles of the race, when in the Wood section of the course on the hill after the 3 mile mark Kevin put in a surge which was to settle the battle between the two as he opened up a nice gap on Philip over the top of the climb and by the time the race was back on the downhill road section there was only going to be one winner as Mansell powered his way over final mile to cross the line 16 seconds ahead of Harty. the split time’s for Kevin were 5.08 mile one,10.29 mile two,15.45 for mile three and 20.48 for mile four. Waterford’s Trevor Power who was with the first two finishers for the first 2 miles finished 3rd in 26.54 well clear of twice race winner Raivis Zakis West Waterford AC who was 4th in 27.43.The over 40 category was claimed by Alan Ryan West Waterford AC 30.52 with Waterford’s Jim Baldwin taking the over 45 prize in 29.56. Ray Hahesy West Waterford AC has recently being making the over 50 section at all local races his own and last Friday evening was no exception as he once again claimed that category with a very good time of 31.09 Tommy Cahill Clonmel AC  claimed the over 55 prize with a time of 33.51.Well done to all winners and runners.

RESULTS OF BALLYMACARBRY 5 MILE 2012

1st Kevin Mansell Clonmel AC 25.55

2nd Philip Harty West Waterford AC 26.11

3rd Trevor Power Waterford AC 26.54

0/40 Alan Ryan West Waterford  AC 30.52

0/45 Jin Baldwin Waterford AC  29.56

0/50 Ray Hahesy West Waterford AC 31.09

0/55 Tommy Cahill Clonmel AC 33.51

Junior Philip Hunter Sligo AC 30.42

ORNA MURRAY RUNS 2ND FASTEST TIMES EVER TO WIN LADIES RACE.

Young Orna Murray set the Nire valley alight last Friday evening with a brilliant run in the Ladies section of the race. Orna who recently returned from athletic scholarship in Stony Brook College will pursue her academic career next year in UCC as she goes on to further her studies. Oran runs with Ferrybank AC and her time of 30.12 was the 2nd fastest time ever recorded by a lady over this Ballymac course. The record is held by Pauline Lambe who in 2009 set a time of 29.48.Onra from the gun meant business clocking 5.49 for the first mile and followed with a 6.15 a 6.07 and a 6.08 over the hilly wood section of the course, she finished 8th overall from the field of 175 finishers, brilliant running from young Orna who we can expect to see a lot off in the winner enclosure in future races. Previous winner of the race Clonmel’s Angela Mc Cann  finished in second place with a time of 31.16,this was  a very good run by Angela as this time would on another day be good enough to win this race but for the exceptional run for Orna. One of the leading contenders for this year’s overall series West Waterford’s Sinead Mansfield finished in third place in a time of 32.20. The category prizes were over 35 Mary Molloy 39.23 , over 40 Brigid Coffey for the 2nd year in a row 39.23 , over 45 Ann Dunford 34.34 who also won this section in 2013. the over 50 winner was Una Uí Mhuirithe 37.46 mother of our race winner, and Ciara Burke once again picked up the Junior prize with another solid 37.46. Just to mention a big well done to all the Ladies who were running their very their first Ballymac 5 last Friday evening Ye did superbly well, we hope it won’t be your last outing over this beautiful scenic course.

LADIES RESULTS

1st Orna Murray Ferrybank AC 30.12

2nd Angela Mc Cann Clonmel AC 31.16

3rd Sinead Mansfield West Waterford AC 32.20

0/35 Mary Molloy IND 34.55

0/40 Brigid Coffey West Waterford  AC 39.23

0/45 Ann Dunford  West Waterford AC  37.49

0/50 Una Uí Mhuirithe IND 34.34

Junior Ciara Burke IND 37.46

ZUZANA MALIKOVA VOUCHER WINNERS FOR BALLYMAC 5.

For each race in this years Summer Series, as she has also done for the past 2 years, Zuzana Malikova has generously sponsored 2 massage vouchers.The winners of the vouchers for the Dooceys Bar 5 mile race are Niamh O’Donovan and Anthony Flynn.Zuzana is a Neuromuscular Physical Therapist and Massage therapist and is based at the Complementary Health Clinic, Tournore, Abbeyside. She can be contacted at 087-1218721