Thanks, Clodagh…

Apparently we have Clodagh to thank for all the poxy weather lately. Well, to be fair to Clodagh, when you live on a rock on the edge of the Atlantic, Winter storms are to be expected. So frequent are they, in fact, that they give them all names. And in the spirit of fairness, they alternate between male and female names as the met folk work through the alphabet.

For a full list, check out the Met Eireann website. This list was cooked up between the Irish and UK meteorological services. We can look forward to Desmond next, and then Eva, followed by Frank. Frank doesn’t sound too menacing, but I guess to qualify for the list, you must be, well… a storm, I suppose, so when Frank finally hits our shores, he will no doubt bring trouble like his predecessors. (I robbed this nifty graphic from their website).

The Park Run yesterday was wild. The night before had been beautiful and clear with a near-full moon. The next morning was Armageddon in comparison. By the time Saoirse and I rocked up to the car park at Castletown House in Celbridge, the rain kicked in to the already howling winds. Perfect running weather in other words!

The field was whittled down to about 80 runners from its initial success of over 180 a few weeks ago, but all could be forgiven on such a morning. Most sensible folk chose to huddle away in the shelter of trees before the off. Without doubt, the only thing you could do on such a morning (other than turn over in bed) was run, simply just to keep warm.

The two lap course was in good condition despite the weather, and even the strong wind played little part in the overall race (Park Run isn’t really a race, per se; and I am minded to use its correct title – parkrun – by the Castletown race director, Sharon, who will no doubt admonish me for not following protocol here… you’d think I’d know better, me being a graphic design ‘n all!).

On the off, and heading back by the house, we had the benefit of the strong wind at our backs, and it was only on the exposed stretch along by the river that it hit you hard in the face.

I managed a 22.42 which placed me 11th – I reckon my best placement yet in a Park Run…oops, I mean parkrun. To do this I really had to push the final kilometre. What I normally do in parkruns is pick someone on the second lap ahead of me and track them down. If that’s achieved with some distance left, you pick another runner and go again. Also, you try and avoid being overtaken yourself. Well, that’s my simple strategy anyway; it keeps the whole thing somewhat ‘honest’ as an event. I use parkrun as a regular enough benchmark for where I’m at (albeit at 5km distance, obviously). Having said that, the Garmin-wearers out there reckon the Celbridge course is about 5.1k, which tallies with my own suspicion, based on the couple of runs I’ve done there. No matter.

In the afternoon, I dropped down to Wheelworx in Fonthill (near Dublin) to hear Gerry Duffy and Bryan McCrystal talk about motivation in sports, and in particular, Iron Man training. Bryan holds the current Irish record for the Iron Man with an 8.41:29, and he has gone sub-four hours for a half-iron. It’s cycling where he makes up the most time. By his own admission, he is not a strong swimmer (though I’d murder for his Barcelona time of 1.2:47 for the 3.85k swim). His bike leg was 4.17:11, giving him an average of about 42km/h. That is hugely impressive and was faster than any of the athletes who finished ahead of him, and second-fastest overall on the day. He rounded it all off with a modest (!) 3.18:30 marathon.

The shop was stuffed full of rather fit looking people, all eager to pick up a few tips and tricks. Despite the two hour session of talking and Q and A with not just Gerry and Bryan, but Rob Cummins as well, who not only runs the shop with his wife Aisling, but also is a pretty mean cyclist and triathlete himself, I sense most people probably didn’t get the answers they came for. That is of course, just my own take on the proceedings. It was enjoyable, and there was plenty to take away from it, but overall, what you have to realise is that Bryan is an immensely fit and talented guy. Also very modest, and more than happy to share his stories, but he only does (and I use the term ‘only’ on the basis of what some pros would be doing) about 12 hours of training a week.

I suspect some hardened trithletes found this somewhat bemusing, and possibly frustrating. But then, very few people are as naturally gifted as Bryan. He wears it lightly.

Fair play to Wheelworx for putting it on. It’s all positive stuff to tuck away in the memory bank for later on in the year when things will (inevitably) get tough.

I caught the tail end of Clodagh today, on an easy 10 or so k run in St. Catherine’s Park as a warm down from yesterday’s exertions.

She didn’t seem to mind.

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