This. This is fine…

Castletown Demesne. A fine place for a run…

As promised, this post contains images of the recently unveiled tree sculpture in our local park. Bravo to whoever made the decision to engage an artist to make something creative out of a dead Beech tree. I know if that tree had been half a mile further west, in Kildare instead of Fingal County Council, then it would have been chopped down many months ago, and the only carving carried out would have been by the local jackals who would have made out like bandits, filling their trailers with free firewood. And I suppose who can blame them? Beech timber is quite decent for your stove.

But if you have just a spark of imagination, you can see beyond the firewood, and do something different. So three cheers to whoever made that call. The final piece is indeed Cú Chulainn, and you’ve had plenty of time between this and the previous post to do your research on this legendary Irish mythological figure, so I hope you’ve done your homework. There may be questions at the end…

I have to admit, dear reader, that as each month passes, I am finding it harder and harder to stay suitably sanguine in the face of all that is happening in the world. We are the poor unfortunate frog simmering in a pan of water. We are bobbing around, blissfully trying to ignore the showers of salt that season our final resting place. The bubbles form and pop at the surface and we think to ourself: ‘this is fine’. And you social media fiends out there are probably familiar with that well-worn meme…

And because we love you all here at unironedman, the team have relentlessly scoured the web to find this in-depth article on the background to this iconic image.*

Here is the link. You’re welcome.

Frogs. Dogs. Whatever. It’s all going down the pan anyway. And whilst we do our bit to help with the impending crises (yes, in the plural), I am beginning to suspect that LED bulbs aren’t going to cut it. Nor electric cars. Nor is bringing your bottles to the bottle bank of a Sunday morning (not least when you do so in your 2 litre SUV). Neither is washing your hard plastics in the dishwasher to make sure they are absolutely spotless for the recycling bin…

It’s an odd thing. I still think many folk are working on the assumption that someone else is going to solve the problem. Just like in the movies. When we convince the alien race we really, really can change. For the better. Honest Injun**. We really can make that change. And possibly, despite all the anti-science, anti-vax, covid-hoax bullshit, perhaps there is still a large cohort of people out there tippin’ away without really stopping to think about all this impending doom too much, save to say that when it does all start to collapse around our ears, they will still find some belief that science will find a way. Or something. Which is a modern-day version of the parable of the man on the beach looking back at his life and seeing both one and two sets of footprints in the sand.

I will meander back to running shortly, I promise. Indeed, I was walking through the park this week in the glorious sunshine and took some time to peer into the Liffey waters. The river seemed remarkably clear, and the light that pierced the leaf cover overhanging the banks illuminated little pools and backwaters created by fallen trees and siltbanks. Each one was a delight, but as I paused to take in the spectacle and wait for the drama to unfold, I realised the scene, whilst beautifully poised, was missing something vital.

Characters.

The stage was all but empty. These sanctuaries should have been teeming with life. Shoals of minnow; fingerling trout, some perch, perhaps, and maybe even a stealthy jack pike, hovering in the wings, waiting to make its dramatic entrance, and turn the musical into a tragedy for some poor creature.

But as I scanned all these pools and slack waters, and then out into the glides, I could find… nothing. It all looked idyllic. Beyond, on the far bank, little knots of people moved about. Kids played on slides. Dogs were walked. Occasional shrieks as youngsters paddled in the cool water.

But below decks, it was the Marie Celeste. And I was once a keen angler, and I appreciate fish don’t generally like to advertise their presence, but I could find nothing to convince me otherwise.

Those sunlit pools were lovely, though…

Okay, I will return to the running stuff shortly. Let me just add one thought. We have been banging the drum on recycling for years now. This is not a new thing. And in the hierarchy of the green movement’s most famous troika, recycling actually sits bottom. Above is reuse, and on top is reduce.

And I think herein lies the big problem. In the developed world, we absolutely want to continue as normal. Business as usual. Let it rip. Free market economy. Whatever you’re havin’ yourself, like. We are particularly bad at this attitude in Ireland. Maybe it’s a colonial hang-up? Who knows. Maybe it’s time to grow up?

But if we think we are getting out of this mess by taking some bottles to the bank at the weekend, we are deluded. Sure, it’s a good thing. But was there any thought about reducing the creation of the waste in the first place? Reducing the consumption? Reducing the packaging? Reducing the way the product was created? Only when we really face up to how much of a reduction we will each have to make to make this work will we start to see a difference. And that’s a reduction in lifestyle. A serious change to how we do business. (Nor am I unaware that as I type this on a computer, powered by electricity, in a house with all mod-cons, that I am part of the problem…)

For a smart race of people, we have a terrible memory. When you’re slowly cooking in that warm water, it feels like it’s always been that warm. But it hasn’t.

So, what indeed can we do in the face of all that gloominess? Not sure about you, but I find running helps. It’s a relatively cheap hobby which helps keep me fit(ish) and gives me some motivation. It doesn’t always clear my head, of course. Your mileage may vary, but my brain tends to tick over all the time, and I have yet to find a way to adjust it so that it idles without cutting out. You young folk wouldn’t remember this, but cars used to come with a choke! Oh yes! Of course, any 2 stroke engine still does, but that suggests you own one and can start it up. Take my advice: if there’s one thing you can do today to help the planet and your mental health it’s to get rid of your lawn. And here’s the best take on that yet: God’s Thoughts on Lawns.

The programme continues, despite threats of global annihilation. I’m enjoying it (in a mildly masochistic way). It’s five days per week, rather than six, which was my last serious programme. There are typically two types of ‘hard’ runs (speed work, hills, repeats, that kind of thing), and then two ‘easy’ runs (which are not that easy, to be honest), and then one long run. But as with all things ‘running’, it’s all down to that cunning four-letter word we all know and love so much in the run community: pace.

Here’s a neat quote:

In the context of running, “pace” can mean the inverse of speed. i.e., whereas speed is measured in units of distance per unit of time (e.g. miles per hour), pace is measured in units of time per unit of distance (e.g. minutes per mile). (from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pace_(speed) )

But in reality, it’s the same thing. But what we are really driving at here is when you are working to a programme, and it asks you to do 10 miles, well, that’s not a problem if you take 2 hours to complete it. But what if asks for 90 minutes instead? Such was the dilemma I faced when I set out yesterday afternoon in the hot sun.

Let’s see… some quick mental arithmetic… 10 miles is 16 kms. 90 minutes… em… right… that means running faster than my previous marathon pace of 5:42 minutes per kilometre (or 9:09 for miles). About 5:35, in fact, if my rough calculations were about right. And both the hot sun, after about 2k, and all this hard mental workout, were making me sweat furiously. And this was supposed to be a ‘slow run’, according to the programme.

So up through the park, pausing briefly to take a few pictures of the new sculture, out on to the Clonee Road and then down onto the canal towpath, past a few anglers baking in the heat. This stretch of water too has seen a reduction in fish life, though we’ll let that pass for now. Out at Kilmacredock with a short stop at the railway crossing to let a train pass (wise decision) and also to caution a few youngsters who where hurling themselves into the water like there was no tomorrow. I’m all for outdoor swimming, but not so keen on having to perform water rescues, or, much worse, retrieval…

Over the motorway and into Castletown Estate, briefly, before detouring by the lake for my own quick dip in the cool water. No better way to finish off a 10 mile run. And all performed with 1:29:53 at 5:37 pace. Precision running, my friends, and also pleasing to be keeping up with the required pace.

A Holly leaf
A mushroom looking all the world like an Empire base from Star Wars…

I am now over 220kms for the month, and there are still some miles to go. A 20 miler at the weekend, for starters. So we may well beat the previous total set back in February, when we did that two-week challenge and ended up with nearly 275kms.

So, life goes on. For now. The programme continues apace (really? ed), and so far, so good. Fingers crossed that we stay in good shape for October.

Gaelforce West have been in touch to say that the event goes ahead with some route changes. It’s a bit disappointing to hear that Croagh Patrick is out of bounds for repairs to paths, but no doubt this is vital work, given how popular the mountain is for both tourists and pilgrims.

And we’ll let you off your Cú Chulainn exams, for exemplary behaviour 🙂


* There is no team. And the article is quite short, really…

** I appreciate this is a derogatory phrase, and out of favour. I used it deliberately.


10 thoughts on “This. This is fine…

  1. Well said. Having just come in from mowing and read this, in my (feeble) defence I can only say I compost the cuttings and fallen leaves and do not water or feed the lawns and we are sowing a wild flower area. Love the sculpture and the photos. It’s a crime that ‘reduce’ and ‘reuse’ so often get pushed aside by ‘recycle’.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Those sculptures are extraordinary. Wish all other places would learn from this.
    The frustrations of the gloominess is so real….and you rightly say that just carrying water bottles will do no good. Even educated and well aware people think someone else will do it. But again there are stories of hope, there are many who are doing their bit silently and passionately.
    Two such stories of hope from India:
    https://thelogicalindian.com/story-feed/get-inspired/assam-school-charges-plastic-waste/?infinitescroll=1
    https://www.thebetterindia.com/10904/jadav-molai-payeng-forest-man-india/

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There a big park where I stay in Spain that was devastated by wild fires few years back. A local guy got in there and sculptured animals from the charred trunks that remained, using a chain saw. Really is amazing to see and poignant reminder of what happened …

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think the key is to look at the science BEFORE the politicians… and look at the scientists themselves who all too often say, “Wait a minute, I never said that!” A pattern tends to develop, and things make sense a little bit. Just remember, we’ve been talking about the end of us since long before Jesus was building stuff. I just do my part to be the best, most conscious person I can be. The way I see it, when the politicians who howl the most stop flying in their private jets, THEN you know we’re in trouble.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh indeed. The last person in the world who’ll help us out of this mess is a politician. It’s the engineer who’ll fix this. Science in and of itself is neither a good or a bad thing. We just need to do better.

      I went back to the river yesterday and saw one small trout. It’s not a massive improvement but I’ll take it as a sign. 👍

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It was a bit disconcerting to have you start off this post by reinforcing my dismal perspective on the state of the world. But where I’d have simply spiraled down ad infinitum, you took a turn for the cheery with a delightful run, the science of pace, an excellent sculpture, and the ineffable beauty of nature. Ah … this is fine.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s