That’s life


Common Darter in the park this week. Not bad for an iPhone

Life is what happens when you are busy making plans, to paraphrase the great John Lennon. This week had that sort of vibe. In fairness, nothing extraordinary, and sometimes, that’s no bad thing. I was on for the best total (in terms of running mileage) for the year, but then life got in the way.

The previous week was a good one. The various mid-week fast stuff was achieved. Repeats in the park (I said ‘repeats in the park’… ha, ha!), followed by a slow run, then 11k of race pace along the canal. I chose the canal as it is flat, and I was happy to be able to stay under the required 5 min/km pace. Another easy run was followed up with a long run, which I did with Gary.

As we have both worn a groove into the Royal Canal towpath, we really changed things up by starting a new groove in the Grand Canal instead. I know. We are outrageous. It was a 20 miler (or 32k, for the metric folk). It meant heading south for a bit before we picked up the waterway, and then heading west. We had just started jogging along the towpath at Hazelhatch, which is a popular spot for barges, and we could smell the disaster before we reached it. Sadly, someone’s boat had burned down to the waterline overnight.

The canal reeked of diesel and a fine spray of water from a mains pipe running along the bank was still firing off little jets at odd angles in a rather pathetic mimicry of a firefighting tugboat. At least three gas cylinders bobbed about in the debris; that could have been very dangerous for the fire crew that undoubtedly attended the blaze in the night. It was just outside our area, so we didn’t get the call. There is really nothing to be done when faced with these fires on board. Water is the only thing that will put out the fire, but it will also sink the vessel.

We continued on until we hit the 10 mile mark where we stopped for a quick gel.

The Grand Canal

One of the lads who works at the local bike store had given me a couple of gels to try out. These were out-of-date stock. Clif Shot Double-espresso. Any by god was it thick! And I don’t drink coffee so it was quite the ordeal to get it all down. They swear by them, and these lads are serious cyclists. I was expecting great things; manic bursts of speed, crazy yabbering to Gary, and perhaps my head spinning 360° like someone possessed. Or, more likely, just a very strong urge to jump into a hedge for an emergency pit stop.

But in fairness, we just finished up as normal. Pace was reasonable. Took about 3 hours and 18 minutes.

Monday was a day off to recover, (no harm; I was on a three-day chainsaw refresher training course down the country) and then it was supposed to back at it on Tuesday. Well, I was all suited and booted and heading up the park in the evening when the beeper went off, and we were off to a four car collision, and that took quite some time. Upon returning, there was no dinner (S was away), and I had to roll up the sleeves and get stuck in (which is never a problem as I enjoy cooking, it was just that I could see my chances of a run evaporating), and then a nephew showed up (which was lovely), and that was basically that.

By Wednesday I could feel a sore throat coming on, and it was not travelling alone: it had a headache, backache and sweats for company. I took to the bed and stayed away from running. On Thursday, I chanced a game of five-a-side, which was not wise really, and skipped the run that evening as I was whacked. Friday was a rest day, so I wasn’t looking forward to Saturday’s run. Just a 5k though, so nothing strenuous, but I still ended up up in a ball of sweat, so whatever I have has not fully shifted. I did think about going for a Covid test, but instead, as all smart runners do, I rose early this Sunday morning and did a pacey half marathon with Gary instead. As you do.

We knocked it out in 1:53, or 5:24 pace, which is not bad, considering. The programme called for much faster, but there was no point in flogging this particular nag just at the moment. Another bale of hay and some rest and we should be fine. What that all meant was the total for the month ended up as 270k odd, whilst I should have beaten the 275k total set in February. Sure no matter.

Rather random photo of a dirty leg. Not sure why this run picked up so much dirt…

Gaelforce West is finally here, after a long delay. June 2020 was the original date. This is the third ‘postponed’ attempt to run the event, and it looks like this time we have the green light. And whilst I was all gung-ho at the time, my focus has changed to other things. But it will be nice to get away, I suppose.

The event I am organising is a self-supported marathon along the banks of the Royal Canal, in October. It has changed my focus and training this year

I will look at the programme for this week, and probably adjust in light of the effort required next Saturday. Apart from the trails, bike and some paddling in the fjord, there is the small matter of climbing a mountain before the end, so I need to keep something in the tank.

In other news, one of our crew moved on last week, so we gave him a send off. In our station, that seems to require a large Black Forest gateaux, and I’m okay with that! Bob is a Tipperary man, so we bought him a replica centenary celebration shirt. This commemorates Bloody Sunday when the the British Army (RIC and Auxiliaries) opened fire on the players and crowd at Croke Park on November 21st, 1920, during a match. 31 died, with over 80 injured. The Tipperary captain that day was Michael Hogan and there is a stand named in his honour.

Of course, we had to put Bob’s name on the back. The 1-6 stands for the Leixlip Station call sign of KE 1-6. It was a good send off, and I think he appreciated the effort. It was good to have you, Bob, and we wish you the best at your new station posting.

Our daughter Tamsyn adopted a kitten, so it’s been a fun week settling her into her new home. Kittens are adorable, so it’s not hard work to have her around. And for a tiny scrat, she is already toilet-trained. Clever thing.

And speaking of animals, let’s have some dogs…

You can click on these to embiggen them (so to speak).

And now, to sign off, it’s pie time. S is away with a friend this weekend, so Tamsyn and I took the dogs out for their constitutional, and gathered some blackberries in the park. It was lovely to note that several other families were out doing the same. Back home, I took in some apples from the trees in the back garden, and we made a pie.

It’s in the oven as I type. And it will taste damn good too, as I stewed the fruit to the tunes of ‘More than a feeling’ by Boston, ‘Carry on my wayward son’ by Kansas, and ‘Freebird’ by Lynyrd Skynyrd, while Tamsyn made the pastry top. It was popped into the oven to the final, epic strains of Gary Moore’s ‘Parisienne Walkways’ (live version, of course).

If this pie doesn’t (Dad) rock, then I don’t know what will!


But before pie, it’s burgers. Just me and T for dinner. Angus beef, with pan-fried shallots and chorizo, topped with pickles and cheese, and served with a side salad, coleslaw and triple-fried, goose-fat chips. It’s like a regular restaurant around here today! Gotta fuel that tank…

18 thoughts on “That’s life

  1. I’m not a fan of gels. I think they have more marketing than science in their makeup. I also find them very sore on the stomach, they usually give me cramps. The burger now, that would be more my style 👌😋

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well I wish they’d invent one that didn’t taste of anything, really. They work alright, but the bit that bugs me is the thinking that you need to replace ALL the fuel you’ll burn crossing the finish. So, perhaps 1,800kcal. Seems unnecessary (unless you’re in the gel business! 😎)

      For long rides (and ultras), I prefer the energy source powder drinks.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’ve actually stopped using them too. Just plain water now. On longer rides I prefer jelly babies for sugar and Snickers and sandwiches for longer lasting fuel for the endurance stuff. It probably doesn’t make me faster but I feel better for it.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post. “Runs” the gamut from Grand Canal to apple pie.
    As your non-runner reader, I had to look up gels. Now I know why they’re the latest in sports nutrition — and why the glycogen in gels can’t make it to your muscles quick enough to boost your race-day performance. (It has to be ingested, digested, and absorbed through the intestinal walls first.) As your working muscles grab more blood glucose, your brains gets less, and y’all can get a bit hazy. Seems gels perk up runners’ brains before they relieve the cramps in their legs.
    Organic chemistry … it’s alkynes of trouble.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheers. They’re a necessary evil alright. They do work, but you need to take them ‘before’ your body needs them as they’re a 45 minute turnaround even though you do get a brief hit. Bigger problem is that your digestive system is under strain already and lacking blood supply. Too much sugar can make you fairly icky. The real pros are teaching the body to burn fat. But that’s hard work 🤭


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