IN WHICH WE REACH THE FINAL STAGES OF YET ANOTHER PROGRAMME AND BEGIN TO PONDER THE POSSIBILITIES FOR THE NEW YEAR, AND MAKE A SHOCKING DISCOVERY ABOUT MY MATHEMATIC ABILITIES (SPOILER ALERT: I CAN’T COUNT). WE ALSO DISCOVER THERE IS A SAINT DECLAN (ANOTHER SPOILER: IT’S NOT ME…)
If there’s a glitch in the matrix, you can be damn sure I put it there. I don’t mean your matrix, of course. I refer to mine, and mine alone. The errors in the code reflect the architect, and we are all the architects of our own matrix… (this had better be going somewhere… ed.)
Well okay then. Some time ago I found a three and a half hour marathon plan, downloaded it, and printed it out. It was in miles so that had to be transcribed into kilometres. There were, obviously, no dates applied, but rather it was laid out in simple and easy-to-follow weeks, one to sixteen. Bulletproof, one might think, except I had factored in a marathon on the 31st October and planned accordingly, and when it came to it, race day was going to be a week earlier.
I have a feeling I was vaguely aware of this coding error at some point, but it was mislaid somewhere on the cluttered desktop of my mind, and sat in the in-tray like a lost child. Maybe. I don’t know. All I can say is that there is a beautiful and sometimes cruel truth in planning ahead and making a list… and that truth can be summed up as follows: if it’s not on the list…
Anyway, it’s not a big deal really, but with two weeks to go, I realise that I have been sticking to the plan as if I had three weeks to go, and so I am sitting in my office, tapping away on my keyboard with twenty miles in my legs when I should only have had thirteen. I mean, damn, I knew it really, as I was huffing and puffing around the town this morning; I just didn’t have the wit to check. But I suspect, knowing my gluttony for punishment of the running kind, that I may have panicked when I realised I was going to cheat myself of a long run, and done it anyway. Maybe…
Overall, the programme has been an interesting challenge. It has made me run faster than ever before. And if there is one golden nugget of truth we have panned from the silt and gravel of my illustrious running career (sorry, what? ed.), it’s that if you want to get faster times, you have to run faster. Top coaches normally charge a fortune for this advice, but you are getting these pearls for free.
(If I was at the word salad buffet, I would now be ordering the Mixed Metaphor. with extra cheese…)
So the run was done. It was dark when I arose from my bed at 06.15. By the time I had downed a bowl of porridge and faffed about with gear, it was 07.00 when I hit the road. I probably didn’t need to bother with the head torch, and by the time I hit Tubber Lane (Lána an Tobair, or Lane of the Well), I removed it and stuffed it into my pouch. On then, towards the new state labs at Backweston, and the mist was slowly lifting.
The little ruin (above) has always caught my eye, and this morning, it looked suitably forlorn. One day, perhaps, I might sneak across with a decent camera. Over Young’s Cross and left into Castletown Demesne. The big house loomed out over the meadow, and along the paths, a few dog walkers and joggers were joining me to greet the day.
Out over the M4 motorway, pausing to take a few pictures of misty cobwebs and luscious berries.
And then a slight deviation to a standard route where I went left at Kilmacredock (Cill Mochriodóg or Church of Críodán) to add in some extra miles. Miles, as we have already learned, that should have been done the week previous. Anyway, let’s not labour the point (too late. ed.). This winding road leads to the highest point on the run, at Conolly’s Folly.
This always impresses me, each time I turn the corner, and there it is… There is a fascinating history behind this building, of course, but that’s for another time, when I have the space to do it justice. But one thing you can say about it: there are a lot of arches here. Almost as if the teacher said to the class that they wanted a sketch of something ‘with loads of arches’. And the best one was made into this folly. And it’s worth pointing out that this is NOT how it was built…
On beyond the folly (what? no ‘this is folly’ gags? ed.) and finally we hook up again with the Royal Canal. The mist still lingered here, and again, you would wish for your decent camera.
But there was still some distance to go. I met a few runners for the second time this morning, and we stopped briefly to have a chat. The main reason was to have a quick catch up on the marathon in two weeks. This is the one I have been putting together and both runners have signed up.
Above is the extensive article in our local legendary paper of record, The Liffey Champion. This paper does indeed have a fish on the cover, but I have to pluck up the courage and point out to the editor that the fish is a bass, and not a salmon, as was intended. One day, maybe. Anyway, for now, I am delighted to be known as ‘Leixlip’s Declan Kenny’. It’s the kind of fame and notoriety I crave, and this clipping will be saved for my grand kids. You can say you knew me if you like, before I hit the big time.
Despite the little detour, I still needed to noodle about in the park to get the miles in, and even then, I had to extend the last leg home to ensure the full 32k (yes, yes, yes, we know, we know…). The upside was that I finished outside the newsagent on the main street, and I was able to get a breakfast roll which I split with my son, and some rock cakes, which I shared with Saoirse. Nothing if not generous.
A bath was the only thing to soak away the fatigue. It was a slow enough slog of about 3 hours and 13 minutes. The run, I mean. The bath was definitely shorter than that…
In other exciting news, seeing as we are divulging the secrets of the successful ultra-running community: micropore tape. If you run long distances, you run the risk of chafing your nipples. You may be vaguely aware of a tingling sensation in that region after a long session on your feet, but it’s masked with all the other aches and pains. But by god, when you step in that shower… the scene from Psycho springs to mind. But with a lot more screaming.
So, to avoid this unpleasantness, two little strips of tape over your nipply bits will do the trick. Yes, you can buy Nipeaze and other branded products, but take it from me: one roll of tape will last you a lifetime, and it comes in handy for other things too. No, not those things… jeez!
And so we begin the slow and steady spiral down to the taper. It’s here. Finally. This is the first time I have hosted an event, so my head is rather full of details about transport, timing, water, etc. And of course, the weather. But we’ll control the controllables, I guess.
And this week, I signed up for Donadea 50k. A link is here, if you wish. I did this before in 2017. And here is the link to that. I have unfinished business with this race; I was not happy with my first-time performance. So the plan, after the marathon in two weeks, is to keep training for the Lock Up The Year event on New Year’s Eve (might do a full, but more likely it will be the half), and this should slingshot me into the new year with some good miles for Donadea in February.
And then something a little different: I discovered St. Declan’s Way the other day. I was aware there was a Saint Declan, but I didn’t know there was a pilgrimage route. It’s a listed route at 115km and it suggests doing it over six days. So of course, I’ll do it in one. There is a mountain range in between, so that should be fun. I might also look at doing it as an FKT, which is a Fastest Known Time.
I’ve just checked the FKT website, and the route is not listed yet, so that’s the first challenge. If they don’t accept the Irish Trails site, I may have to cycle it to get the GPX file. If you do pop over to have a look, you can check out my mate Gary’s excellent Royal Canal FKT. It’s kind of funky to have your name to an FKT. If you are the first to achieve it, you’ll always be the first. And I know for a fact, if I do set an FKT, it will be very modest indeed.
Anyway. Dogs. Yes. Let’s finish with some hounds…
P.S. Apologies for all the interjections from the editor. He’s insufferable.
(I heard that. ed.)