The Empire Strikes Back

The Samuel Beckett Bridge by night. More on this here:

Sadly, this is not a Star Wars tribute post, nor is there any mention of Star Wars characters (although there was talk of billions of stars…). Rather, there are quite a few images from a recent short break, and then I suspect I will build in some tedious reference to the title in order to explain why it’s there in the first place. Amongst that, there may be mentions of quantum entanglement and a strange coincidence regarding event horizons. Intrigued? I bet you are!

After the excitement of the Declan’s Way run, and the subsequent blockbuster (blocked drains? ed.), I took a short break from running. But soon enough, the twitchiness of the long distance runner kicked in. And yes, that is not the title of the famous film, I know, I know…

I had already committed to helping out my firefighter colleagues with a charity run. This will involve three firefighters running the Dublin City Marathon at the end of October with fire kit and a BA set. There has been quite a bit of discussion already regarding how to strip down a fire kit and BA set so that a person might reasonably get around the course without dying of heat exhaustion. They will be using old black kits (rather than the new, snug PBI Gold that we wear today), and they will rip out the inner lining. The BA kit will have a fake cylinder installed into the outer sleeve to give it some ‘volume’. And they won’t be wearing the fire boots, either. The plan, for now, is to wear the helmets at the start line for the photo op, and ditch them after a mile or so, and then arrange to don them again near the finish line. That’s the rough plan, anyway, and I am planning on riding shotgun with the trio to hopefully help get them around in one piece.

So obviously I was back out running again within a week of the Way. And then another plan snuck into my head, which was to have a crack at my marathon PB. Clearly not at Dublin for the reasons mentioned above. But an event on New Year’s Eve at our local running track has caught my eye, and as I always end the year with a decent run, this seemed like the fates had thrown me a bone. That, or I’m just a giddy child made up of two-parts impulse and one-part buyer’s remorse…

So my rough plan is to use the Dublin event as a training run and slingshot off into the Winter with an off-the-peg training plan in place and underway for (hopefully) one last hurrah at getting a good time. What is that plan, I hear you ask? And what is that time? And why does this sound like a Talking Heads song?

Okay, firstly, the plan is here. It’s from Asics, and it’s a good one. I’m not even a week into it, and it’s kicking the shit out of me. The target time? Well, it’s a 3.30 training plan, so in theory, if I get to the start line uninjured having followed the plan to a large extent, then why not have a crack at 3.30? I’ll tell you why, seeing as you ask. I tried this. Last year. Here is the write-up. It feels like a lifetime ago, and I need to check the date on the blog to convince myself that a year has not yet passed. Assuming we apply the Laws of TL;DR, then I’ll summarise it for you: sometimes you can shoot for the moon in a long distance race, and if something goes ‘boing’, you have a long, long day ahead of you, unless you are wise and step off the track. I am not wise. So one must pace oneself carefully in order to both finish, and get the desired time.

In order to run a 3.30 marathon, you have to run each kilometre in five minutes. Or each mile in eight. They say the best time to plant a tree is fifty years ago, and the next best time is now. This also works for marathons, I believe. I probably should have tried getting a decent marathon time in 2018, when my PB list would suggest I was in half-decent shape. I set my 10k and half-marathon PBs towards the end of that year, and in the Summer of 2019, my 5k PB, plus my marathon PB in October. That was also the year of the Connemara 100 at the end of August, so it might explain why I ran out of gas at the end of the Dublin Marathon.

Since then, I have not made any inroads into any of those times, and last year’s ‘Down to Town’ marathon was the only attempt at the marathon PB. So, it may well be that time has caught up with me, and those PBs will remain as they are. I am typing away at my desk with a pair of cheap reading glasses on, so I know for a fact my eyesight has taken a beating. I can only assume my legs are in similar shape.

Which brings us on to the Empire. (No it doesn’t. ed.)

The Asics plan is all in miles (with, of course, some metres thrown in for good measure (!) just to keep me on my toes). Rather than do the tedious conversions, which would only end up with messy distances, I just changed the Garmin watch to miles. Down there for dancin’, as we say around these parts. And miles are an empirical measurement, as opposed to metric. And so we end up with a tortuous blog title. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya!

You will be kept informed and apprised on progress, fear not. It may well be that I toe the line on the last day of the year in fine fettle and have a crack at 3.30 and make it. Or I blow up again. Or I decide on a more modest approach, and shoot for, say, 3.45. It’s all about the pace, about the pace, no trouble…

And so, onto the all-too-brief holiday break.

Waiting for the man to arrive…

S and I managed a few days away in Westport, with a day-trip out to Achill Island. Before we went away, we went to see Prof Brian Cox who is touring the UK and Ireland with his Horizons show at the 3 Arena. If you are a fan of the man, then you will know what to expect. It was all as dazzling and intriguing as you might expect, and as with all things to do with quantum physics and cosmology, there are points where you nod and think, yep, I got this, then a few where you can hear your brain squinting, and then other times, you just have to admit defeat. In fairness, Brian does his best to break it down into bite size pieces, and Robin Ince pops up now and again to offer some light relief. It was a lovely night out, and although Dallan wasn’t able to join us, Tamsyn came along, and the three of us enjoyed the spectacle, and then wandered back to the car park along the Liffey Quays with a new-found wonder at the moon and the visible stars. And we all took many photos, as the old town looked rather fetching.

S at the Dublin Conference Centre

With our intellectual duties fulfilled, we felt we were free to head west into Mayo and let our hair down. We had two nights in a nice hotel on the outskirts of town, and enjoyed the delights of Westport. Plenty of good food and a few pints. I even manage to sneak out for a short run on the last day, and sandwiched in between was a spin out to Achill.

You can click on any of these images to enlarge them. There were many highlights on this short trip, not least getting in for a swim at Keem, which I reckon is the best beach in the world. Don’t take my word for it; come along and see it for yourself. We also found a fabulous bookshop in Westport along the quays called Tertulia. You could chat with the owner, Neil, all day. He worked in the film industry for most of his life, and coincidentally, worked on the sets for Event Horizon. He had a few bits salvaged from the props department around the walls, along with other items from Aliens 2 and Harry Potter. Yes, those are genuine letters in the frame from the film.

That’s not me jumping off the jetty into Clew Bay, but I did find the guy on my run, and I refused to leave him alone until he jumped in. Poor fecker! On the way home, we stopped off at Strokestown House, which is also home to the National Famine Museum. In truth, we didn’t do it justice in terms of time, but it broke up the journey home, and reminded me that there is a National Famine Way; 165kms of walking trail that passes my door (practically) that I need to think about doing one day.

And here are a few more images from the last week or so, in no particular order.

And finally, in time-honoured fashion, we will finish with hounds… Bonnie, to be exact.

9 thoughts on “The Empire Strikes Back

  1. Great post – looking forward to following the marathon PB attempt. I’ve never understood why, if the best time to plant a tree was fifty years ago, the next best time wouldn’t have been 49 years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You know if the old box had the old Royal Emblem of Edward VII or George V on it, that really would added to the Empire theme and the quality of your post…

    By the by, the fates didn’t throw you a bone, a craic dealer called Anto has just offered to fuel your addiction for a small fee!

    Hopefully we can get some miles in together soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It would be hard to go to Westport and not have a good time and although Keem is beautiful there might be a beach or two in Donegal that would give it a run for the money 🤔

    Lovely photos as always 👌

    Liked by 1 person

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