Ah, sure it’s all good. In fact, it’s grand…


My brother Robert with Bonnie

With the decision made to push forward the marathon a few days, I am now officially on the countdown, including the obligatory taper. For those poor souls not avidly following every word of this fascinating blog, the marathon was planned for midday on New Year’s Eve, but then I landed a gig with my new band on the same night, and I didn’t think I’d be up to both. Maybe in my youth, but then, in my youth, I wasn’t in any fit state to be running marathons. Yes, I know; that rather begs to be knocked out of the park, so I’ll thank you to be kind at this festive time of year, and not mock this ageing runner.

Gary has very generously agreed to help me with my marathon PB attempt, and we are ‘go’ for Friday the 29th. This not only allows me to recuperate for the gig in our local pub, but also means I can help out, and even possibly do a 10k run on New Year’s Eve morning, as part of the local tradition that is Lock Up The Year. LUTY has been going for a good number of years now, and is an informal run along the banks of the Royal Canal. Typically, there would be a marathon, half-marathon and 10k. The two longer distances usually involved a coach drop-off at an agreed location and a run back to the clubhouse in Leixlip, where mountains of sandwiches and gallons of hot tea awaited. Maybe it’s the cold air, or the effort of hauling your festively-sated body 13 miles along an oft-soggy towpath, or perhaps you’re just sick of turkey and mince pies, but that simple fare is like a king’s feast.

Covid took its toll on LUTY but we’re back in business. I took over temporarily last year when the normal host was away, and we put together a very simplified version which saw all runs take place as out-and-backs, with refreshments handled by the local GAA club. In fairness, it worked quite well. But this year, we are hoping to back to close to normal again, so I will be very pleased indeed if I can be involved in some way. I have already rooted out the signs I made for last year’s event, so they will be put to good use again. They are simply A4 laminated sheets on wooden stakes to let runners know when to turn for home in their chosen distance. As we have had to move the start point, I will need to pop out over Christmas on the bike and measure the new locations. But that shouldn’t be any hardship. If my legs are not completely buggered, I will try and do a 10k, and if I am still suffering, I will pop up all the same, and get into the spirit of the thing. I will also wander across the road to the Le Chéile Athletics track to see the 24-hour race begin. The nutters!

And then there is the other running tradition of the Goal Mile. Goal is a registered Irish charity doing great work around the globe, and the run takes place at 11.30 on Christmas morning, and is a great excuse to get out of the house for an hour and get some air into your lungs before you plunge into a veritable swamp of food and drink.

Damien ‘Damo’ Dempsey in Galway on Thursday last
Saoirse does these things with her phone. I am far too old to learn how such magic is conjured. Suffice to say, this is us, with Saoirse’s sister Louise, after the gig. Apologies to Carlos, who didn’t make the cut

Last week’s run programme was a bit messy as we took off to Galway on Thursday morning, to visit Saoirse’s sister in Barna, and go out that night to see the legendary Damien Dempsey. His gigs have reached quasi-religious levels of fervour, and you should see him live, even just the once, to let me prove my point. Here’s a sample, but it goes without saying that you need to be there… Great night, needless to say, with much singing, and plenty of beer. No running, though. Though I should add that I did manage Tuesday’s 9 miles of repeats, which were rather onerous, followed by Wednesday’s more sedate 6 miler. It was hard finding decent footing as we were still in the grip of sub-zero temperatures, and many of the paths were covered in a skittish mix of leaves and frost. But ever the trooper, I soldiered on! (Jaysus. ed.)

Barna village looking out to sea
The pier at Barna, looking out over Galway Bay towards Clare
We hooked up with an old friend, Justin, who also lives in Barna
Dublin Airport, picking up Rob

My brother came over this week, too, so with lots of family stuff to do, Saturday’s shortish run was skipped as well. Which just left Sunday’s long run, which could not be missed, so it was another early start to meet up with Gary and a few of his club colleagues from Donadea AC. There had been a gentleman’s agreement that, as they were essentially joining my run, that we would all run the same distance of 15 miles, at about the same pace. So we met up at the Harbour in Maynooth and managed to get the full 15 miles under our belts at about the required pace of 8:30 min/mile. It was a good workout, and will be the last serious leg-stretcher before the big day. Not that I am forgetting this week’s speed interval and tempo runs, but hopefully we will manage those without any injuries. On the positive side, too, the thaw has arrived in full, and we are now in a rather different scenario with strangely mild figures for this time of year; we were up around 13 degrees today. Definitely odd weather.

Gary, Tara, Peter and Niall with myself at Maynooth Harbour
The station tree

And so, on to the really good news! My brother’s eldest son and partner’s baby arrived in fine fettle. Okay, that sounds like a courier dropped off a pony, but you know what I mean. No name as yet, so we have had good craic suggesting rather silly ones for now. No doubt something will be chosen in due course. Well done to them, anyway. It means, of course, that my brother is a grandad, I am a grand-uncle, and as this is the first great-grand child, my folks are now great-grandparents.

No name as yet, but healthy, which is all that matters!

And whilst it seems somewhat churlish to finish with dogs after such a lovely photo of a new babba in the world, I mustn’t break with tradition, and so I present one very poor shot of Odi, one slightly better one of Bonnie, and another of the little rascal in the bed from this morning…

Odi, not feeling festive…
Find someone who looks at you like a hound…
Duvet Day

And I’ll include this one of myself that Saoirse took, because when you live in a house with hounds, you slowly become a hound. This is the way…

Me, with some evidence of hounds, naturally…

P.S. Congrats to Argentina on their World Cup victory. A crazy game of highs, and even more highs, and in the end, the best team won, and every neutral and football fan in the world rejoiced to see one of the finest players of their generation lift the Jules Rimet trophy. A little sad for France, but they won it last time, so… tant pis!

5 thoughts on “Ah, sure it’s all good. In fact, it’s grand…

  1. I didn’t have a second to read this till the world around me took the day off for some reason or other. Whatevs, great to have the day off. And what a great read! All sorts of happy news and smiling faces. That babe and the dog with the hat on are my faves ❤ Happy Mid-Chriskwannukah!! All the blessings of the season be yours.

    Liked by 1 person

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