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Posts tagged ‘Dublin’

A Monster Update – Hikes, Bikes, PBs and Muck!

With the exception of the Docklands Run report, it has been a while since I’ve written anything new, so apologies to everyone who has continued to read the old posts. The website recently passed the 20,000 view mark – I don’t know where exactly that stands in the pantheon of blog-hits, but it’s a hell of a lot more than I originally expected, which was exactly zero. So thank you for that!

Mile Trial:

So what’s been happening? For the most part, I’ve been plugging away at the shorter distances; it turns out that when you’re not running marathons every other week, the PBs will come tumbling down! You may remember I actually ran a 10k in proper running gear for a change (i.e. no Santa Suit, no ballgown). On that occasion, my time was cut down from just under an hour to 41 minutes and 23 seconds. Not long afterwards, Drogheda and District AC hosted their monthly Mile Trials, which I decided was the perfect opportunity to show up at the track in a Saw Doctors t-shirt…


…with the sleeves ripped off for “aerodynamic purposes”. By the way, if you get that joke – congratulations, you grew up in Ireland in the 2000s. ūüôā

As is their habit, Drogheda and District AC had two mile trial events, one on the Tuesday and another on the Thursday. As is my habit, I didn’t change my training one iota beforehand – these days I do mostly weightlifting and for cardio, I cross-train three or four times per week. However, a couple of things happened that were distinctly unexpected – on the first occasion, I managed to cut my one-mile PB down to 5 minutes 39 seconds. Furthermore, unlike almost every other time I’ve cut the PB down, I was able to walk away from the race. No lungs burning, no feeling of imminent heart-attack, no taste of iron in the back of my throat – I still had more to give. Being a glutton for punishment, I decided to have another stab at it on Thursday. On this occasion, I managed to get my splits almost perfect, just over 1min20sec a lap, with an intense sprint to the finish-line alongside Declan Monaghan. Just beating him by a whisker, I came in at 5 minutes and 29 seconds. It seemed that the lucky t-shirt had done its job.

A Weekend of Fun-Runs:

After that came madness. Shivvy Hickey, Jennifer Tweed, Alan Keegan and myself have formed something of an informal running club over the last few months, imaginatively named Team JenAlShivOl. Jenny ,being a vital cog in the wheel of Team JenAlShivOl, was understandably annoyed when she broke her ankle at a Hell and Back-style obstacle race. (Since then, she has ditched the cast and is, in her own words, hobbling around like an 80 year old. Go Jenny!) The only problem was we had a packed schedule of races that weekend – with a 10k obstacle course on the Saturday and a 5k Rainbow Run on the Sunday. Crutches and road-races being exceedingly poor bedfellows, it was up to our fellow DCU alumnus and floppy haired science-man Dave Grimes to fill in.


Leading to the most epic pre-race photo of all time.

The Rainbow Run was a relatively short dalliance around the West Pier in D√ļn Laoghaire. Fun but not overly challenging – more of a Facebook photo opportunity than a serious race. The Mad Craic race was more difficult, being more than twice as long, taking place on a soaking wet day and littered with charming obstacles such as haystacks, neck-deep rivers and barbed wire.


Also, this happened.

The Half-Marathon: Trimming the Fat

However, all of this was prelude to the main event. On August 5th came a race that Shivvy and myself had both been looking forward to for a long time – the Dublin Rock n Roll Half-Marathon. I had only ever competed in one half-marathon before; it was in a tiny Meath parish called Bohermeen back in March 2012. I had technically kicked off the ‘Running for Reachout’ project the previous December and it was slowly dying on its arse. I had no idea if I could run a marathon, never mind 20 of them.¬† I knew nobody in the running community, had never competed in anything before, and had no idea what I was doing. All I knew was that marathon season didn’t start until April and I needed to do SOMETHING. I vaguely remember showing up in a cotton t-shirt, 3/4 length shorts, and a woolen beanie, looking like a complete tool. After finishing in 2 hours and 9 minutes, I harassed a random bystander into taking my picture at the finish-line, holding up the participants’ t-shirt, and called it a day. Like I said, a complete tool.¬† So 18 months onward, the half-marathon in Dublin would be a nice way to bring the project full-circle. With the benefit of those months of added experience, and some excellent Dublin bands rocking out at the water stops, I managed to cut 35 minutes off the Bohermeen time, coming in at 1 hour, 33 minutes and 43 seconds.


Going Forward:

Going forward, I have some slightly different goals for the rest of the year. On Tuesday, I just got back from finishing my Adventure Journey project for a President’s award programme that I’m doing. That project eventually became an 80km monster of a hike, which involved summiting 24 peaks over four insane days; THAT will be getting a post all to itself.

A couple more assorted goals for the year, just so you guys can keep me honest – I want to go for my bronze award in the Marathon Club of Ireland, which is presented on completion of 25 marathons/ultramarathons. Currently, I’m on 20, so you do the math! In terms of aiming for time improvements, I still have to find a 5k, which I’ll be aiming to finish in under 20 minutes. Also, I’m going to have another go at the Eddie Murphy Double-Marathon in November, which I never technically finished the last time.

When all this is done, I’ll be going back to the drawing board, and concentrating on reducing my one-mile time. While I do have an ultimate goal in mind…

ultimate goal… the first step is taking a minute off my one-mile time (As I said, that’s currently 5.29) Can it be done? I haven’t a clue. But it’s going to be fun trying.

Dedicated to Kate Fitzgerald – 26th June 1986 – 23rd August 2011.

Back On The Road Again…

The Dublin Docklands Run is getting more popular every year; last Thursday saw the 14th edition of the fun-run in aid of Barnardos, with over 3000 people competing (1,120 in the 5k and 2,275 in the 10k, to be exact). It was also my first race of the year, and so it was that I took to the quays with my good pal Siobhan Hickey (she of fame) and our friends from college, Alan and Jenny.

giant red sticks

Here we are beforehand at the Grand Canal Square urban space – or to give it it’s proper title – the “Big Red Sticks.”

For anyone familiar with the area, the course is fairly straightforward – we started at Hanover Quay, before making our way around to the Samuel Beckett Bridge, and onto a turning cone near the O2 Arena. From there, we had a long, straight stretch as far the Custom House Quay, before crossing the Liffey again at the Talbot Memorial Bridge, and finally returning to Hanover.

dublin docklands

And then we did it all over again…

Anyway, to cut a long story short, it was personal bests all round!

Oliver Clare

I did have a little bit of trimming to do on my 10k time – what with having ran my last two events in a Santa suit and a ball gown respectively –¬†so I was pretty happy with my final time of 41 minutes and 23 seconds. Hopefully I’ll be able to bring that down under 40 minutes next time. For now, I’m just happy to have another to add to the collection!

Personal Bests (All Distances):

One Mile – 5 min; 48 sec. (Louth Novice Cross Country 6k – Oct 7th, 2012)

6km – 25 min; 57 sec. (Louth Novice Cross Country 6k – Oct 7th, 2012)

10km – 41 min; 23 sec. (Dublin Docklands Run – June 20th, 2013)

Half-Marathon – 2 hrs; 9 min, 34 sec. (Meath Spring Half Marathon – March 4th, 2012)

Marathon – 3 hrs; 54 min, 44 sec. (Dublin City Marathon – October 29th, 2012)

Double-Marathon – 9 hrs; 33 min, 42 sec. (Eddie Murphy Memorial, 46 miles DNF – Nov 18th, 2012)

100 Miles – 28 hrs; 47 min, 43 sec. (Connemara 100 Ultra – August 11th/12th 2012)

Volunteer Ireland Awards are tomorrow…

I have news! First things first, I know I’ve been promising to upload a report on the Dublin marathon for the past month. It never quite happened, but at the same time, I was putting together an article for It details the journey from the Connemara 100-miler to the Dublin marathon (and everything that transpired in between). That article is called ‘The Rocky Road to Dublin’,¬†appropriately¬†enough, and it can be found here.

Another thing which I’m really excited about is being nominated for a Volunteer Ireland award. I was told about the nomination a few weeks ago, and am shortlisted in the ‘Campaigning and Awareness Raising‘ section. The presentation is in Dublin City Hall tomorrow evening, so I’ll let you guys know how it goes! In the meantime, please check out their website; there are many other nominees doing fantastic things in their communities, and they also have a great article which is very¬†pertinent¬†to the work done by Reach Out Ireland – ‘Volunteering Benefits Positive Mental Health‘.

Dublin Marathon – Take Two

Okay for this post, I am most definitely wearing my Marathon Club hat. If there’s anyone out there who feels that one marathon in Dublin this year just wasn’t enough (and that doesn’t mind “dodging wild deer” as a bonus challenge…), make sure to sign up for the ‘West of Ireland’ series in the Phoenix Park on Saturday, November 24th.

This is the first time that the Marathon Club of Ireland has put on a ‘West of Ireland’ marathon anywhere east of County Offaly (which is great for me, since I might actually get a full night’s sleep before this one!). Our own Frank McDermott has put together a fantastic course in the Phoenix Park which takes in two short loops at the beginning, followed by five large (and hilly) loops directly afterwards. (Click on the screenshots below for more details)

In all honesty, I actually can’t wait for this one; I understand there are still a few places remaining (the places for this one are capped at 50 and there might be no on-the-morning sign-ups) so if you want to enter, go to this link at and click ‘Enter now’. The race will be starting at 9.30am, so best advice is to be there by 8.30am. And of course, if you see us don’t forget to cheer us on! ūüėČ

Mission Accomplished (almost!)

While there still may be a few marathons left between now and the end of December, Monday’s Dublin marathon went just great! I cut a couple of minutes off my personal best from Kildare last May, coming in at 3h54m44s

Here’s a short video of me crossing the finish-line. About twenty seconds in, there’s a group of Irish Air Corps marathoners, running in formation and carrying a flag.

Then there’s a guy directly behind them sporting a white t-shirt, black¬†bandanna¬†and a disgustingly sweaty beard… that would be me ūüėÄ

Full race-report to follow!

One More Sleep…

Ten Craziest Moments in a Year of Running

Have you ever watched an episode of the Simpsons or Miami Vice where the writers ran out of ideas so in the opening scene, the gang reminisces to set up a “best of” clip show? Well that’s sort of the¬†position¬†I’m in right now – my training plans for the Dublin marathon next Monday have been thrown a little bit off-course, owing to the man-flu/bubonic plague that has recently struck me down, leaving me with few other options.

Unless anyone wants to read a post about nausea and digestive unpleasantness – that I can do.

It hasn’t been quite a full year in running but it sure seems like it. So without further ado, here’s a couple of the absolute craziest things I’ve done this year in the name of ReachOut, since I signed up at my local running club last November.

1) How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Start Running (Dec 18, 2011) One day last winter, I decided to embark on a mad adventure, having absolutely no idea what it was going to entail.

2) The Wake-Up Call РPart 1 (Jan 7, 2012) Not knowing anything about marathons, I decided the best way to get my head around it was to actually get out and do one! So I left a bottle of water at my gate, put on my tattered old runners and ran for 26 miles (about eight laps around my block.) Big mistake!

3) Bohermeen and Taming the Carb-Craving Monster¬†(Mar 8, 2012) I couldn’t wait to get started so I set off to Bohermeen, Co. Meath for my first, and to date my only, half-marathon.

4) Go West, Young Man! (Mar 13, 2012) My first ever real marathon had no crowds, no support, no medics and just 22 other competitors Рtalk about a baptism of fire!

5) A Madventure on a Mountain¬†(Apr 20, 2012)¬†My third day out was nearly six hours of pure hell at “Ireland’s Toughest Marathon”, the Madventure in Co. Clare. We had to summit a 532m mountain twice to make it to the finish-line.

6) There were a couple of occasions that never made it into the original blog, and for good reason. In particular, I’m thinking about the time I ran the Flora Women’s mini-marathon in drag…

10 kilometers sure seems an awful lot longer in full make-up and a ball-gown. (Jun 4, 2012)

7) Three Marathons in Three Days (May 5-7, 2012) Exactly what it says on the tin. In Ireland, we had a long bank holiday weekend last May. Day 1 was the Ballyhoura Mountain Marathon, Day 2 was the Great Limerick Run and after an extremely long drive, Day 3 was the Belfast City Marathon.

8) Finally Breaking the 4-Hour Barrier¬†(May 13, 2012)¬†In Limerick I’d just missed out by a couple of minutes; running a marathon in under four hours is important monkey for a lot of runners to get off their back. It was especially unlikely in my case as it came just a week after the 3-in-3-days and due to the fact that I had a hangover and just two hours sleep from the night before…

9) Here’s another one that I originally overlooked in the race-reports. Kildare’s Le Cheile AC put on a Midnight Marathon in Leixlip last June. The key difference here, besides the fact that it was held at midnight, was that it was run on a looped track – which was about 400 metres long. If you’re struggling with the maths, that equals just over 105 laps. (June 23, 2012)

10) In at the Deep End: Running My First Ultramarathon at the Connemara 100- Miler: (Aug 11/12, 2012) An ultramarathon can technically be any length over 26.2 miles, although the most common distances are 50k, 50 miles, 100km and 100 miles. I had never run anything over the length of a regular marathon before that crazy crazy day in Connemara.

The aforementioned flu has set me back somewhat. But I still have hopes of breaking my personal best from May’s Kildare marathon when I go to Dublin next Monday. With a bit of luck, I might have another good yarn to add to the list. In the meantime, I guess all that’s left to say is that I promise to actually write a properly new post soon and sorry for the clip show!

Surviving Ireland‚Äôs Friendliest Marathon

It’s coming to that time of year, when exhaustion and leg-pain give way to… more exhaustion and leg-pain, actually. September is going to be all about survival. August began with the Connemara 100-miler, followed by the Longford Marathon last Sunday (I’ll get back to that in a minute) and there are three more marathons on the cards for September – Dingle on the 1st, Sligo on the 15th and the Mooathon on the 30th. I’m not expecting to set any land-speed records on those three given the lack of recovery time. The plan, such as it is, is to get through September injury-free and then take a few weeks off before attempting to beat my PB in Dublin at the end of October. Which would be pretty sweet if it works! Incidentally I have gotten my cow costume for the Mooathon and am currently looking for someone to be the back end.

Any volunteers…? (No weirdos)

Moving swiftly on, the Longford Marathon was on last weekend. Billed as the ‘friendly marathon in the heart of Ireland,’ the event attracted a large crowd of about 800 competitors to Dublin Street for the half, full and ultra marathons, as well as a full marathon relay. It’s one of the older marathons in Ireland, initially organized in 2002 by¬†Fr. Ciaran McGovern and Liam Fenelon – first man in Ireland to run 200 marathons and our new¬†honorary¬†president in the Marathon Club of Ireland. Back then, it attracted 275 runners and¬†raised¬†‚ā¨25,000 for St. Christopher’s services. That figure has increased to ‚ā¨150,000 in the years since then.

Last Sunday saw yet another early start (I’m starting to think I might have a better chance of breaking 4 hours more often if I didn’t have to get up at 5am for most of these marathons!) After picking up the race-pack at St. Mel’s College, I had a few hours to spare. So naturally, I¬†endeavored¬†to use that time productively to prepare myself mentally for the race ahead…

Spoiler Alert: It’s terrible.

Fast-forward to 11am and the start of the race. We began with a lap of the town, rendered somewhat more difficult by the fact that I already had a seven-minute mile under my belt before the start; I’d forgotten my timing-chip and had to leg it to the car-park and back to the start-line again (I guess the preparation wasn’t so great after all…).

Although in hindsight it might seem just a tad foolish, I decided to take another shot at breaking 4 hours, on the dubious basis that I usually run well the week after doing something really stupid.¬†So after doing some quick mental arithmetic (4 hours = 240 minutes … 26.2 miles in a marathon … 240/26.2 = 9.16), I decided to attempt running consistent sub 9-minute miles for the whole thing. As you can see here, everything was going to plan for the first 14 miles. Then, as usual, an equipment failure scuppered me. This time it was the watch, which decided to stop working just after the 2 hour mark. So I was running blind, without a watch or heart-rate monitor, for most of the second half. Needless to say, this really wasn’t helping my cause.

Nonetheless, it was still looking good until late on; three hours hadn’t passed by the time we hit the 18-mile marker. But in the end, everything caught up with me. My legs weren’t properly recovered from the Connemara 100, and it was so hot that I had to run topless for most of the race, which was embarrassing for just about everybody. After about 20 miles, we hit a long hill on the way back into the last village before Longford, and the game was up. From then on, it was just about survival; I met up with a fellow Madventure alumnus called Tom along the way, as well as an American lady who had decided on a whim that she wanted to run a marathon while on holiday in Ireland (as you do) and Graham Whittaker, who ran a fantastic race to finish in the top 10 of the ultra-marathon event. Together, we helped each other on through the final stages. Finally,¬†I ran the last mile into Longford town centre with Larry Rigney, and just for fun, decided to sprint to the finish.

So to sum up, it was an educational race; normally 4:22:39 wouldn’t be an especially difficult time for me, especially on a flat course, but I really had to work hard for it on this¬†occasion. For the rest of the marathons in September, I’ll be happy if I can maintain my times around this sort of level, before taking a few weeks off and really pushing to beat my PB (3:56:59) in Dublin at the end of October. Of course, the best-laid plans can come undone but I’ll give myself a fighting chance. In the meantime, check another one off the list!

Finally, a big thanks to everyone in Drogheda & District AC who sponsored me over the last few weeks, much appreciated and as always, it’s all going to an amazing cause.

50% of Fundraising Target Reached & Media Coverage

Good news – over the last week or so, the ‘Running for ReachOut’ campaign has gotten some media coverage and we hit something of a fundraising landmark! The Mid-Louth Independent ran a story after the Connemara 100-mile ultramarathon, which I couldn’t find a link for, but we made the front-page!

Just yesterday, a piece written by Grainne Aylward was posted by which can be found here. Also my own post ‘In at The Deep End‘, giving the blow-by-blow of the Connemara 100, was just published on early today.

In other news, we finally hit 50% of the fundraising target for Reach Out Ireland. The total currently stands at ‚ā¨2,564, the target being to raise ‚ā¨5,000 by the end of the year. Thanks to everyone for continuing to the support the campaign; we’re hoping to have more fundraising events in the Autumn. Just to recap – since taking up running last March, I’ve done the marathons in Connemara, Clare (Madventure), Ballyhoura Mountains, Limerick, Belfast City, Kildare, Portumna Forest, Leixlip (Midnight Marathon), Waterford, Antrim (Kennedy Kane), Killeigh, Longford and the 100-miler in Connemara, with Dingle, Sligo, Donegal (Mooathon), Dublin, two from the West of Ireland series, and the Eddie Murphy memorial marathon all still to come.

Many thanks for all the support so far; if you can donate anything at all to ReachOut, it would be hugely appreciated, here is the MyCharity page. Also, if you would like me to do some guest-blogging (or if you or anyone you know would be interested in writing about the campaign in the media) please let me know in the comments section or get in touch at!


Weekend in Limerick

I’m heading off to Limerick tomorrow evening on another marathon adventure. It’s going to be a packed weekend; I have to go down to Limerick on Friday evening to pick up my timing chip at the Great Limerick Run expo. Then it’s down to Kilfinane for the Ballyhoura Mountain Marathon at 9:00AM on Saturday morning and back to Limerick City for the Great Limerick Run on Sunday, hopefully with a couple of physio sessions in between. I’m seriously bricking it as I’ve never done consecutive marathons before and it’ll be the biggest challenge that I’ve faced so far.

On a side-note, if you’d like to write a guest blog-post or would like me to write one for you (It doesn’t have to be about running, I also have an encyclopedic knowledge of the Back to the Future movies, amongst other things), please let me know. I won’t have my laptop with me so I won’t be updating the blog until next week but I’m sure plenty of tweeting and “facebooking” (if that is indeed a verb) will be done! Thanks for reading; be sure to check back here next week for the full race reports!

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