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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Remebering Gran.

When I was growing up the highlight of my weekends was the trip to my Grans in Ballycumber. The reasons were simple, she was a loving woman who cared deeply for all of us and she had a forest out the back of her humble little house that seemed like an infinite playground to a kid. I remember every detail vividly from that time and with raw emotion coursing through me I write now to pay tribute to the woman herself, Annie Mahon.

My darling Gran left us on Tuesday of this week and took with her an illuminating presence that nothing on this earth will ever be able to replicate or replace. I loved her deeply and purely and learned from her that to be a good person one has to persevere through hard times and embrace the good ones. She touched so many lives in her 92 years on this earth and even though she is survived by seven grand kids I know so many more people who saw her as a surrogate 'Granny'. She was so generous to kids and I remember her teaching me the value of life and money, that to get something you had to give something. I would paint parts of the house, or cut trees for fire wood or clean out the sheds to make a few pence to buy a cassette tape or toy I wanted. The money reward part never really did anything for me but her approval of a job well done was worth so much more. She was a charitable person and loved to play bingo, listen to her radio and visit friends and family. Her life was simple but it had more meaning than that of any other person I know. The fountain of love and kindness that flowed from her had a trickling effect on us all, her outlook knew no ill will towards any living thing.

I find it hard to be sad because someone who influenced my life so positively only brings happy memories, I am at times overwhelmed by emotion until I think about her and the tears subside and the smiles appear. I lost my way at stages over the years but the outdoors that so influence my life now has a direct link to the maze of trails that I explored as a boy at her house. Making hide-outs, climbing boulders and pretending to be Tarzan was about as care free as you could get. Yesterday as I belted around my local trails here in the lashing rain I felt her more with me than ever. Some people call it religion or spirituality, call it what you like but there is no way I can describe the power of her love and how epic that run felt. I was on stretch of single track and going upwards when I looked to my right and saw a little ribbon of track that seemed to have been covered over in time. I busted through thorns and branches and hiked with conviction through the over growth. Every stomp powered by flash backs of her at various stages in my life, from time to my thoughts were invaded by the fact I never got to say goodbye or that she did not see my children one last time. When I reached the top the rain was in full pelt, beating the holy crap out of me, not being able to distinguish the tears from the rain on my face as I sobbed in mourning. But not with regret, that is not the way she lived and so neither will it be my way. I have dedicated that little spot on the trails just for us both and I know that she will always speak to me and influence me for the better.

Tomorrow is her funeral and I will not make it home. I want to be angry that she was not given just one more week so I could have kissed her cheek and told her to not be afraid. To have shown my children my biggest hero. But I cannot be angry, there are things in life that I cannot control and all I can do is just go from day to day with her example to lead me. With love in my heart for her is the way I will chose to honour her and in nine days time when I set off on my run, which I am dedicating to her, I will do so with an unbreakable spirit. Gran I love you and in the true fashion that you embraced all of your grand kids passions I will leave a rocking tune to see you off. I will never forget you and sweet dreams.

Your grandson,


To keep alive a moment at a time, But still inside a whisper to a riot, To sacrifice but knowing to survive, The first to climb another state of mind, I'm on my knees, I'm waiting for a sign, Forever, whenever, I never wanna die, I never wanna die, I never wanna die, I'm on my knees, I Never wanna die, I'm Dancing on my grave, I'm Running through the fire, Forever, whenever, I Never wanna die, I Never wanna leave, I Never say goodbye, Forever, whenever, Forever, whenever.......

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Geoff Roes-Slogging To The Top.

Joel Wolpert at Running Times has a real talent for making videos that are stripped down to capture the essence of his subjects. His Anton Krupicka:The Runner In Winter film was the first one that caught my attention back in December. His latest work features Geoff Roes and comes ahead of the Squaw Showdown this Saturday. Geoff just loves to run, loves the land and even at the top of is game is certainly not what you would call an athletic superstar, and you know what, I just love that. Doing something you cherish and exploring and appreciating the surroundings you live in is the purest way to connect with your inner self.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Taper/Change Of Plan!

Waiting in a doctors office is a pain, literally and figuratively. Its quiet, real quiet. Glances and nods are exchanged, everyone wondering what's wrong with the other. Or maybe that's just me. But its exactly where I found myself yesterday evening, in the salle d'attente of my sports doctor with the weight of six months of hard training and organising resting heavily on a crap ankle. Since my 118 km training run a few weeks back my form had been returning at an almost too perfect rate. Any residual stiffness had disappeared just a few days afterwards and I was back logging competent distances in no time. I felt that with this return to form so quickly and smoothly it would be a good idea to get in a final week of hard slog to galvanise my base mileage and start a three week taper. My left leg however had other plans. After clocking roughly eighty km from Mon-Weds I began to notice a recurring, almost scraping kind of pain stretching up from my anterior tibial tendon towards mid-shin area. I decided that ice was the way to go for the remainder of the week with liberal applications of an Ibuprofen gel and some rest. But yet the niggling, nagging sensation kept creeping back. Mornings were fine but any attempt to walk for more than twenty minutes brought that scraping back. Fast forwarding to yesterday I was feeling spectacularly average and said enough is enough, I pulled on my shoes and an old tracksuit pants and put my (enforced) rest to the test. Boom, after three km it was back to torment me. The pain was bearable, what was unbearable was not knowing what the cause was and further pressure coming from the little issue of a 570km run eighteen days away. So as opposed to waiting another sleepless night in wondrous worry and discomfort I made a bee line for the docs office.

Luckily my doc is top drawer in the business and had it down straight away. Tendons!!!! The tendon is surrounded by a sheath that is lined with synovial tissue and lubricated by synovial fluid. This permits the tendon to glide smoothly. My problem was lack of this fluid and he aimed the blame squarely at bad hydration, when I told him how much I drank for long runs and such his response was to double it. Coach Tess is gonna kill me as all she ever talks about is "sip, sip, sip" and I now know just how right she is. He then questioned my future running plans informing me that a week off was mandatory, failing to comply punishable by death, upon hearing about the summer trek it did get him slightly worried but hey, what's the worst that could happen? So as it stands I am on my second day of some high grade anti inflammatories, both gel and tablet form and I gotta say the difference has been welcomed. Knowing what it is has taken that edge of irritability away and left me to focus on all the other logistics and plans that need attacking. I am going into this with less training than I would have liked but I have learned that if you can't control the situation then it is better to go with the flow than dig your heels in and lose it all. I can't wait to get back on the road, but having said that in seventeen days time I think I will have my fair share of asphalt to contend with.

See you round the bend.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Unbreakable. Western Sates 2010 Video.

Anyone who has even a passing interest in Ultra Marathons knows that last years throw down at the Western States 100 was beyond the sphere of any other race. For me it was a thrilling race to follow, on a computer. Thousands of blogs and articles have been written about it and the battles fought that day are the stuff of legend. The hype going into the race was at fever pitch but no one had any idea just how epic it would be, what transpired will be the yardstick for every other ultra for many years to come.

Luckily now we have an insiders view into how it went down. JB Benna from Journeyfilm is not only an amazing film maker but also a solid ultra runner himself. This gives him the eye for a great shot but also the mindset of his subjects and the ability to get right into the heart of the action. His previous works, UltraMarathon Man (Dean Karnazes inspiring 50 marathons 50 states 50 days), The Runner (David Hortons 2,700 mile Pacific Crest Trail running record) to name just two, are in depth and inspiring viewing but judging by the new trailer below his latest work may be his finest yet. Unbreakable:The Western States 100 is an account of this race, as the official site states....

On June 26, 2010 four of the greatest ultramarathoners on earth toed the start line in Squaw Valley at the Western States 100-mile endurance run, the oldest and most prestigious 100-mile foot race.

"Unbreakable: The Western States 100" follows the four lead men on this amazing journey. Hal Koerner, two time defending Western States champion, and running store entrepreneur from Ashland, Oregon. Geoff Roes, undefeated at the 100-mile distance, an organic chef from Juneau, Alaska. Anton Krupicka, undefeated in every ultramarathon he has ever started, a graduate student living in Boulder, Colorado. Killian Jornet, the young mountain runner and two time Ultra-trail du Mont-Blanc champion, from Spain.

The film shadows each runner from the pre-race preparation in their hometowns to the daily life they each lead in and outside of running. While their lives may be quite different, the goal is the same: win the Western States 100-mile run. Only one will win and the journey is unforgiving.

With unprecedented access, the film takes the viewer on the course and with each of the crews, pacers and family members who are working to get their runner across the finish line. From battling injury to surprising changes in the lead, to in-depth interviews with race champions and ultrarunning figureheads, "Unbreakable: The Western States 100" showcases perhaps the most exciting race of its kind.

Also posted is a video of CLIF Shot comeback with Geoff Roes and his amazing turn around. Anyone running 6:20 miles at mile seventy is tougher than a coffin nail.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011


The idea to run the length of my beautiful home country, Ireland, came to me about a year ago. I was more than likely hammered drunk at that time and the arrogance that alcohol brings out was probably a key factor. There are always a seeds that plant themselves in my brain, some take root, others disappear. I don't really know why the idea to run this staggering distance in six days stuck, but it did. Perhaps I found myself peering into an empty bottle wishing someone would come and take away the pain of being an addict, knowing that really only I could save myself. Or wanting to prove to others that I have the guts and determination to pull off a feat of this magnitude.

Now here I am, one year on, eleven days away from six months of sobriety and thirty one days away from taking the first of about eight hundred thousand steps. The training has been mostly enjoyable ranging for 100-180 kms per week depending on time availability, races and general life living. The logistics of it all have been swamping and sleep has been lost but I always new a tipping point would come. That day happened to be yesterday when some much needed sponsorship in the form of nutritional supplies and transportation came my way. I will not go into the details of these sponsors just now as they deserve a more thorough mention than just a line or two in this post. I will be glad to write about them in the coming weeks. These uplifting developments have allowed me to concentrate on other things such finding a job for September when Pearl should be ready to so to school full time and to train without extra stress. The sponsorships also are indicative of the level of interest surrounding my quest and makes the adventure a more credible and tangible endeavour.

My commitment to doing the best for my family is what drives me more than any other factor. The appreciation I have for the people behind the scenes, some of whom have their own families and work hard, is staggering. Folks taking the time to help me is something I cherish above any material things in this world. I have truly the greatest support network there could be and hope that my efforts will do these people proud. And lets not forget the real reason I am doing this, a reason that sobriety helps me to see with a laser-like clarity. Autism. I have been incredibly moved and sometimes incredibly infuriated by the many, many stories individuals have shared with me along this journey. Through my run every one of my strides is aimed squarely at stamping on the ignorance and intolerance that is sometime displayed towards people who are different, the financial benefits will aid and reward those who fight the good fight. Those everyday heroes who soldier through a mine field of complex issues in order to afford their children the best chance possible at having a life. They are the real endurance kings because in the marathon of life, there are no days off.


Running for Pearl

This blog is dedicated to my daughter Pearl who was diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) in August 2009. My goal is to raise funds and awareness by doing what I love....Running.