About Red Hen

Mother, Middle aged, Mindful, Mad, Marathoner

Your History

So Google knows where I’ve been all Christmas? And has a map to prove it? Hmmmm…

The map below is not mine, of course. But, it’s furious scribbles all concentrated around the same area, somewhat resemble my monthly meanderings.


Ron Doyle’s Map.Source: Double Clicks.Info

So, if you have a smart phone, you really should know this: it acts as a sensor tracking your every move. And it thoughtfully maintains a record of that in Googleland.

Taken a holiday trip to Tahiti? Yep, a straight red line will map you on the 23rd of December and show your return on the 2nd of January. Been to see Santa on your last trip to the Big Smoke? Yep, that’s dated and marked on your map too.

The record is maintained for thirty days at a time. So, if I wanted a reminder of where I’d been say, on December 25th. Well, a quick check on google history would prove that I was at home.

No surprises there then.

It’s mildly entertaining. But my disquiet is drowning out my sense of fun.

Why on earth do I need to know where I was a month ago?

I don’t.

And why does Google want to know?

Probably everything got to do with selling me stuff. If I’ve been to Tahiti for Christmas, they’ll tempt me cruises to Christmas Island next year.

And can anyone else find out?

I imagine it would be a port of call for that detective who needs to track down my final movements when I fly the coop. All he’ll need is my smartphone log in account. Actually, google might even give him the information if he waves his ID at them and shows them a warrant, or something.

Anyone with my smartphone log in details can find out, of course. Can you imagine how many suspicious spouses are out there who have precisely that detail and are willing to use it? Or parents who want to track the whereabouts of their wayward kid?

But if they even feel the need to do that, then there’s an inherent trust issue in the first place. So there’s a problem before they even find out there’s a problem.

And my map shows there’s a problem too. For the past month, it’s like that two year old with the red crayon just hammered into one spot on the page. There’s an occasional squiggle due south, and another due east. But mostly, it’s just one scribble confined within a ten mile radius.

In other words, I’ve had a great Christmas. A damned slothful, all-you-can-eat-and-read binge with, regular forays, I should add, to my regular running spot. 

If I could zoom in close enough, I’d see a particularly dense spot in the living room, on the sofa, sprawled in front of the open fire. Zoom closer and you’ll see my books and newspapers. Zoom even closer and my lips are moving in a broad smile. Bliss.

Janathon? It didn’t even cross my mind. I was far too busy rearranging myself on the sofa.

So here I am, all nicely rested up and ready for a great 2015. Google location history almost says so.

And what am I going to do with my time ahead, you ask?

Keep on running and seeking out some interesting new locations.

I might just leave my smartphone at home though!

Have you known that your location history was available for viewing before reading this post?

Happy Solstice! Happy Christmas!


Waiting for Dawn. Solstice at Newgrange 2014

Solstice, a new year and new beginnings, right?

Well, I am ready for that on several levels.  But first, let’s get the excuses out of the way…

I fell off the blogging wagon in November. A weekend work conference, the day job, and family shenanigans were the main reasons. Though, of course, laziness figures somewhere in there too!

I kept up the running though. Nothing serious. Nothing too difficult. Just concentrating on enjoying the break from all of the above and in keeping a modicum of fitness.

But, in the past fortnight, even that has taken a dive too.

Luckily, I have rounded a bend. Actually, climbed over the peak. And now am basking in clear views of wonderful skies and more adventures ahead.

I can only hope it involves more running, more blogging, more culture, more history and, of course, lots of fun.

Lining up with the shamans, the hippies, the little kids, the locals, the tourists and the new Irish, I waited at Newgrange for the rising sun. Cloud cover obscured that view but it was enough to see darkness turn to light. Enough to see a fringe of palest pink on the easterly horizon. Enough to hear the beat of the bodhrán, the delighted ululations and greetings everywhere of “Happy Christmas!” “Happy Solstice!”

Here’s to starting over and to everyone starting over everywhere.







Lest We Forget

It’s not all fun and games, running and cooking here at the Hen House, you know. I like to indulge in a spot of old-fashioned study too.

November is the perfect month to indulge. Especially with all the war commemoration stuff on now.

Have you heard of MOOCs? They’re Massive Online Open Courses. Taster courses for universities, they offer you a few weeks of structured reading and online engagement with materials on a wide range of subjects.

Last September I engaged on a five week course on the history of Ireland from 1912-1923. This was delivered in collaboration with Trinity College Dublin and it was utterly fascinating.

This month I’m dallying around the difficult subject of trauma and injury inflicted in World War One.

Not the prettiest of topics, but timely and enlightening. It’s presented by the Open University and, with two more weeks to run on a three week course, you still have time to sign up.

Apart from the fact that they are free, MOOCs added attractions are that they draw on a wide variety of methodologies to engage the learner. So, one can download transcripts via pdf, for instance, or just follow the video clips. And the learner is also guided towards the best of online resources and to books to encourage one’s own research.

Discussion with fellow learners is also widely encouraged.  And, quite often, one can glean an enormous amount just from reading through the comments.

There are courses on everything. Not just history. I’ve signed up for a management one next year and am hoping they’ll run a journalism one again because I missed it last time round.

Nothing on running yet though. Or how to get one’s sad ass out there on a dark wet November morning.  Though my trawls through the trenches in this week’s MOOC have certainly put rain-sodden rambles into perspective.

Yes, no harm to think of those who have sacrificed so much for our comforts to-day. Lest we forget.

More information on futurelearn course here. 


If you have participated in a MOOC already, I’d love if you’d let us know about it in a post, or here in a comment.

Inspiring Runners


Christine Kennedy

Christine Kennedy-link to photo source and article here

Is there something wonderful going on in Senior Running?

I am prompted to think this by the many posts of veteran runner, Mary Lou Harris and the following  comment from Mary Lou on one of my Dublin City Marathon posts:

Great reporting and photography. I just came across a Running Times article about Christine Kennedy, age 59, who won the Dublin Marathon back in 1982 and this year ran a 2:59 marathon (apparently an age record).

Senior women are burning up the roads and the records this year.

Christine Kennedy, as it turns out, is a Galway woman, long settled in California, where she co-owns two running shops and runs up to 85 miles per week. Inspired by the inaugural Dublin City Marathon of 1981, she vowed that she would run it too, even though, at that point she was very unfit. She commenced training that year and, in October 1982, she ran her first marathon in 3 hours 31 minutes.

In 1990 Christine was the first woman home in the Dublin marathon in a time of 2:41:27 and she repeated that success the following year in a time of 2: 35:36.

Long settled in America, and, with years of great competitions and success behind her, Christine is now focussed on being the first lady in the F60 category to run a sub 3 hour marathon. She has targeted Boston 2015 for this attempt.

I put that proposed time in perspective by digging through the results page on the Dublin City Marathon website.  It’s well worth perusing the stats there to see the state of play in this country for senior women. And, although we’re not close to having an F60 woman run a sub-3 hour marathon, the results are still very heartening.

There are three women in the F75 category, with the lead lady Anette Olsson coming in at 5 hours 8 minutes and 44 seconds.

The F70 category has eleven runners in total with Frances Brelauer leading the category with a finish time of 4:35:57.

The F65 category has a best finish time from Sue Nicholl of 3:43:45

While the F60 winning time is delivered by Mary Lynch on 3:45:44.

The important thing, in my book, is not that the records are broken, but that everyone takes fitness seriously, as a means of enhancing their quality of life. If aiming to beat one’s own PR, one’s neighbour, or break a record drives that goal on, then that’s a good thing.

Just seeing older people out there running, inspires all of us. Women in this country especially, have not always been encouraged to do this in the past. However, Dublin marathon participation rates for older ladies compare very favourable with popular marathons such as Prague and Boston, and, given the numbers of younger women who have taken up running in recent years, the senior race participation rates should increase a lot in the years to come

My body serves me very well but, a reality check tells me that it’s more of a trusty Volvo than a nippy little Porsche. Even with all the training on the planet, I am not going to break any landspeed records any time soon.

 I do enjoy being fit, though. And I do believe fitness of for everyone, not just the super duper elite athletes.
 Sure, there’s that little nagging voice going on that mocks my efforts and chides me:
Hey, aren’t you too old for this?
Is this really doing you any good?”
” Wouldn’t it be nicer just to curl up with a great book?”
And, much though I’d especially like to concede to the last point, I know I have to keep getting out there to benefit from the cardiovascular conditioning that regular aerobic exercise provides.
Our running elders are guiding the way to a healthier, fitter future. A future that’s there for any of us with a little luck and a lot of effort. Of course, it doesn’t have to happen through running either. But I suppose, what with all the events on offer, from parkruns to marathons, there’s a lot of opportunity these days to enjoy running.
Mary Lou Harris has a lovely post about Olga Kotelko and her super senior running successes. Olga is 94.
So c’mon, if we all keep moving, maybe we’ll be wonderful in our F90 or M90 years too!