Fingal’s Shore


Sunday was glorious day here in the Emerald Isle. I ran, of course, like a fool, in the midday heat. Oh, not that it was excessively warm, mind. But I could have done with ditching the base layer and winter leggings. Instead, I sweltered and cursed and whined around the five mile trail. And gratefully glugged my bottle of lukewarm water on my return to the car.

Delighting in our rare Spring heat later that day I ventured along by Fingal`s shores. The world and his mother were there, of course: Dublin Bay on a sunny Sunday is always a crowd pleaser.

Teen Girl came along too, once lunch in Avoca was guaranteed.

Malahide is part of an area known as Fingal. A placename can whisper a lot about an area’s history and this is certainly true of the word Fingal.  Translated from the Irish, it means “Land of the Fair Haired Stranger” and is a reminder of the time in the 8th century when Vikings invaded the land.

Our first stop then, was at Malahide Castle grounds for the prerequisite eats in their popular Avoca café. A short drive afterwards took us to the beach and the start of our ramble.

Walking along the shore, it amused me to imagine those fair haired foreigners wading to shore with shields and swords in their initial conquest of Ireland in the 8th century. The seas are relatively calm along this part of the Irish coast, and, having neither cliff nor mountain nor woodland to negotiate, the land and its people must have been easily accessed by these expert invaders.

But all was calm last Sunday. Drawn now by the sight of Howth head, we drove on through Portmarnock, Baldoyle and Sutton on to Howth itself, the better to get a view of the harbour and Ireland’s Eye.

Howth harbour is the place to be of a warm Sunday. The Viking longships are long gone and in their place, moored yachts bob in the harbour.  The only marauders were tourists who had invaded the town, the better to climb Howth Head or, like us, get a view of Ireland’s Eye from the pier. All about we could hear a variety of languages and, indeed, several varients on Dublinese.

Reaching the lighthouse, it is impossible not to admire this granite structure. Built in 1817, it looks set in all its granite splendour to stand guard over the south harbour for at least another two hundred years.

Further out, on Ireland’s Eye, I caught sight of a Martello Tower. Part of Dublin’s defence system of Martello towers, built early the 19th century, the one in Ireland’s Eye is in ruins now much like it’s sister tower further south on Dalkey Island.

Also from the shore, one can see the ruins of an eighth century church, the church of St. Nessan. I wonder if it had fallen prey to the Vikings. Eye is the Norse word for Island, so they had at least left their mark on the island’s name and a reminder of their conquests here.

The sun was considering its descent by now, into the westerly skies. Would it go down in a blaze of pink sodden glory? Or tease the camera wielding folk with a sudden departure behind a blackening cloud? I would have lingered another hour or so, just to find out.

But Teen Girl had used up all her patience by then. I would have bribed her with a triple scoop ice cream from Maud`s but that would be entirely selfish and not in her very best interests. The fact that the ice cream and patience might be gone long before sunset had nothing to do with my decision.

Anyway, I told myself, the harbour will always be there and there’ll be other Sundays, perfect Sundays with ice-cream and crowds, and sun glinting on stone and water and thoughts of days long gone.



Malahide Park Run


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November surprised with her glorious blue sky this morning. All the better, because I had actually managed to rouse myself for the Malahide Parkrun, and, perhaps, a personal best for this 5 km romp. There were quite a few Airtricity … Continue reading

Caveat Auriga-Let the Driver Beware

Do Not Leave Valuables 1

It must be a sign of the times. Literally. But, as we swirl around in the midst of this economic recession, it seems there`s more and more of these signs springing up around the place here in Ireland. It`s a response, of course, to the apparent increase in the amount of thieving from cars.

Luckily, I haven`t fallen foul of the car thieves recently. But, I did fall foul a couple of years ago.

I love to trot around any place of wild beauty. And, of course, the thieves alight on these places too, like wasps to a jampot.  Abandoning my car for a nice little trail run a couple of winter`s ago, I returned to find the side window smashed and my handbag, and other contents gone.

Note, I had taken the precaution of hiding my bag. On the back seat. Under a tennis racquet. (Now, where`s that flaming embarrassment icon?)  So yeah, I deserved ever bit of thievery I attracted.

But it was maddening, all the same.

There was the darned nuisance of all that glass to clear up. Clingfilming the window frame, til the window experts could come and fix it. Reporting to the Gardaí(our police force). Reporting to the insurance company. Putting up with missing items for weeks after. Rummaging for vouchers to discover they`re gone. Looking for a notebook that I know I left somewhere…. and later remembering. Rooting around for a favourite lipstick…yep, gone too.

It made me acutely aware of where I park my car.

And acutely aware of watching out for tell tale pieces of car glass.

More often than not, I`d fine glass scattered at a beach car park, or at a forest entrance. And there would frequently be two or more such pools.

Actually, in my trip to Glendalough this year, I noticed four piles of car glass in the free car park there at the Visitor Centre. It is, it seems, the clichéd magnet for thieves.

Parkrun in Malahide last Saturday, started with a warning from the organizers not to leave valuables in parked cars, especially in the carpark adjoining the Castle Entrance. Much favoured my tourists, it seems it is therefore, much favoured by thieves too.

How sickening that must be for the poor tourists, high on excitement with their trip to our emerald shores, only to return to their rental car and find passports, money, suitcases gone. Cead mile fáilte, indeed.

But runners and walkers are victims too and would do well to heed the warnings.Thieves at work

This is one instance in which I appreciate graffiti. The sign reads

Thieves@work.(Braking(sic) into cars)

Yep, I imagine it was one very annoyed driver who wrote that, returning as I did to discover his car damaged and, more than likely, contents missing.

CCTV cameras and extra security personnel help. But they`re costly and not ever tourist hot spot has the resources to invest in them.

Police presence helps too but yes, it`s a recession and I am assuming there are bigger fish to be caught.

I`d love to know the statistics though, on this kind of crime. I suspect, from my reading of newspaper reports and online forums that it is increasing but of course, anecdotal evidence can`t compare to hard facts. Anyway, having fallen victim to the crime, I am more likely to be aware of it`s occurrence.

Precautions such as, of course, not storing valuables in one`s car and certainly not leaving valuables on display are common sense.

And much though you love that beauty spot, or want to soak up some scenery, or run in the wilds, maybe it`s wiser to drive on.

Caveat Auriga! Driver beware!


Second Parkrun

You know that Paula Radcliffe feeling I mentioned in my last post? Yeah, well, I lost it oh, maybe one minute in, on my second parkrun.

It`s been so long since I`ve run competitively, I realise I`ve got a mountain to climb. Last year I did a run a month. Looking back, I think maybe I overdid it. Which is why the foot ligament injuries and the back ache have been slower to heal. And why I got two chest infections in one year. Gotta love hindsight.

Luckily, I`ve managed to keep my running fitness up to a certain level. But it`s not enough for running a half marathon and not enough for running the marathon in October. I followed the Hal Higdon marathon plan right up until last week but thinking through what I`d learnt from my first parkrun and weighing up how slowly my feet are healing, I`ve decided to pull the plug on marathon participation this year.

I need more speed. January 2012 I ran five miles in forty five minutes. No, not wonderful. But better than what I did as last weeks parkrun-almost ten minutes miles and a shorter run. And I`d got faster over 2012. Right up until the marathon. In fact, if my feet hadn`t crashed at the twelve mile point in the marathon I would have been on track to do it in four hours thirty minutes.I don`t want to run my second marathon slower than my first one.

So instead of doing Hal Higdon`s plan last week, I changed to emphasize speed. My long slow run became a shorter faster one. Luckily, I`d kicked with more interval training from the begining of August so that speed isn`t a complete shock to my system now and on Tuesday I had great fun doing a three mile route as fast as I could. Any time I`d stop-which was very frequently-I made myself walk back until I was ready to run quickly again. That way, I covered more ground and motivated myself to keep running. And it was fun. Boy, the fun matters.

In the back of my head, I`d parkrun PB. Really I should be able to have a few PBs at the begining. I know they won`t be as easy to find after that but I`m learning the route and learning parkrun tactics now and as these elements kick into place I should have a better idea about how to pace myself.

Yesterday, for instance, I took off fairly fast(for me!). I could easily I`ve got stuck in behind some crawlers. Gotta love the crawlers though. There`s such a mixed bag in there.

There was one older guy who looked like he`d slept in a tee-shirt and then pulled on a pair of shorts that were lying on the floor. Only to discover that they were actually his son`s shorts. Certainly, there were a size too small for him. Of course I only assumed all that, as I passed him out. Then there was a girl with “I`m Active” inscribed in cloth letters on her arse. Only there wasn`t a single element of her anatomy that suggested she was in the least bit active, except, perhaps the fact that she was waddling her way through the run. And a guy with halitosis. Whew! I heard him first. He was wheezing badly. It wasn`t until I passed him that I caught the halitosis problem. Oh man. I couldn`t run fast enough.

But that became the problem. I couldn`t run fast enough.

My Garmin is resisting all attempts at resuscitation so I`m stuck with Runkeeper for now. Post run analysis on that shows that my run averaged out at 9 min 04 second miles. Which is grand for me. But what it also shows is that, by the last mile, I`d slowed down to a whopping 9 min 26 secs per mile. Ooohh, lazy old me!

The crap that was going through my head at that last mile was unbelievable. Only, I plainly believed it. My Inner Saboteur kept punching me with every negative statement in her book

“This run is too long”

“You want to stop” “You`re not getting any better you know”

“All the time you put into running and this is the best you can do”

“You should stick to something you`re good at. Plainly, it`s not running”

Man in Shorts passed me out. The I`m Active Woman passed me out. Even Halitosis wheezed past. Plainly, I was an even bigger crawler than I`d taken them for.

But my body actually felt fine. Slightly achy feet and back but nothing serious. Is this just all laziness then?

With the finish in sight, I did my usual burst. Nothing exciting. Just a little extra kick. I almost even caught up with I`m Active but I only got close enough to have a re read of her arse before I lined up for position and place tracking.

I felt like I`d had a hopeless run, but when I whipped out Runkeeper, read the stats and then the splits, I could see that I`m almost back at the nine minute mile level and would have been, if that last mile hadn`t kicked in with all that headstuff negativity. And, if I could actually keep up the decent pace of the first two miles.

Ok then, lessons learned for next week:

Get Garmin fixed.

Put in the earphones to block out Inner Saboteur.

Keep up the training plan

Check out the route before the race to find my optimal point for kickstarting my race finish

Eat breakfast.

Don`t snigger at the crawlers