Skerries Run with the Mad Mother


Ominous skies 2

Skerries Harbour with Ominous Clouds

Our Thursday evening run was greeted with ominous skies in Skerries. Our? Yes, Teen Girl came too. Since she’s started running with the athletic club a few months our own runs together have been a little less frequent, so I grab them any chance I get.

Of course, by some wretched synchronicity, the storm clouds assembled, just as we rocked up at Skerries harbour. Roy might tell you, it’s not training unless it’s raining, but, given the choice, I’d rather sit a good drenching out, thank you very much, and so I retreated to the comfort of my car.

But Teen Girl was having none of it.

Ever noticed how teenagers always want the opposite to whatever you want? It stems from the exact same hormone that disagrees with everything their parents say, is appalled with everything their parents wear and generally disgusted by our mere presence.

Aw, come on. You’re the one who wanted to run

Okay, okay, I just didn’t want you to get wet.

It upsets me, on occasion, to hear how easily a lie can trip off my tongue. But, as skills go, it has its uses. Just not on this particular occasion.

And so, off we set.

Skerries is the grandest spot for a run, with lots of scenic routes available.  We opted for a short, fast coastal trot. It took us winding along coast and through the holiday crowds, out past the playground and on towards Loughshinny.

With the tide well in and lighter skies ahead, the three islands, Colt, Shenick and St Patrick ( gosh, that fellow got about, didn’t he?) glowed emerald green in the silvery waters. And, all about us, holiday makers made the most of the dying moments of the day.

We rambled on. They take their running seriously in Skerries. We were overtaken by quite a few earnest young men, who, if their t-shirts were anything to go by, were in serious half marathon and marathon training mode.

Meanwhile, I am aiming to speed up. I took great heart on Tuesday when my Killer Interval sessions saw the Garmin dip below 5 to show that I can possibly run one kilometer in five minutes. If I can sustain that pace, of course.

And, on Thursday night, I very nearly did. It took me 5.05 minutes to run 1 km. Oh, you may scoff, but that’s just smokin’ hot in Red Hen territory. I didn’t order this body you know, so I’m pretty chuffed if I can defy its design and get these lil`ol`legs to fire up at that speed.

Maybe a 5km park run at 26 minutes may be more than a dream after all? Not saying it’s going to happen tomorrow. I’m far too short of the goal to reach it in such a short time.

But it’s getting closer.

Conditions for that speed were very favourable. With a good tail wind and a very flat promenade, I was sailing along. Parkrun is grass and hills and mud and…

Oh, and rain. Yeah, rain helps.

As I was coming down the home strait, that ominous cloud was ready to split the goods. And that threat of rain just made me go all the faster. Never mind that I was soaked in sweat. This was going to be a downpour and I was getting to dry land/the car before it arrived.

Teen Girl was waayy behind me. (Who wants to be seen with their mad mother anyway?) and got soaked in the ensuing monsoon downpour.

Must be maddening, all the same, to have a super speedy and dry mother who keeps taking pictures of the same old scene….

Skerries Harbour

Skerries Harbour Sun’s Out Again


Beautiful Berries

It was a day for the garden in this neck of the woods. Nothing too strenous, mind. Just plucking pounds and pounds of berries.

Yes, the Chook House garden has the most amazing crop of blackcurrants, redcurrants and gooseberries, this year. The elderflower isn’t such an odd fellow in the whole mix as I tied up a bunch of them in muslin and cooked them up with the blackcurrants.

There’s a mighty good bunch of blooms on the elder tree too, so I’m thinking that this might be the year that I finally get around to making elderberry wine. Teen Son is very keen to help…

Pots of blackcurrant and gooseberry jam are stowed away now, ready to unleash their plump sweetness in the depths of winter. Redcurrant jam or jelly to follow.

Meanwhile, I am high on vitamins having stuffed myself with berries today. And high on a parkrun time which saw me, by dint of clever planning and race strategy, beating last week’s time….by twenty five seconds!

Hmmmm, maybe I should just stick to gardening and jam making….

Juneathon 28 Mileage: 3.2
Juneathon Total:82.02

Killer Park Run

Yes indeed, the photos here tell of a place of great beauty. There are delights at every turn. But Ardgillen Park, Skerries has its shadow side.

And that shadow side comes in the form of a killer park run.

Yes, I trooped up there today, all thrilled with myself. I had a game plan, see. I would start off fast, then put the brakes on and keep a steady pace before letting all hell break loose for a killer finish.

But something wasn’t right from the very beginning. Everyone looked alarmingly young, lean limbed and athletic.

And then there was me.

And as we set off on the course it soon became clear why youth and limbs and athleticism were essential for this course. Hills. Lots of. Doing their undulating thing all over the place. The kind of hills that were vicious to ascend but barely registered on the descent.

Not for the first time I realised what goes up must come down is just a vicious lie. What goes up, goes up forever and may only go down ever so gently.

By the second kilometre I was in trouble. All about me the young things were loping past. Some even had enough wind for light-hearted conversation with each other.

Meanwhile, I was in deep conversation with myself.

Get Real Me wanted to quit but Aspiring Runner Me wasn’t so sure.

Get Real Me: C`mon. Pull out before the end. Then you won’t actually register with a lousy time.

Runner Me: Well, maybe I won’t get a lousy time. And, anyway, since this is my first run here, it will at least be a PB.

Get Real Me: There’s another runner flying past. C’mon, quit while you’re not ahead.

Runner Me: If I quit I’m going to feel an awful lot worse for an awful lot longer than what I am feeling now.

In the end up, it was exactly that thought that kept me going. Somehow, I had to get through this and, if it was pushing me out of my comfort zone-and it most certainly was-that would be a good long term investment.

I thought I knew Ardgillen pretty well, but the route took me to places I hadn’t been before. And not just in my head. So I had no sense of where the end was as I shuffled along at the end of the string of runners.

At one point I was beginning to feel a little hopeful. Suddenly, I could see the finish line and I realised I was only a little behind some of the faster runners. But then a steward rerouted me to Lap Two. And while the young ones were racing towards their sub 24 minute finish times, I had to do another loop-one the faster runners had already done- with the few stragglers that were left. It was a sickening moment.

But, eventually, I got to the end. Didn’t even bother with the sprint finish. I was just glad to be done with those hills.

Time? Don’t even ask.

But I did score a PB for this particular Parkrun.

Will I be back? Oh, I have to bite this bullet again. But it won’t be next week and, while I can’t reverse the clock and get my young legs back, it will be a grand challenge just to do better next time.

Compensation? I rediscovered the wonders of the park afterwards, with a most enjoyable photowalk through all of its beautiful gardens.

Almost beautiful enough to forgive it for its killer park run.

One Step Back…

Spring has sprung and Ireland, once again, is awash in a veritable tidal wave of luminous yellow.


No, it’s not delicate catkins, nor the cheery branches of forsythia, nor even the endless rows of daffodils. Running fever is in full swing there`s a plethora of luminous tops bobbing about all over the country.

Yes, I’m out there too making the most of the lengthening evenings and thrilled too, that the clocks have finally moved on for that very important hour. It has an much needed impact on my energy and motivation.

The truth is, I need all the motivation I can get. For some reason, my running form has been poor. Three miles into a run and I’m screaming for it to finish. Here’s hoping it’s just a temporary glip. Boredom is my arch enemy. I have to keep my head busy so I am hoping that the new routes and the longer evenings will keep me tuned in.

Luckily, Tuesday brought a surprise:Teen Girl asked to sign up with a running club. It seems our weekly evening run and/or the demise of her school’s running club have spurred her on to taking things further.

And it’s a win for me too. Now, I’ll just have to be out the door with her two more nights a week and I can fit two of my runs in there too. And with new routes.

Then there’s the new running course from The Irish Times.

Warming up at Raheny Parkrun

Warming up at Raheny Parkrun

Runners warming up at St. Anne’s Park Run, Raheny, Dublin after completing The Irish Times coach to 5km course.

To tie in with the Spring renewal of running interest, they have established two online training programmes. Both of eight weeks’ duration, one is for beginners aiming to run 5km and the other is aimed at those who are aiming to run 10Km.

Anyone signing up for the 10 km course is advised that they should be able to run thirty minutes comfortably non-stop. Now, I know I can do that and from my Hal Higdon half-marathon and marathon training days, I know I can do even more. But I’m going to concentrate on the shorter distances for a while. Aim for quality rather than quantity in my runs and aim for a 10km again.

Unlike Teen Girl, I’m happy to go this alone and not join a club. I like being my own boss, and like the quiet space for my head that solo runs provide.

Saluting my fellow runners as they trot on by is enough camaraderie for me for now, at any rate.

And I’m happy to be part of Ireland’s spring tide. Bobbing about in our day glo colours, it’s definitely one of the country’s better moves in terms of the health and happiness of its’ citizenry.

But I know we all need all the help we can get to stay motivated.