M&M Run

It rained all day yesterday. All day.

One broad sweep of rain suddenly swept all of autumn’s colour into a monochrome gloom. And with it, my willingness to run.

If I skip a day’s running, I feel edgy. Two days, and I am casting myself back up on the heap of wannabe fitties. That place where I wallowed so long-and often quite happily. That place where I dreamt that one day-some day-I’d be able to run a mile non-stop.

Imagine. Non-stop.

If I miss three days, I can see the people from Michelin, galloping over the horizon, to fit new tyres to my thighs and waist. They’re good at their job, I’ll give them that.

So I had to run. Had to.

From the comfort of the Chook House I could see my car, sheets of rain bucketing down, fat drops glancing off the windshield before gathering for a brief second on the car roof and bonnet, then skittering down in little pools on the tarmac below.

But I had my luminous top on. I had a fleece. Relectors. My special rain-and-fashion resistant beanie. Full length leggings. My winter running gear. I was good to go.

Oh, but I hate rain.

It’s OK, I said whispering terms of encouragement to Reluctant Me. Just drive to the shop and pick up a couple of things. The rain is sure to be cleared up by the time you get out.

The couple of things turned out to be a litre of water and one hundred M&Ms. Or however many they keep in a pack. I should’ve counted them I suppose, instead of mindlessly chomping on them.

But mindless chomping seemed like a good place to go as the raindrops jigged and jagged their way along the windscreen, while I sat in the car, cosy and dry and, well, mindlessly chomping.

Two thousand calories later and I am still in the car, engrossed in DeValera’s biography,and waiting for the rain to clear. The threat of a Michelin delivery has been forgotten with a comforting combination of a sugar high and a great read.

Suddenly something catches my eye. Could it be a large luminous butterfly? There are so many chemicals in peanut M&Ms, I realised that it is perfectly possible that I am hallucinating.

Looking out into the neon lit darkness I catch sight of a man-no, a runner-flapping past in his luminous runner’s jacket. And he’s going fast. Oh, God.

Well dammit if he can do it so can I.

Garmin. Check. Earphones. Check. Reflectors on. Check.

In my rush, the remaining M&Ms scatter across the pages of DeValera’s Biography. That long gone and dour soldier of Ireland, our former leader, wanted comely maidens dancing at the cross roads.

Bet he never imagined that the comely maidens would morph into middle-aged women in skin-tight lycra chasing after luminous butterflies.

Catching the butterfly, of course, was never the goal. I was out there. And actually, I didn’t feel half bad. Maybe the M&M chemicals have an anaesthetizing effect. Or maybe my spare tyres were giving me wheels. Or maybe I was still hallucinating. And the rain…rain? It was more of a little drizzle really, that just as suddenly, as I hit the tar, dissipated.

For one glorious Narcissistic moment, I was Moses at the Red Sea, declaiming a great parting of the waters. That feeling lasted a whole mile. Long enough to get the sweat running so that when the rain did come back( I am not Moses, of course, and I don’t think I am that extraordinary. Not really.) I was glad of it.

Grand trot, all in all. Four miles. In keeping with some sort of training schedule.

Later, and I am sprawled guiltlessly on the sofa, reading Dev’s biography, and chomping on the last of the M&Ms, Teen Son walks into the room, glances at the M&M pack and, realising it’s empty snorts in disgust.

And your feet smell too, Mum.

Ouch! But, basking in the afterglow of M&M chemicals and endorphins, I smile anyway.

That’s because I am not just your mother son, I am an athlete.

Mmmmm,M&Ms are good.

Autumn Run

Horse Chestnuts

Horse Chestnuts

Ah! Autumn. As if Saturday’s sudden dip in temperatures and onslaught of rain were not signs enough of the changing seasons, I spied these chestnuts on my Sunday run.

Note the rainwater dripping off them. The rain showed no sign of abating all morning. I am convinced that there’s an intelligence in those clouds and of a rather malevolent sort: they knew I had a run to do.

Do I get extra points for running in the rain? Well, I decided for myself  that I can, at the very least, exchange a long slow run for a quick challenging one when persistent rain is at play.

And so, on Sunday, I took on Killer HillL two and half miles of steady ascent. Don’t they say the higher up one climbs above sea level the colder it gets? Despite my running efforts, it was pretty chilly and a whole lot wetter by the time I got to the top. My thoughts were with Unsportywoman and her Point to Pinnacle challenge way down there in Tasmania. Ouch!

Of course,my hill run was a toddle in the park compared to her that.

Though Sunday is a peak day for running, there wasn’t another runner in sight for the duration of my trot. A sure sign that I am nuts.

But there was water everywhere. Gurgling down gullies, dripping off leaves, lodging into roadside puddles all about me.

And, of course I was soaked through. Having experimented with various rain jackets in the past I have found none that satisfied my need to be waterproof and cool. So I opt for being wet and cool instead.

Luckily, I had my sun visor on. It’s nifty sun shielding peak doubles acts as a roof gutter, as it were, in the rain. So my upper view is framed with it’s sturdy rim drip, drip, dripping in a merry little stream but at least, keeping the blasted stuff off my face.

The other bit of good news is that when the rain hits, I get instant oomphh in my legs. I don’t want to hang out there any longer than necessary so everything is done at a consistent gallop. No stopping to take any pics for my faithful follower, no admiring the hills in the mist. Just get it done.

The horse chestnut tree? I took that photo at the very end of my run. Just at that point where I was wet enough to be screaming for home, but too damned warm to bear the stuffiness of the car for the trip home.

And, wouldn’t you know it, just as I am heading for home the sun cracked through the cloud banks. I rushed back out again to bask in the warmth of Ardgillen’s walled garden and delight in some autumnal joys.

And maybe pass that on here to my faithful follower’s heart.


Ireland Then and Now




Canal Run and Albert Kahn exhibition 019

Yes, Claddagh girl is slightly askew. Not the girl`s fault, nor the original photographer. But me, the person who snapped this photo at a recent exhibition.

The exhibition was based on the work of Albert Kahn. I was drawn by the chance to see true colour photography of the Ireland of 1913.

Albert Kahn was a wealthy banker and philantrophist. He believed that using the latest technology of the time to record the richness of cultures all around the world and to present them to others would help encourage peace in the world.

These pictures were taken in summer 1913, by two women involved in the Kahn project,Marguerite Mespoulet and Madeleine Mignon-Alba.

Canal Run and Albert Kahn exhibition 021


No, my technique for photographing photographs has not improved in this shot. But this picture is still worth seeing if only to get a glimpse at the life of the subject. She`s also in Claddagh and is fringing shawls for a living. The cloak worn by the subject was actually the last one in the Claddagh region. Shawls, such as worn by this lady, were more in favour by then.

Canal Run and Albert Kahn exhibition 023

This photograph was taken west of Galway in a place called Spiddal, Connemara. There`s a better copy of it here.How the men and women of Connemara survived is a mystery to me. It`s got more rock than grass and is constantly battered by Atlantic wind and rain. But if you look closely at the clothes on these men you`ll see they`re patched and ragged. The little boy is wearing a skirt but that was the way back then. Boys wore skirts til they were about twelve years of age.

Spinning Wheel


This photograph shows the last of the cottage spinning wheels. Again, taken in 1913. It`s a sign of times passing and a little change to a place where everthing stayed the same for generations. See the abundant rock? yes, we`re in Connemara, Co Galway again for this picture. The cross over shawls and woollen skirts were again, the clothes of the peasant womenfolk.

One hundred years on, and I am grateful to be living in this century. Looking at those pictures, I am very sure that, if I were alive back then I`d be eeking out a living fringing shawls and trying to keep a clatter of kids fed.

Instead I`ve pressures of another sort.

Rainfall Ireland Sept 15th


Oh, I`m sure the weather chart for Ireland, wouldn`t look a whole pile different one hundred years ago. See, it`s piddling rain all along the south west and west coast? That`s Kerry and Connemara for you. But it`s pretty much fanning out in a wide sweep across the country. And pounding on my window as I type.

Thankfully, I don`t have shawls to fringe, or fish to fish, or potatoes to dig. But I do have a long slow run to take care of. And I hate to run in the driving rain.

Imagine putting off your fishing or potato gathering or shawl fringing just because of a piddly bit of water? No, I`m not as hardy as my ancestors.Maybe if I ran as if my life depended upon it, I might make more progress.