Cruising

We’re cruising along quite nicely,I am well and truly over the Dublin Marathon now. The only glitches seem to be ongoing seasonal coughs and splutters. Not helped with never ending days and weeks but there is no time for taking feet off the gas unfortunately. So unless I’m actually about to die I’m going to keep plugging away.

The weekend after next, is my first real back to back runs with 25kms both on Saturday and Sunday. Nothing too major to be honest it is just fitting these two hour jaunts with life that can causes logistical strain.

In an ideal world every weekend run could have been like last Sunday’s. Relatively mild super dry and the most wonderful winter light illuminating land and bovine creatures all around the backroads of Crossmolina and Ardagh. The Deel castles in the morning in such winter light and early morning fog are truly underestimated in beauty and as a destination. I often wonder how many millions would it take to bring them back to splendor.

In a stroke of luck, local Marathon Ireland enthusiast Cezary is organizing a 100km run in February. This is bang on perfect as regards preparation and as a psychological stepping stone towards the Marathon Des Sables itself. Otherwise I would have had to do three marathons back to back and it is far easier get buzzed up for a race. especially my first 100km which feels like a milestone.

I am doing shy of 90kms now a week mixed with two to three self practice Yoga sessions and two to three strength sessions. Unless specific work on glutes etc I am just enjoying doing the clean and jerk. As an olympic lift, it has many different features and benefits from pulling and pushing , triple extension, rate of force development. My buddy Neal meets me at 05:20 and we bang out a few full clean and jerks then derivatives of the clean and jerk such as power cleans, front squats and push press finishing with further clean and jerks. I know my coach who is reading this right now is not overly happy. Which is understandable as it is not overly sports specific. If at all.- But i have to say I just really enjoy the lift and horsing a hape of weight over my head and feeling altogether very manly and dripping with testosterone and endorphins until approximately 2pm where then, I need a nap!

Because I am putting myself in a calorie deficit with fasted runs and a plant based lifestyle, and the fact that I am only lifting twice per week on average I am not worried about bulk. If anything it is really leaning me out already some five months away from race start.

Sarah from Marathon Des Sables emailed me yesterday, this year one can organize their own tent mates. There is a UK and Ireland Facebook group for organizing. There does not seem to be much of a bust from the Irish folks to do anything, and i could not be arsed organizing it. So I told Sarah to throw me in wherever. With three kids under 5 in our house how bad could eight in a tent be. I like the idea of random to see what sort of characters I will meet- lifelong friends or do the river dance on some bucks head.

The unknowing, is exiting.

B

Deciphering Pink Unicorns and Monkeys along the Inner Eye Highway

If you’re brain and or mind is a series of canals and tributaries , criss crossing one another or perhaps, some reaching dead ends. How is it that finding or being selected for an adverse event – or indeed choosing an event can some how open up further canals and tributaries for one to cruise along and discover.

Digging deep, and finding deep. Finding oneself deep within the foundations of your inner being where only an inner eye can see. An all consuming and knowing knowledge of oneself that you may feel has not been seen before. However I do believe that this inner eye has no doubt nor surprise at the intricacies of what i , you , or any other person is capable of. Not that any of these are unwritten stories, but more so an internal cpu operating in real time and being able to process in real time.

So if you think you know what madness is, what it constitutes and how it manifests. If you think you know yourself and oneself- do you even know what your inner eye and or cpu thinks about your’e own views on that particular vision of madness. It is in real time that this Polaroid is being viewed. It is on real time that we live. Unable to change the past or control the future.

Maybe you are aroused, your senses, aroused to the challenge- aroused to the upcoming event. The importance of this arousal, keeping your’e senses sharp. Ready to win small wars. Or perhaps maybe your sense of battle arousal has been dampened by fueling with the wrong fuel. Both information and nutrition and information on nutrition. You can not lie to you’re inner eye. You can not hide from the devil in the detail. You can not not dampen that arousal for something that is there and wants to be unleashed and let go. Allowed to move, be free, allowed to glide carefree.

Who is winning, the inner eye or Professor Stephen’s inner monkey. Is self doubt flanking the potential that your inner eye can see. Because simply of what something looks like rather than how that something can make you feel.

A manifestation, is what a manifestation is. It can be fictitious as much as it can be real. Is fiction controlling your own cpu. Herein lies the problem, where inner eyes and monkeys meet unicorns and pink elephants. You are dampening something that is real with something that is made up of fantasy.

Marathon Des Sables prep stage 1

Twelve became four and then four became one. Watts app groups went from lively to dormant over the course of a second installment.

Options of putting this off for a year were put forward, but I knew an experience like this will be harder to justify as time rolls on.

In all honesty I was not really up for this until very recently. Why would anyone want to go and run two hundred and fifty kilometers in a desert over the course of six days. Why would anyone want to leave the comfort of a memory foam mattress to sleep on a desert floor. Why would any one want to put themselves in the position to need a venom pump in the unlikely event that they may be bitten by a snake.

Deep down my why is an understanding with myself that I know that this challenge will expand the recesses of my own ceiling. It will help punch through where I am at right now and raise the bar. It will , I feel be so draining over the course of 6 days that It can only aid in the creation of further ideas – and abilities to deliver those ideas.

Or worst case scenario be a good blog post in the airport on the way home.

I listened to Jeff Butler on a podcast with Ger Prendergast where he talked about getting a runners high in last years event. Sleeping under the stars properly for the first time does seem pretty awesome and I’d imagine sun rise and sun sets will be pretty special. But having been to Morocco surfing a few times it is still hard to get a head around what it will be like stringing those days together. Especially the long stage which is up on ninety kilometers.

I have an intrigue, about how I can grow with this challenge mentally over any sort of physical challenge. If anything it is the mental aspect that I am most exited about.

With a one day event there is always the lure of a coffee, warm bath and or warm bed. Knowledge of no matter how hard you push on safety of comfort is quite close by in comparison. If perhaps one was to over extend, get lost or do something daft to which i am quite capable of doing. One is quite fucked. And this is the cheese, but also a developing anxiety. I am at that stage, of all consumption now. Dreaming about training or about the event itself. Paranoia about kit and weight and beginning to read and watch stories about previous competitors and what they do and do not recommend.

One thing i am glad about is the fact that i started fat adaption training nearly a year ago now. That was a damn good idea by my coach Stephen or Stephan, i can never remember is it an e or an a.

Fasted training , and essentially getting used to running on very little food i think is practically essential for the Sahara. One has to carry what you eat, so carrying less that 15k calories for the 6 days makes a lot of sense. The mattress i have bought is already starting to annoy me and i have not even opened it out yet. I am seriously debating just roughing it on the sand.

I bought two pairs of HOKA One one’s today, one will be sent to have gaiters attached to prevent sand from getting into ones shoes. James Gereghty a former competitor of this has advised feres balsam for treating feet for blisters which are enemy number one out there. I will have all necessary kit by next month. All that is really outstanding is a down jacket and sleeping bag, cooking bits and bobs. The big debate seems to be whether to bring a phone for photos, the weight of a phone adds to all so I will make a decision on that soon enough and maybe get a lighter go pro or something similar.

Anyway, the most important part of all this is running some pretty crazy distances. And that to me is a hobby, irrespective of the hour, weather or light. Just add caffeine and I have the best miles to gallon ratio this side of the Shannon.

It looks like there will be a 100km race in late February locally and that should be the first real proper test of the season, and i am quite looking forward to running my first 100km. It feels like a badge that one has to achieve in the ultra distance journey.

My program for the next two weeks has not dropped yet, I get the feeling that the long run days will be veering towards three hours now.

Bring it on.

Dublin City Marathon 2019

The light on Sunday morning was a spectacle, framed within red brick Georgian houses backdropped to a cloudless blue sky with only chem trailed lines breaking the uniformed nature of this view.

Autumnal running is special, crisp cold running is even better again. Coming up with my peers from the west with the sky on the ground for most of September and October – being there in that microclimate for the weekend was befitting a seasons training.

I found it, quite quiet, even though it was billed as twenty two and a half thousand there, I have since seen numbers that suggest closer to seventeen running. There is always a natural drop off anyway so it made sense. Still a lot of runners, but to me a quiet morning. With my hoodie up i was happy to remain introverted and stay within the confines of my own space physically and mentally preparing for that morning and early afternoon pain.

This was the most nervous I have ever been for any race, nerves from many moons ago on grassy fields in front of hulking stands. I was dreaming about hills and aspects of the race on the lead up for weeks. Finally wondering could I string the last few years drop pinned location physical mishaps and knit this entire course together. Finally.

Nothing at this stage has been left to chance, no stone unturned , no wonders if’s. Just do it or not , or be patient. Further patience for something that comes with time. Alveoli performance – allowing those buds to expand. But still maybe, still hoping for a Hail Mary pass.

This running comes across as solitary, but there is a team. A coach, a family, an internal helping dialogue. Wife and children there with you, and under the tutelage of an experienced coach. Coaches head said sub 3:10 but both our hearts are on 2:59. That is the juice, the wife and kid and fam bam are the car. And this all moves at a pace, and its the pace that kills. Those dreams are warranted, those hills and kicks can be felt. They each take a match- and it is a cat and mouse game trying ones best to not start burning matches.

”Stay 4:15 for 10k, maybe until 21k then see what happens”

Instructions sound easy, staying calm is hard. Watching pacer balloons bobbing up and down in the distance like bouys at sea wishing a current to push or pull me at least in between them on Chesterfield avenue but the drag of this simple gradient at 4:15 pace could be felt slightly. Deciding then to cool the jets that early , left an unusual feeling of conservatism.

Hitting an underpass with cave like echoes and the amplified sounds of rubber and now carbon hitting the tarmac, I was not gassing out on this first drop pin. But there was now a sensation starting to build in my quad. What the fuck is that. Maybe it will pass. I decided to hold this 4:15 until the half way point.

I am starting to develop a pathological hatred of that hill from Dolphins barn to the walkinstown turn off. It is ok to hate and not suffer though. Bar the developing quad issue this second drop pin to a previous pull out and taxi home was overcome. Another stitch made. Another maybe. With the honeymoon period now well and truly over any marathon peers chatty had dropped off or stopped being chatty. What was for me quiet, became quieter.

We were welcomed into walkinstown town village like an all conquering Roman legion. This was Fitting for me with thoughts on reading more Aurelius over the last few weeks. He was one of the five good emperors in period of peace and stability, quite apt. I was peaceful and now able to open the choke out a bit. With the gradient easing towards Terenure 4:15 became 4:05 pace. The current was finally starting to pull me a bit and like a river I was in full flow starting to pass one after another and feeling good in the process.

Another drop pin at Kimmage road west, and a feeling just shy of belief began to now bob up and down now on the horizon. The quad was on full I’m an arsehole mode. Sore but not impeding me. It was worse on descents.

A river descends into Terenure, moves are being made, cramps are starting to happen. Drop offs every now and again become a trickle. I see ”Snout” An aptly named Sligo Man. ”Shhhhhnout” I roar. Well he says with a big smile. Gas man.

Hitting twenty eight kilometers and two hours on the Garmin. Rather than tipping a hat to a previous dropped pin. A new pin was dropped. The realization of running fourteen kilometers in fifty nine minutes was sobering. Not through a lack of zeal or want. I just knew it was an Arnhem.

It was here that new pins were being dropped left right and center, I was now lording as many gels and isotonic as possible as the wheels were starting to begin to wobble.

It was time for the kids to come out and support their dad. Like flicking through Spotify for the right track. I was searching for the right child. I settled on Naoise. Naoise get Daddy to UCD. As he is now fucked. High five’ ing my old coach Eamonn at heart break hill gave me a boost but cresting that wobble was developing into wheels starting to come off.

Time for another Child. Danny you’re up. Get Daddy to Merrion rd.

I was gone, some of those folks that I had previously passed out in walkinstown were now passing me. Three kilometers to go. Yet again may as well be thirty. 4:05 became 4:50. Deals were being made, notions of finish times being discarded. Then what passes me but the remnants of the 3:10 pacer balloon and his merry bunch.

Where the fuck did they come from.

Baby Dara, you’re up. Get Daddy Home.

The realization of that final wobble to wheels off slip showed its gnarly teeth. Bollox. Pace was upped and on Q, those early indications of an oncoming cramp start to arrive. It’s starts off as a feeling. An air. A touch. Then praying. Please fuck off cramp, please not now. I promise i will do whatever you ask but I am begging. Just go away.

Bam. Hamstring. ”Don’t stop Waaaaaaaaalk” screams a fellow competitor. I do so and get going again. Bam. I can actually see the KBC hoarding and the finish line.

And it is here I got the spirit and sensation of the marathon, the extrovert and sport. The goosebumps and reasoning. They whys and the why nots and the difference between a last minute goal and a wide. In ear shot and without looking the screams of a few people deep mount street surrounded by gaping red bricks that create a sound like the old landsdowne rd. South terrace somehow defy all physiological demands and get me going again.

I do not need an eye test for sure as i could see that clock count up from 3:07:00 a few hundred meters out and reckoned a sub 3:10 finish at least. And i did 3:09:28.

It was what I was told would happen. It is not what either of us wanted. But it is what it is and those magical digits will most certainly be on that hoarding in 2021. Will i be happy. 100% No. But If i was, I’d have nothing to write about.

I am taking next year off and going slower and longer, Marathon Des Sables next April in the Sahara, two hundred and fifty kilometers over six days. And then in September I will do the Kerry way Ultra. A one or two day , two hundred kilometer race off road around the ring of Kerry.

I will probably win the both of them.

Dakka Dakka

An impending hover of dread, confirmed whilst most lay in their warm beds.

Heralds the beginning of a new season.

Swooping low enough to see, yet not feel the cold touch of unknown reason.

Whilst the birds sing sweetly unbeknownst, against the back drop of tears, filling the silty waters with further years.

Life goes on for most, unless draped in rubber tasked to recover, an unfortunate skill, knowing where this river will spill.

Meandering personality, traits, thoughts and movements.

Ended forever.

A permanent solution.

(Barry Loftus)

How is you’re Anus?

dav

Yes you, how are you? How are you feeling today? And most importantly how is your Bum?

When was the last time you took time out to talk to you’re Anus? When do you believe was the last time a neurological pathway was opened up between your minds eye and you’re greatest orifice? Maybe spending a little too much time in that office, and not thinking enough about you’re orifice?

You are thinking about it now, sitting on it. Maybe. Maybe standing. Buffering your bum perhaps?

Or are you in denial, like I was. Have a poop. Check my poop. There is blood in my poop.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmm. I do remember a steroid head tutor back in the day say that the gut can leak with over training. That must be it. Self diagnosis. No need for a goooo on my pooo, I am over training preparing back then for an Ironman, that now I cant remember when. Or which. Because it was back then.

Two years ago.

There is still blood in my poop, dark red. Time for a gooo about my pooo.

YOU HAVE CANCER!!

Say’s the gooo on my pooo, holy Jesus h Christ. Now I have kids, and fuck all to show for life. No pension, no health insurance, no salary protection. Why the fuck did I not take a soft option back in the day.

Right, having a gooo on my pooo is one thing. Time to get a professional opinion. From one of those guys, yer no. Doctors.

Me: Erm, their is blood in my pooo

Doc James: (Random words) , weight loss, hereditary, what colour, going to send you for a Colonoscopy.

Me: I definitely have cancer. I can literally feel all the blood in my body draining into most likely my poop.

Floating away from the Docs towards my wife and kids apart from the obvious thoughts, I had a vision. Being one of the stories.

”Shure be jaysis he did not drink or shmoke, ate like wan of them fucking vegans and spent his time training and he got ass cancer”

Visions of all those folks who tag me in pizza for vegans featuring ice, ice cream for vegans featuring ice – thinking well if his ass fell out whats the point in me worrying about eating quadruple bacon cheeseburgers with extra coleslaw, garlic cheese chips and a DIET Coke every weekend.

A paradox.

Upon meeting Mr. Waldron, a gentleman I must say. But he literally looked up my ass. However quite kindly scheduled my Colonoscopy for the Thursday after my Ultra-marathon. This was quite sound, I had visions of getting an appointment either the Friday before or Monday after racing.

Have you had a gooo on a Colonoscopy yet? It’s basically sticking a camera up yer bum.

Buuuuuuut, you have to prep for this. My first foray into directing, producing and starring in my own feature film featuring such characters as my anus, sphincter , colon and large intestine. With a special guest appearance from the back of my ball bag. (3 time emmy winner).

I sought advice in prepping for this procedure, see you have to take a solution. In my case called ‘Moviprep’ . A different type of movie. This solution empties your bowels.

As you can imagine, working as a fitness instructor and having to take this 2 x 1 liter drink prior to instructing one of my Yoga classes. I was a tad concerned. The worry of moving from down dog to up dog and pebble dashing half of my customers. As sound as they are, it would not constitute a traditional Hatha yoga experience.

I took Wednesday off to focus on my insides. Thank god. Think, a geyser, a weekend drinking Kopperberg pear flavour and a curry eating challenge.

The forces were so great, part of me actually enjoyed the experience and briefly thought of contacting the manufacturers of this solution to see if they ever considered Moviprep parties. Such was the experience.

All cleared out and ready to rock and roll. My old man picked me up the next morning.

We shook hands, I commented ”They might find some sense” He laughed. We laughed.

#emotion

Much like a race. I was first man there, I literally turned on the lights that morning in the day services unit.

I do understand that with Ireland being Ireland, and Mayo being Mayo. Somebody reading this is related to that lovely lady who books you in at reception. If she could stop ”Thinking out loud” as she types that would be great. 20 of us were sitting awkwardly, about to have our fannies or bum holes videoed . A little bit of privacy here would be fantastic. Apart from that 5 star service on Tripadvisor.

Once down in day services, whats great about our health system really makes you feel at ease. The staff. At this stage through our 6 month old, we have done the grand tour of maternity hospitals and units. Day services was a new foray. Different buzz but same, kind, caring, wonderful, amazing, hospitable, mindful, warm, friendly, loving, special what makes our country great – type people.

The individual that put in a canola did butcher me, but to be honest that individual was my kindred spirit because if roles would have been reversed I would have done the same thing. Say nathing. Run and hide and pretend somebody else did it! One of the porters who hates blood and needles, but works in a hospital cleaned it up.

I was talked through the process calmly, filled out forms. Cared for. An absolute fine thing of a Doctor came into talk me through the process and get my signatures on things if they went awry. It is definitely one of those ” Do you come here often moments” and with 2 single best buddies my thoughts turned to them and the fact that Tinder will never bring you the intimacy that, that freckily red head of a ride got to see up my bum. Hi Alma (My wife!) I am sure you met Dr Mc Dreamy during your 3 months in the Coombe!

Lying there in that ward. Listening to the mainly older men. Their stories, the care that they were shown in a very fragile time. It does warm me to think about how professionally run that ward is. I hope they will all be OK, in all their stages- of in some cases pre and post op scenarios.

I was wheeled down to surgery, funnily enough seeing those lights and surgical look already starting to zone out even before i received any sedative.

Lauren, another fine red head would you believe,  turned out was actually going to look up my bum.

She gave me sedative, what looked like enough to knock Shergar. 3 vials, two small and one big. I felt a sensation in my arm and then looked at the TV screen. I was actually interested what my insides looked like.

And then Lauren said ”Don’t look at the TV”.

I wanted to look at the Tv, but 99.9999999999999999999% of me went. Shut the fuck up and enjoy the sedative its fucking awesome.

All I can really remember was a pressing sensation on my tummy, that’s it. My big movie, 8 odd weeks of stress building up to this 20 minute internal exam and all i remember was that pressing sensation.

Next thing I was back in the ward, recovering. Still pretty doped for a while but then came around to be discharged. And sent on my merry way.

I seen the individual that butchered me. Head down, i still laughed. We are as one dude.

So, was anything found? Of course not. Sure that would be straight forward and make sense. I was told to come back in 3 years, which did make me think do these folks remember bum holes like i remember faces?

”He’s back” ”Who’s Back” ”Yer man, with the squinty bum hole” ”Oh, yer man with the squinty bum hole that curves to the right”

Codding and joking aside, and apart from the fact that I should now probably get an Endoscopy (camera opposite direction).

Maybe just maybe, like the Chinese symbol for Crisis and Opportunity being the same thing……

I SHOULD BECOME A SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCER FOR FITNESS SPECIFYING IN BUM HOLE EXAMS.

What Bressie is for mental health I can be for your Sphincter muscle. Signing a 6 figure deal with Moviprep , becoming the poster bum for all those camera shoving medics.

Mr June. Barry from Mayo. Hobbies: Running,  and staring at people that drive too fast past his house.

I can see it all, from my bum.

 

 

 

 

Jasper

rpt

I once saw a bumper sticker that read ”If the valleys of Wales were flattened out it would be bigger than England”

The same could be said for Donegal, versus Connaught at least. We all know it’s hilly, most of us have gone buck ape at one stage or another when that song comes on in a nightclub or late bar- however to get the full appreciation of those hills you must race them.

Unlike previous sporting obsessions I have put a lot of research into Ultra running. Podcasts are just a fantastic medium, I really like Ger Prendergast, Rich Roll, following Damian Browne (@auldstock) on the gram and of course probably one of my favorite reads (Audible, which my wife does not consider reading) was David Goggin’s ”Cant Hurt Me”.

I get such a kick out of Goggin’s every time he puts up a video, ”Shut the fuck up mother fucker” – would give a great summary of what he says and it is really awesome to listen to regularly.

This season much like a fan boy I really took all of that ”Cant hurt me” book on board, it was all about building a callous mind and seeking out those 5am long runs starts in sometimes horrendous weather in order to get 40 plus km runs in without leaving my wife too long without help with 3 smallies on a Saturday morning.

The Rocks N Rolling 63km Ultra Marathon was no different. Harold the organizer announced before we started that this was the last one. Numbers were too low to continue in the future. I know now why.

Upon the starting klaxon the lead runner took off, I know that these Ultra runners are a real eclectic bunch. And I honestly thought that the start would be chilled out Gentlemanly affair. ”Would you like to take the lead Sir, why thank you Sir I will do so now with haste”

Nope, this Nordi took off. I’d say at approx 4:45 pace. Three or four went with him. and even though I went up to Moville to win and hoped to at least place. There was no way I was going to get stuck in at that pace, that early in that race.

Once you exited Moville you were straight into a 20 odd% kicker of a climb and I just let them go and focused on myself. Some folks were chatty, there were couples and groups behind us at this stage doing it together. I was just really looking forward for things to space out so I could be on my own.

You follow the shoreline, the water is crystal. I guess It would have been nice to have blue skies to enhance this look more but thankfully it was overcast for the day. And I still received a sun burn. Following the leaders out of Moville, I was constantly climbing , dropping slightly and climbing again until you hit the first proper climb outside of Greencastle.

From here it was 8 kms of climbing, around Inishowen Head. You are looking all over the Causeway coast. It is so high and the roads so bad that there is a sign that reads ”Not suitable for cars beyond this point”

I was in 5th, 3rd and 4th place were running together. I thought they were buddies and I was doing my best to put as much pressure on them. To split them up. I felt they were really supporting each other. On the really steep climbs they would walk where I would run which narrowed the gap. But they were always about 2 minutes ahead of me. It turned out , when I got talking to one of them after they did not know each other. They were just telling each other their life stories!! With me in Navy seal mode.

The race was mainly on fire roads at this stage, very stoney. The first half marathon took 1:56, for perceptive my PB in March was 1:26. It was just constant climbing or, knee popping descents. Where there just seemed to be a lot of strain on my knee caps.

A drizzle set in and apart from my foot steps all I could hear was a cuckoo, and for company the blackest Hare I have ever seen and a curious fox.

In 5th place and really starting to feel the strain at 30kms we came to a grave of a Spanish Armada Galeon. That’s if you can see it apparently. To get there was more adventure race than Ultra. A wet slippy path where I fell. There was a local with a brolly sitting on a rock like a Hobbit from the lord of the rings giving directions. From here it opens out into one of the most amazing beaches I have ever seen in Ireland. Jurassic rocks pointing out of the sand like great big tusks that needed to be climbed over and slipped on and then a beach jog back onto the road.

I could see the two BFF’s in front, and at this point, below me running together on the beach. I decided that there was no reason to keep chasing and to focus on finishing the race and holding onto 5th.

From 32kms to the Marathon 42kms was an absolute drag, my main nutrition was cashew nuts. I started to take gels every 5kms from here and I popped some electrolyte tablets into water bottles. I completed the marathon in 4:06 and was able to recover somewhat on a flatish piece of actual tarmac for about a km, then it was into byroads and fire roads again.

Listening to ”Ger Prendergasts” pod on the way up to Moville with Jeff Butler regarding Marathon Des Sables. Jeff talked about walking parts of MDS. There is nothing worse than hearing about having to walk parts of a race, and when I saw the Bff’s doing it earlier I saw it as a sign of weakness. But at this half way stage I understood that walking steep parts 13% to 20% made sense. Once over the crest I would kick on running again. I did this about 8 or 9 times.

From 45 kms on I gave 5 kms each to my kids. 45 to 50 to Danny, 50 to 55 to Naoise or Ni Ni as we call her. And 55 to 60 to Dara.

I cant really describe much here because when I get to this stage of a race I always bring my head to another place to help with the strain or pain. This is where the kids come in. They carry me.

I do remember however how foggy it was up top at this stage. And out of the fog one of the Bff’s had been dumped. Nice one.

I could see he was suffering, I knew I was going to catch him on a hill. I just wanted to make sure I could make it stick and not only go pass him. But keep going ruling out any tit for tat. I was patient and waited for the right spot, downed a gel and went for it. I just pretended I was physically fine and got a real kick and release of energy going into 4th place at this stage of the race.

Once the crest of that hill was taken, it was pretty much downhill. I had left the final 3kms for Jasper.

Jasper is the name of the room that my wife stayed in Hughs House. Hence the picture above with my son Danny. The picture has a funny thing going on around my fingers of my right hand. Might be easily explained. Or whats the point in explaining. Leave it as something special.

(https://barryloftus.wordpress.com/2019/04/09/marathon-des-sables-and-hughs-house/ )

I do not know anything about Jasper, his or her parents, his or her story. All I know is that he or she did not make it. Like many of the children of parents that stay in Hugh’s House.

It was Jasper’s job to carry me down that hill as fast as possible, it was Jasper’s job to keep the twangs of hamstring cramps away. It was Jasper’s job to keep me close to 5ish min pace at this stage of this race. Jasper did it, I completed an absolute humdinger of a race in 4th place 6 hours and 21 minutes.

I crossed the line scanned, and sat down. Soup and a wrap provided. My buddy and fellow member of Crossmolina GFC coaching staff came in soon after, calling me expletives. But I could see he was stoked. He and his partner Julie on a romantic weekend away. lols. (My Mrs would stab me at the suggestion of such a weekend away from the kids)

Thanks to Harold and all the Volunteers in Moville, Barr’s B and B and everyone in between for a wonderful experience. Smaller numbers in races are really cool in a sense that everyone gets to know everyone else. It is a far more intimate experience versus over 2000 competitors in an Ironman.

The Rocks N Rolling 63 km Ultra has left me with more questions than answers. If the course had been flat, how far can I run in a race? I can feel a physical and mental yearning to push the distance now to 100kms. The only way I can describe it is that I have found more gears. And it feels very natural to run longer and further. Much like our ancestors did. Centuries ago. Up top on those hills chasing, I felt closer to the bronze age than titanium.

The journey as always is becoming more and more fascinating.

Roll On Marathon Des Sables for Hugh’s House 2020.

Barry