Saturday 31 October 2015

Mourne Sky Run

Thursday 22 October, spend a half day and night in Belfast. Seen the Cathedral Quarter as it came recommended by a friend and the taxi driver. Not sure what I saw besides I think Albert Memorial clock. Went into a sports shop,  Jackson Sports Belfast, which I highly recommend. Bumped into a guy working there, not literally of course, who also was doing the Sky run.

Then went to see where the Titanic was build. Seems the Irish are very proud, but I didn't see, on the outside, the operative: But the ship sank and lots of people died. But maybe that's ok. Was cool walking through shipyards. They show an industry that actually builds stuff, and I like that.

Walked back to the hotel, which had schoolclasses of little boys playing the most boring game in the world, Cricket. But hey whatever people like.

Went out for dinner at Ribs and Bibs. Where I had chicken wings and ribs. Not bad, not great.

The Friday morning I went to CrossFit Belfast. What an amazing box. And a great guy. Did 45 minutes of open gym with squats and wall ball shots and a bit of rope climbing. When I asked how much, he said, it's free. So wanted to buy a t-shirt. Sold out. So donated to their charity. If you into CrossFit and go to Belfast, go there.

Went to pick up the car to drive to Killyleagh to meet Rob Jones and Caoimhe his wife and baby girl for the first time. Very welcome at Rob's mother in laws house for lunch. Met his sister in law (that is a bit of a guess tho). Fab house, near the sea, in the middle of nowhere :-).

Then went down to Newcastle where I was staying in the Cherry Hill Lodge. Very nice, proper home cooked French Toast for Breakfast.

Saturday morning the start of the race. It was raining, which would disappear at about 10;00. For some unknown reason I got interviewed by Channel 4. This seems to be on tv sometime in November. It'll be either after 21;00 or some beeps will be in there. Think Rob and Simon thought it was pretty funny they chose me.

So the event Mourne Sky Race, in the Mourne Mountains is pretty tough, 35k and 3,370 meters of climing. Unfortunately I had to DNF at 15k as my right leg kept on refusing going up the hill. And to do something like the race, see below what it looks like, you need both legs. It was very slippery but the scenery was pretty good. Shame I had to bail out, but such is life. I can live with that. I would recommend the event. Well organised, in a great environment. I may have to try again next year.

Was good meeting new people, and seeing old friends.  Ian Corless, was there and it's always a pleasure getting his pictures. Met his lovely girlfriend Niandi for the first time, who herself is a pretty ace runner as well.

When Rob and Simon finished, we went for some food and drinks. It's always a pleasure to see Rob after a race. He looks totally waisted, which is a compliment by the way.

So despite the DNF, great day out in the Mourne Mountains, sun came out, great people, nice food. Rugby (which was also boring).

Had dinner later that evening in a local Newcastle curry house. Seemed very new, and food was good.

Luckily had changed my flight to 07:35, so had to wake up at 04:00 but at least the clocks went back. George Best City Airport Belfast so far has been good to me. BA even managed to land the plane in LHR 30 minutes early. How, I have no clue, but am not complaining.

So good weekend in Ireland. Could have even gone to Martin Muldoons wedding party but that was a little out of the way.

Ok, up to the next event which is Dusseldorf Marathon.

Thursday 22 October 2015

Northern Ireland

I landed at George Best City Airport. As usual BA was late, they are a crap airline. Cannot fly on time. Been to Belfast before, but never really into it. Been here for work a few times and once to go up north to the Giants Causeway. Different blog, May 2013. Great place tho the Giants Causeway. 

In the hotel around 15:00. George Best seems a good airport. Quiet. Took taxi to the Holiday Inn Express, funny street. Not sure what to make of it. Went into town, recommended by taxi driver and my friend Martin was the cathedral quarters. So went there. Not sure but seems nice. Went into a sports shop. Chatting with the guy about how cold or not the Mourne Mountains would be on Saturday for the Sky Run, one of the guys said he did it last year and is doing it again this year. So will see him on Saturday. Seems I have enough kit. Good shop tho, all sorts of outdoor gear I like. But didn't get anything.

Then walked to the Titanic museum. They are very proud of the Titanic here in Belfast. Maybe they missed the news it hit an iceberg and sunk and just about everybody died. Marvel of engineering or not. Dying seems not a good thing in my book.

Tomorrow, that is Friday 23 October, going to try Open Gym in Reebok CrossFit Northern Ireland. Should be good.

Weather forecast seems ace. If you like sleet and cold and wind. Which I don't really.

Had dinner in a strange place. Ribs and Bibs on Botanic. Strange but ok tho, if you like ribs and wings you can't go wrong. Weird inside tho, with pallets, but a cute waitress, so who really cares.

In Ireland the PSNI (that is the police) goes to Starbucks rather than their cousins in Boston to a donut place. They look the part tho in NI. Not like those in England, that look like security staff. 

While I was at LHR (guess this part should really be at the top) went to Giraffe, which is like a food place. My favorite at LHR T5. Also went to WH Smith, where the 5p bag actually is sold for 15p. Seems something strange there. But they claim it's a bag for life, whatever the fuck that means. Bit like warranty for life. Whose life, the thing or you?

Belfast feels remarkably like Boston. Guess no surprise as lots of the Irish went to Boston as they were starving and only had potatoes or something. So I asked an Irish friend, do I need to bring something and she says potato bread. Which they sell in Waitrose anyway. Strange people those Irish, but the girls are pretty stunning. This lady passes me and she is wearing tight trousers made out of what looks like wetsuit rubber and Doc Martens. Now normally I would not really be into that. But I guess in Belfast normally goes out of the window. They are pretty laid back tho, those Irish. Not as up tight as the English. Seems more European. 

So tomorrow chocolate cake at Robert's inlaws (at least that is what he said). Funny I've not met his wife and nor will I tomorrow. Then onto Newcastle, where this 35k and 3,500 meters hight gain is on Saturday. The main reason I am here. Gonna be good, but cold, some old friends and for sure new friends.

No idea how long these 35k going to take but guess I maybe lucky if it's 7 hours.

Funny, I was talking with Martin Muldoon, an Irishman, who just got married to Sarah his sweetheart in Hawaii the week before he did the Ironman World Championships, where I think he came 7th in his age group. Not bad I would think by any stretch of any imagination. He invited me tomorrow or Saturday to his wedding parties about 45 minutes from where I am staying. I would love to, but doubt it's clever the evening before a race and do-able the evening after. So we need a London thing.

Well that is it for now. More on Sunday about the race.

Sunday 18 October 2015

The past, present and future.

It has been a while. Almost 6 months since I posted. Guess I was occupied with other stuff. Has lots happened. Yes it has.

For starters I finished my 2nd Marathon des Sables. Which had its 30th anniversary. How was this special. Well it had the longest long stage, despite the one in the year with the flooding being about 800 meters longer. So typical MdS for you.

This year MdS was special, in the sense that I ended up in a totally random tent with great people from all over the world. Sean (Irish in Ireland), Abdel (Moroccan in Australia) , Leigh (South African in Switzerland , Genis & Tanya (South Africa), James (Australia) and ????? from New Zealand.
We had a special guest, Sir Ranulph Fiennes coached by the always modest Rory Coleman.
The ladies was won by one person. All stages. Elisabeth Barnes.
I ended up in this tent as the evening of the arrival it was dark, didn't know where to go, Leigh and I agreed to be in the same tent. And that was it.

The 91.x km through the night was fun. I created poem for the Dunes. Basically only had the word fuck in there. But it was good fun.

The Friday evening there was a band and music and food and drinks and rest.

My main mistake, probably again, was I walked more than I should have and trained less walking than I should have. So hopefully 2018 will be better.

It was an honour to meet Tanya Pieterse, who came back every evening looking like she had been in the worst bare knuckle fight ever, but finished.

When I was back I signed up for the North Downs Marathon. Didn't really realise it was only two weeks to go. Never been to Box Hill and NDW before. But really liked it. The marathon time was the worst in the world and I was lucky I finished within cut-off. Basically I missed the turn onto Box Hill stairs and went all the way down. So I had to go up, get up the stairs. Meet a friend and we chat a bit (like 10 minutes) continue, get to the half way mark (a backpack on a sandy track). As it was a very nice day, hotter than thought, at the 9 mile checkpoint parking there was a ice cream van. So guess what I got a double 99p. Why not I thought. Going up the stairs again this couple asks if I want to pass, but I can't be that bothered. She then looks at  my buff and states she did the MdS. So guess what another 15 minutes of chatting. In the end, good marathon, shit time, met cool dudes and girls, fab medal, and great day out on Box Hill. What better way to waste a Sunday. :-)

I've spend more time doing CrossFit and I have seen a significant difference. More mobile (knowning full well I should be much better), stronger, leaner, fitter. And great box that I train at. Good group of friends, where we do social and training. Nando's seems to be the place to be for some of us all the time and all of us some of the time, or something like that.

Pretty sure no more events this year. Did the Kingston Garmin Run, which was fun. After that we did a WattBike session at Nijnga Cycling. Thought I was going to die, trying to keep up with the coach. Didn't do half a bad job at it tho.

Next year two events coming up.
Dusseldorf Marathon in April
TransPyrenea - traversing all of Pyrenees 895km on foot.

Ok this is it and I'll be back soon. Will keep it up better.