I had run only up to age 14 and gave it up for no good reason.

I'm sure it made sense at the time! Then school, college, exams,

beer, fags and women took over for the next twelve years. The

only trouble was that, for me, it was always all-or-nothing, so

it had to be out three nights a week for years and years, smoking

200 fags a week and drinking 3 bottles of Buckfast and God knows

what else! Eventually, though, the hard living took its toll and

body and the mind were on the verge of giving up. The entire

week was a struggle and I knew I was getting depressed and

thought - you can do better than this! I decided to head to

Australia for a year. This really opened my eyes and I started

to get the sport buzz again.

I had always been a bit of a runner in school, and dreaded

becoming an old fat git before my time. I did a bit of running

over there, recreationally. Came back from Oz - still don't know

why! - In March 2004 and signed up for the Connemara marathon. I

got around in 3:26 and thought I can do this & better the next

time too.

Back on the beer, to celebrate of course, and then one night out

in July 2004, I think I reached my Pauline moment on the road to

Damascus (or Connemara)! Decided to quit the beer & fags on the

same day, and start running properly before it was too late and

I'd end up regretting it. In quick succession, did Dublin 2004

and Connemara & Edinburgh 2005, knocking my finishing time down

by five minutes a go.

An injury-plagued 2005 and early 2006 meant I was out of action

between Aug '05 and May '06. I was reduced to hobbling around at

ten-minute mile pace, if at all, which only made things worse and

I was slowly getting mad with my body and myself. I finally

found the answer: reluctantly dropping football and a grand on

physio and Orthotics bills!

I finally got back on track in Summer 2006, and had a crack at

the Longford Marathon last August and was thrilled with a 3:07,

not having ran on a road in 15 months! Then onto Dublin, and

down to 3:02. That 3-hour barrier was in sight at last! Just

needed to "up" the miles and training over the winter.

But winter running in Galway was rough going last year - I

counted 35 days in a row I was out and got absolutely p*ssed upon

- so much for exercise being good for you?!? I had to get used

to Connemara weather, however, as this was next up - and come

March this year I was up to 75 miles a week with one or two 80+

mile weeks thrown in. I was raring to break the 3-hour barrier.

Did Connemara in 3 hours alright. AND TWENTY SECONDS!!!!! F..K

it! Boy, I was ripping with myself, for going out too slow again.

Even though I came 8th, it wasn't much solace. I was wiped with

the heat, and the hills, but what could I do but move on.

I knew at this stage I needed to add some speed so did some

5k/10k's - the first short races I did since I was 12. No great

shakes but they were just pre-Cork and they seemed to set me up

right for it.

I went down to Cork on Sunday and stayed in the Quality Hotel.

Why do they call it that?! Early to bed and up at 7 for a light

breakfast. Managed to get up the front and off to a good start

and was surprised at the crowds on the route, which was a great

buzz and really pushed me on. I met a friend and chatted away to

him for a few miles but had to push on as things i.e. he wasn't

moving quickly enough for me.

It was a warm day. I knew the energy-sapping heat would be

everyone's worst enemy, apart from the in-head demons, so I took

on buckets of water throughout. Met a wild horse around mile 11

and was afraid of my life that it might injure me but kept on.

Got to halfway in 1:28 and 36th place. Was going well but it was

bloody hot. The worst of the course mid-sector (from 15-20

miles) was a series of long slow drags up-hill, slow going and

slower I was getting. This was a bit dispiriting. At this stage

all the usual marathon runner thoughts were going through my

head: right, I'm fecked now; think I'll slow down; why am I doing

this - none of my mates are; think Ill go back on the beer; I'm

dropping out now; where's the nearest taxi!!! But that's all

part of it: most of running is in the head I think and once I get

past the twenty mile mark, I usually get into the zone of

ruthlessness and start driving for the line, so I kept plugging


I reached Model Farm road at mile 22, which was a long lonely

straight drag for three miles but this was where the miles and

miles of endless laps of Dangan kicked in, and I started to move

at a pace that felt like real running at last. One thing I knew I

had was a good finish so I knew once I saw the next guy ahead of

me I'd a target to aim at, managed to pick off a good few on that

straight, and came roaring into the finish at 2:55 in 22nd -

strange as I thought it'd be a better feeling and was a bit

annoyed afterwards as I felt like I had a 2:50 in me. Next time?

I felt like running another marathon straightaway but instead got

sense and got beaten up by a (nice) girl physio and drove back to

Galway in what seemed like a flash, buzzing and finally happy

with myself, for once! Cork is a lovely city and was great to

see so many people out. I thoroughly enjoyed the event and

sightseeing the city on foot!

Thanks to a number of people for getting me off my ass and into

sport of running again, and the lads in Athenry AC for the

company on the runs - Brian, Mick etc - it makes the miles seem

an awful lot easier, and to the late Mark Reilly my former boss

and a great inspiration.

I'm sure there's a lot more in the tank so I'll keep knocking

these five minutes off for a while yet, I hope...