My grail.


Did I say Tsegaye  Mekonnen? I meant Wilson Kipsang…ahem.

Still 5th place wasn’t bad in a tiny event like the London marathon. Unlike the glory which is attached to crossing the line in 50th position at the Inishowen half marathon! Yeah baby! How d’ya like those apples, Mekonnen!

I enjoyed my own race on Sunday. That’s a bad sign. Races aren’t there to be enjoyed, soldier!

It’s a couple of years since my last half marathon. I ran 86 mins back then. On Sunday I ran 95 mins. That may not seem like a big drop to a non-runner, but believe me it is. It’s a lot slower.

But…at least I am running daily again so things can only improve.

There was a WordPress prompt a couple of days ago asking about obsessions. I had something of an obsession for a while. It was to run a marathon in less than three hours.

The idea that I would be capable of running a sub three (that’s runner speak) had never entered my head until our local club coach suggested that I had the potential if I “played my cards right.”  I had just finished a 3hrs 15mins marathon when he made the suggestion.

Sometimes I wish he had never hinted at it at all. Because in my head it had become a prophecy rather than encouragement. I trained like a Kenyan all through 2011 for the Dublin marathon. On race day I pulled a small calf muscle at mile 6 and only bothered to finish the thing because I had been doing it for a neighbour’s charity. I hobbled around in 5hrs, I think.

The next attempt at a sub three came last October. It was an incredibly windy day and by mile 13 my goose was cooked. I knew that I was going to miss my target by about 3 mins. Three measly minutes. I didn’t have a plan B. I wanted a sub three. I had trained for sub three. But like an idiot, instead of setting a new goal mid-race, I just jogged around to finish in 3hrs 27mins. I threw away my chance to finish it in maybe 3hrs 3 mins. That was probably the silliest thing I have ever done. Months and months of training thrown away over three measly minutes.

Chasing my grail and failing didn’t destroy my love of running. Even those races which didn’t go to plan didn’t stop me from smiling as I crossed the finish line.

Have I given up on a sub three? No way. Having a goal keeps it interesting.

I feel I am so lucky being able to run at all. I do appreciate this gift.

A tough little ten miler over hills on Saturday, I might enter that and try for 70 mins.

I will let you know how it goes.

Thank you for reading

Frankie. (1533 in the pic, the good looking one)


In response to

15 thoughts on “My grail.

  1. All the best with this. It was interesting to read about and it’s awesome you are doing it daily and trying these events. I have just started trying to run again after ten years and am just doing little bits, felt like death at first. i go out a 5am so no-one can see me struggling and wheezing along. great post 🙂

  2. Oh hang in there. Whether you ever make it is irrelevant, you have a goal. I swam competitively and I know “winning” begins with the mind. Best of luck and enjoy your efforts. Some day if you want it badly enough you’ll get there.

    • ps…i’m 43 with twenty five years smoking under my belt 🙂 I am not a competitive person, tric. I have purposely not overtaken some runners in races before. Simply because they looked like they were trying harder.
      I’m a strange person, I’ll admit 🙂
      Well done you and the swimming! Thanks tric 🙂

  3. Oohhh. The one with the great legs..I see you! Why aren’t you in front? (Nudge, nudge)😉 good luck on Sat. Don’t forget your goal! Try shooting for 67 minutes! Maybe it will increase your odds. Good luck.

  4. You are the good looking one! I’m a sucker for a red head :-). I know you will conquer that sub 3! One day, I’ll be running in Dublin. I’ll see you there! HA!

  5. Sorry this is off topic. I’m new to your blog and I’m really curious: is there really Irish honky tonk? Or is it American? If it’s Irish, does it sound like American honky tonk or is it different?

    Also, do you know a 1980s band called the Pogues? I really love them a lot.

    Sorry for all the questions. I appreciate opportunities to ask questions of Irish people, rather than rely on the media.

    I hope the O’Briens are behaving themselves. Over here, we’re a troublesome lot, heh ha!

    Nice blog you have – you’re a good writer.

    Claire O’Brien

    • Claire, there will be no wool pulled over your eyes. Very observant! There is no such thing as Irish honky tonk. I was referring to the american honky tonk which seemed to me (growing up) to be strongly associated with trucks and truckers.
      I loved the Pogues. I still do. Shane MacGowan, the most unlikely front in the world, is a great songwriter. I think his song The fairytale of New York is the best selling (maybe second best) Christmas song ever.
      Their early stuff was great also. Kinda punk, kinda Irish, kinda genius.
      I saw them play live once or twice. I find it so hard to pick a favourite or even a top five because each song was so powerful in it’s own way.
      Poor Shane. His liver must be in shreds by now. Typical of so many geniuses, they all seem to be their own worst enemy. Like Sinéad O’Connor, who once sang a lovely duet (Haunted) with Shane.
      God bless them both.
      There used to be an advert on Irish telly for Harp lager back in the 1980’s. A character in the ad became the most famous O’Brien. Sally O’Brien. The narrator was in a desert somewhere, reminiscing about his home town in Ireland. Here I found it –

      Thank you Claire,

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