Mark Grealish

Cats and wizardry.

A Summer of Running

in running

It’s such a dumb cliche that A Marathon Will Change Your Life, but here I’m two beers down and thinking “…yeah?” Maybe training has changed me? Although nobody changes overnight unless you do something like chop off their hand (please don’t do this), sustained effort upon the self will lead to dramatic improvement over the course of months. Trainers say it takes a month to build a new habit. It took me eight months of lessons to reach a decent Dutch reading standard. Three months to feel the impact of marathon training. Twelve to see real changes in my own behaviour. Yadda, blah, I’m great.

Me at the Barna windfarm while on a 32k run

For Reykjavik I’m following Hal Higdon Advanced 2, a proven, tough training program. It focuses on speed on weekdays, and on distance and endurance at the weekend. Two weeks ago I tried a 32k run in two stages:

The important part here is that I had to abandon the second stage at the 20k mark (30 total), after heat exhaustion hit me hard. Drinking more water only made me thirstier. I ran out of sweat. When I got to that last hill my legs didn’t want to up and move. Two lovely local ladies saved the day by giving me a lift into Moycullen. Thank you, you are sweethearts. <3

Route and time for a 32k run

Last year I would have devoured myself like an angry Ouroboros. Quoting from the Dublin half marathon:

My big mistake after the race was to not check my actual finish time. […] I thought I had missed by five minutes. All my triumph over having made the finish turned into me kicking my own ass because I didn’t finish fast enough. That’s so typical of me, the way I beat myself up. By the time I realised that, no, I did make my target, I had crushed my own enjoyment of the day.

After this run I came away full of a positive desire to try the run again. It felt…great, great to hit the wall. Peter, Cathy and Nikki from the running club rallied around with fantastic advice on hydration: add electrolytes to my water, eat a banana, take a break, bring salt tablets.

Spoiler not spoiler, on Sunday I successfully completed the 32.06km in 2:56:53. My target time was 3:00:00. Keeping a consistent pace, hydration and nursing the drive to finish got me through the uphill eight kilometres at the end.

This feels great. Running-marathon training!-has turned me from being a depressed fast-food addict into someone with the kind of physical health that makes me confident I’ll complete the marathon next month in my target time. That’s huge.

Ignore how tired I look and you’ll see a shining beacon of some kind of manliness. I don’t know where I’m at underneath. Dedicated to getting across the finish line? All my regrets and pain and problems are there still. Dark days come and go. Eh.

Achill Half Marathon

in running

Running club members and I with medals after race
Achill half marathon race result
  • Date: 2019-07-06
  • Time: 01:39:09
  • Distance: 21km
  • Pace: 00:04:43/km
  • Finished: 75/604 (12/100 normalised)

Previous race: Run Clare 2019 Series

In a country with magnificent running routes, the Achill half marathon stands out as a spectacular course. The route took us from the town of Keel across desolate bogs, along the beautiful golden beach at Doogort, around the shoulder of Slievemore, and a finish at the beach at Keel. This was my fifth half marathon, my calibration run for the Reykjavik marathon in August.

This race was understated. I’ve been in training for a few months. Come the day, I put my head down, ran my best, collected my medal, had a shower, and enjoyed a beer afterward with my friends from the running club.

The race was gorgeous. Even though my habit is to keep my eyes on the road, there were moments when I found it impossible to ignore the gorgeous scenery: the Nephin Mountains across Achill Sound as we crested the first and rather long hill, the beaches below Doogort, and the beckoning sight of Minaun and Keel in the last few kilometres.

Starting from the beach at Keel, the course first took us through the Doogort bog. This was a five kilometre (check splits) hill climb in the rain. Parts of this are a blur to me, because when I see a hill, I attack the hill. I put my head down and lean into the slope. Somebody dropped out early in front of me.

Me crossing the Achill half marathon finish line

The weather cleared by the time we crested the hill and reached our first turn at Bunacurry. With a downhill run from there to the beach at Doogort, the course gave me every chance to enjoy the views of the Nephin, Belmullet across the sea, and Slievemore to my left.

It was on this stretch when the sun began to pound down on us. Evaporation from the road left the air thick and muggy. Everyone felt the pain of the water station setup. This year the organisers went with open paper cups of water in order to cut down on single use plastic. I totally applaud their decision to cut down on bottles. The amount of waste I’ve seen at other runs has shocked me in the past. Unfortunately, it meant during the race that I had to pick between the two bad choices of stopping to drink, or grabbing a cup to gulp on the go. The first choice left me spending energy to catch back up with my pace group, and the second meant I didn’t get proper hydration. Hold-and-sip works far better for me. If I encounter open cups in future I’ll wear my hydration pack.

Bad watering took its toll after we went past Doogort and went over the shoulder of Slievemore. We passed four or five runners being given water and sugar by race marshals. Goodness knows, I felt thirsty. Even though I had hoped for a faster pace, I settled for my body’s decision of “this fast, no more”, because it’s better to finish a bit slower than burnout!

The half marathon merged with the 10k after Slievemore. It was from this point that I felt happy I had conserved myself earlier in the race. You can tell so much about how hard a person is working just by their breathing. Most of the 10k runners were gulping and gasping for air around me as the 1:40 pace group blew through them. For me this wasn’t “haha, I’m fitter”, but instead a real testament to the fact that training works. Training pays off. I felt great because I felt great.

Slievemore Road was narrow. At one point we got stuck behind two 10k runners because a private car blocked the rest of the road. I’m not ashamed to say I banged on the car and yelled at them to pull over.

My first foot began to hurt in the last three kilometres. I’ve had gait problems going back years that I’ve only recently begun to tackle, wherein I don’t properly roll my right foot. I could feel the roll-slap, roll-slap roll-slap as I burned off some speed going down hills. By the end the ball of my foot was burning at me.

Overall this was a great run-and a great weekend away-with my running club. Six of us ran in the half. We found the heat and lack of water tough to handle, but we all crossed the line in the end.

The next event for me will be the Reykjavik marathon on August 24!

Crazy Hobo Beard

in me

Me on the trail with a crazy beard near Renville by Oranmore.

Rocks and Misery

in running

I’ve been training since May for the August Reykjavik marathon, an effort that involves daily runs of up to 32 kilometres in distances! Doing so many long and short runs around Galway quickly became tedious, because there are only a few routes which meet my preferences. With limited choices in the city, I’ve turned to wilder and farther places that I can reach by bus, such as the magnificent forests above Oughterard and Rosscahill, the Moycullen bogs, and now Inishmore in the Aran Islands.

So, Aran, rocks and misery. Last week I dropped a suggestion into the running club’s WhatsApp group: Aran, why the heck not?


  • August 4, 2019

Where do we meet?

  • 08:45 at Queen Street, Galway (link).

Cost and Payment

  • €28 (€20 ferry + €8 bus).
  • Money can be PayPal’d to, sent by bank transfer (ask me for IBAN) or paid cash-in-hand. I’ll confirm cash payments via email.
  • I will make the group booking on Tuesday July 16 based on payments to that date. Anyone who wishes to travel with us after that date can book per times and dates given below.


  • 09:00: Depart from Queen Street, Galway.
  • 10:30: Sail from Rossaveal to Inishmore with Aran Island Ferries.
  • 12:30: Runnnnnnnning.
  • 17:00: Sail from Inishmore to Rossaveal.
  • 19:00: Arrive back at Galway.


Routes are superset: we depart from Kilronan as a group along the Low Road, and turn back after a given distance. I’ll be running the full 30 as it will be my last 30k long run before the Reykjavik marathon. Everyone coming alone is welcome to run whatever length they wish! :)

Details to be Confirmed By Mark

  • Lunch in Kilronan.
  • Bag drop in Kilronan.

Ik Ben Wakker

in me

De straatveger binnen maakte me wakker, ugh. Sinds de lente heb ik blijf om Nederlands te leren, tot nu wanneer kan ik kort zin schrijven! In oktober ik ga naar Amsterdam voor de Mizuno Halve Marathon te lopen, en misschien ook in november voor Le Guess Who in Utretcht.

Ik heb alleen paar Nederlands woorden over mij, omdat de woordenschatten van Duolingo is “gebruiken” woorden. “Ik doe dit.” “Je koop dat.” “Zij ziet deze dingen.” Ik zal meer op tijd leren.

At the Clare Burren Marathon Challenge

in running

Me finishing seventh at the Clare Burren Marathon Challenge 2019 10k

Fun race! I finished seventh at this year’s Clare Burren Marathon Challenge 10k.