DIARY: May

I've been so busy at work (and outside) recently that I haven't been able to complete my daily updates, so here's a condensed view of my mountain running activities in May.

Events and Injuries
The month of May was supposed to truly propel me into the good part of the field, and I had plans to run all the Leinster League races, while bringing my monthly total milage to 150km breaking the personal record of 115km I set in April.

Leinster League
The Leinster League started alright, I had a bit of a nightmare at Prince William's Seat, feeling tired after having done Round Mountain-Ticknock Three-Rock-Cushbawn in the 10 days coming before, and was looking like securing a very strong finish on the third race at Stepaside.

A mile or so before the finish, I injured myself going down Two-Rock, sadly, and had to struggle in, just managing to keep myself in 49th position.

But the damage was done. Being a runner with little natural pace, my hopes of a fine overall finish rested on being able to do all of the 13 races and cherry-picking the best 7 races from that.

The injury has now cost me 3 races, and will probably cost me Howth as well (I say that with little regrets, however, as its a race I do not adore!).

See the pictures here.

Volunteering - Marshal on Corrig
I got some consolation from being able to help out for the Corrig race, were I was stationed as a Marshal on the top of the highest mountain of the route: Seahan.

Weather conditions were torrid, visibility down to about 50m on the windswept summit of Seahan, where a neolithic pillar served as a reminder that humans have roamed this hills since long before the current population of the Island came here to settle.

There was several interesting wildlife to behold: tiny frogs, deer-sized hares, and the lemming-like "drowned mountain runner", believed to be an off-shot of the chimpansee...

We almost lost a female runner in the difficult conditions, but luckily she was picked up by Roison Kelleher who was out taking in some of the markers.

I got a slight knock up my injured knee on the way back, and walked back so slowly that some of the other volunteers were afraid I had been lost to the mist as well!!!!

See the pictures here.

Irish Championships - Aughavannagh
The highlight of the season (which has already had a few in the Wicklow Way Trail and Slieve Donard - Commedagh) so far for me was the glorious first IC race of the season, the 22.2km race at Aughavannagh.

I have written much of this already, see the pictures here.

Recce Runs
"Recce" is the shortening for the military term "Reconnaissance" and is often used by mountain runners going out on the wild and way to gather information on upcoming races.

Bray's Head
This month I did a few, first going to Bray's Head to test my newly purchased Inov-8 "Mudclaw 270", apparently the most extreme fell-running show yet designed, and my meniscus. I had a beautiful view up there, but thought the route was annoyingly narrow in places, and the steep descent didn't agree with my knee at all.

See the pictures here.

Powerscourt Ridge
The second recce run was for even better and worse. I went with my long-term chauffeurs to various races: Conor Murray and Barry Tennyson to do a run of the Powerscourt Ridge Run, a gruelling 15.8km run featuring climbs of Maulin and windswept Djouce.

Its a spectacular route with many challenges and 938m of ascent (done over 6.5 kilometres of the route) giving a tough 13.5% ascent grade. The route is very rocky in places, and on the way down I suffered a bad knock, hitting a rock wrong with my foot, taking a jolt of pain straight up through the injured area. After that I just followed Barry down as best I could, and Conor arrived slightly after us. All in all, stupid call given my injury, but a great leisurely 2 hours and 13 minutes in the mountains.

See the pictures here.

Conclusion
This is the story of a rather disappointing month. Today I was supposed to join Niamh and others for a first recce of a section of the Wicklow Round that me and my friend Conor hope to make an attempt on sometime during 2008.

We misunderstood each other, however, and as I was waiting for a ride at six in the morning, Niamh was halfway in Glendalough! Well next time!

Tomorrow is Carrauntoohil and in a few minutes, I'll go find a hill somewhere and try to put my knee under the maximum amount of pressure (I'll probably use my old technique of wearing a 5kilo water container on my back). If it holds up, I'll join Barry and go to Kerry at 6am tomorrow morning.

If not, it'll be a big disappointment, but there are races to come that should lift my spirits, and at least I managed to clock up 110 total kilometres during May, despite having been injured for 23 of its 31 days!

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