Sunday, October 28, 2012

Day Before Dublin Marathon 2012

Not posting many blog posts these days - spending more time on twitter @marklenahan and facebook to be honest, and a bit of Foursquare, Instagram and Pinterest. I suppose when I have more than 140 characters or a pic to share I should write a blog post!

This morning I volunteered as a race steward for the first time. That essentially means standing in a corner for an hour or so directing runners. It was for the "Breakfast Run" an easy 5k that is part of the weekend of events leading up to Dublin Marathon tomorrow morning. Lesson #1: Bring gloves.

On the instructions of the Guard (police office) at our corner I had the onerous task of persuading runners not to mount the foot path (side walk) where curb was wet and potentially dangerous. I tried to remain light hearted and helpful and hopefully I didn't annoy runners (who were forced to run around me) too much. But I had no choice but to stand at that exact spot - basically in the way of anyone who likes a very tight race line! Lesson #2: Walk your part of the course in advance, work out runners line of sight.

As you would expect the day before a marathon, nobody was really sprinting. Several friendly exchanges, one runner even said "thank you stewards". Lesson #3 - say hello to stewards when I'm out racing!

The stewards tomorrow have a much more onerous task. The later parts of the course will be open for 8 hours, and there are a lot of jobs to do - directing runners, collecting junk, giving out water, directing traffic - and most of them are volunteers. There will be about 14,000 runners - including myself - and we are depending on them!

As for myself, I've been told to run at 7:30 min/mile pace by my coach!

That seems optimistic to me, but I might give it a shot. I only ever do better than I expect in races when I take risks. If I play it too safe I end up with the same time I had the last time. My target 6 months ago was to beat 3:30 (with a PB of 3:33 that's pretty conservative). After a few months I decided to go for the brother's PB of 3:23. This will encourage him to beat me in 2013, this little competition is good for both of us in the long run! I've been in Phoenix Park Runners club for a year now and based on my half marathon and 20 mile times, Tony (the coach) has decided I can do 3:15 or so. 3:15 is also the Boston 2013 qualification time. I don't think it'll happen, my best guess says 3:20 if everything goes well, which I'd be very happy with. But I'll start out ambitious and see how it goes.

I'll know by 12:30pm tomorrow one way or another. I'll probably post my time on twitter. Good luck to everyone taking part: runners, stewards, families, spectators, emergency services and organisers!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

My dog smells like horse

I've never seen Bella happier than when she finally returned from her mad race around Belleek woods showing off her latest find. Horse shit. About 10 kilos worth, and she wore it proudly. At 20 meters I could see the problem - her normally white collar, now bright brown, the rest of her jet black coat now speckled. At 10 meters I could smell the problem - even down to identifying the species (I grew up in the country, I'm sometimes surprised at what sticks).

The next 6 hours were quite stressful for both of us. The last day of a long weekend in Mayo thus got off to a stressful start.

First I made her sit in the bank of a small lake while I tried to rinse it off with my hands. She didn't mind. Then using a whole pack of baby wipes on her - she didn't like that much. (Also used wipes on myself - the lake thing really only spread it around). Then driving back to my parent's camping park with the windows open, and putting her under the hose out back. She didn't like that at all. Only cold water, and she's not big on bathing in general. An hour of running around the long grass (she liked that) while I changed and washed, and also cleaned out the car, and she looked OK. We could still smell it though.

No choice at this point but to start the long drive home. 4 adults in the car, including 2 unlucky ladies who had to sit either side of Bella. Windows open, 250 km, 3 hours. The car smelt a bit funny the whole journey, though generally if the wind was right and she was lieing down it wasn't too bad. (Like being within a mile of some stables, or driving through the wealthier side of Wicklow). Finally we got home and I carried her upstairs and put her in the bath. Proper dog shampoo this time and smell was reduced to the point you had to be within a few inches to get anything at all.

All in all it was a very tiring day for Bella. Running, swimming (twice), a run around in the forest, a long drive (which takes a lot out of her) and 3 baths. When she got to her bed she collapsed with a sigh and was asleep instantly. About an hour later I saw her legs twitching and she was making "huff huff" noises, barking in her sleep.

No doubt dreaming about the brief but glorious 60 seconds she spent pretending to be a horse.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

River Moy (Ballina) Half Marathon

I'm running this half marathon around my home town on Sunday morning. I'll have to keep my drinks on Saturday night to a minimum.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Krakow Marathon 2010

From Krakow Marathon April 2010 album on Picasa.

The marathon was well organised and started on time. Unlike me, I showed up late, forgot my sun block, had to rush bag drop and crossed the starting line with 2mins already gone on the clock, forgetting to start my stop watch. On the other hand I probably benefited from the extra 45 mins sleep.

The course was vary pleasant for start and finish. There was a lap around the park at the start, followed by run through the old city centre. Most of the last 10km was along banks of the river and a final 2 laps of the park. The middle section wasn't that interesting, being mostly on a big 4 lane road beside tram tracks. But it had a long enogh loop back section that I was able to see race leaders in men and women categories, and the wheelchair race. Normally the elites are some other world you only see in the TV reports, so it was nice to see them close up and head on.

Not sure what happened with the chip time. Either it didn't read my chip at the start or at the finish but my official time was 3hrs and 39mins, same as it said on the clock when I ran through. So I didn't get my 2 mins back for starting at the back of the field. Anyway, it is not like there's prize money in it, or even a personal record. I'm calling it 3:37. Assuming no more injuries I'll aim for 3:20 in Dublin in October.

At the end of the race my feet were sore, but no blisters or visible signs of damage. I've got mild sun burn on my fore arms, and my face is a bit red. Today, one day later, my legs are starting to get stiff and sore. Not as bad as prior marathons but I expect the discomfort to peak tomorrow... when I'm back in work.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010


I was in bed but not quite asleep. The gentle rocking made me think, "ah.. the ship is leaving the port". After a moment I thought, "wait a minute... I'm not in a ship!".

For about a minute the room rocked silently and very gently - about 3 or 4 cm back and forth every 5 seconds or so. There were some thumping noises and creaking in the building, like turning the heating on in an old house, but otherwise it was totally silent, gentle movement - exactly like being in a very big ship. I looked out the window but could see nothing unusual, movement too small to see in the other buildings around, cars were driving on the road as normal. Then I went to sleep. There never was any danger.

So I experienced my first earth quake - at least the first I could feel. Actually there have been 7 in Chile since I arrived, all unnoticed until the one last night. It was 6.7 and about 375km away in the South West. More details at US Geological survey. One thing this brings home to me is that (a) earth quakes are very common, and (b) most are harmless and (c) it is about distance just as much as scale - being on top of a 6.7 is no fun I'm sure, but at 375km a lot of people in Santiago didn't even notice it.

It is a different story if you live by the coast. A lot of people in Chile (though not Santiago itself) not only have no homes to return to, either from living near the big one last month, or from tidal waves. Many of the people along the coast are afraid to move back to rebuild their homes. Tidal waves can strike hundreds of miles from the epicenter.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Software for Clear Skies

(No - not an airline post!) In Ireland we have clear skies today and can see things we can't normally see! This is such an unusual event I figured I'd post a couple of recommendations for those people who like to know what they are looking at.


Free planetarium software for your PC or Mac, set your location to Dublin and fast forward to tonight to see what types of stars and patterns you'll be able to see. Download from!

Radar Virtuel

The daylight equivalent of star gazing - plane spotting! This online tool allows you to know where those planes you can see are actually going! A mashup of google maps, so you can zoom in on your own county, and air traffic control and ACARS, it shows you real time information of what flights are where. Check it out at!

The Sun

That is what the big bright white thing in the sky is called. Try not to look at it directly. Also, offering it sacrifices won't make it come back more often. Enjoy the Spring!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Bella Dog Blog #4 - About Bella

Rather than flood people with doggy pics and doggy status updates we gave her a separate facebook account:

Bella Lenahan | Create Your Badge

I'm still going to blog about her though, maybe 5 or 6 posts in all, including some resources and info for people adopting. But they'll all be titled "Bella Dog Blog", so feel free to ignore them if you are a cat person!

What we have learned about Bella:

  • Chews up toys to destruction!
    (but leaves our property alone)
    some "Kong" toys are on order.
  • Likes car journeys - looking out the window or sleeping.
  • She is a bit nervous of cars and moving traffic
    (which might explain her injuries when she was rescued.)
  • She likes other people, children, and other dogs.
  • She sometimes gets hyper and has to be ignored (but watched) until she calms down.
  • Opportunistic food thief.
  • Utterly obsessed with balls of any kind or size!
  • Accepts a bath though she doesn't like it,
    (similarly - tooth brushing.)
  • Toilet trained
  • Will sleep anywhere as long as we are nearby.
  • No separation anxiety that we can see, though still delighted when we come back.
  • Has very tender paws - though hopefully they will recover if we keep them dry.

Yesterday she was generally happy though nervous, today she is a lot more settled in, hasn't stopped wagging her tail and following us about. She is less nervous and seems a lot more settled. I think she is going to be very happy!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bella the Dog Blog #2 - Trainer Visit

Today Kieron from Dogs Trust visited the house to make sure everything was OK. We passed the inspection so we must have a suitable home for Bella!

We also got some useful feedback on crates and beds, and sleeping arrangements, not just from Kieron but other responses to the last post. We've decided on a normal dog bed - and have her sleep in the living room - using her old blanket and a bed like the one she has now, plus whatever toy she likes. From what we saw when we walked her I'd say she is house trained.

Still no idea on how she'll take to driving in the car, they don't actually know in the shelter, I think we just have to get her used to the idea gradually.

I called today and she is in good health. Nothing else planned this weekend, so I'll be home full time to help Andrea and Bella get settled in.

We have registered with a vet and bought a dog license (as Dogs Trust require).

I don't really understand the dog license in Ireland. It is mandatory, a uniquely numbered piece of paper, there's no dog tag to attach to the dog and nothing got entered into the computer in the post office (as far as I could see). I didn't need to have the dog with me, or prove I had the dog, or even prove my name or address. From the point of view of protecting dogs, finding lost dogs, protecting dog owners or the general public the license is totally worthless. Given that it probably costs more to issue (and enforce) than the €12.50 they ask for, I have to wonder if it is just a punitive annual tax on dogs, and if so, why? I think the tax on a non-neutered dog should be €1000 per anum, and the money raised used to provide free neutering for other dogs. I'll admit it, I don't really agree with the concept of dog breeding (a subject for another post), but a barrier of entry would at least deter opportunists and amateurs and help prevent what happened to Bella - she was abandoned last November while pregnant.

Anyway, our plans are flexible, and we'll have to learn and adapt as we go. I am not so worried about it now. The worst that can happen is some stuff gets damaged, but eventually we'll train Bella and she will train us, and we'll all be happy.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Getting a dog - Bella the border collie

Some of the things new, about-to-be, dog owners worry about:

We have some ideas where we would like her to sleep, but how do you tell a dog to sleep in a specific spot? She might ignore her bed altogether! Our idea is to ask for the blanket she sleeps on now in the shelter, it'll have her scent and we can change it after a few days when she settles in.

Should we get a crate and close her in it, at least at first until she gets used to the house? It seems to make sense for puppies, but none of the advice on crate training talks about a two year old dog. She appears to be house trained already so is it really necessary? We're more worried about barking and Bella being stressed than we are about some little accidents. Crates seem cruel - even though they aren't - but it does mean we won't like doing it and so it'll be harder for us to stick to it. Maybe a nervous dog might like an enclosed space?

How do we teach her to spend time alone? Or to not worry about whether we'll come back. Not only at night, when we'll be sleeping in another room, but if we have to go out without her? It won't happen more than a couple of hours a week, but getting a dog sitter or being trapped in the house isn't going to work either.

Will she be Ok in the car? We have so many places we want to bring her! Including to our friends and relatives who have dogs. Also the beach, the off leash parks, my parents' caravan park and rivers and parks in Ballina. If she can't handle cars how will we even get her home from the shelter? If she's scared apparently we should yawn and relax and pretend nothing is wrong, so they say in the books (the best way to deal with inappropriate fear is to ignore it.) In practice it will be very hard to overcome the human urge to comfort her, which will only make things worse.

Do we really need to "dog proof" the house, and is that even possible? Would it be better to leave things as they are and accept some damage is inevitable and deal with it if and when it happens? Personally I don't care about "stuff", but I am concerned about Bella getting an electrical shock or swallowing something!

We have a chance on Thursday to ask these questions when Dogs Trust do our house inspection, or on Saturday when we pick her up. There's going to be an element of learning no matter how many books we read or advice we get. I guess we'll figure it out as we go along and we shouldn't worry.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Movember Drawing to a Close

For those who haven't been following it, Movember is drawing to a close. Our team has raised nearly €3,500 for The Irish Cancer Society / Action Prostate Cancer fund, €200 of that from friends of mine.

I admit growing a mustache doesn't seem like much, when I ran a marathon I actually had to do something rather than just letting nature take its course, and you all donated more than €1000! Nonetheless, I found it much more annoying. I subsequently ran two more marathons, whereas I will never be growing a mustache again!

So it is nearly your last chance to donate.

Many thanks to if you have done so already. Here are the before and after pictures:-

What do you think? On top of looking like a wierdo, it adds about 10 years to me! I'll be glad when this is over.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Horay for the Mo!

Well, it is now at the stage that two people have said it suits me. It looks like a proper mustache, see what you think:-

Just to re-iterate, this is what I'm aiming for:-

Remember folks, this isn't just for me to make a fool out of myself it is for charity, so please donate now (or the mo gets it)

Monday, November 09, 2009

Mustach Update - The Ominous Shadow!

I am now at the ominous shadow stage. Is that a mustache or have you got a medical condition? Really, unless I have just the right lighting conditions, and you are uncomfortably close, it just looks like I got some cappuccino froth on my lip!

Tomorrow it gets its first exposure to customers, myself and another xCoiffure team mate and my boss have an all day meeting. The boss already has a beard, so it'll be a facial hair overdose for the folks in London. I hope they don't mind, it being for a good cause and all!

If you haven't already done so, please donate!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Tache Blog

As previously mentioned, on various other channels (facebook, twitter), I'm growing a mustache for The Irish Cancer Society in November.

This is all part of the Movember charity website, and was actually Stephen Collin's idea, I just joined his team.

Frankly, I'm not even sure I can grow a mustache, I tried to grow a beard about 20 years ago and it was a disaster, it took ages to get beyond the fluff stage, and I have ugly bald patches on my cheeks! But I'll give the mustache a shot.

This picture shows what I looked like, relatively clean shaven, on Monday, and my bit of photoshop (actually pixlr) of what I might look like in 4 weeks!

(OK, the eyebrow additions are just my little joke!)

I need money! - so DONATE NOW - even a little will help the mustache grow, and if I get a decent pot together you can all vote for which mustache style I should aim for. Come on... it is for a good cause!

Come back here for regular updates, or listen in on facebook, I'll mostly use facebook, and some occasional blog posts (which also appear as notes in facebook), I don't think my facial hair grows at sufficient rate to merit twitter updates!

Coming up... some customer reactions, my next face to face meeting is next Tuesday!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

I admit I was wrong about Ubuntu... going back to Windows

I'm not sure how long I stuck with it, must be about 6 months since I switched from Windows to Ubuntu on my laptop, which is also my desktop at home and in the office and on the road, so basically my only computer. (Actually my employer's computer. But they are cool with technology people testing out technology, the CEO uses Ubuntu, as do several developers. And this is not, and need not be, an issue, unlike some prior employers thought... but I digress...)

Unfortunately I have to concede defeat.

I can't stick with Ubuntu because Dell, Nokia, and Nvidia don't support it well enough. It doesn't run MS Office (well enough) and Open Office is only 90% there if you are a heavy user. The screen and docking station were a daily nightmare. Constantly booting Windows in VMWare a real drag. There were some devices and apps I never got to work - webcam, Skype with voice, VPN to the office, printing on my home network.

There were good times too.

Times I could boot, reboot, and shutdown about 4 times faster than Windows. Times when Windows under VMWare was faster than Windows running natively (don't know whether to laugh or cry about that one). Times when having posix command line meant I could do twice the job in half the time. Also, it was cool. I have to admit that.

But it is an OS for geeks. Still, after all the compromises and ease of use features, unless your PC is built and tested for Linux and has built in all the apps you need (i.e. a netbook) then it is just too complex. I like command line and editing text config files, but whenever I did it I thought, "there's no way I could talk my Mum through this on the phone".

So back to the loving embrace of Bill's progeny I go. (A process that might take more than one weekend).

Of course I could try Apple's MacOS... but what I need is a real operating system running on a real computer, not an expensive dvd player and a lobotomy.

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