Monday, 5 December 2016


What better way to help your running schedule than with a visit to the local brewery? And even worse, squeeze in a 5k just before you visit said brewery. Talk about working up a thirst! Last Friday I headed over to the wonderful Boundary Brewery in East Belfast for one of their first Christmas Taproom tastings with some mates who equally love beer!

In the interests of research, I thought it was essential to taste most of the following beers...

  • Sour Bake 9.6%
  • Push & Pull 5.5%
  • D'etre Ultime 4.1%
  • Filthy Animal 5.4%
  • APA 3.5%
  • Sour Cherry Black IPA 5.0%
  • Push and Pull: Citra way to Amarillo 5.5%
  • Export Stout 7%

I can reveal they were all amazing*

Training is going ok. I'm still cautious of my calf but am getting some short runs in. My aim is to be able to complete 10k easily to start the 4 month programme on Christmas Day.

* I didn't parkrun on Saturday morning.

Monday, 28 November 2016


I know you are all dying to know how the curing of my salmon turned out. Splendid is the answer. As you can see from the pics, it turned out a treat and so much better than the packs of smoked salmon you can buy and full of flavour. The beetroot adds so much colour and will look very festive when I do this again for Christmas. Marathon nutritionist Carina Norris would be so proud of me.

ok,ok here's another picture
Good news. I'm back on the road again. Gill and I have been out for a few runs over the last few days.  My left calf is feeling a bit better. I wouldn't say brilliant but I'm getting through ok and still doing the exercises my physio told me to do.  The foam roller really helps. It has been pretty cold this week too so it has also been the start of the wooly hat season.

wooly hat season
Who needs ice baths when you have the Arcadia Bathing Club? Every Sunday at 10.30am a group of hardy souls gather to take a plunge in Portrush. We were back up on Sunday to complete our November swim. NO wetsuits with this crew. Sea temperature on Sunday was a cool 11.7 degrees C. Hopefully the baltic sea temperatures will help my aching muscles over the winter.

ice, ice baby
On Saturday, Ella completed her second AQE test so as a wee treat we headed to Bubbacue for lunch*. It's a meat fest. Slow smoked beef brisket and pulled pork are the flavours of the day. Katie doesn't complain too much even though it's Meat Central. 

train like an athlete, eat like an athlete

*sorry Carina Norris!

Monday, 21 November 2016


Those of you that know me well know that I love cooking.  With the London Marathon looming on the horizon not only do I have to train like an athlete, but eat like an athlete.

I'd been told to rest my injured calf by my physio, so what else would I be doing instead but curing my own salmon.  Standing at the side of a frozen hockey pitch at the start of the weekend, I then headed to St George's Market in Belfast to purchase a nice side of salmon from one of the many fishmongers. St George's Market was recently voted best market by the Observer Food Monthly and represents everything good about Northern Ireland. You can read their review of it here

My ingredients

My cure
The cure I use is made up of 

  • beetroot
  • dill
  • sea salt 
  • demerara sugar 
  • vodka*
  • black peppercorns 
  • orange zest 
  • lemon zest

Having grated the beetroot, my hands turned a lovely shade of purple. I've made this before and it's another test run for a bigger version I'll be doing for Christmas. It takes a few days for the cure to work and I'll share some pics of how it turns out later this week. The nutritionist Carina Norris states on the London Marathon website that "salmon is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, which benefit your heart and circulatory system". I need all the help I can get.

I also bought a foam roller in the last few days to help my troublesome calf. This is on the advice of my physio Aidan who says I should get back out this week for a few short runs taking it very easy. Foam rollers are designed to massage and soothe tight, sore muscles so fingers crossed it helps. I was tempted to get out for a run at the weekend but it was baltic and icy underfoot so I gave up up on that idea. Back into the groove this week.

Still haven't seen any comments from Carina Norris on vodka.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016


So last week I was injured and told to rest. 

That was the case until I reached Manchester Airport on Tuesday morning for a flight back home following a sales and marketing conference with work in Blackburn. The rush hour traffic was horrific and a journey that should have lasted 1 hour took nearly two! I arrived at the car rental village at 8:25 with my flight at 8:55.  I still had to get the shuttle bus to the terminal and get through security. There was no way I could achieve this and I had a church conference to attend in Belfast showcasing one of our amazing Promethean ActivPanels! (plug)

But of course we are talking about an athlete.  An injured athlete, but still an athlete nonetheless. I jumped off the shuttle bus, sprinted into departures, bounded up the escalator, scanned my boarding pass and made a dart to the top of the security lanes. All those sprints in my training were paying off.

Then I encountered the most unhelpful security staff member ever who really just wanted to delay me as much as possible and lecture me on "less haste, more speed" and tell me that the new scanners they are introducing in a month's time will be even better. Like I cared?

Boots back on, laces flying, I made a dash to the departure gates with the 'now boarding' signs on the message boards. Aghhhh! 

I raced into the departure lounge passing people like Mo Farrah* only to discover I had missed my turn for gates 1-17 and had to run back down the corridor I had just come from past the same people again. Awkward! 

Through another boarding pass scanning machine and I now had gate 17 in my sights!

This was 'The Mall'. Buckingham Palace behind me and the finish line in sight.

And there it was... gate 17 still open. Miraculously I had made it in the nick of time, bathed in sweat and happy to be heading to meet hundreds of church delegates.

Made it
Made it

* I've re-read that line.  I wasn't passing people including Mo Farrah, but I was passing people the way Mo would do so.

Thursday, 10 November 2016


So last weekend Man United boss, Jose Mourinho, hit the headlines again for publicly criticising two of his players for not being prepared to play through the pain barrier. Both Luke Shaw and Chris Smalling were singled out for a perceived unwillingness to play through the pain for Sunday's 3-1 victory away to Swansea. Speaking after the game Jose said "great sports people play many times without being 100 per cent".

Soaking wet, injured and fed up
I have had some calf pain on and off for the last while and I probably haven't given it time to recover properly. So do I rest it for longer or take on board Jose's tough love advice?

With those thoughts ringing in my ears I headed out on one of the worst nights of the year for a 5k which turned out to be a disaster. It was freezing, the streets and roads were flooded with heavy rain and the cars were taking great pleasure in regularly splashing me. 

Let's remember Jose's advice was aimed at elite sportsmen, not a 44 year old trying to prepare his body to be hauled around 26.2 miles in London next April. My calf started causing me problems early on but I kept going. "Great sports people play many times without being 100 per cent".

I did it for Jose!
I completed my run but hobbled my way back through the last few kms. I got home like a drowned rat feeling thoroughly miserable, soaked, injured and wondering what the hell am I doing?

I've been to see a physio this week at Mike Jones Physiotherapy who has told me to rest it for 10 days. Aidan set to work on me with blunt instruments and laser so hopefully I will see some improvement soon. 

It also means I'll have to give Run In The Dark a miss next week.

did it for Jose!

Monday, 7 November 2016


Fintragh Bay
I knew the mention of long tights would attract you to this post. It's been another busy week and I completed three runs. The skies were so clear this week so the temperatures plummeted. With the clocks going back as well it was time to dig out the high vis gear. Long tights are your friend in winter.. just remember that.  They were on last Tuesday for a 5k. 

Donegal never disappoints 
On Friday I was out pounding the streets of Ballyhackamore and picked up a bit of a twinge on my left calf which has been troubling me a bit over the last few months. Gill got some deep heat rubbed into it and I was good to go again on Saturday in Donegal. 

Nancy's, Ardara
We were there for a few nights and managed to get a nice long run in over those hills near Killybegs. It was very remote and quiet and we only met a goat or sheep. Gill and I couldn't agree which but I'm sure it was a sheep with horns! Probably known as a ram. What better way to round off a nice morning run than with a pint of the black stuff and some seafood in Nancy's Bar in Ardara? 

Swimming at the little harbour
We even had time for a couple of swims. One at the little harbour near our bech house and the other at Fintragh Bay.  The waters were so clear and you can see why it gets a blue flag status.

Earlier in the week I jumped on to Facebook for Martin Yelling's London Marathon Q&A. He's regarded as one of the best fitness coaches around. It was very helpful and he'll be answering a lot more questions online closer to April.


Monday, 31 October 2016


I love running at this time of the year.  Clear bright skies, running on a carpet of crunchy Autumnal leaves and fairly mild weather as well for the last fortnight. This last week has been a busy week of running again. Four runs completed including a 6 miler on Sunday. Tuesday saw me on the Outer Ring with Gill to Domino's Pizzas and back (no, I didn't bring a pizza back with me) which was nice and gentle.  Not the most glamorous run to be fair.

Wednesday saw me back on the treadmill at Castleknock Hotel whilst on some work business for some speed work.  When I say 'speed work' I mean slightly less slow than usual!

Mountsandel Forest
I am still trying to track down Bear Grylls to see if we can get some publicity sorted for my marathon run.  Bear is one of the new chief patrons of the charity HOPE FOR YOUTH NI which was founded back in 1972 by his grandmother.  I know he's busy with his final few live shows. The bear hunt continues!

Coffee at KOKO
Gill, Nigel and Mary 
The weekend saw me up the North Coast with family.  What better way to prepare for a morning run than with a Cabernet Sauvignon tasting night the night before.  Saturday morning was beautiful at Mountsandel forest, one of the nicest runs I've had in a while. 

The trail was full of fallen leaves and plenty of rowers on the River Bann. Great to run with good company including Gill and sister-in-law, Mary. Coffee at KOKO in Portrush followed. Great coffee and amazing views as well.

Sunday saw me out locally again for 6 miles which I found tough with plenty of hill work too.  

I ran past a traffic speed camera at the side of the road.  I await the speeding ticket! Finished with a peanut butter, banana and vanilla yogurt milkshake! Rock 'n' roll.

Finally, good luck to my friend Vicki and her buddy Colleen as they head off later this week to New York for the marathon next weekend. What an adventure that will be. I know you guys will smash it! 

Sunday, 23 October 2016


Stormont parkrun
So the weekend started with volunteering at Stormont parkrun. 135 runners this week round the Stormont Estate route. Always good to help out.  My role this weekend was timer which is always stressful as everyone relies on you getting it right. 

I met a runner who I'm hoping to run with in the near future.  Having company on runs is really helpful. This week has been busy with work, a trip to Birmingham and squeezing in the usual runs. 

So the charity I am running for is HOPE FOR YOUTH NI and did you know it was started in 1972 by Bear Gryll's Grandmother?  He is now one of the chief patrons of the charity so I'm hoping that Bear will be willing to help me with some promotional stuff to help me reach and surpass my target of £2,000.  I was hoping to meet him at his SSE Arena live show this week but I was away with work in Birmingham.  Still plenty of time to sort something out. 

Bear Grylls c/o The Guardian
Me with another bear
When you can't meet Bear Grylls who better to meet than a substitute bear? I'm talking about Sparky (the Ulster Rugby mascot) who I grabbed a quick selfie with on Friday night at Kingspan Stadium. 
A close game in the end with a narrow victory over the Exeter Chiefs. 

It was also my youngest daughter Ella's birthday party and what better way to celebrate but with an enormous home-made rainbow cake.  
Paula Radcliffe would be proud 
The only way to work off the cake was with a 10k run at Shaw's Bridge today. Today I wore my new compression socks for the first time.  

Thanks to Alan Irwin for suggesting them after I had some calf trouble a few months back.  Gill bought them for me and they are really incredible.  Maybe a pic next week if you are lucky! 

It's the first time I've run that route and it won't be the last.  It was so beautiful and beats my usual A55 Outer Ring route! 

I'm glad to report they made me run like Paula Radcliffe who always wears this type of garment. Thankfully I had no emergency toilet stops along the way though.

Ella's rainbow cake

Shaw's Bridge

Saturday, 15 October 2016


The rain managed to stay away for the duration of our parkrun this morning at Stormont Estate.  It was great to run it with Gill and our friend Alison Renfrew who was completing her 69th parkrun.  

I have to say it was very tough this morning and I think I was still feeling the effects from Thursday evening out in Belfast!  Last week I was a second outside my PB but today was a minute down on that time. Anyway, another parkrun chalked up and good to chat on the way around the course. The course was very wet underfoot this morning and there was also a lack of volunteers. I have offered to volunteer next weekend.  No volunteers, No parkrun.  

Putting the feet up this afternoon and maybe head out tomorrow for a longer run. I've emailed all my info back for the London Marathon so that's another thing done.  Starting to look at flights and accommodation for next April already.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016


Great early morning run (three miles) this morning. Autumn is really kicking in with plenty of leaves on the ground. I've been running about four times a week for the last month and will continue this until the proper training starts with four months to go.

Along the way I will incorporate some other runs and events to help with my training. I hope to rack up my 100th parkrun in the New Year and maybe a few 10ks and a half marathon.  

A run that will soon be on the horizon which will help with my preparation is Run In The Dark 10k at Stormont Estate in Belfast which is always a brilliant night time run. It is always well attended and supported and seeing all those flashing armbands heading up the hill at Stormont is always a spectacle. Date for that is November 16th.

I've just received the official entry info from Hope For Youth NI which I've to complete.  It certainly makes it all feel very real. 

Tuesday, 11 October 2016


A new marathon challenge deserves new trainers! So, I've been breaking these Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 33 in for the last fortnight. First time I've gone for Nike and they feel great so far (after a mini blister on the first run!). 

The message on the inside of these trainers states 'RUNFAST' which I have to be honest has never been my motto. Maybe these are the ones to change that?


Delighted to be running the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon in aid of Hope For Youth NI. This will be my second Marathon after completing Belfast City Marathon in 2015.

I'm thrilled to be supporting such a great local charity that promotes children getting together from cross-community backgrounds.  

This is the start of my journey and keep checking back to see my progress as I aim to complete one of the greatest runs in the world and raise as much money as I can for a fantastic charity. 

On here, I'll be posting training updates and sponsorship progress along with any mishaps that occur along the way. I'll also be going behind the scenes of the charity and finding out more about their brilliant work.

Don't forget you can donate to my sponsorship page here