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.