Friday, March 12, 2010

Running the Globe

Slight exaggeration with the heading but I'm writing this on a flight to San Fransico (Yay for in-flight Wi-Fi!) ahead of tomorrow's race - Way Too Cool 50K - and just a week ago I was discovering old and new trails back in Ireland.

I was in Galway for work and got to spend a day in Sligo (home) and another in Westport - one of the prettiest towns in Ireland. Of course, with the lovely weather we had for the week, every part of the country looked great. It is probably the same everywhere but I always think Ireland in particular is a completely different country in the sunshine vs the rain. As are the people. The 'friendly nation' reputation was definitely developed during a period of nice warm sunny weather!

Carrowkeel

After the few days in Galway I was up at my Mum's house last Friday and was hoping to get in a 2hr run. When I first starting running I would almost always hop in the car and drive to a local park where I'd run some loops/out-and-backs to get in my long runs. The narrow roads close to home are just too dangerous as no one ever expects to see walkers/runners/bikers on them. But for whatever reason last week I got to thinking that if I ran right from my house along a few very quiet roads, some no longer used by cars, I could make my way over to Carrowkeel, a Megalithic burial ground that as kids we used to visit often. There are fabulous views over Lough Arrow and about 14 cairns in total - a few of them you can get into by crouching through the narrow entrance. AND these stone cairns are older than the Pyramids! It's probably 2 miles from home as the crow flies but to get there by car it's about 4 or 5. But who needs roads? There are old tracks that these days are just used by cattle and/or tractors. How did I never think of running over here before? I have been running trails for long enough now!

So off I went, over-dressed so I had to stash my jacket along the way, which meant I had to carry my iPhone in my hand so it got nicely scratched as I crossed gates and fences - but I wanted to take photos...

Getting there - my destination is the left high spot in the distance - but no, I didn't have to cross this field to get there!




The right way...



YAY!



For cars maybe...



Gravel roads...



Some grassy trail...



And of course, some boggy trail...



Overlooking Lough Arrow...



The view west over towards Keash Hill - my house is about half way there - mmm, Keash Hill might be the next adventure...



Tough life for a tree in the West of Ireland...



The self-potrait...



I had to take a picture of this bend. Probably 20 years ago, when this road was still drivable by car (or at least that's what my mother thought), we were heading down here after a trip to the Cairns - likely 10 of us crammed in the car - and taking it a bit wide we ended up slightly over the edge on the left. Quite an adventure - I remember my friend who was with us had the smart idea to get a rope from the boot and secure the car to the tree while we manouvered the car back on the road...



It's probably been 10 years since I was inside one of these - decided against it today - wouldn't be a good place to get a bad leg cramp!



More cairns - to be rediscovered another day...



Smart sheep in these parts...



The Joker's House - I have no idea who once lived here but as kids we used to be too scared to get close to this house - it's surrounded by trees so I had to make a quick detour to finally see it!



The highlight of any trail run in Ireland... sorry
Lisa, I have no idea what breed but they didn't look like they'd be much good for knitting wool :)



More sheeps...



There is also a donkey sanctury nearby which I should visit sometime...



Heading home, just a few more gates and grassy trails (and minor floods!) to navigate...



The Bangor Trail

Next morning I headed over to Newport to meet up with my friend Dee and explore a fairly remote trail in Co. Mayo. There was a limited amount of
info on the web about The Bangor Trail but I got in touch with a guy who has hilked it many times and he said it was runnable with hardly any fences to cross. If we had more time, and less events that we were both meant to be tapering for, we might have tried to run the whole thing - about 26 miles point-to-point - but as it was we had limited time (and energy). So we decided on an out and back. It was tough going - some very runnable sections on rocky terrain but a lot of BOG! I was up to my knees more than once! Still, it was beautiful, the scenery, the peace and quiet, not to mention the unusually nice March weather. A fun day out. We turned around after 5 miles in about an hour and ten minutes. A few picture breaks along the way...

Starting out...



Of course we had some woolly friends for company...



Lots of fantastic views...



Including a snow-capped Nephin Beg - it is so weird to see snow-capped anything in Ireland!



Me - trying out new North Face pack - love it, fitted well, I have found the Nathan pack slips off my shoulders too easily even with the straps adjusted...



Dee - who will soon be over in MN for a few months with work - very cool!



Enjoying a natural ice bath at the finish...



Next stop, California! Looking forward to running in shorts and t-shirt tomorrow... not as ready as I could be and feeling a bit run down from all the travel but it should be a nice run all the same. I was a bit worried when I first looked at the elevation profile earlier this week but then compared it to Terrapin Mountain that I ran last March in Virgina - the climbs are about half as high as that one! Phew... I have a goal of 4:45 based on nothing other than it's rated (by UltraRunning) as 2/2 vs Chippewa 3/3 and given it's a little earlier in the season I figure I should be able to do something close to last April (4:41) on a slightly easier course. We shall see...

8 comments:

SteveQ said...

Lovely to see where you started! The spooky house had me laughing; we all had those houses. In my neighborhood, there was one we'd all skip trick-or-treating on Halloween, as it was too spooky; the two elderly ladies who lived there were very nice and very sad that no one ever stopped there. Now MY house is the spooky one!

roughkat said...

Looks like a great run. Good luck this weekend.

Chris Swenke said...

Thank you for a glimpse into your childhood and your home. What a beautiful place - I will have to visit there someday and bring along my running shoes. I'm going to pretend to be Irish at the 100% Irish for a day 10 miler - maybe you can channel me some of your speed.

Any advice on celebrating St. Patrick's day in the Twin Cities. The family is out of town and I'm looking to take advantage of it.

Best of luck on your race - Don't win by to much.

Kel said...

Beautiful pictures Helen! Makes me want to visit the "Old Sod" as my folks call it (Ireland).

Have a great run in sunny CA :)

Matthew Patten said...

That do-rag you are wearing looks like a Storkamp custom.

Good luck at WTC. If you see any Sconnies, kick their butts.

Please tell us if people ask for your autograph ;)

wildknits said...

Helen, lovely pictures and now I am really fired up for that running tour of Ireland (will have to revert to my maiden name for the trip ;-> )

Those sheep may be okay for knitting - just need to be sheared, wool cleaned of the VM, spun... of course I will need someone to do all of that for me. Then again, maybe they are being raised for another purpose altogether?!?

sea legs girl said...

Hey, Helen! First I have to say in Danish "Hold så op!"... they have wi-fi internet on planes now? All planes int'l flights? All airlines? Tell me more!

Next, I am happy to hear you found a backpack you like. It is just so important for long, long runs. If you just wrote you like it because you are sponsored by them or something, then I will also tell you that the Gregory Wasatch backpack could in my mind not be improved upon. I can't even tell I have it on and it is SO roomy. I am NOT sponsored by them (HA! as if...).

I honestly woke up this morning thinking. "Man, I wish Helen would write a chapter in the running routes book. She is such a good writer and certainly would have an interesting contribution." So cool that you are in!!!!

Hope the race is a blast and beautiful and that you kick ass. :)

Londell said...

I am filled with envy! Thanks for sharing..

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