I'm pretty bad at updating this, despite my best intentions. Not as if I'm doing really interesting stuff like our elite friends in Cyprus or have the impetus to write opinionated and argumentative columns like some other blogs I read.
So I'll try summarize the last 3 months in 1 post to get up to date and see if I can keep on top of it from now on...
In the main, my time has been occupied by college stuff and running (not cycling!)
College stuff has been tiring, sometimes boring, sometimes frustrating, sometimes enthralling but most of all, time-consuming. On top of all the usual study and learning bits, a good chunk of the final year marks go for a dissertation, so thats taken a lot of my time and energy. I'm thoroughly looking forward to taking a few days off in early April before cracking into exam preparation. Anyone want to go away for a few days???
One of the most frustrating things has been preparing and sending off job applications, mainly to companies who aren't hiring, are scrapping their grad programmes, or are just accepting CV's to burn and save on their office heating costs. There's a definite air of resignation around college, I've not yet heard of anyone even getting an interview anywhere. Last Friday was our last day of lectures and should have been a nice milestone on our way to becoming engineers. Instead, the class joke was that it was another milestone on our way to the dole queue. Certainly picked an awful time to graduate into the construction industry. The other option open to me is to use the time to pick up some more qualifications, so with this in mind I've applied to do a PhD in engineering, expanding the scope of my dissertation project to fill out a thesis and hopefully make some sort of contribution to my field (bridge maintenance stuff, if you're interested) That's all dependent on securing the funding, so fingers crossed that IRCSET comes up trumps in April.
To keep me somewhat sane during all that, I've taken to doing a bit of running. Not much, certainly nowhere near enough to call myself a committed "runner," but enough to make me feel like I'm getting some workout and satisfy my competitive urges. I've done 3 IMRA races so far, Ticknock (25th) Annacurragh (36th) and Trooperstown (26th) All of the races I've tried to take something from - positioning at the start, pacing, racing a bit smarter (ie letting a big road runner catch me on a flat section, tucking in behind to save energy, then gapping him again on the technical stuff) The races have reinforced what I already knew, that I'm a stronger runner on harder ground, and that fireroad descending absolutely kills me. The kind folks on boards.ie have given me some help and I'm hoping to improve on this in the coming weeks, as its annihilating any chance I have of doing well.
Surprisingly, I think I've taken to running rather easily...much more easily than if I'd not been cycling in years anyway! Maybe there's some latent miles in my legs from all those rugby sessions (4 years ago now since I picked up a rugby ball in anger?) or maybe I'm a bit more suited to running after all...The other thing I love about mountain running is the opportunity you get to get out into the wilder hills which isn't possible on a bike, where we tend to stick to paths and trails. Few things are as nice as pouring over a map in the carpark, then following compass to wherever it leads you and taking in the stunning Wicklow views, away from anyone or anything.
My next race will be the Crone Woods finale of the Winter League, which also doubles as the University Champs. It's a race I'd love to do well in, so I met some IMRA stalwarts there last Saturday for a recce run and completed 2 laps for 14km. Again, the guys were most encouraging and I made an effort to really glean as much knowledge from them as I could, and also to try become acquainted with some regular runners. I absolutely loved the course, the climbs and descents (up and down Maulin) should really suit me, so I ran it again with Nigel on Tuesday and plan on getting another couple of laps in next week. It'll probably be a bit more competitive than previous races, but I'd be really delighted to break into the top 20 in this for a good finish to the winter league, and hopefully a scoring place for Trinity...