Working On A High Hope

              Running long distances is my thing. Running is something that makes me feel a bit more connected to reality – at least for the moment. I love how running ultramarathons opens up areas of uncertainty, within my sometimes-predictable life. For any given run, I can’t really be sure how it’ll all work out. I might fly and I might crash, but it’s nearly always memorable. It’s precisely the, ‘who knows’ part of the equation that makes the run worthwhile. Usually, the bigger the run the more uncertainty it creates and the more interested I am. Of course, other elements are more predictable. I’m 44 years old now and common sense tells me that I can’t do this stuff forever. Over time my challenges will change and no-doubt I’ll find other ways to cut through the fog. For now though – just for now – I want to run as long and as fast as I can. Other parts of my life – the people that I meet, the books that I read and the lessons that I learn from it all as I go along – all feed into the process. I’m hoping it’s possible to grow as person and to improve as a runner all at the same time.
I haven’t run an ultra since March and the Connemara Ultra and so the prospect of a 50km in Portumna in two days time has me slightly on edge. I’m reasonably fit and so I’m not worried about completing the distance, but I do hope to run up fairly close to the edge of what I’m able for and that prospect makes me a little anxious. I started with a new strength programme at the end of last year and I suppose I’ll find out in Portumna whether it’s making a difference to my running. I know one thing already and that’s that I’m a good bit heavier than I’ve been in the past. A year or two ago my racing weight was in or around ten stones, but now I’m about seven pounds heavier than that. I had my body-fat measured recently I was relieved to find that it was 8%, which hopefully means that I’ve gained strength rather than ‘roundyness’.
        As I’m tapering away from my usual training routine in advance of Saturday’s 50km, I’ve been spending more time online than usual. As I stumbled around the interweb, I found a link to the most amazing live music video on Keith Kelly’s Blog ( featuring a performance by Glen Hansard and Marketta Irglova (aka The Swell Season) and a song called ‘Working on A High Hope’. I’m not really a huge music fan, more of a ‘Dad Rock’ merchant, but occasionally something just knocks me back on my heels and this was one of those times. In the video Glen Hansard gets the audience involved in the performance and, along the way, explains the song as being about, “…the idea that I’m going to figure my shit out, and then, I’m coming to get you!” Already this week I’d been advised that getting ready for the 50km was about, “…keeping your head in order.” Well, it looks like I’m going to have to combine some inspiration from The Swell Season with a steely focus on the task ahead in Portumna.


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