A small ramble up Strickeen

If you’re looking for a hike around the Killarney area that offers a combination of great views and easy trails, you couldn’t get much better bang for your buck than Strickeen. The mountain’s name is anglicised from Stricín, or “little peak” (-een or -ín is a diminutive suffix as Gaeilge) but while the peak is indeed little (only ~380 elevation gain for a summit height of 440 meters), this 6.5km hike finishes with lovely views of the surrounds, the lakes of Killarney, and the rest of the MacGillycuddy Reeks, such as Carrauntoohil.

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Six Months to Marathon

When I finished my first half-marathon, I thought “I’ll definitely do that again, but I’ll probably never run more than a half.” When I ran my second, I thought, “I could probably tack on a few more kms, but I’ll probably never run a full marathon.” After the third, when I had finally reached my sub-two-hour half-marathon goal (1:56:42), I found myself immediately thinking ahead to the next goal. But this time my goal isn’t just time (although I’m hoping to run <1:55 in my next half-marathon in a few months), but distance. I finally felt ready to take the plunge and sign up for a full marathon.

The first thing I had to decide was: which one? My first, obvious thought was the Melbourne marathon in October, as I knew that we would be moving over here after our time in Wellington had finished. However, we originally weren’t certain that we were going to stay in Australia for a full year, and I didn’t want to train for a marathon and then not run it (barring circumstances like injury that could obviously crop up wherever I am).

I started looking at the Gold Coast marathon in July, hearing that it was a flat course and figuring that the dead of winter would hopefully cool things down. After moving to Australia I quickly reassessed; the heat and humidity of summer in Melbourne has both made it very hard to run much, meaning I’d be very behind on my training if I was to run a marathon three months from now, and it showed me that I have no interest in going up to the notoriously-humid Gold Coast for a race. Luckily, by this point we had decided that we were going to see out our year in Australia, so Melbourne was back on the table.

The Melbourne marathon is on Sunday, 13 October, exactly six months from now, and I officially registered last night. I’ve decided to use a Hal Higdon plan based on the recommendation of… pretty much everybody, and I’m going with the Novice 2 plan because I want to push myself a little (I’ll drop back to the Novice 1 plan if needed but looking at the prerequisites I think I should be okay. It will be slightly modified as the plan has you running a half-marathon at the end of the ninth week and I am going to do Run Melbourne’s half-marathon event on 28 July, which is only seven weeks in, but for the most part I’m aiming to stick to the plan as closely as possible. It’s definitely going to be tough to stick to in points—namely just two weeks before the race, when we’re planning to be in Japan for the Rugby World Cup—but I’ll make the time to run and will luckily be tapering then anyway.

The plan runs for 18 weeks up until the marathon which means that I won’t actually be starting it officially until the second week of June, but in the meantime I’m taking advantage of the cooler weather (finally) and building mileage, strength, and endurance by running as much as I can in preparation. Running a full marathon six months from today is going to be the biggest fitness goal I have ever, and maybe will ever, achieve, and I’m planning to do it right. I’ll check in with updates on my training and progress as I go, for support and accountability, and on 13 October I’ll see you at the far side of 26.2.

Follow me on Strava if you want to keep up with my training!

Busy, Busy, Busy (as the Bokonons say)

(I’ve been on a bit of a Vonnegut kick lately, attempting to read everything of his that I haven’t already. Right now I’m on Breakfast of Champions, although the quote which titles this post is from my favourite novel of his, Cat’s Cradle)

Well, it’s been a very busy couple of weeks. Last weekend I went to Barcelona (see below for pictures!), and met up with my mom and aunt, who were coming to visit for the week. Then we all headed back to Sevilla where we spent pretty much all day of every day, apart from when I had classes, sight-seeing. The week also brought Feria, Sevilla’s spring fair. Unfortunately, over the weekend it was time to buckle down and start preparing for finals, so I haven’t had much time for blogging here. However, I have:

So check them out. I’ve also given some thought to some posts I’d like to make here in the future, which means in the next month or so you can look for:

  • My favourite cities in Europe
  • A review of Stephen King’s latest (as soon as I get my hands on it)
  • A review of Bruce Springsteen’s concert in Sevilla (countdown: 10 days!)
  • A wrap-up post of my time in Sevilla
  • Hopefully some film reviews when I get home
  • And more…

In the meantime, check out my trip to Barcelona!

La Ciudad de la Alhambra: Granada

I realized that in the chaos of Semana Santa, I never said anything about my trip the weekend prior to Granada! This one was organized by my school, and I’m glad because Granada is an incredibly important city in Andalucia, both historically and culturally. (It also had my favourite bar to date, a really cool little jazz bar where my friends and I, looking for a relaxed night out, drank Irish coffee and listened to a piano player in a room surrounded by bookshelves and photos of old Hollywood.)

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01. Granada Cathedral
02.  There was a lot of cool graffiti near our hotel
03. Walking up to the Albaicín to get a view of the Alhambra. The streets are winding and narrow and the climb is very steep, but the view is worth it!
04. Bars in Granada still practice giving tapas with your drinks. It gives you less choice in what you’re eating but makes your experience very cheap—and let’s face it, everything tastes good.
05. Here I am in the Alhambra, the palace and fortress of the Emirato de Granada, constructed during the 14th century.
06. Inside the Alhambra.
07. View of the Albaicín from the Alhambra by day…
08.  …and by night