Sunday, 16 April 2017


So here we are in the final week! I can't believe the London Marathon is now so close. I'm feeling in good shape for it and hoping next Sunday is going to be a brilliant day I'll never forget. We stayed in Enniscrone with our friends Ciara and Sean and their boys for a long weekend and had a really relaxing few days. Gill and I had a beautiful run along the coast which was really spectacular. You can't leave Enniscrone without trying the famous seaweed baths. Built in 1912, you immerse yourself into the murky bath filled with seaweed.

The wild West of Ireland
Easter Saturday brought about our usual Easter Egg hunt and this year we had 25 children at my mother-in-law's house.  I was amazed to receive over £300 in donations for my London Marathon cause from the day.  People are so kind and generous and I really appreciate all the support. Every year I dress up as a chicken and help the kids find the eggs..and taste one or two to check they are all ok*. A few years back I had tried to get some sort of Easter costume but the only thing Elliott's Fancy Dress had that was remotely close to an Easter outfit was the chicken suit.  The kids now call me 'chicken man'. Gill and I had a nice run on Saturday morning at 7.30 am around Mountsandel Fort and Coleraine before erecting two gazebos and getting ready to host 25 excited kids for the hunt.

Chicken Man wowing the crowds again
The donations are really rolling in and I'm so close to the target I set of £2000.  The charity HOPE FOR YOUTH NI are delighted and have been so supportive to me. At present, the total is £1769.20. For the first time I feel the target is within reach. It's a weight off my mind and I can now focus on hauling myself around the streets of London. Thank you to everyone who told me I could raise the total (especially you Lisa!) whenever I had my doubts. I've hounded everyone so much over the past few months. Don't worry guys.. the end is in sight. 

It was also good to catch up with my friend Vicki who ran the London Marathon in 2015.  She had lots of good tips and advice for getting round the 26.2 miles.

So this final week is all about

  • not drinking any alcohol
  • not eating all the Easter Eggs**
  • carbing up
  • no stupid injuries
  • three small runs
  • checking I've everything packed before we fly over to London on Friday

*  quality control of course
** maybe too late

Tuesday, 4 April 2017


Eighteen days to go and I have completed the dreaded 20 mile run. The tapering process can now start. This is basically a reduction in the miles as I approach race day. No training programme will tell you to run the full 26.2 miles in your training schedule and most will suggest getting to around 20 miles with three weeks to go. From here on in the runs will decrease in length.  That said, I still have a 15 mile run next weekend! I'm still running four times a week, comprising three x five mile runs during mid-week.

Saturday started with porridge and then to keep me fueled for the 20 miles I took some bananas, raisins and gummy bears with me. I ditched the gels and it seemed to work.

Porridge, berries and honey for breakfast

The 20 mile run is done and dusted and gives me great confidence. It went much better than the previous week's run and the aches and pains afterwards weren't as bad either. I think my marathon training is unquestionably being supported by Lucozade Sport.

Thirsty work
Next weekend I'm off to the west coast of Ireland with the family and am looking forward to some new scenery. There seems no end to the running at the minute but with less than three weeks to go the finish line will be in sight soon!

Listened to another Martin Yelling (running guru) Q&A last Friday which was great and is comforting to know there are thousands of others in the same boat with aches, pains and worries about April 23rd just like me.

Sponsorship is now at over £1300. Every time I post on Facebook I get more money so that's why I'm doing it so regularly. Hope For Youth NI is a great local charity and in the run-up to the marathon I'll be posting some great examples of what they do. I know it's a bit annoying to see constant requests for sponsorship but so many people have said to keep reminding them as they've promised to donate*. 

* that's my story anyway!

Wednesday, 29 March 2017


I used to really look forward to the weekend. That was until I started training for the London Marathon. The weekend now means PAIN. It also is looked upon with fear and loathing. It means THE LONG RUN!

Last Saturday saw my longest run coincide with the hottest day of the year so far (here's hoping). If you were in East Belfast you would probably have seen me trying to throw up at about 14.5 miles.


I now have the big one to 'look forward' to this Saturday.  20 MILES! If I'm honest, I'm dreading it.  Thankfully it will be a bit cooler this weekend according to Barra Best but you know what he's like sometimes. I'm hoping London will be freezing on April 23rd.  Talking of big ones, a big shout out to Lucozade Sport for their 'Lucozade Sport - The Big One'.   Oh, you beautiful thing!

This Saturday night we will be having a couple of relaxing drinks (not Lucozade Sport) with one of my best mates Neil who is celebrating his birthday. 20 miles could have worked up a serious thirst. You have been warned!

Staying hydrated is important on the long runs and also getting some fuel on board so it's back to the gels I think.  Hoping to meet Vicki in the next few weeks who has some great tips for the London Marathon which she completed a couple of years back. 

Sponsorship is standing at £1145 at the minute so looking for a big push towards the £2000 target.  To help this, not only am I running the streets of London but I have again agreed to dress up in a big chicken outfit* for the family Easter Egg Hunt.  Hoping to raise a few quid at it for the charity. 

Also a problem with sweat getting into my eyes.

What do you think about bandannas**?

*  I know what you are thinking. No way am I running the marathon in a chicken outfit
** seriously

Wednesday, 22 March 2017


Now that the miles are being increased, new problems are arriving. 

1. blisters
2. pain
3. doubts
4. lemon and lime gels*
5. is the Lucozade Sport in the fridge?**

For the last two weeks I've hit problems around the 12 miles mark. Basically sheer exhaustion and my body refusing to go any further. Yes, I have forgotten how bloody hard this is.

Gill and I also made the mistake of running Victoria Park parkrun on Saturday morning - a day before our 'big run' on Sunday.  We lined up beside Irish Olympian Paul Pollock who was aiming to smash the course record of 15:01. When I say we 'lined up beside him', the next we saw him again was when he lapped us after one lap as he was completing his second lap. Anyway, he didn't break the record***.

Sunday saw us incorporating a new route into our 15 mile run.  We set off from home, down the Newtownards Road and through the newly opened Greenway through to a few laps of  Victoria Park, down Airport Road, Kinnegar, Seapark and back home through Holywood, WhiteCity, Old Holywood Road, and Outer Ring.  

It was a very tough run. I also developed blisters on my feet at about 12 miles so need to sort that out pretty quickly. I finished it in pain and asked myself how the hell can I get to 26.2 miles.  I need to dig deep, push through the pain and just get it done.  

Apologies to anyone who saw the row with Gill at 13 miles over whether the Lucozade Sport was in the fridge or not for after our run. Tired minds and bodies - lol. 

Sponsorship is sitting at £828 as I type this so hoping for a big push again to get over the half way mark.  Thanks for all your support both in terms of sponsorship and motivation. You can still donate here 

We booked our flights last week for the four of us so we plan to make a weekend of it in London. Feels very real now with flights booked and only 40 days to go. 

Running around Belfast on Sunday I was thinking in 40 days time I'll be swapping Titanic Belfast and Sam Thompson Bridge for Cutty Sark and Tower Bridge.

*   Grant - you are right. Lemon and Lime gels make you want to throw up.
**  The  bottles weren't in the fridge, but I'd like to thank Gill for buying them anyway
*** 15:22 still ain't bad Paul

Monday, 6 March 2017


Another week, another series of training runs. I got a message this week to tell me I had less than 50 days to go till the London Marathon. It's coming around very quickly! I'm glad to say so is the sponsorship! At present I'm now over the £800 mark and almost half-way to the magic figure of £2000 for the brilliant charity HOPE FOR YOUTH NI. It believes the best hope for reconciliation and peace in Northern Ireland is to support cross-community projects, where young people aged 11-18 can learn to work together to learn new skills, build friendships and develop their confidence in a safe environment.

Sunday saw Gill and I out tackling 13 miles in what I'd describe as "mixed weather conditions". We set off from Cutter's Wharf in Stranmillis and headed to Lisburn and back along the Lagan towpath. Whilst it is very flat and scenic it's not a route I want to see for a while. I found the last couple of miles very tough and challenging. I had a couple of those gel pouches which almost make you sick.  To be honest I don't know if they really help but I took a couple when I needed them and think they helped me.

Isotonic gels - they make you boke

Aiming for another big run next weekend with 15 miles on the horizon! The plan is to reach 21/22 miles by the last weekend in March before I start my tapering. I must remember from two years ago that tapering doesn't just mean sitting on the sofa and resting. I also got a nice mention on my company's website in the news section last week. Head over to Promethean World to read more about my London Marathon journey.

Sunday, 26 February 2017


So 8 weeks to go and things are back on track.  Completed 14 miles yesterday incorporating Victoria Park parkrun.  It was really nice to run it with Gill and our good friend Lisa who was was running her first ever parkrun.  Also big shout outs to Ella, Adam and Harry. Great to catch up with some Victoria Park parkrun friends including Adrienne and Darren.

Yesterday's 14 miles took in Victoria Park, Airport Road and a nice seafront run out to Seapark and back.  Weather was kind enough and better than today. Gill was wearing THAT hat again! Saturday evening was spent relaxing on the sofa with a glass of wine and takeaway.

The donations are starting to come in now.  I'm at £328 but i hope you can help me reach my target of £2000.  If you have enjoyed reading the blog (I've had over 1000 hits already) then give my charity a few quid.  It only takes a few minutes and you can donate anonymously if you like. Just click here - it's that simple!

Wednesday, 8 February 2017


Ok, so I haven't posted much on here over the last few weeks.  I've been finding this so incredibly tough.  Constant injuries over the last four months have been slowing my progress down. Christmas was a right-off with no training for 2 weeks due to an ankle injury. January saw me getting back on track for three weeks of solid training before flu kicked in and another calf problem.  Age is catching up with me! I hear ya!

However the good news is I will not let this beat me.  I'm back on track with a ten mile run planned this weekend. I'm looking at competing in the Carlingford Half Marathon on March 4th which will be good to get confidence up.

Big thanks to the amazing Gill Johnston, my mentor and training buddy. She's putting in the miles with me without any Marathon place to show for it. 

I'm going to be hammering social media over the next three months as we aim to raise £2000 for Hope For Youth NI so beware! I'm running this year's London Marathon to help bring Protestant and Catholic children together in Northern Ireland.

Please support me and thanks for reading.    PLEASE DONATE HERE