Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: Guest Post : 10 Things I Think About Font Romeu (and Carraig na bhFear 5k) Donal Coakley

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Guest Post : 10 Things I Think About Font Romeu (and Carraig na bhFear 5k) Donal Coakley

10 Things I Think Donal Coakley

In these guest posts, Donal Coakley of Leevale AC gives his own light-hearted perspective of some of the races that he has competed in. 

In this post, he gives his thoughts on Font Romeu in the French Pyrenees where a lot of athletes go to train at altitude.. 

10 Things I Think About Font Romeu (and Carraig na bhFear 5k)

1. Altitude
I think converting every house in the country into an altitude house would solve the obesity epidemic. You can eat relentless amounts of pain au raisins and almond croissants with no ill effects when living at altitude. Two dinners? No problem, in fact it would be dangerous not to. I'm sure a doughnut tax in Ireland could help fund such a project. If you want to eat more just turn up the altitude in your house. We'd have way more athletes to watch in the world championships too. It can't fail.

2. Breakfast
I think I'll miss breakfast in Font Romeu the most. I went to Cafe Le Joffre every morning for two coffees and two pain au raisins. On the last day I was a little late and thought all the pain au raisins would be gone. Thankfully my new friend Chloe had kept the last two pain au raisins especially for me. France is great.

3. Injuries
I think getting through 10 days in Font Romeu with only one horrendously sprained ankle is miraculous. I have the agility of a dyspraxic polar bear which means that running on rocky trails is risking career ending injury and or death at every step. I thought my uselessness was down to my massive clown feet but Donal Coffey has the same feet and he glides down the trails effortlessly.

4. Track
I think the track in Font Romeu shows that you don't need perfect facilities for world class athletes. The track is pretty battered. It has ruts, dips and dives even in lane 1 but no one seems to mind. You're supposed to pay €3 to use the track but you can slip in through a hole in the fence at the back for free. There's a great atmosphere about the place with elite athletes everywhere. You're very unlikely to need to shout "track" at some headphone wearing fool walking in lane one, everyone just moves out into lane 2 and 3 when they're done. It works.

Michael Herlihy, Donal Coakley & John Meade training at altitude

5. Dropkirk Murphy's
I didn't think that Shipping Up To Boston would be the soundtrack to a session at Font Romeu but Andrew Butchart seems to be a big fan. It's great to have music at the track. Perhaps we should install speakers at the Mardyke. It makes sessions way easier but does tend to make you go a bit mad on the first rep.

6. Dreams vs Reality
I think Team G.B are still talking about my first track session at Font Romeu. I got a bit carried away on my first 400m rep and ran 71. It's hard not to when all the Team G.B coaches are standing around watching you. I'm sure they were impressed by my novel 8x400m session where each 400m rep got one second slower with each rep. At least no one shouted "track" at me.

7. Maps
I don't think there was a run where we didn't spend 10 minutes looking at a map deciding which trail to run. There's a fantastic network of trails. My favourite is number 30, 8 miles of single track, forest road and a little bit of tarmac. Where else could you run a 10,9,8,7 and 6 minute mile in the same run for the same effort. It's great. The possibilities are endless.

8. Chamber of Commerce
I think the new bar on the main street is way better than the Irish bar. It's just a timber shed with a permanently drunk stereotypical French bar man making up the prices. There are different prices for the locals and the tourists. The pints are very strong. All the locals go there. It's great but it doesn't open if it's cold. The Irish bar is terrible.

Donal with Mo Farah.... Mo is on the left by the way ;o)

9. Photos
I think I'm going to have to stop asking Team G.B athletes for photos, it's a bit childish. I think they like it though, they all seemed delighted, I suppose I'd love it too if random people knew my name and asked for a photo with me.

10. Mission Impossible
I always thought John Meade was amazing. Now he has proved it.
5.10pm flight to Cork.
6.20pm land in Cork,
6.30pm ring the brother,
6.50pm the brother arrives and chooses/is forced to accept mission.
7.00pm magic gear change
7.20pm arrive in Carrignavar.
7.25pm register.
7.30pm start race.
7.36pm/7.46pm win 5k.
Altitude works.

Pt. 2
10 Things I Think About The 35th Cursa Popular D'Age

1. Recce
I don't think I like doing reconnaissance missions on these road races in foreign countries. It's much better when you haven't a clue what the locals decided would be a good course over a few bottles of wine. The fact that we had to turn back at one section tells you all you need to know about the course. Michael is still convinced he could have gotten the Seat Ibiza up the rocky trail.

2. Le Chat du Font Romeu
I think it was a bad idea to do a five mile trail run the morning of the race. I went over on my ankle for the 42nd time in Font Romeu, my nine lives appear to have run out. My foot is finally sprained. It probably wasn't the best idea to run the race but I have very good drugs. Unfortunately taking them is like turning off the fire alarm when the house is clearly on fire. It's not good when you wake up the following morning.

3. Patisserie Le Joffre
I think a pain au raisin, a chasson aux pommes and three cafe grandes is the perfect breakfast at altitude. It's just a pity that my friend Chloe wasn't there to serve me this morning.

4. Bib Gourmand
I think a three course set menu for €23 at a Michelin Bib Gourmand with Conor and Donal four hours before a race is perfect preparation. Jambon, Bouef and Sorbet. What more could you need. The waiter even complimented me on my belle moustache. I think Mo Farah and Andy Butchart eat there the whole time before races.

5. Altitude
I think it was a good idea to go down from altitude to race. Age is at about 1000m compared to 1800 for Font Romeu. I don't think we would have performed as well up in Font Romeu, it's much harder to run up there. Age is also in Spain which is good.

6. Dorsal Collection
I think chip timing, a t-shirt and a fairly accurate course is a lot to get for €6. The chip timing was via a dorsal which you tied around one leg. I much prefer the chip on your shoe. The dorsal irritated my achilles.

7. British and Irish Lions
I think I really enjoyed representing my country. We had a in-race race between the Irish and British residents of Font Romeu. Instead of a singlet we got green rocky style bandanas. Only John O'Connell wouldn't tie his around his head and wore it on his arm instead. The Cork Athletics Board wouldn't have been happy about that. Country before County and County before Club.

8. Carrera
I think I thought I could beat John Meade today. I tore off at the start like a Kenyan trying to beat Mo Farah. Just like the Kenyans it was pointless. I got to the bit where the road ended on the back of Conor and John but the minute the gravel bit started they tore off. Ah well I was closer than before. Project beat John Meade might take a while.

9. Trail
I think we should have more half trail half road races in Ireland. It makes the race more interesting when you have to slow down for rocks and holes in the road. It also means that finish time is irrelevant, all that matters is where you finish.

10. Podium
I think podiums are fantastic. I didn't get to stand on the podium today but Mike did along with Jonathan and James. It looked like great fun. In the Ireland vs Team JEP battle, Ireland emerged victorious 29 points to 30. I don't think the locals appreciated an entirely foreign top 10. The local hero was well down the field.

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