Mark Grealish

Cats and wizardry.


So I Guess I’m an Ultra Runner Now

in running

Cooling my sore feet in the fountain at Urdorf
Strava record for the run

On Sunday last I ran a 54 kilometre loop from Urdorf to Sihlbrugg and back again to Urdorf, in a little over seven hours! While I missed my target time by an hour, I am so happy to have completed training and the run in grand style.


Swiss Scenery

in switzerland

Forest near Mettmenstetten
Sunset on Augsterberg
Blue skies over Affoltern am Albis
Jonental forest paths
Storm clouds over Zugersee and Wildspitz
Photographer in Hauptbannhof Zurich
Morning sunlight
Running track at Affoltern am Albis
Birch tree strand near Mettmenstetten

March 20

in me

My friend began to blog again, which made me feel guilty over my lack of attention here.

Everything in my head has become such a thing that Sarah joke “I am the night!” with me. Whenever I come back here the post I want to write tries to hijack the blogging space as another struggle-piece. But anyways. On top of that, I love to blog photographs from my life, yet I still have not set up the upload script on my use-laptop. These have become a “I’ll fix this next week” thing that’s run on for six months.

I’ll remedy this tomorrow in some form, I swear.

COVID-19

As I write, the COVID-19 pandemic dominates my life. Europe and Ireland have shut down in social distancing. If I had to describe the mood, it would be a sense of stubborn endurance. Businesses have pushed as many workers remote as they can. My WhatsApp groups are alive with everyone checking in or sharing information.

Only one friend of min (in Rome) has caught COVID-19. Nobody in my family or close circles has come down with the virus. Speaking as a lifelong atheist, I feel blessed that this is so. I can follow trends and curves as well as anyone, and I don’t want to imagine what the effects would be if the virus were allowed to spread unchecked.

Sarah and I are enjoying the extra time together before I move, even if we’re both feeling a bit of cabin fever from the enforced close quarters. It has been truly lovely to have her here, as I’ve made her the excuse I needed cook more. :D

My day-to-day already revolved around working from home, so I haven’t been too terribly disrupted. My heart goes out to retail and hospitality workers who’ve found themselves abruptly out of a job, in a financial hole, and facing an uncertain future as health authorities extend isolation and quarantine measures.

Work

So I’m supposed to move to Switzerland in two weeks. Notice this change in my career; I am at a loss to explain its presence! I am even more puzzled by the existence of the universe.

My frustration with my job came to a personal head in December during a week of planning meetings at the office in Dublin. My boss, my coworkers and the company as a whole are all lovely people. Despite all that, I couldn’t shake off frustrations over my role and the ways I executed it. Learning Angular was invaluable. Two years working alone in a silo writing Angular left me stressed and burned out. Another year or more of the same was too much for me to bear.

In January and February I interviewed for roles in London, Amsterdam, Dublin, and Gibraltar. Despite my best effort to stay detached, some of the interview experiences left a bad taste in my mouth.

Phorest in Dublin were horrible communicators. Their HR flack gave me to wrong technical test to complete, then rejected me a week later because I completed it to spec. Did I mention they are total shit at communication? I greatly enjoyed my initial conversation with Phorest’s technical lead, and the role they presented appealed to me. It hurt a bit that they jerked me around so.

BetVictor in Gibraltar issued a crazy “but wait, there’s more!” take home that put me off the role. Even before I interviewed I worried about the effects of Brexit on working in Gibraltar from a residence in La Linea de la Concepcion. Spain tends to close the border whenever they want to make a point, and guess what happened. The technical test nailed it. Such take home exercises are wicked things that select for the desperate: I did not have to do that mountain of take home, so I passed on the role. Everyone involved there was really lovely to speak with, otherwise.

With the above experiences behind me I did not engage with recruiters with expectations of any given call panning out, so imagine my surprise when I received an invitation to fly out to Zurich for an interview with $big_name_enterprise! What a fucking crazy few days what was!

On the Sunday, I want a tough thirty kilometre through Connemara. Afterward I was too sore to really rest, so it was an exhausted me who caught the 2am bus to the airport on Monday for the 7am flight to Zurich. I enjoyed sightseeing and running through Zurich on Monday.

My interview was at 10am on Tuesday. It felt weird to walk in the swank main entrance of $big_name_enterprise and be ushered off to a meeting room. Afterwards, where I had wanted to go straight to the airport so I could check in and chill out, I instead had to dash back to my hotel because dumb me left my Kindle in my room.

I walked in the door at 3am and had the call offering me the job at 1pm. Like I said, a crazy few days.

Life

I am as a fish out of water when it comes to the move to Zurich. I do not feel prepared. All the way through 2019, my goal was “the Netherlands.” I learned the language (hoi vriend, hoe gaat het?), became familiar with the culture…and now Switzerland. While I do not doubt that I will adapt, the move has been a lot to take on. But sure look, I’m excited for the learning and travel opportunities.

COVID-19 has had simultaneously great effect and no effect on my life. For every run cancelled and trip (my move to Switzerland) pushed back, for every new restriction, my day-to-day hasn’t changed much. I already work from home and mostly stay here as a shut in introvert.

Running

The races I planned to attend have all cancelled the event or rescheduled for the Autumn. Connemarathon and the Beer Lover’s Marathon are both now scheduled for September 27, three weeks before The Full Dram in Glenfarclas. While the Xterra Gozo ultra marathon is still on in May, travel restrictions in place in Malta make it unlikely that I can attend.

Gaelforce Killary on March 7 was my last run before pandemic restrictions began. The sky run was a brutal fucking thing which showed me how much I have to learn still about trail running and climbing. In January I had signed up for the 23 kilometre expert event out of some dumb notion that I could handle it. Well, I couldn’t. I am road fit. I am not trail fit.

Bad weather on the day led Gaelforce to change the expert route to one loop of the intermediate race and one of the beginner. That intermediate route was a horrific challenge for me. Almost three hours to cover only 13 kilometres before I dropped out. This is my first (and proudest) race DNF. At the point that I crossed the line I could not see any event which would have led me to continue for the second easier loop. Not only was I exhausted, I have a deep fear of precipices. I have no problem with heights, none at all, but my skin will start to crawl out my back if you put me on the edge of some sheer height. Visibility on top was nil and crosswinds had me almost paralyzed with the fear that it would blow me off the mountain.

It was trying. For all that I felt then that I failed, I plan to go back next year better trained and equipped for this challenge.


Happy Dissonance

in me

My last therapist told me part of why I struggle to find words for my emotions is that I rationalize over them. It sounds a bit dumb, so bear with me for a moment for an analogy with endurance running. The farther I run, the father and faster I can run. While there are techniques and tips around running, there’s really no deeper trick to running more than “run more.” The more I allow myself feel, the more I am able to allow myself feel.

Every since the marathon I’ve danced around how 2019 was one of the great years of my life. I fell in love and travelled to Barcelona and Amsterdam with her, ran the marathon, left Dublin at last and made the best friends running. Like, I even went and started my own little trail running group, Trails and Blood. My son and I spent so much time together online. He’s a total nerd who adores me for some reason.

It’s been so great, yet I’ve been so afraid to come out and talk about how I have turned around my life. So here I am, happy!


Knocknarea

in ireland

Knocknarea, Sligo, Ireland
Knocknarea, Sligo, Ireland
Knocknarea, Sligo, Ireland
Knocknarea, Sligo, Ireland
Knocknarea, Sligo, Ireland
Knocknarea, Sligo, Ireland
Knocknarea, Sligo, Ireland
Knocknarea, Sligo, Ireland
Knocknarea, Sligo, Ireland

Taken on a wonderful morning in December 2019 during a beautiful run from the beach at Strandhill. This one was fair fun-first up over Knocknarea, and then a swing out to the head beyond the airport. The weather was perfect-foggy at the start, only for it to melt away into clear blue skies for a coffee finish at Shells cafe.


Sheer Loveliness

in friends

Sarah in Strandhill, Sligo

That winning smile. :)