Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Run to the Dáil, day one

TWITTER:         @ballyhea14
FACEBOOK PAGE:   Ballyhea bondholder bailout protest
May 29th 2011
This is not how it was meant to be.  Typing this while nailed to the bed in a hotel in Nenagh, awaiting physio, at a time when I am meant to be on the road to Toomevara.
Started out well.  My son Niall (22), who also feels very strongly about this, came with me, and as we ran down the mountain in Ballyhea, all was well – sun coming out, not too cold.  A few people had got out of their beds to meet us in the village, and we had our first march.  Thence into Charleville, and the next march, Charleville’s first, but hopefully, not the last, several locals carrying the Ballyhea protest banner, albeit under protest (local GAA rivalry)!
From there on to Banogue, and I was now into alien territory, had never run that far in my life.  Got there, met a few locals, and those who had gone ahead got a few more signatures for our petition.  That was it though, no-one willing to join us as had our next protest march.  That would turn out to be one story of the day; lots of support, blowing of horns, thumbs up, signatures, but no-one willing to actually join the march.
About 100 yards after Banogue, 14.3 miles run, the trouble started, major cramps on both calves.  I’ve had trouble with cramps in the legs since my second back operation seven years ago anyway, but this was serious – I'm some fool anyway for attempting this, but Banogue?  Kept going, Niall running very easily behind me, changed the style to land on the heels rather than the toes, tried to run through it, and eventually, did; wasn’t going away however, and my gait had become sloppy.  Into Croom, taking a short-cut down the old road, another march, drink stop, took a bottle of water on board.  Started off running, and couldn't, legs seized.  Started walking, and from that point forward the RUN TO THE DÁIL became the WALK TO THE DÁIL.
Got to Patrickswell, and at that stage – even walking - the legs were in serious trouble.  Made a phonecall to Stephen Lucey, Limerick hurler and an MD, and he put me in touch with former Limerick physio Barry Heffernan who – very conveniently – as a practice in the Groody Centre, just off the Dublin road at the UL roundabout.
Limerick was a bit chaotic.  Met a couple of very committed lads from the Repudiate The Debt campaign, who had driven down from Dublin to give us some leaflets, marched with us down O'Connell Street.  Because we were going against the traffic, and there were so few of us, decided it was safer to keep to the footpath, but, another march down, Limerick’s first.
Got the physio, and it made a huge difference; still a lot of pain, and discovered I had two black nails and a nice blister forming from footwear too tight; discovered also that I had been doing everything wrong.  Not drinking enough, not drinking any sport drinks to replace the lost tribe of electrolytes, not eating energy bars (a bit of salad had been my only sustenance), not eating sweets for energy boost.
Off from Limerick, and this was always the stretch I dreaded; only one village left, Birdhill, two long stretches to finish, 12.3 miles and 12.5 miles.  At this stage I was supported by Philly Ryan, Denis McNamara, two Ballyhea hardies, and Dave Donnellan, a cameraman/documentary-maker who had asked to join us.  And fair dues to the lads, they could see I was in serious trouble, and for the last 15 miles or so they took it in turns to walk with me – massive difference. 
I had made a call to former Tipperary hurler Michael Cleary to enquire about an ice-bath in the GAA club there, but wires had got crossed and he thought I had said ‘ice-pack’; didn’t matter, turned out there was a bath in the room, Michael sent over a bag of ice, and I had my bath.  He also sent over a takeout chicken and pasta meal, which had been recommended by Barry Heffernan for recovery purposes, and paid for same – gent, was in total support of our cause.
According to schedule we were meant to be arriving in Nenagh at quarter-past-six – it was 10.20 when I got to the hotel, having had our final march down the town.  Fifteen hours twenty minutes.  Got to the room, and with great difficulty (in and out of the bath) had the ice-bath, followed by a hot shower.  Went to eat the food, couldn't, went to put a few words on paper, couldn't; drank a bottle of water, lay on the bed, woke at 3am, in serious pain, body locked up from the hips down.  Took about five minutes to make it to the bathroom, the same to get back.  And that’s where I'm at right now, body locked down, awaiting physio, when I should be on the road.
I was utterly determined to do this run/walk (always knew I wouldn't run the whole way), remain so; now 9 o’clock, going to see if I can get more physio to enable me to at least get started on day two.  As I kept saying to the lads yesterday, it’s not how I am, it’s where I am, and we did the 55.5 miles.  Believe me, that .5 is important, and those last miles into Nenagh are seared into even this very dense brain.
Regardless of how I eventually get to Dublin, and if I can’t walk it, I’ll bike it (and with as much preparation!), but 12 noon this Friday, the final march, from the Garden of Remembrance to Kildare Street, and hand in this petition.  Please, sign it, not for us but for yourself.
START  FROM – TO                   DISTANCE (m) ARRIVAL
07.00  Ballyhea/Charleville            5.5            08.00
08.15  Charleville/Banogue             8.8            09.45
10.00  Banogue/Croom                   3.1            10.30
10.45  Croom/Patrickswell              6.7            12.00
12.15  Patrickswell/Limerick           6.6            13.30
14.00  Limerick/Birdhill               12.3           16.00
16.15  Birdhill/Nenagh                 12.5           18.15
08.00  Nenagh/Toomevara                7.3            09.30
09.45  Toomevara/Moneygall             4.1            10.30
10.45  Moneygall/Dunkerrin             3.2            11.30
11.45  Dunkerrin/Roscrea               5.5            12.45
13.00  Roscrea/Borris-in-Ossory        7.4            14.30
14.45  Borris-in-Ossory/Mountrath      8.5            16.15
16.30  Mountrath/Portlaoise            8.4            18.00
08.00  Portlaoise/Ballybrittas         9.0            09.30
09.45  Ballybrittas/Monasterevin       3.9            10.30
10.45  Monasterevin/Kildare            6.6            12.00
12.30  Kildare/Newbridge               5.6            13.30
13.45  Newbridge/Naas                  6.7            15.00
15.15  Naas/Rathcoole                  10.4           17.15
17.30  Rathcoole/Dublin                10.3           19.16
12.00  Parnell Square/Kildare Street   1.3            13.00
                                       152.8 miles total  
Diarmuid O'Flynn.