Thus endeth a poxy summer

Today I didn’t run the Dublin City Marathon. I didn’t come in under four hours. I’m not bruised and sore. I didn’t get the endorphin rush that comes with scraping over the line and I didn’t raise a shedload of cash for Down Syndrome Ireland and St Michael’s House. Gah! I didn’t get to look like this bundle of pent-up energy from four years back. And what an unstoppable force he is. Coiled tight like a… like a dishrag.

So no marathon 08. The writing was put on the wall back in summer. Tuesday 22nd July, while I was visiting my father in hospital, I got a phone call. He’d just had a quadruple bypass. Last thing he needed to hear was how my employer of fourteen years was closing down and laying all the staff off. I didn’t especially need to hear it myself. Luckily (for Pops at least) my guardian angel had conveniently arranged for me to leave my phone on the driver’s seat of the car on a dodgy side street, in full view of every pigeon-necked shoe-shuffling skanger in Dublin 7.

Well done Archangel Nokia. Because of you Dad didn’t get to have a pained reaction and wander off towards the light as he watched me take that phone call. And it also meant that I had a car seat under my ass when I got to hear the news.

We were given six weeks.

It’s hard to quantify the feeling. It felt like a chasm had opened up beneath me. No, not opened up. Revealed itself. A big, grinning maw of spikes and jagged rocks far below that had always been there, but fourteen good years on the front tit kept me from seeing it. Well it was there now, and it would never not be there again. The grip of friendships felt suddenly tenuous. The long cycle up the road to home (our suddenly threatened home) made me feel that every single neighbour knew my shame and inadequacy, and was secretly indifferent. Nobody had any idea, but that didn’t stop me from feeling intensely watched. First there’s a paralysis, then there’s a frantic burst of misdirected energy and all the while there’s a feeling like the world has gently fallen away and you’ve got too much caffeine in your system. We’ll lose the house! What the hell’s going to happen with the kids? They’re babies! Jacob can’t look after himself HE CAN’T LOOK AFTER HIMSELF!!

It takes a lot to make me lose sleep. But I lost sleep. With spectacular timing the builders had just started the attic conversion, so we were all homeless vagabonds crashing in the houses of whichever family members were on holiday right then. Jacob had just been discharged from hospital, Dad was starting the slow road to discovery and I was standing on a tightrope high above it all. So marathon training kinda came undone at that point.

My apologies to those who pledged and gave cash and to those who offered me such good encouragement. A plan is being formulated and the roads will not be safe from me for much longer. And the rest of this story is already on the boil.

16 comments on “Thus endeth a poxy summer

  1. NAN P. says:


    Poxy summer, indeed!

  2. Elbog says:

    Seems to me that you’ve been running a marathon of a different sort. And the word that comes to mind is that you’ve done it with aplomb.
    Man, that word looks even funnier than it sounds, but it still fits.

  3. hammie says:

    Yeah, I go with what eblog said. Marathons are not just on the road. But I think you have had your priorities right.

  4. jypsy says:

    Two weeks ago my (autistic) son ran his first full Marathon. He too aimed for under 4 hours, preferably between 3:35 and 4:45, he hoped to run a 3:35. Unlike you, he did run. I’m sorry you didn’t get to enjoy that experience this year, The Dublin City Marathon is much bigger than the Prince Edward Island Marathon and the whole fabulous experience must be that much bigger too. Great thing about these things; they’re annual affairs. I very much hope you get to the start line (and finish line) next year.

    You can see Alex’s 1st Marathon experience in pictures here, in words here and see how the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. covered his story, along with 2 of his fellow runners here

    Been enjoying your blog for a while…. all the best to all of you!

  5. Ouch, I find it weird how much of an impact job losses have on us (I’ve been made redundant twice in my relatively short working life), and even though more work was always to be found, I absolutely hated the idea of losing a lob.

    Here’s to a better Winter for ya.

  6. Evening, we have much in common. Been made redundant in the past and am also out of shape right now but also ran the marathon a few years back.

    I am sorry to hear your poxy news 😦 Thing is when your going through hell keep going! You will get it together no worries as it would appear you have been through a lot already.

    You wanna be the guy busting your guts to get a new job while the others are still commiserating.

    The very best of luck dude and I look forward to the good news posts that will inevitably come.

  7. Emma Mc Ivor says:

    go nick go people like you are unstoppable !

  8. Hope your dad is doing well and recovering from his quadruple heart operation (that’s a big one)

    Cathal’s Dad was made redundant a few years back, but times were still good back then, we were renting, no little Cathal even thought of, and he got a job 2 weeks after being given the heave hoe. Still not a good feeling. My own office (architects) have halved their work force in the last 7 months, so I’m taking carers leave for a bit! My thinking is, if they can’t see me, they can’t fire me!!!

    Best of luck if you are out there hunting

  9. enc says:

    What beautiful writing.

  10. Hi Nick,

    I agree, great writing. 🙂
    You made me feel that sinking sick feeling in the pit of your stomach. :/

    I do hope your dad is doing better, and things are working out for you! 🙂

  11. Peajay says:

    Hang on in there Nick. Anyone who has a family is as rich as can be, you are a very rich man. Good luck with the job hunting.

  12. Sister Wolf says:

    Oh shit, I’ve been so wrapped up in the election that I’ve only just read this post.

    I am so sorry to hear this!!!

    Whatever you do for a living, you are obviously meant to be a writer.

    Please keep posting so we can know what’s going on with you, and please accept my sincerest atheist blessings for you and your loved ones.


  13. Nick McGivney says:

    NanP, Elbog, Hammie, enc, Emma, Peajay and Sister Wolf: thanks hugely for the visit and the positive words. I hadn’t posted about for a few weeks this because it was pretty raw, but it did settle down to find its level. Your words of encouragement are very warmly received nonetheless, and life is still a work in progress.

    jypsy: very nice to welcome you to the site, and thanks too for your links. Glad you’ve been lurking around – and I appreciate your wishes for next year.
    Here’s hoping. Best wishes to Alex – 3.30 is fantastic. Jealous out! You’re right in one way about the level playing field, but in another way everyone’s completely alone out there, which is good too. I look forward to seeing/hearing more from you guys.

    X and Southie – sorry we’ve got the big R in common. It was one of a few big learning curves this past summer. Stronger for it though, in a clichéd way, but still true. Just want a quiet, settled winter right now, but we’ll see.

    HGF – Yes, it was an exercise in understanding ‘that’ sinking feeling, but things are looking up thank God.

    Cathal’s Mam – definitely keep the head down! Thanks for the vibes, girl. Big hugs to Cathal too.

  14. Christine says:

    Nick, I read this right after you posted this, but couldn’t find the right words. Still cant’, but I wanted to wish you luck with your job search and give you a round of applause. You are walking a tightrope with a bunch of people on your shoulders, and you haven’t fallen. Congratulations on keeping your balance. I have no doubt that you’ll be running that marathon next summer. Hope your dad is doing well. i look forward to hearing about the next phase of your life. What’s that expression, when God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window. Good luck finding that window.

  15. Jo says:

    I’ve been moaning a lot for no reason, really, haven’t I? I hope things are smoothing, soothing out for you all. I hope you get a holiday. I hope you win the lottery. I hope you all get to go somewhere where you can eat a dinner you didn’t make yourselves, and then sleep the whole night through til you wake in your own time. These are the blessings you deserve!

  16. Sharon says:

    Oh man I just read this and am so sorry to hear of the hard times. Life just isn’t straightforward is it.

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