On Saturday I had an early morning swim in the pool to loosen out my muscles, which were a bit stiff after climbing the mast of the Tall Ship Fryderik Chopin on Friday – I kid you not! The swim was followed by a bruising session in the gym, the sort that make you want to go into a corner and whimper. I’ve been increasing the weights I’m working with, and I’m suffering a bit as a result. Still it’s all for a good cause.
Sunday was pretty spectacular. Donnchadh McCobb and my friends at City Kayak brought myself and fellow Concern/Uganda teammate Vera Baker out to paddle with the Tall Ships as they pulled out of the Liffey. There was a bunch of us from Concern and mutual friends of ours, and the memory of the day will brighten those winter mornings as we lose the light and the cold days kick in. I will always remember Tall Ships 2012, sitting watching those magnificent ships from water level, in a kayak. Stunning and mesmerising; I’m still grinning from ear to ear as I sit at my desk typing.
We left the water and enjoyed a couple of hours strolling around the docklands, taking in the sights and party atmosphere and vowing to come back to the quays to enjoy the beauty of this revitalised area, even when the Tall Ships have gone. There’s so much happening down the docks and we need to use it – or lose it. It’s tragic that all this wonderful development work finished just around the time the boom did, so the cranes pulled out – but so did the crowds; leaving beautiful but empty buildings behind. Dublin you have been invited to help keep a wonderful new area of your home alive and vibrant, and I hope this weekend gives us all a chance to be proud of what a beautiful city we have.
We waved goodbye to the Tall Ships – and each other, and then I headed over to Malahide for a late evening swim with the Low Rock swimmers. I spent 15 minutes in the sea in my wetsuit, and finally – shamed by watching everyone else braving it – I dumped the suit and got back in with just my ‘cossie. The initial shock of the cold nearly took my breath away, and I got brain-freeze when I put my face down into the water – but after a few minutes, the sting went out of it, and I found I was enjoying my new freedom in the water; without the restriction of the tight neoprene around my shoulders. I ended up spending 40 minutes swimming back and forth, parallel to the beach and I absolutely loved it. I’m still not certain I’ll be brave to do it again, but I can truly say that I’m chuffed to have done it at all, at least once. Chilled but chuffed!
Ok, it may not be a training day, but it was a pretty good work out all the same. There was quite a bit of shock when we realised that the reassuring harness was only meant for clipping on when we got to the interval platforms – not for use while we were actually climbing the ringing. That certainly concentrated the mind! And the pull up to the platforms meant climbing out over an overhang with your full bodyweight swinging out of your arms. There were a few snatches of colourful language, but we made it. Mission accomplished.
Gossip Girl Siobhan was cool under pressure and rang reports back to Darragh O’Dea at 98FM, image-guy John O’Keefe was superb at talking us girls through the motions, Angela Frawley did the Thunder Team proud and Adam was the cool dude from the Chopin crew who was totally unfazed by our screams. The one question that remains for me is – was this the highest radio report of the Tall Ships? 😉
Tomorrow is such a day. Somehow I’ve agreed to climb the mast of the Polish Tall Ship, the Fryderick Chopin on the quays tomorrow, along with a gang of mates from 98FM. That mast is 120ft high. That didn’t mean too much to me, until I saw this photo a short time ago, posted on FB by Mountain Rescue Volunteer, Ronan Friel. OMG. I hope I won’t need his services tomorrow! Hearing that gusty winds and driving rain are sweeping in from the Atlantic, doesn’t exactly make me feel much better. Lunchtime tomorrow, it should all be over. I just have to make it until lunchtime tomorrow.
In fairness, I kind’ve felt a bit like that all day today. I had a bit of a whine on FB, telling my friends that “I don’t always like exercising – and I don’t always like training on Thursdays.” Thurs mean a heavy weights session in the gym in the afternoon then kayak lessons on the Liffey in the evening. I like Kayaking… but on Thurs they make us fall in. It’s cold, and wet, and yucky. I don’t like falling in… and on Thursdays I don’t always like kayaking.
As usual, after a couple of hours on the river and a couple of wettings – I feel great tonight and assured of a good night’s sleep. The sleep of the good, and the exhausted!
The gym session today was bruising. I’m squatting and pressing and throwing around 30 to 50kgs around me, depending on the exercise. I’m finding it tough – and I’ve stepped up the durations from 40mins to an hour. Today I had one of those sessions where you sit in the changing room afterwards and feel slightly nauseous. I haven’t had one of those in about a year – which probably means I needed one!
The training for Concern’s Uganda mission in November is, I think, going well. But I could do with losing about a stone before I go, to be in best condition for coping with the heat. That means my next project is to look again at my diet…….. once I survive the Fryderick Chopin!
I love days like this.
Training today wasn’t about the gym (although I know I have to do that too)….. today I trained with good friends, spending an hour kayaking on the Liffey in bright sunshine, and then a couple of hours hanging off a sunny rock in Dalkey.
The arms and core muscles had a good workout paddling against the tide on the Liffey, down at the Jeanie Johnston where City Kayaking operate their new watersports business off the pontoon – which will be great fun when the Tall ships hit town! Myself and fellow Concern Uganda adventurer, Vera Baker, paddled off down-river first, to check out the talent (ahem, I mean the crew) on our Navy Patrol boat the Eithne, which was docked near Sir John Rogerson’s Quay. Then we paddled back up past the Samuel Beckett Bridge – straining against a pretty strong current – until we reached our turning point and then surfed the tide back to the pontoon. Sunburned and happy, we skip off to the car and head for Dalkey.
I’ve heard my climbing friends talking about the city’s climbing Mecca, Dalkey Quarry, since I first tied onto a rope at the Trinity College Climbing Wall; and yet this was my first visit. The invite came from climber Niamh Gaffney, who was looking for ‘newbies’ to clock up teaching hours for an evaluation. I was happy to oblige and I dragged my mate Vera, without really tellling her what I was getting her into. She was a natural, which was fortunate – because we remained friends afterwards – which was fortunate, because she was driving me home! Wicklow Mountain Rescue hot gun Ronan Friel joined us with Charlie the dog, and both offered lots of encouragement.
It was a sunny day, with lots of climbers clinking as they walked past in their toe-pinching skins, jangling metal carabinas and different ‘protection’ blocks rattling off the metal hoops in their harness. It’s a distinctive sound, like the clinking of the sailing lines on the masts of yachts at marinas. It’s the kind of sound that goes well with warmth and sunshine, the smell of hot grass, drying thistles… and good feelings.
What has HAPPENED to me?
I’m planning to camp out and go Kayaking in the rain, this weekend in Galway; and I’m stunned to discover that I’m excitedly looking forward to it. Where has girly Gates gone?
Anyway, great event this weekend. It’s the ‘big splash’ Inishbofin swim. Half a dozen hardy souls are planning to swim from Cleggan Harbour to Inishbofin Island – that’s 8 miles in tough conditions. I used to keep a horse on the Island and I’ve spent many an afternoon getting sick on the ferry over, so I know how choppy those Atlantic waters can be.
I’m not swimming – but I’ve offered to Kayak to help with the ‘boat cover’ for the swimmers. I reckon it will be great experience and a hard work-out in preperation for my ‘Concern’ kayak challenge in Uganda this November. I have absolutely no idea whether I can ‘go the distance’. My new Kayak friends say it’s not likely; I’m not experienced enough, and my kayak is a very short ‘sit-on’ which means I’ll have a wet ass and very little stability in big waves!
The organisers have promised to pull me out of the water if it’s not working though, and I’ve got all the safety gear, so I’m not worried about that end of things. They’ve also told me they don’t mind if I wimp out and they promise I won’t be causing a problem if they have to fish me out. So all bases seem to be covered. Now all I need to do is get wet and work up some blisters. (I think I’d better bring gloves). Wish me luck – and I’ll let you know on Monday how I got on.
I’ll also let you know how the swimmers did – they’re heroes already for even thinking of doing it, and they’re all swimming for various charities too. Can’t wait to meet them all.
Have a great weekend, whatever you’re doing. And remember , if you’re thinking of getting active – stop thinking about it, just get up and do it. If I can, anyone can.
I’m climbing the beautiful Carrauntoohil in Kerry, on September 16th, with the Concern team that are heading out to Uganda for their tri-adventure challenge this November.
The charity has said we can invite some friends along to climb Carrauntoohil with us – if they fill out a sponsorship form and raise some squids for Concern.
It’s the highest mountain in Ireland, so it’s definately worth raising a bit of sponsorship – it also requires anyone tackling it, to be hill-fit with decent gear, boots, waterproofs etc.
There probably won’t be that many spaces available, because we’ll need to match numbers to guides etc… so if you have your boots greased, and you fancy joining me, don’t hesitate, email now and let me know on: firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ve decided to enable comments on this website – partly because of all the great advice I’ve been getting on Facebook today on how to avoid ‘Urticaria’ – or hives – or alergic reactions to bites!!! I’m just emerging from a nasty two-day bout of swollen joints and itchy skin, after being eaten alive by midges, while camping out in the Wicklow mountains at the weekend. Yuck..
I’d never heard of ‘Urticaria’ before – and I hadn’t experienced it before either. I have never been affected by bites or stings; and I am only now learning that I have lived a charmed existance. I’ve been reading about some horror stories from my friends on FB who have suffered, or know people who have suffered with the condition in a chronic way. My doc said it shouldn’t happen to me again, if I take all my medications and take proper precautions in future. I hope he’s right.
Although I had insect repellent in the house, I had never before bothered to use it. MISTAKE. I’ve learned my lesson, I’ll be sprayed within an inch of my life the next time I’m in the hills, and I’ll have one of those mosquito net things for my face and head. Some great hints on Facebook include a bug-zapping bracelet that apparently works very well – and Citronella spray or cream that is a natural product that keeps the little nasties away.
On training, I had a great burst of effort at the weekend, climbing hills with a heavy pack, setting up camp and really pushing the envelope. Then I hiked back down to sea-level and dashed off to Cork for a bit of Rn’R, before dashing back to Dublin for the Cork V Galway match – I was supporting Cork
I suffered an enforced break on Monday and Tuesday though. I did try throwing a few weights about, but my joints were too sore from this ‘bug’ thing. Feeling a good bit better today though, so I should be back in the gym tomorrow. Planning to squat with about 40kgs on the bar – maybe 50. Will let you know tomorrow. x
What an exciting week. Watching Katie storm to victory has inspired a nation – and a few ladies I’m sure, like me, have been moved to embrace their own, secret, inner Olympian; the suprise ‘you’ who occasionally pulls out all the stops to exceed expectations – your own and others! It could be running a mile, swimming that little bit faster, or achieving something unexpected at the office or with your kids. You don’t have to ‘climb a mountain, to climb a mountain’ – if you know what I mean!
It’s been a week of PB’s, or ‘personal bests’. I’m getting very familiar with the expression now after watching Team Ireland in the Olympics. I pulled my own PB, cycling home to Blanchardstown, to catch Katie’s fight on TV with my dad, who’s 87 and was watching the bout ‘home alone’. I got delayed at work, and dashed desperately for the bike with 15k to cycle and not enough minutes on the clock. My current best time for the ‘race’ home was 40″mins, and it just wasn’t enough, but I had to try; at least I’d catch the end… maybe.
As I huffed and puffed across the Phoenix Park and down the canal, the Irish summer arrived, and as the hour ran out of minutes, the sun beamed and I began to melt. I looked at the roads and the park emptying around me – and considered stopping off at a pub along the way – sure of a welcome and a cheering Irish crowd. Then I thought of dad and pushed a bit harder, putting the minutes out of my mind and licking the salty drops dripping from the end of my nose.
I swung up the path to the house with 5.03pm on my wrist, sure I was too late. Then I saw the big-screen TV flickering through the lounge window and realised they were still standing in the ring. I jumped from the pedals and dashed to the red-front door grappling with the key, and bursting into the room as the judge thrust Katie’s fist into the air – along with dad’s – and my own, as we all joined in jubilation…..together.
I’d made it home in 35 minutes – 5 minutes faster than expected. A town, a city and a nation cheered. Mna Na hEireann. It was Katie’s day….. and mine.
Enjoyed a lovely weekend in Sligo when the most adventurous thing I did was walk past the pool to the restaurant! I did eat well across the Bank Holiday though and drank lots of water, because I’m determined to get back on my weight loss plan.
Today – I was back on the bike and back in the gym. I did a 30k round trip cycle in and out to work and I spent an hour weight-training in the gym. Lots of my ‘gal pals’ are nervous about using weights, in case it builds up too much bulk, but seriously – that’s not going to happen. Small weights with high repetitions won’t turn you into hulk-ella… and I think they’re a really fast way to burn weight and work out, while building strength and stamina.
I spent an hour with various weight-lifting drills, including some core-work and a reasonable session with kettlebells, like this one here. I did 4 sets of 10 reps on ‘snatch and grab’ with one of these 16kg bells, followed by the same number of sets and reps – on ‘squat presses’ with a couple of 12kg bells.
I cycled too and from the gym, and did some stretches, so I warmed up and cooled down pretty well, and hopefully won’t be walking too carefully tomorrow. Ouch…
I feel a bit tired just reading that myself, but it wasn’t planned, it all sort of ‘happened’. I hadn’t been on the bike since the Triathlon on Saturday, for all sorts of reasons – most of them connected with laziness, but then I saw on the weather forecast that Thursday was going to be a good day in Dublin, so I decided to roll out the wheels and start cycling into work again. I’m not saying I’m fast (I’m not) but I really felt the benefits of the ‘work cycle’ when I did the 18k in Kilkenny; and cycling into work means I HAVE to time myself and cycle to time. As it happens, I do seem to have knocked a few minutes off – I left the house at 620am and found myself on Pearse Street at 7 – with time for a quick cup of coffee, sitting in the sun, beside the bike, beside the canal… before I went into the office. What a lovely way to start the day.
After work I cycled back home – via the gym. I wasn’t looking forward to that. It’s a time-trial too, because I’m reading the news at 3pm, and have to make the gym by 4pm, which is a bit tight. Whenever I’m late, Dave my trainer, makes me suffer by stepping up the intensity of the session, to make up for the minutes I lost. This time I was on time, but he still creamed me! We did kettleweights and quite a lot of squat-lifts with fairly decent weights. My shoulders feel a bit sore after that today.
By the time I’d finished the gym, there was just enough time left to grill some chicken, dress some salad – wolf it down, and throw on a swim cossie and wetsuit, before belting out the door for the river. I really didn’t feel like kayaking – I had 6 training weeks of being forced to capsize for hours on end, and I just wanted to sit in the boat and be dry for once. It was unlikely to be tonight – I was having my first go at water polo and the boats are a lot more unstable than the learner kayaks I’d been using up to now. They’re tiny and light and overbalance in a heartbeat. Well to my suprise and my club-mates’ amusement – I left the river with dry hair. I was so damned determined not to fall out, that I remembered every trick in the book that they’d taught me the last few weeks. Blocks and brace turns, and balance and leaning forward. The works – there was NO WAY that I was getting wet this time, and I walked away a dry kayaker. lol…
PS. Loved the water polo.
PSS. You know, I started off dreading everything this Thursday and ended up enjoying the lot. Says something, doesn’t it…..?