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The Hairy Bikers….

“Pedal, pedal, pedal – good girl”

A few words of self-encouragement as me and some mates go on a beginner spin with the Godfather of Irish Mountain Biking, Richie Byrne – and the amazing Carol Farrell – at Ballinastoe Mountain Bike Park in County Wicklow.

I’ll say one thing: “Keep an eye out for the tree trunk”…

Thanks to Richie, Carol, everyone that turned out on a very, very, wintry day – and to all the lads at www.biking.ie

For more adventures check out the January archive: http://www.teenagates.com/2014/01/

Fingers and Fins Crossed…

Day two at Malahide.  A solo swim with ‘Chanimal’ Fergal Somerville, my long-distance swimmer angel who’s taken me under his considerable wing, to give me tips on how to make a 750m open water swim in Roscommon this Sunday – in 30 minutes.

You’ll know from yesterday’s training blog that the pressure is on with a vengeance.  I agreed to do the ‘swim’ section of a relay triathlon in Lough Key Forest Park, but didn’t realise until last week that there was a disqualification time; which means I’m now at risk of getting my whole team chucked out, if I don’t get my speed up!  *gulp*

Tonight we arrived at Middle Rock beach in Malahide as the tide was ‘filling’ or ‘coming in’.  There were no other swimmers and despite the sunny evening, I shivered at the thought of getting into the cold water.   I’ve dipped into the sea a couple of times now, but that first couple of minutes when I’m getting used to the cold, still doesn’t seem to be getting any easier!

As soon as I stopped gasping for breath, I reached out and pulled off in the direction of High Rock, the plan being to swim for 30 minutes again tonight, but try and cover a bit more ground.   I was anxious to try out some tips that my friends on FB had been suggesting over the past 24 hours.  I shortened my breathing periods, breathing on every fourth stroke instead of every 6th.   I pushed my legs deeper into the water and tried to avoid losing energy by letting them splash, and I continued with Fergal’s advice and made long, steady strokes, concentrating on making my arms enter and leave the water cleanly.

I got into a really fast rhythm and swam and swam, until Fergal swam up for a check and chat again and told me I’d been swimming 10 minutes. I felt amazing, I felt I was flying tonight. I looked up and looked around in anticipation.  I reckoned I had gone way past High Rock and was on my way to the next point, the Tower.   I looked hard, searching out recognisable landmarks, trying to make my eyes cut through the setting sun to make sense of the dark silhouette of the shore.   I pulled my goggles off in amazement.  I was nowhere close!  I had got twice this distance in the same time last night.  I wasn’t gutted, but I was a bit browned off.  Was I tired, were the different strokes slowing me down?  How could I have felt so fast and swam so short a distance.  After a quick chat with Fergal I decided I wanted to keep going – so we ended up swimming out for 20 minutes.  I actually made it past High Rock and halfway to the tower before deciding to turn back – prepared for another 20 minute swim back.  That would give me a swim of 40 mins instead of 30, so even if I’d missed out on speed, it would help my fitness and endurance, and that can’t hurt on Sunday.

We turned, and the sun sparkled on the drops running down my arm as I stretched out and swam back into the dying gold of the day.   I kept my head out of the water for a couple of minutes as I swam.  I didn’t feel tired.  I wasn’t scared about the 20 minute return trip, and I took a few moments to simply enjoy the swim and the sea and the low flying birds that seemed to skate along the surface of the surrounding sea.   Head down I pushed on again and 10 minutes later, I got a tap on the shoulder from a laughing Fergal.   We were back at Middle Rock.   20-minutes to swim out and just 10 to get back.  He explained we’d had a tougher current than we thought running against us on the trip out, and it helped us on the return.  I ended up doing a slightly longer swim than last night, in about the same time.   And that folks, means I probably did the 750m in 30 mins!!!   Okay, difficult to judge what role the tides played, and I’ll have to wear a wetsuit under the rules on Sunday, which might either help or hinder me…but mentally – I feel more confident.   I think I can do it.   I’m not convinced I will – but I’m confident that I can.

Now all I can do is continue to train gently up to about Friday and have a rest day on Saturday and then give it sox on Sunday.   Fingers and fins crossed!  lol…  and if you have any more tips for me, feel free to add a comment down below.

xxx

 

Hanging Out, 120ft Above the Tall Ships…

I have a terrible head for heights, and yet I keep getting myself in scrapes that involve great terror – ie: standing on surfaces heigher than my own diminutive 5ft.

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!

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