I’ve decided that this is how I want to look by the end of the year! Before you laugh, it’s the beautiful powerful creature charging after the surf ‘look’ that I’m going after! So no old nag cracks please – especially from Continue reading
I said from the start that I want to be one of those people who wakes up and wants to Continue reading
On Saturday I got to join the Roving Soles Hill Walking Club for part of their Glenmalure Challenge. I got to finish 6 summits and around 24k in 7hrs – they went on to complete 10 summits and 33k. We started from the Glenmalure Lodge, Drumgoff and headed south on the Wicklow Way, taking a forest road for our assent of Carrawaystick Mountain to Corrigasleggaun, to the Saddle of Lugcoolmeen, and up to the summit of Lugnaquilla, Leinster’s highest peak at 931 metres. We descended via Cannow Mountain to Camenabolologue, and I cut out at Table Track for Glenmalure, as the group continued on their way. Thanks to everyone for such a warm welcome on the hill, especially with me hobbling along with my knee braces and sticks. Extremely lovely group… and the bubbles were a bonus!
From Wicklow, I drove to Cork city, catching dinner with a friend before heading on to Youghal where I camped near the sea, ahead of an early 6am start for the DipInTheNip. Close to 200 people joined on a beach near the town to drop their kit and run for the waves, in aid of cancer charities. Old radio buddy PJ Coogan from Cork 96FM led the charge. After a breakfast roll on the beach, I headed for Kerry, pitched my tent in view of the mountains, met briefly with friends, took a two hour stroll in Tomies Wood and finished off a perfect rest-and-recovery day with a plunge into the beautiful ice-cold O’Sullivan’s Cascade, a stunning series of waterfalls and grade 5 kayak route plunging down through the mountains to the lakes of Killarney. Always a magical place for me.
On to the Galtees on Monday, for a tough 8.5hr training hike over 5 mountains with Tony Nation, in preparation for my challenge to climb Elbrus in Russia next month with Pat Falvey’s Irish and Worldwide Adventures. Tony had warned me in advance that today would be tough and he certainly delivered. It was an arduous route, but so incredibly beautiful that it was hard to feel anything other than joy to be out on the hill. We made our way up on to the mountain with a tough climb onto Temple Hill, and climbed up and down around the horseshoe across Ladhar an Chapaill, Carraig na Binne, and Sliabh Chois na Binne, over to Galtymore and exiting down the BlackRoad. Later we heard on the news that a couple of climbers had been rescued after getting caught in a Rhododendron forest, not too far away on the Knockmealdown Mountains. It was a cautionary tale, as I’d been admiring the purple flowered shrubs all day, but Tony had been warning me about their rampant, vigorous growth across the mountains.
Tuesday brought another adventure, when myself and a friend provided kayak-cover for a group of swimmers who were making a crossing from Malahide to Lambay Island, as part of a top-secret art project. We had kind permission to land briefly on the island, which is a nature reserve, and it was a wonderful privilege to have just a fleeting glance at this wonderful, magical place. It was a beautiful day as we headed off into a clear, calm sea, and the crossing was delightfully uneventful until moments before we reached the island. A sea-mist sprung up in seconds, shrouding our landing point in mist. Our approach was marked by dozens of curious seals who heralded our arrival and followed us in to the star-fish spangled beach. We stayed just moments before slipping back into the sea and leaving the peaceful island to it’s misty mystery. A magical experience to add to my list of special memories of Ireland.
A good weekend of training, celebrating friendship and being glad to be alive. Reality returns when I visit the physio tomorrow and get some advice on my injured knee. The Elbrus Clock continues to tick.
Hi Iʼm Donnchadh from City Kayaking. Weʼre based at Dublin City Moorings, by the IFSC on the River Liffey right in the heart of Dublin City Centre. We opened our doors in May 2012 and are heading into our third Summer full of plans and excitement. From here we run our watersports company in one of the most unique surroundings in the country!
City Kayaking offers the ultimate ʻUrban Adventureʼ to both locals and tourists alike running 2-Hour City River Trips from our base and heading up river exploring underneath Dublinʼs most famous bridges. Our trips give you the opportunity to experience Dublin like never before and see the city from a whole new angle.
We also run 3-Hour Island Bridge Escape tours where we take people upstream right through the city and into the wilderness once you get beyond Heuston Station. This is a seriously cool trip and gives people the chance to experience the lesser seen side of Dublin. With all sorts of wildlife surrounding the river up there you really donʼt feel like youʼre anywhere near the city.
We regularly get seals in the Liffey and they explore right up towards Islandbrige when the tide is good and high, which is the time we schedule these trips at. Thereʼs also plenty of herons, lots of fish about and weʼve even seen several kingfishers which are an amazingly colourful bird. Itʼs hard to believe that youʼre right in the middle of Dublin with all that going on. Itʼs a real escape from things!
One thing that so many people comment on is how quiet it is when youʼre on the river. The quay walls act like a barrier for the sound and even when youʼre up between OʼConnell Bridge and the Haʼpenny bridge right in the middle of all the city madness, itʼs nice and quiet on the river. Hard to believe I know, but itʼs worth experiencing it.
We also run lessons and cater for youth groups too. Thanks to the generous sponsorship from Dublin Port Company weʼre running a €5 Kayaking rate for Youth Groups which is seriously good value. We heavily discounted these sessions and Dublin Port provided us with some funding to allow us to be able to offer such great value activities for youth groups. Weʼve still got some sessions available to book over the summer and have all the details up on our site for anyone interested (or drop us a line) www.citykayaking.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Phone: +353-1-442 8234.
Our Lessons and Fitness Paddling Classes are starting to pick up now and are run by Emily, our top class Canadian Kayaking Instructor. Emily is an extremely accomplished kayaker and instructor and has competed as part of the Canadian team for the past 7 years. Fitness paddling is geared towards beginners looking to have a fun fitness experience on the water. Our lessons are ideal for those looking to pick up a new hobby or for the adventure racers looking to get some training in before the next event. These run both midweek in the mornings and evenings and at the weekend too.
City Kayaking featured on Ireland’s Fittest Family on RTÉ this year, when competing families raced against each other over a one kilometre kayaking course across the main shipping channel in Dublin Port. You can check it out on the RTÉ player if you missed it!
We’ve come a long way since opening our doors 2 years ago and we owe a lot of thanks to family and friends for helping us along the way. Weʼve got some big plans going forward and are very excited to be heading into our third summer season on the water! Hopefully weʼll see you out joining us on the water soon too. Who knows, you might even see Teena there too!!
Well I have a whole new adventure on the way, with a massive physical challenge, 2 months of perfecting new skills, 2 months of building strength, flexibility and muscle, and 2 months to get over my terror of weirs and white water!
White Water Kayaker and Former National Freestyle Champion, Kipper Maguire has challenged me to join him in tackling this year’s Liffey Descent in aid of LauraLynn the country’s ONLY Hospice for Children.
Taking place on Saturday September 28th, the annual kayak event will attract paddlers from all over the world, with the ESB releasing 30-million tons of water to feed the 28km course that will combine long flat water sections, swift currents, ten weirs and numerous rapids. To make the daunting challenge even more interesting, we’ve agreed to cycle from LauraLynn’s Leopardstown base to the start of the descent at the K-Club in County Kildare…a mere 40k or so, with a few hill climbs thrown in to keep us warm!
Tragically there are over 1,400 children living in Ireland with life-limiting conditions and 350 of these children pass away each year, most within the first year of life. With no government funding to build or run LauraLynn House, the hospice needs over €2.4M each year to keep the service going.
The Pedals and Paddles challenge this autumn, will raise funds and awareness for the hospice. Will you help? Check out our MyCharity page and follow our extensive summer training through their ‘Pedal 2 Paddle’ blog here – on Facebook or on Twitter.
Kipper Maguire is a White Water Kayaker, Former National Freestyle champion, level 4 ICU Instructor and, in his spare time, an enthusiastic SUP surfer. Kipper represented Ireland in 4 World Championships and was National Freestyle Champion for 3. He continued his involvement with the World Championships through coaching of the National Team as well as commentating at the events. His kayaking trips have taken him all over world. One of his most memorable experiences was paddling Zanskar Gorge in India. This charity event co-organised by Kipper raised €10K for charity. A close second was his winter trip down the Grand Canyon. You can find him on the flat water teaching, getting new people involved in the sport and when it rains you will find him teaching advanced techniques or just out having a blast on the water with his friends.
20 years a journalist with Dublin’s 98FM, in recent years, Head of News Teena Gates has also earned a reputation as an author and adventurer. As well as a busy brief with the capital’s top radio station, she writes a column for Outsider Magazine, her 1st book ‘One Foot in Front Of The Other’ was a sell-out success, and she takes to the small screen later this September with a 6-part show for Setanta TV. She’s also worked up a massive track record for charity fundraising. “In the past three years I’ve lost 12 stone – leaving my 23 stone bulk behind and taking up a number of physical challenges for charity. I’ve climbed to Everest Base Camp and have recently returned from a multi-trip adventure to Uganda for Concern, but this could be my toughest challenge yet.”
Make a donation here: http://www.mycharity.ie/event/weirsnwheels
I ‘Walked The Line’ and I proudly get to wear the T-shirt, and raise the mug – thanks for a brilliant workout from Dublin Wicklow Mountain Rescue. Their mega annual fundraiser had two challenges, a navigational chase and a straightforward 25k hike for those who were willing to follow the signs! I chose the latter, but the physical demands were no joke. It was a tough, long day out and I came home delighted in just over 6 hours. To be honest, I had a secret weapon, the latter part of the hike was down through Spinc – my favourite mountain. I was actually heard to say ‘this is my patch’ as I trotted down the stones towards the Miners’ Village – and you know I meant it. Yep I guess I’m declaring it. Spinc is MY mountain – so there! (I’m not actually being facetious – that mountain rescued me from being 23 stone and stuck in a cell of my own skin, and my own making. I owe a lot to that mountain). The other benefit from ‘Walk the Line’ was accidentally turning up just 2-minutes before registration closed, and ending up ‘walking the line’ on my own, which I hadn’t really planned. It left me picking out way-paths and finding my way around the hills in a way I hadn’t done before – and I learned a lot – lessons that came in handy later in the week….
A trip to Lough Sheelin cooled my heels after Wicklow – when I turned up to provide boat cover for my brave ‘Get Off The Couch’ colleague Karen Bowers, who swam her first 1k ‘wild swim’ in the beautiful County Cavan lake, surrounded by master swimmers and the fantastic long-distance swimmer, Fergal Somerville, who turned up to coach her, after recently adding an elusive North Channel Crossing to his previous English Channel crossing. That man is inspiration in a set of speedos, and I have permission from his wonderful wife Margaret to say so. (Incidentally that woman is the best power-bar chef this side of either channel!).
A couple of days later I was back in the water again – this time in Donegal. In bright sunshine, myself and buddy Vera Baker ‘Girls on Tour’ headed north with kayaks strapped to the roof of her heroic Jaguar and two bikes jammed inside, along with wetsuits, paddles, running gear, hiking gear, and high heels. What other way to travel? Well as Vera’s son commented wryly as he saw us reverse out – “it wasn’t that we couldn’t do it – but probably that we shouldn’t“!
We hit the ground running when we arrived in Donegal in bright sunshine and instead of heading for shelter and our lovely home for the next three days, we made straight for the beach and launched the boats. It was a good call too; we woke up to winter conditions the following morning, with the mist so thick we could hardly see our boots as we made our way towards Errigal. That solo-navigation stuff in Wicklow helped with my confidence, as we strolled back down the mountain on a bearing and walked straight into the car park to our absolute delight. Boasting to my Mountain Rescue buddies may have been a calculated error however – I’ve been told I’m navigating next time out!
Lots of thanks are due to lots of people after my last set of adventures. Love you all and hugs will be distributed in due course. x
I’ve been on holiday, but I haven’t stopped being active and having fun.
I’m just back from Torremolinas in Spain, where I took my dad to celebrate his 88th birthday. We stayed in the Sol Aloah Puerto 4-star hotel with a deal from Clickandgo.com travel – and I’ve got to say we had a ball. it wasn’t a freebie or a sponsorship or anything, so I’ve no avaricious reason to promote or advertise the travel company or the hotel, other than to say how brilliant they were and how fantastic they were in tailoring the trip to myself and dad. They really delivered and I think that’s worth a shout-out. Thanks lads.
The hotel is situated right on the beach between two Irish bars, walking distance from the Marina, with plenty of shops and restaurants nearby, and the sea-front promenade that comes alive at night with a magical display of impromptu music, traders and entertainers. During the day we soaked up the sun, ate too much, enjoyed happy hour and spent ages in the sea Although the Med hadn’t quite warmed up to Summer temperatures, it was certainly warmer than my Sunday swims in Malahide. During the trip, Dad came kayaking with me, and body boarding and sailing – which is all pretty impressive, given the fact that he doesn’t swim!
The snorkelling was going well too, until the mouthpiece snagged in his false teeth….
Joking aside, what a fantastic spirit my dad has, and what an inspiration. Every day he shows me how life is a dream come true – you just have to wake up and live the dream. I’ve got 40 years of fun ahead of me, to get to where my dad is now, and he’s still open to new adventures. I just can’t wait until tomorrow to see what we both do next. xxx
I had an enforced ‘rest’ week between my active Paddy’s Day weekend and The Easter Bank Holiday. Close family visiting, a deluge that flooded and blocked the N11 to Wicklow, a truly unseasonal avalanche warning in the snow laden Mournes and a rather nasty tummy bug, all combined to keep me off the hills and out of the gym. Then an invite came to get out on Spinc Mountain on Good Friday with Concern/Uganda buddy Vera Baker, and I decided to push all thoughts of weakness aside and ‘just do it’. I was so pleased afterwards. It was a beautiful day in Wicklow with blue skies and bright sunshine, despite snow and ice underfoot; and it really stopped me feeling miserable and sorry for myself! Vera and her mate Lisa were just starting a new round of training for their latest charity appeal in Kenya later this year, and it was good to be out with them, as they bubbled and planned, all full with the sense of a new adventure.
When invite number 2 came to join Mountain Rescue volunteer Grainne Ryan on a trek up the Galtees on Saturday, again it was hard to refuse. I was probably quite weak after my tummy bug and I decided to take the train to Thurles rather than drive; the guys agreed to pick me up and drop me back afterwards to the station, which I felt was much easier than driving when I was feeling tired. It took the pressure off a bit, but I was still feeling a little nervous. I hadn’t climbed with Grainne or her mate Kevin before, and I wasn’t sure about my hill-fitness or strength. I just hate the thought of getting in ‘over my head’ and slowing people down. It’s always about picking your pace – but it doesn’t stop me getting a bit apprehensive first time out. Grainne reassured me they weren’t planning any hill-running…and off we went!
We headed first for Galtee Beag; intending to then skim the ridge and move on up to climb Galtee More 919m (3018ft) snow, ice and wind permitting. The pace was manageable, the company good, and the scenery stunning. Again another perfect climbing day, with snow underfoot and blue skies above; made all the more special by a natural phenomenon which I hadn’t seen before. As we left lunch and Galtee Beag behind and pushed on for Galtee More, we came out of the lee and the force of the wind hit us. Pushing onwards and upwards the cold was biting and it felt like being in a wind tunnel. I was using walking poles and could actually feel the wind tearing them from me as I walked. But I walked with care, staring in amazement at each footfall. I was nearly crying as I stepped on and smashed through these lovely snow crystals on the way up. Rime, Grainne called them. It was like walking through a bed of brittle diamonds… I’d never seen that before, the delicacy of the wind-blown ice formations on the frozen bog; I felt like an elephant in a china shop…
The last few measured steep steps to the summit; then walking across the flattened top to the cross, straining against the wind, leaning forward into it at an angle and pulling my fleecy buff up around my nose and mouth to try and help me breathe through the frosty air. We scrambled down a foot or two among the rocks and suddenly the wind stopped and I realised it had been roaring in my ears. Suddenly as if someone flicked a switch, we found ourselves in stark silence as we snuggled in to sit down among the frost-sparkled rocks, like ice-thrones in a winter wonderland at the top of the world. Swiftly turned to Ice Princess – I surveyed the 360 views of Tipperary, Limerick and perhaps Cork far off in the distance, with bright sunshine cutting through the bitter cold, now sheltered from the wind and feeling so incredibly grateful to be here.
My perfect Easter weekend didn’t end on the hills. I splashed my way through large waves in Malahide in bright sunshine on Sunday morning with Fergal Somerville and the Low Rock swimmers. I’d actually turned up with a wet-suit, but I was shamed when I saw them all getting into the surf in their swimming suits, so I decided to leave it in my bag and take the plunge – literally. It was icy cold. 4 degrees apparently, but it was beautiful being bounced around by the icy waves in bright sunshine. I didn’t last long; getting through about three swells before turning around and swimming like the clappers for the shore. But as my skin burned with fire afterwards and I drank hot coffee and pinched someone’s chocolate biscuits, there was no doubting I was alive.
Monday the holiday continues and I’m still off work, so I’m hitting the gym in the morning – then meeting the ‘Get Off The Couch‘crew as the six participants in our new TV series on Setanta go through their paces on the track at the prestigious Morton Stadium with Triathlon trainer, Eamonn Tilley. It’s our second session and I’m dying to see if we’ve made any progress. Last time we were training with Eamonn, the wonderful Katie Taylor gave us a pep talk and that really fired us up. The show’s taking 6 men and women from around the country and encouraging them to get out and active in the great outdoors. After my exciting ‘holiday’ break, I’ll have plenty to talk about!
Recently I’ve got quite narky with Nike, because of their lack of accommodation for lady boobs! I’m a size 14 and resent having to battle my way into an ‘XTRA LARGE’ running vest. I mean what sort of message is that sending out, we’re ‘over-sized’ if we’ve got boobs?
Despite that, there’s no disputing the technical buzz of buying Nike gear though, I’ve got leggings that look like something out of a sci-fi movie, and when I get over the embarrassment of wearing them in public, I’ve got to admit they are incredibly warm and super to run or cycle in, during these dark evenings.
My latest gear indulgence is a bargain-buy at the new Nike discount store in Blanchardstown. These narrow soled track shoes. I’ve read all the reviews about footwear moving away from the big high-gel soles, and I’m willing to give these a go. Since I’ve started running in the past year or two I’ve always gone for the ‘big gel’ option, and with my ‘dodgy’ knees, I’m cautious to change what works – so I’ll let you know how I get on with these. So far so good though, I’ve been wearing them around the house and cycling, and tonight I ran with them at my Le Cheile ‘Couch to 5k’ session and felt grand afterwards.
Tonight’s session was a step-up by the way. I ended up miles outside my comfort zone (even though we only covered 5k). We’ve been running intervals of 1.5 mins for the past few nights, but tonight we changed that up to ‘3mins on and 1.5 mins off’. We also split up into two groups. One was running alternate splits of 3-mins and 1.5 mins with a 2 min recovery – the other was keeping it to 3-min only split with 90 seconds recovery.
Why do I do this to myself? I went off with the tougher group. I was too slow to keep up, and too stubborn to stop – so I ended up running my own personal little Everest between the groups. I didn’t really feel alone though, the trainers are great and kept a watchful eye, and I still felt the company of running with a group, even though I ended up in an awkward little trot that fell in between the two. The thing is, I found a rhythm and I found a way to run and breathe, and really that’s what it’s all about. Do what you can do, and then do a little bit more. I ended up delighted with my run tonight, although I found it much tougher than the earlier sessions. I’m also happy in the knowledge that although I’m huffing and puffing in the cold, dark, night air now… by the end of the summer, I’ll be flying down the beach with toned legs, a sun-tan, and the speed and grace of a gazelle…
Well….. that’s the plan! 😉
Recently the good folk over at Run Kildare asked me to pen a guest-blog on preparations for this year’s event on the plains of Kildare…it just happened that they got in touch as I started the new ‘couch to 5k’ project over at Le Cheile AC in Leixlip. So I had plenty to write about….
I sit in the car with the engine running, the heater fan on ‘full’ and I shiver as I peer out through the foggy windscreen into the dark of the night beyond. It’s 7.50pm and in ten minutes I must head off into the cold and make my way to the club house, or rev the engine and spin wheels in the direction of home. I don’t have the words to tell you how much I want to head for home…
Half an hour later, I’m dragging off my windbreaker and wiping a bead of sweat from my brow as I turn to jog back to the clubhouse. I’m certainly warm now; in fact I’m glowing and grinning from ear to ear. I have company too… There are 30 of us ‘newbies’ out on the road – giving it sox on night one of the ‘Couch to 5K’ programme at Le Cheile AC in Leixlip. I’ve signed up for the next 10 weeks because I’m on a mission; I’ve promised the folks at Run Kildare that I’ll join them again this year.
I’m starting from scratch because I’ve been sick and it’s amazing what a difference sitting at home for 6 weeks can do to a body. My chest heaves and I wonder how 90 secs could ever last so long. 4, 3, 2, 1… the final seconds drag past and we can walk again. That’s the routine for now, run and walk, run and walk, and it’s hard – but it’s very ‘doable’. I have a mental advantage too, because I know how to do this. I’ve done it before. I’ve been 23 stone and I’ve learned how to walk, then to trot, then to run, to climb a mountain, to paddle a kayak, to ride a bike and to live. If I can get fit, anyone can – and if I can get fit twice there’s hope for us all.
The passion and support of other people has helped me to get out there and get active over the past couple of years, and my previously undiscovered love of the outdoors and adventure has brought me all the way to Everest Base Camp, The Alps, and most recently a tri-adventure challenge that saw me climbing an extinct volcano and cycling hundreds of kilometres across Africa to kayak in the Nile. It’s a message in turn that I’m passionate to pass on. The outdoors is for us all, and all you need to do is open the door and walk out into it. It’s waiting for you, and there are so many clubs and organisations that will give you advice and support along the way. Sport is not just for the sporty!
“Get Off The Couch” is a new TV programme that I’m presenting this year, which is built entirely around that message. Screening on Setanta TV this autumn, Athena Media’s GOTC follows the adventures of six participants doing just that, getting off the couch and getting active and healthy. It’s a great team and you can already check them out on Facebook or Twitter (#GetOffTheCouch), or on the programme’s website. You can get involved too and offer us support as we all support each other through a whole range of activities from running and walking to climbing mountains, swimming in the sea and kayaking on the Liffey.
I’m looking longingly at the heels of the other runners as they head off towards the hill-run that we face on the way home. I thought I’d have a gentle night tonight, it being the first session. But the eagle eyes of Irish Ultra Runner John O Regan spotted me walking out; and coaching us for the night, he snaked in like a collie after a herd of sheep, nipping a few of us out of the pack, and putting us through some slightly harder paces. I’m huffing and puffing, but I’m laughing to myself to. It’s a quiet, internal sort of laugh, because I don’t have the breath to laugh out loud. It’s just that he spotted me dossing and he was right, because I’m keeping up with the new pace, even though I didn’t think I could.
Last year I was afflicted with ‘dodgy knees’ but I made it to Run Kildare and thanks to advice and tips from the same John O’Regan on the day, I not only finished, but I enjoyed every second of the run. I’m looking forward to the winds of the Curragh in my face again. Le Cheile’s Couch to 5K will definitely do its job, and I know that if I can run 5k, I can run 8k, and I can make it around the 10k at this years ‘Run Kildare’ on May 12th.
I’ve promised I’ll make it and I’m determined to be there. Those beautiful plains that are normally the reserve of racehorses will open up to us runners this summer, and that’s an opportunity not to be missed. There are three races; a marathon, half marathon and my 10k. So dust off your runners, and ignore the biting cold of these dark winter evenings. Spring is coming and your playground awaits. Open your -door, step out and join me….. c’mon –‘Get Off The Couch’