So here I am, waking up in the ‘Courtyard Apartments’ in Carrick-on-Shannon, where I’ll spend the next week relaxing and sleeping during training sessions; and cooking healthy meals under the watchful eye of Declan from sásta fitness. I checked-into sásta last night for a briefing, and learned the unpalatable news that my biological age is 64! Not great, when you’re a month away from celebrating your 49th birthday. Clearly I have some work to do.
I’m not a stranger to sásta so I have an idea of what lies ahead. I got a chance to try out the sásta training pod when I was presenting our fitness and lifestyle show ‘Get Off The Couch’ on Setanta TV last year. I really loved the workout and started nagging Continue reading
Launches her new company
BROADCAST AND MEDIA TRAINER AND MOTIVATIONAL COACH
After 30 years of bringing news to Dublin, Radio Broadcaster, Author, TV Presenter and 98FM Head of News Teena Gates launches her new company: TEENA GATES – BROADCAST AND MEDIA TRAINER AND MOTIVATIONAL COACH.
Teena Gates has spent a quarter of a century broadcasting, training, and mentoring the best news teams in the country at 98FM and this new departure is a natural progression for her. TEENA GATES Broadcast and Media Trainer and Motivational Coach offers targeted training in presentation skills, public speaking, journalism and social media.
The popular journalist turned adventurer is also expanding her existing role as a motivational speaker – and is already much in demand to share stories of her success in losing 13 stone, battling serious health issues and climbing to base camp Mount Everest. From 2014 she will also accompany walking holidays with Travel Department as a motivational guide.
Teena believes her experiences in training for and achieving her goals translate well to all walks of life: “We all have our mountains to climb, both at home and in business, and we are all capable of achieving more than we ever dream or imagine” she says.
In the New Year Teena will be stepping out on her own as a trainer and motivator for both broadcast and corporate clients and she is delighted that Communicorp media group and Learning Waves Skillnet will be among her first clients.
The Head of News at Dublin’s PPI Award Winning Newsroom will begin her new training career on January 1st with the launch of TEENA GATES – BROADCAST AND MEDIA TRAINER AND MOTIVATIONAL COACH.
Back to my running club, Le Chéile AC tonight, for the first time in months. Parking the car in the dark of the night was a sharp change from the lovely warm evenings when I was here last. Heading down to the new running track to say hello to old friends and new, I remembered coming here last Feb – again braving the dark cold night and spits of rain to get started on the club’s Couch-to-5k programme.
It felt a bit like deja-vu walking across the carpark tonight; out of the night and into the lights, and I briefly gave myself a mental kick for not keeping it up after reaching my 5k. But then I realised I was smiling, I realised I wasn’t grumbling away to myself, as I had been back in February when I made this walk. So something has clearly changed. I may have lost my running fitness a bit, but at least now I know that I’ve done this before and I feel more confident about doing it again.
Meeting running buddy Sharon Ashmore, and our coach – the talented Irish Ultra Runner John O’Regan – on the track, it’s grins all around as the warm-ups begin.
I’m 5 mins jumping up and down and I realise that the ‘girls are loose’. Gentlemen, just tune out now, while girls, appreciate that good harnessing is vital for this kind of lark, especially when there are ample assets to contain! Enough of that. John announces that we are going to have a bash at sprint-relays; there were a couple of groans and a couple of grins, while I remained neutral, unsure of what that entailed.
We split into teams and took up positions on the track, got our briefings and the whistle blew. I was the 2nd runner in my group. Sharon was my ‘number one’ and she was sprinting the first 100 metres to me, while I got ready to grab the baton and dash for the 2nd 100.
As I saw Sharon’s 100 metres disappearing, the cold of the night disappeared, and despite myself, I felt a burst of adrenaline. I’d been telling myself I was going to slow down the team and be a disappointment, but then I suddenly realised, I hadn’t tried this sprinting stuff before and for all I knew, I could be nursing a secret talent; there could be a burst of speed under the hood after all.
Sharon approaches, I start to run, we join hands over the baton, I’ve got it and I’m away. Speed’s up, chest up, breathing deep and pushing towards the track. I’m 50 metres gone and feeling good, when something odd happens. I feel my running pants loosen around my hips, and as they continue to slip, my petrified mind freezes; ‘they can’t go any further’ I think to myself, they’re lycra! There’s only 40 metres to go…. just keep running. But as my hips roll, my pants slip further, and then to my horror, my belly pops out over the waistband – the point of no return. I look ahead, 30 metres. I grab my belly, still firmly hanging onto my baton, I grab onto my pants, and I keep running. Catherine’s number 3, and blinded by the spotlights, clearly can’t see my predicament. ‘C’mon – run Teena, run’ she shouts. I’m running and shouting back and laughing and just about holding it altogether as I fall towards her and she grabs the baton and runs off into the night. Collapsing in a giggling heap as I sort myself out. Now that’s a belly laugh…
Standing stretching and checking my harness, modesty restored, I try and figure out what went wrong. I’ve run in these pants before, although not this sprinting business. Before long the wave is returned back around the track and Sharon is running back down towards me, baton outstretched. I start to run, we switch possession of the baton, and I’m off again. Confident this time – having discovered what the string in my waistband is for!
Running down the track I concentrate on being fast, until the wave of other runners sweep past me and I’m back running into Catherine’s screams of ‘C’mon, run Teena, Run’. Ah well, maybe not the Olympics then.
A friend of mine once told me I have the head of a racehorse and the body of a mule, because I always want to be fast, although I’m not really constructed that way. But I think I’d prefer to think of myself as a Shetland pony, because in fairness, it’s not that I have a mule-like stubbornness against running, it’s just that I don’t do it very well, although that John O’Regan fella is determined that I develop a decent little trot.
The main thing about tonight is that I’m back. Back at Le Chéile and back running, and even if I can’t run fast, I can always run faster! So I’ll be turning up for my Parkrun 5k on Saturday morning, and I’ll be turning up for the Run in the Dark on November 13th, and I’ll be back for my next Le Cheile training session with John and Sharon and the gang. But next time, this particular Shetland Pony will have her harness and tackle checked and ready to go, and her girth tightened beforehand…
Well this evening was lovely. Bracing, but lovely. Very choppy, and the air was cold, but when you were swimming for a while the burning bands of ice around your chest relaxed a little and allowed you to breath… the slap of being dropped from the top of the waves to the sea below as you tried to breath under your armpit kind’ve helped to keep you warm too…. yes. Bracing.
I picked up the text from ‘Get Off The Couch’ swimming mentor and Eastern Bay swimming club Chanimal (for swimming channels) Fergal Somerville, just as I finished a 45 minute sweaty weight-lifting work-out with gym guru David Dunne. Feeling nice and warm, I headed over to Malahide in bright sunshine, and persuaded myself to ‘just get in for a dip’. I wanted to brave the sea without a wet-suit, just for the hell of it. As it turned out, the camaraderie from the other swimmers at High Rock was so encouraging that I ended up swimming for 30 minutes which is a bit of a record for me. I made it from High Rock to ‘The Wall’ (for those in the know).
Climbing up on the rocks afterwards and reaching hungrily for Mag’s famous Eastern Bay energy biscuits, I pondered that leaving the Irish Sea at sunset is getting to be a bit of a habit.
Last week I was getting an introduction to scuba diving at Sandycove with the dream team of Brendan Homan and Martin Durcan – diving instructors to the stars… 😉 I’m winding them up a bit, but if you heard the slagging they gave each other, you’d know I have to! Seriously though, Brendan literally took me by the hand and brought me fin over fin into the depths of Dublin Bay and as experiences go, this was really special.
I cannot begin to tell you how much I loved it – from bursting into giggles as the lads quite literally bounced me into the very heavy and awkward gear – (and thanks to the girls for the loan) – to the moment of inching into the water, when the clumsiness disappears, the sandy bottom falls away beneath you, and all of sudden you feel you’re flying. Pushing out from the shore, the depth of the water increases sharply and you find you’re floating over craters and rocks, and it looks like you’re sweeping over canyons and cliffs – like a somewhat ungainly heavy, rubber-suited bird. Perhaps a penguin, clumsy and heavy on land, but transformed into a graceful work of art in the right environment.
The sounds hit me first, my heart seemed to beat a noisy audible pulse; merging and moulding with the tide and the current swelling above and below. I could hear my breathing; short and fast at first, then longer, deeper and more regular as I began to relax. The light was muffled, softly dappling the shady sea around me, and piercing fingers through the forest of seaweed, no longer flat and brown, but reaching lazily upward, waving in the ebb and flow, with kaleidoscopic purples and greens, changing hues in the fading light. A moving, liquid, enchanted world where life looks so different and your own transient nature is so clearly felt with each pull on your air.
I’ve had lots of scary experiences in the past 3 years – some quite terrifying – but I’ve got through them, and even got to like some of the things that scared the pants off me at first. But here, 8 metres down, I felt no need for bravery. It might sound strange, but I wasn’t nervous here, I wasn’t scared, it felt calm and wonderful and absolutely natural. I can’t wait to go again. (hint hint).
So it’s September 10th now – and that’s just 18 days away from my big charity challenge for LauraLynn – the Liffey Descent and Cycle Challenge with Kipper Maguire. I’m strong, my kayak skills are improving, and I’ve spent hours in the water padding against the tide in my Sásta Fitness sponsored river boat. It’s looking good. Except I’ve let the running training slip a bit – (a lot actually) – and the realisation has just hit me this evening that I’ve got a forgotten challenge ahead this weekend. I’m signed up for WAR in Powerscourt. The cycle and kayak, I’m confident I can do – but how the heck do I clock a 6k run with the Sugar Loaf in the middle of it? Gulp! I’ll let you know how I get on….
I hadn’t heard of a fartlek session before tonight. In fact, one of my sporty friends on Facebook had to tell me how to spell it! But that’s what I ran headlong into tonight, when I decided to return to Le Chéile AC. Extreme Ultra Runner John O’Regan was taking the session – what about that for running royalty? as we started off, he reassured me that I’d be running ‘within and outside’ my comfort zone. While my brain was trying to process that, I tried to explain that just turning up was outside my comfort zone!
Growing up, I always felt the definition of being fit was being able to run, and it was something that always eluded me. But this February I turned up at Le Cheile AC in Leixlip, determined to finally give it a proper shot. I joined their Couch to 5k programme and with persistence, patient trainers, and the support of the other ‘Fit 4 Life’ runners, I finally made it to my ‘graduation 5k’ just as the evenings were turning long and bright. Chuffed with myself… I threw my running shoes in a corner and left them there for a couple of days, which turned to a couple of weeks, which turned to a couple of months. Eventually I knew I’d lost my run-fitness but kept thinking that I’d start running again myself on my own, before facing the embarrassment of huffing and puffing my way back to the club. Well you can guess how well that worked for me!
Finally this week I decided to bite the bullet. I need to be fit for the Liffey Descent challenge for LauraLynn Children’s Hospice in September, I’ve got to keep my weight down to fit into my Sásta fitness training kayak, and I’ve signed up for the Helly Hansen Killarney Adventure Race on October 5th – so it’s time to get my running shoes back on and face the music. I didn’t exactly grumble on Twitter, but I did suggest I might have to drive home when I found the car-park was full…. The Tweet said I wondered “if this would be the day when I realised I loved running”; well it didn’t quite work out that way – but…
We started with stretching exercises led by John who defies gravity with his balance. When jokingly challenged about his dance-like ability, the running supremo grabbed a girl out of the line and waltzed his way across the track in a decidedly accomplished fashion, to the collective squeals and delight of the group gathered along the start-line. Ice-breakers over, we moved to the main event.
The session involved a couple of warm-up laps on the track and then intervals of jogging separated by fast ‘pick-ups’ … running fast for 90, 60, 45, 30, 20 second bursts – something like that. To be honest, the numbers were swimming around in my head, I just concentrated on John’s whistle bursts to tell me when to run fast and when I could slow down. At first I tried counting the seconds to myself, pacing out the beats with my footsteps and breathing. I struggled to the end of each burst, running out of breath and begging in my mind for the whistle to blow. Then my mind settled down. Instead of counting and hoping for the sprint bit to end, I told myself I was relaxed and this was easy and I could run like this all night. I kept the pace slow and steady on the recovery stretches, running more slowly than anyone else, but running fast enough for me. I kept telling myself that I was comfortable instead of convincing myself I was struggling; and do you know, something happened. I began to believe. I began to believe I could run like that all night. I watched the sky turning dark, I watched the trees in the distance above the track, I looked at the runners ahead and their form and the beauty of how they moved, and I felt my joints moving easily, fluidly, almost like a dance. I think I almost meditated. I thought about warm days and felt the cool breeze on my face, I felt the sweat trickle down my back. I heard the whistle and I slowed, I heard the whistle and I picked up, and in the background I heard an encouraging voice telling me I was running faster than when I started. Finally we got the final whistle and sprinted to the end; and to my amazement I was sad to pull up.
I’m not quite ready to say I enjoyed the running… but I could have danced all night….
Monday Aug 12th: 15k cycle in and out of work (total 30k) / 20 mins lunchtime running in Stephens’ Green / couple of lengths in the pool with dad 🙂
Tuesday Aug 13th: 15k cycle in and out of work (total 30k) / 45″ Gym session – S&C
Wednesday Aug 14th: 40″ running session (Fartlek) with Le Cheile AC
Oh my gosh – what have I done?
In 12 hours’ time I jump off O’Connell Bridge and into the Liffey! I’ve taken the leap from higher heights from that, but usually I’m attached to a rope. My poor head for heights is kicking my butt already over this one, and I haven’t even reached the bridge. For some reason the idea of stepping off into emptiness is freaking me out. Aggghhhhh….. it’s for Cystic Fibrosis though – so at least the fact that it’s such a good cause, should help stop me from running away.
It’s been such an intense couple of weeks, very busy at work and very busy with the camera crew for ‘Get Off The Couch’ the TV show that will broadcast on Setanta later this year. My gang of hardy participants have completely transformed themselves into athletes, and we all took part in their first Sprint Relay Triathlon last weekend in my hometown, Blanchardstown. They had a 750-metre pool to contend with, in our magnificent Olympic Distance pool at the National Aquatic Centre. I personally got a PB cycling the 15k – but pushed myself so hard, I could hardly walk afterwards, not to mind run the 250 metres in the transition back to rack my bike. We’re all competing in a Sprint Triathlon on June 1st, and I’ve learned my lesson – I’ll have to pace myself when I’m doing all three disciplines, so my time won’t be as good for each section, but my motivation will be to complete all three parts. So complete rather than compete will be in my mind – we’ll see how the times work out afterwards!
We’re coming to the end of filming for GOTC, but as usual, I’ve found this latest adventure is really only the beginning for something totally new. Joe, Maryanne, Cathy, Karen, Eamonn and Damien are the participants. When you watch the programme, you won’t believe how far they’ve come; not just in changing their physical fitness, but their entire lifestyles. It’s been a roller-coaster ride full of hard work, injuries, recoveries, bravery, camaraderie and craic. If these last 6 months had never made it to the screen at all, it would still have been a magnificent project to be part of, simply to see where we’ve all come from and gone to. Most important of all, I’ve made 6 new friends, which is such a heavenly gift from the world. Will everyone continue on their athletic journey? Well we’ve all discovered some sports that we liked more than others, and we’ve already made plans for getting together for sporty adventures in the future – without the cameras.
The best memories? Carrauntoohil is high up there (excuse the pun) I was hoping that people would like it, but was quite prepared for the likelihood that they wouldn’t. I’m not going to tell you who did and who didn’t – have to leave you SOMETHING to watch the programme for… lol. The Galtymores and the Mournes were both very special, running with Catherina McKiernan was extraordinary and probably life-changing for me. Running the Ballintotis 4-mile in Maryanne’s home town was incredibly memorable, including the fun and laughter before and after. Joe coming back to run alongside me on the track, training with Eamon Tilley in Greystones was pretty special, and Olympic Champion Katy Taylor coming over to help us train was extraordinary.
I’ve a feeling that Sunday’s gig will be another special moment – when Channel Swimmer Fergal Somerville takes the gang out to swim in the sea at Malahide. I’ll be doing boat-cover for that, paddling alongside in my kayak (Saffron). That brings my mind back around to tomorrow and O’Connell Bridge. It’s Fergal that’s talked me into making the ‘leap of faith’ off the bridge and into the Liffey. I walk the plank at 12-noon – but someone may need to give me a sharp push. No doubt Fergal will gladly oblige! OMG. :/
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! 😉
I got a shock today when I groaned to my gym guru Dave Dunne, about how quickly I lost my fitness (about 3 weeks) after being ill last month. As I strained to lift weights that wouldn’t have cost me a thought before Christmas, I asked if it was going to take 3 weeks to get my strength back. To my horror, Dave informed me that it would take double that. I asked if I could speed that up by exercising harder and more frequently, and he warned me that I’d only weaken myself, slow my recovery, and end up in a worse state than I am now. Now that all came as a suprise, although I vaguely heard my consultant saying something like that weeks ago… ahem. But I want my fitness back and I want it NOW. I’m prepared to work extra hard to do it, but according to Dave, I have to take it slow and just wait for it to happen. OK, I see some sense in that, but it seems very unfair. Six weeks to pay for 3, and that’s over two months gone out of the year. Grrrr….
Dave did say that I could cross-train. So I’m going to the gym 2/3 times a week, going to hot yoga 2/3 times a week, cycling to work, and tomorrow I start running at Le Cheile in Leixlip. Wish me luck – I’m not sure about the running….
PS…I bought a new bicycle jacket today. It’s hi-vis and it’s PINK…. Growing up with two big brothers, I never admitted this girly side of me before, it’s only emerged since I hit my 40’s… I don’t really need a new jacket, but if I’m honest I put on a few pounds when I was off sick, and my old bike-jacket feels a bit snug when I wear a fleece under it. After 10 mins cycling I’m sweating like a thoroughbred winning the national (I wish) but the first 10 minutes have been painfully cold these dark winter mornings. I think I’d be willing to put up with the nuisance of stopping to layer down, if I got to be nice and snug heading out. That’s the plan anyhow. I also bought a nice, light, silk balaclava, to slip under my cycle-helmet. So now I can prevent ear-chill as I head out to work in the morning – and rob a bank on the way home, to pay for all this new gear and training… 😉
Saturday was a really ‘Nice’ day. It should have been an ‘Ice’ day. The Eastern Bay swimmers had been training for months for an ‘ice-swim’ off the Bull Wall, and after all the snow and storms, everything was shaping up nicely for a bitterly cold swim on Saturday morning. Unfortunately for the lads, it wasn’t cold enough – they needed 5 degrees or less to make it official, and they got a tropical 7.2!
Despite the swim not being official, the hardy souls still got in, and swam a freezing mile, while onlookers wrapped their fleeces around them, pulled down their woolly hats over their ears, and clapped their glove-encased hands together in warm encouragment.
Boat cover was courtesy of the 5th Port Dollymount Sea Scouts, there was a whole host of medics and helpers at hand, and I got to get Saffron my kayak back into the water, to see if my stomach muscles were still working after my recent bout of surgery and immobility. They were, and it was good for me to feel useful again after a month of inactivity. My Channel-Swimmer buddy Fergal Somerville, has blogged magnificently about the passion that drives these swimmers to such extremes. Check it out by clicking on the photo above.
On Sunday, I took a flying dash out to Wicklow in between the storms, and caught a blue skied but blustery morning that certainly blew away the cobwebs. It took me 2.5 hrs to trek around the Spinc loop. I used to be able to do that in 1.15. I’ve a lot of work to do. If I pay much attention to how much my fitness has slipped, I could feel fairly miserable. So I’m not going to do that. I’m back – and I know what I’ve got to do, and that I can do it.
Doc says I should be ok to exercise and return to the gym from Monday; and so we’re off. Here we go, here we go, here we go.
I managed some of the movements pretty well, but I couldn’t get CLOSE to doing some of the stuff, especially winding my ankles around my knees while standing on one foot with my arms in a knot!
I have never sweat as much in my life, and I’m not looking forward to going again – but I’ve paid for 10 classes in advance, to try and whip-lash my butt in gear for the New Year. So roll on Wednesday, when I try again.
Happy New Year friends…. :/