training

Christmas Gym Thing…

Today I ran for 10 mins.  Not much, but I haven’t been on road for months and with my dodgy knees I reckon I’m going to start doing this slowly.  A year ago I could hardly walk, after mucking up my knees on a glacier, training for Mont Blanc – my doctor told me I probably wouldn’t run again… so I got myself a new consultant… and a couple of months later I finished in a not to bad time at ‘Run Kildare’ thanks to some helpful advice from Ultra Runner John O’Regan… and a course of experimental hyaluronic acid injections in my knees.  I’ve just committed to ‘Run Kildare’ in 2013, so it’s time to get the knees working again!

After my run, I hit the home gym (AKA the 3 kettle bells in the conservatory) and did 20 mins with free weights.

Yesterday I had a fab 3 hours; gym, swim and sauna  with a friend.  That was luxurious, I don’t normally have the time to luxuriate with the nice stuff like that.

Tomorrow I’m climbing a mountain – Christmas style!   Mulled wine and mince pies in a pub in Rathfarnham, walking over the mountains for 4-hours to Stepaside, and more mulled wine and mince pies at the Blue Light.

I’m determined to have fun and relax this Christmas – but I’m also determined to exercise every day.  The most amazing thing is that my attitude to exercise has changed so much in the last year.  I’m not looking at my resolution as a chore, I’m looking forward to it as a celebration.  My body allows me to move – and man, am I enjoying that.  🙂

‘Fancy’ a Mountain on a Sunny Day..?

Well an early start for the hills…. fumbling around in the dark, so that I don’t wake up my friends – in the bedroom at the Crowne Plaza where we all collapsed around 3am, after the Community Counts Fashion Show.  I put on my bra, only to discover it’s Fiona’s.  Ooops, sorry Fee.  I put it back neatly on the floor beside your knickers.  I hope you found it!

My head is not exactly healthy, although I don’t remember drinking that much wine – but perhaps that’s the problem.  Down to breakfast and I bump into Vera and Andy, the hostess with the mostess, and our DJ and soundman from the night before.  Cheery greetings and I grab a plate of beans and mushrooms, with a slice of black pudding, and deny myself the sausages!  (I am supposed to be training after all.)   It’s 8am and I’m pushing off shortly to join some of my old Mountain Rescue buddies on a mountain in Wicklow for a day’s hiking. 

I’m climbing today with www.irishguidedwalks.ie and the target is ‘Lugalla’ or ‘Fancy’ Mountain.  So good they named it twice.  It’s a long, slog up – heading up past the old Guinness Estate and lake, then a climb along a ridge, a water crossing, and back down again to the cars.  I start out on the upward climb to the ridge and I quickly realise the pace is fast, a bit too fast for me.  Instead of huffing and puffing, I take off a layer of clothes, drink some water and drop back.  Ronan’s a good guide and he’s going to stay with the slowest in the group, so I’m happy that I won’t find myself under ‘unreasonable’ pressure.  As it happens, the fast pace killed some of the early starters and they dropped back – leaving me about 2/3rds of the way down the line by the time we reached our first summit.

I wonder if I will ever be fast?  I never seem to have that pace that pulls ahead under a head of steam. Maybe that’s my short legs (I’m 5ft), or maybe I’m just not fit enough yet.  But where I’m building confidence is with the conviction that I don’t generally get tired.  I have a slow, but steady pace and I’ll just keep plugging along.   My knees are dodgy, but I use walking poles to get me through the most difficult bits; and so far, I’ve been lucky.   Everything’s held up.  

The hike takes about 3.5 hours to cover just over 8-kilometres of mixed incline, at a pretty reasonable pace….a good little training walk, to keep me ticking over for that volcano we’ll be climbing in Uganda for Concern in less than a month’s time.

The sun was beaming, all traces of the night before evaporated quickly, and it was good to be back on a hill with friends.   A girl finds a lot of answers on a mountain, and tripping over the heather was just what this girl needed this weekend!   🙂

In The Pink With Purple…

What a fabulous weekend.  I needed a good long hike to stretch the legs as part of my training for climbing Mount Elgon with Concern in Uganda this November, so I headed down to Killarney to my old mentor, adventurer and mountain man extraordinaire, Pat Falvey.   I’d climbed Carrauntoohil a couple of weeks ago with my Concern buddies, and it’s been 2 years since I last climbed Purple Mountain with Pat – and that was in the dark!  So when he suggested an amble across Purple and Tomies, he didn’t need to twist my arm.  I’ve always been intrigued with the beautiful Purple Mountain, that gets it’s name from the fabulous sandstone that glows purple tones at a distance, when conditions are right.

The morning dawned magically misty, and I caught my breath as I peered out my window at the mountains in the distance, my head slightly under the weather from my Killarney reunion the night before with glasses of chiraz the size of buckets down in Beaufort Bar.   A good breakfast under my belt and a spring in my step – I took off for Pat’s new shop, beside Kate Kearney’s cottage. It’s an Aladin’s cave for hikers… you can top up your gear, pay hundreds of euro for a top of the range down jacket, or poke around in the bargain bucket and come up for air with deadly gloves for a tenner, like I did…  you can also book a hike in the hills, a boat trip or climb – or even look further afield to plan an expedition in the world’s exotic high places, before relaxing next door to plan the finer details over a pint of plain…

Heading up to the Gap the wisping mist had suddenly thickened to a heavy fog and I’d resigned myself for another wet one; but as I strapped on my gaiters and checked my pack for waterproofs and extra gloves – the fog suddenly blew away as fast as it came, and my heart sang as bright sunlight unexpectedly poured into The Gap.   Avoiding the 1300 athletes who were milling through the gap for a running, cycling, kayaking adventure race – we headed up into the hills, quickly dropping layers and shoving hats and gloves deep into our kit bags, as we picked up a rhthymn, breaking into a light sweat, laughing with the sheer joy of being alive, and rejoicing in the music of the mountains, with the sound of water trickling over mossy rocks, and catching my breath in puzzlement to see fish jumping in lakes high in the hills.  How do they get there?

It was a nice, steady pace, four of us in the group and no-one in a hurry.  Laughing sometimes, silent for long spells, listening to the sound of breathing, of boots sucking in soft peat, and the clickety clack of poles tapping on sandstone.  A picnic sitting on a warm stone with stunning views as the mountains fell away all around us to the sea, the comaraderie of good friends.  My heart full of the joy and simplicity and beauty of a sunny hill.  We pushed on, and up to Tomies Mountain, leaving the sandstone stepping stones behind, and making the summit to push down into spongy heather.  Pleasant at first, and then a bit of a menace, as the legs continued to push through it’s springy depth, finding footholds – or not.   Quite a few bottoms were kissed by the Kerry mountains this day…..   down from the heather fields and into ferns, as my imagination took flight and I was beating through bush in Borneo….  until I met the beautiful ash-tree that signalled the end of our hilltop adventure – 5 minutes later, we’re on hot tarmac, and dodging pony-traps as we skip back up the road to Kate’s.   A good six-hour trek, a beautiful day… and another training milestone on the road to Uganda.   Does life get much better than this?  🙂

 

 

Mousse and Mist On A Mountain..

So the challenge was to climb the beautiful but often brooding Carrauntoohil, Ireland’s highest mountain at 1.039Mtrs/3,123Ft.  But in fact, my climbing and Concern/Uganda buddy, Vera Baker and I were to summit two of the highest peaks in Ireland, in just one day.

Along with a group of close to 60 walkers we approached this weekend’s Concern training walk with a certain amount of trepidation.  Both Vera and myself were aware that we were a little deficient in training times for this big climb.  It wasn’t due to any laziness or lack of organisation on our part, but we had needed to devote time to learning to Kayak and building up miles on the bikes for our multi-challenge adventure in Uganda for Concern this November, and getting out on the hills had suffered as a result.

Today we would find out exactly how much work we had to do.  The route chosen for the climb is considered to be one of the easier, or at least ‘safest’ ascents to Carrauntoohil.  We were staying on a completely different side of the mountain to the much talked about ‘Ladder’ route, which was badly eroded, and had been turned into a virtual river of mud and rock in the recent rains.  With such a large group, a solid route was vital.

This was Vera’s first attempt at Carrauntoohil, and though I am a familiar visitor here, this approach from the West side of the mountain, was a first for me too.  We drove up in pouring rain, resigned to a long, wet and misty hike – well wrapped up for the weather and determined to enjoy ourselves despite the wet and damp and the lack of views.  Our walk began by following The Hydro Road, presumably named for the resevoir that we shortly passed by, and after a while we realised that the heavy rain had been replaced my a light mist.  I joked to Vera that my iPhone App which had defiantly been declaring sun all morning, might in fact be right.  I didn’t for a moment believe my own humour, as the long range forecast had confirmed the rain was down for the day.

After an initial sharp climb on road, we made our way for close to an hour across steaming bog and took a break and food, before bracing ourselves for the sharp ascent to summit Caher Mountain,  we were about 45 mins away from the top of Ireland’s second highest peak at (1001 m/3000 ft).  Reaching the Summit and congratulating Vera, we discovered we needed to wait on top for the group to catch up, I hurriedly fleeced up as the gusting wind whipped around my gortex shell, chilling me extremely quickly.

Caher Ridge was the next challenge.  The spiny, winding, dinosaur tail that stretched beyond into the wildness of the Kerry landscape before sweeping up to our most majestic peak – our final destination – Carrauntoohil.   Stepping down the exposed narrow descent from Caher Mountain to the ridge was not for the faint hearted, with severe drops falling away to our left. However the mist which had spoiled our views up to now, proved to be our friend – masking the depth of the fall on either side, and allowing those with a less than even head for heights (me) to make our way through, in blissful ignorance of what lay below.  Although I’d been in these hills long enough to know instinctively that careful footwork was a wise precaution!   As we gained the more level passage of the ridge itself the wind magically gusted the mist away and we grasped an emerald flash of green – swept away in seconds, before other climbers just seconds behind us, had a chance to raise their heads.  This ‘peek-a-boo’ through the mist continued as we made our way along the ridge, gasps of amazement, foiled by almost instant sighs of regret as the views disappeared – cloaked again by the cloud, as it played out its burlesque peep-show for the climbers making their way to the summit.

And then we were there.  We’d been speeding up for the last 15 mins with the huge iron cross that marks the highest peak in Ireland ever-present as conditions continued to clear, drawing us closer to it, faster and more confident.  We’re laughing and congratulating each other, as our group of 40 climbers pass through a descending group of around 20, as we embrace the summit in bright sunshine, with superb views in all directions.  I’ve been up here often enough to know how lucky we were to see conditions clear like this, and I congratulated Vera on her first, highly successful Carrauntoohil summit.

Lunch with Vera has to get a mention here – this is the only time I’ve had a multi-grain salad with a chocolate mousse on top of this mountain – and Vera can take care of the lunches for ever into the future!  We were the envy of the mountain, and I apologise to all those who salivated at our fare!   Food played a huge role in our climb.  There was more stopping and more eating than I’m used to – because of the size of the group and the need to keep us all together.   I found it difficult, because I’m used to plodding off and up and getting there, without breaks – and I found that halting my progress and getting cold was more difficult for me.   But I’d never climbed in a group this large, and I learned a lot about managing a large number of people in uncertain territory.  The leaders were skilled, confident and cheerful, and I’m hugely impressed at how they kept us all moving as one.  We made it up in 4hrs 15 and heading back across the ridge the way we had come,  it was close to the same to come down.

8hrs is a long time on the mountain, but apart from a few stiff ankles and general tiredness, we were in pretty good condition.   It was a good day, we tested ourselves well, and we learned a lot.   Not least, we learned that we haven’t done nearly enough to prepare us for climbing the extinct Volcano, Mount Elgon, in Uganda this November.  So it’s back to the hills and back to our lovely Spink Mountain in Glendalough to step up the hiking part of our training regime.  We’ve got about 6 weeks left.  It’s enough.  Perhaps we’ll see you out on the hills this weekend?…

Has My Training Peaked….?

There’s a reckoning a coming, I reckon….

If I’ve had a difficulty with training this year, it’s about balancing multi-discipline sports.   Our Concern challenge in Uganda this November requires me to climb a volcano, cycle for several hundred kilometres and kayak the source of the Nile.    Well I bought a bike and started clocking up hours earlier this year, and I signed up with the Wild Water Kayak Club on Dublin’s Strawberry Beds and learned the basics of how to fall in the river!  (…and of course, more importantly – how to get out).

Now, as you can imagine, this all takes time – hours of time, and the one thing that has suffered is the activity I had previously been very familiar with – climbing mountains.   To get hill-fit, you need to be walking up inclines for between 4 to 6 hours, at least once a week….and I haven’t been doing that.  I simply haven’t had time for much more than a quick spin up and around Spink in Wicklow, which is a beautiful mountain, but not the most challenging – particularly when you’re only doing it intermittently at best.

So this Sunday, I’m facing the Goddess.  Carrauntoohil in Kerry, at 1,038 metres (3,406 ft) is Ireland’s largest mountain, and she doesn’t suffer fools gladly.   I’m heading there this weekend, feeling a bit like a fool – because I know I haven’t prepared, and I know I’m going to suffer.   I love this mountain and know her well, but I also know it’s not clever to take her for granted.  I’m also pretty certain she’ll be wet and cold and windy.  Mountains have a way of letting you know……

‘Happy Feet’ Wing It…

My ‘Happy Feet’ relay team for the Lough Key triathlon was waiting for me at registration when I turned up, shoulders shrugged high, to stop the torrential rain running down my neck, realising the futility of keeping dry – when I was just about to jump in a lake!

As I walked up to the girls, I couldn’t help gawping at the big yellow markers on the water, that were clearly marking the swim.  To my eye, the markers seemed far too distant from the shore; surely they’d made a mistake?  It looked so much further than I thought 740metres would look like. There were shrieks and hugs as we met up and shared training disaster stories from the past week; but all the time I felt butterflies the size of bats in my gut. I shouldn’t have eaten breakfast, I knew I shouldn’t.  The egg and ham and goats’ cheese and spinach soufle that my host had made me, was now hanging heavily on my mind.

I was doing the swim, Teresa the cycle and Anna had been roped in at the last minute with a dodgy knee and very little notice, to cover the final 5k run.   It had all seemed so simple to offer to swim the 750m for team Happy Feet, until I read the briefing notes with just a week and a half to go, and realised there was a 30 min elimination time on the swim!  Pressure, and not enough time to train.   If you followed my training blog here, you’ll know I tried to short-cut my lack of speed-work by swimming without a wet-suit, against the tide at Malahide Beach in North Dublin.  I suppose I thought that if I made myself suffer as much hardship and discomfort as possible, I might feel more comfortable, and swim faster, when I had to get in the lake.   Well it was a theory at the time, and the only one I had!  My big problem was that although I was comfortable doing the distance,  I had no speed and was planning to complete the distance in 40mins.  The briefing notes blew that out of the water – if you’ll excuse the pun.

Well I put my shoulder to the wheel – or tide – and soaked up all the tips I could drag from my Hi-Rock swimming friends in Malahide, and in particular ‘Chanimal’ – Channel Swimmer, Fergal Somerville.  Deep, even breaths – long, measured strokes, no panic.  Now today was the day.

As the other athletes gathered in the holding pen, adjusting swim caps and goggles, stretching to warm up arms and legs and shoulders; they looked sleek and professional, I sneakily looked around comparing the size of my belly with everyone elses.  I thought mine looked much bigger, and I grimaced.  A throwback to my days of being 23stone.  These days I’m just under 12 stone and still a bit on the curvy size, but despite no longer being morbidly obese, I still have body-image flashbacks, especially when I’m standing on the shore in a screamingly tight wet suit along with 300 taller, slimmer, fitter looking people.  I just had to remind myself that I was strong and healthy and capable of taking them all on.  (I just didn’t really believe it).

The Public Address speakers crackled into life and there were speeches and applause as the rain continued to fall and we stood, shuffling our bare feet in the wet grass, wishing for the start.  Eventually we got the nod and as one, we swimmers moved towards the water.  It was all new to me, we were to get into the lake and swim to warm up, before the start was called.   I followed the leaders and reached the water’s edge, noting the lack of reaction from the other swimmers and imitating their composure as I stepped calmly into the lake, biting down a gasp at the cold.  Up to my ankles, my knees, my chest and finally I’m swimming, then finding some space to keep treading until the race ‘got the off’.  This part was unexpected, and I felt a tremor of adrenalin or something close to fear.  I was out of my depth, I couldn’t swim out with a proper stroke or I’d crash into the swimmers ahead.  I was just bobbing about getting cold, and I didn’t like it.  I determinedly removed my mind from the lake and imagined I was going through my yoga routines in the sun, and felt the warmth and the calm flood through my legs and up through my body to my arms.  I relaxed.  We’d go when we’d go – and finally the human wave washed back towards me, as the race began.

I reached out into the dark waters of the lake, pushing my head under water and noticing the pink hue of the feet in front, dyed red by the peaty flood waters.  I had taken the other swimmers’ advice and kept out of the crush at the start, for fear of being dragged or accidentally thumped in the fury of the moment.  I took my line against the yellow marker out near an island in the lake and just swam.  I didn’t try to go fast, hearing Fergal’s comments a week before, telling me that trying to go fast was the fastest way to slow down.  I wasn’t sure if he was right, but I was taking his comments on board.  After about 250 metres, the 1st marker was drawing close and I realised there was a crush emerging as the swimmers tried to get a tight line around it.  I didn’t.  I pulled left and gave it – and them – a wide berth.  I think I actually gained time instead of losing time, as I swung wide arount the buoy and the human soup, and took my line to the next marker.

I had told myself that if I was comfortable after the first 250, I would step up the speed on the 2nd leg.  It worked fine, I stretched out and increased my speed, breathing deeper into my lungs and concentrating on rolling smoothly to catch my breath, keeping my face down between strokes and pulling my arms smoothly through the water.  Quicker than I expected, I reached the second marker, and swept around to face back into the shore.  I looked up, and saw swimmers far ahead and far behind.  At my right was an orange kayak, on hand to help if I needed it.  I didn’t need it.  I saw the last marker, saw the shore, put my head down – and bombed it.  I gave the last 250 every last bit of energy and strength and felt excitement well up inside me.  I’m not sure why, I just felt powerful and thrilled because whatever the time on the clock, I wasn’t the last person in the lake, and I knew I had the energy to get me back to shore.   Stumbling out of the water, I took the waiting helping hand eagerly and pulled myself free of the lake, then sprinted to the holding paddock and my teammates.  Pulling the electronic tag from my left ankle and passing it to Teresa, I recognised she was excitedly shouting at me about the time.  I felt tears well up as I realised I’d made the 30 minutes…. and more.

Later, with the time confirmed at 22 minutes.  I joked that it was the egg and spinich ‘Pop-Eye’ breakfast after all (thanks Mary) but I was humbled.  This body of mine, that I have so abused in my lifetime, again pulled out a blinder for me.  With less than 2 weeks to prepare, it had delivered all I asked, and I had smashed my own time.   I felt like one of our Olympians, I could proudly say I had a PB and I’d smashed it!   It was hard work getting here; swimming in cold, choppy, waters off Malahide, hours of weight training in the gym on our few sunny days, and a lot of self doubt.  But the help I got, the support from my friends, from FB and Twitter, and all the generous tips and training swims I got from Fergal and his Hi-Rock mates, had paid off.  I’d made it – and Team Happy feet could run and cycle the rest of the way, without being disqualified by the swimmer!

You know, when I started training for our Concern/Uganda: hiking, cycling & kayaking challenge in November, I never thought I’d end up long-distance swimming too.  But I suppose it all helps with general fitness.  What’s next?  Well, the whole Concern group is due to climb Carrauntoohil, Ireland’s highest mountain this Sunday; and that’s going to hurt – because with all the time I’ve spent cycling, swimming, working-out in the gym and learning to kayak, I’ve somewhat neglected my hill climbing.  There is a reckoning a-coming on Sunday.   And do you know? there’s a 750m sea swim in Killiney on Saturday…..  😉

 

 

 

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

 

To Swim or Not to Swim….

Well, I’m hoping to have a matching photo for this shot – by the end of the day.   This is Fergal Sommerville or ‘Chanimal’ to his friends.  Fergal swam the English Channel last November in a super time, and he’s taking me out swimming today at Malahide.  I’ve swum with Fergal and the High-Rock swimmers before, quite a few times.  Fergal had dared me to swim in the Irish Sea, and I said I would, if he swam the channel..  at the time I didn’t know that was exactly what he was training to do!!!   You could say, he snookered me!

Anyway, I may have swam with them before, but never like today.  I’m a in a different frame of mind and I’m ready to change the stakes.  I’m probably motivated by the prospect of my triathlon swim in Roscommon on Sunday, when I have to swim 750m in a lake in under 30-mins or risk disqualifying the rest of my relay team from the cycle and running laps.  Today in Malahide I want to push the envelope a bit.

The pressure’s on, and for the first time I want to put myself to a bit of a test.  On previous swims, I just swam out with the pack for about 10 minutes and then struck back for home.  Today I want to try and put a bit of distance under my belt.  I’ve never swam long enough to get tired, so I have no idea what will happen if I swim a decent distance – but run out of steam on the way back.

There’s lots of questions in my mind; will I get cold, will I get tired, will I make a fool of myself, should I try it without a wetsuit?

Should have a few answers for you by tomorrow!    Fingers crossed……

Chilled but Chuffed…

What an amazing weekend I had, training for the Concern/Uganda challenge but having a whole heap of good fun with friends too.

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!

 

 

Highest News Report of the Tall Ships?

Well, Team 98FM were ‘Radio Pirates’ for a day… when we battled our way up the 120ft mast of the Fryderik Chopin in a pretty stiff breeze.

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?  😉

Clients
  • Communicorp
  • Danone
  • Irish Farmers’ Journal
  • Dublin Airport Authority
  • WeightWatchers, Ireland
  • Limerick City & County Enterprise Board
  • ‘Foot In The Door’ Media Trainer for Independent Commercial Radio, Ireland
  • Clare County Enterprise Board
  • Carlow County Enterprise Board
  • Great Outdoors
  • Adrian Hendroff ‘From High Places’
  • Chernobyl Children International
  • Concern Ireland
  • The Hope Foundation
  • LauraLynn Childrens’ Hospice
  • Travel Department
  • Helly Hansen Killarney Adventure Race
  • 98FM Dublin
  • Newstalk
  • TodayFM Radio
  • Learning Waves Skillnet
  • BCFE, Ballyfermot
  • Pat Falvey, 'The Summit Book'
  • DSPCA