For the last 2.5 seasons I have helped guys/girls/teams to fulfil their goals with some great success and some small failures, this year I’m helping some great folks to win some great races but I’m also helping myself. How am I doing it? Through some great friends and some great athletes that I help to perform, they in turn are giving me the drive to get back on the horse, so to speak.

 It is tuff to realise sometimes that you’re stuck in a rut, depressed and just meandering along. Sometimes it takes a good kick in the arse to pull the wool out of your ears, other times a change of scenery, or a friendly chat over my beloved coffee, a simple arm around the shoulder.

How to help yourself? It’s hard. Near impossible at times. Dark holes and darker days, but there is always a twilight that leads into a brighter place. Appreciate the mind, feel the soul and smile. 
Sounds very hippyish, I’m trying…. every day to appreciate the mind, for those that are interested. Try reading a book called going for gold. It’s up to you.

I was given an old Cannondale mtb bike on a trip to ballyhoura over last winter, after much humming and hawing, deliberations of why bother, retirement is the way to go, time to walk away, these things were what I was dealing with on a daily basis. An old run around he called it but it will do you until you can afford your own or see if you even like it. The freedom I found on that ride was written across my face on the descents. My body was a small bit battered, but I love the constant effort, concentration needed and the technicality.

I think this year 2011 is one where I’m going full circle 2008 v 2011 that old Cannondale was a possible representation of body, old battered but still able to do a job.

Walk the Pink Ribbon Kilkee 10km in 2010 v run it in 2011, I didn’t make the time cut in 2010 due to injury and in 2011 I raced to 5th place, the result is not important, that I was able to run made it: fun

During a few sessions after that first ride, I was asked to take part in the clec adventure race, pestered really, I have to be honest and say I never expected to take part, I agreed to keep him quiet, never sure if I was helping him train or helping myself through bad times, never believing that my body would actually be in any shape to walk let alone run.  I’ve come a long way since deciding that retirement was not for me, “do what you can while you still can” I was told by a famous cheese maker and friend.

As I write this and reflect, my body screams with athletic pleasure of sore quads, craves the swimming pool and (a sneaky coffee) to help invigorate the body’s temple the brain).  How do you describe the Clec, mad, great, long, wet, warm, friendly, good crack, with great friends?

I have never done a team race outside of swimming galas as a junior so the Carlingford Lough endurance challenge was going to be a new experience.
The race started with a parade led by 3 pipe band members playing a gleeful tune, in the sunshine under the shadows of the Mourne mountains( I think that’s the mountain range up that end of the isle) there is not much flat land around the Lough, its really either up or down, climbing stairs or chasing stars.

The first run was 9.5km mountain run which was burning both my calves, my Achilles were arguing with each other with every step, but my eyes were gleaming, aerobically I was feeling great all the time wanting to push on, but holding back as I knew the day was going to long, we ran with the groups over the top, we had a simple game plan, build into the first run, see how we feel and push on, while staying together. Ciaran is a veteran of this race, 10 out of the 11 years it has been on he has done it, so in my head id just follow him.

Watching every step I was taking, we carefully scrambled over the mountain and down the other side; I can only describe the run as scarily freeing, a cross between hill running and free running, no two steps the same. Adrenaline is a funny thing, the body’s chemical of choice for exciting times it’s pumped through the eye’s meets the heart, causes flutters and makes legs turn fast, and feelings are twitches across the face called smiles. Into transition, the sailing club car park, greeted by friendly folk and a toilet break. Mtb shoes on back on, powerbar gel inserted into my mouth and swallow, I was nervous about the mtb sections, my mtb training is limited to ballyhoura and cratloe’s secret trails, I wasn’t sure what to expect, what were the sheep trails going to be like, would my bike be able to cope with it? Ah just follow gally was my answer, worst case scenario id packed my phone in my backpack, id phone mammy if it got too hard 🙂

I can only learn by pictures, I can read fine but it if can’t imagine it, forget it I can’t remember it. Normally for races this year I would subject myself to mental imagery training, this is easy for when you know the course, but for the unexpected, well that’s just what it is unexpected, you can do nothing about what you can’t control, a hard lesson to learn but what you can control is what you eat, concentration, fluid intake, direction these are all things I had run through my brain the morning of the race. Take some time out before your next race to think about when you’re going to do these.
The mtb section was good crack, a mixture of road and trails. Some steep up hill road sections and some thrilling descents through streams and over hedges, to be greeted by a hill walk!! Describe as a hill run, id have tackled it with a rope and scaling ladder if I was told to do it on my own. Following the little red markers and looking for a stake in the ground so as to mark the map, we plodded along; Ciaran’s calf was giving him a physiology lesson of his own, knowing injury like I do, I couldn’t imagine the pain he was going through, but as he says himself “it’s all in the head” id have phoned mammy 🙂

The next bike section was a short one, up to a wild run up a boggy stream, at times I was knee deep in fowl smelling mud, but the places we were running was breath taking. You could do nothing but smile, smile at the laughter of others as they knew where not to step, the feckers!

I washed my feet and shoes in the stream, while Ciaran followed behind. We hooked up again at transition as I encouraged him on. I was still laughing (on the inside-he is a big guy!!! As his friends nephew had asked him if he was stuck in reverse   while at the bottom of the last mountain run. Those same kids where in transition and had refilled my water bottle while I was up the hill trying to drown my knees in S$!t* amazing stuff

Another mtb section to the wet waters of carlingford Lough, and the 2km kayak, the long mtb section up over a mountain, down through a steep rock filled path and into a wilds fields filled with ferns and through a stream, by a rundown stone building and up a famine road, across some sheep tracks, over some boulders and water awaited

Gally came into his own on this section, the kayak, the former young Munster rugby player, hauled my carcass across the lake, I would class myself as decent in a kayak but i struggled in the sit on top version without any support for my back my abdominals went into spasm on the way back, as we were greeted to a down pour of gods water and the scene of a bride screaming and running for cover as her wedding pictures were interrupted by a heavy shower. It didn’t last long. As we ditched the kayak, the safety equipment for another run around the town up around the castle, it was great to hear the claps of those who had earlier finished the Tarmac version of the event.

The last run takes you up to the very scenic ruins of the castle and a picturesque town with views across the lake and all the way the down the Lough. I had time to remiss about the last time I had passed through their while chewing a handle bar during the Rás in 2010


Finishing the event in 5hrs 37 mins with a huge smile. A great training session for the Monster in Killaloe in a few weeks, I got to test out my new compressport compression gear in the toughest of conditions and make sure my powerbar products could fuel the monster within.

Big thank you to gally, Michelle and all his family for the hospitality and thank you to all the friends for helping to turn the year around, there is a lot of things that combined to make me change my mind, it wasn’t a simple decision, a yes or no question but the one thing I know for sure is I love what sport give you, the camaraderie

Onwards and upwards for 2011, to erase the past is to forget the future, what has been has shaped us, what will come will forge us

Train smart: Train happy

Carlingford Lough Endurance Challenge- The Clec

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