My path to Gaelforce Glory is more an Average Joe type story, than a life-changing epiphany. I didn't look in the mirror one day and realise that having eaten the weight of a small African island, I urgently needed to set it adrift. Nor had I been previously bitten by the adventure race bug, and chronically crave my next hit. Instead, I was a reasonably fit individual, with a peppered past of sporting success, who was looking for an audacious goal to get her back in the game.

 

And so, we arrive at January 2nd, a serendipitous Facebook ad, a decisive clicking of the 'Entry' button, and an unusual comfort in knowing that the only way is forward.

 

I have always been goal-oriented. In school, only the pressure of imminent examination would force my head into the books. In sport, my naturally competitive nature craves the threat of public humiliation as a kick-start. Whether running; horse-riding; scuba-diving, or the latest, adventure racing, wave a competition deadline before me, and watch this girl go!

The first two weeks were tougher mentally than they were physically. A break of almost four years from running; mandatory in the early days due to an injury, and latterly at my own discretion due to indifference; had sent me right back down the snake, back to 'start again'.

The biggest challenge lay between an inevitable, present-day comparison to a slug, and a wistful, yearning for the more gazelle-like days of old. However, I determined to be a little bit patient with myself, and allow the body time to readjust. A mix of vanity and pride sent me to a nearby running trail over sand-dunes, where I could maintain anonymity, while grating through the gear-box.

Two weeks in, and I was ready to test out my hill starts. I am fortunate to live in the shadow of Croagh Patrick, and have ready access to an abundance of challenging, on-road inclines. Thus far, I have committed to two such runs per week, and reaped the benefits. The mental fortitude required for running uphill, means subsequent 'flat'ones become relatively easy.

I reasoned that with the arrival of February must come an increase in my training. So, on-road inclines must become off-road, mountainsides, while hours on the bicycle need to turn from a promise into reality.

A worthwhile footnote here is that my bike is a recently purchased, hybrid; and a part of my training that I intend to enjoy rather than endure.

If training and diet form the cornerstones of a successful race plan, then I will be relying heavily on the former. Unfortunately, I lack the will to follow a disciplined nutrition plan. I will always choose sweet over savoury, and eschew the chopping of fresh vegetables in favour of effervescent Vitamin C.

 

With my more maverick than militant regime, am I likely to win Gaelforce West? Absolutely not.

Nonetheless, nor will I be trailing in last. I fully intend to achieve a good time, and will continue down the road of committed training. And so to the month of February, with its half-hearted pledge of finer weather, and whole-hearted assurance of tougher training sessions.

Bring it on........!

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