My name is Ciara and I am I am the marketing manager for Killary Adventure and Gaelforce Events, I am 29 years old and a mother of a 2 year old and a 4 month old. I was relatively fit before i had kids...I had the time to be so. Oh how things change, i do look back on life BK (before kids) and wonder how I ever thought I was busy!
Having had my son Teo in 2011 I tried to get back into excise but I had a problem with one of hips which really I used as an excuse as to why I was being lazy! I then fell pregnant with my daughter Maya which meant a stop to my nonexistent exercise regime.
Having had a c-section with Maya I now feel 4 months on that i am ready to get back into it. I will be writing a weekly blog about the trials and tribulations of trying to find time to train for the women’s adventure race while juggling a full time job, 2 small children and a husband who travels a lot for work!
So hopefully I will provide an entertaining and real insight into training for the race over the next 10 weeks. I am sure that there are many of you out there in my position, who’s life is a juggling act where everyone else’s needs come first.....kids, husband, dog (!!) and who like me want to get some resemblance of my BK body!!
Its sunny outside, its about bloody time being nearly the end of may, so there is no time like the present I am off for a gentle walk up the hill behind the office.........
So to start with sorry about the lack of blogs over the last few weeks, ended up being busy with a local festival plus set up for the event so I didn’t get much training in – that’s my excuses out of the way!
I’m going to try and be as honest as possible in this final blog/race report so hopefully I won’t ramble on too much.
Like I was saying, I had been flat out for a couple of weeks, had a bit of a cold at the start of the week and I also went to a wedding on Friday so to say I was nice and rested for the event wouldn’t be true!
I arrived at the centre at about 8.30am, helped with some last minute set up and had a small bowl of porridge. Then got changed and headed to the start line.
The first jog part to the Western way was fine. Was very wet but that was to be expected. I think a few people were surprised but sure it’s an adventure race! So feet were wet from the get go!
Then we hit the bog run to the bottom of the hill. I hadn’t actually done any training on this section, and very quickly realised that I should have!! We plodded along here trying to keep a bit of speed up, but no chance of jogging! After a bit longer than I expected we reached the hill. Now I had been up this hill and others over the previous weeks and had been feeling quite confident about it, but the bog beforehand had zapped the energy from my legs.
Next section is a bit discussing: but it was also the start of the Snot, I didn’t think someones head could hold so much snot! And it didn’t stop until about 10mins after I crossed the finish line!
Anyway back to the race. I struggled on the hill. Before the event I had thought this would be the worst part of the event and I was right. About half way up a really did wonder why I had signed up. Eventually we made it to the top just as it started it’s second hailstone shower. I wouldn’t say I flew down the hill but definitely felt more energetic and ready to get on the bike.
Having done the cycle in full once and a lot of it in bits, I felt happy enough about it. But I didn’t realise how much energy the hill would take out of my legs and I struggled a lot more than I expected. I had started the event with a friend of mine, who is a bit more competitive than I would be, and I just let her take off. At first I really tried to push myself but then decided that I would be totally wrecked by the time I reached the kayak section and would not be enjoying myself. So I gave in and had a nice cycle chatting to people and pedalling along!
All the little hills that I had flown up the last time seemed like Everest, so I had to get off a walk for some of them – lots of people were to be honest so I didn’t feel so bad. We were heading straight into the wind as we neared Inagh Valley and up to the N59 junction. But everyone was in the same boat just trying to keep moving forward. The cycle down the N59 to the bike transition wasn’t too bad.
I grabbed something to eat at the bike transition, and headed to the kayaks. This would be my best discipline so I was looking forward to it and a bit of a rest for my legs. By the time I had reached the kayak transition it had been cancelled due to the wind so there went my leg rest. But hay these things happen and it is an adventure race after all, so it just added to the adventure! Saying that I knew that the extra jog would kill me!
It took me a long time of jogging and walking to make my way to the bottom of the Western Way turn off. My legs weren’t sore but I knew I had no energy to jog anymore. I ate some jellies, had a chat with the marshals (chatting through out the event may have been my down fall) and set off.
I have walked, trained on this section of western way numerous times and with the wind against me it takes me about 40 mins back to the centre. On race day it took me an hour!! I’m not sure if this was the toughest or easiest part of the event really. In one way I knew I was nearly there and on the other side a was tired and was fighting the wind again, and I have to admit a bit emotional – going from proud of myself to I just wanting to get there now!
There was a guy about 20m ahead of me who had a good walking pace so I decided to try and stay the same distance from him the whole way and this worked well. The last part back to the finish line is bog. I quite liked this part as you can kind of bounce along and it is mainly downhill.
As the finish line came into view I could hear everyone shouting for me, how embarrassing! I felt sorry for those in front of me as I was getting the big cheer, banners and paparazzi at the finish line!
Would I do it again?
Right after the event people were asking me would I do it again. At the time I was saying no as I would like a different challenge, but now my mind is changing slightly and I’m thinking that maybe it would be nice to give it one more bash.
I think I found it harder, and I’m sure other first timers would agree, because you are nearly over thinking things and maybe a bit too worried that you will burn yourself out. I feel I would have more confidence now to take on another adventure race.
Even this morning one of the girls was talking about doing another event in September and I nearly have myself convinced to set it as my new target too.
It may seem in my report that I found the whole thing a bit tough, which I did I’m not going to lie about it, but I did really enjoy it. I don’t think it really hit me what I had done until about Monday! And the more I think about the whole experience from starting training in January to now, the prouder I am. I went from never wanting to jog to being able to jog 5km non-stop and eventually make my way around a 31km adventure race course! Not bad for the first 5 months of the year!
I didn’t break any land speed records or was I anywhere near the middle of the finishers, but I did it, as did 490 other people like me. And I’m proud of that. I said at the start that I just wanted to get across the line and that’s exactly what I have done. I also hope that I have shown and it you just get off the couch and start small you can eventually get there in the end!
If I was to do it again what would I change and other tips:
I do think I will try and keep up the fitness. I may even become a jogger – (please don’t tell anyone)
I do know for myself I do need to find another challenge, otherwise I just won’t bother! So need to decide on that now.
Would I advise others to try an adventure race?
Yes I definitely would. I really enjoyed the mix of activities, so if I wasn’t in the mood to go for a cycle I would go for a jog or up a hill and so on.
It is also really friendly when you are out on the course – if you stopped at all, the next person was asking were you ok. There is a lovely social side to it.
You also don’t need to be super fit to take part – I still can’t jog 10km.
Thanks to everyone who helped me out over the last few months. To Elverys Sports for the great gear. And to all the lovely competitors I meet on the day who said hello and encouraged me along!
Lazy week last week.
Nothing on Monday.
Tuesday made it to Zumba was wrecked. Not sure why but it was a killer!
Then I got really lazy for the week.
But on Saturday, my part time training buddy and myself, made our second attempt at cycling the whole bike route.
We went straight into jogging down to the where the kayaking goes from. Legs felt a bit wobbly at the start, a bit like I was drunk, but got back into it after about 5minutes. Now my buddy has being getting back into jogging over the last year and I know she is faster than me, but I stupid stayed along side her on the way down rather than sticking to my own pace.
Sunday I went kayaking. Normally kayaking is quite a nice leisure session but there was a horrible squally wind that kept going up and down, with a group of beginners, so a lot of towing was involved. I got more of a work out than I expected and the next day my stomach muscles felt like I had done about a 1000 sit ups in a row!
Not a great week for training but was good to get the whole cycle under my belt.
This also a rubbish blog, but I promise a really good one after the event!!!
It was not the news that I wanted to hear I was disappointed and upset as I had put in a lot of hard work and I had routine of training and getting out 4 times in the week. I asked him would I be able to compete the Connemara Challenge in May and he said NO it will take me approx 8 weeks to get back and then I have to start out again.
I have always wanted to compete in a Gaelforce event and I was so excited when I got picked to this challenge I had worked hard on my fitness and was making changes to my diet.
When I get back on my feet I will continue on and pick up where I left off to make my next challenge. I am determined to compete in Gaelforce so whatever it takes I will be back on the horse and there will be no stopping me!!
Good Luck to all those that are competing in there first Gaelforce event and having been training it will pay off. And it will be such an achievement for the people that are doing it for the first time as they all have a personal challenge within themselves to finish it.
I want to say a huge thank you to Siobhan and Mona at Gaelforce Events who have put a huge amount of time effort and commitment into me for the motivation and the encouragement. For organising the training days in Wicklow which were a great way of seeing parts of Wicklow that I never saw before. For the instructors and Brian, who were great at motivating and pushing me, when I thought I was at my limit they pushed me to the next level. For anybody thinking of doing one of these events I would recommend it as they are well organised and the training days are well worth it especially if you are a novice and you do not know what to expect on race day. You can also save a lot of time with the tips and on clothing on what to bring on race day.
Good week this week, got lots in!
Was a good day on Tuesday so decided to jog home. Didn’t go too bad. Always takes my legs a while to get going and then they are fine. Felt good after it.
Took Wednesday off.
Thursday wasn’t a great day but I really wanted to get out and you never know what the weather will be like on race day so you might as well train in rubbish weather too!
Took Friday off – seems wrong to exercise on a Friday!
Took to the hills on Sunday.Living in Leenane we have abundance to choose from. I literally walked out my back door, across the river and up the hill. This hill is steeper than the hill in Connemara Adventure Challenge and higher so it was a good one to use as it tougher. Surprised myself again on this. My heart rate and breathing were fine, it was my legs that were struggling so lots of breaks, but made it to the top. Will definitely try and use it more over the next few weeks.
As I said a few weeks ago, Elverys kindly sponsored us challengers with some gear for training and the event.
Here is a list of the gear that I got:
I have been wearing the gear for the last few training sessions but haven’t really given them a good run yet, especially in bad weather. So this is just a short gear review for now.
This is the jacket of never ending hidden pockets. I literally thought that there would be nowhere to place a phone or keys and there must be about 5 of them, it’s great!
Ended up with a head cold from busy weekend so had to take Monday & Tuesday off training.
On Thursday, back to full health, I decided I would try and jog/walk the whole part of the western way that we will be using during the event. Got a lift down to the start and then I jogged/walked back. This will be the last part of the event and I think by that stage I really will be just plodding along.
Friday was a lovely day out west and I took to Diamond Hill in Letterfrack. There are a couple of routes to do on the hill and I planned to try and jog the short 3km route. Was doing fine with my plodding along until it got the hill, they just kill me! So it was back to a fast walk/lunges up. Coming down I was flying and did the whole circuit in 25 mins! I know that’s not good for 3km jog but it’s good for me!
When I made it back to Letterfrack I was dying for a drink, so called into the shop. I find when I exercise I don't feel like eating during or after which I think I will struggle with on event day. Also don't eat breakfast so that maybe a problem on race day to! Anyway so while I was in the shop I decided maybe I should try something different to water and remembered that my fit friend, and I mean really fit (Tri Ireland Team), told me that lots of people drinking chocolate milk after an event as its got lots of calories but easy to digest. So I gave that a go. Really like it actually, Ill just have to figure out a way of keeping it cold! Anyone got any other suggetions?
Weather turned for the weekend so did not get out.
Monday morning , lovely morning here so as soon as the dogs were done I was off around the roads on the bike. Loads of nice treks, I have a few earmarked to include some gradient and get some steady "drags" ( learnt the lingo from cycling friends) , to the uninitiated, drags are slight climbs..... None of your Tour De Francis stuff now or anything. Really enjoyed the spins during the week.
It’s been cold the last few weeks, but at least that JAYSUS rain stopped. Bring on the cold but keep the rain as far away as possible. Training day coming up on Saturday. Looking forward to it. I hope to get out, all going well.
Training day - I hate running. I've said it before, but BY JAYSUS do I really mean it. Went out with Brian and Mark, like two f@@king mountain goats they were, skipping up the track, I'm behind trying to stand up straight , never mind look at the view....Wake up call for the hill climb. Hard going on the way up and just as hard on the thighs on the way down. Still, got it done, didn't like one bit of it but did it. Only one wet arse on the day from slipping into a river. Wasn't me, thank God.
Week started off well but ended badly. Busy week.
So after my boozy Easter weekend, I felt that I should do some penance and climb Croagh Patrick on Easter Monday! I had already decided in my head that I was only going to go to the shoulder – 1. Because I was still wrecked from the weekend & 2. we didn’t actually start climbing it until 5pm so it was getting late.
If you have never done Croagh Patrick it is one of those annoying mountains were you actually have to climb a mountain before you get to climb the actually mountain – I’m sure that will make sense to some on ye! It also has a lot of scree from pretty much half way up the first mountain to the top of Croagh Patrick. I hate trying to climb this.
So we headed off and I started my self inflicted lunges to the shoulder. Didn’t take us as long as I would have thought, kept taking breaks when I needed them, but really felt it in the legs. It really is like just doing lunges up a hill!
We got to the shoulder and I was extremely glad that I had already decided to just to go to the shoulder. I nearly got blown off about 4 times – I knew there was a reason why I never liked mountain climbing in college!
It was a good workout though and was glad I had done it!
The weather was great for the week in the west – how often do we get to say that! So after work on Wednesday I decided to go for a cycle. It was only about 16km in total. The first half was nice and calm as I cycled along the lakes over to Glassillaun beach. To try and make it into a loop, I turned before the beach back up the Salruck road which is actually part of the Gaelforce West first run. I had been pre warned that there was a hill on this road – having driven the road lots of times, I hadn’t really noticed it! Well obviously cycling is a lot different to driving and I died about 5 deaths. It is the longest hill ever! And just when you think that’s it at the top you can see the next hill looming and your legs haven’t recovered from the first one!
It was a lovely evening for a cycle but once again it showed me that I really need to get out on the bike more!
The rest of the week was a write off! Too busy getting ready for the Bray run so didn’t get a chance to get out.
Got back on Sunday to a head cold so haven’t had a chance to get out this week either. Don’t want to make myself sicker by pushing myself!
Hopefully the second half of the week will be better!
Watch as Siobhan tackles the hill on the Connemara Adventure Challenge route for the first time as part of her training. Get a glimpse of the rest of the 31km adventure race route on a beautiful windy day in Connemara in the West of Ireland!