A rambling post about a half marathon, back injuries and turning 40.
OK, so long story short. I haven’t posted on BitchMittens for a REALLY long time.
Partly it was because I hurt my back while weightlifting, and after that, I was so whacked out on nerve blockers and lurching from one cortisone injection to another to be inclined to talk about the uplifting and inspirational value of sport. I’d also set up my own business, and found myself working days, nights and weekends without pause. So that’s basically where I’ve been for the past 12 months. In case anyone wondered!
SPOILER – Working too hard, stressing too much and not sleeping enough, will compound a serious injury and prevent your body from healing.
So that only took me a year to figure it out!
What a dope.
By the time I had copped on to myself, I’d spent a year off the water, and quite a lot of time when not working bonkers hours, feeling sorry for myself. Rowing is an addiction. Being on the water is a type of therapy. I think it’s especially appropriate therapy for certain nervous energy types. Being off the water took away a type of medicine. I tried a bunch of other things, (clinical pilates, bikes, swimming) but they all felt like exercise, and holy god stationary bikes are just tush-torture. Plain and simple.
To make matters worse, I turned 39. Which meant (ominous music) that 40 loomed.
They’re funny things, milestone years. Marketing studies have shown that people in the run-up to these (30, 40, 50 birthdays) behave differently than the rest. Interestingly, this errant behaviour is in the lead up to the milestone, and not after the fact, as I might have assumed. (Richard Shotton covers this, and how advertisers target those people, in his fascinating book on behavioural bias The Choice Factory)
So, you see – it’s official. This year is supposed to feel strange.
I woke up one morning and realised that I was middle-aged. And boy, was that a shock! I have no fears about getting older, I relish the idea of being a wise old owl. I just don’t want to groan when I sit down, or forget what my toes look like! But also it kicked me into gear. You only get one life, right? And I only had one back. And I wanted to feel like I did when this header picture was taken, the night after the Irish rowing champs, where I was physically fit, feeling strong, and totally fabulous.
I needed to do everything I could to get better. So I went back to basics. I slept. I drank water. I stopped lugging a huge handbag stuffed full of technology and knickers and bought a thing on wheels. I swapped my office chair for an ergonomic kneeling thing. I invested in a standing desk. I kept going back for more MRIs, kept chipping away at the exercises, at the doctors’ appointments. I weaned myself off the nerve blockers and despite my doubts, went for a small operation that would help cope with the nerve pain signals, perhaps for long enough to let me get better.
And then, after all that… I slowly began to get better!
I emerged from the mist, older, wiser and very much soggier about the middle. So then I set myself a challenge. This year, I would get ‘FIT 4 FORTY’. I would set myself a series of small challenges, while I am able to move – to help me find my way back to full fitness, before I begin the wild downhill ride of my later years.
Randomly I decided I would aim for the following things:
- Complete a half marathon
- PB a 5K run (My PB was 3 years, at about 24 minutes)
- PB a 2K erg test (The absolute definition of hell on earth, and even thinking about trying this makes me want to puke)
- Be able to do five chin ups (even at my very fittest, I could only do 3!)
- Be able to do a backwards crab (I did it in my twenties, so could I get this back??)
So I have very slowly set to training, and I have about 6 months to get there. I started about three months ago by walking, then running on sand. I did that for about a month. Then I started running longer distances. Checking the whole time that I wasn’t doing damage. And then last week, I completed a half marathon. I put one foot in front of the other. My only goal was to run the whole thing, and I did! I was hoping to do it in under 2 and half hours. My finish time was a respectable 2.14. I texted my spinal surgeon to say thanks, and had a little cry at the finish line.
Now I don’t want to do anything stupid, as I was injured for such a long time, but I also think having goals is a good thing. And so, with help and support from suitably medically qualified poeple I’m going to work towards a few more of these challenges. I’ll try and blog about them too!
I want to be #Fit4Forty.
Wish me luck!!
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(Where the intrepid Ellen goes lake-fishing and compares it to the trials and tribulations of the online dating site, Plenty of Fish)
Every good story starts with an outfit. Starting from top to fishtail. For POFL you’ll need a warm hat, long hair down and ideally facial hair required for maximum heat benefits (please see iconic fisherman Captain Birdseye, errrr and yes he is real life), waterproof coat with hood, 16 layers of clothing, waterproof pants and boots, glare glasses optional. Match everything and give up looking like a lady.
In contrast, POF outfit is usually just slackers clothing but pretending you are wearing something/nothing else, wink, wink.
Launching and navigating of boat on lake is a #manjob so find someone who knows what they are doing. This might require cash. It also helps if they are attractive too. Navigating your way around POF through the age-inappropriate ONS (one night stands), marrieds and perverts however, is unavoidable!
POFL Guide will have the expert knowledge to take you to various spots on the lake which will hopefully have fish, Brown Trout, Northern Pike, Perch, Roach, Salmon, Common Bream etc…
POF has loads of old trouts, trout pouts, slimy fish, slippery fish, common fish, wet fish and threesome fish.
The technique required to actually cast lures/artificial bait (which look like fish) to catch the fish can be learned. First you have to select your lure. There are some super camp glitter ones which I highly recommend or ones that look like small fish and even rat ones (the rat ones can also be found on POF!). You attach the lure on the end of the line then you must learn to cast, which requires new brain patterning. This is done in three steps which involve taking the lure to the mid point(ish) f the rod on the line, winding the reel till it is level with the rod, taking the two fingers around the line above the metal bar, opening the reel and then bringing the rod behind or more to the side of oneself and chucking the rod (whilst holding on to it) and releasing the lure on the line.
How many stages was that again? OK, so then trying to remember and execute the stages in a functioning manner takes about half an hour. Once you have done this correctly and the lure has (hopefully) flown through the sky and landed a bit of a distance away in the water, you shut the reel off and start to reel the lure in. Those are the basics. Then you have to make the lure look like it is swimming or even better make it swim like a sick fish as ‘Pike are opportunistic and love a sick fish’… also please see POF for opportunists. This is a skill in itself and is done by keeping the rod down in the water and making the rod go left, right, left to make to lure appear to be swimming. My lure looked like it wasn’t able to swim! A none swimming fish!
If there appears to be no fish on one part of the lake the guide will take you to other spots with the speedboat. This requires more layers of clothes then you think and waterproof boots, the guide will advise you what to wear before you leave for your trip but you can choose to ignore what he/says and remain ‘bang on trend’, freezing and wet and believe me you will get wetter than you think, unlike POF.
It can be truly blissful and almost like a meditative state casting, reeling in, ‘unleash the reel, cast, the lure, reel in, repeat’. My mantra whilst doing this was ‘please don’t catch a fish, please don’t catch a fish’. Watching swans fly overhead, a single bee low buzzing just on top of the water, being in nature and listening to the silence and stillness of it all, one feels like one is in a Planet Earth episode without any animals humping or eating each other.
The quietness of the lake is broken by being on a ‘drift’, this is where you let the boat drift (nothing to do with speeding cars, flying rubber and stick shifts, please see next blog) with the wind and current, by the excitement of a fish taking the lure and being reeled in as the rod bends with an almighty force into the lake. I was totally not expecting this or mentally prepared, so it involved a lot of screaming and running up and down the boat, holding the back of my hand to my forehead and trying not to faint. I am so not a drama queen. The fish that came out of the water was massive a seven-year-old Jerkster Perch which was totally the same size of Jaws…I was then instructed to do various things by the guide which I was barely able to do for all the dramatics…Anyways we managed to measure the fish (same, same POF always good to take a tape measure on a ONS FYI). It measured 1 meter 10 centimetres (you don’t get that on POF so I am told). I had never seen a fish as big as that in my whole life, let alone seen a real-life jerkoff perch. He weighed 22 something or others and then the guide put him back in the water.
We had been on the lake for about 3/4 hours and on the ride back to the harbour I was able to reflect on the experience as a whole. It was exhilarating, fun, and great to learn new skills but it was also calming, relaxing and quiet. I don’t know how I would have felt if I had actually caught a fish, probably cried! But I totally enjoyed the experience as a whole. The main thing was that when I got home I had a tan from the wind! How cool was that? I would also choose to have different life experiences such as POFL rather than be on POF FYI, ONS, STI, DHL.
Notes from the Ed
Ellen would like to thank her lovely guide for the day. She went out with Fishing Holidays – Pecheirelandepassion.com. You can find them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/peche-irlande-passion-107397099307685/.
I am bad at getting out of bed.
It’s not that I am not a morning person (my husband is not a morning person, his whole family are not morning people. Makes me fell like I am super duper good at getting up!) Sorry, where was I? Oh yeah, it’s not that I am not a morning person, it’s just so hard. Hard to move and greet the day when my bed is so lovely and warm and so very very safe. But it means every morning I hit the snooze button one too many times and then I am rushing around to get into work, which is only a 3 minute cycle so that will tell you how close I cut it!
I don’t like this. I want to use my mornings more. I want a morning routine that has a purpose other than get into to work without being noticeably tardy. I want to do some light yoga, read my book, do a crossword in bed, have a relaxing cup of tea maybe get some laundry sorted before the bustling begins.
And since the new year I have tried to make this happen by downloading apps for activities in the morning, by setting a bajillion alarms, by actually going to bed a little bit earlier. But nooooooooooooooooooooooo. I’m still motherfuppin’ sleeping till I need to get gone! I mean, I’m sort of awake but there is this little voice that says ‘sssssh, no, stay here,” or better yet comes up with really good reasons for staying in bed longer. Like, “I don’t neeeeeeed to wash my hair, it’s better for my hair if I don’t,” or another classic “I don’t want to disturb Cormac too much with my moving around, best stay in bed.” This morning I convinced myself (very easily) that 20 minutes of light yoga was simply too much in the morning if one isn’t used to it. That I best snooze for another 15 before getting up to do an nice introductory 5 minutes of stretching and yoga. Did I get up for the 5 minutes of stretching and yoga? Of course not! And I would love to say this is because it’s all dark and wintery but I am just as useless in the summer time!
This has got to stop.
How am I meant to conquer the world and succeed in my goals if I can’t even get out of bed?
This isn’t a “how to” blog post. I haven’t figured this out yet. This is a “help me” blog post. I’m reaching out to you, Bitchmitten readers. HELP ME! Any tips would be appreciated. Any sage advice will be taken. Any words of wisdom will be welcomed. Or are ye all the same as me? Struggling to get out of bed, wishing to hold on to those precious warm sheets, those perfect fluffy pillows. Or are you on the flip side and think I’m a crazy wagon for wanting to get out of bed sooner. Maybe I should be grateful with how my mornings go. I’m sure there are people who wish they had no other reason to get up than to just make it in to work on time, but they have a dog to walk, kids to get to school, a 7am train to catch.
And maybe I am mad, but I’d like to get up. I feel if I could get up and control my morning that I can do anything else that day throws at me.
I was thinking about resolutions and how the end of the old year always brings about doubts and thoughts about the new year.
I read this post recently and it got me thinking and reflecting on past years, and past resolutions.
1) Why limit it to January to become a better person? And what does ‘better’ mean? Why should you only limit yourself to ‘better’? Why not healthier? Or more self-aware? Or simply just happier?
2) Big bangs never work and imposing lots of change at the same time is a sure-fire way of disheartneing yourself and probably not keeping up that change.
Based on that, this post really appealed to me as every month it introduces a new ‘self care’ element rather than self-improvements – making myself better for myself rather than to be perceived as better (oh come on we don’t say we’re going to run a marathon to be healthier, we say it to show off).
Of course there’s things this blog fails to mention, like;
– What do you do when one month is up?
– Do you add the new monthly goal on top or do you drop Month one for Month two?
I’ll let you know, shall I? I plan on trying this and keeping you posted, because after all if I don’t write it down – did it really happen?!
From a personal persepective, this year was a really tough one; losing loved ones, moving country, planning a wedding etc. and what really got me through was frankly becoming a bit more selfish. Taking a bit more time for myself. Going for that run even if it meant the house wouldn’t be tidy for visitors. Having that drink with colleagues, even if it meant sacrificing gym time. Sometimes being selfish really saved me. I was getting burned out and I was getting sadder and more tired and the loop was just going round and round.
So what appeals to me for this year and this ‘resolution’ is to just take a bit more time and try and put myself first from time to time. I spoke to my firends about this over a few pints, and to my sister-in-law and it seemed a common theme on the ‘resolution’ front – doing something for oneself but to self-care rather than to self-improve.
So here’s my proposal to you, by all means run the marathon (I’ve also signed up for a Half because I’m silly and a hypocrite) but try and focus on YOU for the sake of you. Take that time to be a little selfish, accept that the house may not look perfct but at least you get to spend time meditating or running or doing whatever it is you want to do for you.
So, month 1 is ‘feed your soul’ – see you in a month.
I’m a scaredy cat…
This is not new information. I don’t like ‘dangerous’ things. Dangerous things being jumping off a wall or playing skipping rope with my 4 year old nephew. I could never understand thrill seekers. Adrenaline junkies. What’s wrong with you?! What’s wrong with being comfy and warm and SAFE!
Well I married an adrenaline junkie.
And now we share hobbies… But guess who won’t learn to crochet?!
So I’m on a mountain bike every so often and this is what I’ve learned about cycling and funnily enough about life.
Don’t brake too much. You spend all your time when mountain biking pedalling like fuck up some shitty incline and then bombing it back down at an unnatural speed. With twists and turns and bumps and branches and bog and wild boars coming at you! If you’re a scaredy cat like me that sounds like a lesson in torture. Let’s burn your legs getting to the top and make you cry like a baby to get back down. So what do I do? I brake. And what happens when I brake? Well many things actually.
My husband is getting away from me
What’s the point in mountain biking with my husband if I’m not anywhere near him? Seriously?! He’s gone! Like the wind Bullseye! How is it ever any fun if I am spending my whole time catching up? And how is it any fun for him if he’s spending his whole time waiting? And I felt this was true for life as well. What’s the point of being with him if I’m not with him. I need to keep moving forward with our lives, staying in the moment but always looking forward, not hanging back because I don’t know what to expect. Because I think I’ll fail. Life’s too short for such bullshit. Be there, with him. Always.
I risk skidding/falling/failing
You’d think that when you feel you’re going to fast you should hit the brakes. False. First time I hit the brakes mountain biking I went straight over the handle bars, landing face first into some mulch and cutting my lip. Second time I broke, I skidded hard, panicked and fell. I could go on but really all you need to know that braking in a panicked state usually leads to me being a pile of embarrassed and bruised bones. When I tried to ‘let go’ and stopped grappling for the brakes I noticed I was grand, a little watery-eyed from the wind but grand. Didn’t fall off, over, under, break myself and cry all the way home… I was shitting it but I was physically grand. I think this can be adopted for life. Don’t try and predict the unexpected by stopping before you even begin, embrace the wind in your eyes and the risk you could fail, because how else will you succeed!
I lose trust in my bike
I am convinced she is gonna fall apart the moment we hit a certain speed. (Yes of course my bike is a she!) She’s not gonna… I need to believe in that bike. I need to work with that bike. I need to trust the bikes and the people around me and work with what I’ve got in life!
I lose trust in myself
How can I ever succeed if I never even try. I am big one for backing away from tricky tasks for risk of failure or I am just too afraid of bad outcomes, mountain biking is no exception. Self belief in your worth and your abilities is so important and it’s something people really struggle with. If I can trust in myself and my abilities to control that bike, I won’t need to brake, you know until I actually need to brake. And if can do that, well that’s the first step in believing in myself in general. Surely…
I don’t truly reap the rewards
Like I said in the beginning, you spend so much time working really hard at mountain biking. Pushing up those hills, cursing your tired legs, feeling like your cycling through hummus. Why waste all that effort on being too afraid to really jump in when you’ve earned your reward? Why let fear stop you when you know it’s ok, why let fear stop even if you don’t. Even if I fall off and hurt myself, cycle into bogland and end up covered in brown, it’s an experience. One I can learn from, one I can live with. Not trying is worse.
That got deep! Sorry about that but you have a surprisingly a lot of time to think when you’re cycling.
I met Emily about a month ago at a kid’s birthday party. That’s where we, parents, meet up these days… or during the coffee shop for morning fix. She asked if I would be okay to type an end of season blog having written my first one at the start of the season around February/March.
To be honest I’ve been trying to find the time since and now, well here goes…
Since February I’ve been training for the Castle Series first sprint triathlon in Gort, Co. Galway. Whoever is familiar with this, knows it is a series of triathlons based in castle grounds across Ireland, England and France. I couldn’t have picked better location! I highly recommend it and will be signing up again for the longer distance events in 2018. It wasn’t the best of weather in early May. The water was so cooold!! I was dreading the swim, and I wasn’t the only one. Plenty of lost souls threading water on the start line had that familiar ‘I am sh*tting it’ look, including yours truly. New wet suit, new goggles, new thoughts, will I manage the transitions?, will my legs feel like concrete blocks after the bike? Then ‘BANG!’ the gun fired and we were on, heads down in the murky water, the first experience of being swam over, kicked left, right and centre. Once you’ve come to terms with the initial shock, the next sensation is the lack of visibility, not helped by my normal eyesight running a close second to Mr. Magoo. The only saving grace was the ginormous orange inflatable course buoys. The first turn arrived and I realised my breathing had settled, my stroke lengthened and I kicked for the shore with all my might.
Out of the water, wet suit half down (careful!), run to T1, wet suit off, now hopping on one leg, helmet on, race belt on, bike shoes on, bike off the rack and I’m running to the start in 3 inches of the finest muck Ireland has to offer (see pic 1). Then back to earth, I couldn’t clip my shoes in and it was time for some foot stamping and cursing. Once I’m finally going on the bike it felt amazing. 21km passed so quickly, a quick energy gel in for that extra sugar kick and I’m cruising. T2, bugger, fell off the bike, the sweet kiss of concrete on my knee, there are children present, don’t swear. Bike racked, trainers on and now for a run off-road around the castle grounds for 4km. Surprisingly, my legs felt pretty good and I flew through the finish line at 1h 21min. My first tri (new lingo!) medal, wow, I was hooked.
Since then I’ve completed a sprint tri in Kilrush, Ennis, the Hell of the West in Kilkee (full Olympic distance, I did the 41km bike and 10km hill run) and the Castleconnell sprint tri. In meantime I’ve also done the Limerick half marathon, Tough Mudder (full 11 miles with obstacles along the way for good measure) and the Newport bike sportive 60km. Along with my road bike group we’ve completed two long rides around the lake in Killaloe. The first was in June with Group 2, averaging 22kph and more recently in September with Group 1, averaging 28kph, 8 lads and little ol’ me, the only woman! Wonderwoman, imagine the theme tune, haha. And I did my second Dublin marathon which sucked! Running did not come easily to me this year, but another one under my belt is ok for now.
Basically, my Summer consisted of 5-6 training days a week. Swimming in the lake or pool 3 times a week. Not running much, just twice a week while my son had his athletics but it felt like I was cycling constantly. Every Wednesday, evening sessions, 500m swim and stationary bike intervals afterwards, hill repeats.
Every Sunday morning session with the lads, 70-80-90km routes with a restorative coffee afterwards.
I do rowing and bike turbo sessions at home, often at 6am, before heading off to work or else at 9pm in the evening before heading to bed.
My home also seems to have turned into a mini gym. Bikes and a turbo trainer, Concept2 erg, chin-up bar, 3 sport bags always ready, one swim bag (indoor), one swim bag (wetsuits), and yet another packed specifically for each race. It’s funny but as I look around me it’s still the same now!!
Looking back you can get a bit rose-tinted but it wasn’t easy at all. In the middle of all the mayhem I started a new job in June, but I had to keep my old job as well, such is the modern world. So it was 2 jobs, an active 5 year old who was on ‘his’ summer holidays, entertaining, training, cooking, shopping, the lot. Don’t ask me how I did it by myself, I truly don’t know. I had my ups and downs, more than my fair share of complete meltdowns and plenty of sleepless nights.
But despite all this, or perhaps because of it, I learned to be organized like the CEO of multinational. Dinners were prepared in advance and child care always had to be planned well in advance based on my training schedule. Although food was quick I tried not to let that lower the standard of nutrition. I’m also a firm believer in organic produce and most meals consisted of meat (lamb and sirloin steak mostly), fish, tuna and lots of veg, particularly sweet potatoes and avocados. I found I was snacking constantly on nuts, dried fruit, crackers, quark (I had to look it up too), nut butters (yum!). Now when I think back, I often ended up having a second dinner around 10pm at night. It actually felt like I was eating constantly.
Despite all this, motivation for me was never an issue. Once I’d signed up for a race, that kept me going. The high I felt was amazing. Meeting like minded people at the events or even while out training. People for whom this lifestyle is our normal, is a tremendous feeling.
What’s for the future? Well, next year I plan on doing my first half Ironman, and all going well the year after my first full one. In order to prepare for the step up in class I am planning on hiring a coach to help me to train more smartly and effectively.
I am also hoping Santa will be kind and I’ll find a new carbon-fibre bike under the tree this year (no I’m not demanding at all!).
By the way, I can’t let the opportunity go by without mentioning how expensive it is to exercise in Ireland?
Membership fees, race fees, decent gear… thousands upon thousands of euro… but hey, who needs high heels anyway?!?!
Our intrepid adventuress Ellen (just back from Backpacking in Brazil) – now braves the epic event that is Lisdoonvarna…
Fair Game’ ‘Good Sport’ ‘Pocket Billiards’ #matchmakingfestival
Ever since I came to Ireland, I have always wanted to go to the phenomenon that is the Lisdoonvarna Match Making Festival. With my new ‘state of consciousness’ and my trying not to give a ‘fiddle de-de mama’ attitude, my lovely friend and I decided to go – ‘for the craic’. We got dressed in ‘going out, out’ clothes (insert Mickey Flanagan sketch). Head-to-toe Brown Thomas various labelled clothing, times two peeps. We looked ‘well sophisticated!’.
We were told to stand on the road in Lahinch at about 22:30 to catch a minibus taxi-van. We did, and magically one turned up, with six other young ladies. The local bouncer who helped us get the taxi van told the driver to ‘load them in!’ So like a herd of a cattle, we embarked on the small country road to Lisdoonvarna. The six young ladies in the mini bus were in fine form and took requests and sang songs all the way to the festival, one song being ‘Lisdoonvarna’ which consisted of just singing ‘Lisdoonvarna’ over and over again (insert Christy Moore (who is not a woman) song here). The taxi driver is nicknamed ‘the horse’, apparently because of his stallion-ness (aforementioned horse giggles to himself as he says this to the singing minibus full of women).
He then drops us off and tells us he will pick us up at 13:45 ‘by the bins’…
What then ensues is delightful Irish cross road of pubs, hotels and jovial carnage.
After watching a young fella throw up in between two parked cars we decided drink healthily – obviously vodka and water. We then go to The Matchmaker Hotel to see the legend Willie Daly, The Matchmaker! He was just about to leave with his famous matchmaking huge leather bound book in an Aldi plastic bag, when my lovely friend who knew Willie, got him to stay a bit longer so I could get the ‘magic rubbings’ from the book and a photo with Willie! Too excited! Willie gave me a matchmaking application form which included a space for car registration number…
One fella started to chat to us, he looked at us and said ‘you’ve just come here to take the piss’…#rumbled
The hotel was sparsely furnished with wooden country style dinning chairs stacked up agains the back wall and three rows of them at the side of the dance floor! The punters were all ages, types and sexes. The place was rammers and this was only one of the venues. We sat to the edge at the back and side part of the dance floor and took up our voyeuristic positions. Spotted a younger, well girthed ‘Dad bod’ (man with a figure like your dad), farmer type boy at the opposite side of the room but then proceeded to be ‘cock blocked’ by ‘auld’ fellas literally blocking our view.
The band were amazing! Played various country tunes followed by Footloose and Maniac (insert tune) at the end of the night. Young fellas were dancing rave to country music and auld fellas were jiggling with their belts and jeans but everyone was dancing, having the craic, introducing themselves and chatting! I must say fair play to the men of Lisdoonvarna, they were tipsy, shouty, spitty, hilarious, charming, chatty and approached women. Not one person was on a mobile phone!
We got mauled, touched, stroked and at one point a stocky young fella gave me a dry shampoo, (which is like a dry hump for the scalp) before straddling the woman seated in front of us.. . n American approached my gorgeous friend and proceed to show her on his phone his houses, the size of his boat and where Florida was on the map!
We decided to go ring-side for the last part of the night and moved on to the chairs around the dance floor. Two very drunk men asked us where we were from and when I said that I was English one of them pulled a disgusted face, staggered around, waved his ‘no’ finger at me, shook his head and said out loud ‘NO’ and moved unsteadily on to the next woman.
We then spotted a couple PDAing in the form of a snog…
The lady snogger was giving the man snogger instructions to ‘slow down’ which no doubt was informative and a match to be made in the process.
The Fields of Athenry played to announce the end of the night and we walked down the street to await our taxi van by the bins!
The atmosphere was super great, everyone, was just having a really great time. The craic was mighty.
We met our lovely other bus ladies and waited for the taxi-van (thank goodness no one had moved the bins). Revellers from all over walked past having the craic and the chat. Then my friend noticed from the corner of her eye a fella was relieving himself in front of the wall by the bins. I however noticed that he was relieving himself too much and was actually having a ‘tommy tank!’ Hoping that would not be the last memory of Lisdoonvarna Festival; a super hot, age-inappropriate hipster type man walked past and bid us ‘good evening’! Horaah!
The horse and the taxi minibus van pulled up! We informed the horse to drive really fast at the hipster man, knock him over, break his legs and put him in ‘da van’….#thatistruelove
I critique my brother-in-law a lot… Some say it’s bullying but it’s merely critiquing, advising if you will.
‘Stop drinking that cup of custard!”
‘Why did buy those OLD MAN SHOES?!’
YOU CAN’T JUST HATE SIGOURNEY WEAVER!! (!!!!)
I do it because I love him and because I want him to be and have the best.
But one thing I have never critiqued him on was his choice in a wife, a partner in crime, a best friend, Clo.
I remember the first time we met, I picked you and the boys up in my teeny Clio to bring you on an adventure to Glendalough. Along the winding roads, as the boys complained in my choice of playlist (there was a lot of Glee at the time!) you sang with me, over their complaints. We giggled, we whispered, the boys were afraid. They saw it as a bad thing. How could it be? From that day one we became closer and closer. A bond had formed. More like sisters than friends, we’d make breakfast together, go for long walks, lie on top of one another on our in-laws couches (don’t know how John felt about that), pushed each other to strive for great achievements, competed with each other in our own little ways and would discuss (on the daily) both our strongly similar and contrasting opinions on life. And as we grew up together (which we did, we were only babies when we met) we developed into our own personalities. As your hair got shorter, mine got longer. As you became a big city dweller, I moved further and further in the wild Irish countryside. But the bond remained. And although there are times when we both think we’re mad, there is one thing we both agree on. Our boys and just how important they are.
I am so lucky (and relieved) to have you as my partner in the life of being with the Ryan boys. They are both beautifully easy going and hard work all at the same time. To have you through all the good stuff and all the shitty stuff that will happen in our life time as a family. For you to be the aunt to my children (their cool aunt who speaks many languages, has blonde hair and hops around Europe and beyond). For you to laugh with me as the boys create yet another competition for themselves. For you to make me real french toast as everyone else sleeps. For you to be the logical mind to my rambling one. For you to be my sister.
Because you act just like my other sisters do ( big up to Karen and Clare!)
So on this day, just under a month to your wedding. Before the throngs of family come to hug and kiss you and shake your hand warmly. Before my husband descends on you and cracks your back with one of his bear hugs, before our mother-in-law makes us weep with yet another beautiful speech and before your fiancé cries (and he will) as you walk down the aisle. I want to be the first to welcome you into the family, the family you have always been a member of.
Last week was a hot one (like seven inches from the midday sun? Santana? No?). Folks were eating ice-cream, sunglasses were on, girls were sporting the latest summer looks down by the river as the lads showed their daring bravery by jumping from the bridge into the cool waters of the Shannon. My father was in a paddling pool. Poor fuckers stuck in offices were slowly but surely melting into puddles of figures and data. It was a glorious Irish summer!
Me, this was the week I joined our local gym.
Gyms are usually hot places. In a heatwave… Well!
After getting a good weight session in I was boiling. Dying. Puddles were forming wherever I stood. I was looking forward to jumping into the cool waters of the pool. As I began peeling of my gym gear, sweat rolling down my forehead, I noticed something. My bra was stuck, literally. The sweat had welded the fabric to me. I never thought I would be betrayed by my most supportive friend. My sports bra. A heavily structured piece that is secure most days. Today, was like it was made from No More Nails. This shit was not coming off. It got to my underarms and no further! So you can just imagine, beetroot red from the training, glistening with heatwave sweat, in my undies with my sports bra only half off. No one around to help a sister out. I started panicking. Was I going to have to just put it back on, walk out to the pool where husband no doubt was already bombing it down the slide to tell him that I am stuck and we need to go home? No I need to get in that pool just to feel human again. Do I just pretend it’s a sporty bikini top and just fuck it and go swimming? No, because the bastard thing has to come off at some point.
Having a fear of being trapped, in anything really, I started to breathe really quickly. I started to feel really claustrophobic and it was only getting hotter. And I couldn’t stop sweating! I was no longer able to get a good grip. I was going to die wearing this thing.
There was only one thing for it, I was going to have to hulk my way out of the bra.
Worried that a more delicate and elegant lady might walk in and spot me ripping my sports bra to pieces, I ran into the toilet cubicles. Great, not only am I trapped in my one clothing, but also in a teeny cubicle with the scent of pee. Sometimes kids forget to flush and that’s ok but it was not helping the situation.
Not convinced this was even going to work I decided that I would have to rip/loosen the elastic enough to push it down over my hips. I grabbed one of the shoulder straps and started pulling, hard. I could hear the stitching creaking under the pressure. I forced my shoulder up and out! Now for the next one, ok, squeeze! Sweat still pumping, breath getting more shallow. What if this doesn’t work and now I am just a woman with a one strapped sports bra! Squeeeeeeeze. Pull. At this point my arm starts to get sore and cramping from being forced into a position it is not used to. Ow, breathe, ow, pull. Once more. Is this was birth feels like??? BOTH SHOULDERS ARE FREE. Now, I just need to get it over my hips, my fine, child-bearing Nolan hips I got off my Daddy. Pushing the bra down, hearing the fibres stretch, feeling the fabric tear, praying it will be over soon. Shimmying, pulling, shimmying once more. Pop! Off it came!
I could have ran around the gym with this surge of freedom I felt! But since I was no longer wearing anything supportive that would have been foolish.
So on went the togs and into the pool I jumped, revelling in my sweet release…