End of the Season

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.

 

Pic 1: Muddy...

Pic 1: Muddy…

 

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.

 

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Pic 2: Muddier…

 

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.

 

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Pic 3: Only woman of the bunch!

 

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?!?!

 

Monika 🙂

Towards a better me: Part 11

I have sat down to write this post at least twenty times and re-written it closer to ten times. I have not been happy with any version so far. Not even this one. But I think I need to rip of the band-aid.

 

I think it is fair to say that I have been some what lacking in motivation with everything, training, writing and even cooking. The only thing I seem to have the motivation for is reading. Each day is simply, eat, work, read, sleep and do it all over again tomorrow.

 

I am currently over half way through another 12 weeks personal training course. But I don’t feel like I am progressing at all. Firstly, my personal trainer, Denise moved to newer pastures three weeks into the course. It was a bit of a struggle to hold back the tears on her last day. She was so lovely and chatty. Without her pestering me each week on whether I have attended all of my classes, I don’t feel like I’m pushing myself enough.  I’m like ah sure its “Games of Thrones” tonight, that so much more important than going to a class, right! I am slacking, I know this but can’t seem to shake free from it. I haven’t even done a single session that wasn’t a personal training or class.

 

Each week I tell myself I am going do better, I am going behave. I will go to my classes. I need to focus but I just can’t seem to achieve it. It didn’t really help that I was on holidays for a week and half. The PT sessions are released for booking in week batches on the Tuesday the week before. All of the prime evening and morning sessions go so fast. You need to get on real quick if you want to get the slot you want. I had planned to do the training on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday once I was back but being over in France I completely forgot and didn’t get on until later and there was nothing. So, my one and half week break became a two week break.

 

Then last week again the bookings went so fast even though I was checking every hour waiting for them to be released. I only managed to get things booked for the weekend. But then ended going up home for my mother’s birthday instead. So over half way through and missing three weeks! My rhythm is broken and I don’t know how to fix it. It isn’t helped by lengthy recovery times after. My joints are aching something terrible for four or five days. I was so thankful that this week is going much better. But no my lower back is in agony.

 

Another thing I am struggling with is food. Those who know me knows my love affair with food. I love food. Food is emotion. It’s comfort, it’s exciting, it’s memory. Food can evoke so much. When I get homesick, I attempt to make my mum’s beef stew. Its never as good as hers. But it’s enough to tie me over. If I’m really bad and heading up to her soon I’ll put a request for it. While over in France for holidays, Pierre brought me to a Michelin star restaurant, Clovis. To say it was an amazing food experience is a massive understatement. I can’t wait to go back next year!

 

There was a moment earlier in the year, when my boss was selling her practice, that I considered possible doing a culinary course. I love cooking and blogging about cooking. There is so much I want to learn about, to understand flavours and textures better. It was a very tempting idea, but a risky one. What if I wasn’t actually good at it. What if I did have what it takes. If I hadn’t had a mortgage, I might of taken the plunge. Maybe one day I will.

 

But at the moment, I am not really cooking. My poor KitchenAid is sitting on the counter unused and unloved. My dinners of late have been very lazy. Just chicken or salmon with broccoli with sweet chilli sauce. While it is quite tasty, there isn’t anything exciting about it. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are just becoming monotonous. I long to get back into the kitchen and makes something new and exciting. But everything is hectic and busy. I hardly seem like I have had a moment to rest, a moment to breathe.

 

This week so far I have been moderately well behaved, I have taken my meds (most days), ate relatively well, been into the gym twice for two intense work outs. I was even inspired enough to make a new recipe, Garlic and Pepper Chicken Stir-fry. It was very tasty.

 

I do feel like giving up sometimes. Ever since my little face drop during the 5k back in March, my period has been consistently absence. I can’t help feeling sometimes that this isn’t gonna happen for me. Every passing month my belief is waning and I think that is where my lack of motivation is coming from.

 

 

Towards A Better Me: Part 8

The First Race

 

This week finished with the first milestone of this journey the Castleconnell 5 k run.

 

Sunday morning, I was up early for the race. Rushing because I was supposed to be on the road at 9am as I was meeting my sisters at 11am in Castleconnell. Thankfully(?) Pierre was injured and could not run his Ballycotton 10 so I dragged him with me. We arrived there at 11:15 and texted the girls to say I was there and where were there. “Eh I’m like an hour away” replies Rhona. That’s when I double checked the text and realised we were meeting between 12 and 12:30. Oops. Better early than late, right? So I grabbed myself a hot chocolate and some cheeky sausage rolls and sat back into the car to wait. Eventually, the elder sister arrived with the nephews and we headed up to the community hall to sign in and meet Rhona. We chatted for a bit before heading down to get ready. With the boys in the buggy, we walked to start and a good bit past it to World’s End as it is called. When we walked back up, the active warm up had started and I tried do it to but I did feel very self-conscience. I have no idea why. It’s hardly any different from the warm-up in the bootcamp. Dad made it to the start line to wish us good luck before the off. We left the boys with him and Pierre and got ourselves ready.

 

 

race-2

Some very serious stretching before hand

 

 

And then we were off, slowly at first as there was a lot of people surrounding us. Eventually it spread out a bit so we could run beside each other. The first kilometre seemed to go by quickly and without too much struggle. I was falling a little behind my sisters and was not able to chat like them. After the 2km mark it started to get worse. I was struggling to get breathe in and everything started to hurt. My mood was very sour. Karen and Rhona said they were happy to take my abuse. I did also warn Karen she better move to the inside or I might throw her out on to the road. (I didn’t mean it, really, I swear!) I slowed to a walk briefly. As I approached the halfway mark, the pain really started. All on the right hand side of my body. My shoulder, torso, hip, leg and knee were very sore. But in hindsight, what was more worrying, the right side of my face drooped. I don’t know how long it lasted, I was just trying to keep going through the pain. Trying to breathe in enough air, I was very aware of my lip drooping. But I wasn’t even sure was it real. Just thought it can’t be a stroke otherwise I would not be able to keeping running. It wasn’t really until Rhona said she noticed the drooping too that my concerns started )I am going to the doctor to get it checked out and hopefully it won’t be anything.)

 

But I kept going, the 3km to 4km seemed to never end. There were moments when I just wanted to cry. I wanted to quit. I walked again briefly two more times. Karen and Rhona trying to encourage me forward but their words just annoyed me more. I revolted against the encouragement taking longer than I had planned for to get going again. The last km seemed as short as the first. Or maybe it was just that the last one was just so everlasting. I could feel the pain of a blister on my arch of my foot. It felt so uncomfortable. As we rounded the bend, I saw my mother with my eldest nephew, Conor, who then ran the last stretch with his mother (though I think he was actually dragged over the line at the end.) I just focused at the line, trying not to cry. I ran straight through the crowd at the end. I didn’t even go to get my mug and water. Just found somewhere alone and pulled the runners off of me.

 

 

race-3

Mere seconds from the finish line

 

 

I ran it nearly entirely in 34 minutes. I had barely ran 2.5 km in interval runs. I should have been so proud of myself. But I wasn’t. I felt nothing. I felt distant. My mood was very poor. I was very grumpy. Even now, I still feel very emotionless thinking about it, which if you know me, emotional is normally my status. I really can’t explain it. Maybe, I just don’t believe that I actually did it. But the first big milestone on this journey has been passed.

 

And that’s something.

Towards A Better Me: Part 7

 

Lacking Motivation

 

The past few weeks have been really tough for me. There is a lot of stuff going on in my life at the moment. And it all has me extremely stressed out. It always feels like it one step forward two steps back. Every time I seem to make progress towards potentially having a baby, some new obstacle rears its stupid ugly head. It’s so frustrating and de-moralising. It’s so hard when these road blocks crop up, to keep going forward. I am a very emotional person. I can very excited over things. It can be quite a rollercoaster. Sometimes, I wish I was more like Pierre. He is always in the middle emotionally.

 

I had taken a day off work as I had to go get a glucose test done. It’s not easy trying to drink Lucozade when you are not hungover! But thankfully, all is good. I did arrange for my personal training with Denise a bit earlier than normal. We went down to the new personal training centre. We started off with step ups alternating with the battle rope. Man, that thing is not as ease is it looks. Trying to keep that up for 30 seconds was really tough. This was followed up with three round of bench presses using a 20kg bar. Finishing up with squats with the 10kg powerbag and my all time favourite walking lunges. Urgh. Nearly fell over on the third round. Afterwards, I had booked myself in for a new gym programme. I felt like I had outgrown the circuit room. So, Denise whipped one up for me. Looking forward to giving it a go at the weekend. I was quite stiff the following day but yoga loosened that up a bit.

 

Wednesday arrived, and all the emotions I had been trying to shove down came bubbling to the surface. I came home from work. I felt so lost. I didn’t know what to with myself. Everyone seems to have an opinion on what I should be doing. I ended up having a fight with Pierre and then with my mother and father. I even hung up on my mother, when she agreed with Pierre. Seriously, can anyone just be on my side once in a while. Instead of going to Bootcamp, I sat on the couch and cried. I thought what was the point of going. Everything was conspiring against to keep me from being a mother. Even if the regulating of my periods was the first step to being in a position to conceive, current events meant that it wouldn’t be advisable to even try, at least not for now. Maybe, it was down to turning 31 recently. Maybe, it was down to me having my period (yay?). This is the first time in my entire life where I have had a natural period back to back. I should be happy about that. But with the things going on at the moment, it was having the opposite effect. It was like my body was taunting me. Oh, look you have a normal cycle, but you can’t do anything about it!

 

Even in work the following day, I just wasn’t right. I was just so upset. I just felt that it was so unfair. I just threw myself into a set of accounts. I was so stressed out and upset, Judi even recommended going out for some air. But I didn’t go, I probably should have. I came home and didn’t go to pilates. I sat down, ate my dinner. And wrote. When I wrote the first blog post, it felt so good to get the feelings down. So, I hoped doing it again would to. It didn’t. I felt so lost. I feel like I am a shadow. A leaf being blowing around by a gust of wind but not in the direction I want to go in.

 

I had another personal training session on Friday, as it was only time available with Denise. I couldn’t miss that too. Denise would certainly kill me for that. So, I bucked up and went. This was the start of the final week after all, I got in early so I could talk to Susan on the desk about my options going forward. After discussing how I got on and what I enjoyed. I really love doing the PT sessions and its mostly down to Denise being great craic. So, I signed up for the intense kickstarter package for another six weeks. With the intense kickstarter, I get two personal training sessions and three classes. So no excuses! Its an extra €100 but thankfully they are flexible with the payment.

 

We were down in the personal training centre again. And this time, we had it to ourselves. It didn’t take long for Denise to grill me on my classes. I did confess to her that I didn’t do them this week and why. I started off with upright rows with two 8kg kettlebells while lying face down on a bench. I had done this in the second week session but with two 6kg dumbbells. This was paired with kettlebell swings with one of the 8kg. I have to say, I POWERED through these. This was followed up with using the beast of a leg press. It was massive. It was tough. I was a bit scared that it would crush me. This was paired with steps up intertwined with the chats about all the shit that is going on. We finished up on with the squats with the powerpivot bar and the rip60 rows (the leaning tower of pain). And then it was over, with it a lot of the stress that had been ruining my week.

 

It was a very good session. It certainly made me regret not doing the classes earlier. I took my frustrations out. I chatted about it all with Denise and the other girl in our session. She had such a positive non-stress attitude. I was certainly envious of that. She was all “Ah sure fuck it!” Man, I wish I could be like that. My life would be so much easier if I could just let all the stress and shit go.

 

Saturday morning as usual is weigh-in. No change on the scales, I was so disappointed. I was quite pressed for time, as we were going over to our friend’s house to watch the Ireland match. So I didn’t do a full routine. My sister Rhona was pestering me about not doing enough running. Well, no running. But it is hard to find time to do it! So instead of doing a full routine, I just did 20 minutes of intervals on the treadmill. Got through 2.5 km with roughly half and half walking and running.

 

I went for tea and scones with the girls on Sunday, while of husbands trained for the Ballycotton 10. We chatted, looked at an ultrasound scan and I had a scone (bold I know!) The boys joined us for lunch/dinner and I had a bun burger (bolder I know but I only ate half though). It was very enjoyable and it was so destressing. Nearly more so than, the personal training. Sometimes, all you need is your girlies to set you straight.

 

 

Weight: 12st 8.4lbs

Run: 2.5km on a treadmill. (walk/run intervals)

Feelings: Emotional, Raw at the start of the week. But feeling much better at that end of the week.

 

 

 

Wedding Day Belly Love

I have always had a belly. From as long as I can remember my belly has stuck out. I got older, hit puberty, grew a fierce rack and hips and my belly got a little bigger. Then it got a lot bigger… And then it got small again. But it’s forever been there. And I have forever had issue with it. And for years I tried to hide it. Accentuate the other, more desirable parts to me. Hide the bulge at all costs. But my God, that’s so boring. So I stopped and started wearing clothes that showed off my lovely curves (and they are lovely – I truly truly love them.)

 

Well that was until I got engaged. And I looked like NOTHING (nothing, nothing, nothing, nada, nope) in the bridal magazines. And I realised this was the one day I would be COMPLETELY (hello spotlight!) on show. Everyone will be looking at me, everyone will notice. I’m in white, it can’t be helped.

 

We went dress shopping. And I fell in love. I fell in love with a dainty, sexy number with hints on 1930s glamour. I tried it one and instantly my mother quoted Jessica Rabbit, “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way.” I looked so good in it, everyone thought so (and I brought quite the entourage). My only little (teeny weeny) niggle? My belly showed through. Only a tiny bit but I was scared that at the wrong angle or with bad knicker situation (which did happen a little) it could look so much worse. Everyone would see the belly, the one thing I do not want to show! But the dress was just too good to pass up, I was in love with inspite of my belly. And I even thought to myself that maybe (for once and for all) I could flatten my tummy.

 

Well that didn’t happen…

 

And my knickers cut in a bit if I let them slip…

 

So I had belly on my wedding day… and I still looked INSANE! I mean look at me!

 

belly-9

 

LOOK!

 

belly-6

 

AT!

 

 

ME!

 

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FIERCE! Even with no make up on and hungover to boot!

 

belly-3

 

I can’t tell you how many times I freaked out between picking my dress and actually wearing it on the day. I was petrified my belly would ruin everything, that I wouldn’t be beautiful. That I would be the first bride in history to not make her groom swoon. I tried eating better, working out specifically to target said region (which is a waste of time!) and tested several thousand pairs of knickers! I even scoured the internet in search of similar buxom women who rocked a fitted gúna on their big day. I found some by the way, they were all stunners! But I was still afraid…

 

But I look at these photos now and see that I was beautiful and happy. Not that I’m fat, not that my belly sticks out… that I am beautiful and happy. Happy.

 

I want the brides of tomorrow to wake up to just how beautiful you are, how happy you are and how good your dress makes you feel. You guys will be perfect, as I was. You guys will be fierce, as I was. You guys will be so utterly happy, as I am.

 

Thanks to Hinterland Stills for taking our shots, you guys were KINGS!

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