October 16, 2016

Coney Island Magic

by sligowarriorqueen

Its been a while, but here I am turning up again like the bad penny. A bit battered and bruised, Sligowarriorqueen got a lovely shine up yesterday. It was the Coney Island Annual Race. This one is special, you go (note: I do not say run) from Strandhill coastline across the sand, out go Coney Island. If you delay, you will get stranded on the island by the incoming tide……
Before the race, I suppose I coneyislandwould have classified it as a road and sand race (I had done the 10 mile route a few years back). After yesterday, it would be more accurate to describe it as road, sand and sea. There were a few nice little channels to splash through, ankle deep….  Wear and tear problems on my back meant that cycling, running and swimming came to an abrupt halt in February /march of this year. I was forced to take the walking route, which certainly gives me a difference perspective:
No 1) It takes ages to get anywhere
No 2) It is impossible to accelerate and pass someone, you have to accept your pace
All very life adjusting, but at least I’m upright and mobile and have been given the opportunity to re-asses lifestyle. Sometimes slowing down is a good thing. Yesterday however, I slowly went as fast as I could.  We hit the sand and it was wet. With childish glee, I splashed through the sea puddles, promising to splash my co-walkers on the way back if they were anywhere near me (doing it on the way out would leave them too many opportunities to splash me back).  We were assured at the race briefing that any water was fresh water and not the tide coming in. I suspect it was a mixture, which certainly kept me moving. Arriving at Coney Island, you go to the far side to a lovely beach and then start your return journey. That beach is a sandy treasure, it’s a place I’ve cycled to with my family, swam, picnicked and returned – magic. There was no hanging around yesterday. Stopping to tie my shoe lace, I found myself a few moments behind my neighbour. No matter how fast or long I strode, I could not catch her to splash her, as threatened, at the last channel. Like I say, walking and accelerating just don’t mix. The temptation to break into a little trot almost overwhelmed me, but I walked strong – I was, after all officially registered as a walker.

2016 started out as my year of the 10k. My first one was in March on St Patrick’s Day and I had planned to work on achieving a specific personal best by the end of the season – it was not to be…………..I ended up yesterday with a personal best anyway – my first ever walking race, nothing to lose and nothing to gain but a new personal best. Maybe. Or maybe way more. Maybe I’ve gained a whole new approach to how I live my life.

For more information:    www.coneyislandchallenge.net

March 10, 2016

Sligowarriorqueen – Lucky Gal

by sligowarriorqueen

 

DSCF5131Well, it’s been a while but, poised over beans on toast after a glorious 50km cycle, I thought that perhaps it is time for Sligo Warrior Queen to  re-emerge.  Her last regular ramblings ceased in 2014, feeling frustrated and unfilled……

Now it is Spring 2016 and shaking off the damp that is the misery of an Irish winter, emerging into a sunny frosty morning, she is just compelled to share the joy of living in the North West of Ireland, made even more joyful when you are privileged enough to have the time and health to make full use of it. That step out of the bed in the morning, whatever the mood or distraction, don’t ever take it for granted.

Today was a day when you just know Spring has come.  Frost.  Sunshine.  Brightness.  Sligo Warrior Queen headed out with her cycling companion to Aughris.  A rolly coastal cycle with a beach, harbour and the ‘Beach Bar’ – also serving coffee…….

What can I say?  To be able to think nothing of heading out on a bike ride – but it’s not nothing, this Sligo Warrior Queen is just a lucky gal……

August 17, 2015

Late Entry – No Thank You.

by sligowarriorqueen

DSCN0176Can you believe it is only five days to the 2015 Warriors Run? No, I’m not doing it this year, but I know plenty who are, and I’m with you all in spirit (and for some of the training). I’ve been taking it easy on the race front this summer (wettest July in 50 years and I went camping……) and I’ll tell you, it was nice not to feel I ‘had’ to go for a run some days. It’s been a nice summer balance of run, cycle, swim or sit and sip…. (guess which uses the least energy).

I was just looking back at previous run ups the the Warriors. The first time I did it, two good friends helped me lots with the training, and dragged me around the trails and hills of Sligo. Neither of them had ever done the race and I remember trying to keep up with them and despairingly thinking ‘It should be you doing this race, not me.’ This year it’s pay-back time. I’m not racing but my friend is, she was flying around Union Wood last week, and as I tried to keep up with her, I thought ‘Ha! Ha! I don‘t have to this, you’re doing the Warriors, I’m not!’. Childish? Yes. Fun? Yes. And guess what, I suddenly found myself able to match her pace ! Am I looking for a late entry for the Warriors? NO.

June 14, 2015

DID I DO IT?

by sligowarriorqueen

 

To Hell and Back - the final wall

To Hell and Back – the final wall

Okay, I’m not vain, but I was very proud when I completed my 100km cycle.  So, I trawled the website and the Facebook pages to find a photograph of myself.  I found – nothing, I think everyone except me was on camera.  Now, this would not be so bad if I had recorded the event on my Map My Ride.   But, I did not.  As these things always happen in threes, I suppose I should mention that a little Warrior Princesses fingers also got at my odometer and reset it before I took a picture of it measuring 101.someting kms!   What does one do?  Be happy knowing that I know?!

It was my birthday 2 weeks, after the cycle and I got a t-shirt from my Warrior King, with instructions to wear it the following Saturday, as he was brining me out for the day.  So, seeing as I have not photo of the cycle, I thought I’d use this instead.  It’s  of a 12km I did (with a bit of help from himself)………

 

May 4, 2015

Sligowarriorqueen – Loving Sligo

by sligowarriorqueen
DSCF4436

The day after the tour – hanging proud

This time two years ago, I imposed a retirement on myself from training for the  2013 An Post 100km Cycle Tour.  Back ache, work ache and general life ache left little time for cycle ache or ecstasy.

Yesterday, I made a triumphant return.  I started and finished the 2015 An Post Yeats Tour of Sligo – total 100km.  Myself and some fellow enthusiasts decided last year we’d give it a shot.  Well, we started as three enthusiasts, but this was not always the accurate adjective to describe  the dealings of our wheelings.  They ranged between ‘Are we mad? /We can do this/Will we ever do this’ and finally settled on ‘Ah sure, we’ll put in the saddle time and we’ll be grand.’

Life, family events, flus and colds all unwittingly tried to knock us off track from time to time.  One thing we never gave into was the weather.  We fought wind rain and hail in December, and were still fighting hail as recently as last week (cycling in shorts in later April seems logical – until the hailstones start…..)  And there were the hills.  We live in Sligo, so you learn to embrace them (just think Warriors Run).

Yesterday dawned and off I went.  Once I got the 30k over, I knew I’d be fine.  I’d be in a good rhythm, nerves settled and most importantly, I’d have conquered Hungry Rock.  An appropriately named incline that is hungry for any drop of agony it can drag by the hapless cyclists who ascend her.  The level of emotion on reaching the summit is directly related to the input on the way up as follows:

Level 1 : If you find yourself glowing you will be happy

Level 2: If you find yourself sweating you will be very happy

Level 3: If you find yourself sweating you will be very, very happy

Level 4: If you find yourself sweating blood sweat and tears,  gnashing your teeth, racked with self doubt, muttering to yourself ‘will I make it’, lying to yourself about ‘this wonderful challenge’ then you will be ecstatic.

I think I may have hit Level 5 on my ascent, but me and my cycle buddy made it to the summit unscathed.  We were on the way.  After a sneaky Snickers and take out coffee in the Coolaney I was ready for the remaining 70km or so.  We kept the heads, had fun, snacked every hour.  The last 5k or so felt long, you think you are nearly there, and then around the corner comes another hill.   But that’s Sligo.

Highlights of the day were:

  1. Getting to the top of Hungry Rock
  2. Getting off the saddle for the final time

Lo-lights were:

Only 1!  Completely self inflicted.  I had spent the final 10 km before lunch (in the lashings of rain) fantasising about a steaming bowl of creamy pasta carbonara.  This was totally imagined on my part and I must categorically state that nobody ever promised me this mystical steaming bowl of bliss.  So when I got my pasta salad in plastic container with plastic fold up fork (there were hundreds of us to feed) I felt a momentary let down.  But I soon got over this as I found good distraction eyeing up the sangers, fruit, bars cakes and pots of tea and coffee.   Any of you who know me, will be familiar with my race/event  grading system.  Generally my criteria for a ‘good race’ is as likely to be refreshment related as it is to be performance related.

I can’t not mention my older warrior princess.  16 years old, she did three short cycles  training sessions and off she went on the 60k.  Youth, eh!   Actually, no.  It was more than youth it was sheer grit and determination.  I salute you!  And yes, as promised, I will make sure you do not have to sit near a bike for the rest of the week.   As for me? I’m off for a run……………..

 

 

 

January 15, 2015

Time for Sligowarriorqueen to Come Back?

by sligowarriorqueen

union

Well now, it’s been a while.  In fact, it has been over a year.  Not a word digitised for all of 2014……….so here goes again.  I’m still doing the odd bit of running, cycling, swimming with some musing thrown in for good measure.   Yesterday I was lucky to get to the top of Union Rock,  in the snow and sleet which finally turned to rain.   Thanks to SligoWarriorKing for me new gaiters – kept the feet and ankles lovely and dry…Pity about the sign in the attached picture.  It feels far away and windy when you are on top, but I’m not sure the picture gives that impression.  What do you think?

 

May 4, 2013

Retirement

by sligowarriorqueen

Today I did the An Post (alternative) cycle.  It was 2k. The 100K is now off the agenda.

I think it is time to for Sligowarriorqueen to retire  from recounting the up and downs of physical activity in the Celtic Kingdom of Sligo and gracefully continue on with life in private.  Slán

April 14, 2013

The New Cycle of My Cycle Life

by sligowarriorqueen

It is said that it’s good to have a goal when you are training, just to keep you on your toes. In my case it’s good to have a goal, just to get me out and moving my toes, or at least giving them a little wiggle.

Over the last two weekends, I have had a long (by my standards) cycle each Saturday. Why? Because I found that I had entered a 100km cycle tour scheduled for 5 May. It was mentioned in January last, around the same time as the 10 mile run in Bundoran in March. We had many plans to train, and cycle and train and cycle and………well, it didn’t quite happen. Sometime In March I recollect having a conversation about where a friend stated

‘Oh, I’ll do the 60 not the 100.’
‘Great’, I thought, ‘pressure off’. I know I can cycle 60k and it’s a nice route. (The 100km and 160 km routes are in the hills, the 60k is around a lake). Sorted.’ Or so I thought. Until there was a brief conversation in the bathroom in the usual-interminable-queue –in –the –ladies-before-a –race 10 minutes before the Bundoran 10 mile.
‘So, we are just doing the 60k then, that’s great.’
‘No, the 100k’.

‘WHAT??????’‘Yeah, 60 miles, 100k’.

I froze. If I had wanted my mind to be taken off the 10 mile race I was going to start in 10 minutes, this did it. Apparently the look on my face was the filthiest ever witnessed in a ladies WC. I put it down to shock.
‘WHAT???’ I said again. That was all there was time for, a cubicle was vacant and last orders to the start line were being called.

Fast forward a few weeks, to two Saturdays ago. It was time to start training (only about 3 months too late.) It was a fabulous sunny day, and we headed out, taking our time, stopping for coffee and scones in the village of Dromahair, pausing to admire the beautiful Sligo and Leitrim scenery. It was a lovely half day. Yes, that’s right, a half day. And we did not even cover half the distance of the proposed 100km………At this pace, despite the stretch in the evenings, we were unlikely to be home before nightfall……….Needless to say, I planned to cycle during the week but that just did not happen.

Fast forward again, just a week this time, to Saturday just passed. This time I was on my tod, and decided to tackle the other end of the 100km circuit. It is through the Ox Mountains, which I had always considered to be a range of local hills. But after yesterday they are firmly marked on my map as Mountains – with a capital M – Mountains. I had cycled the route before, from the other end and knew it would be a challenge, but still underestimated what was ahead of me.

You know they way when you have just got to the end of something but then realise you haven’t? That’s what Ladies Brae in the Ox Mountains is like – continually! And yes, I admit at one point I just got off and walked for about 20 metres. The pride goddess was looking on me sympathetically though, as less than two minutes later, a strong, muscly man cyclist sailed passed me. I can cope with being passed out, but passed when walking with my bike – that would have been the shame of all shames!!! It had got to the stage where instead of enjoying the down hill after the uphill, every time I was on a downhill, I thought, ‘Oh no, this has to mean another uphill around the corner.’

I made it through the Ox MOUNTAINS* on to Coolaney and then Collooney. The next turn was via where I live, but this was not the final destination yet, my planned rout was not yet complete. It was lunchtime and a little voice inside my helmet suggested that I could pop home for lunch to stock up on energy and then continue on my merry way. My sane self knew I was unlikely to sit back on the bike when I went home. I was at a crucial point, I was about 2 miles off equalling the distance cycled the previous Saturday, so if I stopped now I had made no new progress. Very proud of myself, I kept going and stopped a mile later for a snack I had with me.

See? The next 2 miles were windy, disheartening and boring. I had been on the saddle 3 hours, and wondered – WHY? I never run for more than 1 or 2 hours, swim for more than 30 minutes or 1 hour and here I was looking at more than 4 hours on a bike – half my Saturday. I was seriously tempted to turn for home. I’m not sure why I kept going, but is started to get easier – there were villages and people now! I was on the last leg. And this was a cycle, not a triathlon so I did not have to go for a run after dismounting.

Eventually I made it home, 69.4km and over four hours later. I had not cycled that far since I took a wrong turn on the Ring of Kerry in the 1980s.

I still don’t know if I will tackle the 100km on 5 May, but by not turning back I have kept my options open. Who knows what the next cycle of cycling life will be?

As for the getting bored after 3 hours? There is a simple remedy for this – go in a group so you have some to talk to!
*one capital letter in ‘mountain’ does not reflect the cycle effort I put in yesterday.

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March 23, 2013

To Hell and Back Again and Loving Every Minute of It

by sligowarriorqueen

I got up this morning and looked out the window, it was dry and it did not look too windy – just nice for a duathlon.  That’s what I told myself anyway.  One bowl of porridge, some strong coffee, a plate of pancakes, lots of oatcakes and several glasses of water later, I was packed and ready to go.

The duathlon was in Rosses Point, same place as I did my first (and only) sprint triathlon last summer. At least I was going to be on familiar territory.   Optimistically, I threw a swimming towel into the car, just in case I was tempted to take post race a dip in the Atlantic.  I got out of the car and the wind nearly cut the head off me.  It was strong and cold, just like Queen Maeve’s grave.   I cast my mind back to the Friday night, glass of wine in hand after a lovely sunny spring day, that I had entered the race online.  There seemed to have been some  sort of seasonal time -warp.

I checked in, met lots of familiar faces, who all gave me the encouragement  I needed.   I decided to get on the bike and suss out this super strong wind.  What can I say?

Windy?  Yes.

Very windy? yes

Extremely windy? Yes

Very extremely windy ?  Yes, yes, yes.

Cycling along the sea front, the tears were streaming down my face.  The salty drops were a mixture of tears made from a cutting wind and tears of despairing laughter that said :  ‘This is madness, ha! ha! ha!  I’m definitely doing it’.  All bets were off,  there was no pressure.  This was going to be a race where  time and speed did not matter – it was going to be Sligowarriorqueen against the wind.  I’d ignore everybody else.    Once I had decided this, I relaxed.    I put the bike in the transition area, stuck on my trademark steamers to the handlebars ( to remind me this is all for fun) and went for a run on the beach to finish my warm up.

In between  I admit I did make a bit of a panic phone call to Sligo Warrior King, along the lines of ‘ It’s freezing, it’s windy, I’m freezing, I have all the wrong clothes, it’s freezing , it’s windy, can you bring x and x and x and x. ‘  In the end, I wore what I had with me, a windproof  rain jacket for the first two legs that I was very happy to have on.

We headed out for the first leg – a 4k run along the seafront and back through the village of Rosses Point.  Once we hit the promenade, the wind was coming straight for us.  This was not going to be a race, it was going to be a battle.   I had guessed I’d be at the back of the field, and I was, so there was no crowd shelter for this runnr.  But I kept a steady pace, and just before we turned away from the sea, the shelter came.  I could think again, and moved up from about second last to somewhere near  the very back.  I have no idea how long the run took, it never entered my head to look at my watch, it was all about the wind, not about speed or time.

Getting back after the run, I hopped on the bike and immediately tragedy struck – one of my streamers blew away.  I could hear a voice echoing in my head from an earlier conversation with one of the marshals.  ‘If those streamers blow away, don’t chase after them.’  So, I kept my head up and bravely cycled on without a backwards glance.   I was destined for the big battle.  This ‘there – and- back cycle’ 15 point something kilometre cycle, was going to be against the wind all the way ‘there’.  It was going to be the cycle to hell – would I make it back?

Hell, yes, of course I would!  I put the head down and cycled steady.  It was tough, but it was doable.  I did not think about speed at all, but just tried to keep the head down and do a steady pace.  I got there eventually, I think it may have taken about 25 minutes just to do that 8 k, I remember looking at my watch twice on the bike , once it said 25 minutes, the next time it said 55 minutes.  I couldn’t tell you where I was either time, in some ways it was like time stood still as I pedalled, pedalled, pedalled to make sure I did not stand still.

It goes without saying that I met the returning cyclist on my  ‘there’ route and thanks for all the cheers of encouragement!    Coming back to transition ( with a big cheer from Sligo Warrior King and Princess on the way), I hopped off the bike, pulled off my jacket and went.  Spot the error there!  I forgot to take off my helmet so had to drop it back to the bike.  It was a fab 2km beach run to finish, taking the measured steady approach thinking  ‘this is not so bad’ as I reached  about half way on the ‘out’ route.  Then it sank in that I would be against the wind on the way back.  Oh well, I was not going to panic at this stage.   I speculated if I would catch the person ahead of me and did manage to on the way back.  The final few hundred metres were pretty torturous – running off the beach and up a steep slipway.  It was more of a shuffle than a run here but there was not a step of a walk.  The end was in sight, so I celebrated with a little final sprint.     I had done my first duathlon!

It was an amazingly exhilarating race .  Physically, it was possibly one of the most challenging but because my focus was on the wind all the time, I did think about the limitations of my body.  Whether this made me faster or slower I don’t know yet.  I forgot to look at my watch at the end, and  never even thought to check at the finish.  It was just that kind of race – Sligowarriorqueen and the Atlantic winds.

PS Warrior princess rescued my rogue streamer, so I still have the pair.

March 22, 2013

2 Days To Go: Do I Have To Practise What I Preach?

by sligowarriorqueen

It’s 2 days to go.  I had a 9k cycle x 2 yesterday, in and out of work (with one pit stop on the way home for a meeting).  It counted as cycle time, even though it was on my old reliable hybrid (honestly, I only used it so I had the basket to carry my sandwiches and phone……It is nothing to do with being able to see the gear changes on the handlebars and reach the brakes easily….).

This evening I took out the racer. I had a 30 minute window between Warrior King coming home and me having to go out again.   It was windy, it was raining and out I went.  My aims:

  1. Not to fall off
  2. Successfully run through all 18 gears
  3. Remember where the brakes are
  4. Get off the bike and  run 2k ( my first after cycle run since triathlon last August..)

Success rate:  100%

I have now remembered where all the gears are and where to find them.  My new mantra is ‘Easy’ . ‘Hard’.  Forget about trying to remember gear numbers, this race will be all about feelings.  If cycling  feels hard, flick the easy lever; if cycling feels easy, click the black lever.   First job tomorrow is to put ‘H’ and ‘E’ stickers on the right and left handlebars.  We’re talking basics here.

Now for the next part that I cannot control:   HAVE YOU SEEN THE WEATHER FORCAST???????  Wind, wind, wind.  Well there is nothing I can do about that either, what will be, will be.

Now for the worst part:  HAVE YOU SEEN THE START LIST?  WHY DID I LOOK AT FACEBOOK?  There are lots of boys, so they will most likely be faster than me.  I recognise the names of lots of girls and I know they are faster than me.  I was here muttering aloud about it and Sligo Warrior Princess pipes up:

‘Mum, what are you always telling us – isn’t it about taking part?’

I’m thinking of the old  adage ‘Do what I say, not what I do’

Out loud I’m saying:  ‘Do I have to practise what I preach?’

Conclusion:  I have a seriously good chance of coming last on Saturday.  But what the heck.  It’s taking part that counts!!!

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