Published in Reports on 17th April 2008
Mother Nature talked to me at the weekend!
I went to Wicklow on the 12th of April 08, with my Friends Enda, Mark, Martin and Aoife. I went to Wicklow in the past and did some cycling and running around the mountains. I went there with the thought of testing my core capacity after my surgery 10 months ago. I went thinking that even if I am not very fit with my two runs a week of 45min that I would walk through it easy. Well there is some part of our nature that will never allow you to rest or take it easy. When you are stuck in the middle of the mountain with your calf feeling like a stone, yes you can stop, but the wind, rain and cold tell you have to keep going. This is where nature dictates to you what to do.
On the Saturday morning we arrived at Johnny Fox’s pub, where less than one hundred athletes were registering in the morning. There was a cold wind, for a French man anyway, and the weather looked uncertain, like the week before at the Connemara Marathon. The atmosphere was very calm and relaxed like I love it, in ultra or Ironman Triathlon. The race organisers had planed a bus which was a great idea as it builds up a nice atmosphere between people chatting in the bus.
Anyway, I asked Lindie Naughton to start 30min in advance with my friend Enda and a German Girl called Sabine. The first part was running on a path through the mountain made of two planks of wood with nails carefully placed to grip your shoes on. The first 2km were straight up the hill and after 500m my calf start to get sore and had to walk. This is the kind situation you start to think “what am I doing here?” So I did walk for about 1km and was thinking that the next 21km will get easier. The scenery took my heart and mind to a level of calmness and purity that cleared my daily stressful life. For the occasion I had a 2 litre back pack, which my dad gave me years ago. I had never used one before and thought I would try it out. But I did not use it, and will never do. I am not a huge user of water even on marathons, even if I am conscious of my hydration my body is well regulated, and do believe that it is not what you eat and do on the day of the race that is important, but what you do everyday that you train.
The run was amazing, a combination of extreme happiness, personal satisfaction and achievement, there was a long time when I did not feel that good and the link between my mind and body. The course was just not what I expected, lots of sharp uphill to make sure you get tired. I was lucky to follow this German girl, which for her first time just knew the route. Without her I would be still running today. The path we followed after the “wooden way” was very rocky. The weather was made up of tiny showers, some nice sunshine and a fresh breeze. I had the time to take some pictures with my phone - still running and walking.
From kilometre 2 to 10 it was pretty much downhill and I ran pretty well (except around 6km where a small but sharp hill make my calf very tense), and my two friends went a wee bit ahead, so I decided to put my feet in the river, which really woke me up. At 10km a few athletes passed me by but and some of the 44km race was passing by too on their way back. The organisers did have some people to take pictures, checking if we were alive or lost, and the refreshment station was spot on, with volunteers extremely nice. I did skip it to catch up my friends and I still had my 2 litres on the back anyway. I caught up with Enda who disappeared after taking a wrong turn, what a laugh at this stage, until I realised what was going to happen. A huge monstrous hill like I had never climbed before. I can just say to you “have a go at it” that’s the only way you can understand, my vocabulary would be too limited to explain how long it took me to “climb” those 7km. This is where my friends and I separated and I finished the last 5km laughing at myself and how great It was to be there with only 5km to go. The next bit was easy, let your bodyweight bring you down, up to a road and then turn right and back to the pub. Simple ? Yes ! But at kilometre twenty I did feel tired and walked for 3/4min until one of the participants ask me to run with him up to the end.
The most difficult part is to explain the course, so beautiful, so long so refreshing, what can I say, everything was there, waterfalls, small rivers, rocks, pathways, nice tracks and woods: and it seemed to go on for ever. Maybe the kind of situation where you wish to be like forest Gump and run for ever, or have a nice glass of French wine and sit down there watching all day long the scenery and sunset your head full of dreams about your life expectations.
The Wicklow way trail took my spirit off my work more than a full weeks holiday. I can hear you already saying “what about your back, are you sore?” The answer is yes, very sore, but only in my legs ?. Today I know I can run and do some great events in the near future; I am so grateful to my surgeon Mr.Devitt in Galway, who thought not only about solving my back issue but had the common sense to think ahead about what I really wanted to do with my body in the future. I particularly would like to thank Lindie Naughton again who just by talking to me on the phone passed on her mountain passion to me. Thank you for the great race and again a it’s a great way to show that a fantastic race can be very accessible and for very little money.
Mother Nature was out on that day in Wicklow, and she looked after me, as my friends and family did in the last 10 months. What can I say more, if you read up to the end well done you accomplished a great deal of translating my words into proper English?
Oh! If you are still thirsty, I still have the bag full of water!