Friday, July 29, 2011

Derby Baby - coming soon to a cinema near you

This looks great - a trailer for a documentary on roller derby leagues in America, Germany, the UK and Ireland. Looks like 'Whip it' has got a challenger! The blurb on Vimeo says: "Emmy-winning filmmakers Robin Bond and Dave Wruck take you along on their quest to learn why women's flat track roller derby is the most controversial and fastest growing sport in the world."  Watch out for the skeleton face-paint.

Enjoy and have a great weekend :)


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Climbing heals with Ti Conkle in Alaska

Part II

Ti Conkle works full time as an internal auditor/investigator for the government in Alaska but every chance she gets, she find ways to get outdoors and explore the world outside from every angle. And she means every chance ... she commutes to and from work on her bike during the spring, summer, fall and parts of winter until it gets colder than -20F/-29C. She blogs at Element 22

Talking to Ti about climbing, a simple question about cameras showed me just how inspirational she is. 

Why climb with a camera? 
So along with all the gear we talked about here Ti always takes her camera along. And it's for much more than the family album. She says: "A series of traumas over a span of several years left me coping with long term memory loss and experiencing gaping holes in my own personal space-time continuum.  By accident, I discovered that photography helped store memories and allowed me access to my own recollection." 

She explains without her photographs she would have "little memory" of what happens from day to day. And of course that loss would block conversations, exchanges, all the intimate things between us that we rely on memory for without ever appreciating it. "Twelve years went by in which I did not write at all and, in fact, spoke rather little as well. In discovering photography, I found my voice."

All the amazing photographs on her blog are not just for us as readers but a key part of who she is. It makes you look again at these shots doesn't it? She says "I enjoy sharing my photos, my window to the world. My hope is that I can bring just a bit of the experience, the moment, the nuance of light and shadow to others."

Italy's boot AK
Climbing with the next generation
Ti blogs beautifully on the joys of introducing her daughter to kayaking and climbing. So why should adventurous parents should make the effort to induct their kids into that love of the outdoors? She says "Largely, my job as a mother is to provide an environment where my daughter can learn to assess risk, make informed choices and explore the world outside and within herself with absolute confidence." Explaining her idea that risks are just "unexplored adventures" she says people are always afraid or nervous of the unknown and aren't able to properly assess risk until we have all the information. So I guess that's why the whole notion of "winging it" freaks most of us out so much.

Ti finishes by saying "There will be failures. There will be mishaps. There will be falls and drops and missing toenails and blistered hands. There will be rainy, stormy days and days overflowing with sunshine and laughter. If I have done my work properly, she will know that all of these things are a healthy, normal, required part of life. The most inspiring way to encourage is to lead by example, to simply go and do."
Winter Biking
Tips for new climbers
But if you don't have a climber mum to get you op the ridges, where to start? Ti says "the best way to train for climbing is to climb." Before worrying about the technical aspects or equipment, she says you need "strength, endurance and cardiovascular stamina" from some other sport - presumably to get up the rock-face in the first place. But there's something even more important than that "More than just carrying your own weight, physically and existentially, a good climber needs to understand the team dynamic, foster excellent (verbal and non-verbal) communication skills and be prepared to give more than they take," says Ti.
  •     Prepare, prepare and prepare; mentally, physically, emotionally.
  •     Know your gear, inside and out.
  •     Rehearse and practice your knots, anchors, belay and ice axe technique.
  •     Under duress, we do what we have memorized. The simpler you make things, the better.
  •     Don’t wait. If you have the desire to climb, the interest, a spark of longing… don’t wait. Do it.
And her final word on why climbing simply rocks (pun intended):
"Climbing will not bring you happiness, but you can bring happiness to climbing- or any other endeavor you undertake. The mountain does not care if you climb it, nor does it care if you fail in the undertaking. Mountains are the perfect foil for the ego, as they simply are."

Ice fall
The first part of this interview is available here on ISW

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Climbing in Alaska with Ti Conkle

Ti Conkle
 Ti Conkle works full time as an internal auditor/investigator for the government in Alaska but every chance she gets, she find ways to get outdoors and explore the world outside from every angle. And she means every chance ... she commutes to and from work on her bike during the spring, summer, fall and parts of winter until it gets colder than -20F/-29C. She blogs at Element 22.

Where do you start with a climber who casually mentions the Pika Glacier as her local spot but is afraid of heights? Someone who can spot a Jackson kayak at 20 paces but is afraid of water? Ti's blog is filled with shots from Alaska and other parts of the States, none of which give any hint of fear. 

 Conquer Fear
"The first time I ever rappelled over the edge of a cliff, I nearly vomited. I was shaking so badly that my teeth were chattering and my hands were white clear to the elbows. The same thing happened the first time I put my face in the water to learn how to snorkel. I stood there in waist deep tropical ocean water, tears filling up the snorkel mask and knees shaking," says Ti. When I asked her how she deals with fear, she said she believes fear and pain both exist for good reasons but sometimes fear gets in the way so she has had to find a way to deal with it. She says: "These things are not to be “fought”, “battled” or relegated to the back closet. Make friends with the things that scare you. Get comfortable with uncertainty. That’s the stuff that living out loud is made of."
Even a few minutes on her blog give you an insight into the beauty of her home. I love, love the mountains and get that restless feeling just flicking through her shots. She says; "I’ve lived, worked and played in Alaska for 35 years and still haven’t begun to peel back the layers on the breathtaking scenery in this cradle of adventures. From mountains to rivers to glaciers, coastal waters, lakes… there is an enormous bounty of places to explore and an equally staggering number of ways to go about it. Climbing is just one aspect, one medium that allows me access to the backcountry. My three favorite ways to enjoy the outdoors, no matter where my journeys take me are: climbing, kayaking/canoeing, and cycling."

Stay Focused
One of the posts on her blog which really caught my eye was this one on hiking + climbing up Mount Olympus. So there's an 18-mile trek, climb the mountain, descend the mountain and do it all in 72 hours without sleeping. As you do. When I ask how she motivates herself for days like this, she says; "Every time I put on a pack that is more than half my bodyweight, I feel it. Sometimes, in order to do the things I want to do, hauling a lot of gear is just necessary." And I get the feeling it's not just the bag she's talking about. 

Mt Olympus
She goes on: "There are a lot of things I will do simply for the sake of doing the thing. Nothing more. I had wanted to climb Mt. Olympus for a number of years. The roundtrip approach is a long one (44 miles) and it requires patience and time spent just hauling a pack up a trail like a mule. Everything worth having or worth doing comes at a cost; the only question is, how bad do you want it?"

Even looking at some of the climbing photos makes my stomach drop out but Ti says it's all in the mind and really it's just a matter of one step after the other. Hmm ... 

While reading (cyber-stalking) on Element 22,  that phrase jumped out at me. I thought it was a term for people who get into trouble because of lack of knowledge but Ti's explanation made me laugh. While climbing with two friends, one of them found himself trying to belay the others simultaneously. All fingers and thumbs, he ground out the phrase while trying to get the ropes right. We've all been there - well, maybe not swinging from an overhang - in that place where you brain just stops but you can't afford to lose it. 

Ti says: "It’s the same thing that occurs when a person enters an international airport. You find yourself walking down the aisle of the plane, staring at your boarding pass as if you’ve never seen the combination 27C in your life and checking and rechecking the aisle numbers. Over-stimulation, information-overload and the prospect of increased altitude combine to occasionally render the human brain completely void of useful feedback." Come on, you know you can relate to that too.

Medical gloves and cucumbers, 

Headlamp and Kleenex,

Eyeliner and carabiners,

Laptop and hiking boots,

Climbing harness and cashmere sweater,

External hard drive and protein shake,

Pelican case inside a leather briefcase,

Roget’s thesaurus and daisy chains,

Soccer shoe and Benadryl,

Coffee thermos and Metolius chalk…

Back seat of my Jeep really needs

A good cleaning. ... Get in Gear, by Ti Conkle

Come back on Thursday for the rest of this interview - teaching your kids to be brave, tips on learning how to climb and photography. If you have any questions, leave a comment ...

CORRECTION: "I might clarify one point- though there was very little sleep involved in the Olympus trip, we definitely set up camp and made the attempt at resting. It wasn't a single-push, alpine style climb- it was an expedition climb. For those who know, it does make a difference."  from Ti July 26th


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Interviews to come on the blog

I have been pretty slack on the interview-front lately. Blame some hectic real-world stuff. But I'm very excited to have some inspiring women coming here over the next few weeks from a range of sports.

First up this week will be Ti from the outdoors in Alaska blog Element 22  As well as insights into her adventurous lifestyle, she's sent me some fabulous (or fablous as we say in Ireland) photographs to go with the interview.

And I just finished mailing with Girl Boxing so looking forward to some great stories from the boxing world in New York City.

Closer to home I'm waiting to confirm with an Irish swimmer who has featured here a few times, will let you know more about that when I have the details.

Plus a few others, including a great MuayThai fighter who has just retired, in the pipeline. As always, if there is someone you'd like to see featured here,  do let me know - or indeed, volunteer yourself for a chat if you love sports too.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Pure Climbing

Ah, Fridays. Now if only the weather gods would remember that it is summer in the northern hemisphere! This is from an incredible climbing film, featuring Anna Stoher, Sarah Marvez and a few boys too. For all you height-junkies ...  Pure Climbing from Chuck Fryberger.

Happy weekend!


Thursday, July 21, 2011

How's your cruciate?

pic from
Non-sporting types would probably give that post-title a skip. But if you're like me, every twinge and ache gets examined before that big sigh of relief; oh, it's just a sprain, nothing serious. Until the big ones fall apart and then you know all about it.

So far, *touches wood* my knees are in one piece. But cruciate ligament injuries are becoming so prevalent here in Ireland, one national association, the GAA, is setting up a project to guinea-pig 30 players in an effort to find the perfect warm-up. One sports journalist said last week that a winning ladies gaelic football team - from my own county of Cork - has had 15 players out with cruciate injuries since 2005. That's half the team.

This article in one of the Irish papers a few days ago said it's a far more common injury for women than men. And the worrying thing is the experts quoted don't really seem to know why it's an increasing problem. When you talk to older athletes - in their 60s - they say it was a rare injury 'back in the day' so we're doing something wrong. Or maybe just recognising something that was accepted back then?

Dr Pat Duggan from the sports organisation is quoted in the article saying: “It may be that modern players are so phenomenally conditioned from the hips up that when they land on one leg, like in football, the power going through their leg is a lot greater than it was say 10 years ago.” But shouldn't the legs be stronger too - or is the weights-room to blame?

What's the worst injury you've had? 


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Sea swimming

Wordless Wednesday is a group of bloggers who give words a rest once a week.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hall of Fame honour for Irish swimmer

Speeches at the United Nations are usually linked to trauma but when Irish swimmer Anne-Marie Ward took the podium, she talked about teamwork and water. The International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame awards are for swimmers who go that extra distance. And they really mean distance - Ward's award was for swimming 18h59mins to cross the channel between Ireland and Scotland.

Only four weeks before completing the swim, she'd been hospitalised after swimming through jellyfish for five hours on her third attempt at the channel. Dedicated. 


Monday, July 18, 2011

Women's World Champions Japan

Japan wins! Homare Sawa pic france24
So Nelly the Elephant picked Japan to win the women's world cup and she was right. Huge excitement for Japan winning 3-1 on penalties and devastation for the American team. Penalties, gutting way to finish but what an exciting game. 

Really positive feedback from everyone watching - by which I mean male football buddies discovering how great the women's game can be. Welcome to the party guys ;) Quoting Richard Chambers: "@griffinniamh I'm impressed by attendances/media coverage as well. The women's game might be catching on!"

Sawa had another great game, once more showing us how it can be done, the timing of the last goal. (Umm, I'm saying once more but I hadn't known much about her before this tournament. Learning) Plus being the first Asian team to win the women's tournament is not a bad story for the grandkids. 

The Americans must be heartbroken, they played so so well. Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan will be wondering what more they could have done to add to two great goals. Great minute-by-minute match report here if you missed out.

Third place
Sweden wins for 3rd pic soccerway

The third-place play-offs went to Sweden, edging past France in the 82nd minute, leaving it just a little fine. It must be strange to play on knowing you've lost the chance of the ultimate goal, but really third in the world is not at all a bad place to be. 

It's been an interesting few weeks for a non-obsessive-soccer fan like myself. Very exciting to see women's sport getting headlines and media space in most news outlets, to see match reports mostly lacking in accompanying comment on leg-length or hair-colour. By all accounts Germans took the tournament to their hearts, even after their hotly-tipped team was knocked out. This FIFA report says almost half of all TVs were tuned into the German-Nigeria match, just over 16 million. They compare that to the 18 million who watched the men's final from South Africa last year. All down to the high standard of games. CBC Canada summed it up well: "All in all, this has been a competition to remember. Perhaps it will be re-called as the year women's football went mainstream. This wasn't just a women's soccer event. This was a true World Cup."

It will be interesting to see if this level of attention continues - can the women's federations follow up with more great matches and continue to motivate girls to take up the sport?


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Will Diana Nyad make her swim 2011?

Diana Nyad pic Chicago Tribune

Once more veteran American swimmer Diana Nyad is preparing to swim from Cuba to Florida. That's 103 miles and at 62 years of age, she's the first to admit this might be difficult. This is her third attempt.

I followed her last year here and here when she tried to do it. But visa complications and weather problems held her up and in the end, it didn't happen. I was surprised to see those posts popping up on 'popular posts' again this weekend and now very excited to see she is attempting the swim again. Swimming is a great sport  - my favourite thing to do when running and boxing beat my hips into the ground. No reason at all why older women couldn't give it a go.

And 103 miles impressive at any age - you wouldn't catch me doing it. Never mind thirty years after your professional peak.

Reading Nyad's blog here you get a great sense of excitement and her determination that this year it is all going to happen. Her post on chafing from swimwear in the salt water - wince in empathy.

She is aiming for late July so fingers and toes crossed as we say in Ireland. Best of luck to her.

UPDATE: September 25th Post  here on Nyad pulling out. 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Carissa Moore wins in France

Carissa Moore pic Transworld
Update on yesterday's post - Hawaiian surfer Carissa Moore won her first ASP world surf title yesterday, beating Australian Sally Fitzgibbon. Another Aussie Stephanie Gilmore won the actual event on the day - the Roxy Pro.

Interviews here on the SMH website. Like I said yesterday, really excited to see Gilmore surfing again. And congrats to Moore, the first of many battles I'd say between the three of them.

The final women's rankings for 2011 are listed here on the ASP site.

Question - why are Hawaiians listed separately to Americans? *hoping that's not a dumb question!*

Friday, July 15, 2011

Women surfers taking over in France

The ASP women's world title will be decided today on the beaches of Biarritz, France. Only two of the women competing this week are in the running now - Sally Fitzgibbon (Australia) and Carissa Moore (Hawaii) for the final title.The Roxy Pro event has been running all week, you can see the webcast here on the Roxy site. Round 4 of that competition is now today - I hope the weather is better than here in Dublin!
Carissa Moore pic: surftransworld

Heat 1: Lee-Ann Curren (FRA) Vs Pauline Ado (FRA)
Heat 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) Vs Tyler Wright (AUS)
Heat 3: Sofia Mulanovich (PER) Vs Laura Enever (AUS)
Heat 4: Coco Ho (HAW) Vs Paige Hareb (NZL)

Australian Stephanie Gilmore is competing too, there's a moving interview with her over at ESPN on her recovery from that terrible attack in December. It's great to see her moving on from that.

Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Thailand's female boxers go to the Olympics

Great interviews from Global Post with the women on the Thai boxing team preparing for the Olympics. As with the male fighters, many of them were Muay Thai boxers first and now are changing over. Interesting look at a culture where women are not meant to be physically strong or act in a 'masculine' way. Plus ca change ...


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sports Blog Karma with boxing and running

It's been a while since I gave a shout-out to some sports blogs. As always, I've tried to highlight sites which deal with women's sport. Call me sexist if you like but then take a look at your local paper or television station and see if you notice any slight imbalances.

I first came across Katarzyna's blog when she was living in Poland and she gave me some tips here on running in the snow. Now living on the Gold Coast in Australia, she's just done her first marathon - definitely deserves a shout-out!

Been following this for a while, and now linking up on Twitter as well so definitely time to say how great this is. Everything from fight reports, the dangers of deer-ticks and this on-the-ball review of the Haye-Klitschko fight.
Not to mention the surprise you will get on the About page ...

So, wasn't sure I should include this as, so far, they only have one woman up. But hey, they're trying and the writing on the site is brilliant. All are 'long-reads' but well worth the time.

Have you got any new blogs to share? 

Late posting, apologies. Good at sport, not so good at reading calendars! 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Coach attacks England team

Hard to believe the women's world cup is almost over. Semi-finals tomorrow with France vs America and Japan vs Sweden. Who would have thought Germany would go out and out to Japan at that? The France-England game was heart-breaking. Penalties are a horrible way to decide a game.

Have to say I was more than a bit surprised at England coach Hope Powell's comments after the penalty shoot-out. The Guardian reports she said: "Three times I had to ask [for volunteers] before anyone stepped forward. "'Where are you?' I was thinking, and then a young kid is the first to put her hand up. And Kelly Smith was dying on her feet but she stepped up and took one. You've got to want to take a penalty, but other players should have come forward and they didn't. That's weak, it's cowardice."
Powell looking for volunteers
Fair enough to think it, say it to the players but say it out to the media? Why? It's causing a twitter-storm among the players and hardly seems the best way to recover from a loss. Powell always struck me as ambitious and focused in her approach to the team. But why slate them in public like that? No matter how disappointed or frustrated you are, there is surely a better way to deal with the problem. And, of course, the other question is why the players were so slow to step up? I posted a few months back here on the differences between male and female approaches to competitiveness - if there is a difference. This makes me wonder again. I mean, can you imagine any of the prima donnas on the male England team not wanting to take a penalty?

What do you think, should Powell have spoken out? Have you seen teams holding back like this before?


Friday, July 8, 2011

Sydney Velodrome to music

Fridays - sometimes energetic, sometimes you need space to breathe. Found this on Vimeo, never thought cycling could be so relaxing. Have a good weekend!

Vuelo Velo from Vuelo Velo on Vimeo.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Surf and study in Sydney, Australia

"Wow, what an unbelievable couple of hours of surfing that was to watch.  I have never ever EVER seen female surfing performed as powerfully, stylishly and athletically as I did today." And that's from someone who knows. Champion Irish surfer Nicole Morgan is living in Sydney now and wrote that watching the Aussies at the Roxy Pro.

Nicole Morgan, pic
Morgan is from Bundoran on the west coast of Ireland, home to many other Irish surfers including Easkey Britton.  She has an impresive CV: twice UK Pro Tour Champ, three times Irish Champ, 13th at the 2008 World Surfing Games, 7th at the 2009 European Surfing Championships and (of course) Irish Surf Team member 1999-2010. Nominated for Sports Woman of the Year, she's now studying Pharmacy down under.

Nicole Morgan pic Diverse Surf

It's so easy to get distracted researching sports like this - hours can zap by looking at pictures of waves and warm beaches. I like this one above though, a little bit different.

But you gotta have the big wave shot too. Morgan keeps a blog at Irish Nicole Morgan if you'd like to follow her.

Monday, July 4, 2011

What athletes think

Some great quotes here to get you over any injuries or worries you have this week. Bring on the adrenaline. (umm, can you tell it's summer here?)

American hurdler, Lolo Jones "You're breaking through barriers. And when everything comes together; mind, body, that's when you have the perfect race."

And have to love this one: "Keep telling me I can't do it" from Benji Marshall, New Zealand.

This blog not sponsored or linked with Asics. Just like the ad and the shoes. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Kitesurfing beaches in Dublin

kitesurfing dublin watersports Dollymount
Kitesurfing Dollymount Strand Dublin

Yes, that is sunshine on my local beach in Dublin. It does happen every now and then. It's probably freezing mind, but at least it looks like summer. This is one of the best beaches on the east coast for really getting away from the city - miles of windswept dunes and this pic is about as busy as it gets most of the year. 

I read a post at From Byeline to Finish Line on kite surfing yesterday. Made me realise I haven't posted about this sport even though I see these guys (mostly) in action every time I go to Dollymount.

pic goldenmoments
There's a school based around the beach, so I should make the effort to try it out. Have a fear of re-activating back injuries - aware that makes me sound like a 90-year-old war vet - but how much damage could I do? Have you ever tried this?