Thursday, May 31, 2012

What you really need to know before a race

This weekend thousands of women will run marathons and half-marathons in Ireland. Hundreds more will take the plunge at triathlons in Mayo and Athy. I talked to Australian Ironwoman Carolyn Hewett at her London base and asked her for some tips. 

Dress to win
Tops with a built-in bra aren't any good usually, they are too loose. You work out the best bra for yourself. I wear two layers: a good bra, then a cropped top and the tri-suit. It hurts otherwise. I like the Berlei Shock Absorber. And comfortable underpants are pretty important too.

Don't forget your face
I learnt my lesson a few years ago when I swam in the Thames. It's pretty grotty. When I came out I had a brown line on my face from the slime. So now I rub my face before I get out. It's important to be a girl too, I have done five years of research into the best waterproof mascara. 

I use nail polish too - a red one with a white base so it won't come off in warm water.

Age is no limit 
On the Ironman routes, you see much older people racing. There is one guy who is in his 80s and I've seen women up to their early 60s. I met another woman in her late 50s and she was doing an Ironwoman. 

You get people taking up triathlons when they are a bit older, people in their 40s kicking the butts of people in their 20s - maybe because your kids are older or you have more money to buy a light bike.

pic: Hewett's Wiggle blog
Stay focused
I live really well, I hardly drink. If you get injured work out how to isolate the injured part and train around it. Last year I tripped and tore ligaments in my ankle so I couldn't run or swim. But I could bike. 

Women's only races
If you're starting out, women's only races are great. There's a nice, safe environment with women of every shape and size. (On the last one I did) I could hear two little girls screaming 'come on Mummy', it was so great.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Sports Blog Karma

A new week and time to share the love for some of my favourite bloggers. 

You've met Malissa here before - interviews here from August 2011 - but she's really being upping the ante lately on the boxing front. All down to the Olympics of course. If you're new to women's boxing, you can't go wrong over there. And you could start with this great post 'Women have always fought'

 Running over mountains and around the world

Moire O' Sullivan is another regular on this blog but seeing as she's just completed the 780km Camino de Frances definitely deserves another mention. Living in Cambodia but running anywhere she can, Moire's blog is all about the tough world of mountain running. 


This blog on Kenya marathon runner Catherine Ndereba's blog is quite simply an inspiring place to spend time. Blogger Stefani is making a film about Nderba's dominance of the women's marathon scene and the blog follows the races as well as the film-making process. 

Do you have any suggestions?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Katie Taylor Four times World Champ

It's not often everyone in my house gets up at 8am on a Saturday morning to watch television. But when RTE announced they would show Katie Taylor's final bout at the AIBA World Champs, well it just had to be be done. 

So just in case you don't know - yesterday morning Irish amateur boxer Katie Taylor (60kgs) beat Russian Sofya Ochygava 11-7.

And for the first time we (in Ireland) got to watch her fight live on national TV. So much better than a dodgy internet connection routed though god-knows-where.

Taylor talked to RTE after the fight and said: "It’s unbelievable, this is what I’ve been training for all year. To win the world title for the fourth time in a row and qualify for the Olympics is amazing.
"For the last couple of years people have been wishing me well for the Olympics and I have had to tell them that I hadn’t qualified yet. And there was so much pressure on me going into this competition and it’s just a big relief to finally qualify and to be going into the Olympics as the current world champion."

It was tense, so close - the first two rounds even and then Taylor hit the gas. Beautiful to watch. And yes, a big part of me so happy that finally, finally people get to see what women's boxing is all about.

Sad though to see the other two Irish contenders - Ceire Smith and Sinead Kavanagh, knocked out earlier in the week. Better luck next time ladies! 


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Listen to Claire Lomas on the London Marathon

Last week the Wordless Wednesday post was Claire Lomas and her incredible feat in finishing the London Marathon in spite of being paralysed.

Lomas was interviewed on an Irish radio station last week, just found the link. If you need a smile on your face for the weekend, listen up:

Claire Lomas on Newstalk.

Have a great weekend!


Friday, May 18, 2012

Congratulations to Katie Taylor!

Quite the week for Irish boxer Katie Taylor - securing a place on the Olympic team and just this morning earning another appearance in the final of the AIBA World Championships.

More than a few Irish people were waiting the results of that semi-final at 'silly o' clock' this morning from China. If she wins this, it will be her fourth world title in a row. 

Will be a tough fight though, she'll either face up against Russian Sofya Ochygava or British boxer Natasha Jonas, both of whom bring strong records to the ring. 

Incredibly exciting to see that she's made the Olympics. At times there has been so much expectation, that you felt she might have been jinxed! I know, I know very superstitious of me but there you go. It's going to be a great display of women's boxing over in London, and hopefully Taylor will take a medal as well. *

And good luck to all the fighters in the finals over the next few days. 

*ahem, slight loss of objectivity in this post. other boxers are profiled around the site as well!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Time to try a triathlon says Carolyn Hewett

So let’s get this straight. The Big Daddy Ironwoman means a marathon, biking for 180 km and swimming 3.8km. Olympic distance is a ten km run, 40km on the bike and 1.5km in the water. But a sprint is just an hour of five km running, 20 km on the bike and a 750m swim. Are you with me? 

So the trick is to know who you are – a Big Daddy, an Olympian or a sprinter says Australian triathlete Carolyn Hewett.

Most people start small, maybe with a ten km run or a bit of a swim. Not Hewett. She decided doing a full Ironwoman would be the best way to find out what works for her.  Before reading on, you should probably know her training was part of recovery from viral meningitis and post chronic viral fatigue. As you do.

Readers, she won.

“I jumped in with both feet. The illness was definitely part of it, I wanted to do an Ironwoman before I turned 30 and it helped with my recovery too,” she says.

Speaking on Skype from her office in London – she works full-time with O2 in the UK – Hewett explains her illness had left her unable to make up a flight of stairs without a break. Doctors told her to just be glad she was alive and forget about ever doing sport again.

“For the first few months I had to sleep after I did anything. It took some time but I eventually managed to run for 30 seconds and walk for 4.5mins and do that four times. The effort put me in bed for a week. I tried again a month later and was bed ridden for 3 days which I saw as progress,” she says.

Hewett used to run a lot before she got ill, but had to learn how to swim properly and how to bike at speed. And having won her first Ironwoman, she had to add in some media training.

Listening to her now, you can see how the treadmill got going – ill woman wins first Ironwoman, and becomes instant star …but how do you prepare for that?

Winning an Ironwoman means you can then compete in the World Championships. Most people build up to this from the start of their season – as Hewett herself does now – but back then she just kept going and going.

“I won and that was great, but then there was six weeks between the race and the World Championships. I was approached by Channel 4 who wanted to follow someone and they came with me to Hawaii. They flew with me, so that was a huge added pressure.

“The race took me eleven hours, it was incredibly tough. I ended up in hospital with a camera in my face … suffering with dehydration, exhaustion. It was just brutal.”

She did two more Ironwoman events, but found herself training 23 hours a week on top of her job and seeing exhaustion looming.

So Hewett ‘dropped’ back to the Olympic distance.

These days, she’s a familiar face on the circuit everywhere in the world – one of the few amateurs competing with the big boys and girls.

“I’ve had a couple of illness dips that lay me out for a week. I go to bed and build up again,” she says. “Everytime I get a headache I freak out a little - that fear of being ill has never left me.”

Sponsored by bike company Wiggle, Hewett competes most weekends. Today she’s in Spain at the Thomas Cook Ironman 70.3 Mallorca.

She says sponsorship makes a huge difference in this sport, that a good bike can make you seconds faster and place up that bit further up the field.

And it seems to be working. Hewett’s been London Triathlon age group champion for the past three years as well as winning the Blenheim triathlon, the Women's Only Triathlon twice and winning and placing in more than 20 other races.

One of her favourite events she says is the ‘Castle Triathlon Series’ with bike-to-run changeovers taking place in medieval courtyards.

Hewett jokes she’s not particularly good at any one event but somehow when she swims, bikes and runs together, it all works.

“I think I would get bored if I went back to just one sport. Mixing it up is a way of alleviating the pressure. I can train twice a day, no way could I do that with just one sport,” she says.

And we’ll leave it there for today. Hewett will be back here next week with tips on how to get through a triathlon in one piece. 

(updated on May 18th with links to Hewett's Wiggle blog) 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Listen to possibly the largest football lesson ever ....

So you know there is a Guinness World Record for pretty much everything. But did you know there is one for the largest Gaelic football lesson ever? Nope, me either. Turns out there is not only a record -  held by a club in Antrim - but a challenger - na Fianna in Dublin.

I went to their record effort on Monday for NearFM and this was the result ...


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Claire Lomas walks

pic: Telegraph

pic: Yahoo sport

pic: Metro
A few words today:
Englishwoman Claire Lomas was paralysed from the chest down in 2007 following a horse-riding accident. These pics are from the London Marathon, which she completed yesterday in a 'bionic suit' ... 16 days after the winner.

Other Wordless Wednesday bloggers hanging out here.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Death of Kenyan rugby player

Aberdeen Skikoyi

Captain of the Kenyan women's rugby team Aberdeen Shikoyi has died as a result of injuries she received during a game last weekend.

Reports from the match against Uganda say she was hit in the spine during a tackle  - kneed - and then hurt again during a scramble for the ball just after that, some stories saying another player then stepped on her neck.

A statement from the Kenya Rugby Union said: "The KRU confirms the death of Aberdeen Shikoyi. We and the entire rugby fraternity are thankful for her service, dedication and leadership offered to the game of rugby and is saddened by her passing on. We also pay tribute to Uganda Rugby Union and the medical teams in Uganda and Kenya who ensured that she received the best medical treatment possible."

We all love rugby and other contact sports because there is that risk of danger, that edge to playing the game but it's always tragic when someone crosses that line. It can so easily happen. I know many people with almost-serious-injuries and some who have died doing what they loved, and you probably do too.