Monday, February 29, 2016

The Irish girl racing to the top of her karting class

karting alyx coby ireland
Alyx Coby PIC via Alyx

On Sunday 11 year old Alyx Coby starts her first full season in the Motorsport Ireland Karting Championship, hutling around tracks at 100km/hr.  Already with three years experience  behind her in the Cadet class, the kid from Kildare isn’t too bothered at being the youngest and the only girl in her class. 

Karting is a fast motor-sport in open vehicles called karts (no surprise). In Ireland you can start at eight years of age, but it’s mostly boys you see out there, mostly.

It took a while to catch up with Alyx cause you know homework but this is what she had to say (be prepared for feelings of inspiration):

Clearly a bit of a speed demon already, she said:  "The most fun thing is the speed. My kart will do over 100km/h and it’s really hard to describe the feeling to somebody who hasn’t experienced it for themselves. I also really enjoy the time I get to spend with my dad.

"He runs our race team so we spend a lot of time together travelling to different tracks, testing, going to races and even just working on the kart in the workshop or talking through races afterwards."

As you’ll know from this blog I’m a HUGE fan of sport for kids, but you don’t often meet children or teens who’ve thought that through, until now …

Alyx said: "The most challenging thing is when I go testing. Rather than trying to make everything better all at once I have to work on improving just one thing over and over until I get it right before moving on to the next thing.

"Finding the right braking point for a corner or when to put the power down or even something as simple as making sure I’m sitting in the right position. Sometimes we might spend a whole day doing that one thing to make sure it is perfect. 

"After a while it gets really boring, but you have to put in the effort to get the results and even the smallest thing can make a huge improvement."

karting alyx coby ireland
Alex Coby in action PIC via
That determination is a big part of her plans for this year, she said. The karts are bigger with a 125cc IAME engine but so are her dreams.

"It shouldn’t matter that I am a girl, but sometimes I feel there is more pressure on me to prove myself because I am a girl.

"For the 2016 season I'm not just the only girl in my class, I'll also be the youngest driver. I think being so young is a bigger obstacle to being accepted than being a girl, but all I can do is try my best and prove that I am just as good as they are."

Well exactly, and what better preparation for adulthood could there be? Glass ceilings look out if this is the next generation of Irish girls.

She’s focused on the Championships for now, but does have big plans for the future, saying: "When I’m older I would love to race cars and, who knows, maybe go all the way to F1, but for now karting is all I want to do and there’s still a lot to learn. 

"My ambition is to win the Motorsport Ireland Karting Championship."

Keep up with Alyx Coby on her Facebook page and website.

karting alyx coby ireland
Jensen Button, eat your heart out! Alyx Coby in the pit PIC via


Friday, February 26, 2016

Winter swimming in Dublin with gloves and bootees

Seapoint Dublin swimming winter
Barbara Sheahan and Lorna Farren winter swimming at Seapoint, Dublin
Winter means hot fires, sofa and telly for some people but not for these women. The sea around Dublin isn't as chilly as the Russian ice-rivers you see people diving into but it's COLD enough to keep most people away. I stopped swimming at Seapoint in October and haven't been back yet!

Lorna Farran tells us why Sundays are sacred for swimming in her world even as the low low water temps continue: 

Why on earth would you venture into the sea in winter?  This is a question I ask myself each week as I stand ankle deep in the sea and the pain shoots up my legs.  But then I wade in deeper and notice that my feet are acclimatising.

What was pain a few seconds ago is now - to quote Pink Floyd - comfortably numb.  Buoyed by this, I enter up to my waist and dive under.  The rush that follows is what makes this moment so special and so addictive.  As I feel my heart beat in my chest my body powers on and my head emerges.  I keep going.  As the seconds lapse I get comfortable and just enjoy the cold enveloping me.  The shock passes and there’s just elation. 

Seapoint Dublin swimming winter

I feel renewed after a dip in the sea, particularly in winter.  I think it’s boosted my immune system, and I’d credit it with mental as well as physical benefits.  Some days I could enter into the water stressed but nothing clears the head like a dunk in cold water.

I definitely think that subconsciously my body says “if you can swim in cold water, you can do anything.”

Top Tips

  1. It mightn’t be as cold as you think: In Ireland anyway.  It’s been tipping a balmy 8 degrees in the sea for most of the winter, so it’s a mild year. 
  2. Be safe:  If you’ve asthma or a heart condition winter swimming mightn’t be for you, so talk to your doctor if you’ve any concerns.  Check out these tips from Dr Mark Harper. 
  3. Get acclimatised: This can be mental as well as physical, and you should be prepared for the cold water.  I recommend wading in gradually and would always stay in my depth and close to the shore.  Booties and gloves help with cold feet and hands. 
  4. Don’t stay in too long:  Many of the regular sea swimmers I know stay in the water for 30 seconds in winter. You do build up a tolerance, but the exhilaration comes from the initial dunk and in my experience you usually don’t notice you’ve stayed in too long until afterwards. 
  5. Meet your fellow ice man/ woman: Aside from the safety benefits of swimming with a group, there is a community of winter swimmers, and it’s a good way to meet people.  This is my third winter swimming at Seapoint in Dublin with the four other ladies that make up the Mespil Swim Team.  We go every weekend, and what was a kinship from a shared hobby many think is mad, is now a firm friendship.  Sharing the flask of tea afterwards is half the fun. 
  6.  Focus on warming up afterwards: I always feel better if I’ve warmed up my body by moving around afterwards, so I’d cycle home or have a quick walk rather than just blasting the car heater.  My hands and toes can get pretty cold, but it doesn’t last long.  While stating the obvious, bring lots of extra clothes – it’s better to have too many layers for afterwards than not enough!
  7. Have fun! I don’t set targets, I just get in and enjoy myself.  The swimmers who stay at it, do it because they love it, not because they are trying to break an endurance record. 
Lorna wrote another inspiring piece on swimming in the Liffey Swim last year.

Seapoint Dublin swimming winter
Deirdre Ní Ghabhann Mespil and Lorna Farren go for into the freezing waters of Dublin Bay!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Love hearts locked

Wordless Wednesday - Ok, this pic I took in Budapest is way off topic but it is almost St Valentine's Day ...

budapest hungary love Valentine

budapest hungary love St Valentine

More Wordless Wednesday bloggers here.           And here on Image-in-ing

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: beach running

Wordless Wednesday  - what I saw running on the beach (w a little filter help)

Maharees Kerry beach

Maharees Kerry beach running

Maharees Kerry beach  windsurfing

Maharees Kerry beach seaweed

More Wordless Wednesday bloggers here.           And here on Image-in-ing