Monday, June 30, 2008

Holy Sh*t

Tyson Gay just ran 9.68 for the 100m at US Olympic Trials. I know there was a 4.4 wind blowing him up the track, but “What the f*#k?”. Obviously its not an official World Record cos it was wind aided, but damn. These guys are not playing this year. I have a personal interest in the men’s 100m, cos Husband is Asafa Powell’s agent. Asafa was the World Record holder going into this season with a 9.74. Then his fellow Jamaican, Usain Bolt, went and dipped it down to a 9.72 about 8 weeks ago.

But this is crazy. I can’t wait for the Olympics, these guys are going to run so fast that one of them might just spontaneously combust from pure effort and speed. Can the human body stand up to such speed and power? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Asafa celebrates his World Record in Italy last year.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Getting Caught Up

I figured it was about time I got caught up on my blogging. It’s been a busy week for me here in Ireland, as it always is when I come back to visit. But before I update you on the week, let me just give a “parental warning”, or should I say, “track warning”. This blog, in addition to the pervious blogs, will be centered around track. For those of you with an interest in all things track, no problem, but for those of you with zero interest, this will probably be a bore and I apologize. But unfortunately since I took on the task of training for the 4 x 4, therefore making myself a semi-retired athlete, track has once again become the focus of my daily life. That and the fact that I married a track & field agent, who as I type is on his way back from the Jamaican Olympic trials, where he had a number of athletes competing and on to the US Olympic Trails, where he has another number of athletes competing. In addition to that, most of my close friends are surprise; surprise either ex-athletes or still competing athletes. So no matter how hard I try to step away from the sport, it remains very much front and center in my world.

As I still wait to hear the official word from our Federation regarding our relay, I keep on training. Honestly, its not looking good, but just in case there is a tiny chance, I don’t want to be the one that thought it was all over and so went off and drowned my sorrows in all things burgered and fried and dipped in chocolate. Lard arse’s do not make it around the track in record time, nor are they sexy.

Wednesday night I had the honor of guest appearing at the club where I started my own track career as a 7 year old, Newbridge AC. It was so weird to be back seeing the familiar faces of the coaches that put me to through my paces back in the day, doing the same with a new bunch of fresh and cheeky faced kids. I had a blast, but it did make me feel slightly old. Most of the kids were getting ready to compete, so I just handed out some racing tips and words of motivation. But I have agreed to come back on Tuesday night to take them all for a training session, which should be a lot of fun.

Then my friend Jeremy, who I coach for the 400 hurdles and who you might remember from a blog a few months back “Can Anyone Relate To This Pain??” was competing at a meet in Greystones, which is a small town in the Co. of Wicklow. I went as coaching support, cheerleader and photographer and let me just say, its hella hard trying to take pictures, as you cheer and as you watch for running form and hurdle technique. But I managed. Jer was having a great race until he hit the 8th hurdle, then things when a bit astray and so he had to settle for a second place finish on the night, but had been unbeaten up to this point.

Saturday night I took a break from all things track and went to a new restaurant in Naas, which is the town next to my own, called “Bia”. Bia, is Irish for “Food” but the restaurant is owned by a Polish gentleman and has a menu that is largely American type food. How’s that for a multi-cultural experience? The food was great, the company was great, but the wine was only ok, so didn’t drink much of that. But there’s still plenty of time to hit the pubs for a couple a pints, cos I’m here for another week. Then it’s off back to my new home in the ATL.

Me, in the middle with some of the kids from Newbridge AC.
This is the track we use to train on. You'll notice it's not your fancy Mondo, no, it's grass.
Jer, in action. Giving the hurdle a good smack.
The spectators get really into it.

It's all about the pubs and the pints.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Results, Results

Apologies for the late update. I just landed back in Ireland from Portugal yesterday and was too tired to blog.

But lets get to the real news. We won the relay. That’s the excellent news. However, the time we ran is not enough to rank us among the top 16 in the world, which is what we need to make the Olympics.

I may or may not have mentioned it in a previous blog, but qualification goes a little something like this. You have to compete at least twice. Then you take the average time for both races and that time must rank you among the top 16 teams in the world, cos only the best 16 teams are allowed to compete in Beijing. So as it stands right now, we are outside the magic 16. I think we are around 18th.

So we have some thinking and math to do. We need to figure out how much faster the team is actually capable of running and compare that to what the other teams have run, then decide if we give it another go. It’s such a tough position to be in. We were so hopeful and capable of making it to the Olympics, but now we may need to start coming to terms with the fact that it might not happen, which sucks. We are definitely capable of running quicker. I’m getting faster and stronger with every race and Joanne can definitely run quicker. The training she missed cos of her knee injury hurt her fitness a bit, but she too will get faster with each race, but will it be enough? That’s the tough question. So we’ll take a couple of days to talk, calculate and decide.

So while we ponder our choices, you can check out some snaps from the weekend.

My 3 other team-mates, Michelle, Joanne & Brona.

Thats me in the middle, being led out to the track.
Me in action. I was lead off & managed to open up a 20m gap of the rest of the field. Nice

Apres race, a very tired looking bunch.
Joanne & I take an ice-bath to help legs recover. Well, its actually a wheely-bin filled with ice & cold water.

Me, Derval O'Rourke (100m Hurdler & all round World Beater), Deidre Ryan (High Jumper) at the after competition banquet.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


I’m happy to report that I have arrived safe and sound to Ireland. However, the second I stepped off the plane I instantly regretted packing all my cute summer dresses, shorts and tanks. Now that I live in Hotlanta, it’s hard to imagine places out there that are in fact colder. Even in summer. And yes, I know I grew up here and should absolutely know better, but I somehow managed to convince myself during the packing process that it wasn’t as chilly as I remembered. That, and the hope that Global Warming had finally made an appearance in Ireland was kinda the idea I’d been latching onto. Sadly no.

Haven’t really been up to much the past few days. Just spending time getting my sleeping pattern in line with the rest of Europe. Hanging out with the family and preparing to re-pack and head off to Portugal tomorrow. Its all very exciting.

So good luck to us for Sunday. I’ll be sure to let you all know how it goes.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Homeward Bound

I’m off on my travels again this week. Today I leave for Ireland. Yes, I’m heading home and I’m so friggin excited. I can’t wait to see my family and friends. It’s hard to explain the buzz, but just knowing that you are going back to the people and the places that are so familiar and comfortable is awesome. It’s like taking a deep breath and relaxing. Everything will be all right, your home.

I’ll be in Ireland until Friday, then the Irish relay team is off to compete in Portugal on Sunday. This will be the second race in our effort to get Olympic qualification and the excellent news is Joanne, our key team member, is back from injury. So we are very much looking forward to getting out there this weekend and racing our asses off.

But right now my focus is on finishing all my packing. So the next time you hear from me, I’ll be in the Emerald Isle. Bon voyage to me.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Pure Awkward

I had a situation happen at work the other day. One of my co-workers told me that one of the managers, Dan, got a promotion. So, obviously when I next saw Dan, I congratulated him. But it ended up being the most awkward and messed up congratulations ever.

Here’s how it played out. I see Dan. I go up to him and say, “Hey Dan, I heard you got promoted. Congratulations. Nice job.” As I’m saying this, I am in the process of reaching out my hand, so I can shake his and solidify what I’m saying with a good solid action. However, Dan is all “Yeah, thanks, I’m really happy” but wants to solidify what he is saying with a big fat hug. Here’s where it gets awkward. We are both moving towards each other, offering up different motions of congratulations. I see he wants to hug it out, he sees I’m wanting to shake on it. We both jerk back suddenly, like we just got a cattle prod in the ass and I immediately try to change my offer from a handshake to a hug. At the exact same time, he too is trying to do a last second change from a hug to a handshake. It’s a total mess. We both do a bit of an awkward jig around with hands and arms and stuff and at this stage we are so embarrassed and so confused we don’t know whether to hug or shake.

Eventually I just say “ Wow, this is pure awkward. We can’t seem to figure out which gesture is most appropriate”. In the end we just decided to sake on it and I couldn't get my red face away from the situation fast enough. Totally messed that one nicely.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


I know I’ve been M.I.A on the blog front for most of the week and the reason for this has been Jet Lag. But I’m not talking your regular sleeping at awkward times jet lag. This jet lag was serious. This jet lag brought with it 2 days of insomnia. Basically no sleep. Zero. Zip. Nada.

It has been the worst. Just that awful feeling of complete exhaustion, that mental haze and emotional drain, yet when you put your head down to sleep, nothing. It’s ok for the first couple of hours cos your still hopeful that any minute now, you'll be off to dreamy bliss. But as the hours tick on and the whole world is sleeping but you, then starts the agitation, frustration and stress. You know your exhausted and desperate for some shuteye but the harder you try, the further away it seems to get. By day 2 it’s starting to get emotional. You burst into tears cos your laptop won’t restart. Husband hurries over, worried that you just got some bad news, but then tries not to laugh when you tell him the real reason for the tears. Seeing him fight the laughter makes you want to cry harder cos “he just doesn’t understand”. It’s a mess. You start to fear bedtime, cos you know it’s going to be a long night of torture. You stop looking at the clock after 3.22am, cos it’s just adding to the pressure. Morning is coming; you’re running out of time. Once the day breaks, you have to get up and get on with another day, so your sleeping opportunity is lost. Good luck out there in the real world looking like shit and acting like a zombie.

But there is a happy ending to my “woe is me” story. Last night, I slept. Great success. I broke the torturous cycle and I got a full nights sleep. I feel almost human today. The haze is lifting, my mind is clearing and my emotions are stabilizing. How did I do it? Well, I simply set my expectations low. I expected not to sleep. And instead of letting myself get frustrated with the whole thing, I surrendered. I figured since I was going to be awake all night, then I would use the opportunity to catch up on all the missed episodes of “Lost”. So I brought the laptop to bed, and got comfortable. Well, that and I popped a couple of Melatonin. But I really had no confidence in the Melatonin, cos Tylenol PM had failed me the previous 2 nights. But honestly I don’t really care if it was the change in mental approach or the drugs; all I care about is that I finally got some sleep and that I'm back and functioning almost like a human being.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

So How Did We Do?

Well, our team did amazing. Every one of us stepped it up and delivered a top class performance. We finished 3rd and ran 3.33.48, which is better by about 2 seconds than we were expected to do. So the excellent news is that we are still in with a good chance of Olympic qualification. All-round it was a good decision to send the relay to Italy. Now we have competed together as a team and with 1 run under our belt the confidence and commitment level is high. We are definitely looking forward to our next run in 2 weeks time.

On a personal note, my leg of the relay was solid. I had a fast split. Faster even than the couple of races I’ve done. I can definitely feel the speed and power coming back into my former 10k muscles. And dare I brag about the reemergence of my glute and hamstring muscles? Of course I do. There has been plenty of lactic, sweat and tears suffered the past few months in an effort to get them back and functioning.

Off the track, I just spent a nice relaxing day strolling the streets of Turin. As is normal practice, most of the athletes fly out the day after the meet, either onto the country of their next race or back to their training base, usually leaving the hotel at ungodly hours of 3am and 4am to catch flights that leave at 7am. However, I wasn’t able to get a flight back to the US until Sunday, at least not one that cost less than $2000, so I had all of Saturday to do whatever I wanted in fabulous Italy. And what do you think a girl should do whilst stranded in fabulous Italy? Why, shop of course.

I asked for a map at reception, (did you hear that Husband? “I ASKED FOR A MAP”) and had the not so friendly gentleman point out where I was and where I should go. He directed me towards the center of the city, highlighting the shopping areas, buildings of interest and statues of heroic men on horses. So off I went.

I love Europe. The cities are so easy to get around. You can walk most places, jump on a metro or tram to others or if you have access to a bike, then the world is your oyster. I headed straight to the shopping district. In my defense it was actually en-route to all the touristy stuff. I strolled along the busy street. As I looked around I got the feeling that the not so friendly gentleman at reception was mistaken about the type of shopping I was interested in. He had me slap in the middle of haute coutre ville. All around me was Gucci, Prada, D&G, Louis Vuitton, Hermes and many more. I was completely out of my shopping league here. So I kept walking, onwards towards the fountains, statues and buildings. Until, I spotted the familiar signs of Zara, H&M and Mango. Now we’re talkin. These are my type of stores. So I ventured in and about 2 hours later, I ventured out.

Shopping is a hungry sport, so after that I found a nice al fresco café and had lunch. I told the server, in the worst Italian you ever heard, that all I wanted was a sandwich. Something with cheese and some perchuto. Next he arrives with a huge plate of various meats, cheeses and bread, a glass of white wine and bottle of water. What a feast. Lovely job server. Top marks.

With a full stomach I was now ready for the touristy stuff. The only thing is, I wish I had a guidebook or something, cos as fabulous as it all was, I really had no idea what I was looking at. Oh well, I guess it means I just have to come back again.

I rounded off the day with a big fat cappuccino and an ice-cream at another café, cos you can’t really go to Italy and not have ice-cream, now can you??

See, I wasn't lieing about lunch.

Statues of men on horses.

Nice building of something or other

The closest I got to a Louis Vuitton bag today.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Universe Tried To Tell Me

I got a Blackberry back in March and even though it took me a while, I did learn most of its functions and tricks and as a result I got comfortable, then addicted to it. Plus it has this feature called Blackberry Messenger where everyone who has Blackberry gets a PIN and this allows you to chat with each other, all over the world, for free. It’s excellent.

However, once you travel outside the US, you are required to insert a SIM card so that the B’Berry can function in all other countries. Now, when Husband initially came home with my B’Berry he told me it was all set up and ready to go, I just had to put in my personal settings, set up my messenger and e-mail and I was good. It would work wherever I traveled, as long as I had the SIM. I remember asking if I had to purchase a SIM and he told me no, it was in there and all ready to go. You can see where I’m going with this right??

So I leave Atlanta yesterday and landed in Paris where I was getting a connecting flight to Italy. I turned on my B’Berry so I could message Husband, who was in Sweden but has since moved on to Oslo, Norway, I think. See, this is why we need our B’Berries, so we can keep up with each other’s lives. Anyway, once I turn it on it said, “Please insert SIM Card”. What are you talking about B’Berry?? You have a SIM. You had one in you when you first arrived in my home. So I ignore the message and try sending a message to Husband, but to no avail. It keeps telling me to “Insert SIM”. So now, a million miles from home I decided to open it up and see if there is in fact a SIM in the back of it and wouldn’t you know, there isn’t. Son of a b*#ch. I’m angry with my B’Berry. What am I suppose to do now?? What did I do and how did I live before I had one? It's hard to remember really.

But the funny thing is, once I discovered the lack of SIM, my brain immediately pans back to various warnings and signs the universe tried to send me before I left. For example, as I’m packing up my charger I had the thought, “oh, the B’Berry needs a SIM to work outside the US, but it has it, so I’m all set”.
Then, as I was filing away some documents, I saw the bag of accessories that had come with B’Berry, car chargers, covers and all that good stuff and I thought, “I wonder do I need any of this stuff?” My answer was again, no, I’m all set.
Even at the airport I was paying for a bottle of water and a King Size Kit-Kat and there next to the register was a little stack of International SIM Cards for sale. And while I waited at the gate to board my plane I was messaging with Husband and he was telling me how to set the B’Berry to Global once I got to Europe. I remember mentioning the SIM and that I was fine cos I had one, right? Wrong.

So either it is sitting on my shelf back in Atlanta with all the other accessories or they (the phone store) never gave me one to start with. But I can’t say the signs were not there. The universe was screaming it at me, I just didn’t listen. So I only have myself to blame for the present situation.

But now I’m in B’Berry cold turkey. It’s awful. I feel like I’ve lost a limb and even though I’m only here till Sunday, without my B’Berry, it’s going to be a long week.

Monday, June 2, 2008

What I Learned?

Sunday morning I learned that the key member of our Irish 4 x 400m relay was injured. Yes, after getting up early to cut the lawn, why do it early? Cos the weather is so hot here in Atlanta now, that I can only bare to do it really early, or really late. But anyway, I check my e-mail and there is a message from AAI, the Irish Federation breaking this news to me.

I was sure I read it wrong, so I read it again and sadly no, I was not wrong. At this stage they are talking about not sending the team, cos the chances of us hitting the qualifier without our key member now are very slim. I’m told I will get a phone call Monday morning to discuss the situation. Bare in mind I’m due to fly to Italy this Tuesday, as in today.

Monday morning, the call comes. What are we going to do? Do we send a team even though qualifying is now a long shot? We to and fro about the pros and cons of our given situation and in the end we decide, Yes, lets do this. Lets assemble the best team we can and lets send us out there to do our very best and see what happens. We have not yet run together as a team so this is the perfect opportunity and hopefully when we compete again in 3 weeks our key member will be back to full health and we can build on this weeks performance and take it to the next level. Positive attitude all the way.

Also this past week I went to see the Sex and the City movie. Yes, it took 2 days to get a ticket but I got one. The movie theater was packed, which meant we had to stand in line just to get in and we all know how I feel about lines, but this was Sex and the City we’re talking about, so I endured and I have to say it was so worth it. I won’t go into too much detail, just in case you haven’t seen it, but I was crying, I was angry, I was hurt, I was happy, I was relieved, I was jealous (of the clothes, bags and shoes), I was numb, I was all of it. The whole spectrum of emotions. Ladies and Gay Gentlemen and all you Straight Men, who are closet fans, go see this movie. It’s fabulous.

On the book front, I got some great e-mails and comments full of suggestions. So I have a nice long summer reading list assembled. Geeky? Maybe, but I don’t care. However, for this trip I will be bringing “The Other Boleyn Girl” by Philippa Gregory. Thanks Beth. I was going to get “A Thousand Splendid Suns” as suggested by Caitriona and Cormac, but after reading Hosseini’s first book, “The Kite Runner”, which I loved, loved, loved, it was a tough read emotionally, so am concerned that his other book will be similar and probably not the best choice for getting my competitive athletic edge all fired up. So a good bitchy period novel about 2 sisters fighting for the love of Henry the VIII, King of England might be just the ticket.