Friday, 27 April 2007

Miles to go

After Sundays set back on the track i was happy with my decision to pullout of the race as i could get back into the running with a minimum lay off - although the easy miles at the beginning of the week had to be taken easy, i built up to testing a new 8 mile loop around Airbus on wednesday evening and then ran a solid session on the track on thursday - Six times one thousand meters. ran to time and felt fine... good, good.

You Gotta Earn It!

Read one of Neals newer posts on his blog (see the link to the right) about a book he has read and he glances across something about "earning it" - if you havn't earned it you have nothing. It just summed up the confused mish-mash of thoughts and feelings and motivations and wants that have been bouncing around my skull since christmas. Actually, they've always been there but things have happened and pieces of my life fallen into place in such a way that they have acted to channel or herd all these cognotions, condensing them into both a fuel and a destination. I want to improve! at lots of things! Well it's not going to just bloody happen all of a sudden by magic is it?! Course not! it's gonna have to be earned! and it's gonna hurt and it's gonna cost - and for the imporvements I want, it's gonna cost BIG!
At the moment I'm paying for a level of fittness by hauling my ass outa bed 6 days a week to make sure i clock up at least 55 miles - the cost is early nights, Earlier mornings, tirdness and committing to a level of dicipline i have never held before. After a while these things become less of a cost and more of a reward in themselves as the benifits begin to become apparent.
The next cost is more of my "ME" time that i have to give up for climbing and conditioning training. I have always been weak -i like to just sit and chill after a busy day or week - i could faff online or read a book or anything for huge ammounts of valuable time that i'll never get back. But if i want to imporve i have to use my time to the best i can - train when it's right - train regularly - use the rest rime for University work and things that need doing. In the end it seems that all the costs are paid out of my weaknesses - my fondness of free time, my lazyness, my hunger. Everything happens as a result of a decision - there is always at least two choices on which way to proceed - having the fuel (made of ambitions and goals and commitment) blocking the easy options (slacking) with a constant, consious and sub-consious pressure makes these decisions easier. If you want it, decide you're going to get it and make it happen.
It's Friday and I'm going to the crag for another sould bashing session of trying routes that i find difficult - the fact that i'm still going back is a reward in itself - i've not given up.
I might sound like a physco with all this less life, more training waffle but i'm fairly sure i'm maintaining the schedule in a safe and sensible manner - i do get enough rest and I've looked into the specifics of the training and nutrition in depth. I'm not an expert and i dont even have any results to prove that i know what i'm doing is right but i feel it is so lets hope thats enough.

Big Red Jeep

Straight after the races on Sunday we headed home and i nipped around to the local landmark (Tescos) to meet Enda 'wild man' Moynihan who i had not seen in yonks! He has a very Big and very RED jeep! Massive! like a tank with windows! anyway - spent the evening catching up with what we had both been up to over the past few years and he filled some considerable gaps in my knowledge of what everyone else at home had been up to lately aswell (it was handy as he's leaving in a week for 6 months duty abroad so had been catching up with everyone himself - the perfect time for me to pick his brains!).
Enda was the man responsible for furnishing me with a pile of climbing hardware way back when i had just turned 17 and found myself in the Uni climbing club for the first time...awwaahhh. Before this event i had resorted to either soloing or leading on the 3 bits of pro that myself or Ronan (Firewalker) had managed to FIND around the hills and quarry - yes, i know NOW thats it's not the safest thing in the world to try and lead routes on 1 HB brass, a size 5 DMM wallnut and a rusty size 8 WC rock (found in a pool at the bottom of a warerfall in wicklow by Ronan's younger brother!) but hey, Ronan bought a draw for each bit of pro, so we figured it almost equated to a rack right? Enda signing over a very full rack of wires, micros, Cams and hexes along with a dozen draws, slings and even a rope caused what could only be described as an overload - i cant remember much about the few months that followed but i do remember not being in Uni too much and always scrimping and saving up the DART fare to get out to Dalkey.
Enda also caused many a crazy night out with climbers - for some reason it was always his house that was the site of all the madness! (Ahem... Nuf said!) Legend!
We only talked about that stuff briefly - we didn't need to go through it all blow by blow - we were both there and anyone who wasn't there (both physicially AND "there" in a very physcological perspective - i.e. lots of people where in that location but few were where WE were and by "we" i mean the core of universe at the time - they know who they are - they've the scars to prove it!) would never understand anyway.

Thursday, 26 April 2007

Slight Set-Back

Sunday marked the official beginning of the track season... we went to Stretford for a Medals meet. Caroline and Mike kicked off the day with a 3000m and then we had a bit of waiting around for my 800m - knowing that my hamstring had been actingup a week earlier i made sure to warm up well but it didn't help - i lined up, set off on the gun and felt the repeated pang of pain from above the back of my knee. I relaxed after 100m or so and tried to not stress the leg but it wasn't going too well - i pulled out after the 400m mark and 59 sec - Hopefully i havn't done too much damage and by pulling out i'll be bale to recover, train and then race at full power later in the season.

The positives i took from the day include the fact that the first lap i ran fast and it felt EASY! Physicially i felt great - it's just a blip but at least i know the training has been worth it - i have improved.

Caroline and Mike then finished the afternoon off with a 1500m, while i watch on and sulked a bit ... Nawh, not really! i cheered them on as usual

Saturday, 21 April 2007


Today was a different story - made it out to Dinbren again, this time just wanting to tick some easier routes and plug some gaps in my guidebook...... but then i talked to Lee and had a go at the second 7c - Cured. This one is more up my street - less steep, smaller holds and with a distinct crux half way up involving a huge move to a tiny edge - worked this one much more easily but the dyno is proving tough - its the first route i've ever re-created a move from on my home board to train specificially for - i have a project!!


Flowers are for the Dead

Friday i managed to squeeze an hour in at Dinbren and tried the first of the 3 7c crimpfests suggested to me by the crag Guru - Flowers are for the dead. My only beta for this was from warching Neal trying it last year - it looked hard! Very hard! .... it still is! But after dogging my way to the chains i lowered off and was shocked - i could hold the holds - Barely, but long enough to sketch my way through the moves - what a nasty Route! was like a V9 on a rope! Although staying phsyched i have to be honnest and admit I'm not strong enough yet to send this baby - a little deflated but still happy in the knowledge i wouldn't have even made it to the chains ever before now - not a route to my strengths.

Neal, if you read this - Ouch! I now understand ...

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Thoughts and Catch-up - Wednesday 18th April

Well I’ve hit the grindstone again – back to school Monday and back into the usual routine of working and training. I always feel like everything takes a step up a notch when you get stuck back into things after a couple of weeks lay of and rest. Our new weekly mileage of 55 miles seems to be holding up well and both Caroline and myself are still getting PB’s on the track and during our AM road runs during the week so we must be doing something right.
Also, I feel that my climbing training is going well lately. My hypertrophy training took a serious knock over the past few weeks with people coming over to visit and the training room being taken up with peoples gear and spare beds etc… but I feel proud of the fact that no matter what was going on I still managed to do a minimum number of hangs and pulls from the board every day.
I didn’t mention it in earlier posts but after the first couple of days cragging over the Easter holidays I managed to hang the smallest rung on my board footless for 20 sec for the first time – maybe I could have always done it and never tried or maybe the bit of sports climbing shocked my fingers into activating more muscle fibres – whatever! All I know is that I’ve noticed an improvement and it has opened up a whole new area for me to train. Since then I have been gradually adding sets of hangs and locks off this rung and the fingers seem to be handling the loading quite well. Also, using the larger rungs I can now consistently do sets of 15 pull-ups at a time. Now I want to keep targeting my finger training and further build up and work on my core separately – I know it’s just a case of deciding to fit it in and doing it!
For some reason I am managing the school workload better these days so more of my free time is actually free and I don’t have to stay up till all hours planning lessons. Caroline has an assignment due in this week but once that’s in I’m reserving my Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings for cragging – I’ve had 3 7c’s suggested to me by the guy who wrote the local guidebook so I’m planning on trying to project them – Like I always say, the climbing at Dinbren is so hard for me that working these routes should really go towards bringing me on… only one thing worries me – a route I belayed Neal on, one that he found desperate, was suggested to me as an easy 7c – Gulp! Either it didn’t suit Neal and it’s alright or the other 7c’s are absolutely Brick hard!! I’ll post more on this when I try them…

Sunday, 15 April 2007

Angel Bay

Sunday afternoon and we get itchy feet again - this time we check out Angel Bay for a potential quick bouldering session. Caroline warms up on a V1 then flashes two V5's before working a damp V6 - i follow and manage to send the V6 using a mono to get through the crux (im sure V6 wouldn't normally use this method but all the big holds were slopey and wet! the mono was at least sharp). We tuck into our usual picnic and then i scope out a V8 that looks sweet on our way back to the path leading out of the bay, Its a bit damp from the sea mist but i cant help myself fondling the holds and before you know it, the 5.10's are back on and i've chalked the starting holds and put a tick mark under what looks like the most likely hold i stand any chance of holding.

The start is crouched - and i manage to swing in my left foot into a heel-toe beside my starting grips and reach back with my right hand to a half-pad slopey crimp thing. This at least gives me enough balance to further slot my left foot into a crack and now im committed - that feeling when you know its entirely possible that you snap off the wet slopey crimp and then fall off leaving your left ankle broken in it's foot lock!

I tense up everything and bare down and reach waaaaay past all the crappy slopers and edges (all damp) to a left handed pinch on a shallow pocket that i had ticked earlier! It feels good enough to hang! After that i just slapped up the burly slopers to the lip and a thank God jug!

... I think i just flashed a V8!

Port Ysgo

Saterday after our 14.5 mile hill run (Phew!) we decided to pack a lunch and hit the road to somewhere new - Port Ysgo on the lleyn penninsula - naively we decided to take the scenic route via Bala lake and Porthmadog - 3 hours later and with the sun thinking about setting we arived at this idilic costal bouldering venue - not a sinner in sight! The rock is a jet black Gabbro and with the sun beating down on it all day it was hot to the touch. Luckily it holds the chalk and the problems are visable from space! makes onsighting a bit easier i suppose. I'd seen some footage fo the bouldering here in the Stick it! bouldering vid years back and always fancied a go at popcorn party and Fast Cars, both V6. With the sun so low i decided not to go searching to these problems and instead got stuck into trying a few problems before tucking into our picnic.

View from the Picnic boulder

First up was the obvious chalked Beach Boys Arete, V4 - there is a picture of Mark Katz climbing this in the guide so i gave it a go as a warm up - great problem and managed to flash the lower start at V5.

Beach Boys Arete, V4

Next i tried a nasty celler-dweller steep crimp fest V7 that took two goes but probably wasn't worth it - not much to look at and the moves felt more like a fight than a climb. Next up was a great slopey V6 that i managed to flash aswell! Not much of an achievement , i know, but i was happy with it especially as i was constantly rolling off the hot slopers at each move. Pictured below...

After these problems we tucked into our picnic and i couldn't resist the urge to at least go and look at fast cars and popcorn party - one look at fast cars and i was jumping for the slopey rail and campusing up the arete to the jug, and shapr pull and lock-off later and i had flashed another V6 - this time in my trainers! (thats a first!) I always did like the look of that problem on the video :)

Saturday, 14 April 2007

Gorge bouldering

After yesterdays trip to the gorge i was stoked to try some of the steep boulder problems in the gorge itself. We didn't have too much time to kill as we had to go to some athletics club awards evening so the gorge was an ideal venue for a quick session. I cant find any information on any of the problems in this sector but the one pictured below is awesome - from a low start, porwe thrugh the overhand on crimps and sidepulls to the diagonal lip, an awesome cross through to a sloper and some foot-faggotry land you can begin the rising lip traverse on crimps with worsening footies - grade? havn't a clue - but one of the best problems i've been on. Caroline spotted a traverse line aswell - thats going to keep me busy for a while - can make it as long as i like - the holds just keep on going - a great training venue for the future.

The cross through...

Crimp traverse...

Thursday, 12 April 2007

Gorge - ous

Wednesday was supposed to be a rest day from climbing but after the morning run we couldn't not take advantage of the sunshine so we threw the bouldering pad into the car and took Rocky for a walk to Devil's Gorge in Loggerheads park. Two reasons - firstly to check the steep sports routes conditions - almost completely dry!! and secondly to try some of the brick hard problems in the adjacent cave.

We must be getting better! I managed to cruise the V7 that i always found desperate and caroline flashed a tough V4 and then added an extra low start under the roof!

Ruthin assault

Tuesday we drove to Ruthin again, this time i lead every route on the crag and caroline tried another 7a - a good day out, combined with the 6am 5 miler on the road and the evening track session i felt like i had been run over by a truck by 9pm! wrecked!
But good climbing and good running - a great training day and another 6 7a leads for the bag.

They're here

Friday the entire clan arrived by car ferry from Dublin, Parents and grandparents - the entire day was spent catching up and drinking tea - everyone loved Rocky and he seemed to like the extra attention aswell!


Saterday we took advantage of the great weather and decided to contribute to the record breaking attendances at Chester Zoo. I dont really like the ideas of zoo's and visiting this one didn't really go any way in convincing me otherwise - apparently alot of the entrance fee goes towards conservation work so i suppose thats something. It was PACKED!!! but we made the most of it and Caroline had prepared a picnic for the whole mob which went down well especially with the Elders. A great day out!

Sunday we went for a walk up Foel Fenli and monday we drove in convoy to bangor where we said our good byes and left the parents and grandparents to drive the rest of the way to Hollyhead and their ferry - Phew!

Great to see the family - i had a great weekend and think they did too - absouloutly wrecked by this stage!

Yo Bros!

Thursday afternoon and i'm off to collect my Bros from Manchester airport - the entire clan are over for the Easter weekend and the brothers are making the most of it by flying over early - I pick them up, they check out my new wheels, feed and water them back at the house and we hit the hills with Rocky for a walk up Moel Famau

Aside from the walk nearly killing them i think they enjoyed it - there was a beautiful inversion over Ruthin and only the peaks of Snowdon and neighbouring peaks could be seen above the clouds. The lads worked up a hunger so we hit Dominos and then watched Ong-Bak - Thai kickboxing-tastic!


Wednesday we decided to get Caroline leading again after her prolonged layoff during the colder winter months. We drove up to Trevor area, compact wall for it's well bolted, technical crimptastic routes. Caroline shook off her funk and lead a airy 6a+ and a hard 6b+ before we hit the road to check out Ruthin Crag.

Caroline on he 6b+

Lee had retro-bolted this previously trad crag last year and to my knowlegde no-one has been out to it since! Its a great little venue that catches all the evening light thats going. situated above the tiny village of Pwllglas there is only about half a dozen routes worth going at, but they're good! I had previously onsighted one og the crags harder routes when it was trad - it went at E5 with a scary top out.
Now that the crag is bolted you've got a line of brilliant vairied 7a's - perfect for Caroline to begin working

Caroline supprising herself on a 7a

Rust never sleeps

After sundays sucess on the hills i was actually lookinmg forward to out tuesday evening track session - wrong! turns out there was a bit of rust on the fast muscles after a couple of weeks easy running - man those 200's and 400's hit me like a tonne of bricks! Jelly legs! and my lubgs were on fire!
Better get back to the training good-style before the first track meet!


After Saturday's trip to Dinbren the thirst was on - we hit the crag again after out AM run. Another beautiful day, calm stillness and sunshine. Every sound could be heard from the farms below the crag. This time i upped the anti with a 6b+ warm up (uugghhh!), a 7a+ (onsight), 7a+, 7a+, 7b and a 7b+. The last route was Orrible - in a loving it kinda way - totally suited to the more diminutive climber - but i managed to slap and crimp my way up - the 7c's are looking decidedly do-able up here all of a sudden...

Caroline having fun spying on the farm...

Me lowering off after another good day


our rest period has finished now so last sunday it was back to the hills for the 15 miler! Ouch! Supprisingly, i was leading the entire way around - legs felt great, lungs felt great - great!

pretty much wiped us out for the day though ....

Oh yeah!

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm fairly easily pleased when it comes to movies - i dont ask for much - action, some vauge attempt at a storyline and it helps if theres something cheezy and motivational thrown in the mix too - well someone just went and made what may have been called "Daves Film"

Oh Hell yeah!

Swords, Spears, Shields, accurate quatations from historical accounts - and just lots and lots of action!
Daddy like!


Sorry if you've been reading this blog and have noticed the distinct lack of posting of late - Typicially, when there lots being done, theres no time to type about it.

Its been a busy week or so!


Celebrated the beginning of the Easter break with a days cragging at Dinbren. Unusually we could see climbers on some pretty tough routes as we approached - normally we've had the entire crag to ourselves! Turns out it was a roaming party from Llanberris - 9 or so of them. A nice bunch but it forced me to postpone any plans i had of looking at some classics for another day. Caroline had resisted the urge to touch rock all year but finally gave in and toproped a few lines and i made a decision and set a standard for days cragging - I'll not be going home till I've at least clipped the chains on half a dozen routes! This time it wa nice with a 6b warmup, 6c, 6c+, 7a+, 7a+ and a 7b. I think the time spent here if infinately worthwhile - this crag is sooo distant from my prefered style of climbing that climbing here is forcing me byond my comfort zone from the minute i leave the deck - pushing my onsight level here is really forcing me to , in the immortal words of Gabe in Ceuse circa 2004 - "Put your game face on and give it hell! You're a tiger and the rock's a bunny rabbit!! Tigers eat bunny rabbits!!! Grrrr..."

A busy Dinbren...