What holds me back most often in my life is my need to strive to please others. I was raised in a relatively strict home where Christian values were instilled at a very young age. Goal setting and hard work were preached. It was a wonderful childhood as I developed an almost stubborn sense of determination to work to be the best at anything I choose to do.
Best student, best grades, best athlete, best son, best boyfriend, best employee, best fiancée, best husband, best uncle….. In always trying to define myself as the best I almost lose myself sometimes.
Enter an opportunity to explore Europe and Lost Worlds Racing.
As I slowly bring myself back from pneumonia that was at it’s worst at Lake Sonona, and run myself into shape for the Sky Running Ultra’s beast of a race in Andora, Ronda del Cims, and two weeks later as a member of Team USA at the 2013 IAU World Trail Championships I took a chance and purposely allowed myself to get lost with Lost Worlds Racing in Europe in hope that I would find the passion and joy that I once had again. It is working 🙂
After an incredible journey with Lost Worlds Racing’s founder Tim Holstrom and Erik Lundstrom in Dublin & Tuscany I took a chance in a sleepy little pub in Northern Ireland. Lost Worlds Racing´s Causeway and Tuscany Crossing races in and of themselves only tell half the story of what Lost Worlds Racing strives to bring to it’s runners.
Sometimes I Run; so after I finished accompanying Team RWB’s Eric Browy late Saturday night I decided to have a pint because… Well It is Ireland and why not? 😉
Sunday morning after bidding Team RWB and Talk Ultra’s Ian Corless a farewell I voluntarily allowed myself to fall captive to a beautiful kiwi princess and a gorgeous maple leaf adventurer. They wanted to explore the west coast of Ireland and I needed some “physio” work done on my left leg & lower back. Traveling Ireland with two fast, fit PT’s, as we call them in the states, was an epic adventure!
After a trip across a rope bridge to an island for a quick nap we headed to explore Giant’s Causeway. The kiwi is the daughter of a farmer and grew up on a hilly estate so she took us off trail up a steep green hill I would not have thought to attempt the day after 50 miles. After our run we explored the coast a little more and stopped for tea, sandwiches, and scones at a little cafe by a castle which hosted the start of the 25K. The decor was amazing as we ate off of china that reminded me of my Nanny’s on old cozy couches in front of a warm peat fire. The kiw attempted to kidnap the resident cat.
- she did try to kidnap this little guy too
I gifted her a stuffed baby sheep instead later in the week 🙂
With no real plan and just a tourist map we left Northern Ireland and traveled toward west.
In my twenties I spent a lot of time in an Irish Pub in Port Chester, New York and Vince the bartender would tell me stories of the beautiful place he was born and raised, Donegal. I told my “captors” of this place and we found a cozy bed and breakfast by the beach. I went out for another run as the girls washed and napped. Since Monday was a Bank Holiday the inn keeper told us there were live bands and a festival in town. When we woke from our naps we ventured out to a little town for a festival.
A James Brown look alike was on stage with an Irish back up band. It made for a fun night of dancing with the locals before we headed in the Pub for a pint and more jamming to a really good young band that played modern American tunes. We called it an early night and decided we couldn’t close every pub in Ireland on this trip choosing to meet for an early morning run through the forest, farm fields filled with baby sheep, and along the sandy beach. A traditional Irish breakfast never tasted so good as that morning where I dinned with my two “captors” 😉
We decided to head for Connemara and Kylemore Abbey Castle. I was honored in 2011 to be selected to run for Team USA at the IAU World Trail Championships in Letterfrack so I was put in charge as “American Boy Tour Guide.”.
Driving on the wrong side of the road on the narrow winding roads was an adventure in and of itself, but our kiwi would help me navigate and take the wheel in the more urban sections of the Emerald Isle.
After we toured the castle, chapel, walled gardens, and grounds of the Kylemore Estate the ladies wanted to hike / run one of the 12 Ben’s. In 2011 at the World Championships I was racing so I didn’t look behind me and even if I did I would have just seen mist and clouds. As we summited Ben Baun the sky was blue and the sun was out so the views of the Atlantic Ocean’s West Coast were incredible! The downhill descent was slippery and wet on the rock steps just like I remember from 2011. I strided out a little on the downhill and was surprised to see that the “physios” were flying down the Ben laughing & having fun. Apparently both have backgrounds as competitive downhill mountain bikers and are fearless and skilled on the descents! It was awesome to have the chance to share the rugged natural beauty if Connemara National Park with other adventures.
My driving skills are not as talented as my trail running ability but I got us all to Galway in time for some music and a night of “hookers” (a delicious hoppy IPA) I got chills as the guitarist played Bruce Springsteen’s “Waiting on a Sunny Day” and “Hungary Heart!”. The highlight of the evening though was the Irish college boy who lead his fraternity brothers in a rendition of “Yogi Bear” not intended for the entire family 🙂
The next morning I awoke to a bit of a headache but ran it off along the river on some great trails and sports fields at the National University of Galway. Two Galway hookers and a Guinness will do that to a shy “American Boy.”
After another big Irish breakfast we explored Shop Street and the Galway waterfront. My only other trip to Galway was a couple hours with my Aunt and her daughter and friend after a red eye flight from New York before the 2011 IAU World Championships so a lazy day exploring the cobblestone streets and sipping caffeinated beverages was really nice.
In keeping with our run near a castle theme the Kiwi found us a great Forest Park to run with soft trails. She drove as I napped and apparently slept through a concert the physios sang. We saw Irish deer and the flowers were in full bloom as we looped a lush green golf course in the tall Scottish pines.
Fish & Chips and Bangers & Mash were in order that evening as we dinned in Birr or Burr near a huge castle. We spend the night in a lovely bed and breakfast build in the old stables decorated with ornate Victorian era wallpaper and chandeliers hanging from 14 foot ceilings in our rooms. Sleep that Tuesday night was incredible as the cozy atmosphere and sound of rain was like an Irish Bedtime Lullaby.
Wednesday morning’s run was cold and wet as we looped the castle grounds and explored the town that hosted Ireland’s first Hurling Championship in the 1800s. After another incredibly delicious and relaxing breakfast we set out to explore Birr Castle and it’s lovely grounds. The 3rd Earl of Roses had built the worlds oldest telescope for him and his son to explore the planets. Inside the castle our tour group was greeted by the Lady Roses herself. Of the 70 plus rooms in the castle we got to tour just five but it was an impressive sight to behold!
Wednesday afternoon we made it to Dublin’s Phoenix Park and as we were about to run a giant storm cloud rolled in so we took a vote and headed for the Guinness Storehouse & Brewery instead!
After some downtime and a meal we decided since it was our last night in Ireland together a trip to Temple Bar was in order. Our cab driver got us to a pub with traditional Irish Music and dancing. Both the Kiwi and Canadian were mistaken for locals as their Irish step dance skills were amazing. The band leader made fun of my attempt to jump, but a fun time was had by all.
So next time you are striving to be the best at something but it is just not working out, take a chance. Live. Allow yourself to be present in the moment and make memories and friendships that will last forever. Put aside technology and let the culture around you take over. You never know what you might find when you get lost 🙂
Note: no baby sheep or silly American boys were hurt or truly abducted in the production of this adventure 😉