Saturday, March 14, 2015

Run, because you can !

It's almost time to say goodbye farewell to our new runners completing their Couch to 5K programme. 1 week left.
To applaud them for completing their 5km run is worthy, their endorphins will be kicking, the feeling of well done coursing through their body, their soul ! They are deserving of every bit of praise.
But stop a moment, to applaud them, not for their finishing, but for their courage in starting... that took a type of guts and bravery a lot of athletes have forgotten.

An Athlete tends to look forward to the next race, the next event, they build up training to improving times or distances, or both !
Every so often, it's appropriate to look back and recognise that we all started from somewhere, and recognise too, what it is like NOT to be able to run, jog, or climb a hill without being out of breath and feeling despondent for lack of ability.

But it's not lack of ability !
And therein is the lesson for everybody, newbie, novice or experienced alike.

Through the 5km mentoring programme, there is one question as a coach I never ask ?
How Old/Young are you ?
Because, in truth it doesn't matter.
Privately, it matters to the person yes. To the athlete in the making. It's normally dressed up as - "Sure, I'm too old for this"'s never "I'm too young"

But in case of ability - it does not. What matters is a person can learn, that slowly and over time, they are capable. They build self-belief and self-confidence. The final 5km is not a race, it is a statement that says 'I can do it' ' I have done it' 'I have achieved' 'I am an Athlete'.
In our group, in any group, Some are more capable than others, that is both obvious and natural.
But as an individual, the only competition one faces in running, is oneself.
Sometimes, the only help needed is that gentle hand or soft word that says - Go on - Well done you !

You're off the couch !

As a coach or mentor, We encourage. We advise. We guide. But, it's the Athlete who does the learning.
Our next job, is to convince them to keep at it, reinforce the fitness level they have achieved, join the club, and;

Stay off the couch !

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Your image My Image Your Business

Do you fund an Athlete or club ? Have you ever wondered how your investment benefits you as an buisness ?

Have you ever wondered how much of your effort is returned or benefitted by others ?
In my free time, I am a photographer ! There I've said it - no longer attending anonymous meetings - now publicly declaring I like to take photographs.
I also take landscapes !

To me, an image is a memory. It's a story. it's a record of history. I see a moment about to happen - the future coming toward the lens.
The second an image is taken - it passes from the contemporary to the past.
But what then? The moment gone, the image remains - now what ?

As the duke of Wellington famously said "Publish and be damned", all well and good - but photographers, for all our bravado in getting in-there and capturing moments - we can also be quite shy when it means exposing ourselves.
A paradox exists being extrovert in showing the images, but introvert as to how they are received.

Until that is, we have something to show !
Enter statistics and the internet.

Welcome marketers and advertisers.
Graphic designers, web developers and business managers.
But most importantly Athletes and clubs.

Let me start again - I take photographs.
Athletes and clubs need funding.
Advertisers and business managers need markets and results.

Enter Statistics: My images posted on social media Flickr have exceeded 2+1/2 million views.
2,500,00 +

By the end of year they may breach 3 million. And this in less than 3 years.

To say I'm shocked, stunned and more than a little impressed and encouraged - is an understatement.

Original image: McHugh's Bar and Chain driven cycles
Now this is where my feedback circles and crosses over to your feedback.

It would be wrong and misleading for me to suggest your Logo on an athletes suit or bike will see 3 million views. But it will be seen !

It would also be wrong for me to think I know a lot about marketing and advertising. But that's not to say I don't understand it.
What I do know is by Sponsoring an athlete your brand will be seen. I can tell you by how many views too.
Sponsoring a team or club - will see the brand views multiplied by number of members. Sponsoring and event or by extension, a series of events - the numbers just keep climbing.

Corporate sponsorship of a series of events: Vodafone Ireland very prominent every event

Throw in I'm not the only photographer taking images. It also discounts how images find their way onto other social media.
I stay on Flickr. Occasional on Twitter. But think Facebook/instagram and well...everything else - the multiplication of views is a multiplication of return on your investment.
And not just on the event day.

What I've seen is images being reviewed month after month, year after year. Social media, internet searching and strong images and events all combining to keep your branding moving.

2yrs later Velo revolution still in receipt of advertising

Over half a million in the last 2 months alone. Typically, the views spike immediately after the event, trail off over 3-5 days but still stay active online and can be viewed again and again, depending on how they are promoted or linked.

So, I'm thrilled to get such strong values on my images.
If you've sponsored an Athlete or event - I hope you see it as money well spent.

Now, anyone out there want to sponsor or commission a Photographer ??
Email me
(Telling life stories through images - with statistics to back it up !)
My Flickr galleries
Triathlon Ireland

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Hope you have a wonderful creative Springtime.

It amazes me still, how a small sentance or comment can be so well received.
Serendipity ?

An email arrived, just before I was due to leave the house, from an artist I had met at the weekend during and after a race she ran, the distance of which (50km) inspires me to what people are capable of. We had been talking and discussing images I had taken.
But at the end of the email, instead of a routine 'cheers' 'bye' 'later' or 'regards' ending to the email, she closed with the sentence;

"Hope you have a wonderful creative Springtime."

What a beautiful way to part. It's different. It stands out. OK, it doesn't rhyme or roll with alliterative prose, neither is it blunt, safe or dismissive.
Oh but it does resonate.
I took that sentence with me, and to the village where I was heading,  all along playing it back. And here is where it took off, the morning sunshine along the Rye river was beautiful, a Thrush hopping about the grass within reach. Birdsong - yes it is that time of year where birds call and fill the air with sound. The river itself, full in both sound and flow, no doubt the trout are feeding well, with the extra rain these days, I'm sure enough nutrients will be introduced into their world. I wonder will the salmon find their way upstream. The river Rye is known as the furthest river upstream of the river Liffey to carry Salmon.
The trees have not yet filled out with leaves, but maybe it's only the awakening of springtime.

As I walked, and closer to the village I got. Sounds changed. The life of commerce, of commuting and peoples lives started to slowly fill the air. But not in a bad way. A slow quiet tempo - distant, removed yet close. Not intrusive, but sharing the audio with nature.

Into the village, and the business I was to visit was closed, today was its day not to wake early. I enjoy that, commerce taking a relaxed healthy approach on one of it's days. I hope some of their staff took the opportunity to walk also !
Though closed, all was not in vain. I, by chance, met another athlete from the weekend. Some fine compliments were exchanged, He admiring the images, I admiring the way he and the other athletes had style during the race. The conversation flowed so well, by the time we parted, the doors were almost opening, I still had time to cross over and look at the river Rye flowing and joining the River Liffey. And think some more on Springtime.

I came back from my morning, buoyed with positive ideas, Business ideas for my images came flowing, inspiration from positive people - and it all started with the ending;

"Hope you have a wonderful creative Springtime."

To visit some of the images from a muddy 50km forest trail race: Donadea 5km Trail Ultra Marathon

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

First date

And so it comes to the endgame. The ritual of courtship almost over in this 2 year relationship between the road and I.
Almost exactly 2 years since I got off the couch and with the help of many from Le Cheile started on the journey to running my first 5 km around the streets and now running track in Leixlip.
That was blogged too...:

And now, come Monday, it's a marathon.

Is it a mid-life crises, a bucket list or a promise to someone that got me to this point? No, or maybe a little of the yes to all.
Since starting running, my body and I have gotten closer. We know each other in finer detail, and if the pun of losing weight as a bonus can be excused - we're closer together now. Mind, though closer, that doesn't mean not ready to fall apart.

Little aches and gripes and nerves and muscles, all connecting together in a way that brings a familiarity, an awareness and a symbiotic respect. Sometimes needing minor counselling by way of anti-inflamatories, sometimes the artillary assistance of a physio.

And now, just before the 26.2 miles or 42 km climax, the idea of courtship and first date develops.
Where else could this happen. It's 4am, I'm awake typing a blog that could wait until a respectable hour. But no, it's on my mind now. I can't sleep. If these symptoms are not reminescient of an adolescent first - then I don't know, but thoughts of the impending nuptuals of a marathon first date, are never far from mind over the last weeks. Anxiety building slowly following recovery from a foot swelling, stopping mid-stride the training, until then, I was doing so well in. Nerves about what to wear on the first date, what to eat, what to drink. Will I bring some sweets, what if it's raining, will I make it all the way around. That optimistic sense as I trained out to 20km, displaced as I never managed to build enough past 30km, giving way to little doubts. One consolation and differing from a real 'date' - the wearing of runners and road-dirty ones at that, will not, I assume, be frowned upon.
Worry, founded or unfounded, Monday will have to wait and see !
I will be fine, most dates turn out fine, just take my time, don't push the distance, it'll be OK. Don't aim to compete - add an L, aim to complete. Be positive ! One foot in front of the other. Other cliches welcome !
I'm not stressed, just anxious. Stress brings sleepless sweat filled nights, I just have the sleepless, the sweat having been all used up along the roads to get here.
Will my first date lead to a second ? Maybe ? Never say no, but maybe just stay platonic, stick to holding hands around 10, maybe 20km.

Dublin ran it's first Marathon in 1980, I was twelve, going on thirteen. Almost forty six now. It's course then took it past my mothers house in Edenmore. The gang of us, friends, family, neighbours sat on the wall and cheered on the runners as they made their way past somewhere near the 20 mile mark I think we were. I distinctly remember helping a man then, suffering with calf cramps, either I hope I won't need, or some kind supporter might help me. One thing for sure, watching athletics and triathlons from within the circle over the last two years, has created in me a profound sense of respect for athletes, beginners as well as elite, for the physical effort they put themselves through. And if the courtship date/analogy is carried through - they do it for the love of it !

Every year, I see the marathon on Tv or you stand at the roadside shouting on the athletes. Always, since the first ran past the house, I thought I'ld love to do that. So not a bucket list - but an ambition or desire. Soon to be fulfilled, and if only it still went past Mums'.

Why go do a marathon at all ?
Well why the bloody hell not !

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Maynooth 10K

What is in a race winner ?

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In the case of Maynooth 10Km race yesterday, we had on podium;

 A former double Olympian, a National Middle distance champion. A reigning National Olympic distance Triathlete, A mountain runner, An Iron-distance triathlete, and another Mountain runner. And shining in amongst the list of winners, 2 Second year students !

Go back in the pack, there’s ultra runners, sprinters, Intercounty players, fathers, daughters, mothers and sons. Fast runners, joggers and walkers

Hundreds of Athletes, not just the winners, but the participants who for their own reason just want to participate.

But back to the Elite – the winners. It takes a lot of training and continuous participation to be able to perform at their level. And their level is high, and something of a beauty to witness.

The average person might not travel to stadiums to see athletes in action, but here on your doorstep is some serious National and International talent. In the time it takes to walk (slowly perhaps) the distance from the start of race in St Patricks College to the finish line on the Carton house avenue, the elite have completed 10km.

That’s fast, that’s impressive !

I enjoy seeing the Athletes and how after 10km they can still sprint to the end, how the intensity to finish is glowing from them as they support each other with ‘great race – well done’.  Not just the Elite – they get a great cheer for winning, but the joggers and walkers too – they’ve completed a personal challenge and shine that achievement with some of the greatest and honest smiles short of kids at Christmas you can ever witness.

The camaraderie is infectious, and we, the onlookers, don’t have to watch from a stadium distance. You can be right in the thick of this adrenalin fest . It’s local, it might be a 5k or 10K it doesn't matter.
What does matter – it’s on your doorstep.




Saturday, April 27, 2013

Two Kingfishers

The signs of Spring, though technically Summer, are well and truly underway.

For the last weeks, threats and fall of snow and ice have been keeping nature's blossoms at a slow pace, holding the burst of leave and colour.
You could see it as you're walking along if you cared to look. The tiny, tiny buds at the ends of stems and sticks. The great chestnut trees I feel for, their buds are not so small, yet you could see the swelling at the sticky bulb, almost feel the anxiety of the tree - waiting !

The Rye river below the house, swollen most of it's time due to the rain, was lowered and calm. Tadhg and I slowly wandering down for our own little break from the house, OK, my break, his adventure - he is 5yrs old after all. He's all questions and chat, bring him to the bridge, he wants to go to the village. Bring him to the village, it's only a short journey, one of the many great things about living in Leixlip.

Returning, and as we're walking, a flash to my right. Two kingfishers in aerial dual as they sped along the river. The first flash caught my eye, I twisted back to see the pair fly. A reminder of how alike the military jets doing manoeuvres in the Scottish highlands the two birds appear. Flitting left and right, bursts of speed, the dazzle of colour changing as angles of sight and light changes with their rotations and banking.
Incredible patience will be needed to get their image. Every year I promise I'll track them to a perch and photograph them. But then again, if I don't - I'll still have the pleasure of having seen them each year since I moved here. Long may the dream of the photograph or just the sighting keep the summers pleasant.

I wish them well. Not a dogfight in my mind, more an amorous chase - after all - Winter is over !

Thursday, April 11, 2013

How to choose a book

I was browsing the shelves of a bookshop the other day, looking to pick up a new read.
Over the years, I have read a wide range, literature, fiction, non-fiction. Biography/Auto biography. 'Mens' war and Espionage and thriller. 'Ladies' romance and crime.
No category should be banned, If I like a book - I'll read it. Reading my kids Harry Potter books - it's still reading....

Anyhow, I was picking up books but quite rapidly discarding them and moving on - it got me wondering why do I do that.
What is it that allows a book to be chosen or discarded.
Sometimes a title stands out - only to be let down by it's subject.
Sometimes it's the cover design, a great piece of Art or Striking graphics, maybe subtle enough to match a given mood.
Maybe I know of the Author or the screenplay taken from it - The latest academy award nominee or booker prize winner.

Strange as it maybe, all the above are more in line with what makes me 'want' to buy. Exceptions, granted do come in - but after all if a book isn't high on the perceived like-list  then it implies it's on the dislike-list and is rejected.

But above all, there stands out one reference point to any book that makes or breaks a purchase.
The word count !

I'm not an analyst - I'm not able to tell if a book has 20,000 or 50,00 words. But instantly I do do know if the layout is presenting few words for big costs, let me explain;

If a book passes the initial Title/subject/cover/blurb/Author scan - the next obvious task is to open the pages.
Is the typeface large ?
Are the margins wide ?
What space between the lines ?

Barely a second has passed, and instantly I know, this book will or not last me a week.
Only then does the cost come into question.

But the end decision is - Is this book worth spending money on to give me an enjoyable return ?

Some books do, but sadly - most books don't pass. In the latter category I hate to suggest, but feel it's true - the more modern the Author, the less their effort in writing.
If the book designer has to hide little content in wide typeface - forget it - I decline and you, the Author lose out.

And as for 'Authors' who allow others to write books - in their name ! Shame !