Chasing Waterfalls

web content writingAs anybody living with teenagers knows, summer can be a fraught and testing time. Throw in a mother who works from home and a teenager with Asperger’s, and you have all the ingredients for a really violent soap. Not wanting to put the already stretched local Gardai under any additional pressure, I have decided to defuse the situation by taking said teenager on a weekly hike.

The middle child is not known for his athletic zeal, but to give him his due, he has accepted his mother’s diktat with very little protest. He has also used the opportunity to address the serious gaps in my knowledge of Christopher Nolan’s filmography.  Torc mountain and Killarney National Park’s Red Trail (a.k.a. Cardiac Hill) were the venues for updates on The Dark Knight, Memento, and Interstellar. Last week we covered Inception and The Prestige while hiking through Tomies wood.

Just off the Ring of Kerry road between Killarney and Killorglin, the Tomies wood walk is a manageable 9km loop that rises gradually from an elevation of about 33 metres to 93 metres, but it is relatively flat once you’ve completed the initial climb. The views over Lough Lein are stunning, and it is the place you are most likely to see white-tailed eagles in Killarney (or so I kept telling said teenager). It was pretty cloudy when we walked it, so much of the view is a bit like a photo from the old days (you know, when we used actual film) with half the image missing.

web content writingWhat I love most about this walk, however, is the waterfall. You could cheat and just do a tiny bit of the walk to see the waterfall, but I am the kind of mother who insists on bread and butter before cake, so we did the loop in such a way that we had most of the trail behind us before we took the detour to the cascade. Now, anybody who has ever visited Killarney knows that water is something we are very good at. From the great mats of clouds that flop down from the skies without warning to the gentle mists that give hair that fetching, just-electrocuted look, we are immersed in H2O—but one of the things it’s really good for is carpeting the landscape in green velvet, with lakes, rivers, and waterfalls bursting through the seams.

Torc Waterfall  serves as a backdrop to many a holiday snap, but O’Sullivan’s Cascade in Tomies wood is not so well known. It should be, but I’m glad it’s not. The teenager appears to agree: When I asked him which he preferred, Torc Waterfall or O’Sullivan’s Cascade, he did not hesitate.

“O’Sullivan’s Cascade because there’s nobody there.” That’s my boy.

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Bewildered, Bothered, and Bewitched

Content writer KerryBewildered

Running is not half as simple as I once thought. There was a time when I believed that the practice was a matter of putting one foot in front of the other, preferably at a speed faster than walking and ideally wearing well-cushioned running shoes. How naive I was…

It turns out that achieving optimum results involves running at speeds you might usually expect to attain only if pursued by a large, hungry beast with teeth, then slowing to a more sedate pace, before accelerating to hungry-beast-in-pursuit speed again. Or else, it involves plodding really, really slowly, in case the heart monitor strapped to your chest goes off. (It is primed to beep alarmingly should your heart rate exceed 180 minus your age. It doesn’t take much for your heart rate to exceed 180 minus your age). The run-until-your-heart-bursts threshold method is embraced by fitness experts and proper athletes. The run-without-upsetting-your-heart Maffetone method is also embraced by fitness experts and proper athletes. I am neither a fitness expert nor a proper athlete, and I am bewildered. And that’s before we even start on the well-cushioned running shoes issue.

Bothered

This is the first time I’ve ever trained for a marathon and then gone on to train for another one immediately afterwards. I usually train, do the marathon, and swear never to even attempt such stupidity again. I thought that one of the advantages of going directly from one period of training to another would be an acquired fitness that would make long runs effortless. I imagined plotting novels (or shopping lists, at least) as I loped easily along, the miles slipping by almost unnoticed. It’s not like that. At all. My 12-mile run today was as much of a slog as it was a couple of months ago.  That is why I am bothered.

content writer kerryBewitched

This is just one of the scenes that accompanied my run today. It’s probably not even one of the best scenes, but had I stopped every time I glimpsed a gorse-crested crag, a swan-dappled lake or a stand of new growth rippling in sunlight, I would still be running. And it’s dark now. So for all my bewilderment and botheration, the bewitching aspects of running in Killarney make it all worth while.