The Big “C”

There was a time not too long ago in Ireland when the word Cancer was not mentioned out loud. The shortened “Big C” was the phrase used my so many. Thinking about it now, I’m struck by the fact that “BIG” was included. Definitely, it is a BIG disease; for certain it was magnified even further in our society because it was the BIG untreatable in most cases, and surely it developed a larger-than-life meaning for many who suffered and for those who watched loved-ones crumble from health to death.

Today, things are different. Different, but in some ways the same. Even though it is now talked about more freely and because the prognosis for many forms of cancer is so much better, there is still a terror attached to this disease. However, as a society we are becoming more accustomed to challenging our terrors. I have no doubt that a significant aspect of this change is due to our increased understanding of the role of science, and our strong belief that we do possess the means to find the necessary solutions. In this regard, RESEARCH is the key. It’s not just me saying that. We live in times where we now understand that, while it is critical that we provide services for those who have cancer and for their carers, it is equally critical that we focus on our attempts to treat the causes and not the symptoms.

I noticed a link recently to National Breast Cancer Research Institute. They do great work. In fact, recently three members of Dungarvan Cycling Club (Emma, Anthony & Beanie) completed Race The Rás, together with hundreds more, to raise funds for and awareness of breast cancer research.


National Breast Cancer Research Institute. Key words: AWARENESS and RESEARCH

And with that in mind, I turn my thoughts back to Endurance Challenge.  As my preparations for August’s Endurance Challenge 2068 begin in earnest, I thought I’d share my profile with my readers. Having met with Niall at the recent Comeragh Tour in Ballymacarbery, I shared with him my commitment to blog the event. Several days later, following a phone call, I was nominated as a “participant of interest” (god, just imagine……..a retired oul school-teacher!) and I submitted the profile below. The purpose is to help in promoting the event and to encourage others to sign up to take part.

This is a REAL challenge to raise funds for REAL cancer RESEARCH

This is a REAL challenge to raise funds for REAL cancer RESEARCH


My name is Pádraig de Búrca, from County Waterford. I will be at the start line in Armagh in August, and I urge you to consider joining with me (for this section or others of your choosing )and hundreds of others, in our efforts to raise much-needed funds for Breakthrough Cancer Research.
I took to cycling in 1999 after several injuries playing badminton. I am a member and former secretary, PRO and chairman of Dungarvan Cycling Club. While I am competitive, my true enjoyment comes from the many sportives I’ve done. My favourite, of course has to be the Sean Kelly Tour of Waterford, but my seven Wicklow 200’s, Mizen-to-Malin and Alpe d’Huez rank very highly also.
I usually run during the autumn / winter, and recently graduated to several half-marathons. I run (towards the back of the pack) with West Waterford AC. This year I decided to keep both my cycling and running going side-by-side, and when I joined my local Tried & Tested Triathlon Club, I learned to swim in order to take part in their inaugural local triathlon. As soon as this is completed, my focus will shift back to the bike and I will be researching old and new challenges in the run-up to my three-day Tour of Ulster (August 11-13). Definitely on my list is the Tour of Meath in July, and the Tour of Kildare, together with longer spins with my local clubs.
I am a retired primary school principal teacher. When I retired, I had decided not to commit myself to any new ventures for a full six months. I did have some requests, because people know that I work hard when I do make a commitment. Almost to the day, when my six-month moratorium was completed, I spotted a Facebook post about Endurance Cycling 2068. It sat on the back burner for a few weeks, and then I decided to register. Why this one? Well, I will be cycling in memory of my brother-in-law Jim, who died last February. I am thinking that it will be an emotional time for me.
I also made a decision recently to keep an active blog about this event, my training, together with a mish-mash of other bits & pieces. I’d love you to follow me for updates. More importantly, I’d love if you would consider participating in any section of the challenge. You’re not a runner or a cyclist? Well, why not consider organising an event? The good people back in the Midleton office will be only too happy to advise. Sure, if it comes to it, so will I…
It’s likely that many readers have or have had some experience of cancer in their family. This is my opportunity to make a big commitment to a big cause. Finally, I feel that I will get from it more than I give. So could you! Check it at Endurance challenge 2068. As Mrs. Doyle says….go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on…
Go on! Join with us.
Please feel free to make a donation however small to my JustGiving page or

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I would be very interested in hearing from others who have registered for this event.

Are you a cyclist / runner? Have you or your family been affected by cancer?


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FINALLY, if you notice any typos here, please let me know so that I can fix & update.


Solo Run. Closer to God?

This is my first year running right through the summer. I have been running for about ten years, but it always played second fiddle to my cycling. The usual plan was to run during the months of September to December or January, and stop completely to concentrate on my biking. This year, 2014, I decided to keep both going side by side.

My recent runs have given me strength and perseverance. I have kept them interesting. I have mixed the easy and the challenging, the long and the short, the racing and the training, the solo and the group.

I want to write a little about one facet of running, namely the solo run. I love solo running. Most of my training is solo running, and I have discovered that there is something really really good about this type of run. I came across a link outlining the advantages of solo running, and I understand now how beneficial it is for me to head out for a run on my own. To summarise, the article mentions five benefits:

  1. You’ll listen to your body. When you only have yourself to listen to, you’ll hear what your body has to say.
  2. You can disconnect. Take a deep breath, take in the natural world, or just take an hour off from thinking about anything at all.
  3. Your run is your own. Going solo means you can run where you want and when you want.
  4. You won’t compete. When you run by yourself nobody is bored by your snail’s pace or judging you for having to walk up that steep hill. Your only critic is yourself, and you can be proud you got out to run that day.
  5. You’ll become more resilient. Running solo is more difficult mentally, but you can learn how to cope with a challenge, get better at testing your limits, and ultimately become a stronger, prouder runner.

I think one of the biggest factors for me is number one above. Since early spring I’ve had some slight niggly pains, particularly outside my left knee. On several occasions on my solo run, I’ve noticed the pain earlier and I’ve been able to rate it on a scale of 1 to 10. More importantly, however, I’ve been able to decide to stop running without feeling guilty. In fact, I compliment myself on making a sensible decision at a timely point, rather than waiting until it’s too late. Sometimes, the walk home is even better! Sometimes, the little ache or pain is my body telling me to take it easy.

Conversely, even when I get an ache or a little dart of pain, it’s not always my automatic reaction to stop running. I have become smarter at knowing when to stop, or slow down, or indeed push through; and if I decide to push through to see how it goes, I am pleasantly surprised to find that I am able to do a good workout despite the little warning signals. When this happens, I am even more convinced of the value of proper warmup routines, and plenty cooldown time with stretching after my run.

I do not run with music. I have tried it a few times. It’s not for me. Instead, I can easily enter into a dream-like state quickly. I know that I  sometimes run with eyes facing the ground ahead rather than directly ahead, so whenever I am road-running, I have to be very aware of traffic ahead and behind. Anytime that I an off-road, however, I am happy to tune out, and just day-dream my way along.

Solo running is good for me. That’s not to say that I do not need or enjoy company along the way! Far from it. I like the chat with similar-paced racers, as we pull one another along the tough patches, compliment one another on our “great run” last week or last month even, and generally support one another in whatever way we can. Of course, I’ve seen it happen also that good company on a race is fickle, because quite often the runner disappears into the distance leaving me to plod along behind, unable to up my pace. Equally, I’ve done the same on good days!

Tree, near Newgrange in County Meath.

“When you can see the beauty of a tree, then you will know what love is.” ― Miranda July, No One Belongs Here More Than You

I went a-googling to find some tree-quotes, and while the caption for the picture above might be a bit ott, I decided also to use this one from the Bible: “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.” I admit I am not a biblical person, but the idea has just struck me that running alone is a form of closeness with God. Perhaps you may think that’s ott! However, not me.


Have you particular thoughts about running on your own, or about running in general? I’d like to hear what you’ve got to say…


Dungarvan Blog Ramble

Why now? It’s very simple really. Now is my time for change. My eating is making me sick, and my changes will make me better. Isn’t that so simple? Yes, of course it is!

Why here? Not so simple, this one. I’m here, partly because I am unsure where to begin storing my journey. I came across WordPress years ago, but was unsure of its purpose and indeed unsure of my purpose. Blogging for the sake of it seems quite pointless. However, now that my purpose is clear in my mind, I’m here to document my journey. And, who knows where it will lead?

I just read “Who moved my Cheese”. It’s a short little tale, but for me it hit the nail on the head! More later…