Bump, Bike and Baby
This is a guest blog from Moire O’Sullivan, a mountain runner and adventure racer whose journey through motherhood while winning Ireland’s National Adventure Race Series is recounted in her new book, ‘Bump, Bike and Baby’. Here she explains why she writes, and how being a mother has impacted upon her adventures.
The Healing Power of Writing: The Origins of Bump, Bike and Baby by Moire O’Sullivan
I’ve yet to find anything as therapeutic as turning my thoughts and feelings into written words. I will never comprehend how scribing a book can help me understand and accept myself for who I really am.
Nearly ten years ago, I wrote Mud, Sweat and Tears – An Irish Woman’s Journey of Self-Discovery about how I learned to navigate and run around Ireland’s mountains. The book itself culminates in my completion, on my second attempt, of the Wicklow Round, a one-hundred-kilometre circuit traversing twenty-six of Wicklow Mountain’s highest peaks that must be done within twenty-four hours.
I wrote that book because I wanted to remember; remember what it felt like to achieve something I wasn’t even sure was possible. I also wanted to forge into black and white the pain and elation I went through to complete the Wicklow Round. And I wanted to share with others, especially other women, the experiences I had that are still so deep and meaningful to me. As I wrote in the closing pages of Mud, Sweat and Tears:
‘Moreover I’m proud that I’m a girl. I am a girl who was the first person to complete the Wicklow Round. So often us girls think that these things simply can’t be done. But at the end of May 2009, I proved this belief totally wrong. In doing so, I hope that many more women get to experience the highs and learn from the lows that only the Wicklow Round can provide. And I hope that more women learn to believe in themselves, because when we dig deep, it’s amazing what lies inside.’
Fast forward to 2017, I once again felt the need to commit my experiences to paper. This time, however, it was for very different reasons.
Much has changed in the intervening years. I am now married and the mother of two young children. I no longer do daylong runs in the mountains. Looking after two growing boys means I simply do not have the time to disappear for hours on end just to satisfy my running needs. Instead I compete in shorter adventure races that involve kayaking, road biking, and trail running. To help provide focus to my training, I have also hired a coach. I needed someone competent to guide me while my body was going through its pre and post-natal phases, which are notoriously injury-prone.
Early last year, during a catch-up call with my coach Eamonn, he asked me if I could chat with one of his other athletes. I was surprised by his request. Eamonn never divulges the identities of those he trains, let alone providing me with their names and phone numbers.
“Sure,” I said, feeling like I owed him a favour after all the support he has given me over the years. “What it’s about?”
“Well, she’s just found out she’s pregnant,” Eamonn explained. “I thought it might be helpful if she spoke with someone like yourself.”
It was while talking with Eamonn’s athlete that I realised my experience of motherhood, though personal and bespoke, might be useful for others to hear. I figured there must be other women in similar situations, trying to learn how to become a parent while still keeping a semblance of their old identity. I thought they might benefit from reading what happened to me.
Multiple conversations with other active Mums finally begot, Bump, Bike and Baby – Mummy’s Gone Adventure Racing. The book charts my journey from happy, carefree mountain runner to reluctant, stay-at-home mother of two. After giving birth, I forced myself to stick my head above the parapet of dirty nappies and the monotony of breastfeeding, to set my sights on competing in and eventually winning Ireland’s National Adventure Racing Series. This goal helped me maintain my post-natal sanity, while slowly giving me the space to learn how to become a loving, and occasionally functioning, mum.
Writing down the trials and triumphs of juggling pregnancy and motherhood with training and racing has helped me immensely. It has made me confess to, and thankfully forgive myself for, having failed at times in my mothering responsibilities. Writing my experiences has also illustrated to me the times that I have unexpectedly excelled in the parenting role. For example, I did not realise that I could have such depths of patience even when exposed to such torturous levels of sleep deprivation.
A couple of fortuitous events facilitated this writing process. I had barely penned 10,000 words when I got a publishing offer that requested me to finish the book within three months. There is nothing like a tight deadline to get one’s creative juices flowing. Just as the publishing offer came through, my youngest child was taking two-hour afternoon naps. So, as soon as he dropped off, I would turn on RTE junior or Cbeebies to distract my eldest son while I scribbled down my personal daily target of a thousand words.
Creating these two memoirs has undoubtedly helped me gain a better understanding and appreciation of myself; my strengths as well as my foibles. It is also my sincere hope that readers of my books will realise how valuable their own life experiences are, and how equally worthy they are to write down and share.
About the book
Bump, Bike and Baby – Mummy’s Gone Adventure Racing. Sandstone Press. Format: Paperback. ISBN: 9781912240067. Publication Date: 15/03/2018. RRP: £8.99. Available from Amazon, Foyles, Easons, and Waterstones. Paperbacks can be purchased here: https://goo.gl/8XDUZe and e-books can be purchased here: https://goo.gl/Q3p1fm
In Bump, Bike & Baby, Moire O’Sullivan charts her journey from happy, carefree mountain runner to reluctant, stay-at-home mother of two. With her sights set on winning Ireland’s National Adventure Racing Series, she manages to maintain her post-natal sanity, and slowly learns to become a loving and occasionally functioning mum.
About the author
Moire O’Sullivan is an accomplished mountain runner and adventure racer. In 2009, she became the first person to complete the Wicklow Round, a 100km circuit of Ireland’s Wicklow Mountains, run within twenty-four hours. She is married to Pete and is the proud mother of their two young sons, Aran and Cahal. While busy adapting to and learning about motherhood, Moire won Ireland’s National Adventure Race Series three times in 2014, 2016 and 2017. Bump, Bike and Baby is about this personal journey. Moire blogs at https://moireosullivan.com/