Full-time mom, mountain runner, adventure racer, and author Moire O’Sullivan has plenty of experience juggling an impressive number of roles and interests. Since discovering mountain racing in her 30s, nothing could keep her from pushing her limits and taking on new challenges.
Through her journey getting into extreme sport and having two children, Moire has learned valuable lessons on the art of juggling and staying sane as a young mother.
Discovering a Passion of Solitude
During her first mountain race, Moire hated and loved it at the same time. By the finish, she was ready to take on another race, but wanted to learn how to do it properly. She joined the Irish Mountain Running Association and learned the ins and outs of equipment, pace, navigation, and more. Moire had found her love of running and hanging out with other runners who quickly became lifelong friends.
Finding this new passion took Moire’s life on a new course. Since finding mountain racing, Moire has won the Irish National Adventure Racing Series three times. She’s competed in incredible races including the Quest Glendalough, Gaelforce West and Westport Sea2Summit.
Moire loves the solitude of mountain running. “I like who I am out there,” she shared. “I can be me and be challenged finding my way over the range.” Moire’s passion and joy for mountain running is a reminder of how empowering and life-changing finding your passion can be.
Trying Again After Failure
Competing in the Wicklow Round proved to be a massive challenge. After getting lost and losing time, Moire ran over 24 out of 26 mountains required until hallucinations forced her to quit. Moire was devastated at getting so close to her goal. She immediately started thinking about all the small things she could’ve done differently in order to have been successful.
Encouraged by how close she got the first time, Moire took on the Wicklow Round again and was the first person to get around the course. Moire describes herself as a finisher. It may take her a while to say she’s going to do something, but once she does, she is committed for good.
While the pain of her first attempt racing the Wicklow Round was intense, once it subsided Moire was reminded of all the amazing moments of the experience and had the desire to take it on again.
Training as a Mother
Moire calls herself the most un-maternal person on the planet, having children mainly for her husband. With her first pregnancy, Moire was in extreme denial and continued to live her adventurous life as normal. She went to Ethiopia for work and even ran a 5-hour adventure race when 5 months pregnant.
The second time around being pregnant, Moire’s energy took a much bigger hit. She enlisted a coach who guided her through training during that pregnancy. Her coach took a look at what she was doing, her sleep patterns, and heart rate to guide her in a toned down training.
Today, Moire still appreciates the help of having a coach. With two kids and little brain space, a coach takes all the thinking out of training. While the kids go to a playgroup, Moire trains.
When Moire went for a walk two weeks after birth, she felt like her insides were going to fall out between her legs. But she knew training after birth was possible. Susie Mitchell, author of Pregnancy to Podium, had trained through pregnancy and won a World Masters Track cycling title within 4 months. Meeting and learning from this woman inspired Moire. She got back on her bike and was amazed at how wonderful it was to not worry about falling down and hurting her baby.
The feeling of being back on a bike made Moire realise how important it was to keep going. She said, “Motherhood is great, but it’s hard when you’re used to having your own time. You can easily get trapped.”
Moire found a place to take the baby for even just an hour at a time so she could go out on a run. It’s practices like this that enable mothers to feed their adventurous souls and get back to training after baby.
Dealing with Body Changes
Motherhood brought Moire a number of unexpected challenges. Breastfeeding was one just one of these. In fact, the day before an adventure race, Moire was hit with a bad case of mastitis. She felt sick and miserable, but she travelled far for the race so she decided to line up anyway. Moire took the race at her own fragile pace and ended up winning. She learned a valuable lesson that you never really know how you’ll get on unless you try.
Many women stop running after childbirth because issues like incontinence are embarrassing. But Moire loved running so much she didn’t care. Nothing was going to take running from her. She worked on ways to recover from incontinence and doesn’t suffer with it anymore.
Digging Deep and Giving it a Try
While motherhood is great, and you can still get on with athletic endeavours, it is difficult. Being a mum and adventurer requires redefining who you are.
Throughout her adventures, Moire didn’t realise what would happen if she dug deep into herself and pushed harder. What she found was a lot of resilience and strength. She didn’t know if she could do a challenge like the Wicklow Round, but she simply tried. Moire said, “It doesn’t matter if you fail or succeed, just go out and try.”
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