Have you had your eye on something in the fridge, maybe a tub of delectable cherry trifle? Has it taunted you? Tempted you? Has it anthropomorphized and started begging you with its sweet sugary lips to devour it completely? Did you hesitate because you thought you might be about to bite off more than you could chew?

Maybe you considered the risks. You didn’t want to take the gamble of having your stomach rebel, which might result in a vomiting episode or a bout of diarrhea. You knew you might plunge into a pool of defeat if your legs gave way with the weight of your swollen trifle-filled intestines. But you also knew that you could damn well handle that trifle.

You remember all the other desserts you gobbled up. You recall how your taste buds felt more alive with every bite you took. You had always persisted until you had them completely devoured. You never uttered a word of regret. You only exhaled at the finish and thought, ‘Damn that was good.’

My cherry trifle was a race. I caught sight of it a couple months back on the Irish Mountain Running Association’s website. Ticknock Tick-Tock was a 75k 12-hour orienteering* endurance event.

Photo courtesy of IMRA by Gill McLoughlin2

Photo courtesy of IMRA by Gill McLoughlin

Ticknock Tick-Tock consisted of 12 loops of approximately 6.5k with 200m of height gain. There were 7 controls that had to be visited at each stage. Loops had to be finished within an hour; the subsequent loop would begin on the next hour. No gps devices, watches or pacers were allowed.

Photo courtesy of IMRA by Adrian Tucker

Runners Colm Phelan, Alicia Christofi-Walshe and Brian Phelan Photo courtesy of IMRA by Adrian Tucker

In the end I finished the event. I felt strong. I didn’t vomit or get diarrhea. I didn’t get lost. I pushed to my limits and I achieved, rather than choked. I took a risk. It was my first orienteering event. I didn’t get a chance to recce** the route. Thank Christ some of the other runners were helpful en route and I managed to stay on track.

I opened wide for a huge bite and it wasn’t more than I could chew. I managed and you can too. I was building up to a 50k race in June. I ended up doing a 75k in May. It was challenging and I wanted to quit at times. I doubted myself. I was wrecked one second and buzzing the next. I persevered and I kept chewing up those miles.

Photo courtesy of IMRA by Gill McLoughlin

Photo courtesy of IMRA by Gill McLoughlin

We can bite off more than we can chew. But we must stay calm so we won’t choke. If we swallow one mile at a time, eventually we’ll have the whole race devoured. Grab that cherry trifle, enter a race that’s tempting you. Finish with a satisfied smile on your red sweaty face. The pain and exhaustion will subside and you’ll be left with a sweet taste in your mouth.

Photo courtesy of IMRA by Adrian Tucker

Photo courtesy of IMRA by Adrian Tucker

*orienteering – a sport that requires navigational skills using a map and compass to navigate, from point to point, while moving at speed.

**recce – slang for reconnaissance, basically checking out a course before you race on it.

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