It’s been a long time since I rock ‘n’ scrolled……..

Hello there,

Well I hope Led Zeppelin don’t mind me mincing their words, but yes its been a long time since I blogged. I remember saying in a previous blog post sometime last year that I was going to run the Dublin City Marathon and yes my dream has almost become a reality. Cycling will always be my no. 1 sport but a few Kilkenny Park runs to shed an extra few pounds and a few duathlons later to stay in touch with the bike I’m well and truly hooked on the running. But, as a newbie runner (whats the Fred equivalent in running?) I’ve succumbed to a few injuries in 2 short years, dodgy knees (I blame age and genes), shin splints (too much too soon and bad bio-mechanics and those extra pesky lbs). So, with a course of prescribed anti-inflammatories and almost 4 weeks of complete rest duly (impatiently) taken plus the introduction of core exercises like planking, press-ups and all sorts of mad yoga workouts later I’m back in the mix. Being a women of competitive nature I am looking to hit a time of 3 hrs 30 mins (I know, a bit ambitious) on this my maiden voyage of 26.2 miles around my hometown. Sure, isn’t Dublin so much flatter than South County Carlow and this is of course is my mantra. I’m using an 8 min mile training programme and the first 2 of the 3 pages have been vandalised front and back with my scribbles of paces and times and calculations of expectations.  When, I finally reach the last page I will feel relieved as it contains the last fortnight of training. During my peak week of training I hit almost 70km and my longest individual run was 34k along the fabulous Barrow line and my sore legs greatly benefited from a quick dip in the cold Barrow river to soothe out those lactic acid filled muscles.

Quick dip in the Barrow
Soothing the legs in the cool river Barrow after 34k run on the towpath (Placebo effect? Maybe!)

Taper (reduction in mileage) is on now and so I am feeling the excitement and anticipation build inside me. Family & friends’ eyes glaze over in unison when I mention with childlike enthusiasm the dreaded “M” word…….These are the moments when I’m glad to a member of Gowran Athletic Club, where the “M” word is greeted with equal enthusiasm and always a coach on hand with great advice to dispense. The marathon word is now well and truly part of my family’s vocabulary,  where it is not unusual to hear my kids utter “how many “Ks” have you to run on Sunday Mam?” or the Hubby’s duty becomes water & fuel gel supplier on the long runs, where his concerned words of “are you feeling ok?” as I slog on by, is met by a dagger look which says “what do you bleeping think?!” but is vocalised between gasps for air as “Yeah, (pant and throw another one in to earn extra empathy) I’m grand!”.  So, while the marathon word has been bandied about the house my 10-year-old daughter Abbie got busy creating a wonderful poster to display from somewhere on the route during the DCM. I hope “Rocket Rachel” doesn’t let her down!

“ROCKET RACHEL” Thanks Abbie, I’ll take that as a compliment;)

With the intensity of training my creativity has taken a different slant and I was delighted to use fantastic photos taken by a friend of mine, fellow cyclist Ken from the Maye cycling dynasty and Rapparee Bike frame builders extraordinaire. Ken is not only a great cyclist but has become an accomplished diver and his photos are taken from a vantage point that only a man with waterproof camera adorned in a wet suit and snorkel could achieve. So, while driving into Kilkenny via the beautiful village of Gowran this afternoon I passed the lovely Glasrai and Goodies shop and what did I spot parked outside only a vintage (I remember that bike when it was new!) Rapparee road bike painted in the distinctive green, red and white colours of Clonard Road Club. Ah, yes the very man I wanted to credit for the use of his wonderful photos had to be inside there, drinking perhaps a cafe con leche or just a cuppa tay. What a small world we live in! So I had great satisfaction creating some new work from Ken’s wonderful images. They are painted in acrylic on canvas and both depict scenes from the rugged County Wexford coastline featuring the famous almost 800 year old Hook Head Lighthouse, which holds the title of the oldest operational lighthouse in the world! The first painting “Reflections of Hook” as seen below portrays the imposing black and white structure

By Rachel O'Hara
“Reflections of Hook” (Acrylic on canvas-size 45.5 x 15.5cm)

with its mirrored image broken in the seaweed strewn shallow rock pools, by contrast my second painting “Rising tide at Hook” depicts the might of the sea, with the ebb and flow & the swell of the water. The whitewash of the Lighthouse is transformed into gold from the setting evening Sun.

Rising tide at Hook Head, Acrylic on canvas 40 x 30cm
“Rising tide at Hook Head” (Acrylic on canvas-size 40 x 30cm)

I’m fascinated at how one subject like Hook Lighthouse can be depicted in such different ways not just by a different artist but by the natural light and time of day and year.  Can you feel the heat of a Summer’s day or the cold of the damp Autumnal wind by studying an image such as these? Or do you just like the colours or the composition, answers wouldn’t fit on a small postcard because no two people can get exactly the same out of one painting. As they say “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.

If you are interested in enquiring about prices of purchasing any of my paintings or indeed commissioning me to paint a favourite scene for you please do not hesitate to contact me. I’m a trader with the Borris Food and Craft Market in the Town hall, Borris, Co. Carlow every Friday from 9.30am -1.30pm and my work can also be found on my drawntosport facebook page, also www.rachelohara.ie My phone my number is +353 (0) 87 6397210 and email address is rachohara@gmail.com.

Thank you for reading and I’ll be back soon!

Rachel

Pitch Perfect.

Here I go again Thursday blogging evening for me. OK, so I tell a white lie its Wednesday evening and I’m on the ball well I’ll be talking about a ball, a little white ball. You know that game that is described as a “good walk spoiled” yes, its Golf. My Dad has played golf for as long as I remember. You know as a cyclist on an icy or dark winter evening the turbo trainer is put to good use, a runner might trip the light fandango of the treadmill, well my Dad’s equivalent would be putting a golf ball across the carpet in the front room. Golf balls lined up, putt after putt into a drinking glass not the Waterford crystal tumblers you understand but maybe a plastic beaker. The latter being replaced by a little gadget that returned the ball when you hit the jackpot and when the batteries ran out the beaker resurfaced.

golf putting machine
Golf putting machine

Putters and drivers in houses brings to mind the saying “people in glass-houses shouldn’t throw stones” or “like a bull in a China shop” or even  “12 year old girls shouldn’t swing golf clubs near lovely light fittings in neighbours’ houses”, that one is self-explanatory unfortunately to my shame:(

Anyway, when it comes to sport my Dad is pretty competitive, I guess I inherited those genes! He’s a great golfer, often playing 4 rounds a week and more.  My Dad is clever, I’ve yet to beat him in Scrabble, he nails those Sudoku in no time. Yet, when it comes to taking the number 1 from the number 10 he has a mental block. What I’m saying is, his ambition to get his handicap down to single figures has eluded him. His head is his only handicap! Because, I know and he knows he can do this. So, if you’re reading this Philip, I hope I have spurred you on and not hindered your golfing ambitions. Just remember Dad 9 is the magic number and we all know you can do it.

When my Dad turned the big 7-0 (not too long ago…ahem) my Mam organised a party for him and invites had to be made. Suffice to say it didn’t take too long to decide on the theme. My brother Greg had previously taken a lovely action photo of Dad during one of their outings. In the photo he is about to chip a shot into the hole (of course;)). This was the perfect image for the drawing on the party Invites. I began the drawing with a 2H pencil and continued with coloured pencils, and graphic pens. The coloured pencil being a favourite of mine because as a medium it is so versatile and when you want to get that minute detail in, there is nothing like a freshly sharpened nib to complete the task. In the drawing, his stance is suspended in time. This makes me wonder what goes through a golfers’ head, as he swings the club, hoping to make sweet contact with the ball, propelling it the desired distance and direction. It is split second timing, potential energy converting to kinetic energy as the ball receives the full impact of the club head. Yet, a fraction out and the perfect physics lesson can be turned into a (choice) language lesson at times! So peeps, if you’re a golfer, before you make that swing don’t forget to keep the head down and hopefully the handicap will follow suit and go down too! Thanks for reading. Rachel

Pitching for par
Pitch perfect – Philip O’Hara in action on the golf course by his loving (kudos for me!) daughter Rachel

If you would like to contact me about a painting or drawing my email address is rachohara@gmail.com  You can view more work on my facebook page called Drawn to sport and my Etsy shop of the same name, finally my mobile number is +353 (0) 87 6397210

Making a mole hill out of a mountain on The Blackstairs…

I remember many moons ago coming down to Carlow to do a women’s cycling training camp with the dedicated and hilarious to boot manager Mick Lawless.  We had great craic and we learned an awful lot on those weekends. We stayed outside Carlow town in a fabulous guesthouse where we ate like royalty. We were then set off on training spins that covered 4 counties Carlow, Wicklow, Wexford and Kildare on each outing. So, which place sticks out in my mind the most?   Borris, of course, where I now live.  Why? Because Borris lies in the foothills of the very beautiful Blackstairs mountains and also being a rookie/fred (see Stickybottle.com for reference!) at that time, I was unprepared for the first major climb of the day and keeled over forgetting to change down gears in time as that first section of the road was so damn steep. Those roads are now my nemesis, its a love/hate relationship without a Nidge in sight….

Anyway the An Post Rás (Ireland’s premier cycling stage race) has graced these roads many times and this year the infamous Corrabutt Gap featured in one of the hardest stages towards the end of a week of tough racing. I ventured up to catch the action and was hopeful of getting a few shots of those guys suffering on my now local climbs.  I encountered two of my buddies Pat and Therese who work as the ‘Blackboard’ on the race. Not only are they very experienced cyclists they are  part of the motorbike crew who work on the Rás and many other races. Their main purpose is to give time gaps to different groups of riders. This is chalked onto the blackboard and held by the pillion passenger so riders can see where they are in the race. They have to constantly whiz up and down the bunch, passing big groups of riders, a perilous job that is not for the faint hearted.

And here they are below in action…Ehhh not really…No my son Evan created their Lego alter egos after our trip to the Corrabutt Gap.

Therese & Pat immortalised in Lego
Therese & Pat immortalised in Lego

And here they really are looking very happy with themselves having climbed the almost 11% gradient Corrabutt Gap…Oh wait they have an engine…..

Pat and Therese the Blackboard King and Queen of the Rás
Pat and Therese the Blackboard King and Queen of the Rás

Anyway artistic inspiration always flows for me at cycling races, I use my camera as a tool for the first step in creating a new painting or drawing…I picked one of my images from that epic day which shows a loan rider edging forward while leading the race on the road. His legs and lungs are probably screaming out in pain, with lactic acid flooding his muscles. But he doesn’t show it….I’m not sure if I can convey how severe that climb is, this old cycling adage might explain it…”Jaysus, You could hang wallpaper off that one!”, (The climb to the  mast on top of Mt. Leinster is 796m above sea level and is an even harder climb, Ill talk about that one again!) A lot of these guys are amateurs and some are pros, they make the climb look easy,  they turn the mountain into a mole hill….What you don’t see is the 1000s of training kilometers they have to endure on lonely cold and wet Winter roads, these being the rehearsal for the big production. I hope you enjoy this drawing and enjoy the climb without the pain…just like Pat and Therese;)Rás ascent up Corrabutt Gap

My work can be viewed in my newly opened Etsy shop called Drawn to Sport and my facebook page of the same name. If you are interested in getting a unique painting or drawing done of yourself or that special person, please feel free to contact me at phone number +353 (0) 87 6397210 or click here for  my email address…Thanks for reading my blog, Rachel