This week’s guest blog comes from Gillian Peelo, who, despite personal challenges and heartbreak has kept pushing herself on. Read her inspiring story here. 

My Quest Adventure.

All my life all I ever knew was cycling and always did and still love the bike. I grew up in a house where footballs didn’t exist and going to bike races never got tiring. Cycling was the obvious sport to get into and the fitter I got the more enjoyable it all was. I dabbled in other sports (not at competition level) but none gave me the feel-good fix that being out cycling in the fresh air for hours on end did. It was a family thing in our house and every weekend my Father Paddy Martin would take groups of Bray Wheelers CC around every back road in Co. Wicklow and stop off in various cafes for a much-needed coffee and scone, a tradition that is worldwide in the sport of cycling. Cycling also is where I found my soul mate, best friend and husband Dave Peelo, although I can only keep up with him if we’re on a tandem :-).

Skip forward to Valentine’s Day 2008 and the we were awoken to the devastating news that my Father, friend and cycling buddy had suddenly passed away with no warning and his untimely passing just sapped every ounce of desire I had for cycling and the Wicklow roads have never been the same.

At the same time conceiving a child was proving just as much an uphill battle as was dealing with grief.

Slowly over the next few years riding my bike started to become enjoyable again and it definitely helped take our minds off the lack of success with having a baby. Getting a bit fit again would hopefully stand to me if I were to get pregnant. The years ticked by and along with them were many unsuccessful treatments and miscarriages before finally in August 2013 and me at the grand old age of 47 delivered our beautiful little miracle baby girl.

I had decided not to cycle through the pregnancy and honestly, I was so sick I wouldn’t have been able to anyway. I managed to swim in the latter half and was happy to be able to stand upright without feeling sick. Parenthood was all, and more, than we ever imagined and exercise other than walking took a back seat until one day in 2014 while on a buggy walk, I thought I’d try and jog a bit. I felt great and hadn’t run for probably over 25 years due to a back injury. The running became regular, albeit short distances, but the exercise buzz was returning. The bike however was still collecting cobwebs in the attic and would remain there for another while. In fact, it made its debut on August 1st 2016 on my 50th birthday in The King of Greystones charity triathlon. This was the start of the adrenaline rush and turning 50 I could hear my father’s words in my head telling me to enjoy life as we never know when it can all be taken away. Midlife crisis was on its way 🙂

Onto Quest Glendalough 2017. An adventure race was something that I really wanted to challenge myself with so on my doorstep Glendalough was the obvious choice and for the bike sections I knew the roads like the back of my hand. Initially Dave and myself had thought of entering with the tandem but there was no category so the decision to go solo was made so I signed up and all I needed to do was to get fit enough and stay healthy over the winter. Unfortunately, both of the above proved easier said than done. Bike was back in the attic due to lack of time with being a full-time mother and working from home as a physical and sports massage therapist and running in the winter seemed to bring dose after dose of sickness. Eventually, I got some regular training in and rocked up the start line, dusting cobwebs from the bike. I was very nervous on a freezing, but amazingly clear day in Glendalough, myself and my friend Eileen set off on the 42km sport wave. Everything was going great and the scenery was just breath taking. We got to the end of the 2nd bike leg and cramp like I never experienced hit me so hard I thought I was going to be a ‘dnf’ but managed to hobble with the support of Eileen for about 5km of the 6km of run 2 and made it to the kayak. I totally enjoyed the kayaking on the lake and then shuffled the last 2km to the finish line where we were greeted by my ever-supporting husband. Suddenly the soreness from the cramp was dissolved by the atmosphere at the finish. I was definitely signing up for 2018.

Preparation for Quest Glendalough 2018 was a bit better with a few bike spins completed before the event. Weeks of sinus infections again over the winter hampered things a bit but you just have to keep getting back up and going. 2018 was even more enjoyable with our gorgeous daughter as best supporter on the back of my husband’s bike shouting “go faster mammy”, which of course I couldn’t. She loved every minute, as did I having them there. Cramp was on my mind again but by the summit of the first cycle there was no sign. The first run was great with clear blue skies, the second cycle is tough but I geared down and slowed down on the inclines and all was good. Onto the second run and not a twinge, hurrah, and the rest as they say was a walk in the park (maybe I wasn’t pushing myself hard enough – note to myself for this year). Thankfully with better hydration and salts and minerals, nasty ‘Missus Cramp’ didn’t show her face that day. The weather Gods were at their best again and honestly with my hand on heart I have never gotten the feel-good adrenaline fix that I have from Quest Glendalough Adventure Race, it is pure magic. From the emotional roller coaster of grief from losing a parent and the ups and downs that go with years of IVF I am truly grateful to have such a wonderful event on my door step.

2019 has come with some challenges too but that’s a whole other story. I’m back on track now and so looking forward to another great day out in Glendalough. Huge thanks to Quest and all involved for show casing this beautiful county with your adventure races.

See ye all on April 6th 2019.

Cheers, Gillian