I’m really excited to host adventure racer and author Moire O’Sullivan. She is on a blog tour to celebrate the release of her new book Bump, Bike & Baby – Mummy’s Gone Adventure Racing. I’ve been lucky enough to sneak an early copy to bring you this review.
Moire lives in County Down, at the foot of Ireland’s Mourne Mountains. She is the 2007 and 2009 Irish Mountain Running Champion. This book is about her journey from that carefree mountain runner to becoming a mother of two and setting her sights on winning Ireland’s National Adventure Racing Series. Just a small challenge then!
Before I dive into the review, I want to give you a bit of back story. In 2011 I was three years into my own running journey. My youngest child was three and I was starting to set my sights on longer distances and applying for the London Marathon. I really had no idea what my body might be capable of. I read Moire O’Sullivan’s first book Mud Sweat and Tears. It was the first book I’d read about women testing themselves through endurance challenges. I couldn’t put it down. Moire told how she went from a ‘normal’, recreational runner to a mountain endurance runner, culminating in her being the first person to ever complete Ireland’s Wicklow Round; a circuit of over 100 kilometres, covering 26 mountain summits, 6000 metres of ascent and all within 24 hours!
The reason I’m telling you about her first book is because, although I loved it, although it really helped me to push myself, it just left me with one feeling, “It’s alright for her, she doesn’t have kids.” How big a challenge could I set myself with the limitations on training and travelling that having small people involves? Not one like that surely?
This is why I was so happy to hear that Moire had written Bump, Bike and Baby and even more delighted that she asked me to review it for her. I couldn’t wait to find out what had gone on in that time gap. Since then, my three kids have become much more independent, two are at secondary school, I’ve run a few marathons and developed a new fitness related career. Was it possible that she had continued to scale mountains, kayak lakes and zoom along on a bike all whilst being pregnant and having two babies?
Well, the title of the book answers that question. Yes, she had a baby, and a bump and she was still on her bike and yes, she was out adventure racing as soon as she could be after the birth of both her boys.
I absolutely loved this book. For many reasons.
Firstly, it’s so honest. She admits from the start that she was a reluctant mother. That she didn’t know how she would cope with the changes that having a baby would cause to her body, or even if she would be maternal enough to look after a child. Her narrative is complete with the highs and the lows. There is no painting a glamorous picture of what it’s like to continue your training and racing through this huge period of change in your life. Family strains, divided loyalties and just plain exhaustion are all a feature.
Secondly, it’s a wonderful story of someone becoming a mother. I found myself nodding and laughing at her descriptions of the way her body was changing in pregnancy and those memories of bringing a newborn home and feeling completely unqualified to look after it! As the story progresses you can see her grapple with motherhood and find her own way through. A great reminder that there is no right or wrong way to do it and everyone is different and just doing their best.
Thirdly, it addresses important women’s health issues. We know that exercise during pregnancy is good for women but many are afraid to do it. I was interested to read how Moire adapted her training as she went through pregnancy and after giving birth. The brain fog, breast feeding at the side of the road, stress incontinence, it’s all in here. As you know, I’m a big advocate for talking about the more taboo topics to raise awareness and books like this help to normalise these conversations.
Finally, it made me think. I wasn’t an endurance runner during the time I had my children, I came to it afterwards. What would I have done if I had been? Would I have persevered like Moire? Would I have used it as an excuse to slow right down and miss going out in the rain and wind? But the biggest question of all for me is, would it have made it an easier and better time? I know now the power that exercise has to lift my mood, calm me down and increase my energy levels. As a new mum with my first child I really struggled, he barely slept day or night, I was down, isolated and lost. For Moire, exercise was that constant, the thing that she could control and succeed at. If I’d had exercise and fitness as a focus and a goal, if I’d made myself take that time for me, would my experience have been different? I am sure it would and I would definitely have needed a book like this to make me realise it’s OK to do that and to spur me on in moments of weakness.
I thoroughly recommend this book. It made me laugh, it made me wince but it also addresses important issues and it made me think. It will have a special significance for you if you are pregnant or have kids and already enjoy exercise and of great encouragement to you if you are thinking about it. Ultimately it’s a story of perseverance, strength and self development all wrapped up with bringing two new little boys in to the world. One day I’d like to meet them, they sound amazing!
Bump, Bike and Baby by Moire O’Sullivan is published by Sandstone Press and can be purchased 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 Format: Paperback. ISBN: 9781912240067. Publication Date: 15/03/2018. RRP: £8.99.
You can follow Moire on Twitter @moireosullivan and head to her blog Tales of Irish Mountain Adventures You can also follow this blog book tour by visiting the blogs on the image below. Go and see what everyone else thought too!