This has been a very hectic summer for our members who travelled around the country and abroad to take part in various triathlons.
Two of our Ironmen recount their experiences of 2014.
My season was all based around being ready for Ironman Austria at the end of June. Proper training started in January and was the usual mixture of swimming, cycling and running, gradually building the distances and intensity throughout the months. To complete an Ironman you must swim 3.8km then cycle 180km and finish it off with a 42.2km marathon.
With some shorter races early in the season, I was able to track my progress, and adjust my training to improve on any areas that weren’t going according to ‘The Plan’. All indications were good, and I was in the last three weeks of final preparation when disaster struck.
Ooops.. I slipped (completely stone-cold sober I may add) down the stairs at home and fractured my left wrist and my right heel. Game over. If I had fallen off my bike or got injured on a run I would have accepted it a lot better as that’s sometimes part of training and competing but to fall at home was a bitter pill to swallow. Recovery: My rehab and recovery soon started. I managed to continue swimming even with my arm in a cast thanks to a protective sleeve a friend found for me online .My surgeon said I couldn’t run but I could continue to cycle, as long as it wasn’t anything silly, like doing the Ring of Kerry (I did the 175km Ring two weeks later with some extra padding on the handlebars).I slowly started to heal, but I was also very frustrated, thinking that all my training was in vain and my season was effectively over. Then, at the end of August, I got a last-minute entry to Ironman Copenhagen. With almost no running completed over the preceding seven weeks this was a risky move .Would I end up just walking the final marathon? I travelled to Denmark with Andrea on the Friday before the Sunday race. I did my usual race prep routine which normally means I get nervous, being quite snappy and irritable. Thank God Andrea is used to this by now and usually calms me down with a few words.
Race Day. The swim was a beach start some 6km from the city centre. My swim went fine and I existed the water in 1hr 10mins.I started the bike feeling great and everything was still going to plan. The course is a two loop circuit on country roads just north of the city. Lots of families had set up picnics and BBQ’s at the road side and cheered us on. We then came back into Copenhagen and I was off the bike after a 5hrs 21mins cycle. Off I went on the run and after letting the legs settle down over the first few kilometers I settled into my goal pace. The run course was four 10km loops of central Copenhagen, and the streets were lined with thousands of supporters. Even Bressie from The Voice and his girlfriend, model Roz Purcell, were there, loudly cheering on their family and friends. They were holding a large tricolour and, as I passed them, I shouted out to Bressie, asking him for an update on the Kerry–Mayo game. He was a bit taken aback, to say the least. We met him and Roz later at the airport; they are both hoping to do an Ironman next year after completing a half-distance event earlier this summer.
We passed Copenhagen’s famous ‘Little Mermaid’ statue, and most of the other well-known city landmarks. If you’re a fan of the Danish television series Borgen, you’d love it.
I also saw Andrea four times on the course and her encouragement was amazing It helped me come in with a marathon time of 3hrs 34mins. I was delighted. My overall time of 10hrs 16mins placed me 425 / 3300 starters.Not too bad after the less than perfect preparation.
Anybody who knows me will be aware I have been threatening to do do an Ironman ( 3.8k swim, 180k bike, 42k run ) for the last few years but I have always come up with numerous excuses not to do one! Too busy, not enough training done, injured, etc etc.But this year with the blessing of my wife and family I entered the Hardman in Killarney. Although it has a fearsome reputation as being a very tough course for an Iron distance race it was on my doorstep, was great value and took in some of the most breathtaking scenery and surrounding this country has to offer.
So this years triathlon season was to focus on this one race. I raced very few sprint and Olympic events and instead followed a training plan which slowly increased in volume and intensity in the lead up to the 24th August.It is always easy to find excuses not to train but I think if you are determined enough and don’t mind getting up at unearthly hours or training in pitch black with a head torch and with proper time management there is always a way.
Race Day. Was up at 4am, and even though I didn’t sleep very well due to pre race nerves and noisy children I convince myself all the training and a good shot of adrenalin would see me right. Had a bowl of porridge, banana, cup of coffee and a sports drink and out the door and off to Killarney. Arrived at Killarney Golf and Fishing club and was somewhat comforted by the presence of equally nervous triathletes setting up their kit for the day ahead. Try suit on, racked my bike and placed all the clothing, kit and food in the appropriately labelled bags for the race. The sun was just about to rise as we got our 5min warning for the swim start. No turning back now I said to myself but was quietly confident and relaxed for a change.
Swim. The swim was taking place in the beautiful Lough Leane and a followed a triangular course which you had to complete twice and measuring what I am sure was exactly 3.8k but looked way more to me. As I had done most of my training in the sea the first thing I noticed was how warm and how much less buoyant fresh water was. I really enjoyed the swim and just focused on keeping relaxed and didn’t want to push too hard. Before I knew it I had nearly completed my second lap and was regretting not pushing the pace a little more as I was feeling very comfortable.
Bike. Out of the water and jogged to transition where I stripped wetsuit off, helmet and bike shoes on and off on the bike route. Was really enjoying myself now and was focussing on eating and drinking regularly as I headed up Molls gap on the way to Kenmare. From there I just started ticking off towns and landmarks! Blackwater bridge, Sneem, Castlecove, Catherdaniel and then up the Coomakista. Was delighted to see a German guy I had been having a ding dong battle with on the road was very obviously struggling now and I was feeling quite fresh by comparison. On reaching Waterville I quickly replenished my food and drink supply at the aid stop and was now well over half way through the bike course. I was entertained by a Charlie Chaplin festival, got stuck in a tractor rally and then a Honda 50 motorcycle run, not to mention tourists, busses and all the other fun and games cyclists encounter on open roads. But the kilometres ticked by and in no time I was coming in to Transition 2 and had the marathon run ahead of me.
Run. The run was a three lap course of just under 9 miles each around Killarney National Park and the surface was a mixture of grass, trail, tar, concrete and gravel and was certainly not flat but without any major hills. The first lap went really well and I just focused on getting to each of the 3 aid stations on the route where I drank and took energy supplements. The sun was high in the sky now and I was extremely hot but was encouraged along by the many spectators and bemused tourists who must have been wondering who all these Lycra clad men and women were. Lap 2 was a world of pain and suffering where I battled with demons in my head who kept telling me to stop. My run was now more of a shuffle but I knew if I got on to the last lap I would make it. Was hugely encouraged to meet my family in transition as I headed out on the final lap. Set myself small goals like get to that big tree, pass that kid on the bike, next aid station and once I got into the final 5k my energy returned and I ran my fastest section of the run. Ran the final 2 k with my two boys and was overwhelmed with pride and satisfaction as I crossed the line unlike anything I had ever experienced in any previous triathlon.
James Mulchrone from Jam completed the Lost Sheep Half Ironman Triathlon in Kenmare. This event was very well organised by our colleagues in Cork Tri Club and congratulations in particular to Niamh, the race director. James commented that they were very lucky with the conditions on the day.
Congratulations to Jordan Whyte who came 4th Junior at the Blackwater Munster Regional Triathlon final. He followed this up with a 2nd place finish at the Cobh Jailbreak Triathlon. His dad Robert who also took part in Cobh placed 9th overall and won his age group.
Our members contribute in other ways at Triathlons as well. Marshals do a very important job on the day of an event and our thanks go out to all those. Sheila O’Sullivan sums up the importance of being a marshal, “It is very important that members help out their club as marshals and she stressed also that it is always a very enjoyable day out and good fun”.