Race report by Oisin Keighron.
I saw the Tri with pride event come up on my Facebook feed a few times and something in it had piqued my interest. I suppose curiosity more than anything made me sign up. Done, got my confirmation from Eventbrite “Christ I’ve actually signed up for this”.
Over the next few days I was in contact with Vanessa (who is now my best friend) and was all set for the meet and greet. The meet and greet rolls around and I am an absolute bag of nerves! I head to the riverside hotel (Fashionably early as always) and I enter the room. Nerves immediately disappear once I go in and get to meet all the coaches and trainers, found out a lot of useful information and got an amazing goodie bag.
Meet and greet done and the first training session is set for two days later. It begins.
Training consisted of one swim session and one Brick (Cycling & Running) session a week. Swimming took place at 6-6:50pm at the sports complex on Sundays and the Brick session took place at 6:30-8:00 in the park across from the sports complex.
Now before I signed up for this event I would have considered myself to be somewhat okay at swimming, but after my first swim session I quickly found out how much work I had to do. I did not know how to correctly control my breathing and how to accurately do my swim strokes. One thing that quickly became apparent was that I did not know how to swim slowly and conserve my energy. I felt that every time I started a length, I would go 0-100 in 0.5 seconds and would then quickly burn out. Over the six weeks of training, I managed to get this somewhat under control and even learned how to control my swim strokes to more efficiently cover the distance.
Okay, I will be the first to admit that I absolutely hated cycling but I was willing to give it a go for this event in the hope that it would change my mind (Spoiler alert… It didn’t haha) After difficulty sourcing a bike I finally got sorted with a super duper fancy foldy bike.
Arrived at my first Brick session expecting a nice gentle cycle around the track. 1 hours 30 mins later, and I was crawling back to my car, questioning every decision I had ever made in life. Even though I was sore from the two sessions, something in me had awoken and strangely was starting to enjoy the process. After the six weeks I was able to cycle the Tri loop five times without stopping. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would have been able to do that, but it shows how important it was to turn up to the training session and put into practice what the coaches had been telling us.
Around half way through the training, we had an amazing session with John Graham. During this session, we spoke about what was worrying us the most about the Tri, what we can and can’t control and how best to control the nerves. This was really great to have, as it helped us come back to earth and feel grounded again.
The day before the Tri I was riddled with nerves. How had the last six weeks gone by so quickly? I went for a light walk just to keep the joints moving, as I did not want to seize up before the event the next day. Kept my hydration up and then ran through everything in my head repeatedly before going to bed. Tomorrow was the big day.
The day of the tri has arrived and my god was I nervous. Got myself up, breakfast and then headed into the sports complex for around 9:15am. Typical me I was early and ended up being first there (I had hardly arrived on the wrong day?). Just as I was beginning to panic, I noted one of my fellow Triathletes, Johnathon, arrive. Soon after, everyone began to arrive and we all shared how we were feeling and how well, or not well in my case, we had slept the night before. We headed over to the transition zone where we dropped off our bikes. It was getting super real now. We had a quick pep talk with the coaches and Vanessa in the sports complex before the event and then it was time to get changed and get ready.
Grabbed a quick shower before heading into the pool, more so to calm my nerves than anything else. Walked over and found my lane, bottle of water in hand, as I will need to keep myself hydrated.
Jumped into the pool and started with two warm up lengths. Once I got these done, I waited at the end of the lane with my two lane mates (Johnathon & Max) for the event to start. I looked around and spotted my family and friends in the crowd and once they saw me, they let off the biggest cheer. It was just what I needed to help calm me. The next five minutes or so felt like an eternity but then suddenly I heard “GOGGLES ON” and it was time to get ready. Johnathon was going first, I was second and Max was third. Whistle went and off we go! First three lengths were okay, I stopped at the end of the 3rd for a quick breather before I set off again. Came back down on the 4th length and had another breather. Three more sets of two lengths to go, and I would have the swimming done.
I was getting tired around the 6th length and I felt myself lagging – got to the end of the lane and coach John was there to give me some encouraging words before setting back off again.
Before I knew it, I had nine lengths done and it was on to the 10th. I put everything I had into that final length and got to the end, out of the pool and quickly into the changing room to put my socks and shoes on (I had invested in a Tri Suit and it was the best thing I ever did). Shoes on and it’s off to the bike.
Running across the road to the transition zone as a few people started to cheer my on. “Why were they cheering me on?” – then it hit me hard what exactly I was doing. Just as I had this thought, I run pass Vanessa who said how proud she was of me and that spurred me on even more.
Get to my bike and I start to put my helmet on, my friends and family have now made it over to the park and they are continuing to cheer me on.
Get on the bike and I set off. Five laps..be grand.
I get the first lap done and I’m feeling okay, but as I get half way around my second lap, I do not feel great. My breathing is out of control and my stomach is not feeling great.
I feel on the verge of a panic attack, I quickly remember my training and take some time to focus on my breathing. I get this under control and get the second lap under my belt.
Few people pass me out and we have a good motivational chat as they go by. I am in awe with everyone’s determination. Before I know it, I am on my last lap and Max has joined me. We go around the second half of the lap together and we get to the final hill. My legs are screaming at me at this stage, but nothing is going to stop me getting to the top of this hill. Get to the top and leave my bike, my dad is waiting for me with an open bottle of water and it is the best thing.
Set off downhill on the 3km run and my legs are not working as they should be. It is the weirdest sensation running after cycling, but it does wear off quickly.
Max and myself have set off together and we quickly set a good pace for each other. I had to take a couple of walking breaks, but we kept up with each other. We passed some runners on their way back and we all high fived each other. We were doing this!
The half waypoint was nearing and we could see James Hardiman waiting for us. Quick turn around and we were on the way back. Max and myself were chatting away about how far we have come since this started and how much we enjoyed this process. Before we knew it, we were at the bottom of the hill and Kate Bush’s ‘Running up that hill’ comes to mind.
One final push and we are there, we have done it and like clockwork, I started to cry. I had done my first ever Triathlon and my god did it feel amazing.
After the Tri I was absolutely buzzing for the entire day afterwards. I was in bed that evening by 8pm as I was shattered, and the lack of sleep the night before hit hard.
Next few days I was tired but my body was not that sore. I take that as a major win!
I have made some amazing friends by taking part in this initiative and I can well and truly say I am hooked. Planning for the future and my next Tri has already begun!