Week Nine of the programme is coming to an end. I wandered slightly from the path of righteousness (as defined by the 220 Triathlon website). This is an occupational hazard of having two jobs, a family, and something approaching a life. Not that you should complain too much in a week where we have witnessed hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing persecution in the Middle East, and images of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi washed up on a beach in Bodrum, a Turkish resort familiar with Irish holiday-makers. Lest we forget, his brother and mother also perished on that fateful trip, and thousands more die each week.
So, in that respect, I never really feel that training for a triathlon is too much like hardship. Indeed, as I think I said at the outset of this small online sojourn, training for a triathlon is something of a luxury really.
During the week, we got down to the pool for a session, and that worked out quite well. There are moments in the water where all the various parts of the stroke (the grab, the pull, the breathing, the kick) come together and it feels like I am really swimming; or I imagine this is what it feels like for a real swimmer. Not unlike the various parts of an internal combustion engine, I suppose, when all the bits and pieces are firing in the right order. That happens about once or twice a session. Oh well… Not to labour the point or anything, but I have the choice of whether or not to get in the water, and when to get out of it again.
I also had a couple of runs in the park, and the strides run (warm up, then 30 second burst, with 30 second recovery, times five, then 40 minutes of good pace with a warm down) seemed tougher than normal and the groins have lodged a formal complaint.
In between, I had a pleasant cycle out in my usual haunt, or a variation thereof. I was following, broadly-speaking, a tourist initiative called Arthur’s Way, which follows in the footsteps of the legendary brewer, Arthur Guinness. Some degree of licence is always taken with these projects, but on the whole, this is a good project, and the fact that I was the designer who put the branding and signage together is neither here nor there!
It was billed as an easy ride, but I conspired to venture up Boston Hill not once but twice. The first time was the direct route from Ardclough with a spin down the other side and right into Tuckmilltown before arriving at a busy Straffan Road at the Blue Door. There actually is a blue door here at this junction, but perhaps there is more to that story than a simple coat of paint. In any case, I took one look at the traffic (including an articulated lorry) and turned tail back up towards Bishopstown, hence my second bite at Boston Hill.
Arriving at the top, I turned left and took in my third hill, namely Lyons Hill. This hill has even more interesting history than Bishopstown, and quite possibly lends its name to Leinster province, but that’s another story for another day. Athgoe Hill is next, as you cross over the Kildare border into Dublin. This is always a nice way to begin your homeward journey, with a 60km/h spin downhill.
Yesterday S and I took the 40 mile spin out to Lough Owel near Mullingar for some open water swimming. This is only the second time we have swam out here, but it’s a great spot. Plenty of car parking, easy access to the lake, and handy facilities for getting in and out of the water. The only things to watch out for are the slippy steps if you catch it on a day when the water levels have dropped recently, and the shallow water in the first 20 or 30 metres. It’s a limestone lake, and the rocks and stones are well calcified, which makes them rather sharp. I’ve cut fingers and toes both visits. The obvious trick is get out where the bottom shelves away quite quickly to a good 5 or 6 metres.
I’ve no idea of the distances of the marker buoys that are put out, I’m assuming, by swimmers, as they have no function for boats. But I did three laps of those, and all told about half an hour of swimming. It’s a long enough spin to go for an open water swim, but it takes just as long to go east and swim at Howth, and the tides were against us.
As we arrived and crossed the rail line, a train heading for Dublin passed under the bridge, with ‘Dublin Connolly’ visible on the back. It was a humorous nod towards the controversy that has occupied many GAA minds this week. Of course, if you don’t follow Gaelic sports, this will mean nothing to you, but in the great battle for a place in the All-Ireland football final against Kerry, Dublin lost one of their star players – Diarmuid Connolly – due to a red card he received in the drawn match last week, against Mayo. Well, it went through a variety of appeals until the last hurdle a day before the replay when he was allowed to play, much to the bewilderment of anyone who follows the game.
I wondered if perhaps this was a sign? As it played out, he did take the pitch, and was roundly booed every time he touched the ball and had something of a nightmare of a game. Still, Dublin prevailed at the end, and we now have the Kerry v Dublin game all the neutrals wanted, reliving those glory days of old. As I type this, the hurling final is on, and Kilkenny have just scored a goal. Plus ça change!
The following pic has nothing to do with triathlons of course, but it made me smile. Just arrived in the post the other day, as we have a daughter of that age (although she did Transition Year, so isn’t expecting results this year).
‘Mindless activities’, hey! Perish the thought!