Update: November 2017
It may be time to rewrite this section… there are three further updates below this original post which was penned (albeit on a keyboard) in June 2015. I suppose the main thing is that the tagline of ‘doing your first ironman a few wrinkles short of fifty’ will be out of date shortly. The first part is technically out of date anyway, since I did actually complete my first long distance triathlon in August 2016. And in a few weeks time (November 27th) I will turn fifty. The wrinkles are catching up!
So it may be time for an edit… For now, it will do.
I’m a sub-fifty bloke living in County Kildare in Ireland. That’s sub-fifty in years, and occasionally sub 50 in minutes for a 10k. I used to be a reasonably fit young thing back in the day. I believe I was once the fifth-fastest under 10 (or was it under 12?) in Kildare according to the Community Games. Ah, those heady days! I enjoyed running, and in secondary school, did a few teams sports such as rugby, hockey and badminton (that was the kind of school I went to. No GAA for me, which I regret. I rate hurling as the most skillful and fastest team sport in the world).
Then college arrived, and music, and a whole range of other distractions, including beer. And cigarettes.
Sporting activities didn’t really stand a chance.
In the mid-noughties I returned to my favourite team sport, rugby, and joined my local club. I had a few fun seasons in the 4th and 5th teams before a broken collar bone put a stop to my gallop. That, and a threat from my wife to burn my boots. Possibly with me in them. That would have been most unfortunate, not least as I am also in the local fire service as a retained firefighter.
I was keeping my hand in (well, legs really) in terms of jogging. I did a few marathons. My first requires a long explanation, so we can look at that another time. Cough. But suffice to say I’ve done about five or so Dublin Marathons in the last good few years. In fact, as I type, I realise I am wearing my ‘One less thing to do in life’ Dublin Marathon 2001 T shirt. And in fairness, the T shirt is wearing better than the wearer. I also realised, with the benefit that only hindsight can offer, that I left lengthy gaps between each marathon. Looking back, I shouldn’t have, but I recall my wife saying something along the lines of “I’ll never do that again” as she was wheeled out of the delivery ward following the birth of our first child. And of course, once the memory of the pain has been expunged from your brain and nether regions, you go again. I did something similar with marathons, though I should add having a baby is far more painful than running 26.2 miles. Plus, they give you a medal for the run. Bless.
In 2014, I decided to dip my toe into the triathlon world. It had always fascinated and terrified me in equal measure. To me, triathletes seemed like the next step up from marathon runners. But training for marathons is not very exciting (let’s be honest) plus the mileage on the legs and the beating they were taking from five-a-side footie was starting to show. It was time for a new challenge.
I signed up for a Try-a-Tri in Athy (oddly enough, the scene of my great athletic triumph/disappointment all those years ago in the Community Games). A good friend suggested I could manage the Sprint event, so I upped the ante. A training programme was randomly plucked from the internet, and I set to.
My wife and I joined a local leisure centre for the pool, and I can vividly recall my first length in the water, as my arms felt horribly heavy and sore, and I ran out of breath. It was a most inauspicious start. However, we persevered, and finally the big day came, and I took my first shaky steps on the triathlon road in 1.21:18. More on this later.
I followed up with a second Sprint in the beautiful surrounds of Lough Key Forest Park in September. Tougher and slightly longer course, with a time of 1:34.16. All I can say is that it was one of the best T2 times ever…
Later that year in October, I did a 2k open water swim in Killary Fjord. Another challenge, not least due to the shortcomings of the shortie wetsuit I had used happily for the two Sprints. My fault really. It’s only a fun thing, hence the 15 Euro I paid for it in Lidl. I had no idea about longer sea swims and lube. I do now. The seam on the back of the neck tried valiantly to saw my head off as I swam. I didn’t really experience the true agony until after the event. Even after a gallon of Guinness. The physical scars have healed. The mental ones still tingle.
On the 30th of May this year, my wife, brother and I each did a triathlon. Saoirse did the Try-a-Tri, my brother did the Sprint, and I stepped up a level for the Olympic, for which I had again used an off-the-shelf training programme. My goal was sub-three, and I was happy with 2.49:20. Though now I was beginning to get that strange bug you catch. The one that tells you you could have really pushed the swim a little more. And that section on the bike… and then the run. You could really have pushed the run. Not to mention the gear. LOOK AT ALL THAT GEAR!
Anyway, a few days ago I was standing in the kitchen about to head off to a meeting. I had put on a pair of chinos and a shirt. Neither of which were ironed, as I recall. Apologies to my long-suffering wife; I have been saying for a long time now that there is no need to be ironing ALL the clothes. She pointed out my rather disheveled appearance (she’s good like that) and I had to admit as I looked down that I really was an un-ironed man.
Which sort of got me to thinking…
So the plan is to do a half-ironman later this year, and then plan the final assault on the full monty next year. Provisionally looking at Hardman in Kerry. All I need to do is get fit. Stay fit. Pick a good plan, and stick to it. What could possibly go wrong!
Update: April 2016
I am leaving the original post up there. It’s a nice reminder (for me, anyway) of when and why I set up the site in the first place. But of course, as time passes, things change.
In terms of gear, the biggest change is the new bike.
It’s an Orbea; a 2014 H10 but with the Shimano 105 groupset from the 2015 model; long story! Light aluminium frame with carbon forks. Quite a change to have gears on the bars and not have the down tube shifters. The old steel frame will be used on the turbo trainer when there are times when I need to put in a shift but can’t escape the confines of the fire service roster.
In terms of events, I have signed up for the Hardman ironman which takes place on 20th August, 2016. I have no other events planned for the year, currently, though I do take part in parkruns every now and again, and I might try and dig out an Olympic or even half-iron this summer, as a warm up for the Kerry event. More updates as we go on.
Update July 2016
Somewhere in the bowels of this blog is a race report from the Ireman half-iron triathlon that I did last year – last year being 2015. It should be here… but of course, it may have moved. Who knows! We are about a month away from the big one, that being the Hardman full distance triathlon. It’s all the same distances and disciplines as an Ironman without the branding and crazy fees. This is what we have been working towards.
Update January 2017
Maybe it’s time to stop the updates? Anyway, the race report for the Hardman is here. Suffice to say we have new goals for a new year. More on this as the year progresses. It’s gonna’ be ultra!