Borris Viaduct

Borris Viaduct
Borris ViaDuct

Monday, 18 June 2012

The Triathlon Bug

In the days that followed the triathlon, I was on a bit of a buzz, to say the least.

1st of all was the event photos. Within hours of the event itself there were photos on facebook that my brother tagged me in. Then there was the fact that I had about half a dozen relations on the day taking photos and videos (I used all this footage to make the video that I attached to that blog post – which Irish Triathlon liked so much, they have used it to advertise the Skerries triathlon since!). Anyways this served a few purposes. 1st of all, at the very least on some subconcious level, there was a vain 'hey look what I did' element to it all – I had trained hard and I was proud I had done it afterall. But secondly and more importantly for me, it made it real! It sounds strange, but in the event of the race the adrenaline is flowing and while you can acknowledge the passage of time and your experiences during the race, within hours your perception of it just starts fading away, like it was just some dream! By the time I had showered and changed on the day of the event, the event seemed separate, like it hadn't happened that day or even at all – I couldn't believe I had actually done it! So yes, the facebook photos etc. were for me like some kind of certificate of authenticity - “yes Brian, those memories were real”.

Then there was the results page. Obviously I only had my swim split and my overall time, but I had worked them out roughly from my action camera footage and deduction. The results page had your race broken down into splits on a spreadsheet, and you could order the rankings by any of the splits. I had been 12th on the swim, but I was intrigued – I started to compare. My cycle time was okay – about midway through the rankings, and my swim transition was woeful but I could how that would be easily remedied. My cycle to run transition was comparably good, but my run split was well off, probably the lowest 25% which was disappointing considering that had been the main focus and the staple of my training for the past year.

Already I was starting to look at areas I could improve on. I had enjoyed my test laps of the course in the weekends running up to the event – what if I had been doing that every weekend throughout the year? What if I had been strength training with that? My past year of running training had gained me the fitness to run a 5k at the end of a triathlon, what would another year of training do, now that I had that base fitness? I had come 12th on my swim, by only doing one or 2 sessions a week, sometimes no training at all – what would an actual swimming training plan bring me? Imagine doing a competent swim transition and keeping my hard-earned advantage (if only briefly)? There was so much improvement to be had. I had only ever planned to do the TriAthlone (which I hadn't even done yet, due in 2 weeks time), there was no way now that I was going to leave it at that. I had trained for the last 9 months to do a triathlon as fast as I could, and I hadn't done that yet! Also I wasn't just going to stop all the training after raceday, was I?

Then there was the Irish Triathlon facebook page. I had 'liked' it in the lead up to the Skerries triathlon as I had realised (too late) that it had been advertising free supervised sea swim sessions the week before the event. This was helpful also as it showed when the results and event photos were up.
But then, other events were starting to get advertised on my feed from them. 1st of all was the  Phoenix Park Duathlon which was 10 days after the TriAthlone – a 2.5km run followed by a 13km cycle followed by a 2.5km, all within the cycle friendly environment of Phoenix Park on a Wednesday evening after work (ie no race-day hassle of getting there etc) – I was fit enough for a triathlon, why not this? And no wetsuit transitions to worry about! I asked my brother Andrew if he was interested too. Boom, signed on!
Then in this same browsing session I found another running event, the Port Tunnel Run – this was exactly what it said on the tin, a 10km run through the Port Tunnel. It was done before the opening of the tunnel 3 years previously, and was so successful, it was decided they would do it again, with closed roads, obviously. This was not such an easy one to decide on. The most I had ever ran at this stage was about 7.5km. But then again it wasn't until August 12th, 2 months away! I had time! Plus there was no pesky swim or cycle beforehand to tire me out. I asked my brother if he was interested. Boom, signed on! 2 events booked within an hour. Oh dear.

I wasn't finished yet though.

After seeing two Dublin events that were right on my doorstep, I was even more intrigued to see if there was another Triathlon handy in Dublin. I looked on the events calendar, and in a way was not disappointed – there was at least one event every weekend until mid-september. Wow! Unfortunately there was not any in Dublin (though if I had been looking at the Triathlon Ireland website, I would have noticed there actually was) – however there was an event on the calendar that really caught my imagination.
I saw a picture, an advertisement link, in the top corner of the calendar, of a very fortified looking island with the title, Escape from Spike Island - Interesting! I clicked the link – it was an Olympic Distance triathlon in Cobh harbour, where you swam 1500m from the former prison island of Spike Island (like an Irish Alcatraz) to the mainland in Cobh, before doing your 40km cycle (2 laps of a 20km course) and a 10km run (4 laps along the historic Cobh waterfront, where Titanic made its final stop before heading on its ill-fated trip) …. Novelty overload! I was hooked. The prospect of doing an Olympic Distance triathlon did not appeal to me at all, I had not trained for that, but I HAD to do that swim. There was a sprint distance option too, but that did not involve swimming from the island.
I remembered my cousin Billy remarking in Skerries that watching the triathlon had really made him want to train for a race, specifically running. A friend of his was also a pretty good cyclist, so I put it to him that maybe we would do it as a relay! It certainly seemed like a great idea, and something we could do very well in as we would all be playing to our strengths. He said he would think about it, so that was another option for later in the summer. It wasn't until the 25th August so there would plenty of time to think about it. More about that in later posts!

So, in the space of an hour, two days after my 1st ever triathlon, I had signed on for a duathlon, a 10km run and had possibly an Olympic Distance triathlon relay on the cards. I had well and truly caught the triathlon bug. To this day, no cure has been found!