Loot & Youth

HUSBAND, FATHER, WRITER, PAINTER and ageing athlete who hasn’t quite hung up the lycra.

Loot & Youth

blog1.The Fingal Tri Club’s Skerries Triathlon.

I have always enjoyed my trips up to Wheelworx.  And it’s not just all the lacquered carbon and shiny chrome about the place.  I invariably end up reminiscing with Rob about our trips to Kona and the Ironman races we have done. His enthusiasm for the sport is infectious. It’s inevitable that I will leave with something new under my arm and a renewed ambition to return to Hawaii and the Ironman World Championships some day –not that it ever really diminishes. It’s just a bloody hard thing to pull off both physically and financially.  I have had to turn Kona slots down a number of times and it always breaks my heart (obviously relative to important stuff it’s a mild breaking, but a breaking all the same). 

Even in the old days of the little shop in Clondalkin and his fledgling internet business, Rob and his partner Ais have always been great supporters of triathlon in this country. Over the years they have helped numerous up and coming athletes’ progress in the sport. Many of the Irish triathletes making a name for themselves internationally today have at some point been through the Wheelworx stable.

Luckily for me he doesn’t discriminate on age grounds or talent. I think in me he sees a fellow long distance traveller who has enjoyed a little success at Ironman with the potential to head back to Kona someday and someone who doesn’t look too bad in blue and orange. That’s why on my last visit to Wheelworx I left the shop weighed down with bags and bags of new Wheelworx kit, boxes of Sacuony Runners and a top of the range Speedo wetsuit. I am indeed very grateful and proud to wear the Wheelworx colours. Hopefully I can do them some justice.

For someone who’s cycling wardrobe consists of US Postal, ONCE and Deutsche Bank tops that were second hand when I picked them up 10 years ago this was quite something. I can’t wait to try out this marvellous thing called a chamois that eases the pressure of the saddle on my rear – ingenious. They feel so soft – surely that’s cheating.

I had been looking forward to the Fingal Tri Club triathlon for quite a while – my first triathlon of the season.  It’s always nice to race in Skerries.  I grew up there; most of my family still live there. My bedroom overlooks transition, the race wasn’t starting until 12 and I would know many of the natives who might venture out to have a gander. It was going to be my first outing as a Wheelworx liveried athlete too, so it had to be done and it had to be done well. 

The only problem was I had inflicted a bit of damage to my very temperamental left achilles tendon towards the end of a half marathon the previous Sunday.  I hadn’t run on it since and I wasn’t sure I would be able to on Saturday either. I decided the sensible thing was to just do the bike and swim.  Use it as training for Kilkee in two weeks. As someone who now trades as a coach (with www.a1coaching.net) that’s the advice I would give my clients.

But we all like to race.  Saturday was a glorious day. I have never DNF’d, perhaps I could walk the run. My son was doing his first ever race in the 4 to 5 age group and what sort of example would pulling out set for him (in reality he probably wouldn’t be too bothered). His younger sister would also be watching and although only three, the force of nature that she is, would only scoff at my weakness. I have no doubt she could “run” a 10k off the bike on her hands if both her Achilles were knackered – if she was bothered.

blog2.The kids races were brilliant.  I was a very proud Dad as were all the other Dads and Mums too. Of course I got the time wrong, but they kindly delayed the start of the first race while Eimear and Luke ran down from his grandparents’ house. I know he would have been gutted if he had missed it. I have to thank Fingal Tri Club for doing that. I know many would have not. The kids all raced hard but enjoyed it too. Fingal Tri seem to have their priorities right – it’s supposed to be fun.  It was a huge undertaking to organise all the kids and junior races. They didn’t have to, but it is important for the sport that they did.

My new Speedo wetsuit felt very comfortable. The shoulders are most flexible. Eimear says I was swimming in about eight when I went off course.  Eight is very good for me.  I am usually a mid pack swimmer.  I usually go off course too. As I was just about to stand up and begin the disrobe routine a kind kayaker pointed out that I needed to turn around and swim back along a long pontoon thingy, around to the other side and back in.  As a result I came in a little farther down the field. The long jog to transition only confirmed there was no way I was going to be able to run properly.  I had hoped the cold water might have performed some sort of miracle – alas no.

I made up some places on the hilly somewhat technical (for me) bike course.  Encouragingly I felt strong on the hills and flats, though I was very cautious on the corners and down hill bits.  I knew I was not racing anymore so there was no sense of urgency and absolutely no risk taking. Overall I was pleased with my cycle and hopefully it bodes well for later races. I came off the bike in sixth I believe and with enough of a margin that I managed to hold that position while executing a slow shuffle limp type thing to the finish. I could see the leaders were literally miles ahead.  Even in the fullness of my health I wouldn’t have got near them. On the day it didn’t matter, on another day it will. 

Thankfully my foot didn’t get any worse, perhaps it even loosened up a bit. I acknowledged many people I knew out and about on the course as I went around -including a good friend and his family confined to their house due to the closed roads.  They came out, had a picnic and watched the cyclists spin by instead of abusing the marshals. My kids had a ball, Luke got a medal and I do look good in orange and blue. What more would you want from a day out at a triathlon?