The last minute Olympic!! Sponsored by the letter “F”.

Having participated in a few events now as a member of Tritanium Triathlon club and experienced how fantastic the support is from people along the route and especially from fellow members who come out to personally cheer you on , on Saturday 19th August I decided to return the favour and support all the runners taking part in the Ten miler in the Phoenix Park .

I cheered and whooped and took woeful photos and encouraged them all over the finish line.

Joining some of the 10 milers, Barbara, Elm, Emma, Richie and Ciaran, afterwards for the well-deserved coffee and cake in the visitor centre , the chat and banter was lively, everyone delighted with their achievement and excited with their progress and training.  

I innocently asked Barbara, chief cheerleader, if someone had taken her entry for the Dublin City Triathlon Olympic distance as I knew she was unable to use it due to injury. It was just part of the conversation? “No” she replied,” its still available but the transfer window closes today”

Then all of a sudden, I heard “you should take it “- “you’ll be well able for it” “go on”, “you’ve done the training” and so on.

So, in the space of a few minutes and with only a week to go I had signed up to do the Dublin City Triathlon Olympic distance.

This summer I had already done two Olympic triathlons – Athy and Harbourman so I knew what was involved.

My reluctance for not signing up for DCT before then, really, was my reluctance to get back into the Liffey.

During the summer of 2022 I had completed the Skerries Sprint, the Athy Sprint, and the Two Provinces Sprint and was signed up for DCT.

So August 2022, I was there on the day, ready to go, all prepped looking at this famous river.

I got in to the Liffey, panicked, swam a bit, panicked, swam a bit more, panicked, but just couldn’t get the breathing right and then called for help from the kayakers and got out and sought medical attention – heart rate high but all ok.

I calmed down.

The first aid team asked me if I wanted to call it and I said no I wanted to give it another go so I got into the Liffey again.

Alas, again, panic panic panic.

Tried and tried.

I even tried the backstroke to get my breathing under control.

I couldn’t get over it and I just lost my confidence.

All of a sudden, I was holding onto the rope in the middle of the river for dear life.

“F” for “fear”.

A kayaker came along and brought me to the bank.

Sin é.

That was it.

I wasn’t going in for a third attempt.

I walked back to transition – me and my black black black feet from standing in the muck and Liffey goo at the bank where I jumped out and decided well “ok I’ll just do the cycle and run”.

Not sure if this is allowed but off I went on my bike, got into the Phoenix Park and realised I was zapped, no energy, I wasn’t 100%, so I accepted that it was time to stop and called it a day.

“F” for finito.

So, in the back of my mind there was a reason why I hadn’t been too pushed to sign up for DCT 2023. 

So why in the name of God did I take the entry from Barbara!!!.

And an Olympic one at that!!

Maybe it’s the stubbornness and “I won’t’ let this defeat me” attitude people who do triathlons have. I don’t know.

Or maybe because it was spur of the moment and I didn’t have time to think about it that I just said, “Yes I would take the entry”.

So, there I was Saturday 26th August, signed up to get into this river again and not just to do one lap but to do two???????

On Friday 25th when handed my registration, the DCT Marshall sighed and said, “Oh I’m sorry” and looked at me forlornly.


Sorry for what???

Sorry, you’re an eegit signing up to do this again??

Sorry, we’ve no XL T-shirts left?

Sorry for what????

“Sorry, your ticket number is Number 13.”

Now I am not a superstitious person, (well I kinda sorta am – I am Irish) so I said to myself, now Brenda Kearns, don’t let this get into your head – it’s nonsense – it’s not an omen, nothing is going to happen, put it out of your mind.

Saturday morning, cycling through the park at 9.30am having parked at the Ashtown gate, another participant cycled alongside me, his name was Richie by the way – but not any of the three Richies in Tritanium – and we got chatting.

“Oh you’re Number 13, you’re in the elite group!” says he!

Well Ladies and Gentlemen, I nearly fell off the bike with laughter and I told him that I had never ever been described as an elite athlete and explained that it was a last-minute thing, got the transfer yada yada yada but I would give it a go.

But in my own mind, why not be elite? Doing this would be elite for me.

I started to psyche myself up.

If I could swim 1.5km in the River Barrow, if I could swim 1.5km in the washing machine that was Wicklow harbour and swim 1.9km in a 70.3 Ironman in Mallorca, I could swim in the “FFFffin” Liffey!!!

It was great to see so many of the Tritanium team all ready to go for the Sprint, everyone wishing each other luck and telling each other we’d be great.

All those words of encouragement do sink in.

They do matter.

So, my turn.

Into the Liffey again.

“Women only” wave.

A wave start – which I now know means you wait in the river for a minute – “F” for “floating” – I held onto the pontoon until the very last minute.

The starting whistle blew.

Off I went.

I waited for the panic.

“F” for flutter.

A little flutter.

I waited for it to get worse, still only a flutter.

Where’s the panic?

I had started my counting – which is what I do – I count during my swims.

I pick a number (not 13). In this case it was 30.

I do that many strokes, slow down and get my bearings, and off I go again, another 30 strokes, pause and so on and so on. I stayed by the rope in the middle of the river as a marker and off I went.

Where was the panic???

It wasn’t there?

A nice calm “F” – “Phew”!!!

I was swimming.

I was breathing calmly, I was counting and moving along, picking out the target buoys and markers.

No panic.

Turned at the buoys to come upstream.

Stayed by the rope in the middle of the river. But hang on, where was everyone else?

Why were they at the side?? I stopped and asked a kayaker, and they told me the current was strongest in the middle.

You should see my Strava picture of this swim – its jagged, spikey, zig zaggy and all over the place.

“F” for frantic swimming and getting nowhere!

So, I moved to the side and kept going.

Lap 1 finished, got around the buoys ok.

So downstream again, so stuck to the middle again and felt I was moving along nicely, got to the buoys, turned and headed to the left and headed upstream again.

Now I know people will say there are no such things, but as far as I am concerned, swimming amongst the reeds and “vegetation” along the Liffey bank, I encountered a swamp monster, something grabbed my leg, got wrapped around my leg and as far as I was concerned it was pulling me down for breakfast.

So, panic returned. “F” “F “F”!

Talk to yourself Brenda.

It’s only really long reeds.

You’ve gone in too far and you’ve got wrapped up in them.

Move out.

Move out.

It’s not a greeny browny swamp monster its only reeds. It’s only reeds.

So out into the stronger current.

Tiring now the last buoys in sight.

By this stage the sprinters had caught up and it was busy busy around the buoys.

But at least I didn’t kick anyone.

But I did get pushed under the big white buoy.

“F “ “ F” “F” again – this time shouting!

A kayaker told me to swim straight ahead, swim upstream as opposed to trying to turn around the buoy. I followed this advice and thankfully got out from under the buoys. I turned around and headed for the finish.

I couldn’t believe it.

I was nearly finished.

Yeay Yeay Yeay!!

I was very elegantly (not!!) pulled out onto the pontoon.

“F” for “flop” – as that’s what it was like!

I think the technical term would be “belly flopped”.

I was out.

I had done it.

I ran by the roaring and cheering Tritanium supporters!!! I high fived!!!

I had swam the “effin” Liffey! “Ffffffffffffff”.

This special “F” moment was even captured in slow motion by the official photographer.


Over to the bike, into the park, 5 laps and then the run.

4 laps of the run.

I took my time – did it at my own pace.

No pressure on you now Brenda, you had done the swim, everything now was a bonus.

There’d be no “F” for fail.

I kept going and knew I could do it.

In Tritanium we will all have our “F” moments.

Fun, fit, friendly, fearful, and fearless but ultimately fantastic moments.

All positive “F”s that get us to the most important “F” of all – the finish line.

Thanks to all the supporters and all the encouragement.

My next triathlon event will be sponsored by the much more polite letter “G”.

“G” for “Golly” “Gosh” “Gee” and of course “Go on ya good thing!!”

Come on the dots!!!

IronMan Cork 2022 Race Report – Eoin O’Reilly

IM Cork in 2019 was my first (and so far only) DNF. The swim had been cancelled and we spent 2.5 hrs standing beside our bikes in transition as a staggered bike start was arranged. I was cold and very wet. I managed to get 120kms into the bike leg before sense prevailed – I was wet and starting to get cold with little chance of either changing I decided to abandon the race. I still believe it was the worst best decision I ever made.

Continue reading “IronMan Cork 2022 Race Report – Eoin O’Reilly”

Ironman 70.3 Cork – Caroline O’Mahony

It has been a few weeks since the excitement of Cork 70.3 and hard to believe it is all over. Summer 2022 was my triathlon summer with Mallorca in May and finishing at home in Cork in August. I absolutely loved Mallorca and once all the hype settled down, I had one question for Coach Joe – how do we improve on that race.

Easy answer… train hard and push it harder on the day (that nugget was also shared with me by a few of the more honest club members!!)

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Ironman 70.3 Portugal 2021 Vitor Oliveira

Lanzarote, May 2019. That’s when I watched my first Ironman event. I saw all kinds of people finishing that exhausting race. People that I thought that they would never be able to finish and people that I considered less fit than me. Seeing that changed everything for me. I decided that I wanted to challenge myself to do that but on the other hand I questioned if I would ever be able.

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Mallorca 70.3 Race Report – Eoin O’Reilly

Mallorca 70.3 was my first ever IM event back in 2015. The plan was always to go back but plans change. First the French air traffic controllers went on strike and then Covid hit. Finally we got word the 2022 version would go ahead – surely the worst was behind …not quite. As triathletes we like lists. Here’s a list of what happened before the race even started:

Continue reading “Mallorca 70.3 Race Report – Eoin O’Reilly”

5K Parkrun. Tips from a DNF-to-sub-20-min guy

I get lost. I get lost, a lot. I get lost so much it’s sort of a running joke in the club. See what I did there…

At the end of January 2022 I did the Hartstown parkrun in 19.19. I came 2nd out of 71 runners. They say it’s a park run, not a race. It’s definitely a park race. If I run beside you, yes, I’m racing you. In fact, many of the people who do parkrun are either trying to beat other runners, beat their own personal bests, or both. Mostly though, I’m racing and chasing myself.

It was my second time running that particular course. The first time I ran it I got lost, taking a wrong turn on the second lap. This was having warmed up doing several laps beforehand too. It’s a condition, probably diagnosable. Had I not gotten lost, I would have just managed to get under the 20-minute mark. Instead of finishing the not-race, I walked away, feeling somewhat defeated. A ridiculous feeling, considering the improvements I’d made over the previous weeks and months. I’d gone from a long-standing average of 22.30 5km to under 19.30. That’s an increase in pace from about 4.30 per km to roughly 3.50 per km. Now, I don’t look like a runner. I’m short, dumpy and heavy-footed. I also don’t particularly like running. Love swimming and the bike. But the running…meh.

So, how come in the past few weeks I’ve made such leaps and bounds. There are several theories. Having lost a bit of weight I’m now carrying less baggage with me. Perhaps I’m just lighter on my feet? I am assured, however, by people who are comfortable saying as much, that I’m still short, dumpy and heavy-footed, so, probability: low. Einstein’s theory of general relativity demonstrates that time slows down as you approach the speed of light. Is it possible that I had hit some sort of speed threshold and was now running fast enough that I was affecting the passage of time? Possibly, but probability: almost zero.

More likely, it’s the interval training I’ve been doing at the NIA with the club. No offence to Einstein, but we’ll stick with this theory for now. So, how does it work? Each week on a Wednesday I turn up to the NIA over on the National Sports Campus, where magic seems to happen. I’ve been following the club training plan, which involves running intervals, with recoveries in between, over various distances. These intervals usually take the form of running for a particular time or a particular distance, with a rest in between efforts. On two other days of the week, I do shorter, less intense longer runs, but it’s the intervals that seem to be making the difference. But how you may ask? Well, there are several likely reasons.

Running intervals on the track allows me to push out my threshold pace – the pace I can run at for about an hour. With interval training, you have to push hard. Run as fast as you can, but at a pace that’s just on the edge of being sustainable. Imagine a 90% effort. At 90% effort, your body has room to adapt. This is different to running close to 100% of maximal effort. The body can sustain this max effort for a short while, but it’s too hard for it to adapt to. The interval running allows you to begin learning what it feels like to run at a fast, but sustainable pace – to get a feel for how sustainably hard you can work and get used to the discomfort. Yes, interval training is hard. It’s meant to be. By the end of the interval, you should feel that the effort level is somewhere between OMG and WTF, and you’ll likely look like a hot mess. But if you’re doing it right, the pace and timing for the first interval and the last should be similar. Over time this will force your bodies’ systems to adapt; your leg muscles will strengthen and the running energy economy will improve (the energy and effort required will reduce). Your aerobic base will also increase, and you’ll find it progressively easier to run at a faster pace. Ultimately, your body will adapt, but you need to put the work in and force it to do it!

Top tips for a PB on your 5km parkrun:

(1) Get some regular interval training in! Couple this with regular run base training.

(2) Warm-up well beforehand – Personally, I run a slow 5km beforehand, keeping the heart rate under 130 bpm. This makes a massive difference to my actual race time.

(3) Remember your interval pace training. Don’t set off too fast. Your body will remember the intervals if you repeat them enough. Check your watch, the adrenaline rush can cause you to go out too hard.

(4) Don’t worry about anyone ahead of you. Keep the focus on maintaining your target pace. Over 5km, you’ll eventually pass people who went off too hard or are slower than you. Those you don’t pass are probably faster than you anyway, so don’t blow yourself up trying to catch them or keep up with them. Concentrate on yourself.

(5) The 3km mark is critical. At this point, your body will be asking you to slow down at the least, if not begging you to stop. Between kilometres 3 and 4 is as much a mental task as a physical task. You will have to concentrate hard on maintaining your pace. Keep moving those legs. It’ll feel hard, but you can do it. If you relax at this point it’s very hard to make up the time.

(6) After the 4km mark you’re on the home stretch. If you’ve kept pace you’ll definitely have a little left for the last 250m – and the adrenaline of being so close to the end will help. You can always run faster – give it everything you’ve got, but don’t injure yourself!

(7) Don’t forget to start your watch.

(8) Don’t get lost.

New2Tri: We’re half way there + a bit – by Gary Glennon

Sunday cycle coffee stop

Well here it goes write a blog on the New2Tri programme at the midway point (I know I’m late with that too) As Jack Reacher would say “never volunteer for anything”.

Hoping to do a Triathlon for the first time with literally no swim or bike experience, follow a ten week programme then Portlaoise, and then pints and celebrations at the after party complete with a glorious sense of personal achievement and bonding with all the really impressive and successful group of Triathletes.

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Pre – New2Tri 2020 Report – Olivia Lawless

Some Say Ignorance is bliss.

In 2017 around about the time of Tritanium Triathlon Club’s inception, I weighed 4 1/2 half stone heavier than I am today. I downloaded a couch to 5k app and I can still remember the pain of running for 60 seconds at (pre Strava and Garmin tracking) who knows what pace and how much quicker the 60 second resting walk flew by.

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New2Tri Report – Chris Walker

2019 was a weird year for me – big changes in my personal and work life along with the fact I decided to try out the sport of Triathlon.

Along with a a number of other newbies- I took part in the New to Tri programme from Feb to April. Now I have never been the best at sticking at one thing – I am currently re doing my new years resolution that has been renewed every year for the past severn –“ this year I will learn to play the guitar” .

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Race Report – IM Dun Laoighaire 70.3 Graham Dillon

Not something I planned on doing and definitely not something I planned on writing about but yet I find myself here writing. WHY?? There are a lot of whys in this one…

Firstly, Why enter Dun Laoighaire?? I had no plans to race here this year. Plan was Mallorca 70.3, 4x national series races (Hook or by Crook, Harbourman, Tyrone 70.3 and Pulse port Beach) and my A race Barcelona Full IM. Having returned from Mallorca slightly disappointed with how I ran off a tough bike in the heat I questioned whether the issue was the heat or the hard bike? I was unhappy with my placing and knew I am capable of better. As a reaction to this I booked IM DL. I then told my coach as it was obviously not in the plan and he, and others whom I trust, agreed this was a really stupid idea but not my first or last!

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My first season in Inter Club League Bike Racing – the most fun you can have on a bike – Graham Dillon

How it began

In the 2018 season I watched from a safe distance as Ivan was convinced by Rich to join Lucan Cycling Club and give bike racing a go. For the first couple of weeks I got my giggles from Ivan’s short lived weekly blog where he spoke about being ‘thrown out the back’ and usually being last. However as I was training with Ivan for our upcoming IM events I could clearly see the improvement in him on the bike. On the spins he and Rich would regale me with tales of their adventures on Thursday nights about lads ‘off the front’, ‘closing breaks’ and ‘sprint finishes’. I couldn’t help but be a small bit jealous of the joy and laughter which accompanied these stories.

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Hook or by Crook 2019 – Rory Gleeson

This was my 3rd triathlon ever and my first open water sea swim in a triathlon event. Confidence was high and was hoping for a sub 1:30 finish. I thought the first bit of training I completed in the N2T programme would stand to me but since the arrival of baby number 3 I haven’t been doing the required training but believed my base fitness was ok and surely this was only a sprint triathlon,  it will be grand! How wrong was I, this ended up feeling like my Ironman. I scuttered over the line a broken man and questioning why I ever thought triathlon was for me.  

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Woe is me

21st January 2019

I’m going to keep these weekly updates as brief as I can as it means they are easier for me to write and easier for people to read. People are reading yeah?

Week 1 into my training and things are already getting challenging. The week started and I managed to injure my knee, I’m just after coming back from a knee injury in the same leg and it has set me back a little bit. I’m still able to run but I am having to hold back and it meant that I only managed to get two run sessions in last week and one was cut short.

Monday nights club run was missed – I just coached.  Knee was too painful and I had been to the gym to test it and was struggling to do a single leg extension >2.5kg.

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Here we go again…

14th January 2019

Ok. So I’m going to try and blog weekly about my season again and hopefully, this goes better than last season where it quickly fizzled out as a lack of training and injuries meant I lost interest in telling people how little I was doing…

Last season finished in October. I completed Ironman Barcelona in 13:10:42 and then pacing parkrun a couple of weeks later I tore my meniscus in my right knee. I’m just back training.

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Roisin – New2Tri

Last May I signed up for Tritainium TC New2Tri programme. A friend had convinced me to do a triathlon after I went to support them at Dublin City Triathlon in the Pheonix Park.

I had run 5k before and went to the gym, but I’d never done anything like a triathlon before and thought I wouldn’t be able for it. I couldn’t swim so I needed to learn, and I hadn’t been on a bike in years, so it was definitely one of my crazier ideas.

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Ivan – My Season Roundup and IM Barcelona

I  remember “watching” the Ironman live tracker when club members Angela, Dave and Rich did Ironman Frankfurt in 2016 and swearing to myself that I’d never ever put myself through the hardship of a full distance race. It looked like a horrific ordeal.

I remember going away on a training camp last year and almost entering Ironman Lanzarote on a whim with 4 weeks to go to race day. I was a single click away from signing up. Luckily, sense prevailed and I put the phone away before I did something stupid.

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Barcelona Ironman Race Report – Rich

This was my 5th  time toeing the start line of an Ironman. My first was in 2015 in Mallorca where I struggled in the heat to a 14:08:11. I followed this up in 2016 with Frankfurt and another 14 hour effort just increasing my PB with a 14:06:43. 3 months later I was in Calella, Spain for Ironman Barcelona. I pulled out after 90km of the bike sick. 2017 I tried in Spain again, only to pull out 13km into the run. I’d been sick again and knew it wasn’t going to be fast and just wanted it to end. This was my 3rd time trying to conquer Ironman in Spain.

Continue reading “Barcelona Ironman Race Report – Rich”

How I Spent My Weekend – IM Dun Laoghaire 70.3 Race Report – Eoin O’Reilly

Some background. This is my 6th year doing triathlon and I have been lucky enough to tick all the boxes – tri-a-try all the way up to full Iron Man distance. I have also been in 3 triathlon clubs. I started in Fingal Triathlon club in 2013. I was there for 2 years and thinking of changing to a club closer to home when the coach told me my swimming was beyond help.

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Lisbon Race Report – Gareth

I’m not a proper triathlete, someone who trains in three disciplines with an end goal in sight.

I’m a tryathlete, someone who has a random idea about doubling the furthest distance ever swum out of a pool or cycled on the same day and then throw in a half marathon at the end, just for the craic.

I knew I wanted to do a greater distance than Olympic as I had not died doing the last one, you will see a common thread of stupidity here……

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Lisbon Race Report – Rachael

We’re always grateful to receive race reports from our members. They’re real stories of real people doing triathlon. Here we have a story of blood, sweat and tears (or should that be blood, sweat and tyres?). A story of overcoming the odds, of bravery in the face adversary…  Rachael’s race report!

I began writing this race report with “I’ve always wanted to do a 70.3” and deleted it because that’s a lie. I didn’t even know what a Triathlon was until 2 years ago. But I’m very easily influenced and thanks to Ivan Casey I’m here horizontal, stiff as a board in Lisbon.

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A Testing Week

Week 2 of 21

Week 2 was a testing week. By testing I don’t mean hard. Although it was. More that it was testing as I had tests to do to see where I was, and to reassess training zones.

I’m a big believer in the need to test and reassess in order to make sure you are always training in the zones that are optimal for improvement. It kind of a case of – “If you don’t know where you are, how do you know how to get where you are going?”. That kind of leads on to goal setting and Lewis Carroll –  “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there”. But that’s for another blog…

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Best laid plans…

Week 1 of 21.

To paraphrase Robert Burns, “The best-laid plans of mice and men oft go awry”.

I use Training Peaks to organise and plan my training. One of the advantages of this is that I can put the sessions in and then drag them around to make sure they fit in with the week I have planned. So If I have a Thursday night cycle planned but have to organise the race (like this week), I can move it to a Friday instead and see if it still fits in. I can see what I must do for the week in advance and get an idea of the levels of training I have planned.

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So it begins…

So it begins…

With 22 weeks to go until Ironman Barcelona, I’ve decided (after a little bit of prompting) to blog about the training I am doing to prepare for the race.

For those who don’t know an Ironman Triathlon consists of a 3.8km swim, 180km cycle and a 42.2km run. It’s undertaken by people who are slightly mental.

This year is going to be a balancing act if I am to toe the line in Barcelona. I’m completing a degree course which is due to finish at the end of September and also trying to build a kit car, plus I need to do the required training for Ironman and hold down a full-time job.

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Doing your first triathlon is a daunting prospect and what we have noticed from our collective experience and observations is that:

  • A lot of triathletes did their first race by themselves and it was only after that they decided to join a club. It was thought too daunting to go and train with “proper” triathletes.
  • Many had no idea how to structure training or even what training they needed to do to get through their first triathlon.
  • A few people kept putting off their first Triathlon thinking they weren’t ready to do one – in some cases for many months.

Continue reading “New2Tri”

My first triathlon…

It was about this time 7 years ago that I made a resolution to do a triathlon. A few friends had decided to do one in 2011 and I decided I’d try to do one too.

I knew someone in my early 20’s who had started doing triathlons but the thoughts of putting three sports together back to back had at the time seemed way beyond my capabilities. Fast forward 15 years and it still seemed as though it was. I was sure that triathlons were only for super fit marathon runners, people who raced sharks for fun, and super skinny cyclists who cycled up the equivalent of Everest every weekend for the craic.

Continue reading “My first triathlon…”