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.

Rewind to November 17 – Race, flights, Accommodation booked. WhatsApp Group created, craic starts.

Before long, here we are in May 18. I arrived at Dublin Airport with a dismantled bike and just enough training done.

There was no ‘Check-in’ on Facebook with a picture of my passport sat beside a pint. I don’t know how many people would be interested in seeing my bottle of water so I saved myself the bother. We watched as they loaded the bikes on to the plane. This is something you shouldn’t do, there were one or two gasps when we saw a bike (not ours) roll straight back down the belt but saved before it hit the ground. Travelling is stressful enough without watching these types of things.

I travelled with my training buddy, Ger and her training bud/coach/pain in the ass, James and together we called ourselves Activ TriTanium! I genuinely don’t know how James Coyle would have got through that weekend without us 😉 In other words, we had a great time.

When we arrived at Lisbon Airport late that night, and after what felt like a very long time, the bikes rolled out. There was more than the ‘6 bikes maximum’ as suggested by Aer Lingus when we booked. We were in good company though with other Tri-athletes from Activ Multisport, Piranha and Pulse Triathlon clubs also collecting their bikes.

Dragging bikes and cases through Lisbon Airport should not be underestimated. Consideration should also be given to the space they take up in a taxi. James Coyle, King of the Tetris! 🏆 This taxi driver saw us coming a long way off and he made his money out of us. We knew, we cared, but we were tired. We were only 15 mins away from our accommodation and on arrival, we were pleasantly surprised with the apartment. Huge ground floor apartment 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and a couch big enough to sleep on. If you were that way inclined 😉 We immediately built the bikes. It took some time, some episodes on YouTube but we got there. Straight to bed. Slept like a baby, which is rare for me.

Friday was all about registering, testing the swim, and racking the bike. Smooth registration, it was a matter of calling out your race number and after a quick autograph, you were out of there. We noticed a mechanic set up close by who for a small fee would ‘bike check’. Unfortunately for us, it was the same price to have them build your bike. ‘Why didn’t we do this’ was a common theme. I decided, as I’ve never built a bike before and clearly couldn’t set handlebars straight that I’d have them check it for me. The bike felt brand new, money spent well. We were allowed entry to the swim section to get a feel for the water and as I stood there looking out at the buoys I felt very overwhelmed. We all swam to the first buoy and back. Approximately 600m, only. It looked much further. Serious reality check. But, the water was A LOT warmer than my quick dip in Lough Lene last week. I knew I’d get through it, slowly, but always happy to get out of the water.

Racking the bike later that evening was where I had another reality check. I reckon I counted 20 road bikes. There were Tri Bikes there worth more than my car ffs 😂

The morning of the race itself was brilliant. No real nerves until I stood next to the water. But as soon as they started they were gone because for the first time ever the Portuguese were on time. Gun off, Rachael gone like the clappers. Not. I left everyone go, like I always do. And just took off at my own pace. This went really well until the turn at the first buoy and I was surrounded by ‘the red hats’. I’m not pointing any fingers Gareth but I got one or two digs that left me swallowing lots of water. Very happy with my 49min swim. I’ve read race reports of people being unhappy with 29min swims. Who are these people 😂 no mad panic in transition, just me and a few stragglers trying to squeeze wetsuits into sandwich bags.

Out on the bike, slowly getting warmer. I found the first lap of the bike great, loads of super bikers to watch absolutely booting it on the other side of the motorway. Second lap fine too. I am one of these people who talk to themselves saying ‘ok you just have to get back here 3 more times’ then ‘ok your halfway now’.

So when I set out on lap 3 I was happy thinking ok, just the same again. Felt fine. Just as I approached the hill before the turn back I felt like I was struggling a lot sooner than before and I looked down to see I had a puncture. I couldn’t tell you how long I had it, because other than a few bumps and holes in the road, I still don’t know what I hit. I remember saying ‘you are kidding me’. I pulled in. Devastated. I’ve never changed a tube. But I had all the tools. So I got my little levers out and said I’d give it a go at least. I watched Rich change a puncture for me once before so I knew what to do, I’d just never done it before.

Long story short, I got the tube changed handy enough. What didn’t cooperate was the air canister I had with me to pump the tube. Cue tears. Watch stopped and saved. I started walking with the bike. I had seen loads of fallen puncture prepare kits earlier up the road so I was thinking if I just came across one of them I’d be fine. Not one. I walked with my bike for 15 mins, with everyone passing me, some on their last lap, crying. I had come to Portugal and still wouldn’t have completed a 70.3. I wouldn’t have been able to celebrate with the lads that evening and I wasn’t going to get a medal to bring home. It was all about the pints and bling. I got to the turn back point and the spectators that had been there on the other 2 laps had moved on. It was just me and the cops. And I don’t like cops.

I stood for about 5 minutes wondering how the hell I was gonna get back when two competitors came up the hill. They both stopped to take a break. One was guiding the other and I noticed they had a pump. 1087 is my hero. He pumped my wheel for me. I knew, but I didn’t care, that I’d probably be last, so I just ploughed on. The return of each lap is very fast, so I flew back. I remembered there was a wheel station back at transition. Contrary to popular belief the wheel station does not have a pump. I still had one lap to go but figured I could at least try the last lap. I grabbed my last bottle of water and off I went. Imagine cycling on the m50 for 20km with no one around. Just me and the tumbleweed. You can imagine the chats I was having with myself here.

I struggled to eat with the heat and drank all my water but I could see light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve never wanted to run a half marathon so much in my life. I’m laughing here even thinking about it. I was almost home, maybe 500m when, due to, I don’t know what, maybe changing the gears too quick? The chain came off. I had no more tears left so I just got off, got it back on. Jumped back up, ready to rock, 3 seconds later, fell off again. It was at this point that I imagined throwing my bike across 2 lanes of traffic into the sea. Oil all over my hands and probably my face I arrived back to transition. I racked the bike and gave it the fingers. Runners quickly on and I set off on the run. Run is a stretch, the heat was a killer. I ran some, walked some. It was genuinely the hardest run I’ve ever done. All of a sudden the swim felt like it was last year. I passed my friends multiple times always wondering how far behind I was. As it turned out, they all had 2 laps on me, but that was to be expected. I eventually finished with a time of 6.59, sub 7 hours 😂 yayyyyyy 😂 it was the hardest thing I’ve ever put myself through, mentally more so than physically.

Who knew I wanted a medal and a glass of suds so much 😂😂😂

Before they even placed the medal around my neck the words ‘never again’ were coming out of my mouth.


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…

So on to week 2 of training…
First up was the weigh in

Start Weight: 115kg
Current Weight (BF%): 113.2kg (30.2 %)
Weight lost: 1.8kg


This was weigh-in number 1 really (the first one that counts anyway) and I was off to a good start. I’ve done an excel spreadsheet to help me track weight targets versus actuals. Why? Because I work in IT, used to be a programmer and am a geek so that’s what I do.

So, I am in front of my weight target at the moment – the blue line is target, the red line is current progress. This is not unexpected. Usually, when trying to lose weight, the first few weeks are the easiest, then as your body adjusts to slightly fewer calories and the increase in exercise it becomes more resilient and needs even less calories, so you begin to plateau. Hopefully, that doesn’t happen too soon. I’ll try and blog a little on nutrition next week, what I’m eating and my approach to all that.

On to the training…


First test of the week – Cycling. Time for an FTP test. FTP stands for Functional Threshold Power. In simple terms, it is an estimate/measurement of how much power (measured in watts) that you are able to hold for an hour. There are a few ways of testing this. The purest would be to ride for an hour and get your average but that takes too much out of me and it’s tough to recover from, and whilst increasing the amount of training I’m doing is good,  recovery is important. In the past I’ve done TrainerRoad’s 8 min FTP test. This is 2 x 8 mins all out and then times the average by 0.9 to get your FTP. They also do a 20 min version which is 20 mins all out and then multiply by 0.95 and it gives you a value.

As I said previously I’m trying Sufferfest this year just for a change. They have a new test called 4DP or “4 dimensional power” which attempts to map different aspects of your cycling and tell you what kind of cyclist you are.

Here comes the science-y boring bit… the 4 dimensions of power are:

  • Neuromuscular Power (NM) measured using an all out for 5 second test
  • Maximal Aerobic Power (MAP) – 5 minute all out
  • Functional Threshold power (FTP) – 20 minutes all out
  • Anaerobic Capacity (AC) – 1 minute done as all out for 30s then hang on for another 30s

All out is relative term – a 5s all out effort is different from a 20 minute all out effort where you are also trying to pace to make sure you can last the 20 minutes.

My results were

  • NM – 826
  • MAP – 362
  • FTP – 304
  • AC – 461

The main one I’m interested in is FTP – it’s the most relevant to triathlon. Unsurprisingly, after the test, I was identified as having the power make up of a time-trialist, probably because of the long hard sessions I concentrate on in training. The last time I did the test (the first of the year ) I was 270w so an increase of over 10% which is good. Just another 20% increase to go now to meet my 365w target.

After the test, I went running with the club. Headed down to Maxol and met up with Gemma. I explained I’d just done a bike test and my legs were tired so we set out at a nice slow7 min per km pace, which quickly ended up as an average of 6:28 per km pace by the end. We were running at talking pace though without really checking watches so another little bit of proof that I must be getting quicker.



Tuesday evening was round 3 of the Inter-Club TT. I had timed the first two and was feeling tired after the test the night before but decided to ride the course anyway. I made sure I was out early, so I was less likely to get caught. Within 20s my legs told me they weren’t interested but I pushed on and in the end,  I felt ok. About halfway through I checked my average power and was over 300w so was happy enough. A bulky frame and a headwind meant I was never in contention (also the fact I’m fat and not bike fit yet!) but it was still a good workout. With a couple of people well within catching distance both ways it gives me something to aim for next week too. Normalised power (average power minus the bits where you weren’t pedalling) was 306w which indicates the FTP the night before was pretty accurate. Although as it was outside I would have hoped to be 10w higher.

After I finished I realised rear tyre pressure was <40psi – I’d started blowing the tyres up but not finished them and was too distracted handing trisuits out before the race to check. This contributed to a flat tire on the way back to the van. C’est la vie.


Club run session with Ger. Tough enough session on tired legs. Warmed up then 200m all out, 200m jog recovery then 5 x 800m with 200m jog recovery in between. I held just under 5k race pace for the 5 x 800m (3:55, 3:55, 3:55, 3:52, 3:54) so was happy enough. The quick 200’s were done in 48s and then 46s – faster one at the end probably as I was fully warmed up – hardly going to worry Usain Bolt but they are getting quicker.



Inter Club League. First Cycle race of the year. I’m writing this part before the race so we will see if expectations meet reality later as I come back to update.

Race tonight is at Mondello. Flat enough circuit with a couple of small drags. I’m expecting to get dropped quick enough. At this moment the thoughts of a good hour of racing is terrifying. I just don’t feel like I’m fit enough.  The race will be run as a handicap. So the slowest group, Limit will go out first, then Semi-Limit (my group), then Semi-Scratch and finally the fast lads – Scratch. The idea being that it’s one large group at the end. If I get dropped by my group early on then I’ll be able to slot in with group behind, but they will be faster than the group I’ve been dropped from.

What I need to remember is to use the racing as a training session. The result doesn’t matter, all that matters is the training impetus I get from it.

Soooooo…. Post race. That went quite well. I tried not to go to the front of the group and to instead just sit in but I wasn’t 100% successful there with that strategy. On the 1st lap I ended up on the front pushing the pace coming down the start/finish straight, and then very nearly paid the price as I struggled to keep in touch as the group sprinted out of the first corner. Managed to hold on though and despite being caught by Semi-Scratch and the pace raising I finished the race in the pack. Average for the laps I recorded was ~41km per hour (I missed the first lap and half)



Club Run – I had planned on doing about 20km. Met up with Daire and Elena and told them I was aiming for 7:00 ish per km pace. Went out about 6:30 ish and after 7-8km was feeling shakey and short on energy. Decided then just to do the 10km and not go out for the 2nd lap. Actually felt ok after 10km but I think the slight upping of the pace put me into a slightly harder zone and after a hard week just didn’t have the energy to sustain it.

This leads on to one of the balancing acts of Ironman training. Whilst it’s always preferable to train with other people sometimes it’s just not conducive to the session I’ve planned. I’ve usually too slow a pace planned for a group but I find it hard to motivate myself. I need to think about what the purpose of a session is and then decide if it’s met running at someone else’s pace. The answer to that is usually No.


Park Run – There was a few of us down from the club to do the run. I was looking to at least match the previous week (24:40) but within 100m I knew I would be struggling. I just felt tired the whole way around. I hit the first km mark in 4:57, 2nd was 5:02 and whilst I thought I might still get a sub 25m result on km 3,  I struggled to get it back to sub 5:00 pace. Ended up with 25:22 which I was happy enough with. It was less than 10s a km slower than last week and this time out I was running on very tired legs.

Swim Session – first real one of this 20-week training block. This was a test set consisting of 50m timed and 500m timed with sime other work thrown in. I did have a few thoughts of buoyancy shorts or pull buoy but they weren’t prescribed so I swam naked. Get your minds out of the gutter! I mean naked as far as toys go – sans toys.

Started and felt really tired and slow. Unsurprisingly I guess down to the lack of swimming. This was my first swim since Laois. After a warm up there were some drills thrown in and then some quick 25m’s which were tough. Then was the timed 50m – 53.2. From my quick 25’s this was abot 10s off. I should be down around 43s but I ran out of energy around the 25m mark. A chance to get my breath back and an easy 100m before the timed 500m. After such a long time out of the pool I was hoping to be around the 10 min mark – I did 10:05 – not fast but ok for where I am at the moment and a marker down to improve upon.

As I was hauled myself out of the pool onto the banking I thought I saw someone in the club I recognised, but they looked straight through me and as I walked past their lane they had a gel at the end. I decided that know one I knew would take a gel to a training session…



Woke up and it looked miserable. The easy option would have been to go back to bed but as I had said I was going out on the club spin I decided I would get breakfast and head ouT (This is where the benefits of group training come in – accountability!) Met the others at 9:00am and we headed out to Sally Gap. Weather never really improved but at least the rain ceased by the time we were down in Lucan. It wasn’t cold (I managed in short sleeves and bibs) and after what felt like a lifetime of climbing we summited Sally Gap. It’s hills like this are good to remind me where my current fitness is. Although I don’t seem to have it so if you see it please send it back. I don’t want to hark on about tired legs but at several times I had nothing. I’ve a feeling I might be doing that route (plus a bit more) several more times before the Ironman. At the very least it build character, hopefully, though it will be more, strong legs. (Part 1) (Part 2)


Discipline Swim Bike Run S&C
Planned Time 1:20:00 5:53 3:00 3:00
Actual Time 0:37:00 8:42 3:22 0:00

Biggest week of the year and still a few sessions that I didn’t manage to fit in. No strength or conditioning was done as I didn’t get the time – although perhaps I could have made time as I didn’t do any early morning sessions this week.

I was happy with the run and bike volume and it’s also pleasing to get back in the water despite it feeling like a real struggle. It was also good to start racing bikes again and even more so not to be dropped in what I really need to think of as a hard training session. My weight is heading in the right direction, down. I just need to make sure I stay committed to losing weight and have as few days off the diet as possible. The amost immediate feedback loop of seeing progress on the scales as I increase training and restrict calories helps, hopefully when I hit the ultimate plateaus I don’t waiver.

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.

This week – looked like this on Wednesday when I did the screenshot.
Planned sessions then turn green as they are completed (red if they aren’t) and if I miss a day I can decide if I just carry on or move sessions.


On the above, I had missed a day (Tue). This was just an easy bike session so it was moved to the next day. I think for the easy sessions moving a session is fine. For the hard sessions, you need to be prepared to let them go and just miss them. As it ended up I should have just let that session go too.

The other thing I like about training peaks is that it allows me to see the loads I am putting on myself, fatigue levels and when to back off. That way I should be able to plan it that I peak for a race.

So on to week 1 of training…

Start Weight: 115kg
Current Weight (BF%): 114.6kg (32)
Weight lost: 0.4kg


To be fair it’s the first week and 1 day since my original weigh in, so I shouldn’t have lost weight as I’m only starting. Target is 99kg so roughly 0.75kg per week. Hopefully, these weekly weigh-ins and the thought of having to write it down on this blog will keep me honest.


It was the bank holiday and I had planned a ride with the club up to Blessington and back. Sunday was a scorcher and I was expecting more of the same on Monday. It wasn’t quite the same but still warm enough for short sleeves. The good thing about the Blessington route is that all the climbing is in the first half and you have a great descent then back down to Lucan before a slight drag back up Laraghcon to the Maxol where we had met. All in all a nice 80+km in the training bank.

The evening was the usual Tritanium Run Club session, a nice easy 5km run for me and Daire to ease into the week. The faster group got 6.5 km in – it felt tough enough though after the earlier cycle but was good to get it done.


I was up early to head to Cavan for work. I was back in the office just after lunch but ended up working late to make up for the time I was in Cavan (not sure how that worked) plus the rest of my team had all gone home early with various excuses. By the time I got home and ate dinner I had meetings to prepare for the next day so unfortunately had to push training back to the Wednesday.

In the end, this didn’t get done so first session of the week missed – 40 min bike session focusing on technique.


Early meeting in town so I didn’t have time for the planned pre-work gym session.

Evening time was Ger’s run session in the National Indoor Arena. The main session was a warm up the 5 sets of 300m fast with 100m recovery then 500m with 100m recovery.  Before the main session, Ger decided to throw in some bodyweight squats and lunges, made the main set slightly more challenging running on tired legs.

As soon as the running session was done I headed down the road to the gym. Around 60 mins of weights to round off the evening.



Early morning gym session missed, after 2 early starts and then a late gym session I felt I needed the rest.

The evening was spent organising a club league cycling race. Nearly 10 pm by the time I got home so any hope of getting a cycle turbo session was gone and also the recovery run afterwards.

I was starting to ache from the squats and lunges we had done the day before too. Not a good day.


Another morning session missed – this was a swim.

The evening session was a long slow run. These are still short enough at the moment at 1: 15. Didn’t get home from work till late so met the club runners coming up the hill to Tyrrelstown and ran 6km or so with them before turning off for a slightly longer loop home.



Started the day with Parkrun. When I decided to do these regularly it was with a plan in mind to just do 1 week in 4 as a serious run/season’s best (SB) attempt, and the other 3 weeks as an effort just below the current SB. It hasn’t worked out like that…

I met Eoin before the race and had a quick chat – both of us were feeling tired after the Friday night long run, we couldn’t be bothered warming up, and neither of us were thinking of going for a fast time. My comments were something along the lines of taking it “easy to the bottom turn and then see how I feel”.

We set off in the middle of the runners, so it was a couple of seconds till we crossed the line and we took it easy for the first 100m or so before deciding it was too slow and overtaking a few people till it thinned out a little bit. I ended up running behind a girl wearing a “You don’t get views like this on a treadmill” T-Shirt, and she was right! Although I don’t think Hartstown Park is that picturesque. She was setting a good pace though, so I settled in for a bit using her as a target for the flats and uphills and then going past on the downhills as gravity assisted me.

In general, Hartstown is a flat course. There are a few drags but nothing that could really be classed as a hill. But the drags are where Is struggle and see my average pace start to go the wrong way.

I hit the 1km mark in 4:59 and was feeling quite good so decided that I would try for a SB. Currently it was 25:46 so roughly 5:08 per km. In my head that meant I already had 9s ‘in the bank’. 2km was up in 5:00 so I was consistent. I had been checking my HR and was comfortable – ie not close to Max HR. Kilometre 3 is the only one with a slight net downhill, and usually the fastest. When the time flashed up on my watch as 4:56 I knew I was in with a chance of beating 25:00. The 4th km is usually where I struggle. There’s a slight drag and I’m usually at my max heart rate trying to maintain the pace. This time I eased off a little and got onto the shoulder of a runner who had just overtaken me and used him to pace me to the top. He then kicked on but I’d got to the highest point of the course without losing too much time – 5:01 for km no. 4. The last km is the easiest as you know you’ve nearly finished. I got overtaken by a couple of people but still ran a pace of 4:57 final km to get an SB of 24:45. I know the mins per km don’t tally with the final time but that’s because GPS measured the course short (it measured it long last week).

I know it’s a long report for a Parkrun but I’m happy to have got back under 25:00 minutes. I did Parkrun back in January in 27:13. 2 weeks ago I was all out hitting 26:06. For me, it’s a marker of how fit I am. I really think it’s down to Ger’s indoor interval sessions on a Wednesday night along with the long, slow runs on a Friday. It also means the 22:30 target is a little bit closer and a little more realistic (to those who doubt!). Next week is meant to be another testing week for me so I should be aiming for an SB again.

Later that evening I went to the gym. Was nice and quiet and am starting to move up towards the weights I was lifting previously.


Club training day. Up at 8:15 and then a mad rush to get ready to meet Ivan and head down to Lough Lene in Westmeath. The plan was for a long enough swim, but I was freezing so rushed through explaining about sighting, drafting and swimming around buoys. Then got out early whilst the rest of the club swam another 2-300m.

I’ve no file for this as I forgot to set my watch.
The cycle was an easy spin through Fore then onto Castle Pollard and Collinstown. A Loop around the lake really. I got a bit more of a workout than expected as I was showing people the turns to take, then once the last riders passed, trying to get back towards the front. 18km done.

Run was an out and back to Fore. Did this at an easy pace and chatted with Ellen the whole way round.



Discipline Swim Bike Run Strength Total
Planned Time 1:25 5:54 3:49 3:00 12:08
Actual Time 0:25 4:42 4:05 2:00 11:12

If I was a school teacher marking this week I think I would be commenting – “Could do better”. It wasn’t the worse week I will have, and I still got in 11 hours of training, but I missed too many sessions.

I’m not going to beat my self up about missed training yet though. Plans are made, and plans are broken, life happens.  I’ve still 20 weeks to go, but the hard work needs to start soon.

There is nothing wrong with making plans even if they need to change. But things usually work best when a plan is made, and a plan is adhered to. The trick is in creating a plan that you can stick to. If that means morning session never happen because you like to lie in – then don’t plan early session.

Week 2 will see me look at my day to day nutrition and see how I can improve it in order to make the weight loss I want to, whilst still having the energy to train.



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.

My current fitness is currently more or less zero. I’m as heavy as I’ve been for a while (115kg) and I’ve done very little swim, bike, run in the last 6 months since I finished the Dublin marathon.

This will be my 5th Ironman. I finished the first 2 and have then had 2 DNF’s. Both times I’ve not finished I’ve been sick on the bike and both times it has been in Barcelona. Hopefully 3rd time lucky.

Previous performances:

Race: Ironman Mallorca (2015) Ironman Frankfurt (2016) Ironman Barcelona (2016) Ironman Barcelona (2016
Swim 1:09:54 01:22:58 1:11:25 1:12:49
T1 0:05:46 0:11:15 0:09:45 0:09:33
Bike 6:16:43 05:33:56 Withdrew@90km 5:18:48
T2 0:08:29 0:07:22 0:10:45
Run 6:27:19 6:51:12 Withdrew@12km
Total 14:08:11 14:06:43 DNF DNF

Nothing fast happening there!

Plan wise – I am self-coached. I’ve coached people over shorter distances and at this stage know my own body well enough to know how much work I can get through and when to back off.

I’m suspecting that one of the problems in the last few races is my lack of swimming. I didn’t swim at all before Frankfurt and had a disaster in the lake. I swam very little before either attempt at Barcelona and while I can still churn out the distance easy enough, in a fairly respectable time, I’m probably tiring myself out off more than if I was swim fit and swimming well within myself.
In all the previous Ironman events I didn’t do enough running. I missed too many long runs and it shows with the poor times and the run quickly turning into a long walk.

With that in mind, swimming and running will be a focus this year. I’ll still try and get the bike km’s in as usual. I’ll also be bike racing again this year so should hopefully get up and around the same fitness levels as previous.

Swimming wise I have a good idea of the sessions needed and how to put everything together. Same with the run – for both, it’s about volume more than speed in my case, although there will be speed sessions in both and I would hope that as the volume increases speed does too. As well as getting me to the required fitness levels the volume will also help me to lose weight.

On the bike, I’m looking at using Sufferfest sessions this year rather than the usual TrainerRoad. No real reason other than to check out something different and see how it works in comparison.

There will be a lot of regular testing too to see if I’m improving/stagnating. I’m a big believer that to know if you are improving, you need to know where you are/have been. Usually, every 4 weeks testing will be pencilled in for me to do.

Current fitness is (like I said, low!)


Discipline Test Current Target
Swim 500m Test 9:12 7:00
Bike FTP (20 min) – 4DP 270w 365w
Run 5km Race 25:46 22:30

One difference from the last few years is I’ll be going back to the gym during training phase– I’ve missed going the last few months and I find It helps me lose weight. I know that it means I’ll have a little more muscle to carry around the Ironman which will slow me down but I’m not trying to qualify for the World Championships or even have a fast time as a target.

So that’s the background to this year’s attempt. I’m in base phase at the moment. This is the phase of training where, as it sounds, I am trying to build a base of fitness before the training starts to ramp up with 16 weeks to go – I’m not going to pretend these will be the most riveting posts but hopefully they’ll give you an idea as to what I do to try and prepare for Ironman. I’ll try and post up each week with what I did the previous 7 days and a bit of an explanation as to why I’m doing it and how I’m improving (hopefully!).



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.
  • The biggest fear for most new triathletes is the swim.
  • Nearly every triathlete we talked to experienced something in their first triathlon that they didn’t expect.

So we decided that we needed to create a group “New2Tri” to make the first triathlon less daunting. A group that:

  • Experience their first triathlon together.
  • Learn from each other’s experiences.
  • Act as support for one other.
  • Have a training plan they can follow and are provided with training sessions that they can attend – we provide weekly sessions, emailed directly to you.
  • A way of making sure that you know you are ready to do your first triathlon – so we organise a training day where you get to complete all the parts of the training day.
  • A triathlon with the easiest swim possible – pool based with a shallow end which means no need for a wetsuit and no fear of swimming in open water.
  • Someone there to answer all your questions and make sure there were no unexpected surprises awaiting you – a mentor.

As well as the New2Tri coaches, the mentor will be someone who will be there to help you. Someone you can ask questions to that you might be embarrassed to ask anyone else, who will be at some of the training sessions you attend and will be checking in with you regularly to ask how training is going. They will also be around on race day to help with anything you might be unsure of.

The coaches have organised New2Tri groups before – on 4-5 occasions – so they have lots of experience from previous years which will help and assist you complete your first triathlon.

The race we are training for is TriLaois which takes place in Portlaoise on the 7th April 2018.

It’s a “sprint” triathlon which is the shortest of the standard triathlon distances (the others being Olympic, Half and Full).

A standard length Sprint triathlon generally consists of a 750m swim, a 20km cycle and a 5km run and the TriLaois event has all the distances at the standard length.

Swim: For this triathlon the 750m swim will take place in a pool – this is ideal as it means you don’t need to buy a wetsuit. It also has a shallow end to the pool so you can put your feet down if necessary.

Cycle: The 20km cycle is on undulating country roads that are well marshalled.

Run: The 5km run last year was an out and back from Portlaoise into the countryside.

If you have any questions or queries feel free to contact us at or complete the contact us form on this website.

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.

The triathlon I had signed up for was in May so that gave me a few months to get fit enough and work out what I needed to do. It was a sprint triathlon so a 750m swim, 20km cycle and a 5km run.

My training consisted of reading triathlons magazines. I was getting up to running the distance using a couch to 5km plan.  I went swimming twice a week just doing lengths and trying to rest less in between and I bought a bike and eventually managed to get up to cycling 20km.

On the day of the triathlon it was the first time I had ever managed to put the three sports all together. The swim was an experience and a shock as I’d never had before as 8 people in a lane raced against each other. The bike was tough as people on bikes with shopping baskets on them sailed past me and the run at the end was the toughest thing I’d ever done as I felt i was stuck in mud as the faster people galloped past me. But I finished the race and it was the best feeling ever and I have been racing ever since.

I joined a club not too long after and things quickly came together as more experienced triathletes took time out to help me. I learned how to train, got involved with running, cycling and swimming sessions and improved a lot.

I think nearly everyone is capable of doing a triathlon. You can do it the hard way and try to learn everything yourself or you can join a club and get advice, insights and assistance on your journey.