After nearly eight months in a triathlon club, I figured it was time to actually give this sport a tri. Multiple ‘big’ and apparently ideal beginner triathlons came and went, but life, work and laziness prevented me from entering. Finally on June 17, a weekend away in the West of Ireland was offered. It also coincided with the Westport Sprint Triathlon.
Eager to see why 50 or so people were willing to wake for 7am swim sessions in order to train for these races, I entered. Having arrived the evening before on Irish Rail’s train from hell, I checked in to the well-located accommodation. Being about 200m from transition allowed some well-needed race day beauty sleep. Luckily my roommates for the weekend, Adam and Brian, had the house fully stocked with ‘refreshments’.
“Because every fridge needs yogurt”
With a very social 11am start, there was plenty of time for a snappy registration on the morning, followed by some breakfast and time to set up the bikes and gear. Rolling past the many disc wheels and carbon bikes en route was daunting, but trying to copy other peoples ‘set up’ for transition was probably more a cause for concern. Still I had the transition sessions with Anthony to fall back on, so a towel to mark my spot and crumpling my race number to stop it flapping was about all I could do to feel ‘prepared’.
After a very Irish ‘race brief’ we all lined up as per our expected swim times, I somehow ended up in wave two of three. Entering via a steep sea wall that could rival the Cliffs of Moher for incline, we ended up in about chest height water with a bed of what one competitor described as ‘a silky shit’. As I would discover later, the ability to stand was of great help for beginners.
Some amount of time later, I exited that same incline ready for a quick jaunt on the bike. Now if I could find my bike that would help. Note to self: the green bike that you used to find your rack may be gone by the time you get to the transition. So after a quick tour of two alternative lanes, I found my red towel (thanks again Anthony), disrobed from my wetsuit, put the helmet on, sat down to comfortably get my bike shoes on – I would later discover this was very time consuming – and with the obligatory sunglasses for the cool factor, headed for the exit.
As we shared the roads with cars and Ireland’s finest potholes, there was a certain degree of difficulty to the bike section. But with a nice downhill return there was always something to look forward to. The whole bike ride seemed to go past quicker than the swim, probably due to the inability to stop and walk around turns. I returned to transition, excited for a short 5km run then I could finally call myself a triathlete. Quicker this time as the green bike was indeed back on the rack, the shoes were on and I was off again. Running is about the only one of the three sports that I find comfortable so I was looking forward to this part. An enjoyable, albeit slightly short (?), 5km run brought us through the stunning Westport House. With about 200 metres to go, I could hear my name being called, forgetting the fact I was now adorning the Piranha club colours so was easily spotted.
So that was that, a little over an hour later and the training had paid off. However it doesn’t end there. Stretching and nutrition are perhaps as important as the training itself so it was back to the apartment for some calf rolling and ‘carbs’ before a team meal, well organised by Siobhan. There was of course a brief introduction to the checked shirts and black shoes of Westport’s many bars but we’ll leave that for another time.
“No foam roller, no problem”