by Brendan O’Sullivan
If you told me twelve months ago, I would be writing a triathlon race report, I would have said you were mad. Back then I was just after moving to Cork and looking for something to do in the evenings. By chance a friend of mine mentioned she ticked off a goal she set for herself for the year and it got me thinking about things on my bucket list that I had been putting off. Triathlon popped to mind. After a quick google search, I found Cork Tri Club and my training began.
My goal for the year was just to complete a sprint distance. This was a big ask considering I could only swim 25meters in the pool before having to take a break.
I found CTC had an excellent training plan (New2Tri) in place for beginners and even better support and enthusiasm from existing members. To my surprise I found myself looking forward to the training as it felt like an achievement in itself and there always a bit of craic and banter with it.
In the summer I finally achieved my goal and completed the Schull Sprint Tri. I was so convinced I couldn’t do it, I really slowed down the pace on the day, just to be sure I would cross the line.
After finishing the Tri, I was thrilled but also had the realisation that I really this Triathlon thing and had to do another.
King of the Hill really stood out for me on the race calendar. It was a sprint distance, in familiar ground but also a challenging route to train for.
Before I knew it, race day was on me and a bit of nerves set in. Maybe the first tri was a fluke. Maybe I shouldn’t have missed those Wednesday track sessions?
Arriving in Kinsale on a beautiful warm day eased this fear a little. The CTC volunteers and fellow competitors preparing for the day’s events removed the nerves and replaced with excitement.
I prepped my gear in transition and this time round had time to really soak in the atmosphere. I started watching the more experienced club members and pro’s prepping. Making mental notes of what they were doing. Always time to Learn from the best.
Just before race brief, the club took group photo. It must be like herding cats to organise with so many distractions before a race. But again, just another great touch by the club.
At 10:30 time had finally come to race. Feeling more confident this time round, I positioned myself in the crowd instead of in the sticks away from kicking feet. Going out to the first marker buoy was intense with everyone jostling for position. Before long I was around the first marker and found a good rhythm with some space. Following some advice, I got from a club member in a bar in Schull, I followed bubble trails and didn’t need to come up to spot too often. By the time I got to final stretch, I was in flat out sprint and loving it. Someone tried to swim over me twice but never managed to get past me. Pool sessions and Aquathons were worth it.
T1 went a lot smoother than the first time I did it and was on bike without issue.
I paced myself for the first kilometre to get comfortable before upping the tempo. The winter spin classes and Sunday group cycles really payed off here and I eat up the hills and enjoyed them too. Weather conditions were perfect for the cycle. I found myself in a group of similar ability and we battled out the hills back to transition.
Coming out of T2 was gruelling. Straight off the bike for a run up a hill. My legs weren’t prepared for it but I drove on. The support from the crowd and fellow competitors here was outstanding. On one particularly challenging hill, when I was thinking I should just walk this. A Kinsale Tri member shouted at me to up the pace. I found some hidden reserve and powered on. The last hundred meters of the run was a pure downhill sprint. And was a fantastic way to finish the event.
The atmosphere created by CTC volunteers at the finish line was incredible. After catching my breath, I took up a good position to watch more competitors come in and try give back some of the encouragement I got just moments earlier.
With a second Tri under my belt, I have decided to keep on going. I definitely will be back for King of the Hill 2020.