Triathlon 2016

This year saw me not take the win for the first time in a long time- am I upset about it? Absolutely not.


I’ll turn up to race regardless of my fitness/injury woes no matter what condition I’m in because, at the end of the day, I love racing and if you’re only going to do it when you’re fully fit because, say, you’re scared of losing, then you’re in the wrong sport. You’ll be fitter and wiser after every race you do no matter the result and you learn more suffering on than you do by checking your ‘numbers are good’ out on a training spin or run session.


I’ve been quiet enough this year on racing escapades, both at home and abroad, purely because I’m trying to learn more about myself and my racing this year, while also focusing on the long term plan mapped out by my coach Stephen Delaney. I should mention he has been a rock this year and while it took some time to adapt to his coaching style having come from a background of VOLUME is more, I think we have begun to understand one another more as each race has progressed and hopefully he has had some insight into what drives me as an athlete and individual. I also now have complete trust in him and his training methods and we both share a common goal.

I have been very fortunate this year to have had starts in all French Div 1 Grand Prix races and I’ve been at all the national championship races. I’ve been healthy and I’ve had a phenomenal time. I’m not happy with a lot of my races but what athlete ever is? Things changed dramatically for me this year in that I have had to learn to be patient and to prioritise my future career meaning short term the things I love suffer, but long term gains will justify everything- i.e. guaranteed employment🙂


12h Night shift banter COFFEE time!

The super series at home is taking shape and I cycled in a good pack for the first time yesterday at Clogherhead. I won’t lie I didn’t want to see Heather Foley in the pack but it was humorous to see that ALL of us just sat there. No one would go and I had to restrain myself from attempting something stupid like trying to break (always learning). The run didn’t go my way yesterday and hasn’t this year for a lot of races which is new for me because I know I always feel pretty fresh getting out on to the run. I know the answer as to why but it’s a funny experience not being able to execute things like you usually do.


  • I rocked up to Duathlon champs in Mondello unprepared and minus any race gear or lift home. Podiumed.
  • Rocked up to Kilkee totally underprepared and unfit deciding on race morning to do it- podiumed. The winner was lucky I had such a poor race and I was embarrassed to look at my past winning times (to think I could swim/cycle so poorly)
  • Rocked up to Aquathon champs again pretty awful timing but got my exam results the night before so the result was merely a bonus.
  • Rocked up to Lanesboro in June, this time with some consistent training under the watchful eye of Mr. Delaney and did quite well. Not the perfect race but I executed the things I aimed to. Run still meh.
  • Rocked up to Dublin City Triathlon for round 5 of the Super series and knew everything was against me but again I managed to pull something out of the bag. I should have been able to close on the run and any other day I’d be very happy seeing the gap was 40s starting out- knowing I have a solid fast run to close no matter who it is.
  • A change of scenery brought me to the European Relay Champs in Banyoles with my club Limerick Tri. I missed Quiberon French GP to race this (I couldn’t take time off to go race in France so I was lucky to have this race to take my mind off that). The relay format is unbelievably exciting and this race reminded me of everything I love abut triathlon- fast, furious and exciting! Tokyo 2020 would be the perfect debut for this event!
  • Yesterday then I rocked up to Clogherhead after receiving an email to say I was entered (sound for that Rachel) and had one of the most enjoyable races of the year. Not the result I wanted, but, all things considered, not awful (although I wouldn’t be happy with anything but a win when fit!)



Renault Ireland and Planet X bikes have been phenomenal in supporting me throughout my race season once again. I have the best of both 2 wheeled and four wheeled transport and it makes a huge difference to both my medical study and training days. I’m exceptionally lucky and grateful to be in such a positon and I hope to continue to do them proud in the coming years. I’ve one race left in Nice, France on October 2nd and then I’m putting the head down for a few months. I’ll be back to terrorise the race courses for the 2017 season both home and abroad with time to train consistently. It’s an exciting thought (and one I thoroughly look forward to get in motion as I look to progress on the international stage) but until such a time, I’ll just continue how I always do- loving life and triathlon🙂





Schools out! (for a few weeks…)

It’s been a while since I’ve done up a blog on training and racing. I’ve been flat out since January with college. I started my 18week GP placement and I haven’t had much free time (my GP placement was especially busy and I envied a few students who got the quieter GP clinics as they had a lot more time on their hands!). During April I raced back-to-back a few weeks before exams competing in the North Tipp Sprint, which was Intervasity Champs, and then racing the next day at the Joey Hannon Sprint which Limerick Triathlon Club always run flawlessly (my first time shunning the Olympic!). I was happy to take the win on both days.


I finished my exams on 2.5weeks ago. During the lead up I had to put training and all things triathlon on the back burner (my advice to fellow triathletes would be don’t stop swimming for 5 weeks!). To treat myself I went for a cycle after my first exam and ended up slashing my right calf off my crank and requiring 5 stitches so that put an end to any notions of getting back running and I took it as a sign I should be inside at a desk…

Exams ended on Thursday and then I flew out to La Rochelle in France on the Friday to rendez-vous with my new team mates at La Rochelle Triathlon Club. I am delighted to be able to race in the French Div 1 Grand Prix and I have to say a massive thank you to Amy Wolfe who is the one responsible for it! (great timing with the baby amy😉 ) The first race was always going to be a ‘just get through it’ affair- I’d settle with being alert for the race brief! Dunkerque was doubling as the French National Champs and the field had world champs and ITU winners so it was great to be part of it and makes you realise that these girls are not super human just fortunate to have endless hours to train and RECOVER. The race, and all the French Grand Prix races, are sprint events. Not my favourite distance but one I am beginning to enjoy🙂


Since my return to Ireland I have been put through a tough block of training and a nice ‘welcome back to triathlon’ present. Tough, not because the intensity of the sessions is particularly hard,  just I was lacking any fitness. I am building from scratch and it’s an epic climb to get the blue line up in Training Peaks (and it’s only day 12…). Last year I was able to train through exams so I had a better base. I have to say I admire athletes who work full time and have families and still find time to train. Maybe it gets easier when the study ends (I doubt it). On a positive note it’s the first year in maybe 7 that I haven’t had exams for a June bank holiday weekend- I even managed to finally make both my niece and nephews birthday party. Next race is Valence on June 19th and then off to Quiberon. There will be some ETU/ITU action too once I’m able to hit my time targets- which wont happen for another few weeks as I simply need to just train.

Hope everyone has managed to enjoy the sunshine we’ve been having minus any sunburn (factor 50 is the job!) The Limerick training group took a hiking trip together to make the most of an evening off- great crew to have around.



Irish National Sprint Championships 2015


I travelled to Clogherhead on Saturday 26th September to compete in the Irish National Sprint Championship. I was unsure about whether I was going to make this race as I have had a lot on in recent weeks, however, with my twin sis Rachel already dead set on competing I knew I’d be making the trip to Port beach in some capacity. Mum was going to be in Dublin too which meant I’d have my number 1 supporter there for the race! I travelled up to Dublin Friday evening and my first port of call was Argos to buy a blow up bed! Some people are pedantic about pre-race routine but I tend to be pretty chilled (I have certain things I need like Haribo and a lucky water-bottle). I won’t lie I had the most interrupted night’s sleep ever on this single airbed. I reasoned we didn’t need to inflate it fully because I’d add weight lying on it but when we all settled in for the night I was literally lying on the floor (Rachel you were right we needed more air!!) After an interesting night fighting the airbed I bounced out of bed at 5.45am to head out for a pre-breakfast wake up run. I had Rachel for company which was great and we were just chatting about the day ahead. Breakfast complete and I headed down to load up my Renault Captur. As a brand ambassador I am exceptionally well looked after by Renault Ireland and I am fortunate to have a Renault Captur Signature complete with roof box, bike rack and a very handy boot cover (protects the seats from all the wet gear) to get me from A-B for both training and placement. My bike rack was left in Newcastlewest  (after some miscommunication) but I still managed to pack the Captur with two bikes, 6 wheels, 3 women and the necessary baggage that comes with a ladies day out and two triathletes!

We were unbelievably fortunate with the weather as the sun was out in force when we parked up on Port Beach. Quick walk down to registration and it was time to get all the gear out for transition. There was a bit of an ‘uh-oh’ moment when Rachel realised she had left her bike shoes behind but fellow Munster triathlete Rachel Hawker was on  hand to save the day and her helpfulness ensured we were all able to race (thanks again Rachel!). Transition was separated once again into Cat 1 and National Series. Cat 1 was very well set up and there was no fear of entering or exiting incorrectly. I racked my Planet X RT-90 and tidied my shoes before heading out for a quick warm-up run. The mother (aka the Maro) was perched happily on a wall minding the gear bags and admiring all the goings on. I love having family at races as they are instantly make me relax. It’s also nice for them to be involved in something that they usually don’t get to see but hear so much about (all Mum gets is bags of washing and questions about how to remove chain ring marks from my clothes!).

Race brief was called bang on time and following that Cat 1 male and female athletes were led down the beach to the swim start. The men went first and as soon as they did, we were given a few minutes to ‘acclimatise’ to the Irish Sea temperature. The water was absolutely baltic! I tend not to do too much of a swim warm-up so I just dipped in and got out. It was going to be an interesting beach start as the water depth is very shallow for a good 50m. We all lined up- I didn’t like my starting position and felt I should move but it was too late “on your marks….” GO! The sprint into the water wasn’t exactly sprint like and I had to do a bit of work. I had clear water nearly instantly and rounded the first buoy without anyone beside me. I couldn’t see a thing as my goggles got a knock at the start so I just swam as straight as I could remembering the lines I had chosen. I was tempted to rip the goggles off but 750m isn’t much so I put up with it.


Swim exit was well marked and I made sure to get in as close as possible before running up the ramp to T1. My Velcro was exceptionally difficult to open but once I had my zip free the wetsuit whipped off. I knew I had had a bad swim but I didn’t expect to have so much company in T1. I grabbed my planet x and bounded out of T1 solo. I assumed a group would come up to me eventually as with draft legal you’re saving your legs and dodging the headwind in a group for periods when you’re not taking your turn and it allows you fresh legs for a better run in comparison to the non-draft legal format where every discipline is 100% your own work. I grabbed my gel once on my bike and nearly took myself out when I was caught by a gust of wind with only one hand on the handlebar! I had no time to think of the group in T1 who had to be out together right behind. I wasn’t worried about being caught by them as I am confident in my run ability should I need to run hard I would.


The bike was a solo effort against all sorts of winds- headwind predominantly- but plenty of crosswinds to contend with too. I was back in my Mallorca 70.3 mindset saying make it to 5km, make it to 10km, make it to 15km get to T2! I was glad I looked at the cycle course the night before on the race brief as I had an idea of the turns (no time for recces!). The course is full of hidden drags that force your legs to do a lot of work and I spent a lot of time making my gears gear for me. Turning for T2 along the coast road I was looking forward to getting off the bike and out on to the run! I was thinking about it too much and I ended up taking my feet out of my shoes far too early but I was conscious that others would be in packs and therefore would be fresher. I had a quick dismount and ran into T2 solo. I grabbed my shoes and shades before sprinting out of transition hearing nothing but my mum encouraging me “run!”

I headed out on the run course focusing on the task at hand. I never ever look back racing so I had no idea if I had a gap and just kept running. All the cat 1 males were coming in for the finish when I was out on the run course and we all acknowledged one another (which is great to see as everyone is dying with the intensity a sprint entails!). As I approached the turnaround I understood what some athletes had meant by saying the last few metres are a ‘bit of a drag’. I couldn’t hear anyone behind me and when I turned I couldn’t see any oncoming female. Eventually I saw Heather Foley coming up in 2nd looking very determined. I continued as I was not needing to do any more and beginning to allow myself to think of the finish line not too far ahead. I’ve had such a tough few weeks that only few know about so to be in first place coming up to the finish line and seeing my mum out cheering and roaring for me is something I won’t forget in a hurry. I couldn’t stop smiling and crossing the line I felt nothing but relief! My mum was first up for a hug! I gave my dad a quick call to pass on the good news and then went back to the finish for Heather. It’s been a pleasure to race her this year- something I’ve only done twice and we have both been in similar positions- her 1st and I 2nd at the duathlon national champs. Rachel Hawker had a really strong run finish to secure 3rd place. I waited for most of the cat 1 ladies to cross so I could congratulate them. We are all competing against each other I know but we all do the same things- swim, bike, run- and it’s nice to celebrate the end of the series together. Once race was over I headed for a cool down and went for a stroll out on the run course to cheer my sis on. She had a great race and finished 3rd overall which means she can join me in cat 1 next year!


The awards were brilliant and we got well looked after by Pulse Triathlon Club who put on a great day for all the athletes. The addition of a lovely pair of Oakleys for both Male and Female National Champs was a very nice touch.  As always I want to say a massive thank you to my coaches- STL and Lars- for getting me through the season relatively injury free. My bike sponsors Planet X, especially Dave Loughran, for continuing to provide me with the best bikes to race on- my Planet X RT-90 road bike and Exocet 2 TT bike have enabled me to make my bike leg so much stronger. Renault Ireland, thank you for having me as a the Renault Captur brand ambassador and making it possible for me to attend all my training sessions as well as travel to all the races around the country!


And lastly big thanks to my team-mates GoTri for all the good luck wishes and support


Irish National Standard Distance Championships 2015

Dublin City Triathlon (DCT) was held in the Phoenix Park last Sunday (23/8/15) and over 1000 crazy triathletes braved the last of the fantastic summer weather of wind, rain and, eh, more rain! DCT was one of my favourite races last year- not only because I am originally a Dub- but also because it meant a lot to me personally and we got free ice cream at the end. This year the race was doubling as the national standard distance championships which was also to be Ireland’s first draft legal race. There were lots of talk about the draft legal racing set up and what it would bring to the table as it was specific to the cat 1 athletes only (those with more racing experience). Many people were happy to voice their thoughts and opinions about how the race would play out and how it would affect those that normally perform well with a non-drat legal set-up because now people would be actively working together. This set-up would mean that the weaker bikers/swimmers got to race and chase in packs allowing them to reach the run on fresher legs v non-draft legal biking and so run down leaders without the normal fatigue in the legs. Scenarios. Lots of scenarios. Everyone had an opinion.

I travelled up early Saturday in my Reanult Captur, courtesy of Renault Ireland for whom I am a brand ambassador (thank you guys) so I could register that evening and get off my feet early enough. I went to registration and was greeted with hugs and banter from my twin sister Rachel, her bestie Judy and my one and only Hugh! The cat 1 race wasn’t scheduled to start until 1.10pm which meant I had the dilemma of having to have a decent breakfast and then plan a snack so as not to be racing hungry. I detest late start times as I feel there is an inordinate amount of hanging around done but not everyone is a morning lark either so I watched in envy as the age-groupers set off at 8.15am. Cat 1 athletes had two separate transitions for T1 and T2 along with a designated athlete lounge which meant our morning was quite chilled. I made sure to put my runners into T2 myself (and my candy king bag which had my jelly reserve) before cycling down to T1 to set up the bike. I think it’s important to go through both transitions prior to racing as I find I’m much calmer and know exactly what I’m meant to be doing. My coach Stephan- Teeling Lynch has grown accustomed to my pre-race antics and has always given me his advice well in advance of race day (coach doesn’t coach on race-day. Ever.)


Cat 1 females were called to the water at 1pm to allow for a swim warm-up. I jumped in with 5mins to go and just as we were about to start we were called from the water as there was a delay in the mens race (women are always waiting on men!). This was a bit frustrating as the water wasn’t warm and we were told we had a 15minute wait. I was starting to shiver and had goosebumps 5minutes after exiting the water (I was very jealous of the special treatment Eimear had from her boyfriend Eoin who was on hand asap with WOOLY MITTENS!) Everyone was a bit annoyed with the wait so I tried to just have some fun with the other girls and forget about it and we actually had a bit of a laugh on the pontoon in the end with penty of slagging and laughing about what might unfold during the race. Finally we were given the go ahead and allowed to re-enter the Liffey. I took up my position in the water and lined up where I wanted to before switching into race mode.  3…2…Horn.


The swim start was a tad frantic but I had clear water soon enough. There were no bodies to fight with around the turn buoy so I stuck with the pace I had just wanting to do enough.  T1 wasn’t exceptional and I knew I had time to make up from it. I exited out on the bike in 1st place and all I could think about was putting as much time between me and whomever was coming behind. I didn’t know how things would unfold and the plan was just to ride as I always do so that’s exactly what I did. I soon realised that with every passing lap I was putting time into my chasers on my Planet X RT90. I felt great on the bike and my legs felt better with each lap- nutrition plan was spot on. The cheers from those that braved the elements to stand out in the rain and support were greatly appreciated and I definitely got a huge boost every time I passed the designated fan zone that Piranha had set up. This zone was mastered by Mr. Hugh Larkin and he ran a great party. People think you don’t hear them when you’re racing but you do and it definitely helped me going up that long drag.


T2 was in sight and time to dismount. I managed to get in and out of transition with my candy king bag of jellies in hand in under 20s and set off on the treacherous cross country course for 10km of mucky fun! The 10km was broken down into 3 laps of 3.3km and then the finish straight to make up 10km. My teammates- some whom raced at 8.15am- were still on the course cheering for me on my run (thanks). I felt comfortable out on the run and I was confident that I could inject more pace if I needed it and so I got to enjoy the occasion all the more. As I reached the tarmac path for the last 1km to the finish I began to smile a bit. I have been back to college for the last 6 weeks and on placement in the University Hospital Limerick for the last 3. I have had to sacrifice all ideas of an ideal prep for this race and I had lots of questions asked of me so when sprinting down the final straight home I was beaming. I received a high five from Triathlon Ireland performance squad leader Stephen Delaney before seeing my coach and teammates at the finish. Crossing the Vodafone finish line as the first female home was special and so the first person to be called (naturally) was the Maro aka Mum. My boyfriend was on hand to congratulate me as well as my twin sister Rachel. It was brilliant.


The other girls had a sprint finish for 2nd/3rd and came in together a few minutes behind me. We had a quick presentation where we each received bespoke Gold, Silver and Bronze Piranha medals (really nice touch!). Gavin Duffy, Bernard Hanratty and the Piranha team should be commended for doing a great job on what was a really tough day out there racing.


To be National Champ for the second time in a row at standard distance in only my second season feels amazing! I have to say a massive thank you to my sponsors Planet X bikes and Renault Ireland. Planet X, who have given me an Exocet 2 TT and RT90 carbon road bike to race on both nationally and internationally. This season riding on planet x bikes has seen my bike splits come tumbling- thanks to Dave Loughran and the gang in Sheffield. Special mention also has to go to my coach, Stephan Teeling-Lynch, and my GoTri team mates for their constant support (no matter the weather or occasion they are always there). Not to forget my swim coach, Lars Humer. Special thanks to you all.


Renault Ireland


July was a very busy month for me with racing at home and abroad along with the release of my Medical exam results! However, the best part of the month for me was the release of the news that I was the new Renault brand ambassador for the new Renault Captur. I had been keeping quiet about it for the last few weeks so it was with great delight that I could finally let everyone know. I headed to Dublin to collect my brand new Renault Captur at Sandymount beach. The head of Renault was there to give me the keys to my Renault Captur Signature complete with bike rack, roof box and the necessary tow bar J There was a photoshoot on the beach front which was a lot of run as I had brought up my Planet X road bike to pedal around on. Following the photoshoot and handover I was invited to a garden party as one of Renault Irelands guests. The party was to celebrate Bastille Day which involved an open air soiree that was held at the French Residence in Dublin 4. The whole day was filled with excitement and it is one I will never forget. So many good things happened and I had the pleasure of meeting so many new faces- both from Renault and former French President Jacques Chirac!


Despite a soiree full of dignitaries, former heads of state and Renault board members the most terrifying part of the day for me was the drive out of Sandymount with the Renault staff observing my driving skills (DON’T CURB THE WHEELS!)


I would like to say a massive thank you to Renault Ireland for choosing me as their new brand ambassador. I aim to represent Renault to the best of my ability and hope to showcase the Captur to its full potential. For me, the car offers the best of both worlds. It is both professional looking and stylish while practical enough to adapt to all my sporting needs- bikes, turbos, wetsuits, (triathletes come with copious baggage… Minus the bike rack- you can get 4 bikes into the back with seats down!). It is incredibly humbling to have the support of such a multi-national company so thank you for believing in me.

HOTW 2015

HOTW 2015 Swim entry

Friday 26th June 2015

I headed down to Kilkee Friday with my teammate Aussie Dave as we wanted to get settled in and make registration early. I also needed to get out on my Planet X Exocet TT bike because I had been in to Adrenalin Cycles nearly every day that week hassling Eamon Foley to make sure my bike was race-ready. I ended up needing new cables so it was advisable to give them a quick test prior to race day (he did a stellar job- thanks Eamon). Out on the bike that afternoon the wind was fierce. When I turned to head home back up the hill into Kilkee I was barely able to keep moving forward and the crosswinds were making staying on the TT bars near impossible. I felt I was been blown backwards! I’m not the biggest cyclist and definitely not the strongest so I was worried about the crosswinds and how I was going to keep control of the bike throughout the race (small person problems). Registration was unbelievably well organised by Limerick Triathlon Club and we were in and out in no time with race chip, swim hat and goodie bag in hand. I saw a few familiar faces at registration and stayed to chat for 10mins before leaving as I needed to get off the feet. There were also some people looking far too serious- triathlon is supposed to be fun!

Back at the apartment (it seemed EVERYONE was staying in the same complex- we had Piranha represented by John Wallnutt and his wife Mags, Cork was strongly supported with Trevor Woods (+family) along with Cliodhna Spain and her fiancé Peter. Limerick Tri Club were the rowdy lot with Mike Heaney and Ross Higgins in one of the apartments below (the whole set-up reminded me of Mosney, but for adults…)

Saturday; Race Day

I was delighted to see 5.45am on my watch as I had the worst night’s sleep of my life- it wasn’t nerves (or so I assumed) because I knew the course but maybe I was anxious about what sort of performance I was capable of giving today. Having finished exams 2 weeks ago I know I’m not where I want to be so I knew I’d be scrapping the bottom of the barrel throughout this race. It was also my first Super Series race and I knew the field was stacked. I headed out on my usual race morning jog with Aussie and my bestie Joanne Flanagan to go check out the sea conditions and see if the buoys had been placed. The sea, to my great disappointment, was calm with only a few swells and white caps but nothing too menacing; and the buoys…well they were inflated but they were still up by the dive centre!I remember the swim being a straightforward out and back, with a turn at the 2nd buoy to cross the bay. Simples.

Transition was closing at 8.45am so we made a point of all being ready to head down for 8.05am. The last thing you want on a big race day is an element of panic because of rushing etc. I had no.454 and it seemed the super series athletes had much lower numbers. Rachel Clancy and I both just had to find a space on the allocated racks and hope that no one came along to kick us out. I was glad to be beside her because Rachel is always level headed and calm on race morning. She goes about her business in a very meticulous manner and always seems to be on top of things. We wished one another good luck and set about prepping for T1 and T2.


Following the race brief wave 1 and 2 athletes were called out to walk down to the holding pen (yep). The males were starting at 9.30am in what we were told was a walk in swim entry. My wave, wave 2, was set to go at 9.38am. We were walked to the water by Eamonn Tilley and we were told to hold our line. To be honest the start came all of a sudden. We were told we had a wait and the next thing the horn sounded. I was caught by surprise so I literally launched myself at the water because I’d already lost a few seconds. I tripped on my first entry, re-surfaced for a dolphin dive and away we all went. I had clear water from the get-go (which was great) but I couldn’t see a thing. I knew the buoys were somewhere out ahead but I had nothing to go off. I looked for kayakers as a guide until eventually I saw the GIANT yellow buoy I was looking for. I rounded the turnaround buoy to start swimming across the bay and I noticed some splashing ahead. I was gaining on the men. I overtook 4-5 at the 3rd buoy and spotted my two markers on the beach straight away. I exited the swim having over-taken quite some more males. My run up the beach felt good and my legs were agreeable to the effort I was putting in to get to T1. I struggled with my wetsuit around my timing chip but eventually whipped it off, fastened my helmet and grabbed my bike to set out on the Hellish bike course that I knew lay ahead.

The climb out of Kilkee really isn’t all that bad- it’s just bad luck that it comes so soon into the bike course while your heart rate is through the roof after T1. I took my first gel of the day and set about making the most of the apparent tailwind we had leading out of Kilkee to the turnaround. I perhaps expected to have quite a push out but it seemed like it was a crosswind more than a tailwind we had. I just kept my body tucked up and focused on pedalling. The bike course was empty bar 2 males that over took me on route to the turnaround. Once we hit it and turned for home the wind slapped you in the face instantly. It was going to be an epic slog home. I took another gel to mentally make me think I’d be well able for the relentless headwind and crosswind we all faced to get back to T2. I detached myself from everything bar my cadence and I had my coach’s voice in my head the whole way on the bike course (as well as ‘just keep pedalling, just keep pedalling’).

I was delighted to be approaching T2 and I would bet that I had one of the fastest transitions on the day because I was so happy to be off the bike.

HOTW 2015 Dismount Exocet TT

I got my runners on with no hassle and grabbed my sunglasses before setting out on what has to be one of the toughest, most gruelling 10km runs in triathlon. You face a steep hill climb straight out of transition and you have an Atlantic sea breeze blowing against you the entire way to the 5km turnaround point. Add to this the undulating and twisting sea cliff road and you come to realise why this race is known as ‘Hell of the West’. Dunlicky hill should be re-named ‘the hill that kills quads’ because it comes, like the bike ascent out of Kilkee, quite quickly following transition. Out on the run course I had a few males in sight that I wanted to catch. I have to say I felt pretty fresh and happy on the run. Last year I pulled a muscle on the Dunlicky hill which crippled my run so this year I could just focus on getting to the turnaround. I expended a lot of energy fighting the headwind we all faced and I saw Bryan Keane at the 3km mark absolutely flying. I passed 6 males on my first 5km and then at the turnaround I started to look for the chasing females. At the 6km mark I still hadn’t seen any chasers and when I saw Eimear coming along I could relax and start to enjoy the race as I knew the gap was solid and there was no need to empty the tank knowing I was racing again the following weekend. Coming to 7km I started to see some familiar faces and high-fived all my team mates along the way home as well as cheering on those in the other clubs I knew. That’s the way Hell of the West is. Everyone is dying during it but they are still eager to cheer their friends and fellow competitors on despite the energy costs and the marshals were phenomenal doing their best to make us forget the pain of it all. Coming down that hill back onto the shore front I couldn’t hide the smiles J Great blowout and nice to defend a title that meant so much last year. The torture on the day was worth it too as I also broke my own female course record which I broke and set last year. For the GoTri Team, the club had an amazing day out. We had loads of 1st time Hell of the West starters and lots of familiar faces return for more fun on the testing.

HOTW finish line pic

Massive thank you to my coach Stephan Teeling Lynch and swim coach Lars Humer (I’ll work on being able to look in that mirror you talked about Thursday morning!). Thanks also to my bike sponsors Planet X bikes who have given me two fantastic bikes to race on this season and allowed me to make gains on the bike leg.

HOTW 2015 Presentation

Image credits to TI media photographer Gordon Thomson 

Ironman Mallorca 70.3

Apologies for the delay with the updates! I am currently in full revision mode for exams and the break to Mallorca took a few days from that.


I travelled to Mallorca On Wednesday 6th May from Shannon with a group of teammates from GoTri, my twin sister and the lovely Marie Tríona Keane a triathlete with Belpark TC whom I had just met at the airport! A group of 10 Gotri athletes had targeted this race and made the commitment to train from October last year. They hit nearly every session and so were going over very excited and eager to race. I, however, had not done anything for this distance. My focus is on Olympic and Sprint distance racing but as I had an entry for 70.3 Mallorca I was tempted to do it. I haven’t been able to train as much as I would like at the minute and so I wasn’t even going to do this event, maybe just do the swim. I decided only Tuesday to actually do the full thing- if anything it was going to be a good training session and my coach wanted me to get a 90k cycle at threshold in (if he told me to do it at home I’d think he was mad… The last 90km cycle I had done was back in January !) At the minute, if I manage 5 days of something I am happy (this will change considerably come end of exams J ). The flight was a barrel of laughs as I was sandwiched between our token Aussie star David Coleman and the bullet Becky Coughlan (who ran a blinder on race day!). Dave Ahern, our delicate lily, who is more accustomed to 1st class wining and dining was nicely placed at the back end of the Ryanair flight (although he managed to get 3 seats to himself to make a bed…it would only happen to him)

Thursday 7th May

The bikes had gone ahead the week before with ShipMyTriBike so all we needed to do today was register and pick up the gear bags from the SMTB truck. The excitement from the group at registration was infectious and I began to look forward to Saturday! Some collected their bikes but all I wanted was my wetsuit so I could get in and swim the course! Some wanted to cycle but I never do much before a race. I jogged with Declan and Rachel and did a swim. Then chilled out by the pool for the evening.

Friday 8th May

Early morning run with Declan and Rachel before a short 20minute sea swim to get used to the wetsuit and practice race exit runs (it’s difficult when you’re fun-size to get the legs turning over in the water). Doing this run through helped me out incredibly on race day! Bike check in and gear drop was scheduled for 2.30 along with race brief afterwards. My Planet X exocet was shining and I was delighted to get it off the truck and jump into the saddle. Lots of curious by-standers were coming over to inspect the PlanetX-Carnac team colours and it was like a beacon in transition- there would be no issue running to my bike. After race brief I was feeling tired and sick of being n my feet in the heat so it was back to the hotel for a snooze by the pool. Rachel and I set out all our bags before bed as you need to be meticulous in your gear check. I made a list so I knew what was in transition and I had jellies, suncream +small 250ml bottle of water in both my bike+run bag.

Saturday 9th May-Race day

Mallorca 70.3 group shot

I slept on and off so I was just glad to hear the alarm so I could get up. I couldn’t stop running through the swim- entry, exit, buoy count, run to transition (it’s 1km!). I couldn’t eat at breakfast for the first time ever and Rachel was literally shoving food into me- thanks Sis. We walked up to transition with the team and coach STL. No one was showing signs of nerves although I felt sick- I had no training done for this and it was going to hurt! In transition Aussie Dave looked after myself and Rachel’s bikes (thanks Dave!). It was class having Rachel right beside me and she was unbelievably excited which helped me get excited. She kept joking about how easy it was going to be to get her things “all I have to do it look for a gap sure”. We walked down to the swim start together and lined up at the front side by side. A Million Voices by Otto Knows came on during the 4minute count down to the start and once I heard it I knew it was a sign that a good day was in store. Coach just wanted me to enjoy my swim and bike- “do your best and after that I don’t mind. This is just training and the mileage isn’t done”. 70.3 is far from our focus.

Swim: The gun went off and Ironman 70.3 Mallorca was underway! I had a great swim entry and I was in clear water by 300m. No one was tapping my feet so I needed to just swim my own race. I focused on catching as many pro females as I could after the turnaround. Counting down the buoys I was gearing up for the swim exit- I popped up at the very last minute and exited running past another female pro. I never look back racing so I didn’t know how much of a gap I had but I couldn’t hear any cheers coming from the swim exit and transition was deserted so I must have done ok. I found my gear-bag no problem- wetsuit off, sock on, and run. I had no trouble locating my Planet X and the transition was fluid. Flying mount and out I went on the roads of Alcudia.

Mallorca 70.3 Carolyn Hayes IRL swim entry

Bike: I felt good for the early part of the race and given my lack of cycle time I said if I make it to 20km with no one passing I’ve improved. In hindsight I wish I had have trained for this….it could have been much more enjoyable! There was no one on the road ahead or behind- a few marshals and supports now and again and always a passing bike marshal! If I make it to 40km I’ve improved…60km…still no one. At 70km I passed a male pro. I had Calvin Harries ‘Pray to God’ in my head for the whole cycle but I couldn’t get passed the second line! I was having a great bike and the further I got the better I felt. Nutrition was 3 gels (High5IsoGel) and half a banana picked up from the aid stations (which weren’t even ready for me as I was a lone soldier!). I stuck to water not wanting to tempt faith on the run…I re-entered Alcudia and got the feet out ready to dismount. I was first non-pro in from the bike and it was class to hear it announced. My legs felt good running from my bike to grab the run bag but I knew this was the bit that would hurt the most- my longest run to date is 12km. Normally I am glad to get off the bike in one piece and start into the run but today I was not looking forward to doing my longest run in God knows how long in the Spanish heat.

Mallorca 70.3 Exocet TT shot

Run: I exited transition like I was doing an Olympic (much too fast…I never learn) my first km was 10km race pace and then I settled down. I was on my own again just bopping along and feeding off all the supporters who came out for the race. I heard feet coming up behind me and thought I must be caught by the age-groups but it was none other than Daniela Ryf! We exchanged words of encouragement and as she passed and I decided to run with her for a bit (Good call/Bad call I was going to blow up anyway so I might as well enjoy having someone like her to chase!). She turned in for her finish and I set about trying to hold on to some run form. My Mum and Dad were along the course near the turning point and it was awesome to have them both cheering for Rachel and I. GoTri supporters were dotted on the course too shouting us on-I waved the first lap and then I couldn’t wave anymore. When the watch hit 15km I was starting to feel the lack of running endurance and by my final 5km I couldn’t acknowledge them as I was deep in the red zone. I entered the finishing shoot (which was empty!?) and crossed the line delighted to have finished. I heard on the speaker I was the fastest female age-grouper home so that perked me up! Daniela Ryf came over to congratulate me again at the finish and it meant a lot (if only I had the phone for a selfie… J ) After that I hit the bottle ASAP- WATER WATER WATER! Race day temp was now 31 degrees. The finish was still empty so I went over for a much needed physio massage and lie down. Once the team started to cross the line we hit the sea to bathe the legs and recount the whole race to one another. Everyone made it home safe and sound!

I headed to the awards ceremony and I thought back to last year when Aileen Flynn was the top-age grouper standing up on the podium and the Piranha crew were there (it was quieter without you all this year!). The DJ was firing out the tunes though…When they called out my name I got a really nice introduction and it was lovely to step up to the top spot. I won my age group by over 15minutes beating last year’s winner and Kona regular from team Staysky. All the GoTri gang came down for the ceremony (I expected it to just be Rachel and I as everyone was tired and very hungry!) and that meant a lot to me.

All in all it was a great day and it was a great overall team performance from GoTri- Coach was relatively happy I think! I want to say a massive thank you once again to my super sponsors Planet X for believing in me and supporting my racing. The Exocet 2 was a dream over the 90km TT and the HEDwheels definitely completed the awesome bike set-up! Massive thanks to High5Nutrition too for fueling me! And lastly, my twin sis Rachel deserves a medal for putting up with me (and I one for answering all her triathlon questions lol)

Next on the cards is the race to cram for exams and then getting myself back into training mode.