Tag Archives: Ireland

Ironman Dublin 70.3 – The Bike

10 Aug

I grabbed my bike as quickly as possible, attached my Garmin and ran towards the mount line. I was surprised to see that almost everyone else was holding onto their handlebars or bars and saddle – I may not be quick, but at least funny and pushing my bike whilst holding onto the saddle is something that I can do!

The race briefing and endless information about possible infringements had really out the fear into me. We had been warned that crossing the centre line could result in disqualification, so I was really torn about what to do. Lots of people seemed to be struggling to clip in and were weaving all over the road. In the end I decided that as there were already plenty of cyclists on the right hand side and that it was a closed road, I would probably be OK.

It was quite a fun heading out of Dun Laoghaire, as I recognised the road. I was feeling confident, but started to get a bit worried when I was passing people with aero helmets and disc wheels on  tri bikes… Did they know something I didn’t know? I wondered whether I had started out far too quickly. (Having driven along the same road this morning, I’ve realised that it was on a slight incline), but I’m surprised that some of the people I passed never passed me again, and the ones who did, too nearly 70km to do it!

At the bottom of the first hill

That’s me in the background © Action Photography


Starting to tackle the hill ©Action Photography

bottom of hill 2

Ready to go for it © Action Photography

Cycling up a hill

Tackling the hill – and still down on the drops 🙂 © Action Photography

I was very conscious that I shouldn’t draft, but quickly realised that if people passed me I didn’t need to freewheel as they were well out of range by the time I had counted to 10 (5 in most cases!)

I was surprised at how quickly I was in Dublin by the Liffey – a journey that had taken an hour in the car took a matter of minutes on a fast bike on a clear road (and by going via the toll bridge).

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I decided to change my Garmin screen to a screen that I was more familiar with, but I couldn’t find a cycling distance or average speed, so I decided that I would just have to aim to get each km split at 25kph.

I really miss the distance markers that are the norm at running races, but rare at triathlons. It’s really nice to be able to see the distance ticking off. There were pockets of support out on the course and despite my terrible bike handling skills, I was able to wave or give a thumbs up to some of the groups of children who were waving and cheering. (I know most of you won’t approve of this, but I’m sure Liz would think it was OK). A lot if the supporters seemed to be particularly encouraging to female triathletes, which I thought was really nice.

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About 15km in, I noticed something on my front tyre. My tyres have been on my road bike for just over two years, and although I don’t cycle as often as I should, it’s probably nearly time to change them. They have been incredibly reliable and I have only had one puncture (last summer in Cornwall on a horrible road), but I know they are starting to get worn, so I was really worried that it was a flap of rubber 😦 (My car tyre has a loose flap on the side, but the local mechanic has told me that it’s fine for now). I started to envision having a blow out whilst going at speed, which made me feel quite nervous. Many people will probably ask why I didn’t stop to investigate my tyre, but if it was damaged, what could I do? There were mobile mechanics on the course, but I had no idea where they might be and I didn’t have a spare tyre with me… And I only had one inner tube. I am also a lousy bike mechanic and dread to think about how long it would take me to replace an innertube in a race scenario. (*I checked my tyre after the race and found that it was a piece of black tape that had attached itself to my tyre – grrrr!)

Most of the roads were really smooth and well maintained, but the manhole covers made me a bit wary. As I got into Dublin, it started to rain – not hard, more of what I’d call ‘mizzle’, a misty drizzle that made it hard to see out of my sunglasses and made the roads feel greasy. Anyway, the manhole covers seemed to come in groups of 8, so I had to make sure that I aimed through the middle of them.

I panicked a few times on the bike course. I took one corner too quickly, hit some gravel and was lucky to maintain control of my bike, which made my heart beat a little faster. I also went to snack on some nuts when a course bike went to pass me. The motorcyclist said something to me and I was worried that I had inadvertently got too close to the woman in the front. (We had just gone through a feed station and quite a few bikes were in a clump). Luckily, the motorcyclist was just telling me to go ahead and that he would pass when there was more room. Later on, a marshal started waving a hits card at me. I really had no idea what rule I had broken and didn’t know what a white card penalty was. Luckily, I heard the woman behind calling out ‘thank you’ to him and realised that the marshal was simply being friendly and supportive! My last panic was when I tried to get something out of my overfill bento box and my tissues accidentally blew away. It wasn’t intentional littering, but there was no way I could safely stop and go back to retrieve them.

I saw a cyclist who had some kind of mechanical just as we reached the toll bridge in Dublin, another female cyclist who seemed to be having a puncture repair with the mobile van and one poor girl whose rear mech hanger had broken up a short hill after a tight corner, but I didn’t see anyone at the side of the road fixing a puncture on their own. However, I did see a huge numbers of items in the road: bottles, gels, bottle holders, bike bags, pumps and lots of high end sports sunglasses. I don’t think any of these were intentionally discarded.

There were a couple of km in the middle of the ride where I struggled to maintain a pace over 24kph and I found it tough to do well on the final hill, but my strategy of doing each km at over 25km/h paid off. Despite not having done very much cycling this year, my final average was 26.59km/h. I know the course was flatter than most, but I rarely ride for so long with no breaks at all.

I didn’t eat or drink as much as I should have done on the bike; I had two shot bloks, a dozen nuts, about 250ml of nuun Kona cola and 125ml water. I had packed a bottle of strawberry protein shake in my back pocket, but when I took it out to drink it, I realised that over half of it had gone – some had been spilled earlier in the day, but I think the rest was up my back 😦 I think I need to find a better way of packing things into my bento box, without my inhaler getting in the way.

We had been warned about a hill at about 85km and were told that the pub next to it (The Anglers’ Rest), would be a hotspot for spectators. Sadly, this was not to be – there were a few locals in the beer garden, but none of them seemed particularly interested in the spectacle on the road. One poor Irish lad had got off his bike and was pushing it. I called out some words of encouragement, but he explained that his legs had cramped up and he just couldn’t do it. The hill wasn’t nearly as bad as I had expected. There was then a flat section before another hill that took me by surprise. We then had a lovely smooth downhill section that took us to T2.

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Usually, I do a flying dismount, but I had absolutely no idea where the dismount line was (there was no indication at all about where it might be, and a 400m out sign might also have helped). I was also still stressed about what the rules were. It wasn’t clear whether we could leave our shoes on our bikes and I didn’t want to catch one on the grass and lose it (or be charged with littering!) Admittedly, as I have quite small feet, this isn’t that likely to happen, but there is a slim chance.

I was really pleased to learn that my bike splits improved as the race went on, although perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised by this as the second half of the ride was a net downhill, in comparison with the first half which was a net uphill. My average pace was 26.63km/h which is better than I’ve ever managed before.

Weymouth bike time: 3:47:02
Dublin bike time: 3:23:05
Division rank: 71

As I arrived on my bike, I saw Stuart, which was nice. I dismounted and immediately started running whilst holding my saddle. I found it very odd that most of the cyclists who were near me were merely walking with their bicycles – did they not know they were in a race?!!


My bike needed to be racked at the far end of the field, so I ran quite a long way, and then as I got to numbers near mine I slowed down to look for the right spot. Bikes seemed to have been racked in all directions and I was too tired to think of the correct way. I hung my bike up as best I could, prayed that it wasn’t some sort of violation and grabbed my Garmin before heading into the change tent.

Yet again, my bag was easy to locate. I picked it up and went over to the chairs. I hadn’t planned to change my socks and have never done that before, but my socks were very wet and I thought dry socks might help me to run faster without any risk of blisters. I changed socks and shoes, decided that I didn’t need sunglasses or a visor and had a swig of water. Time to go!

T2: 4:22

(Weymouth: 2:26)

Ironman Dublin 70.3 – The swim

10 Aug

We got up early and got ready quickly. Breakfast was just a Fuel protein porridge pot, but I was feeling so nervous that I didn’t think I could eat any more. We had agreed to meet Steve in the lobby at 6am, but we there ready and waiting by 5:50am. I was glad that we hadn’t stayed in central Dublin as we would have needed to get the shuttle bus out to Dun Laoghaire.

Preparing for Ironman Dublin 70.3

10 Aug

Stu and I drove to Holyhead on Thursday afternoon/evening. The traffic was heavy, so Stu did the first section on the motorway, and then I did the twisty bit on small roads in Wales. The scenery was absolutely stunning and several of the lakes and rivers we passed looked like they’d be great for swimming in, albeit somewhat cold.


We stayed in Holyhead overnight and then went to the ferry port in the morning. Steve texted to say that he was in the queue – we looked over and realised that we could see him. After we parked, we found a table on the ferry with enough room for us all to sit down.

I spy Steve and Suzanne's bikes

I spy Steve and Suzanne’s bikes

On arrival in Dublin, we headed straight for our hotel in Dun Laoghaire (Dunleary). The hotel had a lovely view across the bay, but we were not in sea view rooms. After a bit of time for unpacking, we decided to head into Dublin to register. An announcement had been made that it would be possible for run bags to be left in T2 at that time. In hindsight, we should have spent a bit more time preparing and doing that bit as it would have saved time later.


Steve kindly drove the five of us into Dublin. We parked up and went to register. It was a relatively easy process, although I was worried as Stu and I have not received English Triathlon cards yet and only had printed emails and screenshots. Fortunately, this was enough. I was surprised to be given a choice of hat colour – pink or white. I chose pink as I already have a hotel had (STC) and I don’t have a pink hat. However, I was a little frustrated that the women’s wave had been given such stereotypical colours. Stu got an orange hat and Steve was given a choice of two shades of green. We were also given nice rucksacks with our info in them and wrist bands were attached to us.

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After the (terrifying) race briefing, we had a look around the expo, but I was determined not to be tempted by anything. I liked the design of the official race kit, but I thought it might be tempting fate to buy something before the race, and also I can’t believe that any kit could be as comfortable as my SOAS kit. There were some good bargains to be had, but nothing was in sizes that would fit Stu and I – the items were mainly L or XL. There were also some cool MDot branded t-shirts, but I wouldn’t want people to assume that I have completed an ironman.

By the time we got back to the hotel, everyone was feeling tired and hungry. I had looked up places to eat in Dun Laoghaire and Olivetos, the hotel restaurant, had a good reputation and some positive reviews on trip adviser, so we decided to eat there. It was a good choice. The restaurant had a pizza oven and the pizzas were delicious. I ordered a chorizo pizza with mushrooms instead of chorizo as the other ingredients, including pine nuts, rocket and spinach, sounded good. I couldn’t eat the whole pizza, but I did manage to squeeze in some tiramisu!

Steve and Stu waiting on the prom

Steve and Stu didn’t seem too impressed by our antics on the beach


Annabelle found a tiny crab

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T1 before the bikes arrived.

After eating, we went for a stroll along the promenade. The sea looked beautifully calm and the bay was quite sheltered, but I learnt at Weymouth just how quickly sea conditions can change. Steve and I went down to the water’s edge and dipped our hands in. It was a little cool, but didn’t feel horrendous, which was good.IMG_6026

On Saturday morning, there was an acclimatisation swim from 9-11am and bike racking was available for most of the day. We agree to meet the Cookes at 9am to stroll down to the swim area. I was surprised that Steve already had his wetsuit and dry robe on, as it was fairly warm.

Scotsman's Cove

Scotsman’s Cove


The small bay seemed fairly busy and a little disorganised. The buoys hadn’t all been put out yet and no-one seemed to know what was going on. Stu, Steve and I got ready and went down to the water’s edge. We were told that we couldn’t start swimming yet, as some boats with buoys needed to go out. That was fine. We stood at the water’s edge and my feet and ankles froze. I think the temperature was about 14C, but it felt much colder and I experienced real pain. If I had been at Lakeside, I would have walked away immediately. I spent a while wading in. Steve and Stu left for a swim, but I just wasn’t ready. Eventually, I took the plunge. I could feel my lungs tighten, but the water didn’t feel as bad on my chest as it had on my feet. I started swimming and was able to breathe, but my forehead felt very cold. I could only managed to breathe every two strokes.

Dublin swim

A slightky blurry pic is the only evidence of our acclimatisation swim ©Claire Cooke

After about six minutes, I started relax a bit and was able to swim properly. A couple of men who were in the sea chatted to me. One was the UK’s East Coast and was used to sea swimming without a wetsuit, so he was fine. The other chap was a local Irish guy. He explained to use about the currents and the tide times, which was helpful.

I quite enjoyed the swim back. The water was clear and calm… And it didn’t feel too salty. However, I got distracted  looking at the sea bed and managed to swim into a seaweed covered rock – oops!

After a single 400m loop and about 30 minutes in the sea, I decided it was time to get out. Although it had been agonising at first, I was glad to have the chance to erasure myself that I could do the swim in the morning.

Annabelle was playing with another little girl in the sea, but she didn’t have a swimming costume and had on knee-length denim shorts, so I offered her my swimsuit. She accepted it and was quite happy playing in the sea – she’s definitely made of sturdier stuff than me!

After the swim, we went back to the hotel to collect our bikes. Stuart had warned me on the trip over that he might not take part and I was already aware that if he started, he would probably only do the swim and the bike. Unfortunately, Stu found that he was unable to kick at all in the sea and he realised that if anyone else touched his leg, he was in agony, so he decide to withdraw. I think this was an admirable decision. If it were me, I would probably have tried to do the race and would have risked further injury, because I am stubborn.

I showered, sorted out my bag for T1 and headed down to transition. It was fairly quiet when we got there, so there was plenty of time to walk around and put our bikes in place. unfortunately, bike covers were not available and we were told that rain was forecast for overnight 😦


After racking up, we went back to the hotel before going to Nando’s where I had a really nice quinoa, avocado and sweet potato salad. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy it much as I was really worried. When we had gone back to our room, I realised that I had left a few crucial items out of my T1 bag: towels, my protein shake and an inhaler. I asked Steve whether he thought I would be able to access my bag in the morning. He said that I might be able to get the inhaler added as a medical need, but that I might get a 5 minute penalty. This made me feel stressed, but it was too late for me to do anything about it. It was then back to the hotel for an early night.

Ironman Dublin 70.3 is fast approaching

28 Jul

I am starting to feel so nervous about this race, but I’ve been doing my best to prepare.

I bought a new wetsuit last week. I chose a Zone3 Aspire as it had good reviews and I was able to try it on locally. According to the size guide, I thought I would be a Medium or possibly a Small Medium, but I ended up buying a Small 😀

I’ve also joined Triathlon England. I need a race licence for Dublin and had the choice of paying about €20 for a one day licence or £40 for an annual licence, so I opted for the latter.

The official athlete guide is now available online: http://m.ironman.com/~/media/27065a1e6a7a4e108ef4099e150e2c5e/imdub%20athlete%20guide%202015%20v2.pdf

We’ll be registering on Friday and will also go to a novice focussed briefing, but I’ll try not to be lured into the expo as I really don’t need to buy lots of merchandise!

On Saturday 8th, we will be going to the official swim practice in the morning. We will also be going to T1 to rack our bikes and T2 to check in our bags.

The big day:

7:40 My wave starts

8:50 swim cut off

10:00 12km bike cut off

11:20 42km bike cut off

13:00 79km bike cut off

16:00 lap 3 run cut off (about 14km)

16:10 run cut off

I’m hoping to be finished before 3pm.

This weekend, I found out my race number:


This means you can follow me on the race tracker!