Report by PJ Dunne
The Build Up
Until last Thursday morning I really did think there was an Ironman curse on Frank and myself. With Franks broken arm this year and my collarbone last year it seemed like it wasn’t to be. But last Thursday my alarm clock for the early drive to the airport wasn’t set at all but I still woke up before the time I thought I set it for 2.55am. The luck was with me and was set to stay.
The training started bizarrely on the same date one yr on from when I broke my collarbone. 6 months long during the summer months with lovely weather!
A big thanks to everyone who joined me on any of the training spins especially the open water swimming as I got fed up waiting on Frank!
We had decided that a bit of racing in Ireland was needed to keep training interesting. So 2 HIM races in Tri an mhi and the Lost sheep. Frank didn’t make Tri an Mhi thru his arm. I did and didn’t really like the course ,surface was poor but the lake was lovely. The lost sheep on the other hand was brill. We would definitely do this again. Mike joined us for this interesting road trip
This race really set me up for Barca. It gave me loads of confidence and it was all wind down from there.
The days leading up to the race were spent relaxing sleeping and eating. Weather was fine but the sea was as rough as a bears arse.
As per advice from Jarlath we had our dinner (chicken pasta&tom sauce at 2pm on the Saturday as the first batch of our supporters arrived.
Bikes racked with Frank covering his bike with that many plastic bags, the Catalan economy got a boost. Sat night drew near and bed time. Normally the night before a race I’m nervous but strangely I wasn’t. We both sleep well.
Alarm clocks goes at 6.05am. Shower and big bowl of porridge and out the door for the quick walk in the dark down to transition.
Bikes checked and bags resorted for the 10 time. We then grab a very quick swim in the now calmer sea. Waves are still big enough to knock you off your feet but nothing would stop us now. We head back to swim pens and try to find our now increased support crew. Special mention at this stage to Yvonne Lia Cian my sister Louise and her friend Mary and Paula Conor and Luke. Words cant describe how much of a help they were to us both.
Frank and others had warned me of the emotions as you say good bye but I wasn’t expecting the tears that arrived as I said my good byes. Man up you muppet
The 3.8km swim
We positioned ourselves in the swim pens with us starting with the 1hr 20 group or so we thought. When we started to move Frank ended up in front with the 1hr 15 and me at the back of that group. We hit the water and off we went. It was choppy enough in the first 200m to the first buoy then right turn and a long straight of 1,450m. A yellow buoy at every 500m displaying the distance was a help. It got very choppy again towards the far end of the course where we had a 100m swim out to sea. Left turn and heading for home (1,750m) We both hoped for a bit of draft off somebody but neither of us got one. The bunch was to widely spread out. Frank was getting 1km splits and knew he was going well, I allowed myself one look with about 100m left, 1hr 14mins happy days! I exited the swim “like the pros” running whereas Frank did a somersault but unlike a goal scoring premiership player it was under the water and not meant! Both smiling with great times under our belts.
Frank 1hr 20mins
PJ 1hr 16mins
I spent a very brief moment in the ladies changing tent before realizing my mistake and ran away scared. I was half way thru my Ambrosia rice when the bold Burke arrived in smiling like a chesire cat. We both lubed up indivually of course and set off to find the bikes among the 2,600.
The 180km Bike
The first and last 3km of the 180km were tricky narrow streets with loads of ramps , roundabouts and drains etc so we both took it handy here. Loads didn’t and lost tubes and bottles along this stretch. Bit early to be losing stuff me thinks. The course is a 2.5 loops and mostly flat. The first and last 15 km of each loop is rolling but the surface is very good. Its pretty boring sea and train line on left and hills and houses on right on way out. At the 40 km turnaround we saw each other with Frank just behind and closing. There was a street party here in Montgat it looked deadly with music and drink. Frank the tank passed me 10km later flying it. Brief chat as we were conscious of the drafting rules. When we got back to Calella and the roundabout the crowds were massive. But it wasn’t hard to pick out our supporters. Shouts of encouragement from all and a thumbs up from both of us. It really gives you a lift. The expected bad patch came for me between 90-120km. The wind had changed direction (forecast) and was in our face again. I dug in and the long bikes in training paid off. Frank didn’t have a bad patch I think. We saw eachother at the Montgat turnaround ( party was over wtf) and the gap was static about 5 min. Another turnaround in Calella and a wave to the fans. Just half a loop left now. On the few rises I got up out of saddle to stretch and give me arse a break. Thinking about the bike now I cant remember what I was thinking about for the 6 hrs. I did remember something Peter C had told me that at 160 km id happily sell the bike for €5. This happened at 100km but at 160km I was fine because it was the road back to Calella with the wind on my back. 40 mins and I could put the bike away for a long while! I had hoped to maintain a 30km avg. So just before t 2 I looked at avg and it was 30.4km great another target hit. 2 down 1 to go. I focused on one discipline at a time so never thought about having to run a marathon after bike. It worked for me.
My nutrition plan ( Thanks to Paula) worked a treat. I had printed what I needed to take and when on the bike and ate and drank everything and more ( 90g carbs an hour). Not to moan but the drafting on the bike by SOME age groupers was unbelievable and the Irish were as bad as any nation. Peletons of 30-60 with technical officials on motorbikes in the middle seemingly doing little or nothing about it. I view this as cheating plain and simple. It was hard to slow as a big group went by but it was not impossible to avoiding drafting out on the main drag. Roundabouts and hills its easy to bunch. But this drafting happens in Ireland too. Mainly because of cash hungry race organizers.A look at boards or uk forums will tell you all you need to know. Rant over.
Frank 5hrs 49
PJ 5hrs 55
T 2 times need explaining. It only includes your run with bike and then run to tent.Time spent in tent changing was included in your run time. Anyway into tent and heres Burke again fu%k cant avoid eachother. We change quickly and as im eating my rice again ( not a good idea with running straight after) Burke comes pounding back in looking for his number belt. Turns out he put it in his run bag and reracked it.I finished my rice and headed out into sun to chase Burke down.
Only 42.2 km of a run left
4 laps of 10.250km along the esplanade starting with a 1.7km run down to finish area. Along this stretch we were both passed by the winner as he covered his last km. Our crew had set up here to start with and I stopped for a moment to say hi. The crowds and music were brilliant with drum bands and djs. Aid stations were every 2.5km and well stocked thru to the end.
At the 7km mark I took my first of 4 planned gels it was also around this stage we hit a turnaround and gave eachother a shout. About 1 min behind. Might sound like a race between us but i was looking forward to a chat having been silent for 7hrs. I know Frank sings the Fields of Athenry to himself on the bike , I suppose its better than his dancing so we should count ourselvies lucky! The far end of the run course was a complete contrast to the finish area. Our supporters moved up this end of the course for our 2nd and 3rd laps which was great. I think it was around 11km when I caught up to Frank. We ran together for a while until i needed a toilet stop. I then set off in chase again. We ran together again until we had enough of each other. One of the best signs I saw on route was from an Irish girl it read something like “hurry up I’ve to get home I think I left the immersion on ” Nutruition for run was 4 gels, water at all aid stations and coke from 20km on. All going well until it was time to take 2 nd gel stomach wasnt great. Cramps ,wind, release and repeat with cramps getting worse each time. With 21 km on clock the second toilet stop was needed. Jaysus portaloos are smelly all over the world. Problem temporally sorted. Lost 2 mins or so and expected Frank to be ahead of me so was looking forward to chat again. But at the next turn point he was behind me with a look of determination on his face. Quick shout and a high 5 and we were on our 3 rd lap. The crew had moved to the far end. Kids playing on the beach the wimmin with a few drinks in them. I stopped and chatted got medical advice re tummy . I felt the postive energy I got out weighed the time lost. Cian gave me a big hug which was what i needed. Tummy felt better shortly after so second gel (26-27km).The previous 10km had been hard. I had the same tummy problems in Tri An Mhi but cant narrow down the exact cause. I had slowed but at least i kept running. A few km after 2 nd gel same problems and 3rd toilet break (5 stops in total over the day). Just keep running to the 32km marker. I said id look at overall time at this point it read 10hrs 40 mins. Great, surely id be able to run 10 km in 80 mins or less and break 12hrs. I pushed hard in the last 10 km and ran steady kms times counting down each one.After most races we feel God maybe i could have run harder. This was the exception for me i gave it all and was completly empty crossing the line. But i had enough energy to smile and celebtarte. I heard the announcer saying “PJ you are an Ironman” and the €540 entry was worth it!
I made my way to the food tent via medal and t shirt collection. I knew Frank wouldn’t be long so I sat down just inside the door. But really I could have been in the middle of the Gobi desert for I all knew. I didn’t and Frank was the same after finishing, know whether I wanted to sit stand eat sleep shit vomit and celebrate! I had to find a jacks again (last ref to toilet I promise). We all hooked up outside tent again. Supporters were tired after walking 25km kids and all. We walked back to collect bikes and the short walk to our apartment. Celebrations on hold until the Monday. A big thank you again to all the support crew, you were brilliant all day LONG. You are more deserving off the well done’s.
Frank Run 4hrs 46mins
PJ Run 4hr 26 min
Frank overall 12hrs 13mins 40 sec
PJ overall 11hrs 55mins 54 sec
When making a decision to do an Ironman the whole family has to buy into it. Wife takes on at lot more jobs, big sister has to keep little bro entertained and little brother has to play football on his own a bit more. But we were all happy Sunday night, Cian declaring that Monday was his day and Lia told me she saw 3 super heros ( Wonderwomen Batgirl and me an Ironman) At least in her eyes I’m a hero. Thanks Yvonne for putting up with all the long hours training. Its over now for a while
Swim 160 km (56km open water) 62hrs
Bike 4,025km 151hrs
Run 935km 91 hrs
Hope somebody finds this report helpful if thinking of taking on this distance.
I’m sure if I forgot something Frank will be only to willing to add his bit.
Lastly thanks To Frank for joining me as im sure it was the last thing he wanted ( or his family) to sign up for after Roth. Cheers.