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Ignorance is Bliss – Elaine’s IM UK Report

‘Ignorance is Bliss’

Race report IM UK, Bolton – July 16th 2017

By Elaine Gibson

Getting ready for the official practice swim on the Saturday morning and this fella looks at me and says ‘Is this your first IM?’, I said ‘Yes, is it that obvious?’, he says ‘yeah,  you look so scared…maaaaannn are you going to suffer out there tomorrow, well done for trying though…ha ha ha…and he struts off’.

I just thought you pr*ck, I really really wanted to punch him in the nose!  With all the positive stuff that people had told me coming up to this I just could not shake that off, I tried and tried to push it out of my mind…the ‘suffering’ bit really scared me…I doubted myself as I have done several times before.  And what did he mean ‘well done for trying?’ Then I realise there is a definite possibility of failure…crap…gulp…what am I doing.  My biggest fear – Failure. I will never forget that fella’s words though and thought of him much later in the race.


Copyright Finisherpix 2017

That afternoon…in my wisdom I decided to join a few of the Wexford Tri gang in a drive around the bike loop.  [This Wexford Tri crew need a mention…7 guys and girls from Wexford Tri Club who took me under their wing a while back and treated me like one of their own…it would have been a different experience without them]. Off we went, 4 of us in the car who were competing and Thomas driving. We went into shock. I’m sure I could smell the gear box burning out! Sheephouse Lane, that famous hill, up and up and up…the blood drained from my head…cold sweat…the gasps and the yelps from everyone is memorable…more hills, more bends, more hills…there must have been down hills but I don’t remember.  Thomas says ‘I heard today that this is the 3rd hardest IM bike course in the world’. Ah Jaysus what have I done!?! Windows rolled down, deep breaths. We had a laugh though…coz we knew we were coming out here tomorrow, no matter what…that was the bottom line. That drive of only one loop seemed to take us for ever, what was it going to feel like on the bike?


The night before I got everything ready, I was more organised that I have ever been for anything in my life. I had lists and lists of the lists. I asked Kevin did he REALLY believe I could do this… he said ‘100% I know you are going to do this, I have no doubt.’ So I took  his word for it, sure he’s always right! I felt calm and I knew I couldn’t do any more. All I have to do tomorrow is move forward and keep moving…I have 17 hours…I have it in me somewhere…deep breaths. Unbelievably I slept for about 4 hours. Alarm went off at 3, I hopped out of the bed, checked through the list. Cried for half a minute. Replied to Joy’s viber messages at 3.20 a.m. …she may as well have been here with me. Funnily enough Joy was the first ever IM that I met, before I even knew what an IM was…and so my inspiration and my mentor through the whole journey. I put a bottle of bubbly in the fridge and said [to the bottle] ‘I’ll see you later baby!. I am going to do this.



The swim start is something I will never forget. The atmosphere!!! It was still dark but everyone was moving around purposefully, it was just surreal and everyone seemed to know what they were doing. I was delighted to see the Wexford crew, we were all excited and we couldn’t believe our day was finally here. A few of us lined up at the 1hr 20m start…I knew it was a bit fast for me, but people would just pass me, what harm. The music…Thunder Struck…goose bumps. Then someone showed me the banner that the Wexford fans had made – they had put my name on it…that was it, I fell apart.  I have never been so overwhelmed with the support through the entire journey. Phonecalls, cards, messages…crap…this must be something big!


In we went to the lake 2 by 2…the water was nice…I had to talk to myself, just swim…count to 20, keep moving. Someone swam right over me and someone else punched me square in the back of the head, I let out a roar and a few expletives and someone else scratched my foot with a watch or something. I kept thinking I was losing my timing chip. There was an Aussie exit so I was able to check my watch after the first lap – 41 minutes, cool! I didn’t know I could do that. Jump in again and just do the same thing. Maybe not, I came out in 1hr 28…don’t know what I was doing in the 2nd lap, but it doesn’t matter. Part 1 complete! But there are 3 parts… I had to stop myself from thinking too far ahead, I had to just try to stay in the moment.


Part 2 – 180k bike

Transition…couldn’t think straight and slow as a snail as usual, it doesn’t matter.  Hopped on the bike, pressed the Garmin…why is my HR monitor not working? My entire training plan and race strategy is based on this bloody HR monitor, it’s not working! Messed around with it for a few minutes, restarted the watch, adjusted the strap, feck it anyway. Forget about it, this isn’t going to stop me. Plan B – just pedal the bike. Slow as I can up hill to conserve energy and try to let loose a bit downhill, I am rubbish coming down hill. The first lap was enjoyable, hills didn’t feel as bad as I expected and the sun eventually came out. I even took in the Lancashire scenery, stunning. I talked to everyone I passed and everyone who passed me. There is a part called Bentley Lane where the bike loop crosses over. Second time I came through there the crowds had built up, the sight took my breath away…the cheers, the noise, I choked up.  Amazing. I saw Kevin at about half way, he was bawling at me ‘Come on Gibson!!’ I was looking forward to that, I needed it. I was happy enough for about 5 hours, then the mental battle started…the hills second time round, holy crap. Corrabut Gap came into my head, I thought it would never be that hard.  The supporters got me up those hills though. Roaring in my ear! I kept smiling at them, I genuinely appreciated them being there, strangers.  Now my knees were hurting, that never happened before. Then my ankles started to hurt, that never happened before. The last 50km was tough and I must have slowed down a lot, I stopped looking at my pace, I just need to get through this. I was sure I could do the cycle in around 7 30 even with hills…nowhere near, 7 50…ah well, it doesn’t matter…I was making progress. I saw my boys for the first time cycling into T2 and then again on the run out.  I had imagined this moment for months and months before. ‘Come on Mammy!’, I stopped for hugs but they told me not to be stopping.


Part 3, the ‘run’…

8 mile run out to where we had 3.5 laps to do. It felt good to be on my feet and I felt strong. Looked at my watch at 10 k…one hour, I was surprised I thought I would be slower, that means I can do this in 4 hours-ish! That dream soon passed. I busied myself on the first lap looking for the Wexford gang, Kevin told me at T2 that they were all okay but I needed to see for myself. I knew in my heart that if we got to the run, that we would all make it, and I really wanted everyone to make it, they had been so good to me along the way. Finally saw the last of them come onto the loop, relief. The 9k loop was downhill into the town, past the finishing chute and all the way back up hill. The goal now turned to getting those precious arm bands, I needed 3. Not 1, not 2, but 3. I became obsessed with the arm bands. I got to 20k comfortably enough, then things started to go downhill…my hips ouch. I got a blister on my right foot, stopped to put a plaster on. It didn’t make a huge difference because every toe blistered after that, never happened before. My right foot felt like it was scalded. I thought about taking my runners off altogether, that was then next plan. Pains in the backs of my knees, never felt that before either! I went through every mental trick in the book. I had originally tried to break the run into loops, that turned to food stations, lamp posts, warning cones and eventually it was just step by step.  The downhill section was originally a chance for recovery, it was now harder than the uphill. How the hell am I going to finish this. I saw Kevin and his family and the boys then on every lap, they gave me the boost I needed, I tried not to fall apart in front of them.  The Wexford supporters roared at me like I belonged to them, I hope they realise how much it helped.  When I collected my 3rd arm band ‘the red one’ I told the woman, a complete stranger, that I loved her. First time for everything I suppose!


Normally when I see the sign for mile 25, it’s a relief and a chance to get a burst on. I saw it and thought ‘that’s 1.2miles…how in the name of God am I going to get through it’. Step by step. About 500 metres to go, just before the turn into the town and the roaring crowds I started to faint, that’s the first time I thought I wouldn’t make it.  I imagined the medics coming and giving me oxygen and not letting me cross the finish line, I really didn’t want be that story. Deep breaths, keep moving, I had to block out the emotion.  I saw the red carpet!!!! Oh my God, I’m there. Kevin and the boys were screaming at me and running around the outside with me. Everyone was calling my name. I pointed to my number so they would call out ‘Elaine Gibson you are an Ironman’. I didn’t hear it with everything that was going on in my head, but I didn’t need to.


Final time 14hr 25mins. I had told everyone at home that if I was over 14 hours that there was definitely something wrong. Cocky or what! Hats off to IM everywhere and thanks for not telling me the whole truth, Ignorance is Bliss.



Double Olympic Tri Athy – Dena Hogan

Here is Dena’s race report from this year’s Double Olympic Tri Athy!

Courtesy of Dave O’Brien Photography

“If being perfectly honest I really didn’t want to hand over €90 to Triathy, it’s got a bad rep, Tom did it last year and had major issues and it was a for profit race, but with the only other half IM bring in Galway I took the logistically and cheaper money option and went for it.
This was going to be the only other target goal race then Roth, which includes pace goals, nutrition strategy a small tapper and a finishing goal of podium position.

Alarm was set for 4:30 nothing new there, up feed and done I was on the road for 5am . I wanted to be one of the first into transition, I like to take my time with set up, walk through the transition in/out mil around and prepare my body for what’s to come.
A new self seeded 2wave set up was brought in this year and I made sure I was off in the first wave of 150 . I was looking forward to this, it had been 2 years since my last triathlon/open water swim and tbh I have never worked as hard in swimming

My swim blocks have contained a 5 k every week and lots of tough speed work in arklow on Monday with the master group. I had been smashing the pool 100,sub 1:30 and 3k TT sub 52 . I got this…. Swim went by uneventful and I actually thought something wrong when I came out and looked at the watch 58… WTF!!!! Ok don’t panic some one just shouted 6th lady

Onto the bike. Plan was to have a negative split over the 2 lap course and it took a lot of mental strength to hold back, but I stuck to the plan and everything went great bang on target of 32/33 KPH passing into 3rd lady.
Mentally in the last 10 min I’ve already switched to T2 and the run. My strongest and favourite, this is where I work.
Onto the run course and Tom and the kids inform me I’m 4and half min down on 2nd I’ll not know if it’s possible to catch until we go around the first 5k and c what’s between us then, I set of and start with a 21 :30 1st lap and I’ve made up over 2 min
Tom tells me same pace for lap 2 . I did do this but it’s a few seconds off due to a tiolet / squat by a car break.
I go out on 3rd lap and pass into 2nd within first mile. 1st is beyond reach due to her amazing swim of 46 and my shit of 58 but let’s do some damage control,,, hammer home and dig in too have the fastest women’s run split of the day.
Scrapped under the 5 hrs .

All said and done Athy had some problems and official results took few days but tbh I did have a positive race and ticked all my pre race goals. I have lots left to work on over the next 4 weeks but hopefully all will come together .

Well done to all the other 795ers that took part ye all had great encouragement on the day. Sorry if I didn’t repay on the course I didn’t even wave to the kids if that’s an excuse.”

Spring Road Races 2017

Mick Foley was officially crowned 795 Road Race Champion for 2017 last night following the 3rd and final race of the series…

Leader board.

1. Mick Foley…16pts.
2. Frank Burke.08pts
3. Patsy McCaffery 07pts.
4. Kevin Moran. 06pts
5. David Kendellin 05pts
6. Kevin Gibson 04pts.
7. PJ Dunne 03pts.
8. Nigel McCord 01pts.

A special thank you to Don Morrissey, Daniel Morrissey and Eimear Bowden who Marshalled throughout the series.
And Tinahealy TriClub for coming along to race and join in…

Racing 795 Duathlon Results – 5th March 2017

Racing 795 Duathlon Here are the Results from this morning’s training duathlon. Thank you to all who organised and marshalled, and special thanks to Kildavin GAA for the use of their facilities.

5th March 2017 Results

Racing795 Duathlon Results, 22nd Jan 2017


Well done to everyone who took part in the Racing795 Training Duathlon this morning. Thank you to all who organised and marshalled, and special thanks to Kildavin GAA for the use of their facilities.


Raging Bill in Barcelona…..

Ok here goes. RACE REPORT: by Bill Barry….

I don’t mind saying I picked Barcelona partly to get a fast time. I was between Barcelona, Roth, Austria. But my mate in Waterford Tri Club said he was doing Barca and a good gang from Waterford were going. So Barcelona it was. I had a serious look at where I could improve, and after a while I set myself a target of sub 10. Some people said I was crazy. But I don’t see the value in doing something like this unless I set myself a serious challenge and push the boundaries of what i’m capable of. Unfortunately, LIFE threw me some serious curveballs and speedbumps in the last few months leading up to the race. So going out there, I knew sub10 was highly unlikely. But I was still gonna throw everything I had at it and go for the sub10. I’d kick myself afterwards if I didn’t.
Flew out to Barcelona with Alma and the kids the Wed before the race and hired a car. Drove up the coast road to get a feel for the bike course. Couldn’t get up the new added section, so was unaware of what that was like. But first impressions were good. Settled in to Calella, and couldn’t get over how easy it was to get around. Everything was easily accessible, and the kids were happy. That meant the boss was happy, so less stress on me!!!!

And so to race day. I was very chilled out on race day. Slept pretty good. Bike check-in was stress free. Felt ready. I didn’t do a warm-up, and it came back to bite me.
SWIM: Picked the 50:00-60:00 start pen in the hope of getting on some fast coat tails. And GO,GO,GO. Started ok in the swim. But my shoulders just could not get going. Felt as stiff as a board. Water was a little choppy, but that didn’t bother me. Got to the first turn bouy and got battered. On the the long section parallel to the beach their just seemed to be wave after wave of groups coming past and bashing the hell out of me. Nearly had my chip ripped off twice. Kicked in the goggles three times. And still I couldn’t get on the back of any of these groups. I was really beating myself up mentally at this stage. And the next turn bouy just seemed to take forever to appear. Finally I got into a rythm about 1.5k in. Ya should’ve done a warm-up numpty!!!!! Once I got to the end turn bouys, I really felt like I was motoring. I sighted really well, and literally hit every marker bouy on the way back. The short leg back into the beach seemed to last forever, but I finally reached the end. I don’t have a waterproof Garmin, so I had no idea of my time. But I was sure I was a long way off 1:05, which was my minimum target. Later found out it was 1:08:12. Very dissapointed with that. But I’d done very little swim training in the last two months before raceday.


BIKE: OK. Was feeling pretty confident for this. I had put my training emphasis on this leg, as its my weakest. Bikefit, new bike and wheels, new helmet, a full year on Trainerroad. I had set myself a target of 5:00-5:15 for the bike split. I went out really strong on the bike. There were lots of big groups going out the road and it was hard not to be part of them. But luckily, a moped came alongside blowing his whistle like crazy and broke up the groups. I felt really strong going out the road and when I hit the flat sections I was motoring. Started taking in my nutrition and my stomach started cramping like crazy. It was cramping a little coming out of town, but as soon as starting my nutrition it got worse. Nevertheless, I kept the hammer down. By the time I reached the new section, which is a long torturous drag up a motorway, I had puked twice. I knew this wasn’t good, but I kept forcing down the Powerbar drink and gels. Back on the flat, and I felt a little down on power. Forced the nutrition down and kept the hammer down as much as I could. By the time I got to the first turnaround, and second aid station shortly after, I had puked again. But I was still on target for a 5:00hr split. Ok, I’ll take a bottle of water this time to see will that settle. Took two salt capsules straight away, and continued with my Clifbars. Gave the gels a break for a bit. The road back in was into a head wind and it was a real struggle. A couple of groups went past and I resisted the urge to jump on. Even though I was grateful for the brief respite from the wind. I felt a little drained going back in the rollers into town and when I got to the turnaround back in Calella, I decided to dial it back a bit on the way back out of town. The memories of completely dying on the second lap in Port Macquarie were fresh in my memory. Watch the heart rate and wait til yer on the flat and see how ya feel. Got to the flat and got the momentum going again. Stomach was starting to settle a bit. So pushed on again. It was noticeably starting to heat up now. But I pushed on. Got to the second time up the motorway climb. I died a death. I had picked up a bottle of water at the aid station at bottom of climb. And I guzzled it. I got really dizzy going up the climb and seriously considered pulling out. I was totally disorientated and energy levels were zapped. I got to the turnaround at top of climb and just rolled down. There was now a headwind going down the climb. Speed was way down on last time time, but I was thankful for the cool breeze all the way down. i got back on the flat, and after that cool down I felt re-energised. Picked it back up again and reached the turnaround for the second time. This got me going mentally. On the home stretch now. Again I was facing into a headwind, but not as bad as the first lap. Put the head down and stuck to the revised plan. Heart was telling me to push on. Head was telling me, you have a marathon to run ya big eejit. Listened to the head. Shortly after turnaround a couple of guys passed me, that I had passed about 10k back. And they slowed down. I was trying to keep my target speed pretty steady on the way back. So I passed them. And they passed me. We caught up with another long line of cyclists. And they sat in behind them!!! F**k this. F**k the plan. F**k the HR. I’m sick of this sh*t. I put the hammer down and passed everyone. Hoping the clowns wouldn’t follow. Kept the head down, hammer down, HR way up, all the way back to the rollers back into Calella. And the clowns all passed me on the last steep climb up passed the last aid station. Boy did i feel like the clown. Hammered it back into town and down the endless speedbumps back to T2. I saw i was close to 5:20, so raced flat out all the way back to T2. 5:21:34.


Set out on the run with a target in mind. I felt throughout my training that I was capable of running close to a 3:30 marathon off the bike. So I set off with that in mind, but also taking into account how I felt on the day. Ran the first 2K on target, and then the heat started to get to me. I had to think on my feet with regards to nutrition, as I was very aware that my earlier stomach problems could de-rail the whole day if they came back on the run. So the plan became, one gel, two bottles of water (one in the stomach, one over the head), EVERY aid station. Slowed the pace to what I felt I could maintain and ignored the watch a little. Just glancing at it every now and then to make sure I wasn’t going backwards. On the first lap the heat nearly killed me. It was up to 27deg and it was beaming intensely down on my head. I thought I was going to explode. I couldn’t wait to get to aid stations to pour water over my head. There’s a long section at the top end of the run course that seems to go on forever the first time. I just didn’t know where the turnaround was and it was mentally excruciating. But when I got to it, I got a mental lift. Ok, thats the tough part done once. Only twice more. You can do this. When I got to the end of the first lap, the sun decided to step in behind some clouds. It was still brutally hot, but it wasn’t burning a hole in my head!!!!. I got a lift from the crowd and especially from my family and a huge surprise to see one of my best friends Fran, who lives down the coast in Valencia, cheering me on. And I mean cheering me on. He was leppin and hollerin on a quieter part of the course and it gave me a huge lift. Between that and the sun giving me a break, I got a new lease of life. I pushed on as hard as I could. I felt really strong that second lap. I finished the 2nd lap and as I started out on the last lap, my legs started to feel heavy. Had I went too hard on the last lap? A few km’s into the last lap I remembered I had a few spare gels with caffeine in my back pocket. As i was expecting, I started to struggle a little about 35k in. So I took the gels. And a few from the next aid station. Got to the turnaround, had banana, more gels and water, and said “right, home stretch”. A few kms later my watch died after pouring copious amounts of water over it and my head. So I said to myself ” F**k the watch, lets f**kin do this”. I ran straight through the last aid station, and I ran as hard as I could the last few km’s. I was screaming like a mad man with the pain, screaming at people on the narrow finish to get the f**ck out of the way. Seen Alma and the kids about 200mts from the finish as she couldn’t get into the stand with the buggy. That really put a smile on my face. As I entered the finish chute I noticed a few finishers in front of me. I slowed right down to soak up all of it. I had sprinted through the finish in Port Mac and I wasn’t doing that again. I cajoled the crowd into a big cheer, and jogged over the line. A few seconds didn’t matter to me. I had really enjoyed my day, and I was taking it all in. I turned around to the clock to see I had finished in 10:30:17. With a 3:48:54 marathon.
Very pleased with that. Obviously a sub10 would have been amazing, but I’m very happy with that. I went into the finishers tent and it was like a sauna. I nearly passed out. Drank about a gallon of cold Coke (stuff on course was manky warm). Got a sandwich and went straight out to meet Alma and the kids, and our ex-au-pair who had travelled from Frankfurt to support me.

I’m already planning my next one and how I can improve. Definately a coach is required to go any faster. I need to drop a few more kg’s. A few other things. I’ve learnt so much in this last year about myself and about training.
A huge thank you to my wife Alma for putting up with me. I might give her a year or two off.

Tribute to Richie Byrne….


I remember back in 2010, when as a fledging club we (Racing795) had decided to run our first xc mtb race. We went looking for advice and help from non other than the Godfather of Irish mtb himself Richie Byrne. So generous was he, and recognising that we were complete novices he offered to come down and ‘mc’ for us on the day. He spread the word and ensured we would get a decent crowd. I remember standing on the start line with the whistle in my hand, and sensing I hadn’t a clue, just sort of took over and got things running smoothly. And yes he had lots of words of encouragement! But what I really remember was how he really sparkled when it came to presenting the kids with their prizes,and made sure that every one of them felt like a winner. I had lots of subsequent meetings with him over the years at races and he always had time for a chat with his country cousins. A gentleman who will be sorely missed. Condolences to his family and friends, and may he rest in peace…(David Furlong)