A lovely race report from our veteran Ironman Derek O’Brien..

Where to start?
~ Barca was not my first Full Long Distance Tri… However it has cemented my love for this Distance…
~ Asked recently from a club member if I’d recommend??? absof*#kinglutely!!!

My Journey with Triathlon & fitness began for me back in 2012 when through Work I signed up for a Marathon Challenge, at the time I weighed over 17stone… Through advice & guidance from industry experts I managed to shed 5stone & complete DCM in sub 4hours…
~ On one of my ‘cross training ‘ exercise’s around the Ring of Kerry on a mountain bike my coach (Karl Henry) suggested I should consider Triathlon!!! I laughed & said I can’t swim!!!

Late 2013, through a friend (Larry) I got involved with Portmarnock Tri… WOW!!!
~ I learned to Swim
~ I competed in numerous Triathlons.
~ 2014 I completed IM Bolton
~ 2016 I completed The Hardman 140.6 in Horrific Weather Conditions… & I Swore I was done with this distance!!

2017 I Agreed (through pier pressure) to give Barcelona IM a go…

To say I had no expectations going into the race is an understatement…
~ My Training began really on holidays the 3 weeks prior to Dublin IM 70.3… I decided if I got through Dublin I’d put in 6 hard weeks & give Barca a go!!
~ So I did & I did!!!

I trained twice a day most days… got the miles in on the legs & the Meters in on the arms, my only fear was my bike with time constraints & family commitments I found it hard to get out for long spins, I was envious of the lads when they’d post their Saturday spin & Brick session’s.

Sept 30th came quick & despite my lack of training, I felt strong, I’d minded my diet over the past 6 weeks & I felt ‘Healthy’ so mentally I felt ok.
~ Nutrition is the 4th Discipline of Ironman in the lead into the race & throughout the race.
~ I New what I had to do to keep my body going on the day…

Sept 30th…
~ Late Swim start 08:08
Didn’t suit me because it reduced the cut off to 15:40 & although I was pretty confident I’d get in before it, I was still nervous, my previous two attempts were 14:45 & 14:25.

08:32 ~ Swim Start
~ I’m off… I felt good, I like the ‘self Seeding start’ myself Larry, Stephen, Damien & Colm all set off together in the 1hr10 slot (Optimistic for Me).
~ 1 Loop Swim so 400M out 1.5K along the Coast & Back & 400M back in (approx).
~ Water Temp 20+ degrees (too hot for me) I regretted not putting my hat over my goggles so I could discard the hat.
~ Felt Good in the water, looked at my watch at one stage to check time, only to read Low Battery!!! F*#K!!!
~ Stood up, looked at the watch again 1.17… Great Swim for me!!! 2min per 100M perfect!!!

9.50: T1
I felt relaxed had my banana while getting ready for the bike, got organized ran out of the tent (eating my protein bar, very calm, enjoying the moment) to my bike… PANIC… Where’s my bike? I left it here ‘Section P’ Where is it FFS!!! Someone has taken it… Where’s a Marshall when you need one….
Relax Derek!! Look Around!!!
I was at the wrong end of P!!!
~ With competing in endurance events, you learn to talk & Listen to yourself…
Panic over, I have my bike & I’m leaving T1…

10:00 ~ Bike Start
~ 180K of Rolling Roads so no real big climbs, but your pushing for the Lot, I’m still not sure what I prefer, a few climbs with respite on the decline or constant pedaling?
~ The Key (for me) to completing an Ironman is nutrition on the bike, every 20mins EAT + minimum 1 bottle of fluid an hour…. At times it’s hard to get into you, but you must fuel!!!
~ For me it was 1/2 Bar / Gel / 1/2 Bar + 1 Bottle ever Hour.
~ I felt good on the bike, the route was 2 & 1/2 loops, headwind going out but you got the benefit coming back, the real challenge was not to draft (or not to get caught) I seen a lot of penalties being issued & I genuinely tried to avoid being compromised.
~ For this particular IM I do think a TT Bike is a benefit, I was on the bars for all of it…

3:30 ~ T2
5.30 Bike (approx) Happy Days…
Got organized, Runners on, race belt with gels & Set off!!!

3:38 ~ Run
~ Left T2 not knowing really what to expect, despite my experience at this distance, today was the longest bike ride I’d had in over a year (Hardman 2016) & I’d Done very little ‘Brick’ Work…
~ Ran out & to my surprise the legs felt ok… My GPS had failed at 40K on the bike so I only had the time of day.
~ Mentally I broke it down, 5K every 30mins… “10min miles, you can do this all day Derek” was my Mantra!
~ i Walked through all the aid stations availing of all what was on offer…. Again Nutrition is the 4th discipline of Ironman!!!
~ Met Damien, Stephen & Jacqui along the route, that for me is the great thing about IM, the loops make it feel shorter.
~ Caught up with Stephen about 10K to go & it was a ‘Godsend’ we plodded together chit chatting for about 8K & it really took the sting out of the final leg. (Thanks Stephen)

8:08 ~ Finish Line
With a 4.24 Marathon, I crossed the line in 11:36:11…

Competing in an Ironman, whether for a time or just to complete it can be an overwhelming ask of anyone, my honest advice, join a club, a local club, the comradeship & craic with like minded people makes the hard work easy…

A huge shout out to Damien, Stephen, Colm, Eddie, Dominick & Jacqui, who all took part in Barcelona & completed it in great times.

An even bigger shout out to Larry O’Byrne who was looking like he was on for a 10hour IM only for an unfortunate spill off the bike with 1K to go.
Next Year Pal!!!!

Thanks for reading.