I remember reading an article in the local paper in September 2010 – “Ironman was coming to Galway in 12 months time”.
On first reading I thought it was the full 140.6 distance but on further investigation on their website I discovered it was the 70.3 mile distance had just started my second year in college and I initially thought I might sign up to help out at the event which would count as work experience towards my college course.
However the more I considered it, 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile cycle and 13.1 mile run, the more I thought it was doable for a beginner!
I started looking seriously at what I would need to do to complete this race.
I knew I would need to stick to a dedicated training regime for the swim section. Additionally I would need to equip myself with a bike suitable for the cycle; Galway city out to Maam Cross and back.
It was real attraction for me that most of the race took place almost on my doorstep. It actually made the training really enjoyable and I was gaining ‘course and distance’ experience into the bargain.
I spent most of the summer swimming from the Diving Tower in Blackrock out to the marker buoys – working on my technique and building up my stamina in tandem.
The run section for the 70.3 was to be along the ‘Prom’ in Salthill which was one of my favourite training routes from when I started running.
On the weekend of the race there was a massive buzz around Salthill. The adrenalin alone would carry a lot of athletes through much of the event.
Weather conditions turned out bad on the morning of the race, with the elements conspiring to have the swim reduced to 800m for safety reason.
Although the swim was tough the rough conditions actually boosted my confidence and the cycle leg, albeit on the exposed route to Maam Cross and back, didn’t seem that bad.
As a result I felt reasonable fresh and settled in to the 13.1 mile run confident that I could complete the challenge.
The support on the day was huge with crowds everywhere and I fed off that energy and support to supplement my efforts all along the route.
I spent most of the run trying not to over think things! I knew the route inside out.
I remember vividly taking the last corner on Grattan road and starting to make one final push up the prom before turning into Salthill Park where the finish line beckoned – I managed one final sprint and I crossed the line in 6:51 – tired but elated.
As I am writing this it has just been announced that Challenge Galway has added a 70.3 mile race to the event on in June 2016.
I’m really tempted to enter as the 13.1 mile run will be two laps of Salthill Prom.
I will need to do a good bit of swim training and make some changes to my bike but overall I can see myself racing next June.
I can help others to prepare! I can give you the benefit of my experience! Watch out for classes and workshops from O’Maille Fitness in the near future.