Thanks to Carmel for her report, another great read:
The road to an Ironman is a tough and lonesome journey. Throw in broken bones, battering and bruising after being knocked off the bike, terror getting back on it, bike suffering its own injuries and requiring surgery 4 weeks out (go Bob Murray and Peter Moynihan). Then on the home straight, breaking an elbow 2 weeks before the event (thanks Paul Scully for sound advice) so the day itself surely couldn’t get any harder?? Wrong!
The very first Ironman 140.6 in Ireland arrived on a day when the weather conditions were so brutal that competitors were dropping like flies before it even got off the ground. Standing in transition waiting for announcements on swim/shortened swim/no swim, in the cold rain, had the spirits lowering bit by bit. By the time no swim was announced we were already soaked and cold and tired from a 3:30am wake up call.
A Long long wait, as numbers were called back into the tent to change into bike gear and go stand by your bike for another hour while the relentless rain (39.1mm in a day) soaked us through, and finally by the time you swung your leg over the bike your mind was shutting down, the adrenaline no longer pumping and it was a matter of playing mind games to get back in the game…but back in the game we got!
Took off like bats out of hell trying to find a way to warm up before the hypothermia set in. The crowds of supporters all up at silly o clock, lined the start route under umbrellas and ponchos and screamed encouragement at us and that was it. Let’s do this Thing! For all the people who suffered for months when we were missing from their lives with our training or sleeping, and yet were here beside us all the way in horrendous weather but smiling and encouraging and motivating. If you could only bottle it! Ger Carey my bike companion and rock, with Oisin, Laoise, Fiachra and Elan ( Maebh following from work back home), 2 amazing sisters Sheila and Dee never faltering for a minute, the marvellous Mary Duggan running companion and motivator, (Denny Ryan there in spirit) all down for the weekend to cheer and boost us all on.
It carried us around the hilly route twice, through flooded roads and winds that threatened to upend you, and still they were there at every corner telling us to stay going, you’re doing great, you’re fantastic and exuding so much energy it became contagious. That was truly amazing. I couldn’t have made it back up windmill hill a second time around without my support crew running alongside me, cheering me on, willing me to keep going, pushing me off again on my merry way to T2. James and Yvonne (upended in her enthusiasm!), Noel o Meara who got me back on track many’s a time along the way and was there for the push off! Sinead, Maeve, Greg, Paul, Majella, Geraldine and Mike Buckley with his camera, all smiling and waving me on and left me feeling uplifted on the downhill to T2.
I had to ask for help to peel off the wet clothes, as my left arm at this stage was rendered useless, and help dress me in dry gear and push me out on the run course. The rest was epic! I was now in my element, I would finish and enjoy every minute of the 26.2 miles where the supporters roared and cheered and called our names and did Mexican waves outside the pub and rang bells and clapped hands and high fived us…oh my god it was truly sensational.
Now I got to see the incredible Ciara, Timmy, Eoin and Ken who had given me so much hope for getting over the line and we now smiled broadly as we passed each other knowing we were doing something incredible. Anthony Sherlock you told me I would be “the solid finest” and now I was! Returning to the chute to the finish with my support crew running alongside me cheering, videoing (Emma Buckley arrived just in time) and beaming from ear to ear. I finally ran to the finish line. I could see my crew still hanging on after more than 14 hours and I felt like this is what it was all about! I had a dream, I made a plan, I told my family and friends, they said you’re stone mad, they rowed in behind me but they never left my side and never let me stop believing I could do it. Finish times are irrelevant, it wasn’t about one day it was a Journey to a destination and hey….Job done!
So many thanks to all you beautiful people and true friends sending me love and best wishes from wherever you were on the day.