Meet the member – Caitríona Ryan

Well Caitriona, how’s the form? How’s everything going for you?
Hey hey, all good. I guess this lockdown is taking its toll more so than the first. But I’m glad to report I am now content with achieving nothing on a day to day basis. I had high hopes the first time round that I might knock out a Booker prize winning novel or learn a new language but those delusions have thankfully passed. And now, my day is accomplished if I get my college work done and I manage to get in a short run.

Tell us about your first race?
You know what’s fun? Signing up for the half IM with pretty much no plan or appropriate training or even knowing a true life triathlete. But when Olympian Sinead Jennings tells you- you can do it- you pretty much feel like Chrissie

At the time 2017, I was living with Sinead Jenning’s husband (that sounds weird) Sam Lynch and Sinead came to visit for the weekend (sounds even weirder) and said she was flirting with the idea about doing the Dublin 70.3 in 3 months and I should definitely do it. In my pure ignorance- I thought she was ‘just a really good rower’ chancing her arm at a triathlon.

I have a swimming background and sure the “swim is the hard part” so in my head – I had already beaten her and so at least I wouldn’t come last. What I didn’t realise was that she had won the genetic lottery and was an athletic pedigree.

A very unstructured 3 months of running as ‘fast as I can’ and some double spinning classes – took me to the start line feeling confident. The starting gun went off precisely at 7:30- German efficiency at its finest. The swim and cycle were
uneventful and then into the final stage in the Phoenix Park. Jumping off the bike, 2/3 down and glimpsing all my fans (my parents and the dog). I felt like a conquering hero, except something happened my legs- wobbly- embarrassing –
dammit. The scientists call it jelly legs but my updated explanation is when your legs go suddenly from roundy, roundy to bouncy bouncy – they don’t like it. So straight into the barrier I went for a few bruises and to wake up some spectators.

Jelly legs are not ideal when you need to chase down an Olympian who you haven’t sighted in about 2 hours. And thus I found myself, Sunday afternoon on the hottest day of the year suffering but becoming a triathlete.

Side note: Sinead had the wind and waves behind her and made podium in atime of 4:31.

Tell us about how you got interested in Triathlon and how you came to join Pulse?

Let’s face it, triathlon is an inherently silly thing and as triathletes we are definitely on the spectrum. We put on skimpy clothes and do 3 sports consecutively that most people don’t want to do one of. But it’s an addiction and an amazing sport.

After the 70.3 in Dun Laoghaire, I got the buzz and decided I wanted to aim for podium the following year. So I started training on my own but was beyond clueless of where to start. I decided to go to start with a track where I met Quainers, Claire and Matt Bird.

Disclaimer- I didnt make it the following week to the track- as Mr Bird told me that I should try toe running to get faster. Like an over eager student I went and ran 12km on my toes 2 days later and couldn’t walk, let alone run for a full week.

What’s your favourite race/distance to race?

Definitely the Half IM- I’m not cut out for that short fast stuff. Slow and steady are my friends. You can get into a rhythm and your only focus becomes- don’t drown, don’t crash, don’t walk, don’t bonk. Each of these become mini targets and accomplishments during the race.

What’s your favourite Pulse memory so far?

The trip to Mallorca was amazing, it was the following May and it was a week of constant guilt free triathlon obsessed conversation. I learned so much from the coaches and from the other members and made some very close friends (shout out to the Sa Calobra Legends).

What’s the best thing about being in a Triathlon club?

Its a tribe. The support you get from the other members is phenomenal. Some of the people I have met through the club are the most inspiring and encouraging people I have ever met.

When you’re not swimming or pedalling or running, what keeps you busy?

I had a ‘semi’ midlife crisis in 2019, when I signed up for the Ironman, quit my job in VHI and went back to college to study medicine (my mum cried- LOADS). I’m in second year now and the course is pretty demanding- but I love it.

Outside of Triathlon, what’s your favourite sporting memory or achievement?

Mallorja 312 is one of my favourite memories. Its 312km with 6000m of climbing and loads of glorious pints at the end. I had no idea what I was signing up for (common theme) or what 6000m of climbing looks like in real life- kind of like
the Ring of Kerry – with less scones, more heat and a few extra kms. It was a tough day but I love a good challenge and have a new appreciation for the granny ring. If anyone is interested in looking into it next year I’m coming!!!!

What’s the bucket list, once in a lifetime race you’d love to experience?

I think Kona is on everyone’s bucket list- but unfortunately I don’t have the time I used to, so it will remain a pipe dream for now. I still have unfinished business with the IM Cork- due to the swim being cancelled- thats definitely on the radar post covid.

What’s your favourite book/movie/tv show? What do you like about them?

This changes on a weekly basis – Im currently reading Midnight Library- which is excellent- its about – what’s the best that could happen in your life, and what’s the worst? What can you change, and what can’t you?

Who inspires you, be it in sports or in regular life?

One of my favourite quotes is “the only limits in your life are those that you set yourself’. I cant think of anyone that inspires me more than some of the members in Pulse. Ordinary people doing the extraordinary and pushing boundaries. Damien Derwin running 100km, Mike Gonda cycling Everest, Miriam Staunton giving the middle finger to cancer and cycling Malin to Mizen distance. These guys are redefining what we consider limits almost on a daily basis.

Finally, what one nugget of advice would you give to a new member starting out on their Triathlon journey?

If the wind is strong, embrace your inner sailboat. And – if Matt Bird tells you to start toe running- take it slowly!

Pulse Triathlon Club: swimming, cycling, running and socialising since 2003

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