Meet the member – Claire Behan

Well Claire, how’s the form? How’s everything going for you?
Great thanks, trying to keep all the plates spinning, so far, so good. There’s been plenty of tantrums over the last year (and that’s just me). Navigating life through a global pandemic has been testing, but everyone is safe and well. I’m very thankful for that.

Tell us about how you got interested in Triathlon and how you came to join Pulse?
Picture it….New Year’s day 2016, a little worse for wear but full anticipation for what the year would bring, I felt the need to go big with the New Year’s resolution. Pounding the pavement had become tedious. Cue booking Dublin 70.3, I was utterly chuffed with myself, and oh so naive. Fast forward 3 months, and I realised I had absolutely no clue how to train for a triathlon. I’d heard about Pulse through a running buddy, so I made contact. I did a trial swim in Westpark and while the feedback “you did alright but blew up at the end” followed by a shrug wasn’t exactly what I’d hoped for, the brutal honesty, was exactly what I needed. I’d never been coached in sport before, well apart from as a teen in soccer. When your nickname is super-sub, and you overhear your coach, on a particularly cold and wet day, say, “I’ll have to give her a run, she’s freezing”, you realise there wasn’t much for him to work with. In 2014 when I started running, I’d just followed generic running plans, this was new and harsh, but I liked it. I officially became a Pulse member and started putting in some proper training for the 70.3.

Tell us about your first race.
My first race was Try-a-Tri in Portlaoise. It was a sprint distance, pool swim, and I loved it. On the way to registration, we bumped into Mazz & Dazz (to-be at the time) Hughes. It was mine and Mairead’s first race; I was thrilled to have a buddy, the nerves were bubbling away. Our start wasn’t for hours, so we went for a full Irish breakie, as you do pre-race. When I saw Mairead dissecting her sausage before she ate it, I knew I’d met a kindred spirit. The race was amazing. Running through Castleknock in the Dublin marathon, I always feel like Beyonce, this time running barefoot into T1, I channelled my inner Lara Croft to the max!
I was buzzing after the race. The chaos of transition, hoping not to forget to clip out at the demount line, the jelly legs off the bike, gaining a few places on the run, it was a full-on assault of the senses and I revelled in it.

What’s your favourite race/distance to race?
To be honest, I’m not sure. I’ve only raced a handful of times. Possibly Olympic distance, it’s not as all-consuming as the longer distances but gives you time to get warmed up and settle into the race. I started training for a full distance in 2020, another spontaneous New Year commitment. My sights were set on Hamburg, but it was not to be. I picked up the training again in December, but it’s unlikely to happen this year either. It’s entirely possible I’ll be the Ironman that never did!

What’s your favourite Pulse memory so far?
Ummm…. there’s been a few. I loved Youghal last year. I’d never done the overnight club thing; it was great fun. I was in awe of those who could stay up all night, consume copious amounts of alcohol while I was tucked up in my bed before midnight (ahem). And then pull out 100km spins, and 20km runs without breaking a sweat. No, I don’t hate them, I promise. The bromance between Kevin and Paul was also a privilege to bear witness to!
Standing on the water’s edge of Blessington lakes, sick with nerves, and a Pulse angel appeared at my shoulder. Niall, without you, I wouldn’t have gotten into the water.
The run route of the 70.3, the hordes of Pulsers, loud and proud, willing us all to cross the line.
Shots on the dance floor for the newbies at the Christmas party.
Post Killiney chats
A pulse hen, swimming, cycling and running but mostly soul-food company
Standing in a pool next to a Pulser giant telling me how “cooked” I should be going a race, “much better to be under than over”!
All lovely memory nuggets.

What’s the best thing about being in a Triathlon club?
It has to be the connections. The people you meet, the randomly personal chats on long bikes. The experience people are so willing to share. From the newbies, brimming with enthusiasm, to the veterans, the passion and commitment people show for this sport is very cool.

When you’re not swimming or pedalling or running, what keeps you busy?
Cillian, Sophia, Doireann and Damhan, our four little people, keep me from being idle. Thankfully they are all thriving, have lots of friends and interests, so plenty going on. Outside of the home, I’m an Advanced Nurse Practitioner in St. James’s Hospital. I love my job, work with a team that I love and have met the most inspiring and resilient patients. I also started a PhD a few months back, and I’m really enjoying it. So yes, a full and fruitful life that gets utterly overwhelming at times, but for the most part, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Outside of Triathlon, what’s your favourite sporting memory or achievement? (Doesn’t have to be your own!)
It has to be my marathon memories. Completing my first was so special. Completing London after having our fourth child, my comeback, was epic. Completing Dublin with a patient (suffering 7 seizures throughout the race) was a humbling experience. But Dublin 2019 beats them all; crossing the line with Jonathan, my husband, was one of the top 10 life moments.

What’s the bucket list, once in a lifetime race you’d love to experience?
Kona, of course! Or just any bloody race at this stage.

What’s the next Triathlon goal you’d like to tick off?
It would be really nice to cross the full distance line and not just keep training for it.

What’s your favourite book/movie/tv show? What do you like about them?
Dirty dancing, it needs no explanation, “I carried a watermelon”- classic.
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 133/4, it made so much sense to my preteen brain
Fifty Shades of Gray, yes really!
The Gene- read it, we’re scarily close to repeating history.
Friends- If only to marvel at Rachel’s hair.

What are the go-to tunes/podcasts for a training session?
There’s absolutely nothing sexy about my podcast library. If it’s not parenting podcasts, it’s TED Talks. I’m also partial to murder mystery type stuff, not the best when you’re off running in the woods! I don’t tend to go for the tri-specific content. I leave all that theory stuff to the experts.

Who inspires you, be it in sports or in regular life?
This list is endless; I admire so many people in my life and am genuinely inspired by “everyday people”. Anyone who’s keeping their head above water the last 12 months is a hero in my book.
The resilience of my kids throughout this pandemic blows me away. My 94-year-old grandmother in law, who’d drink me under the table, is a living legend.
I could listen to Gerry Duffy all day; he’s an incredible man. The Queen of Pop, Madonna, should also be mentioned! During my formative years, Madonna was an icon of feminism. Her art has pushed boundaries and forced people to sit up and take notice. She refuses to be defined by narrow boundaries. Strong, in charge and successful, she embodies inclusion and reinvention, our girls today, could learn a lot from Madge. Love her or loathe her; she rocked Slane 2004! And yes, that is my bra burning!
From within the club, there are so many inspiring individual, for all sorts of reasons. In particular, I tip my cap to the Pulse ladies (sorry, lads). Strong, intelligent, athletic women. They have taught me about resilience and determination, strength and compassion. Each with different challenges in life, they tackle them with grace and courage, casting no judgement and elevating each other. I am in awe of them. You know who you are.

Finally, what one nugget of advice would you give to a new member starting out on their Triathlon journey?
I’m such a wise old bird; I’ve got a few.
Seek out training buddies; the friendships you forge will last you longer than your shiny new bike.
Find support, at home, at work; it takes a community to build a triathlete.
Get a mantra, something to say to yourself to push through the tough times- “I am calm, and I am confident” was given to me. It’s reset negative thoughts so many times, borrow it.
Learn! Take something away from the good, the bad and the ugly of training sessions and races; it will keep the journey interesting.
Talk triathlon to your triathlon friends only. I’ve cleared many a coffee room, regaling riveting stories from the weekend’s long spin. The glazed over eyes and automatic head nodding of a non-tri person while you detail your week’s training plan is just not fun for anyone.
Race yourself; if that’s a podium finish, give it everything you’ve got; if it’s a finish, give it everything you’ve got.
And don’t get intimated! Admire the speedy ones, the swanky gear, the drool-worthy bikes but remember, this is just for fun. There is a place for everyone in triathlon; find yours!

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

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