Meet the member – Gary Smith

Well Gary, how’s the form? How’s everything going for you?

Hello there!!
All is great with me thanks. Great to see the country is returning to some sort of normality after the madness of the last 18 months.
Plus, I was cheered up no end this week hearing the news that TriAthy is looking like it will go ahead, fingers crossed there are more positive times ahead!

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

I think the first time I had an actual conversation with someone about triathlon was around 2016 when I was player/manager of a soccer team in Terenure.
We were having a very good season and challenging for the league when my captain Sean starting rabbiting on about not being able to either train or make certain matches because he was also training for something called an Ironman. As you can imagine I just dismissed the excuses and told him to forget the IM and concentrate on winning us the league……which of course he ignored!
So, after missing out on the league that year (ahem!!) and just generally fed up with the constant struggle of trying to get lads half my age to train and not turn up “half cut” to matches, I decided to step away from soccer and look for something different.

Cue my 2nd ever conversation about triathlon with Sean again who managed this time around to spark an interest in me about it.
As in most cases the swim was the hurdle that made me doubt, I could do one.
I had learnt how to swim (eventually!) as a kid with the help of some seriously patient instructors from Templeogue Swimming Pool but never had to put those skills to the test as an adult.
But despite my worries and doubts I just jumped in and booked the Sprint distance in Athy reckoning the 5 months lead in time was plenty of time to get things sorted.
I have to say I struggled a lot to make any progress with the swim initially and I remember one night coming out of a public swim in Templeogue (about 10 weeks out from the event) and just sitting in the car thinking “there is no way in hell I’m gonna get through this swim leg”.
I had gotten over some crazy mistakes at first such as not breathing at all under the water while trying to do 25m, but I just couldn’t seem to get anywhere near the 750m I needed.
I was reading a book at the time called “The 4-Hour Body” by Tim Ferris when like fate, the next chapter that night was all about how having never learnt to swim, he went from being only able to do a max of 2 lengths of a 20m pool to at least 40 lengths in the space of 10 days……I was enthralled!
Having read the full chapter a few times that night and looking at the supporting You Tube Videos he recommended, the following day I went to the pool on my lunch and swam 30 lengths……I couldn’t believe it, the 750m I needed……and I felt less tired than I did the previous night where I was nowhere near that distance!
I was chuffed and ready to take on my first Sprint triathlon that summer and subsequently my first Olympic distance 4 weeks after TriAthy.

Throughout the rest of 2018, every triathlon magazine or online blog I read consistently mentioned the huge benefits to be gained by joining a club, so I started to look for one local enough to me in Lucan.
I remember watching a highlights reel on the Pulse website and thinking “bloody hell they look like they are having great craic” but at the same time being majorly intimidated…. mainly by all the carbon wheels, fancy sunglasses and overly tight lycra!
Again, I said, “feck it” and sent off an enquiry email.
The following night I was in the pool in Westpark and got talking to a few people wearing Pulse swim hats who I now know was John Goodall and Debbie Carr.
At this point I know you are probably thinking “and you still ended up joining Pulse?” but joking aside they were more than friendly and the following week I was officially a Pulser! 😊

Tell us about your first race?

As alluded to earlier, my first race was the Sprint distance in Athy.
Looking back now I was a nervous wreck and genuinely doubted I could put all 3 disciplines together and complete the race.
I had borrowed EVERYTHING to do the event (from my new “triathlon buddy” Sean) so needless to say I was blown away with the amount of gear on show that day.
I had completed SwimAthy the week before which had been a huge confidence boost for me but still, getting out of that river and into T1 was such a weight lifted off my shoulders.
Nothing else really sticks out for me about the race other than the overriding enjoyment and satisfaction coming over the finish line and getting my medal.
The Double Olympic distance triathletes were also finishing the same time and I do remember saying to my wife Rachael “I’ll be back to do the double here someday” ……I guess I was hooked!

What’s your favourite race/distance to race?

I was due to complete my first full distance triathlon in Cork next month so I can’t comment on that just yet, but I have to say I loved the Ironman 70.3 I did in Weymouth back in 2019.
Having DNF’d in Dún Laoghaire the month before due to a bike mechanical, I wasn’t going to let all my training go to waste, so I booked the race in Weymouth the day after DL. Although I was so bitterly disappointed and frustrated about DL, being able to race outside Ireland and have a family holiday at the same time was something I wouldn’t change for anything…….my young lads had a ball!
Life has a funny way of working stuff out for the best even in times of adversity, I guess.
(Back to the question) So while I do love an Olympic, I feel I’m probably better suited to a longer distance.

What’s your favourite Pulse memory so far?

My favourite Pulse memory so far would probably have to be the training weekend last year down in Youghal just before Covid hit us all!
Despite torrential weather on the Friday night when we got down, things brightened up for the rest of the weekend and we managed to get all the training done as planned.
I loved the structure of the weekend, the different activities planned and then the food and bit of a laugh in the evening time with everyone from the club.
I’m told the training weekend abroad is even better so hopefully that goes ahead next year fingers crossed!

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

Hands down it’s being around “like minded” people who are pretty much all going/have been through the same mid-life crisis as you! 😊
The wealth of knowledge from within a club is massive too especially when starting out in the sport.

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

I have 3 boys, Adam (9), Ryan (7) and Luke (4) who 100% keep me busy outside of triathlon! The two older lads do GAA, hurling, soccer, swimming, kickboxing and then are members of Pulse Juniors so I’m also a part-time chauffeur 😊……. roll on next year when we’ve Luke joining in too……. yikes!
Other than that, I/we love watching a Man Utd match and listening to music……. not much going on here I know but who does in this sport!

Outside of Triathlon, what’s your favourite sporting memory or achievement? (Doesn’t have to be your own!)

Would have to be going to Moscow in 2008 to see Man Utd beat Chelsea in the Champions League Final.
Back then I had a season ticket in Old Trafford and would’ve been over quite a lot, so it was fantastic to follow them all throughout that season and be lucky enough to get a ticket for the final.
Myself and my mate (not Sean this time!) flew to Riga in Latvia, stayed a night and then the following day flew on to Moscow for the final.
The atmosphere being at such a huge sporting occasion was brilliant and even better when your team wins which they did on penalties.
Moscow was such a lovely city and somewhere I’d love to go back to someday.

Obviously, Kona is the dream for a lot of members, but are there any other bucket list, once-in-a-lifetime type races you’d love to experience?

Cliché and all as it sounds, I haven’t really let myself look much further ahead than the season in front of me so far.
But I suppose Challenge Roth and Ironman Lanzarote would be two races on the bucket list for the future.
Other than that, I’ve no doubt I’ll end up getting dragged into something stupid over the next few years by the “DH’s” – you know who you are!!

What’s the next Triathlon goal you’d like to tick off?

So, when I started working with Ciat earlier this year in preparation for IM Cork, he specifically asked me was there a “plan B” in my head just in case Covid messed things up and the race was cancelled.
I started to mull on it for a bit and think about if Cork was a non-runner, what would really motivate me to keep going with the “crazy o’clock” training sessions!
The answer??……..doing an event that scares me alongside the challenge of raising funds for charity!
I never told Ciat at the time but in my head, I had pretty much decided my “plan B” would be to try and complete two Ironman distance triathlons over two consecutive days and in the process hopefully raise as much funds as possible for my charity of choice.
As I touch upon on the fundraising page below, I had my own cancer diagnosis 3 months into my triathlon journey (and before joining Pulse) so being able to try raise funds and awareness for The Gavin Glynn Foundation (TGGF) was something I was delighted to do.
I’ve been really touched by the level of support shown not only through donations (we are currently 72% there to reaching the target of €5,000…. hint hint nudge nudge!!!) but also the kind and encouraging messages I’ve received and the willingness of people to get involved in the event itself.
Can’t believe the event is next weekend 7th and 8th August but thanks to Ciat I am feeling well prepared and excited to take on the challenge!
All details will be/can be found on the fundraising page below so please get behind the event by donating what you can to TGGF.


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

My kids are mad into reading and are true “book worms” whereas I’m told I’m more of a “book snail” 😊
Really enjoyed “Recovering” by Richie Sadlier but also finding “Awaken Your Power Within” by Gerry Hussey a brilliant read too. Both very thought provoking!

Movies wise I’d find it hard to look beyond “The Wolf of Wall Street” or movies directed by Christopher Nolan such as “Inception” or “The Dark Knight Trilogy”.
Also love the likes of “The Godfather” and “Braveheart”.

Gotta say the likes of “The Office” (UK), “The Inbetweeners” or “Modern Family” never fail to make me laugh and cheer me up!

What are the go-to tunes/podcasts for a training session?

Depends on the session really.
Z1/Z2 sessions I’d tend to listen to a podcast, probably “Triathlon Taren” or “Impact Theory with Tom Bilyeu”.
For Z3/Z4 tempo/interval sessions I have my own mixed playlist with the likes of GnR, AC/DC, Daughtry and generally more random upbeat songs that help push me through those tough moments!

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

I’d have to say people such as John Glynn from TGGF or the many children the foundation has helped who despite the adversity life has thrown at them, they still find a way to fight on and remain positive.

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

There is no such thing as a stupid question so just ask!

Finally, can you tell us an interesting fact or story we don’t know about you?

Back when I was a kid, I represented Leinster at the Junior Squash Interprovincials and got as far as being ranked 5th in Leinster!
My dad played league squash when I was a kid so from an early age I was always around the sport and picked it up quite quickly.
It’s something I always said I’d like to go back to at some point……plus it’s cheaper than triathlon!

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