Meet the member – Jennifer Shorten
When did you join Pulse?
I joined Pulse in 2013 although had been thinking about it since the year previous. Found the process of joining a club daunting as I was coming from zero experience in all sports so wasn’t sure if I’d fit into a club – 7 years later obviously I did!!!
Had you any experience of Triathlon before joining the club?
I had started running with some of my work friends and we were looking at other events to take part in – I live in Athy so saw TriAthy every year – and suggested we give this a go. My sister was in Pulse before me and I remember thinking she was crazy the year she did the Sprint distance. Short memory!! So in 2012 I did the Try a Tri which was my first multi-sport event. I then decided to join Pulse the following year to keep the races up and more importantly to be able to train with a group and learn more about the sport.
How and why did you get started in Triathlon?
The primary reason was fitness – I was very active in school but fell away once I started working. So I started running and this progressed into triathlon. I found run only grand – but a bit boring – so the multi – sport event interested me and I was familiar with triathlon through my sister. I had no excuse really with Tri Athy on my doorstep so this was an obvious starting point – and still is for many people new to the sport.
Tell us about your first race
I did Try Athy with my work friends – all first timers. I had bought my first bike since childhood in the April – rented a wetsuit from Cycle Superstore and cobbled together something to wear as this was well before tri – suits. I literally could not swim – barely managed the 400m in the pool – stopping and starting – and was so nervous the morning of. But learnt pretty fast that you cannot sink in a wetsuit so was quite happy bobbing away in the Barrow. The Try a Tri swim was 400m then – all downstream – so I managed a combination of doggy paddle, breast stroke and a nice fast current to get me through. The rest was a blur – needing help out of the wetsuit – trying to remember everything for the bike – not touching the bike without the helmet – not falling off the bike – and then hoping my legs wouldn’t fail at the start of the run as brick training was not in my vocabulary at this time. Luckily I was still in runners on the bike so had no cleat worries – and before you know it my group of friends were finished – and we had a party to celebrate in my house. Nothing beats the buzz of finishing a race – and having such a good experience with the first one meant I was hooked!
What’s your favourite race/distance to race?
I think middle distance is my favourite – it’s a challenge – but it’s also a race you can settle into as I find Sprints fast and furious – and I’m not fast!!! Long distance is a huge commitment and not for me too often!! I’m still living through my first one!! Standard distance is good too – again as there’s a bit of settling in time.
I think my favourite race has been the Lost Sheep – challenging bike and run but I really enjoy the prep (hills are brill) and finishing is the achievement! I had to withdraw from the swim the last time I entered as I’m having back issues (still) – but am hoping to get back there next year. TBH my favourite races are the ones we have a weekend away for – nothing beats the Friday night race preparation/nerves – race morning with club mates and the post-race party afterwards!!
What’s your favourite Pulse memory so far?
Hell of the West is the epic Pulse race – and was famous when I joined the club so was definitely on the bucket list. It’s a hard standard distance race with a great Pulse beach party afterwards. The last year I did the race I was still struggling with my swim so was very late getting out of the water and I was obviously down the back of the pack for finishing. I remember coming down the last hill on the run – hearing the finish line – and as I made it to the finish I noticed all Pulsers were at the finish line to cheer me home. This was a great feeling as often there’s little support for the stragglers – who have raced the same race as the winners – but it was great to see everyone. We took a break from having Hell of the West as our Standard Club Race (we pick races each year for the club to focus on) and had only decided to go back this year – until it was cancelled due to Covid – I hope next year we’ll be back!!!
What’s the best thing about being in a Triathlon club?
Some obvious things – like fitness, health and mental wellbeing – all from the training and racing. It’s been hard to keep things going this year and as I don’t live in Dublin I have been isolated from club training – but the best anti-depressant is a 5km run – so having the base in training has kept me somewhat active during these unusual times and kept me sane!!But I think the best thing about Pulse has to be the people – I’ve made some of my best friends in Pulse and one thing we do well is support each other – through training, racing and personal times. I’ve had amazing opportunities to travel as a member of the club – one of my better disciplines is supporting – I’ve travelled a huge amount supporting team mates in international races (and some I was also competing in) – some destinations include: Frankfurt, Lanzarote, Austria, Lisbon, Barcelona, Nice and……..Hawaii!! This is something I’ve really missed this year – and am hopeful for a Lanza 2021 supporters trip next year….!
When you’re not swimming or pedalling or running, what keeps you busy?
I been on the Club committee for the last while – stepped down from the Secretary role last year – so that was keeping me busy – plus I helped with races and other things so found some days in work were Pulse days……..! I’m back on the committee so I expect this to keep me occupied – it’s great to be on the committee and you see everything that’s going on and help plan the year’s training and club races.
I work for the HSE and manage a team in Clonmel – so Monday to Friday is flat out too.
In normal years we have a social life – this year has been a blip – but I do enjoy getting together with friends – so am looking forward to hopefully a normal year next year!
Outside of Triathlon, what’s your favourite sporting memory or achievement?
I was on the school basketball team and we met a team in the Leinster Schools League who were using this awful distraction tactic by shouting in our faces – we lost that match and were really put out by it. But we met them again in the semi-final – they were still trying to use that annoying tactic – but it didn’t phase us this time and we wiped the floor with them. We lost the actual final – but felt like the semi was our win after all.
What’s the bucket list, once in a lifetime race you’d love to experience?
A group of us had planned to do an overseas marathon this year – but this obviously didn’t happen. When looking at the marathons available I noticed one in Greenland – suggested this jokingly but it’s something I’d like to look into – I like challenges (I don’t take part to win anything) and I think something like this could be a challenge!!
I do think I’d like to do another Ironman – but would like to go outside Europe – merge the race with an epic holiday – somewhere like Canada or New Zealand. Go large!!
What’s the next Triathlon goal you’d like to tick off?
I think I’d like to finally sort my swim technique – I’ve been saying this for a while but had actually started back in the pool and was setting up coaching when Level 5 kicked in. I get through swims on fitness and power – but would like to swim smarter so I’ve more in the tank for the bike. My general triathlon goal – get to Poland 70.3 next year – we deferred from this year so this will be my race/holiday for next year!!
Finally, what one nugget of advice would you give to a new member starting out on their Triathlon journey?
Never feel embarrassed to ask for help or advice – from anyone on the committee, coaching team or members – it took me a year before I wore Pulse gear racing as I didn’t want to draw attention to my slow self at races – but I copped on soon after and realised that even the best members have
their doubts and need help and advice. You’ll always get a cheer in Pulse gear – from members and other spectators. Plus everyone is so willing to help and welcome new members – Pulse is very inclusive to all – and while we train and race hard we also enjoy the social aspect – there is no party like a Pulse party!!!