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Meet the member – John O’Donnell


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

Not too bad thanks, plodding along like everyone else at the moment. Schools reopening has been a big relief to stress levels in the house!! Hopefully the 5km lockdown will be expanded in a few weeks and we can enjoy the good weather outside on our bikes.

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

I kind of fell into triathlon to be honest. I played rugby into my early 30’s but after a few years of breaking at least 1 bone a season I retired and started doing a lot of running and adventure races. A few of my friends were doing triathlons at the time and as I had a road bike for commuting to work already, I decided to try swimming properly for the first time in about 20 years and have a go at one. The first triathlon I did was the Tri Athy sprint and from then I was hooked. I finished my first season with the Dublin 70.3 and it’s been onwards and upwards from there. I knew Niall Connaughton from my college days and he suggested that I join Pulse with him and I’ve been a Pulse member for 6 years now.

Tell us about your first race?

I wish I had some funny anecdote about my first race at Tri Athy, but it was pretty straightforward. Out of paranoia of not making a fool of myself I had spent hours in the back garden beforehand practicing transitions (much to my wife and neighbors’ amusement) so it all went quite well. The camaraderie between everyone before, after and during was great and I was instantly hooked on the sport.

What’s your favourite race/distance to race?

My favourite distance would probably be half ironman, it’s a good challenge of a distance and you can open up a bit more than a full ironman and go for it.

What’s your favourite Pulse memory so far?

My favourite memory is probably the night after my first (and only at the moment) full Ironman in Austria. The night after the event we had a good night in the local Irish bar, it was great to get to meet everyone socially.

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

Triathlon can be a pretty time consuming past-time, so it’s good to be connected to a group of like-minded people who understand the commitment needed to compete and are there to train with, bounce questions off and give advice.

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

Work and family, I have 2 youngish kids so that takes up most of my non-triathlon time, but outside of that I’d be a big rugby supporter and also like going to music festivals and gigs, when time allows.

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

Some of Ireland’s feats in the soccer World Cups will always be special, but as I was at it over in Edinburgh, seeing Leinster win their first rugby European cup in 2009 will always be special to me.

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

I have always wanted to do IM Lanzarote and am (COVID-19 permitting) due to do that this year,  but I think Kona would be the once in a lifetime race as it’s not something you can just sign up to.

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

As per above IM Lanzarote is the race I have always wanted to do, and hopefully will get to do that either this summer or next year.

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

I don’t have a particular taste and would usually watch or read whatever sounds interesting or is recommended by others. I just finished watching a Channel 4 series called It’s a Sin, which was really good, and am just about to start into the new Bryan Cranston series Your Honor. Bookwise I belatedly got into the ‘Games of Thrones’ books which I thought were amazing, much better the than the TV series.

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

For long runs I usually go for podcasts, I’m currently listening to a podcast on the history of Europe. For Zwift sessions I’d usually listen to something lively such as punk or dance to get me through them.

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

There’s no particular person overall who inspires me, but I’ve always respected those parts of people who have dedicated themselves to a particular goal or pursuit, such as Roy Keane in soccer or Steve Redgrave in rowing.

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

Getting into triathlon can be daunting with having to equip yourself for 3 different sports. You’ll quickly find out that there’s always someone using a more expensive / faster version of whatever equipment you are using and it can quickly turn into a very expensive sport if you get caught up into always trying to have the best of everything. In triathlon unless you are at the top of your age grade your only really competing against yourself and so my advice would be to start slowly setting your goals against the equipment you have, upgrading slowly piece by piece as you gain more experience and feel upgrades are needed to make a jump in rankings.

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

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