Meet the member – Ken Byrne

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

Well like everyone at the moment I think the form is up and down, there are some days that I am doing ok and other days that not so good. I have totally lost my motivation for things which is a little frustrating but understandable in the circumstance so I am not being too hard on myself (or trying not to be).

At the moment all the weeks seem to be one long big boring day and that is driving me mad, so I am trying to do different things to shake things up the odd time.

I do keep reminding myself that I am lucky, I am a year now working from home this week and while others have suffered really badly losing jobs and other more awful things happen to them, I am able to do my job from home and don’t have the stress of not working, so being honest all is fine and I remind myself of this at least once a week. I am lucky.

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

As everyone knows I have my health issues, and when I was initially diagnosed with my Arthritis, I was very overweight and unhealthy. After a few years of treatment, I began to feel a little better.

I went back to the gym, it had a pool and my journey started right there, struggling to do 2 lengths of a 20-meter pool without stopping. I still remember how disappointed I was in myself not being able to do 2 lengths, I was so tired and my arms hurt.

But me being me and being annoyed and disappointed in myself I set small goals, so the 2 lengths soon became 4,10,20 and so on, I also started to note I was not as sore in my body arthritis wise after a swim session, I also started losing weight and being honest started to come back to myself a bit. My illness caused me as a person to disappear and as I started to feel better it was not just my body it was all of me and this was a great feeling.

As for triathlon, well that was still a little off, I didn’t even know what it was but a friend of mine was a member of Naas tri club and over a conversation at Christmas we got talking about triathlon (as one does as a fully-fledged triathlete) and when I went to the pool in the new year, I decided I needed a goal, so DCT sprint distance was it and I was turning 40 that September so I wanted to do this before the big  4 0 ..  

As for Pulse, well after living (just) through my 1st two triathlons on my own I decided if I were to keep this up, I needed help really as I still knew nothing. I googled triathlon clubs near me, Pulse came up and I liked what I read and just turned up on a Saturday morning for my 1st ever group cycle and the rest is history.

Tell us about your first race?

Oh god, it was DCT Sprint and looking back at the whole thing I was so out of my comfort zone. I remember sitting in the car looking at everybody going about their business and totally panicking and I was honestly very close to going home. I was on my own, knew nobody and felt so out of place.

I had a quiet word with myself and said look I trained, I put a lot of work into getting to this point so don’t put that to waste.

I had spent the last week looking at every motivational thing on the internet and that is really when the panic started.

The one really funny thing I remember was my bike had more than enough nutrition stuck to it to get me through maybe two full Ironman distance races.

I remember just being so nervous I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know if I could do it, I was sick to my stomach and I felt very lonely.

Then it was time, get into the lovely clear waters of the river Liffey (not), oh yea that was also the very 1st time my wetsuit touched water too, half cut one from Aldi. 

The swim was ok except at the turn where I got battered (I used to play a little water polo so didn’t Panick just took time to recover), I did have a really bad issue with my goggled misting up as the water was cold and I was getting warm so needed to stop a few times to clear them.

The bike was ok, nothing to write home about the hill was a bit of a hurt fest the second time around but I quite liked the bike I was not fast but got it done and was in one piece (oh and for the record, I did not take one of the many items stuck to my bike either).

Then the run, ah the run.

Did I mention I had not run for over maybe 15 years, even training for this, yes this is true.

I have dodgy ankles so running for me is sore so my logic was “I used to be able to run”, so 5k should be ok, except someone (me), forgot to tell my body this.

I was about 500 meters into the run and my back muscles were like, no way just no way. Things were not going to plan. I had prepared to run through the pain from my ankles but now I didn’t know what part of me was sorer.

Anyhow, long story short between jogging and walking I made it to the finish line I was in bits but happy.   

What’s your favourite race/distance to race?

Probably Olympic distance, there is not as much a rush as a sprint, you can kind of just get into it more.

What’s your favourite Pulse memory so far?

Honestly there have been so many, but for me there are two times that stand out most and they are what this club is all about support and friendships.

Dublin 70.3 for me was my biggest undertaking in triathlon and from the moment I mentioned I was going to do it right to the time I crossed the finish line I got support from everyone and that is hard to put into words really.

I was struggling in the run big time and out of nowhere there was a friendly face from the club came up beside me, keeping me going and getting me to the end of the road. And then eventually when I got to the red carpet, the group of guys at the finish line cheering me on in the wet awful conditions was amazing, I will never forget it.

I was so tired too I barely remember talking to them or anything but I still get a little emotional thinking about it all.

And similarly, doing Harbourman and I was again having a bad time, (common theme with me) I was like 2nd last and they were dismantling the finish, so many people had gone home yet the pulsers waited to cheer me across the line it just means so much.

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

To me support, friendship, experience (there is always someone you can reach out to ask a question to or someone willing to help with issues or stuff) and honestly the fun and laughter.

The chance to do proper structured tri specific training too.

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

When not working, I am a business analyst and work on projects. It would be my family (all who think I am mad but are my biggest supporters really.) There is always something to do with the kids, drive here, pick up there, the usual drill really and we try to do things together and spend time together.

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

Oh, this is a very hard question, I am sports mad and have been forever, sport has been my life really.

I am also very lucky in my past life to have played on a soccer team that set a Guinness record for the most unbeaten schoolboy team ever which I am pretty proud of. (206 games in total spread over 8 years). 

In that time, I also represented Ireland at schoolboy and Junior level, I have my caps at home and am very proud of these. 

I have been on trial in England for a number of clubs and got various offers to sign.

I also have a few schools all Ireland medals, and set a scoring record for my school in a Leinster final, scoring 6 goals and 14 points.

I can’t pick one, I am so lucky to have many amazing sporting achievement memories.

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

Not one in particular apart from Kona (hahaha yea right).

I want to race abroad somewhere hot and sunny and warm. The climate is better for me than the Irish climate for my arthritis and I figure this would help me perform better.

I was down for Portugal 70.3 until covid hit and may still do that, but I will take stock when we are released from being cooked up at home and see what would best suit me. (when I find my missing mojo)

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

For me, to improve from not being last.

If I can improve my bike and work on my running (which I am trying to do), I would love not to finish when everyone is going home.

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

My book of course (My Journey, available on eBook on Amazon.com) Hahahaha, sorry I had to say that.

I don’t have a stand out fav book, I read a lot of biographies at the moment it’s Klopp, just finished Bruce Springsteen.

I have read a number of really good books from sports people, I like to know what makes people tick, what drives them.

TV, loved Shitts creek and also The Queens Gambit I watch most things except reality stuff, that stuff drives me insane.

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

Oh, my Spotify is crammed full of various playlists, I tend to make a lot of different types of playlists and depending on my mood I listen to whatever.

My music taste is decided by my mood. I also look for various different playlists and download them.

For Dublin Marathon I even had a “Last 5k” playlist of about 5 songs repeated that inspire me to keep going.

I am not a great podcast listener, but I do listen to “tri-talking sports” with Joanne Murphey, she has been a great supporter of mine over the years and she has some brilliant guests and also just this week Springsteen and Barack Obama did a session and it’s on Spotify and that was amazing.

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

I can’t single any one person, but over the last number of years I find I am inspired by people who would be considered the underdog or people who achieved amazing things from nothing but a dream or recovered from Illness to achieve dreams.

People who have the perseverance, patience and a want to do achieve that dream and that dream does not have to be a sporting achievement just a dream and the drive to achieve it.

A lot of people who display bravery when it’s easier to give up or give in, we are surrounded by people like this in the world you just have to open your eyes and look. 

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

Don’t not do it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice. Don’t be afraid of the journey. Don’t mind what or how others look, be yourself and smile. Don’t give up ever.

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

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