Meet the member – Damien Derwin

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

Good. Had a nice little break over Christmas. Got to visit everyone and see some family I haven’t seen for a few months. Just trying to stay positive and carry on!

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

After my first race I was addicted, like most people. I did a Pulse Port Beach race back in 2015 and got a sweet running top, that I still have and wear all the time. I really enjoyed that race and had followed Pulse on Facebook and Twitter. A couple of years later i wanted to do Dun Laoghaire 70.3 and wanted to get some support and help, so I looked at Triathlon Clubs. It was always going to be Pulse. And in 2018 I joined and its been the best thing I’ve done in ages. Super club, super people, super proud.

Tell us about your first race.

King of Greystones 2014…

It wasn’t my idea. My brother in laws had signed up, so my wife and I did too. They had done it before, so had an idea what was ahead of them. One if them did a few half distance races before and had a carbon tt bike… so he was pro in my eyes. I had just bought a road bike as commuting seemed easier than driving to work. I ran a bit, 5k here and there. So was ⅔ the way there. Issue was, I couldn’t swim one length of a pool. Now I had to swim 750m in the sea, in front of people. Panic was kicking in. Lessons where needed. I got a few in the local pool and swam 4 times a week. It took time but I finally felt I could do it. Swim coach said “ye’ll be grand” with is the green light in Ireland for all difficult decisions.

Race day came… swim was washing machine stuff. I got punched in the eye, I kicked someone in the head. All good in tri world. Got out alive, ran up the sand to the road to the park. Heart pumping. Got my bike, started cycling. It was so good to be on the bike. I never thought I’d make it that far. Swimming is evil, but I kicked its ass. Now to take over everyone, thats what I thought. Cycling after swimming is hard. I was wrecked. 20km hilly cycle that took, what felt like, forever. Then back to the area for running, T2 (I know that now). I didn’t have cycle shoes, so I was able to start running straight away. My “Pro Bro” was in there too. So I was out first… I was winning. I ran like a maniac. 5km like a demon… probably not super fast, but definitely the fastest I’d ran at that stage. I beat him and surprised everyone… that was it. I could be pro, so Triathlon Ireland website, here I came. When is the next race!!!

What’s your favourite race/distance to race?

I’ve done all the distances at this stage, Sprint to Ironman. I like all, but my favourite races will have to be the Dun Laoghaire 70.3 Ironman (gone now 😢) and King of Greystones Sprint distance. They both have the best supporters and the atmosphere is electric. Pulse were literally everywhere in the 70.3, the top of Sally Gap, in the mist, ringing kettle bells and having a party or at the aid station, they set up, with extra gels and words of support for you when you needed it. Brilliant.

KoG was my first race, so will always mean a lot to me and the whole spirit of doing it for charity, makes it feel so amazing. Wonderful race.

What’s your favourite Pulse memory so far?

So many. I had to dig deep for this one, but it is probably in Cork IM on the run. In the middle of a junction, Pulsers had invaded a traffic island, like red and black clad pirates, and had screamed and shouted out your name as you ran past. Some of them even ran a few steps with you, given you private words of support and encouragement and letting you know you weren’t along in this amazing journey. Thankfully it was raining that day, because I’m sure I might have welled up a bit. Such an amazing experience with such amazing people. Forever in my heart.

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

The friendship and support. It’s unparalleled. It’s like entering a raffle and everyone wins. I’ve made friends that I will know for years to come. It’s not just about swim, bike, run… that’s just the start of it. It’s like a huge family, that just gets bigger and better every year. I joined to get advice and support when doing 70.3 Dun Laoghaire… I’ve now gone on to do 2 of them and an Ironman. All with the support of this beautiful bunch of people. I couldn’t recommend it enough… its changed my life forever 

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

Cooking… chef like is a massive commitment. I know its work and everyone’s work is hard and busy, but it takes so much out of you. I’ve missed weddings, christenings, Christmas, birthdays… I stopped getting invites to stuff as I let people down so often. It’s just what I have to do. I love the job but it’s all consuming sometimes. I’ve been very lucky to work in some really amazing restaurants and learn a lot and eat some amazing food along the way. I’ve been head chef in the Pig’s Ear Restaurant for the past 10 years. It’s been great. I’ve met some amazing people and learned and taught a lot. We have all worked hard to get it to the level it is at and it’s really sad that it has only opened for 2 weeks in the past 9 months. Hopefully 2021 will be a better year for all.

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

Favourite, maybe not favourite, but definitely biggest sporting memory and achievement. 100km run for charity in October just gone.

I got this idea when I joined Brian, Paul and Niall on their Virtual Everest challenge on zwift. I wanted to do the whole thing with them, but I had to work that afternoon, so was a bit annoyed as I new it was an amazing thing to do. I had to do something else. While just spinning the legs on the turbo, I turned on YouTube to GTN. One of the guys did a 100km run, with little or no training. Now this guy is an ex-pro triathlete, so he is always going to be fit and up for the hard graft, but I thought, “I could do that”. So I spoke to my wife, my coach and a few close club mates. Crazy but doable was the consensus. I thought so too. The plan was hatched, date was set, training program was in place. But why, I asked myself? For charity was the most reasonable excuse, so I contacted The Gavin Glynn Foundation to see if I could do it for them, as that was the same charity that the KoG supported and that race had been cancelled this year from COVID19. They were delighted and so was I. So full steam ahead! 3 months to get it done. So I had to build up from 25km to 100km in 13 weeks. Every weekend I would do a big run. Doing 10 loops of 2.5k or 3.2k or 4.2k. The loops got longer each week, until I was running a marathon and more each week. It was getting harder as I was doing most of it solo. I needed help… I posted up in the Pulse FB group and my prayers were answered. I had loads of people running with me and the craic was mighty.

This got me to the big day… October 25th… 100k in one day. It started at 4am in the dark. 10 x 10k loops around Dun Laoghaire from the 40foot, along the east pier, around the harbour and return. It was great, as I had lots of people arrive early but a lot couldn’t as we went into another lockdown and so many couldn’t travel. As the day went on, I got less and less inspired. I had a huge plan to have family and friends there fora big party at the end but that was not happening now. But I had some of the greatest company and support throughout the day, as they had been there since the beginning of this quest of mine. The we reached the 100km mark on my watch. It was amazing. I’d done it. I knew I would but there was a lot of doubt hanging over it, with lockdown, with bad weather, with just not being able, but I did it and with the help of Pulse club members, I reached the ridiculous goal of running 100km in one day. A day I will never forget. Not my favourite memory but one I will cherish forever. And I raised over €2000 for a very good cause.

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

Norseman/Celtman/Iceland Xtri

Epic races… first choice would have been Norseman but seems really different to get a slot. I watched the GCN episodes of Celtman and Norseman and both looked amazing. I’m never going to qualify for Kona, its not my main goal in life, but getting the opportunity to race an event in a location that would put the fear of God in the average person, totally ticks the box for me.

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

Sub 12hr Full Ironman. I got sub 11 in Cork but no Swim and 20 min transition, thanks to near Hypothermia, so should be doable but just getting to race next year will be a goal. Got to race in Carlingford this year. That was amazing. Beautiful spot and with the really choppy swim, I did a lot better than expected as I’ve been sea swimming all through lockdown.

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

Book: Hunger by Sean Kelly. Great read. King Kelly telling us about his cycling career in his own words… what’s not to like.

Movie: so many… original Point Break, Die Hard, John Wicks, Labyrinth… list is endless!

Tv Show: Game of Thrones and True Detective: Season 1. GoT… no need to explain. TD. The acting by Matthew McMonaughey was outstanding.

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

The people around me. I don’t look too high up the ladder in life as it’s never going to improve my life that much. Some of my biggest inspirations are the people in the club, the runners I see out at night in the rain, the swimmers I see out in choppy seas, the cyclists that brave the winter long spins. These people inspire me, as I know I can be like that one day or gave been like that before and can be back there with the right mind frame and motivation.

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

Make yourself a playlist of your favourite upbeat songs, cheesy or cool, it doesn’t matter, as long as they make you feel happy and want to move… this helped me get out on the days I didn’t want to and there was a lot of these days over the years. Dancing with myself – Billy Idol is a winner!

Finally, what have you got planned for New Year’s Eve and are you looking forward to 2021?

I’ll probably be working but the last couple of years I’ve got out for the bells and to have a kiss and a cocktail with my wife, so fingers crossed by 12, I’m home and getting my booze on!

I’m really looking forward to 2021… plans are to hopefully buy a house and a total change of life but thats for another time… I’ll let you know when I do.

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

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