Category: General

Ironman Barcelona 2019

2nd time round!

So I’ve never done a race report before. Not sure why I’m doing one now!

It wont change the day or the result. But it may give insight to some what a hard day is in store when completing a full distance triathlon.   

I arrived in Calella, Barcelona on the Thursday, 3 days before the race. This gave me the 3 days to check in, register, pick up bike and bags from Ship My Tri Bike, shop the expo, do a recci bike and swim and just pretty much relax and get the body rested for the big race ahead.

The lead up to this year’s race wasn’t as consistent as I would have liked. I didn’t do as many hours as I had done for the race last year. I didn’t have the training companionship I had from the club like we had in 2018, when 10 of us lined up on the start line. There were 5 of us in the club this year starting the 2019 race but we all trained separately and didn’t touch base much about what we were doing and how we were feeling. I did have 2 friends from Maynooth doing their first ironman also and we did our long Sunday cycles together (4/5+ hours) so that was good to have people to draft off and push pace with. So as much as I didn’t have the consistency of training this year, I felt the hours I put in were more structured and so it was quality over quantity this year. Fingers crossed it works out.

Race morning

The alarm clock went off at 5am and it was breakfast at 530am with Dr Phil. I was feeling pretty good and relaxed. I could see Phil was quiet and slightly nervous. Not much was said between us.

The walk down to transition is about 1.5km from the hotel, so myself and Phil met Barry C and Brian outside the hotel for the walk down. It was still very dark but loads were out doing the same walk as us. Nerves, excitement, fear and tension were all present in the air. The element of the unknown was floating around.

Into transition and all I had to do was put my food and drinks on the bike. I had it all ready in my back pack so it was easy enough to do. Then the wetsuit came out and we all put the body glide/ vasoline on. I noticed I had my talc powder bottle at the bottom of my bag- crap I never put talc in my runners and bike shoes that were already in the transition bags. The bike and run transition bags were put in place the day before when the bike was racked up. Do I run over now and try and do it before the transition closes, only 5 minutes left to leave transition, or do I just leave it? Sure, ill be grand. I never get blisters and I have a change of socks in both transition bags along with towels to dry my feet. So, decision made, talc powder was put away and ignored. This will come back and bite me ☹

Myself, Phil and Andy decided to line up together for the start of the swim. I swam 1.19 last year and felt I was some bit better this time, so I wanted the 1.15 pacers. As did Phil and Andy. Lining up here at the start line was the first time the nerves set in. What the hell was I doing?? I am not race ready! I shouldn’t be here. All the doubts set in. Looking at both Phil and Andy I knew they were having the same thoughts.


Buzzer went off and away I went. I had no plan in mind for the swim other than keep going and no stops. The water was calm but there was so much crowding and arms flying everywhere. I got smacked many times on the legs and back and was pushed off my sighting so many times. I got to the half way point and checked my watch, 2040m in 42 minutes, slightly off pace but doing good. I decided to put the head down and pull a bit more on return trip. However, we now had the current going against us so this was slightly harder to swim, but still 100% better than last year’s 4 foot swells and waves. As I was getting close to home something made me look at my watch, oh no it was on pause, it said 3080m in 1.02 mins, so I restarted it and hoped I hadn’t missed much. I didn’t recall any kick or bang to my wrist, but it could easily have happened.

Swim finish and my watch at end of swim said 3646m in 1.10hrs. I missed about 200m from the full swim in my watch time. Overall I was happy with my time.

Swim Time- 1.18.26


I saw Mam, Fiona and Angela when I got out of the water and ran into transition, I screamed and waved at them.

Into T1 and change out of wetsuit, helmet and bike shoes were put on and out to the bike. Bumped into Andy on way to bike and both of us ran out of T1 together. He was thrilled with his swim too and said he had seen Phil in the transition tent, so he was only few seconds behind us. I was totally buzzed going out on the bike course.


As I had done the race last year, I knew what the bike course was like. The first 3 km were through the village of Calella and were winding and technical. Then out onto the main road and it was 2 laps of 90km with a small ‘blip’ of a hill in the middle. Last year that hill was Mount Everest to me. I was more confident about it this year.

Bike was going well until I came to about the 60km mark and food station. I needed to stop for a pee stop. I have never in all my years cycling needed to stop when out on bike but something told me to stop and take the 2 minutes in the portaloo. Back on the bike and down to the round about to start 2nd lap. The crowds were amazing at the round about. Saw Mam, Fiona, Angela, all of Marta’s crew and loads more Irish shouting once they saw the Naas Tri top. The atmosphere was unreal. I managed the 1st lap in 3hr 2 minutes. Slightly off where I wanted but I did have a pee stop. Now time to pick things up and get going again.

I was only about 5 km into the 2nd lap when my stomach started to spasm. Where did this come from? No idea. I couldn’t even take a sip from my energy drink. Tried some water and this too made the stomach worse. My friend Brian pulled up beside me at this point. He was beaming. He was loving the whole race and atmosphere. He just wanted to chat and have some company. I told him I wasn’t feeling great. Told him I didn’t know how I was going to keep going.  All I wanted was to get sick. He got worried then about me but I told him to go and keep doing his race and enjoy it all.

I just about managed the climb between 110-120km. Staying low on the TT bars of the bike was so uncomfortable for me. The only position I could hold was hands on the elbow pads of the TT bars- so sitting up high and tall- giving absolutely no aero benefits. I started to struggle big time on the bike now. Mood was low, emotions low, stomach in bits and it just kept spasming. The tears started. All I wanted was off the bike. I kept thinking if I got off how would I get back to the transition area, or even let my family and friends know I was ok. At the food stop at 150km I had to stop again and use the toilet. This was when I started retching and getting sick. I was at rock bottom now and just wanted out. But somehow, I got back on bike and made a pact with myself to just get to T2 and finish then. It would only be another hour and I would be done. I took it really slowly for the last 30km and really felt sorry for myself. As I rounded the round about and made it down to the last 3 km of the bike, the crowds were still out cheering. Most people were on the run but there were still some coming in off the bike. I wasn’t paddy last. Thank god! I could see my gang of supporters out waiting for me and the camera and phones were out to take pictures. All I could do was clean the tears off my face and smile at me. For all they knew I was having a great time. Little did they know the struggle I had for the last 3 hours.

Now to take a little step back in time…

Everyone knows you don’t do anything new on race day. You use clothes and equipment you have trained in and use food that you have eaten before. Don’t do anything new on race day. Well I did ☹

I normally suffer from a very upset stomach when I’m running. I never seem to be able to settle it. I had been told numerous times to take immodium to help settle it before it gets back. Well I never tried it.

So the night before the race I got a packet and took 1 before bed, and then I took 2 more race morning before breakfast. So that’s 3 tablets in space of 12 hours on a normally functioning gut and stomach. Looking back, all the stomach issues I was having on the bike was the immodium working and not letting any of my energy food and drinks digest. They were just collecting in my stomach and spasming the living daylights out of it!!!

Bike Time- 6.31.00


So, into T2 I go. As I dismounted the bike at the dismount line I slightly stumbled but thought nothing of it and kept going. I racked my bike and as I was leaving the bike area and going to the tents, I saw 2 friends of mine in the stand. I walked over to them and I was in tears. I told them how sick I was and sore and that I was done. I was giving up. I couldn’t go on. Told them to meet me the other side of the tent after I dropped off my ankle tag.

However once I got into the tent I decided to put on my runners and run visor and head off on the run. What harm was I going to do by attempting it? The nutrition and gels I had planned to bring for the run were left behind. I wont be using them!


So off I went and started the marathon. I walked the first 100m and then I started to run. Shooting pain shot up through my right foot and bang straight into my already upset stomach and more sharp spasms. Oh no. What was wrong now?? I couldn’t run at all. Couldn’t put any pressure down on the outside of my foot. The base of my little toe was so sore and painful. I must have broken it when I landed awkwardly off the bike at the dismount line. (its terrible being a physio/ having a medical mind as you think of absolutely everything and the worst-case scenario!!). I tried to push 100m walking, 100m running for the first 1km, but I was getting nowhere. I had to just walk. So, walk I did. At about 10km I managed to see a medic on a bike, and I pulled him over. Told him I wanted to tape my foot up. He looked at me weirdly, so I just took tape out of his bag and taped my foot myself, compressing the little toe to make less movement out of it. It really did help with the pain and reduced it by 50%. So, the toe was not broken but I had strained the ligament badly!

only 4km into run

The run course was 3 loops of 13 km. I managed to finish the first loop. The 2nd loop I tried to run / walk 200m at a time, so I slowly improved my pace. But the last lap I was just zonked. I wasn’t able to run/ shuffle at all. Body just majorly fatigued. My mam ended up walking the whole last lap with me, giving me encouragement and just generally chatting, distracting me from the last 13 km. One of the rules in an Ironman you are not allowed any help from the supporters or bystanders. You have to do it all yourself. Well with only 3 km to go an Ironman official came up to us and told us I would be disqualified if mam didn’t leave my side. I couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t going to win the race. I would be lucky to win last place. But he was strict enough, so mam took 4 steps to the left and mounted the path and kept walking along with me.

For the whole run I have no idea what kept me going. No idea what was motivating me to get to the finish. No idea why I just wouldn’t give up.

All I knew, I was going to get to the finish line at some stage, somehow and get that medal.

Run Time- 6.44.14

The last hour of any ironman race is renowned for the electric atmosphere. Well did I experience it this year. The last 1.5/2km of the race was jammed packed with spectators and finishers. They were all cheering and clapping and shouting encouragement. It really was emotional passing by them at my slow walking pace.

The finishing red carpet was unreal. I thoroughly enjoyed it last year, but felt I went through it too fast.

I cleared all the tears off my face once more and put the biggest smile on my face and off I went to enjoy the last 100m of the race. I was high fiving and waving at everyone. It was unreal. I was so emotional and exuberant.

Overall time 14.49.34 …… I damn proud of that time. Not what I wanted or expected. But now worth so much more.

Till next time ……..

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European Youth Olympic Festival 2017

The European Youth Olympic Games were held in Gyor, Hungary in July 2017.

Eimear was one of the 3 physiotherapists who travelled with the team of 40 athletes. The six sports represented by Ireland are Athletics, Cycling, Swimming, Judo, Tennis and Gymnastics.

Ireland came home with 6 medals from the Games- 2 silver and 4 bronze.

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Celebrity Bainisteoir Maynooth 2017

Celebrity Bainisteoir was held in Maynooth GAA on 30th December 2017. It involved 8 local business people stepping into the Bainisteoir role and over 80 players turned up for the 7-a-side football tournament.

Eimear was successfully crowned the local Celebrity Bainisteoir after she entered the final unbeaten from the group stage of the tournament. Eimear’s team then beat Martin Donnelly’s team in the final. Tactically Eimear had it spot on from the start proving she has picked up a lot of tips from working along side the various club managers in the last few years.  Eimear had a strong panel of 10 players to work with and she was very quick with doing position changes and substitutions when needed.

The plate final was won by Paddy O Brien from the Roost who beat Eamonn O’ Flaherty in a penalty shoot out.

The shield final saw Hammy take out Helena O’ Neill’s team by a mere 2 points.

The wooden spoon was handed to Declan Kennedy from Brady’s bar after local TD Frank O’ Rourke proved successful.

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Conquering Mount Kilimanjaro


Mount Kilimanjaro conquered on February 4th 2017

My recent trip to Africa and Kilimanjaro was without question one of the most challenging, demanding, exhilarating and emotional experiences I have put myself through, and I have done a lot!     It was an emotional rollercoaster and one I will do again tomorrow again !!!

I have always had this hike on my bucketlist but never thought I’d be able to attempt it never mind accomplish it.

IMG_1790Well the opportunity came about when I saw Pat Divily was brining a group of people, along with the Earths Edge Adventure Company to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in February this year, so I jumped at the chance of doing a trip with Pat and booked my spot.

A total of 22 like minded adventure seekers headed off on January 28th for the long trip to the Kilimanjaro International Airport via Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. We had all bonded on previous training trips to Glendalough and Carrantuohill so we were well acquainted with each other, and all as excited as the next person.

A total of 7 days hiking  was done in all through rain forests and various other terrains, with very changeable weather conditions and torrential down pours, sleeping in 2 man tents, eating in a mess tent with foldable chairs and table and with no shower oIMG_0552r washing facilities! Sure what wasn’t there to like! The craic and banter that we shared though really lifted the spirits and kept smiles on our tired faces.

Through the first 5 days we climbed to a max height of 4600m, gradually acclimatising each day at various heights, getting us accustomed to the altitude and preparing us for summit night.

Summit night (on the night of day 5/ morning of day 6), without question was the most challenging. Being woken at 12 midnight to blustering howling winds that were shaking the tent off the ground, and having to get dressed in the dark with only a head torch for light. The coldness wasn’t too bad at the start but every layer of clothes was put on to keep the sharp wind out. We headed off on our attempt at 1.30 am, and after 8 hours of extremely slow and steady walking, with numerous breaks to catch our breath and rest the tired legs- we reached the summit of Uhuru Peak standing at 5895m high at 9.40 am on Saturday 4th February 2017.

Twenty of our group of 22 made it to the summit. Temperature at the top was only -5C with an extra -5C wind chill- not too cold really!!!IMG_0558

 I truly did struggle with the last 3 hours of this climb as altitude sickness set in. I was aware of what I was doing but everything was in extremely slow motion and the blinding headache I had was unreal. We didn’t spend too long at the toIMG_1810p due to most of us were suffering from the high altitude, so after a few quick group photos we left Uhuru Peak and started the descent home, and a quick descent of 3 hours brought us back to our base camp tents.

Despite it taking us 5 and 1/2 days to get to the summit- only 1 and 1/2 days was needed to get to the bottom. It was a fast descent as we were all just extremely exhausted and in dire need of showers and beers!  The beers at the finishing gate really were worth it and went down a treat!

The trip was life changing and the memories and friends made will last a lifetime.

I sincerely hope that anyone else who attempts this climb gets as much exhilaration and personal insight from the trip that I did.

“Its not the mountain that we conquer but ourselves” – Edmund Hilary

“During my week spent on Kilimanjaro I experienced some of the highest highs and lowest lows of my life. But I am thankful for every single bit of it” – Sean O Donovan- one of my hiking buddies- I couldn’t have said it any better Sean


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Swim Ireland European Championships June 2016


A week was spent in Hungary in June 2016 working along side 12 Irish Junior Swimmers competing in the European Junior Championships.

A total of 3 podium medals were collected  – 2 Silver and 1 Bronze. Also 6 new Junior and 2 new Senior Irish Records were achieved. These young men and women are the future names for Swim Ireland.  Keep your eyes peeled for them



The back room staff that accompanied the 12 athletes, included 4 swim coaches, 2 team managers, 1 Physio, and 1 technical and stats advisor.

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Berlin Marathon 2016

Great results in the Berlin Marathon on Sunday 25th September 2016 where Kenenisa Bekele won in a time of 2 hrs 3 mins 3 secs just 6 seconds short of the world record of 2 hrs 2 mins 57 secs made by Dennis Kimetto in 2014 in Berlin.
I have a signed singlet from Bekele here in the clinic on the wall of fame


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ISCP- stretches for runners

Make sure to perform these static stretches after each training session to keep the muscles loose and flexible


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Pain Medication- are you taking the right drug?

sports medsWith the recent controversy in the Olympics over failed drug testing, a lot of people have different interpretations of what drugs are best to take- but are you taking the right drug for your pain and at the right time ?


Many people participating in sport take non steroidal anti-inflammatory  drugs (NSAIDs) prophylactically before they participate in the sport, in the belief that they will help reduce the risk of injury during play. Many people also believe that these NSAIDs will also reduce the levels of muscle soreness normally experienced after training. This is not the case- they do not reduce muscle soreness or prevent injury during sport participation. Warden in 2010 stated that the prophylactic use of NSAIDs has no basis and therefore should be regarded as drug misuse. Olympics drugs

So we would all be failing drug tests if we were tested before sport participation??!


NSAIDs are a generally cheap and easily accessible drug that most people turn to for pain relief. They are not solely a pain relieving tablet– they are for reducing anti inflammation. There are a large number of potential side effects if used in excess, such as risks of gastric trauma, gastric bleeding and cardiac complications. NSAIDs also exacerbate asthma if used in excess.

Over the counter examples of NSAIDs are Ibuprofen, Naproxen and Diclofenac.


Paracetamol is considered the front line analgesic used for a wide range of conditions including many musculoskeletal conditions such as low back pain and knee arthritis, among others. People often believe that because it is easily accessible, paracetamol is quite weak and safe to use in excess. However is it very toxic at little over the recommended daily dose and so needs to be taken carefully and within daily dose levels.

Paracetamol does not have any clinically relevant action as an anti-inflammatory agent but does work as an analgesic and is an anti-pyretic drug (reduces temperature).



When a sporting injury occurs it is best to follow the PRICE protocol (protect, rest, ice, compress, elevate) within the first 24 hours and take a pain analgesic, like paracetomol, if needed in the first 24-48 hours. This allows the bodies natural inflammatory process to work, which helps a faster recovery. If there is significant swelling then a non steroidal tablet (NSAID) can be taken for the time specified on the packet.


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Phoenix Park Duathlon

13177155_10207917944619803_5257232816134552294_nStart of the 2016 racing season for me was the Phoenix Park Duathlon on Wednesday 4th May 2016.

It entailed a 2.5 km Run / 12 km cycle / 2.5 km run

Not too long in distance but the tedious course had a lot to live up to- lot learnt and lot to work on

Next event is the DSI Lap de Gaps on May 14th- 50km sportif cycle for Downs Syndrome Ireland

My big race this season is Challenge Galway 70.3 Half Ironman in June and it is quickly  getting closer 🙁

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Cycling warm up and cool down


Warm up and Cool down for CyclistsIMG_0823


With any form of exercise a good warm up and cool down is required to loosen out muscles, make joints flexible and reduce risk of injury. However the act of warming up and cooling down tends to be towards the bottom of the list when it comes to amateur cycling.

Warming up allows your body to perform at its best during your session and cooling down will aid recovery, ultimately helping your to achieve your goals.

Warm up

Muscle stiffness is thought to be directly related to muscle injury and therefore the warm should be aimed at reducing this muscle stiffness

A proper warm up offers many benefits including

  • Increased muscle temperature- both contraction and relaxation is enhanced in a warmed up muscle, which means you can experience a boost in speed and power
  • Increased core temperature- raising the core temperature increases the speed of nerve impulses, which improved your reaction time
  • Capillary dilation- when starting exercise your body releases adrenaline, which increases heart rate and causes dilation of the capillaries. This increases elasticity in the muscles and reduces the risk of injury
  • Prepare yourself mentally-a warm up gives you time to prepare yourself for the training session ahead

The consensus is that static stretching before exercise does not prevent injury or enhance performance. In fact, there is some evidence to suggest that static stretching may be detrimental to the rider. A warm-up should prepare the body for the range and type of movement that the activity demands. A rugby player may use bounding and dynamic twists but, for a cyclist, the most appropriate type of warm-up is on the bike.

A typical warm up should include the first 10-15 min of your ride gradually working through the gears and increasing your cadence. Increase the heart rate gradually to the stated zones. If the main content of the session requires time in Z3 or 4 then add a couple of 6 second hard efforts to your warm up.


Cool down

There are a number of reasons to cooling down after a high intensity session. It prevents blood from pooling in the extremities, which can lead to dizziness and fainting, reduces heart rate and aids recovery. It should be viewed as the first step to preparing your body for your next training session, race or event.

You may find that your body has become stiff after being in a fixed position on the bike for hours and stretching may help your body return to a normal range of movement. The ideal time to spend 5-10 minutes stretching is as soon as you get off the bike, as your muscle temperature will still be elevated and they will be ‘more open’ to stretching as a result.

However the last thing you’ll want to do after a cold and wet ride is to roll around stretching and you’re unlikely to do a good job. Have your recovery drink, a bath or shower to warm up, put on some warm clothes and then stretch.

Static stretches are more appropriate to the cool down as they help muscles to relax, realign muscle fibres and re- establish their normal range of motion. These stretches should be held for approximately 30-40 seconds and repeated x 2/3.


4 common areas to stretch are outlined below

Bulgarian squatbulgarian squat

You probably spend a vast proportion of your time sat at a desk or driving your car, this is then compounded by the hours you spend on your bike. All this time spent in a leant forward seated position, leads to tight hip flexors which can be responsible for discomfort both on and off the bike. This dynamic squat is an excellent way to counter tight hip flexors.

– Elevate your rear foot on a bed or bench.

– Squeeze your glutes and you might find this is enough to begin to initiate a stretch.

– Keeping your glutes tight, bend the front knee until you feel a deep stretch through your hip flexors.

– Hold for 30-40 seconds three times on each side.


Indian Knot/ Pretzel

The opposite muscle group to the hip flexors, your glute muscles also suffer from too much time spent seated. Maintaining their flexibility is important if they’re to function properly. This exercise is ideal for targeting the glutes and will also work on a smaller muscle known as the piriformis that can be responsible for referred pain in the back and legs.

– Sit on the floor with one leg bent in front so the heel rests near the opposite buttock.

– Cross the other leg over, maintain a strong upright posture and elongate through your spine.

– You should aim to distribute your weight evenly through both buttocks although don’t be surprised if one side is elevated. As you ease into the position it will even out.

– Hold for 30-40 seconds three times on each side.


Modified Hurdler Stretch

Hamstring tightness or inflexibility limits many riders’ ability to adopt a lower and more aerodynamic position on the bike. Whilst not a muscle group that we have to stretch due to time spent on the bike, they represent a major limiting factor for being able to ride fast for extended periods.

– Using a low step or a bench, elevate one foot. Keep that leg straight with your toes up. Your supporting leg should be slightly bent

– Keep your head up, pelvis rotated back, back hollow and then slowly lean forward from your hips to develop a stretch in your hamstrings.

– Hold for 30-40 seconds three times on each side


ITB Foam Roller

The illiotibial band is a thick strap of soft tissue that extends down the outside of your leg. It’s notoriously hard to work on using traditional stretching movements but, if allowed to become overly tight, can be at the root of a number of common and painful knee problem.

The best method for keeping your ITB functioning optimally is to use a foam roller. If you’re finding that your ITB gets tight constantly it may be due to a problem with your bike setup such as a too high seat or poor cleat alignment. With any recurring problem always try to seek professional advice and find the underlying cause.

– Lie on the foam roller with your full body weight on it and feet stacked on top of each other.

– Roll up and down the length of the outside of your thigh taking care not to go onto the bones.

– Work for 10 strokes up and down each side. With a slow three count on the upstrokes and downstrokes.

– Do not be surprised if this is initially very painful and even causes bruising. This is particularly common with female cyclists. It will become easier with regular rolling


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