Castlegregory Seven Frogs Triathlon

Castlegregory is a village on the Northern Side of the Dingle Peninsula in Co.Kerry. There is a small peninsula north of it usually referred to as the Magharees (from the islands off it. Magharee = MachairĂ­ (same word as Machair in Scots Gaelic) and means plain, prairie etc). At the tip there's a village called Fahamore (big lawn in Irish). This area is flat. Brandon Bay with its 10 mile beach is, according to Scott Mackeown, my daughter's brother-in-law, the best surfing place in Europe. Not only is it stunningly beautiful but it attracts surfers from all over Europe. There were English, French, Dutch and other surfers there at the weekend, where by orders of Lizzie my daughter, I was to perform the 25mile cycling leg of an Olympic length triathlon. She was to do the swim, but as she decided to do the Cork Mini-Marathon on the following day, she got a more than able substitute, Chris Mintern, a local schoolboy who's a triathlon sensation. As a runner she had a club-member, Dave Comber. Dave is I suppose 28, Chris is 16 and I'm 60.

Above you see Brandon Bay

I was not happy about this. When you're 60 you are reluctant to push yourself really hard, for obvious reasons. I've been very fit since Lejog and indeed was tired from cycling a lot recently, so I did what I used to always do before a hard cycle in the old days. I took three days completely off. Tapering they call this, except most athletes feel that three days completely off is not a good idea. I experimented on myself for much longer than most athletes' careers, and I can tell them that they're wrong!
We were in a rented house for the weekend, about a mile from the start. I cycled to the start, parked my bike, and about 20 minutes from the start decided to check it. Front puncture!!! Fortunately I had two spare tubes in my pocket so I changed it. Small hole in tyre and tube, no glass , etc. Must've been a thorn.
The swimmers headed for the quay. Young Chris who's a super lad told me. "I'll be back in 18 minutes with at least 3 minutes over the next chap". As I was waiting for his appearance I asked an official. "How much is gone?". I was told and said, "My man will be back in 18 mins". "No way," says he. "1.5 km"
But he was. I put on the chip thingy on my ankle and trotted to the road and headed off on my carbon fibre Ridley Orion. No tribars or fancy helmet, but a good light bike. I had a three minute lead on the second chap who was one of the better triathletes in Ireland. A bit of pressure, that!
I blasted off on the slightly winding flat road to Castlegregory, breathing hard, slight pain in the legs. Saddle position which I had experimented with during the week was perfect. Brooks Professional saddle. I don't get on with synthetic ones. Glanced at my speedo now and again. Doing about 22mph. That's strong for me, but I felt really strong, which I usually am after a three day rest following a lot of cycling. I never warm-up. It's just using glycogen.
The temperature was about 12c.
At Castlegregory there was a right turn to Stradbally and then onto the main road. I powered on, keeping the pressure on, sometimes easing up as I was breathing too hard. Ideally you should have a pulse-meter for this but I didn't have one in working order at the time.
The road gently undulated out as far as near Cloghane where I took a left fork and headed towards the Conner Pass. Fortunately we were not to go up this beast, but there was a gentle climb of maybe 2% up this for, I estimate, 2 miles. I was able to power up this, standing at stages. No evidence of another cyclist yet. Then there was a right turn and a good downhill ride to near Cloghane. I hit about 35 or so going down this, then a right turn with a sharp climb of maybe 300 yards. I eased back on this and used my smaller front ring. You mustn't blow up or you won't recover. I opened up again at the top and hammered away along the coast until I was again on the main road. At this stage my chaser, the 3 minute man overtook me. I had a chat with him, told him my age and that I had no intention of dying. He rode away, and as an experiment I reeled him in to see if I could. I could but I would not push myself that hard all the way back.
At Stradbally I merged with the cyclists who were doing the sprint triathlon (half the length) but did not ride with any of them. In the distance I could see three minute man.
Eventually reached the transition.
I had told the lads that I would expect to do 17mph, maybe 18. I actually did 19.5. I was doubly pleased. First for being alive, and second for doing quite well for someone who is NOT an athlete, unlike my daughter and my wife.
Dave headed off. Three minute man had a 1 min 5 second advantage. Dave caught him in 2 km and we won the relay comfortably. Lizzie was delighted.

Granddaughters watching the triathlon.

Lizzie, me (doing the fool), Dave and Chris.

Kenmare Triathlon Club. Three minute man on the left.

I'm not doing any more of these.

14 comments on “Castlegregory Seven Frogs Triathlon”

  1. Mike Smith wrote:

    "I'm not doing any more of these."

    One is more than enough, Garry, for anyone the wrong side of 40!

    But well done on such a strong performance from a non-athlete. Hope you enjoyed it!


  2. Garry wrote:

    Thanks Mike. I did enjoy it, retrospective. It's like having a baby!!

  3. Kern wrote:

    Great ride. I'm not sure what impresses me more: the time of the ride, or the time to repair the flat. It usually takes me 20 minutes to get the tyre off the rim.

  4. Garry wrote:

    Let all the air out, flattening the tyre to do so if necessary. Put in two levers, each six inches apart. Push both down simultaneously. Then push tyre that's still on into the centre of the well right round. This loosens it. You should be able to sweep the rest off easily. It normally takes me about one minute.
    I normally take off tyre and turn it inside out if I can't identify cause of puncture. I did in this instance.
    Then put one bead of tyre back on. Put in valve. I put NO air into tube. Get tube in. Put second bead in, sweeping bit already on towards centre to loosen the rest. I can nearly always get the whole lot on without using levers. Haven't timed whole lot but if I'm rushed, 5 min.

  5. Patrick wrote:

    Yes, well done Garry (and the others) but I think you should have dressed in red! A good description and photos. There won't be too many triathlon threesomes with an age spread of 44 years. I fully agree with you about the layoff before a special event. Up to a full week worked for me when I used to go running.

  6. Nuala Moore wrote:

    Hi- This is Nuala Moore- you were amazing-thanks for supporting more than 3 triathletes said that they couldn't reel you in!! and Paul Tanner who passed you couldn't shake you off despite sprinting when he did take you... You were truly inspirational– and thank you in particular for being so competitive and still wanting to win. Apologies on the timing at the end but all is prov until comp is sorted.
    Thanks again... Nuala đŸ™‚

  7. Garry Lee wrote:

    Don't know about amazing Nuala. Foolish more like it! Well done with your triathlon and superb charity work!

  8. Matty Angland wrote:

    I was last out of the water with the swim but I didn't care! I enjoyed myself anyway and had a great laugh. I heard people asking before I came to shore is he doing a breast stroke or what is he doing and one fella said to another fella he is doing a frog paddle! Its funny actually because I was nick named Froggie when I was younger! I now think that it would be a good idea to change the name of the Triathlon from Seven Frogs to Eight Frogs as I am another frog which everyone saw in the water on Saturday!!

  9. Garry Lee wrote:

    I've only once done a triathlon. I can swim, but not well, and I was persuaded to do one about 20 years ago, not having swum at all for 2 years. I managed the 500m, but it was very difficult as I had no swimming muscle fitness and switched strokes a few times during it.
    The next week I met my usual training friend for a cycle. He'd done it too and was swimming fit.
    Says he "How's the Man from Atlantis?" (A programme on TV years ago about a man with gills)

  10. Chris wrote:

    Well done, "Team Lizzie&Boys". With swim and run times as quick as those you would have had almost enough time to fix two punctures and still win, but there was just that one cyclist in your category faster on the day. Very impressive, Garry. Full results for Castlegregory Seven Frogs Triathlon 2010 here.

    Edit: looks as though your 3 minute man was Paul Tanner, who won his 'Male 40 and over' category with a 10k run of 43:29. That's faster than I've ever run 10k on its own, never mind the swim and ride beforehand. Gasp! (If it is him he was second overall, beaten only by a guy with a very strong run.)

  11. Garry Lee wrote:

    My daughter Lizzie runs 10k in 36.00! She runs it in a triathlon in under 38.00. She's a different species!
    It was Paul Tanner. His weakness is his run. He's a bit heavy for it. Our chap was much faster in the run. He can do 38m 10k.

    But, you can only do what you can do. I'm better at mending punctures than Lizzie!

  12. Ahh Lads & Lassies, First & foremost I would like to thank Nuala Moore for providing once again a great day out. Secondly, I would really like to thank Gary for his wonderful comment that I am one of the better triathletes in Ireland. As sweet as this sounds to my ears, the reality is that I am far from this caliber of athlete. I am just in it for the fun and to keep fit......that is all one can expect when on the wrong side of 40 with a young family and running a busy diving business ( NB. I repair triathlon wetsuits and will have a page specific to this on my website soon

    Chris's swim was excellent and I am looking forward to seeing great things from him in the future (2012 maybe). I would love to see him in action for the whole event.

    Gary, I'm delighted that you enjoyed the cycle. Chris gave you such a head start it must have felt like you were not in a race at all. From my perspective, I was more focused on maintaining an even pace over what is a lovely 40k cycle route. To be honest I never pay much attention to relay athletes while racing as it is always tempting to mix it up with them and forgetting that they are not doing a triathlon. This inevitably results in too much effort put into one discipline and paying for it later on the run.

    Having said that, as the "Yellow Flash" came within my sites I must admit that as I passed you I was aware that I should power up a bit so as not to give you a free ride home, which I did. After a 2 mins or so at a significantly faster pace (35 – 40 k/hr) I looked back to see the "yellow Flash" not exactly on my wheel but not far off of it. I should have known where Lizzies competitive spirit stems from, as she made a point of letting me know that by the end of the cycle I was just over a minute ahead of you.

    As you have mentioned once or twice Gary, for your age you put in a great 40k cycle and I can only hope to do the same when i am your age.

    Dave, great run you were looking strong as you bounded past me, and thanks for being kind enough to let me know that you were part of a relay.
    Quick Identification of relay members both in the cycle and run legs of a triathlon is one of my peeve points in triathlon events. There you are having slogged your way through hours of swimming, biking and running and some very fresh looking guy or gal comes past you like a Jamaican sprinter. By the time you have wiped the sweat from your brow and focused on them they are gone, little do you realise that not only are they just doing the run but they have been selected for this job because they are already good runners.
    If they had orange race numbers or something similar that immediately shows that they are part of a relay it would be great for the rest of us.

    I really enjoyed the run, even after I went in to 2nd place overall at 3k. Once again I was focused on keeping an even pace and running the second half slightly faster than the first. For me 43.30 was a great 10k as part of a tri.

    So Gary, thanks again for you kind words apart from calling me a fat slow runner đŸ˜€ and hopefully we will see you in action again next year.

  13. G Lee's no. 1 Daughter wrote:

    Can't believe everyone else knew you had a blog except me!! Rx

  14. Niamh wrote:

    Came across this blog by accident while i was searching for info on the Castlegregory Triathlon 2011. It's a great read, thanks Gary. Niamh O Connor (the one the girls say you fancy!)

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