Down but not out

Down but not out.

Race conditions during Ireland’s inaugural Ironman won the day. I expected the water temperature to be cold and those expectations were exceeded. The first swim of race week lasted only a few frozen minutes before I painfully tapped out.

Referring to the swim, my Aussie friend Nick told me, “That’s spanner (wrench, in Canadian Ed.) water, mate. It tightens the nuts.” Indeed! Race day saw winds and rain of biblical proportions. After much deliberation, mercifully, the swim was cancelled.

Wet and cold from pouring rain, athletes were launched out onto the bike course. The two-loop bike course is technical. Lots of ups and downs with sharp steep turns on rough, narrow road surfaces. It was the rain and the cold, however, which sapped energy. I had to talk to myself… a lot. I was grateful for the competitors because those hearty souls kept me focused.

The biggest surprise awaited me in T2.

I like running, more so in the rain and cold. I came off the bike section in second place in my age group, freezing cold and 10 minutes from first place. The run course is a four-loop out and back along the Atlantic coast. From the first steps on the ocean boardwalk I was in trouble: “You will warm up and your legs will come back,” I mumbled through chattering teeth.

But it wasn’t happening. A very long 20 km later I was still frozen and the lead had grown to 14 minutes. Good things – not nice things – happen when I have to dig deep and fight for every step. These are the minutes when my character is exposed. I had to “go to the well” and find a way to finish.

Down but not out, I fought my way back to within nine minutes of the lead, finishing second. I didn’t like it much, but I was humbled and grateful. I rarely get what I want in competition, but I do get exactly what I need. I love this stuff.


Tony O'Keeffe39 Posts

Tony O’Keeffe a réalisé son lot de défis sportifs. Détenteur des titres de champion du monde dans sa catégorie d’âge du Ironman 70.3 et du Ultraman Kona Hawaï, il a complété plus de 30 Ironman avec multiples podiums et six premières places dans sa catégorie d’âge, neuf Championnats du monde Ultraman en plus de trois RAAM (Race Across America). / Tony O’Keeffe has succeeded at more than his share of sports challenges. Holder of World Championship titles for his age category in Ironman 70.3 and Ultraman Kona Hawaii, he has completed more than 30 Ironman events with multiple podium finishes and six first places in his age category, nine World Ultraman Championships as well as three RAAM (Race Across America) events.


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