Iron Lady for Marriage Equality
Gaelick recently caught up with triathlete and all round wonder woman Una Burns as she prepares for the Ironman 70.3 in Galway this weekend. On Sunday she will swim 1.9 km, bike for 90 km and then run 21 km, all to raise funds for a very worthy cause – Marriage Equality!
(So how many laps of Galway is that?!)
Feel the Burns!
Gaelick: How long have you been doing triathlons, and what spurred you into competing in the beginning?
Una: I did my first triathlon (sprint distance 750m swim, 20km cycle and 5km run) in September 2010. I had quit smoking a couple of years earlier and some mates got me into cycling. I was on a bus returning from a charity cycle in aid of Women’s Aid in May 2010 when a girl there started talking about her tri club, Pulse, and was basically trying to recruit people. I was interested!
This Ironman 70.3 is only my fifth ever triathlon, I’ve done two sprint distances (roughly quarter of the Ironman 70.3) and two Olympic distances (roughly half the distance). A full Ironman is double the 70.3 distance… Maybe some day!
G: Tell us a bit about your training regime – do you have a specific diet? I’m thinking you have to load up on carbs before a race!
U: I train 4 or 5 times a week, not every day but I try to train at least once every second day and maybe twice on a Saturday or a Sunday. I don’t have a specific diet but I eat pretty well most of the time. Lots of veggies, brown rice, that sort of thing. We don’t have a microwave at home and usually cook everything from scratch… except for Domino’s nights the odd time! If I wasn’t training I’d be as big as a house… I love my food and lots of it!
G: How do you manage to fit all the training and preparation in between work and social life?
U: I have been really lucky to have such support at home but this has been really difficult. I’ve basically given up my whole summer for this race. My girlfriend’s hardly seen me all year (and we live together) and I have only made it home to Cavan for one night all summer – and I cycled down from Dublin for that one night to get a training session in!
I am very lucky to have such a supportive partner who has put up with my hectic schedule and lightened the load with a lot of dinners and has generally made life easy for me. I’ve made most of the hen parties and weddings that I’ve been invited to but have worked my training around them, going for a run or a cycle beforehand or leaving early so I can train in the morning.
I have to say, I’m looking forward to weekends of doing nothing where I don’t have to worry about training!
G: Is it solo or sociable?
U: For me, exercise is a usually a solitary activity and I do enjoy the time out but I also enjoy the camaraderie of organised races and events. I’m a member of Pulse Triathlon Club which I reckon is the friendliest tri club in Dublin, it has really lovely members and lots of organised training to match every level of fitness and commitment. You can do something with the club seven days a week if you wanted to and I do join them for open-water and pool swimming but mostly I train alone.
G: It all sounds impossible to me, but what’s the toughest aspect of it for you?
U: I am not a great a swimmer at all, but I try. I never learned to swim properly as a kid so I find that really hard. For my first couple of triathlons I did the breaststroke which is fine but kinda awkward in a wetsuit (especially a surfing wetsuit) and definitely not the most efficient! I’ve put a lot of work into it over the past year and I have improved a lot and am much more comfortable in the water but I am still one of the last ones out.
In general though, I am interested in the limits I can push myself to. I do not wish to pit myself against nature for example, I won’t be climbing Mount Everest any time soon but I am interested in my own limits. I first assume I can and go from there… It’s worked so far!
G: And what about your gear? Have you an awesome bike?!
U: I am really lucky, my employer paid for my bike for the most part which is easily the most expensive outlay in a triathlon. I put a bit towards it but I got an awesome bike for sure… It’s worth more than my car (which is not worth very much).
The greatest other expense to date has been my wetsuit, it’s a swimming wetsuit so a lot lighter than the likes of a surfing one so you can move your limbs more freely but it still keeps you warm. I think entering the Ironman 70.3 cost about as much as my wetsuit!
G: Since part of the competition is in the sea, have you ever encountered jellyfish or the like? Do dolphins like triathletes?!
U: Yes, yes I have! One evening Killiney was FULL of jellyfish. I had never experienced anything like it but everyone else just kept swimming so, so did I. Apparently, the brown ones are the ones that really sting. These were translucent and beautiful but a bit too close for comfort. Apparently, a seal joined our Monday night sea swim a couple of weeks ago but I missed that night… Thankfully, I think!
G: And finally, why did you pick Marriage Equality as a cause to support?
U: Marriage Equality is something really important to me. I am a solicitor with a background in human rights and marriage equality is a human rights issue. Anything less than full marriage is not good enough as far as I am concerned.
I am the youngest of seven, all of my siblings are married, I would like to be able to say the same some day. As long as I cannot get married then I feel that society, including my own family, may view my relationship as something less, which is unacceptable to me.
It is a pity that there is a need for an organisation like Marriage Equality, but the fact is that there is and they do fantastic work which I am delighted to support in whatever way I can. Hopefully, some day very soon, we will all be reaping the rewards of their good work!
Legend. If you would like to contribute to Una’s fundraising, click here and help out Marriage Equality!