Q&A for Shannon Kelly (Irish triathlete)

Lockdown is a worldwide phenomenon and so we have a lockdown Q&A from Irish based  triathlete Shannon Kelley in Dublin who is an ambassador for Estrella Bikes

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Q&A for Shannon Kelly (Irish triathlete)

Lockdown is a worldwide phenomenon and so we have a lockdown Q&A from Irish based  triathlete Shannon Kelley in Dublin who is an ambassador for Estrella Bikes. Shannon’s highlight of 2019 was to begin full time training again with my training group HupHup, based in Wicklow, after months of being unable to train or compete due to illness.

Q: What Estrella bike(s) do you have?
Shannon: I am extremely fortunate to be on the Estrella Ligero Ultegra. However, there may be a new Estrella addition coming in the future for this season, watch this space!

Q: What are the restrictions in lockdown where you are?
Shannon: At present the Republic of Ireland is under a strict 2km lockdown. This means that you should not go beyond a 2km radius from your house, unless for essential items such as food, medicines or to attend work. All gyms, swimming pools and running tracks are closed. Cafes and restaurants are also shut down. These restrictions are in place until Tuesday May 5th. Then restrictions may ease, only if it is in line with the best interests of the health and well being of the Irish people.

Q: Your last race was and how did it go?
Shannon: My last race was Saturday just gone! A virtual race on the platform Zwift! I am taking part in the new Cycling Ireland Federation’s new Zwift league, which features thousands of Irish riders, head to head, every Saturday. There are 12 races in the league, each varying in terrain and distance with the top ten finishers scoring points. The league caters for all Zwiftpower categories, male and female, so every rider can compete once they have a reliable power metre and/or smart trainer. This Saturday is Round 6 and I am currently the Overall League Female Cat A (4.0 W/kg and above) leader, with a 6-point lead over the second ranked female. I am really enjoying the virtual races as it breaks up the week, makes for a great training session and I can ride against some of the top cyclists in Ireland.

Q: With all sports cancelled, what’s a typical week training wise for you?
Shannon: A typical training week can vary between 16 – 21 hours spread between cycling, running and strength & conditioning. All my biking is done indoors on the turbo for now. My run training is completed outdoors within my 2km radius.

Q: For cycling, do you use a turbo to get your training in? What do you use to pass the time on the turbo if so?
Shannon: All my bike hours are completed indoors for now. I definitely miss riding outdoors and social rides with training buddies! Sometimes we meet for a group ride virtually using apps like Zwift, Discord or Zoom. This helps pass the time of long spins, whilst also catching up with familiar faces. In addition, I undertake a very tailored training programme from my coach Gavin Noble. These include specific turbo sessions based on power and training zones which keeps me focused on becoming a better athlete and the season ahead, whenever that may resume!

Q: What are you able to do training wise for the other sports?
Shannon: Unfortunately, swimming pools have been closed for nearly six weeks at present. This means a cut in eight + hours of swimming weekly. It is difficult to recreate the time lost in the water but I use resistance bands and S&C to keep me in the best shape possible. Hopefully if restrictions ease outside a 2km radius, I can travel to the sea which is located near me. I will of course be armed with a wetsuit! The Irish sea will be quite cold at this time of year!

Q: What’s the hardest thing for you about the Lockdown?
Shannon: For me, the hardest thing has to be not seeing family and friends. Luckily, we have technology to keep us connected but there are times when I miss sitting in a café with friends or visiting my nan and bringing her lunch.

Q: Besides your training, what’s your biggest distractions as lockdown continues?
Shannon: My biggest distraction is definitely studying. I begin my final year in Medicine this September, so I am trying to read up to get me prepared and improve my weakest aspects of my knowledge.

Q: What’s the weirdest thing you have seen since this crisis began?
Shannon: The lack of cars on the road in a major city like Dublin is very strange for sure!

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Q: Have you ever had a period out of competition as long as this?
Shannon: Last year, April 2019, I was due to compete in the French Elite Triathlon league which required cardiac screening prior to competition. I had the usual traces of my heart (ECG) checked for Triathlon Ireland Federation already which were completely normal! However, the French federation require more in-depth screening involving a cardiac ultrasound (gets a visual picture of the structure of your heart, how its pumping ect).

It was due to this screening that I was diagnosed with a blood clot (thrombus) in one of the major vessels leading to my heart due to a rare complication of being on an Oral contraceptive pill, a medication frequently used by many female athletes worldwide.

Luckily it was easily treated once diagnosed. However, left untreated it would have led to the clot travelling towards my lungs (pulmonary embolism), resulting in sudden death.

In October 2019, I was given the all clear by Doctors to return to training and competition after a 9-month break from sport. I am very fortunate that sports federations have screening rules such as this or I could have been one of the statistics. I would advise anyone young or old, if they are competing in sport, to get themselves checked out. Screening saves lives, I am proof of this!

Q: What events are you missing the most?
Shannon: I was due to compete in both French and German Elite Triathlon leagues this summer with my teams; Groupe Triathlon Vesoul Haute Saone and Tri Team Hagen Sparda Bank respectively. Both of these international leagues run a series of races taking place throughout the summer months. I was looking forward to meeting my team mates on training camps and competing alongside them.

Q: How many events would you do during a season?
Shannon: That really depends on what form I am in and what are my targets/goals for the season. My coach usually has a big input also.

Q: What is your career highlight so far?
Shannon: Many people place their top race achievements as career highlights. In contrast, I rather look back to see how far I have improved. Running and swimming were always familiar, something I grew up with. I only first discovered what a road bike was just over 3 years ago when starting triathlon. I remember going on camp to Spain with Triathlon Ireland in January 2017 and being taken in the car after climbing as I had yet to be trusted with descents. I have come a long way since then, even with the 9 month stint out of the sport. I am so fortunate to have been immersed in various training groups and coaching over these last three years to excel at a sport that I love.

Q: Finally, what is your discipline?
Shannon: Sprint and Olympic distance Triathlon. Sprint triathlons consist of a 750m swim, 20km draft legal bike and 5km run. In Olympic triathlons the distance doubles to include a 1500m swim, 40km draft legal bike and 10km run. I may also throw myself into a few road races this year like Ras na mBan, watch this space!

Many thanks to Shannon Kelly for that insight into lockdown in Ireland right now, stay safe and take care – Good luck for the rest of 2020

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