A Day in the Life: Hilary Hughes


Name: Hilary Hughes
Lives: Westport
Occupation: Doctor/Triathlete
Age: 35

I wake around 7am - I am not a morning person - so coffee tends to be required. For breakfast it’s normally the same - corncakes, almond butter, berries, greek yogurt and honey! Then it’s off to the vaccination centre.
At the moment, each day is focused around preparing for the World 70.3 Championships in St George, Utah in September and the World Ironman Championships in Kona, Hawaii in October but I am still working a couple of days a week in the Vaccination Centre in Castlebar.
The drive takes about 40 minutes depending on traffic and how busy the road is with the roadworks for the new Castlebar to Westport road. Working in the vaccination centre has been pretty special. It feels like the homestretch of the hardest race I have ever been a part of. There is a great group of people working there from all different areas of healthcare with such varied and interesting experience. We start the day with a group huddle and safety pause and then go to our booths to await the public to come in for their vaccines. At its busiest you can vaccinate over 50 people in a day and every one of those interactions is different. Some people are excited and have their sleeve pulled up and arm out before they even sit down. Others are very nervous as they don’t like needles. Some are a bit stunned by the size and set up at the centre, others have questions about the vaccines and some conversations are just reflecting on what a whirlwind they have been through and how drastically their lives have been impacted.
For me, each interaction feels very positive. Having worked at the acute end of Covid-19 throughout 2020, it was a scary, unknown, sometimes quite lonely and exhausting time. To now being part of the solution, being able to provide people with some protection and moving a step closer to returning to normal, it feels energising and hopeful.
Generally we finish at 4.30pm in the vaccination centre and then it’s back home to get some training done. During the day I make sure to eat well and stay hydrated so I am ready to get a good session in. Sessions in the evening vary between the three sports; cycling, swimming and running. My preferred session after work is an indoor bike into a short run or a swim at the Westport Leisure Centre, normally two hours or so. On days when I don’t work, at most I would do three sessions throughout the day and a big day like today was a six hour spin to Keem Strand and back and then a 40 minute run off. My favourite session is open water swimming with Westport Triathlon Club on a Friday evening. I think we are so lucky in Westport with really great sports clubs like the Westport Triathlon Club, the Athletics Club and of course Westport Covey Wheelers, we also have endless beautiful countryside to train in. There is great enthusiasm for outdoor activity amongst people in Westport which I always find so motivating.
By the end of the day I’m normally pretty tired! Again here in Westport the access to local foods is such a treat so dinner is usually some nice fresh fish or eggs and vegetables from the country market and some of Trisha’s chocolate brownies for dessert (if there are any left)! After that I might do some admin for triathlon races/travel and then pop on Netflix while foam rolling and stretching before hopping into bed and falling asleep.

In conversation with Michael Duffy

Quickfire questions

If money was no object, what would you do all day?
Pretty much the same, I might just have a few more fancy bikes!

Tell us something about yourself we don’t know?
I did a DJing stint in Tripod nightclub in Dublin.

What makes you angry?
My alarm clock in the morning.

Where’s your favourite place in the world?
Home, Westport. Next to that, Club La Santa in Lanzarote.

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve eaten?
A thorn bush in Lanzarote after landing face first, mouth-open on it off my bike.

Your first hero?
The paramedics who looked after me when I had a bad fall from a horse - I told them I wanted to be like them when I grew up!

Name three things that are always in your fridge?
Lucozade sport, tomato ketchup and an ice pack!

Most famous person you’ve met?
Gaybo (Gay Byrne) - I was so thrilled to meet him because he meant so much to my Nana! In sport I was lucky enough to have Chris Hoy wish me and team mates good luck before a race at a World Cup.

Describe yourself in three words?
Ehhh… resilient, optimistic and pretty easy going.

Favourite TV show?
American Idol ... I don’t know how but it gets me everytime!

What makes you nervous?
Arriving to Westport Bike Shop with yet another thing I have broken on my bike …thankfully they always help out with a smile.

What do you miss most about being a kid?
Bruiser bars, stingers, penny sweets ...

What’s your most prized possession?
My family and friends.

Best advice you ever got?
Sleep on it - it will seem clearer in the morning.