I was happy at how the winter had gone as previously mentioned but I now had my final physiotherapy 8 week placement looming. I knew training would have to take a back seat as triathlon doesn’t pay the bills sadly. I sat down with “the punisher” to chat about a way to structure my training over the placement period. I was on placement on Intensive care and a high dependency unit and knew I would be pretty busy during the day. We decided to go down the route of quality over quantity sessions. All the session throughout the week had a purpose. Specific watts to hit on the bike, heart rates and times to hit on the run and specific swim sets from the masters group and a big emphasis on recovery and sleep. I didn’t argue with the sleep bit.
Four weeks into placement I had a week of for Easter so I decided to pop home and try and find a race to give the legs a good burn out and keep the motivation up. Decided to do one of the Lisburn duathlon series. 1st place and probably the easiest win I will ever have. That was a good sign. Week over, back to placement and back to routine. I was glad to finish placement and happy to get a first, the hard work was all worth wile. No exams until 22nd June. Get in!! Flew back home that weekend. Nothing beats mums cooking! Roe valley triathlon the same weekend. 2nd place felt awful had a disaster of a swim but happy to post the fastest bike/run splits for having tired legs.
Two weeks past and it was time for the big one. Lough Cutra Half Ironman distance. I chose this race as it was part of the Castle Triathlon series which is the best series of triathlons in Ireland, UK and France. Another reason was that the field would be stacked and I wasn’t wrong. Irelands top long distance professional was racing along with a few elites from England and further afield. This would be a test but I believe racing the best makes you better.
The day before the race started with a simple 10 minute spin on the bike. My beloved Felt DA1 was feeling fast. Car packed. You think we were going away for a two week holiday with the amount of lycra and kit needed for 70 odd miles of racing. Arrived at the race venue to register. The place was a hive of activity. Swim course and transition checked, then it was the traditional pre-race pasta dinner. In bed for 9.30. I never seem to sleep the night before a race but dad in the bed next to me didn’t help matters with his fog horn snoring. At least I know he still has a good set of lungs!
Alarm went off at 5.45am porridge scoffed, car packed once again. We arrived at the race venue, I have never seen so many compression socks!! Bike set up, 10 minute jog, wet suit on and then to race briefing. Everything was pretty standard at the briefing, then it was time to enter the water a lovey tropical 12 degrees!
10 minute steady swimming followed by 10 x 10m hard swimming. Heart rate was up and ready to rock. 5 4 3 2 1 starting horn goes off.
The first 100m was the typical crazy sprint start. I went of hard and had clear water but I missed the lead pack of 3 swimmers. I kept the pace high to 700m I was then joined by two others I tucked in and got a nice draft following bubbles from the front swimmer until the 1700m mark. The last 200m it was time to start kicking a little harder to get the blood back into the legs I found myself exiting the water in 4th place. 200m run to transition wetsuit of, helmet on and go!
Had a great transition and was out on the bike course 4th. Time to put down some power. The first 1km of the bike was in the castle grounds I approached the right hand turn out to the main road Mr headwind hit me. After 10km I caught one guy, the head wind was obviously causing havoc to some of the weaker cyclists. 45km of headwind hell covered. All I could think was keep aero, watch the watts, nutrition and cadence! I like to keep my bike cadence around 90 rpm as it helps save the legs for the run. Around 46km I hit corkscrew hill. It was a great hill with nice switchbacks, as climbing is the strongest aspect of my cycling I pushed hard to try and chip away some time on 2nd place. The next few kms were pretty lonely I never saw anyone but new I was sitting 3rd so that provided the motivation to keep pushing. At 70k a polish guy with a disc wheel passed me I went with him but after 5km my watts were edging up to a level that would affect my run so I let him go. 85km one of the English Uber bikers also with a disc wheel passed me I also let him go as well. A very tough 90km with brutal headwinds was going to make this an interesting run I thought to myself.
Into the castle grounds, slipped my feet out and rested on top of the shoes, dismount perfect! Awesome I thought my legs feel great, bike racked, racers on, isogels grabbed and boom it was run time. The run consisted of three 7km loops on brutal trails which were energy zapping! After the first 1000m I passed the English uber biker, I was sitting in third, every 2.5km it was water, 5km an isogel I needed to keep on top of the nutrition as the temperature had increased. I was keeping a close eye on my heart rate also and not allowing it to creep over a certain level. The first two laps went by pretty quick and I was making some inroads to the 3rd placed athlete. One more 7km to go!! At the 5km to go mark it started to get really tough the surface now taking its toll on my legs, I said to myself suck up the pain and suffer for 5km its only 5km! Glutes and Hamstrings crying and cramp edging closer I came onto the last 1km. The crowds were great and definitely helped numb the pain, finishing line in sight, I heard the voice of Irish triathlon Peter Jack announce my name and 4th place. 4th place dam I missed the podium!
As soon as I finished I downed a can of cold coke.Coke never tasted so good! Stumbled to dad who was super happy with my result. I was slightly disappointed finishing 4th and not making the podium. Looking back it was a good result in an elite field and it has certainly improved my confidence for the Irish championships in July.
Later that day I was told that if I had used a disc wheel I may have saved up to 4 minutes on the bike leg. If any bike shops or wheel producers reading this and you fancy supporting me this season don’t hesitate to contact me :-D
Hope you enjoyed the race report.