Hell of the West Race Report
Sit back, relax and enjoy your cup (or two) of tea.
Race reports are something I delve into every now and again to get the best appreciation of what my fellow triathletes feel leading up to a race, during a race and post-race. For me race reports give an honest account of the event and can be where the real picture is painted.
Hell of the west for me didn’t start to plan, the previous week I completed back to back hard bike-run sessions to try squeeze in more free time over the weekend, this lead to bad cramping and sickness post training on Friday, not the best preparation a week out from my second race of the super series. I took the weekend off and went for a couple of walks. The feeling of a cramped muscle stuck around so I rang Robbie Lodge in Stoneyford and got a cancellation slot. Deep needling, stretching and a warning to “Trust in your recovery” were the prescription from Robbie and that’s what I did. A 14mile TT and 2mile run on Thursday and an extra rub from John Windle on Friday sealed the deal; my legs were starting to come around. I really should get more regular rubs, it had been 3 months.
Myself and Dave Devine loaded up my car and drove to Kilkee, Dave found a guy on boards that had a few spare rooms in a house 600m from transition, happy days. Registration was a breeze and a nice new gilet for the collection. We got some dinner, supplies for the morning, drove the run route (Pic below) and back to the house to watch eviction night on Big Bro. Poor Dave was a little upset as his new born baby (no not Katie-Rose) The Argon 18 got her first booboo but thankfully I wasn’t to blame. Gear ready and alarm set for 7am.
Up out of bed, breakfast (large porridge, croissant, banana and tea) and a quick bike run warm up around the block to get the blood flowing and see how my legs felt. We head towards transition and again it was a breeze, Limerick Tri has a lot to be proud of. All super series athletes were on the first rack into transition, I was down towards the end. Bryan Keane was hot favourite as leading Irish triathlete and rank 35th in the world ITU series. My honest goal was to have a good race and position was going to be a reflection of that, especially looking at the starting line-up. I had a quick chat with some of the Waterford Tri guys before heading to the swim Peter, Greg, Norma, Shane, Helen and Hayden. Helen and Shane provided a bag drop for Dave and I and Hayden provided the good luck high 5’s.
Really nervy time for me, some fast swimmers and guys I didn’t know. It’s a beach start and a horn blast; I stayed to the left of the pack to the second buoy roughly 900m in and just controlled my stroke. Martin Kirwan (Focus on Fitness) and I have been working on getting the right balance on my swim/bike/run in terms of effort, I can take it out and get 30sec-1min more from the swim or relax and stay towards the top and get more on my bike/run. I pushed on from the second buoy as I felt I was towards the back and moved up into 3rd or 4th and relaxed again. I got into T1 in and went through the usual routine only this time when taking off my wetsuit some off it stayed on. From the right knee down my Orca 3.8 bought only 12months previous ripped, I lost 20-30sec trying to get it off. Keane, O’Reilly, Speers, Sexton and Mc Closkey were all out on the road before me and I didn’t know if I could make up any of that time whilst maintaining control. Kieran Jackson got away in Hook or by Crook and that was it, he was gone. 20-30secs lead out of T1 can make a big difference.
I was angry I lost time but didn’t want to lose my race over it. I passed Mc Closkey on an uphill section not long out of town and I could see Speers and Sexton in the distance. My thought process was to bring the gap back slowly with the lowest HR possible while holding my predefined power and cadence. Before the half way point I passed Speers a commonwealth games representative and Sexton who races at European cup level so needless to say I felt good. On the way back I crossed paths with Peter and Shane on the bike and got a big shout from both which was a great feeling and a real sense of club unity. From there I didn’t over exert myself just stuck to the numbers. Over the next 20km I looked back 3 times and could just see Sexton, he passed me again with 5km to go and mentioned a mechanical he was having. I relaxed and let my HR come down for the run (170 to 155). I passed Sexton on the run into T2 to be 3rd home off the bike.
The Run is 5km up and 5km down. From driving the course the previous night I knew what to expect. I just wanted to run the race as best I could and hold off as many of the fast runners behind me. Sexton passed me not long out of T1 as I was chugging a gel, he was running well but O’Reilly and Keane were well out of sight. Up the first part of the run is steep but I was holding a good pace and not leaving the gap to Sexton grow too much. Begging for the turnaround point it came and I got to see what was behind me, no Trevor Woods (Trevor pulled out shortly into the bike) but Mark Nolan, Stephen Donnelly, Anthony Mulholland, Brendan G Murphy, Mark Higgins, Mc Closkey and that was just a few. Over the next 2km I held form and was still feeling reasonably good. The final 3km was the torture chamber experience. A hellish case of pain and tiredness, HR at 185 and rising. My thoughts at this point are that if it didn’t feel like this I wasn’t after pushing hard enough and that “this is how it’s meant to feel” if I was going to race at my best. On the way down I crossed paths again with Shane and Peter both looking good but with less energy to leave out big roars. At less than 1km to go Mark Nolan passed me and shortly after that Stephen Donnelly, I was running roughly 3:10 km pace and they passed as if I was standing still, I had no answer but pushed to make sure no one else got a pass. I finished 6th place overall, HR 191.
I went to the massage tent for a rub immediately after the race, already thinking of recovery and the Monday run session with Martin along with the Tuesday bike. I had some grub and got to see Peter, Shane and Greg coming in and Norma in T2. Dave unfortunately got a puncture 5km out of town and was forced to pull out. Mystery lines created by the Planet X wheels are thought to be the cause. Shane’s bike split was unbelievable, that new bike really getting a speed workout leading Shane to a great age group win. Peter had a well-rounded day very consistent over all three disciplines and took a fantastic 3rd place age group prize. Norma and Greg both pleased with their results again very consistent racing considering the course and looking forward to the next races no doubt. Also lining up to compete for Waterford Tri was Hayden in the splash and dash, I don’t have any results but I’m sure he got on great, speaking to him before the race in a brief interview Hayden stated “well I am faster than my Daddy”, bit of an unfair advantage in my opinion, haha.
The next round of the super series is Silgo Lissadell Tri and then onto the fun and games of draft legal racing in August and September. For some unknown reason I also signed up for Dublin 70.3 and Kenmare half Ironman, hopefully they won’t be too traumatic on the body as the sole focus must remain super series. Thanks to Limerick Tri for a great race and Martin “Focus on Fitness” Kirwan, for his support in training throughout the year to date. I can’t recommend Martin enough to people for all your training needs.
Thanks for reading and I hope to see some more race reports going up.