Dave wins in Weymouth

Challenge Weymouth 2014

4am race morning, there was a chill in the air in the caravan. I was tempted to go out and run up and down the hill to warm up but instead curled up on the sofa with a bowl of porridge, some people hate the stuff but Id eat it until it comes out of my ears. Into the taxi at 5am to transition, on arriving down at the seafront it was very noticeable the winds from the previous evening had not calmed if anything had got worse. We had been checking accuweather in the 3 weeks up to Weymouth and it showed sunshine and light winds for the week before and after but Sunday 14th showed up like a sore thumb. Overcast (no problem, probably an advantage on the run) but 35km wind gusts, I just love my 82mm front wheel on days like this NOT!! Rumours started to circulate straight away about the swim and at 6am my biggest fear was confirmed…shortened swim course. I have a fixation on the sub 1 hour swim, I’ve done it several times in the pool but never in an official event so it was disappointing. My previous Ironman in Austria was a non-wetsuit swim but I loved every minute of it. This was a whole different animal, the biggest problem was actually getting into the water to start swimming.  Anyone that’s ever watched Tom Hanks in Castaway trying to leave the Island will get the idea. I felt like Wilson after getting fired off the raft.  At one stage I got hit so hard by a wave I just started laughing and ended up swallowing several mouthfuls of sea water. It was a two lap course coming out of the water and back for a second lap (great more fun with the waves!). Wave 2 had the advantage of being moved 100metres up the beach to start because of the drag in the water. We were like guinea pigs in wave 1.  The swim was to be 2km, it took me 37minutes, I normally swim 28mins for this distance, I don’t think the course was long I just think I went way off course because of currents.


Glad to be out of the swim I ran to T1, Pio and Shane there too. I realised I didn’t have my race belt on me, and it wasn’t in my T1 bag!!!! It’s in my after race bag, shit! I let out a couple of f**ks, Pio tried to calm me down. I shouted at the marshall to ask if I was DQ’d?  Pio and Shane shouting at me to shup up and stop drawing attention to it. I patiently waited for the marshall to return to tell me you can race but you’re a dickhead!!! I’ll take that…….thanks sound man!! Onto the bike course hr was at 130, it felt like 220. Hit the first and toughest climb on the course after 4 miles and looked down to see my hr is 65, then shoots up to 190 then 100. Balls!! the hr monitor isn’t working. After an initial panic Pio passed me and calmed me down again!! I have worked a lot with Martin on this, but we also had a plan B.  I had a good idea of what kind of average pace I should be able to push so I went on feel. Luckily up to 80miles I felt pretty good, at this point I started having little conversations with myself. I passed so many dead animals on the roads, I started getting upset for the poor little guys!! The size of the poor badger, then reality kicked in. What if I had of hit that badger.  He would have wrote off my new Argon!!!  f**k the badger concentrate on your race!!! Once I hit the 100mile mark I felt re-energised and was starting to look forward to the marathon!  Biked 5hrs 30, happy with it on that course.  Described as fast and undulating in the race brief, with 1800metres of climbing we always knew that was unlikely to be the case.


Quick enough T2 and out on to the run course, I had taught the hr monitor would regulate during the run but I quickly realised it wasn’t going to happen. Shit! Go on feel on the run, my problem is I always feel shit on the run so how was this going to work. Up to this the nutrition plan I had discussed with Martin had worked, so keep it going……. I switched to gels, water and coke on the run. I alternated gel/water at the first and third aid station with coke at the middle one each time.  The helpers at the aid station were amazing, one lady even remembered me so every time id approach, she started shouting coke coke get this man coke! Great to be able to have a laugh with people on the course even when you’re practically ready to collapse. I knew I was running well but I couldn’t help but feel after two laps I had gone out too hard and had to pay for it at some point. This all happened during lap 3 but luckily only in my head, the third lap was a very dark place for about 3-4 miles. I had read an article by Chris McCormack a few weeks before Weymouth, printed it out and stuck it on the fridge. I had it on the wall in our caravan in Weymouth and read it several times a day leading up to the race.  It basically tells you to accept the pain you’re in and embrace it. “Embrace the Suck” So that’s what I did, the more I felt my legs ache the harder I pushed.


Once I hit the fourth lap and got the final wrist band (Union jack wrist band!  Ah lads do I really have to wear this!!) I knew I was going to do it.  Having my two brothers on the course and the rest of the Waterford Tri Club families and friends around was brilliant, you got such a lift off them every time you past. I enjoyed the last lap and even managed to pick up the pace when I saw a GB tri suit ahead of me. Running past I asked him was the run short. He didn’t know, but we later found out it was reduced to 40km for traffic safety! A little disappointing but I ran my planned pace and ran it on feel so I was very happy overall.  Turned out the GB guy was leading my age group until the last mile, I beat him by 18 seconds taking 1st in my age group in a time 9hours 19mins. I met the marshall from T1 at the finish, not bad for a dickhead without a race belt eh!!:-)

Really enjoyed the awards ceremony on the Monday, picked up a nice trophy and a free-week at a winter training camp in Spain. Well done everyone from Waterford Tri that took part, everyone raced hard and strong. Big thanks to everyone that travelled to Weymouth to support us especially my two brothers John and Mark, thanks to Helen for all the great photos during the race. Thanks to the one and only Tom Casey and his good wife Teena for putting up with all our bikes stuffed into their camper for the trip over. Thanks to Martin Kirwan (Focus on Fitness) for coaching me and sending me in to the race high in confidence. I decided early in the year to ask Martin to coach me, I find it too easy to drop out of sessions early and convince myself I’ve done enough. You’re not going to quit a session when you know you have Martin checking your details after it!! :-)  Martin takes a personal interest in everyone he trains, and tailors the program to suit. He worked with me through a knee injury in the weeks leading up to the race and eased my mind over the injury.

Last but certainly not least thanks to my wife Catriona who puts up with so much when I’m training. Looks like we’ll have a little Ironman or lady! of our own on the way early next year so my race plans are up in the air for now!!  Roth 2016 maybe!! :-)

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