Well I did say the triathlons were coming thick and fast these days. Hot on the heels of Ballybay last week came another chance to test myself with a short hop relatively speaking down the N11 to Greystones. This morning’s race was probably the earliest on the race calendar so far in that the starting gun was set to fire at 9am which is especially early. The triathlon in question was The King of Greystones, to give it its official title. Its a charity triathlon run by the Gavin Glynn foundation with all proceeds going to the foundation which provides for families of sick children and has been doing so for over a decade. This year’s turnout was the largest with over 300 competitors all braving the chilly 12 degree elements first thing of a Sunday morning. While not a triathlon Ireland sanctioned race, the King of Greystones is just as competitive as is evidenced by the blistering times at the top end.
While my replacement wetsuit finally arrived this week I had chosen to show faith in the Orca wetsuit that I had been sent on loan courtesy of Athlos Triathlon, I thought it was the very least I would do given their kind gesture, it was also a bit snazzier than my own. The water on South Beach was actually quite cold even with the benefit of the insulation provided by the wetsuit. I was quite surprised as the sea temperature in Seapoint earlier in the week was almost 16 degrees, this morning it felt like 13 degrees. A 3 degree temperature difference doesn’t sound like a lot but it is.
The swim itself was rather frenetic. The swell was high and there seemed to be a lot of people jockeying for position in the water ahead of reaching the first buoy. If it had been my first open water swim I would have been terrified what with all the barging and flailing legs and arms. My rhythm took a while to get going but once it did I felt ok. I was conscious of being passed by a lot of swimmers early on but as I said before one has to swim one’s own race and ignore everyone elses’.
It is always disorientating attempting to stand up let alone run after exiting the water at the end of a swim leg and its something I think I’m still getting used to. I managed to get my wetsuit undone on the long job up to the transition zone, where I divested myself of the wetsuit and got my bike in super quick time, in fact I think it was my fastest post swim transition yet. As you might recall from the last blog entry I have taken to putting a swim cap over my helmet to give it a more aerodynamic profile. It probably shaves off only a couple of seconds (by reducing drag) over the course of a 20km cycle but I choose to do it as it gives me a psychological boost.
The cycle itself wasn’t in fact 20km, I’m open to correction but I measured it out at 18.8 km. It involved two laps of a very uphill course, painfully uphill that is on the way out and blissfully downhill on the way back. where you’d easily be hitting 55 km per hour. After what I felt was a slow enough swim I was buoyed when I started passing riders on the uphill leg. By the end of the cycle, I figured there must have been about 20 or so people ahead of me which wasn’t bad given I was roughly 60th out of about 300 out of the water.
A quick transition and it was off on the 5 km run which is always a tough run. At this stage of the race your legs are full of blood after peddling furiously and certainly for me, my breathing is deep and laboured because after coming this far I want to be as competitive as I can, hence it’s never an easy 5 Km jog. A couple of runners passed me but I picked a couple of them off at about midway point. In a regular stand alone 5 km race I can run about 18 min 30 sec, but in recent triathlons I’ve been running about 20 min 30 sec which is 2 minutes slower which is understandable given its the third leg of a triathlon. The funny thing is when you know you have run much faster before, the 5km in a triathlon feels genuinely slow to me despite my pushing hard. It is amazing though how I manage to discover the energy to ramp up the gears when the finish line is in view. I also notice my speed on the homestraight increases in proportion with the number of supporters clapping over those last few hundred meters. 🙂
The good news is that I managed 14th overall and given my slow swim start and a difficult cycle leg I was happy with that placing. I certainly have a few things to work on but in reality it’ll be the winter before I can tackle those in earnest. So that’s a 9th, 12th and 15th place over the last three triathlons, not too shabby at all given I only started this triathlon lark 8 weeks ago 🙂