Well its been a busy few weeks and I simply haven’t had a spare minute to write a blog post so you’ll have to forgive me for condensing a couple of weeks into one post.
When we last met I had just finished the James Mc Manus Memorial Triathlon and had been rather encouraged by my performance. In an attempt to make maximum use of the triathlon season after a loooong looooong winter I had elected to register for 3 triathlons in 3 weeks. My second triathlon of the season was the Tarmonator which would take place in Tarmonbarry Co Longford, not far from the previous week’s. The difference this time was the swim segment took place in the Shannon. From the point of view of scale, the size of the field was very similar to the previous one in Cavan, so around 150 people.
The benefit of a smaller field is the transition area is smaller and generally the entire operation is more intimate which I prefer. The swim itself went without a hitch again. I chose to stick to the strategy which served me so well the previous week and stayed out wide to the left and enjoyed clean water. Once I round the first buoy the swimmers were more spread out and I simply paced myself back to shore.
The first transition was problem free. I had done up the zip on my triathlon suit so that it didn’t come undone as it did the previous week thus saving me time. I am still getting used to using clipless pedals and cycling shoes and struggled a little with trying to get my feet into them and the straps secured before knuckling down into a good rhythm on the bike. I always find I’m breathless when I’m first on the bike. I suppose its inevitable given the hare’s pace at which I have been swimming.
The cycle itself was uneventful, I passed a few people which always gives you a surge of confidence and literally only 2 cyclists passed me out which was good. One of these cyclists stayed ahead of me by about 100 meters and no matter what I did I couldn’t bridge the gap. Returning to transition after the cycle is more fraught than it was for me last year because of those clipless pedals. I cant just lift my foot off the pedal, hop off the bike and start running. I now have to gingerly remove my feet from the cycling pedals and place my foot on top of the cycling shoes and continue to cycle at pace before dismounting just in time before the dismount line. If you time this incorrectly it can lead to time penalties at best and injury or disc-qualification at worst.
Helmet off, runners on and we were off again. The run itself was as uneventful as the cycle. Nobody passed me and I could still see the chap who passed me on the bike 100 m ahead, but no matter what I did I just couldn’t close that gap.
In the end I managed a decent enough 15th place overall, so I was delighted with that. The swim was very satisfying, it took me 13:30 mins , the cycle was 4 seconds off last week’s and 34 min 11sec and the run was 19:55 min, over all I came within a few seconds of last week’s at just under 1:11 hours, so very similar to the previous week’s times.
Fast forward another week and I was hurtling across the country again, this time to Westport in Mayo. I had chosen to travel on the evening before the triathlon as it was going to be a very early start on the Saturday morning with an 8.15 am start which is a couple of hours earlier than normal primarily due to the tides. This particular triathlon was a National Series Triathlon which is of a higher standard than previous triathlons I have taken part in. I had elected to try to step up a level purely to see where I was by comparison.
I managed to get a b and b cancellation only a couple of days prior to travelling and to my delight its location was absolutely ideal in that it overlooked the swim section of the triathlon and transition itself. I never seem to sleep especially well the evening before a particularly early start and this situation was no different. In my defence though, a fitful night’s sleep never seems to negatively impact upon my race day performance.
The morning of the race was a shock to the system. Unlike the previous two week’s there sun was hiding and the wind was blowing a gale. Throw in cold temperatures, rain and a choppy looking Clew Bay and the 45 minutes prior to the start was filled with trepidation. I must admit I did fleetingly consider not competing given the conditions. The sea looked rougher than anything I had swam in before and the thoughts of trying to cycle uphill into a wind while soaking was not at all appealing but I felt I had to compete. The whole point of my starting out on this triathlon journey last year was to put myself in uncomfortable situations. feel the fear and do it anyway, and that is exactly what I said to myself as we got into the choppy water.
Surprisingly, the water wasn’t quite as cold as I had thought it would be, but the chop proved challenging. What didn’t help was my goggles kept filling with water which meant I had to stop several times midrace to empty them out and put them on again. At one point I chose to do the breast stroke for a few strokes to get my bearings. Once I managed to get a rhythm I felt comfortable but before I knew it the swim was over.
The transition went without a hitch and I chose to use the cycling shoes and elastic bands to enable me to get into the shoes as quickly as possible. Once I got going on the bike I started to pick people off. I had started in the second wave of swimmers with the first wave having a 5 minute head start. The cycle itself was uphill into the wind towards the base of Croagh Patrick. The outward 10km took me 22 mins which for me is painfully slow but I think it affected everyone. The inbound journey took me 11 mins and I was hitting 50km plus per hour with the benefit of gravity and a tail wind. I have to a mention to the views all around me on the bike leg, they were truly stunning, sadly I couldn’t hang around too long to admire the vista.
The run felt a little slow and perhaps the fact that this was my third triathlon in three weeks was beginning to tell on my legs. I was tired prior to this triathlon so maybe the accumulation of races rather than a restless night was the cause. The run leg took us through the picturesque setting of Westport House along what was essentially a trail run. In the end I managed a time of 1 hr 15 mins, 48th of the individual competitors and 10th in my age group. Given the conditions in the water and the challenging bike leg I must say I was very pleased with my performance in this standard of field. Interestingly, out of everyone who started the second wave I managed 3rd.
Next up … Blessington triathlon…