It seems kinda odd writing a race report for this after the utterly heroic performances by the WicklowTri team over in Austria on Sunday but a few people have asked how I got on since so here we go!
I got a lift down to Kilkee on Friday afternoon with Heidi and Karen, registered as soon as we got there and met a few of the WicklowTri gang down in Kilkee for dinner. The views were spectacular and the weather was pretty stunning...
Race day brought a solid cloud cover and even some rain as we set off from our B&B down to transition. Thankfully, the rain mostly stayed away but it was overcast, humid and very windy. A really nice feature of this race is the way they rack people by clubs so we were all racked together (
as seen in this pic
- a few people missing from the photo while off queuing for bag-drop/bathroom unfortunately). I was excited to see the Super Series race set off but we were told to wait in transition while they set off. I was in the next wave along with Jackie Hudson so we set off, had a quick dip in the sea and I was then pleasantly surprised to find that
Eamonn had be roped into marshalling the swim
. He lined us up for a beach start:
I look far too happy here...
I lined myself up as far right as I could get to get the most direct line to the first buoy, then waited for the hooter.
This was easily the scariest swim I've ever done. It started well, porpoising into the water and settling into a nice rhythm. At times I couldn't see the first buoy as the waves were so high but I knew a choppier swim would be more advantageous for me overall. My line to the buoy was good, others' less-so, but that meant there were a lot of us converging into a very small space around the first buoy and in very choppy water. I got taken in with a group and had very little control over where I was going while people behind me seemed determined to grab my feet. I kicked harder and looked up to see the group was pulling me inland when I needed to be outside the next buoy, so I put my head down and drove on for a few strokes to get away from them and took the next buoy with a bit of welcome clear water. I learned a harsh lesson least year to always do what John Darcy does in a race; he'd told me to ignore the second-last buoy and go for the last one, swimming as close to the rocks as you dare. Unfortunately, the kayaks had other ideas and pushed me back inside and into another group of swimmers. It's fair to say I'd fallen in with a rough crowd; I was being hit left, right and centre, but was determined not to let them put me off. However, next thing I knew someone grabbed both of my legs from behind and at the same time a swimmer on either side of me tangled up their arms with mine. My head was submerged, all I could see was the coral below me and I remember thinking "I'm in serious trouble here." So, like a toddler throwing a tantrum, I thrashed all of my limbs as hard as I could, managing to dislodge my legs and got my head up for some welcome air. That's when the guy to my right flung his arm across me, his elbow making contact with my goggles. They came off, I stopped and put them back on but could feel my hats were half on, half off. I caught up with the group and decided I'd at least take a draft off them until the coast if I couldn't beat them in. I felt the hats go and managed to grab the goggles (along with one of the hats) but was too close to shore to bother putting them back on again. A lot of people around me were wading in and I heard Eamonn shouting my name so I got my head down and swam in until my hands were touching the ground. About 24mins gone into the race, could be a lot worse considering. I ran across the beach trying not to throw up and into transition. Across the T1 matt @ 25:12.
The bike started a lot more smoothly; you've a long road down the strand before you're allowed to overtake and I had someone ahead of me, so this gave me plenty of time to get my feet into my shoes and get comfortable. Once around the corner I set off. There are a few lumps to contend with early on and then you can settle into a nice rhythm on the bike. I was pushing hard and overtaking frequently enough, which I was delighted with. I had a few people overtake me too early on but recognised most of them later on as they ran out of steam and I went past them. There was some really, really nasty wind on the course but I knew everyone had to contend with the same wind so I just pushed as hard as I could. I started to tire around 40km in and knowing I should be done in a normal Olympic distance race, having to deal with one final hill was just nasty. Once over that it was a smooth, fast road all the way back into Kilkee. Off the bike smoothly for a time of 1:17:50, around 34km/h average. Given the wind, I was happy with that.
I knew the run would be tough but I didn't really have any time to dread the climbing because as soon as I was around the strand southbound on Kilkee, we were climbing. Heidi, Karen and I had driven the run route the night before so I knew it was going to be hilly, but I really wasn't expecting to get a stitch on the way up. I rarely get them and this was a bad one; people around me must've though I had Tourette Syndrome the way I was involuntarily cursing/shouting under my breath. I stopped for a second (very unlike me on a run) but it didn't help so I just kept going and hoped it'd wear off. At least I had the distraction of the Super Series athletes coming down the run on the other way. After about 2km of climbing it started to ease a little and started to become bearable. I wasn't comfortable but I could actually run somewhat normally. At this stage you see some of the beautiful cliffs (as photographed the night before below) but I was in too much pain to enjoy them...
The turnarount point was a sight for sore eyes and once I was heading back downhill I could stretch my legs and pick up the pace. Eamonn had said he'd be at the top of the big hill coming out of Kilkee and I saw him waiting on my way down. I'd just been overtaken at this point and Eamonn clearly decided I could run faster than I was (he was right of course) so he told me to overtake him and push hard until the line, not to wait until I see it. I felt very uncomfortable but pushed through it and held a good pace for the last km. Across the line for a 48:34 run, 2:33:54 in total.
I really felt like I earned the medal and lovely gillet they gave out this year for that effort...
After a massage in the recovery tent (which would give the Panel Beater a run for his money), we packed up and headed home. We needed a quick break for some coffee for our driver on the way home, so while I went off to stick rigidly to my nutrition plan (ie bought a sambo and a packet of Doritos), I turned around to find the following:
They say to blame Corrie as they'd seen him heading off with a quarter-pounder but I suspect that was their secret plan all along...
Overall, this is an incredibly tough but very well-run and fun event. Hell by name, Hell by nature. But would I do it again? Hell yes.
Next up, sure it's only Dublin 70.3...
The following user(s) said Thank You: Heidijo, Paul Evans, grykyo, audreyp, Veronica