It has been 4 years since I last raced the Caroline Kearney memorial triathlon in Mullingar. Caroline was a rising star in Irish triathlon circles and would have been our Olympic super nova bar a tragic training accident.
I had no illusions about racing today, I knew it would be a loooonnnng day as I would be driving to Lilliput, racing then back to Galway to head to Waterford for a birthday celebration this evening. No idea how long I would remain on my feet, but how and ever we must go forward.
Arriving nice and early in Lilliput (despite a crap coffee from a garage) I got parked and registration done and out of the way. I picked up my T-shirt, which was not part of the goodie bag, but being sold as a fundraiser. I had my T shirt from 2007 and a peaked cap from 2008 (I pulled out of that one) so my collection would be complete.
Despite being really early I was a disorganised as possible. I set up transition and stood listening to the race briefing and realised I'd no wetsuit on, so back to the van to get wetsuit then realised I'd picked up the wetsuit and left the goggles and swim hat behind me so back again to collect those. The lads were looking at me like a horse with too heads as I was up and down in bare feet several times.
Make a checklist!!
More like get a nights sleep :)
Anyway, briefing over, down to the water. Its a nice freshwater lake swim. Originally it was two loops but the course is now one big loop. The entry and exit from the lake is a long shallow section of wading / dolphin diving. At least the start is waist high and dead straight to the first buoy.
The race was started with a blast from an army mortar launcher. Holy shit! It gives off some bang, I didn't see yer man wearing ear protectors either. Off we went. I had done a little warm up, filled the suit and made the adjustments so I settled very quickly into my rhythm. I'm finding the quicker I find this sweet spot the easier the swim is getting. Its not fast, but technically I seem to have got the pieces right so I'm able to swim at a steady pace with good control and little fatigue.
Rounding the second buoy (left turn) I had nice clean water leading to the buoy and actually gained a couple of lengths on people who were floundering around the buoy simply by executing a tight turn. For some reason I was practising this type of turn when I started triathlon, way before my swim improved, I probably felt in my innocence that it would identify me as a 'triathlete'.
Its a good move to gain time around markers and buoys so you should practise it.
After this buoy some of the overtakees drifted onto my feet and one of them felt it was critical that he kept touching my toes. Now I don't mind the occasional touch, but this fellow stayed on my feet for the next 6-700m, constantly touching. I felt like stopping, instead I pushed on and in the last 400m dropped him, he tried to get on the toes of one of the faster Wave 2 guys coming through and simply fell away once the clear water grabbed him.
As I came out of the lake onto the ramp the marshal was shouting "22minutes" and then pointed at me and said "32 for you". He must have seen my face. Very happy with 32 minutes, that's a solid swim for me and I am getting consistent over 1500m.
Into transition, wetsuit off, still struggling a bit with this, helmet on, grab the bike and away.
Out the gate to the mount line, keep it moving, jump onto the moving bike, feet (bare) onto the shoes in the cleats and get up to speed before coasting to slip right foot into shoe, pedal some more and coast to slip left foot in. Secure both shoes and settle.
Gaining places through the mounting process and picking up speed over the first km or so is important to me on the bike. I use the initial 5k to settle into my pedalling rhythm, ease my breath and heart rate down after the surge through transition. Sip some water.
My bike is good. After 5km I'll take a gel (Kinetica) and a sip of water. A little more settling and then build the power. The course is lovely and rolling. There are a couple of horrible pick up climbs as you come out of tight turns and you don't get to carry much speed through the turn as there is a solid line that will punish you!There was a guy from Lanesborough Tri who passed me on one or two of the longer drags but due to a weight advantage I flew past him on the downhills..
My bike plan was to keep steady and race to my heart rate rather than all out this resulted in few people passing me on the first lap. One clown was blatantly drafting and was killing himself to stay on the wheel of everyone that passed him. Every now and then he would surge past on the back of someone only to be dropped. I reeled them all back in through the second lap by staying consistent. As I passed the 'drafter' i told him he'd been pinged by 2 of the marshals for drafting.
|Keep it tidy!|
Into transition to rack the bike, some clown (another one) had dumped his bike in my spot, blocking off my shoes and rack position. A quick shove along and I was free. Bike hooked up, helmet off, deep breath and shoes on. Away.
The run was long and flat. I'm not running as strong as I would like during races and am trying to focus on stronger second splits, come home strong! Not realising the run was a loop of an out and back style rather than the two loops it had been previously (read the race briefing) I was meeting the front runners on the way back. Again pacing myself as I did on the bike, people caught me on the first 5km but I reeled them back in on the way home. I finished very strong leaving my 'drafter' and Lanesborough buddy around the 8k mark.
I'm happier knowing I have enough to finish strongly because my target race is longer, so I definitely don't want to be running out of steam over Olympic distance.
All in all I was happy with a solid performance finishing just under 2:40. A good bit faster than 2007. Looking at my results there has been a dramatic improvement in my swim (6 minutes!), stable bike and a lift in the run position too.
Now back to Galway for a super fast transition!
2007 Results -
98/174 M30-39 02:47:20
1.5k Swim 00:39:22 T1 00:01:14 40k Bike 01:16:37 T2 00:0043 Run 00:49:25
155/276 M40 02:39:49
1.5k Swim 00:33:36 T1 00:01:07 40k Bike 01:17:19 T2 00:00:48 10k Run 00:46:59
Caroline Kearney Triathlon 2011 - Polar data