February 9, 2012

Castlehacket Duathlon Jan 29th

A long overdue race report!

I managed to talk myself into racing the Castlehacket Duathlon being hosted by Tri-Lakes Triathlon Club nice and early on a Sunday morning.

The day broke damp and miserable and the prospects of staying dry ranged somewhere between not very likely and none. 

Leaving the house early I very quickly made a mess of the travel. Driving cross country via Athenry to avoid roadworks in Tuam I ended up the far side of Tuam, having to come back through the works to get to the Castlehacket side and over to the GAA pitch where registration was.

Registration was quick and painless, a little blip re my TI licence which had been lost in the post (we'd moved, I forgot to update them) but I was able to establish that I did indeed have membership and simply didn't have the card. Hope TI aren't reading cos technically probably shouldn't have been allowed to race. Here's the rules:

Race Entry

You must produce a valid TI card with photo attached at race registration to be allowed to race - these cards are grey in colour. If you cannot produce this membership card, you must have pre-purchased an ODL in advance from the Triathlon Ireland website.

Registration done, number got, time to get prepared. The start was 2 miles away and there was very restricted parking so the majority of participants biked across to the start.

I found a nice spot on the bike racks up near the mount line in the first line of bikes. Straight away the competitive head was looking at a short run onto and off the bike in transition, plan ahead!

There were a few of us there representing the Predator Triathlon Club; Niall, Derek, Kevin, Laurent and myself; Tony and Enda were there as TI Officials. Derek, Laurent and myself would be similar enough, I think Derek's a better runner than I am so that is where my race is starting today, stay ahead of him if possible.

After a briefing we were set to go. Not having run Knockma before, I have no idea what I'm up against, just the fables and rumours!

500m of flat running then left onto the gravel (should have tucked the trail shoes into the bag) and up. Going anti-clockwise there are, I discovered, two nasty steep sections. Derek passed me on the second of these. My plan was to race to heart rate, no point blowing a gasket to catch him and then die a death, reel him back if I can.

Bar one drop out on the HRM, a steady HR allowed me to pace myself.
Popping off my knees when the forward progress slowed to a walk (for me) helped and I just kept the HR steady around the 160-165bpm. This allowed me to run steady and catch up with people who passed me when I was walking. The proof was there when I was able to leave them behind on the stretches, this was my way to race.

I could see Derek putting distance into me on the homeward stretch which is pretty much all downhill for the second 2k. The trail shoes would be a big help as the ground was wet and slippy, the extra confidence from the sole grip would allow you to downhill confidently. I lost Derek on the last bit of the run and came into transition smoothly, ready for the bike.

Fiddling with the watch, changing to 'BIKE' from 'RUN' I was admonished by Tony (TI official, club mentor, swim coach) to 'Forget the watch, keep running!!'

A good T1. Having the shoes on the bike meant I wasn't messing about trying to run on slippy tarmac etc. Out the gate and time to claw back some of Derek's lead. Niall & Kevin were well ahead, Laurent somewhere behind me, and not having done much biking, all I wanted to do was get back in touch with Derek and stay ahead of Laurent.

The bike is a straight forward loop, left, left, left and left again for 20k until you are back at the start. There are some draggy bits, nothing too wild or particularily hilly, but testing all the same. My determination to catch Derek slipped my mind when I spotted a chain of people working as a group. 

I hate that! Do your own work and race fair.

I fought and caught the few, how the marshals on the corners missed the draftinig I'll never understand. Of course, I don't want to be shouting at the marshal to draw attention to it or with my luck I'd get DQ for abuse.

Passing the drafters, one of them jumped onto my wheel around 10k into the leg. Snot rockets didn't shift them so I pulled away and caught another group further up the road. If nothing else this was motivating my race!

The next group again had a fellow jump onto my wheel and sat there for 2-3k. I eventually sat up and roared at him to get off my wheel that I wasn't getting pinged for being a group. I may as well have spoken double Dutch, the lights weren't even on that there were rules. 

I think you should have to sit a theory test before you can get a TI licence.

Sitting up allowed 2 or 3 of them to go clear of me which pipssed me off no end. I came into transition steaming. Feet out of shoes, onto the tops, side mount, hit the line, off!

As I racked the bike Enda came over to cheer me on or something and I just muttered "Drafting f*#kers!" as I yanked on my shoes looking up the road after the cheats. "Who?" he asked. 
"Them lot!", I said, "Don't worry about it, I'm going to skin them now!!" and off I went in pursuit.

Like a bike fish I reeled them in. I caught the two that really annoyed me and crossed the line at the finish with a comfortable stride. Job done.

At least I thought so. Looking around I say Niall and chatting away with him and Enda in the finishing area, I didn't see Derek and had an eye on the finish clapping in those behind us.

Next thing, Derek appears over the line. Spots me and says "Are you finished?". "No!" says I, "I'm on the way through, just stoped for a chat, better get going." Well, we laughed! 

As it turned out, Derek had spent the whole race on the bike and run 2 flogging himself to stay ahead of me and I doing likewise on the bike chasing him down, I did forget about him on run 2, but I had actually passed him in T1 !!

All in all I was happy with the result. Less than a minute drift in the two run legs and a solid bike leg. 28th overall in 01:42.

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