TriAthy Race Report
By: Michael Pearce
I got down to Athy pretty early as I wanted to eat a sandwich down there before setting up my transition zone. I knew I'd have a long wait ahead of me as I was in Wave 11 of 12 but this would hopefully give me time to get a good warm-up in. But when I got to transition I found it was closed as the morning races were delayed so there was a long queue of people waiting to get in. I sat on the wall for about an hour with some club-mates until finally transition opened.
It was a bit of a rush to get everything set up in time before the race briefing started so no time for a decent warm-up. I figured I'd do this on the grass by the swim start in my bare feet, but that meant not putting on my wetsuit. I was starting to get pretty cold by the time I got across the bridge but it worked out ok in the end. Once warmed up I got into the wetsuit to stay warm and waited.
After what seemed like an eternity (nearly 6pm) it was finally our turn to go - I didn't bother waiting around so just lined up by the ramp and was first to jump into the water. This gave me time to get a few strokes in and get into a really nice starting position. Once we were let go it was frantic; I had a couple of people shove past me but I was confident enough that not many would. After about 100m we came upon a guy from the previous wave who was going very slowly on the swim; he was almost stationary and right in at the bank but that meant I had to cut inside and swim around him. That was tricky but before I knew it we were at the turnaround. Once heading downstream I felt like I had more room to swim into and started picking off a couple of the guys who'd started to run out of steam. One mistake I used to make was to slow down when nearly at the end of the swim - I learned from that mistake and overtook another couple of people who'd clearly slowed themselves before the swim exit. Out of the water in just over 11 minutes - pretty happy with that!
Transition was pretty smooth; it was my first time leaving my shoes on the bike but I'd practised this before the race. I had a bit of an issue getting my left foot into the shoe once I'd set off but didn't panic, just took my time, fastened myself in and pushed on. One regret was not wearing my arm-warmers under my wetsuit; they'd have been wet but at least they'd have been on. I probably wasted a bit of time trying to pull them up but focussed more on cycling, less on the arm-warmers and eventually got them on. It was too cold to do without them! The rest of the bike went pretty smoothly - I settled into a rhythm on the tri-bars and hit a pretty consistent speed, overtaking people consistently too. There was a tough headwind on the way down but I kept low and kept pushing. Last year in races I was finding I'd have a good swim but get consistently overtaken on the bike, but just after the turnaround I realised I hadn't been overtaken once. Coming back was a lot nicer and I kept pushing - all those winter turbo sessions came into play as my cadence was averaged around 77rpm. I kept overtaking and was delighted when I came back into Athy to find I still hadn't been overtaken. I slipped my feet out of the shoes and dismounted smoothly - again, all been practised beforehand! 35mins for the bike - I was hoping for slightly quicker but will take that given the headwind!
T2 was nice and quick (though not officially as the timing matt is a couple of hundred metres into the run) and I saw some club-mates who'd done an earlier race cheering me on as I came through - they looked happy so that was a plus. I grabbed water at the water station and set off on the run. Again, I found a rhythm and stuck to it. I could hear Eamonn in the back of my head telling me to keep my head up and focus on the runners ahead of me. I started picking guys off and each time I did I felt more confident. I saw a few familiar faces doing the marshalling so that was a real bonus and they were giving me support as I pushed on. I felt I got stronger as the run went on and at about 4km I reached a guy doing a very similar pace to me, maybe slightly faster. So I stuck to his shoulder and dug in deep and once I knew I was about 400m out I overtook and pushed hard. I realised at this point I hadn't been overtaken on the run either, but then a guy from Piranha sped by me. I managed to overtake one more guy before crossing the line in desperate need of some oxygen... or a bucket...
Finished in 1:09:37 - a PB for a Sprint by around 4 minutes, but I think even more impressive given the conditions. The official Age Group results aren't out yet but there's a spreadsheet up on the TriAthy site - once I filtered out the Cat-1 guys I think that leaves me 8th in my Age Group so if that's true I'm pretty delighted!