I got given out to for not having done a race report yet so here it goes...
For those of you who don't know, I had a wee accident on the bike last November...
So I feel like I'm playing catch-up with my training this year. I did Nenagh last month and felt a little off the pace but not that far off. Next up was Carlow - a race I hadn't done before but had heard good things about.
There was a big crew of us down on the day which always helps, including Julie and Raynah who were brilliant supporters. I think we had about 28 racing on the day. Here's a small few of us pre-race:
After setting up transition and doing a warm-up, it was time to see where I'm at.
The swim is in the River Barrow (same river for TriAthy). It wasn't as cold as I was expecting but far from warm! I was in Wave 2 and we were 5mins apart so I got in early so I could do a short warm-up and acclimatise before setting off. It was roughly 250m upstream, around a buoy/boom, then 500m downstream. The first 250m was rough - the water was gentle but the other competitors weren't. I lost track of how many swimmers I had to kick as they tried to swim over me (unless it was the same person over and over, in which case it was his own stupid fault as I'm quite confident that I made heel-contact with a groin at some point). The turnaround was every bit as violent as the lead-up had promised, with swimmers from all directions converging. Once around I found a little room to myself and settled into a rhythm. Once I was able to do this I started to make progress and even caught a couple of people from Wave 1. I wasn't sure where the exit was so I actually ended up taking it too wide, which is something I'll look out for next time I do this race. Out of the water and I got a shout from Dr Dan to say I was about 20-30 seconds back on the leader from my wave.
I knew from Strava-stalking Brian Thornton and Rob Clarke's cycles in last year's race that this was going to be hilly - 10km of gradual uphill, turn around then come back down again. What didn't help was (a) the wind and (b) my chain falling off about halfway up. It was a slog the whole way up, the only let-up being the time spent off the bike popping my chain back on. Once around the turnaround I was able to get comfortable on the tri bars and push it as hard as I could. I was hitting some decent speeds but the cross-winds made life difficult a few times. Overall I was a bit disappointed with the bike split as it was a fair bit slower than I know I can do at about 35mins. I should be much closer to the half hour as the goal is to go under it at some stage - this is not the route for that though, especially in those conditions.
My transitions both went very well - in fact, I'd have been a few places further down had they not. Once I'd got my bike racked, runners on and helmet off I tried to hold a steady but punishing pace. I knew it was going to hurt but having broken 20mins on the run a couple of times last year I was hoping to do so again today. I knew it was a pretty flat run route so I was going to give it everything and see what I could do. I was pushing hard and overtaking often which was nice. You do a funny loop over a bridge then out and back along the river. Seeing the race leaders on their way back on the run (albeit a wave ahead of me) was intimidating but it was great to see Noelie in second and running down the race leader. The turnaround couldn't come soon enough but there was no water anywhere on the run route which was not helpful - it was a hot day. On the way back I saw a few clubmates and a few familiar rivals too - especially one lad from Belpark who caught me on the run in every single NS race I did last year, so I was determined to stay ahead of him. The wind was into my face on the way back so holding my pace was getting tough. Once you've done the out-and-back section on the river you go up the wheelchair ramp and over the bridge into the park towards registration, but you then turn away from the finish area to do a full lap of the park. I'd run around here on my warm-up so knew it wasn't overly long and pushed as hard as I could. I clocked the run route at about 5.3km so I think it was a little long, but I was disappointed to see I was over 21mins. But having spoken to others and having looked at the results, I wasn't alone. On the plus side, I was catching people from Wave 1 and that bloke from Belpark never caught me.
Here's a picture of me finishing with some annotations from Coach Eamonn as to how my form had gone entirely at this stage (I was knackered):
Overall I finished 26th which I'm delighted with - especially when I wasn't overly happy with my individual splits. But it was a tough day and I know I can get faster, so onward and upwards.
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