MT Keane - Tri an Mhi National Middle Distance Championships
5 CommentsWednesday, 22 May 2013
National Middle Distance Championships, Tri an Mhí CXIII - Race report
I woke up on Saturday nervous, having slept poorly. I don't usually have trouble sleeping before races and while I do get nervous I see it as positive as it helps me focus. I knew I couldn't finish this race as I am still unsure as to what has been causing the pain in my forefoot over the past few weeks. I've learnt the hard way in the past that persisting to run through pain is not a good idea so I have been extremely careful not to aggravate it any further. I would, of course, have loved to be starting the race with the intention of finishing. I have had some shocking races in the past where I have felt awful and everything seems to go wrong but I never give up. I'd be really disappointed in myself if I did. In the past, I think I might have foolishly continued this race just because I hate to give up. The very fact that I decided myself that this time it was in my best interest to pull out after the cycle, is in itself a step forward for me. So why was I nervous if it was only a training session, all be it a tough one? Because I felt I had something to prove both to myself and my coach. I really wanted to show that I had made progress over the last few months. I've been training hard but I've had a lot of interruptions since January. There have been positive signs here and there, in training sessions and races, that I've improved but nothing concrete. It was time to see some real evidence of progress!
I'm the type of person who likes to be in control. As Saturday approached, I felt that I wasn't in control. No-one knew if the swim would go ahead and if there wasn't a swim, I wouldn't be able to start the race as I couldn't run. I didn't really know if I actually wanted to swim. I really just wanted to cycle. It would be so cold in the water and the thoughts of climbing on the bike wet....The gloomy morning did nothing to allay the rumours that the race would be changed to duathlon format. Finally the decision was made to shorten the swim to approximately 750m. I'm glad there was little time to contemplate once the announcement was made. I wasn't the only one to sigh deeply but at least they didn't announce a full 1.9km swim. I covered my self in as much goose-fat and neoprene as possible before delaying entering the water until the last possible minute. It was cold, very cold but it didn't seem quite as bad as when I'd ventured in two weeks ago.
I started at the front, near the middle of the swim. I was supposed to try and stick to my T3 club-mate Jenny, and draft off her for as long as possible. This didn't happen. Jenny swam away before I had even dived in (no wonder, as Jenny, our super swimmer, was first female out of the water). I haven't developed enough speed, yet, to avoid the mass pack who threatened to submerge me as they swam over and under me. It was a battle all the way to the first buoy but I managed to keep swimming all the way. I couldn't see the buoys easily as my goggles had fogged up but I managed to follow a fairly direct route. I slowed as I rounded the buoys and tried to keep out of trouble. There were a lot of bodies around me and I was nervous of getting caught beneath the buoys. Finally I turned for home, found some space and began to think about my technique. I now felt confident that I would make it to the end of the swim and on to the bike. I even managed to draft a little but I had wasted time on the way out so I pushed hard to make it up and to try to keep warm and seemed to be passing people on the way back in.
I was really surprised to find out afterwards that I'd only spent 3.36mins in T1. In any other race I would have cringed at this transition time but on Saturday I had thought I'd spent double this time there. I had a lot of neoprene to take off and as many dry layers to put on. Socks, gloves, the works. I heard it announced that the first 3 ladies were heading out on the bikes as I started to derobe. Not too bad I thought. I didn't rush, I wanted to make sure I was calm and ready when I got going. It worked. I felt good from the moment I got on the bike. I wasn't too cold. I began to work immediately, constantly passing people. I had no idea what kind of pace I'd be able to sustain for the 93km. I've spent many hours on the turbo this winter but I can't remember cycling 90km outside apart from during a training week spent in Lanzarote in February.
Surprisingly, I really enjoyed the first of the two bike laps. I was comfortable. I've a habit of continually watching my HR during training, rather than concentrating on how I feel. I didn't have my HR monitor on during the race so I was forced to think about my body. I thought about my gearing and my cadence and tried to increase it especially on the flat as I have a tendency to push too big a gear and use a low cadence. I thought about my tensing my ankles, standing at the right time on the climbs and pushing hard on the descents, bringing the speed from the descent into the next climb. I thought about my nutrition and remembered to keep drinking. I concentrated on catching the people in front of me and passing them.
During the first lap there were lots of people to pass but as I headed out onto the second lap there were fewer and fewer. I almost felt that I was alone on the road for the last 20k or so. There was so much to think about. The time flew by. I enjoyed the second lap too but it was harder. The wind had picked up. It was raining and cold and I didn't have a rain coat or wind proof jacket on. I was working harder, trying to give it my all as I didn't have to think about the run. The road was wet and traffic heavier in both Oldcastle and Castlepollard the second time through. I slowed cautiously in both, having been knocked off the bike in April. I was anxious not to add to my current list of ailments! I'd lost my last gel early in the second lap shortly after taking my 3rd. I should have brought an extra. Mistake. I could have done with it for the last 20km. I began to feel myself getting low. At least I know that the nutrition worked well until then. I was glad to turn the sharp corner and descend slowly into T2. There was no way I was going to risk crashing out there.
Done. My first middle distance cycle. 2hr50.25 the fastest female split of the day. Progress at last!