Derval overcame her fears to podium at the Beast of the East.
Wednesday, 24 July 2013 | Admin
The Best of the East
Wicklow Traithlon Club hosted the Big Red Cloud Beast of the East (BOTE) Olympic Triathlon on Sunday…. This was a race I participated in 2010 but only did the swim and bike. I came back in 2011, to complete the full race distance but while leading the way on the bike into T2 I crashed heavily on the decent and instead of crossing the finish line, I found myself being transported by ambulance to hospital. Injuries to the left shoulder and pelvis meant the following years racing season was also out.
Fast forward to 2012 ... two years later and I am back in Base2Race registering for BOTE. I was received with lots of friendly warnings about “ taking it easy” this year on the bike. I wasn’t looking forward to the race at all, but I had demons to face, and thought hopefully this time I would finish. Third time lucky, right!
The course compromises of a 1500m swim in Lough Dan, a 38.5k hilly bike course and a run that the race briefing states is 10k but I think, going by the times, was more like an 8.5k run. The day was promised to be very hot, so in addition to the insect repellent I had packed for the midges that are renowned to attack the adrenaline fuelled athletes, my sunscreen was also in the bag. The weather conditions proved perfect however, no Big Red Clouds but plenty of grey and white ones! This would make racing conditions much more comfortable for all.
There were two waves and I was in Wave 1. There were about 50 women out of 300 men racing and as I looked around it seemed that there were mostly men in my wave –this made me nervous as I knew I would get thrashed at race start! Swimming isn’t my strongest discipline and since there were many men in my wave I decided to stay to the back of the pack. This lost me much time however as I tried to make my way past the slower swimmers as the race went on.
There was a bit of wading this year through the shallow water into T1, where it was off with the wetsuit and onto the bike. The run through transition and out onto the bike course was a long run of about 700m along grass, carpet and gravel past the mount line and at last onto the bike course.
Now the adrenaline is pumping. I remembered the cautions given during the race briefing -the warning of ramps coming into Roundwood, the bad road surface after Laragh towards Rathdrum but my main focus was on the warning of the decent towards the end of the race. I tried to put it out of my head but the crash 2 years before kept creeping into my head. I then started to get overtaken by a few people and my mind was re-focused again on the task at hand. My legs felt much stronger than they had the week before when I raced in Lanesborough. Coming up to the turnaround point I could see Rachel Glendon up ahead, she being a much stronger swimmer than I would have 3 minutes lead on me at least. I knew I had work to do on the bike to play catch-up. Once I turned left after Laragh back towards T2 I couldn’t get the bike crash out of my head. I started to get nervous and wonder if the same would happen again. It’s amazing how powerful the mind is! When I got to 2km before the decent I slowed right down, I started to let guys overtake me before the decent. I knew I would be going so slow on that decent and I didn’t want anyone behind me. I needed space. There were bales of hay lining the corner, as there was 2 years before, and plenty of marshals out waving red flags warning cyclists of the danger. I took the corner and came out the other end, still mounted on the TT bike! I cycled on with vigour towards T2.
The run was going to be a challenge. I hadn’t run 10k since the National Duathlon Champs in April due to my foot injury. And this run was to be a hilly one. Rachel was still ahead and I needed to power on to close the gap. I had no Garmin watch as I didn’t have any expectations of run time. But as time went on I started to feel better and felt I was picking up the pace a little. I saw Kevin Thornton of Belpark Tri Club powering his way to the finish looking very strong. The finish line was getting closer.. no sign of Rachel in sight though, her excellent swim time of 23:30 proved just too good to close a gap on. The shorter bike and run distance didn’t do me any favours either. Still I was happy to have the quickest female run split despite injury.
I could hear the music.. I could smell the BBQ…at last, I was crossing the line, and in 2nd place. I had made it! I had finally tamed the Beast!