MT reports on The Lost Sheep and racing 'The Worlds' in London.
4 CommentsThursday, 19 September 2013 | Admin
Two more weekends, two more races....
The Lost Sheep – My first middle distance race (5th female in 4.54.32)
I felt pretty good during the week leading up to the Lost Sheep. I’d been a little under the weather the previous week so it was good to feel well again. I recovered well from Dunmore East, with another week of light training.
Secretly, I was worried about running 21km. It would be a huge jump and, realistically, completely unadvisable considering my longest run since April was 11.5km. Outwardly, I was positive and looking forward to the adventure.
Note to self, get into the water on time, rather than trying to hide a jacket under a towel out of the rain (pretty ineffective). Despite a bad start & veering off course on the way to the 1st buoy, I managed to draft for part of the return journey to the pier and although I had started wondering when on earth it was going to end, I exited the water feeling fairly good.
I had done the road trip to Kenmare about a month before the race to check out the bike route so I knew what lay ahead. I’m not afraid of climbing (I really love it) but descending, on the other hand, I could do without. If only the race would end at the top of the mountain, I’d be very happy. I had planned to use my HR as a guide as to how hard to work on the bike but when it didn’t work I decided not to push it in case I went too hard and suffered terribly on the run. Oops! I realised at 20km, when the HR monitor finally showed a reading, that I was being way too nice to myself! Once I started to work at the HR I had originally planned (155bpm) I warmed up and jquite enjoyed the ascent of the Healy Pass and Caha Pass. My weakness on the descents became glaringly obvious as I watched Aileen (Flynn) descend brilliantly and disappear into the distance as I eased my way gingerly around the hairpins. I eventually made it back to Kenmare in one piece and nervously dismounted still wondering if I’d manage to get through the run.
I found the first 17.5 km very difficult. My legs felt like jelly and feet were numb for the first few km (nothing unusual about that). There was a new run course this year and I had heard whispers about a tough hill at 17km. I’d driven the course the previous night to see if the rumours were exaggerated. Unfortunately not! I revved the car furiously as I ascended hoping desperately that I’d taken a wrong turn. No such luck! As I focused on getting to the bottom of the hill I was glad that I knew what faced me. I knew that if I got to the top of that hill, I would finish the race. I was so relieved when I reached the top that I felt a huge weight lift and once my legs adjusted to the flat ground again I felt really strong. My cadence increased and I quickly caught the guys in front of me who had passed me between 12 and 17.5k. It was lashing rain but I was happy as the rain was hiding a few tears of relief. I felt like if I could manage that run despite a complete lack of run-training I could manage anything.
I clocked a faster pace for the last 3km than I did for the previous 18km but, amazingly, the second I crossed the finish line I could barely walk. I have never felt so exhausted. Joyce, Katie, Rachel and Aileen (1st-4th) who all raced brilliantly seemed so fresh in comparison. It was the toughest race I’ve ever done but if I could I’d do it all over again next weekend! I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.
ITU World Olympic distance Age-Group Championships London (15th 30-34 Age-group in 2.04.26)
I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to compete in the World Duathlon Championships in Nancy, France last year and it was such a fantastic experience that I jumped at the chance to don the Irish kit again this year. Obviously, my season hasn’t gone to plan and I’ve had to adjust racing plans throughout. The original plan was to do my National Series races early in the season, then travel to the World Duathlon Champs in Canada in mid-August and finally concentrate on preparing for The Lost Sheep, which had been scheduled for 14th September. Unfortunately there was no point in travelling to Canada to race when injury prevented me from running until the beginning of August. Fortunately, the Lost Sheep was rescheduled to 7th September and I had qualified for a spot in London by the skin of my teeth (unknown to me at the time, TriAthone 2012 was the qualifying race and I had placed 5th in my age-group).
By the time I arrived in London on Friday night, the championships were well underway. It was fantastic to have four T3 club mates (Jenny, Laura, Aideen and Kevin) taking part in the Olympic distance races. They had been busy cheering at the sprint championships (well done Ruth) and getting to know the other Irish competitors and team managers earlier in the week. Jenny, my roommate for the trip, had the whole place sussed as well as competing in the Aquathon World Championships on Wednesday and taking a brilliant 6th in her age group.
Two of my favourite things about triathlon are the friendliness of the other competitors and the atmosphere created by the many family and friends who go out of their way to spend hours cheering despite the conditions. London was no different. The atmosphere was amazing despite the weather. It was brilliant to have Gary, my parents, Róisín, Dave, Elaine, Somano, Anna and Peter there shouting encouragement and I reminded myself to smile in appreciation as often as possible. It’s such a lovely feeling to wear the Irish kit and to hear people shouting for you just because you’re Irish. I love having my name on my trisuit too.
Sunrise over the Serpentine as we set up transition
Aideen and Kevin keeping me distracted as I await my swim wave call
Swim - 13.24 (approximately 70th of 114 - I really hope I’ll find the secret to swimming this year as it won’t be for lack of trying!)
It was really special to sit on the pontoon waiting to slide into the Serpentine for the swim start. I was under no illusions as to my swimming ability. I know it is nowhere near world class despite my best efforts this year. Needless to say I wasn’t too upset when the swim was cut from 1500m to 750m due to the chilly air temperatures. I didn’t feel that comfortable in the water and found it hard to breath (a bout of sinusitis on the way) so I was happy to exit the water and start the lengthy run into T1.
Swim wave start viewed from the Grand Stand
Bike – 1.04.48 (6th)
I was determined to do my best on the bike this weekend. The course was technical with lots of corners and two 180 degree turns on each lap of the 2 lap course. The bike course was spectacular, or so I’ve been told. We passed Buckingham Palace, London Bridge, the Tower of London and travelled through Hyde Park on each lap. I never noticed a thing except the road in front of me, the many competitors negotiating the twists and turns and the wind battling to slow me down. It was over before I knew it and as my legs were really tired for the last 10km, I felt happy that I’d worked hard.
Run – 40.05 (15th)
I was not used to being passed on the run before this season but I have had to get used to it over the past few weeks, since I started racing again. Running, always my strongest discipline by far, is now a distant second to the bike. In a strange way, I think it has been good for me to experience how others feel when they get off the bike and feel unsure as to how their legs will respond. Of course, I would love to be running as strongly as I did last year but I am realistic and I know that without the training in my legs, I cannot expect to perform as well as others who have done the run training. It was frustrating to watch four girls pass even though I was passing other girls at the same time. The London experience made me even more motivated to get back on track and look forward to, once again, vying for the fastest run split rather than hanging on content to run “reasonably well considering...”.
The support on the run route was fantastic and running through the grand stand imagining how Aileen Morrison must have felt (I’m sure I wasn’t the only one doing this) was unforgettable.
Anna (left), Jenny and I enjoying hot chocolates while watching the Elite Men’s race
The whole weekend was great. The atmosphere was brilliant and the support fantastic. It was lovely to have family and friends there watching and to meet so many others taking part, each with their own individual goals. The Irish tent was a hub of activity and excitement and the team managers couldn’t have been more helpful. The excitement of the elite races and Aileen Reid’s silver medal ‘was the icing on the cake’!
Photo thanks to Martin Jancek/TI Media