Rachel Races the Super Series at the DCT

Friday, 28 August 2015  |  Admin

Dublin City Triathlon - Super Series

Last Sunday, I was one of around 1000 competitors who braved the tireless monsoon at Dublin City Triathlon. It was the standard distance National Champs and, for the Super Series athletes, the first draft-legal race of the season. To be fair, it was the first draft-legal race ever for most of us. Luckily, I’ve done my fair share of bike races so I’m comfortable riding with others. Knowing how my previous Super Series races have developed during the swim, however, I wasn’t sure the draft-legal component would even come into play.

Nine waves of participants got underway starting at 8:15. The men’s and women’s Super Series events were due to begin at 11:45 and 1:10, respectively, which meant quite a long morning of anticipation. Luckily, my mom accompanied me for the trip. I registered just before ten, then took my time preparing my T1 spot. DCT introduced a split transition and boxes for our two waves. I racked my bike by the water’s edge and put my shoes in my T2 box, which was to be brought by one of the marshals to T2 after the briefing. My mom and I spent most of the morning sheltering inside the Boat Club. As the men were getting their wetsuits on for their start, we strolled up to Phoenix Park to check out T2. Rather than cycling four and a half laps of the bike course and then returning to the Boat Club, we were to complete five full laps and arrive at the new transition. Our run was modified slightly as well to account for the fact that we weren’t running into the park from T1. As we pushed through the torrential downpours, hundreds of participants were walking in the opposite direction, having already finished their race. Oh, how I wished I was one of them!

Anyway, back to the race in question. As I said, we were due to start at 1:10 and were in the water ready to go at that time… when we were called out. Some male competitors were still on the bike course and we weren’t allowed to start until it was empty. We eventually got going at 1:25. I had a pretty good swim. It was an out-and-back course in the Liffey, which is very easy to follow. There is a divider in the river that you keep beside you throughout, making sighting less important. I swam the first 750m in the front of a small group. I actually thought it was just me and another racer next to me… but two others emerged at the turn-around. We switched leader at this point and I followed feet for the return leg. The pace was high but very manageable and I emerged in 26:22.

Of the four of us, I was quickest through transition (in 1:03). I mounted my bike and made my way towards the cobbled park entrance solo. On the first climb, however, Eimear Fitzmaurice joined me. I had thought that would happen (knowing how we’ve both swam in previous races) so it was a good situation to be in. She’s a strong cyclist and four legs are better than two. Back to the rain… I certainly don’t mind getting wet but I’m always conscious of slippery conditions when I’m cycling. I was definitely extra cautious on the bends, particularly where leaves had fallen, but am relieved to say I stayed upright. Eimear and I picked up Ellen Murphy on the third lap and LTC teammate Kirsten Huysamen on the fourth. We worked well as a group, with everyone taking a fair turn at the front and then resting when needed. I generally eased to the back on the downhills, mostly due to my tentative cycling nature. Although that always meant I had to get out of the saddle to re-gain contact with the wheel in front, I was happier that way. As we neared T2, Ellen put in a powerful dig, presumably to get a gap on me. Eimear is beyond exceptional on the run so she was going to disappear no matter what. Ellen and I, however, have had similar run splits this year so any advantage could be crucial. Luckily, I stayed with her, arriving in T2 with a 1:16:55 split.

I used 0:26 in transition to empty rainwater from my shoes and put them on. Ellen shot off just in front of me and opened a small gap. We ended up running side by side for about 6km. The course was tough. It’s mostly cross-country and the ground had become very slippery and mucky due to the rain. There were a few sections through trees where it was actually safer to weave between the trees, as the surface was slightly better due to the lesser footfall. I wasn’t too energised on the run. My breathing was laboured and my legs were quite heavy. The only bit that was slightly comfortable was the section on the tarmac path, partly due to the surface but also because it was less windy. The rest of the course was very exposed, with the rain and wind unrelenting. Ellen steadily pulled away from me on lap two (of three). I saw it happening… There wasn’t a dramatic surge. She just opened a tiny gap that slowly but surely grew. Obviously, I’d have preferred to have hung in longer but that wasn’t an option. I just focused on myself and my mom’s encouraging voice as I got closer to the finish. My run split of 44:26 was poor but fair. I gave my all on the day. My overall time of 2:29:10 put me in sixth place.

It would be an understatement to say I was relieved to finally cross the line. It has been a long day, waiting to start and then enduring the tough conditions. Everyone was in the same boat so it didn’t make any difference to the outcome; it just made the event a bit less enjoyable. The weather also discouraged spectators from watching the Super Series races. When I finished, there was only a handful of people remaining and all the tents had been packed up. It was a bit of an anticlimax but certainly understandable given the storm. I only hung around to see the podium presentation. My mom then headed for the car and I cycled back to the Boat Club to shower and pack up. She then collected me. One advantage of competing hours after everyone else is that transition was open and all the roads were re-opened… so there was no delay in getting on the road back home.

DCT was my last triathlon of the season but training is still in full swing. I am doing Ras na Mban with Nenagh Cycling Club in two weeks (September 9th-13th) so I got back in the saddle on Monday and have done a spin each day. After that, I’ll take a break from training and return when I feel ready. All in all, I had a strong season. I was 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th (in that order) in my four Super Series races. I did three other events as well, finishing 3rd, 1st and 3rd in those. I did a handful of bike races and cycled from Mizen to Malin. I definitely saw a lot of the country! I want to say a massive thank you to my tireless supporters: my parents, Damien and Sheila, and boyfriend, Eoin. My brother, David, always checks in from his home in London as well. Thank you to Lynne Algar, my coach, and my training buddies in Limerick and Nenagh. And lastly, thank you to Limerick Triathlon Club and SwimCycleRun for the support all year. It’s much appreciated…

There may be a Ras na Mban report to come. It depends if I survive… : )

 

Thanks to Ken Murphy/TI Media for the pictures: Full set here.

Thanks to Gordon Thomson/TI Media for the images, more can be found here.

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