Rachel reigns at Lough Cutra Tri
Thursday, 28 May 2015 | Admin
Lough Cutra Sprint Plus Triathlon
I competed in the Sprint Plus event at Lough Cutra Castle in Gort on Sunday. It was a hybrid distance consisting of an 800m swim, 40km cycle and 8km run. The venue was teeming with people, as there were four distances available for adults and a host of junior events as well. On another note, Prince Charles and Camilla dined there during the week so the grounds were in top shape. The weather was ideal for racing too, with a half-cloudy/half-sunny sky, limited wind and no rain. What else could you ask for of Mother Nature?
My wave tore off the start line as the claxon sounded at 10:15. Sufficed to say, everyone was happy to get moving and warm up, as the water was cold. Brrr… It was my first time in open water since last August but I actually thought it might be worse. After the initial shock of a frozen face and numb feet, I was A-ok and perfectly comfortable in my wetsuit and two swim hats. The lake was very busy, with swimmers from the earlier Olympic-distance waves on their return journey and plenty of kayaks about. We were instructed to follow the orange buoys like every other wave but to turn at the red buoy. I had an unimpeded swim to the red buoy and turned with no one around me. Drafting didn’t come into play because we seemed to spread out quite quickly from the outset. In recent training swims, I have certainly felt the benefit of drafting so I will make a better attempt to find feet in the future. My arm turnover was brisk and I sighted frequently. I didn’t feel confident following the distant splashes of others, as I felt they might be misdirected by outgoing swimmers in subsequent waves. I trusted my own eyes instead. I was helped to my feet by a marshall and ran along the shore to T1.
My swim split was 17:25. The consensus was that the course was long, which was definitely my impression… so I won’t put too much stock in the time. I swiftly went through transition, took off my wetsuit, grabbed my bike and began the uphill journey to the mount line (T1 = 0:54). Boy, that was some steep path! I mounted and quickly fastened my shoes before sipping some water and beginning the two-lap, 40km route.
The bike course was challenging, with quite a few short but sharp climbs. Also, the back road (which is about 7km of each lap) is very narrow and not the best surface so you certainly have to stay alert and have the brakes at the ready. I felt strong and confident on the bike, passing too many others to count. Notably, most were probably from other waves so I really had no idea how I was faring overall. I just powered on and focused on my own performance. I’ve done lots of mileage over the winter, as well as a handful of bike races, which has paid off (and been very enjoyable as well). Although I haven’t been on my TT bike very often, I feel confident and relaxed in the aero position. I arrived in T2 with a split of 1:17:55, which was solid.
After a 0:46 stop in T2, I set off on the two-lap, 8km run course. The surface was as varied as anything I have encountered in a race before. There was fine gravel, large stones, trail, long grass and tree roots to contend with. It was tricky to have a smooth rhythm and I lost my footing a few times. Also, the route was very busy so I was constantly maneuvering from one side to the other to avoid fellow runners. Did I mention that there were a few steep ups and downs as well? I think my run still has significant progress to make. My neglect of bricks is probably a contributing factor so I intend to add more run-offs in the coming weeks so that I can settle into my stride more effectively. My split was 33:51, which is decent but not great. It’s a true reflection of my current running form though so I certainly can’t ask for more.
Remember I mentioned that were throngs of people at the event? Well, that meant that there was a continuous flow of racers crossing the finish line. When I passed under the archway, I had no idea where I had come, though I was confident that it must have been somewhere high as I saw so few females during the bike leg. Thankfully, the timing company had a tent where you could type your number and receive your splits and final position. It informed me that my overall time of 2:10:50 was good enough for first. I was tenth overall as well.
All in all, it was a good day. My first open water swim has been ticked off the list, I was happy with my bike, I am getting good feedback on my run and I topped the podium. It’s a quick turn-around to TriAthy this Saturday. It’s the first Category 1 race of the season so it’ll be interesting to see who is competing and how the race unfolds. As always, I’ll focus on getting in a consistent week of training and arriving on the start line ready to give my best effort.