The curtain comes down on the 2013 triathlon season.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013  |  Admin

So it’s all over, happy or sad??

My 2013 triathlon season finished at Blacksod Bay on Saturday 21 September, and while I was looking forward to the end I am sad now that it’s all over.  Surely I should be relieved yet as I write this I am worried; what do I do now with all this spare time?

Narraghmore Duathlon

Before my final triathlon of the 2013 season I took part in a local duathlon near my home town of Athy, Co. Kildare  The event, sponsored by, took place on Saturday 14 September in the village of Narraghmore and consisted of a 5k run, 20k bike, 5k run.  Given that swimming is my weakest discipline and I love to run duathlons are appealing. However, my last experience of duathlon at the end of 2011 thought me a valuable lesson – don’t sprint off like a mad woman.

The atmosphere at the start area was relaxed and enjoyable. With past experiences firmly on my mind I vowed to start steady and not get dragged along with the sprint starts. ‘I’ll let them on’ I thought. My brother in law Derek was also racing and I tried to convince him that we should run together at a nice 4k per min pace for the first 5k and take it from there.  As soon as the start horn blew we were off pretty quick; not wanting to drop too far behind I ran as fast as was needed to stay with the lead. My garmin wasn’t working properly so I couldn’t keep an eye on my pace but at the 3k mark I clocked 11 minutes. This was much too fast for me to sustain so I dropped back a little and entered transition after 19 minutes. I was puffed from the early sprint on the run, and took a few seconds longer than needed before heading out on the 20k cycle.

The cycle took place mainly over country roads. The first 10k was mostly flat and fast and I was feeling great, enjoying the cycle.  A wrong turn at the first main junction lost me a few seconds but nothing too much. After turning onto the old Athy-Dublin road I was faced with a very long steep hill. With the wrong turn still on my mind I didn’t want to drop more time so I pushed hard up the hill. The remaining cycle route was flat with a few bends to navigate. Entering the transition area there was great support and shouts of encouragement. I was told I was in third place overall and I was encouraged to hit the second run leg hard.

With no fellow competitors or my garmin to set a pace, I focused on good running technique and tried to enjoy the nice weather and countryside.  After a climb into the village to the finish I was pretty happy to cross line and be done. 

Total time - 1hr 19 mins 30 seconds – 1st female – 3rd overall (Derek took the crown)
There was a great party atmosphere around the finish area; plenty of burgers and sausages on the barbecue and soup, bread, cakes and biscuits for all to enjoy.  The sun shone brightly through the event and added to the party mood at the finish area.  It was a great day topped off by winning a lovely voucher from, which I spent on a new pair of goggles for my last triathlon of the season at Blacksod. I am looking forward to future Narraghmore duathlons and hopefully next time I will keep to my run plan. 

Blacksod Point Triathlon
Blacksod Point triathlon was taking place around Blacksod Bay in Mayo, 22k from the town of Belmullet. One of the main sponsors of the event was and along with myself, my fellow athletes Marie-Triona and Derval were racing.  Rachael and Steve were taking well deserved breaks after competing at the 70.3 World Championship and World Sprint Championship respectively.  

I had raced Blacksod before; it was my first ever Olympic Distance triathlon back in 2009.  In 2009 I walked part of the bike route to make it up a very steep hill and part of the run over the sand dunes of Blacksod Bay.  Not wanting history to repeat itself, I arrived in Belmullet on Friday lunchtime to tackle the hill again before Saturday’s race and familiarise myself with the course.  I was a bit worried that with my standard cassette I wouldn’t have enough in my legs after the swim to cycle up the hill and was concerned with the steep descent which was littered with small stones and numerous potholes. It was windy over the 9k of the course I tested on Friday and I was very unsteady on my tri bars. From looking at the weather forecast on Friday night I decided to use my front training wheel for race day, this turned out to be  a good move.

Arriving at transition Saturday morning it seemed that Blacksod Bay had its own microclimate, complete opposite to what the rest of the country was experiencing.  The organisers had us in the water swiftly and we started pretty much right on 10.00am.  It was one mass start with the faster swimmers (yellow hats) to start out front. Feeling the pressure of wearing a yellow hat I started hard and moved my arms as fast I could through the water.  I found myself stuck between a group of male swimmers and not before long I was being swam over and pulled under – typical triathlon swim so.  Once we turned the first bouy it was a little easier and I concentrated on moving my arms fast and drafting where possible.  The swim felt longer than 1500 meters and I was pretty happy on spotting the pier where transition was located.  I felt good exiting the water and moved quickly into transition.  Fumbling with my helmet strap for too many seconds I was finally out onto the bike route.

Swim – 25 mins 3 seconds (my fastest 1500 meter swim all year).
The 43k bike route was an out and back course with a short diversion up that steep hill.  About 2k into the cycle we were directed left to climb the hill; I dropped into my small chain ring at the turn and braced myself for the steep climb. I focused on turning the pedals and tried to remain seated as the surface was quiet stony and I needed to keep the weight on the back wheel.  About half way up the hill I spotted the first puncture casualty of the day slowly walking back down towards me; it was my husband, Mark. A few shouts from him to get me moving quicker up the hill and informing me that my mate Marie Triona was just up ahead. A short while later I had made it to the top, feet all the time on the pedals, thankfully☺.  A handful of guys zoomed past me down the hill and I don’t know if I was more frightened for them or me. It was crazy stuff!

Out of the corner of my eye I spotted the familiar blue of our gear on a racer lying on the side of the road being attended to by a marshal. I thought I saw a cycle jacket and remembered that Marie Triona had left hers in transition for the cycle and I thought it was her. A couple of meters later I came upon Marie Triona and after a quick exchange I realised it was our mate Derval who had come off her bike.  Not appreciating the full extent of her injuries until much later after the race I thought that I would see Derval cycling past me knowing how strong she is on the bike.

After the turnaround and as anticipated the winds were strong and coupled with the road surface for it made for a very tough return leg on the cycle. I shifted down lower on the bike and tried to focus on turning the pedals. Unusually for me I was passed by some but I couldn’t retaliate. Often it felt like I wasn’t moving at all and I couldn’t turn the pedals any quicker.  At the 30k mark I really wanted to pack it in and stop. Knowing it was the last race of 2013 motivated me enough to make it back to transition. 
Bike – 1 hr, 17 mins 39 seconds (much better than I thought)

A few meters into the run route we had the first long hill of the 10k course.  I don’t think I have ever run as slowly up a hill in my life. I kept looking down so I couldn’t see the long drag ahead of me and to my surprise I was slowly passing competitors ahead. After 2k or so of uphill running we had a brief breather of a downhill run before hitting the sand section of the course.  At this point I was tiring and fought hard to keep my feet moving up through the sand and over the dunes.  I went slightly off course, veering out to the left rather than sticking on the sand track but the friendly marshal quickly pointed me back onto the right route. The run back to the finish was tough with one short out and back loop so you could see who was behind you and who you had to catch and a hill again around the 7k mark before you reached the downhill section all the way back to the finish line.  I didn’t feel like I would normally do until the 8k mark and I picked up the speed to make it to the finish line as quickly as I could. Over the line, exhausted, tired and at that point, delighted the season was over.

Run – 45 mins 58 seconds (slowest 10k run in 2013 but putting it down to the course ☺..)
Great atmosphere at the finish area, feelings of delight and relief were evident on all the faces.  A few minutes spent doing the usual post-race analysis with fellow competitors and reliving the tough bike course.  It was shortly after this stage that I was informed of the full extent of Derval’s fall. I also learned that Marie Triona had taken ill just after the finish line, despite feeling unwell before the race she had battled on for club NS points.

Thanks to Ken Murphy/TI Media for this photo and the pictures all season.

Total time – 2hrs 31 mins 20 seconds – 4th female overall – 1st in Age Group 30-34
Unfortunately Kilmore triathlon club cannot control the weather or the Mayo County Council management of the roads but Blacksod Bay triathlon was a friendly, well organised event and thinking back now you could say enjoyable.

Thankfully we caught up with Marie Triona later at the post-race party and she was feeling a little better.  Wishing Derval a speedy recovery.


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