Tom struggles to find his legs at the Belfast Titanic Triathlon

1 CommentTuesday, 9 September 2014  |  Admin


Belfast Titanic Triathlon - toughest day in the office.

Me to myself (lap 3 of 4 on the run):
"I must stick with this lad (one of the lapped lads), just follow his steps for the third and fourth lap, feeling really bad... stick to him..  if you don't, you wont hold second place!"
Aidan Callaghan- closing in on me quick on lap 4:
"Just don't look back Tom, I am closing... don't look back..."
Me- Final Lap:
"Stick to him, just one more lap! Lost him.. push hard HUURRTSSS..  ok I am back hot on his heels"
Aidan Callaghan- running hard almost ready to catch me:
"I am closing in, don't look back...I am getting second...don't look, only 100m left..."
Me- closing to the finish line with legs screaming:
"Two more corners, ok let's look back is anyone behind me- WWOOWW Aidan is just meters behind - 50m to go.. trying to sprint.. come on legs... I am second...just!"
Aidan- almost in touching distance of me now:
"NNOoo!  you looked back...too late. Finished third"
Aidan - fair deuce. It was nice chatting to you and getting your side of our race.
Race Day:
We decided to drive up to Belfast on the morning of the race, leaving Dublin around 6AM. Around Dundalk there was a train of around 10 cars with bikes heading to Belfast, then in the city we split up and after few u-turn we found direction arrows to the provided race parking.
Off to registration and around 8:30am I get my bike, racked and we headed off to the start point located on the other side of the river. The weather was beautiful and I ready to get going in the morning sunshine.

TOM GAGOLA Titanic Triathlon Belfast 2014
Struggling to find the rhythm


SWIM: Time Taken 21:07
What can I say - slow, painful due to cramps (both legs, every muscle). Never before experience something like that. I had to stop several times and I just wanted to get out of water and see what would happen next.
As I climbed out of the river I heard Monika's voice - "you are 6th, 90 sec behind" Not good. Run to T1 took about 20 seconds so I had time to figure what to do next.
After a bad swim like that you can:
a - start thinking what happened and why I am having such a bad day
b - start asking "why I am doing this" and lose your focus
c - call it a day
d - jump on the bike and hope cramps won't come back
e - go all out and forget about swim, if I die I die.. but at least I tried.
Quick decision and "e" it is.

Cycle Belfast Triathlon 2014 Tom Gagola 

Beast Mode Engaged!

BIKE: Time Taken 54:02
We had 2 U-shaped laps with two 360 turns. First one gave me my bearing against Chris Mintern and all the athletes in between. The circuit was very flat with wide roads but there were a few speed bumps and roundabouts to navigate. I started as I normally do trying to push hard and this time I felt that the effort was transferring into speed from the very first revolution of the pedals. Looking at speedometer it read 45km/h and after 8km I am in 3rd place and second is just a few meters away. It looks good - legs are starting to hurt but nothing dramatic. On the last U-turn I got Chris and this time I put some effort while overtaking him "it is hurting me, but it is killing you" kind of approach. I never looked back but I was hoping that I was able to put some daylight between us, 1 minute seemed doable.
I entering T2 with some athletes who were doing the sprint distance race and I was first out of the Olympic wave. My legs after biking for 40km felt fresher than they did after swimming 1500 - triathlon is still an unpredictable sport to me.
Exiting T2 I see Chris so guestimate I am a mere 30 seconds ahead.

Run Belfast Titanic Triathlon Tom Gagola

Hurting.. really hurting!

RUN: Time Taken 36:13
I was very good considering the earlier cramps and the effort on the bike. Chris was faster. He put around 20-25 sec on me and maintained it to the finish. I ran 36min which is average but I am happy with it. The only difficulty was the number of athletes on the course and a bit of traffic but it was well compensated by number of people cheering and getting to race in the city center.
I left everything out there, pushed hard all day, fought against my own body but Chris had more (this time ;D). No excuses though. I am glad I finished second. It was a great day with my mind winning the battle over my body. The price is that I can barely walk at the moment and have to take the lift between floors. It was great to be able to race in the Belfast City centre. A lot of effort went to route the triathlon around the main attractions and roads of Belfast and I appreciate that.

Finishers Medal Titanic Triathlon Belfast 2014

Pictures thanks to Monica Gagola.

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