My first race in 4 years took place on Sunday morning. The family were away again overnight on Saturday and Sunday so I was looking forward to catching up on sleep and preparing properly for the race. I didn’t want anything to go wrong and wanted to be nice and relaxed.
After work on Saturday evening I mosied across to Salthill and got registered for the race, picked up my race bag, T-shirt, chip & number. Bumping into quite a few people I know from the shop, all wishing each other well and looking forward to, what for many, is their first race.
Returning home I had dinner and cleared the kitchen in order to lay out all of my race day equipment.
I cleaned my bike down and checked all the cables for fraying, adjustment etc and treated the running gear to a squirt of silicon oil to keep all the bits lubed up. Dug out my profile water bottle for aero mounting on my tri bars, no sign of a straw, that was the last straw! Bike spares, pump, helmet, glasses, bike shoes, water bottles, race clothing (tri shorts, compression top, tracksuit & hoodie for before & after) nutrition (gels, protein bars for afters) running shoes (iNOV-8 Road X 255) with lock laces, race belt, goggles, hat & wetsuit, HRM (new Polar RCX5, with speed, cadence and foot pod. Sorry Rick!) and of course the obligatory Amphibia Sport X-Bag to carry it all!
|Think its all here.|
I was fairly happy with my preparation, I knew I easily had the ability to race the course even though I have not had the last training checks I hoped for in the week. Early to bed, sleep and up nice and relaxed ready for the day.
No babies in the house yet here I am wide awake. Its not nerves, it not anxiety, its not caffeine it just bloody frustrating!
After reading for a while (currently Total Immersion by Terry Laughlin, again) sleep was not making a return so up I got for a very early breakfast at 4.40am. I watched a bit of TV, did a bit of rolling with my trusty Grid roller and generally knocked around the house. Of course, I did my bit of cleaning & other chores like a good husband, but it was all about killing time until I was good to go at 7am.
Loaded up and headed over to Salthill to get setup. The morning started out overcast, calm and dry. Once the gear was set up in transition (hats off to the organisation, entry & exit was properly managed so not lost bikes!) the weather started to change.
A recce and discussion about the swim course, landmarks and exit points took place when I bumped into Damian on the prom. The wind was starting to warm up and blow from the East which meant we would be swimming into the wind & swell. Also the bike course out would be wind at the tails to the turnabout point in Furbo and a headwind on the way back in.
A cup of coffee and a chat with a few of the competitors as the temperature dropped and the drizzle started. The start was still a half hour off and the swell was getting bigger by the minute.
Time to get into the wetsuit and warm up ready for the off. Between organising my bike setup (helmet & glasses) a gut blew the helmet off the tri bars and as I went to catch it my glasses fell and shattered! Nice Spuik shades that I’ve had for years, in bits. Not happy!
Off we all toddled like emperor penguins to huddle around for the race briefing. It was cold and the briefing was thorough. Main point was roads were not closed so don’t start thinking your a hero on the bike, rules of the road apply. We’d be counted in and out of the water and the run was all on the prom so consider other pedestrians.
Down to the start point we shivered and into the water for a warm up. And surprisingly the water was warm! Like a bath that had been left for 30mins and was just getting cool. Stupidly, though I cleared my goggles, did the warm up and came back out to the start line, I lifted my goggles while chatting to one of the fellow boards.ie friends. Without thinking I pulled them down as we ran to the water and, all fogged up. Instead of stopping for a couple of seconds, I burst on for the mass splash and swam out to the first buoy blind.
|Get the idea?|
Once I cleared the headland and turned into the wind, I could see nothing. I stopped and tried to sight, tried to clear the lens but the sea was actually quite rough and difficult to stay stable in. People were hanging off the kayak support teams. With the swell & troughs you could only sight the next buoy off the top of the wave and only then if the buoy was on a swell also. Got to the second turn and then it was a few minutes before hitting the calmer waters in the breakwater. Onto the beach and up the ramp to get to transition.
I was in two minds re the wetsuit. As it was 400m or so to transition I could have removed the suit at the water & carried it or as I ended up doing, run in the suit and remove in transition.
TT even factoring the wind in. There has been plenty of long tough distances with climbs and intervals over the past weeks, so not issue for me. Push on!
Out to the turnabout at Furbo. Round into the wind, not too bad. I kept telling myself “Settle Sean, and control the effort, reel the next person in & pass them.”
Dipping into Bearna and up the short drag out my chain slipped. I couldn’t believe it, looking down to check all seemed in order. Must have missed a tooth. Push on!
Pick up a gear to bring the pace back up and same again! As I looked down inside my right leg, my left came off the bike. What?! As I looked at my left foot I realised my shoe was still attached to the pedal and the pedal was attached to the crank but the crank was no longer part of the bike!
Off the bike. Dumbfounded! 15k down, 5k left and my race is over. Can I fix this? No, no tools for this.
Off came the shoe, pedal & crank to adorn my tri bars as I hobbled along.
How about right leg spinning? Yeah give it a shot! Back on the bike and round and round the right leg goes. Yeah!! Thank God for practising those push / pull drills. I can do this!!
No I can’t! The right crank pulls away. Nothing binding it to the bike. That’s it, 4k walk back to transition in the bare feet, in the lashings of rain, cold and shivering. I tried to remember where I had passed the Red Cross crew on the way out. Had I reached them yet? All I hoped for was a space blanket to stop the cold. I’d walk back or at least coast in when the downhill bits can on.
The amount of fellow racers, offering to help, tubes, pump etc was great. Thank you all very much and sorry for being a grouchy grump!
A bystander offered to fix the bike for me. As we stood clapping the other bikers along he put the crank back together (as I thought about the rules re outside help, I justified it to myself saying he would offer the same help to anyone). So I went from race being over and needing a lift back to at least being able to finish the bike stage.
I was pale blue / purple with the cold and knew I was coasting a thin line. Back on the bike I pushed harder than my body could feel and slowly warmed up a bit. All I wanted to do was get to complete the bike, into transition and declare my own DQ.
Dismounting the bike, the people cheering, standing in the bitter cold, wet, windy weather drove me to continue and complete the course. Out on the run I felt familiar ground. I can do this easily. What odds, so my race was over, I will at least complete the race course no DNF around here!
Thanks to Gerry Duffy for remote motivation!
Swim – 0:18:39 (128)
T1 – 0:01:49
Bike – 0:53:33 (170)
T2 – 0:01:29
Run – 0:25:01 (97)
COPE Triathlon – Report by Race Director Seb Locteau