This past weekend was the first race of the second half of my racing season. I was coming into it of a pretty solid 4 week block of training and was excited to see what I could do and if I had made any progress. A whole group of awesome guys and girls from Bustinskin where heading out with 10 of us racing and even more supporters. All staying in the same hotel it made for a fantastic weekend of social and racing fun.
|Check-in Queue Selfie|
We arrived in Dublin early Friday morning and got to our hotel quickly. Not being able to check in yet we grabbed some food and walked into the park for registration and to collect bags etc. A quick browse through the expo and back to he hotel to check in, build my bike and chill out.
With pretty much everyone arrived by Saturday it was a day of getting organised. Quick spin on the bike and short run was followed by breakfast and sorting transition bags. Then the joyous process of racking bikes and bags with the split transition. It did give us the opportunity to see some of the bike course and where the swim was being held. With bikes sorted it was lunch and back to he hotel to meet up with the support crew before dinner. After probably the poshest pre race dinner I have ever had to celebrate Mark 'the Boss' birthday it was time to see what sleep I could get before race day!
A somewhat leisurely 4.30 alarm woke me and after a quick coffee we met the rest of the guys downstairs and got Taxis to the swim start. I ate my breakfast in the taxi as being last wave off I had a few more minutes than everyone else. Arriving at T1 things went smoothly, bike checked and tyres pumped I still had nearly 2 hours to my wave start so I sat and the rocks and listened to some music watching everyone else get ready.
|The narrow slip of the swim start into the cold irish sea|
With about half an hour to go I started to get my wetsuit on, said good luck to the last of our guys going off for their start and made my way to the start line. I managed to get to the front of our wave as we queued to get down the narrow slip way and started to ready myself for the off. the countdown was on and the horn went, the sea was freezing and really salty compared to home but it quickly spread out and a few of us were swimming together at the front of the wave. About 1km in we caught the back of the previous wave and spent the rest of the time trying to avoid others and picking the best route through the swimmers in front. Into the last few hundred meters and I was getting pretty cool but feeling pretty good, I turned towards the pontoon and exited the swim with the help from the volunteers and started making my way into T1.
|The P5 waiting patiently for me ready to go.|
The Zone 3 Vanquish flew off as usual into transition and I got my bag and put my socks on, running round the big transition gave me time to put on helmet and race belt and I managed to find my bike quite quickly and hit the road. With the wave starts I knew that this race was going to be more of a solo time trial than a head to head battle, I wasn't sure where I was in my age group but focused on putting my head down and riding my race.
We were soon into the city and riding next to the river towards phoenix park, we passed straight by our hotel where all our support crew were out in force and making plenty of noise already! There were a few speed bumps through the park and the course was pretty busy but no one had come past me and I was feeling pretty good. Out of the city and into he countryside a bit and the roads were pretty similar to home. I was grateful that they were fully closed to cars as I was just passing other riders one after another and spent a lot of time in the middle of the road. After around 30km I went passed an athlete with a similar race number to me and went through half way feeling good. I was on top of nutrition and hydration and was working well but not hammering too hard. I knew the roads back towards town should be slightly faster as well with a few more flatter and downhill sections.
I hit the road with the speed bumps and got through them without any major dramas and enjoyed the short sharp club to get back into the park. The last couple of km were pretty steady through the park with a few uphills and a good chance to stretch out and prepare for the run. Feet out of shoes and running into T2 I was pleased with my ride and knew that no one had overtaken me throughout all of it so a good run would give me a good result. No issues through the change tent and I ran out onto the run course ready to male up for the disappointment of my run at Grafman.
|Swim and bike done running into T2|
I tried something new with my Garmin and only had the screen showing lap time with it set to auto lap every 5km. I was keen to run this one by feel and trust my judgement more than the watch and focus on just running a strong race. Our supporters had set up camp on the roundabout we passed a few times and I saw Lisa early on, heading round my first lap and another athlete on his second lap ran up to me. This worked well and we ran side by side for the remainder of the lap a what felt like a good pace. I ticked off my first 5km in a little over 20 min 30 seconds and felt good heading out onto lap 2. I was drinking at all aid stations a took a gel at the end of my first and second laps and was pleased with a 2nd 5km split of 20m20s. I knew once at the 15km point it would be time to start to really squeeze out what I had left and with a 3rd 5km split of 20m10s new a new run P.B was on the cards. I upped the work rate as best I could, and was still feeling fairly good but the pain in the legs was setting in now, a 4th 5km split of 20m10s took me to 1km to go and i gave it a final squeeze. passing the turn around with 3 lap bands and this time heading straight to the finish was amazing. Punching the air as i crossed the line and i looked back at the clock to see 4hours18 next to my name and feeling very satisfied. Lisa was waiting for me as we collected our medals and T-shirts and we headed to see some of the other supporters and cheer in some of our athletes as they crossed the line.
|Running down towards the Finish Line|
After a few minutes we checked the results online and i couldn't believe when i saw i had won my Age Group and finished 9th overall! Top 10 in a big race like this was something i thought i would only be dreaming of this year and i was so happy about it. All of the Bustinskin guys had great days with P.B's smashed and expectations exceeded all round. We collected our bags and got some food and sat around for a bit before heading back to the hotel for a quick shower. Prize giving was that evening and we headed back to the park to watch it and collect my trophy. We were all super tired by the time we got back to the hotel and after a couple of pints of Guinness and some ice cream it was time for bed and the end of an amazing day!
|Prize giving and 1st place Age Group Trophy|
A phenomenal weekend and a performance i am very happy with, a massive breakthrough with my running with around a 5 min P.B on the half marathon. Massive thank you to Lisa and Maecee for coming out to support and put up with me leading into a race and the whole group of guys and girls who were easily the noisiest people in Pheonix Park making the day so much better and providing everyone who raced with a little lift every time we passed them. Now its head down working towards Challenge Weymouth seeing if i can do the same over double the distance!
|Some of the finishers Back in sunny Weymouth|