Lost Sheep Middle Distance

Buildup

This was going to be my 5th Tri of the year. With 2 sprint (Schull, King of the hill) and 2 Olympic (Hell of the west, Blackwater) in the buildup I targeted these races as they were hilly races, something I needed to prepare for the Lost Sheep. It would be my 3rd middle distance race after doing Challenge Wanaka in 2015 and Challenge Galway in 2016. I could have definitely done with more swimming and cycling training but after signing up the last 3 years and eventually transferring my entry I wasn’t going to walk away this year. It was after all my ‘A’ race for the season. Sure with only 2 Cat 1 climbs and over 1000m elevation on the bike followed by 200m+ on the run to deal with, how hard could it be? It was only voted one of the toughest middle distance races by 220 Triathlon Magazine.
The week before in one of my last open water swims my wetsuit ripped beyond repair. It was off to The Edge to make an unplanned purchase. Orca Sonar is now my wetsuit of choice.

I traveled down to Kenmare with Martha and George and we stayed in a lovely Airbnb just a couple of minutes walk to the center. I gave my bike one last once over before heading to registration. And to my horror the front derailleur was no longer working. Panic set in and no hope of repairing at this late stage. Anyway off to the race briefing to build up the nerves.

Race Morning

Alarm went off at 4:30am. I had my overnight oats ready and got all my things together. I got down early to see if there was anything I could do with my bike but as I expected there wasn’t. All Blackwater members were racked together. It definitely felt like organised chaos as I tried to get everything together. As usual it was always last minute panic to make sure I had everything I needed.

Swim 43:43 (93 out of 305)

Photo taken by Martin Jancek www.jancek.net

My target for the swim was 39 minutes. I am a confident swimmer so couldn’t wait to get started. Water actually felt warm which surprised me. Looking out at the water all looked ok but once the countdown started and we set off things changed. Within a 100 meters I felt a bit of a swell and suddenly I found myself not been able to get into a proper rhythm. I didn’t think I was getting anywhere. The buoy was never getting closer. When I did eventually get going I was so far away from the 1st buoy that I was swimming across to get back to it. The further I was out the easier the swim got. Went around the 2nd buoy and now it was time to head for home. The sun was blinding and I could only find the splashed in front of me. At this stage I knew the swim wasn’t going well. I decided not to kick on but keep some energy in reserve. I felt the swim was never going to end. Eventually I saw the arch and pushed to the line. I looked at my watch and was not happy with it. Of all disciplines I thought the swim was one area I’d make my target but it wasn’t meant to be. Bad day at the office there.

T1 5:28 (116 out of 305)

Coming into T1 I just couldn’t understand why my swim didn’t go well. It was a long run to my bike but I didn’t feel as bad when I got to it to see Brian Baker and Joe Scanlan getting ready and Martin Feeney not far behind. We all had the same opinion, that was a bloody tough swim. It was time to get ready for the bike now. I took my time getting ready and made sure I didn’t forget anything. Run out of transition and now on to the fun bit.

Bike 3:20:43 (211 out of 305)

Picture taken by Stephen Kelleghan

Well this was the part of the Lost Sheep that had me pulling out the last 3 years. I felt I had a bit more preparation done this year but I still didn’t know what to expect. I wish I had gone down to test the course but I knew there would be plenty of surprises to come. I’m glad I had put a cycling jersey over my trisuit because it was cold in parts. 1st nightmare came at about 28km, well it started about 10km before that with slight tweaking of my calf before I had to come to a full stop at 28km. My calf completely cramped up and I almost fell off the bike trying to get my leg out of the pedal. I spent about 4 minutes stretching before moving again. It also gave me the chance to manually put my chain on the small ring on the front cog. The views helped distract me from the pain and the climbs of Healy Pass. I have never been here but I will definitely be back to enjoy the view not on the bike. Having drummers on route was another welcome surprise and before I knew it I was up the top. It wasn’t as bad as I thought, I wouldn’t be as scared next time. Now it was time for the downhill, all I can say is I’m useless at descending and I didn’t push it going down the switchbacks. I played it safe. Next section was the slog to Glengarriff. Like it was from the start I had bike after bike passing me. When I got to Glengarriff I stopped at the waterstop to stretch my calf again and fit in a much needed pit stop. Next it was up Caha Pass. Again this was a slow grind but the views never got boring. I got up to the tunnel in one piece and I knew this time I would have fun going back down. The climb was worth it. I found the hardest part was the last 10km, not because I was getting tired but because there was no one around. But before I knew it I was back and I saw Martha and George cheering me on. My aim was 3:15 before hand but with the way it went I was happy with 3:20.

T2 5:34 (208 out of 305)

It was another long run into T2. I dropped the bike up against a van and into the portaloo. Best I went now rather than waiting until I get on the run. I continued the run to rack my bike. It was extremely tight there and it took 3 attempts to squeeze my bike in between the bikes that were already there. On went the runners and made sure I had my nutrition and off I went again.

Run 1:40:59 (151 out of 305)

Martha and George were at the start of the run before you took the right onto the main road. It really gave me a huge boost when I could hear George shouting DADDY and I got the biggest hug from him. A quick hug from Martha and started my run again. My goal for the day was 1:45 and after I went through the 1st km in 4:21 (which included about 20 seconds stopped getting my hugs :-)) I know I better settle down quickly and get my pacing right or I’d blow up by the 10th km. It was rolling hills for the 1st 10km and I was feeling good. My calf wasn’t giving me issues and there were big crowds going both ways in the out and back part of the course. This was great as it helped distract from the tiredness and plenty of motivation was passed on. The kilometers flew by and once off the out and back part it did get a bit quieter and I was running large parts on my own. I was holding back the pace because I knew there was going to be plenty of climbing between 15 and 18. A few jokes traded with other runners but we pushed up the hill knowing that it was almost done. The fast finish made the rest of it all worth while. I feel I could have went faster on the day but delighted with 1:40 and energy to spare. I crossed the line with George and Martha waiting for me. I didn’t think I would break 6 hours but the perfect run for me meant I did.

Photo taken by Martin Jancek www.jancek.net

Overall 5:56:28 (151 out of 305)

If you told me before the race that I’d break 6 hours I’d have definitely taken it and after the way the swim and bike went I didn’t think it would be possible. But I was delighted with the way it finished. To pick up 60 positions from T2 to the end of the run showed I did finish strong. It was a great end to the season and it was definitely the hardest race I have done. Having Martha and George there made all the difference and I really think if they weren’t there I would have struggled. I would highly recommend the race to anyone who is thinking about stepping up to middle distance racing. Well done to CorkTri on a super event and well done to everyone who took part on the day especially all the other Blackwater Tri members. Now its time to focus on Dublin Marathon, what did I get myself in to 🙂

Posted in Sport.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *