Thursday 4th of august was the day myself my Pat started our journey to Estonia for the 111 triathlon. A 1km swim, 100km bike and 10km run.. An early start meant an early start for our taxi.. That taxi was my father in law Ollie.. Thanks Ollie.. ( thank you all who offered!!) ..And thanks for lift home from Alan Gray!!!..(thanks to all who didnt offer!!!!haha)
This race was already different from previous races I’ve done over seas.. Only the night before my wife Karen said ” I don’t remember Florida or wimbleball taking you as long to prepare” I never really thought about it until she said it.. She was right.. Work aside, This season I am a different athlete/ person.. My attitude is much different.. The little details count.. For example, I look ahead to when and what I’m going to eat. Paranoid I won’t get what I need to perform on Sunday for the race. The way I look at it for months now I’ve looked after my diet and have seen the benefits in training.. Now I don’t want to ruin it in the run up to the race with malnutrition. So with that in mind I cooked up a storm the night before and smuggled lunch in tupperware for myself and Pat.. (1 nil mr O leary).. I also took my coconut oil, sweet potato, some herbs and spices, wholemeal pasta and quinoa!!..( I would have takin the almond nut butter but I had a weight issue!!.. (Please see below!) I’m crazy I know but why ruin it all with crappy airport food. You might think it’s taking things to extremes and this is a hobby but as each athlete knows and that competes you want to perform & all areas must be covered.. I am going here to win the race, I mightn’t say it out loud but that’s how I feel.. That’s how me and rob have prepared. (I sit on the aircraft writing this section en route to Estonia)
The bike disassembly was fun, breaking it down, packing it in my new bike box Alan, weighing it, opening it up taking out unwanted gear, weighing it again.. Always trying to get under 20kg!!.. Now the checked luggage.. it had to be 15kg.. I was ruthless, underwear?? “No don’t need those”..”jeans??”…” nah I’ll do without.. Clothes..??” Sure I have my skin!!!..;) My checked luggage had more bike tools than clothes!!. I even had Pat take my wetsuit! Maybe my competition had started already, Me vrs ryanair.. Each kg over is 20 quid.. ( I’m not tight, just competitive!!!) So my race nerves started at check in!! It felt I was on the start line. Checked luggage 15.8kg.. (allowance 15) HA O’leary.. 2 nil!! Now the bike.. 19.8kg…(allowance 20kg) HA HA O’Leary.. 3 nil… Then the girl said to me,” your well in with your bike.. The allowance is 30kg!!!!” ..” that’s the lightest bike I’ve checked in”..” are you sure your bike is in there”… ???!! Ok ok O’Leary 3-1….:)
Also Karen said to me, O’Leary has already won.. Did you not pay for it when you checked in online??.. Ok.. I’ll leave it at .. 3-2!
Everything went smooth through Tallinn airport and that panic feeling of will my bike come round the belt or did they leave it on the run way feeling always gets you. It arrived anyway and me and Pat got the keys to the car and had a nice 200km drive to the venue. Driving on the wrong side of the road leaves pat anxious, couple that with some passing out manoeuvres and he’s really anxious.. We got there eventually and straight away I’m checking out the food menu!! We were just on time for the Buffett and hey presto they had what I needed. All fresh veg and some liver will do fine!!.. Rye bread the lot.. I had to open my case though to coat the rye bread with some coconut oil.. Yummy!..
Our night wasn’t complete without a quick scan of the village and then a stop at the supermarket. I think all athletes go to the supermarket prior to the race. Not trusting their local cuisine!! Thankfully I’m not alone!! We shopped till we dropped and next day had a feast..
Bike assembly is always nervous. Taking it apart is one thing but putting it back the way it was is another. Thankfully each bolt didn’t give me any problems so a ride was next to test ‘her’ out.. It was too good to be true.. Front derailer wouldn’t shift so I needed a mechanic.. None to be got so I check ‘her’ over myself and to my surprise I fixed ‘her’. I even surprised myself!!.. Watch out Danny!!!!! I swam in the lake later that day with just the togs and a pair of goggles..pure heaven.. Let’s just say it was no camlough!..
I registered and bumped I to Ain-Alar race organiser. I don’t know what the locals eat but they are units.. And that’s the women!!!! I really recommend this race for its organisation and professionalism. Everything runs like clock work and every detail accounted for.. It’s amazing what we athletes want in return for out entry fee.. Podium finish? No.. A goodie bag!!! And a lovely one!! Nice zoot bag.
My conclusion thus far before the race starts is athletes want to pay a fortune for a race, suffer badly, spend most of their time in the grocery store and hope they get a nice goodie bag in return. And if all goes to plan when you cross the line you get a t-shirt!!! Yes!!! I am now so much in debt but I can relax because I feel shit with my backpack and full belly of greens!!
RACE BUILD UP
Rob landed at the hotel the night before and it was good to have him there and was great company for pat. We had discussed how I was going to race and what tactics to deploy!. This race I felt I had something to prove. Not to anyone, but to myself. My big races haven’t gone like I wanted in the past and I haven’t lived up to the bill!.. I wanted to live up to the numbers I’ve been putting out in training and bring it into the race. I was more aggressive in my approach and mental attitude on this one.. I was self-assured and experience told me what hadn’t and didn’t work in the past and now is the time to learn and not keep repeating the mistakes.. racking my bike the guy next to me asked what time are you going for and I told him none in particular. He said why.. My reply. ” I want to win” time doesn’t come into it.. He had a chuckle..
The swim was 1k in an anticlockwise square keeping the buoys to your left until the final one kept on the right. I planned for 15 mins but I felt faster. Because of the short swim the draft was great and I tucked in as best I could when possible. I exited happy, I don’t wear a watch in the water but rob gave me a shout of 3 mins. I was happy. Game on..
The plan here was to cruise out. Get the heart rate right down. It was very hard. I followed a few guys until I said feck that and got into my own rhythm. Not over doing it but suddenly I had company. This didn’t bother me in the slightest. I knew there was another 90km to go so if they are still there fair play!!. I moved my way through the field nice and easy.. Still well within myself I felt comfortable and always reminding myself that in the past I blew it by going too hard. And by going to hard the last 20km would find me out. Slowly but surely I had lots of road to myself and the guys that latched on were a distant memory. I had a motor bike for a long time and my mind played tricks with me telling myself I was leading. Surely not!!?! Surely right.. I was in 4th at 60km and I could see 3rd up the road. On the course I had 3 people giving me time splits. Rob and 2 other gentlemen a three separate locations. All the time they were saying 3 mins, 3 mins, 3 mins. I wasn’t making any ground on first but not losing it either. All the time I was catching 3rd and 2nd. At this point let me tell you who was in 1st 2nd and 3rd.. 1st was Thomas “Hell on Wheels” HELLRIEGEL !! Former Hawaii world champ, 2nd was local favourite Estonian Kirill KOTSEGAROV (i think he won Florida ironman) ….. And third was Oliver Marceau!!! Former itu world champ.. And here’s me.. Pale skinned big arsed paddy stamping on the peddles. When I passed Oliver he didn’t even try to stay with me.. I made sure the pace was hard enough that he’d have to work straight away to get to my legal draft. So there you have it I was on the podium and ready for the run. My legs knew they had worked but a lot fresher from Antwerp and Florida. If I am honest the bike felt easy and I questioned did I go hard enough but I was to find out I got the pace right. My nutrition was bang on too.. No special formula. I just listened to the belly and felt the signs. 2 power bar bottles, 1 gu chomps and 2 gels. Very little but my body doesn’t need as much any more. And the run is only 10k…only!!!!
I’m writing this before I see my transition times but I felt I was slow. Bit of a mix up as to where I put my bike. I thought it would be taken from me but they all just looked at me and i was shouting where where where??!!?Eventually a girl ran over and took it. Grabbed my bag and on with the hat and runners and I was straight into my stride. The garmin was a blessing. So easy to run hard too soon.. The run is like the beast of the east but not as tough in my view. For 1km it’s flat then bang .4km of a hill.. The turn around was at 1.6km so straight away I could calculate how far i was back.. I had 2.50 “hell on wheels” and 2 mins to local Estonian. Keep calm keep calm.. Then when I turned Round I had an army after me!!! ( I quickly knew from the way they’re numbers were on that they were relays) Oliver wasn’t for back and a bit close for comfort. Running back through the crowds rob informed my I was making ground. I just said to myself give it.. Leave absolutely nothing here.. 4km in and up the next hill I got another split . 2:05 to Hell on wheels and 1:20 to KOTSEGAROV.. I’m on here.. Knowing I could catch 2nd if I could hold the pace I didn’t feel 1st was an option.. Suddenly at 5.5km I could see the arse of 2nd right before the next turn around. Then came Thomas.. I calculated it 1 min. And I was right on the heels of 2nd. ” I have yeah, yeah boya!!!.. Still aware of what was behind I knew I couldn’t be caught. Now I was right behind 2nd. I had a choice.. Run with KOTSEGAROV and sprint for 2nd or have some balls and run past and go for broke. I did the latter and KOTSEGAROV didn’t come. He was gone, I knew by his face. Suddenly I’m at 9km and giving her dicksey down the decent after Thomas. It wasn’t enough but I didn’t care. Right there at that moment I was proud of myself and then I saw Dad and rob. I was over overjoyed.. Thought of my kids and wife and enjoyed the finish.. Continually punching the air with my Irish flag that Rìan made. I still don’t believe it.
I did what i set out to do. Not all races go perfect and I’ll have many more that don’t but for now I’m going to soak this one up.
Next up is Galway 70.3.. Back to work!!Ps. Thank you to everyone for well wishes. If I didn’t reply it’s because I was inundated with texts, calls, social media etc etc.
Big big thanks to Rob. TBUK Primera. The support and effort he puts into me in phenomenal!
Sorry my wife and kids couldn’t be here. Without being to cheesy my wife has played a major role in my achievement. Every man needs one or has one! Thanks k..x as do my dad pat and mam. Also the girls in the shop for letting do some bluffing!!!!