Ocean lava, Puerto Del Carmen lanzarote was the last race on the calendar. One that was substituted for tristar Sardinia 222 that never got off the ground. It worked out well and a family holiday was thrown into the mix so we combined the two.. It was a win win all round..
We flew out on Wednesday 5th with the race on 8th, then planning on staying until the 15th. The distance to cover was 1.9k swim, 90k bike followed by 21.1k run.. But first I had to cover the distance from Dundalk to Lanzarote with 2 babies, 1 wife, 3 suitcases, 2 back packs and 2 buggies..And all the toys necessary to occupy our 2.5 year old…not to mention nappies!!. This was an event in itself.. We prepared well and executed the wife’s plan to perfection. Mammies really are the best!(I know she’ll read this!!) You will notice that I never mentioned a bike.. Well- that’s because I sent it out a week previous with pat..(dad) He went out to catch some rays a week previous so I gave him my bike.. I really don’t know how I could’ve taken it.. It would’ve been a hard decision on who to leave behind..6 month old or 2.5 year old.. Toughy!!!
I didn’t get my usual pre race routine going due to family commitments but I did get to ride a couple of hours the day before the race.. It scared the bejaysus out of me. First thing to point out- If your pre race brief says.” easy spin out with a few race efforts” that’s not going to happen over here. In puerto del Carmen you have to climb to get out. Then there’s the wind. Before you know it heart rate is up at 150 and your pushing 350 watts. I wasn’t feeling 100% before this race if I’m honest. My head wasn’t totally into it but the show must go on.
The start list was posted up at Dads hotel and he sent it to me and number one was “hell on wheels riegel” ( Thomas hellriegel-(legend in the sport) if any of you read my Estonia report you’ll see we had a good tussle that he won earlier in the season. It was pointed out to me that in a few triathlon magazines he reported “slowing down” on purpose knowing he had the race won in Estonia. Maybe an age grouper chasing you down doesn’t feel good..;) so if I’m honest I rubbed my hands together knowing he was in it. Round 2 “hells bells!!” I noted 1 or 2 guys names but the rest were unfamiliar. I was given number 11..(Blog title!!!) No pro category but it was obvious that the top 10 were pros.
Circumstances meant I didn’t make the race briefing but I was told nothing changed from the online one. So I lined up like the rest on the sand a waited for the gun. My swim didn’t go great from the off. I didn’t get away quick enough and got caught in a scrap. I couldn’t find water for what seemed an eternity. It frightened me. I’m 6’3 187 pounds and it doesn’t matter a dam in the water. I bet it was a 69 year old age group lady giving me a hiding before the first buoy/boat!! We had to go round 2 boats, back to shore and repeat it. I exited and noticed my trek speed concept sitting on it’s own with all the top guns leaving me for dead. Nothing new there.(if your a swim coach and can make me swim faster feel free to make contact!!) A hairy t1(bag moved) added to my slow journey to the bike.
Finally I’m strapped in and ready to motor. I took it easy getting out of town and planned 30/40km in I shouldn’t put down too much power. I didn’t chase. Even though I wasn’t really up for the race I had a chat to myself and said just enjoy the ride. What will be will be. The usual passing happened and plenty tried to latch on but that doesn’t bother me any more. When I started catching single digits I knew it was game on. I biked from 64th to 4th with 5th and 6th on my tail coming into t2. This race was all about a bigger picture. Next season I plan to come back in may for the full ironman. I wanted to get a grip on what wheels to use, rear block to use.. Etc etc. If I made mistakes this time round then so what. I’ll know for May! The bike course is nothing like I’ve done before. One word-“Femes”..as Mick in Carrick would say .. She’s the toughest climb on da island!!!! All I kept thinking of going up it was Peppa pig the cartoon. For all you parents out there you will relate to the steep hill ’’Daddy pig’’ drives the family up for the picnic!!!
As the ride went on I got stronger and stronger and my nutrition was going down well.There were some fast bits and some very slow bits! i think i reached over 80kmph at one point .I enjoyed the bike and concentrated on keeping as aero as possible.The heat wasn’t a factor at this point. I never look at temperature, even at home, but it was remarked that it was the hottest spell they’ve had for a long time. In the race it reached 38 degrees on the run. Sam Gordon who i bumped Into from Ireland was racing. He has done 4 ironmans here and said that he never felt heat or raced a tougher course like it. Sam won his age group and put in a stellar performance. He too stayed a week more and I have to point out that he trained every morning after the race!! Not bad for a 67 year old.. If I’m in half that shape when I reach 67 I’ll be a proud man. Chapeau Sam.
Run & ‘the ugly’
I exited T2 slow and was put back to 6th. I did look at last years results and the run times weren’t fast. I gathered it would have to be a strong run and not a fast one. I ran with 5th for the first lap but he just kept edging further away and my legs couldn’t go. Early on i was in a spot of bother, mile 1 in I felt a little extra baggage down below!! I looked out for portaloos but first lap didn’t produce any!! Oh dear… “Maybe I missed them” I said to myself.. Lap 2 .. Nope, no portaloos… Here is the problem- Puerto del Carmen being a popular spot it is doesn’t lend itself to be the kind of place you can discreetly have a couple of minutes to yourself along the promenade!! I had to toughen up! But sometimes ya gotta go. A Hop skip and a jump I found myself in a lovely villa! Very nice I said. Afraid to look up in case I disturbed the residents breakfast I went as fast as I could. I was later to find out that moment to myself cost me my 6th place. I think I increased my pace when I got going again without the exess load. I did start to catch a couple guys in front but ran out of road. Sorry for that part!!! I was pleased with how I ran. My time would of been quicker had I not took “time out”
I have to mention the “local support”.. When I ran out of transition I had my family going nuts, also Cathy from Tommy the bikes( my local bike shop!!, ) was on holidays, a few C’mon dundaawk shouts were also a great lift. Also thanks to Brendan Strain and May for some local support!! Thanks everyone.
I crossed the line in 7th. Strange feeling.. I did my best and on reflexion I’m glad how it went. As always I want podium!!(to keep the sponsors happy!!!) & looking at the results I googled a couple of the lads and they ain’t bad. I was in good company. To be up there is reassuring. Sometimes as an athlete you doubt yourself and your ability. It’s races like these that you need to pull from and use when the chips are down( not curry chips David Quinn!!!). Although I can race better I see it as a breakthrough performance and I can’t wait to get my teeth into next season already. I am toying with the idea of gaining a pro license for next year. I plan to race more and it makes financial sense. I am on the hunt for a few sponsors to ease to financial restraint but in these times its hard. Nothing concrete yet but things look positive so for. I will keep you informed. I’m not going to be quitting my job, things will remain the exact same. I don’t know how some of the top guys make a living out of it. It’s hard..
Season sum up
I have had a good season. If I look back at my first race it was nearly my last. I crashed badly in Athy. To come back from that was a feet in itself. Probably the only disappointment was galway but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. I really do need to build a bridge on that one!!! Estonia was probably a highlight and a few other performances. Those performances would not have been possible without TBUK– my coach Rob Griffiths. He knows what makes me tick. Not only a coach but a good friend and already we are planning next year. Big thanks Rob!! next year Im also going to be working with Barry Martin on my strength and conditioning. I know Barry a long time and looking forward working with him. Have to thank tommys!! danny loves to see me coming!!!.. and thank you to the guys at Sailfish.
Save the best to last!!- my family.. They listen to the winging and the moaning..As you know I work in the family business and I am grateful to Mam, Dad, Bridget and Linda for covering for me ALOT of the time!! Dragging pat around the world is a chore im truly sorry for too!!.. My wife deserves a mention ..;-)) Thanks K..xxx..enough said! oh and not to forget the kids especially Rían.. The way hes developing he’ll be on the tri circuit soon.. Lanzarote was good preparation for him!!.. He must be the first 2.5 year old that can breath bilaterally…(better than his dad)
Ps see you in 2012..(in the campervan!!!)