Someone asked me whats it like being a pro. I replied.. its like having a VIP pass at a nightclub. Your important at the start of the night but as it goes on your just like everyone else at the club. We all end up drinking from the same bar.
What did I expect? A stroll around for 9/10 hours?? Hardly!Was I scared before the race? Maybe.Actually I was petrified. Did I really have expectations.No. I said if I got a good performance the result would look after itself. I’m guilty of studying times of previous years and guys I know. All triathletes are. But at the end of the day you’re toeing the sand with everyone else and your time will be decided at the end. You can’t call it really. Year on year times vary. All to do with conditions. Do your race and see where it gets you. That was my main and only race tactic. Earn the right to be called an Ironman, earn the right to say you can swim, ride and run in a certain time. When playing football it was drilled into me, EARN THE RIGHT when you cross that white line. Only difference here was the sand.
It has been a long road and I feel a sense of relief that I’ve ticked an ironman race off the list. I couldn’t have done it without all the support from friends, sponsors and most of all family. Special mentions to Owen Martin & Ruaidhri Stewart. Not to mention the Emeralds, Joyce and Martin. Guys that have been there done it and can now open a store a sell the t-shirts .They drilled me well on how to approach it.
I was on the start line in the thick of it. At the front. In Abu dhabi I stood at the back maybe thinking I’m not as good but I put my chest out with my Sailfish G Range and stood in line with the best guys. The pros had a 10 meter start to the age groupers. I didnt have to wait long before I was pulverised. If I took a breath to the left *BANG* to the right *POW*.. I thought with it being a long swim I would find a rhythm soon and clear ocean. It didn’t happen and it was a battle to the 3800m finish. It was 2 laps and I found feet along the way but nothing that I could hang onto long enough. I do feel I’m improving though. I will get there, eventually!
I had a plan and I stuck to it. That doesn’t happen too often. When you know you’ve swam slower than you wanted its easy to jack the plan and ride hard. But I was told it was a day of patience. Thank you Mr Martin. I found myself with loads of bikes for a long time. It was only at 50km that I found my own Tarmac. This island is special. I loved it. The Trek was singing. New di2 gear change was heavenly. My plan was to ride 310/320 watts on average. Being such an undulated course wattage ramps up. I had a number I never crossed and that was 400 watts. Even on climbs 350/60 was pushing it .If that meant me crawling up a climb that’s what I did. Rob said to me 310 watts months ago. I wasn’t sure but didn’t let him know. In my head I thought 325/330. Coming out early and riding & driving the course Rob’s plan seemed better than mine. After all he is a coach for a reason!!;)I picked off the field and rode at 25 mile stages in my head. I knew a few guys up the road and was calculating when I might catch(not trying to of course!!)..Advice from my friend Folkert Behrends from Move-Ment was leave plenty in the tank for the last 50km. That was special advice and i paid heed after my course recci . There were very fast sections and its all about aerodynamics here. Power takes a back seat for a while. I tucked in like a turtle, got my nose as close to the front tire as I could and rode hard, fast and daring. I had an 808 firecrest on the front and i put a 25mm tub on. With these wider rims i dont see the point riding 21mm tires. I had a disc on the back. For someone that didn’t want to ride aggressively it certainly looked that way with my set up. I rode really well the last quarter and felt I had done a good job. I kept to robs wattage plan and came home with 312 average. I posted 4th fastest bike split but 2 guys dropped out so that means I was bumped up to second. It is a 3 discipline sport so in my view ya gotta get the medal to claim the bike prime. There’s a saying. Bike for show, run for dough! So true.
Ironman is great. The camaraderie is unbelievable. Plonk an ironman on a destination like puerto del Carmen and you have yourself a carnival every inch of the course. My friend Tipperary Tim + crew at the Hawaiian bar on the strip were great giving all the Irish big support. They were on an ironman themselves. Ironman lager.
Run-Can I do it.
I hit the ground feeling great. I went out too fast so i backed off. Still too fast so I backed off more. Then I listened to the voice, “you can run this”. 10km in and I found out i actually couldnt. The last 30 was where I really really had to dig and I learned what ironman racing is all about. There were guys dropping like flys. I may have got my nutrition slightly wrong but it was my first time putting my body through such an ordeal so it is all trial and error. Something that didn’t cross my mind in all the preparation was the need of the lavatory. Tricky one!. I spied the portaloos but walking/running any further than i had to was time lost. Lucky for me it was a number 1. All of a sudden my shoelace became untied. *wink wink*. 20 seconds later I was half a kilo lighter. The child’s nappy rash cream was handy to have for post race recovery. The sun gods came out and i needed every aid station going. It got very hot. My mouth dried like Ghandi’s flipflop in-between the aid stations. Whatever they were selling i was buying. I had support everywhere. Thanks to robert & amanda and Gavin & Debbie. My own family, Robert & Elaine Duffy (honey mooners!! Congrats!!) and team tommy the bike- Cathy & Frank(aka Jack C!!;) )in Matagora. Even in between those guys I’d get a shout C’mon Dundalk. !! Normal life rules dont apply in an ironman, when you’re mother is shouting from across the road that she loves you, you just dont get embarrassed. I nearly shouted back “I love you too”. I will learn on pacing for the next one but I was still very happy with how it went .
I crossed the line and race director Kenneth Gasque said I should be proud. And I was. Ive kept something to myself a long time. I was told by someone in the sport when I started this game in ’08 that I was too big and would never put in a good ironman performance. What motivation did I need. 12th overall and 9th pro home was enough to be invited onto the stage at the prize giving. I wasn’t expecting that but ill take it.
What’s next?? I don’t know. My application form has been put into head office(aka Mrs McCrystal). I will keep you inform on her decision.