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The Lost Sheep Half Ironman – 17th September 2011

Feral’s Lost Sheep Report

(What I did this summer by Fergal “Feral” Kelly, aged 36 and three quarters)

Agnes on the left inaugurate​d The Lost Sheep triathlon in commemorat​ion of her eldest son Ned who went missing while under the care of Li’l Bo Peep. Her sister Edel (right) has taken to comfort eating and yo-yo dieting to cope with the trauma. (Ewe-yo – get it?) Her other sisters in the background keep a constant lookout in the hope that one day Ned will return.

1.9k open water swim, 1k run to transition, 83k bike ride featuring 2 category 1 climbs, half marathon. But first for the challenging bit… getting my bike on the rack before 6:45am.

I am not a morning person. A lot of ye perverts seem to enjoy going training and racing and being up and about at 6 in the morning. I do not. In my extensive preparation for the race I had not acclimatised my body to hours of hardship first thing in the damn morning. I did however discover that a few years ago some dude got disqualified from The Lost Sheep for marshal abuse. I was almost disappointed when it turned out that I got the bike on the rack in time and got the flock out of the transition area without incident. I even went back in to avail of the little boys room after 7am. Still no incident. Those marshals have really got to learn to be more assertive.

On to the start area. A feckin kilometre away. Standin around waitin. Standin. Waitin. Getting cold. Lookin stupid on a pier. Race director observes my race technique is to not enter the water until the very last moment. Race director is informed that I do not have a race technique for open water triathlon swims. Race director notes my race number and makes mental note to not leave the bay until my body had been recovered.

Race start – front crawl – face froze – after some very skilled manoeuvring on my part, “I got out of heavy traffic”. On with the breast stroke. No idea what it’s like up the competitive end of the swim, but tis gas down the back looking at lads going diagonally over and back the whole length of the course. A huge advantage of breaststroke is you can see em comin into your path and burst the sh1te out of em with kicks and boxes. Breaststroke has a much wider assault radius, so there’s feck all chance of em hittin you back. Raa Raa Ree, Kick em in the knee, Raa Raa Rollox, Kick em in the other knee.

Stan Laurel (of Laurel and Hardy/Felix and Unger [Oscar?] fame) had advised me you’d need at least 3 litres of water on board. Sorted. Drank the stuff like a fish. All I needed was gills. Another fine mess you’ve gotten me into.

Dunno whether it was the aqua-karate or scissor kickin in a wetsuit or what but the inside of my left knee began to hurt. After the second buoy it was face her for home – home being the white gable end of a house. Had to change to front crawl on account of the knee. About 40 strokes later, I looked up. I was going at right angles to the house. No-one within an asses roar of me. Back to breast stroke. Ow. Except now I had no-one left to kick. Or box. The boredom. Just me, myself and I. “What has you here?” “Swimmin” “Me too” “Me Too” “Lovely day for it” “Tis” “Lovely” “So where are ye from?” “Bunclody” “Jaysus what a coincidence….” Thank feck we ran out of things to say to each other before we got back to the slipway or we’d have looked fierce stupid getting out of the water. Cos we didn’t look stupid in the wetsuit at all. (See incriminating photo, link below) Thank feck there were 2 strong fellas at the slipway to help me to my feet. Legs like jelly. Observers noted other swimmers being helped to their feet on the slipway and just falling off the side of the slipway.

Slow transition. 1k run didn’t help. Very cold extremities didn’t help. Rootin through bags for stuff didn’t help. The thoughts of 2 mountain passes probably slowed me down the most though.

Made sure I didn’t have a TT chainset on the bike. Well actually I didn’t – but I meant to check. It’s the thought that counts. Was expecting to get blown all over the shop on the bike, but the weather was relatively calm. Not flat calm, but definitely nowhere near as bad as it could’ve been – what with the remnants of hurricane what’s-her-face last week. Despite being way down the field at the start of the bike, 3 fellas passed me in the first 5k. Oops. Not good. Overtook my first bike shortly – they were punctured. First of many punctures. Slow n steady up the Healy pass.

Which reminds me – the Murphy family crashed and were stuck in their car when along came the Healys and the Balls. Thankfully the Murphys were dragged from their car by the Healys.

Meanwhile, back in the saddle… At the top of the Healy pass I was on the steep top 200m 13degrees and next thing I was over it. Not a patch on Corrabut. Nice descent though. If only. If only for a few small things. Balls. The tarmac was wet. The bends were very tight. My tyres were balder than Stan Laurels forehead and the cold seawater had shrivelled my proverbial balls to the size of peanuts. Skidded twice at the first bend, so it was softly slowly down the hill.

At some point before the Caha pass, with feck all to do but pedal and think, (me & myself had fallen out with I and were no longer on speaking terms) I made a mental note. I need a Dictaphone to record my race report while on the bike next time. 2 things wrong there.

1. I remembered my mental note, so no need for a Dictaphone.

2. Next time? What the fu…?

There was a smaller climb and descent before the Caha pass. Pissed it down the descent faster than the speed of light. (Light travelling through sodium at -272degC goes about 60kph). Caha is long. Very long. Really long. Fierce long. Not steep, but long. Long and slow. Slow and long. Finally there’s a tunnel at the top, and yup, you’ve guessed it – you get to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. The far side is neither long nor slow. It’s short and quick. Pissed it down the side of that mountain too. Faster than a flock of sheep on roller skates. Unfortunately the road surface was poxy for the last few kilometres. Lumpy. Like porridge that wasn’t made right.

T2: couldn’t find me tea or biscuits or the newspaper. Had to just toddle on with mesef and run a half marathon. As you do when you’ve no tea, biscuits or newspaper.

A marshal informed me Ireland beat Oz 15-6. Deadly. Adrenaline rush. I had a new target all of a sudden. I was gonna break the 6 hour mark. That adrenaline rush lasted a good 50yards and then I copped on to myself. I’d only run longer than 8 miles twice in my life. No matter. Head down. Keep going. Left, right, left, right. Keep the head down. Left, right, left, right. Head up. Feck – I’d only travelled 8 steps. Water stop 1 came and went. Water stop 2 came and went. I went as well. Den there it was. A nice red cone. The nicest reddest coniest cone I ever did see. Halfway. Deadly. Could still make 6 hours. Just don’t up the ante too early… Water stop 3 came and went. Time to up the ante. The ante went up. Me ould aqua-karate wound wasn’t having any of it. The ante came back down. And fairly lively at that. Had to slow down going downhill of all things. The last 4k was all downhill. The Healys and the Balls weren’t feelin great either. Who’d’ve thought the last few k of a middle distance triathlon could be uncomfortable on the body? 6 hour mark me bollix. Just get to the finish line.

20 minute queue for the physios after the race. Aaaaaarrrrrgghhh. Sod that. Off to the Jacuzzi instead. 2 hours kip. Big feed and then the world of pints.

Only realised Peter wasn’t taking part when there was a space next to my bike on the rack. Commiserations on not making it to the start line. You wouldn’t have liked it – it was just too damn easy.

Great course (if only they’d make it a bit harder). Organisation spot on. Marshals very friendly – which is a bit of a problem if you’re looking to get in a row at 7am to avoid doing a feckin triathlon. Good goody bag. Would I do it again? Would I fu… Are ya mad? What kind of a spanner would do that to themselves. I’m taking up knitting.

Big thanks to Emily for chauffeuring etc… and for putting up with my very very foul mood prior to racking my bike. And ta to big bro Eoin for the big feeds, accommodation and entertainment in general. And cheers to all for the support and well wishes.

The feckin report is longer than the feckin race. If ye want to know about any more races I’m doin ye may just come with me.

Photos [with captions!]

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