So while marshalling at the fabulous Tri795 in Carlow a few weeks ago, I met the lovely Willie Purcell from Tri Ireland, who, in between warning me to be firm and “take no crap” from anyone who might be put in the penalty box which I was manning, managed to convince me to sign up to this triathlon. I said yaaaa go for it, have never swam in a lake before, I’ll give it a go. Well I must have picked the day the Loch Ness Monster came to visit Blessington given my luck on Sunday!!!
With no one else from the club competing (Jarlath up the North West and Ciara in the South West- Congrats to both!) I dragged along my friend Lorraine for the day out! (I don’t know will she ever come again after the day we had!) Morning went well, felt I had plenty of time and preparations leaving Gorey all went to plan….car loaded up and we headed for the Wicklow Mountains. It was a cloudy, overcast, humid day. Arrived before nine, registrations for the Sprint Tri were from 8:30 onwards. This was a charity event in aid of Down Syndrome Ireland and wasn’t a national series event, held in Blessington Sailing Club. There was a lovely friendly atmosphere from the minute we set foot in the field- which should have been cut for silage the week before! Registered; got the timing chip, number and swim hat and back to the car to collect the gear. There was tea, coffee and snacks provided before and after the race in the sailing club.
As I do every time I meet any of ye in Bunclody or Kildavin for a spin, I took the bike out of the car and put on the front wheel, clip in front brake thingy and check the brakes….SNAP. AAAaaah, I assured Lorraine that this is not the norm for race prep! Clearly I didn’t have Niall Ó Múirí on hand with his toolkit/expertise (I may have had a wobbly saddle before ) and even with the few bits and pieces I had in the bike box I wouldn’t have had the first notion of what to do with them anyway!!!! So we decided I better go check if any nice man would help me out (sorry to be sexist ladies but ya know I was gonna take the opportunity to check out the talent while I was at it). I can’t speak highly enough of the stewards at this event, they were so friendly and helpful from start to finish. I found a lovely steward who didn’t know what was wrong, and so passed me on to another lovely steward, didn’t know either, but thought steward over there should know and thankfully he did!! The Furlongs would obviously have spotted it ages ago…cable had gone on back brake….loosen this and tighten this…”do you have an align key in this saddle bag here?” Me: “amm no, just a tube in there ” and then I get a pat on the back from a lady who said here I’ve an align key and the problem was sorted finally. Lovely lady then informed me she has recently joined the club….Welcome Yvette! I was wrong, I had a clubmate competing!
Right so all set, ready to rack up and put on the wetsuit. Stewards at the entrance to transition were getting great entertainment out of me…they were delighted to see I’d got sorted, checked the helmet, brakes all good and next thing…..”aaah jeez Eimear have you pumped those tyres at all, get a bit more air into them or you’ll be going up hills all day”. So over I went to another lovely steward who was pumping up the tyres of a girl doing her first triathlon and a nervous wreck. ( Meanwhile steward at transition was asking Lorraine if this was my first triathlon and was I always this disorganised?!!! ) As the steward so kindly pumped my tyre, I was chatting to the girl trying to calm her nerves and pass on the tips I’d been given last year….assuring her the buzz at the end would be worth it and that she’ll be addicted in no time. Next thing…BANG…”whoops I’m after blowing out your tyre”. All I could do was laugh….just one of those days eh?! Turns out it wasn’t the tyre that had blown but the pump- got another pump, pumped and ready to go AT LAST!
The most mortifying part of all of this is that I joined Bernie, Joy, Clare, Ciara and Elaine for a spin a Saturday morning recently and couldn’t hack the pace at all, put it down to having not been out in a while and spinning classes just not being the same…now I reckon I may not have had my tyres pumped enough
I somehow managed to find space on the rack and change in time for race-briefing. I said it’ll all be grand, this extra adrenalin will help. Not so much.
The lake was nice and warm actually and it had just started to drizzle as the sprint swim started (Standard distance had gone before us). Most disappointed with the swim which was took me 20 min…(had 14.55 PB last year in KK)…..I suppose its different conditions, different circumstances. I was conscious of my drifting after doing a lot of it in Dunmore East recently but felt I stayed with the pack for the majority of this one. After analysis with Ciara Bowe I reckon I might be sighting too much in the open water and losing time. More practise needed! It was a triangular course, like Dunmore East Hook and By Crook. Yvette was doing the ‘aqua bike’ and clocked 900m and reckons she didn’t drift much either so there’s a possibility the course was longer maybe….. Drizzle was getting heavier….As I took off wetsuit I decided I’d try put the hat and goggles into my sleeve as I’d seen a few do in Carlow (I know, I know never try anything for the first time on raceday…yup sure enough lost the goggles enroute…ara sure for the day that was in it )
Transitions were nice and quick, brick sessions have helped, thank you Dena and Frank
Off on my newly serviced bike!! Felt good on the bike and then it started bucketing down, it literally felt like hailstones the shower was so heavy. The course is lovely for the first 15km, hill out of transition and then you are onto a main road after another 2km….the final 5km; which Willie had informed us in race briefing would be “nice undulating hills” was pretty testing!! I really pushed it on the bike – in fairness I’d this whole new feeling of totally pumped up wheels… but as a result paid for it in the run. Had an ok-for-me 47min on the bike and a 31 min torturous run. I knew from the beginning of the run that my legs were screaming and it would be a struggle but was glad to finish given my few episodes. And the sun shone for the final 3km of the run! Run course was hilly, lovely scenery though! Strange folks that actually enjoy running hills (Mike, Joy) would love it. Yvette, Lorraine and Tracy at the finish line were super supporters and spurred me on for the final sprint!
Personally it was disappointing 1:41 overall time for my fifth sprint tri. I still had to write a race report though to fill ye in on all the days events! It might encourage anyone considering doing a tri to give it a go, and to be assured no matter what your times or goals, enjoying it is important too.
Overall I have to say its a triathlon I would recommend for first timers or seasoned triathletes, beautiful setting and lovely relaxed atmosphere. Stewards made it, I’m going back next year for the craic with them!