Back for the fourth time. I had a target of breaking four hours having previously posted a time of 4.12 in 2011. I’m running a lot faster than last year, had a really good IMRA Leinster league with improved times and positions across the board. So 12 minutes wasn’t a huge ask. Big unknown was the bike. Did a bit of bike work early in the year but nothing since June.
So off we start at 6.30am. Manic scramble from the beach. I got into a nice pace from the start and was motoring along. Got to the rocky trail and my HR starting to rise. Very muddy underfoot, a lot of energy was expended trying to maintain the pace. Was up to my arse at one stage in bog. Breathing hard about 7km and I was trying to get it under control. Pretty much stayed in the same position that I had from the start and was making ground on the climbs.
Got to the kayaks at 1.01.29, about 1.40 ahead of last year. Probably in the top 15/20 at this point.
Into a single kayak for the short paddle. Amazingly, no-one passed me here. Gave me a bit of a boost. The bog section was very difficult but got to the bikes at 1.27.34, compared to 1.30.27. A three min improvement so game on for sub 4.
Got on the bike and my race, unlike the course, went downhill. Not sure what happened, lack of training, going out too fast, but I just felt like crap on the bike. Legs were gone. It turned into a real sufferfest. I tried to grab wheels as they went past, would hang on for about 5 mins before getting dropped. This went on for most of the bike section. Got passed by one VET about 25 mins into the bike, who went on to a top 10 finish, a lesson in good pacing perhaps.
Got to the bog road and really felt like crap. Last year, I flew up this section, feeling fantastic. This year, I was barely turning the pedals. Was contemplating pulling out at this stage. Just as we got to the transition, leading woman called me, so perhaps all was not lost. 1.26.19 for the bike compared to 1.22.46 in 2011. However, it felt like I was ten minutes down.
Onto Croagh Patrick and the question of route choice. I saw the leading woman go to the left and thought about following her. Alas, I followed someone else on the most convoluted route up the side of reek. I was fecked at this stage but was pissed to see we completely missed the ridge and emerged further up the mountain. Felt a bit light headed at this stage and had to stop a few times. Again in 2011, I felt great going up. Reached the summit in a time of 41.12 compared to 32.57 last year. Turned down and headed a cautious descent. My left foot was sore at this point. Decent descent, about 2 mins slower than last year.
Back on to the bike for the last 12km to Westport. Felt ok here and held a decent pace to the finish. Foot was fcvked at this point and limped over the line in a time of 4.23, 11 minutes slower than last year.
At first, I was pleasantly surprised with the time as I felt so bad on the bike that I thought I’d be heading for over 5 hours. Now, I’m not so sure. I’m fitter than last year and more experienced. A bit pissed to go over 10 minutes slower up CP than 2011 despite being a stronger climber. That’s a huge amount of time to lose.
Still not sure what went wrong, or indeed if anything went wrong. I didn’t think the lack of biking would have such an effect but perhaps the absence of long bike rides, which I did last year, meant I wasn’t able to push on tired legs. Maybe the marathon training left my legs fairly tired going into the race. Lots of maybes.
Physio appointment later as my left foot is fairly sore and limping ever since. Hopefully it’s just a bruised heel but feels a lot more serious than that.