Wednesday, May 23, 2012

David (Duathlon) - And so it ends....

And so it ends. With no more time for prep and all excuses exhausted myself and brother number three headed to Mellary Friday evening to register and park up the bikes. That done there was no way out now, the next time I would see the bike would be after 6.5 k run and for me I would be one quarter into my race.
Against my advice Fergal wanted to recce the course so we headed up the Vee and got out to look at the Sugar Loaf.  We could barely see twenty yards but consoled ourselves that all the fog would be burned off in the morning and it may not look so daunting on a clear May morning (how wrong we were).  After a trip back through Lismore and Cappoquin Fergal informed it was no worse than the ROAR or WAR courses and may even be a little faster and consequently he would need to go off hard from the start to try offset the advantage enjoyed by the guys who brought and knew how to use their own kayaks.
"Great" I thought : Bang goes my idea of hanging onto his coat tails to get me up the Vee.
Anyway after the usual pre-race fitfull sleep we arrived at the start line feeling generally good and ready for action.
Elites, Teams,Sports and duathletes all headed off in one group shortly after nine and we tore out of the Abbey downhill at breakneck pace.
The first km was covered in 3.5 mins and I thought to myself "I’ll pay for that later".
Still clinging to Fergal’s shoulder we began passing runners through the forest trails and my confidence grew that I could maintain a decent pace for the run (anyone who read earlier blogs will know this was only my second run in seven months) despite lack of training. The strain began to tell on a steep incline at the 5k mark but I consoled myself that there were no more than ten guys in front of me and I would gain ground in transition when they all changed to cycling shoes and I continued in my runners.

Sure enough I got my bike out quickly and jumped a few guys including Fergal and set out to try and hold onto a decent position on the ascent.
Fergal was beside me in minutes and quickly let me know I was going fast enough but he threw off the run exertions in seconds and I was still struggling and would for another couple of kms . He was to be the first of many to pass me going up the Vee and I counted ten cyclists in total who glided by individually or in groups over the next forty minutes.

Frustratingly I seemed better able to hold off a guy or hold onto a group on the inclines but if the road flattened at all, inevitably the gap would open (note for 2013; work on straight line speed).  It was also at this point that I first realised I didn’t really know who I was racing against, were all these guys passing me elites or duathletes?  This really didn’t help motivation and maybe something can be done next year to distinguish the two groups.

That aside the wind and thickening mist were to the forefront of my mind as the summit approached, the last 2k were particularly hard as by now cars coming against you had their lights on full and the end was nowhere in sight, completely blanketed in fog.  Just on the point of despair all of a sudden there it was, I was within twenty yards of the car park and the despair lifted as I dismounted and counted discarded bikes at the Bealough entrance. Three bikes put me in fourth for now but as I headed downhill I could hear a few more dismounting and I wondered could I gain a place or even hold what I had.

500 M in and I met the eventual winner on the way back putting him a good seven mins ahead and out of sight.  The guys in second and third passed me when I was about 400m from the turn giving them about three mins of a lead.

On another day I may have been encouraged but I really was not enjoying my running and my head told me if they passed me on the bike ascent what chance had I of catching them on the descent.
The climb out of Bealough was the toughest part of the race by far and the thoughts of "what am i doing here" were creeping in but the encouragement from the crowd gathered in the car park got me back on the bike clinging to fourth position by seconds at this stage.

Once out on the road and descending rapidly I got a second wind and decided to push for all I was worth until the legs gave out using the logic that if I could keep it up for ten more k I would be close enough to home that will power would do the rest.  Good theory and it gave me a lead over fifth place that I could maintain but with every corner that went by I realised I was never even going to get a glimpse of third place either.

I was almost glad my race was over when I hit the final "bitchin" hill (only word for it,sorry) leading into Mellary.  I found myself weaving over and back the road covering twice the necessary distance and delighted I was no longer fighting for a position.  Still I came home in fourth with no regrets .  It was my first duathlon after all and would I do it all again?  Of course I would.

Later that night in the pub we were already planning how much better we could be next year with injury free training and virgin status gone.  However that was after a few scoops and the pains in my legs today would make a different argument.

Having said all that and hopefully not bored ye all to tears I am looking forward to my next adventure race and will definitely take part in the Waterford Adventure Race next year but till then
Train hard, Race easy (easier to type than do..I know) agus Beir Bua.

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