Ireland 70.3 was one race that I really wanted to do. I missed it last year as I had already arranged to race in Monaco and I can’t say I was that sorry when I heard about the weather conditions but I knew that it was one that I would like to do this year.
I had done some training out in France to get me back on track after Ironman UK. I spent a week at the amazing Tri Pyrenees (www.pyreneesmultisport.com) and did some training with Tamsin (Lewis). The place was absolutely amazing with spectacular cycling and amazing hospitality. Towards the end of my week out there Tam picked up a nasty stomach bug. I was fine and I left and thinking I had got away with it but as I sat on the plane on the way home it hit me too. Travelling with a bike bag and a load of luggage is bad enough but being sick at the same time, well it was just a nightmare. That trip home is one I would rather forget and one I hope I never have to do again!
The next day I thought I felt better and by Saturday I was telling myself to stop being a woose and get out there so off I went to do a 5k open water swim. I didn’t feel too bad when swimming but after I knew it had been a bad idea, I struggled home and spent the rest of the day in bed in the hope that I’d be ok the next day but I just got worse and that was it for days after. By Wednesday evening I was thinking that I might not be able to race on the following Sunday but deep down I knew I’d be racing. I improved a lot over the next few days and wasn’t feeling too bad by the Saturday. I thought my legs felt ok because they have never had so much rest especially mid season so I didn’t know how I would feel or respond on the day.
So race day arrived and after a minor mechanical we headed down to the swim start on what was a beautiful morning (especially in comparison to the previous day’s monsoon conditions). The swim was a bit of a mess as half the pros took a longer route (which we were told to take) that cost us minutes, (after the pro start they removed that buoy!). Then towards the end it was very unclear as to where we were supposed to go to which was extremely frustrating. On the bike and run I was working seriously hard, pushing and pushing. I was riding so hard but I was just going nowhere, it was like my body was not responding to what my legs were doing. I realised at the half way point on the bike that I was going to be hanging on for second place but I didn’t stop pushing. On to the run and I was just going to hang on and make it to the finish line. I made it but it didn’t feel good and although I was obviously very happy to finish in second place I was disappointed that I had been unable to even give Tine even a little bit of a race for the title. As I commented after the race if it had been any other race in any other country I probably wouldn’t have made it to the start line but I’m glad I raced and I’m glad I made it to the finish line in one piece. I wasn’t as strong as I would like to have been I got a great training session out of it and as always learned a lot from the race.
It was a novelty for me to have some family and friends there on the day and it was so nice to have such great support from the crowds all over the course. A local company were also supplying some excellent recovery nutrition on the finish line, they are a new company who supply fitness equipment and sports nutrition check them out at www.elitefitnessandperformance.com. I had a great time in Galway and was so well looked after by the Hanley family. Staying with them reminded me a lot of my own family growing up.
After the race I headed home to County Derry. I finally got my appetite back and have been training again. There isn’t much time to dwell on the past or the training I missed as I’m now looking forward to Ironman Wales. I’m not sure whether I’m excited or scared for the race. Probably a bit of both, I seem to like doing things that scare me so in a strange way I can’t wait to get out there. I’m told that there is a good strong field assembled which makes it even more exciting.