Race kicked off and I’m beside Paul with Mark just hovering behind me. I match Paul to the first gate and then he starts to pull away. What Pace you ask? Well I started at 2:30/km pace, that had slowed to 3min/km pace after the first minute or so of mayhem. Through the first km in 3:11 (I didn’t look at pace at all for this first run). Mark was beside Paul just ahead and I dropped to 4th place as a Naas tri guy came past me. I clawed back and retook 3rd place with Mark and Paul still 10-20seconds ahead. 2nd km in 3:21 and 3rd in 3:32. Damn that’s poor pacing and a shock to the system! Run course was 3.2km for first run and same pace held for the 200m to transition.
Into t1 in 3rd, Mark and Paul are 30secs ahead and just at their bikes getting gone as I’m entering transition. A relatively smooth transition and I’m out with the Naas tri guy beside me. We start bike together and I get ahead then and start to look for the 2 lads up the road.
Out onto the bike course and I can see them and set about reeling them in. I can see Paul has moved into the lead but Mark appears to be maintaining the gap. I’m putting in the effort here and close to them as we approach Blessington roundabout at the half way mark. Paul has gone around and back, Mark has just left the roundabout as I approach it so have clawed back some time.
I manage to close up a bit more before the road becomes a bit congested. Mark is getting held up in front as cars can’t pass due to the amount of bikers coming against them. Paul appears to be ahead of the cars but may be getting held up also. I close and pass Mark and motion at the cars to at least move out a bit and let us up the inside. No joy. Steady pace here until the last left hand turn and push it then up the hill. Both Mark and I gain on Paul and I’m into T2 right beside him so nice to have fastest bike and recovered my run deficit.
Into t2, helmet off and right runner is slow to fit on so precious seconds lost. Cian from B2R had a right laugh video’ing this and asking was there something wrong with my right foot??? J Paul is out and gone as Mark and I leave transition at the same time. A few encouraging words from Coach as we chase Paul up the first incline. Mark moves ahead of me here and edges a bit more over the remaining run. Across the line for 3rd place, 50 odd seconds behind Paul and 30 behind Mark.
I’d probably class this as my best result to date, purely from a performance perspective being so close to 2 top athletes, especially over this format with run strengths. What is evident is that my run still needs a bit more to match their pace, and whilst this will be tough, I do intend to at least bridge the gap some more. I need to be closer to their pace come race season if I’m to be competitive. How do I do this? Well, Coach Eanna will have to work his magic and he has a cunning plan, one that will see me with a heavy load meaning the March Naas duathlon may not be an option but will see closer to the end of the month if I feel up to it.
Man it’s good to be back racing. There is nothing like it!
I have to say I enjoyed the course and race a lot. It was marshalled well, is a nice honest course and whilst it was cold the weather was dry and with little wind. I will try to race this again in 4 weeks if I’m not too fatigued from trying to bridge the run speed differential. Don’t worry, I’ll be working on my bike as well as it’s all very close which is encouraging all round really for February.
We are now into March and the National Duathlon Champs are just 5 weeks away. In my language that’s 1 block of work, just 1 block! Can you believe how fast race season is approaching. Love it. Safe to say that Paul Carroll is the Benchmark performer and that the longer distance will be more of a pure pain exercise. Excited? Me too...