I could really just leave that as my race report and be done with it! But I'll add a bit more details for review purposes.
I was excited going in to this race.
The first race of the season, a highly competitive field and I was keen to try and show solid improvements in each discipline.
Whilst I don't train for duathlons, obviously there's a relative cross over and in theory I was thinking this could suit me more than a sprint duathlon.
Unfortunately, I underestimated the pain and effect that a standard distance duathlon can inflict on the legs.
It was good to see Joe Lynch on hand supporting and getting the race off to the start.
I needed to run a decent PB for this first run to even be in with a top 20 or so placing starting the bike. I wasn't sure of my pace but planned a sub 35min all going well. Pace started out reasonable and first km in 3:20 for me had me just a few seconds behind the lead bunch of around 15 or so runners.
There was some hustle and bustling, Colm Turner had decided this was too easy and I saw him move out from the middle and back across to the right and straight to the front.
The pace fairly hotted up after this and it got noticeably faster from the 1.5km/2km or so marker.
I tried to hang on whilst staying within my pace region for the distance.
At 2.5km we reached the turnaround of the out and back course which we would do 2 laps of to make up the distance. In fairness a great course and great way to race as well as spectate.
The fast runners were starting to edge a lead here - Colm Turner, Cathal O'Donovan, Paul Carroll, James Speight, David Vaughan, Mark Horan, Mariusz Olejniczak, Noel Kavanagh, David Richardson, Paddy Quinn and Richard Doyle made up the Top 11. The first 4 and Noelie seemed to be edging a little ahead but not by much.
There was another few in between them and me slightly stretched out - Bjorn Ludick was about the only one I recognised but also Aubrey Storey who I recognised from results/previous races.
I started to feel a hotspot on my right foot around here and it actually felt like a stone was in my runner. No harm and no point stopping now so carried on.
So back to the starting point to end lap 1 at the half way mark and I tried to keep pushing and tried to reel in those ahead.
I managed to close in to Aubrey Storey and we were running cat and mouse for a bit - helping each other push on and what felt like close a couple ahead.
As I reached the 5km turnaround I could see Cathal O'Donovan had opened a bit of a lead.
From talking to some of the lads up the front after the race, it seems he opened up the legs at the turnaround and created a 10-20 second gap very quickly. Man he had some running legs out there. Fantastic stuff.
The next 2.5km out to the turn point was tough and a case of working with whoever was around to try close in to others ahead. I managed to close and pass Bjorn on this lap and Aubrey was still running either just on my shoulder or just ahead of me as we both tried to keep moving.
It's quite hard to judge the gap to the leaders - as I approached transition there only appeared a couple hundred metres left as Cathal was out and leaving on his bike. This was obviously a bit more as he had a hefty 3 minute lead on me at this stage!
Run 1 - 34:37 - 9.8km
Into T1 in 18th position in a time of 34:37.
I won't claim this as a 10k PB but it was a 10k PB equivalent pace. The course was slightly short at 9.8km so probably around the 35:20 pace or thereabouts - still near 2 mins improvement on 12 months ago so slow but steady run progress at least.
I had expected this to be bang on 10k but I think the course changed from last year to enable traffic to keep moving by the roundabout for the most part. It's easily adjusted out by the turnaround so I imagine it will be bang on next year. No harm done and on we go.
Transition wasn't the fastest but still ok. Helmet on and out we go with a flying mount.
Nicely done and felt pretty fast to get my legs rolling.
Onto my bike and where I hoped and needed to do some damage into the leaders.
I did pass 2-3 early on but it was a slower claw back thereafter.
I felt my right foot hotspot still so suspected a blister was forming from the first run. Not to worry, head down and on we go.
Around half way of lap 1 I could see my planned power wasn't being maintained at all.
To be honest my legs felt alien to me and just down on power and energy.
I don't train for duathlons, hadn't done any hard run to hard bike sessions and it was starting to show.
I hoped it would subside after a lap or so and kept pushing and trying to claw in those ahead.
I made up a few more places on lap 1 but not near enough.
Onto lap 2 we go and the course is a little busier but not much. I catch up to Paddy Quinn and David Richardson here who I remember from a few battles last season - generally I'd come close on bike and they would run away from me the feckers! :-)
As I was passing David Richardson we were on the narrow section from a slight downhill before the right and left turns at the start of each lap. I don't think he realised where I was as he was taking the very racing line and left me no space at all to pass.
We were both moving too fast so I had to let out a yell to move in and managed to get past. There must have been about the width of a gel wrapper between our handlebars at closest point but thankfully for both of us no issue.
It started to turn a bit pear shaped after this. As I reached the drag section on lap 2 I think - possibly lap 3 I went past someone and as I was beside them my right calf tightened and cramped right up! I moved in and slowed to a roll as I tried to stretch it fearing the worst.
I kept moving and gingerly put the power on as I was repassed by David and I think Paddy also.
My calf was tight, I tried to slowly keep power without surging and kept the legs moving and maintained the gap to the guys ahead.
So instead of my legs loosening up and starting to flow, they started to cramp!
Lovely! God damn opening 10k run was hurting me hard!
I saw Bjorn pulled in at the side of the road here and he was still cycling at least so no issue but he had enough for the day. His timing chip made it to 2nd place on the results sheet at least somehow though eh! Fair play to Bjorn who stayed and gave some shout outs even on the last run as he watched the race unfold.
The next 2 or so laps were more of the same, less aggressive with the pace as legs just didn't respond but I was absolutely pushing and trying to get up to planned watts - which never materialised.
In hindsight, my planned power was clearly very wrong as I really didn't know the effect the opening 10k run would have. A decent 10-15% down on watts was the answer!
I did get past David Richardson again and a couple more but made no inroads to any further guys ahead.
I tried to push the last lap and perhaps made 10-20 seconds to the guys behind me but not much more.
Bike - 1:02:33 - 38.4km
Off the bike in 8th Place with 5th fastest bike.
Granted only a few seconds behind the 3 faster splits ahead, but a massive 2.5mins behind Cathal O'Donovan who had extended his lead!
Paul Carroll was in 2nd and Colm Turner chasing him down in 3rd place.
From bad to worse.
As I left Transition 2 my legs started cramping a bit more. It didn't feel like a stop and stretch would help and I certainly didn't have time for that with faster runners on my heels so I tried to ease into the run and hoped I could up the pace without shocking the muscles too early.
I'd say I didn't even make it to 1km before David Richardson came flying past. I tried to up the pace as he did so but legs were just saying no chance.
James Speight soon followed who was also running like the wind and I had nothing to respond with at all.
It was now a case of damage limitation. When I tried to increase the pace my quads now started to say ah what do you think you are doing? We will shut down very soon.
I reached the turnaround point and had a bit of a gap on 11th place so it was a case of keep moving and try to hold on to 10th. The guys ahead had gone at this stage so there wasn't anything to be gained.
I managed to cross the finish line and got snapped by TI in the pic above without even knowing - the look on my face is priceless and reflects my feelings pretty damn well.
Run 2 - 18:48 - 4.65km
Finish - 1:57:12 - 10th Place
I got spanked today. Well and truly beaten by quite a long way not just by the duathlon specialists, but also by a lot of triathletes who I have aspirations of beating this season.
I will need to produce much better racing than that if I'm to have any chance of a podium challenge in races ahead. Fortunately, all my next main races are triathlons all going well so a different skill set thankfully!
There are some valuable lessons here I'll take away but also some superb racing..
Firstly, absolutely massive respect for Cathal O'Donovan.
He dished out a lesson to everyone. He outsplit everyone in all 3 legs and was hands down the head of the field. We have all seen him win some duathlons this season but hadn't realised how fast he was and he seemed to bring his A game. Fair play.
Also great to see Colm Turner back in the game. I've only really seen him do a couple races and seen his results from previous years. It looks like he is back with a vengence and will no doubt be a force at Kilkee this season and many other races.
There were some fantastic performances and overall some superb running in my opinion.
An early season highly competitive race has shown that the standard seems to have been raised again this season.
My main lesson learned is that this format duathlon is really tailored to those with running strength.
Obviously, it has 15km worth of run racing in it and so this is clear enough, but the difference that opening 10km made to my legs was quite a lot. The stronger runners obviously had the same format but perhaps were more suited and able for it.
By contrast, having raced a few sprint duathlons and had no issues I was quite surprised and under prepared for this. It was never a main race but was one I hoped to do well in and enjoyed the highly competitive field.
This race format did not suit me well at all, it was my first standard duathlon and boy did it show.
I don't have the run strength or speed of those ahead and that made a big difference in my opinion.
So I move onwards.
The first of my "A" races is in 6 weeks time - Tri an Mhi National Half Championships.
A triathlon please god.
My training is based on 70.3's and that's where I've noticed improvements. I don't feel the duathlon showed any of it at all which is probably reflected in that picture once again!
I do feel I've got some hard work to do - my run pace is still circa 2 mins off the faster runners over 10k which I need to allow for.
Some areas to work on for the next block now and hopefully I can put on a better showing in Tri an Mhi.
I am more determined to get higher up the rankings and work as hard as I can to achieve this.
This season is looking to be damn competitive already and we are all in for some hard racing hopefully.