Anyway, back to my modest tale and I arrived down in good spirits for what was an important race for me. I’m open about my lofty goals, and a podium was my firm goal for this race which would tick 2 big season goals for me if I could succeed (Podium at NS and Podium at NC).
This was a very competitive field though, perhaps only dampened by news that Bryan McCrystal is off getting even stronger on the bike and wasn’t going to race Tri an Mhi. Being a fellow fan of the strong bike split I was hoping to compare splits and maybe even power numbers to see what progress had been made compared to last year but I digress…
Legs dragged off me, feet grabbed, timing chip ripped off, yes, race season was here for sure!
A messy swim for me, not quite on line, not quite fast enough, lots of friendly fights and I only really got going near the end it felt! Lots of fights at the 2 x buoys, no real drafting done.
A bad swim really, I didn't translate my pool swim progress to open water as I had hoped but there's always something to work on eh. I've a few things to work on now to address this so hopefully show better progress at next race.
Oh well, out of the water to be told 13 flat, lapped my garmin at 13:19 for 790m or so over the timing mat and into T1.
Removing my wetsuit I see Mark Horan just opposite putting on his Bike jacket. I take an age getting wetsuit off and have a quick look for timing chip – see the remains of a strap but no chip so shout at coach no timing chip, put on arm warmers and gloves which aren’t easy when wet and away I go. I overhear Mark getting a shout of 1min down on leader, and I’m about 30-60secs down on Mark leaving T1 so away we go.
A flying mount, feet onto pedals and shoe gets caught under pedal on first rotation, somehow gets flicked out of the cleat and I’m lucky not to go arse over head with it.
Off the bike, back for shoe, back on and away we go. No panic no harm, it’s a long day so let’s get going. I’m roughly in 20th, maybe 25th and making progress through the field.
I pass Noelie Kavanagh and then Liam Dolan and make my way through the field. Liam repasses me a few times and shouts “looks like we could be doing this all day”. We prob lost a bit of time moving out of drafts a few times but I’d gain him on the hills and move past and then on flats he’d retake me. It kept us honest and the pace was good so I started on my nutrition and kept the legal distance back as pace was good.
A few more battles before we move past fellow B2R athlete Adam Kelly. I ask him any idea what position as I go past and he says about 10th. 10th? That can’t be right there’s no sign of anyone ahead. Anyway, on we go and I focus on my nutrition again and Adam comes past me. I move out of his draft, finish my Kinetica cola gel and take a few sips of drink before realising the pace has dropped as I’m staying back and it’s time to move on.
I overtake Adam and Liam and get the head down as I can see someone up ahead in the distance. It’s another club-mate Mark Horan and I seem to close at a reasonable pace so maintain the effort and move past. As I do I see Peter Kern beside the road shouting something like 2 minutes. Wow, that’s a big gap if true and lap 1 not even completed!
Head down and sticking to my pace, as I make the climb for the second time I’ve no idea how far ahead nor if I’ve a gap to the lads behind as I’m not looking back!
The below pic shows indeed I had not made any ground on Liam nor Mark in the last 25km.
Off the bike in 2:27:14 with fastest split and a little lead.
Ironically this managed to kill the connection of my Garmin to usb. I've been trying all week to upload my file but no success. Finally gave in and submitted a repair request to Garmin so it'll be off to the UK via postage next week no doubt! Doh!
Being a numbers geek I like the chance to review files and compare to plan etc. Next time hopefully!
I did manage to see my Normalised Power at end of race as had it on screen so I know my figures at least and all went to plan. I'll be looking to bike at higher figures for my next half naturally in Humbert Challenge.
Well, it had rained so I now had the challenge of putting on wet socks, with wet hands on wet numb feet. Yes it took an age and for a split second I almost left them but said no just in case. Grabbed my 3 gels and out of t2 for me. A marshal was holding out a replacement timing chip for me by the exit… “not a chance” I said, I was leading the National Champs and having my best race yet! Not a hope was I going to stop for even 2 seconds for a new strap around my ankle! “just grab it” he replied, “no way” was my response as hands were full and I ran past him like a bat out of hell.
As I was starting the run I could hear cheers back by transition. That’ll be the chasers then and I figured I had around a 1.5-2 mins lead.
I stuck to my pace, my feet were numb but I was moving nicely and got into my rhythm comfortably. Out the dog leg and clocked the chasers – Mark in 2nd 1.5 mins back, Liam in 3rd 3 mins back and Niall Somers in 4th around 3.5 mins back or so.
I had a figure in my head of 3 mins if all went to plan so I was close, but knew Mark had strong running and I had my work cut out but anything could happen.
I pass a familiar face under an umbrella here – it’s Pulse’s Joe Lynch who had made the drive down in not so lovely conditions to support a few club-mates! Fair play Joe and thanks for all the support!
I’m still leading up to 8km as we pass the Base2Race support crew! – Coach Eanna McGrath, Adam’s wife Jane and my better half Claire who took some mighty photo’s of the day with her new fancy dancy camera. The shouts are positively encouraging as I pass but I can also hear Mark’s footsteps closing behind now too.
I try to keep pace but I’m fading a bit but determined to hold onto 3rd spot. Around the dog leg with 2km to go and I’ve a nice 2.5mins cushion to Liam in 4th so all is well.
Across the line to my first competitive podium and I’m very happy with my race. Some good progress shown and no complaints getting beaten by Niall and Mark who performed better on the day.
A very tough but rewarding course and I’ve managed my best result in my first race of the season and in fact achieved my 2 main domestic goals in race 1. Delighted.
- Firstly, superb course and central location. Let’s move the date out a month or so to ensure a full swim and I’d happily vote for this to be National Champs every year.
- Organisation and Implementation – very well marshalled, race seemed to go without a hitch, tough conditions but I didn’t hear of any issues all day. Well done.
- Safety/Numbers of marshals – all turns were well manned, a lot of motorbikes out tracking for drafting, transition well organised. Well done again.
Areas for Improvement:
- Date/Swim - we are all aware of the hype before this race, national champs will there be a swim? It turned out compromised and less than half the required distance which to me was a shame for such a prestigious event. Granted the worst winter in some time was the main cause but last year saw a close cut off so to extend by 1 week and 3 hours was perhaps a tad optimistic.
I'm sure the club realise this and hopefully will move to a June/July/August date for the future all going well.
A national championship event deserves the full distance in each discipline.
- Nutrition stations – I was only offered water at each of these on the run. I’m pretty sure kinetica gels were in the race briefing but am glad I brought my own with me and didn’t rely on this. I’m aware of 1 athlete who was looking for anything at a couple aid stations only to be provided water and by chance the B2R support crew had some energy mix for water to help him on his way. This is not ideal for a half ironman national championships and the poor man struggled for a couple of aid stations apparently. On another note, I did read of another athlete having jaffa cakes (nice!) at an aid station so it seems at least 1 did have some sort of energy food for those in need.
- Prize money. What is it with the National Middle Distance Championships that fails to reward the winners? This race earned the club over €21k by my calcs, was done on open roads to traffic and paid out zero prize money to the winners.
I came 3rd, received a voucher (from one of the sponsors) which I appreciate together with a plaque/paperweight which is also nice. Every finisher got a medal in line which was very nice but no actual prize money paid out by the club. For a National Series and National Championships race which sold out and wasn’t cheap to enter (€70 I think), this is poor return to the athletes.
There wasn't much reinvested in race packs/post race food and roads were not closed etc and I do realise there are other costs for insurance/TI fee's/timing chips/MC etc but the point still applies.
The race pack contained a long sleeve technical tee and that was all.
Post race food was cold ham salad rolls and fortunately a sponsors stand with protein shakes/recovery drink from Kinetica.
By contrast I raced Carrick on Suir sprint triathlon last year, not a national series event, had maybe half the entries and also cost about half in entry fee. I came 2nd and received €150.
A small race ran by a club but recognising prize money is required and only fair especially to get a good reputation and ensure return of competitive fields.
We do not compete these races for the prize money, but running a national championships race is not an excuse to ignore any prize money and leave it to the sponsors prizes.
I’m all for club ran events which reinvest any profits back into triathlon at grass roots level, but I’m also all for winners busting a gut at least being offered something in way of return without leaving it to the sponsor’s prizes alone.
Sponsors now have to award prizes for the podiums as well as top 3 in each age group. That’s quite a lot so fair play to them but for the club to not even match nor offer anything for the top 3 at least is quite simply not appropriate.
There are races that are fairly awarding prize money and consistently have the best reputations amongst athletes. Nenagh, Limerick and Cork tri club ran events would be 3 such clubs that recognise this and publish their prize money in or ahead of race briefings and have renowned reputations as a result.
To reiterate, I highly recommend Tri an Mhi as a 70.3 to anyone. I would love to race it again myself if next years calendar allows.
My areas for improvement are minor and do not dampen my experience nor high opinion of the race and club for what was a very well ran event and worthy of National Championships.
That said, in my opinion the improvements should be addressed.