Saturday, 2 June 2012

Half Ironman - 2 June 2012

Half Ironman Triathlon – 2nd June 2012

Pre - Race Preperation

Since the marathon in May I have only done a couple of runs and a couple of short cycle commutes to and from work. To check my fitness a few nights ago after my cycle back from work (14 mile) I did a 10 mile run later that evening with fitness partner McGregor (our dog). We both enjoyed and I knew I had a reasonable chance of achieving the half distance ok. Unlike last year I have not done any other triathlons to test things out or even tested out pre - race open water swimming. The closest I got to open water was the odd surf session with my brother and a few friends during the year.
I tried to go into this event with a relaxed mindset. Although in previous events I noticed that I always tend to freak myself out, over thinking things and also on the day of events let the morning preparation stress me out. I realised that I ought to try the cool, calm and collected approach and merely just go out there and ‘enjoy’ the event, after all, no one was insisting that I do it. I later realised that this helped me during the day a great deal to have a calm and positive mindset.

In the morning I had the usual bread and peanut butter with crunchy nut cornflakes and set off for Dungannon. Arrived ok and registered and got ready for the set off. After registering I briefy met a friend from facebook I got in contact with Eamonn Sheehan who is doing a great upcoming Autism charity event '212 in 2012'!/212in2012. Great to meet Eamonn, a real down to earth guy.

The weather was perfect. Slightly sunny and minimal winds with water temperature perfect. I set up my bike and kit in transition area and got changed into my wetsuit. The bikes in transition were as usual all very cool looking and a lot better than my mudguard setup basic road bike. Anyhows I didn’t let it dampen my spirits and made my way down for the swim.

The swim got off to a good start but after about 5 minutes I felt my left goggle filling up with water. Not sure whether this was due to poor fitting or if it was because they were an old pair of goggles I haven’t used in a long time. This resulted in me every few minutes stopping and re-adjusting. I made sure that I didn’t fiddle about too much in case they broke – I didn’t fancy a mile open water swim without any goggles. Unfortunately halfway done my second swim cap came off when I was fiddling so I tried to be extra careful from there on in. Only once did I go slightly off course and thankfully a canoeist support team member kept us right. I did notice that some of the folk did cheat a bit and cut the buoy markers a bit short instead of going around them fully. I felt great during the swim although I struggled to find anyone who I could draft behind this time around. Felt as if I could have gone faster during the swim but I purposely held back as I knew it was going to be a long day. On the way out onto dry land after the swim I had a funny moment when I fell over coming out of the water as I was pretty unsteady.

After the swim the transition went ok. I took my time, got changed and set off. I started my garmin cycle sensor to keep track of milage but quickly realised it wasn’t working – dam it! Nutrition on the bike I ate a couple of flack jacks, a gel and caffeine tablets. Throughout the bike ride I drank plenty. Feeling well filled up with fuel and drinking almost 2 bottles of fluid on the bike section I felt ok with no periods of low energy. The course is mostly country roads with minimal ups and downs throughout which was to be appreciated. During the ride I thought about the upcoming Belfast Dublin Maracycle; this I have wanted to do for years since secondary school when I heard about it. It’s always been an ambition of mine.
During the ride it was good that Eamonn came across me. We cahtted for a while and advised me that I had done 29 miles so that gave me a rough idea of how far I still had to go and also guided my decision making for nutrition for the rest of the ride. I noticed that quite a few people overtook me on the bike ride and I think I was one of the last handful of people in towards the end. I have never been fast on the bike, so maybe this could be something I could work on in the future. To be honest towards the end of the ride I was looking forward to it to finish as I had a pretty sore back and my poor bum cheeks had fallen out with me after three and a half hours on the saddle!
In transition after the bike, I took my time and then got running. Unfortunately this time I made a mistake and after starting the run I quickly realised it. I had not changed from cycle shorts to running shorts. I knew it wouldn’t be a big deal as I would be returning to this transition area at the end of each of the 4 laps so after the first lap I had a quick toilet stop at the portaloo and changed into my run shorts and off I went again. The run went pretty well and my garmin watch worked with my footpod for distance and my HRM read an average of 167 which I am happy with. Of the three disciplines I had looked forward to running most of all this time. Thankfully I ran with little difficulty throughout. Fair enough I was slow, but I was steady and I felt my form was fine without strain or breathing difficulty at any stage. My nutrition plan ran well with a couple of gels and a few caffeine tablets to carry me through the run. I also actively tried to drink water at three of the four laps which I think helped. Throughout the run I overtook more people than those that overtook me. I finished feeling tired but strong and with a smile on my face. What a great day!

Big thanks to Bob and the rest of the lads from Tri- Limits that organised the event. I have to say they did a great job in every manner despite there being probably twice the amount of people taking part compared to last year. Big thanks to them
Here I am with good friend Eamonn who finished shortly after me: -

Eamonn had a very tough day with quad injury playing up and his leg seezing up during the swim, so hats off to the big fella for being able to complete the race. Eamonn told me that Bob and some of the other guys are doing the Newry Marathon the next day after this race, now that’s crazy; I would love to have given it a go I admit.
As for my total time I think it was about 6.47. A lot more than last year but last year I did cut the swim route short. Also at no stage did I even try to push myself during the race. I merely wanted to enjoy it to the full, and indeed I did, what a ‘beautiful day’ as the song by U2 goes.
That’s that for now. In three weeks time I have the maracycle to do. Hopefully this new event for me will go well.

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