Monday, September 5, 2011

Ireland 70.3 Race Report

I came to Ireland to race hard and experience the country. I'm fairly certain I got way more than I expected out of all of it. Race morning I headed over to transition and knew right away it was going to be an extra windy day in Galway. I hoped the rain might hold off. Somehow while trying to zero-offset my SRM in the dark I managed to get my finger between the crank and the chain and basically puncture it. DOH!!!! I was more worried it was never going to stop bleeding.

Electrical tape to the rescue. 
And yes, that's blood all over my shirt...nice.
Huge thanks to Darach Photography for some great race pics!

It was so windy and choppy that race directors decided to shorten the swim to 750m. I was happy it was shortened, but excited it was not cancelled. I have raced multiple times this season where the swim was cancelled and although I'm not a great swimmer, I still want to race a complete triathlon. I have no idea how cold it was race morning, but standing in our wetsuits by the waters edge all the pros were shivering. We tried running and jumping around, and actually once the gun went off and we hit the cold water, it felt warmer than just standing on the shore.

I exited the water 4th female after what seemed like more of a roller coaster swim of navigating up and over large waves rather than actually "swimming." I moved into 3rd in transition.

Photo courtesy Darach Photography.

Out on to the bike and I felt good. It was raining, but nothing terrible. For the first 40k or so I was not cold. A few times I had a motorcycle in front of me video taping and that helped me pick up the pace a bit - otherwise I was completely solo the entire time. I flew past green stone-walled fields filled with sheep and several small towns with Irish out cheering "Well done!" Just past a quaint village with a stream lined with fall colored leaves sprinkled across it I neared the turn around. This was my first chance to see how far the two girls in front of me were. I was excited to learn I was less than 1k back. I was in the mix!

Going into this race I had expected rain, cold and wind. Be careful what you wish for.... Because once I made the turn to head back to town, it got worse. The temperature dropped and the rain turned to pouring rain, and then hail. My "race" turned into pure survival by the time I reached 20k to go on the bike. I was shivering so much I was worried at times that staying in the aero bars was just going to result in me flat on the pavement somewhere. Shifting with my numb fingers seemed to take more than several minutes. And forget about braking! Anytime I reached a small hill, I tried to stand up and climb in a harder gear, just in hopes of warming up. I knew if I could just make it to T2 and start running I would warm up, so kept spinning the legs and tried to control the shivering as best I could.

Running into T2 on frozen feet that felt like slabs of meat. But SO VERY HAPPY to be done with the frigid ride! I think it took two full minutes to get my shoes on because my fingers just would not work.

Onto the 3-loop run and soon I was not cold anymore. It poured, it stopped raining, it poured again. And honestly - I loved it. The Irish are amazing. "Brilliant Running!" they cheered. I smiled. Onto the run my mom (who could also be referred to as super-sherpa, super-mom, or amazing support crew) told me I was 8 minutes back. I knew there was no way I was going to pull 8 minutes back on this day, so I figured I would run controlled, knowing I'm racing a full in two weeks.

There were sections of the run where going into the headwind felt like running straight into a brick wall. I tried to leapfrog from one age group guy to the next in hopes they might shield the wind a bit.

 Photo courtesy Darach Photography.

And right before I finished, the sun came out! I finished 3rd to Lucy Gossage and Rachel Joyce - two incredibly nice and strong UK girls. Although the conditions were tough, I feel Ireland showed me all four seasons in one day - I don't need to come back in December to see what the weather holds.

Go raibh maith agat (thank you)!
  • Zoot – I love my running shoes, the wetsuit that kept me oh-so-warm in the sea, and all my tri gear!
  • Profile Design – My wheels are FAST and my aero bars just look freaking awesome - even when it is hailing!!
  • – wearing red, white and blue and representing USA while racing abroad has been great. I'm happy to be a part of such a great company.
  • QR – Love love love my bike! Crazy 30+mph winds and the bike is nothing but comfortable.
  • Rudy Project – my sunglasses and helmet are the best - it even protects me from hail while riding!
  • ZipVit – love my black currant energy gels.
  • XEndurance – podium finish two weeks before my "A" race. Thank you.
  • SableWater Optics – I can see when I swim. Always. This rocks!
  • K-Edge – Haven’t dropped my chain once all year – thanks!
  • – I love my job, thank you for always working around my crazy training & racing schedule.
  • Steven – I love you. I wish you had been here to experience the crazy Irish, but I'll just have to get myself higher on the podium in two weeks!
  • Mom - this trip was been wonderful. Thanks for being the best race support ever and helping me lug all my tri stuff through Ireland while planning fun things for us to see along the way.
  • My training friends – I thought about you the entire ride - and trust me, it helped a ton. Good luck in Vegas, I wish I was going to be there to support you.

Walking my bike back after the race. The wind turned my umbrella inside out and that pretty much describes the weather from the day! I still love Ireland...