I entered this race because all my friends seemed to be doing it…. which seems like a bad reason at first glance, but over the years I have learnt that racing needs to be fun as well as hard! I’d also raced here before, and knew that the course suited me. Added to the fact it was only a week after Challenge Fredericia, this combined to give me an opportunity to try back-to-back racing with a great course and environment, and without any pressure.
Ed and I flew from Denmark to Dublin on Tuesday of race week, and on Wednesday I headed out on my bike to find the course. We seemed to have brought the rain with us… Training still felt heavy and sluggish on Wednesday after the Saturday afternoon race, to the extent that I even did fewer race pace intervals on my run than the maximum number I was allowed to do (!!).
Once we’d had a few days to settle in, I was feeling much better – this was actually 8 days between races, but I felt ready to go again within a week. I’d also decided to try throwing caution to the wind and hammering the bike this time round, rather than sticking to a carefully calculated % FTP, and see what happened.
This may have been the calmest sea swim I’ve ever raced! I managed to hang on slightly longer than usual off the start, but by a couple of hundred metres in was still swimming by myself, and eventually lost sight of the front pack in the overcast weather. In my mind I was definitely last and definitely going too hard, so concentrated on holding good form and sighting well. The final straight towards the swim exit was the most challenging section of the swim, as the current pushed me off course.
Coming out of the swim I was happy to see one girl leaving transition as I came in and another three bags still on the rack – fifth out of eight is my highest swim finish yet, so it’s time to lose the “I’m sure I must be last” thoughts while out in the water.
Not knowing how my run would be after racing the previous weekend, I had decided just to enjoy the stunning bike course…. otherwise known as smash it! The course never lets you get bored, with a couple of steepish hills, some great descents that you can push hard, twists and turns, all accompanied by beautiful scenery.
A big Thank You to the race organisers for changing the planned 5 minute head start to an 8 minute head start on the age groupers on race morning – this meant that I never saw the course get busy and the closed roads were largely mine to ride. I passed a couple of girls to ride myself into 3rd position at one point, but was then caught myself and came into T2 in 4th, ready to see how my body would hold up for the run.
The run is 3 fairly flat loops around Phoenix Park and a great course – as is often the case, the first loop was quiet enough that I wondered if I was going the right way a couple of times, but I soon had much more company. Leaving T2 with only a couple of minutes gap behind me, I was very happy not to slip into 5th place until my second lap.
Ed was giving me splits to 6th place and we were relatively happy that I had a comfortable gap, until spotting that the tracker was malfunctioning… I’d been pushing hard anyway, but then I realised how little gap there was with only a couple of km to go. Somehow I found a little bit extra, but until I was on the red carpet and heading to the line I was convinced I was going to be run off the podium and out of the money in the closing metres of the race.
Once the world had stopped spinning and I had been released from the medical tent, we headed to the Phoenix Park cafe (a favourite part of last year’s trip) for lunch, then back to the course to catch up with friends. This included a venture back to the finish line to give Charlie his finisher’s medal, before watching him accept a slot to World Championships at the awards ceremony later in the day!