So glad we arrived on the Thursday, time to recover from the previous week and journey was needed. Saturday we spend practice transitions. Pete’s practice in the park in Dublin was very good. I’m now confident hopping on the bike with the elastics (at a reasonable speed). I also practice my left U turns (I’ve only done right).
I decided my goggles weren’t right in the lake, but lucky Gavin has a spare pair I wanted to borrow, he says keep them. I’m like- ‘Thank you, I’ve got Gavin Noble’s goggles’!. He says ‘sell them on e-bay’, errr.. No.. I’ll flippin keep them, thanks. Gavin was a font of Tri knowledge. Very helpful, thanks for the tips Gav.
Race day arrives, over breakfast Chris says things like ‘In the front pack you’ll have to do……’, after a while I’m starting to feel the pressure. I had a little bit of an emotional moment/ blubber (I was more worried about getting lapped on the bike and having to drop out).
Final preparations go according to plan and I line up on the pontoon. Holy….
The first 30 sec of the swim were absolute mess, between legs, arms, fists etc. On the second lap I calmed down and found some feet to follow, I got a good line on the inside of the bouys and made it out of the swim in about 8th/ 9th , I panicked and forgot how to get wetsuit off. Some girl ran up behind me & pulled the zip up. Ta. Onto the bike and I catch up with the lead pack. I thought they were taking the mickey on the first lap cos it was so easy (drafting races, less energy, thank the lord). I sat on the back of the group like Chris said. I had to work hard out of corners and on the hills as sometimes someone tried to break away. New bike setup feels good, and I rid on the drops for most of race.
On the 6th lap I took a turn at the front, thought I’d better if I wanted to try to get there on the last lap. (You’d get a punch in the face if you went up there on the last lap without being there before). Last lap I’m sitting on the wheel of leader, then 4th coming round last corner. Perfect?!. Then take feet out of shoes and mess it all up as the field pass me (15 or so girls), hop off bike and run to shoes, take 15 seconds each, too long, field gone. I caught 5 on the first lap, running strong. 3 on the second, running tired and 1 on the last. I was knackered but the Swiss girl was in the distance for ages and I knew I was closing a gap. 800m to go and I manage to sprint finish (though I thought id do a projectile whilst running).
I’ve just come 6th in my first International race. Chris is delighted, Jag is on the phone. I call mum and she cries. I’m so happy. It was all worth it. Chris says, ‘that’s you doing the European cup series then’. Another 6 ITU races to go!!!
Men’s race- Brian is nervous, and Gavin is in the zone. The heavens open and it pours, making for an interesting race. Gavin is out in the lead pack whilst Brian was behind in the swim, and so has to time trial (solo) to make up the difference to a group. The French breakaway lead cyclist is an animal, and caught Brain, so he must retire. He tried his hardest on the bike, but suffered because of his swim. Gavin meanwhile is leading the lead pack. The Slovak in the group needs to crash out (or come last) for Gavin to be back in European flag slot (because of his big point advantage from the European champs). At least 6 men crash out on the wet slippery roads. An ambulance stopping for one. The run is the decider. Slovac finishes just ahead of Gavin, and he looks wrecked as he crosses line. No words can help. What do you say?
I had a great time away, I had so much fun, and learned a lot from both Brain and Gavin. Thanks to everyone, Chris, Rob, Jag, Pete (and the rest). Next up Try-Athy at home. See you there…
with bells on.