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"Whether you think you can or think you canít, youíre right"
"Whether you think you can or think you canít, youíre right"

Mission accomplished!

WeeManby WeeManSep 4th 2012
Wow! Expectations exceeded and emotions overloaded. I'm not sure how else to describe my Ireland experience. I went there to achieve my season long goal of qualifying for next year's 70.3 world championships taking place in Las Vegas and came away as winner of the 40-44 age group and in 26th place overall at Ireland 70.3 in Galway...

We had spent the week before the race in a perfect country hideaway just south of Galway, making the most of the surroundings while I made final preparations before the race. With less of the usual day to day to worry about it was certainly a better final preparation than I've ever had before and one I'd certainly recommend. I made sure to get plenty of good quality sleep and to keep the sessions ticking over but kept them short with some race pace efforts but nothing that would add fatigue. I had booked a pre-race massage with a local sports therapist in Galway - Darren Macfarlane on Thursday who turned out to be a nice chap and very good value for money.

On Friday we went back into Galway for me to register before heading up to Spiddal at Darren's recommendation as a good place to walk the dog on the beach. It was perfect and our chocolate lab had a fantastic time. On Saturday we left our country hideaway and moved to our Galway hotel for the weekend. From five bedrooms to one was quite a shock to the system but we survived! After racking my bike and dropping off my transition bags we went back to our room and relaxed while listening to the wind and rain lashing at the windows. It didn't sound good but the forecasters assured us it would be better come the morning.

Race morning came on the back of very little sleep which I had expected which was why I had made sure to bank plenty the week before. The sun was up and it was dry and calm. Perfect conditions. I was off in the penultimate wave with the 45-49 age groupers too so in a wave of about 300 people. I'd swam in worse but knew I needed a good start to get away from the madness and to put myself in a positive mindset at the front going into the bike leg. Thankfully I did and after 400m by the time we reached the first buoy I was swimming with just one other athlete who turned out to be Andrew Johnson from Lincoln in the older age. The swim was good although sighting as we swam the long stretch was difficult with 1000m between the buoys and the glare of the sun in my eyes. As I exited the water in just over 30 mins I knew I was in second place from the wave so felt pretty happy. Keith Duffy the ex Boyzone member was exiting at the same time followed by a camera crew although he had started 30 minutes before I did. You never know I might be in his race film when it airs...

Transition was a long affair - partly just because it was and partly because I was slow and due to the weather changed my plans to just go with arm warmers instead of a jersey. Once out on the road I felt good, my legs felt fresh and I was passing people all the time while holding 23-26mph. The road surface out of Galway was excellent and the support along the route was tremendous too. After about 45 minutes we left the built up areas for the open countryside where the road surface was less perfect but I was still rolling along nicely. I got to the turnaround at Maam Cross after 75 mins and was then hoping to put in a strong return leg to see me under 2:30 for the 56 miles. As I got off the bike into T2 I had clocked 2:27 and not been passed meaning I thought I was near the top of my age unless anyone had overtaken me in T1. As I wheeled my bike around I saw the 40-44 rack and it was completely empty...I was in the lead!

Starting the run I kept telling myself I needed to keep it together and not get ahead of myself with thoughts of winning. It was 'only' a half marathon I remember thinking! I passed my wife and kids and signalled that I was first and they shouted 'we know'! I guess having done a run down of who was who and which numbers to look out for had helped. My aim on the run was to go sub 1:30 and I started the first two miles well within that. As I passed my family at the start of lap two I asked them "how close" to which they said "ages". Once again it was hard to keep my emotions in check. I was again passing people all the time until a local guy hung onto me for a while so we exchanged a few words. He was on his first lap and me my second and in the end he dropped off but I had been thankful of the company. I started lap 3 after having just passed Natalie Barnard who was the third placed female pro heading into the end of her last lap. My family assured me I was still miles ahead so I started to let my mind wander and the last few miles were tough. My ankle had rubbed and my legs were really feeling the big bike effort I'd put in. I passed Keith again just before the end and with what must have been the biggest smile of the day turned for home into the finish chute. The crowd had been brilliant all day and after a few high fives I acknowledged them and crossed the line in 4:39 with a 1:30 run. I was 99% sure I'd won my age group so at this stage a wave of emotional relief hit me. I went and found my family, retrieved my phone and checked IM Live for confirmation of my result. There it was - I had won and finished 26th overall.

The rest of the day and awards ceremony passed in a haze as I struggled to come to terms with how well I'd done. While I knew based on the season I've had that on a good day a qualification spot was achievable I had never expected to win. It just goes to show that dreams do come true if you work hard enough.
Mission accomplished!
sarahleonardby member: sarahleonard, Sep 5th 2012 10:36
Great race report WeeMan. Congrats on your qualification!
WeeManby blog author: WeeMan, Sep 5th 2012 15:18
Thanks Sarah. Glad you liked it.
 
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