Tri an Mhi - Irish National Middle Distance Championships 2013

Tri an Mhi National Middle Distance Championships 2013

hayesandrew7by hayesandrew7May 20th 2013
For the first time in 2013 and just over 8 months since my first half ironman experience in Galway in September 2012, it was time to get my race face on once again and boy was I looking forward to it.
Having trained consistently now since my first bike ride of the year on January 5th, 20 weeks down the line I have found myself in an ironman training bubble - following my program as diligently as I can, fully focused on my end goal and carrying everyone important to me with me for the ride!
It was the perfect time in my mind to break with what had become the norm and take my ass down to the shores of Lough Lene in Collinstown, County Westmeath for the National Mid Distance championships.
In the build-up to the race, I didnĀ't think too much about the race itself - I saw it for what it was - a chance to race, a chance to do something different, a chance to see where I am at and most of all, with 16 weeks to go to Ironman Wales, to learn a lot about myself both physically and mentally.
Niall and I are both doing Ironman Wales and have been doing a good percentage of our training together and had signed for this race but earlier in the week he had to pull out for family reasons so mentally I found that difficult not having someone to travel with and share the experience. Dave P had been my race buddy last year and nothing beats that camaraderie but I saw it as character building and something I would just get on with - no doubt there will be plenty of lonely, isolated moments on the bike in Wales.
The talk all week had been about the weather and the swim and water temp and there was plenty of rumours online but I just hoped for a swim of some sort - not because I had developed into a Michael Phelps character in the past 4 months but I have improved a lot and if this race was supposed to be a learning experience for me, I wanted to swim.
Having spoken to Eamonn my coach the day before, he had advised me to work the course, spin up the hills and look to maintain HR at 80-85% of max and be fresh for the run. Also, if the weather was poor, take the time to get the right clothes on and be warm (always a problem for me on bike but beginning to understand the issue and deal with it)
On the run, start off nice and handy at above 5min km pace and get quicker, getting to sub 4 pace- basically run to get quicker.
So on to the event itself, when I arrived at HQ it did not feel like mid may should feel.
I must have spent 45 minutes at my car looking at all my gear, trying to make the right call on the weather and what I needed to do in transition.
Dragging my full bag and bike to transition, I decided to get down there, get the bike set up, chat to a few people and go with my gut - it felt like my first ever race!
There was a long delay while the officials decided what to do re the swim and with gear decisions eventually made, re considered and made again, I took myself for a quick warm-up.
News filtered through that the swim would be 800m so I was delighted there would be some sort of swim. There was a real feeling of nerves in the air but I felt strangely fine and relaxed - it couldn't be much worse than Greystones!
Eventually, 45 minutes late, we were called in - there would be no significant warmup so 30 seconds notice was given. I immersed myself in the water and then Bang we were good to go.
Because of the overall feeling of trepidation in the air I found the swim start to be calm enough - I started left of middle and once I got over the first few cold breaths, I was into my stride (Not like my breathing issues at the Beast).
I decided to sight more than I had in the past (as we did in pool training) and it was working well as I focused hard on the buoy and the line of those in front of me. Also, Eanna from Base to Race was chatting to me before the race and told me the tactics he was giving his group so I followed that line in and out and it worked well.
My new Zerod wetsuit worked a treat aswell.
Into Transition and I could really feel the cold as I peeled the wetsuit off and initially my focus suffered as I left my own zone and train of thought and became too conscious of those around me.
Giving myself a literal shake and a quick rejig of focus on myself, I started the warmer clothing change - Under Armour top / arm warmers / Cycle jacket / hat / helmet / Gloves / shoes and overshoes. My transition was definitely rusty and slow but my overbearing thought after the race is that I made the right calls.
The Bike was a positive experience. I wanted to focus on my pacing, HR and my nutrition. I was operating a 30 min bike / 30 min gel with water and power bar during every 5-10 mins but after 30k I could feel I needed to be more flexible and react to the messages my body was telling me and go more on feel so I took regular bites of the cliff bars throughout while sticking to the original gel strategy and anytime I felt my legs drag, the nutrition gave me the kick I needed.
One development area is the need to sort my drink strategy to make sure I prioritise as I had too much fluid left at last 5k of bike.
Into Transition and off with the soaking clothes. My decision was to go with trisuit and arm warmers and once all the wet clothes were off which was time consuming and difficult with the overshoes, I was off and feeling strong and my initial aim at the 2k dog leg was to get a view of who was in y vicinity and who I would be aiming to pass or work with on the course.
This noted internally, I got my head down and got to work, keeping an eye on pace and initialising the process of climbing the field.
The run loops were pretty hilly but that suited me down to the ground and as I overtook more peers, my confidence continued to grow.
I happened upon Liam Williams about about 15k and we had a quick bit of encouragement and I went on my way, passing the first woman home at about 18k.
I felt fantastic on the run and took the strategy at 8 and 16k at the top of the hill to take the gel and ease my way over the brow and down the other side.
I had a really strong finish into the shoreline and crossed the line in 4.41. I found it hard to eat the rolls provided, felt the cold, had a quick massage and while en route to change my clothes, Noelie K kindly bought me a coffee and toffee crisp as he saw me cold.
Overall, absolutely delighted with myself, 2 minutes less and I would have squeezed into top 15 but I have to remember, that was not my aim in this race - this was about reward for my hard work to date and a boost for the next 16 weeks and I got that.
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