After the last time, I promised myself I would train for my next event, I even picked a goal event (Ecotrail 80km) and a follow up to complete while fit (Quest Killarney) to have as a carrot to train for.
Didn’t happen as you may well know.
A useless Summer of training, but I had fun.
Down to Killarney with no expectations other than to have craic and enjoy the scenery. Rolled into the carpark at INEC early Friday evening, collected race pack, had dinner and went back into the expo where I had a lot of fun spending a couple of hours helping on the Sports Food Ireland stand chatting away with people, helping them with their bars, gels etc.
Hit the scratcher early with alarm set for Satruday morning.
Up and breakfast cooked on the camp stove – rashers and pancakes; food for the race prepared, gear on, bike set, mandatory gear checked and off I went.
It was still dark as we collected in the start corral, spotted some familiar faces in the dazzle of headlights and bike lamps. Quick hi’s and off we went with a rolling start behind a lead car through Killarney. A very funny situation as we entered the town as a lady with a dog shouted at all of us pointing out “No lights! Lights!! Lights!!” as we passed in a group outlined with the strobe effect of flashing lights all around us.
I don’t know. Maybe just had to be there 🙂
Stage 1 – cycle to Kate Kearney’s cottage
The group exploded at the front when the lead car pulled away stretching the whole group along the road. I was happy tipping along knowing I had ZERO cycling in my legs for the last month at least. This was about managing the day as much as anything.
Got to T1 and racking the bike, left helmet and onto the first run of the day, a little teaser up and down Strickeen.
Stage 2 – Strickeen Run
Starting on the road and up onto zig-zags this was hiking rather than running. Up we went, a few people passed me and we passed others. As normal for me it’s about catching, passing and trying to stay passed where possible in an event. At least for as long as possible 🙂
Up to the CP, dib and turn to trot back down. Gravity favours me at the moment and I passed a couple on the downhill leg and back to the bike where a smooth transition had me out on the road & biking again.
Stage 3 – Main Cycle Leg & Accident
I didn’t know this route but discovered afterwards it is littered with Category 3 & 4 climbs.
It is a gorgeous cycle route Gap of Dunloe, Black Valley, Molls Gap, Ladies View. Simply stunning and I was taking it all in, steady on the climbs as the legs kinda came around a bit and cautious but smart on the descents. There was a huge amount of water on the road as we came over the Gap of Dunloe and between spray and sun glare it was tough to see the lines in and out of corners. I was absolutely soaked through from the road by the time I got to the top of Molls Gap and onto the descent there.
Not far down from thanking the Marshalls at Molls Gap there was an accident.
A cyclist was hit by a car and was in poor shape at the side of the road. Another cyclist just ahead of me was dealing with the driver and on the phone to get help.
There was no first aid I could administer, the injuries were beyond roadside help. All I could do was wrap the guy up and keep him as comfortable, conscious and warm as possible until help arrived. An ambulance arrived, relaying what information I could to the paramedics, I stepped back to help traffic management until more help arrived. Getting cold myself I was released and went on ahead on the bike to warm up.
Thinking my race was over, the best thing I could do was complete, if not for me, for the guy who could not.
Stage 4 – Run to Kayak
Obviously still a bit shook, I transitioned and headed to the kayak stage which I was looking forward to. PFD on, paddle picked and jumping into the rear seat of a tandem I was quickly joined by another paddler.
After a few clatters of paddles, instructions were needed from the back seat driver 😉
Leave the steering to me, keep a rhythm – Left, right, left, right, lets go!
Clatter, clatter, steer, steer.
(Oh dear his paddle was backwards and upside down. I was not getting into changing anything)
We got over it and I just did my thing with the boat, we got around and it wasn’t too shabby a time, the corners were tidy and the bearings straight. I was warming up a little.
Stage 5 – Torc & Mangerton
Leaving the kayak, paddle and PFD I went onto the run leg.
200m from the boat I could feel my right quad sending little signals. Ooops this is not good and within a few steps my right leg literally seized up. Rock hard quads in spasm.
I thumped, and kneaded and rubbed and put pressure on the knot trigger point which eventually eased and released.
I was off again (trotting) to the steps at Torc where spasm came again.
I was kindly offered electrolytes (I later realised this was Tina Reed and never copped it despite chatting and exchanging places for the rest of the day) but did my release thing and got going.
This was slow and lumpy. I took the “jog the flats, walk the ups and trot the downs” as my mantra and just got on with it.
Going up Mangerton was wet, boggy and a slog but staying positive (in my own head) I was catching and passing guys who were finding the going extra sloggy. The turnaround never seemed to arrive but there around a corner, all of a sudden it was and dibbing to trot back was a great relief.
No more cramps, the legs were eased and I just had to be careful on the descent which was rocky and loose. Not very runnable (in my book) but obviously the mountain gazelles had no issues.
Down the Torc steps where there are plenty of tourists and other race waves coming in droves at you, but everyone is there for the same reason so negotiate the steps, respect the visitors and on with it all.
Stage 6 – Cycle to the Finish
I said “almost” 😀
Arriving back to transition and onto the bike for the spin to the hotel almost feels like a cool down spin. It feels strange to be finishing a race on a bicycle but I’d legs again and was happy to do what I could to finish strong.
Back to the finish, rack the bike and run to cross the line.
I was a happy lad collecting my medal, curry & rice and time print out. The time was not important to me, I was happy to complete and my first action was to check with the marshal on the casualty.
Packing up the van, gear and changing clothes it was straight back to Dublin to enjoy a glass of wine at home.
A great event, in a wonderful location, awesome crowd of participants. I’ll be back for sure.
The Polar Relive playback from my Vantage V is here