Sunday, 14 August 2016

Back on track at Dublin 70.3

After a slightly disappointing race at Castle Howard in late July, Dublin 70.3 was an opportunity to regain some confidence and put into practice some of things I'd picked up at Castle Howard: notably not to go out too hard on the swim and find yourself shattered for the rest.

With that in mind, I put myself slightly away from the front line of the swim start and took off at a fairly relaxed pace when the claxon went off.

I tried to find some feet, but I just wasn't feeling as though I wanted to push myself too hard at 7:30 this morning, and so found myself drifting backwards in the wave. Not a problem as we were about to catch up with the wave ahead and the prospect to using too much energy to weave in between was far from appealing. So after just over 30 minutes, I emerged from the Irish Sea, not with the quickest of swim times, but feeling fresh and now ready to push it on the bike.

Dublin 70.3 course starts southwest of the city, follows the coast up to the city centre, before completing a loop to the west and finishing in Pheonix Park. This was the first flat course I've done all year, and it felt great to be rolling along at 25+mph for large sections of the course. Having emerged alongside many of the 35-39 and 40-44 competitors, I had no idea where I sat even within my own 30-34 category, so set about reeling a few in. A fair amount of my race was spent shouting 'keep left' or 'coming through', and I apologise to anyone if it may have come across a bit aggressive, but adrenaline was probably kicking in. I made a conscious effort to stay as aero as possible throughout, and I felt good, both aerobically and my bike legs. I was able to attack any climbs (I knew last week's Dauphanee Hill climb had a purpose), and kept a decent speed on the flat. One thing I am considering now is riding to power as everything is done of 'feel' at the moment and my concern is either pushing too hard to taking it too easy at Kona over such a long distance. My other area for development is how to negotiate the 60 odd speed bumps on the route with losing too much speed, but I think that is probably unique to Dublin. Anyway, I rolled into transition about 5th in my wave feeling ready to hit the run fairly hard.

Again, a first for the season, a flat run. With other competitors to chase down, I thought I'd take it out hard and see how I'd fair. My tempo sessions off the bike along the Thames Path have me running at 5:35/mile, so when I started at 5:22/mile I knew it was punchy, but I felt good. I over took the male pro leader (Collins), which caused a bit of confusion to the bike lead, but a quick explanation that I was an age grouper soon cleared that up, and besides I was 2 laps behind. I maintained pace reasonably well, dropping to 5:25/mile, but the slight unknown of which other athletes may be ahead gave a reason to continue to push hard. On the tannoy, I heard a lot of commentary about Brian McCrystal as the first age-grouper, but I had no idea for how much further ahead he may be. So I took it to the end and eventually came across the finish line in 4:04:53.

This put me 4th overall, and second amateur after an outstanding performance by Brian McCrystal almost gave him the win. My Freespeed teammate Sarah Lewis achieved 3rd overall in the women's race, so overall a good day out for the team.

3rd and 4th for Sarah Lewis and myself respectively

1. Ben Collins (USA) 4:00:41
2. Bryan McCrystal (IRL) 4:00:56 *M35-39
3. Harry Wiltshire (GBR) 4:04:05
4. Andy Greenleaf (GBR) 4:04:53 *M30-34
5. Paul Reitmayr (AUT) 4:06:41

1. Susie Cheetham (GBR) 4:22:33
2. Natalie Seymour (GBR) 4:25:48 
3. Sarah Lewis (GBR) 4:31:54 *F35-39
4. Anna Halasz (HUN) 4:35:22
5. Claire Hann (GBR) 4:38:06 *F30-34