Dublin City Triathlon (DCT) was held in the Phoenix Park last Sunday (23/8/15) and over 1000 crazy triathletes braved the last of the fantastic summer weather of wind, rain and, eh, more rain! DCT was one of my favourite races last year- not only because I am originally a Dub- but also because it meant a lot to me personally and we got free ice cream at the end. This year the race was doubling as the national standard distance championships which was also to be Ireland’s first draft legal race. There were lots of talk about the draft legal racing set up and what it would bring to the table as it was specific to the cat 1 athletes only (those with more racing experience). Many people were happy to voice their thoughts and opinions about how the race would play out and how it would affect those that normally perform well with a non-drat legal set-up because now people would be actively working together. This set-up would mean that the weaker bikers/swimmers got to race and chase in packs allowing them to reach the run on fresher legs v non-draft legal biking and so run down leaders without the normal fatigue in the legs. Scenarios. Lots of scenarios. Everyone had an opinion.
I travelled up early Saturday in my Reanult Captur, courtesy of Renault Ireland for whom I am a brand ambassador (thank you guys) so I could register that evening and get off my feet early enough. I went to registration and was greeted with hugs and banter from my twin sister Rachel, her bestie Judy and my one and only Hugh! The cat 1 race wasn’t scheduled to start until 1.10pm which meant I had the dilemma of having to have a decent breakfast and then plan a snack so as not to be racing hungry. I detest late start times as I feel there is an inordinate amount of hanging around done but not everyone is a morning lark either so I watched in envy as the age-groupers set off at 8.15am. Cat 1 athletes had two separate transitions for T1 and T2 along with a designated athlete lounge which meant our morning was quite chilled. I made sure to put my runners into T2 myself (and my candy king bag which had my jelly reserve) before cycling down to T1 to set up the bike. I think it’s important to go through both transitions prior to racing as I find I’m much calmer and know exactly what I’m meant to be doing. My coach Stephan- Teeling Lynch has grown accustomed to my pre-race antics and has always given me his advice well in advance of race day (coach doesn’t coach on race-day. Ever.)
Cat 1 females were called to the water at 1pm to allow for a swim warm-up. I jumped in with 5mins to go and just as we were about to start we were called from the water as there was a delay in the mens race (women are always waiting on men!). This was a bit frustrating as the water wasn’t warm and we were told we had a 15minute wait. I was starting to shiver and had goosebumps 5minutes after exiting the water (I was very jealous of the special treatment Eimear had from her boyfriend Eoin who was on hand asap with WOOLY MITTENS!) Everyone was a bit annoyed with the wait so I tried to just have some fun with the other girls and forget about it and we actually had a bit of a laugh on the pontoon in the end with penty of slagging and laughing about what might unfold during the race. Finally we were given the go ahead and allowed to re-enter the Liffey. I took up my position in the water and lined up where I wanted to before switching into race mode. 3…2…Horn.
The swim start was a tad frantic but I had clear water soon enough. There were no bodies to fight with around the turn buoy so I stuck with the pace I had just wanting to do enough. T1 wasn’t exceptional and I knew I had time to make up from it. I exited out on the bike in 1st place and all I could think about was putting as much time between me and whomever was coming behind. I didn’t know how things would unfold and the plan was just to ride as I always do so that’s exactly what I did. I soon realised that with every passing lap I was putting time into my chasers on my Planet X RT90. I felt great on the bike and my legs felt better with each lap- nutrition plan was spot on. The cheers from those that braved the elements to stand out in the rain and support were greatly appreciated and I definitely got a huge boost every time I passed the designated fan zone that Piranha had set up. This zone was mastered by Mr. Hugh Larkin and he ran a great party. People think you don’t hear them when you’re racing but you do and it definitely helped me going up that long drag.
T2 was in sight and time to dismount. I managed to get in and out of transition with my candy king bag of jellies in hand in under 20s and set off on the treacherous cross country course for 10km of mucky fun! The 10km was broken down into 3 laps of 3.3km and then the finish straight to make up 10km. My teammates- some whom raced at 8.15am- were still on the course cheering for me on my run (thanks). I felt comfortable out on the run and I was confident that I could inject more pace if I needed it and so I got to enjoy the occasion all the more. As I reached the tarmac path for the last 1km to the finish I began to smile a bit. I have been back to college for the last 6 weeks and on placement in the University Hospital Limerick for the last 3. I have had to sacrifice all ideas of an ideal prep for this race and I had lots of questions asked of me so when sprinting down the final straight home I was beaming. I received a high five from Triathlon Ireland performance squad leader Stephen Delaney before seeing my coach and teammates at the finish. Crossing the Vodafone finish line as the first female home was special and so the first person to be called (naturally) was the Maro aka Mum. My boyfriend was on hand to congratulate me as well as my twin sister Rachel. It was brilliant.
The other girls had a sprint finish for 2nd/3rd and came in together a few minutes behind me. We had a quick presentation where we each received bespoke Gold, Silver and Bronze Piranha medals (really nice touch!). Gavin Duffy, Bernard Hanratty and the Piranha team should be commended for doing a great job on what was a really tough day out there racing.
To be National Champ for the second time in a row at standard distance in only my second season feels amazing! I have to say a massive thank you to my sponsors Planet X bikes and Renault Ireland. Planet X, who have given me an Exocet 2 TT and RT90 carbon road bike to race on both nationally and internationally. This season riding on planet x bikes has seen my bike splits come tumbling- thanks to Dave Loughran and the gang in Sheffield. Special mention also has to go to my coach, Stephan Teeling-Lynch, and my GoTri team mates for their constant support (no matter the weather or occasion they are always there). Not to forget my swim coach, Lars Humer. Special thanks to you all.