Sunday, September 13, 2009

All people who partake in sports know about the ups and downs, about the good days and the bad days and you try to minimise the bad days. You try to plan to be at your best for any given event, you look after the nutrition, the rest, the training plans and all the other variables but sometimes it all just goes to shite.

I was so looking forward to roar, after enjoying Gale Force so much I wanted to have a go at another adventure race and roar looked good to fit the bill.

We had driven the 5+ hours to Achill on Friday evening and I pitched a tent while Kevin and Franzi hit a B&B. I had a relaxed and relaxing breakfast and with plenty of time to get my gear ready on Saturday morning, the only thing that caused me a delay was the several attempts to pin my race number to my jersey. I know it's probably a bit anal but I wanted the number straight and between my backpack straps, hey, what can I say, I'm a Virgo..

Pre race was all very civilised and well organised, the bikes were dropped to well marked racks and we then had a pre race brief that filled us in on the the pain we would shortly encounter.

I had the pleasure of running the first leg to the kayak transition with Kevin, we had agreed to do the kayak section together. I reckon that we hit the water in mid position and although I had trouble keeping up with Kevin's extremely high cadence at the start and had the occasional clash of paddles due to my mistiming, we picked up a lot of places. We literally ran into one of the few single kayaks with only a few hundred yards to go, we totally fucked each other up, yer man in the single got totally annoyed and was moaning but I reckoned he should have gotten out of the way as a single is easier to steer than a double. I guess I didn't help matters when I put in a stern rudder on the wrong side and drove the moaning fucker 90 degrees sideways (I swear I didn't mean to do that). We had made up loads of places and if the course was longer I reckon we would have been 1st out of the water.

We hopped out and dragged the kayak back to land.....

This is where is all started to go downhill... well almost.. it took another mile or two before I knew for sure....
Running along the beach my legs felt like they weighed a tonne, I could feel every step. This was not going to be a day for gracefully gliding along (not that I could ever be classed as graceful) I briefly toyed with the idea of cutting back to the main road and walking back to the car but the thoughts of DNF after my name on the results sheet would haunt me for a long time.

I walked long sections of the uphill - as did most others - I lost plenty of places and I was wondering to myself if I should push harder or just keep steady away. I noticed that many of those that passed me were only a short distance ahead and not pulling away into distance so steady away it was.
I did say that I hoped to see a lot of those that passed me on the bike section and so I did.

A short downhill was followed by a flatish section to a flag and then uphill again towards the masts. After the flag I was able to see back along the route and I was delighted to notice there were still plenty of competitors behind me.
The downhill was not as difficult as Gael Force but I still managed to lose more places here. I really need to work on this mountain running thing !!! The sun was beating down and I was out of drink for the descent. All I could think about were the 2 drink bottles on my bike. I want my bike.... I WANT MY BIKE.
The final miles of the run were torture, the bog was bad enough but the stones were murder, it seemed worse than running in soft sand. I managed to get into something of a rhythm on the beach but it was too little too late.

At last the bike transition.
I gulped down half a bottle of drink as soon as I got to my bike ....Ahhhh.....beautiful
I'm so glad that because of the fine weather we didn't need to carry waterproofs so I was able to fit all my mandatory kit into my jersey pockets and dump the backpack.
I took the first mile to get more food and drink into me all the while closing in on the guy ahead.
He really looked the part a full Caisse D'Epargne kit and a good road bike. I moved in behind him as waited for another guy in a yellow jersey to catch up. When he did I said to the guys "want to work together ?" They agreed so off I went. We were on a long uphill drag and I took a good turn at the front, after numerous elbow flicks and a few looks back yellow jersey moved to the front, a quick glance behind confirmed that Caisse D'Epargne had disappeared. I tucked in behind yellow jersey for a bit but he started to slow down on the uphill, I pulled ahead of him again and when I looked back shortly after he was gone.
I picked off a few more on the main road, I then turned right to head along the coast drive.
I was feeling sick at times - I guess the mix of food, drinks and gels didn't agree with me - but I had decided that I was not going to give up the places that I had made up so if I had to puke I was going puke on the move. It turned out that I was ok.

I reckon that everybody who turns up for a race has a good look at all the other competitors.
The potential to be intimidated is immense. This is why I believe that it is sooo important to look the part....
At the start Kev, Franzi and myself all agreed that a rather tall guy in a tri-suit really looked like a fit athlete and maybe a contender, it was with the utmost pleasure that I passed this guy on the bike section. As enjoyable as it was for me it must have been soul destroying for him to have a little, fat old bloke piss past him while asking " how's it goin' ok ?"

I knew that there was 1 steep climb - a guy earlier on the uphill run said it was only 300m - I drew alongside a guy on the way up - I didn't want to pass him - and we had a chat on the way up and it made the climb easier to do it with someone else. We had to log in with our timers at the top and when he sprinted to check in first I knew his form. I let him go ahead on the downhill as I was as usual on the brakes but I caught him straight away on the next uphill, fuck him , I wasn't going to nurse him up the next hill.

Although I was having a bad day I had not been passed on the bike section, I had made up loads of places and was quite pleased with myself until a guy with a full Saxobank kit went past me on the steepest uphill after the time checkpoint.

When Saxobank passed me he looked fast and strong and I was impressed and thought that I would never see him again but he ended up only a few hundred yards ahead of me. At one point I sort of woke up and realised he was only a few yards ahead of me an I should really try to close the gap to make things easier for me but I couldn't be arsed so I just kept steady away.

When we got back onto the main road I was following Saxobank we eventually caught up on another two guys, I thought he would go straight past them but he slowed up... WTF.. I stayed behind - not on his wheel - but waiting for him to go, then one of the other guys sprinted ahead.. Ahh fuck it .. thats it , I'm going.. I drove on for the last 4 or 5 miles. When I passed a cyclist I expected them to grab my wheel but none did. I ended strongly and ran the last section to the finish line.
I ran to the spot to rack my bike, the bloke just before me racked his bike at an angle across my area, because we were at a end section I couldn't fit my bike, it took me awhile to get his bike out of the way. I ran to the finish line and discovered later that I missed a place by 3 seconds.

Because there was such a small field with loads of elite athletes I was really worried that I would not finish or would finish last. I have since discovered that I finished in the top half.. that is much better than I expected.. Again I can't wait for next year....


Sean said...

Cracking race report Chris, the organisers should recruit you as PR!

Chris Cassidy said...

Thanks Sean
Appreciate the feedback... I'll apply for a job there next year !!

jami said...

Loved the video. Makes me excited to visit. I would like the kayaking part as opposed to swimming.

Chris Cassidy said...

Thanks Jami.
I hope you have time to see some of the sights in Ireland when you come for the marathon.
This event was on Achill Island, about 5-6 hours drive from Dublin