29 February 2012

An Cheathrú Rua Race Report (Race 2)

This is a long race report and is well worth a few minutes to understand the battle between my friend Paul and I. Paul won the first battle last year by under a minute. Last years race report can be found here. This year it could be even tighter. The race took place Sat 25th February @ 3pm in Carraroe.

We arrived in Carraroe around 2:10. Based on last years event, we were expecting a small enough crowd but this year doubled in the numbers. Queued  for registration where the panic and nerves began to set in.  Time began to fly by, a rush was in order where I started to get my bike ready and putting it on the rack.  I guess the event organisers were not expecting the crowd as there was no space to put my bike.  Some shuffling and moving was done to cater for more bikes. Final 10mins before we set off, I am still in jeans.  Rush back to the car, change and then gave the keys to Sarah with little time to spare. 

Paul Fahy, Paul Mc Donagh, Stephen Broderick

We lined up, little bit of shoving going on for people trying to get nearest to the start line. I was  happy in the middle. Stephen started up front and that would be the last time I would see Steve throughout the race, I wish I could say the same for Paul. I went out fast pace for my standard and just kept saying to myself "Push hard, Its a race" based on previous runs, i knew that Paul was way stronger running up the hills so I said if I get up this Cat5 hill I will have the lead into the transition as it was 1km of downhill running. Pain was setting in, the bugger of a stitch was locking up my right side. Began breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth. I didn't relent on my pace as I said it would go away on the bike. 

In the transition,  time was over 17mins, pretty darn impressed with that time. I was fumbling with my helmet. Took me about 3 times to click it in but the shoes went in fast. Paul was in the transition area too. I thought I would have been out before he was in but he was also up for this race. Trying to get to the area before you're allowed to mount the bike was awkward with the cleats on the feet.

I thought i had a good minute lead in the cycle but after about a km or so, Paul came up on my right and overtook me. It looked like he passed me with such ease. I was confused by this and I told myself I am not letting this fellow out of my sights so I told myself again  "Push hard, Its a race" We began overtaking more cyclists. I never really had this experience apart from 3 or 4 cyclists in last years duathlon where those people were on mountain bikes. This time around we were overtaking cyclists.  On the first turn we were only inches apart. too close maybe but I was going for the dramatic effect. After 2km on that stretch then I overtook him again. I thought I had broke him and I was away. Gears were on high, off the seat. push push push. No looking back focusing on the front looking to see where the village is so we could do the lap all again. In my rushing in setup, I did put on my speedometer but its wasn't aligned up so no reading. My watch changed over to something else so didn't know the time either. I felt I was going fast and up in my previous time and I am in the lead against Paul.  In the final kilometer on the first loop, Paul overtook me leading back into the village.  

Mc on Attack

5 cyclists were coming in to turn together. Paul lead it out with me trying to catch him again wondering what do I have to do to drop him.  Stitch on the right side never let up and pains came down along my left side. I said this stage is for pushing my legs and maybe the pain will let up on the final.  Looked to take my energy gel but it travelled up my arm under my compression top. Didn't look to try and take it out so that was a stupid on my behalf.  The second loop was similar to the first with Paul leading into the first turn. I then just decided to push hard again. Head down. The cyclists ahead were getting harder to catch.  Motivation was on a high with passing other cyclists and the feeling I was making good time on this bike ride. Back into the village. I tried to pass out one other cyclists but he pushed harder at the end. 
Transition came. This was well fast for me. In, bike left to the wall. helmet off, cycling shoes off and runners on and out. I say the transition was over a minute. I was just leaving the second transition when Paul was coming in. 

The final run, I took my energy gel. Legs like jelly as expected but not this slow. I wanted to know why my legs wont pick up speed. Lack of energy came to mind. Energy gel needed time to kick in. I looked back to see Paul was just out of the transition area. I said If i keep at this speed I am going to lose. Runners were overtaking me again then Paul in his yellow top was less then 50meters behind me. My head began to drop a little.  Cat5 hill came around again then Paul overtook me around half way on it. That's it I said, No way now. 10 meters gained on me. I came to a decision. Walk for 30 seconds. Drop the heartbeats and take off again.  Them 30seconds became vital.  I decided I could still see him. My legs have come around now just to catch him. I am not going to do the same thing as last year and loose just under a minute.  Over the hill and I got a stride going. I could see I was catching him. Maybe 30meters ahead and then I pushed myself with some quick strides to about 10meters behind him. Settled back and finally caught up with him.  With the final turn coming, I looked to get a good few meters lead but my little push didn't have any effect as he came right beside me. We were coming back into Carraroe together. I decided to go for a bit longer of a push with about half a km to go but he came back again. Side by side.  Meters ticking down.  I didn't know what he had left in the tank. I remember one day running around the lake he finished it in good long strides that I couldn't match. We were running side by side coming around the final bend and we could see the banner.  He hadn't gone yet. I decided to make the first move. I said if he hasn't gone when we reach this point I would go. About 80meters maybe and I sprinted off.  Arms swinging wild and thankfully my legs had the final sprint in me. A quick glance over my right shoulder and Paul was still there arm distance. Finish line in 10meters so a final push was needed and there I crossed that line first. Delighted, ecstatic and fecked.  I didn't even look at the finishing time but Paul later told me 1:23mins. 

All over 

Results in and I finished in 1:23:31. This is just under 17 minutes improvement from last year. I know having a different lighter bike saves some time but i know most of that times saved was from pushing myself. I didn't bring my spare tubes or pump in the cycle. It was a 10.5km loop so my furthest point be only 5km to walk back to the village. It was a risk i took to shave a few Kgs but I know where the best place is to shave them.

Not to forgot about our other travelling companion Stephen. He crossed the line in a time of 1:09:14 finishing  22nd. He was happy with his overall performance. Got held up behind a car and a cyclist undertook him while he was overtaking another. It nearly caused him to touch wheels only for his quick reaction to pull back out. I sometimes got caught up in the moment of cycling and double overtaking that I forgot that it was an open road. 

Great afterwards reception. Some coffee and cakes, buns, scones and more other delicious treats. Presentations were made. The winner was a 16yr old in a time of 1 hour. Looks to be a future star for Ireland. Tiredness was kicking in. A long drive back but there beers awaiting and that's when the next session started.  

My girlfriend Sarah and Paul's girlfriend Danielle turned up to give there support to us. So a big shout out to them and for the photos taken. Great day. Great Race. WELCOME TO CONNEMARA

Results:  Finished 70/111 in a time of 1:23:31. (Click here for full list)
Race pictures (Click here) and (More here from Sean Power)
A few pics I uploaded to my facebook blog page can be found here

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