So the primary reason we were in Ireland was neither for the Guinness nor the Titanic (we never did find that boat?); it was for the Castle Series Gauntlet Half Iron Distance Triathlon (say that 10 times fast!).
Kyle is an injured-most-of-the-time runner, who is one of those super talented people who can do amazing in anything thrown at them. Although he did do a lot of cycling while injured for a couple of months, he has only been running properly for a couple of weeks and was officially training for this race for 4ish weeks. Of course he came 10th overall with the fastest run time of the day. Typical!
Keith is a world class masters swimmer, so it was clear he would be one of the 1st out of the water. What we didn’t predict, however, was a 7 MINUTE transition in T1, which didn’t give him too much of an advantage! He powered through and ended up 80th in a time of 5.46.50….pretty impressive for an old guy!
Here are their stories:
He thought he’d mix it up a bit with a vlog…!
- Listen to warnings and heed them
- Practice transitions especially with new suits
- Slap on Vaseline and anti-chaff especially if prone to chaffing
- Don’t try new technology on race day unless used before
Woke up at 5:30 and got ready for the day. I was down at 6am for breakfast to find the place full of very serious looking people all pouring over tablets and phones looking at data. Not being a porridge type person, I decided to go for porridge and toast.
Headed to Lough Cutra, over to the transition area. Racking up next to Kyle, the next order of play was sorting out my gear for the first transition as well as the swim. With wetsuit on, next stop was team photo’s with Kyle and then to the briefing.
(“ok, now how do you REALLY feel?”)
“Swim round island but watch out for the rocks…All bags and boxes to be moved from bike racks!
Uh oh…running gear was neatly placed in said box! Panic run back to transition to empty run gear, move boxes, and rejoin the queue to enter the water. Why had the older gentleman in front of me smeared so much Vaseline on around his neck? I would later find out he was obviously expecting the cold and avoiding chafing. Another oops on my part!
SWIM – 26:25
So into the water we go, which was freezing and swam out to the start line. Honk and we’re off! Within 100m I could not see where I was going. Where were the lane ropes and the black line I am so used to??? I raised my head and fog had descended on the Lough…oh no wait that was my goggles steaming up. Quick clear of goggles and I am soon back into my stride.
For the next 700m or so I decided to play bumper cars since I had a rubber suit on! Every 100m or so I would crash into the back of someone as I picked off people one by one. As we approached the furthest away yellow buoy, I crashed into the back of another swimmer and then crashed into rocks. Bruised elbow, bruised knee, bruised toe and scratches from the rock later, I get round the buoy and thought the home straight should be easier as I start to get into an open water rhythm. Head up, swimmer 10m away, stroke, stroke stroke, Foot in face and goggles are off. Not again! Goggles back on and off I go again. Getting closer to the finish I remember the swim through the gates. I look over to my right and there are the start gates. So rather than follow the swimmers who are swimming past it, I decide to change course and swim through both sets of red buoy gates. As I get closer to the shore the next obstacle is reeds, and then two swimmers slightly ahead. I stand-up on the ground and immediately realise why the marshals are telling us to be careful; the mats they have put on the bottom of the lough is as slippy as ice! I haul myself out and start the run to transition.
Watching the swimmers ahead zip their suits down very quickly, I attempt to do the same only to hit a snag of being stuck. Not another problem! Reach transition, watch off, lots of fiddling, zip is down, one by one the arms are out then the suit is at my waist. At this point I can’t get the suit down any further and then I attempt to wrestle with the suit for several long minutes getting the suit off of my legs. At this point Kyle appears. Lead gone! Next, on with calf compression socks. Right foot done, left foot struggle. Another minute or so wasted. Then on with cycle top, on with helmet, stuff gel packs in my cycle top, number on and I am off. A long run up hill in cycling shoes. 7mins plus for transition…!
CYCLE – 3:11
Having loaded the course onto my Garmin, I started the course. For the next 5km the Garmin flashed to do a U-turn and eventually switched off. I turned it back on and checked cadence, speed, time, distance and heart rate…heart rate..none. Great, I am dead already. A couple of attempted adjustments and to no avail (or so I thought).
Setting off with two hi5 750ml bottles, I settled down for the ride. Every 20 minutes, I took a gel pack washed down with the Isotonic. A very scenic ride with some very long straights up to the first hill. At the junction of Corker Hill, I dropped down chain ring and then proceeded to crank it up going uphill to the feed station only 400m away.
No pressure…until you have a French tourist bus with the blue rinse brigade yelling “Ales, Allez!” My name is Keith, not Alastair, nor were there any Allys in the group around me!
With regard to feed stations, the briefing expectation was of goal posts, nets, and about 45m of feed station; the reality was one porta table. Disposing of my bottles I went for the Iso 500ml pre mix High five bottles.
Ballyvaughan was the next place to pass through which was fine, apart from some muppet bus driver who went past me and then slowed to a stop. Being in Father Ted country, I adopted as many Father Jack sayings as I could to yell abuse at the bus driver.
Next hill was Corkscrew hill. Again dropping down to the lower chain ring I blasted up the hill keeping up with a couple of TT bikes who passed me easily on the flat. This part of the race set my new best 40km time of 1:12.
Heading into the last couple of kms I was momentarily held up by a motorist who was confused by the marshal waving to me as to which way to go. So that was annoying.
Once we turned into Lough Cutra grounds for the last km, it was exciting dodging outgoing bikes, as well as other competitors from the sprint and standard distance cycles all heading back to the same place. Stopping bang on the line like a F1 car in the pit I demounted to the chant of don’t pass the line. Off I then attempted to run back into transition. With bike re-racked, cycle top off and road running shoes on I set off for my half marathon run feeling all buzzed up.
Setting off along the trail, I discovered that the dull ache in my knee was becoming a stiff knee. I walked, jogged to the 2km mark before stopping for a comfort break. Back on a hobble I was passed by a flying Kyle before I made it to the first feed station and took on water and a gel pack. Starting off again I found that I could maintain the run. 43 mins for the first lap. Next lap 38 mins. Now the push to ensure that I did finish under 6hours and the final lap was 37 mins. Finishing time 5:46.50…I was so happy to see that line!