From The Top
I was listed as an All World Athlete on account of my times in Austria and IM Dublin in 2015 and this added a real buzz. We got to register in the pro lines, received our AWA swim caps and numbers and skip plenty of lines. The training swims were held in an outdoor 50m pool that we were given free access to and this was special for me as an ex-swimmer. The facilities were very professional and reminded me of my race days.
In the run up to the event I'd had a few issues with my Cannondale Slice RS brakes. When I installed my deep rims the brakes needed widening and for some reason were prone to rubbing. I did however test the bike out on the Friday and all went fine but this was when I realised how savage the heat was. I decided to ride the 20km back to our house in Gannat from Vichy and the heat hit me like a wave. It was 6pm sun and it was 34 degrees. I cycled home directly into the sun and my heart rate was through the roof at an average of 157bpm with a high of 176bpm. These are not levels I am ever used to and immediately it worried me. At this point I knew the race was going to be a non-wetsuit race and that evening they announced it officially. I could not get over the heat and I really began to panic for race day. This was going to wreak havoc with my plans for a sub 10hr Ironman.
Ironman is what it is though and much of racing Ironman is adapting and accepting pitfalls. I would find this out the hard way on Sunday.
The Australian exit was a novelty and I got to glance quickly at my watch and see that the first lap took me 31mins, I knew then I was going to be over the hour, so be it. I sloshed on into the second lap and already could feel the sun on my skin. The temperature had been dropping since the Friday horror show on the bike but it was still going to be hot. I exited after 1:05:26 feeling fresh and ready for the bike. I was 23rd in my Age Group and knew I could have gone harder but there was a long hot day ahead. I was happy.
As I neared 75kmh I noticed my pedaling became a real grind. The dreaded brakes I'd had recent issues with had struck, this time the front brake. Recently I learned from one of the mechanics in CSS that this was a result of me installing my deep dish wheels the days beforehand. The carbon wheels can expand and in this case they did just that. I jostled with it for almost 7mins before getting back on the road and from here rode angrily. I knew I'd lost a lot of time and was pedaling hard which was the wrong thing to do in this heat. As the second lap rolled around a nasty little thunderstorm whipped up with winds reaching 30kmh at times. Again my time was going to suffer because of this and stupidly I again allowed it to get to me. The roads were now like glass and as I hit 160km my front brake jammed again. I pulled in once more and this time in a rage I pulled the caliper open to free my wheel entirely. I spent 6 minutes playing with the brake in the muggy forest and noticed my Garmin had not stopped. I was down to 32.5kmh average and was furious. I made the decision to ride the remaining race using only my rear brake, and what a disaster that would turn out to be.
I have shifted my focus to the Dublin Marathon and have plans to beat my Paris marathon time from earlier this year of 3:32. I need a goal now to take the focus off the heartache that is Vichy. On September 17th I will race the fantastic Pulse Port Triathlon so this week its back to the pool in Westpark for some fast sets. Lets see if I can top a 2nd place water exit from last year...
Vichy was stunning, the race course fantastic, the people delightful. I have good memories of what it offered as a place and had some great nights with close friends and my partner but for me, it's sadly a place of disappointment no matter how hard I try for it not to be. The place of my first Ironman DNF.
I do also want to take the time to thank the people who have helped me in 2016. Westpark Fitness have been a crucial part to my rehab from 2015 and in all of my prep for Ironman 2016. All of my off-season strength and conditioning work was done in their superbly kitted out functional zone. I nursed a bulged disc in my lower back back to full health in the winter month and as the season rolled around the pool was a godsend. Working next door to Westpark means being able to nip across and push out quick intense swim sets. There are many times that without WP I'd simply not have got these sessions in.
Remie is the one who has had to put up with my moods over the course of 2016, not to mention the days after the crash where I was a bit of a mess. Rem, when I train and race, you're what gets me through.
Fahy and Babbs for continuing to use my race locations as an excuse for a holiday, you guys rock.
Cycle SuperStore for putting me up on the fastest bike I've ever been on and supporting me with training, time off when needed and the general good vibes they send when things aren't working out. The lads in the workshop are the most talented bunch of mechanics in Ireland, simple!
Shane Foley for being my expert fitter and hes good for a conversation too.
2017 will be even better.