by Dara Kilmartin.
‘Beast of the East’ seemed like a curious name for a triathlon so I signed up a few months ago knowing that I would miss its counterpart ‘Hell of the West’. After almost unbroken sunshine for weeks and temperatures in the high 20s, early Sunday morning 21st July was a merciful break….cloudy, high teens and there was even a chilly breeze with dew evaporating slowly as I made my way into a midge infested rough cut field to park for registration.
Slowly familiar faces appeared….eight of us in total but the large no-show rate became apparent on racking our bikes in transition. All the clubs had been grouped together and many T3ers seemed to have opted for the Dun Laoghaire sprint instead. I needed my NS points as this was just my third race of the season. it was my 5th standard distance tri ever, having started last year….and it was definitely the hardest. Jim Fitzharris must have been gently warning me when he said it was ‘a bit hilly’.
The swim leg was actually pleasant….I suppose even saying this is an admission of ‘could have tried harder’. About 320 in total over 2 waves submerged themselves in tepid peaty water….amazingly could hardly see 1 foot ahead of me under water. I was in the second wave and the first wave guys seemed to cruise through nearing the first mark 200m away even before we started. It wasn’t a cruise in the second wave. Bruiser Ben was in my wave and I reckoned there might be a bit of a scrum rounding the first mark. Too right. Shane was almost scalped and had his hat and googles scraped off him….amazingly recovered both. The second mark was 600m away and seemed forever and a day away….thoughts racing through included keep breathing, keep breathing, exhale…blow bubbles underwater dammit, theres someone I can draft, oh no, they are getting away from me, that couldn’t be chest pain could it? round the third mark, keep going, keep sighting…just keep moving forward and this too will pass, that couldn’t be the fourth mark, no it isn’t and can’t see it yet, just keep drafting that guy, he’ll know where he’s going, great there’s the fourth mark but its not getting any bigger, could it be drifting away from me, just keep your head down and keep swimming, exhale, blow bubbles, that stiff feeling in my right leg couldn’t be leg cramp..round the fourth mark, see the shore, keep swimming, shallowing, keep swimming, keep right, feel clay, stand, crawl forward, move out, shuffle, run….see transition. Met Ben leaving…well that’s not too bad as he’s usually a faster swimmer than me.
The bike leg started fine. Still overcast. Get going. gear down, down. How long does this hill start last? Eventually, it evened out and the cycle became manageable but so twisty that v hard to get down on the tri bars for any length. Chuck passed me out at about 20k. Didn’t expect to meet any of the others. Then I met THE BEAST….at 32k just out of Laragh, a sharp left turn led to 5k of the most excruciating hill climb ever….quads quivering, patellas pinching, then…. burning. Hill over, steep decline to challenge my new brakes, tested just the week before. Looong run into transition over uneven grass, then out.
Totally shattered after bike climb.
Can’t run…just keep shuffling and it will return. Initial 1-2k ok, fire engine kindly hosing us down…..then an unending climb of 1,100m over 5 k. Keep the back straight, steady the core, pump those arms, just keep pumping. Finally level, see Ben, can I catch him…turnaround, keep going, then descent, keep upright, don’t slide on gravel, lengthen and quicken your stride, let gravity help. Arrive at finish…collapse. Catch a burger. What a time for Kevin…2.15! ….if that’s what injury does, amazing.
Missed the photo..again! Have to arrive quicker at the next one.