I honestly don’t think any more could have gone wrong for me in the build up to this years National Sprint Championships (Saturday 6th June), taking place at TriAthlone. In the last 6 weeks I have taken in my back freaking the f@ck out and making me collapse at a track meet with gloriously painful spasms for a few hours (1 week gone). Just after this I was struck down with two separate viruses (12 days total out). And then 2 days before the race my time-trial bike has a hissy-fit and the headset decided to break itself with no hope of recovery before Saturday (although I might have had a part to play there).
A hero in the form of John Carey has kindly loaned me his road racing bike allowing me to at least start the race! Hello Cube Peloton Race, can you and me be friends for at least 1 day tomorrow?
The North Tipp Sprint was my only triathlon so far this year and after an abysmal swim, horrendous T1 after making the mistake of trying to put on a t-shirt over a wet torso, no bike legs, but a decent enough run, I was happy to get a top 60 and 101 National Series (NS) points. That race was always going to be the one I scrap for the rankings so hopefully Saturday will prove more fruitful. In terms of performance at TriAthlone, I’m looking to set a decent standard on which to build over the next 10 weeks in the run up to the World Triathlon Championships in London (13th September).
Working with Seamus Nugent on my swimming for the past few weeks has me in a much better place, technique wise and mentally. My run has never been stronger, after cracking through 17mins for 5k. My cycling has come on a good bit but given the fact I have a new two wheeled friend to use tomorrow that isn’t a time-trial bike I expect to see many nice low profile, deep sectioned blurs buzz past me tomorrow. All in all, hoping for a top 60 overall, a top 10 in my Age-Group and somewhere around 107-110 NS points.
(Athletes in action at TriAthlone, Courtesy of Triathlon ireland/TI Media)
As a treat for the other 1,199 racers on Saturday, Irish Olympic and ITU triathlon hero Gavin Noble will grace us with his presence. Although I have raced against the Brownlee Brothers (serious name dropping there) two seasons ago in a charity duathlon, I am genuinely excited to be in the same field as Gavin. The man deserves a lot of kudos for what he has done for the sport in Ireland and gave us some great ‘shouting at the TV moments’ at the Olympics in London last Summer. After he went toe to toe with pretty much the best of the best Irish Age-Groupers the other weekend at Hell of the West and beat everyone hands down along with smashing the previous course record by nearly 8mins, it is pretty much guaranteed (barring a mechanical) that the National Sprint Triathlon Championship title will be his sometime around 3.45pm Saturday.
Prior to the Age-Groupers getting in the water there will be the heroes that are the para-triathletes taking on the course. Having witnessed some of these guys give it their all while racing at the World Duathlon Championships in France last year I can only say I was completely blown away by them. Their ability completely outweighs their disability and they are truly inspiring. Can’t wait to watch them in action.
(This is why we race! 2012 World Duathlon Championship. Source: Authors own)
Due to some unfortunately bad planning, the Elite Juniors European Cup race will take place on the Sunday. What an opportunity this may have been for your average age-group racers to watch the best young Irish talent and learn from these future Olympians. With the whole day in Athlone surely this race could have been a morning or evening fixture? With most racers coming from out of town I can’t see too many staying on the night to watch so hopefully the Athlone locals, especially the young runners, cyclists and swimmers, will be out in force to cheers the juniors on and fingers crossed for Irish on the podium. With the might of Con Doherty, Aaron O’Brien and Chris Mintern racing this could easily happen.
Right now, it’s 11.59pm the night before the race and there is nothing I can do now to make my race go better only worse, so lie back on the bed, compression socks on, hopefully a good night sleep and ready to rock in the morning!
Best of luck to everyone taking part, strong contingent of Kilkenny Triathlon Club members hitting the road to Athlone early tomorrow and there is definitely the chance of a sneaky age-group placing by one or two! Looking forward to seeing some old faces at my first open water triathlon of the year! Time to get some points up on the National Series Rankings 🙂