Portlaoise Triathlon Race Report


I think it was the legendary Bill Tilman who once said that any expedition worth going on could be organised on the back of an envelope. And so, for my one man expedition to Portlaoise it dawned wet and dreary for the first tri in the calendar. Sunscreen would not be required but in previous years they had frost so I was thankful!  

As I tried to get my rusty brain around the sequence of events on the day and logistics, I looked forward to my first pool tri since the NAC 2004!! Starting with a kid’s race and a ‘women in sport’ heat it was a busy day for the Trilogy tri club….headed by Niall Kavanagh, like myself, another relic from the ’80s tri scene and a gentleman. It was a well-run event with a nice friendly atmosphere.

Speaking of sunscreen, as the song goes……………

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; oh never mind; you will not 
understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded. 
But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and 
recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before 
you and how fabulous you really looked’

On 1 Jan the dreaded progression to the M50+ age category occurred. There would be no going back, so to compensate – this was going to be a year of adventure and fun. 

Since Christmas the training routine ‘generally speaking’ has been as follows…Monday swim (a technical programme designed by none other  than Colm Daly)….. Tuesday…..run intervals in Ringsend (where I am the one of the worst runners there)……Wednesday (climbing wall – strength training where I am definitely one of the worst climbers there but improving )….weekend spinning sessions on my own spin bike up to 85 mins using ‘Sufferfest’ videos (check them out …they’re hard and fun)..best of all imagine the embarrassment factor on your teenage kids as you do this in the kitchen occasionally roaring at the screen, dripping sweat and ….. 

As you know Jan and Feb were bad wet windy months so I actually haven’t had one outdoor training cycle yet. I do cycle to work to keep the legs moving. Occasional longer runs happened on the local beach or parklands at weekends…..so while I am feeling reasonably fit I am still dragging a large 95kgs carcass around and I think longer races suit me better. There was also some home gym sessions involving throwing medicine balls at teenagers.

Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as 
effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing 
bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that 
never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm 
on some idle Tuesday.

Having put down a projected swim time of 13:00 I found myself in the last start and was happy to be the slowest in the lane exiting in about 13:45…….. I negotiated the maze of cones and tape which is the modern day transition area and crossed the timing mat about 45sec after finishing the swim. So T1 took me about 2:45 in total – far too leisurely.

Anyway onto my trusty Eddy Merckx  Corsa Extra with the best of 1990s technology … ‘campag ventos’ deep rim wheels  and Columbus SLX tubing and new tri bars  ! As I tackled the occasionally tricky bike course with plenty of small country roads it was a happy experience as I picked off about 8 people and got off the bike in 38:34 not bad going. The winner’s bike split (3DTri’s Kevin Sweeney) was 34:03………..Steve Baeur said the Time Trial was about a distinct ‘square’ four phase rotation of the pedals ‘push\press\drag\lift’.. rather than a smooth spinning style in case you wondered  Not having done a TT in a long while it brought home to me the importance of concentration and cadence: it was a tricky enough course as one poor ‘hot shot’ kid in my heat discovered with two spills and impressive road rash to his name.

Do one thing everyday that scares you

Running with the bike into T2, I wondered what my heart rate was but hey who wants to know and I don’t use a monitor or bike computer anyway as there’s more than enough noise in my head already.  I wasn’t feeling that sprightly but the strategy for the run was just to try push it out to the halfway and hang on for the return leg and try not lose any places….. as it happened there was a new run course and it was hard……….. up and down drags and hills on small roads and ending with a turnaround at a cul de sac beside a barn ! It was hard. No other way to say it. Fastest run split was 18:25 – I managed 23.41. It’s pain management though – holding on  - lifting the knee higher to try extend the stride – dropping the arms to open the lungs more – I tried them all – and of course , d’ont look behind. And on the out and back course a chance to see the opposition.  

Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes 

you’re behind…the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Alls well that ends well tho as I discovered at the end that I was 2nd in cat. First was Tom Byrne owner of a 4:29 in Sligo in the 80s  (respect) and who whupped my ass by over 5 minutes : but the analysis and the planning has commenced. Remember, he drew first blood.

It was a great day out – 46th of 225 finishers. A reminder of the fun triathlons are, and also good to hear positive comments about the Two Provinces Race last year which were offered when they saw the club gear.

Next up is WAR Glendalough in less than 3 weeks – a 5hr odyssey around wicklow’s toughes terrain and probably my favourite race of all