Ironman 70.3 Dublin 2017

September 22nd, 2017 by

6th place – 4:02:50

For the past couple of years August has become synonymous with a trip across the water to Ireland; this was my third time racing on the Emerald Isle for 70.3 racing. 2015 left me standing on the roadside rueing a frustrating puncture, eventually crossing the line in 11th place whilst last year was a good ways more successful, with a 4th spot finish. A competitive field this year meant a similar result would be hard earned, but I was game to give it a go and bounce back from a lacklustre performance at Ironman Bolton a month prior.

dub finish (2)

Running the ‘magic carpet’ in Phoenix Park towards the finish for a respectable 6th place result

Going to Dublin to race means catching up with long time friend Gavin Noble. We actually first raced together in the late ’90s at a junior invitational in Northern Ireland, although didn’t actually start getting some training done together till Gavin was in Stirling to study at the University and I too had moved from my studies in Edinburgh to join the squad training under our then Scottish National coach, Darren Smith. Fast forward more than a decade and Gav has become an Olympian, retired from triathlon, moved home to Ireland and now become a daddy too. So, along with Blair coming, as well as David “Maccers” McNamee travelling in from Girona, we had all the ingredients of a proper ‘Shire’ reunion. Good times ahead.

dub bike 2

Mid way through the 90k bike ride, leading the chase group but many minutes behind the leaders

As I alluded to at the top, I had an extremely poor race at Ironman Bolton last month due to some bizarre instance of sickness during the swim that inevitably left me feeling under powered the remainder of the day (it was a long day!) So, although I was looking forward to getting ‘back in the horse’ I was also slightly worried I wouldn’t be able to hit the swim hard, because for me – it has always set my race up so much better, as my confidence tends to build from there.

Race morning provided almost ideal race conditions – flat calm waters in the harbour bay. Happily, I felt strong in the water and exited amongst a lead group of 4 or 5 with all the usual suspects in close attendance as we jumped on our bikes at the mount line. Pretty much from here my race took a frustrating step sideways. Try as I might, I simply couldn’t match the speed / power / pace of the lead three riders ahead of me, including Maccers and Romain Guillaume – who to be fair, has ridden away from me on many an occasion after T1, most recently Staffordshire 70.3 in June, so that in itself wasn’t out of the blue. I still hoped to maintain contact for longer though…

Long story short, I very successfully haemorrhaged a lot of time to those boys in front, in not a lot of distance on the road! I was caught by a group of a few guys (as pictured above) and we arrived in T2 many minutes behind the front of the race, meaning it was essentially a race for at best, 5th place for us.

Dublin finishline

I’ve been struggling through the second half of the summer with a niggling injury around my hip, and it’s meant I’ve had to considerably reduce the volume of running I’ve been able to do during my weekly training. Bearing this in mind, I was concerned that the half marathon would pose some painful problems. Whether it was by chance, or the race adrenaline, I’m not sure, but the end result was that I ended racing one of my best paced half marathons in a long time – certainly this season. I was genuinely surprised, but it provided food for thought. Perhaps the relatively slow bike ride had a bigger impact on my run form than I imagined… but the good news was I didn’t end up hobbling and the niggle didn’t worsen as a result of racing on it.

All told, I finished in 6th spot, being out run from our group by Eliot Smales who has consistently been quicker than me all year, so that was no surprise. I was happy with the effort and felt in control almost throughout, which is good progress. As I completed my 3 laps through Phoenix Park I could hear from the race announcer that David had caught and overhauled long time leader Romaine in the final mile of the race, which in some way compensated for his frustrating puncture the month beforehand at Edinburgh 70.3.

All in all, it was a good Shire reunion. Here’s hoping there will be more down the line.