Last year’s Triathlon Ireland Super Series winner Aidan Callaghan tells us how he won the National Middle Distance Championship last week.
Delighted, Chuffed, Over the moon, Happy out …
They all come to mind when I take myself back to Saturday morning crossing the line in Kenmare, being announced as National Middle Distance Champion for 2016 – the race known as ‘The Lost Sheep’.
A major goal for the year was to perform well in this race and try to equal or better my second place finish from last year in Athlone.
Going into the race I was feeling good about my chances, even if triathlon Ireland weren’t!! They left me out of the pre-race favourite’s piece!
Coming off the back of the Ironman in July and winning the Danny Mc Daid at the beginning of August, I picked up a little injury in my calf which derailed my training for a few weeks so I was unsure if I would be able to commit fully to the run when It came, thankfully I was.[adrotate group=”38″]
My plan was to get out of the water ASAP, hammer the bike and run within the injury and see what came of it. As it turned out I didn’t feel my calf once was able to run well finishing the very hilly half-marathon course with a 1:20.35, which was good enough for the win.
The swim was pretty uneventful, I possibly could have worked a little harder at the beginning to get on Richie’s feet, but by the time I had spotted his move (it was a very early start) he had a decent gap, I made a conscious decision not to let it get any bigger but was happy enough with the rest of the swim, as the tide was on the turn, swimming back in towards shore was a lot harder that swimming out.
I exited the water in second some 25 seconds behind Richie and two minutes ahead of the evergreen Trevor Woods in third.
As we were swimming the rain must have been teaming out of the sky in buckets, everything was soaking wet once I got to the bike. Helmet on and away, nearly crashing into a first aid van at the mount line![adrotate group=”81″]
The first 15k or so pretty non eventful, I could see Richie maybe 200 or 300 metres up the road and was planning to pass him on the first climb of the day at about 18k. As I approached the climb and was gaining on Richie I heard that now familiar sound VOOM VOOM VOOM VOOM VOOM, I heard this sound in Ironman Bolton too, it was Bryan. He passed both me and Richie, I followed him past Richie.
In second place I wasn’t about to burn every match I had and go toe to toe with Bryan, so I got into a good rhythm and let him do his thing, off he went. I figured I might possibly see him again on the run, maybe time for a move then.
Up over the first climb then onto the Healy pass, I had heard loads about this climb and it was pretty impressive, apparently the scenery is unreal, pity we didn’t see any of it with all the clouds and rain. Approaching the top of the Healy I looked back and could see Richie about a minute or so back the road, and no one else.[adrotate group=”82″]
Coming over the top of the pass was pretty impressive in fairness, this small country road that seemed to wind twist and turn for an eternity. Over I went, trying to get as much speed out of the bike while also trying to stay on the road, which in some places had turned to a river. About half way down I saw Bryan standing on the side of the road, yelling at me to take it easy, with his bike on the road next to him.
At this stage I knew the race was mine to lose. I got off the switch backs in one piece and didn’t look back for the reminder of the bike course, attacking every stretch of road and working through the remaining caha pass steadily and descending off it like my life depended on it.[adrotate group=”70″]
Coming into T2 I made a conscious decision not to bring my watch out on the run and just go for it. Coming out of T2, I met Charles Malta and a few others going in, so I knew I had at least a couple minutes on the at this stage. The first 13km of the run was an out and back so I knew I get another look at them at the turn around.
I worked very hard on the flat sections and tried to keep it steady on the hilly parts. After the turn around at the 8km mark, Richie was just about to pass Stephen Donnelly at the 7km. Richie seemed to be cruising and I figured he was running 3.30 kilmetres. I knew he was a decent runner and could keep this up so I wasn’t in the clear yet.
After the out and back to road flattened out so again I tried to keep the pace up as much as possible, at 15k I really started to hurt, at 17km it got worse when I saw the hill I would have to take on. At 18, 19 and 20k I had quick glances over my shoulder and could see no one so took the last km handy enough and crossed the line in 4:07.35 and Irish Middle Distance Champion 2016!! Like I said, Delighted, Chuffed, Over the moon, Happy out …
Not much time to celebrate, quick rub down and chat with some of the rest of the athletes who were all congratulating me on the win. I’ve been having good tussles with some of these fellas and chasing some of them too over the past couple years.
They all seemed pretty happy for me, which was great. With the long journey ahead, we jumped in the car and headed for home. All three of us pretty happy with our days racing, Lisa Dalton was eighth overall and second in AG while Gavin Crawford was 13th and missed out narrowly on AG placing.
Since the weekend my focus has been my next big challenge, Kona, and it is going to be a challenge – 30 degree heat, serious humidity and gale force winds, sounds just like Donegal!
Race day is less than four weeks away, I took it easy for a few days after ‘The Lost Sheep’ and got back into training properly on Thursday evening. The next two weeks will be pretty full on volume wise with short tempo intervals within each session on the turbo and bike.
My run in Bolton was a little disappointing so I’m making a concerted effort to improve on this in Kona and try and finish a little stronger, heat, humidity and gale force winds depending off course.
My swim is steady and strong so it’s just about maintaining this. As it will be a non-wetsuit swim, it won’t be a place to make up serious time, the currents are treacherous with a pretty big swell too apparently. Throw into the mix, a mass start of 2000 people with tensions running high, nerves bouncing around in their body and each one of them looking for the same clear line, it should make for a fun morning.
The bike and run course will be a long slog, no other way of putting it. Getting used to heat, humidity and winds will be key to having a good day out.
On a side note, I would to show my appreciation and thanks to everyone who turned out for the fundraising events over the past few weeks or who donated monies or prizes to these events. There are far too many individuals, businesses and organisations to start naming but you all know who you are.
I would like to thank the 24/7 triathlon club members, their committee and chief race director Cathal Roarty for the duathlon today. To see so many turn out to show their support at these events really fills me with a sense of pride and joy.
Hopefully I will do you all proud.