On Saturday 18th August, we found ourselves southbound on the way to the lovely village of Castleconnell for a Sprint Triathlon. It had been a target for S to get at least one triathlon in before the year’s end, but alas as the day approached, her back troubles were just too much, and she was forced to become the one-woman support crew for the day. In fairness, S took to this task with gusto and was on hand before, during and after for all those moments when you need a cheer, a wave, a photo, or a handy post-race snack.
My brother Robert and his youngest son joined us on our adventure. Oren is actually a triathlete, unlike the rest of us chancers, and he was always going to get in ahead of his old man and uncle. The only question would be what sort of time he might post. A couple of things were against him, not least that he was carrying a recent injury from a bike accident in Italy where they live, plus the fact that he would be riding a hired bike from WheelWorx. The bike was a rather lovely full carbon frame Trek Madone, so that, at least, was no disadvantage.
We had an early start. The event was the World’s End Sprint Triathlon in Castleconnell in Co. Limerick. The swim was on the mighty Shannon, and the bike and run looped out and back from the village. The only real oddity was the split transition. It may have made sense to do this in order to get the right distances, or perhaps there was a safety issue… not sure. It just meant dropping off runners at T2 before making the rather long journey to T1 to rack the bikes. And at this point of course you realise you should have dropped off other items at T2, such as your favourite running hat… Mind you, at this stage of the morning, it was overcast and cool, but all that changed as we readied ourselves for the swim. I missed my hat!
The swim was the standard 750m, with the first half upstream. Oren and Rob got off to a flier with swims of around 14 minutes each, while I was about 2 minutes behind.
I struggled a bit getting out of T1 and onto the bike (I rather unceremoniously smacked my knee and shin trying to do a flying mount onto said bicycle). Once clipped in and moving, the sun really came out and the heat came on.
I was never going to manage much better than a 30k average and so it proved, pretty much to the second. T2 was a quicker turnaround, as is the norm, and now it was a chance to see how the legs were coping with both the cycle and the heat.
I set off at a reasonable pace up a steady incline and overtook a few bods. As the course levelled out, I set myself a target of picking off the next runner ahead, and trying (hoping) that nobody would do likewise to me. This seemed to work as a plan, and as the run progressed and the confidence grew, I was able to pick up the pace even more to the point that I was able to perform a flying finish. Okay, so when I mean ‘flying finish’, I mean I sprinted the last 100m or so. But I achieved my own goal on the run of ‘overtake, and don’t get overtaken’.
You can see the efect all this running had… the face is rather distorted. But on the plus side, I was delighted to see both feet off the ground. Most photos of us average joggers always show at least one foot on the ground, and very often the frozen moment in time makes us look rather like we are just out walking (albeit in running gear). At least with this shot (boosted admittedly with the finish line, small crowd clapping and other runners), I do actually look like I am moving at a reasonable pace.
Turns out the official chip time agrees too. Even though the swim was a modest 16:11, with 2:50 lost in T1, and then an average ride of 40:33, plus a 1:32 T2, the run was clocked at 21:26. This would suggest that I was going faster than I thought and also that perhaps the run was not quite 5k 😉 But hey, I’ll take it. It put me third in my age category, one behind my brother, who finished six places ahead of me on 1.21:14. My total time was 1.22:34. I was happy with that, considering I am in the middle of a marathon programme and have done very little swimming and practically no bike.
It was a well-run event, and the locals were very friendly. We met some friends we had made a few years ago at one of our earliest triathlon outings. They were marshalling the event on the day, and it was a nice surprise to meet up again.
We had a couple of beers to celebrate our day’s work in the Salmon Leap Inn that night on our return, and the following day I did about 11k to loosen up the legs. Not quite what the programme ordered but then again, it hadn’t recommended a sprint triahtlon either. And in any case, we were away from Monday to Friday on our short break to Paris, so training was going to take a hit anyway. More on that in the next post.
P.S. I did get those new runners I mentioned. I was hoping to get the same ones that I have at the moment, but as with many things in life (in my life, anyway), they are the older model, and have been superseded. Cue violins.
So, although somewhere in some dusty warehouse, there are no doubt a few boxes kicking about of Saucony Triumph ISO whatever the feck number they are, I couldn’t track ’em down. The Guide 10s seemed a reasonable compromise (and of course, they are now also outdated…). They are very much the Saucony ‘middle of the road’ runner if you forgive the pun. Light, comfy and easy to wear. No issues with them. The only thing to note really is that indeed, Saucony do seem to be a snug fit, especially in the toe box area, so get about a half-size bigger than you would normally in your size. Both my Sauconys are nines, and I would normally opt for an 8.5 if I had the choice.
This is hardly a rivetting or informative review, I admit. Look, it’s a running shoe. It goes on your feet. You lace them up, you run. That’s it. If you are deeply concerned about pronation, heel drop and stability, etc. then I would suggest paying Doctor Google a visit for a proper, in-depth analysis. (runningshoesguru.com says ‘Runners will find with the Guide 10 super durability, a responsive ride, and lasting comfort in a great daily supportive running shoe.’ And who am I to argue with a guru?).
I would also strongly recommend going to a proper running shoe shop and getting some form of fitting done by an actual runner who understands your needs. Otherwise you are just sticking a pin in a board, blindfolded, and that board is packed with thousands of different options of running shoes, most of which are totally unsuitable for running (and a few others that are totally outrageous in price). Plus, you may have inadvertently wandered into a shoe shop that is not really a running-friendly shop, with staff that may not really be interested in kitting you out with the best option for you. The best option is not always the most expensive option. Worth bearing that in mind before you shell out.