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Eireman « Donna Phelan's Blog



Last Sunday, I was in Ireland for Eireman, a first year Ironman distance race. Well, it was supposed to be a full Ironman distance race, but unfortunately Mother Nature had her own plans.

I awoke at 4am Sunday to the sound of howling wind and pouring rain outside. We were warned at the race meeting the day before that the swim might not go ahead due to the forecasted rough seas. At 6am the call was made to cancel the swim and start the race with a timetrial start for the 185km bike. It was disappointing news, but looking out at the stormy waves I feared that I might end up back in Canada if the swim were to go ahead. Maybe that was how my great great grandfather ended up in Newfoundland.;-)

The bike consisted of 5km through Courtown, then 4 loops of 44km on a closed motorway, followed by 5km back to transition. We were staggered 30 seconds apart, and because I was the last female to start, I was in the position I like best which is chasing people down. It continued raining heavily throughout the bike and I was glad that I had layered up – race kit, bike jersey, arm warmers, leg warmers, rain jacket and long socks!

For 22km in one direction, there was a gradual downhill with a major tailwind. Then for 22km in the other direction, it was a gradual uphill with yup, a major headwind. Biking into a headwind with 60kph winds was pretty challenging, but I knew that everyone out there was suffering and if I could be that much tougher than it would be to my advantage. By the 4th lap, I had calculated that I had an 11min lead on the second place Russian girl, and over 35min on the third place British girl. The final 22km seemed to be the toughest part of the bike. The wind had picked up and at times even on the flat sections I had to stand to keep the wheels turning. Well, this will make my next IM bike seem like a piece of cake!

I came into transition, shedded my rain jacket and headed out onto the run. The first 5km were through a forest on hilly trails, with some stairs and sandy sections. For 2 weeks before the race, my left IT band had been sore, but I had rested it leading up to the race and felt that it was good enough to get through the marathon. However, after 5km on trails, it wasn’t feeling so great anymore. The remainder of the 2 loop course was on rolling hills, and by the time I got to 15km it was screaming at me to stop. I struggled with the decision to keep going, but finally there wasn’t a decision to be made anymore. I knew I had done what I could, and on this day I would have to be content with a good solid bike ride in my legs and a 15k run. The lucky leprechauns I had counted on must have stayed in bed on account of the bad weather. I think they were out the next morning, but it was time to catch my flight back to the US….perhaps I’ll go back another time to reclaim my luck.

So now I’m back in San Diego, letting my knee settle down so I can plan my next race. It’s the middle of a heat wave here and I’m loving it.;-)



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