Belfast Titanic Triathlon 2018 – Richie Mills

I decided post IM Austria that I would race as much as possible, body permitting of course. I had felt good in Two Provinces, 2 weeks after Austria and was just shy of a PB for the 5km. I heard there were a few people heading to Belfast the following weekend and the course looked flat and fast so I signed up on the Monday thinking if I managed the swim and bike, a PB was on in the run.

There was a gang heading up on the Saturday evening and staying in an AirBnB in the city centre. It was really close to transition and I was delighted when they said I could use the couch for the night. My delight dwindled slightly when I pulled into the housing estate on Saturday. Every house had a union jack outside and there was red, blue and white bunting between every house. I wasn’t sure exactly where the house was and I wasn’t brave enough in my Dublin reg car to ask any locals. I found the house down the back of the estate, thank God, and decided I wouldn’t be saying a thing outside the house. Luckily we had Bert and Celine there with their foreign accents, who were more than capable of doing the talking for all of us!!

We registered in the city centre and decided a pint was in order. We found a lovely spot in the Crown and reluctantly dragged ourselves back to the house after a couple of pints. We had a lovely spag bol courtesy of Celine and bottle of wine to wash it down. I have to say I felt great as I tucked up on the couch for the night. Sleep wasn’t great, partly due to the alarms, dogs and domestic fighting that went on through the night but mostly cause I was wondering if my car would be burnt out in the morning.

We awoke to a nice morning and 2 perfectly intact cars. I find race prep for a sprint hilarious after IM. 2 shot blocks and a half bottle of water!! It didn’t take long to get ready and we cycled to transition.

The swim was an up and back in the Lagan. I had gone out hard the previous week in Lanesborough and had gotten out of the water with my HR through the roof. It had taken me a couple of km on the bike to get it back down again. This time I planned to go a bit easier in the water and be able to push earlier on the bike. The swim went fine, I got in early for a good warm up and had loads of room during the swim. It got a bit congested when we caught up with the Olympic wave, but there was no hitting of kicking.13min for 830m, really need to work on my sighting! I felt good getting out of the water and had a relatively quick T1.

The bike was incredibly quick from the start. It was around the docks and totally flat. The first stretch was down wind too and it was impossible not to draft with so many on the course. There was a u-turn at the end of the first stretch and the guy in front of me went in too quick and came down hard. I swerved to avoid him and he looked pretty hurt as I headed back up the road.

I had planned to go steady on the bike so that I could really attack the run and get a PB, but once on the course it’s so hard not to chase the person in front or speed up if someone goes by.  I pushed harder than I wanted to but still felt reasonably good coming back into T2. It was surreal in transition, I was 14th on the course so the place was nearly empty of bikes, I’m more used to it being wedged and tripping over other athletes!

I hit the run hard. My PB is 22.30 for 5km. The previous week I had done 23min with a tough first km up a hill on a gravel path. I knew I could beat it. I did the first km in 4.10, way under PB pace, but I was suffering. The run was around the city centre on closed roads. I could only see one person ahead of me on the course, which for me was a very unusual experience. I was gaining on them slowly and they became my target.

The 2nd km was 4.24. Shit I thought, your pace is slipping. I was really hurting now and gasping for air. I knew I was near halfway and lap 2 so I just dug in. The pace picked up slightly for the next 2 km and I knew I was going to smash my PB. As I got back near the finish my watch was only reading 4.4km. Something wasn’t right and I wondered did we have an extra loop somewhere. But as I turned off the course for the finishers chute I realised the course was short. Sub 20mins for the run but it was only 4.6km. If I wasn’t so bullocked I would have felt robbed.

There was plenty of food and drinks at the finish and it didn’t take long to recover, so I headed back out to the course to cheer on the rest of the pulse crew, most of whom were doing the Olympic race.

I have to say it was a very enjoyable race and I was 14th overall, my highest finish ever, it was a non-national series race though. Great weekend in all, mostly due to the Pulse crew of Bert, Celine and Shane, thanks for the couch and the laughs!

Pulse Triathlon Club: swimming, cycling, running and socialising since 2003

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