Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Race review: KAR13

I was looking forward to this race for a long time, even before last year's race to be honest!
Last year we did the Killarney AR as a 3 person team. I did the two mountain runs, Ronan did the cycling and Brian did the kayak stage. At one point before we registered for last year's race I jokingly said I'd do the race solo and race against the two of them in their team. We did the team event (57k), but I had already planted the seed in my mind. 
This year when I contacted the guys again, neither of them could make it, so I got the chance to do it and decided to do the 67k route. Unfortunately due to a couple of issues/injuries my run training wasn't up to scratch, but it was still an excellent race.
I had done the Powerscourt AR three weeks before, so after that was a few days to recover, about 10 days training and a week taper. Because of the injury I got in May I was cycling a lot more than running and during the race it really showed.
We drove down the morning before, stopping off in a friend's house on the way. The two espressos I had there didn't do much to calm my pre-race nerves though!
I dropped the family off at the Gleneagle Apartments (right beside the hotel where the Expo and finish line was), signed on and dropped the bike out to the start line at Kate Kearney's Cottage.
I got to the bike drop just before sunset

After that I headed back and had dinner with the family. I think I had roast pork and veg. When we had finished we went back to the apartment and I got all my bits together. Its one thing getting ready for a running or cycling race, yet another to be preparing for a multi-sport race. Not only does your kit need to be prepared and checked for each stage, but you have to get your nutrition and hydration plans for the day sorted too. 
My alarm was set for 06:00, but I woke around 04:15 and was unable to sleep, naturally! I tried to sleep, but my brain wasn't having it and eventually just got up. Breakfast was bacon, eggs and white pudding with tea and water. Then it was time to get the racing gear on, fill the water bottles, make sure I had all my food etc and walk over to the bus pick up. The busses were right outside the hotel, so it didn't take long, thankfully!
On the bus there was loads of talk and I got a couple of questions from KAR newbies. After that I put my head back and tried to relax until the bus stopped. Once debussed, I put my cycling gear on the bike, pumped the rear tyre and got ready for the kit check. After that was done I did some dynamic mobility work for the legs until the air horn went off. Then it was running with the pack along the narrow, winding road and up the muddy, rocky, wet trail of stage one.
Just over 6k and not too steep, but the conditions under foot made me take it a bit slower than a normal hill run. With that over, we ran back to the start and jumped on the bikes and on towards the Gap of Dunloe and Moll's Gap, both notorious hills/mountains in the area. The going was pretty slow, but I got a few chances to take some electrolytes, a salt tablet and have a banana along with water. 

At the end of the bike stage there was a dirt trail and suddenly the faster road bikes with their narrow tyres were at a disadvantage and my hybrid bike with wider tyres and a good tread was able to keep up a good pace and still hold the line. I dropped the bike and walked while eating a protein bar and taking on more water while heading to the kayak stage. No point in showing an elevation for that! All the kayaks were two person and as I put my PFD on another guy around my height was waiting, so we teamed up. I jumped in the back (having some experience) and we headed off. We had a strong breeze blowing us to shore, so the outward journey was tough, but it made the homeward bit easier. While I was steering us to compensate for the wind, my "buddy" was steering us back and not putting much effort into paddling. No point in losing the head, I just kept paddling and steering. When we got to shore he admitted that I had done most of the work...
And then it was onto the second run stage, the bit I wasn't really looking forward to, the 18k mountain run. It started off ok, but then we got onto the mountain proper and I slowed right down. It had been quite sunny and warm all day but on the exposed mountain side I had to put on my hat and wind cheater to keep warm, despite my run/walk/climb.

Towards the end of the climb I found myself thinking that I would gladly pay someone to check me in at the checkpoint. Then I remembered that I had no cash or credit cards on me, so I'd have to keep going!
While I was on a slower section I took on another banana and a salt tablet and drank plenty of water. I took this photo from the checkpoint, looking back on the route we had come up.
On the downhill every now and then my quads would give out, so I'd slow down or walk and then pick it up again after a short break. I was delighted to finish that section and get over to the bike again.
I got to the bike, took on more of my electrolytes and water, sent a message to the family and got going.
I loved the last 4k on the bike and pushed the pace the whole time, knowing that I was almost there. We had to cycle past the hotel and under a specially made bridge to a bike drop 200m past. I was able to wave to the family beside the bridge, which was pretty cool. Once I dropped the bike, there was about a 200m run back to the bridge, run over it and about 30m to the last checkin at the finish line. I got a printout of my splits there and then, awesome! Total time was 6:32, not ground-breaking by any means, but given my lack of run training and that I only got started on bike training this year I'm very happy with the finish. We got a free small tub of "protein ice cream", water and bananas - all of which I had. After that I walked back to the bike and cycled it (slowly) to the apartment.
It was only when I sat down that I realised how muddy I was!
Bear in mind, that when getting into/out of the kayak I was half way up to my knees in water, so they would have been worse before that. But then again, I did fall on my ass coming down the second mountain run, so I guess it evens out. To recover, I sat in a cold bath (to ease the inflammation in the leg muscles) while I ate a large plate full of scrambled eggs and bacon, washed down with a protein/electrolyte drink and water.
Over the whole race I ate: two bananas, one protein bar (low carb), three salt tablets, some electrolytes and around 2.5 litres of water. Not only was I feeling full of energy at the end, I wasn't dehydrated either (I checked).
Looking forward to next year already!

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