Elaine Garvican: Ironman 70.3 Dublin race Report: Not Irish enough to be lucky?!

Below is the race report from IRONMAN 70.3 Dublin for Race Team athlete, Elaine Garvican. Elaine was competing in this race in her build towards her A race for the year which is IRONMAN Weymouth. 

It’s just under 4 weeks till Weymouth now, so Philip (coach) and I thought it was a good time to do one more 70.3 race and the Emerald Isle looked like a beautiful place to do so. I have a wee bit of Irish blood in my veins (and an Irish surname) and what I could remember of previous visits to Dublin were fun, so I didn’t take much persuading. Turned out to be a race beset by a fair few issues, so maybe I should have put up more resistance!

By my reckoning, at 15°C the water in Scotsman’s Bay was pretty cold, but under 18°C, Ironman allow AG athletes to wear neoprene booties, so I was fully decked out in those plus a thermal swim cap. I still wouldn’t say I was warm exactly, but I’ve definitely swum in colder water and my chest didn’t go tight and my hands didn’t claw so that’s a success for me. Special thanks to Parys Edwards who, at the practice swim session, had pointed out some much more obvious sighting landmarks than the yellow buoys, which seemed a really long way away. It was a rolling start within waves, which I’d not experienced before, but which worked pretty well from my point of view, being off in the first wave and hence experiencing minimal congestion. My only complaint was that we weren’t allowed in the water beforehand, but you can’t have everything, so I’m told. Things went pretty well until about 400m from the end, when I managed to plant my hand smack into the center of a pretty large jellyfish. I have never been stung by a jellyfish before and it is not an experience I ever want to repeat if possible, but to be fair to the jellyfish, one minute he was happily minding his own business, and then next he was basically ambushed with a belly punch and then rudely thrown backwards so it was probably not terribly pleasant for him either. Initially, it felt like my right hand and forearm had brushed through stinging nettles, but as time went on it became more and more painful and felt like a diffuse, repeated electric shock.

Elaine is riding a Boardman Air TTE this year,
provided by Bridgtown Cycles

Out of the swim in a pretty average time, long T1 (putting on socks, armwarmers and an extra bike jersey to ward off the cold) and it was out onto the streets of Dublin.

The bike course is a slightly drunken lollipop shape, finishing in Phoenix Park. It’s more or less flat, with only a couple of short inclines and I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more if it wasn’t for the increasing pain in my arm. It made it really hard to concentrate on much at all and every time I persuaded myself it was as bad as it was going to get, it would increase again. I had a little moment when I contemplated crying, then quitting and then pulled myself together and tried to think about something else. Then it started to rain. It’s probably fair to say I wasn’t at my happiest at this point. The rain also made the roads quite slippery – the marshals all did an excellent job of warning us of oncoming corners, potholes or manhole covers lying in potential ambush, but a lot of guys seemed not to heed their warnings as I saw two slide across the road ahead of me and one ride into the opposite hedge which didn’t make me want to take any risks myself. Nutrition went in, most of the watts I wanted came out and I stayed shiny side up, so all in all things could definitely have been worse. 

Elaine on the podium: 2nd in her age group

T2 is not available on Saturday before the race (you hand in your T2 bag at the swim location the day before and it’s transported over for you), so it was a bit of an unknown riding into the park but thankfully now the rain had stopped and it did look very pretty. My Garmin’s quick release mount broke in the final 10 miles of the bike course, which meant I couldn’t clip it to my wrist strap, and then I managed to forget it entirely and had to backtrack for it, so T2 was as slow as it’s earlier counterpart and I started to wonder if any part of this race was going to go smoothly. Three well-supported laps of a flat run course does fortunately result in less room for comedy errors, although I started a little too conservatively I think. It seems Paul Kaye and Joanne Murphy credit my imagination with an impressive amount of realism though, as neither would believe me when I told them about my jellyfish sting. By half way I was fantasizing about the medical tent, under the entirely mistaken belief that they would have something which would magically take away the pain, and fueled by this, I managed to run my way up to 2nd in AG and 4th amateur female.

All smiles after some great TTH performances
 at IRONMAN 70.3 Dublin
For the record, peeing on a jellyfish sting is a complete myth; paracetamol is entirely ineffective as a pain reliever but after 5 or 6 shots of rum you finally cease to care; it’s a surprisingly long way from T2 to the place you park your car before getting on the bus to the swim start and I’m 1/16th Irish. Roll on Weymouth.