Race to Glory Mayo, July 2011

Posted: January 8, 2012 in Races 2011

I planned on doing it as a dry run for Gaelforce West and definitely learned some invaluable lessons doing it. I had done as much training as I possibly could for it, had all the equipment I needed and had my nutrition & hydration planned but a lot of things kind of went out the window when I had car (and then bike) trouble on the morning of the race. Rather than spending my morning hydrating, relaxing and getting another meal into me I was in a garage trying to get my car fixed and then Halfords getting a new tube in my bike.

The race started with a 10k run up an (initially) reasonable hill where I was passing quite a few people only to find that we were only on the run up to the proper hill which killed all but the elite competitors (it was only about 240m high but a 28% gradient at it’s steepest). When we finally got to the top there was a km or two of pretty flat track before we cut across the bog for a very wet and dirty kilometere replete with ditch jumps and everything. The last 3km or so fairly straightforward after that and I finished the first run in 1:03:30.

The cycle was 23km in total, the first five or so on the flat out of town, then the inevitable turn up a country lane where the hardship started. The hill was a little bit easier this time (only 210m and 21%) but my legs were just burning and the hills I thought I had cycled in training really hadn’t prepared me for it. Around this time I was definitely regretting my decision to ride in cleats as it was a big struggle even to push the bike up the hill wearing them. When I finally got to the top it actually got to be fun for a while as there was some pretty steep descents, if you call doing nearly 60kmh down tiny, wet country/forestry lanes with grass down the middle fun. Crossing the grassy strips to overtake, particularly when it was windy and raining so hard it was hard to keep your eyes open was certainly interesting. From about the halfway point on the bike though I started to really enjoy it, was making good time and on the ride back into town I was even passing a few people and finished the bike section in 1:11:49

The last section was a 7km run through the country with what was supposed to be a little splash along a river bed. Due to the filthy conditions and the sustained rain in the west though the water was waist deep in the river. I managed to make things worse by falling a couple of times and gashing my legs on some big f**k off rocks but as soon as I got out I started going at a pretty decent pace up some farm tracks, over hay bales and stuff. Everything was going swimmingly until the 37km (total) mark when all of a sudden my stomach made a huge grumble, I realised I had only eaten a banana since breakfast seven hours later and my 500ml of carb drink had long since left me. At that point I just ground to a halt. I was on course for a 2:40 finish until that point but from then on all I could do was stagger/plod. All I could feel was a huge, gaping hole in my stomach and all I could think about was food. I remember coming towards a house that had ballons at the gate and I started thinking “maybe they’re having a birthday party? A kids birthday party? Surely they’ll have chocolate and stuff. I wonder would someone run in and get me a fun size Mars bar?” As I passed the people at the gate though I couldn’t even open my mouth and had to just kept plodding on.

When there was 1km to go I forced myself to pick up the pace a little bit and getting in to town there was people all along the street cheering, my wife and two sons were waiting for me and my youngest son cycled the last bit with me. That and the MC calling “here’s no. 188 Trevor Kavanagh from Kildare” and encouraging the crowd to cheer was enough to help me stagger across the line in a total time of 2:57:28, the last 7km taking me 42:10. I staggered around in a daze for a minute, just muttering “food” at people until someone pointed across the road to where one of the event sponsors had a pig roasting on a spit. Two minutes later I had a Man vs Food style pig burger in my hands, two minutes thirty seconds later I had it in my belly and I could almost utter words again. Over the next half hour or so I proceeded to experience the strangest multitude of sensations, going from the point of collapse to almost being in floods of tears to being wracked with pain and cold before managing to get myself back to my hotel room and falling asleep in (what felt like) the world’s most wonderful bath.

As hard and all as it was I absolutely loved it and can’t wait for Gaelforce West in five weeks time.


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