*** many thanks to Deirdre “Didge” Casey for this race report ***

I'm not one for race reports, love reading them but when it's my turn to put pen to paper, I find it difficult.

Anyway here it goes, we left Dubai on Tuesday night and after two flights arrived in Alanya ,Turkey Wednesday morning for the European age groups - Olympic distance.  It was a long trip but it was made easier as I had Kevin to carry all the bags!!!  Flight times and flying into the closest airport, meant we found ourselves flying with Air Arabia from Sharjah!! Doesn't sound the most appealing, however just for future reference for anyone - Air Arabia were spot on, took the bike box not a bother, without extra charge and the whole check in procedure was as good as, if not better than the rest of them.

Wednesday and Thursday were spent chilling out with Kevin and the small Irish contingent and familiarizing myself with the course. Swim familiariastion was where I met Garry Whyte and his fantastic support crew, it’s always nice to see a familiar face. 

After a typical broken sleep I rose early on Friday morning and made my way to transition for the final prep on the bike. My wave was scheduled for 7.15 so we were called into the waiting pen at 7. This is always quite a nerve wrecking experience for me and I always ask, why do I do this to myself? I was the only Irish girl racing on Friday while I think there were around 50 GB athletes in my wave alone who all seemed to know each other and were chatting away, while I stood in silence like the new kid in school.

So on to the race

Swim  - 1500m

We were eventually called to the pontoon and the hooter sounded and we were off. It was straight forward, single loop anti clockwise. Now I know I should be used to the usual argy bargy from our Saturday sea swims, plenty of times Roy, Ed and I take lumps out of each other, but one girl to my left was taking it to a new level. We were over 500m in and she was still having a go. Thankfully she realized she wasn't winning the battle so that was the end of her. The rest of the swim was uneventful. I think I must have been in or around a pack of 6 from the half way point on. The water temperature was perfect and was generally quite clear until the last 25 meters so I just kept going until my hand hit the bottom. Goggle's off and I sprinted out of the water. On Q, Kevin was there with the verdict, so I got the "1 min 50 " shout. I had been able to do a little research on the start list and knew there were some decent swimmers so I wasn't surprised at how far ahead they were. I always fair pretty well in transitions and luckily this race was no different so I passed a couple of girls there and then I was off.

Bike - 40km

(Well it was slightly short)

So 4 laps of 9.85km and I wouldn't have been the only person to be disappointed with the bike course. No excuses, it was the same for everyone but 50% of it was on cobbled stones and the rest was a very average surface. I know I'm comparing it to the fantastic facilities we have here but even the Irish lads thought it was poor. It was boring too, just up and down the road and flat. Anyway I set off in pursuit of the fast swimmers. After the first lap I had managed to overtake all bar one and unfortunately she was also in my age group. I knew I was closing in though and after lap one, Kevin confirmed this  - "30 seconds". So at about the 15/16km mark there she was, next one to be picked off. I had only just had a conversation with Captain Carl last week where he told me about passing the guy in his age group when he won Ironman Australia. That was fresh in my mind, so I composed myself for 5 seconds and then - hammered it and gave her no chance to stay with me. (So Nick if you see a spike in my power at that stage you'll know why). I tried to push on but in fairness to her I hadn't dropped her as much as I wanted or as it turned out needed to do by the end of the bike leg.

Run - 10km

Although improving, my run is still my weak leg. But before the race I was actually looking forward to this part. It was 4 laps on an interesting route, through little shopping streets and loads of turns which helps me. I can't stand long stretches which seem to go on for miles. I set out around the 4 min/km mark, and I felt okay. I mean it never really is okay but you know what I mean. I was definitely racing my own race this time and knew I couldn’t control anything that was happening behind me. Unfortunately at the 5km mark, "my friend" was back and it was her turn to do to me what I did to her on the bike. Although she didn't fly past me, the gap did keep growing and there was nothing I could do.

So in the end I was 2nd in my age group and 3rd female overall with a time of 2.04.55. I was happy with my race, nothing went wrong as such, I was just beaten fairly by a faster girl. Could I have done better? We can always do better and there are always things I learn from every race that I do. I've 3 months now until the big one  - World Age Groups in London which is going to be the most competitive race I've ever done. So I've time to work on everything and hopefully I'll be in the best form ever come September. Only time will tell......

Big thanks to Nick, my coach, who I joined a few months ago for sending me in the right direction. To TriDubai for all the sessions that are available for us to pick and choose. It is an unbelievable network of people and I know everyone really appreciates it. Well done and keep it up - it's going from strength to strength. And finally but certainly not least - to Kevin. Not sure what I'm going to do without you in London. Are you sure you can't go?? No pressure now :)