National Series along with the National Sprint Championship race so it was due to be a high quality field, and much larger entry field also.
I did the race last year in the wet, wind, and cold conditions. Everyone said it gets great weather every other year and sure enough that worked out well this year thankfully!
Had a bit of an eventful practice bike on the Friday when I arrived.
Set up bike, went out up the road at an easy ish pace just to get the course in the head.
Firstly the good part, I practised a few flying mounts and found them easy.
Was left wondering why the heck I hadn't been doing these forever, and said right defo doing this tomorrow.
Up the course now and it was windy and I was being blown a little, but not too much.
Had the Disc cover on and was determined to go full Aero for the race so wanted to be sure the winds up top weren't too bad.
First moment - picked up a bit of speed on decent around the 7k mark by rolling section, and suddenly got a tank slapper! Doing about 40 down a hill and steering going left/right/left/right as I fight for control.
Managed to get it and slowed to a stop.
What the hell was that.
Checked over bike and the wheel wasn't as tight as it should be, and this was the only explanation I could find.
Back up the hill to repeat and be sure this time as I didn't want any faffing on race day.
Down the hill at same speed and no such issue. Grand, prob a bit of wind combined with slightly loose wheel so.
On we go, around the 10km mark and I shift to granny ring too fast up an incline, chain goes off lower end and somehow does a double knot beside itself and frame and crank.
Grind to a halt, flick bike upsidedown and proceed to get paws filthy.
No joy, she's stuck savage.
I have a quick release chain, but can't get that loose with the paws neither as can't get enough slack.
Clubmate calls me as I'm walking back and has just arrived, he comes up to collect me and we drive the course, and back to the gaff for bike repairs.
Manage to sort chain and all hunky dorey. Front derailleur was shifting slightly too low and that combined with me changing rear at same time gave too much slack in chain and it just went hop skip jump from there.
Back out for bike 2. Rub, Rub, Rub, what now.
My Garmin Cadence sensor arm is hitting the disc cover at the air valve opening. Grand, try to open the arm but it's all loose. The screw holding it in place has worked loose somehow so I tighten it with fingers and it steadies. Away we go part 3 and all is now sorted.
Do an easy 12k or so with couple pickups and catch up with clubmate.
OK, Back and tighten that screw with a knife properly and now I'm happy bike is ready for race!
These are the reasons one should always take bike for a spin after travelling with it as little things easily happen in transportation!
Up at 6:30, breakie shower and gear ready.
Down to transition to a pleasant surprise of numbered racking. Great, decent space too so all sorted.
Weather is perfect, no wind at all and water is calm.
Ferry over to the mainland has to make 4 trips to accommodate everyone.
I do a swim warm up and it's not cold at all. Rumours if it being 1.5-2degrees warmer than Dublin are confirmed. Lovely.
Swim: 11:42 (61/516)
I started near front, got some nice draft for first 150m or so but then proceeded to hang right for no reason.
Not sighting enough, and not correcting line frequently enough results in me losing draft and way out right.
I correct this a few times but not enough and I proceed to do rest of race with no draft on my own.
I felt I swam well, comfortable and with good technique.
Looked at watch getting out of water to see 11:30 and think grand, I'm happy with that.
T1 - 2:20 (84/516)
It's on my way up to T1 that I realise I've lost good time to the leaders as there's quite a lot ahead of me.
Transition is same as last year, a run all the way to bottom of transition and back up - catering for 500odd bikes makes it a bigger transition this time also.
I had wetsuit down to waist, but struggled to get it over my ankles and lost a little time here. I haven't cut it yet so that may be a solution if I need it.
Anyway, out the gap we go.
Bike - 28:41 (3/516)
Flying mount and on, great much faster than normal, must have gained 4-5 seconds there easy and 3 places
There's a load ahead of me, I start passing straight away and get the head down. Look at Garmin and see RUN mode.. Feck, pressed lap too many times.
Reset it and restart multisport (not easy trying to pass at same time!)
OK here we go, up the hill on the right hand side passing anyone and everyone.
I knew this was where I needed to make most places as it's a narrow course and not too hilly after this initial climb.
Passed a few familiar faces, and make up xx places up the hill.
No point counting, but probably 20-30.
Onto the rolling section and I'm still passing comfortably.
Reel in David Cahill here and think oh that's early. He beat me in Joey so I know he's strong and can't be too far off the leaders.
Rolling sections done, Aero the whole way and passing more and more.
I catch up with Mìcheàl Gaffey around the 8-9km mark and pass him on a slight incline before the S bends.
Head down and I close in on a Waterford man, pass him and now a group of 4 or so with a couple of faster lads.
Noelie Kavanagh is in this batch so I pass them and think ok, can't be too far off top 10-15 now.
Road opens to a straight section and I can see no one!
Feck, more work and I get a glimpse of someone in the distance.
Closing into Transition now so feet out and ready.
A long ass run in bare feet at speed into transition, as I sit here typing this is the only sore part - my soles of my feet!
Wouldn't carpeted transitions be awesome!!!
Anyway, Bike done, and later turns out I'm in 9th place coming into T2.
So I passed somewhere in the region of 52 places. Man I need to sort my swim drafting/sighting/transitions!
T2 - 01:04 (102/516)
OK, sounds shocking but wasn't really.
I struggled to get runners on a bit but that was all. most of top guys were around the .50 mark so 14 seconds faster give or take.
Run - 18:18 (25/516)
I set out here as hard as I can, running 3:30/km pace up the hill, feet behind me and it's Noelie Kavanagh.
He passes me with ease (4th fastest run and sub 17mins), and I try to hold onto him.
We pass Brian Harris who waltzed the swim altogether, and there's a few bodies ahead to try chase.
Noelie pulls away further and I just try to keep pushing.
Pace slows to 4min/km as expected on the hill.
Up to the wooded area and I'm yet to see anyone coming down the hill.
Oh, this is a good sign, I've gotta be closing in on the 2km mark at this stage and not far from turnaround.
Bang on 2km beeper and Mark Nolan comes into sight and is flying.
Has a good gap of 100+ metres before a bunch of 3 behind him - Stephen Early, Trevor Woods, Bjorn Ludick all beside each other.
Next is Mark Horan, and then Shane Scully and Neal O'Grady.
Noelie then maybe 250m on me now and turnaround we go.
I'm being chased by a number of folk, and try to up the pace.
With around 1.5k to go I get passed by a Waterford man Emmet Kelly, I hold on for a bit but not enough here. - turns out he ran 16:47 and second fastest run of the day so not surprised I couldn't hold on! Savage!
He crosses the line 12 seconds ahead of me and I'm 11th home.
Shame not to bag a top 10, but I had a good race so am quite happy.
Overall - 1:02:06 - 11th (11/516)
A stacked field in fairness, I lost time missing swim draft and other than that I went hard and performed to my current ability so was happy.
Also felt I swam well considering little draft so was happy to have done that too.
Just over 4 minutes down on the winner and 2 mins down on top 5.
I can account for a bit of that time lost through around 1min in swim (sighting/missing draft), some in T1 (wetsuit) and 1 min in run speed not up to top guys level yet. Mark Nolan was in a different league today though so he's a fair bit ahead that's for sure.
Plan is to try close in on the guys ahead first over next few races obviously.
So I'm happy with the result, it's an honest course and couldn't have been a better day. Really enjoyable race in those weather conditions.
2011 - 85th Place and not as high quality an entry field.
2012 - 11th Place and higher standard all round.
Happy with my progress and with more race experience hopefully I can draft swim more and sight better, and also get transitions improved a bit too.
Run speed will be worked on along with all others of course too!
Back to training to try build more pace!
Next up is Athy Olympic in 3 weeks time.