In July I raced my first Aquathon in Galway - it was the National Championships also.
Great opportunity to see part of the Galway 70.3 course ahead of race day, and also planned to bike the 70.3 course the following day so it made sense.
I'm not really an Aquathon man, bike being my preference and left out just didn't seem fair really! :-)
Nonetheless I was in for this and the weather looked good.
Arrived down early the Saturday, the sea was calm and headed to registration.
I missed a trick here - should have brought my runners down to leave in transition at the same time but ended up walking back up to hotel and back down again to do that. All whilst planning a quick lunch so not ideal prep but hey.
Met up with a few friends and clubmates and we all had similar ideas of doing the bike course on the Sunday morning so made plans for that too.
Back to the aquathon, which was a 2km swim and a 10k run.
The sea was calm and we all splashed in ready for the start.
I positioned myself near Kevin Keane who I recognised but couldn't see anyone else. He had a couple of friends with him so I wasn't holding out on a draft there.
A very wide start and lots of room so very little head bashing and fighting happened at the start.
We had 3-4 buoys to sight off and keep to our left before heading to the beach for transition - which was straight ahead after last buoy anyway so a straight forward swim.
I started off swimming relaxed but fine. Sighting when needed and only went offline a few times and not by much.
I got a decent draft for the first 4-500m or so before losing my way a little and then progressing on my own for most of the way.
I have to say the swim felt long, but then I wouldn't be used to a 2k open water swim race so it was going to feel new anyway.
The good news is even Stephen Early thought it was long so it can't have just been me!
A slightly slower than planned time of 32:35 across the transition line which was maybe 10 or so seconds out of the water.
This was good enough for 27th out of the 200 or so starters so not the worst all the same.
Not my best swim by any means though.
So into transition and strangely removing the wetsuit to put on runners and that's all.
In the confusion I forgot to remove my swimcap and goggles before realising as I was running out of transiton - a quick few steps back to throw them down by my bag and I was off.
A windy and exposed run course, basically 4 laps of a 2.5km loop with the wind and against the wind back up but it was nice and flat so no complaints really.
As I'm about 1km or so in I can see the leaders coming back up the loop and Stephen Early looks like he was motoring. Bryan Keane was flying ahead as expected too.
I complete lap 1 and realise I'm ahead of my clubmate Joe Lynch and also Bryan McCrystal. Both chasing me down so I try to keep my pace on track running 3:40's mainly.
They are edging closer to me each lap and on lap 3 I get passed by Bryan McCrystal. I try to stay with him but to no avail.
Shortly after this Bryan Keane comes past to lap me. Son of a ! His cadence is very notable and high and he just looks like he's cruising.
Joe closes in on me on the last lap and catches up with me, our pace eases a little and I make a surge ahead, he follows and catches again and I match, then surge again harder. He's actually encouraging me here as Joe is a top man and will always want the best from anyone so that was nice of him.
I do manage to push more here than in Athlone when I couldn't keep with him. I make a final push towards the finish line and Joe let's me off.
Across the line with a run time of 37:57 and just pip under the 38 min mark and 9th fastest run.
This is 13th place and not too shabby for a training race.
I had expected the running to feel easier not having a bike beforehand but to be honest it felt the same!
Bryan Keane ran a 33min 10k here which was good to see. I don't think we see enough of these kinda run splits in races so hopefully there will be more ahead and next year...!
Results here: http://www.redtagtiming.com/results/GalwayAquathon2012_Long.pdf
Went for a very nice meal with some training buddies in a french restaurant - forget the name - that evening. Very good food and really enjoyed it.
I managed to get away early and hit the hay for an early start the following morning.
I got up around 8 and had breakfast with Joe and Aoife Lynch.
Porridge all round then! :-)
We had planned to do the bike course earlier than the others so as not to be hanging around.
Weather was grand and we rolled out around 9:15 or so.
I don't think we did the correct course as we headed out the same as last year and it looks like this has now changed. That was only the first couple of km or so though and it's main road from there.
Bike course is nice, very nice in my view.
Good roads, a nice out and back with challenging wind on the way out before letting loose on the way back.
Yes I'll look forward to Sept 2nd and hope the weather returns a similar day.
A nice training weekend was had.