Being a big McLaren fan and knowing Jenson's passion for triathlons also it did make sense he could be in for it.
Seeing the twitter feed pics of a swim in Athy, a Bike Fit on his Specialized Shiv Tri and general hanging around with the TI Elite squad suggested that yes, he was surely going to race.
So a nice novelty to start off, and let's get the standard photo shoot out of the way!
Thanks to Jenson for what must be pretty tough getting swamped everywhere for photo's here and there etc. A down to earth decent guy with a love for triathlons is how I'd describe him.
He was with a few of his friends - I recognised Mikey Muscles his trainer at McLaren and spoke to him after the race also - he did a PB of 2:27 and is obviously loving it.
He rides a McLaren Specialized Venge as his choice of weapon... NICE. I'm sure he got a company discount there...
Did a shorter than normal warm up and got the wetsuit on.
Weather was pretty much exact same as last year, so very similar conditions.
I was in Wave 5, with a few fish of the names Bjorn Ludick and Stephen Early (2 of the favourites), along with a few others I know from similar positions at previous races.
So some good markers, and attempts to draft for a short period anyway!
Swim: 22:29 - 25/541
Started off around 2nd line back from the fish hoping to get some draft at the start.
I started well, drafted in behind one faster swimmer and felt in control of my stroke.
A little snaking and I lost a little bit, but not much and obv being a river swim was easy to correct line etc.
Noticed fish had a gap from early on but kept plowing away.
Got a bit more draft here and there, but mainly on my own up to turnaround.
Around the buoy and there were 2 white caps ahead of me from my wave.
I made a push and got on their feet for more drafts, but they were snaking a little also.
I ended up passing these by a back marker from green hat wave and carried on at a decent pace.
Mainly on own downstream, but latched onto another white hat near the end and drafted him into the finish. Passed a couple more white hats here through his help
I got out of the water and saw 22:xx... ! Delighted. Exact same swim as last year, in what felt similar current conditions and I was over 8 mins faster.
I'll take that.
Wifey was down as photographer and though she didn't get me coming out of the water.... she did manage to get someone else.... ! :-)
Not much to report, I lose a little time removing my quick release garmin from wrist and mounting on bike, as well as feet were a little slow to get out of wetsuit (again).
Out and onto bike course.
Bike - 1:01:46 - 10/541
As I was running out, I copped my left tri shoe had unhooked itself from the elastic... Ok, just stay on the pedals please.
It was bumpy by the mount line but I carried on and attempted the flying mount....
It was here things went bad...
As I jumped on, my left foot missed the loose pedal and I lost balance and fell to my right.
My right leg jerked out to prevent fall, and bike went down but only on aerobars hitting ground and foot holding me up.
Can't wait to see the picture of this as there were plenty of camera's around!
Anyway, picking myself back up and the crowd are shouting your chain, your chain.
Look down and it's off the front derailleur...
Ok, marshal says calm down and I am just fixing it normally, get the chain back on and a slow start to head out.
I lost over 1 minute here, seen by others who were 1min down on my swim catching up straight away as I was still sorting my bike so hence I lost massive time at the start! Doh!
Thanks to the crowd for their shouts. I think I did try to get on and pedal before realising the chain was off and listening to them. Never mind!
Now, the bad part here was when my right leg jerked out to stop me falling my calf obv took some kinda shock and tightened up quite a bit.
First thing I noticed straight away but headed out anyway.
So, as if that wasn't enough I'm 100m out the road, and something is rubbing. Look down and my garmin cadence arm has been knocked onto disc cover.
Stop again and fix that before starting away.
My calf is tight, and I'm spinning a bit easier instead of hammering away.
I don't want to stress it further this early, and hope by starting easy I can keep it ok.
Thought crossed my mind that it may be hard to run, but I continue and will cross that bridge later!
So, start passing people, take a drink, and get the head down.
Still spinning easier for a while in light of calf which I can constantly feel.
Out to the 15k turnaround and I clock Bjorn and Stephen coming against me.
I take a note of the time and make it to the turnaround.
Double the time and oh dear, I'm 6 minutes down already!
That can't have been just swim, did I really lose that much extra on bike already? Maybe...
OK, head down and I start to put a bit more effort in now that legs warmed up. Calf still tight but not affecting my cycling really now in fairness.
I see Mr McCrystal and his Yellow Boots hammering it and try to gauge time gap. He started in swim wave behind so 10mins give or take.
I track and reckon he's 6 mins behind at most, so has made up unreal time already.
The man is a legend on the bike, and run for that matter and with my bike being my strength he's someone who's bike strength footsteps I'd like to follow shall we say!
I only noticed 1 or 2 drafters, but didn't bother saying anything. What's the point, if they want to race like that they can.
Around the 25k mark I take my first gel. I pass a guy in the process as didn't realise I was approaching him that quick. He repasses me straight away and no chance did he allow the 10m gap first.
Not to worry, I finish my gel and pass him again before the turnaround.
I did clock Bjorn again and timed it around 5-5.5mins ahead now.
Clocked BMC again and just put the head down as I didn't want to be caught by him!
It's an honest bike course, rolling, turns, drags, flats, country roads, nice normal roads. Pretty good in fairness and I liked it.
I saw Stephen around 1km plus out on the run as i was still approaching transition.
Into T2 for the business end.
I struggle to get my slightly numb feet into runners, but not the worst.
Out into Run course and got a shout out from Elvis. Cheers man
Run - 39:22 - 24/541
Headed out on the run with gel in hand and legs were good.
Calf didn't act up at all, and I was straight into target pace and running 3:40's.
KM 1 through in 3:42, followed by the incline KM2 in 3:49.
I pick up a panter behind me who latches on and provides company from here on in.
KM 3 in 3:46 followed by KM 4 in 3:48
I'm running fine, try to surge a couple times but it's hard to maintain momentum when passing traffic in the rough stuff.
Course is busy now and passing folk every 50m or so.
Still have my buddy for company.
KM 5 in 3:53, turnaround, and KM6 in 3:56.
I'm starting to fade here and really want to keep below 4min...
KM 7 in 3:58 and I through some water over the head.
I haven't had my gel as felt ok, but possibly should have.
KM8 in 4:08 and I'm fading here.
I get passed by Patrick Quinn and he's running strong. Try to hold on and up pace but not happening.
KM 9 in 4:08 and my buddy has also passed me now too.
KM 10 in 4:02, and final sprint of 120 m in :21 for a strong finish.
So, I finished strong and have a sprint in me, but suffered in back half of run and couldn't up tempo.
I feel I need to learn to suffer more at race pace, and perhaps even just psychological to push through that barrier and deliver a better run.
I'm happy with overall result. I swam well and my best yet, I biked well after my poor start, and I ran well at start but suffered near end, as did most from talking to them and that run course contributes to that.
I'm thinking ok, gotta be close to a Top 10 with that time...
Over to the timing tent and 13th... Really?
I would have been 3rd in last years times and felt similar conditions.
Standards are really improving so much all round.
Looking at the results, 7th Place was just 1 minute 10 seconds ahead of me.
Yes, 6 places in just 1minute! My bike issues, Doh!
I enjoyed the day, headed onto my niece's birthday then and was late back to Dublin.
Calf is tight today, defo needs a proper massage.
So, recover, back to training and try sort my run race pace out.
Next up is Athlone in 4 weeks, my first A race and a course I love.
Swim should suit me, Bike the same and Run whilst plenty of turns it's same for us all and on roads so at least consistent.
I want to finish with a note on the top class event and standards of the race yesterday.
Basically the whole of Top 5 beat the winning time last year.
I don't think there was any wind last year so it's a reasonable comparison.
Russell White's times are top quality, as are all the Sub 2 guys and most of top 10. Obv his swim and run stands out as head and shoulders above others.
Assume we will be seeing him compete in ITU soon hopefully!
He's gotta be on course for Olympics in 4 years with that swim and run capability at his age! Fair play, that's top bombing.
Anyone that ran 37 or lower yesterday has really got to have a 35min 10k off the bike in them in my opinion on a nicer course.
BMC's bike split is sick to recover 4 minutes to leaders like that is just class. I can't wait for Athlone to try and be better than 5 minutes 46 seconds behind his bike split! And to follow with a sub 36 run, just a couple weeks after IM Lanza. Hoping he has some strong Pro races ahead it's great to see.
There was one bad thing from the day with my bike having cracked at the top tube from the fall when aerobars hit the ground. Didn't expect that but what can you do.
Centre of top tubes are the weakest parts of carbon frames apparently. And I know a club mate who had same bike and had his repaired a good while ago and said it's actually stronger now and no issues.
I have 2 options, repair and get the frame strengthened and cover up with a sticker or else upgrade anyway.
I had been toying with the idea of changing at the end of the season as I really like 1 or 2 of the new bikes and am spending enough time in triathlons to justify it in my mind anyway! I don't drink nor smoke obviously and this sport is my main luxury at the moment so it's easier to justify some spending here and there! Heck I even have wifey's approval...!
I haven't quite decided just yet, and am looking and researching a bit more to see fit and if I'm happy to spend the kinda cash for the bike I have in mind. Either way, I'll have repair or replacement sorted in the next couple weeks and ahead of next race in Athlone...
Watch this space....
Ridley Dean only a hairline crack forming but needs repair to be used again. May be for sale once done at a good price, or else back on the road for Athlone!