I was in for the Olympic distance, and looking forward to it.
I drove down with wifey on the Saturday afternoon, took a drive of the bike course and was pretty happy - smooth quality roads, incline on way out and nice out and back route with a turnaround to track against others as you see them coming against you.
Checked into Hotel - Carlton Castletroy chosen primarily for location, decent price for an advertised 4 star (€89). No I wouldn't stay there again, old school, showers either v hot or v cold (hard to get taps right), no minibar, fridge in room didn't work... I'll stop now but will finish by saying food was top quality - €30 a head for 3 course and delicious, nicest I've had in a while!
So into UL to register and get number pack etc - above technical t shirt included in the goodie bag - decent one I like it good job Limerick Tri Club.
Goodie bag also contained Kelloggs Nutrigrain oats and honey bars, pack of brown bread and usual pamphlet paraphernalia.
So off to the hotel for dinner, relax and prep race gear/bag for the morning.
Transition opened at 7am and closed at 8:30am. I arrived around 7:30 and met with clubmate John Connolly to provide some track pump assistance. Fail to prepare John.... ;-)
Set up bike half way along Transition and it was very windy. Couldn't do anything about that so met up with a few friends and then had a listen to race briefing before getting out of there.
I was Olympic wave 2 so not due till 11:25 so 2.5 hours to wait. Headed back to hotel for breakfast and a chill out, met up with wifey and checked out and back to UL then for 10:30ish.
Did a 15min warm up run with a few strides, stretched and then got poolside for start.
We had a few debates about order of swim, but I ended up going 3rd in our lane and we had a few of similar ability anyway it seemed. My projected time was 23ish, 22 if very good, 24 at worst.
Lane took off quite slow - I nearly went to pass at 50m but thought it was just the draft feeling easy.
Wifey has a few pics of start and the fish beside us in lane 5 had a good 20secs ahead after 100-125metres. This means we must have been 1:30-1:35 for first 100m which would be a slow start really.
Anyway, feet tapping going on by everyone ahead and behind for first 200-300m, settled a bit then but I wasn't turning well at all. With hindsight (and wifey's notes) I was kicking off wall from top of water instead of kicking underneath. Basically just rushing everything and my stroke was choppy instead of controlled. So the anxiety/anticipation got the better of me it seems and swim was below what I'm capable of.
I had my feet tapped a few times and held on as obliged to at ends and let folk past. It was easier back in draft 4-5 positions and I just matched pace then. No one was making serious ground and I didn't feel up to making bursts so that was about the height of it.
Until the end, I had a count and thought we had finished, but saw Eugene in front of me kick off and so I followed. Neither of us received a tap on the head at any stage as briefing said we would so we carried on. It was at the next turn (1,550m) I realised we did more, there was no one ahead at all as they had all got out ahead before Eugene could see them! So we swam an extra 100m and then got out.
I looked down at my watch to see 25:30 and think wtf... defo swam too long. So would have been 23:55 give or take a few seconds - the slower end of target time but hey, not my strongest discipline.
A shuffle out the back door over timing mat (26:07) and into T1 following Eugene - shouted the time and mentioned long but he was busy getting ahead!
Anyway, that could be dealt with later, on we go into transition.
Swim would have been circa 25th with adjustment to be confirmed later...
T1 - bad to worse...
Entered T1 and had decided to put on socks, why? Because I tried running earlier in the week sockless and the sole of runners were getting stuck/moving so not ideal. This could prob have been fixed with talc and I'll try this before next race, but anyway, what's another 15 seconds or so...
Helmet on, sunglasses on and away... I'm following Eugene still out of transition and he turns back to grab something, as I'm almost at exit I realise I've forgotten my number belt!
a DQ'able offence I believe so no choice but to go around transition again and put it on!
2 laps, the number ripped anyway and I'm finally out of transition. Must be the longest of the lot... Quick check and some ladies take that honour, but at 2:07 I've given another 1 min to most of the competition!
Bike - Progress made, further issues arise...
Out the gap, contemplate a flying mount for kicks and giggles for all of 0.5sec but just jump on and start my merry way.
Must practise flying mounts before next race. Ok so flying mounts and talc in runners....
Now, out onto bike course I go, reeling in those ahead straight away and putting the power down where I'm at my strongest.
Onto main road and there's a hard shoulder/cycle lane full of grit and bumps, a road of cars beside me and a queue of bikes ahead distinctly out of cycle lane avoiding the crap.
I make up another place or two and then we're turning right onto the main out and back road to cappamore (I think).
It's windy, I've a disc cover but man up and roll with it. A lot of ground to make up and folk to catch.
I'm passing a lot but no sign of Eugene still, nor club mate John Connolly (he got out of our swim lane on time, and had a lightning fast transition!! top marks!).
around the 14-15k mark I catch Eugene, pass him and carry on up the road.
It's a couple k later that Mike Yelverton comes flying past in the opposite away. Damn he must be 3-5k ahead at this stage. Dave Richardson follows, and Mariusz Olenicjak in 3rd then.
I do manage to catch John Connolly before the turnaround and a quick count of bikes makes me around the 10th-11th place at half way mark.
So, around the turnaround and time for gel 1. I look down to my stem and see nothing... not even the tape! Schoolboy error I failed to tape my 2 gels on properly.
I use 1 at half way, and 1 about 2-3k to go which seems to suit me.
Not today, so I still have some drink and continue putting the hard work in.
A few mins later and I start to feel my bars loose! A moment of freak out as I contemplate what, a DQ in case or I'll fall and do damage, but I look down for a crack and see nothing. It's here I realise my right extension bar is way out in front, but bars are fine and not moving.
So I try to secure the right extension bar and wind it back into place, no Joy it won't budge...
OK, I'm back into TT position and holding the bar back the way for fear it comes loose.
It moves again and I'm not comfortable, but carry on regardless.
A few hairy moments later and I'm swapping from hoods to bars to keep secure and ensure I don't have a mishap..
No one ahead, and around 5k later I get passed for the first time.
This is when I realise I've lost time faffing and trying to fix bar. I back off the required 10m to avoid draft, we go over the railway tracks and up to lights then.
I shoot off after the lights and repass him, staying in hoods mostly then to transition 2.
Bike finishes at 59:55, 5th fastest, short though at around 37.5k
Transition 2 - where's my stuff?
Into transition and I'm in 10th, my runners are moved and spare gel under the barrier. It was very windy and stuff was all over the place!
I remove helmet, get runners on, down on knees to reach for gel and I'm off.
Not the fastest but not bad.
Run - ugh...
I leave T2 and start the run, feel ok and check watch for 3:35/km pace - on target now to maintain it.
I know I'll need a gel so take it straight away. That was my last mistake.
Stomach tightens and cramps straight away and I can't get going at all... Pace drops to 4min/km's and I'm not comfortable. Finally eases after 2km and I try to up pace but still not comfortable and can't push into the red zone at all.
The rest of the run continues like this, it's a windy, lot of turns and open to winds course so not a fast one, but nonetheless I'm capable of running faster and dissappointed not to push into the red at least.
I think I may have lost a place here at some stage also at start, but continue on and don't get passed again, nor do I catch anyone.
Hard to explain, but I just couldn't push enough, not from tiredness or soreness, but what seemed like a lack of energy. Possibly caused by lack of gels on time, possibly by gel on run upsetting me or else just a bad run day.
Run is long at 10.3km and I'm done in 41:07.
So avg just over 4min/km pace.
Wifey is straight up to me saying we did an extra swim lap, she's already complained to officials and I've to go into tent to confirm also.
So in I go, make it official and the Race Director acknowledges and says it will be amended on times and placings. These things happen, apparently lane marshal missed Eugene's head and then just let me and someone else carry on... I tell Eugene who also gets negative penalty so no harm done.
So negative penalty added - moves me up to 9th overall and 3rd in AG so a prize.
Total - 2:08:50 and just under 8 mins behind Mike Yelverton who retains his title.
I come away from the race miffed. I had issues in each discipline and for me it was a bad race. However relatively happy to bag a top 10 at first race considering all that went wrong.
I didn't swim well but came out around top 25.
I biked well, but had issues and lost time - still 5th fastest split.
I didn't run at all, but held on and maybe 30-35th fastest split.
Transitions were so slow I'm not even checking them!
Realistically, I can account for 1min lost in t1, 30-60secs lost on bike and somewhere around 3+ mins lost on run hopefully. Guesswork but still, would bring me right into contention if all went well.
That's racing though, and you don't know what issues others had too so I can't claim anything higher than my 9th place.
I'm happy with the result considering how the race went. I enjoyed it and quite liked the course.
Pool swims are awkward, between lane allocation, place starting, feet tapping and obliging to stop it can be disruptive. But in fairness you're not going to lose much time really anyway due to draft benefits too.
So, learning's from this race:
- Control swim/approach to stroke
- improve transitions/concentrate
- always check bike
- practice flying mounts
- practice talc in runners
- secure gels to bike properly next time...
Hopefully I can address all or at least many of these for next race!
Next up is Valentia in 2 weeks time. This has another quality field, a larger field too and is the National Sprint Championship race.
I've a few targets in mind, couple more added from finishing ahead of me on Sunday :-) and hope to have a good race and enjoy it down there!
All healthy competition! Roll on Valentia lads!
Final note on the trisuit - this was a Blue Seventy number and hoped to help swim well - my Pulse one can be a bit tight on neck area and not ideal for this so chose otherwise.