Things did not go my way at yesterday's Lough Ine Challenge. A faulty bike pump and two punctures were enough to give me a DNF. Still there were some positives. I had a good swim and T1 and the bike was going reasonably well until just after the 30k mark (45k in all).
The swim route was different from last year with a rectangular course in a clockwise direction starting from the new slipway in Baltimore (Harbour?). The water was cool but felt pretty good with fairly calm conditions. After a brief warmup of a few strides (well the swimming equivalent) I set myself up nicely next to a large (3' diameter) timber mooring post which was on the starting line. Once the gun went I used to post to push off and get me straight up to speed.
The 350m to the first buoy was a bit of a struggle as everyone clambers to get into a good position - 150m in I got my goggles half kicked off (I always put them under the swimming cap for this particular reason as otherwise you could loose them to the depths). No matter how much I warm up I seem to struggle for the first few 100m of the swim but then get a good rhythm going once the field settles down. I tried to draft off one of the swimmers early on (swimming on their hip) but lost contact. Past the first buoy and I get a bit of space and settle down. I suspect my rectangular swim is turning into a bit of a circle as I appear to be taking an arc between buoys with most of the swimmers on my inside. Past the 2nd Buoy and I decide to take a more direct route to the next buoy and am reasonably successful in following the racing line. Past the 3rd and last buoy and heading for the slipway. While I don't have much speed in the water I feel like I could maintain this pace for a lot longer (if only triathlon legs were of equal distance).
Finally my feet are on terra firma and I am running up the slipway with a clock in front of me showing 19:2x - obviously the new swim course is well short of the 1500m it's supposed to be. Unlike the swim leg of the sprint last month my legs feel strong running into T1. Off with the wetsuit and on with the shoes and helmet. I notice Neil Creedon opposite me doing the same thing (Neil and Abina used to work together years ago and the only time I see him now is at triathlons). His presence is a welcome surprise as he is a faster swimmer than me (beating me by 1:41 in the sprint last month and 1:42 this time last year) Heading out of T1 I am also greeted by Laura Buckley of Eagle AC. Any doubt that Neil might have been having a bad day and that my swim was less than I thought was dispelled on seeing Laura as she is also a strong swimmer (her swim time here in 2008 was 1:19 faster than mine).
Out on the bike I settled into a comfortable pace getting down on the aero bars as much as possible. I even managed to pass one or two - but most of the passing was the other way - I was surprised by the number of serious looking guys on TT bikes passing me. Connie passed me shortly after the 10k mark with Pete following on at about 15k. It's certainly is all in the bike if you want to make up time in these events. Back in towards Skibbereen and past the 30k mark, when I feel the all too familiar vibration of a deflating tyre - Fu#k, that's it, race over - but at least I can still finish. Off the bike, back wheel, tube - on with replacement tube (all the time bikes whizzing past) out with pump but I can only get 1 or 2 bar as the pressure gauge on the pump has blown and anything above 2 bar causes it to leak. In an effort to get more air in I break the valve on the tube and it's useless. As I am a mile from Skibbereen I decide to walk into town, cadge a tube from a bike shop and cycle out to Baltimore. Before I get there another competitor stops gives me his spare tube and pump, losing at least a minute in the process as his tube is taped around his seat post and is difficult to remove. I can't believe his selflessness in interrupting his own race to help a fellow competitor - A huge thanks to Alan Kelly (Cork Tri Club), I didn't get to see him after the race and had to leave his pump with the race organisers. I owe him a tube and a few tyre levers - surely i'll get them to him at the next event.
It took a few attempts to get the new tube inflated as it didn't sit right on the rim when inflated initially but eventually I was on my way although I don't know why I was pushing the pace as I was not chasing a time. Into Skibb, out the Baltimore Road and left for Lough Ine when half a mile later there is a loud bang - my new tube had blown - race definitely over - not such a big deal anymore. I walk the half mile back to the junction and spend the next hour chatting to one of the marshalls and drinking his tea, waiting to get picked up by the broom wagon. C'est la vie.
Still no results posted so I don't know how good my swim was.
To add to my misery my Garmin also appears to have died. It had some moisture in the screen last week but was operating normally. I had placed it on the bar of my bike yesterday to help me concentrate on pace but, despite the sunshine, the screen had clouded over totally by the time my race was over. So this morning my long run along the roads of Whitechurch was very much by feel covering anywhere between 16.5 and 17 miles in 2:12. Due to a mix up I had managed to be late for the scheduled 8:30 club start and ran mostly on my own, so had no opportunity to piggy back on someone else's Garmin.
Maybe a few days running without a watch will do me some good -although I did find one of the kid's old watches that has a stopwatch function, which should just about do for the track session on Tuesday.