The swim course was a triangular loop from the slipway at the Star sailing centre 2 miles out of Kenmare. 600m to the first buoy, 300m to the next and 600m back to the slipway. The distance between buoy 1 & 2 certainly looked longer than 300m. My swim went well keeping pretty much to a straight line course between buoys while having to navigate my way over or around those around me. I got (and gave) the usual kicks and punches as I competed for the same space with other swimmers - apologies to those I hit but it was not intentional. I did zig-zag a little on the 3rd leg as every time I sighted the finish buoy I had to adjust my course to line up with it - first left, then right, then left. Finally I was out of the water and up the slipway - I was surprised to see 25:4x on the clock as I passed it into T1 (about 3 minutes down on last years time - certainly was longer this year)
Uneventful thankfully. Wet suit came off pretty easily, although I was unsteady on my feet and leaning on a swaying bike for support only adds to the unsteadiness.
Ran out of T1 with my bike shoes on - never bothered to practice mounting the bike with the shoes clipped in - maybe next year. It took what seemed like an age to get my shoes clipped in once I had crossed the mount line as others flew passed me. I got into my stride pretty quickly though and chased down one or two over the first few hundred yards. Then I heard something fall from the bike and when I looked down I noticed my pump was gone (I had meant to tape it to the bike beforehand as the mounting was loose). I was abruptly shaken from my self absorbed world when I ploughed into the back of the guy in front of me, nearly knocking both of us off our bikes - I apologised profusely explaining that I had taken my eye off the ball after loosing my pump - "no harm" done he said and off I went.
The one and only hill came after about 10km and I ignored the conventional wisdom of using a low gear and high cadence for getting up hills economically and selected a higher gear and got out of the saddle quite a bit. While I didn't necessarily go faster it did take the pressure off my quads. I was conscious of the fact that my run could be a disaster if I trashed my legs on the bike. I got passed by a few on the descent as I tend to chicken out of getting down on the tri-bars - something to do with my hands being too far away from the brakes when corners loom perhaps. I had the Garmin on the bike so that I could keep focused, using average speed to motivate me. The average speed of 17.2 mph at the top of the hill increased to 18 at the bottom and I gradually pushed it to 19 with about 10k to go. The pace picked up further on the main road back to the Sailing Centre, reaching an average of 19.7 by the time I entered T2. I had exchanged places on the bike with a few guys over the last few k as the pace picked up and I followed a guy on a TT Bike from Waterford Tri Club into T2.
No issues - even sat down to put on my shoes and still shaved a few seconds off last years T2 time.
Waterford tri guy was 50 yards ahead of me heading out of T2 but the gap closed over the first half mile. It took the first mile to get comfortable in my run and then the hill loomed in front of me at the 2k mark. Two guys in front stopped and walked, the first motivating the second - I resisted the urge just about, although my pace was just above a shuffle. Once up the hill and onto level ground I began to feel comfortable, taking a drink at the 3/7k watering station as the leader (Eric Wolfe) came past in the opposite direction (4k behind). I continued to the half-way turnaround timing mat, passing one more guy before turning for home. Counting those coming against me put me in 23rd place overall. The hills between 5k and 7k were tough but I still managed to pass one guy (now 22nd). Back down the steep hill to the 8k mark - the toe on my right foot that I broke/sprained a few weeks ago had been giving pain since about 4k and was particularly sore on the downhills. I came on the shoulder of another guy with about a mile to go - he was struggling with intermittent stomach issues - we ran together for a while with him pushing back in front until he fell behind with 1k to go. The next guy was 50 yards in front but was coming back to me - I felt surprisingly strong and my pace took me past him with about 800m to go, now in 20th position. As I approached the line one of the spectators said that there were a few guys on my tail so I put in a last minute sprint and crossed the line in 2:17:51 - 20th overall and 18th individual.
While I was delighted to beat last years time, the margin was only 20 seconds. However with my swim time down nearly 3 minutes on last year I was very please with my bike/run improvement.
Gotta go now as we are heading to Goleen for the Route to Crook 5 miler , but I won't be running as my toe has acted up and I can barely walk. I think my running will be non-existent over the coming weeks.