Well I thought getting up for the Aquathlon was early.. 04:00 alarm call and I was staying 5 miles from transition, this was closing at 06:30 so quite an early start.
I approached this race quite confidant after having a good race the previous Sunday at Crowborough where I came 2nd in my age group and quite a good Worlds Aquathlon on the Wednesday, 50th in the world for my AG. My injuries were also staying calm so it looks like it could be a great day and hanging around in the Irish team tent was great fun.
I met up with Rachael who was also racing i'm sure she was blue with the cold so we went off to find some rays of sun. Unfortunately we had been informed that the swim was to be cut to 750m so as a good swimmer I was disappointed especially as it was nice and warm when i started but to be fair to them the decision was made at 07:00 when the air temp was 8 degrees.
I've learnt my lesson from the Aquathlon and pick my swim slot carefully, in the team briefing we were told no punching as the kayakers will be watching. I get a great clean start no congestion and race to the first buoy (250m) with no incidents and I'm just off the back of the lead pack. I'm approaching another buoy and a guy is trying to knock me off my line, it's a good line and I want it so we bounce off each other for a few strokes then I catch his eye and I know there is a punch coming, sure enough it lands, my goggles stay on but fill with water, no issues I still have time to take my vengeance and leave him in my wake, it's good to practice with full goggles as once you get used to it it's not that bad. I have a last 300m sprint with a few guys and come out of the water just in front of them so quite a good swim.
The run to transition is long and goes on forever T1 - 03:44 the longest to date (my last Ironman one was 03:37), Wow the roars of the crowds are amazing 3-4 deep on both sides. I'm in my national Irish kit so get loads of "Go on Ireland". You set off at a great pace to start the first lap which goes around most of the park then out into London on closed roads, again all lined with people shouting and cheering, the crowds are mostly concentrated within the park and are very enthusiastic. I spot Kay, my sister and her lad and some friends from the Midlands they are waving the Irish flag for me. Next I spot the Goodheads with their big smiles and cheers it really spurs you on, out into London on what is an iconic route unfortunately I'm a bit blinkered and don't see most of it, I am supposed to be racing after all, I go past the palace and notice the flag is up, I wonder if Queenie is watching me. Snapped out of that train of thought by a roar from Tim and Claire.
Bit more effort as there is a murderous headwind and for a supposedly flat course it's quite hard, a quick rant with a bunch of 15 drafters pointing out that they might as well be drug cheats, the course loops back down the Mall and I spot Phil Couch marshalling and he gives me a big cheer. The Bike route was great just a shame I didn't get to see much but to ride around London at those speeds is something very special you don't get to do often.
One issue I have is with irresponsible dog owners, I am myself a dog owner and if I am near a road I put my dog on a lead especially if there is a bike race going past. Im on a slight downhill in Hyde Park doing around 27mph on my tri bars and I spot a loose dog.. Tour de France style I think, sure enough out onto the road in front of me he trots, if I hit it its bad for both of us. I can't break or slow down so I let out a big roar that luckily scares the dog to a stand still, and probably everyone else around, I swerve and miss it by an inch or two, seconds later I see a marshal running up to that position hopefully to have ago at that idiot owner.
Back to transition, I opted to get off my bike unusually with my shoes on as it's a long muddy transition and we are not allowed a towel to clean our feet. i have to run up what feels like a mountain, again its a very long run in transition before we can head to our rack the bike. T2 - 04:08 again a record (my last Ironman one was 03:33).
Now my nemesis the run, its only 3 laps to make up the 10km. When I started down this world championship road my target was 40mins or less for the run, with the injuries that had to change to a conservative 45mins still a good goal.
The run start was just as amazing as the bike start, all the cheers just made you smile and feel great, I must have high 5 everyone in the first mile. I spot Rob and Ben Hoodless again big smiles and shouts of encouragement also Kay and my family. I don't think my feet touched the ground in that first lap even at the top of what was quite a sharp hill and trust the Goodheads to be there at the top high 5's at the ready. Onto the second lap still going well getting carried along on the wave of encouragement. Needless to say that around 6km my smiles stopped.
The blue carpet of the finish chute comes into vision then the line ,I cross happy in the knowledge that its all over. Now where's the pub.
What a great day and even better week the honour of racing for your country twice in a week and the amazing amount of support not only from my family and MSTC but also the general public its something that will stay with me for years.
Swim - 00:12:06
T1 - 00:03:44
Bike - 01:14:15
T2 - 00:04:08
Run - 00:53:34
Total - 02:27:45