Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ironman Florida build up and race report 2009

11.30am, 3rd November and the Aer Lingus steward announced it was time to board the plane. This was the flight which was going to take me to the USA and my final race of 2009, IM Florida. Instantly, I felt a slight pang of nervousness, no going back now, not that I would. I have been building for this race for the past 16 weeks, and now within 4 days it would become a reality.

This report is going to be slightly different to previous reports as I’m going to update it as I go along when I get some free time. I hope to record an accurate and honest viewpoint of how I feel for the next 5 days.

We are curently about 30mins into the flight to Orlando. We upgraded to the business class seats for comfort and it was worth it. The seats are huge and there is plenty of room, no stress here. Everything I do from here until Saturday will be done while thinking of the race in m mind. Its how I work. If I take something on it tends to consume me. It freaks Paul a bit but its just my personality. I tend to be like this in work also. I’m an organised person so when racing it tends to slip over. I think it’s a good trait to have. Paul would probably disagree and say I go OTT or have OCD.

Anyway, the flight is going to be 9.15hrs so the plan for me will be to relax as much as possible, watch a movie, sleep, read, hydrate, eat well and add to this report.

Gareth and Derrick and on the same flight so the full representation for Ireland at IM Florida 2009 are all from Wicklow…….

What are my views on the race coming up…… well I have a few concerns….. nothing major but as I said before, its all in the planning. I’m nervous about the start, not the swim length, that’ll be fine, its the other 2853 people around me I’m nervous about. It’s a mass start and differs from Lanzarote in that there will be a lot more people entering the water at the same time and therefore a lot more thrashing about. My plan will be to move over to the right and wait probably 30 seconds after the start gun to enter. The main aim is to have a comfortable swim. Whether I go 1.10 or 1.20, its irrelevant. I would like to exit the water calm and relaxed and focussed for the bike. I saw some of the photos of the transition and it looks long. I’m expecting T1 to take 6-9 mins.

I’m going to wear a tri top and pair of Assos uno shorts, comfort being the priority. I’ve also decided to wear my road bike shoes and not the tri shoes. Bella Bayliss has likened the bike to 5 hrs on a turbo. From that statement I gather it will be tough out there. I’ve thought about this a lot and spoke to various people about the approach I should take. The information has been everything from go easy and save it for the run to go balls out and hope to survive on the run…… I have probably completed 10 cycles greater than 160k in preparation for this race and have tried various options to see what works for me. My conclusion is that I need to conserve on the bike and hold a gear just under what I could push. I have found that I run better of that scenario. Also, I recently did a 180km on the N11, back and forth, back and forth in 5.30hr and then did a 6km run. I found the run tough, primarily due to the constant peddling on the bike. While there may be no hills in Florida, there is no respite on the legs either. This could cause issues in the latter section of the run. I hope to complete the bike in 5.30 – 5.45 and get off feeling somewhat fresh for the run.

T2, I reckon will be also 6-9 mins. I will be putting on compression socks, nike, and wearing my old favourite Zoot running shots. I may change the tri top. Adam has kindly loaned me an old tri top he used to wear. If I wear it, I hope nobody gets a shot of me in it….. as it sort of resembles a bra top….. similar to the one Andy used to wear back the early WTC days, but I’ve tried this on and it is mega comfortable.

The run is where I have been putting a lot of my training time. For the past 6-8 weeks I have been running up to 65km per week, with a long run anywhere from 29 – 36km every Sunday. I think I’m runnning well and I so want to have a good run on Saturday. I missed a sub 4 hr marathon in IM Lanzarote by 9 mins and I really want to get it this time. Based on my Sunday runs its possible. I will just really need to dig deep and focus during the latter half when the body is screaming out to stop. My aim for the run is 3.55hr

Based on the above times I’ve given above, the range for my finishing time could be anywhere between 10.47hr – 11.30. Then again, all that could go out the window with a puncture, upset stomach, tired legs etc etc etc. I’ve prepared well and those times are within me if my race plan goes to schedule. I hope it does.

Time to clock off now and watch a movie and dinner.

Movie was good, dinner was wooful, cutbacks I reckon!!!

5 hrs into the flight now and all going well, many many trips to the toilet, yes I’m staying hydrated. The seats are great but its an old plane and not as plush as I was expecting. The movie system is archaic and even with my Bose speakers its hissing like crazy. Its doesn’t make for comfortable watching.

Gareth stopped by for a chat, good to hear another perspective and what his plan is, pretty much the same as us ‘go out conservative on the bike’.

Fast forward to land. 2 hrs it took us to get out of the airport. We hired the car from Hertz and it took another 20mins to get to their offices. After a brief wrong direction we got on the right road and drove north. We stopped in Gainesville for the night. Hotel was as dodgy as hell but hey all part of the experience.

It only took 4 hours to get there on the Wednesday morning and the hotel was right at transition, and an added bonus, a sea view of the gulf of Mexico, fantastic views. Although we had a swim, bike and run to do we couldn’t help ourself and headed down to register, excitement was building. Registration was quick and aided by all the over 50’s in Panama city….. Straight after we hit the Ironman shop for some retial therapy, my second favourite pastime. The choice was huge, so much better than the expo at Lanzarote. We made a few purchases and decided to head back get the bikes together and bike the run route and then do a 30 min run. The run is roughly like a lolipop and flat as a pancake. Without even trying we were hitting 40kph comfortably. Without knowing it we passed Garrett and Derrick, they shouted at us but we never heard a thing. Back to the hotel and out for a run. It felt good, held a sub 5 min pace, 10min stretch and we chilled for the evening.

The next few days we were very relaxed and took it easy, stayed out of the sun, read , listened to music, visitied the expo again and again and plenty of early nights. We also drove about 30km of the bike to check it out. Although very flat it was really exposed and wind could be an issue.

Friday the 6th, day before the race and we were up at 6.30 and completed our last 3 sessions by 8.30, had breakfast and took it handy. We racked our bikes about 1.30pm and dropped our T1 and T2 bags into position.

As odd as it sounds we had pizza for dinner…. Very early about 2pm and then just snacked for the remainder of the evening. Paul snoozed for the afternoon, I measured the salt content in all the food I was planning on consuming to ensure I had an approx of 400mg/hr. I supplemented with salt tabs for what was missing. I packed 6 salt capsules for the bike and 6 for the run. I also had calculated my calorie intake for the full bike and run. This was to work out at 450 calories per hour on the bike and 5 gels in the run, I had practiced 5 gels on all my 30km runs and knew I could tolerate them. We were in bed by 8.30pm. I had no problem sleeping and the alarm went off at 4 am.

Race Morning:

Up at 4am for breakfast, 3 x energy bars, chocolate milk and a banana. Down to T1 with the gear bags, pump up tyres, final check of bike, nutrition, got body marked and they also put our age on our leg, must be for when you are racing people down so you know if an age grouper is in sight, didn’t think I would be worrying about that too much!! and back to the room. The 4 of us got ready in our room and joked a bit, although you could see the nerves with all of us using the loo every few mins. We had to be down at the start line at 6.30, and be corralled so I didn't get a warm-up swim in. There was soo many swimmers. I positioned to the right about 60% across and bang on time the race began. Crash, bang whack, wallop, that was it for the next 20 mins and at every buoy you turned. I swam the first 10 mins with my head out of the water........The swim was crazy, I went so wide on both laps to avoid the war zone but still ended up with a kick in the face, and lost count of those who swam over me and the number of smacks to the head. The sea was choppy and I really had to work hard in sections to keep momentum. If you slowed someone swam over you, simple as that. Still I was happy with my time and saw Garrett just ahead of me and bumped into him in T1. I exited in 1.11hr, feeling fresh, just like I planned.

Transition was well organised and quicker than I anticipated. Had the obligatory pee and I was away. The bike was so fast to begin with. Everything you read about IM says go easy in the first 90km and then pick it up. Well I was cruising at 38km/hr for the first 30km, then we hit the wind. There was nowhere to hide, although there were many peletons.... I passed so many people on the bike for them to whizz past me in a peleton, 5 mins later. It was so annoying, blatant drafting. Their IM is tainted!! I focussed well for the bike although the last 50km were very boring. I just wanted the bike over. I wanted to run. I ate and drank regularly and took in more than 6 gels during the bike. I stopped 4 times on the bike, 3 loo breaks and once for the special needs bag. You were not allowed to pee on the side of the road so every aid station has 2 porta loos. In total I reckon 8 mins of stoppages, not too bad really. On the last section coming home there was no other cyclist around me and I thought I had gone the wrong way..... Then I saw T2, what a relief. bike time 5.20hr, not bad at all and still feeling fresh.

T2 was so quick, someone collected my bike and handed me my T2 bag. My 4 min time even included a loo trip and getting suncream..... and yes I stll pee a lot during race,s but that was to be my last one. I wasn't stopping on the run. I was ready to run and was feeling good.

When I started running my legs felt great. First 6 miles were in 50mins ish. It was a route through a lot of back streets and across roads into a park and back, twice. I planned to stay as close to 50 - 53min 10kms as possible and mentally broke the course up into sections. At the half way stage I said to myself, this is when it really starts to hurt but it didn't, I felt fantastic, I increased the pace slightly on the second lap. There was a lot of athletes walking and running slower so I passed quite a few, (great for your confidence). I had run 36km in training non-stop so I knew I could do the 42km without walking. I ran through all the aid stations, spilt coke and water everywhere, had 5 gels and 3 salt tabs on the run. For the last 2 miles I picked up the pace and ran it in, just using wet sponges to cool down.

The last km was just the most amazing experience. The crowd support was fantastic, really getting behind you and all the aid stations were fancy dress, M.A.S.H, 70\'s etc. Its a little twisty running in the last segment but my pace naturally picked up and everyone is screaming at you. The finishing chute was about 80 meters in length, thronged with people and the announcer Mike Reilly, called my name and said 'Dominic O'Hanlon from Wicklow, Ireland, You are an Ironman". Deadly buzz......... I was on top of the world. I checked my run time 3.41hr. I was stunned, 20mins quicker than anticipated. It felt amazing.

As soon as you cross the line there is a helper to guide you to a seat and get you water, chicken broth etc. First you get your IM medal, T-shit and hat, then official photo. I was very weak at the end. I left it all on the course. There was nothing left.

It was such a self satisfying day. I felt and still do feel amazing and like I have stepped it up with my run. It has really made me determined to work even harder to improve more.

Looking back at my predictions I think and feel I went about the race as I planned. I was just fitter than I though I was. Everything in this race went right for me. I was very lucky. I also believe that nutrition and mental focus play a massive part in IM racing. I practiced religiously with my nutrition and ran a lot on my own during training to made me focus for long periods of time. It worked. It is a strategy I will use from now on.

When I checked the finishers sheet I was gob smacked, I came 241st overall and in the top 10%. I believe just over 2500 started. What a Result!!!!! Now for a break, Orlando here I come.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

T20 and counting....

20 days to go.

I was hoping the week was going to be easier. Its been a tough few months, in fact a tough long year. With only 20 days left I was hoping for a serious reduction in training volume. When I checked the programme I noticed, it wasn't significantly different but enough to make a difference.

Monday was a day off..... again.... taking a lot of these. It also was Moleys Birthday, 43. We went out first for a recovery cycle only for 1.15hr. We had planned 2 hrs but the bikes were giving out to us. There was a lot of creaking going on!! A trip to the cycle superstore was on the cards. How much this time I wonder? Of course when I got there, I forgot about money and was like a kid in a sweet shop. I got a new shorts and tri top, for the race and left the bike in for a service, knowing I needed a lot of work done. Then it was off to the pool where we did 100 repeats. A 300 warm up then 25 100's on 1.40 with 20 sec recovery per 100. I felt great at the end.

Tuesday: a day off..... A run was planned but we were on 'The Restaurant' for next seasons show and had to travel to Athlone so between work etc it wasn't going to happen.

Wednesday: another long day, drive from Athlone to work, long day at work then off for a quick run prior to an accupunture session. I did an hour on the threadmill and ended at 13.5km/hr pace. Focussed on my form although its difficult in the gym, its a different type of running. Alex worked on my calves, loads of knots to undo and did accupunture on both my knees. Although sore I always feel better after these sessions.

Thursday: Turbo day or speed run. Based on the volume I have been running in the past 8 week I decided to skip the speed run and do the turbo instead. The main set consisted of( 2 x 2mins with a 15sec rest between then 12min hard, 2.5min easy) x 2. I love these sessions. Short and hard.

Friday: Took another day off, had agreed with my boss as I wanted another mini block prior to the main part of the taper. I did a pyramid session which consisted of 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 500, 400, 300, 200, 100 and a 200 cool down. Total 3.8km. Thats the first 3.8km I've swum since IM Lanza. I used the pull buoy on a couple of the sets but went back to kicking towards the end. As a session it worked for me as I got distance and maintained my sub 1.40 pace for the lot.

Saturday: 5 hr bike planned, weather to be dreadful. Ah well, we've had a great 2 months of weather so no complaints. we left at 10 instead of 9 and met up with Cian and Eanna. I'm really enjoying cycling with others again. We have trained so much and so hard on our own this year. We were lucky.... we only had 2 heavy showers. Today we hit the hills a bit more, felt like fun. I need more fun in my cycling. Ended up with 4hr 35mins, then the heavens opened. We finished on 125km. A drop of about 40km on our normal Saturday cycle.

So the week is nearly over, 2 weeks left today. I'm a little nervous, usual questions, have I done enough, am I fast enough, will I puncture, what will I do if I puncture, what will I wear......

One day of this week left, a 2 hr run planned. Probably do a similar route to the last few weeks, again focus on technique and holding my pace. Will let you know how it went.

2 hrs planned for today and well I just wasn’t up to it. No, that’s a lie. I was but I just didn’t feel motivated. Not sure why, legs were fine, no injuries. Think the toll of training is catching up with me. We decided on an out and back route and we cut the time by 15mins. As it was now to be 1.45hr we didn’t leave out any water and didn’t use any gels. We both started together and were holding an ok pace 5.15min/hr, slow for me a little faster than normal for Paul. However, I was fine with that. I just wanted to complete the time, distance was irrelevant. When we got to Ashford, I felt a lot better in myself so picked up the pace and ran at 4.30min/km for about 3km, just a little test really to check how I was doing. When you are running well you really notice the fluidity and it feels great. Then I doubled back and continued the run with Paul. We held a 5.05min pace (I think) for the remainder of the run. I ended up running 20km in 1.42hr, not my finest ever run but 20km all the same. I was happy with it as I felt fine and recovery from the run would be quick. Real taper starts tomorrow, every second day off wahoooooooooooo. Oh sh*t, that means the race is around the corner!!!!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The week before the taper starts.......

Start of another week. What would it bring I wondered!! Even though we are only 4 weeks out, the volume hasn't reduced much, if any, at all. I realised this week that I have been uttering the same words over and over again. Thy are 'I feel so tired'..... So with that in mind I decided to have a smarter week, relax a little more, and build up the energy reserves for the weekend.

Monday: As mentioned above I was feeling tired but had arranged to meet Eanna for a 2 hr spin Monday morning. Legs were a little heavy but I had run 31km yesterday. I stayed in the low front ring and spun the legs until I met up with Eanna and we headed out to Aughrim and back. It went great, legs felt so much better after I had finished. Had a quick shower and off to the gym for a weights session.

Spent 45mins there and did the 12 exercises. This is the last week of weights. This is great as it will free up some time to recover. This is also frightening as it means we are getting close to D-day. After the weights I had a massage and Alex worked on my knees and rubbed out the knots in my calves. I need a few more sessions to get them right.

Monday evening, I joined up with the WTC crowd for the swim session. We threw out approx 2500m. i was hapy enough with that. I'm not swimming enough and plan in the next 2 weeks to throw in a session or two of long slow swims to get the feel for the water again.

Tuesday: I did the speed bike on the turbo. It was tough. After the warm up etc the main part was a 20min TT, with a negative split and then 8 x 30secs sprints and a cool down. Took about 1 hr, but it was a tough one hour.


Mid week run day. I met up with Jenn and we headed out to Ashford. I planned on 1.2ohr. As soon as I started I started, I knew it wasn't there. Legs were heavy. I plodded on, hooked up with Jenn and well we just ran the best we could. I really wanted to stop but I've been running really well, even when tired so thought my legs would return. They didn't. I got home a little dejected, 1.17hr and only 15km ran. I stretched and tried to understand why it had gone wrong. Conclusion, I'm really tired.

Thursday: I decided to have an easy one so tonight I just did my weights set. I left out the speed run, thought my legs could do with the rest. An easy night, 45mins of weights. The rest of the night was spent on the couch.

Friday: I had planned long swim Friday as I only had swam once this week. Was late leaving work, got back to Wicklow, pool was booked, drove to Greystones and had forgotten my goggles and hat, so with the hump I went home. I ended up doing another 45mins of weights and had another easy night. Two easy days in a row, its been so long!!

Saturday: Long day planned (again), I had a lie on and only left today at 10.40am. An extra few hours sleep, ya gotta love it. We headed out to Glenealy, Rathdrum, Clash, Aughrim, Carnew, Gorey, Arklow, Woodenbridge, Aughrim, Rathdrum, Laragh, Annamoe, Roundwood, Ashford, Fruit farm, Rathnew and Wicklow, 160km, 5.30hr, quick change and out for a run, did my usual, fastest ever, 25.30min for 6km, sub 4.20min/km off the bike, deadly, looks like I needed the 2 day rest. I felt great. Confidence grew today. I felt strong on the bike, particularly the latter end. I ate well too, 2 gels 2 bars, 1 banana, 1 electrolyte drink, 1 coke and 1 water. Tomorrow is 2.20hr run. Not sure what route I'll take but reckon I'll go a little easier. I plan on doing approx 26km.
Sunday: It must be a sign of fitness but I’ve noticed I’m feeling much better on the morning after my long ride. Today I felt great. Legs didn’t feel at all heavy. We were scheduled for 2.20hr run. We also had planned the same route, the feck*n fruit farm loop. If I see that loop again it’ll be too soon. Nothing wrong with it per se, I just don’t like the coast road as it is extremely dangerous and the hedges haven’t been cut back all year so you are constantly crossing the road at corners to ensure your safety.

Moley, Jamie, Jenn and myself set off, all of us with our own goal in mind, mine close to 30km at an even pace, have 3 gels and focus on smoothness of technique. I went nice and easy for the first 3-4km, to loosen up and ensure my muscles were warm. Then just got into my stride. While it didn’t feel hard, it didn’t feel easy!!! If that makes sense.

I had my first gel at about 8km, early enough, just to make sure really, topping up the reserves, then another at 19km and 22km. Really I didn’t space the gels well enough but I got caught out with the placement of the water stops.

I finished up on 2.17hr with exactly 29km completed. I was thrilled. I really felt that I managed to control my pace for teh duration of the run and there was definitely more in the tank.
Roll on next week......

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

5 weeks and counting

The hard work is now complete (I hope) and from now on the focus will be on staying fit, fresh, sharp, injury free and getting rid of any little niggles that have been hanging around and there are a few. Specifically my knees. With 60km a week running, for the last 6 weeks, I've noticed an increase in my knee pain. However, the milage (now that we are metric, whats the equivalent word? kilometerage???) Anyway I digress..... should decrease so I'll get a few more accupunture sessions in, lots of ice and stretching and it should be good for D-day.

I mention above that the hard work is complete, what am I saying.... this week I have to do approx 20hrs so really I mean next week it'll get easier, I hope.

After the long Sunday run, 36km, I took a day off work and started the day with an easy turbo for an hour to flush out remaining lactic from the run. I assume it was lactic, probably muscle damage. Anyway, I stayed below 35km/hr (easy on a turbo). After that it was off to the pool for a swim session. I did one of the coach's sets and racked up 3,500m. Delighted. I used the pull buoy a little too much but my legs were sore so I allowed myself!! After a quick shower it was up to the gym and I did one of the 'chisel' sessions. These are 2 x 12 of the 12 exercises we have been given performed in a faster fashion to stimulate the muscles. 

I was so hungry after all that that I could resist a coffee slice!!, my guilty pleasure.

Tuesday: Legs still a wee bit sore so instead of my mid week run I opted for the speed turbo session. It was slightly easier than last week and lasted for about 1hr. 5 mins stretching and I was done, an easy night.

Wednesday: Today was run day. The programme was for a 1.30hr run but I was running late from work so opted to run 14km instead. It was a cold evening, leggings were back on (argh winter is setting i and the season is not over yet). I went at a nice pace felt good considering the milage that we have been doing. I headed for Ashford and turned at the roundabout where you can turn onto the M11. I got home in 1.06hr, which was fine. stretched for 10mins as I have a knot in my left calf that is giving me a bit of hassle.

Thursday: Another run, yay!! tonight was a speed run. I decided to go the same route as last night to see what, if there would be any difference in overall distance covered or time taken to complete the course. The session was warm up, a few pick ups then 12 mins hard, 5 recovery, 9 hard 3 recovery, 6 x 1 mins with 30 sec recovery and 6 x 30secs with 15secs recovery and a cool down. It was a great session. I noticed how much harder I hit the ground when running at a faster speed!! Also, the last section of the session was tough as I was tired and it was constant shifting of gear, fast slow, fast, slow. I ened up completing the run 4 mins quicker than the previous night, so 14km in 1.02hr, which was interesting to see. Even with the recovery sections within the session, my overall average pace was higher. Finished with a long stretch, calf issues......

Friday: Day off, unplanned but happy to take it to be honest. Big weekend ahead.

Saturday: Today was supposed to be 7hrs and a 30min break but we opted for 5.30hr and a brick. Eanna joined us on the bike today which was great as it can get a wee bit boring and repetitive on our own. We headed out to Rathdrum, Aughrim, Gorey, Arklow, Woodenbridge, Rathdrum, Laragh, Roundwood, Kilmacanogue and home. Total was 165km in 5.30hr, quick change and a 6km run. I felt great for the whole day which was a surprise. I stayed for a long time in the small chain ring and increased my cadence to stay with the others. It worked. For the last 2 hrs I was pushing a big gear. Legs felt ok tonight. Spent the rest of the day watching the World Champs in Kona, fantastic race for the men and a show of true class for the women with Chrissie Wellington romping home and breaking the 17yr record Paula Newby-Frazer had.

Sunday: Started with a lie in as it was 3am when I got to bed. Plan was 2.40hr. A cracking day. Jenn and Jamie joined us, Jenn for the first loop and Jamie was out for a 10km interval. I didn't reall see them much as I pretty much hit my pace straight away and just went with it. We decided on a two loop strategy, 1 large and a smaller second. While my legs felt a little heavy I kept to my 4.40-4.50min/km pace. I had 3 gels over the course of the run, 10km, 17km and 25km. I felt pretty good through out and just tried to keep focused on my running style and running tall. I bumped into Jamie, who was on his way home on my second lap and also ran into Paula Humby at 26km. Paula was out for 8miles easy, she's in the taper mode for the Dublin Marathon. She's flying.... Dublin will be no bother to her. I ended up going back out to Ashford to make up my time as I had finished the 2 loops in 2.06. I added another 5km and finished fairly strong in 2.28 for 31km. More stretching, home, took an anti-inflammatory as my knee was tender.

The run finished a long week. Did I get out of it what I wanted??? yes and no. Negative only 1 swim, positives 4 tough runs, 3 bikes and 2 weights. In total, 16hrs, 4 less than required but I'm fine with that. The sessions were quality.

What will next week bring...... oh I reckon more of the same. Each week is like groundhog day for me at the moment!!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Mr Grump.

After the previous week of 20 hrs, I was all geared up for another big week. Things change so quick.

Monday morning I felt great, off to work, planned on a trip to the gym that evening and a swim. As the day progressed I started to feel lethargic and legs were getting a little stiffer, not surprising considering was I had put them through the previous 2 days. Anyway, by the time I got home I was so so so grumpy. Paul had managed a 3km swim during the day and was planning an hour on the turbo to loosen his legs and remove any remaining lactic. I think I was grump cos he was feeling so well and I was suffering. Also, a bit peeved that he can get a luchtime session in, something I have never been able to do.

I decided to go and do some weights and core, didn't go to the gym, have a few weights at home so plodded upstairs and completed about 45mins.

Tuesday morning I completed my swim in the pool, mainly drills, I'm conscious that I'm not getting enough long swims in, need to rectify that. That evening I did my mid week long run, 1.30hr, 16km, about 2km slower than normal for me but I took it easy, stayed with Paul and Jenn. I needed an easy run. A lot of them have been tough lately. 

Wednesday was a speed turbo session, roughly 70mins. I enjoy these sessions, short but tough and boy do you sweat.

Thursday wasn't a good day I felt miserable, sneezing all day and running eyes, think I had a head cold, but then again it could have just been the reaction to the chlorine in the Wicklow pool, it always gives me grief. I took it easy, took some antihistamines and sneezed my way through the rest of the evening.

Friday: as I didn't get my swim in Thursday I went to the pool and knocked out 2500m, then home and completed another 45mins of weights, and then in the evening, put on my wetsuit and went down to the harbour and did approx 1500m, not bad an easy day!!

Saturday, long cycle day, getting a bit tired of these....... programme was for 6hr 15mins. We were planning on 5 laps to Kilmac and back. First 2 went fine but we were both feeling tired on lap 3. Planned to stop for a break at the end of the third loop, but Paul got a puncture and had to limp home..... I went on to Glenealy, deputy's pass and home another hour. Ended up 4.45hrs and 140km, alright but not great.

Sunday was an early start, up at 7am planned on a 3hr run. Met the guys at 8.30 and planned to do 3 laps on the Murrough. I went with the guys pace for the first lap, pace was way too fast for me so I slowed to my own pace and ran with Siobhan. The lads were stopping after 2 so were holding a right old pace. After the rest finished I had to complete another full lap and a half lap. I ended up holding my sub 5min/km pace for the full run, 2.54hr in total, 36.2km, consumed 2 gels along the way and not nearly enough water... I need to learn from that.

For the week my total training was 3 swims, 2 bikes, 2 runs, 2 weights, approx 15hrs. NOT a great week, but it ended on a high. The run was great, felt strong right up until the last 20mins, I reckon that was due to poor nutrition.

Thats it..... 5 weeks to go....... Tune in next week for an update!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A heavy week

Last week was a tough one! I hit 20 hours of training and it looked a little like this:


Weights set in the am and a 1500m sea swim in the evening. The previous Saturday and Sunday were heavy days so I wanted an more recovery day on Monday.

Tuesday: I had a 2km swim (drills) in the morning, then has a snooze and a 60km bike ride in the afternoon. I had another snooze and followed this with a 21km run. I hadn’t expected to go so far but on the way home I went to meet Jenn and Moley but they had gone a different direction so I ended up ding an additional 4km ran for 1hr 42min.

Wednesday: Committee meeting tonight so I just about managed to get in my speed bike, tough session, boy did I sweat. Held a high gear, and was happy with the session.

Thursday: Speed run. It took 65mins and I covered 12km, great session, legs heavy to begin but they loosened up as the session went on. Managed to get home in time to do the swim session, 2km, mainly drills, cramped at the end…. I though I had hydrated enough but obviously not enough electrolytes….

Friday: An easy day at last…. Had this one planned, rest day in prep for the weekend. However I ended up going down to the harbour in Wicklow for a 2km swim and it was GORGEOUS. Perfect conditions, no wind, little current, no chop. There was about 6 of us in total and we went around the boats out by the block to a buoy, down to the corner out to Marine house and back to the block and back around the boats. Not cold at all. I really enjoyed the swim, felt great.

Saturday: Big day Saturday! On my own today, Paul went to a wedding. I decided not to go as I didn’t know the couple and didn’t want to upset my training Plan. With that in mind I decided to test my fitness as I was going to be on my own. The session planned was a 5.30hr bike and a 30min brick run. I wanted to simulate some of the conditions I am going to face in Florida, so with that in mind I set my route, 4 laps to Kilmacanogue and back, then make up the additional time with a small loop. I set off at 8.55am, and headed to Ashford and onto the N11. The first lap was great, stayed in the aero position for all of it except the climbs. I used this period to stretch my back out. I’m not flexible enough to last an entire race in the aero position so the plan on the day will be 25mins aero, 5 up and stretch. After1 hr 20, I was back in Ashford and say the lads going out for a spin, had a quick chat, was tempted to go but stayed true to the session and cycled off on my own back up to kilmac. Again a good lap, pretty much the same as the first, back in Ashford for the second time I turned at the roundabout and off I went again, one pee stop, removed my gilet and off I was again, 3rd lap, still ok , maybe not as much in the aero but speed was high at 32km/hr at 110km. When I got back to Ashford after the third lap I stopped for a bottle of coke and a Bounty, bumped into my mum and dad (they think I’m crazy, they just don’t get what motivates me!!) and off I went, neck was sore at this stage so aero was an adhoc affair. Still as my speed was high, I have motivation to keep it there, in aero or not. I arrived back to Ashford as the lads finished their cycle. I’m glad I stuck to my plan as they had a lot of punctures and breaks. While they got 80km completed, I had 120km in the same time, albeit on a flatter road surface. 35mins remaining so I headed out to Coynes Cross and then out to Glenealy and back home to make up the time. I covered 182km in 5.34hr, I was chuffed. Transition was quick, and off I was for my 6km run, usual route, 4 climbs. I wanted to hold close to 5min/km, at 2km I was ahead, 3, 4 5 and 6 km I stayed ahead, I ran at 4.30min/km. On reflection that was too fast a speed for the first 6km, legs were sore at the end. It would have been better to hold back a bit. I stretched for 10mins, especially the glutes, hammers, calves and back. Compression tights and socks were on for the evening. I fed myself well and went for a sleep for 2 hours. I took the night easy as I had a big run on the Sunday with Liam and Siobhan in the Phoenix Park. A place I have never run before.

Sunday: 7am came early, had breakfast and coffee. I had my gear ready from the night before so I had minimal to do just eat and go. I drove to Liams and we headed off to collect Siobhan. I was nervous, why? I knew my legs felt heavy and Liam is a fast runner and Siobhan’s pace I wasn’t too sure of. I suppose I didn’t want to be left behind. We parked at the rowing club, got changed and away we went for a 32km run, two laps of the park. I was trying an IM top to see how comfy it was (it wasn’t, too small and restrictive on my breathing). Once we got into the park I was in new territory so just tried to stay with the guys. I was told it would be flat, it wasn’t, but it was gorgeous, lots of different terrain, woodland, grass, footpath, GAA fields. Your eyes were looking at the ground a lot to ensure you stayed upright. We had deposited drinks around the course which was great as they were ideally placed and we passed each bottle drop point twice. My legs were feeling heavy but manageable. I was curious to see how I’d go. I expected to be tested as I was running with Liam who is so much faster than me. Lap one finished in 75mins 15km, 5min/km, perfect pacing. This would be a sub 4 hr marathon. Legs were heave but I managed to hold that pace all the way around. I have 2 gels in total and a few jelli beans and power shots for nutrition alon the way. I should have had another gel but hey you live and learn. We picked the pace up for the last 5 km ad lost Siobhan, we turned back to catch up with her at the end and used it as recovery. We didn’t find her so assumed she had gone back to change. She has fallen on the first lap and he elbow was cut and knee bruised. Liam got us to pick up the pace right at the end to flush the legs and to remind them what speed was!!!! That hurt. All in all we completed 32km in under 2.40mins. On tired legs….. u gotta be happy with that! We stretched showered , changed and went into town for lunch. It tasted so good……… it was late before I got home but I had a bath to relax and had a great sleep that night. Then Monday came and the week started again……. Race hurry up…. I need a break.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Training for IM Florida - Update

Wow, its been a while since I updated my blog. So what’s happened…… well it’s just been all IM training for Florida to be honest. I have been getting in 3 bikes, 1 turbo, 2 x road), 3-4 runs, weights x 2 and some swimming. I’ve eased off on the swimming, not too sure why but I need to pick it up again as there is only 6 weeks left until race day.

Weight training. This has been sporadic, finally I’m getting 2 sessions in a week. I started slowly and build up to 2/3 sets of 12/15 for the 12 exercises I have been doing. This week started the power phase, which is split over 2 sessions and increases the weight for 6 of the exercises at a time, doing reps of 10, 8, 6, and keep the other 6 exercises at 12/15 x 2 reps, then on the second lifting day you lift heavier on the remaining 6 exercises.

Cycling: cycling started off slowly once we got to 5 hours plus…. The first 5 hr went pretty badly for me. I think it was due to the weight session 2 days previous, I felt very lethargic. Because of this I went out on my own the following week for my long cycle to build a bit of confidence. It worked, I had a great cycle, with the exception of a broken spoke 2 punctures and a buckled wheel at the end of the session and I had to walk 3km home. Since that I have been getting in a min of 3 sessions per week, 1 turbo, 1 LSD (not so slow though) and 1 2-3hr road. For the last 4 weeks I have clocked approx 250-270km per week. I’m happy with how the bike is progressing but I only fell about 80% ready. I hope that’s a good thing….. don’t want to peak too early!!

Running: This is going fantastically well for me. I finished the tri season with my best 5 and 10km runs and its just getting better. I’m running 4 times a week, inclusive of 1 brick, totalling approx 50-60km per week. 1 LSD, 30km, 1 speed, 8-10km, 1 brick 6km and I mid week run 15-21km. My form is really improving and I feel my aerobic efficiency has increased. I’m trying to keep my HR under control and below 150 for all runs. I’m not doing too bad at this, definitely improving. Currently I’m at 2.30hr runs, best run being 31km in 2.25hr.

I’m also including a big day Tuesday…… where I do a swim set at 7am, then a speed run and weights set in the evening or instead of the run and weights a bike and run split over the day (if I’m off work). I’m at the 18hr per week stage of the training plan.

In addition, I’m eating relatively well, have cut down on my dairy intake (believe it can be bad for digestive issues), practicing the number and timing of taking on nutrients in the form of gels on the runs, so far so good. This is an area which has caused me concern for the last 2 IM, not enough fuel taken on during the run. IM Florida will be different. I know I’m capable of a sub 4 hr run and it is one of my remaining goals for the season. I was out by 8 mins in IM Lanzarote. Based on my long Sunday runs (day after 185km on bike) projecting out my time for 30km and allowing for slowing up I could possible achieve a time of 3.40hr. Now I’m not holding myself to that but with a great taper and a good bike and run its achievable. We’ll see how it goes. I might regret writing this down….. Sub 4hr is the goal anything else is a massive bonus.

Monday, August 24, 2009

12 days - 6 races

Just completed a tough 12 days of racing and training. I hadn't realised there was so much going on until I was in the middle of it. It started with the 1/2 IM in Puharve on 08/08/09, previous blog, the following Wednesday was a Wicklow sea swim club race, approx 1km. Calm water which I always like to see. Race went well, as usual got onto someone's feet and drafted for the first half, then when I felt lose, I pushed on to the finish. A solid race for me but based on my handicap, approx 8mins I ended up on page 2 of the results page, a common occurance for me. 2 days later on the Friday night, another swim race (re-scheduled race due to bad weather). This one was outside the harbour, along the coast, out to the end of the pier and then finish at the platform. I had a cunning plan...... I was on the same handicap as Denis, who is a very similar pace to myself and is excellent at reading the best line to take. I got onto his feet and stayed there until we came around the block, then I kicked and made it in 3 seconds ahead of him, not nice but hey, its a race..... I had a really got time 14.20ish for about 900m, felt good on the swim too, strong. I probably push a little too hard considering I was off to Mullingar the following morning for an Olympic distance triathlon, the Caroline Kearney Memorial Triathlon.


6am……. Early start, bike packed, gear ready, we were off. Got there in 1.30hr. Weather was brutal, lashing rain. This was looking like it was going to be a disaster, similar to the Lough Neagh Tri the previous year, same day.


Got registered, great goodie bag, nearly as good as the Beast’s. We got a gym towel and a visor, along with a free haircut and a drink and bar and a food voucher for after the race….. nice….. I racked my bike, numbered slots for everyone, big transition, plenty of room and was right beside Moley. Got all my stuff together. I was running in the Newtons…. First 10km in them. I was a little nervous as to how my calves would take the distance. I have only been doing 5km’s in them to date. Listened to the race briefing, heard the course was flat and fast, excellent and off to the lake I went. My tactics today were stay ahead of Jim Corbett and John Mercer. Additionally I was trying a new nutrition strategy, gels, gels, and more gels.


I positioned myself close to John in the swim as we are fairly similar, Jim is a much better swimmer, if I tried to stay with him I’d end up anerobic and blow up. While chatting to John and his mate the whistle blew and we were off, didn’t get to start my garmin as it had come out of the GPS page, arghhhhhh However, that’s was ok, I’d just go on how I felt. I swam on John’s feet for a few hundred, recurring theme for me, and then felt strong so pushed on. All the sea swimming is starting to pay dividends. Noticed one guy doing the breast stroke, and remember thinking, he’s flying, took a minute to pass him. The swim felt long, there was someone one my feet the whole way, its so annoying, I wonder am I that annoying when I draft off them??? Finished the swim in 28.12min, happy with that for a lake swim, Liam Collins and Mark Jeffers were just ahead of me. The race with Mark and myself was on. I assumed John was behind me and Jim ahead. I was to realize later that it was Jim doing the breast stroke, he pushed too hard initially and gone anerobic, lost his breath and had to ease off the gas. I had a good T1 and decided to hammer the bike as it was a flat course….. not!! Also I needed to make time on John Mercer and Mark as they could potentially close me down on the run. I found a good cadence and rhythm on the bike and worked hard. I had 2 gels, one at 10km and the other at 30km, I drank 500ml water and 500ml electrolyte. I worked the drags hard to make distance and pushed any decents I came too. The course is not flat by the way, its rolling and the road surface is not fantastic. Oh the weather had cleared and it was turning into a nice day, bonus. I passed plenty of people on the bike and only got passed by about 3-5 people. I came into T2 after 1.12hr, feeling strong, Transition was quick, 45secs, newtons and visor on, 2 x gels in pocket, I was off.


Once you exited transition, the run took you up a lane onto the road, approx 1km, then another 1km on the straight to a turn around. Scotty shout that Jamie was 2 mins ahead so I had my first target, get to Jamie. It took a few mins to spot him but once I did I had focus. After the turn around, you run a few hundred meters and turn into a lane, 2 km out and 2 km back. Just before I turned into the lane I saw Jim….. I was ahead of him….. then as I turned into the lane I spotted John behind Jim, ah feck that boy can run. I dug in the heels and pushed. I passed Jamie 100 meters into the lane and then just stayed focused on my pace, 4.10-4.15min/km. I had a gel at the aid station. I knew I’d get to see the lads again at the turnaround to see if they were closing the gap or not. The turn was just at 5km, glanced at my watch, 20.36min, excellent, good pace. I timed the gap to Jim and John so I knew I had 2mins on Jim and 3 on John. I also saw, Fergus, Moley, Tom, Liam, Paul Mahon, Hugh, Brendan Borland. Adam, Darren and Andy were ahead of me. When I got to the aid station the second time I just grapped water, plan was to take another gel but I was feeling strong so decided not too, would I regret that….. Just after 7km you get back onto the main road for a pretty much straight finish to the end. I clocked my pace, 4.20min/km, slowing, dug deeper. I really wanted to stay ahead of the lads and knew I was on for a run PB. 1km to go, feeling really tired, why didn’t I take the gel, glanced back didn’t see the lads, got to the entrance of the park, slightly uphill, kept my pace and ran in to the finish, second 5km 20.46min, fantastic, run was 41.40min in total, race time 2.24hr. I had never broke 45min for 10km off a bike so was thrilled. John caught Jim and came in just under 4 mins after me, jim, just under 5.5mins after me and Mark, 6.5 min after me. Great, I won my race within a race. Moley finished with a PB in the run with a 50min 10km, 2.37hr in total. All WTC seemed happy, except Cian and Jim who had issues in the swim. Packed up, had some grub and home by 4.30, shattered. Enjoyed a share of a bottle of wine and an Indian, nice….. Next race Sea swim Sunday morning.




Tired today… knew I would be. The swim was around the harbour, roughly 1km. I was eager to get my handicap and check with Denis on his as there was only 3 seconds between us on the previous swim, we should be off together, he’d cream me today as I was feeling wrecked. Well, I was off at 9.10 and Denis, 8.30…… I was lost for words. How can a handicapper get it so wrong and do it so consistently…….


I noticed closer to the time I was off with Pat, who is normally 30 seconds minimum ahead of me, yep, that makes sense. I decided to try and stick with him. When we went, I started quicker so just went with it but by the first buoy Pat was ahead. I tucked into his draft and the aim was to hold on as long as I could. I went alright for the next 400m, until we started to cross the mouth of the harbour. Either Pat accelerated or I slowed but the gap grew and I was alone. I had nothing else to give so I just kept plodding away until the end. I was pretty close to the back but we’ll see how bad it was when I check the times.


WTC Aquathlon III 19/08/09

This was the 6th race in 12 days for me. How would I fare? I had a race within a race here, John and Jim were both out for revenge after the triathlon the previous Saturday when I had a good day and finished ahead of them both. I left work and got to Bray early, got changed, tried to stay hydrated, registered. It wasn’t a great evening, drizzly, heavy in parts. I had an energy bar 45minutes before the race and a gel 20mins before, why? I dunno, but I felt tired and though it would perk me up a bit. An espresso would have probably worked better J, mmmhhhh espresso……….


The swim was going north tonight, same as last month. However the buoy was really close to shore, not sure why they did that tonight. The water wasn’t that choppy. Maybe they wanted us to hammer hell out of each other on the turn?!!!! I lined myself up close to the front, John was behind me, I’m not sure where Jim was. I’m not sure why I was so eager to be at the front. I think I was thinking that if I made a minute on John in the swim and was reasonably close to Jim, I could stay ahead of one and catch the other. Tactics, tactics, tactics.


The race started, mayhem….. I was anaerobic in about 50m. I really wanted to get around the buoy before the bunch. I did, sort off… and settled into the swim. Someone was on my feet, they kept slapping them, I criss-crossed a bit to try and shake them off but no joy. I noticed Tom on my left and he passed me so I jumped onto his feet. Then I realized he was veering to the left so I swam over him to get back on track, sorry Tom, rounded the last buoy and headed for dry land. I kicked like hell to get the blood flowing into my legs and ready for the run cos I knew it was going to be a brisk pace.


Out of the swim, up the beach, wetsuit half way off, then at T1, felt a smack on my ass, John Mercer was right behind me, cheeky fecker, just a slap to let me know he was there…..It was John who was drafting off me in the swim. Right, leg it, I thought. I had used baby oil on the legs of my wetsuit, to help get it off quicker. It has a habit of catching at my ankles, I must have fat ankles!! It flew off, must remember to use that again. Runners on, visor in hand, I was off, and low and behold John transitioned quicker than me, I knew it was now going to be tough to catch and pass him. John had a faster 10km than me in Mullingar. We rounded onto the prom and I could see Jim ahead of John and I’m sure Tom was there aswell. After the first cone it’s a straight run along the prom and up the hill. John and myself caught Jim within the first 500m, I pushed a little harder then, to get closer to John. I stayed on his feet at his pace until my breathing eased, I was panting a lot. At the beginning of the hill I noticed John was slowing so I thought maybe this is my time and passed him. The hill is probably 150m in all, I stayed ahead until the top but he was on my heels, this was going to be a close race. John passed me on the descent and I muttered ‘I’m fu*ked’ as he passed. I worked really hard to stay close to him and managed to just stick on. A minute or two later, I thought I needed to push on again and hold it this time or John would fly past me in a sprint at the end. I made my move and went past. I didn’t go nuts just up’ed the pace and kept it there. He came with me as I knew he would, he wanted this as much as me. I held the pace and got a little gap. At the turn for the second lap I was 15 – 20m ahead. I held the gap down the prom for the second time and headed up the hill. It hurt. At the turn, Mark Jeffers was 5 yards ahead of me and Fergus another 5 ahead of him. John was 20 – 30m behind at the top of the hill, I think, but closing. I didn’t look at him, I pushed on trying to keep pace with the guys in front. I glanced back when I was on the straight, I knew I had him, he wasn’t going to close the gap. However, Darragh ‘happy pear’ Flynn was closing fast. Just as well there was only 50m to go. I didn’t catch Mark (ahead by 1 second) or Fergus (ahead by 16 seconds), but held off John (by 24 seconds) and Darragh (by 11 seconds). A good nights work. I was shattered but relieved. A good chat with the lads after and we discussed what our race tactics were……. Our race within a race was over.


After three WTC Aquathlons the WTC order was:

1.            Fergus McGrath

2.            John Mercer

3.            Dominic O'Hanlon


The results were based on cumulative time. While I finished ahead of John in 2 of the 3 races, he finished ahead of me by a greater margin in the first race. Fergus finished ahead of us both in the 3 races, not by much mind…. Note to self…. Work on your swimming!!!!


I’m delighted at how I fared over the three races. I haven’t done any real speed work this year and the races have helped me enormously. Well done to the Aquathlon committee, especially Darren and Andy and all the marshals on the night shouting encouragement. A great little race series. I’m already looking forward to 2010 and my race within a race.




Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Puhajarve 1/2 IM 08/08/09

It was during the Lanzarote IM 2009 that Paul and myself decided to take part in the Puhajarve Triathlon in Estonia. Actually it was before we had completed the IM, we were feeling brave.

The race is organised by triple IM champion Ain-Alar Juhanson, who had a stand at the IM expo. Ain is a really nice guy and we had met him the year previously in Probike and Paul had bought his Scott Plasma from him too. We signed up and well forgot about it until we came home from Lanzarote. 

On returning home we checked out the website to see the profile of the course, ohhhh, looked like a mini Lanzarote, hilly bike and hilly run, nerves were kicking in and it was 8 weeks away and we were feeling very lethargic since the IM. About a week before the race we were informed the long hill was getting a bit longer, lovely.....

We flew over on the 7th, and were collected by Andreas in Riga. Puhajarve is equi-distant from Riga and Tallin, so it worked out better for us to fly to and from Riga. The race started at 11 on the 8th so traveling on the Friday the 7th, we felt we would be rested before the race.

We took the option to stay in the Puhajarve Spa Hotel, right on transition, it was perfect and so cheap. The swim is in the Puhajarve lake (Holy lake), the bike is a 3 lap, 31km loop, and the run beside the lake a mix of path, trail, road and hills. T1 and T2 were set up on the tennis courts and it was all very IM style, warm up, T1 and T2 bags, very well organised. A perfect setting for a race.

Race day:
There was no rush as the race started at 11 and honestly everyone seemed so relaxed, very much a friendly atmosphere. Temperature mid 20's. 

I had a bit of a set back the night before putting my bike together, the ergostem system on the Look 496, crap system by the way, has a grooved washer (shimmy) that holds the handle bars in place, well it was broke in three, probably happened when I crashed a few weeks, yet was not noticed when I sent it in for repair. Anyway enough moaning, I didn't have a spare so had to piece it together and tighten the bolt as hard as I could to keep the shattered pieces in place for the race. What a start.....

Bikes were racked and warm up, T1 and T2 bags deposited. Then it was off to the swim start, 2 loops of 950m, with a 10m in and out after the first loop. Quick warmup complete, Whistle blew and off we went. 
No hassle in the lake which was great, not much bumping or slaps at all. I settled into a nice rhythm and got onto someone's feet and just concentrated on form. 1st lap 16 mins, quick run and into the water again, same again for me, back onto someone's feet and around again, 17 mins this time. Happy with that, didn't feel like I expended too much energy at all.

The race was so well organised, picked up my T1 bag and off to change. Onto the bike and off.

The bike was tough, 1st lap was about getting to know the course to see for laps 2 and 3 where to go hard and where to ease up, well that was the plan.

I eneded up just going as hard as I could for it all. It was a really undulating course with a couple of steep climbs to begin so HR remained high for a while. I didn't think I was riding that well and expected Moley to fly passed me, end of lap 1, no sign of him, lap 2, no sign of him, lap 3, no sign of him. Maybe I was going alright after all. I didn't have my Garmin as it froze just before the race so was using my run monitor. I averaged 32.4km/hr for the bike, 93km, 2.50hr. Into T2, collected my bag on with the runners, visor, gels and off I went. Plan for this was to consume gels and run an even pace. I find it really hard in long distance races to maintain food consumption right to the end. By the time the run comes along I just don't want to eat. I aimed for 4 gels and a pack of power shots.

I started the run well found my pace, 4.50-5.00 min/km, went to the first turn around (2km out) and then expected to meet Moley on the way back. The lead athlete passed me in the first 5 mins, in the opposite direction, 10km ahead of me, lovely!!!, Also saw Stefan (IM Florida 2007 winner), Ain and Moley on the way back, he was going well but cramping a bit. I knew the feeling, pushed the bike a bit too hard I think. The run was a mix of footpath, trail and road and it was very hilly 2 laps. But it was so enjoyable. I kept to the plan and had all my gels and powerbar shots. I really noticed the difference with 5km to go. 
My pace stayed the same yet I was passing some people. This really encouraged me and with 2km to go I push on as hard as I could to the finish. As you came around the last bend, you had a 60m run on the grass between barriers to the finish which was on a stage. All the flags of the nations competing were along the final straight also, which was a nice touch.

After the race there was plenty of food and refreshments. There was even a tub to get into and soak!!!! I couldn't resist. I finished the run in 1.49hr and my total time was 5.20hr. I was thrilled. It was a tough course, one which I wanted to stop on numerous occasions.

Would I recommend this race to others. Most definitely. It was extremely well organised and loads of little nice touches like the national flags, the warm-up, T1 and T2 bags, great race t-shirts, stunning venue, quiet roads, fun atmosphere, great food on and off the course. Also, we were collected from and brought back to the airport all part of the entry fee, which was 95 euro.

Mark it down in your diary 07/08/10, Puhajarve Triathlon. 

Not to be missed. 

Ain wears WTC beenie Ain & Stefan wear WTC gear

Wicklow Open Swim 02/08/09

I did my first open sea swim a few weeks back. A sunday morning, bit of a hangover on me.... and the race was about 2km. This is an open swim for all sea swim clubs. Race started for the men at 11 and 12 for the women. I was given a handicap of 1.30, so there is A first, then B, then go, then 30secs etc. I knew I didn't have a chance as I was behind swimmers from my own club who are faster than me. Anyway as I was in training for the Puhajarve 1/2 IM Triathlon in Estonia, 2 weeks later, I though it would be good preparation.

Went off with Niall in our club and within seconds he was gone..... I was regretting the drinking the previous night now. I settled into a rhythm and after a few mins I noticed another guy from the club, Pat, pass me who is only slightly faster than me so I got onto his feet and stayed there for about 10-15 mins. This worked brilliantly for me. I was going my own speed with less effort. 

Pat eventually pulled away from me and I was on my own again. There was only about 600m to go so it was fine. I rounded the buoy on the left of the pier and made my way out to the end of the pier prior to the final straight. It was feeling a little difficult now, managed to pass a few people and then got to the final straight, I tried to go harder but to be honest not that much there, finished as strong as I could. Great race, loved it. Should have completed these races years ago. My time was: 26.42, up there for Wicklow, got a few club scalps, passed Niall and Pat, and close to a few others. Maybe wine the night before a race is the way to go. Great prep for the 1/2 IM.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Weird Month

I've been meaning to et on to this for a few weeks now but well, since he crash, motivation has been a bit hit and miss, more miss than hit. I stupidly came off the antibiotics too early and then my elbow got re-infected. It was a few days before I realised so I had to go onto the antiboitics again. The following week, I put in a hard week, 200km on the bike, 45km run and 3-4km swimming combined, felt great but come the following Monday I was shattered, That sort of a training week shouldn't hurt me but I was wrecked. It took about 3 days before I had any energy to train  again.

22/07/09 - WTC Aquathlon II

After a couple of weeks of not o great training, the second WTC Aquathlon came about. I had entered so went straight from work to the race in Bray. I wasn't overly excited, still felt tired. I was picking up my new wetsuit that evening and was dying to try it out, the Orca Alpha. Just before the race I had a little run down the prom with Mark. He did a few pick ups but I had nothing in the tank, felt shitty at that point. I took a gel 5 mins before the briefing and then off we went to the start line. 

It was a sea start, I started ok, got to the first buoy, turned left, not too much bunching, which was gret, found a rythem and then then found someone swimming a similar speed so I paced myself off him and we both got out in 12.30 mins. The suit worked out great, felt free and easy with my arm turnover. This time I had planned a quicker transition after the debacle of last months. This time around the quick release laces were in the Newtons. I exited the swim with Mark, which was excellent as I'm normally a min behind. We both transitioned together. Mark pulled away in the first 200m, I let him go and got into my own pacing. At the beginning of the first hill I saw Mark again and this time moving more slowly, I like running up hills, soleaned forward and passed him, he was wrecked, I then focused on the next club member Collie, got him on the straight, then passed Brian. I was aware that John Mercer was behind me so had to push really hard to stay infront, we are both very similar in pace on the run. At the final turnaround, 
I pushed to catch Jim and stay ahead of John, but as hard as I tried to get him I couldn't, I closed alright but when we crossed the line, he was 5m ahead of me, close but no cigar. Still I stayed ahead of John, a first. 19th overall in 31.40min, not bad considering I was shattered at the start.

Next Race: 1/2 IM in Estonia, 08/08/09, what will that bring I wonder!!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Whack, Bang, Wallop

As the title suggests, I had an accident this week, last Monday, which has meant my training has been non-existent this week. I had planned a nice comfortable 2 hr cycle and decided to drop out to my sisters to collect a wetsuit for a guy in the club, then head off up to Roundwood. I was eager to get out as I had lowered the tri-bars on the bike and wanted to see how it would feel. Would my lack of flexibility be an issue!!!!

About 10mins into the ride I was coming through Ashford village, no traffic on the road. I was in the tri position, doing approx 45km/hr. I noticed a man walking accross the road but it was fine he had plenty of time to cross. He stopped half way and turned around to talk to a woman on the other side. I was getting closer so came off the tri-bars and put my fingers around the breaks to be ready. My assumption was when he was going to cross, he would look up and down the road. No such luck, the gentleman turned to finish crossing the road and turned blind sided to the direction of the traffic and to me. It all happened so quick after that, I veered to the left, started to brake and shouted at him to 'watch out', he turned around, got the fright of his life and jumped to his right (my left), we were on a collision course, now way to avoid him now. We collided heavily, my head hit his (I was wearing my helmet), I fell to the left hit the ground very hard and the bike and the guy landed on top of me. Instant pain was registering in my mind!!!! I could hear a grown so gathered he was not unconscious but I was told later he was for a few seconds.

After the initial impact it took a few moments for people to gather around. I didn't move, I was on my left side, my elbow and hip were very sore. Luckily for us a nurse was out walking her dog and checked our pulse etc. I was aware that the guy was bleeding and so was I. We were advised not to move until the ambulances arrived and the garda. I think it took about 10 minutes. I was checked over by the medic and put onto one of those trollys with a neck brace and had my head strapped to stop it moving. It was all precautionary. The guy walked into his ambulance. I was happy to hear that, not too badly injured then!

My Injuries, left elbow and ass!!!

I was taken to Loughlinstown, where they check for neck and spine injuries. I had none. Then I was left waiting for about 90 mins so when Paul arrived I discharged myself and went to the VHI clinic in Ballally. I was seen there within a few minutes, had 2 x-rays, where I found out my elbow was not broken, great relief. I felt week after that and wanted to throw up I had to lie down to get the blood back to my head. I had an injection to numb my butt and elbow prior to the doctor cleaning the wounds, boy did it still hurt. On the way out I got weak again and had to lie down for another half hour. My head was checked and I had a head injury. The doctor told me to go to St. Vincent's to be monitored for 24 hrs. Off we went, another hospital, saw the nurse and then spent another 2 hours on a trolly. So after a lot of hanging around I discharged myself again and went home. It was one long evening..... its been 3 days and I'm still sore, each day has a different pain. Today my hip is really sore, the bone is badly bruised. I hope to get back training this weekend as I have a half IM in 4 weeks, Wishful thinking me thinks!!!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mullaghmore Sprint Triathlon 20 June 2009, Sligo

I love this little race. Mullaghmore is in Sligo and the race is run by the local sailing club. Its my third year in a row to do this and I already know I'll be back next year. I've yet to have a bad race here and last Saturday was another one of those days when everything just clicked.

We travelled down on Friday afternoon and as usual stayed in the hotel, the pier, 100m from transition, perfect, registered, had dinner and an early night.

Race day:
It wasn't the best of days, weather wise, but it was the same for everyone and sure you're getting into the sea so will be wet anyway!! I racked my bike bang in the middle of the transition and set out my racing gear. The race kicked off at 10.30 and I was in the first wave. I positioned myself slightly to the left and legged it when the whistle went off. There were a few doing the regular zig zaging but I stayed clear of them, kept sighting every third stroke and after about 150-200m took a left and headed back to the slip at the sailing club. The tide was out so about 40m from the slip everyone had to stand and run out. I exited in roughly 13mins and then ran up the slip to transition, 32 second transition and off I went. I'm cycling well at the moment so put the hammer down. I passed a lot of people during the first 10km, especially on the hills, well drags. At the turnaround I was 24th or 24th. On the way back I worked hard and passed another 1 or 2 along the way. I was feeling great so went with it. Transition was a little longer for T2 about 1 min, then off I went. 

I exited the transition right behind one guy so decided to stay on his heels until I found my running legs. I stayed with him until the first hill then passed him as another guy passed us. I decided to push myself to stay with the guy who had just passed us. I was breathing hard but knew Jim was ahead and really wanted to catch him. It took ages to close him down but just before the 3km mark (all the climbs are in the first 3km) I got there. I tried to look controlled and strong as I passed, so Jim wouldn't jump onto my heels, he didn't. With only 2km to go and the remainder downhill I kept the pace high and pushed ahead. About 1km from the end you have to turn into a cul-de-sac for 100m, on the way out I could see 4 or 5 athletes close behind me and knew it wasn't going to be a comfortable finish. It was hard to keep pushing, my shins were aching in the last half km. I kept looking back to ensure I was keeping the distance. The guy in front was suffering too as he kept looking back at me!! There was no way I was going to catch him, I was happy just to stay in the position I was in. There was a great crowd at the finish so the run in was pretty good. I finished in 1.10min, which for the course is pretty good. The guy behind me finished 7 seconds later!!!! Jim was just under a minute back.

The post race celebration was like old times. We watched the rugby and drank the night away. It was a late one and even worse was the headache Sunday morning. Roll on June 2010, can't wait to go back.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

WTC Aquathlon 17/06/09

Wednesday was the first of 3 aquathlons WTC are holding this year. I probably shouldn't be doing them as I'm training for the longer stuff but I felt obliged as it was a club race. I didn't have any plan I was wearing an old wetsuit as my Bro in law was wearing my new one, so I thought I wouldn't have a great swim. Anyway, we were swimming with the current, the start was a bit messy but it settled out and I got into my stroke. It went ok, 10.33mins got to transition and then the fun started. I was running in my Newtons and didn't have lock laces so stupidly tied the laces thinking I'd get my feet in no probs........ big mistake, wet feet, took me ages!!! lost a lot of ground in transition so I had to work really hard to make up the lost time and places. I started the run hard and just went with it, hard all the way, passed all the guys I wanted and then got Jim about 200m from the end. Happy days. I had a sub 18min run for about 4.8km, good running for me. Came in about 27th out of 120 guys, not bad. I really enjoyed the race and it was great preparation for the Mulloughmore sprint Triathlon which was coming up at the weekend. More on that later....