Almost time to begin

After much thought I have decided to follow Don Finks Iron Fit 30 week plan. My 1st day of the plan starts tomorrow and with 10 weeks of building up I will have to train myself to follow the plan as best I can and get used to the Training Zones I need to be in. One thing I have never been good at is following my heart-rate. It will take some time to get used to and I’ll have to train myself to train right.

It is a good thing to start this out by saying what I want out of it and look back in 30 weeks and see how that worked out for me.

Firstly I go into it at 79kg (I don’t want to be much lighter than that) and body fat of 18% (I could do with decreasing that another couple of %). After a busy year I have taken the last few weeks a bit easier that I normally will and hoping by building up to the hard stuff will keep me some what injury free. Injuries have affected me in the past and they will in the future but it will be how I manage them that will help me reach my goal.

That brings me on to my goal. It is so hard to tell where I will be at when June comes around having never cycled more than 90km and never swam more than 2k never mind putting them together and having a marathon to run after. But it is a challenge I have set myself. 2 years ago I would have laughed at you if you told me I’d be doing a half ironman but I have that done now so time to throw the aim out there. This could change, both up and down over time but for now

Swim 1hr 20 mins, Bike 7hrs, Run 4hrs 30. So with Transitions I’d be looking at approx. 13 hour. Oh god, what have I got myself into.

The support of Martha, family and friends will be vital during this. Hopefully I don’t disappear and I have time for everyone during training.

I hope to keep updates coming throughout the coming months. And share my progress as I go. Exciting times ahead for all. Any questions or advice make sure and let me know.

This week involves

Tuesday – Run 30 mins Z2, Swim training
Wednesday – Cycling 30 mins Z2 followed by 15 mins run Z2
Thursday – Cycling 30 mins Z1 (100RPM)
Friday – Run 30 mins Z2
Saturday – Cycling 1 hour Z2
Sunday – Run 45mins Z1 – Z2


5 Boroughs of New York

My alarm was set for 5am on November 1st, an extra hour in bed because of the clocks going back. It was the best sleep I got all week only waking twice and falling back to sleep almost immediately. Maybe it was the couple of busy days beforehand where I went to the expo twice,met up with Liam, Kristen, Kevin and Denis, did some shopping and did plenty of carb loading but it was finally the morning of the 2015 New York City Marathon.

Central Park

Central Park on Friday


Ready to go shopping mad


On the Friday I met Liam and Kristen and we headed to the marathon pavilion in Central Park. It was good to get a glimpse of the finish line and enjoy the atmosphere as people were beginning to descend on New York for this epic race. Once Kev flew in we headed to the expo to pick up our numbers. No time to top at the stands as it was straight off to dinner. We were up early Saturday to watch the Liverpool game in Carraghers Pub before heading back to the expo to stroll around this time. The place was crazy. I picked up one t shirt and got my calf and hamstring strapped up before heading back to the hotel to chill out. Some shopping close by the hotel and a bit of food is as exciting as it got for the rest of the day. I eventually settled into bed at about 11pm, all my gear ready for the next morning. I finally get to do this. No cancellation like 2012, the weather was too good this time around.

Liverpool Match

Watching Liverpool Game


At the Expo


Gear Prep

Gear ready

On went the gear and bags packed we grabbed the N train from 34st – Hearld Sq Station to 57st -7Av station and made the short walk to the Park Central hotel to meet the rest of the FDNY team. We left our bag there and after grabbing a small bite to eat we jumped on the bus distend for Staten Island. There must have been at least 20 buses full of FDNY and NYPD. A large convoy lining the streets as we all headed to the start. No turning back now. The journey was cool, watching everyone outside taking videos of the convoy as we passed. It would have been good to see it from the outside but then it would have been a long trek to get there. The first real sense of the marathon came when going over the Verrazano Bridge. You could see the 1 mile mark and view of Manhattan in the background, the crowds queuing up to get in, the buses queued up and the runners lying out enjoying the strange warm weather. We passed all those queues and off to our own VIP area we went.

Buses Ready

Time to catch a bus


This is where we got to talk to many other FDNY members and they gave us a feel for what it will be like. Kev and myself were to start in the 4th wave but they let us know that we should be able to jump up to the 1st wave due to being with the FDNY. We weren’t waiting around too long before it was time to head to our new Corral. A quick chat with the security at the corral entrance and they let us in. That saved us a lot of time waiting around until 11:00. We now get to start at 9:50 rather than right at the back.


Outside FDNY Tent

The build up was something I will remember. The national anthem was blasted out followed by the canon blast to start the race. And the Frank Sinatra “New York” was echoing around as we started to slowly but surely make our away across the start line. This was what all the 6 weeks of training was about (read about that training here), cross that line and see what I was capable of.


Almost ready to go

Getting to the start line

Getting to the start line

Verrazano Bridge

Enjoying 1st slow 1km

 Trying to remember everything about this race would be impossible but I remember the start very clearly. It was slow because of the crowds and I was able to take it all in. Helicopters everywhere, a boat in the water making a fountain, the view of Manhattan and the excited crowds stopping on the bridge for photos. I didn’t remember the 1st climb as you reach the highest point of the course, everything else had distracted me. 1st mile took 9:28 but I expected that. As you come down off the bridge you see runners go in all different directions as the three colours in each wave take a different route for the 1st few miles. After a few turns coming off the bridge you hit a nice straight from Brooklyn to Queens . It really helped with pacing and was a good way to finally set into my rhythm. At this stage I realised half my gels were somewhere behind me. They had fallen out of my belt and now I would have to ration what I had. I hadn’t planned for that. Kevin kept with me up to the 12th km before he let me push on (or more like stay the exact same). The atmosphere and support made things so much easier. I remember on the 12km my calf tweaking a bit but I put it down to race day symptoms and kept going. (it was about the only thing by the end that was in one piece). The shouts of “FDNY” kept coming, where ever I was on the course someone always gave encouragement. I felt like a fraud but I was a guest of the FDNY so I made sure to acknowledge each of them. Turning onto Lafayette will stick with me for sometime. The road seemed to close in on us and tree lined either lined with lots of supporters cheering on. There was a little slope to start with but I didn’t notice it as I enjoyed watching the spectacle and listening to all the music as I ran past.

The Blue Line

Followed this the best I could

Just at about half way you leave Brooklyn and make your way into Queens. I was making good time and feeling good but I knew the hard bit was yet to come. I knew I need to concentrate and keep doing what I was doing. The Queensboro Bridge was not far away. Up to this point my pacing was perfect. But went you hit that bridge everything changes. You are on the lower end of the bridge. There are no supporter, its darks, its quiet, it is the looniest part of the race. You have a slight drag for 2km as you work your way over the bridge. I thought I was going ok but I started to lose a lot of time without realising. I hadn’t thought that would be the case. Have I already burnt out, only 25km in? Once I got over the bridge and went down the other side I picked the pace back up. I felt better again. The crowds were back, the shouts of “Come on FDNY” were back. It is something everyone should experience. You come off that bridge and you feel like a superstar. Now the long straight of Manhattan is in front of me. The support was 3 or 4 deep on either side. It was a wall of supporters. They would be on their feet longer than we would. I saw plenty of Irish flags along this stretch. I expected it to be a lot flatter or maybe a bit more downhill than it was. This is where I could have done with a gel but instead I had to rely on gatorade and water. The good thing was that there was a water stop every mile. So if you decide to go through one the next one isn’t too far away.

NYC On Course

Things were still going to plan up to the 32km mark which brought us into the Bronx. It is supposed to be the loneliest part of the race but I think its only lonely because this is where that big huge brick wall that most people are about to hit comes. And I slapped into it hard. I had now slowed to 6 min per km but still if I could grind it out I still might be ok. Just after the 33km mark Liam and Kristen were out supporting, soon I’d be leaving the Bronx over The Madison Avenue bridge but not before completely seizing up just as I hit the bridge. A bit of a stretch and a small walk and I was good to go again. Still averaging low 6 min per km and finally back in Manhattan you could see the skyline in the distance. About 2 and half km until I get to Central Park. For all the pay before hand it was the 36km that broke me completely. From there my laps were getting slower and slower. After 3hrs 19mins I was at 35km, only 7.2km to go. I couldn’t imagine it was going to take as long as it did. During those kms my body was beginning to shut down. I’d walk through each water stop, jog a bit, seize up, walk, stretch, jog, seize up, walk and that was the way it was for those long 7.2kms.

Most people just presume Central Park is flat. But it is climb after climb before a couple of nice downhills. Not enough to get me motoring again. I was dejected heading into the park. Everyone trying to motivate me to get going again. I’d do my best but even when I jogged it felt like I was going backwards. The crowds were amazing, NYPD giving high fives, random strangers giving words of encouragement and fellow runners trying their best to get the walking wounded home. Most of the park was a blur. You leave the park for just under a km out onto 59th Street. It was another place where the crowds were a few deep and everyone shooting. A fellow FDNY runner got me going again as I was back to a walk. He drove me on for maybe 400m before I had to tell him go on, I didn’t want to slow him down anymore.

Almost to the end NYC

I remember the number of runners on the ground, passed out or could go no more, medics around them. I was lucky to not be one of them. Soon you are at Columbus Circus and almost home. One more hill (seemed like Everest at this stage) to tackle and the finish line was in sight. Finally done, I got there, I didn’t even know my time. I just put my hands up in the year and looked for the closest camera, hey I can finally smile. As soon as the camera went I check my time and head in hands, I knew I didn’t make my target, I missed it by 12 mins and 2 seconds.

NYC Finish Line

I picked up my medal got another few photos and as luck would have it we got to turn off to the left straight away and go to the FDNY tent. Where they gave us a poncho and a bag of goodies. I sat down for a while before eventually giving my seat to someone else in need. I went back outside and just lay on the ground. I had given it all and not more I could do.

Finish Line

Finish Line

We got transported back to the hotel for a shower, massage and a buffet. Now the stories could begin. Kevin came back and fair play to him. 2 marathons with only 2 weeks break between. That is some going. I wouldn’t be able to do another 5km for while. FDNY really looked after us and I will always remember that. It was truly a memorable day for us all. Well to Derek, Finbarr and Charlie from Eagle and Fergal from Cobh who also completed the race.


Breakdown of the race


With Denis and Lord Mayors Cup

The Next Day

It was Marathon Monday, time to head back to where it all finished yesterday. I was really disappointed after the race but today I felt different. I felt happy, delighted with the fact I was able to complete the marathon in a PB with only 6 weeks training. Who knows what I might have done if I trained more – maybe I would have done worse 🙂 Walking around Central Park as well as other places around Manhattan was when I decided it was a huge achievement. People coming from everywhere to congratulate any runner that was hobbling a long. Subway stairs were my enemy and I knew the plane journey home would be tough. I will look back on the race and see where I could have done better. What places I could have attacked or where I could have slowed down. But that is no different than any other race I do. A bit of a post-mortem.

Times Square

Showing off in Time Square

I may not get another chance to do NYC marathon but I’m really grateful to Kevin who set up this chance to do the race, and to Denis and FDNY for inviting us to compete. After missing out on racing in 2012 this was an excellent way to experience the largest race in the world. I must thank Martha for the support she gave me to go do the race. She is an extremely understanding wife as I fly around the world doing different races. Next time I do a marathon I want her to be there. I missed having her at the finish line so I better time my runs better next. Without the advice from Damian I may not have got passed mile 13, he helped out on the long runs as well as Tim making me keep going on that hilly route in Carrigtwohill.

Time Square

Marathon Night in Time Sqaure


Engagement Spot in Central Park

I will learn from it and I now know I’m closer to breaking the magic 4 hours. And some day I will, just not this year.

Thanks to everyone who supported me throughout the journey and now I can get back to normal life before ironman training begins in January.

6 weeks to train for 26.2 miles

On September 17th while on on holidays in Lanzarote I got a call from Kevin to say we are in to the New York Marathon. A few things came into my head. Cost. Training. Time. Eventually after talking it through with Martha I decided I’d go for it. I’d have 44 days of training and the training wouldn’t really start until I get back from holidays.


Officially in


One 10 miler and 2 shorter runs is what I fitted in while in Lanzarote. Temperatures were high and the 10 miler almost broke me but I knew this would be the start of some heavy training to get myself ready.

Some facts before I began my training

1) Before Sept 17th I had only run over 10km 6 times in 2015
2) Since I started running in 2012 I had only run over 22km 3 times
3) Since January 2014 only 4 times have I done more than 100km in a month (105km, 105km, 105km & 102km)
4) My marathon PB is 4:45:45 in Rotterdam in April 2013
5) I was in NYC for the only one that was ever cancelled
6) My last long training run in March 2013 was 28km and took me 2hr 49mins 47s (average 6:04 min/km)

So those facts alone show I will be up against it but I hope my triathlon training will help me.

My 1st proper training run came on 24th of September. That is now 37 days to train. I got a good 17km in with Damian. A very consistent run and even though I was feeling tired hitting the 16km mark I felt ok. Unfortunately next day my hamstring was tight and I’d have to skip my last tri of the year. But a bit of rest and some physio on Monday 28th fixed me right up and I was out again on the 29th. This time it was a 15km with Damian and was a fraction slower than the previous 17km but it was about the distance rather than the speed. I followed that up with a 9km on Thursday the 1st. (NYC officially next month now) It was good to get the mileage in knowing I had BHAA Cork to Cobh 15 miler on Sunday the 4th. This would be the biggest test of my training and biggest mileage I’ll do before the big day.

BHAA Cork to Cobh Sunday 4th October
The plan for today is a 4 mile warm up followed by a 15 mile marathon pace run. The warm up was with Damian and Tim and the race would be done with Kevin. Main thing here is to manage pace. I had planned to go out at 5:30 min/km but it was closer to 5:25 you to the 18km mark. Felt good the whole way so decided to pick it up for roughly the last 6 and half km. I was well able to manage the pace. I crossed the line for the 24+ km in 2hrs 8mins 46s. Averaging 5:18 per km overall. A total of 19.5 miles today. That is huge for me. Biggest total mileage in one day except for the marathon I did. A couple of days off after this for sure.

Cork to Cobh

Cork to Cobh



My calf was a bit tight the days after the race but on the 7th I got out and did 9k. It was a slow, and I mean very slow 9km. Averaging 5:45 min/km. Good thing is that I got through it but it was the hardest session yet. A session on the turbo training on the Wednesday helped me stay focused.

Into the last 3 weeks of training and I had a good plan for the weekend. 10km on the Saturday and 12 miles on the Sunday with Damian. The 10km went great. Did the reverse loop of the Shannagarry 5 miler and some more. Pace was bang on what I wanted to do and straight in for a swim after was very enjoyable. I felt good after it so I knew I’d be ok for Sundays session. A late night text changed the plans a bit – now 15 miles with Damian and Tim but sure plenty of places to turn off if I wanted to cut mine short. We set off just before 7:30am on a route I never did before. Some big climbs and falls to begin with, a good test for NYC. A long the way I had chances to turn off but I stuck with it. Of course that is where Tim decided to let us know it was closer to 16 miles. For the last 3km or I got nice and quite and I just wanted to finish but I did it and got stronger as the run went on. That completed 22 miles for the weekend. Its all downhill from here.

26km Run

A nice hilly run



A session of physio to start the week. Calf was a bit tight from weekends run but the pain of physio will be worth it in the end. Back out on an early morning run on Tuesday 13th. Calf was a bit sore starting out but soon loosened. I had thought about cutting the run short if it was still sore but completed the 8km. Almost 93km done and only 13 days into the month. It could be a record breaking month. 1 more run until the half in Amsterdam.

Early 6km run on Thursday morning went well and felt good. Next up Amsterdam.

You can read about Amsterdam here

The days after Amsterdam I took some time off but only because I didn’t have much time to run. My body felt good, I was tired from the weekend in Amsterdam but if I wanted to I’d have got a run in. Last physio session before NYC came on Thursday 22nd. 1st time I felt I wasn’t tight during it. Of course the usual pains he found but overall we were both happy. Went back out on Friday morning. Damian and Tim were going for their last run before Dublin so I said I’d join them. A nice paced 5 miler in darkness. Nothing better than to set your day up with that.

2 more runs left to do. Since I decided to make a weekend out of it in Dublin I packed my running gear and made my way to Phoenix Park on the Sunday morning. It was a perfect morning for it and got in another 5 mile. That run made sure it was a record breaking month for mileage. Delighted to be in one piece after it.
Watching everyone complete the Dublin on the Monday made me nervous as well as excited. To see everyone run down towards the finish line made me want to be out there. Watching the broken bodies after made me realise I didn’t want to be out there. But my turn is next. Only 6 days.

So after 6 weeks I finished my last run on October 28th. It was a 5km in miserable conditions. I didn’t really enjoy it but that was it. I was now done and I did what I could. 142km in October meant I did more than I did before. I was injury free – for the 1st time in a long while. Not its all real. only a few days to go.