Brighton Half Marathon

Buildup
Myself and Damian decided instead of buying each other Christmas present we’d plan an away half marathon. We did our research and chose Brighton. It was easy to get to from Cork and looked like a great course. So we booked our hotel and the plan was set. After a great end of the year where I had a huge PB in my last half marathon finishing in 1:28:35 and then finally broke 19 minutes for 5km finishing in 18:41, I was hoping for something in 1:27 for Brighton. Unfortunately that plan was put to bed in the 1st week of January when I pulled my hamstring at a park run. It meant for the rest of January I only managed 6 runs, some of them at not much more than walking pace. I had to skip my 1st main race of the year which was a 10 miler and Brighton was in doubt for me now. It was further in doubt when I was involved in a car accident where I ended up in a ditch after hitting black ice and spinning a couple of times. My shoulder was tender for a while after it. Some physio on both a dodgy hamstring and shoulder was badly needed. It must have been a good wake up call because from there I started to increase my runs slowly but surely. I got in a 10km and 14km the 2 weeks before Brighton. It gave me the confidence to go out and enjoy Brighton half, I surely can at least finish it.

Race weekend

We set off for Brighton with a smooth flight and perfect timing for our train from Gatwick to Brighton. From there we walked to the hotel. Looking up the weather we were in for a cold weekend. We needed to make sure we have plenty of layers to keep us warm at the start line. After we settled into the hotel we looked up where we could get some food and we went with Pizza, then back to the hotel to watch match of the day, get our gear ready and get an early night.

Brighton Kit

We were up early, had our porridge and then made the 1.6 mile to the start line. We had to pick up our numbers on the way. It was a nice walk to the start line, the sun was rising and even though it was cold once you were moving you wouldn’t feel it too much.

View on the way to race Brighton

The crowd was starting to pick up and you could see a lot of nervous people around. We made our way to our coral. Damian was in front of me but either way I was always going to go to the back of mine with my goal time now no longer realistic. It was funny to think my last foreign half was the complete opposite, I was feeling fit but the weather was hitting 30+ degrees Celsius.  Here it was closer to 0 degrees with a feel of -8. I had settled on 1:55 time for today. Only thing in common was clear blue skies. I just wanted to go out and get the mileage in to see if there is any chance of me making the Manchester marathon.

Keeping warm before race

Keeping warm before race

Brighton Start

The race kicked off on time which was welcome in the cold. Within a 100m the 1:30 pacing group passed me and moved on fairly quickly. I wasn’t going to get carried away. Within 500m we made a U turn and set off on a gentle climb and headed off on the 1st out and back part of the course. Almost straight away I found it hard to hold back my pace, was running under 5 min per km but was comfortable so said I’d stick with it. I was enjoying the way the run was going and was able to take it all in, getting to look out to sea and seeing everyone work hard. I was only 4km into the race and even though the temp was low I started to warm up. I was wearing more than I would normally do for a race but it was technically training for me. I saw the leaders coming towards me and Paul Pollock was looking strong and already a long way ahead of the chasing pack. Here I decided to take out my phone to grab a picture of Damian on his way back. He was looking strong and high up the field.

Damian looking strong

At 5km you made a sharp U turn and head back the way we came. I was under 25 mins for that split (24:21), a bit faster than I planned. I might as well keep going. At about 7km it was time to take the outer layer off and roll down the arm warmers. Next off came the headgear, oh how I wish I wore a singlet now. It was amazing to see the crowds coming towards us. I really didn’t realise the race was this big. The runners just coming. At about 9.5km we turned off to our right for the only part of the course where we weren’t running along side the sea. The last “climb” was when we came back onto the main road and it was a short drag. I only realised it later in the day when we were walking back to the hotel.

At just under 13km we met the leader again. Paul Pollock still looking good. No one was going to catch him now with about 2km to go for him, funny to think I still have 8k ūüôā I was feeling a bit overheated even with the gear I had on, so I made sure to take plenty of water on. One thing people can forget about on cold days is to take on water as you may not feel you need it. On this next out an back I was trying to keep an eye on the faster runners who were across the way in the distance. I couldn’t see Damian as buildings and the Brighton Huts were blocking the view. I hit 10 miles at about 1:17. I was happy with that, it meant I was still going a lot faster than I planned but I was feeling good and pace was spot on the whole way so far. Now it was time to turn around and head for home.

We got to run along side the Brighton huts for most of this and it was very interesting to see. I hadn’t seen them before and didn’t realise people would be hanging out there what the race and have their own set up in them. It was fairly cool. What wasn’t cool was the cold wind in our face. It was going to be a tough 3 miles back as we were right by the sea.
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I really did enjoy being able to take in the surroundings and to see the smile on every kids face as I gave them high 5s. I managed to I kept to my pace even after Darth Vader passed me ūüôā I did start to feel a bit tired coming into the last 2km. Only on the last km did I decided to pick up the pace to break 1:42. I know I wasn’t out there to do a time but it was nice to be able to push for the last km to break 1:42, it was my fastest km of the day. It was through the finish line and to meet Damian who managed an unbelievable 1:20:16. Great result for him and no doubt he will break 1:20 next time out.

Brighton Stats

Brighton laps

Overall I really enjoyed the race. It was well organised, nice course and easy to get to. Only negative would be that it is early in the year but fits well if you are training for an early marathon. We have already discussed heading back next

The heat of Lisbon

Back in February when looking for a race to do in October we looked at maybe a trip back to Amsterdam for the half was the best option. We then came across Lisbon Rock n Roll and we quickly changed our minds and now this was the one to do. We hadn’t been to Lisbon before and it was ‚ā¨20 to do. Sure you couldn’t go wrong. Flights were booked and then it was time to forget about it for a long time. Of course with the 1st half of the year being a write off for me this was quickly turning into my A race of the year. Having broke the 40 minutes for 10km a couple of weeks beforehand I was finally back in good shape and feeling confident. We had a look at the weather the week before and then realised that this may not be an easy day. But it was still going to be fun in the sun.

We were up early on the Friday to fly to Lisbon from Dublin. Perfect flight and soon made our way to the apartment. It was very fancy and in a great location close to the metro station and easy access to the expo and race from there. After we took a stroll around Lisbon we went for a short jog to loosen the legs. It was a slow steady paced jog but unfortunately for me with about 4km in I seized up. I got a striking pain from my glute into my back. It was a slow slow jog back to the start. I stretched it out and hopefully was only pains from sitting most of the day. We went and got food and settled in for an early night.

Friday night run

Friday night run

Saturday was about the expo. We headed up there and were met with a huge queue. We decided to head to the pub and watch the Liverpool v Man United and get some food. Standing in the queue might have been more entertaining. We were reading comments on facebook of people waiting 3 hours to get into the expo so we were in no rush to join the madness. After a stroll around the shopping center we eventually decided to join it. It was 57 mins from when we started queuing to picking up the race number. A quick stroll through the expo and off we went. Just like everyone else there we were surprised to find that we had no safety pins for our numbers. We joined many others in the search for them in the shopping center. Luckily we found some and then headed back to the apartment. Food and some time in the pub was called for that night. I think I may have eat 2 full chickens, I got a bit excited when ordering but it was good food.

Expo Queue

Expo Queue

Calorie Loading the night before

Calorie Loading the night before

Race Day

Alarm was set for 7am. And we needed that alarm as Joe and myself slept well. Kev had already left for the full marathon and I didn’t even hear him leave. We jumped on the metro and we followed everyone else to the change over and then on to our final stop. We were met with huge crowds when we got there as everyone was waiting to get on the buses to the bridge. We stepped outside and soon realised that there were no queues outside and we jumped on a bus straight away. What felt like a marathon in itself we finally got off the bus and made our way through the crowds to get as close as we could to the front. We didn’t succeed here and there were 1000s in front of us when the race started. It took 7 minutes to get across the start line. But now it was time to put the head down and go for it.

Calm before the start

Calm before the start

Not looking too happy here

Not looking too happy here

A long way to the start line

A long way to the start line

The Race

Putting the head down and going for it was impossible. As the crowds was crazy and with no waves it meant you and so many people in front of you who were at walking pace. I was in and out and around, stop start, slow down speed up, all to try and get out of the crowds. I knew this was a bad idea and normally I’d take the hit at the start but I’d have been there forever if I waited for it to open up. It was just before 5km before we started to come off the bridge and it was a nice downhill curve off it. It wasn’t possible to take the shortest possible route due to the crowds so I had to take the turn wide. Not long after this was the 1st water stop and the only band I remember seeing. Unfortunately this is where the course excitement ended and it was just a large industrial area for as long as I could remember. Maybe it was the mix of that and the intense heat but the wheels started to come off and very rapidly as well. After moving along steadily for 8km my pace slowed but was still under 5 min km up to the 11th km. But then on the 12km I had to give in. I slowed to a walk before stopping completely. I was trying to decide would I walk off or continue. Eventually I convinced myself to use it as a training run and jog it out.

The long drag to Marquess of Pombal Statue

The long drag to Marquess of Pombal Statue

It continued to be slow miles until we got back into the center. I stopped to get a layer of sunscreen put on to me and I knew one of the hardest parts of the course was to come. This was the long drag to the Marquess of Pombal Statue. I stopped at the water stop and a couple of times on the way up. I had nothing and the long drag took it out of me. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other knowing at the turnaround I’d be on the home stretch. Not long after the turnaround I saw Joe on the other side. I gave him a shout and then I realised that was a bad idea. It wasn’t long before he joined me, I gave him the motivation he needed. He ran a more consistent race than me but having him there gave me that extra bit of energy. Our pace increased on the downhill and we were pushing each other the whole way. Neither of us wanted to to give an inch. We were passing plenty along the way. Which made change from the previous 8 km. We were getting close to the end and just before the line I had one final push in me and finished in 1:48:03 and Joe just behind me.

At least I got the medal

At least I got the medal

It was definitely the hardest race I had done and was grateful for the ice pop after to cool down. It hit 33 degrees out there and I didn’t race to the conditions. After hanging around the finish line for a while it was back to the apartment to shower and cheer on Kev to the finish of the full. Fair play to him. I jogged some of the last km with him. Total respect to him for finishing it.

Jogging with Kev

Jogging with Kev

We were hungry

We were hungry

After the race we took a trip to Castelo de Sao Jorge. Great views of the city and helped distract from the disappointment of the race. The walk up to it definitely worked the legs even more.

Castelo de Sao Jorge

Castelo de Sao Jorge

Views of Lisbon

Views of Lisbon

The Good

  • Lisbon is a really nice location and I’d like to go back
  • The race was cheap to enter
  • Getting around Lisbon and to the Expo and to the start buses was easy
  • Good atmosphere in the center of the town

The Bad

  • The Expo. Both the mess up with the queue and the lack of anything happening there
  • No safety pins
  • The long trek to the start line on the bus
  • The time it kicked off. Due to heat the heat it should have started a lot earlier
  • No waves – why ask for predicted time if nothing is going to be done with it
  • The middle portion of the race was boring and through industrial part of town
  • For Rock ‘N’ Roll I don’t really remember any bads
  • Water station to spread out in the heat

Verdict

Would I do it again, no. But there are supposed to be other races in Lisbon that are better run. I would definitely go back to Lisbon but for a global brand to get so many things wrong really surprised me. I know for sure many people will not be back supporting this race

1km Splits

1km Splits

Course

Course

Trains planes and automobiles but in reverse

When a work trips falls perfectly with a race it is a sign that I have to do it. The Singelloop 10km was on and the world record for 10km on the road was set here a number of years back. Only issue was that I was flying out the morning of the race so I needed everything to go on time. The day started with a 3:30am alarm clock. I had everything ready to go and I got in the car and drove to the airport for my early flight. Flight was on time and I had 3 seats to myself – a good start. Next was getting through Schiphol Airport and get the train to Utrecht. Best thing about Schiphol is the main station at the airport brings you to anywhere you want and there are regular trains to Utrecht from there. I got my ticket and the next train was leaving in 2 mins. Perfect timing. Before I knew it I was in Utrecht with plenty of hours to spare.IMG_20171001_043059

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Once in Utrecht I took a stroll around the town and needed to get breakfast. I played it safe and got McDonalds breakfast. The last time I did that before a race I got a PB at the Messina Hof Half Marathon. I then took a stroll to¬†Wilhelminapark where the race head quarters was. I passed the start line along the way and started getting a sense of the course and atmosphere. It was easy to pick up number and things couldn’t have went smoother. The weather was really nice and there was a good buzz around as there was a kids race and a 5km to add to the 10km. With about 40 minutes before the race I dropped off my bag and made my way to the start line. I was in the 1st wave and I moved myself up as far as I could. I stood to the right since I knew the 1st 2 turns were on the right had side. Every second counts ūüôā

Healthy start to the day

Healthy start to the day

The Race

So I hadn’t really thought about how I was going to tackle this race. My aim was about 42 minutes because I hasn’t raced 10km in so long and I felt it was a reasonable goal. If things were going right I’d chance a PB which would be breaking 41 mins. As soon as the gun went off any plan went out the window as we all sprinted up the straight with crowds on either side of the road. I really wasn’t expecting much of crows support but how wrong I was. There was support along the whole course and some huge cheering sections which would only help to push me on.

The starting straight

The starting straight

So I quickly got into my rhythm and found a comfortable pace for myself. With many runners around me doing similar pace it was easy to keep that pace going. I went through the 1st 3kms in sub 4 min km pace. (3:49, 3:56, 3:55) My watch was a bit off the km mark so I was hitting the km mark about 50m after my watch. So every time I passed one I was judging to see what my average pace was. In my head I was thinking I’ll regret this later in the race. Considering my most recent 5kms were above 20 mins it may have been a bad idea to take off like I did. I then needed to level out the pace so I put a target of 4 minutes per km and I’ll see how long I could keep that up. Next 2 kms were 4:02 and 4:02, nice consistency there. I passed over the 5km timing mat at 19:55. So even though my splits on my watch were showing that I had more time in the bank I found out after I didn’t. But anyway I was still feeling good at 5km mark. I was half way through and now the thought in my head was that I needed to match that for the second half. It was the 1st time I considered that I could go sub 40.

Jersey was ready to go

Jersey was ready to go

Consistency was key and my next 3km were exactly what I wanted – 4:01, 4:00, 4:04. Its funny in a way the course is so flat but when you have to go up the smallest of bumps it feels like a mountain. We headed over one bridge and I thought I was going to go backwards and any other day you wouldn’t notice that time of incline. Now here was where I thought I lost the chance of sub 40. I began to tire and the 9km was to be my slowest, it was 4:08 but when I actually hit the 9km mark I was 7 seconds outside 4 min average. The wind started to pick up for the last few kms as well. And at times I found myself at the front of a pack rather than tucked in behind someone. This meant I had to dig deep if I was going to break 40 mins now. Before the race I’d have jumped at a sub 41 but now I’d be gutted if I missed out on sub 40. It was there for the taking. Again the crowds were great here and they really did help push me to the line. There were markers for 500m to go, 400 to go etc and I just counted them down. I lifted my legs and pushed the pace the best I could. The final straight was in site and I went for it, the crowds cheering on I knew I almost had it. And finished with a 3:51 min km. I looked at my watch and it said 39:55. I was delighted. The Tuesday night sessions had paid off. I couldn’t believe I had broken 40 mins and got my 1st road PB of the year.

1st PB of the year

1st PB of the year

But little did I know that when my official time came out it was a lot closer than I thought. 39:59 was my chip time. I must have stopped my watch late at the start or too early at the finish but after the buzz of doing sub 40 I would have been gutted to find out after that I didn’t but I just scraped in. Top 100 finish out of almost 6000 runners was a great result overall for me.

The Medal

The Medal

Now mind turns to Lisbon Half Marathon in 2 weeks and what I can achieve there. I really need to put some thought in to it and then make a plan of how I’ll race that. One thing for certain though, if I keep fit over the next 2 weeks I’ll be going into that race with lots of confidence. It will be my last big race of the year and since early in the year it would be my A race on the road. Here is hoping I get to the start line fit and healthy.

My reward

My reward

My watch splits

My watch splits

Course Map

Course Map

Dungarvan Olympic Distance Triathlon

The season seems too short, after spending a lot of time recovering from injury this year it was nice to go out on a high and finish with my best race of the year. I couldn’t decide for a long while would I do this race and when I did the decision was between sprint and Olympic. With the race being so close to home I said I might as well go for the Olympic distance. This would be my 2nd at that distance this season after doing Dublin 2 weeks previously (report here)

Nice start to the morning

Nice start to the morning

After a sleepless night the night before the race I was happy I organised everything a day early. It still didn’t stop me double checking everything in the morning but at least I wasn’t searching drawers looking for socks or something. I had my porridge and toast for breakfast and said goodbye to Martha and George. It seemed windy on the drive down so when I arrived at Clonea I was surprised with how calm the water looked. I parked the car up and was in and out of registration in no time. Next was off to transition to set up and for 2nd race in a row I had plenty of space around me. Usually people either skip the briefing or would not pay attention but it was important this time because for the 1st time ever for me and a lot of others there was an Australian Exit swim. We got our directions and were good to go.

Water looking calm

Water looking calm

Hopefully dark clouds going opposite way

Hopefully dark clouds going opposite way

Swim
As mentioned, it was an Australian Exit swim, 2 loops of 750m and a beach start. I lined myself up behind the eager group I waited for the countdown. Off we went running towards the water. The biggest debate to begin with was when do I stop jumping over waves and start swimming. I had two false starts when the water wasn’t high enough but on third attempt I got going and off I went, sighting the first buoy. We were swimming in the shape of a triangle for the 1st loop and beach start meant it wasn’t the usual violent start. I was comfortable and rounded the 1st buoy with no trouble, sighted the second and made a straight line for that, before taking the angle back to the beach. This really did feel strange. Out of the water and run up the beach around the flag before running back into the water and starting all over again. Main thing going through my head was that if I was doing the sprint I’d be finished by now. As soon as I hit the water and starting swimming again I started to feel dizzy and short of breath. I had to take a few seconds to get composed and go again. It took about 10 seconds but I was good then. On the long stretch between the 1st and 2nd buoy I had someone on my toes the whole way. I’d go right, they’d follow, I’d go left, the same. They got a nice helping hand. Once I turned the 2nd buoy it was at the opposite angle we’d hit the beach this time. I was out of the water in an official time of 24:54, I had 24:06 on my watch but the timing map was long way from the beach. My official time had me 15th out of 151 swimmers. Officially I did 1st loop in 12:02 and 2nd in 12:52. I was 16th after 1st loop so it was nice to know I picked up 1 position

Swim

Swim

T1
Took my time in T1 to get my socks and shoes on and even with that I was 28th out of 150 in a time of 1:23. Off out on the bike I went.

Bike

As bike legs go this was one of the harder ones I have done. Wind and hills are not fun and when they are combined you know it is going to be a tough day. Straight away coming out of transition you could feel the wind blowing and it didn’t seem to be blowing in a direction that would suit. To my surprise even with the gradual climb out of Dungarvan I was holding a steady pace when broken into 5km blocks which I like to do. It was 10:49, 10:26 and 10:40. So under 30km/h average but that is where I am at. Then came the quick section with a nice 3km of descent. At the time it didn’t hit me, i’d have to tackle this on the way back. I completed that 5km in 8:57, my fastest split of the day. But complete contrast after the turnaround point I was faced with my slowest split of the day of 13:09. I really struggled on the hills and the wind was still all over the place. My next 2 splits were 9:57 and 9:02 as I got to enjoy the declines after the battle with the hills. The bike was showing as short and was just over 38 km. I won’t complain. Shorter bike is always good ūüôā I averaged 28.91km/h average. So close to breaking the 29km/h average. That will be target for next year. I completed in a time of 1:20:03 (81st of 151). Huge improvement needed compared to my other positions in each other discipline.

Bike

Bike

T2
After getting through the bike it was into T2, rack the bike, throw the helmet on the ground and into the runners and back out I go. I felt I didn’t waste too much time in there. Completed in 58 seconds (34th out of 151)

Run
I had aimed to try go around averaging 4:30 per km and I started off with good pace. It was hot and windy and at times you could feel the gusts blowing you around. I knew it was bad on the bike but didn’t think it would have too much affect on the bike but it sure did. My km laps were looking good for the 1st 6 where I was, on pace but the lack of big mileage meant I did slow down at km 7 and lost some time in km 8, 9 and 10. Of course like any triathlon the distance was a fraction off and it ended up being actually just over 10:25km. But I didn’t mind that. It was a nice run. Footpath, main road, coast run before old railway line run. It had everything and all the stewards along the way gave great encouragement. Since we all started in one wave I knew anyone I passed meant I was going to get a better position, and of course the same was for the people who passed me out. In the end there were 2 who went by me and I did go by a lot more. I upped the pace for the sprint to the line and finished the 10 (ish)km run in 46:49 (31st out of 151). Next year I will be targeting a sub 45 min 10km run in a triathlon. Since my PB is 40:53 in a 10km road race.

Run

Run

Overall 2:34:09 (38)
I was delighted with my overall result. A great end to the triathlon season and great race to finish with. Definitely my favourite swim of the year. Well done to all other Cobh members who took on the race today. This is my last race for them before I transfer club and it was a great end to 4 great years with them.

Almost there

Almost there

Thanks to http://www.dcimagesireland.com for the finish line photo

Next up is my 120km charity cycle followed by Lisbon half marathon.

Dublin City Triathlon 2017

With the year I have been having Dublin City Triathlon quickly became my ‘A’ race of the year. Having done it two years ago and really enjoyed it in awful weather (report here) I wanted to get back and do it again. Training was starting to go well over the weeks leading into it and besides a couple of niggles here and there I was confident. I completed Blackwater Sprint Tri a couple of weeks before and put in good times. My only aim was to get around in 2 hrs 45 mins but if I didn’t make it I wasn’t going to be too annoyed.

Healthy Breakfast

Healthy Breakfast

This year there was a new addition to pack for on the road trip to Dublin. We had to get all of Georges stuff into the car as well as mine. I think I won with the amount I packed. We set off early on the Saturday with an early stop to grab some food. A healthy start for me. A stop in Kildare outlets followed by a trip to Ikea made it a productive shopping trip so far. Once we got to the hotel and I unpacked my 100 bags I headed off to register. As per usual the goodie bag is the best around and instead of the usual tshirt we got a useful bright gilet. Registration was quick and easy and I got a quick look at the swim course before heading back to the hotel. With George in the room with us it was an early night for all. Alarm set nice an early but these days George is our alarm so he will be waking me before my phone does.

George Loving Ikea

George Loving Ikea

Swim Course preview

Swim Course preview

Race Morning
I was up nice and early to get in a proper healthy breakfast this time and had some porridge to fill me up.¬†Filled the car up with what I needed and headed in with Martha and George. After I emptied the car Martha headed back to the hotel as it would be impossible to keep George occupied for the length of the race. Got into transition 30 minutes before closing so I didn’t have to overthink anything. Racked the bike, double checked I had everything and had a quick look at what way we would be coming in and out of transition. Lucky for me I had a bit of extra space next to me as the person never showed. I always have my pink towel – makes it easier to spot when getting into transition and not thinking straight.

Bike Racked

Bike Racked

It wasn’t long before race briefing started and the sprint races got going. I was wave 6 but things were running smoothly and I timed when I eat last so I wasn’t too hungry starting off. It was good to ease the nerves by meeting up with the rest of Cobh Tri members doing the race.

Swim

Last time I did the swim I completed it in 28 minutes so I’d have liked to at least match that. I kept over the the left and made sure I took the 1st buoy a bit wide to avoid the chaos. It meant I was able to keep in a good rhythm. I passed the 750 turn point thinking oh how lucky they are, we had a long way to go yet. The good thing about this swim was I never got sucked into a pack and no need to fight for my space. I did have someone hang on to the back of my feet to their advantage but I had to swim my own race so I kept doing what I was doing. The second buoy was a lot quieter and I was able to take that turn with ease. The good thing from here is that I knew I was on the way back. Once I knew I had about 200m to go I started to kick the legs to make sure they were ready for the jog to T1. I got out of the water and across the timing mat in an official time of 27:11. I was delighted with that time. (60th out of 428)

Swim

Swim

T1

Transition isn’t always the best for me and I do tend to take my time. Took the extra few seconds to put on my socks and shoes and was ready to go. An official time of 2:02, again faster that 2 years ago when I took 2:29. (110 out of 428)

Bike

Now to my least favourite part of the race. I could read my review from 2 years ago and copy large portions of it. The one thing that was different from 2 years ago (besides some of the course) was that the ground was dry so I didn’t have to be so cautious. But just like then on the 2nd loop of 4 my calf started to tighten up a bit. Even my hip started to give out. This meant slowing down for a couple of kms so I knew that I could at least finish out the bike. A bit of stretching on the bike and I was feeling a bit better, but it is definitely something I need to get to the bottom of. With 4 laps there was a lot of traffic on the the course but it never affected my race. Bike marshals broke up a few groups which is always good to see. It is an up and down course so my pace was all over the place but as usual I had plenty of people go past me, some with bikes more expensive than my car ūüôā I kept at what I was going and made sure to get fuel in early so that it was digested in time for the run. I averaged a pace of 28.67km/h, which was .5 better than 2 years ago, so another improvement there. The bike course was 39k and I had an official time of 1:21:38 (286 out of 428). If I can make improvements on my bike times it would really help my overall performance. Hopefully I can get the right formula together to do that.

Bike

Bike

T2

Into transition I went and there was a run through field and over ramp and then to my bike. Off came the bike shoes, quickly on with the runners and grabbed my gels and water and off out I went. In a time of 1:29. (85 out of 428) I was happy with the timing here and again faster than 2 years ago.

Run

Now to what is my probably my strongest or I guess the thing I do most. The run started with roughly a flat first km before I hit a sharp climb which seemed to go on forever. Someone who was on their 2nd lap, which starts at the turn of the sharpest incline, was alongside me and I paced myself with him. This gave me the kick I needed to get up the hill. It was starting to get hotter at this stage and the sun was coming out. There were large crowds on the run but this helped to keep me going. I felt I was doing a good job pacing myself on the run and my 1st 4kms were in and around the same time. Then came the big down hill before repeating the loop again. The downhill was a welcome relief and I know it would definitely help push me home the second time around. My slowest lap came when I had to hit the climb again but got back into my rhythm again and kept a good pace around before the downhill section came and the flat road home. I passed a couple of people on the home straight, I could possibly went a bit harder but I didn’t want to risk anything so I just enjoyed the run to the red carpet and the finish line. Official time on the run of 46:29. This was almost minute slower than 2 years ago but the course seemed a fraction longer. (77 out of 428)

Run

Run

Overall

I finished up in and official time of 2:38:51 with finish position of 129 out of 428. There are improvements to be made but I am delighted with my overall time and felt good after the race. Weather was great and food after was exactly what I needed. It will definitely be one on the calendar next year and highly recommend people to do it. It was always great to test out my Airofin Tri Suit over the longer distance. Even in the heat it didn’t feel too warm. Great purchase. Check them out here¬†(10% discount with code¬†Jonathan10). Well done to Jess, Brendan and Adam who had great times on the day. There was no catching any of them

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Frustrating first half of 2017

I had big goals for 2017, it included full distance tri, half distance tri, PBs in road running but half way through the year¬†all of those are gone. I should be on my way to Germany now for Challenge Roth but I had to take the refund option earlier in the year because of injuries and more importantly wanting to spend time with my family meant it was not a realistic option to aim for it. And aren’t I lucky I didn’t go ahead with it. Every time I think I’m making progress I hit another stumbling block, another hurdle to overcome. Missed races, plans cancelled and searching for what target I can aim for next. I look back at 2016 and everything went to plan (well up to after Dublin Marathon), I reached my goals and my A races couldn’t have went better. ¬†I felt I was getting back in shape in June but only for the latest set back of achilles tendon issues. This is not something I have had before so its now all about getting that right. I should really skip one swim, bike or run session and dedicate it to strength and conditioning. Of course that is easier said than done because we all just want to be out doing what we love.

 

I have decided to cancel any plan to do a half distance this year. That means no trip to Dublin for Ironman 70.3, no trip to Kenmare for the Lost Sheep half distance, but hey on a bright note a lot of money saved ūüôā I will start with some strengthening work now and hope that helps me

2017 has been full of frustration and I’m already thinking about 2018. Right now I’m thinking week by week and only signing up for races that allow to sign up last minute. I need to build back up to where I was in 2016 and put in some good performances that will set me up nicely for an early half ironman in 2018. ¬†My races for the rest of the year if I get to the start line are:

July 22nd – Lee Swim 2km
July 30th – Carrick-On-Suir Sprint distance tri
August 12th – Blackwater Sprint distance tri
August 27th – Dublin City Olympic distance tri
September 9th – Dungarvan Olympic distance tri
September 30th – Moby Dick Sprint distance tri
October 15th – Lisbon Half Marathon

I have done all of these before except the Lisbon Marathon. So after the race it will be a good marker to where I am at.¬†It will be interesting to see how many I get to do but my 2 ‘A’ races would be Dublin City Tri and Lisbon Half marathon. I will hopefully sprinkle in a few road races to keep things fresh and maybe, just maybe break a PB in one of those before the end of the year.

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So out of the following which would you recommend for an early year half ironman in 2018

Challenge Gran Canaria 70.3
Ironman 70.3 Marbella
Ironman 70.3 Mallorca
Ironman 70.3 Barcelona

 

Hook or by Crook Sprint

It has been a long time coming but I finally made my 1st trip to a triathlon this year. I was scheduled to do one the week before but unfortunately I was sick during the build up and didn’t have the energy to get to Schull to do the race. So my back up plan was Hook or by Crook Sprint tri in Dunmore East. This happened to be my 1st sprint tri 3 years earlier so it would be nice to go back and see how much I have improved in that time. My last test before I was going to sign up was Grant Thornton 5km in Cork City. If I felt good after that I’d sign up. I managed to achieve a 19:26 for the 5km and felt good after it and with 10 minutes to go before sign up closed I put my name down.

Now living closer to Waterford it meant I could have a bit of a lie in and not have to set the alarm since George would wake me up in plenty of time. After I packed the car and I set off. Things were looking great weather wise, the wind did pick up as I got closer to the coast but the water looked calm. After parking the car I registered and met some of the Cobh Tri Group. Of course we were all talking down our abilities for the day ahead. I had enough excuses but main thing is we were all out to enjoy ourselves.

 

My timing for the race meant there wasn’t too much hanging around. I set up transition and it was very tight but all club members were alongside each other so it meant we could create enough space for each other. I went through the set up about 10 times, making sure I didn’t forget anything. It has been so long that I should have brought a check list.
HOBC

SWIM

I haven’t done enough swimming this year so was a bit worried about how it would go. I took a good look at the buoys and new where I was going. The race started on the beach and started quicker than people expected so we all had a few seconds to catch up. I quickly got into my rhythm and knew I just had to keep going straight to reach the first turn. It was about 350m to the 1st turn and this was by far the roughest swim I had experienced. Punches, swam over, being pushed under, goggles knocked off meant I had to take a few seconds to get focused and go again. It was another 300m to the next turn and this wasn’t any better. But I took it a bit wider and knew it was a straight line to the beach again. I survived the swim, just about, to finish in 13:12. (59th out of 290 finishers). I had a time of 17:08 3 years ago.

HOBC Swim

T1

There is a big climb from the beach back to our bikes, as you ran the approx 350m zig zag path way up. I decided to take the few extra seconds to throw on the socks and off I went out on the bike. A total time of 3:05 in T1 (76th out of 290 finishers)

BIKE

Now for worst part of any race. I knew what was to come and there was a bit of wind to make it even worse. It starts with a huge descent followed by a climb back up to the main road. It was out and back course so where ever it was tough I knew it would improve on the way back. It really did take me time to get going on the bike and my calf was pinching as I pushed myself on the bike. The 1st 5km was slow and I lost a lot of time on it. The next 5km let me make up some time but I was playing it safe so that my calf wouldn’t give out to me. At the turnaround point I could knew what was to come and I was very consistent on the way back with only a few seconds between my splits. Of course the main theme of the cycle was the number of people who passed me out. Its something I’d like to try improve and it can be a bit of a downer when you see people flying past you and not being able to keep up. A quick downhill before a big climb back into T2 for a time of 42:48 for 20.5km. (140 out of 290 finishers). A great swim was followed by a very average bike. I had a time of 46:38 so a huge improvement but plenty more in me to get better

HOBC Bike

T2

Dropped off the bike and on went the runners and my 1st big mistake of the season. I ran the wrong way out of T2 which cost me at least 15 seconds. (174 out of 290 finishers)

RUN

This was a new run route so I didn’t know what to expect. But the 1st 500m was a climb up a steep hill. From here I thought it would be flat but I soon found out it wasn’t. We moved on to a dirt track which had a gradual decent. It was getting hot and at the turnaround point we faced a climb back up. It was tough on the gravel and I struggled to push the pace. The run is always a place where I can push it but the heat and course just didn’t work on the day. After we left the gravel it was the unique part of the course and we moved on to the fairway of the golf course. We were lucky it wasn’t raining because we’d have slipped our way around. There was some great views along the run course and of course it was up and down but it was almost over so I was able to go out and enjoy it. It finished on a nice hill and i had a time of 22:09

HOBC RUN

HOBC

Overall

I finished in a time of 1:22:49 (98 out of 290 finishers). Happy with that for my 1st outing of the year. I have plenty of training still to do as I hope to get my season underway. I now need to draw up my calendar for the next couple of months.

HOBC Finish

And my reward for the dayHOBC Ice

Goals and Races for 2017

2016 was a great year for so many reasons, both personally and in sporting side of things. The birth of George and moving house were the two biggest things to happen in 2016 but sport kept me on my feet. I completed my second half ironman and got a PB at 10km, 10 mile, half marathon and full marathon distance. I had set out targets for the year and I broke all those as well as finishing on the podium in the Lee Swim, which was very much unexpected. November and December were a write off after picking up an injury in the build up to the Dublin Marathon which meant I didn’t reach my distance goals in swimming and cycling but with life being so hectic a bit of time off was probably a good thing.

Now onto 2017. I am an ambassador for Velocity Sportswear and Airofin Althletic (use discount code Jonathan10 to get 10% off any purchase). Two great brands. Why not check them out, there is definitely something there you will want to buy.

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velocity

Late in 2016 I signed up for Challenge Roth which would be my first full distance race. But due to family commitments it made sense to take a step back and reevaluate. Instead I will work my calendar around 2 half distance races in Ireland and many other smaller races. The provisional plan can be seen below but I have also set myself some goals.

Goals
PB in 5km (best 19:10), 10km (40:43) and half marathon (1:34:26)
Reach 1000km running, 2500km cycling, 120km swimming. This would be an increase on both swimming and cycling and shorter running (with no marathon planned)

Races
Triathlon
Half distance – July 8th Hardman Half in Waterville Kerry; September 16th Lost Sheep Kenmare Kerry
Olympic Distance – March 25th TRI:122 Lanzorote; August 27th Dublin City Tri; September 2nd Dungarvan Triathlon Waterford
Sprint Р June 17th Monkstown Cork; August 12th Blackwater Tri Cork; September 30th Moby Dick Tri
Aquathlon – July 12th Blackwater Aquathlon Cork

Running
Half Marathon РJune 4th Cork; Aug 13th Dublin RNR, October 15th Lisbon RnR
Many many other smaller races which I will report on via Instagram.

Other
Lee Swim – July 22nd

Dublin Marathon

After watching Dublin City Marathon (DCM) in 2015 I knew I’d like to give it a shot some day. After completing New York the week after DCM in 2015 and not breaking the four hour mark I had to plan to break¬†it in 2016. So deep down I had decided DCM 2016 was where I’d do it and booked hotels just in case. After a busy 1st half of the year, in July I officially signed up and training commenced soon after.

Training went perfect up to the Cork to Cobh race where I picked up a knee injury. I thought a few days rest would help but a relapse a week later and again the week after meant the 3 weeks up to race day was all about strengthening, physio and my new best friend the foam roller. Not much running was done but the hope was on the day the rest will be enough to get me through.

Race day was fast approaching and we packed up the car for our first family trip away. There was just about enough room in the car for Martha and myself since packing for George was like packing for a 10 week holiday but delighted both Martha and George were coming with me for the weekend. Coach Damian, Sarah and Fiadh were going to join us up there. No doubt they had as much packing to do as we did. Damian had done a super job in setting out a plan and training with me right the way through it. He had no plans on doing another marathon in 2016 but decided to pace me on the day so signed up the same day as me. The medal will be worth it.

Expo

We headed to the expo, picked up our numbers and strolled around the stalls. George took a spin with me and he had a nice sleep for himself. Registration was seamless and we flew through it. Preparation the night before was a relaxing evening in the hotel with some nice food.

Dublin Gear

All my gear laid out, nutrition planned and breakfast arranged. We stayed the Sandymount so we didn’t have far to go in the morning. Strangely enough I had a good nights sleep and woke just before my alarm. 1st step was to strap up my knee and calf with KT tape. Next was have my porridge and soon after met Damian. To save the legs Martha dropped us in a bit closer to the the start line. ¬†It was warm in the morning so didn’t need too much extra gear. We passed through the number checks and dropped off our bags to bag check and then went into our wave. We were to be first to go. 9am kick off.

George

George enjoying his nap with his new Dublin Marathon Teddy

 

A few pictures were taken and we were getting close to start. The thought of 26.2 miles hadn’t hit me yet but I think having Damian there to pace me eased any nerves. Damian had the pace bands, 2 of them, 3:50 and 3:55, it would be interesting to see which once we will need. The weather was perfect which was a great start and the there was a great buzz around. Over the starting mat we went and no turning back now. Time to forget the knee pain and concentrate on what is to come.

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First 10km

The first few miles were busy, a few turns at the beginning meant it was hard to get into a rhythm. It was hard not to get carried away at around the 2km mark when a downhill emerged and we made our way along the quays. We hit the 2 mile mark when we went over James Joyce Bridge and this started a bit of a drag where we had a slight incline to look forward to for until we left Phoenix Park.   We entered the park just after the 5km mark and we passed the back of the Zoo. This is where we cheered on Damian last year and as we worked our way around the Zoo we found ourself on a long straight of Chesterfield Avenue. The crowds were out and it was a good distraction from the straight line and drag. Pace was looking very consistent just as we left the park we hit the 10km mark. I was delighted to pass it in 53:57 (approx). Never once did I ask Damian for pace as I just trusted he had us going at what we needed.

Up to half way

Some of the support was excellent and¬†1 place that was easy to remember was when we made the turn on to College Road and the crowds were huge and gave the kick we needed. The last of the slight incline came around here. It meant we had a bit of fun with downhills to come as we reentered the park. It was refreshing in here and we couldn’t help but realise what a beautiful day it was. On leaving the park again we were on Chapelizod road, memories of Dublin Triathlon from last year came flooding back. We then turned on to St Laurences Road where there was great support again then and another little climb up to Sarsfield Road which I knew meant we were close to where we cheered on Damian last year – Kilmainham. I knew it would be special around here because the support is huge. Its hard to hold back as the crowds roared us on. A perfectly timed water stop where Damian continued to pick up 2 fresh bottles and discard the warmer bottles.

Half way

Before we hit half way I was starting to get hungry. The gels were giving me some extra energy but I still felt peckish. I told Damian to keep an eye out for someone handing out jellies and grab some if he can. He succeeded and they went down well. I never had to do that before but anything to stop me from getting too hungry.

Half way

It was great to hit half way and still feeling good. Reached it in 1:53:31. This was a couple of minutes faster than I reached half way in New York last year.

Getting to and over heartbreak hill

What distracted for a while after this was seeing the lines of traffic going no where has we held up all over Dublin. There was something in the back of my head. After driving back from Dundrum the day before I saw some hills we would tackle late on. It was about getting there for now. I’ll deal with it once I get to it. Damian was starting to enjoy the crowds around and made sure to get them all cheering anytime he saw a group of them together. When I got to heartbreak hill I knew I had to dig deep and push myself up it. It was all about pushing hard and keep moving. A lot of people started to walk going up but I put the head down and concentrated on each step, taking a look around to check out the support. But thankfully I got up and over it and was still in once piece….for now.

The Slow Down

Things started to slow down at km 34. This distance was something I had never ran before. My 2 previous marathons I had been walking at this stage by now. Between here and km 39 it was all about putting 1 foot in front of the other and the downhill by St Vincents hospital was starting to show how much I was struggling. Damian did everything possible to keep me going and also saw us have others join us as he drove a number of other runners on. He was slightly in front of me to encourage me to keep going but the wheels came off at the end of km 40 and in km 41. My aim was to run the whole race but my quads had enough and brought me to a walk. I needed loosen out. I could see Damian trying his best to get me going and had encouraging words but at this stage I was just trying to get going again. Of course this was were our support group was. Martha, George, Sarah and Fiadh. Martha had the camera out and caught me walking but a hug and a kiss and the push needed was got to turn my walk into a slow run.

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I was caught walking

Just over a km to go and I knew I was going to break the four hours and Damian was right to keep hold of the 3:55 pace band. He got me there. We crossed the line together and without him driving me on when times got tough I’d have had another almost story in my quest to break four hours. It was relief, happiness, delight that I done it. A new PB of 3:55:22. Time to grab the medal and the tshirt and hobble to bag check. It took some time to take it all in but wow, what a day.

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dublin-marathon

 

A tough but great day out at the Dublin Marathon but my aim was to break 4 hour mark for the 1st time and that I did. Coach Damian made it happen with the training plan and huge encouragement and pacing on the day. When things got tough he made sure I didn’t slow down (too much ūüėĀ). Last couple of miles were tough after no training for the last 3 weeks due to injury but knowing Martha, George & Sarah & Fiadh were at mile 25 pushed me on. Thanks to Martha for all her support and being the most understanding and awesome wife because training started just after George was born so couldn’t have got there without her. It is¬†now time to take a bit of a break and then build back up for next year.

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Challenge Galway Half Distance

After my original plan of doing a full fell away in February I wanted to give the half distance my best shot. I also had originally¬†planned to go up on the Saturday morning but to make sure I was more relaxed I went up early on the Friday. I checked into the Harbour Hotel which is located straight across from the expo. After checking I went straight over and registered and back to the hotel for some relaxation. There was nothing happening at the expo so I didn’t feel guilty chilling out at the hotel.

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Being up on the Friday meant it gave me the chance to do the swim recce. Conditions were choppy and I didn’t get out the whole way as there was a lot of effort being used so there was no use wasting energy. I got to talk to Chrissie Wellington after the swim. She was really friendly and a very happy person. She gave some good advice and it was very interesting to hear what she had to say. Once I got back to the hotel again I got on the running gear and went for a short jog just to loosen out. I organised my T1 and T2 bags then some food and a relaxing bath later it was time for bed.

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Up on the Saturday morning for a nice breakfast and more relaxing before heading over for the pasta party. Atmosphere was still a bit dead around but had 2 servings of pasta as I sat and chatted to people in there. There was a long wait until the race briefing but I got a good seat up front and all is going to plan. A small change in the swim was the only thing to really note. I dropped off my T2 bag and off to the next hotel where I checked in. This time is was the Maldron Hotel, it was closer to the swim start for tomorrow and a triple room for my Dad and Damian to stay in. I took the trip out to the swim start to rack the bike and drop off my T1 bag. Security was a bit scarce and no one checking bike and helmets but mine was all in order. Got back to hotel and met my Dad and Damian and off for some pizza in Doughboys. It was some great pizza.

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Race Day

The day has finally come. I was at at 4:45 to get ready. Shower, number tattoos on, calves strapped up with KT tape and then downstairs for some food. I left the hotel at about 5:30 and now game face was on. I went in to check everything was ok with the bike and put all my fuel on the bike. Took a look at transition and got an idea where everything was. I knew what to do now. The 600m run from swim exit to transition was carpeted but damn that looked long. I went down to the swim start to catch the first of the full athletes coming out of the water. The water was rough and the swim was cut by a small bit so we weren’t too far out of the bay.

Swim

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It was time to begin the day, said my goodbyes and headed to the water. After I got in and tested my goggles and waited for the start. We were threading the water for a couple of mins and before I knew it we were off. It was a crowded start and I was pulled, dragged, climbed over and swam across so my rhythm was off a bit. About 100m into I got strong elbow into the face which knocked the left side of my goggles off. It filled with water and now I had to make a decision, do I stop and fix or keep going. I decided to keep going. Breathing to the right meant I wasn’t affected as much so I kept going that way. It wasn’t until about the 1st buoy that things spread out and that is where I could finally concentrate on my my stroke.

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The whole way out to the 1st buoy we were swimming against the current and it was tough. I felt like I was climbing over waves and trying to sight was almost impossible. I just had to rely on who was in front of me, at least it meant we had the current with us on the way back. After I got around the 2nd buoy it was the home straight, only problem I wasn’t going very straight. I couple of times I was told my a kayaker I had to go left as I was going out too far. Again with the waves it was hard to sight so I was guessing where I was going and with the left goggle full of water didn’t help. It felt like a long tough swim so I was delighted to see the last orange buoy, it still felt like ages away but when I could see it I kicked the legs and pushed for home. Around the buoy I went and straight the ramp I went. Delighted to have it done with. I couldn’t even guess what time I did but a quick look at the watch and it was 32:49. I’ll take that with not knowing the exact distance.

T1

13497826_10208546449551274_3385641953681151406_oOut of the water and I pulled down the wetsuit straight away. It was a nice 600m run to T1. I was worried about it beforehand but it actually it was good for the legs. It got them warmed up and helped me relax before the bike. After I had ran the red carpet I found my bag and into the changing tent. I sat down and took my time. I decided to throw on the cycling jersey over the tri jersey as it was colder than I’d have prefer. On with the socks and bike shoes and threw everything into the T1 bag and dropped it off and ran to my bike. With the waves I must have swallowed a lot of water as I needed to stop at the portaloo before I got on the bike. I found my bike and ran out of T1. Now to begin my least favourite part of the day. T1 in total took me 8:15.

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Bike

The main aim for the bike was to get through it and hope my calf doesn’t come at me. A small climb to begin with followed by a left turn. Shouts of slow down on the left turn due to greasy conditions and a couple of spills before me meant it was a cautious start.

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As always the start of the bike I will have plenty of people passing me out as the stronger bikers got out of the water. Road surface was very good and I was able to get into a good steady speed. I made sure to keep hydrated and  watched my 10 meters so not to draft. Just after 30km I hit the 1st water stop. I was already sick of the isotonic drinks so grabbed a bottle of water, it was refreshing. Now came the worst part of the course. The road was in a bad way and I felt I was holding on as the bike was about to fall apart. My pace was definitely slowing down, I kept in tight as someone wanted to overtake me and as we went around a bend and downhill someone else wanted to overtake that person, so it was three deep. Only for a car jamming on the brakes that persons race was almost over, a bit idiotic out of him, take the extra 10 seconds and make sure things are safe. My pace had definitely slowed between Gort and Boston and the long straight after that was a mix of fast and slow moving. I was back and forth with a couple of people. Keeping 10m away but it definitely gave the motivation to keep the pace up. Only about half way through this straight did I realise I had drove this when I was checking out the Lough Cutra course.

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We got to the split where the full took the left turn towards the hills and we took the right to head back home. 55km in and I was feeling ok. I was on target for a good time, 2 hours in and at 56.5km,averaging close to 28km an hour. That is something I definitely would have taken before the race. Between here and Kilcolgan was a very fast section. The wind was at your back and the road surface was good. I took full advantage and it was by far my fastest section of the course and I did my fastest 5km split here as well (8:59). Of course after this section we were back on the road we has started on and the wind was blowing at an angle that it was more in our face. And for the life of me I didn’t remember going down some of the short hills that I was now going up on the way back. But the slowest section of the day came from me as we went back towards Ornamore and took the climb back to the main road into Galway. The mixture of tired legs and hills meant I slowed down but well on the way to a great time for me on the bike. I picked the pace up once more for the last 5km and crossed the line 3:08:49¬†averaging the higher end of 28km an hour. Considering I was almost the same average speed for Schull just 2 weeks previous I would never had thought I’d do a time like that. The big fear now was did I work too hard on the bike and will my run suffer for it.

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T2

Into T2 where you handed your bike off and someone racked it for you, I loved that. The search for my bag and again I took a few mins to compose myself and change into my runners and grab my gels, water and hat. Nature called again so once that was answered I was off out on the course again. T2 took me 4:23

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Run

In Wanaka my biggest regret was the run. After 7kms I was done, never getting below 5:30 min/km and spent more time closer to 7min/km. I knew what to expect on this course so I knew I could manage my pace better. In my head the plan was to break it down into 4 sections. And of course the 1st km was my fastest but with the crowd around I couldn’t help myself. Once I got that out of the way I went back to concentrating on my pace. It is a nice flat run but heading out to Salthill was into the wind and rain. I had the sunglasses on to keep the rain out of the eyes rather than the sun. It did heat up every now and again when the sun came out. I felt good as I ran along the promenade and the support around as well as the other athletes really did help get through it. At the 1st turn around I felt very good and pace was exactly what I wanted. Heading back into town I had the breeze on my back and it gave the push needed.

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It was great to see family and the crowds as I made my way to the turnaround point. Half way there and the race was going great. I knew my pace would drop off at some stage and it came within a km of the turnaround. I had to fight my head and legs to make sure I wasn’t going to walk. I knew I could continue at a good pace once I fuelled right. I grabbed a banana and had my gel and off out to Salthill I went. This time around it was a lot tougher but I wasn’t going to give up. I kept tipping away and was well with in my target time. The pathway was a lot busier this time and had to move around people, both runners and non-runners. At the final turnaround point I kicked the legs and worked my way home. I had my slowest km soon after but from there I sped up knowing I was almost there. My fastest lap of the 2nd half was my last one. I got there and in a very good time. A run of 1:42:51 was a lot better than I thought I’d do. It was short of a full half run but with the long run in T1 and the extra 0.5km on the cycle meant it definitely a half distance race overall. I was absolutely delighted with my overall time 5:37:08. Going into it I knew if everything went perfect on the day I could break 6 hours but I would have laughed if you told me I’d get 5:37

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After I got some food, a cold shower and meant my Dad and Damian it was time to reflect. The support from them really helped and it definitely drove me on. I’m glad I didn’t do the full but it has given me confidence to push on and tackle another half next year before eventually building up to the full. I finished my Wanaka report saying I wouldn’t do a full and right now I’d still feel the same. The bike would be the reason I wouldn’t attempt one but maybe after another couple of good half distance I might reconsider. If Challenge Galway goes ahead next I will definitely do it. It is a fast course and because its in Ireland it is easy to get to. The event does need some improvements but I’m sure Challenge will know that and work on it.

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Now time to relax for a while before I decide on my next event. More importantly for now is building my family with Martha. The clock is ticking and only a few weeks to go.

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