Week 3 – Excuses Excuses

Week 3 will be the 1st of many where I don’t meet my targets for the week. Work, weather, broken shower and other distractions get in the way. There will be weeks like this and it is mainly the cycle will be affected due to the lovely Irish weather. Its just so hard to get long turbo sessions in.

The week started off with an early morning 45 mins run from work. My headlamp getting great use. Very quiet around and I was happy to keep to a nice steady speed.  I got in just over 8km. A good start to the week. I did have to really kick myself to get out of bed though. I really have to put my phone away at night as soon as I get to bed or there is no hope I’ll be able to get up in the mornings in the middle of the tough sessions. I was half tempted to do my swim session tonight but once I got home there was only one thing to do and that was crash on the couch. There is always tomorrow.

20151219_152247

Weather is only great

 

Wednesday was my 1st day of fitting all legs in. Started the morning off with a 30 min session on the bike in work followed by a 3km run. Again I was lucky with the weather and it was an enjoyable stroll. Most memorable thing about this session was the fact I forgot to put my insoles in my runners. I was lucky it was a short run and I might as well have went barefoot. I won’t be forgetting that for a long time. That evening I got my motivation back and decided I’d head to the pool. It was the 1st big session, 2.5km straight through. I had done a number at that distance recently but not without a break during drills. It took 55 mins 16 seconds. I had to stop for about 30 seconds in the middle as I got cramp at the end of my foot but I didn’t feel tired after the session. I believe I could definitely have broken 3k if I wanted but that is for another day.

Thursday was my longest session on the turbo so far. 45 mins session makes it perfect to fit in an episode of “Better Call Saul”. Only 2 more episodes to go in the series so I’ll soon have to find something else. It’d be great if there was a tv series about triathletes, that would definitely keep me going.  It doesn’t matter how many windows I open the heat is intense. Definitely makes you work harder. I can’t wait for the time where I get back out on the road in the evenings.

So far so good with the training for the week but then work got in the way. My plan for an hour run were cut short as we had an engineer coming on site to check on an issue. This meant I just squeezed in 50 mins as my phone was ringing to see where I was. I was really enjoying the session as I had decided to take the extra time in bed and go on an evening run. Running past the lines of traffic as they were stuck going no where and I was feeling good. I bit of a drizzle made it nice to run in as well.

Saturday has turned into the bad weather day. It should be cycle day but never ends up being it due the wind and rain. The shower also decided to break so now I had to decide how I could work my day. I decided on an hour run before heading to Garryvoe for a swim. So the run took me on a road I had never went before. I always passed it but never took the turn down as it was dark and a small down hill. Little did I know after about 500m it brightens up is a quiet country road with rolling hills. Looking on the map later it eventually hits a dead end but there are turn off that bring you to Churchtown South etc so I’ll be mapping a nice route around there in future for my longer runs to keep things interesting. After I finished the run it was off to the pool for 2.5km with drills. It was enjoyable and I knew I’d earn my pizza afterwards.

20151219_152127

Working hard on my Saturday Run

 

Sunday was a write off. I woke up all set to cycle to work so I could have a shower there before heading to town. The rain was bucketing down and the wind was howling. I probably shouldn’t have been a coward and just went for it but I chose to skip it. Saying to myself I’ll do some on the turbo later. Of course that was never going to happen. I ended up in town doing some Christmas shopping, got some lunch and enjoy the day with Martha. The wind died down and it became nice and dry but at that stage it was too late to get out. I decided a 2 day rest would benefit me in the long run and I’ll get back to it on Tuesday. I’ll have a few days off over Christmas that will mean I can get a bit more time to get out on the bike so I’ll catch up on missed sessions without interfering in my plan. Even though I never had set plans for the weekend so technically I didn’t go too far off the plan so maybe I shouldn’t feel too bad

Breakdown
Mon – Off
Tues – 45 min run
Wednesday – 30 min cycle (Indoor), 16 min run, 2.km swim
Thursday – 45 min cycle(turbo), 2.1km swim
Friday – 50 min run
Saturday – 1 hour run, 2.5km swim
Sunday – Off

2.5km Swim session
Straight through

2.5km Swim session
Warm Up
300m FS

Drills (8 x 50m total)
4 x 25m BS; 4 x 25m L,R,F,B with fins; 4 x 25m with PB; 4 x 25m with fists

Main Set
12 x 100m 20 second break in between

Drills (8 x 50m total)
4 x 25m BS; 4 x 25m L,R,F,B with fins;
1 x 25m for BR every 4, BL every 4, both sides every 3,  both sides every 5
2 x 25m with legs tied, legs tied, 2 x 25m with legs tied, legs tied with PB

Cool Down
200m FS

Week Four looks like this

Mon – Off
Tues – 30 min run in Z2, Swim
Wednesday – 30 min cycle (Indoor), 15 min run
Thursday – 30 min cycle(Turbo)
Friday – 45 min run
Saturday –  1 hour 30 mins cycle
Sunday –  1 hour run

Week Two – 6:01am

Who made this plan? Why am I training during the worst months of the year? Why did I sign up for this? All the things that go through my head when the alarm goes off at 6:01am each morning of training. Why 6:01am? I really don’t know, I set it wrong the 1st time and never bothered changing it. Now it is part of my ritual and who am I to change a winning combo. Week two follows very similar pattern to week one except I have no club swimming session this time around. I started off the week with my Tuesday morning run. Trying to keep the heart rate down but it was helped my a small niggle in my calf. I took it nice and steady but once I warmed up the niggle went. The week ahead is set to be bad but as mornings go this wasn’t so bad. As I was driving out it down poured but by the time I parked up I missed the worst of it and the worst stayed away for my run. The new headlamp is getting great use each morning now. A ended up being a 30 min run with a few random sprints to get the body moving.

On Wednesday I decided to get my bike session done in the gym in work rather than waiting for the evening at home. A steady 30 min cycle followed by a quick change and and 16 min run around Mahon. It is always good to make the time in the mornings so that I can actually chill in the evenings. This evening however I had a GAA Club meeting so that meant I had no choice but to get it done. Anticipating being tired I took the opportunity to work from home on the Thursday. This meant I could get a lot of my work done without distractions and use my lunch break for a swim. Due to time constraints I only got in 2.1km. I had to leave the 2nds drills session out. But the session I got in was productive and throwing in those drills help keep things interesting. That evening I got on the turbo trainer at home and got 30 mins session in while catching up on Better Call Saul. I think that will be my go to series for now while on the turbo. I’ll have to find some sporting movies or documentaries as well to keep me motivated when the cycles get longer.

20151209_072255

Gym Workout

 

 

Friday was Christmas Party evening in work so to get around that I decided I’d get in a 30 min run by the office after work/before the party. This meant I actually got to stay in bed that bit later and not hang around waiting to go to the party. I could have done with the headlamp as I ran up and back to Blackrock castle. I never realised it was so dark in parts. I could now go to the Christmas Party happy knowing I got my work out in.

The weekend is where the fun is. The hard, longer sessions. For the second week in a row I had to move my sessions around. The driving wind and rain meant it wasn’t safe to get out on the bike on Saturday so it was a run instead. A 45 min run around Cloyne. Of course I only learned on Sunday that it should have been an hour but with those weather conditions the run was worth more than that 45 mins on the clock. I had been doing a lot of flat running up to now so threw in some elevation just to make sure I don’t forget how to run hills. Ballycotton in March won’t forgive me if I don’t practice those hills.

20151212_145506

Wet and Windy Run

 

Just like last week Sunday was a better day for a cycle. It was great to get out. The turbo training is good for short work outs but you can’t beat getting up and facing the elements. Since Wanaka I had only done one cycle over 1 hour 30 mins so this was somewhat of a milestone. I ended up doing 1 hour 36 mins and fitted in 44km. I was happy with that. With the bike being the place I have to do more work it is good to know I’m at around the same level I was back at the start of the year. So far even though it is the part I dislike most I have enjoyed the 2 outdoor cycles so far. Of course there is more to come and when I start hitting the 2 hour mark and beyond the real challenge will commence. To round off the week I got in a 2.5km swim set.

In parts week two was tough. A lot going on and tired in parts but got it done. 28 weeks to go.

Breakdown
Mon – Off
Tues – 30min run
Wednesday – 30 min cycle (Indoor), 16 min run
Thursday – 30 min cycle(Indoor), 2.1km swim
Friday – 30 min run
Saturday – 45 min run
Sunday – 1hr 30min cycle (road), 2.5km swim.

2.1km Swim session
Warm Up
300m FS

Drills (8 x 50m total)
4 x 25m BS; 4 x 25m L,R,F,B; 4 x 25m with PB; 4 x 25m with fists

Main Set
16 x 25m with 10 sec break between each
1 x 400m with 60 sec break between each
16 x 25m with 10 sec break between each

Cool Down
200m FS

2.5km Swim session

Warm Up
300m FS

Drills (8 x 50m total)
4 x 25m BS; 4 x 25m L,R,F,B with fins; 4 x 25m with PB; 4 x 25m with fists

Main Set
1 x 300m with 40 sec break between each
3 x 200m with 30 sec break between each
1 x 300m with 30sec break between each

Drills (8 x 50m total)
4 x 25m BS; 4 x 25m L,R,F,B with fins; 4 x 25m with PB; 4 x 25m with fists
1 x 25m for BR every 4, BL every 4, both sides every 3,  both sides every 5
2 x 25m with legs tied, legs tied with PB

Cool Down
200m FS

Week Three looks like this

Mon – Off
Tues – 45 min run in Z2, Swim
Wednesday – 30 min cycle (Indoor), 15 min run
Thursday – 45 min cycle(Turbo)
Friday – 1 hour min run
Saturday – Depends on weekend plans
Sunday – Depends on weekend plans

The weekend is currently up in the air so once plans are confirmed I will add in what I need. No doubt this won’t be the only week where things get a bit crazy and I can’t pencil in exactly what I need to do. Hopefully all will work out.

 

First Week done

The journey started this week and so far it has been enjoyable. The build phase is something that is needed but hard to stick with as well. It means going slower and I build to go longer. I feel at times I am only walking but I have to drill it into my head that it is all part of the plan and I can’t skip parts just because I feel I can do it. Going much faster or much longer now may cost me in the months ahead. There is plenty of time to increase the workload.

Week One

The weather certainly didn’t help during the 1st week. An early morning run on the 1st got me going. Headlamp on, rain jacket on and a slow paced 30 min run. Good way to start it. I kept the heart rate as low as I could, a bit outside the Z2 I was aiming for but it is something I will have to work on over time. That evening was my final swim session with Cobh Tri. It was an extremely tough session that concentrated mainly on backstroke. At times I felt I was going to stay at the bottom on the pool as I struggled to keep myself above water but it helped find some weaknesses that I will need to work on over time. Of course I will never be doing backstroke in a race but it is great to work on parts of the body that are rarely used. The plan said to do 2.5km but with the set we were doing and only the hour before more budding triathletes took to the pool I got in approximately 1.5km. Day 1 down. I might as well keep going.

20151201_070237

First Run – Dark, Wet, Windy

 

Day 2 brought the bike in. I decided to do an evening 30 min cycle on the turbo followed by a 16 min run around Cloyne. I can’t wait for the nights to get longer so I don’t have to get on the turbo that often. The following morning it was 30 min session sticking close to 100RPM on the bike in work. Good to get it out of the way early. Another 30 min run on Friday before work this time there was no need for the jacket as it was dry for a change. Again it was about managing heart-rate rather than time. I moved away from the plan on Saturday. This was mainly due to the gale force winds and downpours which lead to the cancellation of Waterford half marathon and Clon Marathon. For this reason there was no way I was going to get out on the bike so a run was the safer option. Met Damian out at Blackrock castle and we got a 10km. It was wet and windy but I must say it was good to get out there. The weather on Sunday was much better so took the chance to get in my one hour bike session. Finally back on the road on the bike. It has been a long time. But it was a perfect day for a cycle. I was delighted with the way it went. I didn’t struggle and with the first half being so good I was expecting a tough cycle once I turned back but it ended up the same on the way back. Just what I needed for my first cycle outdoors since September 6th. Week one ended with my longest swim session I have done. A 2.5km set with plenty of drills and speed work but in.

20151206_103133

First outdoor cycle of training

 

Breakdown
Mon – Off
Tues – 30min run, 1.5km swim
Wednesday – 30 min cycle (Turbo), 16 min run
Thursday – 30 min cycle(Indoor)
Friday – 30 min run
Saturday – 10km run
Sunday – 1 hour cycle (road), 2.5km swim.

2.5km Swim session
Warm Up
300m FS

Drills (8 x 50m total)
4 x 25m BS; 4 x 25m L,R,F,B; 4 x 25m with PB; 4 x 25m with fists

Main Set
4 x 125m with 20 sec break between each
4 x 175m with 30 sec break between each
4 x 125m with 20 sec break between each

Drills (8 x 50m total)
2 x 25m for BR every 4, BL every 4, both sides every 3,  both sides every 5

Cool Down
200m FS

I’m already thinking ahead to what is to come and putting plan in place to compete my own half ironman because only other option is to go abroad (which may happen yet). Penciled in May 1st to be my half ironman day. Just need to get a support team together to make that happen. Plenty of time yet for that.

Week Two looks like this

Mon – Off
Tues – 30min run in Z2
Wednesday – 30 min cycle (Turbo), 15 min run
Thursday – 30 min cycle(Indoor)
Friday – 30 min run
Saturday – 1 hour 30 mins cycle (road)
Sunday – 1 hour run, 2.5km swim session
Plus another swim session to fit in

 

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

NYC Pav

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

Expo

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.

FDNY Tent

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.

FDNY Trio

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.

NYC MAP

Breakdown of the race

FDNY

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

20151102_091715

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.

Accepted

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.

Amsterdam Half – The Training Run

Amsterdam Half – The Training Run

After I didn’t get into New York I decided I needed another marathon to focus on. To begin with I booked my flights and hotel with Joe and Kevin and step one was complete. Over the next few months I decided I wasn’t going to tackle a full so signed up for the half instead. This would allow me the chance to continue to focus on training for triathlons during the summer. I really kind of took my mind off this race with so many other races happening. But i felt I could give it a right go even with the lack of training at the higher distances. But of course all plans were thrown up in the air when I found out I had got into New York on September 17th. This race now became my secondary focus and would now just be used as a training run with it being 2 weeks before NYC

12108914_10206795998911102_6019035752894593573_n

Great support from home

We were all working on the Friday and got the 5:30pm flight out to Amsterdam. A nice smooth flight and the train to Amsterdam Central. We got a cab to the apartment we had got and then it was time to decide who was getting which bed. Once we lay claim to our beds we headed out for a short stroll and to the pub we went. A few hours there and a healthy feed of McDonalds after set us up nicely.

On Saturday we caught the tram out to the expo. Worked out well that the tram was only few seconds walk from the apartment and went directly to the expo. Everyone besides us about 3 other jumped off at the Olympic Stadium stop, but we hung on for one more which meant we had a shorter walk to the expo. There was a great buzz around and the place was hopping. When we went in there was queues everywhere. Lucky for us there was no where in ours so we had our numbers within seconds of getting there.

Packed Expo

Packed Expo

Off to see what we could buy next. But I behaved and stayed away from all the tempting merchandise. Regretted not picking something up afterwards but I’d be better off not filling
my cupboards with more junk.

After the expo we headed back, got changed and headed down to Rembrandtplein to get some food and watch the rugby. A stroll around that area and around Amsterdam square was it for the night. Back to the apartment early knowing that Kevin was doing the full so he’d be up early.

12088344_10206795997751073_9156839884553364236_n

Gear Ready

We had a nice lie in and headed off at about 11 expecting to get the tram. Of course to our surprise it wasn’t running. We flagged down a taxi who brought us to about 1.5km away from the stadium and we walked the rest. Good warm up. Bags dropped off and then to the start line. Joe and myself were both in the 1st wave so didn’t take us long to get going. I was planning on doing 5 min per km but once I got going I decided I’d do what was comfortable. I settled into a pace in and around the 4:4x per km. I heard a lot about Amsterdam having a lot of twists and turns but maybe it was just for the full because there seemed to be a lot of straights which helped even out the crowd and you weren’t falling over people. After bumping into a girl from Midleton at about the 8 km mark she was looking strong and aiming for sub 1:40 (she achieved it) I knew I was pacing well. She happened to be the only person I exchanged words with throughout the whole run. After about half km she headed on.

11254636_10206795995751023_5277265589258914595_o

It wasn’t really until the about the 16km mark where there was support out on the course. Before that it was quiet and a bit boring. But then again I had my head down so I didn’t mind too much. There was a good buzz around Vondelpark when we ran through there. I knew I was getting close to home then. I managed to keep the pace throughout, with my 2 best kms at the 18th (where you 1st entered the park) and the last km. It was great atmosphere entering the stadium and there is just something about finishing on the track. I crossed the line in 1:41:45 and felt good. Usually I’d be very tired after but I raced sensibly and gives me great hope for NYC. A nice massage after and 3km walk pack to the apartment kept me nice and loose.

12088344_10206795996431040_626677821990378691_n 11100347_10206795996911052_7574401013014276304_n

Joe finished in 1:37:51 and Kev did the full in 4:47:37

.12118887_10206795997311062_742298546378377920_n

Some of the best craic and chats came on the flight home on the Monday. Plenty of others who did the race shared their stories and it passed away the waiting time and the flight home.

Would I do it again? Yes, if I wanted a good weekend away close by. A nice flat course, a bit boring in parts but a very easy destination to get to. It will be head down for NYC now but I hope this race has put me in the right shape for it.

12144842_10206795996071031_5363625873194767516_n

Ballycotton Summer Series 2015

Back in 2014 I had set a goal of breaking into top 100 in the Ballycotton Summer Series. I achieved that by finishing in 95th after the 4 races in a total of 2hrs 19 mins and 22 seconds. So at the start of 2015 this Series was one of the main focuses for the summer again. My aim for this year was to push into the top 75. With my times coming down I felt that was a doable goal.

Ballyandreen

As with all East Cork races Damian dropped in and we headed to the race together. Seems to have come a tradition since our 1st Ballyandreen in 2013. Weather was good for the race, as seems to be the case for all races in East Cork, so it adds to the atmosphere. You can sense the buzz around. Everyone loves summer running and everyone there on the night are all hoping to improve on last or looking to try attack the beast for the 1st time.

I had done two previous races in Ballyandreen, in 2013 it took me 36:13 and in 2014 it took 35:14 (both watch time). So in 2015 It would be nice to get closer to 34.

One thing about this summer series is that I find it hard to pace correctly throughout the race. You seem to be going up or down, there never seems to be a flat to enjoy. With it being clock timing I lost 30 seconds crossing the line. So this year I placed myself in a better place, only losing 8 seconds but also knowing I placed myself correctly.With the up and down nature of the course I started off strong with the 1st 4km fairly consistent with a small bit of an increase with the big downhill down into Ballycotton. Now the fun part begins. Everyone talks about the “Beast of Ballyandreen” but it was the km before the beast that almost broke me. If you drove it you wouldn’t think much about it but there in a slight incline that seems to drain the energy and my pace dropped back a lot. I knew I had to suck it up and find something to keep going. Following that long stretch it was the left turn up the beast. It was my slowest km but I got through it and I like those up hills. Give me a short steep up hill over a long gradual climb any day. The one thing you know is that when you get up the top of the Beast you have a fun downhill to the finish. I just let myself go and let gravity do the work.

I completed the race in 32:50 a huge jump in my time. I was absolutely delighted with that. It was a 5 mile PB for me and finished in 83rd place. Well I know now that if I run like that over the next 3 races I should easily make my target. And who knows how high I could reach.

Ballyandreen Comparison

Ballyandreen Comparison 2013 to 2015

Shanagarry

Next up was my favourite race of the series. Maybe because I cycle that route a lot or because you are running past the beach there is something about it that makes me happy to be doing this race. Damian almost broke the tradition saying he would have to leave straight after the race so would meet me down there. But he stopped by anyway, sure I’m not that slow so I wouldn’t make him wait that long. Even though his 28th place in Ballyandreen was a huge run showing the gap between us increases. I get better, he just gets faster and faster. After having a sprint tri the previous Saturday I knew it wasn’t the best prep but felt good anyway.

I had only done this race once before and that was last year. I completed it in 34:14 which was my PB up to Ballyandreen this year. I was wearing the lowest number I had ever worn in the series. The number 83 it was.

Starting close to the front of the pack I went off like a bullet for me. A very fast first km but then the 1st 3kms are relatively flat so it was easy to clip a long at a good pace. After passing Garryvoe hotel you take a left and here begins a a long drag up to another left where again you are met with another drag. This slowed my pace down and I had a number of people pass me out here. Another left turn but unlike the previous this one you are met with a huge downhill. It is probably a bit too steep to go fast going down so I just tried to manage my pace and avoid doing damage by going down too fast. But as you go down that hill you can can see just over to the right the hill you have to go back up. Even though it is a steep hill, just like in Ballyandreen, I found myself stronger going up and passed a number of people out. You just want to get up to the top before heading to the line. I don’t know why I thought the line was closer but you still had a km to go. Again my pace picked up for the last km and helped me finish in a new 5 mile PB of 32:34 and 76th position. I was delighted with that and now moved up to 59th place overall.  Wow that is something I never expected. I am within touching distance of top 50 with 2 races to go.

Shanagarry

Shanagarry Comparison 2014 to 2015

Churchtown South

Third race in the series and wearing number 59 I knew I had to get a good result here. Last year this one almost finished me. I ran it in 34:23 but that doesn’t tell the story. I really struggled in the race so I definitely was not looking forward to it. The weather wasn’t as bad as last year which was a plus. Damian picked me up a long the way and we were up there nice and early. Good buzz around as people got ready for the 3rd in the series. This course has 2 loops and doesn’t have as big of a hill as the others but for some reason I find the loops harder, when you do the 2nd loop that hill seems to be a mountain.

I started up near the front and had my game plan in place. Start the 1st km fast and then settle into my rhythm. The 1st 3km are mainly flat or downhill so its good to get a going. Its after this mark that things get a bit tougher. Must of the climbing is done in the next km and half. My pace considerably slowed in km 4 and 5. During km 5 you start the loop again. This time it didn’t seem as easy and couldn’t get the the pace I was at before. I did up the pace in km 6 but again this is quite flat and downhill. Then the dreaded climbs again. Just when you make a sharp left there is always a family handing out water, I gladly grabbed some as it seemed to be heating up. During km 8 and 9 I didn’t have anything left. People started flying past me and I couldn’t keep going. My normal kick at the end wasn’t there and yet again this course had beat me. Maybe a different strategy next year will help me. I still finished with a PB for the course in 32:57 so I should be happy with that but still disappointed to not match my previous 2 races.   I finished 86th overall which meant for the 1st time ever I have moved into the top 50 overall, I’ll be wearing 49 in Ballycotton. I’ll have to be at my best to hold on to that position.

Churchtown

Churchtown South Comparison 2014 to 2015

Ballycotton

It was all down to this. The last race in the series. Having had the Dublin Tri on the previous Sunday and not feeling well since that race I wasn’t very confident going into the race. If it wasn’t for it being the last race in the series and me lying in 49th I’d have skipped the race. Anyhow I just had to suck it up and go for it and see how it went.

Ballycotton

Beautiful night for the race

 

And for the last time Damian picked me up and we set off early. Just like any Summer Series race the good weather comes out in time for the race. Downpours during the day were replaced by clear blue skies and sunshine for the evening. Ballycotton must have an agreement with the weather gods. A small warm up, a bit of banter between everyone and before we knew it the race was about to commence. The earlier start meant there was no messing around.

I had decided I’d go out fast since the 1st half of the race is the easy half. A nice start down out of Ballycotton and I found after a km that the group in front were after pulling away so I was out on my own. After the long straight you took the right just like in the Ballycotton 10 and I kept my pace going as I wanted to. A few more people joined me, or should I say pass me out, so at least this was a bit of a push to keep the pace up. I was happy with the way the 1st 2km went. Just as planned. Next 2km are relatively flat as well and I kept a steady pace. It was slower than the 1st 2km but again all going to plan. It was at about the 4km mark where I started to feel the affects of the race on Sunday. I’d need to dig deep as the 5th km is the tough one. At the end of the hill I looked up at what looked like a mountain at this stage and just said to myself I needed to get over it. I pumped the arms and legs and just about made it up, knowing that once I turned left it would be the home straight. The 6km was the most interesting of the race and threw me off a bit. A member of a club that I won’t mention decided to throw an elbow at me and shout abuse for about 20 seconds at me for “taking his line” as he gave me about a mm of room as he passed me. Seemingly I have eyes on the back of my head and can tell exactly where everyone is. He couldn’t just go around me.

Now it was time to go back the road we came. I really wasn’t feeling good at this stage. A few shouts of come on Eagle helped me pick up my pace a bit. Heading into the village and seeing the finish line was all I wanted and was so glad to come up to it. I gave all I could for the last 200m and made it home in 32:47, 103rd on the night. (I did 34:36 in 2014) This was my 2nd fastest 5 mile ever but it definitely didn’t feel like that. I was bent over at the line, didn’t know if I wanted to get sick or fall down. I felt my time should mean I finished in the top 50 but only time will tell.

Ballycotton Comparison

Ballycotton Comparison

What felt like an age and waiting for the results it was great to see Damian finish in such a high position. 17th overall and a superb race on the night. It eventually rolled down to the 40s, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45 and finally I could breathe, 46 Jonathan Kenneally Eagle AC, PHEW. Absolutely delighted. At the start of the year I wouldn’t have thought I’d get anywhere near that. I had an overall total of 2:11:27 compared to 2:19:22 last year. Huge strides gained and much more to come. Well done to all who completed the series. Since I’ll be taking a break from the series next year it will be great that I’ll be out with my camera knowing that no one can take the top 50 tshirt away from me. Well unless Martha gets sick of all the tshirts I have and throws it out 🙂

20150827_214309 20150827_214220

20150827_203529

 

So finally

 

Race Comparison

Race 2013 2014 2015
Ballyandreen 5 Mile  36:13  35:14 32:50
Shannagarry 5 Mile  x  34:14 32:34
Churchtown South 5 Mile  x  34:23 32:57
Ballycotton 5 Mile  x  34:36 32:44
Overall Series  x  2:19:22  2:11:27
20150827_225236

Complete Series

20150827_220939

What it is all about

 

Dublin City Triathlon

With Wanaka being my main race I had set my sights on Dublin City Triathlon(DCT) being my main tri of the summer. Considering I had only done one other Olympic Distance race before I was looking forward to seeing where I am at compared to London last year. Being slow to sign up almost cost me a place but thankfully after it initially sold out they made more places available. I snapped up the chance to do it.

When it came to training I my running was going well, same with swim and I finally started to increase my cycling distance. Its something I really need to continue working on. With a lot of road races I need to manage my training but felt confident overall.

My targets before the race were:
Swim: 30mins
Cycle: 1hr 30mins
Run: 45mins

With Robert doing the super sprint distance we all stayed in the Clarion in Liffey Valley the night before. Great location and less than 10 mins to the Garda Boat Club. My luck was in while checking in. Martha and I got an upgrade to one bedroom apartment. Nice an spacious. Robert and myself headed off to registration and it was nice and fast. And by far the best goody bag you could have got. It made me laugh because last year in London you didn’t even get a tshirt and got a “virtual” goody bag with coupons to get money off on line. Where as here with DCT you got a great Amphibia bag and plenty of goodies.  We had a look at the swim and transition etc before heading back. A nice “healthy” meal that night of a huge burger and chips went down nicely.

Dublin Tri Goodie Bag

Goodie Bag

 

The morning of the race was here. Alarm set for 6am. Looked out and just as the forecast said it was pouring rain. Sure it couldn’t rain for that long anyway. Good to get it out of the way early. Had some toast, got all my things together and met Robert. We headed in a long and got parking on the road about 700m away from the boat club. We put our bikes together and headed off. Rain was still pouring at the stage. We got our bikes checked and found our spot in transition. Spaces were numbered and you were next to other club members so, the 3 Brutons & Alan Cummins racked up next to me with a few from Cork Tri on the other side. As soon as we got in there they were closing transitions soon after so we timed it well. Bike racked and all my gear covered from the rain we left transition to hang around until it was our turn.

Dublin Tri

Cobh Tri Members

 

Swim

I love the swim so I’m relaxed from the start. I jumped and treaded water for about 5 mins, making sure the goggles were secure, refitting them a couple of times to make sure no water was going to get in. I thought the start would be a bit crazier than it was. Maybe I positioned myself well but I was able to get into a nice rhythm straight away. I remember passing the turning point for the Super Sprint and thinking to myself it would be nice to just have to turn there, it also gave an idea of distance so far. Only once did get put out a bit and that was when someone decided to climb over me. Was rather strange as we were about 500m into by then and plenty of space on either side of me. Got to the turnaround point and felt good. I knew I’d be with the flow on the way back down so would be easier. I passed a few from the previous and then passed the Super Sprint turnaround again. I knew then I was on the home stretch. I got out of the water with an official time of 28 mins exactly. I’ll take that.

Swim

Dublin Tri Swim

T1

It took me a fews to adjust but once I did I ran through and got the wetsuit off. My calf felt a bit tight so took my time. Even with my gear covered, it was soaked.  Just like most races this year I decided to take the extra bit of time to put socks on, it just a bit more comfortable. I was 2mins 29seconds. Which overall wasn’t too bad I guess.

 

Dublin Tri

Heading to T1

 

Bike

Now to my least favourite part of the day. Going into it I wasn’t sure about the loops but overall I felt it was good. I got better on each loop as I got used to the conditions and the course. For whatever I lost going up hills I didn’t really gain on the downhills. This was mainly due to me being a bit cautious and not wanting to go skidding off my bike. After the 1st turn around on Chesterfield Avenue I felt my calf tighten up a bit which meant I had to slow down a small bit just to make sure it didn’t get any worse. After about 2km (mainly downhill section) my calf seemed alright again and I was able to push on again.When I got to the sections where 1st lap and the loops meet I could hear Martha before I could see her. This was one of the fans zones and it was good to see and hear someone cheer you on. There was a DJ there as well who was encouraging every one.  Just before the hitting Chesterfield Avenue for the 2nd time Alan passed me on the bike. He was looking strong and no way was I going to keep with him. I kept ticking away on the bike. Counting my laps. Making sure I didn’t miss one or worse again, do one too many. Each time I came down the hill towards the fan zone I could hear Martha which helped me as you faced the steady climb, I did let her know each time what lap I was on so not to have her waiting there for ever.

Dublin Tri

Dublin Tri Cycle

The laps seemed to fly by and before I knew it I was taking the right out of the park. I was able to make up some time on the flattest part of the course on Chapelizod Road heading towards transition.
I got off the bike in a time of 1:26:48. By my watch that was close to 28km per hour average, which for me is very good. Times are slightly improving on the bike but a lot more work to do.

Dublin Tri

Map and breakdown of cycle

Dublin Tri

Elevation, Cadence and Speed

Dublin Tri

KM Breakdown

T2

I was quicker in T2 compared to other athletes and was out in 1min 46seconds. I had my runners in a bag so there were some what dry. Was going to wear a hat to keep the rain out of my eyes but decided to stick with the glasses. Off I went out of T2 and a few shouts of “Go on Cobh” from marshals were good to hear.

Martha Cheering me on in the Rain

Martha Cheering me on in the Rain

 

Run

Now this is the part I like best. Of course its hard to know how it is going to go as it all depends on how much the other 2 took it out of me. You start with a nice flat 1st km on Chapelizod Road before turning into the park. Again Martha popped up and make sure I saw her. Definitely helped me get up the 1st big hill. Next thing I knew it changed from road running to cross country. I didn’t know this part and it definitely takes its toll on the legs. Through grass, mud and slippery hills it was interesting to see how this would work out. There was close to a km on each lap of road running and I was able to pick up some time before slowing down again on the grass loop. From my splits it was obvious where the hard parts were. Michael Bruton came flying past me at one stage, made it look easy.

Dublin Tri

On the run in Dublin Tri

I met Robert on my 2nd lap. Lucky him, he only had to do the loop once. Olivia and my two nieces, Emma and Robyn, cheered me on as I started my 2nd and Martha joined them when I started my final lap. All the support was great throughout the day and definitely give the kick I needed. To stand out in the rain for the whole day is something else. Its fine for us when we are running around but it must have been miserable for them. My last km was by far my fastest. I had the energy to really kick on. I passed out many people once we hit the road one last time. I completed the in 45:35. It was the only one where I didn’t make my target but I’ll blame the cross country run for that 🙂

Run KM Breakdown

KM breakdown

Speed and elevation of run

Speed and Elevation of Run

Map of run

Map of the Run

My final time was 2hr 44mins 34seconds. Finished 208 overall out of 484. I’m very happy with that as anything under 3 hours I would have been delighted with. The weather conditions made things even harder. I will definitely look to go back next year and try again. It was a great day. DCT put on a great event and any marshal I came across had a smile on their face. Well done to all involved in the organisation of the event. Thanks to my wonderful wife Martha who was everywhere to cheer me on. Great to see Olivia, Emma and Robyn out, must have been hard to bring them around in the rain. Well done to Robert getting back to doing a triathlon for the 1st time in 3 years. And finally well done to all the Cobh members who  competed today.

 

20150823_182909

Cool Medal

 

20150823_134805

Healthy meal after

Challenge Wanaka Half Ironman

Decision Time
Not long after coming back from London Triathlon Martha and I decided to look into heading to New Zealand in February 2015 after having the best time on our honeymoon in February 2014. After we booked our flights and booked our accommodation for the last weekend we would be there I did my usual – start the search to see if there was any races I might do. I found one half marathon and it looked interesting but then I found the race. Which can only be described as an amazing coincidence Challenge Wanaka had changed their date to that weekend from their normal January date.
I started to ask myself would I be able for it. Only the week earlier I completed my 1st Olympic Distance tri. I did my 1st triathlon in July 2013, a super sprint. I struggled through the 250m swim on that day, now I was eying a half ironman only year and half after barely being able to finish that super sprint. I had only ever done one 90k cycle and that was Sean Kelly cycle with a nice break half way. The only thing I felt confident about was the run part of it.
Of course another stumbling block for me was getting the training in. With work and also hitting the end of the summer means it would be a tough slug through the winter months. So I officially signed up on August 31st (final day before price rise) and organised a bike to rent while out there. So I was all set. Just need to start the training.
Training
I felt training went well. I knew it would be a lot of time in the pool since it was coming to the end of the opening water swimming for the year. I did get the luck of going out to Austin in October where I got to swim in Barton Springs Pool on a number of occasion. This is an outdoor spring fed pool that had a good 1/8th of a mile of a straight. It really gave me the confidence in building up distance. I was only in my swim shorts so I knew the swimsuit would make things that bit easier. I managed to get to 2km a couple of times. Great facility and delighted I got the time there. It was back to the pool in Garryvoe Hotel for the rest of the training and was another great place to train. A surprise work trip to Singapore over New Year meant I got more outdoor swims in the hotel pool, always nice.

Barton Springs Pool

Barton Springs Pool

20150106_215326

Pan Pacific Pool Singapore

When it came to the bike I did nowhere close to enough. It always had been my weakest and I should have worked on it more. The great excuse of the time of year, weather too bad etc was too easy to use. The trip to Austin meant I got some warm weather training in with plenty of hills. I only once got over 70km and the most I reached was 85km. Looking back on my mileage I know for next time I need to be doing a lot more to bring my time on the bike down.

20141012_123141

Bike for Austin

20141012_104904

Tough Hills

My running which I would have seen as my strongest and my times had really come down over the year. A strong half marathon in Clon and some warm weather running in Austin and Singapore meant my training was going well. Only worry for me was how my body would be after the swim and run.
I put in a lot of brick sessions so I was confident coming out of water and on to the bike and then from bike to run.
Build up
The build up to race day started a couple of weeks before hand when I had to pack my bags and head off on what would be an epic holiday. I had a list of what I needed and packed everything from tri bars to gels. I put all my race gear in my hand luggage, just in case. While on holidays in NZ I went for a run in Christchurch, Fox Glacier, Invercargill and Queenstown. I managed to get a swim in at pools in Dunedin and Invercargill as well. We passed through Wanaka about a week before the race so I had to stop off and have a look at the bike I was renting. It put my mind at ease when I saw it. Exactly what I needed. Also got a look at some of the hills and windy conditions that I might face.

Windy day a week before

Windy day a week before

 

A relaxing few days in Queenstown beforehand kept the nerves down. I was more excited that nervous and that included when picking up my number 2 days before the race. The expo was small and nothing to write home about but great atmosphere all round.

Race Number
The night before the race my watch decided to go crazy. Spent about 2 hours getting it going again. I think I was so tired from the stress of that that as soon as I got to bed I fell straight to sleep.
Race Day
My targets were
Swim: 45 mins
Bike: 3 hrs 30 mins
Run: 2 hrs
I was up nice and early on race day. Set the alarm for 5:15am. This gave me time to have a shower to freshen up and have a good breakfast. Some porridge with banana and toast with peanut butter set me up nicely. Then I had Martha strap up both my calves with KT tape, they needed the support to get through the day. I headed down to transition for 6:30am. I got a nice space close by so that would be handy to crawl back to afterwards. There was a bit of a nip in the air, it was still early so I knew that wasn’t going to last long. I headed into transition to do final check on the bike and put my drinks and gels on the bike. At that time the Challenge Music started to play as the pro were about to set off (at 7am) I missed them starting but I headed down to the beach once I was happy with the setup and I knew where I was coming in and out for T1 and T2.

Sunrise

Sunrise

The sun was rising and there was a buzz around the place now as the Age groupers for the full were getting ready to hit the water. They were next to set off and then the relay teams after that. I knew it wasn’t long before I’d be heading into the water. Of course not before Dylan Macneise broke the full swim course record and didn’t look tired coming out.

Pre Race

Pre Race

Swimsuit on

Swimsuit on

On went the bodyglide and sun screen and slipped into the wetsuit. Last time I had been in it was during Youghal Tri but it still fit so all was good. That tri was also the last time I was in open water. But as I gave Martha the last of my gear and strolled down to the water I felt confident with how I’d preform in the water. Being from Ireland its always a slow walk into the cold water so that’s what I was expecting here but to my surprise it was nice and warm. Jumped straight under the water and made sure the goggles were secure. It was a deep water start so took my time heading out but finally took my place a few rows back closer to the left hand side. We were waiting about 5 mins to start but it was head down and drive on once the buzzer went off. It was the most chaotic I had experienced in the swim. Punches, kicks and bodies above and below but I just tried to concentrate on my stroke and keep close to the direct line to the buoy. I felt good turning the 1st buoy but the fun was trying to sight the second buoy. I just stayed on the feet of the swimmer ahead and hoped they were going in the right direction. The fun began when I turned the corner on the next buoy. The sun was rising and directly in my eyes. I had no idea where I was going. On the home straight I had to stop 3 times and take the goggles off to get an idea of where I was. I put the head down and drove on each time. I did hit the guide rope a number of times on the way, lucky I saw it or I could have still been swimming now. With the water was so clear and I knew I was coming to the end as the lake floor was almost within touching distance. When I could finally touch the ground I got up, delighted I had done it but to my horror a marshal came up to tell me I had passed the buoy on the wrong side so I’d have to swim back to go around it. Overall it cost me about 40 seconds but still when I saw my time I was delighted. Finally out of the water I headed up the ramp over the road and back down the other side (cruel to make us run up that). I grabbed my red T1 bag and into the tent to get out of the wetsuit and off to the bike I went. Made sure to spray more sunscreen on me as the sun was coming up now.

Out of the water

Out of the water

Off out on the bike I went. The one part I wasn’t looking forward to. I read about the hills but on the 1st out and back I didn’t even notice some of the uphills but had fun going down the downhills. The scenery had me distracted which waas a relief. My main aim was to keep close to 25kph as I could and when calculating it as I went I could see I was doing that.

Epic View on Bike

Epic View on Bike

At about 60km the pros started to pass on their second lap. They had to head off to do an extra loop so no doubt I’d see them again. With cycling always being something that I struggled at my main aim here was to finish. I made sure to get kept well fuelled. With the temp rises I knew I had to make sure to not overdo it. The crowds on course definitely helped and a good push was another Irish athlete trying her worst Cork accent (her words after I met her the next day), she saw the Cobh jersey and knew where I was from. When you think you are motoring along, airport hill comes and knocks the wind out of you. At one stage I’m fully convinced I saw a turtle pass me out. But I knew once I got up that things would get easier. I actually drove down the hill a couple of days later and I must say it made me proud that I got up that hill in one piece. The big thing on my mind now was that the last 5k was to be relatively flat with a nice downhill finish. I would cycle past very close to where we were staying and I knew Martha would be on the road there. There was a small climb to that spot but I could see her in the distance and it brought a smile to my face. It got me up the hill and I gave her a wave before it was all downhill to the finish line. I had completed 90k for only the 2nd time. I was delighted to have that finished and in the time I wanted 3:30:37. Went through T2, made sure to cover myself in more sunscreen and off I went to start the run.

!km into run

!km into run

The highlight of the day was about to come. Dylan Mcneice and I left T2 together so we got to run out at the same time. I stayed with him for about 10 seconds before he was out of sight. Crazy to see the fitness out of him. It probably was the main reason why I started off way too fast on the 1st km. The run is a lot different to what I’d be used to. It was mainly on gravel track. Where you spent time avoiding tree roots, stones and other runners. While I was on the run I realised the watch wasn’t set up as normal so I was getting split time and pace. A minor issue but put me off. A number of the full pros ran passed me, if only I had their energy. I was feeling good up to 7km and then I hit the wall and it hurt. It was hitting 28 degrees at this time and I hadn’t run in temperatures like that outside of when I was in Singapore.

All smiles for the camera

All smiles for the camera

 

 

Before the race I had said to myself, whatever happens keep running. But I disappointed myself this way because I had to slow to a walk. My groins, hamstrings, calf and back were all giving out. It was about then that I realised I had left my water bottle back in transition. There were only small cups of water at the stops so they weren’t easy to carry. I grabbed 3 or 4 and a sponge at each one to try cool me down. It helped in a way but my pace had gone and I knew I wasn’t going to make my run target. The hardest part of the run is when you come off the gravel track and you get to see Gunn Road. The biggest challenge on the run. I felt like I was going backwards running/walking up the hill.

Motivating sign

Motivating sign

Once on top of Gunn Road it was mainly going to be downhill from there. It didn’t make it any easier, it was still as hard and hot as ever. I struggled through the rest of the run, I had some good parts and some bad as well. At this stage I just wanted to finish. I knew I was almost there. Coming down the home straight I was looking out for Martha and she made sure she was seen. I could see her sign and hear her shouting. Brought a huge smile to my face. I took the Irish flag off her and ran onto the line. I suddenly had all the energy in the world. I was done, goal achieved and I was still standing. What an experience, what a day. Would I do it again? Yes definitely. Would I do a full? Right now no. But get back to me soon.

And I'm home

And I’m home

What a Day

What a Day

Link to my race can be found at the below links

Swim

Cycle

Run