Going from team sport to individual sports

For me and many kids growing up we found ourselves involved in team sports. From as soon as I could I was playing Gaelic Football and hurling with my local club and my love affair with sport started.
During my younger days I did a bit of running in the Cork City Sports for my school, even did a bit of swimming representing my school in galas but that was only a distraction from what I really wanted to do and that was play team sports.

Over the next 25 years all I knew was team sport. I was part of some hugely successful teams winning many championships, cups and leagues. I had the privilege of captaining teams during that time as well as coaching teams along the way. But one evening in June 2011 things changed. As I went up to catch a ball I got a push on the back which had me off balance, I went crashing onto the floor and that is when my shoulder popped out. Recovery was slow and I needed a way to try keep fit so I bought a bike and my mindset changed. I now found myself heading out on cycles and in a moment of madness my brother in law Robert convinced me to sign up for an adventure race in Killarney in October. Because of that I had to take up running , averaging about 20km a month from September to December.

Suddenly I found myself not just using these as recovery activities but doing it for the enjoyment. My brother Damian and I then signed up for a 10 mile road race and from there both of us were hooked. After I did my 1st triathlon in July 2013 where I did that in the morning and played a football game that night I knew something would have to give. And it was then I decided to walk away from a sport that consumed my life for so many years to a sport I was still learning. I did return twice more to help out teams but they were brief appearances. I was now out of team sports and on the road to individual sports. I have learned a lot in the last few years and here are some things I found

Individual sport doesn’t always mean you are on your own

  • Clubs
    • Just because its an individual sport doesn’t mean its all on your own. Clubs are a great place to meet people, learn from others and help to make a trip to a race much more entertaining. I have had great support from the clubs I have been a member and on race day they help get the best out of you
  • Training
    • I do a lot of training on my own but having club training sessions, long runs with others and even recovery runs with friends helps pass away the miles
  • Relay
    • A good was to turn an individual sport into a team sport is taking part in a relay. As a club St Catherines have performed extremely well in Cork City Marathon as a relay team. We all were working towards the same goal and didn’t want to leave anyone down
  • Team events
    • Cross country events, and club championship races mean you are running for yourself and your team to get as many points as possible
  • Pacing
    • On race day someone may have a goal in mind and sometimes its easier to work with someone for that goal. I have been paced and paced people to PBs. It is a great feeling
  • Race day support
    • What better feeling than running through crowds getting cheered on to the finish line
Clubmate helping me to a PB

What I enjoy most about individual sports

  • Freedom & flexibility
    • With family and work I always can’t commit to a certain time. I can move my schedule when needed to work around my life. Team sports meant you had to make the training when it was set
  • Personal goals
    • Your goals are your own goals and not affected by how other perform
  • Off days
    • If you have an off day its only yourself that you need to worry about, an off day in team sports means you could leave your team down
  • Trying new things
    • If you feel like doing something different on a day you can, maybe a different type of speed session, or trail instead of road.

What I miss about team sports

  • The celebrations
    • Winning a big game and celebrating with your team can’t be beat. Everyone had the same goal and when it was achieved the work made it all worthwhile
  • Teamwork
    • Working together to achieve a goal set out. Helping others in the team improve and when someone is having a bad day, doing your best to have everyone rally around to make the goal
  • Player of the match
    • Its still a team of individuals and there is always that stand out performance. Knowing you were a major part of that success is a great feeling
  • Physicality
    • This is definitely something I really miss. Trying to be 1st to the ball, a strong shoulder or a tackle to stop a certain goal, breaking through challenges all made it worth while. Some say the start of a swim in a triathlon is the closest I will get
  • Discipline
    • Making sure you are at training on time, listening to a coach or making sure you don’t get yellow card discipline is key to team sport so you don’t let down yourself or the team

Summary

I truly believe team support has helped shape the way I go about sports these days. On a summer evening when I run past a football field I wish I was out there kicking a ball again but then realise I better leave it to the younger people now and continue my running and triathlon goals

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So how has your 2020 been?

2020 was going to be a big year for me. It was finally time to take on Ironman, another World Major Marathon to tackle in Berlin and my now annual trip to Dublin for my favourite marathon. My main worry back in January was making sure I would stay fit and race ready, soon it was making sure I stayed fit and healthy.
Race Cancellations

I experienced one race cancellation before this year. It was NYC Marathon in 2012 when I was in Orlando soon to fly to NYC to take on the race. I was devasted at the time but still made most of the time there and had a great time with Martha, Oliva and Rob. But this year we have all experienced more than once. We had races that were cancelled early, such as Dublin and the likes of Ironman Cork which took a bit longer. It meant it was hard to focus on training as in the back of your head the race might go ahead but deep down you know it wasn’t. I lost count of the races I had cancelled on me and knew I had to do something for myself to keep me going.

How I kept myself motivated

Dublin marathon was also going to be a major goal for me even if I knew I’d be doing it virtually. That was October and as early as March we faced some very restrictive lockdowns, the 1st of which was you were only allowed exercise 2km from home. I surprised myself in finding roads I never ran or cycled within my 2km radius and soon my 7.5km loop became my most run loop of the year. Some things I found that helped me get through those early days were

New Hobby of Climbing Mountains
  • 3 of my neighbours and I set up a 10km Garden Challenge where it all had to be done in your own garden. We got so many others involved and even had people as far away as Australia take part
  • On what would have been the Cork marathon weekend as a club I helped set up a 26 hour 20 min of virtual relay running where the club them donated money to a local charity. I must thank fellow FrontRunner Becca as I “borrowed” her idea. I got the fun shift of 2am to 4am.
  • And the same neighbours were back again to organise Darkness into Light run/walk in our local area. That started an hour just before the sun came up. Again we had huge response to this
  • I took part in many Virtual Ironman races to keep me in good mindset which included a number of 90kms on the turbo trainer. Sometimes that wasn’t easy but I did rewatch the ASICS Frontrunner documentaries while on the turbo and they definitely motivated me
  • I set up strava segments, so even though we couldn’t run together for large parts of this year we could compete virtually for that crown
  • We did some local virtual races, again same course at times that suited you. You didn’t have someone to push you on but there was always a target time to beat
  • There were also virtual races such as the ASICS London 10km and the World Half Marathon
  • Talking to other runners was a big help, they were going through the same thing and we were able to help encourage each other
  • I even took up mountain climbing with family, 3 mountains with height of 838m, 952m and 1039m

Of course all above mentions sport but it would have been impossible to do all of that without the support of Martha. Throughout this year she has always been there to support my crazy ideas and give me the time to train. With a 4 year old and full time jobs it was a juggling act but I will always be grateful for everything she does

10km Garden Challenge with George

I found a race (or 5)

When it looks like we had lost all hope of races 5 came along in quick succession. I should have been training for a marathon but a race was always going to come 1st and I sacrificed long runs for these races. One of the 1st races back was the East Cork Championship, a storm blew in the night before, I had no electricity for almost 24 hours but nothing was stopping me doing it. Next up we had a club half ironman race. It was a lonely day out there due to social distancing rules which meant we had staggered starts but it felt good to race that distance and the club put on a great event. Next I had 2 races in 2 days, a 5 mile road race in Allihies West Cork, followed the next day by cross country 4 mile. A week later I was back racing a sprint triathlon in Mallow. So it was basically a month of no marathon training but I loved every minute of racing. Almost immediately after that all races were again cancelled and it was back to virtual events

My virtual goal race and the never ending course change

Then on to the main event, my target race for the year. As mentioned above training wasn’t really going as planned but I really didn’t mind. Since it was virtual there was no pressure and the main thing was I get out there and enjoy it. I set myself a target of 3:30, it wasn’t going to be a PB but still going to be a tough ask. As a club we had planned a scenic 1 loop that would start close to home and bring up into Waterford and back again. It wasn’t long before we had to scrap that route as we were no longer able to enter another county. We were back to the drawing board. We planned several routes close to home and all within Cork, so this time we felt we had locked in the course. Oh how wrong we were. The government soon announced new restrictions a week before the race, which meant no further than 5km from home. Our course was one large loop which meant we were well outside that radius again. They also brought in more restrictions which meant groups couldn’t exercise together. This left us all wonder what each of our courses would be. I chose an out and back from my house 4 times course. Advantages of this is that I got to start at my door and have a water stop set up that I’d pass on each loop.

Finish line of Dublin Virtual

For the first time in a marathon I didn’t wear my trusty Kayano. Most of my training was done in them but now it was time to bring out the Metaracer for the big day. Mentally it was tough, trying to break down each segment but with others doing similar course we passed each other every so often and encouragement was given. The weather was perfect, with a slight headwind on the way back each time. By the 4th time the slight inclines felt like mountains and the slight headwind felt like gale force winds. My 10km splits were 49:00, 49:01, 48:59 and 50:32. The last 2.2km was 12:28 so I was slowing down but with only two 20 mile runs done during training I felt that was always going to happen. My finish time was 3:29:59, talk about cutting it close. I feel the Metracer helped me keep a better pace throughout and I will definitely be using them for longer races going forward.

I think the lack of pressure help me reach my goal but I also know what works for nutrition. I feel I got that right for the 1st time. It will be great practice for next year.

So what now

Now its all about winter training. I see a lot of indoor bike work, and dark runs and no races. With swimming pools closed I am still in open water. Before this year I was never in the water in October, now we are mid way through November and I’m still getting in. The target is to keep going in December as well. Who knows yet what next year will bring but one thing is for sure I will be looking forward to getting back to the start line of a race and having crowds cheer you on. But for now the main thing is to stay healthy and get through these tough times.

The Metaracer is a game changer

I have been waiting with excitement for these shoes since they were first announced, seeing sneak previews of them as athletes tested them made me want them even more. So at midnight on the day they were released I was online to make sure I ordered myself a pair. Delivery was fast and I planned my run around the time the delivery company were arriving.
First impression

I think its no shock that the first thing I noticed when I took them out of the box was how light they were. Weighing just 190g they are a lot lighter than my normal go to shoe the Gel-Kayano. Next was the colour, I love bright colour runners so the sunrise red is exactly what I would have asked for. They will be noticed on race day and I have no doubt people will stop to look at them. The design is extremely eye catching. When I looked at the sole I was worried that the grip could be an issue however there is no need to be. In some race shoes I have had to go up half a size but the Metaracer was perfect fit and I stuck with my UK 9.5. Even though they are so light they felt supportive and cushioned.

First test

I couldn’t wait to get out in them and with the weather recently it meant running in tough conditions. Not hot and humid like most places, I got to endure wet and windy weather. I set off on my 5k time trial with the wind on my back feeling fast and enjoying the comfort the show offers. If you haven’t run in a shoe with similar GUIDESOLE technology yet it may take a couple of runs to get used to this feel but for me I got into my stride fairly quickly. The ground was wet but my previous worry about what looked like a lack of grip on the sole was answered straight away as there was no slipping and the wet grip rubber definitely did its job. As I turned around at 2.5km I knew there was a slight rise in the road and I was running into the wind. I felt I wasn’t going as fast as I should be and my effort level seemed to be down but then I looked at my watch and found my pace was what I had been planning. So even though conditions on the day shouldn’t have allowed it, my pace out and back were the same yet I didn’t have to work as hard.

The carbon fiber plate in the forefoot and the GUIDESOLE technology definitely helps save energy and was very noticeable throughout my run. I didn’t feel as tired once I finished and was able to get on the bike for 40km feeling that bit fresher.

Specifications

Weight – 190gr
Drop – 9mm
Running style – Midfoot & Forefoot
Pronation type – Neutral

Final thoughts

When races do come back I cannot wait to give these a go and target new PBs at different distances. These are a game changer and even the small details really help with the overall experience. I will use these as my race shoe and in tempo sessions and hopefully I will be turning heads with both the look of the shoe and my results as I cross the line.

Lost Sheep Middle Distance

Buildup

This was going to be my 5th Tri of the year. With 2 sprint (Schull, King of the hill) and 2 Olympic (Hell of the west, Blackwater) in the buildup I targeted these races as they were hilly races, something I needed to prepare for the Lost Sheep. It would be my 3rd middle distance race after doing Challenge Wanaka in 2015 and Challenge Galway in 2016. I could have definitely done with more swimming and cycling training but after signing up the last 3 years and eventually transferring my entry I wasn’t going to walk away this year. It was after all my ‘A’ race for the season. Sure with only 2 Cat 1 climbs and over 1000m elevation on the bike followed by 200m+ on the run to deal with, how hard could it be? It was only voted one of the toughest middle distance races by 220 Triathlon Magazine.
The week before in one of my last open water swims my wetsuit ripped beyond repair. It was off to The Edge to make an unplanned purchase. Orca Sonar is now my wetsuit of choice.

I traveled down to Kenmare with Martha and George and we stayed in a lovely Airbnb just a couple of minutes walk to the center. I gave my bike one last once over before heading to registration. And to my horror the front derailleur was no longer working. Panic set in and no hope of repairing at this late stage. Anyway off to the race briefing to build up the nerves.

Race Morning

Alarm went off at 4:30am. I had my overnight oats ready and got all my things together. I got down early to see if there was anything I could do with my bike but as I expected there wasn’t. All Blackwater members were racked together. It definitely felt like organised chaos as I tried to get everything together. As usual it was always last minute panic to make sure I had everything I needed.

Swim 43:43 (93 out of 305)

Photo taken by Martin Jancek www.jancek.net

My target for the swim was 39 minutes. I am a confident swimmer so couldn’t wait to get started. Water actually felt warm which surprised me. Looking out at the water all looked ok but once the countdown started and we set off things changed. Within a 100 meters I felt a bit of a swell and suddenly I found myself not been able to get into a proper rhythm. I didn’t think I was getting anywhere. The buoy was never getting closer. When I did eventually get going I was so far away from the 1st buoy that I was swimming across to get back to it. The further I was out the easier the swim got. Went around the 2nd buoy and now it was time to head for home. The sun was blinding and I could only find the splashed in front of me. At this stage I knew the swim wasn’t going well. I decided not to kick on but keep some energy in reserve. I felt the swim was never going to end. Eventually I saw the arch and pushed to the line. I looked at my watch and was not happy with it. Of all disciplines I thought the swim was one area I’d make my target but it wasn’t meant to be. Bad day at the office there.

T1 5:28 (116 out of 305)

Coming into T1 I just couldn’t understand why my swim didn’t go well. It was a long run to my bike but I didn’t feel as bad when I got to it to see Brian Baker and Joe Scanlan getting ready and Martin Feeney not far behind. We all had the same opinion, that was a bloody tough swim. It was time to get ready for the bike now. I took my time getting ready and made sure I didn’t forget anything. Run out of transition and now on to the fun bit.

Bike 3:20:43 (211 out of 305)

Picture taken by Stephen Kelleghan

Well this was the part of the Lost Sheep that had me pulling out the last 3 years. I felt I had a bit more preparation done this year but I still didn’t know what to expect. I wish I had gone down to test the course but I knew there would be plenty of surprises to come. I’m glad I had put a cycling jersey over my trisuit because it was cold in parts. 1st nightmare came at about 28km, well it started about 10km before that with slight tweaking of my calf before I had to come to a full stop at 28km. My calf completely cramped up and I almost fell off the bike trying to get my leg out of the pedal. I spent about 4 minutes stretching before moving again. It also gave me the chance to manually put my chain on the small ring on the front cog. The views helped distract me from the pain and the climbs of Healy Pass. I have never been here but I will definitely be back to enjoy the view not on the bike. Having drummers on route was another welcome surprise and before I knew it I was up the top. It wasn’t as bad as I thought, I wouldn’t be as scared next time. Now it was time for the downhill, all I can say is I’m useless at descending and I didn’t push it going down the switchbacks. I played it safe. Next section was the slog to Glengarriff. Like it was from the start I had bike after bike passing me. When I got to Glengarriff I stopped at the waterstop to stretch my calf again and fit in a much needed pit stop. Next it was up Caha Pass. Again this was a slow grind but the views never got boring. I got up to the tunnel in one piece and I knew this time I would have fun going back down. The climb was worth it. I found the hardest part was the last 10km, not because I was getting tired but because there was no one around. But before I knew it I was back and I saw Martha and George cheering me on. My aim was 3:15 before hand but with the way it went I was happy with 3:20.

T2 5:34 (208 out of 305)

It was another long run into T2. I dropped the bike up against a van and into the portaloo. Best I went now rather than waiting until I get on the run. I continued the run to rack my bike. It was extremely tight there and it took 3 attempts to squeeze my bike in between the bikes that were already there. On went the runners and made sure I had my nutrition and off I went again.

Run 1:40:59 (151 out of 305)

Martha and George were at the start of the run before you took the right onto the main road. It really gave me a huge boost when I could hear George shouting DADDY and I got the biggest hug from him. A quick hug from Martha and started my run again. My goal for the day was 1:45 and after I went through the 1st km in 4:21 (which included about 20 seconds stopped getting my hugs :-)) I know I better settle down quickly and get my pacing right or I’d blow up by the 10th km. It was rolling hills for the 1st 10km and I was feeling good. My calf wasn’t giving me issues and there were big crowds going both ways in the out and back part of the course. This was great as it helped distract from the tiredness and plenty of motivation was passed on. The kilometers flew by and once off the out and back part it did get a bit quieter and I was running large parts on my own. I was holding back the pace because I knew there was going to be plenty of climbing between 15 and 18. A few jokes traded with other runners but we pushed up the hill knowing that it was almost done. The fast finish made the rest of it all worth while. I feel I could have went faster on the day but delighted with 1:40 and energy to spare. I crossed the line with George and Martha waiting for me. I didn’t think I would break 6 hours but the perfect run for me meant I did.

Photo taken by Martin Jancek www.jancek.net

Overall 5:56:28 (151 out of 305)

If you told me before the race that I’d break 6 hours I’d have definitely taken it and after the way the swim and bike went I didn’t think it would be possible. But I was delighted with the way it finished. To pick up 60 positions from T2 to the end of the run showed I did finish strong. It was a great end to the season and it was definitely the hardest race I have done. Having Martha and George there made all the difference and I really think if they weren’t there I would have struggled. I would highly recommend the race to anyone who is thinking about stepping up to middle distance racing. Well done to CorkTri on a super event and well done to everyone who took part on the day especially all the other Blackwater Tri members. Now its time to focus on Dublin Marathon, what did I get myself in to 🙂

Blackwater Tri Standard 2019

This year was the first time I decided to do my own club race. Being a member of Cobh for three years I didn’t do Jailbreak until I moved club and this being my second year with Blackwater Tri Club I decided I’d give the standard distance a go. This was my 4th triathlon of the year and will be a test of where I am at for my A race in a couple of weeks.

Race Prep

Prep started for me the evening before as I joined other club members in setting up transition and making sure the course was ready for the morning. It was great to see all members come together, it wouldn’t be possible to run a successful race without all the volunteers. Questions around the swim came up because the flow of the water was looking extra strong. A few weeks ago the worry was that there may not be enough water but with some heavy rain the previous days that definitely wouldn’t be a problem.

I registered the evening before and got the number 4. No pressure then. Martha got baking for the morning as well, I made sure and did some testing 🙂

I was up early on race morning to help with the final prep. The announcement was made also that the swim would go ahead but instead it was going to be shortened and downstream only. That was going to be fun.

Swim 12:03 (18th out of 147)

We made the long walk up to the new start point. Atmosphere was good and everyone was excited about the downstream swim. It was going to be rolling start so 3 in at a time. So over the timing map and into the water. I pushed hard from the start and you could feel the current helping up on our way. Even though there was plenty of room in the river but that didn’t stop a few elbows a long the way down. I stopped my watch when I got out of the water and it said 11:07 and distance 1120m. That worked out at less than a minute per 100m.

T1 1:58

A run up out of water and took my time to make sure I got my socks on, helmet and glasses and more running up with the bike. Jumped on the bike and off we went.

Bike 1:18:02 (95th out of 147)

Now its time for my least part of the day, I just count down the kms until its time to finish. The 1st 5km felt like it was going on forever. The rain poured down and the climbs weren’t anything big but I felt I was going no where. I had a huge number of bikes flying past me. It took until at least 10km before I felt comfortable and started to be able to push the pace a little. It didn’t stop the line of people going by but at least I was fell better. I thought the 2nd lap would have been a bit crowded but everyone was still very well spread out. My 2nd lap was faster than the 1st and I was delighted to finish with an average speed 30.44 km/h. The 2nd time I have managed to average over 30km/h and both have been at Olympic distance.

T2 1:35

I got off the bike and ran down the ramp to T2. My toes were cold from the bike so I couldn’t feel much running down. A quick change of shoes and off out to start the run.

Run 43:30 (24th out of 147)

I never did this course so wasn’t sure what to expect but I knew it was going to be tough. Rolling hills was what we faced in this out and back course. Going into the race my aim was to break 45 minutes so I went out strong. The crowds around transitions definitely gave me a push, I may have got a bit too excited so after the 1st dash I got into my rhythm and steadied my pace. The course was busy with all distances on the move and when passing the turnaround for the sprint I wished I’d be turning around there as well but I still had 7.5km to go. Even though it was a hard course I really enjoyed it. I did start to get hungry towards the end so it is something I have to watch for longer races. This was my best 10km in a triathlon so I can’t complain. I last lap was the fastest, the crowds again pushing me to the line.

Overall 2:17:11 (54th out of 147)

I am delighted with the overall result. I felt it was great prep for The Lost Sheep and delighted I decided to do it. It was an extremely well run event and the team went above and beyond to make sure the event didn’t turn into duathlon. Besides the swim the course was challenging and was a real test of how my training has went. Well done to everyone who helped, it couldn’t have been done without all the volunteers. Now all roads lead to Kenmare.

Schull 2019

Tri season starts when I make my 6am trip to Schull. This was my 5th trip to Schull and as usual I got my traditional car space. This race is always a good test to see where I am so far this year. As per usual Schull brings the sun and the sea was looking calm. I got registered and got my transition area set up. Had a catch up with Blackwater Tri and Cobh Tri members before listening to the briefing. Due to a local funeral the race had to start early, which was good because I wanted to get the race under way. I hadn’t much swimming done this year due to early year shoulder issues so I knew it was going to be a testing time. I also had a last minute goggles malfuction but luckily I had packed a 2nd pair.

Swim 13:22 (Overall position 38 out of 211)

I was trying to position myself close to the front on the swim and I in the middle. As soon as the countdown started it was mayhem. Legs and arms everywhere and googles got knock off a bit very early on. That meant water was streaming in from the go but since it is a sprint I decided to just accept it and keep going. I took the 1st buoy a bit wider than I’d have liked but it avoided some of the crowds. Next it was to time to sight the end of the pier and aim for the next buoy. I was able to get into a good rhythm and felt comfortable. I got tight to the 2nd buoy when around it and headed for home. I felt I kept a good line and push a bit as I got close to the line. It was my 2nd slowest swim in Schull but overall I was happy and can build on that.

T1 2:30 (30 out of 211)

After getting out of the water in 38 place I managed to pick up 8 places by the time I got out of T1. Even though I felt I was very slow as I took my time getting my socks and shoes on. Its a nice climb from the water to the mount line but I was just 1 second slower than last year.

Bike 44:05 (51 out of 211)

So now on to the bike My least favourite part of the day. After a short flat to get you set you turn left and straight into one of many hills you face on this 21km course. I wasn’t even thinking about pace or speed here due to the type of course it is. It is up and down the whole way. There was a stiff breeze we were cycling into on the way out so I was looking forward to getting help from that on the way back. That never happened and it seemed the wind was in my face the whole time. I struggled on through the bike to finish in a time that was slower than my last two attempts. I will tell myself it was due to the wind 🙂 I moved back to 51st overall.

T2 2:03 (48 out of 211)

As I was on the flat towards the mount line I thought about taking my feet out while on the bike because I knew the downhill to T2 is tough with the bike shoes on. I chickened out in the end and just unclipped. My transition time was almost the exact same as last year as well. I managed to gain 3 places in T2.

Run 20:06 (37 out of 211)

So now the part i don’t mind. Schulls tough run means you have to work hard. My aim was to keep as close as possible to 4 min per km. So I pushed up the hills and enjoyed the downhills. It was getting hot now so grabbed water at the water stations to poor over myself. After the turnaround I did start to find things tough but kept going. I slowed up down going up the small hills and knew I would miss my target on the run but managed to take 25 seconds off last years time so I was happy with that. Jumping 11 places on the run meant I moved into 37th place.

Overall 1:21:48 (37 out of 211)

I have mixed feelings about race day. It was good to be back swimming and pushing it. My mileage is well down so the time is close to what I expected. I had hoped for a much better bike time so I was a little disappointed there but I know I need to continue to put the work in and hope things get better. I felt great on the run so it finished off on a high note. Hopefully it is the start of a good season where my plan is to complete 2 sprint, 2 Olympic and 1 middle distance race. Next stop Kilkee

Year on year comparison

Year Swim Bike Run Total Time
2014 11:53 * 48:35:00 23:39 01:28:55
2015 13:33 49:26:00 21:37 01:30:06
2016 12:24 43:19:00 21:30 01:22:32
2018 12:52 44:01:00 20:07 01:21:48
2019 13:14 45:21:00 19:42 01:23:25

*Swim was 500m

Las Vegas – Run the Strip thanks to R’n’R Marathon

So it all started with an email to say I was one of the finalist for Dublin Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon Rock Idol. This was a competition where there was a finalist picked from each province and an extra one from Dublin. This started  a stressful couple of weeks in the search for votes. I think people were avoiding me as I was constantly reminding everyone to vote. I can only thank every single person who voted for me. The effort they went to was out of this world and on August 3rd the announcement came with

I had won and now it was time to relax and finally get excited about the trip to Vegas. In my head I had won it 100 times and had everything planned, so to know it was real meant the countdown could begin. I got to meet the other idols at Dublin Rock ‘N’ Roll Half marathon, some who I still keep in touch with and follow their journeys on social media.  It was a tough course but enjoyed the race. It also meant I had part one of the world rocker medal complete. I had done Lisbon R ‘N’ R half last year but missed Dublin so now I had my chance to do another race abroad.

Here we come Las Vegas

The long trip with Martha to Vegas began with overnight in Dublin before flying to London and then on to Vegas. Lucky I hadn’t been to the cinema in a long while because I had plenty of movies to watch to pass away the time. We eventually arrived at our hotel (Park MGM) at about 8pm. 1st thing we did was get some food in Shake Shack before deciding we should get an early night. Jetlag truly kicked in and we were both up at 3am and heading to Dennys for some pancakes. After another quick nap we decided to travel to the expo. We took the monorail and it was quick and easy to get to the convention center from there. It was one of the larger expos I have been at. Picking up my numbers were quick and easy. I strolled through the stands, we could definitely have spent a lot with the amount of choice but said I’d stay firm, I have so much already. We met Stacey from R’N’R who ran through some of the events for the weekend and there was a quick video to make. I thought it was going to be a few questions but it was more of a promotion video. Being Irish I was typically uncomfortable behind the camera but I gave it my best go.

I’ll have more than this medal this weekend

Being interviewed at the expo

Friday night was all about the VIP night in Hyde @ Bellagio. We walked to to the Bellagio and handed over our VIP passes and danced, drank and eat the night away. Ozomatli were the entertainment, I hadn’t heard of them previously but they had the crowd on their feet the whole night.

Enjoying our night

We booked a helicopter trip for early Saturday morning. We wanted to make the most of the trip. So we got our limo to McCarran airport and off we set towards Grand Canyon. The weather was perfect for it. The views were amazing and it was worth getting up at 6am for. Three Helicopters set off at the same time full with a large group from Scandinavian and us gatecrashing their fun 🙂

Getting back on the helicopter

View from the bottom

After that fun morning it was time to get a quick power nap and relax before heading to take on the 5k with Martha. We got the monorail out to the Festival Grounds. No fear of getting lost or worried about where to go since everyone on the train were going to the same place. Just like everywhere in Vegas we had to walk through a hotel and casino to get where we needed to go. We got into the grounds and found where we needed to go. Even with so many thousands of people there I managed to bump into one of the other idols who I was up against for the prize. Tracey Burke was out here to do the 5k and half and had great results over the weekend.

2 Rock ‘N’ Run Idols

Martha hadn’t had much time to prepare for this 5k and I know she would have preferred to be walking the strip than taking on a 5k in Vegas. The corrals were crazy but we found a section to make our way in. We had a long wait to get going but once we got going it opened up fairly quickly. Martha kept focused and I kept quiet. She ran down the kilometers and as the race went on her confidence grew and she got faster and faster. I was extremely proud of her as she pushed her way to the line. A very impressive finish and her 1st race in over 3 years complete.

Deserved medals

Medal number 1 for the weekend

It was an easy trek home via the Monorail again. Of course I went straight to Shake Shack yet again. They will almost know me by name now. Sunday morning we headed to the outlets and did some shopping. I planned to stay off my feet as much as I could but that is definitely hard to do in Vegas. I had some subway and when we got back to hotel I had some pizza. Having a race in the evening isn’t unusual back home but not the half distance. So trying to decide when to eat, drink and rest was hard. My main worry was I’d be hungry half way through so eating plenty early I hoped would help me out.  We walked to the starting area and into the VIP tent.

VIP treatment

Having the VIP area was brilliant. No queue for the restroom, an area with foam rollers which I took advantage of, food that was perfect to fill the gap and easy area to bag check. I was able to relax with some chicken sandwich and gatorade while Martha got to sample all the food. We were right at the stage for Capital Cites but I was concentrating on the race and had to head off early as I was in the 1st wave and wanted to be close to the front to help me get into my rhythm.

Almost ready to head to start

Start line

With Dublin only being 2 weeks ago I really didn’t know how to to approach the race. I had kind of decided to go out as hard as I can and see how long I could hang on. I said to myself I’d go close to 6:30 / 6:40 min per mile. This is a good bit faster than my PB pace but since I already achieved my goals for the year if it all went wrong I didn’t have to worry. I do need to test myself. There was great atmosphere at the start line. Plenty of nervous people around while the countdown to the start ticked down. So I took off strong and with huge crowds around it was hard not to get too excited. There was the smallest of elevation rise on the way out of Vegas and passing the sign. I managed to do 6:31 and 6:30 for the 1st two miles. That was steady and as we turned and headed back towards the strip there was a noticeable elevation fall which I knew I would try take advantage of. The crowds going down the strip were amazing. The sun was going down now so it was finally getting dark. As we passed the start line again there were huge crowds still going through the starting shoot. It was then I could truly see the number of runners taking on the races today. Miles 3 to 7 were consistent and I was really happy how things were going. (6:27, 6:30, 6:31, 6:34, 6:36). I passed through 10km in 40:42, which is my 3rd fastest 10km I have done. Certainly not something I would have expected. Things going through my head was what if I didn’t have a marathon 2 weeks ago. But I kept the head down and said I’d keep going.

Passing the Vegas sign

After mile 7 things started to slow down. I could see as we were going down towards Fremont Street that we’d have to work our way back up as well. Not sure did that play with my head but my legs started to feel some pain. Probably was a bad idea going out so hard to begin with. 6:45, 6:56; 7:05 rounded out 10 miles. I passed the 10 mile mark in 66:40. Considering my 10 mile PB is 69:11 that was a huge boost. I gave it all I could but the next 3 miles were tough. The atmosphere around Fremont Street made me forget about my pain for a few minutes but that was soon behind me and I knew I’d have to drag myself home. I had passed a big number of runners in the 1st 10 miles and I could now see those catching me and passing me. A 7:24 and 7:36 for mile 11 and 12 meant I have lost a huge amount of time in recent miles. PB was gone and now it was a case of trying to finish it out and maybe still break 1:30. I knew it would be close but a 7:42 13th mile finished the chances of break 1:30. I pushed hard to the finish and couldn’t believe it I just missed the sub 1:30 with a time of 1:30:15. The 1:30 pacer was just behind me (he would have started further back) and in my head I was thinking maybe if I did go out with him I might have had a better chance of breaking 1:30 with a more consistent run. But when I look back on it I have to be happy with my performance.With the race being almost straight up and down with very few turns it definitely could be a PB course. My 3rd fastest half marathon only 2 weeks after smashing my marathon PB has to be a win.  I gave it my all and my body felt it. I grabbed water, chocolate milk and pretzels to replenish. I was delighted to get the medal around my neck and now began the long walk to out of the runner area. I posed for many photos and smiled to hide the pain but I was done and it was time to meet Martha but not before picking up my remix and world rocker medal. Plenty of bling from the weekend. I was 155th out of 17100 overall, 16th out of 816 in my division (M30-34) so definitely can’t complain about that.

Showing off my collection in the club

After getting my bag I headed to Drai’s Nightclub in the Cromwell hotel. Does it feel right walking into a club with shorts and singlet? Maybe not but this is Vegas. I got my massage and food and met Martha. She made the most of the VIP experience and had met another runners wife. Martha and Arden were able to pass away the time while Ezra and I were running outside. The club was a great venue and was nice to put my feet up and enjoy everything that was on offer. It was great that Martha met someone as that meant she wasn’t on her own and she was so busy chatting she didn’t even see my calls 🙂 It was good to share our stories after the race and best of luck to Ezra when he takes on the marathon distance.

Enjoying the VIP night after the race

One of my photos on the walk back

And there was only one place to go to finish off the weekend. Yes – Shake Shack. Even the people behind the till mentioned “You got the same last night, didn’t you?” I had to laugh, when it was close to the hotel and very tasty I had to have them. I do badly need to fix my diet once back in Ireland. Since I’ll be cutting my training for a few weeks I better also cut my calorie intake.

Another shake and my medals.

After a long day it was time for an early night. We were on the go since we got here so a good nights sleep was needed. It was the 1st night we didn’t feel jet lag and we weren’t up at 3am looking for food. When we did get up it was time to go get pancakes for one last time before packing up. I’m glad in the end with the later flight because we had so much packing to do. We got ourselves organised and checked out. A quick Uber to the airport before starting the long trip home. LAS to LAX to LHR to DUB. Close to 22 hours travelling from when we left for the airport to landing and then a drive to Cork home. The trip ended up being a bit longer due to being on the runway in Heathrow for 2 hours due to rivets being missing on the plane. I guess it was important to put them back in 🙂

View on flight from Vegas to LAX

What a great weekend and again I’d like to thank everyone who voted for me and helped me win the Rock ‘n’ Run Idol competition run by Rock ‘n’ Roll Dublin marathon. What an amazing prize to win. I always looked at the possibility of doing Las Vegas race but the cost of getting there meant it was always going to be hard to do. It was a once in a lifetime chance and I’m glad to have done it. It wouldn’t have been possible but for the hard work of family and friends who pushed hard in the weeks leading up to the voting deadline. And even after that both Martha and mine families helped us out hugely by minding George while we were away. The hardest part of winning the trip was that we would be leaving him at home but they took great care of him that no doubt he enjoyed his holiday as well.

Now it is time to put the feet up for the rest of 2018 and start again with big goals for 2019.

 

Jailbreak Tri

This is a race I’ve always wanted to do so I jumped at the chance this year. Being a member of Cobh for 3 years it felt like a home race for me and was good to meet up with the them. It is always a very well run races, one of the reason it is national series again this year, but I have seen the planning that has had to go in to it and what a great team effort. I registered the night before after having a day out with George in Fota Wildlife park. Home then to get all my kit ready for the next day.

I got up early and packed up the car and headed to Cobh. After I parked up the car I headed to transition and met up with some of the Blackwater crew and Cobh crew. The views out to Spike were perfect. it was going to be a great day.

Swim 31:19 (71 out of 256)

I don’t think there could be a more epic swim for a triathlon in Ireland. The swim takes you from the former prison island of Spike to Cobh across the world’s second largest natural harbour. It does mean an earlier start as you have to get boat across to Spike but that adds to the tension and excitement for the day ahead. Once we jumped on board and the boat got moving all we were doing on the way over was getting our sighting sorted, knowing which building to look for. The large red dot was definitely helpful. Once we got over there was a short briefing and into the water we went to get ready. It wasn’t long until the swim got going and even though it was a mass start it wasn’t too crazy due to the size of the swim area. My plan was to aim for the cathedral up the the last white buoy and then drift left into the exit. I definitely must have been too far right as I didn’t come across anyone the whole way. I was sighting as often as I could to make sure I wasn’t going off in the wrong direction but I just kept the swim steady. It was a really great view when looking at Cobh from the water but it felt I wasn’t getting any closer. I eventually got to the ramp and that is where I finally met some swimmers. Timing wise I was a bit disappointed, I felt I had a better time in me but when I look back I didn’t push myself hard enough and that showed with a number of people who I’d normally be close to beating my by over 2 minutes. It was my 1st Olympic of the year so I will know for next time.

T1 0:1:10 (33 out of 256)

For once my T1 seemed to go well. Out of the wetsuit and on with the socks and bike shoes, helmet glasses and number. It is tight transition but no one in my way so got out quick. Time to job on the bike now.

Bike 1:08:44 (175 out of 256)

Out on to the bike the only real climb was straight into the race. Fresh legs and out of the saddle straight away to get up over the small climb. Now it was time to see how I felt. The bike is always my weakest and I haven’t done much mileage this year. After only about 2km I felt a pinch in my calf, a common occurrence on the bike which I haven’t got to the bottom of yet. Even though I was being caution I found my pace was good. The wind was blowing in all direction so it was had to tell was it the wind that was helping me keep the pace going. Even though I felt I was going well there were people passing me the whole time. I wasn’t going to let it bother me and just kept doing what I had to do. It was pretty much flat all the way out past Fota and through the roundabouts and on to the road to Glounthaune. I was still keeping a steady pace and I was on a road I was used to from my days living in Cloyne. The road is in a lot better condition than what I remember, a few bad spots but overall it was good. I was counting the kms to the turnaround point as I knew there was a chance to pick up some pace going back to Island Gate. My calf continued to cramp up every so often but i was able to manage it.

There was good support out along the way and plenty of people still passing me. It got a bit hairy at the roundabouts again as traffic built up but the marshals were doing a great job. Back into Cobh and all I was thinking was that this reminds me of Cork to Cobh run, I’d almost prefer to be running it today. It was a fast finish and support going back into Cobh really helped push to the line. Just about got off the bike at the dismount line and off into T2 after doing my fastest average speed on the bike for a tri. Just over 31kph, funny thing was I was so far down in the bike positions even though I did my best bike to date. But definitely is a fast cycle if you are looking for a good time on the bike.

T2 0:01:04 (83 out of 256)

Felt okay going into T2 and calf was fine as soon as I got off the bike. Racked the bike, off came the bike shoes and on with the runners and the helmet off and out on to the run course.

Run 0:39:31 (40 out of 256)

Now the question was how to attack the run. I wasn’t familiar with the course but did know it was a bit shorter than the normal Olympic distance. So I decided just go out as hard as I can and see how things work out. A nice cool sea breeze faced us as we ran along by the water and I felt good. Then came the small energy sapping hill just after 1km. I attacked it and still felt good, when you took the right turn to head back to Cobh the heat was intense, there was no breeze to give some relief. Grabbed plenty of water at the water station and off I went on the second lap. It was the same thing each time, except one difference, each time I went up the hill I got slower and slower and the side heading back into town got hotter and hotter. So when I finally took that 4th band for my final lap I was delighted and that climb felt like Everest but it was the home stretch. The support gave me the boost I needed and finished as strong as I could. I was off the pace I wanted to be for the day but taking the conditions in to consideration I should be happy. And overall I ranked high on the run so shouldn’t complain.

Overall 02:21:50 (80 out of 256)

I can’t decide how I felt about my performance, disappointed with swim, bike for me was good and run was tough but it was for everyone. There was a very competitive field there as well. But I guess overall since it wasn’t my ‘A’ race I should be happy with my performance. I’d like to thank Cobh Tri Club for putting on a great event and I’ll be back next year once you promise the water will be that calm again. Everything ran so smoothly from start to finish and we don’t see the work behind the scenes. Take bow and know that you truly deserve the National Series. Now its time to work on the bike a bit more and get ready for more racing the coming months. I will always have great time for the Cobh crew because without their support when I started out with triathlons I’d still be afraid to do more than 250 meters in the water haha. If I can build on this race I’ll have a good year. And hope to see many of the faces today at one if the Blackwater races on the 12th, with Olympic, Sprint and Try a Tri on the day there is plenty for everyone.

*****And if you get time please vote for me as I am the Munster representative in the Rock N Roll Idol Competition and I am in with a chance to win a Trip to Las Vegas Marathon. More details here . Every vote counts so thanks a million*****

Thanks to the following for capturing the day in photos (of me)
Damien Jackson (https://www.djackson-images.com/)
Michael Buckley Photography (https://www.facebook.com/bmikeyphoto/)
Colm Mc Donagh Photography (https://www.facebook.com/CMcDPhotoPage)

Schull 2018

Tri season is finally here and it was time for me to return to Schull. After missing last years race I wanted to come back, I’ve done the race three times previously so it is good to compare where I am now.

After setting off before 6am it was a nice drive down. I got my traditional car space and registered. The water was as calm as I have ever seen it, no wind and plenty of heat. As per usual it took me forever to get organised. You would think after 4 years I’d have setting up in transition perfected but definitely not. Once I got everything together I went around and had a chat with the Cobh team and a few others there on the day. The good thing for me was that there were no nerves I was out there to enjoy myself. I was in wave one so once briefing was done it was down to the water.

Swim 13:03 (47 out of 283)

The start of the swim was like a proper washing machine but it didn’t take long for it to open up in front of me and had clear water. With the water being so smooth it wasn’t hard to sight. 1st turn was good, everyone must have been in a good mood in the sun as there was no bunching at the buoy. The next one to site was hard so I just followed the kicking legs in front of me. I had a person on my toes the whole way to the 2nd buoy and it continued right to the ramp. I guess that person was racing smart and letting me do the work, everyone few seconds a tip on the toes and couldn’t shack it. Got to the ramp, had a little stumble and over the timing mat. Happy enough with my time.

T1 2:29 (75 out of 283)

There is a nice run up out of the water, you don’t move too quick so gives the time to get out of the wetsuit. Enter T1 and got off the wetsuit quickly. Took the extra few seconds to get my socks on and into the bike shoes and continue the long climb to the mount line.

Bike 44:05 (160 out of 283)

Now this is where it is never pretty. As far as Schull cycle goes it is one of the harder ones. It’s up and down on an out and back course. I’m not strong on the bike and when I’m climbing I feel like I’m going backwards. After short flat section you are straight into the 1st hill. It takes me some time to get settled into the bike so an early hill didn’t help. My 1st 2km was my slowest 2km split by a good distance. I knew I just needed to hang on and even though plenty of people passed me out I knew I just had to get back to transition. The downhills are enjoyable but of course you knew just around the corner there would be another hill. Time wise it was slower than time but I hadn’t put the bike work in this year. I just about got off before the mount line.

T2 2:03 (75 out of 283)

I really need to practice dismounting the bike while leaving the shoes on the bike, especially when it is a long downhill run to T2. I was holding back hoping not to fall. Bike racked, helmet off and quick change of shoes and off I went. Back on the long uphill to the start of the run.

Run 20:06 (23 out of 283)

Just like everything in Schull it includes hills. But when it comes to running I don’t really mind that. You are straight into a hill and it didn’t seem to bother me as I pushed up it. My plan was to go as hard as I could for as long as I could. The heat was starting to pick up and you could really feel it. I was bang on 10 mins at the turnaround point so I couldn’t complain with my effort so far. I could feel the tiredness starting to kick in and any up hills I could feel myself slowing down. I knew there was a good downhill to finish with so main thing was to get up to the top of that and let gravity get me home. Crossing over the line in official time of 20:06 meant it was my fastest sprint run. Delighted with that. Next goal break 20 mins

Overall 1:21:48 (77 out of 283)

Overall I was delighted with my race today. With injury affecting a large part of this year already I knew had I a long way to go to be race fit. I had a good swim but the bike still has a lot of work to done on. I felt great on the run and picked up most of my time there. If I could get my bike right I’d really knock a good bit of time off. I was just under a minute faster overall compared to the last time I did it, with all the gain coming on the run. Well done to everyone racing this week. Well done to Schull for putting on another great race.  I’ll be back again next year and see my progress (or lack of it).

Year on year comparison

Year Swim Bike Run Total Time
2014 11:53 * 48:35:00 23:39 01:28:55
2015 13:33 49:26:00 21:37 01:30:06
2016 12:24 43:19:00 21:30 01:22:32
2018 12:52 44:01:00 20:07 01:21:48

*Swim was 500m

How I got to Tri

With triathlon season very close to starting for me, a question I’m regularly asked is how I got into triathlons. Here I describe the long path into tri which I’m so glad I took

Growing up in Ireland playing Gaelic Football and Hurling was something that you did from a very young age. I played it with my local club and school. While in school I’d do a bit of swimming and running but my 1st love was always football. Being part of White’s Cross as we ended almost 50 years without a top level championship for our grade in 2006 was one of the biggest achievements with them, along with captaining our Minor, U21 and B team.  I had my ups and downs playing football. Injuries, moving to Dublin and falling out with coach meant I struggled to hold down a regular starting place with the 1st team but still had 3 more championships, 7 cup medals and 4 league medals to show for it. I always had the 2nd team which meant I got to enjoy playing regularly but it was with them that I had my biggest injury and started my path down the triathlon route.

Celebrating 2006 Championship with Damian

2011: 1st step to being a triathlete

I had just returned from a trip to Austin in May 2011 and I had a game to play. I was jumping up for the ball and got a push in the back and fell awkwardly straight on my shoulder and right then I knew something wasn’t right. One of my teammates pulled me up off the ground without knowing what had happened and my shoulder popped back in but I feel that may have caused the long term issues.

After many trips to physio, scans and exercises I knew I had to keep active so that I wouldn’t lose my fitness. So on June 14th I bought a new bike and that evening went out with my brother in law Robert for my 1st cycle. I had planned to only do a short one but ended up with a 33km cycle. The end aim was to do the Sean Kelly Cycle 90km cycle which I signed up for. To mix things up I decided to do an adventure race in Killarney. It was a mix of mountain running, cycling, kayaking and more running. It was torture from the beginning and I knew I’d have to work hard on my running going forward.

No lycra at the start

Killarney adventure race

2012: 2nd step to being a triathlete

After spending most of 2011 after my injury doing cycling I started to look at doing a bit more running. And it was 2012 where I did my 1st road race. Damian and I finished the Mallow 10 in March and the running bug hit then. I continued to try get in as much biking as I could but I preferred running so it was easy to forget about it. I did another adventure race in April and completed my 1st half marathon at the Cork half in June. I ended up doing 2 more half marathons in Dublin and Clonakilty to round out the year where I went from doing no running to doing more of it than cycling.

1st Half Marathon

2013: Time to try a tri

Well I tried cycling for one year, running for another year so what would 2013 bring. It started with focus on running. I completed my 1st marathon in Rotterdam in April but with another leg injury I decided to do a bit of swimming for recovery and also to help with my shoulder which continued to give me trouble. I made a full return to football as well. The love of the game started to come back but in the back of my head I also thought what if I put together swim, bike and run and try a triathlon. So I then went off and bought a wetsuit and looked up what race I could do. June 29th was the date. I decided to do a try-a-tri in Tralee. Short distance but it would give me the feel of its something I could do going forward. The 1st open water swim I’d do would be this one. The one thing I remember from it was looking at the sprint and olympic distance swims and thought people doing that must be crazy. So when I started the race I flew off in the swim but started to get tired towards the end of the 250m swim. On to the bike and after an awful T1 I got out and did the 15km, nothing spectacular but happy to get it done. Then the run, it was to be a 2.5km run but ended up being 3.5 after being directed the wrong way. Once I crossed the finish line I knew I had the bug, I needed more. I wanted to go again.

Tralee try-a-tri

So on July 28th it was time to race in Kilkenny and another Try-a-tri distance. Of course to make the day even more fun I had a football game a few hours afterwards. This race didn’t go as well as Tralee, it was a tough swim, very long transitions and had the game in the back of my head. But once I finished I was happy I did the race. I didn’t have a plan to do another one for the year and I wanted to work on my swim and bike.

Finish line of Kilkenny Tri

2014: Time to up my game

With plenty of football to play during the year I decided to I needed to join a tri club to help improve and learn from others with similar interests because if I didn’t then football would take over and I’d have no structure. So I joined Cobh Tri Club and they were welcoming and certainly did help me understand transitions, be more confident in open water and have fun along the way. My first sprint distance tri ended up having a shorter swim due to the weather conditions and choppy water, not the ideal start but it also meant I had more time to make sure I was ready for the distance. 2 weeks later I tackled my 1st complete Sprint Tri and it was a great experience knowing that I could do it and power through on the run.

1st Sprint Tri

Of course in my madness I signed up for London Olympic Distance and I will always remember the fear the night before when I looked at the swim distance. Since it was in the dock you could clearly see the long straight lines. My stomach turned a bit but in the end there was nothing to worry about and I completed it and wanted more. I completed the season with 2 more Sprint distances and was already looking to next year and trying to see what I could fit in.

1st Olympic Distance Tri

2015: Time to up the distance

So after booking another trip to New Zealand I found Challenge Wanaka was on while we were there. I had to do it, this meant half distance race on the other side of the world. This was not something I thought I’d ever be capable of but it meant raising my game and distances. It was an early season race but was an amazing experience and it cemented why triathlons were the way to go.  I also did 3 sprints and an Olympic distance race as well. I completed New York Marathon and Amsterdam Half marathon to round out the year. I played a few football games throughout the year but it became harder and harder to fit the games and training in.

Epic View on Bike – 1st half distance

2016: Focus on Triathlons and Running

I finally decided it was time to focus 100% on Triathlons and running in 2016. Trying to fit in football when training wasn’t working and could not give either my full attention. With the plan to do Challenge Galway Half I really wanted to give it my all and have a result that I’m happy with. So finally it was time to retire from football. 2016 saw my highest mileage on the bike, running and my swim sessions meant I got a bronze medal in the Lee Swim. My training meant I finished Galway in 5:37 which I was delighted with. I felt strong throughout even though the swim and bike were a lot tougher than expected due to windy conditions. With triathlon being my focus for the 1st half of the year, the 2nd half of the year was all about running. Finally broke 4 hours thanks to pacing from Damian in Dublin Marathon. An injury just before Dublin meant I wasn’t fully fit going into it and for the remainder of the year but it was a successful year and the plan would be to build on it in 2017.

Challenge Galway Run

Conclusion

I would say to anyone out there, don’t be afraid to try something new. Challenge yourself and get out of your comfort zone and see what happens. At least if its not for you then you can say at least you tried. It was the best sporting decision I made and I look forward to continuing my triathlon and running adventures with the biggest goal of completing and Ironman in 2019, all from someone who struggled through 250m swim to begin with. I have met some great people along the way and have had some fun times. Its not all about winning or suffering, its about getting out there to enjoy a challenge. Go on, you won’t regret it.