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.

Brighton Half Marathon

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

Race weekend

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

Brighton Kit

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

View on the way to race Brighton

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

Keeping warm before race

Keeping warm before race

Brighton Start

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

Damian looking strong

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

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

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

Brighton Stats

Brighton laps

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

The heat of Lisbon

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

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

Friday night run

Friday night run

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

Expo Queue

Expo Queue

Calorie Loading the night before

Calorie Loading the night before

Race Day

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

Calm before the start

Calm before the start

Not looking too happy here

Not looking too happy here

A long way to the start line

A long way to the start line

The Race

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

The long drag to Marquess of Pombal Statue

The long drag to Marquess of Pombal Statue

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

At least I got the medal

At least I got the medal

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

Jogging with Kev

Jogging with Kev

We were hungry

We were hungry

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

Castelo de Sao Jorge

Castelo de Sao Jorge

Views of Lisbon

Views of Lisbon

The Good

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

The Bad

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

Verdict

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

1km Splits

1km Splits

Course

Course

Trains planes and automobiles but in reverse

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

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

Healthy start to the day

Healthy start to the day

The Race

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

The starting straight

The starting straight

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

Jersey was ready to go

Jersey was ready to go

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

1st PB of the year

1st PB of the year

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

The Medal

The Medal

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

My reward

My reward

My watch splits

My watch splits

Course Map

Course Map