Surf City Half Marathon

February was always going to be a month where my training plan would go out the window. That is what happened but I won’t regret that either. 2 weeks of it was spent in California with Martha on holidays. It was an action packed holiday with some great stops along the way. The first stop was Huntington Beach where I was going to take on the Surf City Half Marathon. We arrived late to our hotel on the Friday before the race after a long day of travelling. It was my 1st experience of driving in LA and the journey from LAX to Huntington Beach was to take 50 minutes ended up closer to two and half hours. I guess that is Friday rush hour traffic for you. A trip to IHOP at 2am was needed before heading back to bed and to start our holiday proper.

Huntington Beach

We woke to the sun shining and felt the heat for the first time. We took a stroll along the pier before heading to the expo. Packet pick was easy and plenty to browse at with all the vendors there. I bought some Nuun but stayed away from everything else. It would have been easy to spend a fortune there. With still fighting jetlag we kept active for the day and caught the sunset before heading back to get my gear ready and try get a good nights sleep. The hotel was a short walk from the start line to that definitely helped with any nerves. It meant getting up having my breakfast, saying goodbye to Martha and stroll down. I found myself right at the front of Wave 2. Perfect position as there was 5 minute gap between Wave 1 and 2 so I wouldn’t be caught up with slower runner straight away. There was a great buzz around and you could sense the nerves as well. I think it doesn’t matter how many you do you will always have that sense of did you do enough or are you able for it.

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It was always hard to know how I was going to manage this race. Considering I was training in the cold leading up to this I knew I couldn’t go off as fast as I wanted because I needed to acclimatise and see how my body would react to the heat. With the race starting early it meant we wouldn’t get the worst of the heat. I knew Martha was going to be waiting for me at approximately the 1km mark so I kept to the right hand side as that was the side the hotel was on. I found my setting off at the front of the pack and straight towards a photographer in the middle of the road. I guess could have jumped him but decided I’d go around him instead.  I gave Martha a high five as I passed and it meant she could go back to the hotel and relax. The first 4km were relatively straight and flat. Over the next few kms there were a few ups and downs but nothing too challenging, especially since I’m used to running the hills around East Cork.

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Just after 9km we were back onto Pacific Coast Highway and it was a long straight to come. I found this the toughest part of the race. The heat was starting to get me and I had to slow my pace back ever so slightly. It was on this stretch were I got to see some of the lead half marathoners and they made it look easy. There were also plenty of full marathoners running down the other side of the road. I couldn’t even imagine how they were doing it in that heat. At every water stop I was grabbing three or four cups of water, two for drinking and two for pouring over me. It definitely helped distract me. I felt myself slowing down heading to the 13km mark which was the turnaround point and the straight road back to where we began.

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I knew I had to get my act together and get back to the pace I was hitting at the start. Easier said than done but a high 5 gel and some more water helped me concentrate. Now I knew what I had to do to get a new personal best. I also knew I couldn’t push the pace too much as it could mean burn out. After the turnaround point it was cool to see the sea of people running up the other side of the road. It was amazing the huge numbers that did this race and this was the first time I could truly see it. As I made my way back down PCH my pace was continuing to get better. I found myself feeling strong. I knew I had to take the opportunity and see how much time I could make up. Again passing out people doing the full marathon amazed me. They had to turn off and go closer to the beach to make up more of the distance. I don’t envy them.

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I felt the best supported part of the course was where we turned off the PCH on the way out. It was an area were runners were coming from all angles so was a perfect place for spectators to be. The cheers were a huge motivating factor as we faced into the last 4km. With about 3km to go I had another runner ask me how long was to go and we found ourselves doing the same pace. I think this helped both of us and distracted us from the heat and the distance. The only words we shared was the distance left as we ran side by side. With about 1.5km to go I knew I had to keep to the left as I knew Martha would be there again. And she sure was, plenty of cheers and delighted to see her. It was now time to give it all I had as the finish line was in sight. And my last 2km were my fastest and it helped me get a personal best. I was delighted to cross the line. I felt strong and knew it was a PB 1:36:57. A huge improvement on my previous best of 1:39:12. As soon as I crossed the line we were given our new, probably the best medal I have ever got.

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As I took it all in, getting finisher photos, picking up snacks and congratulating people on the way I replied to the texts I got while my twitter account automatically updated my progress. It was so nice to finish with blue skies and sun shining down. It was time to walk back to the hotel and get ready to pack to move on to our next destination – Vegas.

It was a great experience and delighted I gave it a go. Over the next few days I felt the results of those last few kms and every part of my body hurt. It was worth it and I’d have love to go back again sometime in the future. It was a great start to the holiday and a did what I came here to do.

 

Week 9: First race of the year

Well 9 weeks in, can’t believe I’ll be hitting double figures next. I planned to put in a strong week this week as I know the next 3 weeks will be somewhat disrupted due to holidays. This week was spent trying to decide what races I might get in before and after Galway. It has been really tough to try fix something in that works well with Galway. I really want to try do as many National Series Races as I can but looks like that won’t be possible without disrupting my training. I have a few races in mind and must start locking down my calendar fairly soon.

The week started off with an interesting run. There was as weather warning in place but I still managed to get up early on Tuesday morning and as I drove to work the wind was strong enough to blow the car from side to side and the rain poured down. At times on the drive up I was thinking would I change it to an indoor cycle in the gym. Eventually I got to work and I said I’d go ahead with the run. I’m glad I got out. It was tough conditions but I got in 11km. I started by trying to avoid big puddles to eventually just giving up since the rest of me was soaked to the bone as well. I kept to the main roads rather than going out by the water as I knew the wind and driving rain would catch me there. I was almost lifted off the ground at some stages but once I got back and had a nice long shower I was happy I went out. Who knows what conditions I will face while out so it was a good test.

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Wednesday I did my usual indoor bike session in the gym and on Thursday I did my turbo session at home. Watching Wolf of Wall Street helped me get through it. Friday I has to tackle more windy conditions on my run. Rain wasn’t bad but the wind did pick up. Lucky the route planned out meant I missed some of the strongest wind and had it at my back at the most open part. I got another 11km in and was feeling good. Friday evening I headed to the pool and my plan was to mix it up a bit and do 2km on Friday and 3km on Saturday. I managed to complete both. 5km in 2 days was a lot on the shoulders but I knew I wanted to free up Sunday evening so it meant getting them in one day after the other. I started getting tired towards the end of the 3km session but that would be expected. If needed I’d have been able to kick on and do some more so at least in my head I’m in a good place.

I knew it would be a busy weekend so I was up early on the Saturday for my cycle. My plan was to cycle to Cobh and meet up with the team there as they cycled to Garyvoe. That meant I could drop off as they headed back. When I got up and looked out in the morning it looked as if the day was as calm as you could get but that wasn’t the case once I got out on the bike. I had a wind in my face all the way to Cobh but the advantage of that was that I’d have it on my back on the return journey. It was the 1st time out for a club cycle and I will definitely have to get out more often. It was enjoyable and the time passed a lot quicker. I got a good 66km in. That meant I finished the month on 499km. If only I knew that before had and I would have went that bit extra to make it up.

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Dungarvan 10 Mile rac

Next up was the big item of the weekend. The John Treacy 10 mile road race in Dungarvan. My plan for this was to take it easy and use it as training for next weekend. I think that lasted all of 1km. I had originally planned on 80 mins but I found myself with a view of the 75 min pacers just ahead. I decided I’d let them in the distance and do my own thing. I found I was hitting the mile makers right on the 75 mins time frame. Half way I was looking good for 75 as well. It wouldn’t be a PB but I’d be very happy with it as a training run. Once I hit the 8 mile mark I knew there was a hill coming so I picked up the pace and used that momentum to get up the hill with no worried. Last mile was then my fastest as I finished in a time of 73:31. I picked up a minute and and half in the last few miles but post a respectable time. Main thing was that I kept my heart rate down and felt good finishing. If I can keep that going for the extra 3 miles I’d be good for a PB but a lot will tell on how the day goes – heat, humidity, jet lag will all have a part to play

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Almost finished Dungarvan 10 Mile

 

I was delighted to finish off the month with my highest mileage in swimming, cycling and running. In swimming I did just over 18km, cycling I hit 499km and running I broke the 100 mile barrier for the 1st time.

Breakdown
Mon – Off
Tues – 1 hour run,
Wednesday – 45mins cycle (indoor)
Thursday – 1 hour cycle(indoor)
Friday – 1 hour run, 2km swim
Saturday – 2 hour 35 min cycle (road), 3km swim
Sunday – Dungarvan 10 Mile Road race

Swim Session 2

Warm Up
300m FS
Drills (8 x 50m total)
4 x 25m BS; 4 x 25m L,R,F,B; 4 x 25m with PB; 4 x 25m with fists
Main Set
4 x 125m with 20 sec break between each
4 x 175m with 30 sec break between each
4 x 125m with 20 sec break between each
Drills (8 x 50m total)
4 x 25m L,R,F,B; 4 x 25 BR every 4, BL every 4, BLR every 3, BLR every 5; 4 x 25m with legs tied; 4 x 25m with legs tied with PB
Cool Down
200m FS

Week 10 will be a bit all over the place so no official plan. It all depends on how the body is, work, house work and travel

Week 8: Best week so far

After many missed or short session over the last few weeks it was time to put the head down and make a go of it this week. With Surf City Half getting close I wanted to make sure I got in some good runs to prepare myself for that race but also to make sure that doesn’t affect my Galway training. The week started with a run before work. Joe was there to join me and we took it easy as we fitted in just over 10km. It was a really nice morning for it and pace was steady. A good thing for me was getting out 2 days after a 10 miler and feeling fresh to get in 10km. That evening I fitted in a 2.5km swim. A good mix of a session tested me and it was nice to get back in the pool

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The next 2 days were 2 bike sessions, 1 on the turbo and 1 on  the gym bike totaling 38km. One you start getting out on the bike the indoor sessions get that little bit harder to do. It takes a lot of concentration and effort to keep going. I was supposed to have one brick session but decided earlier in the week to give it a skip and continue my progress to full fitness. On Wednesday evening I went to Eagle AC AGM and awards night. It was great to see Damian pick up most improved athlete which was well deserved. His times have really come down and it is scary to think where he can bring the short distance times if he concentrates  on them, I’m sure that will happen after Barcelona.

Next up was an hour run on Friday before work. I spent the 1st half trying to decide what route I’d go before deciding I’d turn back and make it easier. I can felt good during and after the run. That night I got in my 2nd swim session of the week. What felt like too much time in the pool where I really thought I wasn’t going well but after I added up my session and hit 3k rather than 2.5km. The great thing about it is I was able to do it without any trouble. That will give me great confidence going forward.

Now to a great weekend of training. It started with a 75km cycle in very tough conditions. It was wet and windy and at times I struggled but with some hills put in I felt stronger for it. At times it felt whatever way I went the wind was in my face. I averaged just over 26kph. I do need to improve on this yet but as I increase the distance I will try at the very least to keep the average speed steady.

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A well deserved Hot Chocolate

I decided to go out with a few members of Eagle on Sunday. I was aiming to do about 20km. We started in town early and headed towards Glanmire. The fun part came when we had to “climb” up church hill. It is about 400m of a climb and it definitely gets the heart racing. Towards the end of it I started to struggle but made it up. We took a short break to get everyone back together before moving on toward Ballyvolane and back towards town. At about the 12km mark Damian took a turn so it turned into a bit of a duathlon for me as I went back to the car to drive back to pick up Damian. My 1st run was 14km and after I dropped Damian to his car I continued on to do an extra 6km. Got to where I needed. I rewarded myself with a nice hot chocolate after. Isn’t that what training is all about.

Breakdown
Mon – Off
Tues – 1 hour run, 2.5km swim
Wednesday – 40mins cycle (indoor)
Thursday – 45mins cycle(indoor)
Friday – 1 hour run, 3km swim
Saturday – 2 hour 52 min cycle (road)
Sunday – 2 hour run

Swim session 1

Warm Up
300m FS

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

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

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

Cool Down
200m FS

Swim session 2

Warm Up
300m FS
Drills (8 x 50m total)4 x 25m BS; 4 x 25m L,R,F,B; 4 x 25m with PB; 4 x 25m with fists
Main Set
4 x 125m with 20 sec break between each
4 x 175m with 30 sec break between each
4 x 125m with 20 sec break between each
Cool Down
200m FS

Week Nine looks like this

Mon – Off
Tuesday – 1 hour run
Wednesday – 45 min cycle (Indoor), 30 min run
Thursday – 1 hour cycle (turbo)
Friday – 1 hour  run
Saturday – 2 hour 45 min cycle (road)
Sunday – 1 hour 30 min run

Plus 2 x 2.5km swim session

Week 7: Ice always makes things interesting

With man flu kicking in at the start of the week I wasn’t sure how this week would go. With Monday of course being my rest day it was safe to say I would have being doing nothing even if I was scheduled to do something. I was glad of that extra day. With the weather getting that bit colder it meant morning sessions could be tough to come across. That worked out well since my buddy Liam was home from NYC with his girlfriend we planned on hitting the track on Tuesday night. So in the morning I decided it would be good to get in a swim instead. That swim wasn’t very beneficial as man flu struck me down and I had to put a stop to it after 500m. I just couldn’t get my breath so instead of fighting through it I took the sensible option and called a halt. I still planned to hit the track that night After a 2 mile warm up we headed to the track and it became clear we wouldn’t be training there. Even though it didn’t feel that cold the track was starting to freeze over. And with a planned speed session in place we decided to head to the straight road instead. Runners from many clubs had the same idea so it was crowded to begin with. The breakdown was 1.5miles at 10 mile pace plus 400m recovery x 3 with a warm down to finish. I was bang on for the 1st one and got small bit slower but not something to worry about. The fresh air really helped and any major breathing issues cleared up. It was a good session and started me off nicely for the week.

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Wednesday was bike day and with Liverpool playing Arsenal I felt it was a good opportunity to do the longer session tonight. I did 1 hour on the turbo and the match helped distract from the boredom of it. It was a good session and I was hoping to follow up with a run but the footpaths were covered in ice so no short run. But still in recovery mode it was probably for the best.

Got my new Garmin 920xt today as well. Delighted I have it. Wanted it since it came out, so finally spent the money. I think it will be on my hand for a long while to come. Also yesterday Liam brought me back the RedShift Dual-Position Seatpost. Looking forward to installing that and giving it a go.

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Thursday I went to the gym in work and fitted in 40 mins. I was hoping for 45 but just wasn’t feeling it and sometimes it is hard to keep going on the bike in the gym. If only I could transport my turbo around, it seems a lot easier on that. Again ice ruled out a short run after the bike but I wasn’t feeling it so the ice was a great excuse. I had physio afterwards and that was a good session to loosen out the legs. No doubt the pain is worth it. I got to test out the new watch in the pool tonight. A 2.5km straight swim and it was very similar to my previous time. Once I’m not getting too slow I’ll be happy.

Friday was a frustrating and best forgotten. All ready for my afternoon run because ice ruled out the morning, just about to put on my runners and realised I forgot my insoles. That ended that session before it started.

That missed session had me more motivated for the weekend. Woke up Saturday and saw the roads were good so I didn’t waste much time, I got my bike gear together and off I went. As I was leaving my house I was still deciding which way I’d go but I eventually decided to go to Youghal and back via Garyvoe. It was a really nice day for it. Not much wind and no rain. From the rain recently some of the roads were a bit sore to cycling on and avoiding potholes became a game but I managed to fit in 70km. That makes it my 7th longest cycle ever and only the 4th time I’ve reached that distance since 2012. And since Endomondo says I has done 256 cycles I am very happy with that. I averaged 26.6 with approx 440 elevation gain. After the cycle I got changed in my running gear and went for 5km job to make sure I got in one break session this week.

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Sunday was long run day and I parked the car in Garyvoe and headed towards Ballycotton. It was windy which made it feel a lot colder than I thought it would be. It was a steady run with some short climbs to keep the legs going. I finished with just over 16km. It was good to get in some of the roads around Ballycotton to remind of that challenge in March.

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So overall I was happy with the weeks work. A missed swim and run session was the negative point but a good long Bike and Run session over the weekend helped me finish on a high note. Now with 3 weeks to Surf City Half Marathon I have to make sure I’m training right for that but also not sacrificing training for Galway.

Breakdown
Mon – Off
Tues – 2m WU. 3 x 1.5m  10 mile pace. Jog the 400m recovery lap between each session. 1m WD
Wednesday – 60mins cycle (turbo)
Thursday – 40mins cycle(indoor), 2.5km swim
Friday – Off
Saturday – 2 hour 38 min cycle (road), 5km run
Sunday – 1 hour 24 min run

Week Eight looks like this

Mon – Off
Tuesday – 1 hour run
Wednesday – 45 min cycle (Indoor), 15 min run
Thursday – 1 hour cycle(turbo)
Friday – 1 hour  run
Saturday – 2 hour cycle (road)
Sunday – 1 hour run

Plus 2 x 2.5km swim session

 

Week 6: First Full week of 2016

After getting back into the swing of things by the end of last week it was time to keep it going. As usual I took Monday off, much needed and my brick session on Sunday. It was good to recharge. The week would start with a 1 hour run before work on Tuesday. It was my 1st early session since before Christmas so it was tough when the alarm went off. There is no use lying, it was very hard to drag myself out of bed but eventually I rolled out and got ready. It was a flat but steady run and it felt great to get a good session in. It was only the 3rd time since New York that I broke the hour mark for running and there will be plenty more to come in the next few weeks. Its great to start thinking about Galway but I can’t forget either that I have a big race in LA and Ballycotton to come in the next 2 months.

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Over the next 2 days I had 2 indoor bike sessions. One in work on Wednesday which was a 45 minute session followed by a 1 hour turbo session the following day. I much prefer the turbo session because when you are on your own bike it feels like you are doing more and also you can throw on a movie which distracts from the pain. Between the 2 I completed 45km. I didn’t get in a short run session that was planned but in the back of my head I felt it might have been a bit of a risk to put it in.

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Friday was supposed to be an hour session but I had to shorten it due to work commitments but managed 42 min session.  It was the 1st truly cold run I did so I was well wrapped up for it. Some areas still had a bit of spot flooded but luckily I sprinted past a car fast enough not to feel the affects of wave of water hitting the path. Friday evening saw me get back to the pool. It ended up being my only swim session for the week but I gave it my all and got the 2.5km in. I need to get in a swim session earlier in the week from now on. Leaving it to the end of the week means there is a risk I would miss it.

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And finally a Saturday where I could get out on the bike. After I eventually dragged myself out of bed I said I’d leave from my house which means putting in a couple drags which will lead to bigger hills in the coming weeks. The 1st climb took it out of me and that was only 3km in but the downhill after that helped me out and I was on my way. It was a cool morning but dry. Well until I had about 2km to go and the heavens opened and I got caught in an almighty hail shower. It meant peeling off my clothes when I got back. But success longest cycle since Challenge Wanaka last February. Just under 52km keeping to an average of just over 27km per hour. To get to my target of 7 hours I’d have to keep up that average the best I can so it means a lot of work ahead in the coming months. For shorter cycles like that I should be looking at 30km per hour average but I have time on my side to continue to build up.

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And my last session of the week was to be a 1 hour session but instead I said I’d add 15 mins to that to make up for Friday. And its fair to say it was my most enjoyable run yet. A challenging route I took with plenty of rolling hills but quite country roads and the ocean in the background. I didn’t quite make it to the ocean but when I hit my 1 and half hour session I think I’ll make it there. It will be a real Forrest Gump moment then when I have to turn back. Slowly but surely I am planning out my running routes for my longer runs and I have found some really good areas to go. Don’t want to always do the same route so change is good. In total I managed to fit in just over 14km. The last 3km I pushed it and even though I felt it in the legs it was good to get some speed work in.

I had to skip my swim session because I felt a cold coming on and by Sunday evening it was getting close to man flu. Lets hope I can fight it off and have another good week next week.

Breakdown
Mon – Off
Tues – 1 hour run
Wednesday – 45min cycle (indoor)
Thursday – 1 hour cycle(turbo)
Friday – 42 min run, 2.5km swim
Saturday – 1 hour 53 min cycle (road)
Sunday – 1 hour 15 min run

2.5km Swim session
Warm Up
300m FS

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

Main Set
3 x (2 x 100, 1 x2 00 20 second break in between)

Drills
(8 x 50m total) 4 x 25m BS; 4 x 25m L,R,F,B with fins; 1 x 25m for BR every 4, BL every 4, both sides every 3,  both sides every 52 x 25m with legs tied, legs tied, 2 x 25m with legs tied, legs tied with PB

Cool Down
200m FS

Week Seven looks like this

Mon – Off
Tuesday – 1 hour run (track)
Wednesday – 45 min cycle (Indoor), 15 min run
Thursday – 1 hour cycle(turbo)
Friday – 1 hour 15 mins run
Saturday – 2 hour 30 mins cycle (road)
Sunday – 1 hour 15 mins run

Plus 2 x 2.5km swim session

Week 5: 2015 rolls into 2016

It is great to look back at the year and see how it played out. Going into 2015 I had an early target of a half ironman in February and Ballycotton 10 mile in March. I also wanted to improve on my Ballycotton Summer series position from 2014. Everything else would be a bonus.

Highlights

2015

 

With so many highlights from the year it is hard to narrow it down. It was amazing to complete my 1st half distance triathlon in Wanaka and an experience I will never forget. You can read more about that here. To then go out and break my 10 mile PB in Ballycotton set me up nicely for the year. I broke my 5km PB on 3 occasions and currently stands at 19:10 which I got in Cloyne 5k. My 10km PB was broken on 2 occasions, the 41:41 in Courtmacsherry 10km is something I’ll aim to beat in 2016. A new 5 mile PB in Shannagarry, a new 4 mile PB which I managed to get in 2 Bhaa races and lastly a new marathon PB in New York (write up here). Breaking into the top 50 in the Ballycotton Summer Series was the highlight of the summer. You can see the ups and downs of that here. It was also good to get my 2nd Olympic Distance Tri done. That was in a rain soaked Dublin and managed a PB in very tough conditions. Check that out here. Doing another destination race in Amsterdam was great prep for New York. I took it easy in that half and still managed to put in a good time. How the training run went can be seen here. 2015 was also the 1st time I competed in the Lee Swim. I always wanted to attempt it and this year was the 1st time I felt I was able for it and delighted I tried it. I’ll be back in 2016 for sure.

My overall mileage for the year was:

Swimming: 110km
Cycling: 1825km
Running: 1064km

Goals for 2016

My goals for 2016 are simple

Races
Complete Full Distance Tri
A new Half Marathon PB
Target a Marathon and break 4 hours.
PB in Ballycotton
PB in Lee Swim (with currents in 2015 that may be hard)

Distances
Swimming: 150km
Cycling: 3000km
Running: 1100km

Back to training

All those goals are great but they are all dependant on staying injury free. After the last couple of weeks I really wanted to get going again. Physio on Tuesday gave me confidence to get back out there again. It may not have been as active as I wanted it to be but it was a hell of an improvement and I didn’t want to go out too fast again. I did a slow 46 min turbo session on Wednesday just to ease my way back into it. It was slow but with Liverpool match on it was good to get through it.

Week 5 Turbo

I took Thursday off before a good one hour turbo session on Friday. I felt good after it which meant I’d give a run a go on Saturday. I followed up a wet 5km run with a 2.1 km swim. No soreness after it so the confidence is back. Sunday was the biggest session in a while. A good brick session of 32km cycle and 8km run.

Week 5 Cycle

Huge improvement on the last couple of weeks. Rest day on Monday and increase the distance again.

Breakdown

Mon – 1.75km swim – stopped due to back stiffness
Tues – Physio – a good rub down and stretches will help out
Wednesday – 46 mins turbo (18km)
Thursday – none
Friday – 60 mins turbo (27km)
Saturday – 5.5km run, 2.1km swim
Sunday – 32km cycle, 8km run

Week 6 plan looks like this:

Mon – Swim
Tues – 1 hour run
Wednesday – 45 min cycle (Indoor), 15 min run
Thursday – 1 hour cycle(Turbo)
Friday – 1 hour run
Saturday –  2 hour cycle
Sunday –  1 hour run

That may be too much of a jump for now but I’ll try get as close as I can to those distances.

Food, bday, xmas & injury

After time constraints last week I wanted to go all out this week and keep going even with Christmas falling right in the middle of it. Off I set on my Tuesday morning run. My plan was to 6km done in the 30 mins. I put in some nice speed work. As I finished up the run I walked back to the car and my back decided to seize up. My hope was that it was just because of the cold but it took me sometime to drive to work and then have my shower. I knew it wasn’t good. A quick history lesson will get you up to date with my back issues. I have had 3 incidents with my back that have kept me grounded for a least a week. All were during my days of playing football. But it wasn’t a huge hit that did it but a sharp turn or a quick sprint. The first time it happened I can remember the pain. I drove home and decided I’d lie down and fell asleep. When I work up I knew things weren’t right. With the bathroom about 10 steps away it took me about 10 mins to get to it. When I got back into my room I couldn’t get back up on the bed so lay down on the ground. Luck would have it that my phone was on the locker and I couldn’t reach it. From there I had to scream the house down and eventually Olivia heard me and came up. Doctor was called and injection was given. I was on anti-inflammatory for the next week and painkillers. It kept me out of sport for a couple of weeks. The next 2 times were similar but this time I knew how to manage it. I was hoping it wouldn’t keep me out too long.
I was looking forward to a birthday work out on the 23rd but that wasn’t to be. I then wanted to copy my Christmas Eve cycle of last year but again that was a no go. I did manage a 1km swim, just to keep me sane. And now the big one. For the last 4 years Damian and I went on our Christmas Day run. And to show the condition I was in I couldn’t do it. I was really disappointed about that. Out of all runs this was one I didn’t want to miss. But I couldn’t take a short term risk that could affect the long term goal. St Stephens day was next p and same story nothing was going to be done today. What made things even worse was the amount of food I’ve been eating. Chocolate, turkey, ham and fizzy drinks. Whenever I do go back I’ll be carrying an extra few pounds. But sure it will keep me warm.

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Getting ready for my cycle

 

Finally on the 27th I was feeling confident I could get out. So got the bike together and threw the gear on. The weather was to be good in the morning so I got out to make sure I got the best of the day. It was  chilly, damp and there was a bit of a breeze. I felt a bit tired and legs were heavy straight away. I still managed to have a good cycle until I turned around. It was easy because there was a nice breeze on my back. Heading back was going to that bit harder It was wind in my face the whole way back. This slowed down my average pace and I could feel the lack of mileage in my legs. I couldn’t wait to finish.

So week 4 consisted of 1 good run, 1 short swim and one slow cycle. Not a good week at all. I have a lot of catching up to do but I’m not going to overdo it either. I booked physio in for Tuesday. I think that will help out a lot.

Breakdown

Mon – Off
Tues – 30 min run
Wednesday – none
Thursday – 1km swim
Friday – none
Saturday – none
Sunday – 32km cycle

Week 5 plan looks like this:

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

Now that is the plan. It may not work out that way due to low mileage over the last week but I will see what happens at physio and how my body feels. I have to keep the head up and be confident I will meet my goal. But this one bad week need to be forgotten about and I will come back stronger for it. Now to burn off the turkey and chocolate

Week 3 – Excuses Excuses

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

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

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Weather is only great

 

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

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

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

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

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Working hard on my Saturday Run

 

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

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

2.5km Swim session
Straight through

2.5km Swim session
Warm Up
300m FS

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

Main Set
12 x 100m 20 second break in between

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

Cool Down
200m FS

Week Four looks like this

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

Week Two – 6:01am

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

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

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Gym Workout

 

 

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

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

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Wet and Windy Run

 

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

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

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

2.1km Swim session
Warm Up
300m FS

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

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

Cool Down
200m FS

2.5km Swim session

Warm Up
300m FS

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

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

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

Cool Down
200m FS

Week Three looks like this

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

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

 

5 Boroughs of New York

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

Central Park

Central Park on Friday

NYC Pav

Ready to go shopping mad

 

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

Liverpool Match

Watching Liverpool Game

Expo

At the Expo

 

Gear Prep

Gear ready

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

Buses Ready

Time to catch a bus

 

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

FDNY Tent

Outside FDNY Tent


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

FDNY Trio

Almost ready to go

Getting to the start line

Getting to the start line

Verrazano Bridge

Enjoying 1st slow 1km

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

The Blue Line

Followed this the best I could

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

NYC On Course

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

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

Almost to the end NYC

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

NYC Finish Line

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

Finish Line

Finish Line

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

NYC MAP

Breakdown of the race

FDNY

With Denis and Lord Mayors Cup

The Next Day

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

Times Square

Showing off in Time Square

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

Time Square

Marathon Night in Time Sqaure

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Engagement Spot in Central Park

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

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