I have some news, a change of approach, a swapping to a different training plan and environment.
I am now going self-coached and saying au revoir to my friends at the Base2Race Academy where I've enjoyed the last 20 months in what was a fantastic training environment and setup.
I've learnt an awful lot from Eanna and his passion and dedication to coaching. In many ways he matches every bit of passion an athlete will have towards their training (hopefully!). It's fascinating really, and was a great experience to be part of.
I've been very fortunate to be part of the Group, have undoubtedly improved under the process and have also had my cake and eaten it (Thanks Rachel & Co for the regular post swim treats!).
I've made a lot of friends and plan to remain in contact with them all and it was fantastic how well everyone got on.
I'll prob miss Liamo's "I AM INVINCIBLE" shouts at the early morning swims the most, closely followed by the random shrieks from Harris the Fish as he splashes into a main set.
Ultimately, I have considered this for some time and weighed up the pro's and con's.
There are various factors in my decision and in the end both Eanna and myself were on the same page and knew it was best for me to go self-coached. It was a mutual decision we both agreed on and I will remain in contact to bend his ear so I don't take too many wrong turns ahead hopefully.
I feel the time is right to take a new path. I'm already quite analytical towards my training, it's part of my nature/personality and I have my own ideas and approach I want to take in my quest to be the best I can be. Maybe I'll even get to represent Ireland at the World Age Group Championship's some day too.... Too soon???
- edit blog link now changed to cuddly pets... too much controversy even for Shane!Gotta love his brutally honest approach and blog - keep up the good work Shane. I don't quite share Shane's feelings fully, but I see and agree with his point of the back of the packer being disillusioned and blagging to friends about representing Ireland in what is a "relaxed" set of qualifying criteria. I think this is a very minority amount of age groupers out there though, and most likely those have already hung up their training gear as they've achieved all they want/can.
IT does not reflect the large majority in this sport and no doubt that is where the controversy came from. I'm sure they're in every sport and come and go so let them off really, it doesn't cause any real harm so be it - happens in all walks of life. Anyway, back to my new path...
I realise in many ways it's the harder road.
I'm under no illusions that I know best in what has been 3 very fast years in triathlon.
However for my personal fit (e.g mindframe/work/location/time/life balance), it is a path that appeals strongly to me and I'm very excited about planning my own schedule, creating my own pain sessions, training closer to home/work, having the freedom/flexibility to adjust volume/sessions as requried and of course listening to my body and applying many of the sensible and valuable lessons learned to date.
It would be easy now to train less, waste a lot of time doing random sessions and go backwards.
It would also be "easy" to train more, too much and go too eager now that I am unleashed into the wild.... and go backwards/get injured.
Obviously I hope to find a middle ground, hope my gut and feel is the correct approach as well as seek guidance from those that I know and can help me when needed hopefully.
It will be very interesting to see where I go from here.
My goals are firmly set on competing for domestic wins and competitive races next season.
I'm a few too many minutes off from this at the moment. But closer than I was 12 months ago.
Either way, I'm going to enjoy it as I am very motivated to train as best I can, coach myself as best I can and go into next season fitter and faster than as many/all others as possible.
So it's off I go to where the magic happens....
Well, despite having a mini blow out on Saturday night after Lost Sheep's efforts I'm not quite in off season mode just yet.
As per previous comments, I've been going through a bit of a rut in performance lately. I've analysed this a lot and some adjustments have been made ahead of Lost Sheep, with a view that it may take another couple weeks to see possible more benefits if it's working.
So I entered Blacksod Olympic a couple weeks ago - 2 main reasons 1 of which being I don't feel I've done enough races this season (4 x 70.3's, 1 x olympic). 5 just isn't enough triathlons to fuel the passion over the winter training so safe to say next season will probably see me push that up a bit more hopefully once I've decided exact plan.
I've missed not doing the National Series, missed the regular racing and pain of sprint and olympic more so. I have enjoyed the 70.3 focus however and learn something new every race so will likely continue on same path just with some extra sprints/olympics thrown in for training/enjoyment/pain sessions!
The 2nd reason being to allow a couple of extra weeks to see if my form/power comes back and end with a good olympic hurt session.
I'm going in to Blacksod with a couple of mind frames - I want to swim with a technique element as I know what I need to do but this will be hard in race adrenalin mode. Basically my technique is a rushed one of just pulling arms back instead of catching the water so an ongoing area for improvement.
I will bike as hard as I physically can on the day - ironically I've more confidence in my run and have noticed improvements lately as well as a good run at Lost Sheep so will hopefully have enough off the bike to hurt through 10k on a hard course I hear.
After Blacksod I will have a couple weeks of pizza, ice cream and chips before starting a steady easy prep few weeks leading into base.
I'll plan my 2014 season properly in off season hopefully - at least in terms of race distance and general focus as the Irish calendar is unlikely to be published before mid/late November.
Roll on Blacksod for one last solid effort.
Arrived down to what must be the busiest little village in the country on Thurs, must be the easiest drive to navigate basically straight down motorway, straight through Cork and then through Macroom hanging a left to Kenmare.
I was down in 3.5hrs, found the B2R house Rachel had sorted and drove a lap of the bike course.
Hard, Hilly, technical, rolling, rough, hairpins, fast in parts and a damn worthy bike course.
Fri was a swim in the sea, it was warm, honestly warm water superb conditions. Little bike practice and not a lot else.
Set up in transition, didn't waste any time as there was no time to waste.
Out for warm up run, back for wetsuit on and down to swim start.
It was now starting to drizzle with dark clouds over Healy.
Swim - 28:28 - 25/292 - 1.8km so 100m short
Positioned myself well for start, had Niall Somers for company and Trevor Woods ahead to try get a draft. Well that lasted all of 50 metres before I was losing ground and people passing a bit.
Got some good drafts, took a good line overall, and no complaints about swim other than my technique is lacking which is something I'm working on. My catch is not good shall we say!
Out of the water in 25th, a 28min swim but it was 100m short.
T1 - not the quickest not the slowest. struggled a little with wetsuit around ankles but was on my merry way shortly.
Bike - 2:21:50 - 5/292 - 80.3km or so
Flying mount went well, feet into shoes not so much but I was soon on my way.
Passing a few on the opening 10km or so, nutrition in place and starting the first climb.
Woosh.... woosh.... sh1t... not already?
Yep, it's Mr McCrystal out of the saddle passing me on the climb with ease.
Right, I up the effort and try to stick to him. I'm about 15m back but matching pace.
He takes a slight glance back at one stage, then starts to make more progress.
I look back and see Niall Somers behind as I shake my head. "Beast" was the word that meant Niall but I figure you got the message eh!
Up the first hill and start the descent, BMC is just about in sight and dissappearing rapidly.
I close on 3 others down here and then see someone pulled in at the bottom (Trevor Woods), he was too cold, has no body fat and needed more clothes. I didn't realise who it was at the time though and carried on.
Starting the Healy pass, one of the main 2 climbs on the course and Niall makes a move past me.
I keep him just ahead, we pass a couple and he is out of the saddle a bit. I'm seated and doing ok so carry on.
Niall opens a gap towards the top of Healy as we both pass Mariusz and I get a shout of 6th place at the crest.
Ok, in my head this is Cummins, BMC, Nolan, Somers, Woods and then myself. Turns out Trevor was behind and it was Charles Maltha up ahead at the front. Charlie has made v strong progress this year and was killing it.
So down Caha pass with Niall ahead and a couple in the distance barely visible.
I was a tad slow to descend on the rough roads, and Niall opened a gap at the next aid station and made a move.
He was out of sight for 5k ish then the road opened up to a wide long section on a gentle ascent part and I could see 2 up ahead.
Niall was one and Mark Nolan the other and it took me an age or about 8km to close any ground.
Near the last incline Niall started to pull further ahead and I closed to 5th place.
I passed Mark shortly after and the road was back to country style with not as much visibility up ahead.
Niall was out of sight now as I turned for the next big climb up Caha Pass.
I tried to up the effort here, a long slow climb and I saw someone ahead at one stage but wasn't closing.
Down the descents, down the rough road part and onto the flat last 15km into T2.
Some long straights here and no one up ahead. Then I turn a bend for the last 2km and suddenly someone is in sight. Weird, didn't make sense but seemed they were blowing up/having issues.
I closed to Owen Cummins at T2 but didn't get past before the no pass bridge so stayed behind into t2.
Power Freaks - Not great, 247w down 14 watts normalised compared to Tri an Mhi (261). Very similar power to Humbert (250) and Wiesbaden (246) so consistent but unfortunately less than I have done before.
I've analysed this to death with coach, the last 8 week block has been a depth focus I feel and I've lost some power as a result. Depth should pay off at 70.3 you'd think but my body hasn't quite responded in time or as expected but all part of the learning curve.
We did 10 days of tune up to this and I felt a bit better, but not back to where I was yet. You can't improve all the time but important to learn through these things and take corrective steps. I didn't really taper in to this as a result of trying to come out of a power loss. Starting to feel my legs a bit but not totally. Hoping I come out of it soon and start hammering some bike splits again.
My saddle did drop unfortunately angled a bit (see t2 pic) and I was shuffling but didn't make any difference to my race or power.
The only positive was I expected to see the leaders up the road.
When you come into T2, the run course goes back out against and you can track from km1 back to t2.
How surprised was I to see BMC only just on the bridge as I came over it - so circa 4mins ahead.
I didn't know of his 5min stop go penalty at t2 here which clears things up a bit eh! He nailed the bike and whole day to be honest he has so much strength endurance it's unreal.
So Charles is maybe 30secs back, then Niall leaving t2 around 2mins down and that's the top 3.
Owen Cummins and I into T2 then. maybe 1.5mins behind Niall so pretty close at this stage.
T2 - how hard is it to get wet socks on??? Tri an Mhi all over again except I'm already minutes down and in 5th. Eventually manage it and Owen is gone so I'm catching him over the bridge.
Run - 1:25:04 - 7/292 - 21km
So into first km and I pass Owen Cummins a little too easily. He's grazed on his shoulder so had a fall on bike and obviously not a good day for him as he doesn't come with me.
I'm running by feel, feeling strong to be honest and concentrating on form.
Mark Nolan enters T2 1min ish behind me and I know he's a fast runner so a lot to fight for.
Over the bridge and I see some more fast runners coming in on bikes - circa 3mins behind at least - Trevor Woods, Owen Martin, Noelie Kavanagh and co so got some fast feet chasing me!
The course goes out to a turnaround at 7km so this is my next chance to clock any progress.
In my head I want to close a bit by this.
So in 4th, 3 ahead and I do a sense check. Ok, I think I can catch Charles and to be honest I also thought BMC would fade a bit so maybe had a shot. Niall had biked well and put time into me so I figured everything was to fight for. A half marathon can do a lot of things so the race was on.
At the 5.5km mark I hear feet behind me. Now I'm running well for me, clocking sub 4min/km's and holding pace well. It's Mark Nolan and he's in good form. I try latch on here and we are running similar pace now clocking 4min/km's and holding strong. Mark pulls a slight gap on inclines and I close on declines.
We get to km6 and see BMC flying along so about 4.5mins ahead. A couple mins back then is Charlie followed by Niall a bit back. Mark and I are holding pace, not gaining just yet but not losing.
Mark moves in front a bit around the 10km mark and pulls a gap but is within sights still.
He closes and passes Charles about 14km and I close around the 16km mark. So still in 4th now and hoping some carnage is up ahead.
At the 17km mark I hear feet behind... I nearly shouted back is that you Noelie!
But then Owen Martin passes me on a climb like I was walking. Man he was shifting.
I try latch on but no chance, see Mark still up ahead and fight on.
I'm not making any progress, they pull a gap and I'm holding pace but not fast enough to increase the effort as much as I try.
Cross the finish line in 5th, a good result and I'm happy to have got the max out of my current fitness.
My best run on a hard course is a strong positive as it's been the bane of my analysis for some time now.
Bryan actually ran a 1:23 on that hard a course off that epic bike split.
Can't argue with that. Epic performance all round and hands down what a win.
In many ways this was like a National Championships with such a competitive field only missing 1 or 2 from Tri an Mhi but with more others. I had a few battles and it was tough conditions and tough racing out there.
Lost Sheep was a great race. A very hard honest course and I highly recommend it to anyone.
The podium at the finish with champagne was a good touch, the big cheque for winners at prize giving also fun.
Surprised not to see any Trophy's for such a prestigious race but I guess you can't have everything.
Without a doubt, the biggest Irish prize money on offer and explains why such a competitive field makes the long journey every year.
Other races should take note, it's not all about profits how about some giving back to the podium winners a bit more with cash prizes. There are some well known races that do this and these are now attracting the most competitive fields year in year out and leading to National Championship status etc and deservedly so. The ones I know about are Lost Sheep, Kilkee and DCT all offering fair prize money. In fact Joey Hannan is another I believe so please other races take note. Race entry fees seem to increase but it doesn't go towards the event costs/awards in many cases.
Having raced this I now know why it has such a great reputation and sells out every year.
Keep up the good work and I will hopefully return next year in better shape to try reach the podium steps.
Very well organised, race went seamlessly, course is fantastic and the competitive field great to race against.
Well then, that was a massive race I must say!
By far the most impressive in terms of organisation and atmosphere I've done. And the competition sure matched and delivered upon that too!
I had notions of competing for a podium slot, man did I over estimate my abilities and underestimate the competition. Serious progress since last years times and a lot more competitive field. I flew out with Jennifer Duffy of B2R on the Thursday and we met up with Matt Molloy that afternoon for a pizza and partial bike course recce.
We all had dinner that night also and it was great to hear from Matt on his experiences and knowledge on racing and Kona. Hopefully join you on the big island in a few years Matt.
Jen and I rented a car on the Friday and set off to drive most of the bike course with Jen taking notes of anything hairy.
The course was all marked out with clear signs hanging up for directions which was fantastic.
Worth a recce for any of those planning it in the future - a couple fast descents into s bends or sharp turns but nothing too mad.
There was one section where I was going too had and locked up my back wheel turning into a sharp left off a descent, there was a crowd there gasping as I managed to regain control...
A mile down the road I looked behind and a guy was there smiling shouting something in German... he must have seen me almost lose it and we had a laugh about it.
Jen and I ran a lap of the run course early Sat, then set about race briefing before driving to T1 dropping off bikes and bags and had a nice swim in the lake and proper transition recce.
Everything was relatively straight forward, but always good to have fresh in mind.
Course looked a beaut, I was looking forward to this.
We were late dropping our Astra Estate back to hire company but Jen managed to flirt her way to a very minimal late fee so happy days for us... :)
Not a lot of sleep the night before unfortunately and up v early and actually first waiting for bus to T1 and first waiting for Transition to open.
Nice to be early and allow for any issues, Jen was off in an early wave so wish her good luck and back to watch the pro start for me.
Swim - 28:19 - 43/308 in AG
Big AG wave for us though 50 odd non starters. Started at front, course was swim an upside down V shape then Australian exit and a larger upside down V shape in reverse direction.
Decent swim out to first turn section, on turning noticed most of feet all headed right towards yellow buoys which were not a direct line for the australian exit.
Course was to keep buoys to right, but aim for australian exit so I said feck that I'm gone. Had a look back and no one followed me, and no one ahead but I was committed and determined it was the fastest line.
Sure enough I defo made up ground and got to exit in a good time - looked at watch and it hadn't started so wasn't certain of pace but felt I was swimming well. Around the exit, and off keeping buoys to left this time.
No feet here but swam well nonetheless. Out of water in 28:19 and clocked the last 1180m at 1:25/100 pace so pretty happy with that and a PB. Nice lake, can't see a thing as some mineral salts in it but think it was quite buoyant as a result which helped the pace also. Couple guys clocked it at 1.98km so pretty sure it was 1.9km anyway.
Bike - 2:42:44 - 28/308 in AG
Started too conservatively here unfortunately, I knew the elevation and had driven the course so was perhaps too cautious on my power on the climbs - normally my strength.
I capped any climb over circa 2mins at around the 90% FTP mark, and in hindsight don't feel I quite got the most out of my legs. In saying that, I did pass a lot of faders in the last 20km and made up ground, but holding back for the first 40km or so felt weird and I believe was too cautious and didn't gain me the time I perhaps could have relative to competition over the early part of the course.
Flat-ish start, couple rolling climbs, there were some mad strategies out there. for about 15km I'd get passed by these guys sprinting up the hills as I was capping my output, and then as soon as at the top they'd back right off - I'm talking about 350w+ up the climbs, then down to 150w straight away! I'd pass them everytime on the flats and downhills then despite them being bigger than me, couldn't work it out to be honest other than they just loved to climb hard!
Road conditions - A1, perfect, completely closed, well marshalled, superb support, excellent aid stations, epic basically. at the main climb - 300m elevation over 5km at the 38km mark, I started to make good progress but was keeping to wattage. It was here I got passed by 2 x 35-39yr olds. Wow. Those guys are now 10mins ahead of me and it's not even half way through bike. Sh1t.
I'm talking the tanned, uber lean, uber strong, Kona slot hunters basically. Kept with them for a bit but backed off as had fear of blowing at the end and/or struggling on run again as is my trade mark to some degree! Different class they are.
Anyway, over the climb and onto descents. Strangely a lot of folk were stopping pedalling on many and just recovering. There I was pedalling like fook and passing them at speed. What are they thinking I wasn't sure. Anyway, hit the 55km mark and some rolling sections around very scenaric villages and hills. Getting nutrition right, re-fill the Shiv's bladder and ensure I've taken enough gels/water from my saddle mounted bottle (tried a new strategy for this race, 4 x gels mixed with water in rear bottle. Backup gel on frame but wanted to try this. Worked very well. Now my main strategy).
Start to up the effort around 70km knowing just another 2nd climb at 75km before descent the last 8km or so. Pass a load here. Passed by no one other than another couple uber beasts. Hit the descent then and see speeds of 82.7kph. Yep over 50mph on a descent in TT position with winds flirting with the front 808. Thought I did well till I saw Matt Molloy's file... he hit over 90kph on that section!!! Damn weight advantage on the descents! then I hear the Pro's were clocked at over 100/110kph on that section!
Savage. One to target for next year!
Into t2 seeing 2:42 on file and I knew that was too slow to be near the top. A note on drafting - very little of it seen despite the large numbers. A number of bikes passed me, they were operating a whistle blowing and warnings issued to situations where so many on road and being fair, then once opened up a bit I didn't really see any drafting at all in fairness which was a pleasant surprise. The hills defo helped to break it up also I'm sure. My file says over 1,600m of climbing but 1500 officially on course map.
Watts down lower than both Tri an Mhi and Humbert but downhills as well as capped climbs explain this.
Normalised Watts down a bit also though.
I was at 249w normalised up to the 80km mark before the last main descent. Comparing this to Tri an Mhi where I normalised 261w was a bit disappointing and suggests perhaps a combination of slightly easier pacing and possible loss of fitness also. A power test next week should clarify one of those hopefully.
At Humbert I biked closer to 250w normalised so similar but much different course.
Gut says I was too cautious on the climbs, capped it perhaps too low for the shorter climbs when I could have got over faster and recovered on flat/descent following.
Realistically, not talking much of a difference and I have no complaints as learned more - and ran a pb off the bike so a bit more experience gained.
Run - 1:24:30 - 18/308 in AG
Out on to run and holding for first lap, strong 2nd and 3rd then give it what's left on last lap. Had the pleasure of starting run course behind female leader at the time Annabel Luxford. She was in good shape ;) with the camera on her and me in background.
Some older gent decided to run past before fading the next lap which was funny. I managed to run half a lap behind her then move ahead and onwards. Not sure when she got passed by Ryf who was behind me as I started the run and matching my pace so maybe on the same lap to take the win.
Felt good the whole run, crowded last couple laps but not the worst. Really enjoyed it, didn't feel like I was passed much and was making good progress through the field.
I held back on first lap, tried to increase for 2nd and 3rd and finish strong on 4th lap. It felt well paced but obviously pace dropped off each lap naturally enough. Looking at others, most experienced the same but certainly another learning point.
Very hard to negative split a half marathon in a half ironman is that lesson learned!!
Total - 4:39:46 - 23/308 in Age Group Male
So there we have it, my run was my best ranked performance on the day. Ha.
Matches how I felt really, a good swim for me (pb), cautious but paced bike feeling slightly down on power but unsure of committing more knowing the profile, then a run feeling good and running a pb.
End result, happy with my race, slightly unsure of bike but realistically only really talking 2-4 mins I'd say and prob cost that and some on the run so more learnings achieved. Also power naturally down considering the descents compared to previous mainly flatter profiles so hard to compare exactly.
This race is epic. Competition is serious. Guy who came 2nd in my AG in Vegas last year by only a couple seconds was 5th in Wiesbaden last year. This year, he went faster and only got 4th (moved up an AG), would have been 6th in my AG so a position worse!
Another guy who was 5th here last year came 17th this year..!
Not sure how long this race has been Euro champs, perhaps now it's established and bringing out more competitive racing etc. German organisation,efficiency and effort levels were class.
Course is a beauty, very honest and distances accurate if slightly long (1.95km, 90.5km, 21.2km per my checks).
Highly recommend this one. Cheap to fly into, cheap accommodation, big event and atmosphere on a great course with guaranteed high standards and very competitive.
Jen and I also met up with fellow Irish athletes Rory Maguire, Martin Muldoon, Declan Doyle, Matt and his Team Freespeed crew of Charles Pennington, Jenny Gowans etc and it was good to meet them all.
Good luck in future races all and hopefully see ye at more next year - poss UK 70.3 and Wiesbaden again!
Wiesbaden would now be 2nd on my list of priorities behind Irish Champs next year.
Only downside - up over the main climb around the 45km mark, seeing a load of cops coming against me, then the Male Pro's... a group of 15 of them all very very close together.
Must have been a whole 5-6 metres apart. Maybe it was circumstantial but talking to Ritchie Nicholls afterwards he said there was a large bunch of them at the front the whole bike.
Always gonna be a foot race between him and Frodeno in that situ and shame Kienle couldn't pull the trigger to try for a gap. Shame Frodeno's bag was temporarily misplaced in T2 and cost a possible win or at least sprint finish between him and Nicholl's at the end. 1:08 run splits! Faak...
There was a King of the Hill and fastest run lap award as well.
Tempted by the king of the hill but didn't want to ruin myself as it was early days - won by an Age grouper too.
Yep.. Ritchie Nicholls.... Time? 15:45.... holy cow. The man can run.
Next up is Lost Sheep. Current frame of mind is try put my bike split on the line and see what my legs have left to hold on for the run.
There's just something about racing as hard as possible for as long as possible that floats my boat mainly on the bike section.
Finish the race knowing nothing left, wondering about pacing perhaps but that will come naturally I hope.
Lost Sheep will probably run a risk of me blowing up on either bike or run section. Sounds like an exciting way to finish the season eh! :-)
Wiesbaden IM70.3 Euro Champs Preview
So here we are, the week of my biggest race of the year and prob most competitive to date. I’ve decided not to do Vegas 70.3 World’s due to cost and other details – also prob a year too early as I want to be competitive and haven’t yet reached the level required to justify this in my opinion just yet.
Fortunately, I had entered Wiesbaden a while ago and I’m now even more excited and thankful.
Lots of variables, but lots of benchmarks and great competition to measure my progress against.
There’s a good few Irish heading over – fellow B2R athlete Jennifer Duffy, Karl Kildea (5th at Vegas world’s last year, now in my AG) then the UK contingent of Matt Molloy, Martin Muldoon, Rory Maguire, Declan Doyle and many others. Charles Pennington of Team Freespeed came 2nd in Vegas last year in my AG by mere seconds – he’s moved up an AG this year but another great chance to compare to the level I’m targeting.
Also in my Age Group I’m lucky enough to have the guy who hammered me in Miami 70.3 last year – Alessandro Boschian. Beat me by 12mins to win our age group so the perfect bench mark – hoping the hillier course helps me gain some of that back as well as performance progress I hope!
The goal is to podium at AG and get a trophy, the ultimate goal is to Win a IM70.3 AG trophy so whether that comes this weekend or next season we shall see but it’s high on my current short term goals list. My run needs to be low 1:20’s if not under for that to be achieved so that’s an area I’m focussed on and training has gone very well recently and I feel in low 1:20’s shape assuming good pacing on hilly bike course which is key to this race.
All 360 in our AG are off at same time which will make for a manic start in a relatively narrow lake, but the best way for it.
Pro’s you ask? Yes. Plenty! How does Sebastien Kienle, Michael Raelert, Faris Al Sultan, Richie Nicolls, Bart Aernouts, the 2 Vasiliev Brothers, Jan Frodeno, Ivan Rana, Fraser Cartmell, Thomas Hellreigl and more sound? Stacked? Indeed!
The female pro’s have the controversial Lisa Hutthaler who has won Austria 70.3, Mallorca 70.3 and another recent one but has a darkened past being done for drugs in bike racing and trying to bribe officials to keep it quiet etc. Time served but a few other reported incidents (causing competitor to knock off bike, drafting issues etc) lead to a somewhat awkward favourite. Will be interesting to see the reception at awards ceremony if she wins/podium’s so I’ll be there to report...
Water temp is currently 24 degree’s, cut off is 24.5 and temps this week are a little cooler at mid 20’s so hopefully the wetsuit stays legal. I do have a speedsuit in case and will be bringing it as it may be required.
The winner of my AG will need to be around the 4:25 mark or below, something like a 27-28min swim, mid 2:30’s bike and sub 1:20 run so I know what’s required. A very hilly bike with 1500m elevation, lots of climbs and slightly long at 91km seems the key. A nice 4 lap run all be it 2.5km up a gradient and 2.5km down will be tough and really see what’s in the legs.
Here’s hoping for a great race and chance to put all the recent hard work in training to good use.
Fly out Thurs am – meet up with Matt Molloy/Team Freespeed for a bike recce that afternoon and race is early Sunday am and an hour ahead of Irish time.
You will all be on your long bike’s whilst I’m slogging it out on the run ready to fall over I suspect! Or else on route to a race here no doubt.
Humbert Challenge Half Ironman – 1st Place
I had heard and read nothing but good reviews of this race previously. The organisers drummed up a buzz the previous year with a race preview and talk of challenging the bike course record etc and this somewhat drummed up my interest further. We all know I’m a sucker for a bike split...
Headed down with fellow Big Red Cloud Base 2 Race athlete Liamo the Legend and we met Tamara down there who was out to defend her title from the previous year’s win.
After relaxing a little we drove the bike course to familiarise with the hills and any turns. The hill reminded me of Sally Gap and at one part got very steep, thankfully near the top. It seemed to be a steady 4-5km climb that sharpened so I was looking forward to this. There were a few turns to note, but overall the remainder was rolling with flat sections on 95% good roads so no complaints here.
Didn’t get a chance to check out the run course but did see the swim which looked superb and a little long. Basically it’s a rectangular swim up across and down a lake which includes swimming around a little island at the turn which is a nice touch.
Dinner that evening was a slight stray from my norm, a chicken and pasta sauce dish which tasted fine but wasn’t as smooth on my stomach as my usual chicken/fish and basmati rice or pizza.
Anyway, up and to transition slightly later than planned and meant a missed warm up. I didn’t panic it was a long day ahead and got a few mins in the swim at least. Speaking of which the lake was the nicest swim in Ireland I’ve done yet. The water was warm! I kid you not, yes it had been a smashing couple of sunny weeks but this lake was warm! Quite clear and the buoys were easily sighted so I hoped to swim better than recently and dip below 30min for the 1.9km.
Swim started and some fish got a Harris/Thornton like gap from the off, with 2 others trying to hang on. I was behind the 4th person who was setting a reasonable pace and I was staying both on line and on feet. Hard to say effort level when you’re pacing a 1.9km swim but I was comfortable. Around the island and my feet started to slow and go offline. I pushed a little and took the lead back down the lake and across the end to exit in 5th with a 30:15 swim. However clocked the Garmin at just over 2.1km and checked with others at the end so I was happy to report a 1:24-25/100m swim for a change. Overall RPE – comfortable, didn’t push quite as hard as I may have.
Swim – 30:16, 2.15km, 5/150 finishers
Fast enough t1 and drop a gel leaving with my bike. Back for it and away we go for start no.2. That’s really gonna blow my chances of beating Lightning Liamo’s T1 now isn’t it...
T1 – 1:10, around 8th or 5th exc relays... and 8secs behind Liamo!
I start easy on the bike, the course has flat sections to begin so I get my main bar in for nutrition once I feel settled. My watts are down a bit lower than planned but I push on and move past a couple of others. Start the climb around 15km and I move into 1st place and feel a bit better. In fact legs feeling too good and I make the mistake of pushing on. I didn’t have a number to go for this climb, it was steep though and I was just happy to be getting up and over it in 1st place.
On over the top and the road is brand new and nicely rolling and fast. I enjoy this section and build up some speed. A few rolling parts and flat parts and I’m tracking my watts which are about 10 lower than planned. I’m starting to feel like legs have 90/95% in them today but keep it consistent and keep my nutrition and cadence in line. I never quite recover from pushing too much for too long on the climb, and this costs me for the remainder of the bike leg and onto the run.
Nonetheless, into T2 with a healthy 10-12min lead and a new fastest bike split. Unfortunately I didn’t dip below the 2:20 mark but still took a few minutes off it.
Bike – 2:20:33 – 87.6km (but the climb makes up for it!) 1/150, Elevation 865m gain – new course record
A fast T2, socks and hat on and out the gap swinging around a pole by the exit as I go.
T2 – 1:03 – Joint fastest with who? Liamo of course! (excluding relays).
Legs feel good and without even trying I’m running 3:35/km pace. Woah there easy tiger there’s a climb coming up so back it off... Down to 4min/km as I start the climb and I’m getting stomach cramps now. I slow then speed up, try jab my hand into my side but nothing works. Ok, just keep it steady without pushing too much and see if some fluids help from the next aid station. Aid station 1 is around the 4km mark and I take a swig of isotonic orange and some water. A few minutes later and the stomach cramps have gone and I’m feeling a little better, but not 100% in terms of pace.
After the stomach cramps issue I’m reluctant to push on the pace too much as I really don’t want to blow a big lead. I’m fluctuating between 4:10/km and 4:15/km pace and know this is 1:28/1:30 HM territory. On this course in prior years it was a fast man that dipped below 1:25 and most were just over so I know I can hold pace and should be alright. I pass a field to my right and hear a heard of cows running, I glance over my shoulder and notice they are all charging at me!! What the hell I splurt out loud, as I eye up the fence and bush between us thinking no chance lads... They recognised my “strong look” and back right off fairly lively...
Each aid station comes along every 4km, well stocked, great support with sponges to help cool down and I’m enjoying the baking heat. I’m thinking to myself ok, I’d like to pick up the pace slowly and see what happens, but also thinking this course just feels like every km is an incline. Where’s the respite... it must be around that corner or over that crest... Anyway, I want to keep pace to 7km, then try pick it up a little. Past 7km and I’m still on pace, but not feeling a whole lot better so on we plod. Aid stations are a thankful sight, I’m keeping my nutrition and hydration in check and not slowing the pace at least so know as long as I don’t blow up I should take the win. Around the 15km mark I try to pick up the pace, it’s a long straight section and I’d like to be out of sight in case any road runners are looking for a target. I do manage to dip down to a couple 3:59/km’s on these parts which was encouraging but then the inclines return and it’s about ensuring I don’t blow.
I get some Marshal for company now on his motorcycle and all appears safe as I glance back a couple times on long sections to see nobody. A turn off the main road to another lovely incline and aid station and I’m nearing the finish. 21km signpost comes and goes and I had read about this being the case... on up to 21.5km and I cross the line to take my first win thankfully!
Run – 1:31:30, 21.5km – 8/150 – elevation gain around 275m, overall gain 33m
Overall – 4:24:31 – 1st/150 finishers
Being told I look fresh at the finish line was nice but compounded my feelings of the day at 90/95% effort compared to where I like to race at. Some days your legs are just like that though for any number of reasons so I was still very happy to perform as I did and in what was a hot day on a challenging honest course.
Looking over my race files, it’s entirely likely and probable that I had a good day but blew a bit after pushing too much on the first climb and not recovering fully from that. I think I’ve learnt something very valuable and thankfully didn’t push on too hard from there or I probably would have blown up and died a death.
The bike course had 870m of elevation according to Garmin. My next race has around 30% more than that so I now know to dial my power right back for the climbs if I want to be able to run off the bike. I had hoped to learn something from this race and without even knowing it I probably learnt my most valuable lesson as pushing the climbs on the bike would be my most common and likely pacing error.
Why does the Humbert Challenge have such a great reputation?
Course – you won’t find a nicer swim, an honest but 95% good surface bike, quite safe and has fast sections as well as that hard climb, run is on quiet roads, has some climbing again to keep you going right to the end.
Organisation/Support – aid stations every 4km on run, well stocked and supported, event went off without a hitch (I’m aware a marshal was missing for a very short period and some athletes missed turn signals on road on bike course. This is a shame no doubt but should not be taken out of context to a superbly ran event). I’m sure Swinford will not let this happen again as they appear to pride themselves on the event and deservedly so.
Value for money – standard half ironman entry fee of €70, well organised, well stocked and supported aid stations at very regular intervals, great feed afterwards (chicken curry, rice, lasagne, pasta, salad), cash prizes & free return entries for podium athletes, trophy’s etc
The weather certainly made for a very enjoyable day as did my result, but I can honestly say this is a great race and one I highly recommend. The course is excellent, the date and location very worthy of National Series status if not National Championships status in my opinion.
I will have no hesitation passing this feedback onto TI for their consideration in 2014’s race calendar.
I sincerely hope to use my free return entry in 2014 and come back to lower the course record further and try nail that run next time by not blowing my lights on the climb J
Well done to Swinford Triathlon club and community.
A big well done to Tamara on smashing her time last year and retaining her title, and to Liamo who continued his winning streak of winning his Age Group in every half ironman he's done!! Vegas next Liamo, you can do it!!
Thanks to the Big Red Cloud Base 2 Race Academy for a fantastic training academy, coaching and atmosphere. A good day out for the Team!
This one is very late so will be kept short and sweet.
The rough waves and my poor open water swimming resulted in me exiting the water way down the field and playing catch up for the rest of the day.
Why did I swim so bad - I went offline, I didn't sight enough, I rushed my stroke, I didn't rotate enough.
On to the bike and I'm about 5% down on power compared to where I'd hoped to be. Seeing some peletons was just silly and I'm starting to realise there are some guys who just seem to think 1-2-3 metres is "a pace line" and not drafting... I mean there can't be that many cheaters and I know and have seen some of these guys who I know and they are not those kind of athletes at all.
I am starting to believe it's simply a lack of spacial awareness or overall awareness as to exactly how far back they need to be.
Anywho, I digress. Off the bike in around 10th with 3rd fastest bike split but power not where it should have been.
Onto the run and legs feel numb for first 2km before loosening up and I manage to get a bit of rhythm going. Pass a couple, then get passed by Ruadhri Geraghty who can run fast and finishes 10 secs ahead of me.
9th place. Underwhelmed. Potentially could have been an exciting race if I had swam like I should have but wasn't to be.
I will be back, and I will get the swim right as Kilkee is a course I love and a fantastic race.
Well done to Mr G Noble. Had the pleasure of his company for Pizza the night before and he's a thoroughly good bloke all round. A savage Sub 2hour time on that course is pretty special and the 3 fastest splits I believe to boot.
Shout out also to Kevin Thornton in 2nd and Mark Horan in 3rd. Training buddies and deserved podiums for them both. I had nothing for either of them on the day and was hands down spanked more or less! Next time. Whenever and whereever that may be I shall try
2 of the last 3 weeks saw a welcome increase in volume and training stress.
I managed 20 hours for only the 2nd or 3rd time in a week and loved it. 2 x power turbo sessions and 2 x track runs certainly helped and Coach managed to maintain the right balance it felt. My easy run pace appears finally to be improving recently.
I do easy runs based on rate of perceived exertion, but usually have my garmin and review pace but being disciplined to not let it control my run. Coach and I feel now is appropriate to increase my volume to try stimulate continuous improvements but more importantly now that a solid consistent base has been built. It will be managed every couple of days and coach will adjust as he deems necessary if he sees any signs requiring changes so we will see how it goes.
I have noticed recovery is now getting more important. Both in terms of nutrition and rest so I have to stay on top of both.
This week was a recovery week and has been mainly easy to start, followed by a failed turbo session where the mad scientist was "playing with my numbers to see if I was ready for another test".
2nd rep of 5 in and my head falls to my forearms as I gasp for breath wondering why I couldn't hit the numbers and if I got enough sleep last night...
Coach adjusted the remainder of the set but I was wasted at that stage and wasn't much good thereafter so canned it early. My above threshold work is really lacking which coach is fine with as it my below threshold work has improved so on we go!
I was home to nap and eat and drink well before off for an easy medium run which went very well and left me surprised and happy. Was it the extra sleep? Perhaps but also the turbo session was plainly hard and took a lot out of me as it was too much above FTP levels to sustain repeats.
Outside of training itself I'm looking for further improvements in equipment. I've experienced a couple of hot spots on my foot on runs in new runners lately and brought 3 pairs down to my last track session. 2 showed similar hotspots and then 3rd time lucky no issues at all. Current runner of choice is the Adidas Tempo 5 for pretty much all sessions. This is light enough for speed work but with enough support for long runs also.
I raced Tri an Mhi in Kinvara 2's and developed the hotspot from then. I figured the soles were just too worn and bought a pair of Kinvara 4's to replace. I did my long run in these without issue but afterwards felt the same hotspot and same at start of track session.
Switching to the Tempo's resolved this so my foot probably wants a bit more cushion until the hotspot goes away.
I like the Tempo's a lot so may race Kilkee in them to see how they go.
Yyyyeeeesssss.....I'm not happy with my current bike fit in that I feel I can go lower to improve my aero and minimise drag further.
In addition I still get some saddle sores from my current saddle so changes are being trialled.
I picked up the Specialized Sitero saddle which is a similar fit to the Adamo 2 prong approach to fit sit bones instead of nether regions so I will see how this goes for me.
My Shiv came with a second more aggressive seatpost that I've fitted the saddle to and installed after a recent turbo session.
The Shiv is a high stack bike to cater for the majority of its users.
Most of the pro's have swapped out the aerobars and stem to achieve a lower stack and more aero position.
This is my current decision and I'm on the lowest possible stack with current Shiv aerobars.
I previously raced the Ridley Dean TT (for sale, must put up an ad!) at a stack of 590mm which was very comfortable.
When I bought the Shiv I fully knew the lowest stack on Specialized bars would be 600mm so figured it was close enough, and if I did want to change down the road I could follow suit as the Pro's and change out the bars.
So 9 months later here I am, experimenting and I picked up a second hand set of Pro Missile Evo's.
These are a very nice set of bars that have full Di2 integration to hide almost all cabling as well.
It helps that a couple of Pro's I admire use these (Kienle & Crowie) and I want to see if they suit me. Pro endorsement works people. Support the Pro's!
I've done initial measurements with the Pro Missile's and it appears I can get around 20-25mm lower than current stack - so this would bring me down to around 575/580mm if I'm correct.
This looks promising and I probably won't go this low just yet but the good news is the bars appear to be bang on what I hoped for.
Hopefully fitting them next weekend which will give me a week before Kilkee to adjust to new stack and get ready to unleash all the power hopefully!
Shiv Fizik Arione Tri2
The Pro Missile Evo bars and Stem.
Pretty damn light and extremely aero so looking forward to fitting them.
Next up for me is Kilkee in 2 weeks time.
What a race that is shaping up to be!
Ireland's Olympian Gavin Noble has been announced and rumour mill also has Owen Cummins in along with Colm Turner, Kevin Thornton, Mark Horan, Trevor Woods, the Go tri gang are surely present in Rory Sexton and David Richardson and many more I'm sure.
Shane Scully is recovering from an op and I wish him a speedy recovery. I wouldn't be surprised to see him on the start line either and you can be sure he'll be competitive if he does.
This is strongly looking like the most competitive race of the season so far and should make for an epic 2 hours of racing. I can't wait.
I make no secret that I'm focussed on 70.3, but do want to race Kilkee with everything I've got and put it all on the line.
I don't have a target for a result in mind to be honest and I'm looking forward to that. In such a competitive field 1-2 mins could easily be 5 or so places I think.
I plan on simply racing hard, trying to execute everything as best as I can and see where that gets me. I'm going to have some fun and enjoy Pulse's 10 year anniversary Championship race!
Nothing to lose really, and I relish the chance to race the above names and more and see how it goes.
Olympic is a different animal to 70.3 for me, but hopefully I've enough strength improvements in the bank to put in a good showing.
Clearly, Gavin Noble stands out as the favourite hands down. He's a fish, has been biking at the front of Cat 1 races and no doubt has his running all back in shape and is ready to let fly.
You can be sure a lot of racers will try to give him as hard a time as possible though and hopefully I'm in that mix somewhere too.
Right, I'm off to hit the hay and get some quality recovery time in.
Open water swim and long bike tomorrow with a bit of conditioning so I won't have much change from 6 hours there! Love it. What an enjoyable sport triathlon is.
Train hard people, and recover better.
Not much to report this week.
It was a case of prioritising recovery to ensure the next lot of hard work can be hit uninterrupted and get a solid block in before next race in Kilkee.
After Tri an Mhi, I had a blister on the top of my toe and also a cut on my heel area which felt like a stone was in it. I put it off a few days hoping it would heal itself before giving in and digging to find a piece of glass stuck in! lovely! All is healed up nicely now and it was probably Thursday or Friday before I started to feel recovered properly.
The weather this weekend was fantastic and I took good advantage up early both days and out for some nice easy bikes and got some nice sunshine both mornings which worked out very well.
Monaco F1 was on you see so scheduling training before live qualifying and race had to be done!
Hours wise I hit just under 15 which is about average for me and it was all mainly easy/aerobic just keeping the body ticking over.
The real work starts now. I've 5 weeks of hard training to try and build on each area, but primarily speed for the bike and run over Olympic distance.
This will be a challenge as when I touch these zones it feels alien as it has been a low priority in my training to date being focussed on 70.3 distance.
Kilkee is an important race for me in that it was down as one of my original top 3 races that I'd like to do well in this season (Tri an Mhi & Vegas).
I raced there 2 years ago and though the course beat me up pretty good, I loved it. I got to see Joe Lynch running down the cliff for 3rd place and that was inspiring.
Its a race that is very highly respected amongst other athletes from what I gather, it's always stacked with top competitors and the course is a true test for each discipline in my opinion.
Kilkee doubles as Pulse Triathlon Club's annual club championships race each year. 2013 is Pulse's 10 year anniversary and so we should have a very large contingent of racers lining up on the day hopefully!
These reasons and missing it last year are why I wanted to go back this year and have it as a reasonably high priority race.
Whilst I'm happy to have achieved my main domestic goals in race 1, I can now look at Kilkee as a chance to really go and race there.
I'm viewing it as a chance to maybe try a couple of things differently but mainly as an opportunity to really let loose and see what happens. So hard to target an overall result with such a competitive field so I'm not thinking about it, purely just about enjoying the race and giving it a good crack.
So it's back to the hard work, I'm looking forward to this block as it will be a new level of pain/training zones and I think I will respond well to it.
One last bit of news is I've entered Wiesbaden Euro 70.3 Champs in August.
This will be a hard course and competitive field ahead of Vegas so a perfect chance to have a good bash. It was a provisional at the start of the year and has now materialised.
Good luck to all racing Athy next weekend!
I’m not sure any race report can follow Jennifer Duffy’s experiences
unfortunately so this is really just to leave a bad aftertaste. I mean I didn’t panic about the weather, my car didn’t break down on route to race, I’m made of harder stuff than needing to spend 4 minutes in T1 getting on full winter gear (Jen, you owe the group cake by the way, slowest T1 and you know it…) and I didn’t get knocked off my bike and held back by marshals checking for concussion before being allowed to continue! I didn’t win either so hey there’s that but I think we all know when the Klaxon sounds there’s a different Jennifer Duffy in the zone and she’s out to beat as many men and women as she can so watch out!
Anyway, back to my modest tale and I arrived down in good spirits for what was an important race for me. I’m open about my lofty goals, and a podium was my firm goal for this race which would tick 2 big season goals for me if I could succeed (Podium at NS and Podium at NC).
This was a very competitive field though, perhaps only dampened by news that Bryan McCrystal is off getting even stronger on the bike and wasn’t going to race Tri an Mhi. Being a fellow fan of the strong bike split I was hoping to compare splits and maybe even power numbers to see what progress had been made compared to last year but I digress… Swim
Legs dragged off me, feet grabbed, timing chip ripped off, yes, race season was here for sure!
A messy swim for me, not quite on line, not quite fast enough, lots of friendly fights and I only really got going near the end it felt! Lots of fights at the 2 x buoys, no real drafting done.
A bad swim really, I didn't translate my pool swim progress to open water as I had hoped but there's always something to work on eh. I've a few things to work on now to address this so hopefully show better progress at next race.
Oh well, out of the water to be told 13 flat, lapped my garmin at 13:19 for 790m or so over the timing mat and into T1.
Removing my wetsuit I see Mark Horan just opposite putting on his Bike jacket. I take an age getting wetsuit off and have a quick look for timing chip – see the remains of a strap but no chip so shout at coach no timing chip, put on arm warmers and gloves which aren’t easy when wet and away I go. I overhear Mark getting a shout of 1min down on leader, and I’m about 30-60secs down on Mark leaving T1 so away we go.
A flying mount, feet onto pedals and shoe gets caught under pedal on first rotation, somehow gets flicked out of the cleat and I’m lucky not to go arse over head with it.
Off the bike, back for shoe, back on and away we go. No panic no harm, it’s a long day so let’s get going. I’m roughly in 20th, maybe 25th and making progress through the field.
I pass Noelie Kavanagh and then Liam Dolan and make my way through the field. Liam repasses me a few times and shouts “looks like we could be doing this all day”. We prob lost a bit of time moving out of drafts a few times but I’d gain him on the hills and move past and then on flats he’d retake me. It kept us honest and the pace was good so I started on my nutrition and kept the legal distance back as pace was good.
A few more battles before we move past fellow B2R athlete Adam Kelly. I ask him any idea what position as I go past and he says about 10th. 10th? That can’t be right there’s no sign of anyone ahead. Anyway, on we go and I focus on my nutrition again and Adam comes past me. I move out of his draft, finish my Kinetica cola gel and take a few sips of drink before realising the pace has dropped as I’m staying back and it’s time to move on.
I overtake Adam and Liam and get the head down as I can see someone up ahead in the distance. It’s another club-mate Mark Horan and I seem to close at a reasonable pace so maintain the effort and move past. As I do I see Peter Kern beside the road shouting something like 2 minutes. Wow, that’s a big gap if true and lap 1 not even completed!
I’m in 2nd now and trying to chase down that gap, a marshal confirms 2 minutes split again at start of lap 2 and I shout “to who?” – “the leader” is the reply and in fairness it was a silly question! Not many would know all the competitors so I figure it’s likely Mariusz but possibly Paul Carroll as his swim seems to have improved a lot over the winter.
Head down and sticking to my pace, as I make the climb for the second time I’ve no idea how far ahead nor if I’ve a gap to the lads behind as I’m not looking back!
The below pic shows indeed I had not made any ground on Liam nor Mark in the last 25km.
Over the crest and onto a fast descent and the heavens open up. I’ve no sunglasses on and my eyes are literally getting hammered with what feels like hailstones at that stage. It’s just heavy rain but visibility is down as a result. Pace? No, that’s on the up as I’m still in 2nd and starting to make a move. I see the lead motorbike up ahead around the 60km mark and this only spurs me on more. Mariusz is looking back for some reason and it turns out he’s starting to bonk. I pass him quickly and put in some effort to try make a gap to T2.
Off the bike in 2:27:14 with fastest split and a little lead.
Ironically this managed to kill the connection of my Garmin to usb. I've been trying all week to upload my file but no success. Finally gave in and submitted a repair request to Garmin so it'll be off to the UK via postage next week no doubt! Doh!
Being a numbers geek I like the chance to review files and compare to plan etc. Next time hopefully!
I did manage to see my Normalised Power at end of race as had it on screen so I know my figures at least and all went to plan. I'll be looking to bike at higher figures for my next half naturally in Humbert Challenge.
Well, it had rained so I now had the challenge of putting on wet socks, with wet hands on wet numb feet. Yes it took an age and for a split second I almost left them but said no just in case. Grabbed my 3 gels and out of t2 for me. A marshal was holding out a replacement timing chip for me by the exit… “not a chance” I said, I was leading the National Champs and having my best race yet! Not a hope was I going to stop for even 2 seconds for a new strap around my ankle! “just grab it” he replied, “no way” was my response as hands were full and I ran past him like a bat out of hell.
As I was starting the run I could hear cheers back by transition. That’ll be the chasers then and I figured I had around a 1.5-2 mins lead.
I stuck to my pace, my feet were numb but I was moving nicely and got into my rhythm comfortably. Out the dog leg and clocked the chasers – Mark in 2nd 1.5 mins back, Liam in 3rd 3 mins back and Niall Somers in 4th around 3.5 mins back or so.
I had a figure in my head of 3 mins if all went to plan so I was close, but knew Mark had strong running and I had my work cut out but anything could happen.
I pass a familiar face under an umbrella here – it’s Pulse’s Joe Lynch who had made the drive down in not so lovely conditions to support a few club-mates! Fair play Joe and thanks for all the support!
I’m still leading up to 8km as we pass the Base2Race support crew! – Coach Eanna McGrath, Adam’s wife Jane and my better half Claire who took some mighty photo’s of the day with her new fancy dancy camera. The shouts are positively encouraging as I pass but I can also hear Mark’s footsteps closing behind now too.
Mark moves past me around the 9km section and I try to stay with him – for a little anyway before he pulls a gap. I can still see him as we complete the lap of the B2R crew on lap 2 and I’m greeted with “you’ve got company coming up behind” from coach.
Just 1 I’m hoping and Niall Somers moves past at the 15km and running strong. I keep both the guys in sight up ahead until around 17km when they get away.
I try to keep pace but I’m fading a bit but determined to hold onto 3rd spot. Around the dog leg with 2km to go and I’ve a nice 2.5mins cushion to Liam in 4th so all is well.
Across the line to my first competitive podium and I’m very happy with my race. Some good progress shown and no complaints getting beaten by Niall and Mark who performed better on the day.
A very tough but rewarding course and I’ve managed my best result in my first race of the season and in fact achieved my 2 main domestic goals in race 1. Delighted.
Next up is Kilkee Olympic, it may be hard to find that extra speed for this distance but it’s a race I enjoyed a lot 2 years ago (despite getting hammered to 122nd or so) and am looking forward to racing in a very competitive field. There will be some Base2Race rivalry again with Mark Horan, Kevin Thornton and Adam Kelly racing so plenty of motivation as if that was needed! I’ll be letting it rip lads and have absolutely nothing to lose so bring you’re “A” games ok?…. :-)(standard smack talk that goes on between us in training, we’ve waited all winter so there’s no holds barred now during race season!)
I want to add a few thoughts for Tri an Mhi on the very many good things that were done so well, and also a few areas for improvement in my opinion for the future.
- Firstly, superb course and central location. Let’s move the date out a month or so to ensure a full swim and I’d happily vote for this to be National Champs every year.
- Organisation and Implementation – very well marshalled, race seemed to go without a hitch, tough conditions but I didn’t hear of any issues all day. Well done.
- Safety/Numbers of marshals – all turns were well manned, a lot of motorbikes out tracking for drafting, transition well organised. Well done again.
Areas for Improvement:
- Date/Swim - we are all aware of the hype before this race, national champs will there be a swim? It turned out compromised and less than half the required distance which to me was a shame for such a prestigious event. Granted the worst winter in some time was the main cause but last year saw a close cut off so to extend by 1 week and 3 hours was perhaps a tad optimistic.
I'm sure the club realise this and hopefully will move to a June/July/August date for the future all going well.
A national championship event deserves the full distance in each discipline.
- Nutrition stations – I was only offered water at each of these on the run. I’m pretty sure kinetica gels were in the race briefing but am glad I brought my own with me and didn’t rely on this. I’m aware of 1 athlete who was looking for anything at a couple aid stations only to be provided water and by chance the B2R support crew had some energy mix for water to help him on his way. This is not ideal for a half ironman national championships and the poor man struggled for a couple of aid stations apparently. On another note, I did read of another athlete having jaffa cakes (nice!) at an aid station so it seems at least 1 did have some sort of energy food for those in need.
- Prize money. What is it with the National Middle Distance Championships that fails to reward the winners? This race earned the club over €21k by my calcs, was done on open roads to traffic and paid out zero prize money to the winners.
I came 3rd, received a voucher (from one of the sponsors) which I appreciate together with a plaque/paperweight which is also nice. Every finisher got a medal in line which was very nice but no actual prize money paid out by the club. For a National Series and National Championships race which sold out and wasn’t cheap to enter (€70 I think), this is poor return to the athletes.
There wasn't much reinvested in race packs/post race food and roads were not closed etc and I do realise there are other costs for insurance/TI fee's/timing chips/MC etc but the point still applies.
The race pack contained a long sleeve technical tee and that was all.
Post race food was cold ham salad rolls and fortunately a sponsors stand with protein shakes/recovery drink from Kinetica.
By contrast I raced Carrick on Suir sprint triathlon last year, not a national series event, had maybe half the entries and also cost about half in entry fee. I came 2nd and received €150.
A small race ran by a club but recognising prize money is required and only fair especially to get a good reputation and ensure return of competitive fields.
We do not compete these races for the prize money, but running a national championships race is not an excuse to ignore any prize money and leave it to the sponsors prizes.
I’m all for club ran events which reinvest any profits back into triathlon at grass roots level, but I’m also all for winners busting a gut at least being offered something in way of return without leaving it to the sponsor’s prizes alone.
Sponsors now have to award prizes for the podiums as well as top 3 in each age group. That’s quite a lot so fair play to them but for the club to not even match nor offer anything for the top 3 at least is quite simply not appropriate.
There are races that are fairly awarding prize money and consistently have the best reputations amongst athletes. Nenagh, Limerick and Cork tri club ran events would be 3 such clubs that recognise this and publish their prize money in or ahead of race briefings and have renowned reputations as a result.
To reiterate, I highly recommend Tri an Mhi as a 70.3 to anyone. I would love to race it again myself if next years calendar allows.
My areas for improvement are minor and do not dampen my experience nor high opinion of the race and club for what was a very well ran event and worthy of National Championships.
That said, in my opinion the improvements should be addressed.