Not the best weather we've been having is it??
In fact I made the amateur mistake of taking the S-Works Trivents out on a couple bikes and got wet/dirty and my feet froze so some CIF/Shoe Whitener is on my shopping list to try bring them back to a better condition. The shoes people, my feet are always a pasty white!
So I had my first "injury" last month. First injury in maybe 18-24 months since I struggled with calf strains from trying to move too fast into a forefoot runner.
Fortunately for me, it wasn't really an injury and was just an infection. It happened on my right quad and seemed to be a reaction possibly to some chlorine or something. It started out as an itchy rash which I left alone, but it swelled up quite big. So it was like a lump on my quad, I feared it could have been a muscle issue but the only thing that made sense was an infection.
I didn't touch it and t took 2 weeks to heal. Within that 2 weeks I kept it mostly bandaged and with some cream/oil on it to help the healing process. It wasn't affecting my running really, but I wouldn't say I was in great shape obviously. I had an FTP Test during that period and quite a bit of running which was fine but perhaps a little wary.
I missed 1 session during this 2 week period. My first missed session in over a year. It was a morning pool swim as I got dressed and changed the bandage, the lump started to seep. Not blood and it wasn't stopping so called Coach to let him know. Made the call it wasn't worth the risk of further infection not to mention others so did a bit of core instead that morning.
It didn't quite heal up that day, and I didn't go near it again until the morning of the Naas duathlon, as I was removing one bandage the whole thing really opened up and cleared itself. The lump instantly dissappeared and I thought thank god for that!
Bandaged it up and raced the duathlon without issue - in fact the plaster remedy can be seen in the pictures!
Since then it's been business as usual thankfully. I've made a few unrelated changes for the better and have noticed some good progress I feel in each area.
I was due to race Naas duathlon again this morning, but it came at the end of a nice training block and a solid last training session was preferred for long term fitness so I told coach at the start of the week I'd prefer to get a quality session in over the sprint duathlon if it suits the plan better.
It did, and a good session was enjoyed today instead.
So it's now 2 weeks until the first race of the season - the National Duathlon Championships at Ashford. This will be my first long duathlon but its one I'm very much looking forward to.
It's only down the road, and has a highly stacked quality field which is something I'm motivated by and prefer to race the highly competitive races to see how I go.
It's pretty good timing for me coming off some solid training blocks, noticing and feeling some solid fitness progress and will be a hard hard race. I entered this with the thought process that having so much running with the 10k opener and 5k finisher, it would give me and coach a good focus towards improving what was an area of weakness for me last year.
It has done that, and I couldn't have asked for a better last few blocks so it will be a nice tester for me to see what progress has been made.
I can't say I know what my 10k opening pace will be, I have an idea but won't know till in the race on the day obviously. I hear it may be a little long also which I'm actually happy about as it ensures the full 10k will be clocked and I fully expect to run a decent PB here (current is a 37min 10k last March).
The fun is this will only be the first third or less of the race and there's still a 40k bike and 5k run to go after that. I know it's going to be a hard race and with the depth of the field it is shaping up to be a highly competitive one at the front one would assume.
Who knows what shape and condition athletes arrive at, there are a few duathlon specialists lining up who will be the markers I'm sure but a few others to keep an eye on too.
Clearly the are 3/4 names that stand out being Paul Carroll who has won it the last 2 years.
In fact, he's won every duathlon he's entered this year and I got to witness his speed in Naas in Feb also so we know he should be in peak shape and no doubt looking for an elusive hat-trick.
David Vaughan would probably be next up, a big Powerman Duathlon record and a nice win at the BallBuster duathlon in UK last month shows he's in great shape too.
Third favourite in my eyes would be a close Mark Morgan and maybe Eamon McAndrew. 2nd and 3rd places last year these guys have proven records.
There's a whole host of others capable and a deserving list of top athletes on the entry list for the National Championships. Great to see and even better to be a part of for such an early ra
I wonder which leg will hurt the most?
- The opening 10k Run as the pace shoots off at lightning speed?
- The 40k Bike as it's the longest time duration of the race?
- Or the final 5k Run as if you haven't spent all your energy by then, you surely will to finish the race off!
Who knows who will perform best on the day???
This race was a pure feeler opportunity and a chance to drown in lactic acid at the starting run pace. Safe to say Paul Carroll is a favourite for any duathlon he enters and rightfully so being our National Champion. Again my Pulse and B2R stablemate Mark Horan was also in it so I knew those 2 were highly likely to be the 2 markers up front.
Race kicked off and I’m beside Paul with Mark just hovering behind me. I match Paul to the first gate and then he starts to pull away. What Pace you ask? Well I started at 2:30/km pace, that had slowed to 3min/km pace after the first minute or so of mayhem. Through the first km in 3:11 (I didn’t look at pace at all for this first run). Mark was beside Paul just ahead and I dropped to 4th place as a Naas tri guy came past me. I clawed back and retook 3rd place with Mark and Paul still 10-20seconds ahead. 2nd km in 3:21 and 3rd in 3:32. Damn that’s poor pacing and a shock to the system! Run course was 3.2km for first run and same pace held for the 200m to transition.
Into t1 in 3rd, Mark and Paul are 30secs ahead and just at their bikes getting gone as I’m entering transition. A relatively smooth transition and I’m out with the Naas tri guy beside me. We start bike together and I get ahead then and start to look for the 2 lads up the road.
Out onto the bike course and I can see them and set about reeling them in. I can see Paul has moved into the lead but Mark appears to be maintaining the gap. I’m putting in the effort here and close to them as we approach Blessington roundabout at the half way mark. Paul has gone around and back, Mark has just left the roundabout as I approach it so have clawed back some time.
I manage to close up a bit more before the road becomes a bit congested. Mark is getting held up in front as cars can’t pass due to the amount of bikers coming against them. Paul appears to be ahead of the cars but may be getting held up also. I close and pass Mark and motion at the cars to at least move out a bit and let us up the inside. No joy. Steady pace here until the last left hand turn and push it then up the hill. Both Mark and I gain on Paul and I’m into T2 right beside him so nice to have fastest bike and recovered my run deficit.
Into t2, helmet off and right runner is slow to fit on so precious seconds lost. Cian from B2R had a right laugh video’ing this and asking was there something wrong with my right foot??? J Paul is out and gone as Mark and I leave transition at the same time. A few encouraging words from Coach as we chase Paul up the first incline. Mark moves ahead of me here and edges a bit more over the remaining run. Across the line for 3rd place, 50 odd seconds behind Paul and 30 behind Mark.
I’d probably class this as my best result to date, purely from a performance perspective being so close to 2 top athletes, especially over this format with run strengths. What is evident is that my run still needs a bit more to match their pace, and whilst this will be tough, I do intend to at least bridge the gap some more. I need to be closer to their pace come race season if I’m to be competitive. How do I do this? Well, Coach Eanna will have to work his magic and he has a cunning plan, one that will see me with a heavy load meaning the March Naas duathlon may not be an option but will see closer to the end of the month if I feel up to it.
Man it’s good to be back racing. There is nothing like it!
I have to say I enjoyed the course and race a lot. It was marshalled well, is a nice honest course and whilst it was cold the weather was dry and with little wind. I will try to race this again in 4 weeks if I’m not too fatigued from trying to bridge the run speed differential. Don’t worry, I’ll be working on my bike as well as it’s all very close which is encouraging all round really for February.
We are now into March and the National Duathlon Champs are just 5 weeks away. In my language that’s 1 block of work, just 1 block! Can you believe how fast race season is approaching. Love it. Safe to say that Paul Carroll is the Benchmark performer and that the longer distance will be more of a pure pain exercise. Excited? Me too...
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