Paris Marathon a report of sorts but not a race one.

Last October I decided it was nigh on time that Edel and I got away for a weekend so I asked her would she fancy a trip to Paris in the Spring.

She readily agreed so I booked flights and ‘accidentally’ entered us both for the Paris Marathon on 3rd April at the same time…

Continue reading “Paris Marathon a report of sorts but not a race one.”

AK Clarenbridge 10k – in aid of Irish Pilgrimage Trust

Literally on my doorstep so no excuses for missing this one!!

I was busy in the morning dropping down race banners and setting up on the route. Back up home, change and a nice easy jog back down to the starting area at Kilcornan pool. Meeting with some of the guys we arranged an quick warmup which would take in part of the middle section of the race.

The trails are lovely at this time of year, and with 5/6 km of the run being through the woods it is hard not to get too distracted by the woodland.

Back around to the start area and we lined up in a group of roughly 200. I’ve no idea how I ended up in the front row, but I wasn’t there for long! 🙂

Bang on time the race started and there was an explosion off the front with local man Timmy Glavey leading the charge out. Knowing I was in the wrong I moved to the side rather than blocking the much faster people coming through but still raced.

First km is mostly downhill to the entrance gate, turn left and there’s roughly 500m along the side of the road before turning left into the woods and up the main trail. From 1.5 you are running 2k on the rought uneven terrain of the woods with a bit of a sting in the drags (roughly 25m gain over 2k) before hitting the tarmac up and out the back gate.

Left onto the road after the water station, didn’t bother, and took back a place here. I’d planned to go hard for the 1st k, steady for the woods and settle into a solid pace for the roads where the surface twists and does a roller coaster for a couple of km. Found my solid pace but not as fast as I’d hoped to hold.

Coming back in 7-8k I passed the guy that I was hanging onto, he’d gone through me earlier and I managed to sit on his shoulder for a little bit. I could hear him behind me and from 2k I wanted to push hard going down the avenue to the estate again.

There was no push. I stayed ahead of him and pulled another runner in as we went over the cattle grid. Straight run down, skip over the few ramps, around the corner, your man came past me through the arch and the last 200m were a slog I just could not bring him back.

Over the line for 43:14. 4 mins improvement on my last time round this exact same race in the same conditions. I was hoping for closer to 40 but I could really feel the lack of fast speed work and effects of a long season plus the extra kgs that piled back on in the past few weeks.

Still & all I’ll take the positives.

Eddie Murphy Memorial – Sixmilebridge Half Marathon

I got a call during the week, reminding me that my name was not on the entry system for the BMOH Eddie Murphy Memorial run at the weekend.

Maybe it was an oversight & I had forgotten to enter it?

Such are the privileges of working in a running store and being involved in the local running community that organisers sometimes call you to remind you that you are meant to be running!! 😀

My first experience of running in Sixmilebridge was this summer during the 10in10 (Ten marathons in ten days) in blistering heat. Literally the tarmac was blistering & sticking to your footwear,31.5°C would do that to you. Anyway, back then I had the honour of running alongside some of the participants, I was running a half and it was a humbling experience to say the least to be in the company of people who were doing a full marathon every day for ten days.

That humbling experience returned on Sunday. In such esteemed company and among the hardship that some people were going through, one would feel like a fraud just doing a half marathon. At least that’s how I felt as I passed some people with ‘The miracle is not that I finished…its that I had the courage to start’ on the back of their shirts.

We met at the marquee tent where registration took place. A no-frills event in that there are no goody bags, T-shirts, or any other fancy race items. There was water available and coke and presumably the long course runners had their own aid stations and needs looked after.

€20 entry fee and every penny of it going to Milford Hospice in Limerick at the request of the Murphy family. From the BMOH website:

BMOH are proud hosts of the one of the most unique marathons in Europe which also includes Half marathon , 30 miles & Double marathon options all on the one mile loop with the infamous heart break hill to be tackled on each lap.
Due to tragic and Ultimately passing of Eddie Murphy , BMOH AC hold a multi marathon event each November in Sixmilebridge in Honor of Eddie which takes place on a unique one mile loop.
About Eddie Murphy: For those of us lucky enough to have known Eddie, he represented what endurance running is all about for many of us, Pushing towards new personal running goals while enjoying & making new friendships along the way.  Eddie, before his untimely Death in April, 2011, had completed over 45 marathons

The one mile loop is a challenge, from the start you run downhill through the timing mats and down to the village of Sixmilebridge, left and left again brings you to the bottom of the hill which drags all the way back up and around again.

I bumped into a few familiar faces at the starting area, its not a race but you still check your markers 😉

Chatting to Frank, John & Chris among others and we were soon given the clear road and away we went.

I ran with Chris, chatting to the bottom of the first climb and I let him away on after that. He stormed up the hill & I knew I wasn’t ready to go that hard just yet! I trotted around the next few loops, passing people and congratulating them on their efforts. ‘Welldone 10in10’ that kind of thing. Its hard not to sound like a tosser, congratulating people are you start lapping them. As I say, its a fraudlent feeling and humbling.

After 4 or 5 laps I heard a wheezing and panting behind me, Ah! that must be Mr. Wiggle!! 🙂

No, in truth he glided up alongside and we spent the next miles talking life. Bertie got a bit of smack talk going with the MC and there was a surge to the mat on each lap.

We got given out to for chatting on the hills, but honestly, I ran to the finish with a smile on my face the whole way round. I really enjoyed the atmosphere, the company was great and with no real pressure I ran one of my best half marathons.

We decided / agreed to finish together along with Charlie whom I met on the route (a friend of Frank) the three of us crossed the line together, the times show that. A great day out, hats off to those who ran before us and to those who were running behind us.

Delighted to be a part of this day and part of the memorial for Eddie Murphy.

Dam Buster (Part 3) – The Aftermath

I didn’t plan on a long drawn out #racereport, it’s just happened that way.

Post #AmsterdamMarathon I was bitterly disappointed with the mess that I made of the race. I was blaming pacers, my coach was blaming pacers, and while they are to blame for going off far too hard, I am the person who should take the blame for not trusting myself.

If you missed them: 
Dam Buster (Part 1)
Dam Buster (Part 2) – The Bad

Lesson were learned and some valuable notes made for the next one. And, yes, definitely there will be a next one!

(At time of writing I had feelers out for Dublin Marathon and while I was offered numbers, nothing came of it on the day, coach was eager to have me run 3:20 with him as pacer.)

A week on now since I’ve been home and I’ve thought about it a bit. I don’t dwell too much on negatives in any event and (almost) always look for a positive outcome from everything.

Nothing in the build up will be changed. My race day evolved as a response to my training which went 100% as planned. Yes, I skipped a couple of sessions, went too hard on others, and should really have stuck to the full taper plan but this had no bearing on my race.

Unless you are running +Dublin Marathon do not rely on the pacers*. Trust yourself, use the pacers as a guide to how you are going but do not depend on them. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of them. I should have asked why are we running so fast early on. Pacers are human and make mistakes too.

I will definitely consider a waterbottle or small backpack in my next marathon. I trained pretty dry and empty for a lot of the recovery runs in training and only on the long runs would I set out a bottle of water and carry gels. Rehearse your race day preparations in your long runs. Congested water stations with flimsy cups don’t work when you are on a goal. I’m not a pusher and shover so I’m better to be self sufficient entirely and run on the other side of the road, avoiding the scrum.

With no bearing on race day performance do not underestimate the usefulness of black bags. One over the shoulders will keep you surprisingly warm on the start line and one over your hips like a skirt makes for a useful personal urinal in a pinch (just don’t do it on the track!)

Coach summed it up perfectly and put any doubts to rest in an email he sent me:

The plain and simple fact is the pacers screwed up your race.

I was watching the splits and knew straight away that up to 20k you were on 3:10-12 pace. Really poor by the pacers. Those few minutes may not seem like much but enough to be burning matches and leaving you with the difficult last 12k you suffered through.

3 positives to take are:

1)still a massive pb and something to build off next year

2)you suffered on when many others would have given up and

3) solid build and fitness established for XC and shorter races over Winter 🙂

He’s right. A PB is a PB regardless of everything else and to grab a PB of 28 minutes is a great indicator of how I responded to the training. Maybe I have learned to suffer a bit, but there was no way I was stepping off for a DNF, no way!

The final few points are:
Dutch stairs are not too bad the day after a marathon, once you take them backwards.
Trappist beers are a little strong to be drinking as a ‘recovery’ drink.

The morning after, I think.

Bring your own phone charger as others just don’t work with Blackberry (alternatively change your phone to something other than Blackberry)

That’s it, that’s a wrap!

See you next time, it’s my time to start running again.

*Dublin pacers are awesome.

Dam Buster (Part 2) – The Bad

Last week the first part of my #AmsterdamMarathon report was put out Dam Buster (Part 1) and I left you all hanging around in a hotel room. Sorry about that!

There was a reason for that. This part of the event did not go to plan and with +Dublin Marathon on last Monday I didn’t want to be putting out negative vibes for anyone who was following the Marathon Program on the +Amphibian King West Facebook page or any readers tackling their first marathon.

Sunday morning we were away bright and early. Truth be told I don’t sleep well the night before big events, and this is a big event for me. I’m going out having trained hard and trained well for my goal time of a sub 3:15 marathon.

Lets throw perspective on this. My first marathon was 2011 (also with +Conor), I didn’t train properly for that. I felt I’d a decent season of triathlon (70.3 distance) training under my belt and doing a few long runs through September was going to get me through. 4:00 was the goal then, I finished in 4:07.

2012 saw me a little more focused and awar of what I was doing. A pal gifted me a decent training plan and 3:30 was the trainging goal. Everything was going swimmingly until a MTB incident 2 weeks prior took me out of the game entirely. DNF. Lesson learned 😦

 So 3:15 is an ambitious goal, almost an hour off my marathon best, but I’m confident in my training.

Downstairs we went for some breakfast. Couple of eggs, croissants and coffee for me with a yoghurt for good measure. Drinking my #ElivarSport Endure  during the time up to the start would mean energy stores would be topped up.

Aim was to get a taxi down to the Olympic Stadium. A correct assumption that trams would be jammed and ‘standing room only’ meant we arrived in comfort with only a short stroll to the bag drop. Restless energy had me on my feet as we had plenty of time to spare, thankfully it also meant I was in good form for the toilet and off I went before the Queues became massive.

With 30mins to go before the start it was time to drop the bags. I was wearing a beanie and armwarmers, almost a tradition with me at this point in races. I tend to stick the beanie in my waist band and roll the arm warmers down as sweatbands once I’ve warmed up.

We rocked into the stadium where everyone filtered into the centre of the field before dispersing into holding pens for each time slot. We were in the 3:00-3:30 pen with pacers breaking the group into three goal times.

Our pen is to the left.

The atmosphere was electric in the stadium. Music pumping out, everyone nervously nodding and smiling at each other. As the countdown announced 4 mins to start, people shuffled forwards into position behind their pacers.

(It was at this point I realised the benefit of wearing black bin bags, there was a sprinkling of ‘water’ on the track beside me)

The air filled with tops, bags, bottles all being pitched to the side into the centre arena. Watching the big screen we could see the official starter and BANG!! off they went at the start.

Watching the thing on the screen you are removed from the moment until suddenly people start shifting and you realise “Oh! Thats us!!” as people drift forward, shuffle, walk and break into a trot. I could see the pacer balloons hitting the first bend ahead of us and wondered why there was no response from the people in front. It was only after a gap appeared that I realised we were being funnelled through a gap in the pen barriers. People were sprinting off from the pen, chasing the pacers.

It was only a minute or so by the time I crossed the start line, but felt like an age! Pushing start on my +Polar it was time to get it on!!

Round the bend and out through the stadium entrance, lots and lots of people jostling around for space ever though I didn’t think it was too congested.

There were quite a few pushing their way up the inside against the barriers. I can’t see the sense of that. Clip a kerb and you’re out before you’ve even done a mile or clip someone’s heels and they’re out.

The course features a section of loop around the city through the Vondelpark back around towards the Oltmpic statium before doing a loop back on itself going down Stationsweg at which stage a roar from Conor across the barriers let me know he was chasing.

The first 5k felt fast. I was putting it down to the route being pancake flat and all of my training being on lumpy West of Ireland roads. It wasn’t that it felt easy, just fast. Going through the 10k mark and checking my times, my watch was +100m but it was accurate enough for me to realise that it was too quick.

TCS Amsterdam Marathon Sean Conroy netto 10KM 45:08. Calculated finish 3:10:36.
— Amphibian King West (@amphkingwest) October 20, 2013

I was off the back of the pacers by 10-15m. I’d closed the gap back up to them over the first 5k, I wasn’t planning on blowing myself up by chasing them hard, I took it steady. But the Twitter feed told the story – through the first 10k at 3:10 pace – wasn’t going to be sustainable.

Experience would have told me to back off, go with how I was feeling. I didn’t spend weeks grooving my legs to a 4:35/km pace for nothing, they were telling me how to run this race and right now they were telling me it’s too fast!!!

Did I listen?

Hell no. I trusted the pacers, they knew something I didn’t, keep them in sight.

Leaving the city we ran out along the Amstel river. This was gorgeous. I’ve seen other reports that criticise this section of the course, but I liked it. Where I was there was space, we were no longer tripping over each other, no more jostling or pushing.

Running along the river bank, it was windy, but scenic in a Dutch kind of way. Some fantastic houses out here and crews out rowing on the river, looking at us bunch of eejits. We were also treated to the biggest +Mizuno Running Rider 17 being carried on a floating Disco!!

Post by Mizuno Running.

Hitting the village of Ouderkerk a/d Amstel (Old Church on the Amstel) we were getting close to half way.

Again the Twitter amchine was spitting out predictions (I was bllissfully unaware of these) once we hit the mid point:

TCS Amsterdam Marathon Sean Conroy netto Half Marathon 1:36:25. Double this to a finish of 3:12:50.
— Amphibian King West (@amphkingwest) October 20, 2013

Still well ahead of trained finish.

This won’t last.

And it didn’t.

As you can see from the image below (blue line indicates Race Pace), literally when I went through 2:00hrs the wheels came off.

 I was sticking to my nutrition plan,  +Agave #9 gels steadily at 0, 10, 15, 20, 25, 35 with some #2nd Surge in reserve for 30 & 40km but there was nothing going to pull me back from the brink once I’d burnt those matches.

At 28k my HR dived off a cliff, the power and speed went from the legs.

Game over.

Time to get the hell out of Dodge and home.

I’ve vague recollections of meandering my way though a business area, trying to pick it up only to fall back again.

I needed to puke.

I couldn’t

Walk, run, walk, wobble, walk, wog. The km’s felt like miles. Coming back into the city the crowds started to build again, I got some energy from this, I jogged, a little, walked more.

I drank that AA rubbish at the water stations, sorry water stop. Get going again.

Somewhere around 34/35k the trooper came by me. ‘Go with him!!’, my head screamed, my legs said ‘F#@k Off!!’

Broken.

Stay ahead of the 3:30 group.

3:30 came and went.

Back in to the Vondelpark. Lots of people shouting and cheering. Damn these bibs with names on them there’s no hiding. “Come on Sean!!”, “You can do it Sean!!”, “Almost there Sean!!”

Damn you all to hell, you made me run again!!

The last km’s were torture.

Come on Sean, there’s the Stadium, make the most of it, don’t quit now. Get there!

Left, right, left, right

I got there. I didn’t ‘SMASH IT!!’. I didn’t break 3:15.

I did finish. I broke 3:40.

27 mins off my previous marathon best time.

The breakdown after the breakdown.
TCS Amsterdam – Summary

Dam Buster (Part 1)

I find the longer you leave off doing these #racereports the less likely they are to write themselves.

Heading for #AmsterdamMarathon last Friday I had a very positive feeling about how I was running, how training had gone, how prepared I was. As they say, the work is done, no need to cram now, jut get out there and do it.

I had a mental image of being just like the Lancaster bomber of the movie and becoming a Dambuster. Looking back now with a clear mind I can see the positives far outweigh the negatives I was feeling at the start of the week.

An early flight from Dublin to Amsterdam had us on the train and into Centraal Station before breakfast time on Saturday. Bar the events surrounding the ignoramus in the row in front of us insisting on flinging his seat back on Conor’s knees (despite realising he was sitting there) which lead to a very bumpy flight for one set of passengers and a very grumpy 6’4″ ex rower and powerhouse, it was a pleasant flight and arrival.

Finding the hotel was easy enough, 15 mins walk from the station had us admitted through a door and facing-

Gonna be fun on Monday!!
Dropping the bags at reception we had a cup of coffee and some breakfast before heading out to catch a tram down to the Olympic Stadium 
and on to the Sporthallen Zuid where we were greeted by big queues and a MONSTROUS pair of +Mizuno Running Rider 17 which are having their European launch in Amsterdam.

Into the hall, round to the right and through to efficient queues to collect your race number, pins and voucher for your T-shirt. Exiting the hall you can check your chip (in the number) making sure it is you and that it is working (very important if you are chasing a PB, the times have to be spot on!).

Up the ramp and into the main hall which was wedged!! We worked our way through and while I drooled and dribbled over all the running gear (most of which I can get at home!) Conor aimed for the T’shirt line. I was looking out for pacing bands and a pacer stand (as per #DublinMarathon) but there was none to be found – I didn’t realise it but this should have been an indication of things to come.

After wandering around the hall for a short while we bought up Mizuno Clogs. Special version of the Dutch clog (klompen) which would be given to the kids as slippers. A sure, a pair had to be got for ourselves and the wives too while we were at it 🙂

Bearing bags of klompen and flyers on races all over Europe (we figured out a marathon each month in 2014) we headed back to the hotel on the tram. Leaving in the ‘shopping’ we went back out to stroll around the area, picked up some water, egg cookies, stroopwafelen (right) and a few other bits and pieces suitable for snacking on this evening and to start us up in the morning.

Dinner was a couple of large properly baked pizza, cola and water and then it was time to head back, feet up and relax in front of the telly for the rest of the afternoon and evening.

Flustering around a tight hotel room I laid out all my gear in readiness for the morning.

Packing a bag with recovery leggings and dry tops for afterwards; ensuring my nutrition was organised and laid into the pouch, pin the number on the vest, arm warmers, hat etc. I made sure my +Polar GPS pod was charged up and ready, glasses, buff, socks, shoes, laces (make sure not broken or frayed) HR strap, skin balm, Elivar Sport Recover sachets (for afterwards), Endure for during (all about #StaytheDistance), shorts, undershorts all ready and sorted.

Everything was there, ready for all systems go in the morning.

Now just to get a decent night’s sleep.

(to be continued)

Busting A Dam

No excuses, the day didn’t go to plan.

But that’s what happens to plans. They don’t always go. Its your reaction to the situation that decides the outcome.

Sunday didn’t go to plan.

There are some simple reasons why. There will be a fair bit of soul searching going on, a reasonable, healthy bit of self doubt, but that’s to be expected. I think.

There will be a race report, when I’m not thinking about ‘what if?’

For now:

  • I responded brilliantly to the training plan.
  • I finished.
  • I PB’d against my last completed marathon by 29mins.
  • I’m not injured (tired & run down – yes, injured – no)
  • This is only my second marathon.

Yep they’re all positives. What about the negatives? I’ll save them for the race report but at the end of the day a negative doesn’t exist when you consider the positives 🙂

Charleville International Half Marathon (22nd September 2013)

Been meaning to get stuck into this race report all week.

Rocked down to #Charleville on Saturday evening straight from work in Limerick to meet up with +Edel O’Reilly and the two kids who were already settled in the Charleville Park Hotel since the afternoon. We’d a family room booked for the night.

I got down in plenty of time, got registered and met up with Michael Herlihy the race organiser for a few words and introduction before heading out for a bit of pizza with the kids.

I was taking on the #CharlevilleHalf as part of a Long Progression Run that my coach had planned for me today.

Plan called for:
Long run as 8km E pace, 10km as M pace +10secs, 8km as M pace, 5km as M pace -10secs, 2km E pace.

My predicted Mpace is 4:35/km so that’s the guide.

Up early on Sunday to get breakfast; scrambled eggs with croissants & coffee. I had a bag prepped with the bits & pieces for before the race which I would meet Edel for. Drove up to the muster point at +Charleville Gaa hall beside St. Joseph’s foundation. Kissed the family and headed off for the first 10k of the session.

I decided the best thing was to head out on the course 5k, turn and back to the start, timed so I would be back for 15 mins to the gun. Out I went 8k easy and kicked up for 2k at the Mpace +10 seconds before meeting up with Edel.

Quick change of singlet, drink of SiS GO Energy (I nibbed on a GO Energy Bar on the way in from
6k), put on my race shoes (Mizuno Elixir) took my race gels and headed for the start line.

All set!!

Bumping into my ‘nemisis’ Mr.Wiggle we had a bit of banter about our Amphibian King Vs Mr. Wiggle corporate challenge (one of these stupid things grown men find funny) 🙂

Anyway we both had our own plans and parked the challenge for another day, wishing each other well we parted realising that every wasp in the county was trying to mate with me due to the singlet!

I settled in among the 1:40 pacers knowing well this is my territory and off we went with very little preamble.

Lots of juggling for clear space, over the mat and plenty of sprinters up the outside and jumping in at the front, anyway, each to their own. Once onto the Kilmallock Rd it settled down a bit and the pace steadied, I settled into a 4:45/km ish pace comfortably for the next 8k. The one thing that surprised me was water station at 5k, most people took a slug from the bottle, dropped it or fired it into the ditch (#pethate).

It was a warm day and we’re racing, “you’ll need that”, I thought.

Anyway, and on. I took the first of my +Agave #9 gels at 5k (15k remember!) and sipped on my baby bottle of water. For the next 3k I tracked the pacers who seemed to surge ahead for a bit, I realised I had drifted slightly on my pacing as my ‘shoulder angels’ started fighting.

On one side I was getting “No need to push hard, you’ve an extra 10k done” the other saying “Stuff it, keep going”. The two of these argued back and forth for about 2k and it was only as I hit the end of the Phase I managed to shut them up.

At 8k in I stretched the legs a little as the next 8k of the plan was at Mpace. I’m sure people in the group thought I was mental, pushing on, I kept it steady though around the mid 4:30’s. Going through Kilmallock I dropped my water bottle in a bin (when empty I squish them, pop the top and stick in the back of the shorts until a bin / dropzone).

Around the corner to head back somewhere around halfway (my 20k) the HR stopped sending a signal. This was fine as I’d to run to pace. Taking a bottle from the station, over the mat, mouth rinsed, gel in (SiS this time), water sip, sip, sip. I kept going. Psychologically I was comfortable & confident in knowing what I was capable of due to the training.

I was fishing.

Throwing out a line, reeling people in steadily and passing with confidence leaving them behind me.

I struggled a little at 13-15k (23-25k) as there was a combination of turns, wind and drag. Also I was running very much on my own with no respite or body to hide behind. I did do a bit of creative slingshotting, but this was more of a mental advantage than physical.

Hitting the last water station just before the 16k mark I took my 2nd Agave#9 (check out Agave#Ireland) and another bottle of water, dropping my empty at the station. At this point one person that I’d passed came back at me. (This last 5k was to be run at 4:25/k but I’d mistakenly programed the watch to show 4:30/k.)

I let him drift off the front for a bit recognising that I’d passed him in the first half so he was running a negative split like myself, this was not just a ‘passee surge’ so I had to be careful.

Tracking him for the next kilometre, I pulled him back in from 15/20m and sat on his shoulder.

17.5k in RACE ON!!!

At 18k I stepped past him and ran off him and 2m in front. Then as we went over the bridge he went in front again. Floating down the back side of the bridge slope, I pulled steadily onto him and at 19.5k I backed myself and squeezed ahead again, gaining 5m, I drifted out to 10m and realising where I was with 1.2k to go I dug in.

Time for a haircut, methinks!

Passing straight through a group in front, sorry lads! (they were scattered across the road and I wasn’t going round the long way!)

I ran in the last km fast at 4:17 average up (8m gain) to the finish passing people all the way in.

My biggest, little fan!!

Finishing in 01:38:59 that hardest part was moving on to finish the session with 2k!!

Think I did 1.5k before necessity meant I’d to get back to the hotel, shower, change and up to #AKLimerick for an afternoons work with +Amphibian King West

+Polar training file is here. Happy to explain through comments.

Target phases.

Feet on the Street – Southill 5km (27th Sept 2013)

#Southill5k is the third in a series of races organised by Athletics Limerick at Rathkeale 4m, Analog 6k and Southill 5k.

I got to do the Analog 6k last week and clocked in a time of 25:33 which I was quite happy with as I’d only planned to jog over (4.6k) and back (4.7k!!) and observe the race, pass out flyers and be visible in the yellow & black.

As it turned out I messaged one of the T/D/M guys to see if he was up for a run, between the jigs and reels we ended up racing the event too (I was half minded to do it anyway but had a laugh as the realisation of the race dawned on him), so nice unexpected tempo session at the business end of a high volume week.

Anyway, that 25:33 put me in mind for a sub or close 20ish 5k last night.

Right up until I saw the route.

Leaving work it was only a short 1k trot around to the Southill area. Having to ask directions to the community centre from a couple of kids, to be greeted with “You’re the guy from the running shoe” served to remind me that I’m in their territory for a change & better behave myself 😀

Anyway down to the centre, met a few familiar faces, nice to be welcomed as part of the scene, I feel like a local already. Bit of chit chat, “I was in earlier”, “Any XC spikes” etc and like most times I’m like “how’s the form? feeling good?”, “you looked good on the road in Charleville” etc.

Very quickly called to the start line, little bit of briefing on the course: “out here, down there, round that, up here, over there, turn there, back here and in there” as always I’m happy enough there’ll always be someone in front of me, its the pointy ended boys that have to listen.

Sure enough, GO!! followed by scampering feet to the first left. Out there, cross the road, down the hill, around through the estate (we seemed to provide a break in the usual entertainment on the road) back out over the road and then up! Up was up at the 2k point (I’ll link the elevation in later) and I wanted to test the guy who’s heels I was on so I said, “you’re looking steady” to see his response, judge his breathing, see how deep he was in the hurt.

It took a few seconds but he was “what time you aiming for?”, I said “20ish”, him “21 and half” and then I dug in to the climb putting a couple of metres into his as we were joined by ‘Pat ya eejit’ as bystanders seemed to call him. This young lad seemed intent on wooing his audience as he ran in front of me cutting off my feet.

Only for the liklihood of a riot, he’d have got a clip in the ear.

Anyway he blew up after 30m and I pushed on. Over the top, always run over the top of a hill, around to the left and sharp right for a long downward into the wind. This is around the 2.5k – 3k mark and I start to see leaders coming back to me. As we got closer, it was not who I expected at all.

Slightly bemused I clicked off the next lad in front of me before hitting the turn back up what was a long drag with the wind behind (neutralised the effect) and backed myself to stretch out. Pushing on, I passed one more on this stretch before turning left and left again to complete the last of the hill at 4.2k by my watch.

Then came the down hill. Running downhill is not a strong point of mine but I’m getting there, so head up, arms loose, ‘fall’ down and high cadence.

Bit like the Midnight Oil song, “How do you feel now your Quads are burning?” hit the bottom and finish line fever lifts me ontot he toes and a last push. No idea what time is just that my pace was lifting through the second half and  over the line.

Very subdued finish area, and then I found out why.

Most of the front guys went wrong. A marshal was not in the right place, he didn’t realise that the race time changed from 7 to 6:45 so quite a few unhappy faces.

What it meant for me was the winning time was 20:10 and I finished 6th (4th O40) in 21:58. To put that in perspective for me the winner this week finished 2nd in the Analog 6k with 20:26. That’s how hilly the course was.

Take that, thankyou! 🙂

EDIT – to include link to +Polar training file here > Southill 5k

Rosses Point Olympic Triathlon 25th May

This is a sculpture in Rosses Point, County Sl...
This is a sculpture in Rosses Point, County Sligo Ireland, for people lost at sea. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2012 was my first year racing the Rosses Point Olympic triathlon which was back on the race calendar after a couple of seasons where the young (2008) Sligo Triathlon Club held Sprint & Olympic races to reestablish themselves after years of lying in the shadow of the legendary ‘Metalman’. At the time I remarked how wonderfully organised the event was and that I hoped the club would see this as a National Series race in the coming years. It definitely had the potential to be a great NS race.

My wife is from Rosses Point so this area is home from home for me.

Roll on 2013 and Sligo Triathlon Club are hosting  a National Series Olympic Race at ‘the Point’.

We drove up from Galway on Friday evening with the kids (being minded by Aunty Sinead) all excited about seeing their cousins and counting the number of ‘sleep-overs’ they would have. I hung a few Amphibian King banners on the balcony at the house and enjoyed a bit of banter on Twitter with @sligo_tri_club :

FireShot Screen Capture #113 - 'Twitter _ Interactions' - twitter_com_i_connect

There was to be a reasonable crowd at the event with 220 individual entries and 45 relay teams. That’s a huge number of teams (and until just now I didn’t think of the skew that this would place on results) and a big indicator in the number of people coming into our sport recently.

With the race due to start at 1pm my/our (as Edel is racing too) race morning preparations were a little bit out of sorts. The late start is on account of the tides. So up early, as usual, breakfast and then lay out the gear. Not much for an Olympic race, trisuit, wetsuit, goggles, runners, bike, helmet and bike shoes. Race-number and goodie bags I picked up at registration on the morning of the race so all sorted and ready to go.

IMG-20130525-01020

Edel dropped the kids up while I checked over the bikes & packed the gear away. We spun up the prom to transition and had a coffee at ‘Hale & Hearty’ where we bumped into a few familiar faces and make introductions to the Boards / Twitter crew. Dropping off the gear bag with friends we went out the course for a little bit of a warmup on the bike and to test the wind direction as its a big player in events around here.

Once back in transition, rack the bikes, lay out the shoes, place the helmet, elastic the bike shoes in place (need more elastics, almost out of my/our stock). I left arm warmers over the tri bars, if I needed them they were there, if not they could stay on the bars. Wetsuit on, Bodyglide and then possibly one of the most entertaining and relaxed Race Briefing I’ve ever attended!! 🙂

The swim was to be the same as usual, starting at the 2nd beach and swimming out, along the shore and back into the slip on the 1st beach. There was no warmup swim on account of safety, the water is cold, but it was an ‘in-water’ start at knee / waist depth. We were told it’s a shortened 1200m swim, but looking out at it (and having swam the course so many times last summer) it looked like it was more a middle distance swim.

2013_Oly_SwimRouteAnyhow, I was racing this sans watch so I had no indication of time as we all headed for the start line. Right down the beach and lots of people chatting about the beach run and the dreaded ramps to come later in the day. For now it was time to fill the suit, wash the face and neck with cold water and wait for the hooter.

Quick hug and kiss for Mrs and 5,4,3,2..1 off we go!!

Straight out to the first buoy. Bloody hell this water is cold!! Brrr!! Rounding the first buoy in the middle of a bunch there were a few stray arms and legs but I found clean water to the left and I sighted a line straight to the next buoy using the Yacht Club as a land mark I could quickly spot the buoy when sighting. I’m not the best swimmer in the world, but I make up for it by swimming straight! I hate drafting as where I am is usually Z-Swimmers weaving back and forth and I’d rather trust myself (and blame myself when it goes wrong)

Conditions were into a headwind, little bit of chop, some found it tough, I liked it.

Nice steady rhythm from me but as I passed buoy Nr.2 my hamstrings went PING! like guitar strings. It must be the cold because I’m not a big kicker. It was so bad, I rolled onto my back and looked for a kayak thinking this is bad 😦

A deep breath and I rolled front again, stretched out straight in the water and left my legs trailing behind. Mind over matter I ‘thought’ the cramps out of my legs by willing them to relax as I pull stroked my way back through the group that passed me whilst I floundered.

Around the last buoy and into the shallow water, seemed to be a bit of a current pushing back down the course as I needed a couple of adjustments on the way in and this would explain the swim times on the course if we were swimming into a current.

With no idea of my times, I was racing to see where I was in transition.

Disappointingly it was quite sparse (as usual) but I thought I had swam much better than normal and hoped for a few other bikes in there. Hey, ho, I’d just have more fun catching people on the bike 🙂

2013_OlyBikeRoute

As bike courses go, this is a testing little number. Simple enough, 3 loops and back into Transition. But it often looks easy on paper.

T1 was sharpish, wetsuit off, helmet on, push button on Polar power pedals, ‘Start’ on head unit, de-rack and away! (NB rear mounted bottle cage is a great bike hanger). The mounting line was a bit cluttered so around the outside and run on for 3-4 meters, flying mount and onto the shoes. One lad stuttered and started and fapped about in front of me trying to get his feet into shoes near taking me off the bike with his meandering across the road.

Transition bike tip – get up to speed and then put the feet into the shoes once you’re rolling.

Pushing down the prom there was a headwind which hit as you come around by Austies threatening unsteady front wheels then push out to Cregg where the left turn brings you up and around the rolling bit with technical turns. You really need to time your charges up the hills to get the best of the momentum then back down to the main road turning right at a well marshalled junction to hammer it all the way back to the turnabout at the top of the prom.

X3 times around the loop and then drop back into transition for a swiftish change to running shoes.

Apart from obvious drafting on the bike again (are people really that ignorant of the rules and etiquette?) one person I passed insisted on surging back up the inside of me to argue about me pulling in front of him (having completed the passing manoeuver). I advised him to cop himself on, read the rules and stop drafting off me to which he charged up the inside of the next person (after tucking his number over his belt).

T2 fairly sharpish, rack, helmet off shoes on. Feet and shoes were damp from the rain that had started so I struggled to get the feet in at first (I find talc just clumps, so need some other approach). Out of T2 and left to the ramp, down the slope and onto the beach.

2013_Oly_RunRoute

Running up the beach we had to cross the stream at 14th which on a summer day would be lovely, but not today. Cold water into the shoes, thankfully, straight back out due to the holes in the bottom of the Saucony Fastwitch 6. Up to the cone where Sheila corrected me about my number call out and off in pursuit of my wife.

This is not a nice run route. The ramp up and down to the beach is an awful steep ramp putting quite a bit of pressure on the calves so I speed walked up and ran over the top. Up to the village green and around the finish area I was into the middle of the fist 4k loop when I caught up to Edel. As this was the first time I’d managed to catch her in a race having her tell me to race on and not stop with her was weird.

Leaving her to her own race, it felt strange dropping my Mrs. but I ran on to the 2nd loop. Down the ramp again across the beach and back, the day was getting miserable. Rounding the finish area again all that was left was the 1k to transition and back to the finish line where a welcome Kinetica Protein bottle, banana and more yummy Good4U sprinkles.

Waiting for Edel to appear, shouting her on to the finish it was my chance to welcome her home for a change.

Something tells me I’ll have a tougher battle the next time though!

Great day out. Another cracking race organisation by Sligo Triathlon Club. The post race set up with cake, curry and showers is something else (I missed this as we went back to the house for warmup). Well done to all the organisers and sponsors on a great spread of food and prizes and I’ll definitely be there for cake next year!!

Any problem areas? The only criticism (constructive) is the run route, it’s a tough challenging route that’s easy to manage from a logistics point of view, but very tricky for runners to find and maintain a rhythm. Also the ramp is slippy for descents and awkward to traffic manage.

Otherwise “fandabbydosey!!”

Rosses Point Olympic 2013

Swim: 00:37:20

T1: 00:01:10

Bike: 01:15:18

T2: 00:01:20

Run: 00:48:42

Overall :02:43:49 (14th in Cat)

 

Back again in August for the Sprint distance race.