Gaelforce Dublin Report

Race start
Gaelforce Dublin start

It had been almost a year since ‘The Race’ in Donegal. Hard to believe it and even harder to believe, despite all the races and events I hadn’t taken part in a multi sport race since. My training certainly wasn’t race specific and with Donadea 50k still in the legs I knew I was in for a slog. There was no prior warning as to what the Dublin hills are like though! Nasty little buggers!

I knew the field of athletes was strong and that it would be quick from the off. This would be the case throughout. I arrived to registration with Lisa, my sister as support and met up with some more guys from the West as well as a few well known racers from the last few years. My friend Dave was taking part in his first ever multi sport race and had used a training plan of mine to train up. I had everything crossed for him in hope he would enjoy it and do well.

The start was at 9.30 on the dot, all extremely well organised by the gaelforce crew. They were excellent throughout. We sprinted around the first kilometre and I hoped to hang on to the lead group as we headed out on the bike. It was soon everyone for themselves as the hills came thick and fast. The hills turned into farm tracks and there was no option but to run with the bike or be certain of a puncture. I was sitting in about 6th at this point, only about 7k into the race but almost all at close to max heart rate. The hills continued with a brief fast downhill section after out second off-road section which was nicely flooded in parts. I realised now how much I missed these adventure type races. Mud from head to toe!

Following a fast downhill we turned into the entrance for the reservoir and reached the bike drop before a short kilometre run to the kayaks. I was up to fourth at this stage and sitting on thirds tail. Here I would stay around the loop on the reservoir before exiting the kayak with a completely numb ass. The water was an icy 2degrees and the sit on top kayaks take plenty on board. It must of been 2k into the run before I had any feeling back in the glutes!

Almost at the end of mountain run section.

I settled into the run, briefly moving into 3rd place but realising I had very little in the legs. I felt like I had about 30km ran and legs would only go one pace. I ran the uphill with Matt who was doing, The Race, in a few weeks and was keen to hear all about it, between breaths that was. We climbed for 2km running slowly but steadily as well. The leaders were about 3 minutes ahead by the time we turned to descend back towards the reservoir and the final bike stage. I felt better on the downhill and was delighted to see Dave was cruising around the top 40 and we high fived as I flaked down the hill. Matt was strong and left me for dead on the run, proving I had little in me. I managed to put in a decent effort on the final bike. It included a nasty long climb, literally lung busting all the way, in and out if the saddle the whole time. Following this was a wicked descent, which I was loving until I came into a bad bend too quickly. Slow motion took over as my back wheel lost traction. I ended up slowimg a bit but not enough and before I knew it myself and the bike were somewhere between a barb wire fence and a big tree. My right calf muscle instantly cramped and I let a roar of annoyance out of me. All very good language of course. I hopped back on knowing any ground I made up was now gone and it was a matter of holding 4th to the finish. I flew down into Tallaght and the finish, broke two red lights, clipped a guard that was marshalling a roundabout and bombed down the home straight happy to know the finish was close. I dropped the bike and ran around Shamrock Rovers home ground to finish the 49km course in 2 hours 31 minutes. A happy chappy.

Dave finished in 43rd overall, a phenomenal effort for a first timer and even though he wasn’t ready to hear it, I told him he had a future at this malarchy !!

Thanks to all involved in the organising of the event and to Lisa for her top support as always.

Next up is Transvulcania in May. There will be plenty challenges and training days before then!

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Stormy Run

Unfortunately I had no camera as only an underwater one would work tonight. I couldn’t listen to the storm any more and just had to stretch the legs. I threw on the running gear in layers, adding a high vis gilet and off I went in storm Desmond. A red alert was out for the west telling us to stay indoors. I knew if I stuck to the streets and returned via the prom I would avoid the headwind for a certain amount of the spin.

All I can say is, next time there is a storm and you are on safe enough ground, go for it. I did a 10km loop and have rarely enjoyed a run as much. I had the streets to myself , never saw a single person on the prom and hit some crazy pace on the last 3km with a tailwind. The first few kilometres were fine trotting around the streets before hitting a head wind and teaming rain for the next few kilometres. This was fun as it wasn’t cold and my gear was great. Road running or not I swear by the Salomon s-lab fell runners I have in slippy wet conditions. They are nice cruising machines !

The last few kilometres were crazy. I sped along with a tailwind lifting me every now and then. No doubt the strongest wind I’ve ever experienced while running. I knew however that the tide was out so the prom was safe for a while.

These are the runs where that extra effort is so worthwhile. The rain is gone tomorrow for part of the day so more running might just be a plan. Maybe time to hit the hills.

 

Killarney Adventure Race 2015

So it is Wednesday, the week after the race and I am finally coming around to saying a few words.  Before I begin all the info on results and pictures can be found here at http://killarneyadventurerace.com/ and on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/KillarneyAR?fref=ts.

I might actually start this one from the end and explain how things went wrong on the day. Let me say first of all that it was an amazing race and the organization was top class. That was until one man made one hell of a mistake!

In the weeks leading up to this race I had trained hard, raced well and ate as healthily as I could, therefore when one mistake by a marshall ruins a great chance of a good result it can be hard to take. As it was my first time of really having a chance to be in top three on a regular basis or maybe even win, it hit me hard when all fell apart last Saturday.

Our little group on the cycle ( I’m there in the middle, red shoes!)

After a great 7km hill run on strickeen hill to start I found myself in the chasing pack for the cycle. The cycle was tough but I found myself enjoying the downhills more than ever and the uphills really felt ok. The views through the fog and early morning mist were fantastic with the odd flock of sheep doing their best to derail a few cyclists. A group of four of us chased the top three coming to the end of the bike stage and I was exactly where I wanted to be. I knew the run would sort out the final positions. An 18km mountain run up and down Mangerton mountain. At the 5km mark in the run things all went wrong, I had just moved into 3rd place when my stomach started to give me trouble. A quick toilet break and a drop to 5th place was no problem, the main problem would be around the corner at the bottom of the hill. As I rounded the corner I was met by the top 4 lads running back towards me explaining we had been marshalled in the wrong direction. We ran back up the trail meeting all the top 15 athletes coming down towards us. We gathered in a group and decided the race was over as a contest. Some had done 4 km more than others and down a hill to add to that. We all decided to finish the course and not to dib in at the finish line. We carried on up Mangerton and back down again. Considering everyone was so dissapointed, be it that they were in with a winning chance, a chance of a PB, or a chance of good adventure series points, there was still some great stories, craic and fun as we plodded our way to the finish. Personally the run and cycle home was tough as the adrenalin and motivation that was driving me on had disappeared.

I crossed the line after 4 hours of racing and to be totally honest I haven’t felt so deflated in years. A total anti climax to what could of been a complete opposite feeling. These things happen though, and I think these events make you stronger and mentally fitter in many ways.

http://www.irishexaminer.com/video/sport/video-record-numbers-of-2500-take-on-killarney-adventure-race-357812.html

A nice shot of the kayak stage on Muckross Lake.

Next up is Sea to Summit in November and I’m looking to bring my time down and possibly break the 3 hour mark for the first time in this race.

Backcountry, Bears and bugs

The past week has been eventful. We have hiked mountains, ran down mountains, jumped over bear scat, and seen some amazing views. Everywhere you look in British Columbia there is a view to remember.   The trip to Canada has been fantastic so far. Apart from a little change in what I eat and drink which effects training I have enjoyed fitting my runs in around holidays. It is of course so important to let the hair  down and enjoy holidays, having some beer, etc. I am lucky that my favourite hobbies fit nicely into most holidays as well. We hiked a few peaks in Garibaldi provincial park, near whistler over the past few days and before that Cypress mountain near Vancouver. Here is a little idea of the terrain. 

  
This is a typical British Columbia trail. The next trip was some camping near Whistler and this took us up to lakes and mountains in Garibaldi area. 

   

 Not a bad view at all! 

I found a Salomon shop on my travels too, time to maybe retire the old ones!  

 
These guys are very popular on the trail, not for the squeamish if you step on one ! 

  
So 9 days left of this epic trip. I hope I have some nice posts and photos before the end. 

Grouse grind, Dam and Little Goat

Another fun day running and hiking today. I completed the famous Grouse Grind climb, over 2800 steps. I am told my time of 35.52 minutes was very respectable! I carried on hiking to Dam Mountain and Little Goat Mountain before dragging my weary legs home. It was considerably hotter today as well so I am feeling it this evening. The views were amazing throughout and even though the recent forest fires have left a smoky sky, I really enjoyed the wilderness of British Columbia once more.  

    

  

 

I also met this guy, however he is in an enclosure. I don’t like to see animals in  pens but I heard these guys were rescued while injured so I felt better then. 

  

 https://www.grousemountain.com/grousegrind

If you are ever in the Vancouver area check this out. A lung buster. 

Never say Never 

To those of you out there yet to run a mile, check out this ladies achievement at the age of 71! Class!! 

http://www.runnersworld.com/general-interest/70-year-old-woman-steals-the-western-states-show​

On another note I found a new local run here along the coast and even managed to call in to my parents on the way past. It’s always nice to run somewhere new close to home. As you can see in picture below, we have some nice wild areas right on our doorstep in Galway. 

 

I saw a nice sight at work yesterday too! For those mink haters out there, they do a lot of damage to wildlife but I must say they are a great species to survive and have become part of nature in our country in the past 15 years. 

  
Next post will be from Vancouver , Canada! 

Training Kicks Into Gear

Last week was another week away with work on a training course so I only managed two runs during the week and a short spin on bike on saturday along with a soccer tournament during the day. I continue to do a few hours yoga every week also, and I have to say I am feeling the benifits. It was probably the perfect rest week, in terms of physical rest anyhow, and I have launched myself back into hard training this week. The only problem is I don’t really have a goal race. I am planning a big holiday in July to Canada and that means my races in June will have to take a back seat. The cost and time involved in races in Kerry and Donegal would leave me with very little cash or time for work leading up to my trip. This all means the chance to try a few local races in the coming weeks and I plan to try a few 10 k races as well as a half marathon in June all going well. Anyhow that is the news, however boring it may be.

I really believe in the motivating factor of an event or goal and if I slacken off while the going is good it will only leave me with a lot of work to do when I return from Canada. The advice I have received from experienced adventure racers is to always have a goal race, and maintain focus on that race in training.

I went for a 45km spin on bike today, mainly to try out my new aerobars, the cheap ones, and I have to say they were excellent, especially when battling into the wind.  I threw in a 6.5km trail run in the middle to make the most of my day off work. After a 17.5km progression run yesterday it has been a good start to the week. A progression run for anyone wondering is a run where you gradually increase the pace and finish as strong as you can. A good indicator for race day really.

Right time to go here and stop my wandering post, the cats are looking for some food !

https://connect.garmin.com/calendar

Connemara Adventure Challenge 2015 Race Report

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Myself and two work mates, Liam and Miko after race !

It was my 4th year in a row taking on this race and I have to say it was the most enjoyable today! A huge factor in this was of course the weather which was perfect for racing with little or no wind for the majority of the route.

The atmosphere at the start was a little quiet with most people not really knowing what lay ahead, including myself for some of race as the first run was changed. The first 4km was to be on the road before heading off trail and this would mean a really fast start. I wasn’t wrong about this as we headed off downhill from the startline and the first few kilometres were all around the 3.10 to 3.25 min/km. The views along the road were amazing of Killary fjord and apparently a few dolphins even waved as we passed by, however, being focused on running I missed that!

We turned onto the trail and the real race started. Soon I was at the front with two fellow racers and as it would turn out it would be a battle all the way to the line between the three of us. The trail joined the Western Way after some tricky ups and downs and a brief encounter with two sprinting lambs! The Lambs decided it was the best thing that had happened to them, ever, to see these guys running passed and started to race us. Unfortunately for them they forgot the number one rule in racing “look where you are going” They both managed to faceplant straight into a fence and the last I saw they were picking themselves up a little groggy!!

After a slog through some boggy ground, around the 10km mark we dibbed in and turned to climb the short but steep mountain. This was alot easier than previous years, mostly down to the training I have being doing of late, as well as the ground being somewhat dryer. I descended the mountain at a good pace and at the bikes we were all still within 100 metres of eachother. At this point one of the guys made up alot of ground on the off road section. I opted for the racer this year but I’m not sure it is of any great benefit in this race. After 9km of offroad hammering it was onto the main road for another 8km of roadbiking. At bike transition I was in second.

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A 1km sprint to the kayaks was next. This was tricky across bog with the legs refusing to change back to running muscles after the bike.

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Kayak stage, that’s me in the blue one.

I reached the kayak and set off across Killary Fjord. I was passed by guy behind me at the turning point half way and my body was starting to struggle. I hit the bank and started the last 1.5km back to the finish. At this point I encountered the guy who had been in the lead throughout and he was suffering from severe cramp. I really felt for him as he had a great race. I knew I had a chance to catch the guy ahead but in just over a kilometre I ran out of ground and crossed the line in second place. I was greeted by my parents who had so nicely come out to support and it was amazing to see them cheering me across the line. All in all 2.02 hours and 32km, so happy out.

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Almost there !

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Number one fans !!

Provisional results below and a few photos to follow.

http://gaelforceevents.com/upload/content/RESULTS/ResultsConnemaraAdventureChallenge2015.pdf

A Real West of Ireland Day

After an amazing week of weather things turned nasty just as I set my sights on the mountains. I woke up yesterday morning to a gale force wind, extreme cold for April and showers that would cut you in two! In saying this I had a plan and I would stick to it. I drove to my uncles place in Oughterard and would cycle from there to Corkog Mountain, leg it up and down the mountain and cycle back. Sounds a breee doesn’t it !

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A passing shower up top

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Top of Corkog Mountain

I set off into a strong wind and battled the 22km to the base of the mountain in 50 minutes. It was a draining spin to start the day. I only encountered two hail showers enroute so all in all I couldnt complain. I had my energy bars, a banana, mobile, PLB (personal locator beacon), some gels and water all in the bag, so I was ready for a nice climb on a mountain I knew pretty well from a few previous trips. The climb to the top took me 26 minutes, a total of 1.9km of ascent. At times I was on my hands and knees with a very steep ascent. As I reached the top I looked forward to a little rest in the shelter of some rocks, where I took the photos above, but unfortunately a little snow shower hindered my lunch break. The joys of Ireland in springtime.

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The rest of the hike/run was on terrain like above (this is the back of Corkog). It was extremely wet under foot with some very technical running on rock and slippy ground, not to mention a steep descent for the first few hundred metres. As I reached the base it was still 6.5 kilometres back to the bike over pure bog. I dragged myself around enjoying a very strong tail wind and I even tried, unsuccessfully to race a few mountain sheep at one point!

I arrived back to the bike 1 hour and 14 minutes since the ascent began. A little more fuel onboard to get me home and off I went. The spin back was wind assissted and I took over ten minutes off my time into the wind on the way. I travelled along a piece of the Connemarathon route on my way and hope this event went really well today for all those taking part.

I arrived home in time to see Arsenal secure their 8th consecutive win in the league, so all round a pretty successful day. My match was called off today so I’m having a welcomed days rest.

On the bike

Due to my annoying ankle I decided to do minimal running the last few days and do some decent work on the bike. I think things are going to plan and I am starting to enjoy the bike a bit again. All tri-athletes and adventure racers tend to have a sport they enjoy more than the others. For me it is running and I have always needed to work more at the bike while maintaining all round fitness to plod my way through the kayaking. My advice when you are struggling with a discipline is to try to change up the training a lot. A good example of this is to go for a long slow cycle, then a short fast one, and the next session hit the gym for a bit of spinning. The worst thing with hard training is monotony therefore variation is key. I have attached the link to my recent training sessions. Unfortunately my garmin seems to be constantly acting up so I am down to manual imput. A lot less exciting if you like your stats!

http://connect.garmin.com/calendar

I have a couple of races lined up over the next few months. mostly sticking to running and mountain races for pre season. Here are a few links to these events.

Annacurra mountain run, Wicklow

https://www.imra.ie/events/view/id/1220

Gaelforce Sky Run

http://gaelforceevents.com/en/gaelforce-mountain-run

Wicklow way trail

https://www.imra.ie/events/view/id/1222