Autumn to Winter 

As my patience grows thin with injury, the winter arrives. As explained before my imbalance issues have transferred to my left side and my running has been halted almost completely. I’m back playing football and this isn’t causing pain. Lots of cycling, hopefully some kayaking and alot of strength and rehab has to be my winter plan. I will relax my running and hopefully work on technique both for the running and the bike.my running technique may be the cause of my pain if not a muscle fatigue factor. A winter in the gym awaits. I’m hugely dissappointed not to defend Sea to Summit but I would be injured for a year after it. There is always next year. I have come to the conclusion that 2016 was a bit of a racing right off. 2017 here I come! 

On the lake, relaxing and hoping some fishing may help to heal my leg! 

I decided to take part in the Mudfest run in Longford at the weekend. I knew the stop start obstacle course wouldn’t impact the injury. We took part as a team from work and it was great fun. Nice to take part in a race and not actually race, but have the craic. It was my first mud run and no doubt I would take part again. 

https://www.facebook.com/OctoberMudfest/
So my real targets on the racing scene have to focus on, The Race, in March. This is still more in the back of my mind as I plan to improve on the bike this winter. I have attached some of the science to bike coaching that I will use to improve. It will take more than one winter but no time like the present. 

Winter targets are to go from the technique of a novice to that of the truathlete or pro. The peanut shape in the link below would be an achievement. 

http://www.cyclosport.org/09-Feb-2011/training/general-fitness/pedalling-technique-and-the-wattbike.html

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My Day Arrived, Sea to Summit 2015

We woke up at 6.20am on Saturday morning, fingers crossed the bad weather was staying south. Emma quickly informed me it was dry out and the morning was suddenly more inviting. With an 8.15 race start I decided a little porridge and a banana was loads to fuel up and with a light 1.5km warm up around the block I would be good to go. Emma wasn’t starting until 9.20 but came along to support as well as my parents who had travelled up from Galway early in the morning. It was Emma’s first ever adventure race and first ever time racing on a bike.  The buzz around the start line in the Castlecourt Hotel in Westport was fantastic with the first wave in the Supreme race ready to go. I met my fellow competitors briefly, we all shook hands and before I knew it we were flying off down the street to begin the first section, a 4.5km run to our bikes.

As a background to this race I would like to mention that I never really challenged in Sea to Summit before, however recent form and formguides suggested I was in with an outside chance. No pressure at all.

I suddenly found myself out on front, running quite slowly I might mention, and not really understanding why the rest stayed behind. After the first kilometer the pace had picked up and we were in a group of about 10 runners. It was starting to feel like a race. Sometimes these long multi discipline races can be tactically tricky with some deciding to go out fast. At this point I realised everyone had their own tactics in mind and I was determined to stick to mine. In a nutshell, I would run a steady pace with the front runners to the bike, reach the mountain in the top ten, come off the mountain in top three, hang on for dear life on the cycle and try to finish stronger than recent years in the hope of a top three finish. All this in less than three hours . What would happen, well I will try and tell my story.

We reached the bikes at the quay in Westport in about 15 minutes and I left transition in second. We were quickly gobbled up by a gang of bikers. Thanks lads, this was good. I stayed at the front,swapping and changing with the top three bikes as far as the mountain. The first four on the mountain can be seen in the photo above, with me sitting in third. The rain started to fall at this point and it got really nasty for a while. It was cooling in a good way though as the mountain started to take its toll. No matter how often you go up Croagh
Patrick it is one hell of a hike. The four of us ascended in 34 minutes and I descended a bit quicker than the rest to come off the mountain in 1st place. 51.40 up and down, my own adventure race record. Now things were getting a little scary, decision time! Would I tear off and hope for the best or was Shaun Stewart only seconds behind. I looked back and there he was, this could really help us both. I knew that the Cavan club duo of Dessie and Killian were not far behind and our only chance was to work together as they would be doing the same. Adventure racing like any sort of sport includes tactics and now was a chance for me to learn from mistakes in the past.

 

Just off the reek.

I cruised and fueled up until Shaun caught up and we quickly decided to work 30 seconds on and off together and try keep pace on the lads behind. Both of us had aerobars fitted and would be of similar strength on the bike so this could just work. A passer by informed us that the others were 45 seconds back as the cycle started. Our heads bowed low, arms tucked in, our teeth gritted and off we went. We would make them work for this race, if nothing else.

The Maum hills were next and we knew if we could hold the lads off as far as the top the race was really on from there on. All hell would break loose on the descent and the final 15km would be a sprint. I thought about my watt bike training, my hours on the hills in Castlehackett and the months of training over the last year and decided it was all or nothing to the finish. The hills are the make or break part of the course. My heart rate was up but my legs were feeling good and we reached the top in about 34 minutes. No sign of the lads behind us and our interested follower informed us that Killian in third was 1.15 minutes behind with Dessie in fourth joining him.

On the final 5km of the second bike stage.

We continued to work together until about 6km from home when Shaun said he was hanging on. He tucked in behind my wheel. I knew this wasn’t a ploy to save energy for the run as he is an honest guy so I put the head down and ploughed on. We reached transition in Westport after 1.08 hours on the bike. A pretty fast bike leg when it included the Maum hills. Things were now getting very interesting. as I racked my bike I saw Dessie enter transition only seconds behind and I left transition with shaun on my heels. It was looking like a sprint finish but I was feeling as if this was a big chance. The final 4km run takes you along the seashore, up a grass track, through a car park and onto the Greenway path that leads to the finish in the town centre. 4 kilometres may sound short but for anyone that has completed this race you will understand the feeling over this section. My feet were almost frozen solid from the bike on wet roads and my legs were beginning to scream. I reached the car park and picked up the pace. There was little reaction from Shaun and I opened up a small gap. I reached the Greenway and Shaun was slipping back a little, with no sign of Dessie. Concentrate and don’t look back, you stupid idiot is all I could think. Obviuosly I used this lovely language. I opened up the gap a little more around the 2km mark and I was running under 4 minutes per kilometer. This soon fell to 4.10 per kilometer but the gap was still there. I will be honest I felt excited and scared but most of all emotional. I knew, bar a fall, I was closing in on something huge in my life. I could feel the emotion building inside me. I ignored it and said “posture, stride, quick feet, keep moving and concentrate until the line “.

At 3,5km a guy ran towards me and said I was in the last 500 metres and the rest was down hill. I stretched the legs one last time, flew down the hill, hopped a few foot paths and there was the finishing straight. There were so many people but I saw my parents straight away. I did a fist pump, followed by lots more as I crossed the line. I had done it, I had won my first adventure race. I had also broken the course record in 2.47 hours. I felt like crying but was quickly asked to do a tv interview.

I joined the folks, a proud pair, and we waited on Emma’s arrival. I was so happy for her  taking part in her first race and at this stage was dying to tell her what just happened. Within a short time Emma cruised in, beating her expected time by 20 minutes and she was over the moon. A massive thanks has to go to Emma as part of my achievement. She has encouraged every training session and every race I take part in and is a real motivation.

I have worked hard this year and I have been improving over the past 5 years but I never saw myself winning. I hoped I could get there but the competition is so strong and my knowledge of the sport really only improving because of these competitors. The main reason I have reached this goal is by looking up to all these people around me and athletes I am learning from. I hope I can continue to learn from them and improve and maybe win again in the near future. It is a real eye opener to anyone out there that is willing to put in the work. So much is possible in a short time.

Crossing the line. What a feeling.

 

Top three.

A cracking shot of transition and the mountain.

Here is the proof, a link to the results.

http://www.sportsplits.com/Home/QuickResults?clientId=74&raceId=10350&raceName=Westport+Sea+2+Summit

A massive thanks again to the crew at Sea to Summit for organising a classic event. The marshalling and support was top class the whole way around.

So what happens next? A question so many have asked me since. I say a little break and start thinking of the challenges ahead in 2016. Hopefully I can continue to improve. Things might be different now I have a win under my belt. As they say in the states, I got the W. How corny does that sound.

A Mountain in Leinster

Yes, you guessed it, it is Mount Leinster. Possibly the most original name for a mountain you will ever find.

It was really nice to venture further for the weekend just passed. We spent the weekend with some great friends in Wexford and I managed to summit Mount Leinster twice on Saturday to add in a little training while away. As you can see above the terrain is nasty with ferns, rock, bog, and almost everything thrown into one climb. The fact that there is a road to the summit on the far side means it is not really a mountain used for trekking. This made our adventure all the more exciting, well for my kind of adventuring anyhow.

The first section to the foot of the summit was runnable. In order to summit there was a very tricky steep section. As the ravens circled overhead, I got an eery feeling that they were more like vultures waiting for me to fall into a bog hole and become food for their afternoon. It was windy and cold on the top so I decided why not run along the ridge and make my way back down to tackle the mountain again. Luckily at this point I met Emma and my friends coming up and they had refreshments and water to help me. I was fully unprepared. I set off refueled back up the mountain and towards a second peak before making my way back down again.

The gang ready for off, and thanks to Declan for the great photos.

After 3 hours on the mountain I came down to heat up in the car. The descent was tough with awful ground underfoot and one or two little tumbles slowed me down. I decided best be careful with Sea to Summit only weeks away.

The past few weeks training have been good with lots of watt biking done and a few good runs in castlehackett in the mornings. I will attach the latest stats for those interested and hopefully the winter months will give me more blogging time.

https://connect.garmin.com/modern/calendar

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.

Sea to Summit Race Report 2014

The last race of a busy season finally arrived on Saturday. I was feeling good and reckoned I had all the training I could get under my belt completed. I will let the photos tell most of the story with this one so as not to bore you too much. The link below shows some of the times. Unfortunately I have upload problems with my garmin so stats are not available yet.

All in all the weather was fantastic and the crowd amazing. A total of 1700 athletes competed in the 2 races on offer. A hell of a lot of people going up and down Croagh Patrick mountain in one day.

http://www.sportsplits.com/Home/Results

http://www.sportsplits.com/Home/IndividualResult?clientId=74&raceId=10313&eventId=1&athleteId=123478

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Looking very composed before the start!

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I decided to stick with my tactic of staying close to the front but not burning out in the process. I held with the lead runners over the first 4km, completing this split in 14 minutes before hitting for the mountain on the bike. Unfortunately the lead pack lost me on the bike but I soon gathered a new chase group and was happy to stay with them until the mountain. I knew I would be able to gain some ground on this section. I felt good on the mountain both going up and coming down and was delighted to see I was the fastest athlete on the day over this section.

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Chasing pack just before the mountain.

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Heading up Croagh Patrick.

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Just at the base heading for my bike. Disaster almost struck at my bike when I couldn’t find where I had left it. Rookie mistake but thanks to Emma standing close by taking photos I was redirected and was soon on the bike ready for off.

Once again the bike section turned out to be my downfall. I lost about 8 to 9 minutes on the top three during this section. Gear, bikes, helmets and years of biking experince all come into play, along with international triathlon elete athletes in the field. I am still only learning. Hopefully I can narrow a few aspects down and shave some time off my biking in the next few years. This is also a very hilly course with some crazy steep sections zapping every last ounce of energy from legs already screaming after the mountain.

The final 4km run went alot better than previous years and I managed to gain one place during this split.

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Crossing the finish line. As always an amazing feeling. In particular it was great to see my parents and Emma cheering me across line. Even better they thought I was third, having missed a few guys cross a few minutes earlier ! A minute shaved from last years time was good and considering the quality of the field ahead of me, 8th position was very respectable.

DSCN5469

A really nice medal, a well organised event and I look forward to giving next year another whack. Thanks to the massive amount of volunteers for making this a super event in the race calender.

Race report Connemara Rough Diamond 2014

Saturday had arrived and I left my house around 8.15am to head to Letterfrack in Connemara for the start of the Connemara Rough Diamond. This was a race I had never competed in and was looking forward to the challenge. I was happy to see a few of my fellow competitors lining up at the start. The weather was breezy but fine at the start. We set off running and myself and Shaun Stewart took up the lead towards Diamond hill. An ascent of around 400metres took us around 22 minutes. The ground was mostly paved and gravel track as this is a common tourist hike. We had to shout and clap a few times to clear the tourists out of the way. Shaun started to make some headway on me around the foot of the mountain and I started to feel my lack of hill training of late may not pay off. I managed to summit in 2nd place and took off for my favourite part, the downhill run. It was very tricky with a mist now falling and the paved slabs were like ice sheets. I passed an old school mate on the way down and a big high five gave us both a laugh and a boost!

I reached transition one in 42minutes and set off on the bike a few minutes behind Shaun. An 8km road bike out to the next stage which was an obstacle course in the woods. Craziest part of any adventure race, I reckon. There were zombies jumping out from behind trees, climbing walls, balancing sections, dark tunnels and sumo wrestlers in the bog. Now thats an obstacle course!

Back on the bike and a 13.5km spin out to the beach. This cycle was mostly flat with some really fast sections so a little recovery before hitting the beach and an 8k run. I hoped off the bike , dibbed in and set off for an 8k run, not having a clue of the course ahead. I was still about 4 minutes down on Shaun but I was feeling good. I hit down the beach with a tail wind, knowing that would be different on the way back, keeping a steady 4 min 10 per km. The marshal guiding us on the beach even ran with me for a bit, in his wellies, for a bit of support. Then it was off the beach, over some rough ground, through a river or two, up a little hill, some more rough terrain and back down to another beach called Glasillaun. A run to the end of this beach, a quick dib in and then we turned to face the journey back. It became clear on the beach the difference between people. Shaun passed me about 5 minutes ahead and 3rd, 4th and 5th were all about 2 minutes behind me. I knew it was going to be tough to hold these guys off, especially the guy in third who is very strong on the bike. I left the first beach and started the rough section back. My dibber fell off a few minutes late. I stopped picked it up and hit off again but seconds later all hell broke loose as my ankle buckled under me. I thought things were over but as I got up and moved it was sore but managable. I had 3k to go on run and then it was on the bike all the way home. All I could think of at this point was Scott Jurek’s book, Eat and Run, and how he ran an ultramarathon on torn ankle ligaments. All I had to do was run 3km on a slight sprain. My pace slowed and the head wind was a killer but I made it to the bike, in quite alot of pain!

The last leg on the bike was as tough as the last 3km run had been. A strong head wind, rain and some nasty hills really took their toll. As I passed the 2 km to go sign I felt I would hold on for 2nd place. Just then I looked behind and their was Martin Flanagan, last years course winner, and winner of Sea to Summit 2013 breathing down my neck. He passed and I told him to take it home in style. I made it to transition about 30 seconds behind Martin and the last run wasn’t long enough to make up the ground. I finished some 20 seconds behind but I was delighted to be there. A podium finish feels good and to beat yourself mentally after the injury as well as a race where I had been very much alone on the course all day felt good too. All in 2 hours 53 minutes and 3rd place.

If any one is looking for a West of Ireland race this is another cracker, it has almost everything and today even the weather decided to go West of Ireland crazy.

I will get my hands on some photos and a full list of results when they are up!

Race stats !

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/600500354

Race Report, Sea to Summit 2013

 

A huge crowd gathered in the courtyard of the Castlecourt hotel in Westport. A record crowd for this race and the buzz was fantastic. A few quick photos with my girlfriend and my parents who came to give great support and we were off. The first 4-4.5km run was at a frantic pace. A pace I hadn’t experienced in this race in my 4 year’s taking part. I kept the leading pack of 5 runners in sight until we reached the bikes on the Quay in Westport. Nicely warmed up now, it was a matter of keeping a 30+km/hr speed on the short 8km bike ride to the foot of Crogh Patrick. A run/hike up to the top and down to the base is about 7km in total. I had previously logged in training as 3.63km each way. As my legs slowly started to adjust to the mountain and my calves burned less I found a nice rhythm and made the top in line with my training times. Unfortunately my dibber times haven’t been posted for the summit leg. I ran down the mountain in good time leaving my split for the mountain at 56 minutes. At this stage I had made up 7 places to be placed in 5th.Back on the bike and I was very much alone, or so I thought until a good cyclist went flying past me about 2km in. He turned out to be the eventual race winner! As I reached the foot of the Maum hills, the make or break for most people in this race, I was feeling good. I topped the Maum hills at 33 minutes for the split. The rest of cycle is fast and includes some small hills and fast downhill’s. I completed this split in 44 minutes, a little slower than I would of wished but I was tiring from the fast pace. A steady 5 km run including obstacle course brought me home in 3 hours and 4 minutes. This time would have won or at least been good enough for top 3 place of normal but there were some quality entrants this year with a winning time of 2hrs 57 minutes. All in all a great race, I left nothing out there and it’s always good to know what you need to work on and the areas that need improving. Sea to Summit 2014 here we come!  A massive thanks to the organiser’s of this event and the great encouragement from all marshals along the way. It’s amazing to have that support.

RACE WEEK

Last 5 days to Sea to Summit 2013

As time flies by, rumours of a tough field of competitors this year are spreading. I’m hoping for some great competitors as it will test me to the limit. It gives me an idea where I am after a few months tough training.

So training this week will include a run and spinning session tomorrow followed by a spin on the bike wednesday. Then it’s rest for 2 days before the race. Hydration, eating well and sleeping really well are the key for me.

http://www.westportsea2summit.ie/