Lough Cutra Bike

Lough Cutra Bike

Monday, 31 October 2016


After Dublin 70.3 I had a week off from doing any serious training. I sat down with dad and had a good talk with a good mate Sean Conway (Fear the Turtle Tri Coaching) about the mental aspect of training/racing and different approaches to keep things as positive as possible even when negative factors are thrown your way.

This seemed to work. Eight weeks of hard training planned where it was all about quality over quantity, hitting specific times, watts and a few key events to use as a gauge. Next was to enter a big race and to see what I could do. Challenge Paguera-Mallorca stood out a brutal course suits me as I dont have the big power to needed to ride a true flat TT. Hilly run...I could just imagine the pain!
First thing was to sort my nutrition out. I seen the Challenge events were sponsored by 32Gi Sports Nutrition. So this is what I would be using during the event. I ordered enough nutrition to last my training period and race day..I must say 32gi is a game changer,awesome nutrition. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to to take their training and racing to the next level.

Training went well over the next few weeks. I was flying on the run and bike. Limited swim training with all hard efforts done at target race pace was paying off.
I did the Omagh Wheelers western hills 100miler as a gauge to see where my form was on the bike. It was 5hours of flat roads, spanish like tarmac and 25degrees….NOT!...Brutal hills, wind,rain and classic hard roads. I loved it...It was tiring but not as brutal as everyone had been making out..This had to be a good sign!

Few more weeks of hard training it was time to fly to Mallorca!

Race Report! Challenge Paguera-Mallorca
I landed the wed night before the race and my training partner form sheffield Alex aka the “basque bullet” was landing the night before the race.
Chilled out, drank loads of coffee and got used to the glorious Spanish heat! Maybe factor 50 needed on race day! The whole resort was going crazy with banners on every lamp post and shop windows! This was going to be an epic run!
Day before the race I did a morning swim,well it was more like being thrown about by the waves, small jog and my legs felt great. Happy days I thought.
Registration and race briefing complete it was pasta party time...OOOsshhhh I have never seen so much pasta!!! I literally stuffed my face.

Morning of the race.
Swim - The waves were huge!!! Professional men and woman started 7mins ahead of us. Gun went crazy dash into the warm 24degree sea, waves crashing and people being chucked all over the place. It was actually quite funny. I literally dolphin dived for 200m to stay away from the breakers as some people tried to swim straight into them (bad idea) after 200m I got into my swim and was flying passing loads of people and got into the chase swim group. I think the clear warm water and huge amount of fish i could see was taking my mind away from the chop. I exited the water in 6th place.

T1 went smooth I heard a friendly voice shouting Vamos Vamos at me. It was my mate Alex. Extra motivation! The bike was a 2 lap affair with the first 10mile of each lap pretty much climbing. I was feeling good passing a few people on the climbs, we hit a small town halfway up the first climb the crowds were immense it took the the company of mr lactic acid away! After there was a U-Turn and I could see some of the pro woman and I was taking serious amount of time out of them and also a few male pros. I thought I was flying until some of the German/Austrain Uber bikers past me they were gone in a flash. The guy in my AG passed me about 30 mile in, I tried to stay with him but the effort would have killed my legs for the run. A half marathon is a long and lonely place when already blown.
I was sure to take on plenty of 23gi energy drink and gels as I knew the run was going to be a hot and hard affair. 2nd lap of the bike was a great confidence booster as I was passing some pro athletes and held my own with some of the top AG guys in europe.

T2 was immense the beats pumping..for a second I thought i was in Sallys nightclub! Into the transition tent the lovely spanish lady helping me with my shoes and socks informed me I was 2nd! 2nd seriously?? I knew i was flying but not like this!! When i heard this I thought its going to take a beast to take away this position from me.
My plan on the run was to run steady at 6.10min mile pace but when i jogged the course i knew i had to knock back to 6.20 pace as there was a 1.5km drag and we had to do it 4 times so it would have been crazy to try and run at that pace. My run has always been a strong point and it was no different today i passed a crazy amount to people who had got caught up in other peoples race! Always stick to your own race plan!!!!!!!!
My mate was yelling 2nd place keep pushing...vamos vamos vamos!!! I knew 3rd place Italian guy was running 1h18min half-marathon pace which is rapid after such a brutal bike. It was nice passing some male professionals it was good for the head and took away from my quads screaming!! With 3km to go there was an out and back and i seen the Italian dude flying I thought to myself “this is going to be the most painful 3km of my life but suck it up and go with him”. He caught up with me and I went with him. We were flying sub 5.50mile pace. He knew to put in a burst of pace to get rid of me. For 1.5km i have never suffered so bad and the heat was getting to me. With 1.5km to go my legs popped! I seen my 2nd place disappear up the road..it was survival mode and a proper sufferfest. I thought to myself how many times have i suffered around the lough in loughmacrory (my fav training location)..I actually ran one of my fastest miles when I was suffering the most a bit positive looking back at the race.
I crossed the line 3rd place AG!! Relief. That was epic I thought.

IMet up with my mate Alex and took a few minutes to recover from my effort. I couldnt walk after sitting down my glutes were like concrete. I think Alex had a good laugh at that.
It was pizza, burger and beer time!!
Prize Giving was great crowds were massive I couldnt believe I was stepping on the podium after such a poor year. I kept positive and worked hard and eventually it payed off. I believe it was a number of things that helped me achieve the podium were changing training to quality sessions and changing my nutrition plan.
A great race in a great location. It was nice to meet new people from different countries and share our race stories.

I hope the race report wasnt to boring and you enjoyed it. Next up for me is 2 weeks of chill time and then back at it.
My main races for next year will be the Challenge World Championships in Slovakia, Ironman Dublin and UK 70.3, Irish MIddle distance championships and Challenge Paguera-Mallorca with a few lower key domestic races thrown in for some top end training.
Thanks again for reading. Happy training people!!

Sunday, 30 October 2016

First in a wile!

I think it has been over a year since I last blogged...il do a whizz through of what I have been up to over the past year. Hope its not to boring..

Last year winter went awesome I was getting serious training done and had massively improved on the bike. This was due to the sunday morning sessions with a great club Omagh Wheelers racing group (a bunch or seriously strong guys who can dish out serious pain). The craic here was always 90 even when the irish winter decided to bucket down on us and great us with gale force winds. I say the craic was 90 MOST of the time but when we hit the gentle bump in the road Sion Finn Mountain the craic suddenly dropped to -10. Usually a result of Mr Stevie McKenna putting on the hurt! Always a great session and looking forward to the same sessions this winter!

Aw the swim the glorious swim...Here i decided to just swim 3 times a week with a max of 3.5km each session. In my opinion people get to caught up on the swim. I decided to work harder on the bike and run and gain more time here. To really improve massively I believe you need a good swim analysis and a coach on poolside at nearly all sessions. I have seen people get a swim analysis then sent away to work on specific points on their stroke for 3 weeks or so. The swim being so technical you need constant feedback (coach on poolside). If you dont have a swim coach present where does the feedback come from and how do you know you are improving your stroke? . In my opinion if your a good enough swimmer in your age group work harder on the bike and run to gain back them few seconds lost in the swim. Dont bog yourself down with the swim!

My running took care of itself. I have been running for a long time now and know what works for me and what sessions get me in shape pretty quick.

After winter i did the Tour of the North tour race…..It was a disaster....You dont understand how strong some of them guys are until you have raced against them. The wheelers team did a great job #savages and the support was first class. We lived like pro cyclists for four days.

BOOM! Niggle…..Injury…...niggle...injury….This was the story for the next few months!!

One month of consistent training under my belt I entered Belfast titanic triathlon.
Swim - Out in 5th place.
Bike - 5 mile in I was leading...kept the head down and pushed the pace. Look behind me at a few points..bloody drafter glued to my rear wheel. A few polite words exchanged for him to please leave my wheel didnt seem to help. #draftingsuck
Run - First out onto run. See ye later ye drafter ye..4 lap run..people telling me I was leading by a big margin. Last lap people were shouting to me I had a huge gap. Slow down and enjoy the glory I thought.
Finish line - 1st place I thought!!!!! What? European age group champion was in wave 2! I didnt know this. Sadly he was getting time checks on the run and beat me by 6 seconds….I have never been so mad after a race!! But It was my fault not checking the race entry list.
Took the positives from the race in that my run was top notch and i had taken 2nd in a pretty prestigious race.

DAM them bloody niggles!!!They were back in style! At this point I had already entered Ironman Dublin 70.3.
After a bumpy period of preparation I took to the starting line. I would give it a rip and hoped the legs showed up. Looking back my head wasnt in it as I knew my preparation hadnt been great but aw well time to see what I could do.
Swim - Went well felt good and we were blessed with sea that looked glass!
Bike - Dam where are my legs!! The first thought that entered my head!! That was pretty much the story for the whole bike!
Run - Woop! My legs are back!! Running 6 min/ 6.10min mile pace feeling good, i decided to miss a gel and power through. I payed for that as the last 5km felt like 25km. It was good to see the finishing line.
Overall a poor performance. But a lot of positives taken from Dublin in that I can still run fast even on tired legs. Also my Achilles heal was my nutrition plan which i must get right, if i had not been racing as a pro I would have won my age group, and most importantly i enjoyed every bit of it in a strange kind of way.
Awesome race and a must do to anyone looking a great Half Ironman race.

It was great to head back to the finish line and see everyone finishing. I have so much respect to those people still going after 6/7hours of racing!!

After dublin things began to look good but I will include this in my next  blog.
Thanks for reading guys hope it wasnt boring. Look forward to a more positive blog in the next few days.


Monday, 15 June 2015

Firmus Energy City of Derry Triathlon Race Report.

This race was entered as a training session to help me nail transitions for the Irish Middle distance championship which is only three weeks away and to get an hour of top end speed. I believe no matter how much transition practice you do on your own it won’t compare to the real thing when your heart rate is sky high and your competition are surrounding you in a real life situation. The race’s timing was perfect, the last Sunday of my big two week training block. I knew going into this race that it was going to be a suffer fest with having completed two hard weeks consisting of over 22 hours of training each week. I had prepared to suffer and that’s what happened!
The race starting time was 8.15am so it was up at 5am, the porridge ritual done and dusted. Mum, dad and I made the trip to Derry. I love racing in Derry and I’m sure other people agree that they always have a great atmosphere and the best crowds which make it a great racing experience. After registration and chatting to my Omagh club mates it was time to rack the bikes. With the Firmus Energy City of Derry Triathlon being awarded National Series status I knew there would be some big hitters here and I wasn’t wrong. In transition I saw my main competition, Commonwealth games triathlete Harry Speers, last year’s winner Neville O Neill, local favourite Danny Quigley and European Half Ironman Age group medallist Mark Diamond.
It was time to get the wetsuit on and head to the swim start. With my dry land warm up completed we were counted into the water. I was pleasantly surprised that the Foyle wasn’t too chilly but it was certainly murky and salty.
5, 4, 3, 2, 1 GO we were off. I have never been in a swim like it except for the world championships in 2013. A washing machine was the only way I can describe it. Getting dunked a few times definitely gets the heart and respiratory rate up.  It makes it more fun!! From the first stroke I felt sluggish and slow but I tried to get into a rhythm with my stroke but by that time we hit the first buoy. I said to myself “This is going to be like a boxing match,” I wasn’t wrong. It was crazy! Finally after 500m I got clear water and began to get my rhythm but by that time there was only 250m to go and I was dropped by the first group. I then just mentally prepared myself for my first transition. Out of the water and on the run to transition mum shouted to me I was 8th out of the water.  This meant I was going to have to push the bike.

Wetsuit off, helmet on and away I went, flying mount, feet slipped into my bike shoes. Perfect!!! It was time to push the first lap of the bike. The bike route consisted of a two lap circuit taking us under the Craigavon Bridge then up over the Foyle Bridge and back to the start. Straight away my legs felt sluggish but I had prepared for this and knew it was going to be hard. I kept my cadence around 90 put my head down and tried to push hard. After exiting the Craigavon Bridge I hit the long uphill drag and of course there was a lovely headwind thrown in for good measure! Exactly what I needed, It hurt I assure you. Within 4mile I had passed everyone except Harry who was further up the road setting a blistering pace. After the first lap and enjoying the high speed downhill section I was told by Omagh supporters I was sitting second. Onto the second lap I was concentrating on holding off Neville as I knew he would be pushing hard on the bike. Second lap of the bike was pretty uneventful except for my legs feeling heavy. With one mile to go I was caught by Neville and knew this was going to be a hard run. Feet out and resting on top of my bike shoes dismount done, bike racked, racers on. It was suffer time!
My legs were really feeling the weeks’ training and felt like I was carrying a backpack of lead. At this stage Neville and I were running shoulder to shoulder and he was pushing hard. I thought “Hang in there”. After the first 1k my legs started to feel ok so I decided to push. Nothing, no response! We ran together over the Peace Bridge which was pretty difficult. Before the turn around we met Harry and he was flying. As we reached the turn around point I thought push it and see how the legs like it. Finally my legs responded and I was able to edge a small gap. I know Neville is seriously strong and a great athlete and he wouldn’t give up second place easily.  Time to suffer again! Mental strength now came into play. There was an incline leading back up to the peace bridge and I pushed here again and I seemed to open up a gap. It was painful, my quads and lungs screaming!!!! After the peace bridge the crowds were amazing shouts and cheers of encouragement were well appreciated. This is one of the great attractions of this race. Roll on an ITU race. Two hundred metres to the finish I was really hurting but managed kept the pace up. YES the finish line. 2nd place secured with Neville only a few seconds behind in 3rd. I must say “Thanks for the pain Neville”. Harry had taken 1st place and deserved it he was on fire and set a crazy pace up front from the gun.

The best bit was to come; the podium, it was great to be on the podium with two great athletes. champagne provided we cracked it open, completed the traditional triathlon champagne spray. Some may say it’s a waste of champagne but its great fun! It was great to be on the podium and achieve the goal I had set myself before the race, of making the podium. 

 After the race it was brilliant meeting with all the athletes and swapping stories of how our day’s racing went.
I want to say a huge thanks Northwest Triathlon Club and Firmus Energy for producing one of the best triathlons I have ever taken part in. It has to be one of the best courses in Ireland and I’m sure it won’t be long until the ITU come knocking to bring a race to Derry.
To all my Omagh club mates, well done. It was fantastic racing by all and it was evident of what a great club we have here in Omagh; the support shown for each other was immense.
Finally a huge thanks to Peter Jones and the guys at Lakeland Bikes for the support of the disc wheel and getting my bike race ready. It’s much appreciated guys and thanks again.
For me now it’s a recovery week and then a week and a half of hard half Ironman specific training before the taper starts for the Irish Championships.
 Congrats to all who took part in the weekends triathlon. Thanks for reading guys and happy training!

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Race report. Lough Cutra middle distance.

I was happy at how the winter had gone as previously mentioned but I now had my final physiotherapy 8 week placement looming. I knew training would have to take a back seat as triathlon doesn’t pay the bills sadly. I sat down with “the punisher” to chat about a way to structure my training over the placement period. I was on placement on Intensive care and a high dependency unit and knew I would be pretty busy during the day. We decided to go down the route of quality over quantity sessions. All the session throughout the week had a purpose. Specific watts to hit on the bike, heart rates and times to hit on the run and specific swim sets from the masters group and a big emphasis on recovery and sleep. I didn’t argue with the sleep bit.
Four weeks into placement I had a week of for Easter so I decided to pop home and try and find a race to give the legs a good burn out and keep the motivation up. Decided to do one of the Lisburn duathlon series. 1st place and probably the easiest win I will ever have. That was a good sign. Week over, back to placement and back to routine. I was glad to finish placement and happy to get a first, the hard work was all worth wile. No exams until 22nd June. Get in!! Flew back home that weekend. Nothing beats mums cooking! Roe valley triathlon the same weekend. 2nd place felt awful had a disaster of a swim but happy to post the fastest bike/run splits for having tired legs.
Two weeks past and it was time for the big one. Lough Cutra Half Ironman distance. I chose this race as it was part of the Castle Triathlon series which is the best series of triathlons in Ireland, UK and France. Another reason was that the field would be stacked and I wasn’t wrong. Irelands top long distance professional was racing along with a few elites from England and further afield. This would be a test but I believe racing the best makes you better.
The day before the race started with a simple 10 minute spin on the bike. My beloved Felt DA1 was feeling fast. Car packed. You think we were going away for a two week holiday with the amount of lycra and kit needed for 70 odd miles of racing. Arrived at the race venue to register. The place was a hive of activity. Swim course and transition checked, then it was the traditional pre-race pasta dinner. In bed for 9.30. I never seem to sleep the night before a race but dad in the bed next to me didn’t help matters with his fog horn snoring. At least I know he still has a good set of lungs!
Alarm went off at 5.45am porridge scoffed, car packed once again. We arrived at the race venue, I have never seen so many compression socks!! Bike set up, 10 minute jog, wet suit on and then to race briefing. Everything was pretty standard at the briefing, then it was time to enter the water a lovey tropical 12 degrees!
10 minute steady swimming followed by 10 x 10m hard swimming. Heart rate was up and ready to rock. 5 4 3 2 1 starting horn goes off.
The first 100m was the typical crazy sprint start. I went of hard and had clear water but I missed the lead pack of 3 swimmers. I kept the pace high to 700m I was then joined by two others I tucked in and got a nice draft following bubbles from the front swimmer until the 1700m mark. The last 200m it was time to start kicking a little harder to get the blood back into the legs I found myself exiting the water in 4th place. 200m run to transition wetsuit of, helmet on and go!

 Had a great transition and was out on the bike course 4th. Time to put down some power. The first 1km of the bike was in the castle grounds I approached the right hand turn out to the main road Mr headwind hit me. After 10km I caught one guy, the head wind was obviously causing havoc to some of the weaker cyclists. 45km of headwind hell covered. All I could think was keep aero, watch the watts, nutrition and cadence! I like to keep my bike cadence around 90 rpm as it helps save the legs for the run. Around 46km I hit corkscrew hill. It was a great hill with nice switchbacks, as climbing is the strongest aspect of my cycling I pushed hard to try and chip away some time on 2nd place. The next few kms were pretty lonely I never saw anyone but new I was sitting 3rd so that provided the motivation to keep pushing. At 70k a polish guy with a disc wheel passed me I went with him but after 5km my watts were edging up to a level that would affect my run so I let him go. 85km one of the English Uber bikers also with a disc wheel passed me I also let him go as well. A very tough 90km with brutal headwinds was going to make this an interesting run I thought to myself. 

Into the castle grounds, slipped my feet out and rested on top of the shoes, dismount perfect! Awesome I thought my legs feel great, bike racked, racers on, isogels grabbed and boom it was run time. The run consisted of three 7km loops on brutal trails which were energy zapping! After the first 1000m I passed the English uber biker, I was sitting in third, every 2.5km it was water, 5km an isogel I needed to keep on top of the nutrition as the temperature had increased. I was keeping a close eye on my heart rate also and not allowing it to creep over a certain level. The first two laps went by pretty quick and I was making some inroads to the 3rd placed athlete. One more 7km to go!! At the 5km to go mark it started to get really tough the surface now taking its toll on my legs, I said to myself suck up the pain and suffer for 5km its only 5km! Glutes and Hamstrings crying and cramp edging closer I came onto the last 1km. The crowds were great and definitely helped numb the pain, finishing line in sight, I heard the voice of Irish triathlon Peter Jack announce my name and 4th place. 4th place dam I missed the podium!

As soon as I finished I downed a can of cold coke.Coke never tasted so good! Stumbled to dad who was super happy with my result. I was slightly disappointed finishing 4th and not making the podium. Looking back it was a good result in an elite field and it has certainly improved my confidence for the Irish championships in July.
 Later that day I was told that if I had used a disc wheel I may have saved up to 4 minutes on the bike leg. If any bike shops or wheel producers reading this and you fancy supporting me this season don’t hesitate to contact me :-D
Hope you enjoyed the race report.