Ironman Blog Catch-up …

Well, that was 4 weeks that flew by and I am not sure I feel like I achieved a lot.

After work and the degree course assignments, training was relegated to a distant 3rd.

This was the last of the base period training weeks and the 16 weeks of Ironman Training starts now (18th June).

Apologies for the lack of blogging – I’ll make sure I do the Ironman block in full (sorry!)

Week 6 weigh-in figures:

Start Weight: 115kg
Current Weight: 110.7kg
Weight lost: 4.3kg

Over the last 3 weeks I also did a lot of travelling and eating. I find it hard to eat with any kind of discipline when I’m out of my routine. I’m still slightly ahead of targets but I’m definitely not as far ahead as I was going into week 3. Hopefully a couple of well disciplined weeks will see the weight start dropping off again.

On to the training… I’m not going to write up every session of the four weeks. I’ll just do the key/interesting sessions so as not to drown you all in data…

Monday 21st May

Howth Aquathon – Race 1: I’ve entered this series of races the last 2 years and never turned up to one of them. I have a thing about swimming in cold water. It’s one of the reasons I do my Ironman races abroad. I don’t like the chilly water at all.

So I turned up and it’s one of the coldest nights of the month. Overcast, rain in the air and everyone is saying the sea is the choppiest they’ve seen it for the race in a good while. Everyone had their wetsuits on shivering away waiting to start and get even colder in the Irish Sea.

Remind me again why I turned up?

There was a few others from the club doing the race: Dave, Artiom, Tommy, Ellen and Ivan. The latter 2 were doing the long course (1000m swim / 7km run) and the rest of us the short course (500m swim, 3.5km run).

With the water quite choppy the decision was made to cut the race to a 300m swim. As I ‘warmed’ up in the sea (dipped my toes in the water) I was quite glad of the shortened course.

One the long course had finished it was the turn of the short course athletes. I was a beach start and it’s possible to walk a good way out too. It was then a short swim round the buoys before it was possible to walk again and I exited the water and jogged to transition. A quick change and I was out on the run, just behind Dave and was soon heading along the promenade and then up the hill. At the top someone commented on the new trisuits and mentioned I had the same behind. That spurred me on and as I got to the turn around point I could see Artiom and Tommy not far behind. I tried to run a bit faster in order to hold both of them off, and also to catch Dave. But it wasn’t to be. Artiom caught me as I got to the bottom of the hill and I didn’t have the speed to stay with him to the finish and Dave kicked on and I was never in contention to catch him.

All in all, despite the weather, I enjoyed it.

Swim 9:58
Transition 2:10
Run 17:47
Total 29:54 (swim and transition) (run)
Saturday 2nd June

Athy Olympic Triathlon

I’ve done Athy a few times before and it’s not a race that’s ever the highlight of my season so for the last few years I’ve given it a miss. However, the week before the race a few people were saying they had entered and so I decided I would try and get an entry. I had to join a waiting list – that sent me an entry less than 5 minutes later. One quick debit card payment later and I had an entry into the Olympic.

Graham, Gareth, Roisin and I were the only ones in the club racing the Olympic, a few others were doing the Try, Sprint and Double Olympic distance.

It was an early start (aren’t they all!) and I picked up Gareth and headed down in the van. We met up in the car park with Graham and headed down to watch the Double Olympic start and cheer Ivan off.

Once he had gone we went back to the car park and into transition to get ready for the race. Whilst we were setting up we saw Hilary heading out on the bike leg of the Try and gave her a cheer too.

It wasn’t long before we were heading to the start line and lining out for the race. We were on a rolling start so were entering the water 2 by 2 – like a reversal of Noahs ark. And just before you entered the river there was a timing mat to record your start time.

Before hand we had talked about staying near the bank heading up the river, and then moving to the centre of the river on the way downstream. Advice I promptly ignored as I swam upstream right in the middle. This wasn’t because I was stupid, but because it was congested on the outside so it just meant I had clear water.

Heading back downstream I had someone on my feet tapping my legs. I zig-zagged to try and shake them but to no avail. It was Gareth. But it meant as I got out I had someone to unzip my wetsuit.
I was still faffing around in T1 as Gareth left and was about to leave as Graham came into transition. I jumped on my bike and set about catching Gareth. It took 5-6km I think but I eventually went past him and tried to get into a rhythm. The roads weren’t great surface wise and it was a pretty undulating course so I could never get settled. Graham passed me around the 25km mark and I stuck with him for a while but as we hit another hill he left me behind.

Into T2 and a quick-ish change and out on the run. My legs felt heavy straight away and although pre-race I had hoped to beat the hour mark on the run I wasn’t sure I would be able to. The run starts with an uphill section and I was struggling to keep around the 6 min per km mark. Just after the top of the hill the watch beeped to tell me the first km was done in 5:55. I mentally noted that down as 5 seconds in the bank and carried on. 2nd km was similar and in my head I decided that was as fast as I was capable of today. But that was 10s up and a slower km allowed later in the run. As it happened I sped up in the 2nd half and finished the run in 56:56.

Times for Athy were:

Time Position (of 486)
Swim 30:09 125th
T1 4:10 383rd
Bike 1:09:20 49th
T2 3:15 342nd
Run 56:41 331st
Total 1:19:36 167th

I think my transitions need work (and my run!).

Sunday 10th June

Skerries Sprint Triathlon

Skerries was my 2nd ever triathlon 6 years ago. On that day there was the tail end of a storm and it was the worst sea swim I’ve ever done. It was reminiscent of the final scene in “The Perfect Storm”.

I wasn’t going to race it, but after Athy I decided I would do a fewe more races as I enjoyed it so much. By that time though it had sold out. Luckily I managed to get a late entry and was looking forward to the race. As I headed over with Daire and it was a little overcast and looked like it might rain. In the end it was a glorious day of sunshine.

We had registered the day before so all that was to do was get the bikes into transition and then head to the start line. There was a good turn out from the club and Daire, Graham, Gary, Eoin, Artiom, Anne-Marie F, Ger and Rachel were all doing the sprint too with Ivan in the Aquabike.

This was a beach start and as the siren sounded a couple of hundred of us headed into the water to begin the swim; a kinda reverse L-shape where you headed out to see and then headed left to exit on a headland. My sighting was good, even if my pace wasn’t – I managed to get pretty good lines and could see others way off track. I breath predominately to my right so was breathing into the waves for most of the swim. I swallowed sea water a couple of times and had to stop at one point as I started to retch.

Swim over, it was a steep enough run up to transition. I was the first of the club into T1 (small victories and all that!). Another slow transition though from and Graham was entering the transition area as I was leaving, and I knew I would have it all to do to keep him from passing me on the bike.

The bike started with a tricky technical section to exit the town and then was a two-loop effort out to Balbriggan and back. With 3 turn around points it was easy to see if if Graham was gaining on me (he was) and whether I thought I could hold him off (I did). The bike felt like it as slightly long.

I was into T2 with about 30s on Graham, but another tardy transition meant Graham was in and gone before I had my runners on. I wasn’t going to beat him on the run though, so it didn’t matter.

The run was slow and felt like a struggle – it was flat to the rugby club but I didn’t feel like I was running as well as I could. The run was short by a good bit which suited me, or I would have lost more places. I finished 71st out of 274 so well inside the top 3rd.

A quick analysis of the results shows where my weaknesses are at the moment, namely the run. There was a timing issue which I think has made my Swim slower and T1 quicker. Still work to be done on the run but it is trending faster which is encouraging.

Time Position (of 274)
Swim 16:47 105th
T1 01:14 18th
Bike 35:44 18th
T2 1:34 202nd
Run 24:20 172nd
Total 1:19:36

Monday 11th June

Howth Aquathon – Race 2:
I was working most of the day in Waterford and then had to get home, changed and out for registration. Managed it with about 15 mins to spare but sitting for 6 hours in a van during the day isn’t the best preparation for any kind of exercise. There were 3 of us from the club doing the short course; me, Ivan, Artiom and Ellen and Graham were doing the long course.

As last time there was a fair bit of walking that could be done before you needed to start swimming and I had an idea of trying to draft off Ivan. I managed to get behind him as he started swimming but before I started my swim, two slower swimmers swim across me and lost his feet – I ended up swimming most of the swim on my own but at least the water wasn’t too cold this week.

I felt good coming out of the water and jogged into transition. Another slow one putting my runners on and then I was off. I had a couple of people who left transition around the same time as me who I decided to try and stick with and I managed that ok until I hit the hill. I have to take that at my own pace, ignore the people going past me and ensure I do not overdo it. This tactic seemed to work quite well as the few people who did go past me weren’t able to push on from the top of the hill where as I was able to increase the speed and re-pass them.

Just after the half way point I saw Artiom and reckoned I had enough time in the bank to beat him this week. Ivan was well in front. From the hill onwards, I tried to up my pace and I managed to knock a few seconds of my previous run.

Another enjoyable race – and a good chance to chat afterwards.

Swim 11:23
Transition 1:42
Run 17:18
Total 30:23 (swim and transition) (run)
Saturday 16th June

Boyne Swim

I made a decision to try and swim more open water and after googling “Open water swims Ireland” the Boyne swim came up near the top.

Parking was in the railway carpark nearby and I got to sign-on just as they were closing the tent. Met up with Graham and Ivan and had a pre-race chat before we jumped on a bus to get to the start line.

None of us wore shoes so as we got off the bus and had to walk to the start across stony tarmac. The verges were covered in dog muck so it was a precarious walk to the river.

The river was cool but not that cold. A few breaststrokes and then my head was under and I was crawling. There was a current in the river so we were told to swim to the right up stream in order to avoid crossing the start line. This in the end meant I was about 100m away from the start when the hooter went to start the race.

I quickly got going and it was just a case of trying to maintain stroke rate. It was pretty uneventful as races go. I sighted ok, the water tasted brackish and there were patches in the river that were full of twigs / weeds. I was told after there were crowds on all the bridges but I never noticed. I just counted down the bridges – six, and then aimed for the finish

Sunday 17th June

Long training day planned. 2-2.5 hours easy cycle followed by an hours easy run. Then 60 minutes bike at race effort (210-20w) followed by 30 minutes race pace run (6:30 ish).

The long bike was fine. I met Gareth and Richie at the Maxol and we headed out on a loop of Summerhill, Kilcock, Kilcloon, Dunboyne and back. Nothing too hard and heart rate well under control with an average of 87. Highest heart rate was hit leaving Damastown to come home.

The first run was good too – headed out for 30 mins towards Finglas, turned round and came back. Nothing flashy, heart rate  bang on for the zone I was aiming for at 6:40 pace – 112bpm. Got back and got the turbo ready for a race pace effort. 25 mins in I felt sick so stopped and took stock. I thought I was ok so got back on the bike and went again only to have to jump off the bike to be sick after 36 mins total.

Decided then and then to call it a day. Went for a shower and went to bed. I had zero energy and think that what the problem – lack of nutrition on the bike and not enough to eat before I headed out too. Lesson hopefully learnt for next time.


Not the best few weeks from a training point of view but I’ve enjoyed getting back racing and hope to do more of it. I’ll try to blog each week as I get into the final 16 weeks which is where the Ironman training proper starts. Thanks for reading.

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