Seven months into 2015 and I’m happy with my year so far. 16 races done across several disciplines – from cross country and duathlons over the colder winter/spring months, then moving onto road races, adventures races and triathlons. I’ve had some great results – 2nd in Blackstairs Adventure Race, 1st team in Wicklow Way Relay, 2nd in Golden Gate Half Marathon, 5th in Dingle Adventure Race as well as solid times in National 10km, National Duathlon Championships, Cross Country, European Duathlon Championships, Docklands 5km.
New races have included Ballycotton 10 mile, Carlow & Carrick Tris, as well as beginning my coaching and officiating career by helping out at a junior day in Youghal, plus several training sessions with Belpark and Rathfarnham. I’ve also becomes an “official” –donning a striped black & white shirt as a Technical Official at Balbriggan and Pulse Aquathons. Plus I’ve been a race marshal and organiser for our club duathlon in the Phoenix Park. All of these have been really rewarding – it’s satisfying to give something back to the sport – it makes you realise nothing “just happens” – people make it happen.
Signs of Progress
So have I improved? Well, being harsh – my road PBs for 5km, 10km, 10 mile and half marathon haven’t been broken this year. It’s 2-3 years since I set the mark in most of those. I’ve come close: 24 seconds off 57:10 in Ballycotton 10 mile; 6 sec off 16:36 in Docklands 5km; 30sec off 35:01 in the National 10km and, well I haven’t done a half marathon for a while.
But am I a better athlete? Yes, without doubt. It’s my 7th year as a triathlete, and I feel so much more confident, have a much better technique in all 3 disciplines and am eating, recovering and training better. Plus I enjoy what I do.
I probably don’t push myself hard enough – am I constantly pushing the bar on my technique in the pool? On the bike? Or on the road? No. I do live somewhat in my comfort zone. While I have pushed the barrier in terms of my endurance (helpful for adventure racing, cross country and distance running) I haven’t found as much on speed – which I need for my 5km/10km road plus my triathlon runs. I put in the volume – training 6-7 days per week, but my intensity is probably too low and my speed is probably not pushed in my bike and swim sessions. I do try harder on run intervals with Rathfarnham. But on bike spins, we don’t have a lot of structure on intervals/strength/speed work – it can be more social with friends.
In the pool, I largely train alone, avoiding club UCD swims this year due to cost/schedule. However I miss out on the new drills, pushing myself in a group and monthly 1k TTs. A series of sessions with top coach, Brian Sweeney, was excellent. Brian is so motivational and positive – his energy is infectious. He also has great tips, drills and swim sets, which I’ve used. The results have been positive – I’m swimming faster and better than ever. Just did my fastest 1km TT in the pool in June.
On the bike, I didn’t put in the hours over the winter due to such crap/cold weather, but in recent months I’ve gotten out more. I enjoy the group spins but since I don’t do turbo or follow a coaching plan, I miss out. I also can’t understand why I’m relatively slow compared with my peers (based on age and ability in the club). I know I make time up on the run, but I’m still 1-3 minutes behind. What could I achieve if I cracked my cycling nut? Is it training hours in the saddle? Is it lack of coached plans? Is it cycling technique? Is it the bike setup of saddle/pedals/handlebar positions? Is it lack of TT bike? Maybe is need to shave my legs…J
Running wise, I’ve enjoyed it as always. I’ve had good races but my 1km interval times have plateaued over the past few years. Our Tuesday Rathfarnham sessions are great, but why can’t I crack 3:15 min/km or 3:10 reps? I’m a stronger hill runner, loving the climbs or in cross country, but on the flat, I don’t have the same raw speed some of the guys have. Is it because I don’t focus on track with shorter/sharper stuff like 400s on a Saturday and racing Dublin Graded meets over the summer? I know I’d be towards the back but am I afraid of it? Surely I’d be measuring myself against a true standard and could rate my progression.
So my plans for the rest of the year involve Triathlon National Series – Belfast, Caroline Kearney in Mullingar and Port Beach in Louth, along with a stab at the Adventure Race National Series – the Moxie race in Blessington, Achill ROAR, Killarney Adventure Race and Sea to Summit in Westport. Along the way I’d like to set a 5km or 10km PB, culminating in a half marathon PB in the autumn. I’m looking at Porto ½ in Portugal in September, which would kick off a nice holiday in Galicia and northern Portugal. Never a rest for the wicked…