I have threatened to complete a half marathon for several years now. In fact I once said “I could see myself MAYBE doing a marathon but never a triathlon”… how wrong was I?! For some reason or another I never got around to completing a half marathon. Sure I’ve signed up for plenty but never made it to the start line. This year, having gone through the year injury free (in running terms not accident prone terms!) and with a cancelled charity hike, I found myself telling people that I would complete a half marathon for their kind donations to Barnardos & Barretstown. It wasn’t long into the running before the reality of the 21.09 distance dawned on me. Truth be told if it wasn’t for the charity aspect I’m pretty sure I would have backed out again. Continue reading →
The days running up to Friday 13th September were a bit of a blur of packing, unpacking… packing again. I tried to keep to myself, get extra sleep and not stress out too much. Before I knew it I was on a plane with a copy of Triathlon 220 flicking through the spectator guide for the worlds. The guy sitting next to me leaned over and asked “Are you competing in the triathlon in London?”, I answered and said yes I was doing the age group sprint distance World Triathlon Championship and asked if he was. “No, no” he said, “I just do them for fun”…gulp… “so do I” I exclaimed, “not entirely sure what I’m doing on this plane”. From Wednesday evening to Friday morning I wondered had I gotten in over my head, was I kidding myself to think that I deserved to be here. But then each time I started to go to the dark place I heard Tadhg’s voice reminding me I had worked hard, I had trained consistently and I deserved to be here just as much as anyone else. The hard work was done, now all I had to do is go out there and enjoy myself. Most importantly the race would be what I would make it. Would things go wrong? Probably. But it was going to be how I dealt with it that would make or break the race for me. Continue reading →
A few weeks ago I was reading a post, on Facebook, by another athlete is also on the road to the worlds. Triathlon Ireland set up a closed group so all the athletes travelling to London in September could discuss all things triathlon related and look for advice in the lead up to the big day. One such athlete asked now that we were getting closer to the worlds, would we be wrapping ourselves up in cotton wool. I smiled thinking “nah, there are a hundred different ways you could get injured so there is no point in putting yourself in bubble wrap you just need to be careful and not do anything stupid”. Continue reading →
With all the excitement of Hell of the West I almost forgot that I had to race again the following weekend at the National Sprint Championships TriAthlone. My motivation had waned a little and I took a few days rest to try to recover. Race day arrived and I was feeling sluggish and still not too interested in the race. There was part of me that felt like staying in bed and not hitting the road down to Athlone at all. However I forced myself up as I had already DNFed at Fingal this year and didn’t do Crooked Lake so I really needed the experience of more racing, and in particular sprint racing. I had enjoyed the Olympics a little too much and now the thought of (excuse the phrase) going balls to the wall for an hour and a half didn’t exactly appeal to me. Majority of my training up to this point was centered around getting me through Kilkee so I didn’t feel entirely prepared for a sprint, but either way it was a good way of measuring where my fitness is in terms of a sprint triathlon. Continue reading →
Poor preparation = p*ss poor performance. These were the words that kept circling my head in the days and hours before Hell of the West. The last month had not gone well. With one trip to A&E and a month plagued with acute gastritis training had to take a step back. I was panicking before the race. Tadhg surprisingly enough was not. He knew that I had done a good solid training since the end of January. Yes in the last month we hit a bit of a speed bump but as long as I kept a little bit of training ticking over I would be okay. Unfortunately, I didn’t see it this way. By the time the morning of the race came I was in full stress mode – upset tummy, couldn’t talk to anyone and eventually the ever predictable few tears as I panicked over something silly. Yes this was definitely not the start I wanted to the race that has always been a pinnacle for me. Since I first discovered triathlon I have always been in awe of those mad nutters who have managed to complete Kilkee and now it was my turn and things had not gone to plan. Would I survive the swim? Would I be able to cycle into that head wind and over those hills? Could I do the run without walking all of it? It was finally time to find out. Continue reading →
Last week I was feeling pretty fit, strong and even a bit more confident than I have been in previous years…until about Wednesday. I started feeling “just a tad off” from Wednesday. I lost a bit of weight even though I had been exercising my pigging out rights as I tested the bottomless pit which was now my stomach. As the weekend approached I began to feel quite tired even though I had a relatively easy week of training in preparation for the Europcar 3dtri Fingal Sprint Triathlon held in the National Acquatic Centre’s 50m pool. By Friday evening suddenly I was running on empty. I couldn’t understand it, I had eaten well (ate everything I saw) all day and yet that evening I had to quit my run because my stomach hurt with the hunger. I felt a bit sick but I am quite prone to nerves so just assumed the pre-race nerves were kicking in. Continue reading →
Training has really ramped up over the last few weeks leaving me feeling tired but happy. The structured training has kept me away from injuries whilst also meaning that I am training more than ever before. Hence I feel tired, but I never get too tired as my plan will pull me back before I go too hard.
We have been doing more brick sessions lately, which is when you put two of the disciplines together back to back. Most commonly when you do a bike session and then immediately run once you are off the bike. Last year I used to do an leisurely 20k flat cycle followed by a ten minute jog and give myself a pat on the back. This year I’m doing 50km hill repeats on the bike followed by a 30 minute run which can be hard or easy depending on the week’s training.
These brick sessions have gotten me used to the idea of running when my legs are fatigued. It has been tough but enjoyable. As each cycle came to a close I wondered how I was going to manage the run on my tired legs but somehow it happened. On one of my hard runs I had a friend (a far fitter friend) with me. Of course my “hard” was her “easy” pace so she stayed alongside me and helped to motivate me through the session. The adrenaline coursed through my veins, the fatigue in my legs and raised heart rate made me feel like I was in a race. I felt like I was “running”… when you are slower than me this is a rare feeling, usually it feels more like jogging/trotting/stumbling. I visualised myself at the world champs giving it everything I had. I have often heard elite triathletes talk about the end of a race, where they thought any minute they were about to give up but they just kept going and suddenly… somehow… they won. This started to make sense to me. The battle against the mind can be what makes a good race and what makes a bad race. Now of course, everyone’s idea of what a good race is different, for some it is to win, for others (like me) it is to complete it without walking.
This year my training has proven to me that so much of the “I can’t do this” idea in my head, is exactly that, just an idea in my head and not the actual truth. My body can do it, sure it hurts a lot but it can do it, and if I remain positive then my body can do it quite well. I am feeling much more positive in my approach now. Yes I’m tired but more importantly I am happy!
Running has never been my strong point. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with it. Relative to swimming and cycling it is usually where I lose the most places in a race. However I find running great for stress relief and general happiness. I have been plugging away at it and I have started to see mild improvements over the last few years.
Last year I managed to break 25 minutes for 5km. This was the absolute highlight for me. To be honest I reckoned that this was as fast as I would ever go, that I had plateaued. This week however I surprised myself.
This year I am following a plan for my training by Tadhg. It meant changing the way I run (haphazard sessions depending on how I felt) to a structured plan. Initially I was surprised at the amount of easy running I was required to do but Tadhg reassured me “there is a method in the madness” so I have followed his advice. Last weekend, coming off the back of two hard weeks training, lack of sleep, stomach problems…I still managed to run 4.7km in 23 minutes and 5 seconds. Of course me being me, I wasn’t really happy with this as I felt awful during the run. This week has been a recovery week, I have caught up on my sleep and become stricter with my diet to ensure no stomach problems. I had a tempo run session with the club this week that I was dreading a little bit. However I showed up regardless and suddenly I was holding times I’ve never held before. Not only that but I felt comfortable holding them, I felt strong, I felt my form had improved and I didn’t quite look so like Phoebe from ‘Friends‘ any more.
The other night was just a training session but it was a big turning point in my head. I now realise that there is more potential there. I just need to stay focussed and stick with the plan!
On the 15th April 2013 two bombs went off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. My thoughts and prayers go to everyone affected by this tragedy.