Surreal times but we can overcome

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”Wage war with all our might, wage war against a monstrous tyranny” : Sir Winston Churchill

Never did I think when I set up this blog 4 years ago that I’d still be writing entries four years later nevermind quoting Winston Churchill. These are however momentous, surreal, scary and downright strange times. The irony for me is that I was reading about the Spanish Flu pandemic only a few months ago and not for the first time. I was drawn to the assertion that we were overdue another pandemic which some crudely referred to as nature’s enema. Little did any of us really know that we were literally on the brink of experiencing the same strained normality our grandparents would have experienced a century ago.

My grandfather was born in 1908 so would have had a clear memory of the devastation wrought by the Spanish Flu across the world. It’s an obvious point but one which I have reminded myself of recently, had he succumbed like so many millions did, well you wouldn’t be reading this blog right now. So I raise a glass to his fortitude. In the last few days I have felt a peculiar kinship with not just other people across national, cultural, social and ethnic boundaries but also with people who have seen the horror of a pandemic before and and long since passed. It is sobering to think that in spite of our technological advances and the benefits of accumulated human experience that we enjoy in 2020 over our ancestors, that right now we are just as vulnerable as they were when they faced similar consequences. The current pandemic presents us with a trifecta of fear, sickness and potential death which unify us with our ancestors more than ever before.

Of course we do have some advantages now, but fear is palpable at the moment, as is hysteria. Sadly this is where social media has played a toxic role. I have always had a love hate relationship with social media. In the beginning like many people I was swept up in the tide. I set up twitter, facebook and instagram accounts under the misguided assumption that if I didn’t I would be missing out. How wrong I was. In a couple of weeks time the clocks will be going forward again, as a result we will be losing an hour and many people bemoan that hour loss. In truth its far easier to lose multiple hours per day by scrolling slavishly through your social media timeline.

So I deleted my facebook and instagram accounts and my mind is less soiled as a result. Indeed I am toying with the idea of deleting my twitter account too because it invariably seems to be a magnet for strangers to indulge in withering attacks on other strangers. Twitter to many is a news platform. Events are reported on twitter before they are acknowledged by mainstream media and this is what makes twitter so seductive to me. Twitter is also arguably the world’s largest rumour mill and sadly many a libelous untruth has reached tidal wave proportions before being undermined by the actual facts. This applies to the chaos we have seen in retail outlets in recent days. Social media has fed the beast of hysteria and has gorged itself on our supermarket shelves. It is quite frankly corrosive and has the potential to be downright dangerous at times like this.

Cool heads are needed. The irony is that you can engage with cool heads on twitter too, in the guise of informed educated and experienced experts like my old Trinity College professor Luke O Neill who is an expert on all things immunology. People like this are a much needed factual rational counterbalance to the chinese whispers offered up by so many others.

What has all of this got to do with this blog’s regular subject matter triathlon, I hear you ask. I suppose nothing and everything.

Like most sporting organisations in recent days Triathlon Ireland has suspended all competition until the end of this month. Clubs have been advised against pursuing regular training schedules so as to avoid congregations of club members which would go against that phrase which I am beginning to loathe, social distancing. In reality as far as my training is concerned the current uncertainty doesnt really alter things that much. Granted I don’t have access to a pool but I can still run and cycle, both of which I have done this weekend as they are outdoor sports. The only thing I am conscious of is not pushing myself too much during training sessions so as not to feel too depleted afterwards. This phase for however long it continues will from a training standpoint be one of maintaining fitness rather than trying to improve times. It simply wouldn’t pay to attempt to do anything more than that. Aside from the obvious physical benefit to maintaining a basic level of fitness, getting out for a run takes me away from the scrolling timelines and the bad headlines, providing me with momentary mental respite from the information onslaught. This has to be a good thing and I would encourage you to do the same.

The upside is the triathlon season doesn’t start until the middle of May by which time I would expect everything to have improved markedly. Currently China and South Korea the two countries hit earliest and thus heaviest by the virus are seeing diminishing levels of new cases every day. This means the arc of the spread of the virus is about 10 weeks from initial infection to zero new cases with the decline in number of new cases coming even sooner than this. This gives us hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Its shocking seeing these words written. There have been a few times in recent days when everything has felt like being in a movie, such has been the surreal nature of events. Like our forebears we are facing a daunting reality, a challenge the likes we have not experienced before but we should take some comfort in the knowledge that we can and will come through this.

” My dear friends, this is your hour, to draw the sword against the tyranny”  Winston Churchill

 

Galloping along in Punchestown

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So round two of the duathlon season for me came at the weekend again in Punchestown after the season opener last month. I had intended to race sooner but storms Ciara and Dennis curtailed my plans. Lets be honest duathlons are tough enough without having to battle a force 4 gale and sideways rain. Nope, I elected to wait till the weather was more clement and I see no shame in that.

I had only made the decision to race this weekend on Thursday. Yes its kind of last minute of me, but that’s the way I tend to approach my partaking in these races. If I book a spot too far in advance there is the possibility I may be working or injured so i generally leave it to the last minute.

The weather on the day was lovely and sunny if a little breezy, but nothing like as breezy as it had been in recent weeks. Sitting in the stand after arriving the sun was actually quite warm against the skin , so much so I managed to get a bit of a colour. I know I should have had the factor 50 on but seriously it was literally only about 7 degrees, who knew !!!

There were about 160 competitors for today’s race about 50 fewer than the first race I took part in a month ago. It was still a National series race which meant some of the top amateur triathletes in the country were taking part as they battle for their chance to top the National series ranking and subsequently represent Ireland internationally. Oh and then there was me 🙂 Trust me at this stage I’m just happy to be fit and on the starting line. Having started with triathlon in this very race in 2017,  I have now competed in over two dozen races but there are certain races which standout to me and this is one, primarily because this is where it all began. I remember the elation I felt while cycling around Punchestown during that first race. The sheer excitement at being involved in my first race. The naked ambition, competitiveness and the collegiality I felt with my fellow triathletes. I felt a part of something. That feeling is thankfully still there.

The race itself.

Having chosen to race conservatively last time round, I thought I’d crank things up ever so slightly in this race, in spite of not having a whole lot of extra training under my belt. And so it transpired that decision manifested itself in a quick first run leg of the race where I averaged a respectable 3 mins 52 seconds per km pace. I had chosen to wear a light rain mac during the run as I felt the cutting breeze would make the bike leg uncomfortable but as things transpired I heated up very quickly on the run and actually took the mac off on approaching the transition zone. In fact I stuffed the mack down the front of my top to help insulate my chest against the wind on the bike. I probably looked a tad odd from the distance, what with me sporting what looked like 20% added extra up top but I didn’t care as long as I was warm.

The bike leg is always tough. Mentally I have to control myself as I have a tendency to be passed out. I am not the strongest of cyclists and so lack power especially on the climbs. It is a tad demoralizing being passed by other riders but you have to remind yourself to focus on your own race and those riders tend to be 10 years younger than you.

As it happened I posted a time 20 seconds faster than last month’s time so I was pleased with that in the end. The second run leg was tough. You’re going from a seated position on the bike to running in a matter of seconds. The body is as disorientated as the mind is while you’re trying to make split second adaptations and the cardiovascular system is under much stress. I did get into a rhythm quickly enough thankfully. I tend to use other runners as markers to aim for. So I’ll aim for the girl or guy in front of me and see if I can at least keep pace with them. For most of the second run leg I could hear a girl keeping pace behind me. I was determined to keep ahead of her while trying to close the gap between myself and the guy in front. While I managed to hold the girl off I couldn’t quite close the gap to him but was pleased with my run. In fact both run legs were about 30 seconds faster than last time round, (having run the second leg at 4 min 9 per km pace).

Overall, I came in at 1 hr 6 mins which was a minute faster than last month, but 90 seconds slower than the corresponding race here last March, so there’s work to be done yet !! I managed 61 st place out of 157 in this National series race and 10th out of my age group, so I was pleased with that.

One final observation. I have made the point on this blog and elsewhere before about Triathlon Ireland’s need to embrace eco friendly competition. I have been very critical of the amount of plastic bottles and general unnecessary waste accumulated at each race. Top marks however go to the race organisers because instead of the usual plastic water bottles at the end of this race, we were greeted with recycled plastic cups and water fonts from which we could refill if needed. I’ve taken a photo of the set up above and I would love to see this replicated throughout the season.

Has it been that long already ?

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Well this was the sight that greeted us on Sunday last as we embarked upon another triathlon season. You are looking at a fairly grim, dank, damp and windswept Punchestown Racecourse. This was the location of my first ever race under the triathlon umbrella in 2017, ironically enough it’s not actually a triathlon but a duathlon but lets not allow semantics obfuscate an opportunity for sentimentality. Back then the very notion of competition was shiny and new, the world was my oyster and mountains were there to be conquered.

Fast forward to 2020 and the overarching feeling now is one of gratitude that I’m even on the starting line. I think in the beginning of this adventure I underestimated the significance of actually being able to stay fit. Injuries were something that just didn’t happen. As you will know if you have dipped into this blog on more than one occasion, injuries have been a frequent foe of mine. They have helped shape my mindset and manage my expectations. I had lofty ambitions of representing Ireland in my age group but those ambitions were formed in the vacuum of a perfect world where ageing and injury are purely notional.

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Wearing ten layers ahead of the first race of the season #freezing

No, as the saying goes, everyone has a plan until they are hit in the face. Over the last three seasons I have taken a few blows that have constituted disappoints on one level but simultaneously have gifted me tremendous opportunities to learn about myself which in reality was the whole purpose of taking up triathlon. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable and there are few things more mentally and physically taxing than overcoming injury. So at this point at the start of my fourth season I have absolutely zero expectations. My sole goal is to reach the start line of each race and enjoy competing.

With that in mind I chose to start my season in January in Punchestown. The duathlon in question would constitute a 3.2km run followed by a 20km cycle and another 3.2km run. Seeing as this was my first race of the year and I was still carrying niggling injuries I chose to simply pace myself rather than bust a gut. That is exactly what I did. The run section here is always a bit frenetic to begin with as 200 runners attempt to jockey for position as they funnel onto the narrow path that circumnavigates the racecourse. I generally choose to start near to, but not quite at the front of the pack. This allows the faster guys a clear path and prevents my own passage from being blocked by too many slower  runners. This worked out as planned and I posted a 4 min per kilometre pace for the first run leg.

A quick transition and I was on the bike for the second phase. The roads were damp and greasy which will help you go faster but can make bends and descents treacherous, so I tried to be as prudentas as I could. I even took advantage of some of the steep downhills and freewheeled as I tried to save some energy for the second run. As ever I’m also grateful to make it through the cycle unscathed and without receiving a puncture which I can only imagine would be the biggest pain especially given the blustery sdmap conditions.

The second run is straight off the bike is always a challenge. My back was a bit stiff getting off the bike and took a few paces to loosen up but once it did I was into a rhythm with which I was happy. It was only after the race that I learned that my heartrate hit 195 beats per min towards the latter end of the second run, and that was me taking things easy-ish !! The second run leg saw me run at 4.18 min per km pace, inevitably slower than the first leg.

Over all I was satisfied with my first race performance given it was a National series race with a top class field and because it was the first time I had been on my bike outdoors this year, so 75 th place out of 195 wasn’t too shabby at all. The objective now is to get to the next starting line, whenever that is 🙂

We need to talk about flying

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We are now into November and triathlon season has well and truly drawn to a close. Indeed it would have drawn to a much sooner close if I had not travelled outside of Ireland to Majorca and Malta most recently to race. Both locations afforded me the opportunity to race in warm waters under a blistering sun when most Irish people back home were turning on the central heating and braving the cold, wind and rain.

Now as much as I enjoyed competing against an international field in foreign climes I have been conflicted of late. The problem hasn’t been the locations, its has been the issue of travel. Ireland’s location on the western most tip of Europe has been at various points in history a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that we weren’t conquered by the romans in pre-christian times nor by barbarians in the middle ages and thankfully we were spared the worst of the marauding nazis in the second world war. However being an island has its downsides in the form of lack of competition for literally everything and hello rip off Ireland !! We also suffer when it comes to international travel. There are only two options when it comes to getting off this island. You either get the ferry or a plane and this is where I have a big problem. Neither mode of transport covers itself in glory when you look at their respective carbon footprints. In fact both planes and ferries have an appalling impact on our environment. This is a real problem.

In recent months I have been watching Greta Thunberg’s journey literally as she traversed the Atlantic ocean on a ship run solely by renewable energy and metaphorically as she takes on the old world order. Her task is a ludicrously tall one. This 16 year old is attempting to shake people out of their climate change apathy while simultaneously taking direct aim at the governments whose economies were founded and continue to run on fossil fuel guzzling consumerism. Her ambition and her courage are staggering. Meanwhile I started reading Naomi Klein’s 2014 book, This changes everything, Capitalism versus the environment. Its a tough book to read for multiple reasons. Its nearly 600 pages of forensic analysis of humanity’s love affair with fossil fuels. It a tough read because it has held a mirror up to my own behaviour and my own impact on our delicate planet. Yes I am merely one of 7 billion people but alas when it comes to my own carbon footprint I can only hang my head in shame.

However now isn’t the time for wallowing in guilt because I have been a car owner for over a decade and a frequent flyer for longer. Now is the time to examine my behaviour and take into consideration the impact it has on the environment, which is something I have not done in earnest till now. I simply cannot justify flying abroad multiple times in any given year for my own placation. Air travel is insanely damaging to the environment. In the aftermath of  9/11 when airplanes all across American airspace were grounded for three days scientists noted that there was an unusually large fluctuation in mean temperature of the upper atmosphere because of the absence of airplane contrails. These contrails or artificial clouds created from the combination of air fuel and water droplets at high altitude ordinarily block out some of the sunlight and affect the air temperature which has a detrimental effect on fauna which rely on temperature fluctuations for optimum growth.

I could detail the science to you but suffice to say, air travel while being an amazing mode of transport that facilitates so many opportunities to see the world, it is contributing to the destruction of those very destinations. This poses the question. Will I ever travel by plane again ? The answer is I don’t know. I do know that I wont be traveling by plane to another triathlon which limits my ability to compete abroad and this is where I believe triathlon on the whole as a sport has a big problem. If you want to take part in an Ironman in Ireland for example you only have one opportunity to do so next year, in Cork. Beyond 2020 it hasn’t even been confirmed if Ironman will revisit Cork which really puts people seeking the ultimate Ironman challenge in a quandary.

I think Triathlon Ireland have to look at the number of opportunities triathletes here have to race at all triathlon distances. There are lots of sprint distance triathlons around the country, in fact I would argue for more in Leinster. There are opportunities to race middle distance triathlons but very few full distance triathlons and I believe this should be looked at. I just think it would be terrific to give aspiring Ironmen and women the opportunity to stay and race at home instead of heading abroad. The benefits to the local economy would be obvious and the amount of hassle involved with racing at home instead of traveling abroad with your bike would be greatly diminished.

I would also call upon Triathlon Ireland to embrace a far more environmentally friendly mindset in 2020. The colossal and yet needless use of plastic for example at every single TI sanctioned race is baffling. At every point of the racing process from registration through to crossing the finish line plastic rears its ugly head. Its simply not acceptable at this stage to see so many goody bags filled with plastic and paper. I have lost count of the number of plastic water bottles I have seen at races. There are absolutely alternative options that can be deployed, like the banning of all plastic bottles and using edible water pods http://tiny.cc/o2vrfz instead of water bottles. We simply need Triathlon Ireland to come on board and prioritise the environment with some common sense solutions.

So for the moment as I examine my own approach to what difference I can make in my own life to slowing climate change I won’t be travelling abroad to compete. Some reading this might think I’m overreacting slightly but I’d argue, given the science I have read, that we all need to start changing our behaviour because the implications of continuing on the path we are on are dire. I don’t want to be alarmist but a 2 degree increase in global temperature by 2050 was estimated in 1990 as the least worst case scenario … since 1990 that has turned into a grossly unrealistic target. A 2 degree increase by 2050 would have equated to catastrophic consequences for the ice caps, flora and fauna globally … We are already well past that. So ditching air travel is the least I can do.

Making waves in Malta

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So there I was at a loose end. I had a taste of warm weather and wanted more so what better than to hook up again with an old acquaintance that is Superleague Triathlon. In previous posts from 2017 and 2018 you might recall my travelling to Jersey to see this new format of short course triathlon racing. While I was only a wide eyed spectator in 2017, last year I completed in the age group race and did rather well.

Work commitments prevented my travelling to Jersey for a third year in a row but it did get me thinking. I knew Superleague were running a race in Malta in October, having watched it online last year. The temperature would be about 26 degrees and the water temperature would be 24 degrees so very much conducive to open water swimming. The only downside would be the lack of a bike segment due to the nature of the race course but I threw caution to the win and booked a place in the age group Enduro Aquathlon. This race would comprise a 300 m swim in the marina in Birgu, a suburb of the Maltese capital Valletta, followed by a 2km run, followed by another 300m swim finishing off with a 2.5km run. The distances are short I will grant you that, but the racing would be hell for leather!!

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The race in question would take place 6 weeks after my jaunt in Majorca. I booked a private room in a hostel, a flight and figured out the logistics of getting from Malta International Airport to Valletta which would be fairly easy because I wouldn’t have my bike with me. In fact this trip was looking like it was going to be kind economical as the accomodation and the flight combined were only 290 euro, throw in 38 euro entrance fee for the race and it was till cheap as chips.

It takes about 3 hours 30 to fly from Dublin to Malta and when you arrive you have the option of taking a taxi or the bus. The taxi from the airport to Valletta is 17 euros whereas the bus costs 2 euro in the summer or 1.50 in the winter, so I opted for the bus. I have to point out that I only opted for the bus once I had done a few google searches on arrival and figured out my options. Google directions are brilliant for literally frogmarching you from the arrivals terminal to the bus stop in question.  I got the X1 bus to Qroqq which I knew again courtesy of google directions was only a few hundred metres from my hostel.

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I hadn’t stayed in a hostel since I visited Nice in the early 2000s. I had memories of sleeping in a dorm and just didn’t fancy sharing with a load of inebriated younger travellers this time round so the private room with the private bathroom was a good call. The hostel and the room itself was fairly modest but as good as can be expected for 30 quid a night. They put on a respectable enough buffet breakfast in the mornings although the only catch being, to avail of said breakfast you need to be up before 9am. There were plenty of common areas and a small pool which was a pleasant bonus.

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The hostel was situated about 10 minutes walk from the marina near Sliema, the direction of which I headed the following day to collect my registration particulars for the race. I would liken Malta to the middle east meets western Europe. There is very evidently a mixture of cultural influences that have shaped the island over the last few centuries. This makes for fascinating vistas. However those vistas are peppered with the signs of a booming construction trade. There are building sites and cranes literally everywhere in Valletta. I counted 17 cranes on the horizon at one point which is more akin to Dublin than a small Mediterranean island. I go so far as to say the level of construction happening is aesthetically jarring.  The other thing that jars is the Maltese approach to health and safety, which is non-existent because many of the aforementioned building sites simply spill out onto paths and roads unchecked. Throw in the treacherous ‘paving’ and Maltese penchant for parking anywhere and everywhere and getting from A to B on foot can be more akin to negotiating an assault course.

Can I also add at this point that Maltese drivers are the craziest and most impatient I have witnessed. Indeed there are signs asking drivers to be mindful that they must share the roads and urging patience. Having spoken to Irish expats living there the Maltese have a cavalier attitude towards drink driving and seat belts are an optional extra. While I had brought bike helmet anticipating that I might hire a bike as I did in majorca, I elected not to throw caution to the wind. The helmet remained unused in my hostel room as I didnt fancy testing the limits of my travel insurance by taking a trip on a bike on Maletese roads.

I didnt have much time ahead of my race on the Sunday morning so decided to do a little bit of sightseeing. I walked from my hostel along the waterfront all the way to George’s Bay which took the guts of an hour and where you will find the more high end hotels and a cute little beach where you can go for a swim. It was actually on my way to Georges bay that I happened upon an open air pool which charged a fiver for a swim. As it happened I had my togs and goggles with me so took the plunge. It was surreal swimming in an open air pool rather than open water but it was a welcome change.

I had a free day before my race on the Sunday and had seen lots of tourists boarding boats along the waterfront in Sliema. It seemed most people were choosing to take a day trip north to the smaller islands of Comino and Gozo. So after a quick google search I thought I would do the same thing and bought a ticket for 30 euros from a guy at one of the numerous waterfront stalls which was a good shout seeing as he charged me a fiver less than what I would have paid online.

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It was an early start the following morning. I descended upon the buffet breakfast in my hostel after a restful night helped by the fact I had walked 27,000 steps the previous day plus I had managed to operate the aircon successfully which was very much needed given the lack of air coming in the window. While I ate my breakfast I found myself shaking my head at the antics of some of the other guests who were loading up on all the free fruit and croissants just because it was available to them. There are only so many apples one can eat, does one woman old enough to know better really need 4 apples and 8 slices of bread ? Most of the aforementioned food suspiciously disappeared in the time it took me to get a glass of orange juice. Hmmmm.

I arrived at the waterfront at 9.30 and the sun was already beating down so I was glad I had coated myself in factor 30 and wore a hat. We departed after 10 am for what would be a 7.5 hour round trip taking us to the northernmost island of Gozo. It took almost an hour to get there and when we did all the ferry passengers were divided into small groups and were whisked off in cars, jeeps and buses by local drivers to see the island. I sat in the front seat beside the driver which was a good move because it gave me a birdseye view and the benefit of the driver’s local perspective and knowledge. We were driven to the very top of the island which was only 14 km away but seemed longer as we raced through winding narrow streets. When we arrived at our destination we were on the north coast and were greeted by the Maltese version of the cliffs of Moher. Plenty of photos were taken in the baking sun and I even stretched to buying an ice cream to help cool me down. Gozo itself seemed quite rural and less built up than Malta but all that could change with the construction of a tunnel between Gozo and Malta mooted to be in the offing.

After Gozo we were taken to Comino where we had the chance to swim in the turquoise waters of the blue lagoon. This area is famed for the clarity of its waters and adorns the tourist brochures and websites of the ferry companies and rightly so because it is spectacular. The beach at the blue lagoon itself is quite small and access is made difficult by the craggy rocks surrounding it but once you manage to get into the water its breathtaking. I had taken my dry bag with me onto the boat earlier that morning and I was wearing togs so all i had to do was strip off , put on my goggles and tether my dry bag around my waist and I could go for a swim without worrying about leaving my valuables on the beach.

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I was able to swim out away from the hordes and used the dip as an impromptu training session. It was astounding just how clear the water was with shoals of fish swimming happily within inches of me. This opportunity to swim open waters is really what I had been looking forward to from the day. It was a pinch me kind of moment, kind of like swimming in a postcard. Funny enough once out of the water and back on our ferry to make the return journey back to Malta the skies started to cloud over which suited me fine as it had by then been a long day in the sun even despite my factor 30.

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We arrived back at the at 5.30 and thanked all of the ship staff who seemed to be predominantly from the Philippines and were super friendly. That evening I ate locally and retired early after a long day of being a tourist.

The following morning breakfast was had before I headed to an Irish bar around the corner from my hostel, the Mad hatter, with dozens of hats all attached to the ceiling. Now before you ask, no I wasn’t imbibing I arrived to watch Ireland versus New Zealand in the rugby which on reflection was probably not the best idea given the performance and result. However at least I was surrounded by my countrymen which was a comfort given I was away from home. Later that afternoon I did more sightseeing as I headed on to Birgu about an hour away on the bus. Birgu was the location of the Superleague event that I had come to take part in. In fact the Superleague event takes place over 4 days with juniors, corporate teams, amateur age groupers and professionals all getting their turn. On the Saturday I visited Birgu I watched the women pros competing in their semi final. It was great to see the pros like current world champion Katie Zaferes and Rachel Klamer up close and watch how they negotiate the course that I would be racing on the following morning. After the female pros it was the turn of the men. These guys like current world champion Vincent Luis are so ridiculously fit and there’s not a pick on them. I would consider myself to be fit with a body fat percentage of just under 10% but these lads are on another planet altogether. I watched as they took to the 300m swim course like dolphins, cycled at ferocious speeds round corners and down crazily steep hills with zero fear and then as they sprinted like gazelles for fun and all without breaking a sweat.

I stayed watching these ludicrously talented men and women for an hour or so before heading back home. Half of the purpose for my trip was to do a recce of the actual course but also to see how I would negotiate the hour long journey there in the morning. I had used my trusty google directions app again and had figured out I needed to get a 6am bus to be there for 7am.

And so that was the bus I got the following morning. I was pleasantly surprised that the bus actually turned up. I had a nagging feeling given the ungodly hour on a Sunday morning but my lack of confidence in the Maltese public transport system was unfounded. There were buses everywhere, Ireland take note !! It was astonishing at how many people were up and about at 6am on a Sunday morning as it happens. I navigated the route that involved two buses and a journey of just over an hour.

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Once I arrived there were already about 100 age group competitors milling around as I checked in with registration and received my timing chip , swim cap and race number. Within a few minutes we were marched down to transition where the pros place their own gear when they race. Then we had a pre race brief and took to the pontoon for the swim start. In fact there were about 150 triathletes so we actually started in the water rather than diving off the pontoon like the pros. Alas as I lowered myself into the water my tri-suit on a nail and ripped a two inch hole. Thankfully it was the suit that was ripped and not my skin because tetanus is not what one really wants.

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Because there were so many people in the water I knew a turbulent start was unavoidable. I just elected to pace myself and stay wide as I could around the first couple of buoys which would be easier said than done because we were swimming in a marina full of huge yachts like something you’d see in Monte Carlo. Once I rounded the first buoy and then the second the field began to string out. The hard part was getting out of the water and then sprinting to transition while taking off the goggles and swim cap but keeping them on my person (down the front of my tri-suit) during the run for the second swim segment.

I was still breathless as I started off on the run course with its super steep ascent followed by scarily steep descent. We would have to complete this 1km run loop twice before the second swim. The incline was tough it must have been about 15% but I just increased my cadence while I took the descents very gingerly primarily because I didn’t want a repeat of the injury I sustained at the beginning of the season brought on by pounding down a steep descent in Antrim. Secondly the run course was wet because people had just gotten out of the water so it was fairly precarious.

I had never actually dived off a pontoon before so this second swim leg was going to present me with that experience. While I had watched in awe at the how the pros dived off for fun I wondered if i would be able to dive off as gracefully as those pros did, I wouldn’t. While I leapt like an antelope into the air off the pontoon, the goggles left my face which as you might imagine stalled my momentum as I had to tread water till I placed them back where they are intended to be. Never having gone from a swim to a run to another swim immediately I was pretty out of breath on the second swim leg. In fact I had to slow down and breast stroke a couple of strokes to catch my breath which just heightened my appreciation for what the pros do with such ease. The second run went without a hitch as I paced myself well. two more laps of the run course and after 33 minutes of breakneck racing I crossed the steepest finish line ever!!

Interestingly the medal they gave us for our efforts was a plastic medal but it was made of recycled bottle tops which I thought was novel. All in all it was an enjoyable experience and slightly strange not to be cycling at all but the anduro aquathlon is a fun format and one I’d love to see at home here. Oh and I managed 5th in my age group which I felt was respectable enough too!!

 

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Medals in Majorca

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There’s nothing quite like the sun on your face as you stand on the edge of the Mediterranean sea and take the plunge. That is exactly what I did in recent days and I loved it. Last year and the year before I headed to Jersey for the Superleague Triathlon series. I actually competed in the age group race in 2018 and really enjoyed the whole notion and process of competing abroad. Unfortunately work commitments prevented me from heading back to Jersey this year so instead I chose to travel to Majorca. To be honest it all happened purely by accident. I had been looking to get away for a few days and remembered an old friend of mine was working as a travel rep in Majorca. While I was googling ‘fun things to do it Majorca’, up popped Palma Triathlon!! I thought wow that would be awesome. The triathlon in question was to take place on Sunday the 8th of September in the marina in Palma. There was a choice of doing the Olympic distance, the sprint distance or the super sprint.

I hadn’t been in the Baleric islands since I was child even so there was a familiarity about the place upon my arrival. I was pleasantly surprised with my hotel which I would have described as budget accommodation based on the price but it turned out to be considerable beyond my expectations. Mind you I was lucky to find the hotel at all. I had deployed google to help me get the bus from the airport to the centre of Palma with the intention of getting another bus to the hotel about 4 km along the coast but for the life of me I simply couldn’t follow the gps directions to the relevant bus stop on my phone. After boarding the wrong bus and having to get off 3 stops down the line and faffing around like a lost tourist walking around in literal circles I relented and hailed a taxi. Ten minutes later I arrived at my hotel where I was greeted with a pleasant scene and a standard of hotel which far exceeded my expectations and the very reasonable price.

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View of the pool at my hotel

It wasn’t until the following morning when I feasted on the buffet breakfast and sampled the pool that I realised I had seriously landed on my feet. While the hotel was located about 3 km from Palma it was only 500 m from the beach, and what a beach.

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Needless to say I spared no time whatsoever in going for a swim. My god the water was amazing. It was crystal clear and 24 degrees, absolute paradise. I couldn’t stop thinking, ‘this is what it’s all about’!! Now in truth there was a purpose to my swimming in the sea over and above just enjoying the beauty of the surrounds and being on holiday.

You see the triathlon in Palma would involve a non wetsuit swim. This would be a new departure for me as I had never swam without a wetsuit in the open water before let alone competed in a Triathlon without one. I literally only learned how to swim 6/7 years ago from watching youtube videos, but I thought nothing ventured nothing gained. A wetsuit aids your swimming as it makes you more buoyant so you swim faster as a result. So not alone would I be swimming without a wetsuit I would be up against local Spanish triathletes who grew up swimming in these waters. The race would be tantamount to me flailing away while they Spanish would be gliding through the turquoise waters like iberian dolphins, no pressure so. 

I had hired a roadbike online ( https://bikehead.cc/ ) from one of the Palma bike shops from a lovely chap called Anders who let me have the bike for three days at a ridiculously inexpensive 40 quid.

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The cannondale above is the trusty steed in question that rode like a dream. I had brought my helmet with me so I popped in on my head once I had collected the bike and then I had the ominous task of cycling the 4km back to my hotel. The problem was having to cycle on the opposite side of the road in a strange city without coming a cropper!! I decided against taking the circuitous route through the hills that the 46 bus had taken to get be from the hotel to the centre of Palma. No instead I headed by rather gingerly along the main road along the marina which afforded far nice views and less traffic than I had expected. In fact the return journey only took 20 mins plus it gave me a chance to cycle along some of the triathlon bike route.

It was good practice for me, as the following day I had cycle from my hotel all the way across town to the Peugeot Retail outlet where I would have to register for the triathlon and get my race number and timing chip. I’ll be honest I was a tad apprehensive purely because this time it would entail a 20km roundtrip. On the plus side it would warm the legs up for the race the following day.

 

In the end I managed the trip to the registration centre and back without much incident. Probably the most dramatic part was attempting to communicate with the people on arrival in my pigeon Spanish but I got my race number, timing chip and goodies, plus I got myself home safely via some of the terrific cycle lanes dotted around Palma, Dublin take note !! The whole journey took me 2 hours.

 

Then came the day of the race. I have to say the level of organisation was off the charts. Everything from the security, the transition zone, the volunteers, the post race mix zone to the PA system were top notch. I have done a couple of dozen triathlons at this stage and this was arguably the best organised yet. Transition zones where the competitors arrange their bikes and other equipment, can quite often be chaotic. The surface under foot can be uneven and errant helmets and runners can be strewn her and there mid race. Not so on this occasion as we were all given what was essentially a blue basin in which we would place our running gear and race belt so as they didnt get lost mid race. Its not a concept I have seen in practice before but its one I would encourage Triathlon Ireland to embrace. The transition zone was awash with colour, and was huge, giving every competitor lots of room to set up their kit. As you can see from the photos above the area was carpeted which is a small thing but adds to the comfort underfoot and the aesthetics. The entire transition area was cordoned off with huge fences and you needed to produce photo id in the form of a passport to enter. Like I said it was very well organised.

While I had been swimming in the sea on each day since my arrival and had become more comfortable doing so without a wetsuit I was still understandably nervy at the prospect of the swim. My sprint distance race started at 10.30 but I took notes as I watched the Olympic Distance triathletes set off on their way a few minutes prior. I noted we would be swimming in a clockwise fashion. To be fair the PA guy never stopped talking the whole time unfortunately it was all in Spanish so I had to rely on my eyes for vital information. As the Olympic distance competitors exited the water and entered transition for the bike leg there was a sprinkler system which was something I had only ever seen at an Ironman event and its intended to wash the salt water off your body as you run through it. Again, more impressive attention to detail.

 

I have to say I was staggered at just how fit these Spanish were. I’m talking the fittest triathletes of all ages that I have seen to date. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t feel a tad self conscious or intimidated but I reminded myself  I had a race to run and that was primarily against myself and nobody else.

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Yours truly before the race

So 10.30 am came and we entered the water, I slowly swam across to the virtual start line and had just arrived when I could hear ‘Tres, dos, Uno ” and the race began.. !! had I been any slower i would have been caught napping. You might recall my giving out about a previous race where the organisers left us in the 15 degree water for 10 minutes before sending us on our way.. Not so for the spanish and their 24 degree water. As normal I stayed wide and I have to say I had the most unperturbed swim I have ever had in a triathlon. Again I stayed wide at the buoys avoiding the crush and all was going fine until I noticed my swim cap starting to slip backwards. Unfortunately and this is a source of considerable regret the swim cap came off completely. Seeing as I was midrace with people around me on the last 100 m of the swim into the bank it simply wasn’t feasible for me to stop and grab it. Its a real shame because after the race one of the volunteers said it would probably be left in the water. For someone who loathes any form of litter I felt a pang of guilt about this but there was nothing i could have done.

That aside I was pleased with my first competitive non wetsuit swim, but boy was it slow!! Just under 20 mins for me to swim it. Now I do have a caveat, i managed to swim so wide of the buoys that I swam 900m instead of the prescribed 750m !!

Swim done, it was on to the cycle. This would be another new departure for me as it was a draft legal cycle, meaning it was permitted to sit on someone else’s wheel and draft off them. This is never the case at home. The benefit of drafting is you use less energy if you are in someone’s slipstream. Alas my super slow swim time meant I exited the water way down the field and I found myself working my way through the back traffic of evidently slower cyclists. I did manage to ingratiate myself with a group of 5 cyclists for a couple of kms until they headed to transition. It was then  I realised they were some of the racers in the Olympic race which had started the previous hour. So I managed to cycle most of the draft legal bike leg solo, which made me smile. What a waste of a good potential drafting opportunity !!! That being said my 20km cycle segment was my fastest ever at just under 34 mins, but some of the credit has to go to the relatively flat bike course.

The run along the marina went without incident. I managed a 4.30min per km pace which is the same as the previous week. Given the total lack of run training in recent weeks and the fact the temperature was 26 degrees I was very pleased, as I was with the whole race which placed me 50th in total.

 

Again kudos to the organisers who laid on the most impressive lead in to the finishing chute that I have yet seen and for the spread they laid on for the triathletes afterwards. there was stall after stall of food and various refreshments within arms reach. One of the things that impressed me most was within 20 mins of me crossing the finish line they had my results posted up beside the finish line. Often in ireland you are waiting hours to find out how you placed in a race, I think Triathlon Ireland could replicate this facility. Its a small thing but meaningful, as is a decent goodybag and a medal which were all provided by the organisers of the Palma Triathlon.

 

So all in all a great race was run to perfection by the Palma team and I didnt disgrace myself either with my casper the ghost complexion or by my performance, managing 14th in my age group!! Really enjoyed the experience of racing abroad again which I have to say is made so much easier when hiring a bike on location. Palma is a lovely destination and chilled compared to some Costa del Sol destinations I have been to down through the years. As the Spanish would say it was MUY BIEN!!

Can you see the castle ?

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Well two weeks after my last triathlon, guess what I’m at it again. Now at the outset might I add I had done absolutely no running whatsoever since the Worlds End Triathlon in Limerick primarily because I didn’t want to aggravate my leg. Excuses out of the way I was sort of looking forward to this race as I had done it last year. The difference this time around was Lough Key Forest Park triathlon was part of the National Series triathlon league so the standard would be a lot higher. While I would have loved to repeat my 22nd place from last year, given the elevated company I would be in this time, it was not going to happen. I was expecting about 100th place.

Lough Key forest park is gorgeous and the lake is stunning alas my photo above does not do it justice. I can tell you there is a castle on the island in the middle of the lake so if there are any fans of all things medieval in your house, then this is the place to bring them. Quite apart from the castle there are the grounds of the park with stunning views and all sorts of topography which are any outdoors lover’s dream.

Instead of staying overnight as I had done last year I drove down the morning of the race. Its only a two hour drive but it meant a 6am wake up call on a Sunday .. WHY DO I DO THIS TO MYSELF!!?? Tantrum out of the way I was in Lough Key Forest Park in Roscommon by 8.45am. I quickly registered and prepared my bike etc in transition.

I chose to cycle in my runners just for a change, as opposed to using my cycling shoes, for no reason other than I was too lazy to change my pedals 🙂 The race and layout was pretty well organised except for an interminable delay in starting the race brief followed by multiple attempts to arrange competitors into their respective waves. Essentially with 300 plus triathletes to avoid chaos at the start of the swim, all the competitors are arranged into 3 waves and given a different coloured hat based on their respective wave. Normally the race director just calls wave one forward into the water and then wave two 5 minutes later etc. But for some reason The race organisers were insisting on people being corralled into their waves before hearing the race brief. It was unnecessary and wasted time.

I was in wave one and unfortunately there was another unnecessary delay once we took to the water and waiting at the start buoy. Its important not to hold swimmers too long in the water purely because they can get cold. Again for some reason we were held unnecessarily long while wave two were sent into the water behind us.

Moaning aside. The lake swim went fairly ok. As is usual there was a lot of jostling as people sought their various lines to the first buoy. I chose to stay wide as I usually do but others had the same idea which led to a disruption of momentum, but I am used to it at this stage. As it was a lake swim we didn’t really have to contend with choppy water or current.

I exited the water in 15 minutes, which is about average for me. Off came the wetsuit and I dried my feet before popping on socks and the runners. Im normally quite breathless in the first kilometre of the bike leg but on this occasion I wasn’t too bad. I chose to put the boot down and passed a few cyclists in the first km or two. The route would take us all the way around the lake which meant a 23 km cycle, 3 km than a normal sprint distance triathlon. There were some undulating hills and once or twice I had to get out of the saddle but nothing too steep. For a period of the cycle I find myself swapping places multiple times with a couple of competitors. They’s pass me at one point only for me to pass them later down the route. Thankfully the roads were dry for the most part.

As it happens, one of the guys I was battling with on the bike left T2 just ahead of me and I could tell fairly quickly that I was going to be able to pass him with ease. I smiled as I did , thinking I should have just left the battling to the run segment. The run took us through some gorgeous forest sections with enormous pine trees and almost blocked out the sunlight completely and had peppered the floor beneath with needles and fallen twigs to such an extent it looked like a perfectly manicured rust coloured lawn.

Only a couple of runners passed me on the run . In fact the same girl managed to pass me three times. I think she must have been suffering a stitch as she’d pass me then stop and run past me again !! THREE TIMES !! Fair play to her resilience and fitness. She managed to finish second in her 30-34 age group so she certainly had pedigree. Talking of age groups I finished 9th in mine and 76th over all. That was a definite improvement on the 100th + place I managed in the last national series race.

All in all I was happy enough, compared to last year my swim was about 30 seconds slower. Funny enough the cycle was almost identical which is decent given the comparative lack of miles on the bike I have put in this year. The run was about 90 secs slower but given my injury I am very happy with that.

One more race till the end of the season.

A dip in the Shannon?

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Well the good news is I survived or more to the point my troublesome lower limb didn’t give me any issues. As regular readers of this blog (and lets be honest there are literally tens of thousands of you ) will know I have been having lower limb bone stress issues. I shan’t bore you with all that talk again but suffice to say things went swimmingly.

Talking of swimming this latest triathlon saw me swimming in the Shannon again. The World’s End Triathlon took place in Castleconnell just outside Limerick city on the same weekend as the Dublin City Triathlon. Now people have asked me why I chose to travel all the way to limerick when I could have done a triathlon on my doorstep, the simple answer is I am loathe to swim in the Liffey. I have heard a few horror stories about people have gastric discomfort to put it mildly that I just didn’t fancy taking any chances. I had also planned to head abroad for a few days immediately after the race so simply couldn’t entertain even the slightest possibility of being unwell while on holiday. As it turned out my trip didn’t materialise. Quite aside from the questionable cleanliness of the Liffey, I was also concerned about the sheer numbers of people taking part in the DCT all competing for apace in the river, on the bike route and the run segment. Having done 2 duathlons in the Phoenix park I was familiar with the route and knew it would be frustrating trying to navigate through 1000 competitors as would be the case given the bike leg was two laps. So I chose Limerick over the Liffey.

As has been the case the day itself was an endless procession of spells of sunshine and heavy showers. As we prepped our bikes in transition we were one minute pelted upon yet the next minute were reaching for the sunglasses. Now the difference with this triathlon as opposed to all the others I have done so far was there were two transition zones. Normally there’s just one. So when you complete the swim you take off your wetsuit, hop on your bike and return to the same spot before starting your run. For reasons of logistics and primarily because race organisers wanted to have a grandstand finish in the town of Castleconnell in front of the locals, there had to be two transition zones. This involved dropping my running shoes in one area and then about 15 minutes walk away I set up my bike. Both transition zones were numbered and kept secure but it was just one additional factor to think about midrace when the adrenaline is in full flow.

The swim itself went fine. I did my usual othing of staying out wide and well away from the chaos. Having clean water to swim in makes all the difference and allows you to set your own rhythm. We had to swim 375 m downstream and then 375 m upstream alas against a fairly stiff breeze. I had thought because the first half of the swim was with the current the overall swim time would be fast but it turned out to be just as fast as my other swim times , in that it wasn’t fast at all 🙂

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Then it was on to the bike. I elected to use the clipless pedals with teh cycling shoes primarily because if it rained during the cycle leg and I had my runners on, the subsequent run segment would not have been at all pleasant. Disaster almost struck the minute I hopped onto the bike as a girl ahead of me was weaving as she was trying to slip her feet into her cycling shoes while stirring down the narrow bike exit and I nearly hit her. Phew !! The bike leg saw a plethora of different weather conditions from blazing sun to a brief thunderous downpour that I felt enabled me to make up a few places. We were also cycling on a main artery of the county so the road was quite exposed. Several times I was absolutely soaked by the overwhelming spray from huge HGVs as they flew past. The route itself was a straight out and back with very long gradual inclines, plus it was just under 22km long which at 2 km longer than normal for a sprint distance triathlon you could really feel in the legs.

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The came the run. Now I was apprehensive about the run because of reasons outlined above but felt I would ramp up my pace a little bit compared to my pace in Loughrea last time out. To be fair the leg felt good. I was passed by a couple of runners which I found a tad frustrating but I knew not to push too much. Then at about 3 km a runner past me but I felt if I upped my pace just slightly I could stay with him and that is what I did. Every so often he upped the pace to burn me off but I was able to stick with him. I was even more keen to hang on his shoulder when I saw the Ironman tattoo on his leg. With about 600m left to go I thought it was now or never and I put the foot down. As I did I could hear him try to react in kind but it was clear I had broken free and just had to maintain the gap which thankfully I did to the finish line.

That final sprint finish winded me for a couple of minutes but I recovered quickly enough satisfied that I had another decent performance under the belt. In fact I manged a very decent 22nd place with which I was more than happy !!! ON to the next one!!

 

Once more into the breach

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This divine scene was the setting of my latest triathlon foray. The lake from which Loughrea takes its name is arguably the most Mediterranean of bodies of water I’ve yet witnessed in Ireland. The water was crystal clear and practically turquoise in colour and that was both when the sun shone and when it lashed as it did yesterday on several occasions.

I hadn’t raced since the Blessington aquabike over a month ago. Its a shame there aren’t more opportunities to partake in aquabike races for those people who for reasons of injury can’t run. You might recall I had some tibia issues after the Brown Bay Beast in June. It turned out that an mri revealed bone marrow edema in my right leg which was exactly what I had in my left left a couple of years ago and which curtailed my season that year too. I love running but it doesn’t seem to like me!!

Anyhow I followed a back to running programme so tentatively took to the start line in Loughrea for the latest National series race. I figured if I was going to resume my season I may as well do so in the company of the best field. To be honest my aspirations were simply to finish in one piece. I wasn’t particularly worried about placings or times. I just wanted to get through the run.

The swim in spite of the gorgeous waters was tiring. As usual I avoided the mêlée at the start. I took a wide line and paced myself correctly I felt to the first turn buoy at 300m. It was when turning back that the going hot tougher as the flow of the current was hitting me head on. I actually swallowed a mouth of water at one point which had me choking briefly but in the end I came out of the water in 14.47, so just under 2 min per 100 m pace  not fast but fairly typical for me.

The transition was without issue and I hopped on the bike. I elected to use bike shoes which clip into the pedals on this occasion as rain had been predicted for during the race and I didn’t fancy running in the same shoes that would have been inevitably soaked on the bike ride. Typically, despite ominously black skies it didn’t rain during the race at all.

The cycle was not the easiest. There were too many rolling hills for my liking. Rolling hills is cycling parlance for a slight gradient that is subtle but stingy enough on the legs to slowly take its toll. The road surface in places was very poor which tempers my instincts to throw the kitchen sink at it, especially on the downhill sections. I managed the bike leg in 38 mins, again not the quickest for me.

Then came the run. I chose to refyce my pace to about 5 min per km pace and run very gingerly, especially on the downhill segments. A couple of dozen people passed me on this section of the race and while I found it frustrating I had to keep reminding myself that there was nothing to be gained from upping the pace, my goal was simply to finish uninjured and that I managed.

A creditable 106th from over 200 entrants, but most importantly a clean race with no adverse reactions. I will monitor my leg in the coming days with a view to doing another race next week, fingers crossed.

Oh and the heavens well and truly opened after we finished so we were all very lucky because competing in monsoon conditions certainly would not have been at all pleasant.

 

First time for everything !

20190630_085209First time that is for me to do any aquabike !! What now ? Let me explain. Having completed my first triathlon of the season north of the border a few weeks back, in the days afterwards I suffered what felt like lower limb injury. I was experiencing a dull pain in my tibia which was similar to another injury I had in the other leg two years ago and necessitated my taking 2 months out of the sport. Yes yes I know I tend to get a lot of lower limb injuries, be they calf or shin related, but in my defence although i had completed 4 duathlons preseason this year, my training load wasn’t that great.

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Anyhow, I decided to err on the side of caution and take a break from running but this didn’t mean I couldn’t compete. That’s because to facilitate this exact kind of triathlete some clubs around the country hold aquabike races the same day they hold their annual triathlons. This allows you to swim followed by a run so at least you aren’t missing out on the fun completely !! The only catch was the next aquabike of the season was a standard distance aquabike, which would mean swimming and cycling twice the distance I would normally complete in the a triathlon. This was intimidating because I hadn’t swam for any distance longer than 1km in the pool since last summer, plus, while I can cycle 40 km , I didn’t know how I would hold up trying to do so at race pace following a swim of 1500 m. So many unknowns and ponderables but given this is my third season in triathlon I threw caution to the wind and decided to sign up for the standard aquabike in Blessington.

In preparation I immediately upped my distance in the pool. At saying that I still only managed 2 swim sessions of 1600m before the actual race but was pleased I was able to even do that distance given I hadn’t in so long. I managed a couple of longer bike sessions too but nothing more than that. The other unknown was how I would cope swimming 1500 m in a lake given I had only swam outdoors once so far this year. The sea temperature has been lower for longer this year compared to summer 2018 when by this stage I would have been swimming outdoors plenty of times.

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So bearing in mind the unknowns I decided I would be just happy to complete this aquabike rather than aim for a top 20 finish which is normally my aim. This actually really took the pressure off and allowed me to ‘enjoy’, the pre race build up a tad more than usual. This was my third year in Blessington so I was very familiar with the setup. I was a tad sad not to be partaking in the triathlon as I had done previously but I still had a job to do which I was relishing.

I started in the second wave and as usual I elected to stay out wide in the water. I started at a modest pace letting other hare off as is normally the case at the start of the swim. Typically enough after about 100m I found people were starting to swim across me, which was super frustrating as I hadn’t changed my line to the turn buoy and all the interruptions were upsetting my momentum. For a brief moment I thought how the hell was I going to manage another 1400 m of this but I knew from experience after the first turn buoy things normally settle down as swimmers fan out. This is exactly what happened. I did stop once or twice but that was to get a clear view of where there was clear water ahead of me. When I’m allowed settle into my own pace I’m fine and I gained momentum. We had to pass several buoys before doubling back. The funny thing was I was again swimming solo 30 feet wide of everyone and when I checked the gps path of my swim afterwards I was laughing at how dead straight my path was.

I exited the water in 30 mins 40 seconds, which wasn’t lightening fast at all, but would be the same pace I would swim in the pool so given all the initial breaks in momentum I was very pleased.

The cycle was made up of 2 loops of 20km around the Blessington lake with most on the circuit on the N81. This road is of decent quality which is what you want unlike the last 4 km which were on backroads, the surface of which was very poor indeed. I did tell myself I would pace myself on the first loop so I wouldn’t exhaust myself for the second lap but thats much harder to carry out in practice. I never seem to be able to take it easy as was evidenced by my splits, cycling loop 1 in 37 mins and the second in 38 mins. Im nothing if not consistent 🙂

 

It felt a bit weird nay anticlimactic finishing my race in the transition zone rather than running across the line but I was delighted to be there given the leg injury and I was very pleased with my performance in the water and on the bike given how little training I’ve done for the standard distance. In the end I managed 13th over all and first in my age group so not bad at all.

I have had a precautionary mri on the leg and will decide what to do next based on the results. I did some treadmill running today without any pain so things may be looking up !!