Monday 29 August 2011

Lord and Lady of the Lake.

This was the 2nd year in a row that I took part in the Lord and Lady of Lake event at Camlough/Crooked Lake.

It’s a 2.6km swim from one end of the lake to the other, first man and women would be crown Lord and Lady of the lake.

This was the second year in the row that I had taken part in it, and last year I won it. This year was different I wasn’t just a nobody that just turned up, everyone now knew who I was, so there was a bit more pressure on this year.

Thankfully I had a good race and retained my title; unfortunately I went slightly slower than my time last year. Last year I went 30mins flat but this year I went 30mins 21secs. The aim was to break the 30mins barrier, but never mind, with it being such a long point to point swim it could just have been due to the line I took or anything.

Aileen also competed this year so that was my main competition, my summer training partner; I couldn’t let her get me. Thankfully I was able to hold her off and what a swim she had, 31.40 and 2nd overall she lifted the Lady of the Lake title.

It was a class experience, one which I will hopefully be doing next year again.

Crooked Lake is an amazing venue such a beautiful lake and especially when the race started at 7pm and the sun was starting to drop.

Monday 15 August 2011

Tiszaujvaros Junior European Cup, Hungary.

Last weekend the race organisers messed about with the format of the junior race and used it as a test event for future races. Instead of the usual junior sprint distance of 750m swim, 20km bike, and 5km run, this race was made up of a heat and a final and added up to the full sprint distance.

So the heat consisted of a 500m swim, 13.2km bike, 3.2km run. And the final was 250m swim, 6.8 bike, 1.8 run. There were two heats of approx 35 guys in each and the top ten in each heat progressed to the final as well as the 5 fasted losers. So 25 in total in the final.

In the heat I had a really good swim exiting 4th and on the bike in the lead pack, my group was working really well, as there was only 7 or 8 of us we knew if we worked together we would all make the final. We managed not to get caught going into T2.

Coming up to the dismount line I was in a good position and about to get off as smoothly as possible and on to the run and I knew I was in a good position for qualifying for the final later in the day. But I thought I might just make things I wee bit more dramatic … no it was definitely not intentional, I ended up crashing off the bike at the dismount line. I was dismounting as normal with my feet on top of the bike shoes, only when I swung my right leg over my saddle my left shoe unclipped from the pedal and I was just thrown over the handle bars landing hard on my head and right shoulder. Thank goodness for my helmet it saved me losing a lot of skin on my face and protecting my head. I was up on my feet as soon as I hit the ground and just had to grab my bike and run in to transition I knew I had lost positions so I needed a good run to make sure I was in that final. If anything the adrenaline helped a lot, and I managed to finish in a solid 6th. In the final – main objective achieved, not quite as planned but I still did it.

I then had just over two hours until the final. I got cleaned up got food into me and thanks to Bryan he got my bike fixed up and ready for final.

The final was a pontoon start and you choose your spots according to your start number, I thought I was going to get an awful position because my start number was the second last. Fortunately there was one spot at the far left, similar to where I had started in the heats, it was perfect, I had a good dive and got clean water - another really good swim exiting in 6th. Thankfully I am starting to do my swimming a bit of justice.

Running towards transition Gav shouted that there was a gap behind me so I knew I couldn’t afford to lose the front pack after doing the hard work in the swim, got a good T1 and got away with the lead pack. It was the fastest bike leg I had ever been on, with a few race favourites missing in the pack the pressure was on to try and stay away but unfortunately as the swim was only 250m the gap was not huge and the larger chase pack worked well and closed the gap.

Into T2 I was a bit nervous because of the earlier crash and probably didn’t go in as fast as usual, but this time much more safely. I managed to have a good solid run and finished in 9th.

I was incredibly happy with my performance as I am really lacking in run speed at the minute due to being out for so long and only just building my running up not focusing on speed so I really surprised myself with a very respectful 1.8km run which I thought would have been my downfall.

The whole weekend was an awesome experience and I learnt so much from Gavin, Bryan and Aileen, and really appreciated their help.

Super happy to have achieved a top 10 finish in a Junior European Cup and I am really glad to have started to hit a bit of form at this latter part of the season.

Tuesday 2 August 2011

London Junior Elite Triathlon 2011

Last weekend I travelled over to London to compete in the Junior Mens Elite race at the Virgin Active London Triathlon, the largest triathlon in the world, it is just a constant flow of athletes all Saturday and Sunday. It is really an amazing sight with unbelievable organisation required.

The Junior Elite race was a sprint distance with a bit of a difference; it had a slightly longer bike leg, 30km instead of the usual 20km. It was draft legal with a strong field consisting of the top Juniors in Britain.

This season hasn’t exactly gone to plan; as it has been a bit of a struggle getting my running up to scratch after missing out on all of the winter training due to a stress fractures. In hind sight I wasn’t ready for the two Junior Elite races that I have done this season (European Championships and Echternach Junior European Cup) because I was trying to bring my running back up and that wasn’t there yet and the extra training load was affecting the other two disciplines. In both those races I got my hydration and nutrition before and during both the races very wrong resulting in very disappointing outcomes.

I am pleased to say that going into the race on Sunday I was feeling really good in all three disciplines and went into the race with a lot of confidence. As the saying goes ‘third time lucky’ I managed to find my perfect medium of fluid intake as well and it paid off.

The swim went really well and I felt really comfortable and strong swimming in a lead pack of 5 in my Sailfish G-Range suit which feels really natural to swim in.

I exited the water joint 1st with the small pack of five guys with a small gap until the rest of the field. The pack was down to four going onto the bike after losing one guy in T1, and later another guy at the very start of the bike leg.

For the first 8km I was in a breakaway of three, we were working well together but it just wasn’t possible to stay away as we were being chased down by a much larger chasing pack. We took our foot off the pedal and allowed ourselves to be caught by this larger pack to save energy. Once caught the pace dramatically slowed down as nobody wanted to work as most of the main contenders were all now in the front pack.

Prior to the race my aim was to finish on the podium, when I got onto the run , I was in 3rd , a medal was within my grasp, but so was leaving with nothing as the other boys were breathing down my neck. I was determined to achieve what Id set out to do, and I concentrated on closing the gap on the two in front of me.

The big difference at the London Tri compared to many Elite races is that it goes on at the same time as multiple age-group races so it is a constant battle to run though the competitors running in the other races. After the first 2.5km lap I had realised I was running well and gaining on the two in front of me. For the first time all season my running felt really strong , I knew I was capeable of closing the gap and running past the boys, they would have to lift their pace to keep up with me. At the final turn around point I was able to see that I had put distance between myself and second , at this stage wanting to hold on to first place so badly I just continued lifting the pace and In doing so managed to go over 40secs faster on the second lap of the run than I had on the first. I crossed the line first, 20 seconds ahead of my nearest competitor.

I was so happy I had won my first Elite Junior Triathlon, and I couldn’t believe that I had managed to do it on the run leg, I am just so pleased that everything is starting to fall into place for the latter part of the season, hopefully this will be first of many