Saturday 31 December 2011

What a difference a Year makes!

Last Tuesday I ran the Castlewellan Christmas Cracker, it was a run race with a bit of I difference; it was a pairs race, you had to cross the line with your partner. I was rather lucky to have a very good partner in the form of Andrew Christie, Andy is a member of the Scottish Triathlon Squad. The race was on and off road mainly off road, for 10 miles; basically the route sent you up every possible hill around or near Castlewellan lough. It was nothing that I was used to but was an extremely good hard work out which was all I was looking for, it was also a bonus that Andy and myself were running well and managed to finish 3rd overall and 1st Junior pair. Not bad for not being runners, but to be fair the triathletes stuck it to the runners as the top 6 finishers consisted of 3 Triathletes, the other being Bryan McCrystal, who was ½ of the 2nd pair.

So if I come back to the title of the blog; ‘what a difference a year makes’, this time of year always seems to be a time of, out with the old and in with the new and reflection on the year past. Last year was a pretty eventfully one, best described as a bit of a roller coaster. This time last year I wasn’t even allowed to run never mind run a 10mile trail race. Even with my lack of running I still managed to achieve some good results, I managed to come 4th in the British Junior Champs with only 2 weeks of running in my legs; which qualified me to race at the European Junior Champs, as big a disappointment as it was a lot of valuable lessons were learnt, I also got my 1st Elite Win at the London Junior Elite Triathlon, and to top it off I got a top 10 finish in a Junior European Cup, with my 9th Place in Tisijauvarous, Hungary. Therefore I can still take some satisfaction from these results when they were achieved after being out of running for 8 ½ months.

Next year is another big year, it will probably be my biggest so far, a year in which I will be trying to establish myself at the Olympic distance, and get some good solid results under my belt. It is obviously going to be tough to make the jump up to Senior racing but I do think that this distance may suit me better, and I am obviously in a much better shape at this time of the year than my previous two seasons in the sport.

Looking forward to 2012 I wish everyone all the very best and lets make it a good one.

Good Luck and Happy New Year.

Monday 26 December 2011

Back to my roots.

I came home from uni on the 15th after I finished all my exams, it was due to my exams that I wasn’t able to attend the Triathlon Ireland warm weather training camp in Aguilas Spain, which would have been another great opportunity if it was anything like my time away last year.

My plan for Christmas was to keep up my training as much as possible but also get some quality time with my family.

Just before I headed back home I noticed that the Irish Short Course swimming champs was being held in my pool on the weekend 16-18th Dec, so I made the brave decision to enter the 1500m FC to get back to my roots. At the end of my solely swimming career this was my event, even though I had been a breaststroker for along time. The aim for this race was to enjoy it but also to see if my swimming had improved or gone backwards since becoming a triathlete. (after my swimming being a weakness to my racing last year I was interested to see)

December 2009 was the last time I had done a shortcourse 1500 in which I set my PB at 17.03.28 . Therefore my main aim was to at least go under 17mins but preferably aim for 16.45.

I knew going into the race that pacing would be key, so I decided to break it down into 3x500m; out hard, steadier middle 500 and a faster 500 to finish it off. My pacing went to plan and I managed to finish in a time of 16.42.72. I couldn’t complain with that, I hit my aims. It was a great confidence boost to let me know what standard my swimming is at. (9th in Ireland isn’t bad when its not even my main sport) I still believe I can get it down closer to 16.30 so that would be a incentive to try another one in the future, partly because my turns where shocking; my turns were never that great when I was a swimmer and they have unfortunately got worse since becoming a triathlete. (easy time though)

With my time I was invited to race the invitation only 800m FC the next day, I decided to give it a shot. Not a great swim, very badly paced. I went a 8.54 two seconds slower than the 1st 800 of my 1500 the day before. I did manage to go out in the 1st 400m in a 4.19 which is actually my current 400m PB but it went downhill from there. Never the less it was a good opportunity to catch up with a lot of old friends and see what I was missing in the world of swimming, it also cemented the fact that I made a great decision to move into Triathlon.

It was a great experience and I have learnt a lot from it that I can take into my fast approaching race season.