Tuesday 24 March 2015

Quarteira European Cup 2015

Well that’s the 1st race of the 2015 season done, it is the earliest I have raced before but it is good to get the season kicked off.

I really didn’t think I would be racing this early this season due to my Uni commitments. After taking last year out of university for the Commonwealths I returned in September straight after World Champs to finish my final year. This year has been quite demanding with me having to complete my final placement in a Primary School for 10weeks before Christmas and then complete my dissertation after Christmas – which I handed in the night before I flew out for this race. It hasn’t been a normal winters training, reduced volume and fitting it around everything has been a big difference from last year when I was completely free to train whenever and wherever.
I managed to be in reasonable shape - not as fit as I would have liked to be when racing - but I was happy enough considering what I was doing at the same time. 

… but anyway, enough of the Uni talk …
This was my 2nd time racing in Quarteria, (last year being the 1st) and I was glad to be back, it’s a well organized raced on a great course. Nice rough wavy swim, bike course with good short, steep hill every lap and a flat fast 10k run to round it off.
Last year I had a good swim-bike and rubbish run, so the plan this year was to keep the swim-bike the same and finish off with a good run this time.

1st race of the season is all about blowing the cobwebs away and making the mistakes now rather than more important races during the season and I think I made enough mistakes in this race for the whole season, you would have thought I had never raced a triathlon before.

I made a hash of the beach start, somehow managing to do a front flip as soon as hit the 1st wave which put me at the back and a nightmare to try and swim through. Constant bad positioning resulted in me getting battered throughout the swim, once again not using my potential in a swim coming out well down.
It was now just a case of resurrecting the race once I got onto the bike -  I managed to stay out of trouble on the bike and conserved energy as I wasn’t 100% sure of how good my cycling legs were, thankfully they were ok and got off the bike with the majority of the field.
Didn’t have a great t2, which resulted in me loosing out on some easy places, but put an ok run together to finish a reasonable 18th.

The aim of the game is to beat your start number – I was ranked 17th finished 18th; which is annoying but I am happy to get the 1st race out of the way. Now to get back into to some solid training so that I can beat my start number by a considerable margin next time.

Big thanks to Stephen Delaney and Stephan Teeling Lynch, it’s always great to have support staff out to make everything run smooth – thanks for the help.
Lakeland Bikes Enniskillen, cheers for getting me my old race bike to me for this race, makes racing easier when on top class equipment, great to be working with you again this season.
It was also my 1st race as an On-Running sponsored athlete, it is great to be racing in awesome shoes. 

Thursday 15 January 2015

Commonwealth Games – Glasgow 2014

I know I haven’t posted in a long time and the few post I am going to do now are a bit dated but there are a few things that would be a shame not to document, mainly the roller-coaster that was the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
I will explain later why it has been so long since my last post but for now I will give you a glimpse of the most amazing experience of my life and probably the most stressful week of my life.

As I had mentioned in my previous post I went over on my ankle in Mallorca 3 weeks out from the games, it was a pretty big set back but not a disaster. Not enough drama for my liking so I had to make things even harder for myself.
Six day before the individual race I had a physio appointment to make sure everything was ready for the following week, as I do not get any physio support whilst living in Scotland I am required to get a short train journey to Life fit Physiotherapy in Falkirk. What was planned to be a final check up and make sure I was 100% turned into a nightmare… In the train station on the way there my ankle gave way going down the stairs –twice in 3weeks, this time much worse- with it being the second time in short succession my ankle ballooned immediately; I knew it was bad. The train journey was the scariest 18mins I have experienced. A combination of the idea of now not racing the following week after so much hard work, the sever pain in my ankle and just pure shock, I didn’t know if I was going to be sick or faint, it was horrible – thankfully I did neither.

I got to the Physio and Stewart seen me immediately, with so much swelling it was hard to feel anything but it was excruciating to touch, so as I was his last patient of the day he went above and beyond and took me to A&E to get an X-ray. In and out of A&E in 30mins on a Friday evening, its amazing what happens when you hobble in and tell them your planning on competing in the commonwealth Games in 6 day – special treatment. Thankfully it wasn’t broken but I left on crutches, which is not something you want to be hobbling around on that close to a major games.

After my quick trip to A&E
On the Sunday (t minus 4days to individual race) I traveled down from Stirling to Glasgow - 35min drive, I will never have a shorter trip to major games again.
All packed up for my short trip to Glasgow
I got down and on that night made the most of Team Northern Ireland already being set up in the village I was able to see Chris the team physio straight away.
The news was not promising, nobody liked the look of my ankle and with such a short time to my event I was forced to be non-weight bearing for 48hours, made to walk around the athlete village on crutches, constantly having people stare or even stop to ask what has happened, its not a common thing to see someone on crutches in an athletes village before the opening ceremony has even happened.

Not how I wanted to get around the Athletes village
The next morning I was sat down and told that I might not be allowed to race the individual race, I was explained that the priority was the team relay as we had a half decent chance and if the ankle was still questionable the individual was a no-no, as you can imagine, this was not an option for me.
I went through rigorous testing to check out my ankle and make sure it was strong enough to race, I spent the next six days trying to prove to the physio that the ankle would be ok, I spent those six days, biting my tongue and lying through my teeth that it was no longer sore, but I was confident it would hold up if I was allowed to race, with the treatment I was getting on top of the rehab I managed to be ready – I couldn’t have done it without the help of SINI or Team NI but at the same time mentally there was no option that I was not going to be on the start line of my 1st Commonwealth Games.

A lot of ice
My view for most of my week in Glasgow

It was an extremely hard week mentally and physically but I was on that start line on the 24th July 2014.