Monday, April 30, 2012

David (Duathlon) - Back in The Saddle

As we approach Summer and adventure racing season, the weather has decided to replicate mid-Winter and over the last week, has thrown up high winds, driving rain with hail stones, warm sunny spells and temperatures ranging from 0-15 degrees. I wont be able to say on race day that "I've never raced in these conditions" anyway. To the experienced cyclist this type of thing is just standard fare but to me, I don't think I'll ever get used to the numb feet and stiff necks that persist long after the obligatory half hour hot shower (don't know how I'll survive after water rates are introduced).

Besides all that, training went really well. I felt strong on both hill climb sessions and again yesterday (Sunday) on my 40k jaunt. Fitness is definitely improving and, combined with the necessary circuit training and gym work as a substitute for road running, I hope to be in good shape by May 19th. The foot injury is still troubling me and running any distance is still out of the question but, having seen the eminent Dr Eanna Falvey on Friday last, I'm hoping for a complete recovery over the next two months. Whether or not the treatment will interfere with participation in the race is still unclear but, until I know for certain, training must continue unabated.

At this stage of training before a major race one might be working out a strategy for race day. Local knowledge can be worth a lot in this situation and I do know the course well at this point . For me, it's a case of finishing (hopefully mid pack) but for the competitive I would advise going hard on the run and on the first bike section. The Duathlon will be won and lost by the top of the Vee. A good lead here will be difficult to reel in given the descent is so fast and, even if you're really tired at the top the 12k descent, it gives ample time to recover before tackling the admittedly gruelling last 2k. Unlike most Duathlons, you finish on your bike so saving a little for the final run does not apply here. Most cyclists I talk to are delighted by this, whereas the runners are hoping to make ground early and try to hold on for dear life.

Maybe by next year I'll be up with the leaders, but for now it's all about getting back in the saddle (lol) of competitive racing. I have not toed a line since the Dublin marathon last October and for someone who has raced at least once a month for years, this is a famine. Nothing compares to racing (PB's are never achieved in training) and the longer you're out, the further behind you fall.

Still, head up and prepare for another week of training. This week will bring us into May and time to race day will be counted in days rather than weeks. If you're feeling a bit lazy this week that fact should motivate you.

Till next week, train hard, race easy agus beir bua!


Fergal (Elite) - Are You Up For The Challenge?

Time is growing short. 3 weeks from now we’ll be scanning the results page of the Beir Bua Waterford Adventure Race, & plotting how to do just a little bit better in 2013.

If you haven’t already signed up now's the time, there is no better motivation to get out & train than knowing there is a serious challenge penciled into your diary. With an option of a shorter adventure Duathlon, this really is a race that is accessible to just about anyone. 

When I try to talk newbies into trying this great sport for the first time, I nearly always get the same reaction - “are you mad, that stuff’s only for the super fit” or “I don’t want to be the one finishing last”. But as anyone that does take the plunge will tell you, literally all shapes, sizes and ages take part and come out the other end having surprised themselves by a) actually being fitter than they thought they were and b) having enjoyed themselves. And remember, of the 99.9% of starters that fear they may be the one that crosses the line last, only 0.01% is ever right.

Training wise, this week I clocked off a half marathon running around the fantastic tracks & trails of Lough Key Forest Park. It’s less than 15mins from work so thought it would make a nice change from being out on the road. Pace was slow, but trail running is tougher than the road, and my calf injury still didn’t feel 100%. Tuesday was an easy day with just 30 mins in the morning consisting of a few rounds on the punch bag followed by some weights & core work. 

Wednesday morning was 10x100mt swimming averaging 2.05 for each split. Wednesday evening was more interval work, this time running 5x1km. Run times were a disappointing 3.52 average. A lot slower than what I should be doing but sometimes you have days like that, no point dwelling on it, hopefully next week will show an improvement. 

Thursday was a day of rest, before hitting the pool again Friday morning for 1500mts in 35.24 which I was very happy with, considering the lack of swim training I’m doing.  Slow by most swimmers standards I know but I’ll be quite happy if I can get around the 1900mt swim of a half Ironman planned for later in the year in about 45mins. Friday evening was a tempo run on my usual tough 8km route which was done in 32.35, not my best but a good hard run nonetheless. 

No sleep-in Saturday morning I’m afraid L The 6am alarm signaled my long cycle – 90km with some nice hills throw in at a steady 3hrs 24mins. Sunday (my favourite day of the week) was spent taking it easy avoiding any lyrca, runners or speedos and eating plenty of my wife’s delicious baking. 

Until next week enjoy the training - the countdown is on in earnest.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Fergal (Elite) - Recovery

This week was definitely more about recovering from last week’s exertions, than making any real fitness gains. I underestimated the toll a big race can take; it required a major effort of will to drag the body out of the bed Monday Morning.  Well, lesson learned, I’ll be making sure the weekend of the Waterford Adventure Race is a long weekend for me. 

Planning to head down Thursday night and stay until Monday, plenty of recovery time factored in this time and it will give us a chance to relax and enjoy Dungarvan & its environs. I would certainly recommend anyone taking on the longer course to do the same, no point in putting in all that training and then not taking the time to enjoy (hopefully) successfully completing the course and the after race festivities. 

Anyway to underline the point my stiff/sore body gradually began to loosen up as Monday progressed, but I still couldn’t put any weight on my left leg. By Tuesday I had self-diagnosed a tear in the calf muscle. Not wanting training to grind to a halt altogether, I hit the Gym Tuesday evening for 30 minutes on the Indoor rower followed by an easy 30 minutes swim. Wednesday Morning I was back in the pool for 10x100mts averaging 2.07. Wednesday evening I tried out the leg on grass, hoping it would have loosened up. Bad idea-had to stop after 100mts, still getting stabbing pains in the calf. Took out the bike instead for a 30km spin, felt OK as long as I stayed in the saddle, didn’t push to hard clocking an OK 1.03. Thursday was back on the rower doing 10,000mts in 39.45 followed by 20mins doing some core work. 

Impatience was setting in by Friday so Karen (wife turned amateur Physio) went to work on the offending muscle with a tennis ball. I think it definitely helped to break up some of the scar tissue, so attempted a very slow 6km jog. Better than Wednesday but still felt like I was carrying my left leg, as the hamstring also tightened up in sympathy with the calf. Saturday morning was a long spin - 100km in 3hrs 45, one of those frustrating days that no matter which direction I turned in, the wind always managed to be blowing straight in my face. 

Today (Sunday) I rather foolishly thought I’d risk the calf and take on a local 10k race. Some more excellent Physio work from Karen gave me hope I could get through it, and after a quick test run this morning I chanced it. Nice course taking in Moate Park on the edge of Roscommon town. I headed out quite conservatively keeping to just over 4min kilometer pace. Felt pretty strong throughout but by 7km the leg had tightened up a bit, so was happy enough to cross the line in 40.45. Hopefully I’ll get back to some serious running this week and aim to get that time down to the right side of 40 in the not to distant future. That 10km stuff is definitely more suited to the scrawny guys (like fellow blogger & much older brother David) I prefer racing that requires a little more grunt & a little less out & out speed.

Until next week keep training, & remember in these recessionary times wife’s/Girlfriends/boyfriends etc. can help reduce your Physio bill and you’d be amazed at how much they’ll enjoy hearing you squeal as they pound away at the injured muscle. HEALTH WARNING don’t blame me if they actually make you worse rather than better.

Monday, April 23, 2012

David (Duathlon) - If I Can, You Can!

Hi there .Week three of blogging and the anticipation grows .The countdown is on now and training continues apace.

Got out on the bike four times this week and managed to squeeze in two circuit training classes on top of that. Definitely my best week in a long while and I’m starting to feel more at ease on the bike with every session.
In general I stick to the short, sharp stuff either low miles high pace or repeated hill climbing to best replicate race day and also because i don’t have the stamina reserves for the 50k+ stuff.
Usually on Sunday I’ll head off for 2-3 hours at a handy pace but find it takes more out of me than 60 - 80 minutes of high tempo stuff. Hopefully on race day I’ll only be on the bike for two stints or circa 30 minutes so I hope my strategy in training will pay off.

My persistent heel injury will keep me off road till close to race day and I will suffer over the 6.5k even though that would be no more than a warm up 6 months ago but that can’t be helped so I’ll just get on with it and hope for the best.

Fergal (brother) is still suffering from the Wicklow Adventure Race but will be in good shape come May 19th. I need him to drag me up the Vee before we go our separate ways at the top. You may think we see ourselves as a poor man’s version of the Brownlee brothers who will fight it out for gold and silver in the Olympics but, like Kilkenny and Kerry in football (or reverse for hurling), we play the same game but there ends the comparison. Generally a top 10% finish is all that’s hoped for and when we compete in the same races all that counts is who is number one of five brothers (four of whom road race).

I know the Elite category is filling up quickly and there will be hundreds out on the course but numbers are slower coming in for the Duathlon and I don’t want to find myself all alone once the quick guys are gone so if you’re a first timer looking for a challenge or a regular looking for a well organised, challenging Duathlon , this is the one for you. Estimates range from 75 minutes (ambitious) to 2.5 hours to cover the course so if you’ve been doing a bit since Christmas and want to test yourself the Duathlon is the way to go. You need no special equipment , just a bike and running shoes and plenty of enthusiasm. Hope to see you there!

Until next week, train hard, race easy agus beir bua!


Monday, April 16, 2012

On Yer Bike!! Getting Stuck Into The Hills

Hi there . One more week’s training done and one week closer to D Day..
After doing a course recce last week I decided to shift focus from long jaunts on the bike to shorter, more punishing uphill cycles. There are plenty of options in West Waterford but I find the Sweep out of Dungarvan towards Youghal to be a good test.  Using the old road (the Marine Climb to local running fraternity) which eliminates the traffic, you climb steeply for three miles and then back down and up again as often as you can.  I know this offers a break between climbs that I won’t get on The Vee but baby steps (I am but a novice on the bike).

Running unfortunately is still my achilles heel (actually plantar fascitis but you know what I mean) and I’m still off-road and will be until shortly before event.  Circuit training twice a week is supposed to compensate a little but like we all know there is nothing to compare to getting the miles down on the road.  As for the race itself I think the most important part competitively will be The Vee ascent and I’m hoping to just hold my own through the forest trail run (6.5k) and at least be on the bike before the leaders disappear up The Vee.  The Bealough run looks more like a hike over rough terrain so there will be little hope of improving your position on this section if running is your thing.
Fergal (brother and fellow blogger) competed in the Wicklow Adventure Race yesterday supposedly the toughest of the year (he hasn’t seen what’s on offer down here yet) and managed to get home in 45th with only ten weeks training, so I’ll be expecting big things by the time Beir Bua rolls around.

Anyway till next week, Train hard, race easy agus Beir Bua .....


Preparation In Full Swing: Wicklow Adventure Race? Done!

This week was a quiet one on the training front, as I figured the best way to prepare for a race was to actually go and race, but more on that later. Tuesday was an off day, just easing back into the routine after the long weekend. Wednesday morning I was back in the pool to do 10x100metres with 60 seconds rest between each, averaging about 2.15 for each. Desperately slow even for me, can see a real difference when I miss a few swim sessions, that time was at least 10 seconds slower than a few weeks ago. Wednesday evening was also an interval session, this time running 5 x 1km with 60 seconds rest. Averaging 3.50, again slower than I'd like but conditions weren't great. Thursday morning just did a quick 30mins of weights/core training. Friday again was a rest day as I tapered in preparation for Saturday.

Drove to Dublin Friday night to break up the journey, even so the alarm still went off at 5.00 Saturday morning. I was soon heading south into the Wicklow mountains to take part in the Wicklow Adventure race. I knew on entering this race I wasn't fully race ready but I knew if I could get through it in one piece it would set me up nicely for the trip to Waterford in 5 weeks time to take on the Beir Bua Adventure race. At least the south east in May should provide far better conditions that what I met on the start line Saturday. Thunder, lightening and sleet with snow on the mountain tops had me wishing I'd packed a jacket. The race kicked off with a 9km run which had a lot of sections on the way up that had most reduced to a walk, the descent was also tricky as wet stones on the trail meant staying upright was a real challenge. A 15km cycle followed which just served to remind me that I should have brought an extra layer. A 2km Kayak followed, which was ok for the 1st km, but I really started to feel it in the Abs and lower back by the 2nd km. It's definitely an area I'm going to have to work on before Waterford, if I'm to survive the 6.4km kayak in the Blackwater (at least I'm told its downstream).

Next up was a 8km cycle but with 284 metres of ascent in that 8km it was lowest gear and grind for most of it. I Made a mess of a gear change as I rounded a corner to find the road suddenly arching upwards at what seemed like a 45deg angle, chain came off and then got entangled between the chain rings. Could have been worse it didn't break and the 2 or 3 minutes to took to get going again would have been a lot more if I'd been unluckily enough to have a puncture on the day which has happened to me before. The end of this cycle had us almost to the top of the Sally gap where we dismounted and began another 9.5km run. Which started fine but as soon as the course started to creep upwards once again, it was all I could to do just to keep walking let alone run.

Finally we topped out and the legs started turning over again in what was a fast descent, passing quite a few people on the way back to the bikes. The last 26km cycle literally flew by as it was nearly all downhill. The final 3km run was tough, coming so late in the race but at least it was relatively flat and gave me a chance to reel in some of the quicker cyclists.

I crossed the finish line 4hrs 43mins after starting in an overall position of 45th. On reflection a result I'm happy enough with, it is still only April after all and with another 5 weeks to go until race day in Dungarvan, I should be able to improve on that and get a little closer to the top 20. Mind you maybe I should say 4 weeks training, this week could be a washout seeing as how it's taken me nearly 5mins just to climb the stairs today, I'm that sore and battered. Still it never ceases to amaze me how selective the human memory can be.

From saying never ever again only 24hrs ago to sitting here perusing and planning my next big day out.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Fergal - Week 1: Elite Participant

Just 6 weeks to go until the Beir Bua Waterford Adventure race. Looking forward to racing in the ‘’sunny south east’’ it’ll make a change from the usual locations for adventure race’s, i.e. the Wicklow mountains or out here in the Wild West. 

 At this stage it may be less about ‘’Beir Bua’’ for me and more about surviving the day. It certainly looks like a tough challenge; training will need to get intense for the next month if I’m to avoid crawling up the Sugarloaf. It’s not that I haven’t done this kind of race before, but it has been a while. 

I have started upping the distances in training over the last few weeks after a winter of run training focusing on the 10k distance. Completed quite a few 10k’s over the winter none of which went well. I couldn’t manage a sub 40 min finish in any of them. I have actually been enjoying the change in focus to longer distance training and spending more time on the bike. This weeks training has been a bit up & down. Started ok with a steady 21k road run Monday night, but Tuesday/Wednesday were a washout, picked up a bug and had to go straight to bed after work each night. 

Felt considerably better Thursday so did 5 x 1km run with 60 seconds rest interval between each. Friday was usual 8km tempo run, it’s a hilly route, not helped by a strong headwind for the 1st half today, so my time wasn’t great. Saturday was the real test of how far off race fitness I am. Basically a simulated race day (minus the Kayak, I haven’t convinced the wife just yet that a kayak is an essential piece of household kit). Started early 6.30 so I’d at least have a good portion of it done before the kids got up. 1st section was an undulating cycle with a couple of killer hills to Sliabh Ban Mountain in East Roscommon overlooking the Shannon, it’s no Sugarloaf but it’s certainly the highest ground in the area. Cycle length = (17km) 2nd section was a (9.5km) run around the mountain. 3rd section was a repeat of the 1st to get me home again. Finally the 4th section was my usually 8km run route at home. Total distance = 51.5km total time = 3hr 7min. 

Sunday was a rest day, not sure hauling around 20k plus stones whilst building a rockery in our front lawn counts as rest though. Monday I took advantage of the day off to get my long run out of the way early. Awful day though, incessant rain. Thought I’d try the racecourse in Roscommon for some gentle off road running, had intended doing about 20k but was just dead today, every lap was an effort so I called it off after 15k. Good spot for running though, there’s an inner track of sand which is good for some simulated beach running, as well as a small section of loose stone/gravel which was good for working on keeping your footing on a loose surface, and of course plenty of grass. After that it was time for more ‘’gardening rest’’.

Until next week - Fergal

David - Week 1: Duathlon Participant

Just signed up for the Waterford Adventure Race this weekend (Easter weekend) and was immediately filled with the usual apprehension and anticipation in equal measure. You see although I am not a complete novice to adventure racing, it is definitely not something I do regularly preferring to stick to road running most of the time. But after a long injury lay off forced me off the road and on to the bike,  I thought this might be a good opportunity to see if all that winter cycling  was time well spent.

I decided before entering that a course recce might be order so I loaded the family and headed up the Vee yesterday morning. It was a good move because on investigation I was convinced the Duathlon was for me. A nice run followed by a real testing cycle is all my fitness would allow at the moment. The Elite race is a serious test of metal and definitely not for the faint hearted.

My baby brother (lol) is doing the full race and though I might take him on the run but he would eat me alive on the bike so it’s for the best we won’t be competing against each other because when he sped by half way up the Vee I would be compelled to either try to hang on leading to a coronary or simply throw a stick through his spokes. 

Still with six weeks to go I am looking forward to a race and if I can get six good weeks of training in; that final (out of saddle) climb from the grotto to the finish (1.5mile) may not seem as intimidating.

Till next week. Train hard race easy  agus Beir Bua. 

Adventure Racing Competition In County Waterford, Ireland. - Live For Adventure
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