New Year, New Challenge

Posted in Triathlon Training with tags , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2018 by grahamclarke6

A few people have been asking what my main goal is for this year. Soooooo after a lot of thinking over the winter I’ve decided on the 313km Coast to Coast race in May. Run by 26 Extreme it starts on the West coast of Ireland in Enniscrone, Co Sligo and finishes on the East coast in Newcastle, Co Down.

C2C 2018The break down of the event is:

5km beach run

107km cycle

26km kayak

139km bike

35km mountain run

Said quickly it doesn’t’ seem toooo bad!!! And individually they’re probably not – it’s combining them and racing for up to 24 hours that will be the biggest challenge.

Race starts at 10am and the first big challenge will be the 26km kayak. I think the furthest I’ve ever paddled was about 7km and that was about 20yrs ago in Oysterhaven, near Kinsale in Co. Cork! Next challenge will be the 2nd half of the 2nd cycle leg as it will be in darkness. I’ve never cycled at night before so that will be interesting!! The first half of the run from Rostrevor – probably as far as Spelga Dam – will also be at night. I enjoy running at night but I’ve only done this over trails I’ve known well – not sure if training will allow for that many trial runs on the actual route so really hoping it’s all well marked!

The average finish time for the last couple of years has been around the 21.5-22hr mark but it’s been up to 29hrs! With this being almost twice as long time wise and and about 100km longer than anything I’ve done before my main aim is just to finish in one piece.

“Why?!” is probably the most common reaction! Even after a really enjoyable 2nd half of last year competing more in short distance races, there is something about the long distance that keeps drawing me back! Since I started triathlons I’ve been fascinated with how the body adapts and pushes itself and seeing how far I can push myself. I enjoy the training which helps and the discipline that goes with it – it’s probably the only thing that I’m that disciplined with. I need a goal that pushes me and the Coast to Coast will definitely do that!

“How do you train for it?” is probably the other most asked question. To be honest I’m not sure! I’ve read as many race reports as I can find, I’ve looked at the routes to get an idea of the terrain but at the end of the day there aren’t many training plans for this type of race out there. I’m modifying the plan I used for the last Hardman in Killarney with some adjustments. As time goes on there will be a few all night sessions – training as opposed to pubs unfortunately! I’m about 5 weeks into training so far and the body is slowly adapting to the gradual volume increase. I’m still doing a mix of long and slow sessions but doing more intense stuff in the shorter ones. I’m back running in the Cooley’s to get my legs back to hill running and really enjoying that – early morning starts allow me to get used to running in the dark again while not taking up too much family time at the weekend!

The kayak is the one leg that I’m really unsure how to train for. For the moment I’m doing  a lot on the indoor rower – similar structure to bike and run sessions with one long, slower, steadier session and other shorter harder. I thought the turbo trainer was mind numbing until I did a couple of long rows! If anyone has a sea kayak lying around that’s free in May please feel free to let me know!

Bike training is going well enough. a long ride at the weekend combined with 2  indoor sessions mid week – usually late at night after the kids go to bed. I’ve started to use the indoor virtual trainer app Zwift to try to alleviate some of the boredom but also to add some realism to indoor training.

So there you have it & I’ve said it out loud now so no real going back!! A lot of ground to cover between now and then and I’ll try to do a few more updates before then. Apologies in advance to Lorna for the time I’ll be missing!

 

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Attracta Doherty Sprint

Posted in Race Reports with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 11, 2017 by grahamclarke6

The Attracta Doherty or Pink and Gold Triathlon is one of the final races on the tri calendar and was my last tri of the year. It’s a charity race which is set up to help families and services dealing with cancer and was being run in Coothill at the the site of Erica’s Fairy Forest – a must go to for anyone with young kids in the area!

22046556_1540400082705206_7950696803327176231_nAs well as the sprint tri they also have a kids duathlon, adult duathlon and a 5km race. I somehow convinced Mam to take part – she’d been saying for ages she’d love to get into a triathlon or duathlon so she finally took the plunge and registered for the duathlon! She even work pink for the day!

After we got set up and figured out where we’d Dromore lakeboth be coming from and going to there was time to watch a bit of the kids race before the sprint race got underway. Dromore Lough was glassy calm for the out and back swim – swimming up in Monaghan and 146d10ca-0c0e-44f4-be80-02ed15eafe3dback down in Cavan!

After the Pulse Port Beach race in Clogherhead I’d pretty much given up on the swim side of and decided to focus on improving my run off the bike. But for whatever reason this swim was probably my smoothest of the year, stuck to the inside all the way and never felt in trouble. No idea what’s been going on with my swim this year but was happy that there was one decent swim in me! Exited the water in 22nd place – swim time was 19.xx including a longish run to transition – still think the swim was long as all times were way above what you’d expect. T1 was pretty smooth and was soon out on the bike.

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High 5 with Noah!

Having done a few races already this year in Cavan and

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Mam Leaving T1

with this race being in Coothill, I knew to expect a fairly undulating bike course and it didn’t disappoint.

Mam was starting just after I left transition and I was thinking about her the whole way on the bike! There were a few nasty hills on the course and I know how much she loved hills so was just hoping she would enjoy it somewhat! The first half of the bike seemed to go on forever until we got to Rockcorry and there definitely seemed like more up’s than downs!

Entering T2

Entering T2

My bike time was  a bit slower then recent races and had dropped a few places but I was hoping to make

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Leaving T2

up the time on the run. T2 was pretty quick and gained a few places again. The aim was to start running hard from the start with the hope of forcing my legs to get up to speed quicker – I’d been slower over the first few km’s in earlier races and always picked up towards the end so was hoping to get up to speed quicker this week.

That was all going to plan ….for 3 or 4 minutes until a big hill appeared! This just sucked the life out of my legs but all I could think of is that Mam is going to kill me for talking her into this! I have to say it’s one of the tougher run courses that I’ve done a sprint on – most of it is on forest track / trail – really beautiful but there were a lot of short sharp climbs!

Once leaving the forest trails there was still a few hills to negotiate in and around the

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Last Hill High 5’s!

town. My legs were like blocks at this stage and it was a relief to finally hit the last hill where there were a load of kids out with high 5s and the atmosphere was good around the finish with all distances finishing around the same time. Finished with a run of 23.35 and very heavy legs!

Mam Finish

Mam was still out there – I hadn’t seen her since the start and decided to repay all the times she came out to meet me during long races. I met her with about 1500m to go and typical Mam – she was still smiling!! We ran & chatted all the way back in, turned out she had enjoyed the whole thing – not even all those hills had put her off. Couldn’t have been prouder to see her cross the finish line – she continues to amaze me – totally inspiring!

Overall this is a great race on a tough course – a lovely swim, challenging bike route and tough run course. There was a relaxed atmosphere at registration and around the start – think this helped relax Mam a bit and made it easier for anyone new to the sport. The only thing I’d change is the split start finish areas – I thought there was a great atmosphere around the start and the lake. Maybe it was having the kids with us but having to rush them up the road to the finish on the main street didn’t seem to make much sense.
Really well done to Kevin and all the organisers – a super race and a great cause.
It was great having Mam race alongside me again and having Dad there watching – I think he was more nervous then both of us! Eabha and Noah loved having Nana and Granddad there – I didn’t even get a look in! Huge thanks as always to Lorna for all her support – definitely think she had a tougher race trying to get the kids to the finish line before we came in to finish!

That’s the last tri done – maybe one more duathlon before the end of the year – might even convince Mam do do another one!

Newry Triathlon

Posted in Race Reports with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 15, 2017 by grahamclarke6

I’d done the Borderman 70.3 in Newry 2yrs ago & loved the race set up. There was no Newry Tri 5half distance this year so was looking forward to trying the sprint distance.

The set up was again first class & registration was straightforward. There was a bit of a delay while a rogue truck was moved out of the exit from transition.

Had the same problem with my new Huub wetsuit again & and its “innovative” quick release system. Unfortunately it keeps releasing at the wrong times!!

Newry Tri 4

Swim Exit

A quick walk down the canal to the start of the point to point 750m swim, not much hanging around and soon we were off with a gentle breeze helping us back towards T1 . Got a good start & was feeling OK up to about 3/400m when my breathing went south again! Struggled to the exit in a slightly disappointing time of 13.53 considering it was wind assisted, perfectly straight and flat calm! T1 was pretty smooth, a longish run to the mount line before heading off onto the 20km out & back route. Closed roads was a real novelty and added to Newry’s reputations as a fast course.

 

From the start it felt like I was having to work hard for what I was getting back. A slight headwind for the first part of the bike until the turnaround in Warrenpoint meant a very fast return to Newry – averaging over 38km/hr on the way back. Have to say there was some of the most blatant drafting I’ve come across – special mention to no. 75 who passed me about 8km into the bike & sat in behind a guy all the way back to T2. In fairness he wasn’t the only one as a group seemed to form in front of me too. Pretty frustrating & something I can’t get my head around – in the end it did no. 75 no good as I overtook him in transition!

Newry Tri 2

Leaving T2

Didn’t know it at the time but it was a PB of 35.34 for the bike leg & brought me back into T2 which was a bit smoother than recent ones. The run was 3 loops around the city centre but I knew it was going to be a struggle from the first few steps. I was struggling to hold 4.35/km pace which was frustrating as I’d run faster in Lough Ramor which was a slightly tougher course and because I knew this was a fast course & I’d targeted a good time here.  The run ended up being my worst leg and lost about 5 places to end up 27th overall in 1.11.54. To cap it all off I ended up throwing up on the blue carpet before the finish line which was captured perfectly by Lorna!

For anyone looking for an introduction to triathlon or those looking for a PB then this is a perfect course. The set up by Newry District Council was first class with a great atmosphere around the Quay’s on the day. Also one of the best good bags on the triathlon circuit!

Newry Tri 6

Goodie Bag

Thanks as always to Lorna, Eabha & Noah for their great support and to Mam for taking the drive up to watch the race!

 

 

 

 

 

Newry Tri 1

Not my finest moment!! 

Lough Ramor Sprint

Posted in Race Reports with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2017 by grahamclarke6

3 weeks – 3 races! Getting a bit of a tour around the North East and another visit to Cavan this week for the Lough Ramor Triathlon hosted by the Virginia Triathlon and Cycling Club. An earlier, 10am start this week (and a wet, miserable morning) meant I was on my own for the cross country trip to Virgina. Avoiding last weeks rush at the Cavan Tri I arrived nice and early to get set up. Registration was in Virginia college and possibly the only race I’ve done where there has been indoor facilities to

Lough Ramorchange and store gear – both of which were very welcome on a day like today!

A really relaxed atmosphere around transition, there seemed to be a good mix of abilities, a good few doing their first tri and few names and faces I recognised from winning or placing in other events.

I think the picture opposite looks worse than it was but all the same I was glad to get in the water and get a bit of a warm up swim done. It seemed pretty crowded towards the inside so again I started out to the left and was in clear water from the start but could see the leaders ahead and inside me. The first leg was into straight into the chop but once around the buoy there was a nice bit of a tail wind pushing along the back part of the course. It seemed like the main group were well down wind of me but I though I had a decent line to the next buoy which I went a bit wide around. Onto the last bit and it felt like I was swimming OK so was a bit disappointed to see 16.xx on the clock getting out of the water. There was a decent run on a stoney tarred path to T1 and even though I’d been thinking about where I’d racked my bike from the last buoy it still took a few extra seconds to find it!

Out onto the bike course – 1 loop around Lough Ramor and a mix of quiet country roads and main roads. Great marshalling through the town and out onto the back undulating roads. Again found myself passing a good few people in the early stages but a few of the fast guys went by me too! There was a nice bit of a climb about 5 or 6km in followed by long downhill section with a few tight bends – but again extremely well marshalled. Out onto the main Dublin Cavan road and a good surface, picked up a couple of more places along here before getting a bit stuck in traffic coming back into Virginia town. Finished the bike in 35.38 for just over 19km.

T2 was a bit better then the last 2 weeks and was quickly out onto the run. This was a full on trail run with a few muddy and slippy bits but overall a great run route. I can feel the benefit of a few races and a couple of interval sessions during the week and was much quicker up to speed this week and splits were quicker this week despite it being a slightly tougher course than Ballybay or Cavan.  Completed the run in 23.08 for just over 5km to finish 15th overall.

This is another great race in a lovely part of the country – just a pity the weather didn’t show it off fully. Have to say the best part of the day was the cup of tea and a roasted spud at the end to warm me up!! Reasonably happy with the result – not sure what happened on the swim as it was slow in comparison to the last few races but happy with the bike and run side of things. It actually felt like I was racing this week as opposed to just taking part. Newry Tri is still on the cards for the end of the month and the last few weeks have given me a good idea of where I need to improve – there will be a lot of interval sessions coming up!!

Thanks again to all at Virginia Triathlon and Cycling Club for putting on a great race and to Lorna, Eabha and Noah for putting up with me as usual!

 

 

 

Cavan Sprint Triathlon

Posted in Race Reports on August 3, 2017 by grahamclarke6

Racing 2 weeks running is a bit of a novelty for me so was looking forward to testing myself in another sprint event last weekend.

The short version for those smart asses out there is great race, lovely location, better swim, challenging bike, good run, didn’t win! Now you can go back to “wandering” around Vancouver Seán!

After the calf cramps in Ballybay last week I was so sore for about 2 days afterwards that all I only did a couple of sessions during the week and can’t say they were quality ones either!

Almost mistimed the whole morning and arrived at Killykean Forest Park just as they were announcing registration and transition closing! Big panic and rush to get set up – definitely didn’t need to any extra effort to raise my HR before the race!

Walk to the Start

Walk to the Start

The swim was a 750m point to point swim, the heavens opened just before the start – Lorna and the kids got soaked, thankfully I was in my modified wetsuit at this stage!! After a bagpipe accompanied walk to the start, it was straight into the water to try and get a quick warm-up done. Was surprised to see the number of participants getting into the water – about 150 – as it didn’t look that busy at briefing.

Positioned myself to the left hand side as it looked the straightest line with less of a

Exiting Water 2

Exiting Swim

“turn” to the 2nd buoy. Was much happier with my swim & sighting this week even though it was slightly more crowed – especially when we turned at the last buoy. Came to a complete stop at one stage when someone swam right across me at a 45° angle – no idea where he was heading too!

Exit T1

Leaving T1

Out of the water in 14.58, 31st place and a bit of a run up to T1. As last week my modified wetsuit easily fell off and I was quickly out onto the long drive down the park. Much happier with getting up to speed this week and wasn’t long before we were out into the rolling Cavan countryside. With the heavy showers and a good few sharp corners and bends I was definitely more cautious than normal on the corners and as the bike leg went on could feel the effort of pushing out of the corners in my quads. The course was challenging with one short sharp climb (my gears wouldn’t shift into the smaller front ring – my quads were loving me!) but overall enjoyed the course. I’d forgotten how long the drive up the entrance was and got my feet out of the shoes way too early coming into T2 which was frustrating but ended up getting off the bike in 41.06 for the 22km course.

Run

Leaving T2

I had the same problem as last week getting my feet into my runners and definitely lost a bit of time there – need to check that out for future! The run course was a single loop of an island in the park all on trail which was really nice. It felt much quicker into my stride this week and thankfully no sign of the cramp of last week. There were a couple of small inclines to keep the legs honest and was really happy to see my pace drop to about 4.15 for the last few km’s.

Managed a high 5 with Noah coming to the finish line to finish the run in 22.50 and a total time of 1:20:32.

Overall I was much happier with the whole race this week – was much more consistent across all 3 legs – was 31st out of the water, 31st on the bike and 29th on the run! Was pleasantly surprised to finish 27th individual overall from a field of about 145. Still loads of room for improvement but finding my racing legs again.

Next up is Lough Ramor in Virginia this weekend and then Newry sprint at the end of the month – a very flat course so looking forward to that. maybe another in between if i can find one! Suggestions welcome!

Thanks to all at Cavan Tri club for a great race & for the curry afterwards! Again thanks to Lorna, Eabha & Noah for enduring the rain showers to cheer me on!

Finally congrats to my cousin John who completed IM Canada 70.3  for another IM medal to add to his ever growing collection!

Credit to Lorna and Sonja Smith Photography for the pics!!

 

Ballybay Sprint Triathlon

Posted in Race Reports on July 25, 2017 by grahamclarke6

First race report in a while! I hadn’t done a sprint tri in a couple of years so wasn’t sure what to expect when I signed up for the Muckno Tri organised race in Ballybay. Training had been hit and miss for the year with a lot going on and no real focus for racing.

FB_IMG_1500849178659We arrived in Ballybay nice and early, looked like a great set up, lovely location and the weather was even behaving. Registration was straight forward and got set up in transition before have a bit of time to spend with the kids and have a quick walk to see the swim start and a small bit of the run course.

Swim was a V-shaped, 750m course on a calm lake with about 380m to the turn around buoy.  Swimming was probably my most consistent training for the last few months and after a good swim in Camlough on Thursday morning (apart from ripping the lower leg off my wetsuit!!) I was pretty confident starting off. Water was lovely and I picked a position to the left side of the start line as it looked like a slight current was pushing to the right and there seemed to be more open water. Started off well and was pretty comfortable towards the front of the pack until about 300m when things started to fall apart. I couldn’t get my breathing right and all of a sudden I was breathing every other stroke. Around the buoy and aSwimbout 350m to the exit and it couldn’t come soon enough. As usually happens when my breathing goes to pieces my line goes way off and I found myself having to make adjustments constantly. Only in the last 150m or so did my breathing settle and was happy to be getting out of the water.

Short run up and into T1 – having to shorten my wetsuit legs after Thursdays ripping incident paid off here as the wetsuit pretty much fell off and was I straight onto the bike. Was really slow getting my feet into the shoes and one of the straps came out completely so waited to the first downhill bit to fix this.

Having driven in the road I knew there wasn’t a flat bit on the course – an out and back 10km route – constantly lumpy and twisty! It took a few km’s for my heart rate to settle a bit after the swim but was soon into a good rhythm. Unusually for me I found myself passing a good few on the bike which helped stop beating myself up over the swim! Can’t remember the last time I cycled 20km but the turn around came really quick!! I found the nature of the course tricky drafting wise, guys would pass then slow down in front so I’d either have to back off or put in an effort to go past them again. I seem to gain ground on any hilly sections (and I’m by no means built for climbing!) and lose it again on the flats so there was a bit of too & froing for the last few km’s back to transition. Off the bike in 11th place with split of 36.05 – really happy with that – those cycling classes must be working!

A smooth dismount into T2, bike racked and into runners – one just didn’t want to go on! From the start I could feel my calves cramping – never a good sign! Really shortened my stride to try to keep it way but was soon passed a few times which annoyed me! It took about 1500m before I felt I could stretch out properly so gradually upped the pace and by the turnaround at 2.5km I was feeling much better and not being passed any more! Pace kept increasing and was very slowly gaining some ground on those in front. Back into the park and a short lap around before crossing the line and collapsing!! Run split was 21.51

Finished in 1:14:57 and 13th place. You’ve got to love triathlon – the only sport were a “sprint” race lasts over an hour!! Apart from the swim I’m happy with that considering the lack of racing I’ve been doing. Next goal is to go sub 1:10!

This is a great race in a lovely location – perfect for bringing the kids as there’s a small playground and plenty of open space. A really good course – perfect swim course, challenging bike and a lovely run route. Excellently organised and marshalled by Muckno tri – really couldn’t ask for much more for a race venue.

Thanks as always to Lorna and the kids for their support and indulging me with this sport!

Next up is Cavan Tri Club’s sprint and the Meath Heritage cycle!

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Noah starting CPR!!

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Medal is much more interesting!

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Priorities – food and a medal!

 

Ballybay Sprint Triathlon

Posted in Race Reports on July 24, 2017 by grahamclarke6

First race report in a while! I hadn’t done a sprint tri in a couple of years so wasn’t sure what to expect when I signed up for the Muckno Tri organised race in Ballybay. Training had been hit and miss for the year with a lot going on and no real focus for racing.

FB_IMG_1500849178659We arrived in Ballybay nice and early, looked like a great set up, lovely location and the weather was even behaving. Registration was straight forward and got set up in transition before have a bit of time to spend with the kids and have a quick walk to see the swim start and a small bit of the run course.

Swim was a V-shaped, 750m course on a calm lake with about 380m to the turn around buoy.  Swimming was probably my most consistent training for the last few months and after a good swim in Camlough on Thursday morning (apart from ripping the lower leg off my wetsuit!!) I was pretty confident starting off. Water was lovely and I picked a position to the left side of the start line as it looked like a slight current was pushing to the right and there seemed to be more open water. Started off well and was pretty comfortable towards the front of the pack until about 300m when things started to fall apart. I couldn’t get my breathing right and all of a sudden I was breathing every other stroke. Around the buoy and aSwimbout 350m to the exit and it couldn’t come soon enough. As usually happens when my breathing goes to pieces my line goes way off and I found myself having to make adjustments constantly. Only in the last 150m or so did my breathing settle and was happy to be getting out of the water.

Short run up and into T1 – having to shorten my wetsuit legs after Thursdays ripping incident paid off here as the wetsuit pretty much fell off and was I straight onto the bike. Was really slow getting my feet into the shoes and one of the straps came out completely so waited to the first downhill bit to fix this.

Having driven in the road I knew there wasn’t a flat bit on the course – an out and back 10km route – constantly lumpy and twisty! It took a few km’s for my heart rate to settle a bit after the swim but was soon into a good rhythm. Unusually for me I found myself passing a good few on the bike which helped stop beating myself up over the swim! Can’t remember the last time I cycled 20km but the turn around came really quick!! I found the nature of the course tricky drafting wise, guys would pass then slow down in front so I’d either have to back off or put in an effort to go past them again. I seem to gain ground on any hilly sections (and I’m by no means built for climbing!) and lose it again on the flats so there was a bit of too & froing for the last few km’s back to transition. Off the bike in 11th place with split of 36.05 – really happy with that – those cycling classes must be working!

A smooth dismount into T2, bike racked and into runners – one just didn’t want to go on! From the start I could feel my calves cramping – never a good sign! Really shortened my stride to try to keep it way but was soon passed a few times which annoyed me! It took about 1500m before I felt I could stretch out properly so gradually upped the pace and by the turnaround at 2.5km I was feeling much better and not being passed any more! Pace kept increasing and was very slowly gaining some ground on those in front. Back into the park and a short lap around before crossing the line and collapsing!! Run split was 21.51

Finished in 1:14:57 and 13th place. You’ve got to love triathlon – the only sport were a “sprint” race lasts over an hour!! Apart from the swim I’m happy with that considering the lack of racing I’ve been doing. Next goal is to go sub 1:10!

This is a great race in a lovely location – perfect for bringing the kids as there’s a small playground and plenty of open space. A really good course – perfect swim course, challenging bike and a lovely run route. Excellently organised and marshalled by Muckno tri – really couldn’t ask for much more for a race venue.

Thanks as always to Lorna and the kids for their support and indulging me with this sport!

Next up is Cavan Tri Club’s sprint and the Meath Heritage cycle!

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Noah starting CPR!!

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Medal is much more interesting!

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Priorities – food and a medal!