My 2014 Race Schedule

Now that the off-season is well over it’s time to put a plan of action together for the duathlon/triathlon season and get it right to peak for those all important ‘A’ races. There are nearly 20 races I have penciled in for myself from February to September – Duathlons, Triathlons, Half Marathons, 10 Mile, and hopefully 1 or 2 shorter 5-10km road races along the way.

That may seem like a hell of a lot of races but compared to last year its actually down! I know the ideal season should be less cluttered with probably half as many races, but, to quote another duathlete age-grouper’s blog, I get a buzz out of racing, and that’s the reason I train. Train to race, not train to train“. I just love the buzz of getting out to race and if it means losing a number of weekends of perfect long distance training, I’d happily sacrifice it to keep my adrenaline levels regularly topped up!

The vast majority of the races below are ‘C’ or ‘B’ races, with the season focusing on 3 ‘A’ races – The National Duathlon Championship (April), The National Olympic Championship (June), and the Budapest Ironman 70.3 (August) – 3 peaks in 1 season, can it be done? Do I even know how to have 1 peak?! It will definitely be a new type of season for me and one which will be a massive learning process, as I am going ‘long’ for the first time ever meaning short distance speed will suffer, but as I am also trying to have my best Sprint/Olympic season for the National Series it’s going to be a bit of a mix and match training schedule!

It is always important to set yourself goals though and for 2014 its;

  • GO LONG! Take on the 70.3 distance for the first time and try get my target race time. Budapest Ironman 70.3 will be the main race for the year and everything builds towards this. I won’t say my target time yet for fear of jinxing it but I’ll go into it in further detail in a post dedicated to my preparations for this one race
  • Target the Triathlon Ireland National Series (NS) races and improve my overall position from 63rd last year to sub 60th. I’m moving into a new age category this year, 30-34 year old, tougher than the 25-29 I enjoyed for the last 2 years, so the goal is to finish inside the top 15 here.
  • PB’s in 10k (sub 35min), 10mile (sub 58:30min) and Half Marathon (sub 80min)
  • Train smarter across all 3 disciplines, have a more focused and efficient race strategy and keep the body free from injuries (lost total of 5 weeks during the racing season last year with illness, and hip, leg and back trouble!)

[*NS = Triathlon Ireland National Series Races]

Fingal Duathlon / 1st Feb = C Race

Kilkenny Duathlon / 2nd March = C Race
Ballycotton 10 Mile / 9th March = B Race (aiming for 10 Mile PB)
Fingal Duathlon / 15th March = C Race
Naas Duathlon / 23rd March = C Race

National Duathlon Championships / 5th April = A RACE
Race TBC

Stoneyford 10k / 10th May = C Race (TBC)
TriAthy Olympic Tri (NS) / 31st May = B Race

Phoenix Park Duathlon / 4th June = C Race
Mullaghmore Sprint Tri (NS) / 14th June = B Race
Hell of the West Olympic Tri (National Champs) (NS) / 28th June = A RACE

TriAthlone Sprint Tri (NS) / 5th July = B Race
Phoenix Park Duathlon / 9th July = C Race
Two Provinces Tri (NS) / 12th July = B Race
Half Marathon, TBC = C Race

Phoenix Park Duathlon / 6th August = C Race
Caroline Kearney Olympic Tri (NS) / 9th August = B Race
Ironman 70.3 Budapest / 23rd August = A RACE

Blacksod or Belfast Olympic Tri (NS) / 7th or 13th September = B Race
Only doing one of the above races if require additional NS Points!

The main reason for writing all this down was so people see it and then I’ll have to stick to it. However, all above are liable to change depending on my humour…. 😉

Some more 10k Ray posts you may enjoy –
– Yummy Cheao Homemade Protein Bars
– Let’s Go Country! Online Articles on Cross Country Running
– Triathlon Ireland National Series 2013 Wrap Up
– World Triathlon Championships Race Report

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Home Town Race Preview – TriGrandPrix Kilkenny Triathlon

This coming weekend (Sat 27th July) is the home town triathlon, which has been running for the last 4 years and now officially referred to as the “TriGrandPrix Ireland, the Kilkenny Triathlon“. The event has grown to be one of Ireland’s largest triathlons, taking in over 1,400 racers in 2012, although looking closer to 1,000 this year. Although a fairly pricey event for non-National Series race, (€50 for a Sprint & €60 for Olympic!!!) it is always great to race where you live and get out in front of your friends and family. Fingers crossed the weather sorts itself out again for Sat and the Sun makes a reappearance.

10k Ray Kilkenny triathlon finish lineCrossing the line in 2011…Smile for the cameras…

SWIM (Sprint Course – 750metres)

The Swim course is a windy one, starting at the Library, taking racers under John’s Bridge, around by the RiverCourt Hotel and out at a tiny little boat slip. There is a walkway the whole way along and with the bridge right in the middle of the course there is some serious vantage points for spectators to watch the action. Book your seat there early 🙂 The current, usually downstream, is fairly negligible at the moment and word on the street is the water is fairly manky so best to swim fast! Once out of the water a whole new challenge emerges just to get you to your bike, with a long run including a steep set of large steps to conquer. Go all out here and you won’t be able to see straight when you get to your bike.

BIKE (Sprint Course – 24.5km)

The Bike course takes athletes out from the transition area within the castle and the first challenge is Blackquarry Hill, a nice little 200m kick in the road that goes straight up! The rest of the out and back course is an interesting ride with some tricky rises and super-fast sections. Tip is just to spin fast maintaining speed through the rises as they are short enough and drive the heavy gear everywhere else.

Unfortunately for some reason the bike turnaround point is at just over 12km. Not sure what the reason is here but this is a seriously big mess up. Maybe 1 km either side of the 20k could be understandable, but 4.5 is not on!! Knowing how many super-strong cyclists there will be taking part, this will offer them a huge advantage and the seconds and minutes they can pick up with the extra 4.5k will not be brought back on the run. Saying “Sure, it’s the same course for everyone” is not good enough. The Sprint distances are set at 750m, 20km and 5km for a reason…

RUN (Sprint Course – 5km)

The looped run course is a little beaut! In and around the Castle Park grounds for the first km and slip out the side gate onto Canal walk for the next 2k. This whole section is flat with down hill parts and completely tree covered before turning for the final 2k back to the Finish Line which is basically a long drag of a climb. I live for those last 2k! Some of those fast cyclists with their big heavy legs start to feel the burn, slow down and that’s where us little runners can start to pick them off one by one 🙂 And what a great finish line it is. Out through the Castle gates onto the Castle Parade which makes the perfect finish chute and great for spectators. Helps that it is right beside the Left Bank pub too 😀

10k ray Kilkenny Triathlon Club photoKilkenny Triathlon Club members – bunch of posers 😉 

Last year I finished in 01:19:16, over 13mins behind the winner Aaron O’Brien and 22nd overall. Give the improvements I’ve have had since then in each discipline (and assuming the same overall winning time) I will be aiming for a top 15 and as close to 1hr 14mins as possible. The run and bike should be around 4-5mins in total faster than 2012 but the swim will be slower given the very fast flow we had last year. Not sure which top dogs from around the country might race but with the choice of Olympic on the day who knows who will be racing what!

What a weekend in store for party-time after the triathlon! The Boss, Bruce Springsteen, is playing in Kilkenny at Nowlan Park Saturday and Sunday night (I have my tickets for the Sunday night gig!!!) so the town will be absolutely hopping. Maybe Brucie will come “…down to the river” to watch us splash about Saturday morning 😉

Best of luck to everyone taking part on Saturday, especially to all those taking on their first ever triathlon experience with the SuperSprint race. Give it socks and enjoy every minute of it!

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Look ahead to the Two Provinces Triathlon

After some pretty good feelings following TriAthlone National Sprint Championship last Saturday (6th July), I look ahead to this weekends race, Audi Athlone Two Provinces Triathlon, with fairly high expectations. The swim is coming along, I am back on my trusted Giant Trinity Time Trial bike this week and a relatively easy week of run training to get the legs fresh again…as they are my secret weapon at the end of the day!!

two provinces triathlon action shot(Action shots from last years race)

I haven’t raced this course before but one of the main draws is that it is a lake swim and sits perfectly with training towards the World Triathlon Championships in London where the swim is in the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park. There are bound to be differences between both but at least its a bit closer than swimming in the pool or downstream in a river!

Like TriAthlone last week, the bike course is a straight out and back course, flat road and on a completely closed road! This really is such a plus for racers and takes quite a large risk out of play. All organisers should really try where possible to work with local Garda to enforce this. The run route looks interesting with a little bit of trail running at the start (love it!) and then onto a 2km out and back course. Great for seeing where you’re positioned and giving the evil eye to your competitors 😀

national series logo 10k RayBeing a National Series (N.S) race there should be some serious triathletes there trying to pick up some points but as there won’t be anywhere near the same turnout for races like TriAthy, TriAthlone or Dublin City Triathlon, 100+ points will be hard for me to come by! There were little over 200 racing last year and 147 the year before that. Hopefully with it getting National Series it might bump up over 300.

Looking at last years results (race won by Eamon McAndrew in time of 01:01:37) I would hope to have slotted in around 15th place in 1hr 7mins. Being a NS race with larger field I will hope for around the same time, but a good bit further down the overall standings (maybe top 30-40?) and in and around 105-106 points.

(video – Image highlights of the 2012 race by Pixel Promotions)

With a small but fast brigade of KTC’ers heading towards the Longford/Roscommon border (Eoin Molloy, Eddie O’Keefe and myself) we will be looking to race hard and do some serious representin’ for the Cats!

Best of luck to everyone taking part and to Lanesboro Triathlon Club who are organising the race!

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TriAthlone…National Sprint Championships Ahoy!!

I honestly don’t think any more could have gone wrong for me in the build up to this years National Sprint Championships (Saturday 6th June), taking place at TriAthlone. In the last 6 weeks I have taken in my back freaking the f@ck out and making me collapse at a track meet with gloriously painful spasms for a few hours (1 week gone). Just after this I was struck down with two separate viruses (12 days total out). And then 2 days before the race my time-trial bike has a hissy-fit and the headset decided to break itself with no hope of recovery before Saturday (although I might have had a part to play there).

10kRay Blog Broken Bike Pic TriAthlone 2013(My unhappy bike, it just doesn’t know what way it wants to go!)

A hero in the form of John Carey has kindly loaned me his road racing bike allowing me to at least start the race! Hello Cube Peloton Race, can you and me be friends for at least 1 day tomorrow?

The North Tipp Sprint was my only triathlon so far this year and after an abysmal swim, horrendous T1 after making the mistake of trying to put on a t-shirt over a wet torso, no bike legs, but a decent enough run, I was happy to get a top 60 and 101 National Series (NS) points. That race was always going to be the one I scrap for the rankings so hopefully Saturday will prove more fruitful. In terms of performance at TriAthlone, I’m looking to set a decent standard on which to build over the next 10 weeks in the run up to the World Triathlon Championships in London (13th September).

Working with Seamus Nugent on my swimming for the past few weeks has me in a much better place, technique wise and mentally. My run has never been stronger, after cracking through 17mins for 5k. My cycling has come on a good bit but given the fact I have a new two wheeled friend to use tomorrow that isn’t a time-trial bike I expect to see many nice low profile, deep sectioned blurs buzz past me tomorrow. All in all, hoping for a top 60 overall, a top 10 in my Age-Group and somewhere around 107-110 NS points.

(Athletes in action at TriAthlone, Courtesy of Triathlon ireland/TI Media)

As a treat for the other 1,199 racers on Saturday, Irish Olympic and ITU triathlon hero Gavin Noble will grace us with his presence. Although I have raced against the Brownlee Brothers (serious name dropping there) two seasons ago in a charity duathlon, I am genuinely excited to be in the same field as Gavin. The man deserves a lot of kudos for what he has done for the sport in Ireland and gave us some great ‘shouting at the TV moments’ at the Olympics in London last Summer. After he went toe to toe with pretty much the best of the best Irish Age-Groupers the other weekend at Hell of the West and beat everyone hands down along with smashing the previous course record by nearly 8mins, it is pretty much guaranteed (barring a mechanical) that the National Sprint Triathlon Championship title will be his sometime around 3.45pm Saturday.

Prior to the Age-Groupers getting in the water there will be the heroes that are the para-triathletes taking on the course. Having witnessed some of these guys give it their all while racing at the World Duathlon Championships in France last year I can only say I was completely blown away by them. Their ability completely outweighs their disability and they are truly inspiring. Can’t wait to watch them in action.

Nicholas Dewalque at World Duathlon Champioship 2012(Nicolas Dewalque in action for Ireland at 2012 World Duathlon Championship. Source: Authors own)

World Duathlon Championships - Para-Duathlon(This is why we race! 2012 World Duathlon Championship. Source: Authors own)

Due to some unfortunately bad planning, the Elite Juniors European Cup race will take place on the Sunday. What an opportunity this may have been for your average age-group racers to watch the best young Irish talent and learn from these future Olympians. With the whole day in Athlone surely this race could have been a morning or evening fixture? With most racers coming from out of town I can’t see too many staying on the night to watch so hopefully the Athlone locals, especially the young runners, cyclists and swimmers, will be out in force to cheers the juniors on and fingers crossed for Irish on the podium. With the might of Con Doherty, Aaron O’Brien and Chris Mintern racing this could easily happen.

Right now, it’s 11.59pm the night before the race and there is nothing I can do now to make my race go better only worse, so lie back on the bed, compression socks on, hopefully a good night sleep and ready to rock in the morning!

Best of luck to everyone taking part, strong contingent of Kilkenny Triathlon Club members hitting the road to Athlone early tomorrow and there is definitely the chance of a sneaky age-group placing by one or two! Looking forward to seeing some old faces at my first open water triathlon of the year! Time to get some points up on the National Series Rankings 🙂

Keep up to date with race results on the day @triathlone2012 and TriAthlone Facebook

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Preview for North Tipp Sprint Triathlon

And with a wallop comes the first triathlon of the season, the earliest in a season I have ever attempted a triathlon! And not only that, it’s a National Series race too!! And not only that & that, it’s my first ever time doing a triathlon in a pool!!! And not only that & that & that, I’m coming off the back of my worst athletics injury (hip)!!!! And not only that & that & that & that, I have done soooo little swimming practice. Hmmmmmmm, this might get ugly….

The race is the North Tipp Sprint Triathlon, 750m Swim/20k Bike/5k (and a little bit) Run, all taking place in and around the town of Nenagh in north Tipperary. According to the race website, North Tipp Triathlon, the bike course is “super flat, fast course”. That’ll be nice then! Although if recent weather is anything to go by one half of the bike course shall be quite the test. 40k winds have been a regular thing in the past couple of days but the weather man seems to predict conditions that won’t be too harsh. Touch wood right now…

Speaking of which, this time of the year isn’t the best to be running from a pool completely soaked to the skin and out into the great Irish outdoors. What the hell do you wear for a pool based triathlon?? Full tri suit?? Tri Shorts and a t-shirt/cycling jersey/tri-top waiting expectantly for you outside on the bike?? Going to go the route of tri-shorts for the swim, only on the basis that I think the drag from the excess material in the tri-suit could slow me down in the water and if I get any slower…I’m not even going to even finish that line.

Expectations are middle of the road for the result. I’ll take whatever I get in the pool but, being that its so early in the year and it’s not the strongest field that could be racing, overall pool times shouldn’t be too hot. I plan on giving the bike course a crack and then using the run leg to put all the last few months hard training into proper use and make up any lost ground on the field there. The fact that the run is nearly 300 meters over the 5k distance is only good news to me! With nearly 300 racing the plan is to snag 100+ National Series Points and aim for a top 60 overall.

The boys and girls at host club, Nenagh Triathlon Club, have put together their own form guide, which can be found here My money will be on Marie Boland in the ladies race and prob Davey Richardson in the mens.

The race takes place Saturday morning,  20th April. 1st wave in to the pool is at 9am. I’m in the 3rd wave so plunge time is around 10am. Last wave gets in around 1pm so it should be done and dusted by 2.15pm-ish. Best of luck to everyone taking part, especially the strong contingent of fellow Kilkenny Triathlon Club members travelling up. Full race report to follow next week!

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