TEAM IRELAND! Group Shot from ETU European 70.3 Championships

Pic taken at Challenge Mallorca-Paguera last weekend (Sat 18th Oct) at the ETU European Middle Distance (Half Ironman) Championships! Always a joy to race with fellow country-men/women abroad and what a great bunch of folk to share my first 70.3 triathlon adventure with! #TeamIreland #TriIreland

@10k_Ray

Team Ireland at the European Half Ironman Championships

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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!

2014 SEASON GOALS
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!)

2014 RACE SCHEDULE
[*NS = Triathlon Ireland National Series Races]

FEBRUARY
Fingal Duathlon / 1st Feb = C Race

MARCH
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

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

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

JUNE
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

JULY
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

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

SEPTEMBER
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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Triathlon Ireland National Series Race Calendar 2014

The list of races that comprise the 2014 Vodafone Triathlon Ireland National series has just been released this week! The most notable change is the diminished number of races (7 Sprint and 6 Olympic, with the 2 Middle distance), which Triathlon Ireland hopes will promote a bit more head-to-head in each race and also keep entrant numbers per race a bit more even, meaning there should be less tactics in race selection by triathletes trying to get the most points possible for the year. Hopefully this shall ring true for the coming season!

The Sprint races offer a great spread across the country, covering every province and the addition of a new race to calendar, the 3D Tri Sprint pool-based tri in the National Aquatic Centre. The Sprint Championship is being held at the Crooked Lake Tri in Armagh, one which got great praise by racers last year. Check out the cool video taken at the 2013 race by clicking here.

  • Sprint Distance

18th May: 3DTri Sprint Triathlon [Pool] (National Aquatic Centre, Dublin)
7th June: Crooked Lake Triathlon (Camlough, Armagh)
14th June: GloHealth Mullaghmore Triathlon (Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo)
21st June: Hook or By Crook (Dunmore East, Waterford)
5th July: Waterways Ireland TriAthlone (Athlone Town)
12th July: Two Provinces Triathlon (Lanesboro, Co. Longford))
26th July: King of the Hill (Kinsale, Co. Cork)

The Olympic races favour the Westerly side of the country for 2014, with Galway, Clare and Mayo hosting 3 of the 6 races. After 2 years hosting, it is sad to see Dublin City Triathlon not get the National Olympic Championship again, however it gives me the chance to journey to the Hell of the West, a race I have yet to experience. It is also great to see the 1 year old Belfast Triathlon getting NS status.

  • Standard / Olympic Distance

25th May: The Lough Cutra Castle Triathlon (Gort, Co. Galway)
31st May: TriAthy Olympic (Athy Town) 28th June: Hell of the West (Kilkee, Clare)
9th August: Caroline Kearney Memorial Triathlon (Lough Ennel, Westmeath)
24th August: Dublin City Triathlon (Dublin City)
7th September: Belfast Titanic Triathlon (Belfast City)
13th September: Blacksod Point Challenge (Belmullet, Co. Mayo)

  • Middle Distance

17th August: Half Ireman (Bangor, Co. Down)
30th August: The Lost Sheep (Kenmare, Co. Cork)

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACES 

  • National Triathlon Championships

National Sprint Distance Championship: 7th June, Crooked Lake
National Standard Distance Championship: 28th June, Hell of the West
National Middle Distance Championship: 30th August, The Lost Sheep

  • National Duathlon Championship

5th April: Fingal Race Series – Duathlon 3 (County Dublin)

  • National Aquathlon Championship

19th July: Galway Aquathlon [long distance] (Galway City)

  • National Paratriathlon Championship

5th July: Waterways Ireland TriAthlone Paratriathlon (Athlone Town)

  • Childrens National Championships

Triathlon: 3rd August: Predator Junior National Championships (Loughrea, Co. Galway)
Aquathlon19th July:  Galway Aquathlon (Galway City)

Please click here for the full list of all Triathlon Ireland authorised races for 2014

And click here for a Google map of Ireland with all the National Series races pinned on!

Some more 10k Ray posts you may enjoy –
– Pain and Rain – Race Report from 1st Cross Country race of season
– 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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Pain & Rain – A Welcome Return to Cross Country Racing!

10k ray blog - dunboyne leinster novice cross country - race start

And they’re off! Pic courtesy of Kilkenny Athletics

The topic of discussion on the drive up from sunny Kilkenny towards Dunboyne, Co. Meath for the Leinster Novice 6km Cross Country Championship consisted mainly of the horrible weather, which was getting worse the closer we got to the race, and whether this Winter racing nonsense was really worth the hassle at all. Throw into the mix the fact I was full of food and wine from 2 previous nights of serious over-indulging at the Savour Kilkenny Food Festival and I was surprised I managed to get myself out the door of the car at all…Figuratively and literally! The poor training and plenty of excuses not to do it were put aside for the hour however. On went the smile (along with the wellies) and I was getting excited to be back racing again after a 5 week self-imposed hiatus.

10k ray blog - dunboyne leinster novice cross country

The sun decides to shine after the race is over!

I had about 20mins to get my warm up in after finally making it to the Kilkenny City Harriers tent to get my race number from the team manager. The rain had lightened up at this stage so I stripped out of my winter woollies and into my race gear to start warming up the muscles. The 6km course was 3 laps of a 2km course so I jaunted around 1 lap to get my bearings. The course was as flat as you could get for a cross-country race but each lap had roughly 15 hard bends and each of them had been completely destroyed from the rain and a morning of junior races.

Standing in the race start pen I got a shot of ‘The Fear’. I really felt I had no right to be in this race with the sheer lack of training and half arsed build up to the race, not to mention all the greyhounds standing around me. The gun went, I lost my mind and broke with the leading group of 6 for the first lap. I have no idea why I did. It was a horrible mistake! I spent the first half of the first lap thinking ‘dig in Ray…you can take these guys…you’re going to win…’ but that quickly changed to ‘give up Ray…you’re getting dropped and passed by lads behind…you’re going to come last…’.

I genuinely wanted to give up so bad, the legs were drained, fatigue was at an extreme and everything hurt. It even went as far as running the different injuries through my brain I could pretend to have to step out of the race. Leg Injury? No, I’d have to keep limping all the way back to the car. Shoulder or neck injury? No, how would I have gotten it? Back injury? Perfect, and the easiest to get away with because of my back injury earlier in the season! But no, I came to race and finish it regardless. The 2nd lap was pure torture as I slowed and found myself dumped down close to 30th spot but as the 3rd lap started the idea that it was only once more around gave me a little lift and got my pace back to slowly claw back some places. The finishing chute never looked so good to me before!

10k ray blog - dunoyne leinster cross country - dirty runners

From this to this…

Overall I was happy with the performance, 21st place out of 72, with a very decent field competing in it. Onwards and upwards to the Leinster Intermediate Cross Country in Adamstown (Sunday 10th November) with a bit more focus on the training and hopefully there won’t be another food and drink festival on the 2 days before that race 😀

10k ray blog - dunboyne leinster novice cross country - take away food

A well earned reward of Bacon-Cheese chips later that night! Not an official part of the Savour Kilkenny Food Festival! 😉

Pictures of the day courtesy of Kilkenny Athletics available on their Flickr page

Full results from the men’s Novice race available from Precision Timing

Some more 10k Ray posts you might enjoy!
– 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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Lets Go Country! Top Online Articles on Cross Country Running

It’s October, it’s Winter, it’s the end of the tri season…time to take on Cross Country running (or X/C, as the cool kids refer to it). This is a must for all aspiring road runners and triathletes looking to head into 2014 a stronger, faster, tougher, and basically, better runner. The hillier courses over relatively short distances (anywhere between 3-10km) mean you will get in some of your greatest ever core and leg-strength workouts while keeping the joints in check due to lower mileage and being on soft grassy terrains. Check out the range of online articles at the bottom of this blog post to help you become a serious X/C racer and take a nice well deserved break from those firm track and even firmer road surfaces!

For those completely new to cross country running it may be a daunting prospect, offering a complete unknown in terms of racing, training, fitness and gear. I remember the week before heading to my first race thinking it was going to be mayhem, running through muck up to your hips, leaping over fences, ditches and puddles and putting myself through a completely unnecessary form of hell to finish last against actual cross country runners…you know, the kind of guys who live in the mountains and run up vertical slopes for a laugh. But I was completely wrong…

Cross Country Running - Muck - 10k Ray Blog

…Well I was right about the muck, leaping ditches and puddles and putting myself through hell but I was wrong about how much fun and excitement these races give, along with the immediate gains in fitness and running ability and not to mention the psychological gains from knowing you can take on and conquer bad weather and tough, changing terrain. It can also offer new runners, and particularly younger runners, a great taste of organised and competitive racing.

Training partners have said to me how my running has came on leaps and bounds since this time last year and all I could say was it was down to the 2012/13 cross country season, where I also managed to win the Kilkenny County Intermediate Championship and was on the winning team for the County Senior Championship with Kilkenny City Harriers. For the months ahead X/C is all I will recommend to anyone willing to listen to me! My own X/C season kicks off this Sunday with the Leinster Novice Championship in Dunboyne, Co. Meath, then rolling all the way through until next March taking in some A level races (National Intermediate, National Novice, Kilkenny County Senior) and a host of smaller B & C level races.

Cross country helps you improve, whatever your goals

(www.HumanKinetics.com)

I have searched through the world wide web to dig up some of my favourite articles on X/C running, covering topics for newbies starting off to those more experienced looking for some interesting training regimes and race strategies. Start digging into the links below, get in with your local running club, invest in a decent pair of X/C runners and enjoy your Winter runs through our mucky fields. Mo Farah started off as a cross country runnner…need I say anymore 😀

ONLINE RESOURCES

How to Run Cross Country (WikiHow)

Basic Cross Country Training (Everything Track and Field)

The Art of Running Faster (X/C section) (Human Kinetics)

Cross Country Specific Training Tips (RunnersWorld)

Cross Country Running – Specific Training Demands (Kinetic Revolution)

Hal Higdon Cross Country Training Program (Hal Higdon) 

Strategies for Cross Country Racing (run.isport)

Cross Country Race Strategy (Tips4Running)
Cross Country Running Tips (Tips4Running)

www.AthleticsIreland.ie
(Fixture List for National X/C races & List of all Running Clubs)

Here’s another one of my previous blog posts which may be of interest
The Off-Season – What’s a Triathlete to do?

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10k Ray National Series 2013 Wrap Up

national series logo 10k Ray

WRAP UP OF 2013
It was a long hot Summer…but I’m glad the constant fatigue of racing triathlons nearly every weekend is over and I get to reflect back on the season that was, along with also getting back into having a normal social life! 🙂

This was the first season where I actually put a plan together, in terms of what races to target and how to structure my training. It wasn’t a perfect season by any stretch of the imagination but I was happy to see certain things go certain ways and also see a clear increase in performances as the season progressed. Lots of training is great of course but structure and how you move through an entire season is more important and with everything I experienced this season in trying to get it right I can’t wait to get into the 2014 season and hone it even more!

EXCUSES ARE SUCH A GREAT THING!
10k ray triathlon blog - yearly wrap up - excuses picThere were some set backs and changes I would have made to my National Series plan looking at how results went overall. Such as missing out on the Valentia Sprint after it was turned into a duathlon, missing a massive field and opportunity for points at the TriAthy Olympic due to bad back spasms coming from over-training (collapsing at a track race and not being able to move for 4 hours is bad right?) and not realising that Lough Key was hosting such a large field of 500+ racers, where again great points were on offer. Also, I left it until my last 2 events to race my first Olympic distance triathlon and ended up doing 2 within 6 days, with the fatigue from the first one definitely feeding into the second one. I’ll be a little bit cuter and quicker off the mark with planning and booking in my races next season…and also try not to collapse from training again 🙂

There is also the can of worms of how Triathlon Ireland actually work the National Series and how points are allocated, but that would need a blog post just for itself!!! 🙂

HAPPY OVERALL?
My basic aim for the season was to improve on last years position and points, which I managed to do so and with some change left over, getting 543.785 NS points compared to 511.265 in 2012, dropping from 141st overall and 23rd in my age category to 63rd overall and 12th in my age category. All in all I was happy enough with my place in the rankings, considering the massive increase in racers, the far higher levels of competition, the fact I missed 3 big points scoring events and that I pretty much completely suck at one of the disciplines…swimming!!!

2013 NATIONAL SERIES RESULTS
National Series Points – 543.785 points
Overall Irish Ranking – 63rd
25-29 Year Old Age-group Ranking – 12th
Club Championships – Kilkenny Tri Club – 9th (top 6 male athletes)

1/ Mourne Olympic Triathlon – 110.84 points
Time – 02:17:46 / Overall Position – 24th
Age-Group Position – 4th 25-29
10k Ray Race Report – Click here

2/ Loughrea Sprint Triathlon – 109.316 points
Time – 01:07:59 / Overall Position – 30th
Age-Group Position – 4th
10k Ray Race Report – Click here

3/ Triathlone Sprint – 108.814 points
Time – 01:09:35 / Overall Position – 61st
Age-Group Position – 8th
10k Ray Race Report – Click here

4/ Two Provinces Sprint Triathlon – 108.092 points
Time – 01:06:43 / Overall Position – 40th
Age-Group Position – 7th
10k Ray Race Report – Click here

5/ Dublin City Olympic Triathlon – 106.66 points
Time – 02:17:07 / Overall Position – 38th
Age-Group Position – 6th
10k Ray Race Report – Click here

North Tipp Sprint Triathlon – 100.635 points (not counting)
Time – 01:13:26 / Overall Position – 63rd
Age-Group Position – 8th

Full results of all athletes in the National Series can be found here
Full results of National Series Club Championship can be found here

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The Off-Season – What’s a Triathlete to do?

cross country 10k ray winter season plan

This is the time of the year where triathletes suddenly find themselves at the end of a long season and no more big races to look forward to. Not only that, they struggle to know what to do with themselves at all. Post race season blues is definitely a condition that can sap your lust for life and desire to get out to exercise! There are many thoughts on what is best to do —> Give yourself a complete break and keep the feet up for the Winter before coming back fresher than ever; Take a shorter break for 2-4 weeks as a little recharge; Keep going as normal; Keep going a normal but drop total training time down to around 20-30% of total when you were at your peak; Drop all normal training but take up another sport like indoor football, surfing, kayaking etc to keep your self active and fit.

DON’T STOP GOING!
My personal approach is to keep on going with the 3 triathlon disciplines, focus on your weakness and enjoy your strength! It is vital to drop the majority of hard intensive training across the 3 sports and give the body some level of respite. Go long and easy instead to start building your base fitness for 2014.

If you are a weak cyclists invest in some new gear and get out for regular long easy miles to get your legs strong. If you are a weak swimmer invest in a good coach and work on your technique. If you are a weak runner try join up with a running club or with runners of similar ability and run as often as possible. Winter also provides the perfect opportunity to take up something new to complement your tri training add some spice to your life! A good focus would be strength and conditioning training such as cross-fit or core classes.

Another way to keep the interest levels high is spoil yourself with some new purchases. Maybe it’s time to finally invest in that turbo trainer for the bike or time to even upgrade the winter road bike or maybe get those brand new expensive runners you really want seeing as you ran your others into the ground over the last 3-4 months!

winter biking 10k Ray blog post training

DON’T STOP RACING!
Keeping competitive is a great trait to have for both your mental and physical being. It keeps things fun and gets you out and about with like minded individuals. It is also a pretty good feeling to do well in races so I recommend taking 1 of the 3 triathlon sports you excel most at and try find a few Winter events to target. The off-season does not mean you pack away your competitive spirit 🙂

These next few months are very important in setting up the 2014 season so treat them as serious you would during the Summer racing period!

RUN FOREST, RUN
Running is my thing so my focus for the next few months will revolve around County and National Cross Country races as well as a couple of longer distance road running events. These will give me focus, keep me competitive (something which I would be lost without!) as well as helping to get in a decent running base and build strength to take into the Duathlon season in early 2014.

run message 10k ray blog post winter season triathlon training

The aim will be to get in running training at least twice a week while racing at the weekend or 3 decent training sessions if not racing. Focus will be on endurance training (80min+ runs) and mid-to-long distance interval sessions (Tempo runs and 1-5km threshold repeats) along with keeping up with the Fit4Life Winter track season. Got to make sure I keep that fast kick in my legs for the last 400metres of a races!!! 🙂

The Winter strategy for the bike is to hibernate the TimeTrial bike, invest in a half decent road bike and try get in 1-2 decent steady endurance spins per week, increasing the mileage each week until I am getting in regular 2.5 hour+ rides. The swim training will focus on getting an underwater video analysis and getting my hands on a decent 3 month training plan (Nov-Jan) to build endurance with regular 3km+ swims and get the technique sorted for the 2014 races. Jaysus, I have literally just finished the 2013 season and I’m already thinking what races I want to do next year…I need a break!!!

TARGET RACES FOR WINTER 2013
-In order of date, not importance. Liable to change-

  1. Leinster Novice Cross Country / Oct 27th
  2. Leinster Intermediate Cross Country / Nov 10th
  3. Kilkenny County 10mile road race / Nov 17th
  4. Waterford Half Marathon / Dec 1st
  5. National Novice Cross Country / Dec 15th

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12 Weeks to London…Week 12!!! (9th – 15th September)

10k Ray Triathlon Blog

WEEK 12 = 9th – 15th September
THE FINAL WEEK!!!

MON
AM. Swim – 800m/20min with 50m repeats
PM. Brick – 14km/25min Gym Bike Fartlek followed by 800m/3min Run Sprint

TUES
PM. Run – 8km/40min with 2x 4min Race Pace Interval

WED
AM. Swim – 800m/20min Tempo
PM. Brick – 20km/40min Bike Fartlek followed by 1km/5min Steady Run

THURS
Off

FRI
A.M. RACE World Triathlon Championship
750m/14min Swim – 22km/37min Bike – 5km/16min Run

SAT
Boozing 🙂

SUN
Boozing 🙂

Total Swim – 2.3km / 1hr
Total Bike – 50km / 1hr 20min
Total Run – 14km / 1hr

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Photo Gallery – 2013 World Triathlon Championships, London

10k Ray - World Triathlon Championship 2013 - Blog header image

Below are a sample of some the pictures I took over the course of my 4 days in Hyde Park, London while racing at the World Triathlon Championships! I will have a blog race report in the coming days about the experience. To see the full range of pictures please click here to visit my Flickr account! Feel free to use or share any of the images.

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Kilkenny Triathlon Club Men to take on the World!

Just a quick post to wish the absolute best of luck to my fellow Kilkenny Triathlon Club members joining me over in England next week to take on the best in the world at the World Triathlon Championships!!

The 5 men below are the best Kilkenny Triathlon Club has to offer across the different age groups and we will compete across the Sprint and Olympic World Championship races. The Irish flag will be proudly carried over the line by each one of us 🙂 There is another Kilkenny man racing, Jason Pierce, who races for Cork Triathlon Club and I wish him the best of luck too! Go on the Cats!!! 🙂

In the picture below from left to right – 
Eddie O’Keefe, Olympic Race, 30-34 Age Group
Eoin Molloy, Sprint Race, 35-39 Age Group
Alan Rhatigan, Olympic Race, 30-34 Age Group
Ray Lonergan (myself), Sprint Race, 25-29 Age Group
John Molloy, Sprint Race, 70-75 Age Group

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