A wild day on the Wild Atlantic Way
Challenge Galway: The first edition of this race, and Ireland’s only iron distance triathlon event; this was racing along the Wild Atlantic Way, the stunning coastline along the west coast of Ireland. Starting with a 2.4 mile swim in the choppy waters of Galway Bay, 112 miles cycling into the hills of County Clare, and finishing with 26.2 miles of running through the streets and seafront of Galway City. Total time 10hrs15, and a 6th place finish overall, happy to have another long distance triathlon in the legs and another adventure on the road.
Training for Ironman
With no previous racing this year, the whole block of training since last September was geared around getting ready for this event. Although in practice, it’s been difficult to fit much in, minimal training time for maximum rewards is always the favoured approach. And it’s been a more relaxed approach throughout the winter, but it seemed to work. Here’s the key sessions:
- Winter running: I based my winter training around clocking up consistent mileage. No pace pressure, just get the off road mileage in, and as often as possible. With a crappy winter it was easier to do lots of short runs, so loads of trail 10k’s, and HM’s, with not much longer than that.
- Calisthenics: Since June 2015 I’ve been working on bodyweight exercises, in particular Press Ups, Pull Ups, Handstands, Bridge, Leg Lifts and Squats. Aiming for perfect form and building up the progressions slowly. Thanks to Simon Watkinson for pointing me towards Convict Conditioning, it’s well worth a read to get you started.
- Swimming in the gym: Once again, I’ve been out of the water for 8 months of the year, with the calisthenics being my winter training, and then getting right into open water from May. This worked, I felt strong right from the start, and with a total of 9hrs swim training time, I swam Galway feeling more confident than ever and actually felt if the swim had gone on longer I would have gained some time rather than lost it.
- Nutrition: On the day I used Tailwind throughout the bike section. It was a long bike course with a hilly profile, so I’d mixed a high concentrate bottle of Tailwind, and picked up bottles of water from the aid stations. That saw me through 5hrs45 on the bike and I wouldn’t change a thing, it worked. During training, the main change I’ve made is going vegetarian. No principles, morals, or other convictions, just stopped eating meat and without really trying have kept that going, so far I feel good for it.
Going Iron distance
I’ve done quite a few of these now, and the better ones have been when I’ve kept it steady on the bike, and then gone stronger on the run. Galway was one of those. Avoiding surges of power on the bike was easy enough, I was suffering with a sore throat and chesty cough so there wasn’t much oomph in the legs anyway. It was a case of keeping the cadence high, power output steady, nice and aero on the bars when it was fast, sitting up and spinning fast on the climbs, and just remembering to enjoy the ride – west coast Ireland, even on a wet windy day, is a great place to be.
Running after 112 miles on the bike doesn’t always go that well! But this time it worked out pretty good. I ran out of transition feeling light and fast, my first 10k split was under 40mins, which was probably a bit too fast, as the following 3 laps of the same distance got progressively slower. But actually, sometimes if you’re feeling good you just have to go with what feels right. 26 miles is long enough that there’s going to be highs and lows, and it certainly seemed that way. My pace fluctuated but the last km was strong and there was still a decent sprint left in the legs. Marathon time 3hrs20 and by the end I was just happy to finish. In fact delighted to finish. There was something special about racing in Ireland, super friendly people, happy vibes, despite being knackered I felt on a real high crossing that finish line.
And how could I forget – getting to meet Chrissie Wellington at the expo, had a good long chat with her, what a legend, this was a real highlight of the trip as I just think she’s a real hero of the sport, and of life in general. Great to meet her and yes she got the Tiree sales pitch so we expect to see her here very soon!
Thanks Dermott, Ian, and the ladies for Sunday night refuelling, I never did get that last whiskey, but the Guinness was worth it. And all the Irish locals, they put on a great show, and I’m pleased to have been there to share it. Big thanks to Becky for letting me go on this adventure, she had a challenge of her own looking after our two little boys by herself as well as running her shop, but as always she just gets on with it and it was lovely to be home again with them.
Next up – Outlaw Triathlon on 24th July.