40 days, 40 nights
Straight out on the bike early doors after a blood test. 3hrs in the hills backing up last nights chain gang. It’s going to be a decent bike week I feel, close to 20hrs maybe. The chain gang last night was fast enough but too flat and straight for any breaks ! It’s about 38km and a nice 65km total that is perfect conditions for London. The chain gang has always been an opportunity for me to push myself more than I could riding alone. Some gym and more physio. Easy swim in the evening to round it all off – a 3k special – mixed up 3×400, 300, 200, 100. Helping recovery from yesterday, maintaining swim volume and prepping for the morning swim.
A sprint session in the pool. 4.5km with some dive 25’s, 50’s and 100’s. Love that lactate. I am trying to work more on my starting speed. More physio, more gym and an easy 1.45 on the bike with the boys. Stopping for a cheeky coffee in Killaloe.
No one was motivated this morning ! Sometimes you just have to get it done. 4.5km strength aerobic swimming before physio, a short jog, a gym session and acupuncture before lunch. First night of the European Athletics so we set the turbos and did a 60mins session with some high rev intervals. Some new faces on the RTE panel which was good to see . . .the soccer coverage in recent weeks was a bit dated I thought.
Slept in ! Sort of. I hit the snooze at 4.58am but didn’t wake again until 5.40. Luckily as I rushed through to the living room BK was stretching and said that he just got a text saying the pool wasn’t open until 7. Felt decent in the water we went through some pace work / short rest intervals. 5.5km:
Warm up – 2x(100bk, 50k, 25fly), 4×25 band, 2×100 swim @90, 2×25 band, 4×50 descend @55.
Main – 2x (2×100 fast @1.10, 3×100 medium @1.25, 4×100 fast @1.20, 100 easy) , 2x(2×75 fast @ 55, 3×75 medium @105, 4×75 fast @ 1, 75 easy) 2x (2×50 fast @35, 3×50 medium @45, 4×50 fast @40, 50 easy).
Straight from the pool to a social breakfast. Scrambled eggs with peanut butter mixed through – actually very nice. A hour passed quickly before I jumped on the turbo for 60mins with 4 x (2mins @400+, 2mins easy, 1min @470+ 5min spin). Off the bike and a quick change before heading out on the road for 3hrs.
Sleepy watching the first stage of the TDF.
Rode with Keano for 60mins with neither of us speaking a word (!) until I peeled off for a longer ride and he back home as he was on a different programme. We are both comfortable in the silence ! Each talking and having inner conversations with himself. Sometimes it is just like that. Varying levels of fatigue, different pressures, different shit we are sorting out in our minds riding along. I like having a training partner like that ! Rode for 4hours with the second hour at a ‘sweet spot’ wattage. Pissed it down for the last 2 hours. Took refuge for 10mins in a petrol station with a bar of dairy milk turkish delight. Still can’t find Rum and Butter – do they still make it? More physio this afternoon. Our Triathlon Ireland physio Deirdre made the trip to Limerick. Good to see her and get some positive feedback on how things were looking. By 4pm even though there was 126km of riding in my legs I hadn’t felt like I had trained . . . wtf ! . . a decent day for a cyclist but not a triathlete when there is this need to train train train. Maybe because of my injury I haven’t felt like I have trained in a while now.
Simple enough solo 4.5k swim in the morning. ‘Strength aerobic’ I call it. Settling into a routine now of swimming – Monday and Friday are strength aerobic (depending on fatigue I choose to use the clock or not)/ Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday are more ‘workout’ days with Wednesday as a recovery swim – normally a 3k or 4k special. From the pool to breakfast to a little run and then gym, all before 12. I trotted around on the saturated grass for 15mins until I felt pain and then I did some run drills for 15mins – no pain doing run drills ? As the guy I went to have acupnuncture with last week commented ‘you have Ying in vertical movement but no Yang to go forward’. Working on glute activation to try and take away any extra pressure from VMO and the knee. Starting to enjoy the gym a little bit but still yearning to run.
A quick coffee, sat and waited 5mins for the weather to change and headed out on the bike for 2.40hrs. An easy enough ride listening to some podcasts and getting lost on the lanes around limerick. Wattage in low endurance / recovery and hear rate under 125. Back for 60mins, some scrambled egg and salmon, another coffee and to more physio. “If you were a phille you’d have been shot by now’ he said. “As far as the Olympics go it is going to be very tough because of the shape your in”. I appreciated his honesty and yet still left feeling motivated and confident. I was to forget as much about the physio table, acupuncture, driving around and concentrate more on swimming and biking and importantly recovering. I have lost quite a bit of weight – 73.5kg this morning when in Sydney and Ishigaki in April I was 77. He could see that and there was a concern over my power on the bike being compromised. I haven’t been trying to lose weight but maybe the combination of the altitude house, lack of sleep and me rushing around between sessions and appointments has contributed to it. It’s not a bad thing as my swim times are solid and that is normally the area that you notice first when you have lost too much weight.
Spoke with my Triathlon Ireland team about the new perspective and they agreed that I had to cut out seeing too many people. There has not been much improvement in my condition as no one really knows the answer to it and that has been difficult. From now on I will have to change those 20min shuffles into 20min tempo runs or until I cannot continue. “When you are standing facing the wind you have to at least try and piss otherwise you would end up regretting it more”. I sort of understood the logic ! I got my first email that included the OCI, making people aware I was injured. I sort of knew it had to be written but it didn’t help me sleep tonight. There is a procedure that has to be followed in that everyone has to know whats going on and I cannot rock up to the games not being able to compete. It seems I will have to ‘prove fitness’ in the coming weeks or not rock up at all. That’s the rules of the game. Still not easy to hear it but it means there won’t be any surprises ahead. I am confortable with that and been around long enough to know that’s the score.
A decent swim this morning. 5km with a main set of 3 x 6 x 100 off a 1.40 cycle holding best average. Apart from the first rep in 70 seconds it went well. I came in on 70 and cursed myself into action. Holding 67’s, 66’s and 65s for the final set. More physio shortly afterwards – my last time for the week – I got taped in a different way and maybe it helped (although I took some painkillers too) as I got in a 35mins run with 20mins of effort at 3.20per km pace along the river bank. My first run in over 5weeks and although not pretty or fast I was pleased enough that I had managed it. I went home, cancelled an acupuncture session and went to bed.
Some lunch with the boys and another sleep! Woken up by our Olympic Team manager who was in town and he brought my Olympic kit . . maybe the first time in a while that I had smiled when thinking about the games. I opened the bags with BK and Ken there – my face and demeanor acting cool enough but inside I was screaming with delight! There’s a reality too of how close it is now. A lot of casual and training gear but no Opening ceremony suit this time around – I had expected one, a little bit disappointing, but still – there it is sitting in the living room a bag of kit symbolizing 4 years of hard work and membership to a select group of Irish Athletes in 2012.
We had planned a group ride but the rain was unreal – I tweeted ‘just checked outside to see what cycling kit was appropriate and saw some animals boarding a boat’. We sat watching the rain hoping for it to die but it just got worse. “Lets just wait 30mins then and we will go out and smash each other for 90mins”. 30mins later I was a sleep on the couch. Been sleepy all day. Maybe yesterdays physios, the emails, the appointments and the lack of sleep had caught up with me. Without guilt I went to bed at 8.30.
An easy swim to start the day and some gym time. The main session of the day was out on the bike. Tommy Evans came down and joined BK and I for a 80km loop in the rain. During the first hour I stomped on the pedals for 20secs every 4mins and then we rode ‘through and off’ for 60mins. A nice ride in the end and I am really liking the Limerick riding. Sometimes when I am outside of Europe I really miss rides like that. Around the lanes, in the countryside, away from traffic lights and cars. It is unusual if you don’t happen upon some history during one of those loops, a view of nature, a random house in the middle of know where. Hit a max of 1068 watts during the first hour and averaged 340 for the next hour which was solid. I was a little concerned that some of my weight loss was muscle and it would be noticeable on the flat but maybe not. I had a couple of days when out doing intervals by myself when I doubted my choice to switch from 175 cranks down to 170 as I sometimes didn’t have that leverage to ‘push a gear’. But when rolling through and off, with little accelerations, little rises in the road, my thoughts were positive again – those are benefits and also the assumption that I increase the hip angle with the shorter cranks – which should mean that when I run off the bike my hip flexors haven’t been in such a shortened position.
Finished the day with a 6km run after watching the Tour. I had my pain after 7mins but struggled on, silently cursing Bryan and his quick shuffle cadence as he nipped around the corners. Also hadn’t eaten enough post ride and was about to bonk after 20mins . . . in a weird way I had missed that feeling ! A quick bite to eat with the boys and it was back home and on with the recovery boots.
Today began with a swim as usual and a 1500m tt during set – 500,400,300,200,100 taking exactly 30 secs between each rep and then subtracting 2mins from the total time. I was happy enough with 17.30 in the long course pool. I lost a bit of time in the 300m rep I think and ended with a 65 on the 100. We had a good discussion with Caroline from the Irish Institute afterwards as she came to take some lactates – my starting lactate after the warm up was only 1.2 but then it shot to 6 after the 500m – that is maybe too big a jump and we need to work a protocol to begin with a little more lactate in the system ?
BK was packing for ETU Holten but seemed to be more concerned with cleaning the house before he left ! He’s a funny fish eh ! An easy ride, getting lost in the lanes and a 40min shuffle to round off the day. I started out very slowly and when I felt some pain I stopped to walk and then started up again. I did an interview for a newspaper, talking about my love of custard and that sometimes things aren’t all rock n roll . . my room was going up to 2700m at 6pm and so I was staying put in there for the night ! My big bros birthday today… absolute hero. Made the mistake of downloading Survival by Muse (Olympic theme tune) which made it difficult to sleep.
Cruisey 4km swim with quite a bit of pulling and band only work. Didn’t have a time base this morning, just swimming through. The main session of the day was in the lab with Irish Institute Physiologist Caroline MacManus with Olympic Team Manager Ken Lynch also on hand. I was a bit nervous beforehand as it was my first proper run at a pace and we were to check the lactates to see where I stood. We did a good warm up and then twice through a bike/run protocol – using the wattage file from last years London Course (before I crashed!). The first minute was to average above 450watts, allowing myself to be down to 420 after 2mins and 400 after 4 – that simulated the initial hard pace out of last years swim and then I was to be have a total 340 average after 20mins – thus I didn’t have to necessarily hold a set wattage I just had to do what it took to keep the average up – it wasn’t easy as I jumped onto the treadmill with 6mmol of lactate each time.
My first run was just 2k at 17kph and it was easy enough and the lactate showed that as it dropped to below 3. 17kph a good ‘clearing’ pace for me. The second time through I went 18.5 for 2k and then 1km at 19 . . . I almost cracked a smile at the end! Not because I was running in any way fast but just for the fact that I was running. A quick change of clothes and I rode my 60km loop – grabbing a sandwich and muesli bar to have my lunch in the saddle. Gym again, some TV, dinner and bed.
When I was in the gym a father and his son (who was at a swimming gala outside) came in to ask for a photo . . I was a little bit embarrassed when I could see some Munster Rugby boys thinking ‘who the feck is this boy and his 5kg dumbbells’.
Flat in the pool this morning. Maybe I am now feeling the 2700m sleeping conditions. Yesterdays session is also in my legs. It was only 4km but with hard 50’s in there . . it took more effort than usual to keep them under 32. We went a 1km warm up before 2x (100 as 25max,50tempo,25 easy ; 100 as 2×50 above threshold pace; 100 threshold, 100 easy) and then into the famous 40x50m set. As usual we were done and dusted before the swimmers in the neighbouring lane . . . some scoffing as we jumped out. Swimmers spend too much time at the walls! Some just going up and down, thinking that if they are in the water for a set amount of time that they are actually getting better. I asked one dude if he wanted to come on our ride in the afternoon, to my gym session or run session … that’s when the banter ended. As triathletes we often get that attitude, especially from swimmers . . I heard of one guy the other day seeing us and contemplating taking up triathlon on the basis he could swim easy with us. He maybe hadn’t thought it through that he would have to lose 10kg of muscle, bike, run and do about a quarter of his normal swim volume. Not sure how he would swim then? Maybe I’m wrong? Little bit of a rant there. . . (showing my tiredness)
Out on the bike with Aaron O’Brien for company. 60km and a run after I caught the last km’s of the tour. I managed 10km today, easy shuffling to 5km and then coming back at 3.45 sort of pace. I felt the knee again but it was more ‘uncomfortable’ than painful.
Maybe the first morning that I woke up and needed to be surrounded by more people . . . felt a little bit of a need for some sun and a group. Came out of my mountain room, downloaded some podcasts, made a massive dog bowl of porridge with some maca, blue berries and peanut butter and washed it down with a double shot. Headed out for 4.5hrs and got lost again. For about 3hrs I had no idea of where I was. At one point I was 30km from Tipperary and at another point 10km from Thurles. I breathed a little sigh of relief when I stumbled into a cross road sign pointing me 17km to Limerick. My knee was grumbling a little bit and so I made an easy decision not to try and run. Sometimes when your being advised but not supervised it is you who has to make the call about what to do that day. I caught the end of the Tour and the end of some of the Irish Swim champs on route to the gym. With dinner coming up there wasn’t much time for anything else today.
My first morning shuffle in a while! Loved it. 30mins jogging around after seeing Scott Murphy again – he relaid some of his magic Dynamic tape. The main session of the day was in the Lab once again – it hadn’t seemed long since the last one. We went through a similar protocol to Friday but this time with a 20min bike, 1k,2k,1k run, 10min bike 2k run and a 8min bike and 1km run. It was quite a long session in the end when I added in the warm up, recovery periods and warm down.
Some interesting lactates and heart rates – all down since Friday, at longer intervals or faster speeds. I wanted to push on a bit but Caroline put a leash on 19kph. The biking is going well though and I was pleased. A 90min massage ended a productive training day. In the evening I received an email from a Sponsor detailing the custom equipment to be used in for the rest of the summer . . . more childish excitement !
Motivation to train? (one of the daily questions that Rachel asks us as part of her monitoring) ‘I’m going to the Olympics’ I said with a smile. A couple of days of running and a corner turned I hope. I have to admit I had major doubts at one stage. I know what I have lost but show me the boxer who is able to stand who doesn’t go out for the last round. Today’s sessions went well – ‘tri specific’. Love it. We started with a 5km swim – 3km main set. We went a 400 @5.10 (350m, 10 secs rest, 50 faster) 300 4.10 (250, 10 secs, 50 faster) 200 @2.40 (150, 10 secs 50 faster) 100 easy @ 2. My original plan was to do the first and last blocks as solo efforts and the middle block as a group – I would take the 4 and 2 and Aaron would take the 300 – but it went well and I changed it so we did the last set ‘on feet too’. BK in the mix too and after racing at the weekend it was also a good way of him getting out a higher effort and speed. No one wants to be dropped ! Swimming fast on feet is a very different feeling and for me my stroke gets effected/alters slightly. Plus the concentration level is higher, there is a bit of forward sighting . . . the overall pace of the set is faster too.
Into the gym again with Tom Comyns … I am feeling in control of the sessions now and they are no longer taxing – they are just ‘switching’ things on. Tom could progress them but that’s not the goal at the moment. Sat around for most of the rest of the day. An 8 hour period between the gym and the bike session at 7 . . what to do ! Tea, coffee, lunching, reading, youtube videos, some admin, more tea and biscuits. The Tour was on a rest day and there is only so much MTV and sky sports news you can sit through. The bike session went well (65km in total) – the Limerick chain gang – various riders from various clubs rocking up at Daleys Cross for a ‘race’. BK and I went along, did as much work as possible on a windy night and then continued on afterwards for an additional 15min block. Balls out. Jumping off the bike for a 30min build run around UL. 9.30pm dinner and some icing. A good day and a recovery day to come.
Slept in until 10, some breakfast, went to the butchers for a haircut, slept on the couch watching the tour. Cooked up some liver and black pudding for dinner! All good for the blood said the wise man. My rest day.
“Rainy days and Mondays always get me down” quoted BK. “At least you will get to wear your new specialized waterproof” I said. Glass half full. A morning swim of 5km at the later time of 6am – almost like a sleep in ! We had some pace 50’s again after a 1.2km warm up. 50 <32 on 75, 4×50 on 45 (34-35), 50 fast on 75, 3×50 on 45, 50 fast on 75, 2×50 on 45. We had 3 rounds of that with 3×400 and then 2×400 in between – using full pull gear. Straight to the gym afterwards munching on a banana and protein bar.
It was pissing it down all day today. But as BK said when you have motivated company it is easier to get out the door. I think if both of us were alone we would have procrastinated well into the afternoon or at least until the cereal was finished. I had planned the same 80km ride as last week but changed it slightly – not because of the rain and temperature but just because I didn’t think at this stage we needed it. We went on a 60k loop instead – a nice loop up to Rearcross with the road rising all the way for the first 60mins. In that time we had 8 max sprints every 5mins. In the second hour we did 2 15min blocks of work rolling through and off with a 30 second surge every 5mins. The work kept us warm and the pace high. Off the bike we tried to get warm and run some intervals but it wasn’t going to happen. The first time the weather has interrupted things. We have another brick session on Friday so we swopped the runs around. Today running a steady 10km off the bike. The longest run I have done so far off the bike. My knee started to nag me at 30mins but there has still been a ‘change’.
Before dinner I went to Ger again and he asked if I thought my injury had changed significantly or it was just my mindset – a little bit of both I said. An email tonight entitled ‘Bike’ ! They went with a dashing Orange – although Benno and Paddy the mechanics have added a British flag motif beside my name as a little ‘joke’ knowing that I won’t post pictures of it just yet! There are a lot of branding rules surrounding the Games and so one cannot use certain words or link unofficial products directly to London or the Games.
It is raining so much that it is now the norm and I’m sort of not noticing it ! Sort of. Drew lucky number 7 for the Olympics and a bird crapped on my shoulder during the ride … overall I was up in my luck I reckon on unlucky Friday the 13th.
15×300 getting it done in the pool – although when you have to ‘try’ to make a 1.25 cycle you need to back it off, focus a bit on technique, turn off the clock and get it done. A bit of tiredness this morning – but then it is Friday and it was planned in advance that I would be tired ! Out on the bike today we cruised through 50km before a good fartlek run off – beginning with 6x200m on the track – before a decent fartlek lasting 35mins. I was pleased enough with the effort, the 200’s in 29/30 seconds – ill bet it didn’t look pretty though ! 40mins is still the limit for my running and it seems I may aswell try and run hard. I wish for a 90mins cruisey run along a trail but then I am doing most runs now off the bike and so maybe still getting that longer stimulus. The thing you miss when your off your feet is the muscle impact … so there is a little bit of DOMS in the evening. Love that feeling !
Morning solo swim. 4.5km. I wore my wetsuit for the first time in ages for the first half. It has been a while and the water temperature in London at the moment is 18 – although I think that will change – the British will never allow a wetsuit swim !
I got my gym done after a sleep and didn’t really have much of a ‘plan’ after that. I just went with whatever. That whatever saw me out in the lanes for 3hrs in the afternoon with a new Jay-Z Kanye West album in my ears. Love the road to Rearcross. BK says a politician must live around there as suddenly the sticky road turns perfect for about 10km! All of a sudden I had some strong knee pain (hadn’t had that on the bike in a number of weeks) which caused a temporary mental breakdown when I cursed, sulked and contemplated life for about 10 mins on a random park bench.That seemed to cure it and I was too hungry for it to last any more than 10. I soft pedalled home just as the altitude kicked in. Cooked up a storm in the kitchen.
With Monday being a ‘workout day’ and BK having raced yesterday my plan was simple : 2hrs of activity. An easy ride and an easy run along the river bank. I think 40 mins still my limit on the run at the moment but it is becoming a regular 40 mins and so I am happier about that. Nearly all the runs now are done off the bike so again it’s specific to what I need to be doing. I cracked the shits before the ride as clouds hid the sun and it began to rain !! The first time though that I shouted about it from my pram. ‘Fek that, im having a coffee and waiting 20 mins’. BK just smiled.
A steady aerobic 4km swim to start us off today. 1.5km warm up with some medley swimming and kicking before 3x (300 pull @4.15, 2×200 swim @2.50 with the 2nd 200 faster than the first). In and out like a fiddlers elbow.
The main session of the day was our brick at noon. We procrastinated a little bit as the rain didn’t want to ease off but eventually we found ourselves beside the track on the turbo trainers – a decent 20min warm up and then a 20min interval similar to my previous lab protocol. Caroline was there again taking lactates and monitoring. After the final interval we started to run – 1km/2x2km/1km. There was no set times, the idea being the first and last kilometre were fast with the middle 2x2km settling into a comfortable pace. My first km off the bike was 2.54 and felt good. 6.20 and 6.12 for the 2x2km and a final 2.49km to finish. I was happy with that. My first real test session off the bike. A couple of hours later BK and I built up 2 bikes that Sonia O Sullivan and chief physio Ger will use to scoot around the village
Decent 5km swim as is our Tuesday morning routine. The session had 3 distinct parts broken up by 2×100 medley swims. Shorter max efforts and tempo in the beginning of the set. 1200m of group swimming and a pull set to finish. Back in the gym, my final gym with Mr Comyns before leaving limerick. I like Tuesdays as we train up until around 11 and then have until 6.30pm before we get going again, thus leaving most of the day for relaxing.
I went for a final blood test before leaving to make sure I get the next week right and that I am not too tired. I have been feeling flat and haven’t had enough sleep in the past few days. The ‘chain gang’ at night – I decided because I felt I was beginning to accumulate too much fatigue that I would head out easy and just sit in, trying to spin my way around. As the attacks came though I couldn’t resist following the wheels – a puncture halting me getting carried away and making me stick to the plan !!
Rolling home I was pleased to see BK and AoB come back for me . . never leave a man in the field !
Packing up and travelling to Dublin. An easy 3km – 3×250, 1x 250 choice, 3×200 pull, 200 choice, 3×150 swim, 150 choice, 3×100 swim, 100 choice, 3×50 swim, 50 choice. In and out in 45 mins. Love it.
As I packed I watched ‘those who shall no be named’ take the wheels off Tommy Evans’ car (he had left it with us) and picture message him . . . that’s all I have to say about that.
A massage and I signed the Arenas Olympic board before leaving . . to Dublin to see my family one last time before trying to find them in the chaos of August 7th
I look forward to the new T2 at Dublin Airport because of the porridge after security. I am simple like that. A day of travel to Hamburg with the Green Flash and Mr Evans. Easy travel. The briefing and a little jog before dinner. Feeling tired enough but looking forward to my first sea level sleep in a couple of weeks. Happy enough to see Ireland isn’t the only country suffering with the crappy weather.
Sat watching the tour in my boxer shorts wearing 2 latex gloves . . random . . . but my bike needed cleaning before bringing it down to Specialized !! You can’t rock up with a dirty bike to the mechanic. I have all my Olympic Kit packed and we go straight from here to London – I haven’t opened a lot of it so I get excited when I see Aileen or Tommy is a nice tracksuit or T-shirt I smile knowing it is somewhere in my bag !!
First late sleep in a long time ! A 80 min bike and a 20 min run after breakfast. Got my bike checked over and some new 404 firecrest wheels on put on . . amazingly smooth. I also got a quick look at the new bike ill be riding over the next couple of weeks . . matching the orange in my irish trisuit. Caught up with some friends and had a 3km swim before dinner. Not much to report on today. I haven’t been to Hamburg in a number of years . . the last time I was here I stayed in a different part of town . . . lets just say that part of town was an eye opener to a young man on the road !
Early morning run with Dondo and an easy 1km swim. The race wasn’t until 6.20 and so it was a long day ! Finally the time came to number up. I was 55 but found myself in a good enough position on the pontoon and had a decent start . . getting on to some good feet and had a largely clear path to the first bouy – but because I was to the left I had to go the long way around and so was never certain of where exactly I was. Jumping on the bike I was at the tail end of the first pack but with 2 Aussies and Gemmel. We got on after about 3km of hard chasing but then through transition for the first time 3 athletes ahead dropped the wheel and suddenly there was a gap just as I was trying to catch my breath. After a short period in no mans land a larger group caught us and it all came together. Annoyed at myself for making that mistake. The pace never died on the bike, there was no lull and maybe my lack of racing meant I was rusty coming into T2. Without the urgency I left t2 nearly last man (16 bloody seconds lost in an instant) and again I found myself chasing on the first 1km of the run. Once again in no mans land and so it stayed that way until the end. A sprint triathlon and I was sprinting the whole way. The position wasn’t good but the effort was there and I didn’t notice any pain when running which was a positive. A good kicking before the big show. The first time in such a long time that I wasn’t chasing points and despite the result I enjoyed it.
‘Riding in the morning with a Great Dane’ I text Tommy last night. For 2hrs I quizzed Rasmus on everything long distance. We started out saying we would go for minimum 2 maximum 3hrs but I don’t think he could have lasted another 60mins of grilling ! Everything from nutrition to watts to business. Chilled in the avo and headed out to support Aileen. First time in a long time when I thought ‘holy shit this bike ride is on !’ Impressive skill and speeds on show. A little jog in the evening and I hounded the team for little bits and pieces to do with my Olympic rig . . Rig ? WTF, I can’t believe I just called it that. I’m disappointed in myself. Dinner with the boys and some laughs to end the weekend in Hamburg,
Last flight. Hamburg- London. A short shuffle in the morning with Maccers and some of the Leeds massive before breakfast. All packed up and easy travel to London. We got accredited in Heathrow and it was all very quick and easy. Great to be met by CJ. Ken and Martina at arrivals. Onwards to Lensbury where we are based from now until the racing. Athletics, Badminton and some other sports are also here so Team Ireland has taken over this small corner of Teddington. A quick 3k special in the pool before dinner and bed . . . the excitement building.
My first day in The Lensbury. 6 laps of Richmond park on the bike, great new cycling kit dawned and a new bike to ride in the sun. Got in a nice 10km off the bike too, clipping along the toe path to Kingston. 35mins of pleasure.
The swim this morning was a mental slog as we jumped into a 33 1/3 meter pool – having to do 30x 66 on a turn around time confused me ! Was I swimming well or not ?
A nice email from an old friend before dinner : “And…really really enjoy the next few weeks. I really really mean this seriously. People will want to talk to you about the race and the entire olympic experience for the rest of your life. remember that because it’ll help you live in the moment for the next few weeks. and you’ll want to burn your memories into your brain. when you finish triathlon nobody will want to hear you talk about the amazing race you once had in an ITU race in some place they’ve probably never heard of……. the CWG… I regret that I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have at the time and that my memories of the race and the experience are kinda hazy. So if I was to give you any advice (which i know you’re not asking for, but indulge me…) it would be that for the next couple of weeks just be happy and relaxed and breathe it all in and be aware of what’s going on around you and realise that you’re doing something most ‘normal’ people find absolutely amazing and incredible. you don’t need to get distracted by all the noise – just let the experience wash over you. and remember it!
I replied to him 3 times in quick succession
‘That was some deep emotional shit ’
‘You need to MTFU’
‘Seriously though, thanks, I appreciate it.
Having not slept well on the first night the light outside my room was ‘taped up’ . . . such a diva … My problem then was that I slept really well and was 20mins late for swimming ! Plus I noticed the pea under my 12 mattresses. Having rushed to swimming I wasn’t the best prepared for what was a tough set. Not a great start to the day on the professional front. Anyway I got the work done.
In the avo we rode out to Box Hill to ride the road course but got turned away as they closed the road/hill section. Very disappointing, not just to us but for the many local riders who had gone there on strava / spot a pro missions. I made a school boy error before the ride and attached some bar extensions meaning my cover as triathlete was blown. It’s not a good feeling when your firstly get noticed as a potential bike pro only to see the realisation and disappointment in their eyes !
Continued my gym consistency and back with Martina (our TI s&c guru) over seeing me . . she didn’t say it but I could tell she was thinking ‘that’s a text book press up right there’. Seriously, I could tell. I totally dominated that aerobics studio. Seriously.
An easy 30mins run in Bushy Park in the evening. Not concentrating and dodging some pedestrians around a corner I ran into a lamp post in full Olympic kit. Muppet. I don’t think anyone saw me though
The first ‘workout’ came today. I had a brick session down at St Marys track – similar to the work I had been doing in Limerick with the bike protocols and run offs. A lot of the Irish athletics team were also training and it was great to have CJ, Mr Evans, Martina and the newly arrived Declan from SINI on hand for support and to run the session. I got confidence and had increased focus with them on hand. This morning I had a 20min tough warm up, a 20min set followed by a hard kilometer in 2.50. My lactates were very high during the bike – 11.2 I recorded at the end of the first 4mins ! The temperatures were up and I believe you use more carbs in that instance thus maybe contributing to higher lactate ??? I think I hear a dude say that once. A second shorter 10min bike set was followed by 4x1mile. This time I had some company in Miss Britton and none other than Mr Stannard ! Triathletes and especially British Triathletes will know him well. He accompanied Emma Davis when she raced in Beijing and I have known him for a number of years. Later on in the afternoon I joined him at ‘one of his lakes ‘ (!) for a beautiful open water swim. 24 degrees in the sun. Tommy and Ken came along too and it was a great alternative to ‘swim off’ instead of following the black line for 60mins. I wish I could do more open water swimming like that and also more ‘sessions’ in the open water. Richard uses this particular lake quite a lot for his harder swimming in the summer and knows that if he is swimming a certain time for a certain loop how that will correspond to racing. A lot of cyclists do the same sort of thing on a climb or road runners on a loop. It is a great thing to have such conditions in training as you have your own little championship in training on your home turf. You and shadow beating each other up to set new training records. Love it.
I woke up to the sound of a helicopter . . ‘better get up somethings going down’. That something was the Royal Barge bringing the Olympic Torch along the River past our hotel. Coffee in hand it was a nice start to the day. A quick breaky and we headed off to a reception with Enda Kenny, Irelands Taoiseach. The athletes that had decided not to attend the opening ceremony all went along and so it was something ‘official’ to be a part of – meeting Irelands media and of course our Minster for Sport and Mr Kenny himself. I was on a ‘easy day’ today in terms of training and just chose to ride for 75mins in the afternoon. I sat down with the wise men early in the week and we have planned a simple enough formulae for my stay here – I have a ‘workout day’ every 3rd day. Yesterday was the first and so now I have until Sunday to ‘train as I feel’ or 2 aerobic days whilst keeping in some gym and strength in the pool.
The opening ceremony is today and although I not attending it (logistics, the time involved and maybe also the fact I still need a training routine) we will all be glued to the screen cheering on the rest of the Irish team.
After watching the irish team parade last night I slipped off to bed and so missed the lighting of the flame and the rest of the opening ceremony. Watching it back this morning online gave me goose bumps. An aerobic 4.5km swim this morning with Conor for company. A long warm up and then twice through 8×50 band only, 4x150m pull and 4×50 paddles 1-4 descend.
The first day of competition and this morning the mens road race swung by near to our hotel – we wandered up and watched it wizz by on route to box hill. Even at 15km, with 230km still to ride they were shifting. I spent most of the rest of the afternoon lounging in front of the TV with the boys. It was a great race, especially if your in tune with some of the complexities of bike tactics. Never a dull moment (although the TV coverage, commentary and subsequent reporting was very poor indeed).
A run tonight in Bushy park with CJ and Finn Britton. A 45m build run, clipping along quite nicely. Love bushy park ! I haven’t thought about my knee in a while and only noticed it when was running slowly warming down at the end. The wiseman might tell you that often its not the hard running that cause niggles but that pace inbetween, when your languishing on the ground or not concentrating on form.
A meal in town tonight was a refreshing break from our normal meal routine.
Workout day. So nervous ! Seriously ! I had a ‘race start’ time of 11.30 and had to be milling around 90 mins beforehand. Setting up etc I had a dry land warm up from 10.50 to 11.15 and then a 15min period to wait before the start …. The only thing missing was the pirates of the Caribbean theme tune (which they play before our race starts) and 54 angry dudes. I had 2 swim bike blocks to get through. TI went through the first 100 in 60.2 secs and the rest is a secret
I was pretty buggered for the rest of that day. Had an easy jog and massage with Deirdre before dinner and ‘quiz night’.
I went through an easy 5km swim first thing. Mixing it up with some toys, pulling, kicking, medley swims, some surges off the wall. In my own little world swimming up and down as Aileen and Conor were being put through their paces beside me as she builds up for her up coming race. An easy ride of just under 2hrs 30 mins followed breakfast and post coffee in Kingston. I wandered out to box hill again and got lost in the ‘Surrey Hills’. It was a ‘long easy day, keeping the aerobic bin toped up. In the evening I headed for Bushy park for a light run . . . that run is never to be talked about
Off to ‘Stannards lake’ and hooking up with my buddy Dondo for a few days. We all drove out to Liquid Leisure and swam for about 3.5km in the open water – mixing it up between long stead laps of the lake and short ‘ins an out’. A decent session in the end. Great to get another open water swim done as it’s looking more likely that the water will be just under 20 degrees on race day. The swim was the main session of the day and so we cruised after that. 90mins out and back to the Surrey Hills with Dondo and Martina took us both through a gym session in the evening. Tonight will be the last time that we are all together as a team with the logistics of the next 2 weeks (CJ, Tommy, Deirdre, Martina, Ken, Conor, Declan, Aileen and I) and so we headed out for a nice meal. At the end of the evening we were all presented with a framed Olympic Triathlon Team photo which we had taken yesterday – a great way to end the day. All of a sudden the time is nearly upon us.
The last workout before the dance today. With Declan, Martina and Deirdre on hand to run things – Dondo and I headed to the track at St Marys for a brick session. Once again the bike was similar to before with 2 20mins blocks before jumping off and hitting a 2.45 km. 2mins rest and we went 1600m, 1200, 800 and 400. Descending in speed from 4.52 mile to a 61 second quarter (the little scamp was ‘allowed’ to run free for the last 200 of the 400 and went 58!). I was pleased with both the effort and times. 1 last hit out and now its all about recovery, rest and maintaining some feel. Great to have Tim there with me. I am happy enough with those faster sessions but that lingering doubt about missing the general work and long runs remains.
The mens TT was in the afternoon and so we caught a bit of that as it passed The Lensbury. A little 2km special in the pool as a shake out before dinner.
Up and at em 4km steady aerobic this morning – 1200m warm up before 2 blocks of aerobic work – 3 x(200 negative split, 200 steady, 100 faster) – 4x (150, 3 x50). Cruisey swim.
A quick coffee stop, some swimming on the TV and we spun around Richmond for an hour. Massage with Mr Hartmann and I was done and dusted at lunch time.
Great to have Dondo here for couple of days. A good friend, and a local boy, I got history lessons and someone to push me on during the sessions. One of the few Triathletes around the world who is instantly recognizable and approachable. I was aware of randoms taking photos of us (him!) from a far as we watched the TT on Wednesday ! On every session in fact we had people approach taking photos, asking questions, saying hi. Standing ordering a coffee on Wednesday however we almost through people off the scent with Tim standing in an Irish t shirt “I almost thought you were Tim Don there for a minute” one customer said.
A rest day. Sort of. I finished training yesterday by 12 and so didn’t run today until 5.30 – there a 24hr period in there somewhere. Just any easy 30min shuffle too. I like having my rest like that. Morning training one day followed by evening shuffle the next. Especially in an environment like this were you get a bit anxsy – feel heavy and all your body wants to do is eat ! Carbs too, craving them ! It is a day for replenishing and focusing. Doing little things like unbranding parts of my equipment with a black marker. Sinful. A coffee catch up with my mate Sean Renfer and a trip to the butchers (hairdresser). Maccers made a surprise visit as I finished my shuffle. Awesomeness.
Feet up and watching the first day of Track. Jess Ennis, bathe her, bring her to me . . I told our Team manager Ken at dinner . . something’s apparently he can’t do !
Sleeping in . . . tough to do in an Olympic Games . . the morning TV is great though! The pool was closed when I arrived due to a maintenance problem so I got a leisurely breakfast before watching the Womens race. Have to say that some of the coverage was a bit brutal. I guess on one side it is difficult for a general sports commentator to suddenly become a master of 10 different sports but surely budgets can be stretched to get people to commentate on ‘their’ event or at least have one of the two on site commentators know the personalities and intricisies of tactics and performance. The womens race didn’t go to plan for Aileen but even with blood covering her handlebars after her fall she battled to end, opitimising the Olympic spirit. It was good to be able to watch the women go at it in advance of Tuesday. A swim just before lunch – short enough, 2.somethingKM some 100’s , 75s, 50s and 25s. Crusing in Richmond on the bike with a little 10min effort before a jog off before dinner. A great night of athletics and some physio work before bed.
The 40th day – into Hyde Park. We had to be at the briefing and the pontoon draw for 11am so we left The Lensbury and checked into our pre race hotel just off the Park. We are taken out of the swim familiarization because of thunder storms and then to the briefing. I was relieved to get out of Lensbury at this stage – it had been a long wait and peoples energy was beginning to fade which was disappointing sometimes.
Looking around the briefing I realised that amidst all the pomp, security checks and banners it’s the same dudes sitting listening to pretty much the same rules about to do the same thing . . . I guess time will tell on that assumption !
I was around 45th to draw my pontoon position and the middle 10 spots where only ones left. I knew Richard Varga was still to choose his position so I went bang in the middle meaning that at worst he would only be 4 positions away – I left the venue happy to be only 2 places away from the fastest feet in the race.
An early evening run in Hyde park was cut short when my knee flared up – not the best way to end the day but I know that come race day I will be able to get through. Time will tell on that assumption too I guess . . . . 2days to go.