Putting the toys back in the pram

71562955_676125642880120_3543838032018800640_nUsually when I don’t write a blog for a couple of months its because I’m simply too lazy to actually sit down and write one. This time it’s different though. This time I simply had nothing to write about. My last race was a European Cup back in April (where I finished 18th). I flew home on Sunday from the race and started my last set of college exams on the Tuesday so I never got around to doing a blog for that one..

After my exams I had planned on racing a few big world cups again like last summer so I ramped up the run sessions and gambled that my body would be able to handle the extra stress. Long story short I ended up with some tibialis posterior (lower shin) problems which cut me out from doing any running for a month. I smashed all my rehab for a month, felt pain free and re-introduced some running again for about 10 days before it flared up again.

One of my old coaches used to say “don’t throw all the toys out of the pram” if a session wasn’t going well, meaning stay calm. The first time the injury happened I stayed chill and got on with it. After I rested though and it still hadn’t gone away I got every toy I owned and f****d them as far away as I could.

No bullshit with this post, I was absolutely gutted when it flared up the second time because it was early July by that stage, about 7 weeks before World Champs and I knew I had no way of getting fit enough to earn a selection spot. So for the first time in either 8 or 9 seasons I said f**k it and stopped training for the month of August.

I had already dug a little financial hole from races earlier on in the season so I stayed on the couch of a couple of friends house in Limerick for the month of August so I could work in UL and try earn a bit of money. I really can’t thank the lads in Limerick enough for being so helpful all summer, High Performance sport can be a real dark place sometimes but having the right people around you through the low points makes all the difference.

It was a weird month because although my mind was still almost always focused on sport in some way, the thought of actually getting myself out the door and training just wasn’t clicking with me. So I stayed chilled, enjoyed my time off and lived like a normal student for half the summer. As much as I was gutted to miss the season, it was probably a well timed break because now that I’m home in Nenagh I’m working about 50 hours a week between coaching, life-guarding and a few other bits and pieces so it was probably my last chance to “live the student life” for a little while.

Since I moved home in early September I’ve slowly started putting all my toys back in my pram. I’ve certainly found my love for running again, and once it’s dry I love being out on the bike. I’m so extremely unfit in the pool that my motivation to swim is a bit slower to come around but I’m sure it’ll follow suit soon enough.

I’m in Spain at the minute for my brothers wedding (which is in about 5 hours!). I had planned on getting at least a couple of good run sessions done over here, simply because I want to be out running. But me being the eejit I am fell over on my walk home last night and bust my chin open. I’m not sure how many stitches I got because they bandaged me up after but it sure felt like a fair few which means no real exercise until I get home on Saturday. I’ve set Monday (Sep 14th) as my D-Day. From then I’ll start planning my training weeks in a logical way rather than doing what I feel like. Assuming my chin isn’t any hassle then I should be good to roll from Monday on, both physically and mentally.

Having had some time off I started looking at things a bit differently. I’ve always struggled to be a consistent “winter warrior” and feel like I’m fairly lazy when it comes to getting the long slow aerobic training done over the winter months. On the flip side I’ve wanted to do a Half Ironman for a couple of years now. I’m toying with the idea of getting a PRO licence and doing Challenge Salou in March.

There’s two reasons for picking Salou. Firstly, if I commit to a half Ironman, there’s no way I will let myself rock up unfit, hence I would have to do the long aero training I generally neglect. And secondly, I feel its usually my endurance that lets me down at the end of Sprint/Olympic ITU races. Starting with a half in March would give me a solid base, and hopefully set me up nicely for a summer season on the ITU circuit. I’m still 100% focused on ITU so I won’t be doing anything more than dabbling in the longer distance for a few more years at least, but sure what harm can one do eh.

For the minute that’s the plan I’m going with in my head, but I don’t have a TT bike so the total cost just to do one race might end up changing plans yet, but I’ll see. For now the thought of doing Salou and racing ITU again excites me and has me out training again so I’ll roll with it for a while.

I have to give a massive shout-out to my sponsors VeloRevolutionKinetica and  Evan Lynch for having the patience to help me out even when things aren’t all sunshine and roses. Having their genuine support means a lot to me.

For now though, I’m best man at this wedding later on and my dad said the big massive white bandage covering half my chin looks like a sanitary towel, so I’d better go try make it look a bit better for some wedding photos :/

Thanks for reading 🙂

Daz ✌️

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National Duathlon Champ

Duathlon National Champ

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Two weeks late writing this, what’s new? College, work, training (and socialising), the usual excuses. The memories of the race are still fresh in my mind though, so hopefully this race report gives a bit of insight into it.

At the start of the year I wrote out my list of goals. I’ve never won a national title so winning one was top of the list, and the first one on offer was the duathlon title. After taking November and December off completely, I started with a bang with a 10-day training camp in Spain in January. Needles to say I got absolutely slaughtered on camp, but it was exactly what I needed to get the ball rolling again.

Once I got home from camp I set out a plan to fix many of the major problems I had in races last year. There were quite a few so I might do a separate blog post on that later, but simply, one of my biggest struggles last year was the last 20 minutes of Olympic distance races. I just didn’t have the aerobic training done to handle the intensity of the distance and I was absolutely dying in the second half of every Olympic distance run I did last year.

Maybe seven weeks out from duathlon champs I started doing a solo brick session on a Friday in UL. I’d set up on the sprint track upstairs and run onto a treadmill. I sat down with Aaron O’Brien and worked out a two-month progression on the sessions to get me up to duathlon champs. It built up to a max of six sets of 10 min bike – 5 min run. No bullshit, nothing fancy, just getting some long tempo reps done. I was fairly sure by the time the race rolled around I would get through the distance okay thanks to these sessions.

I stayed up in Sligo the night before the race and went out for a 45 minute spin to make sure the bike was working (as much as it does anyway…) and my legs felt absolutely amazing. I was pretty confident I could bike with anyone on the day, so I went home, made up my race plan in my head and went to sleep with that in my mind.

Did I follow it? Nah. Why bother sure. No craic then. The gun went and I had planned to just sit in second place until I got to my bike and then see what I could do from there. I turned around after about 2k and saw a 10 second gap back to Niall in second, with a further gap back to the chasers and thought to myself, “well you f****d that one”. So I stalled up slightly until Niall caught me about 3.5k in and we just ran shoulder to shoulder until the end of the first run. Clocked it as 9k in 30:30 so not too shabby to start the race on what was an extremely hilly and off road run.

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I was pretty nervous about not burning too many matches early on, so once we were running side by side I tried to avoid any surges and just keep things steady and we ran pretty well together. Except on the downhills, man I need to work on downhill running. Coming into T1 Niall threw in a mini surge and led into the bikes. I was pretty clinical in transition and managed to leave with a five second gap.

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The mount line was on a hard hill, but I got my two feet in before breaking the elastics and just stuck the head down until I got to the end of a long straight road about 5 minutes in where I snuck a glance over my shoulder. Much to my happiness I couldn’t see anyone, so I just went about my own race. I tried to take the first half steady and then hit the second half hard so I wouldn’t be fighting for the win on the second run.

My power meter seems to have given up on life and I can’t afford to fix it, so I just went off feel for the race. Strava tells me I averaged 300 watts (38.7kph) for the first half and 340 watts (42kph) for the second half. I’d say from what I felt like that seems about right, but its up to you if you want to believe strava or not. I was really happy to have been on my own for the 40k because I know there’s been a bit of controversy over drafting down the years, but there couldn’t be any hassle with it this year.

Onto the second run and I guessed I had two or three minutes of a gap, so it was just a case of not screwing anything up and getting to the line. I’d followed my nutritionist Evan Lynch’s instructions and taken a couple of Kinetica gels during the bike so I felt pretty good up to the end. I’ve been working with Evan to maximize my partnership with Kinetica so this was another important box to get right this season. The first time I haven’t bonked in any race over an hour in length, so I gave myself a big pat on the back for that.

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I’d been visualizing winning for the last two months when doing the solo Friday brick sessions so to cross the line with the win was a pretty satisfying feeling. And since it was mothers-day my mam said it counted as her present, so I was off the hook there too.

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I took it easy for a few days after, mostly because I couldn’t actually walk after all the downhill running, and since then I’ve stuck myself in a deep pain box in prep for a European Cup next week In Portugal. I’m going to do a few video blogs for that because I don’t really have the time to write out stuff for the next couple of weeks.

Shoutout to my sponsors VeloRevolution, Kinetica and ELynchFitnut for the help, and a massive thumbs up to Sligo Tri Club for organising one of the best races of the season. Fantastic club, flawless organisation, and good vibes all round, great work.

And thanks to you for reading 😉

Daz

 

Sarasota ITU World Cup Preview

How’s the form? I hear the weather back home is pretty crap. Up until today it hasn’t been much better here. Hurricane Michael missed us by about 80km but we still had a nice bit of wind, rain, thunder and hurricane warnings to keep us entertained.

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I’m here in Florida with Con Doherty to race a world cup tomorrow. TI Coach Michael Black is here too so its nice having some good company on such a long trip. The travel over ended up being just shy of 24 hours from door to door but it was easy enough. I’ve gotten pretty good at using travel days as sort of “off days” where I just switch off and recovery both mentally and physically. I’ve been up the walls lately between work, training, and I’m slightly (only slightly I swear mom..) drowning in college work so the day off was no harm.

We are staying a couple hundred meters from the race venue so we’ve had a good look at the bike and run course. The bike is 3x6k laps around a rowing lake with a total elevation gain of about 10 meters so I would guess average speeds will be close to 46k an hour if it goes full gas. The run is flat too so I would say that it will be fast, but I doubt it. Tomorrow is supposed to be around the 33 degree mark and 90% humidity (with a “real feel” of 38 degrees) and I can tell you from experience trying to run fast in these conditions is absolutely brutal. I generally deal with these conditions well so I’m optimistic and hopeful of a hotter rather than colder day.

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The water quality is “below acceptable standards” so the decision has literally just been made that it’s going to be a duathlon of 2.5k/18k/5k. Its a bit of a nuisance really, I came here for a triathlon and that’s what I wanted. But, its out of my control now so I’m going to race the same way regardless, as hard as I bloody can. I’m definitely looking forward to it.

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For the number nerds:

So how’s my own training been? I’ll give you a comparison of a couple of sessions I’ve done recently vs some I did before I started my season back in March. As I’ racing in Ecuador next week, and I expect that to be a triathlon I’ll include some swim info too.

8th March: Race Pace Swim

M/s:

2x
2 x 50 Breakout Speed (Fast) off 75
200 (750 Race Pace) off 3.30
2 x 100 FAST Back End off 1.50
400 easy swim recovery off 7mins

Set 1 with wet-suit

50s in 28.5

200 in 2:14

2×100 in 1:05.4

set 2 without wet-suit

50s in 31.2 200 in 2:27

2×100 in 1:11

This was a pretty solid swim looking back on it. Here’s one I did recently to compare.

20th September: Threshold swim

4 x 100 @ RP off 95
4 x 50 Free off 45
3 x 100 @ RP off 95
4 x 50 Free off 45
2 x 100 @ RP off 95
4 x 50 Free off 45
1 x 100 @ RP off 95
4 x 50 Free off 45

For this one I averaged 1:12/13s for the 100s and 38s for the 50s. Again a solid set but nothing special.

Both of the above sets were in the long course pool, I did the below set on Monday at my home pool in Nenagh so it was short course.

32 x 50 as

1 on/3 off x2

1 on/1 off x4

3 on/1 off x2

8 on

My sister was working so I got her to time me for these which was pretty handy. Averaged 31.7s for the on ones and 40-42 for the off ones. Solid for me.

Onto the bike…

13th March: Progressive bike

3 x 2 min Strong (threshold) with 2 min recovery

Rep 1 = 357 watts. Rep 2 = 373 watts, Rep 3 = 351 watts

10 min easy spinning

3 x 1 min high threshold (Vo2 Max) with 1 min recovery

Rep 1 = 409 watts. Rep 2 = 455 watts, Rep 3 = 469 watts

10 min easy spinning

3 x 30 sec strong (Hard but not max) with 1 min easy

Rep 1 = 541 watts. Rep 2 = 514  watts, Rep 3 = 543 watts

Did this one out on the road so the watts are higher outside, and I remember feeling pretty good doing this.

7th March: Track Session

3×800 w/2 min rest in 2:27, 23, 22
6×400 w/90 sec rest in 68-70
5×200 w/60 sec rest in 32

Pretty straightforward run set.

I’ve been doing mostly brick sessions lately so I’ll just stick up the data for one of them instead of a separate bike/run. These sessions have been done on the turbo and then transition onto the 400m outdoor track in UL. The facilities at UL Arena are brilliant for this kind of work. I generally find my watts on the turbo are about 40 watts lower for the same heart rate as a comparison.

13th September: Brutal Brick

12 Mins High Tempo Averaging 276 watts – 1km Race pace run in 2:52

8 Mins Threshold averaging 293 watts  – 1.5km RP run in 4:23

4 Mins Max averaging 326 watts – 2km RP in 6:08 (oh man did I die…)

About 8 min recovery between sets.

My bike numbers have gone up considerably in the last 4 weeks since I did that session. We did the course bike reccee this morning and I did a little sprint and hit a peak 5 second power output of 1202 watts so I’m literally in the shape of my life. Now to just go prove it.

All of the above sets are from my coach Aaron O’Brien at nlcoaching.ie so a big shout out to him for all the help this year! Hit us up at NLC if you’re up for a big season in 2019!

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Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed the little insight into training.

Daz

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Sorry, I’ve been busy

As always seems to be the case, I haven’t posted in a couple of weeks at this stage. I’ve had a lot going on as usual! I’m more consistent at posting on Facebook/Instagram/twitter so keep up with me there if your keen 🙂

My last blog post was after the Lanesborough Super Series race so I’ll just throw up a paragraph on anything noteworthy I’ve been up to since then!

Tartu European Sprint Distance Championships

This was my first European Senior Champs so I was pretty keen on a good result. The swim in Tartu is complete lunacy. There’s 2 180 degree turns in the middle of a fast flowing river so its pretty biased. Either way I swam a bit crap and got out with not many bikes left in transition. Bike legs felt solid enough and had the 3rd quickest bike split of the day to head into T2 a few seconds behind front pack. I ran as hard as I could but I was pretty cooked from the bike and finished up in 27th. At the time I was pretty annoyed, and being honest I still wish I had ended up top 20. The race was a couple of weeks ago now so after some reflection a top 30 was a solid result on the day.

(Here’s the Training Peaks file from this one

http://home.trainingpeaks.com/athlete/workout/SJEP2SGJHBYC64CG4HBYXE6RFI)

 

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Challenge Prague 70.3

The following week I made the trip to Prague as part of a mid season break that was anything but time off. A group of my friends decided to enter challenge Prague and then stay for a few days after as part of a little city holiday. I hadn’t anything planned that weekend so by the end of March it had all been booked. I then ended up doing the bike as part of a relay with Michelle and Roisin for a bit of a laugh. In terms of a race, I ended up doing the first lap of two at tempo effort then just spun around for the second lap with a near dead Jack Malloy. Rolled through the first lap in 68 minutes for 45k which was solid being on a road bike. Enjoyed a few relaxed days post race before travelling home for a day.

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Malmo ETU Cup

I don’t really have much to say about this one. I picked up a bit of a bug on the trip home from Prague on the Tuesday and flew to Malmo on the Thursday. By the time race morning came around I felt pretty crap but stayed positive. After about 100 meters of the swim I thought my stomach was going to fall out of me. I kept the head down and swam hard to the end. There weren’t too many bikes left in transition once again so I knew I needed to bike well but ended up hanging on for dear life for the bike. Ran with my eyes closed for most of it just trying to get to the line. Chalk it down as one of those days I suppose.

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Glasgow European Olympic Distance Championships

Firstly I want to say thanks to everyone who messaged or text me and anyone who put the time aside to sit down and watch this race. The support for it was overwhelming and it was a special race for me. It was my first time in what was essentially a World Series start list and it was damn hard. I was still pretty worried because I was still a bit chesty from whatever bug I had picked up the week before but I just ignored it as best I could, I was going to race either way! I swam okay for the first lap exiting just at the back of the main pack but completely and utterly explode on the second lap. I think I just didn’t have the training done in the 2 months before it to get through the 1500 swim. I recognized the 2 guys that were getting dropped with me and knew they were uber bikers so I just settled into it since I’d already lost touch with the pack.

Once we hopped onto the bikes my legs felt pretty class and we just got straight to work. Between the 3 of us we managed to catch 30 guys by the end of the spin so it was a solid shift on two wheels. Running out of T2 the legs felt fresh but that was short lived. I’ve been struggling a bit with getting enough energy in on the bike without cramping on the run and made a mess of it. Pretty sure I bonked about 500 meters into the run and ran like a donkey for the remaining 9.5k. I ran as hard as I could regardless but it was pretty crap watching lads I’ve raced all year running their way into good results and me out the back wobbling around the road.

A serious amount of lessons learned at it. Although the reality is I got my ass handed to me on the day, I confirmed it to myself I can be competitive at WTS level, its just going to take another year or two. I’m having fun working my way to the top so I’m excited by the future.

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Karlovy Vary World Cup

I had certain expectations about this one. I gave myself three weeks from Glasgow to get ready for the race and Con had been there before and he warned me about how hard the bike course was. After biking well in Glasgow I spent the three weeks working on my swim and run hitting some pretty solid run work in particular. I genuinely cant begin to explain how damn hard that bike course was. It made Kilkee look like a dutch canal. (Here’s the power file – http://tpks.ws/A2BV7HNOYZSRZ6JPRJEBFGVYUQ)

I did manage to swim better in this one. I got to around 1200 meters in the pack but I was still short on some fitness and struggled over the last 300. I got out just on one of the swedes feet and knew I needed to get onto his wheel. I missed it by a single second. One second cost me around two minutes because I ended up in the wrong group. In all honesty I didn’t feel great on the bike so I’m not sure I would have been able to hang onto that group anyway. Again I ran a bit like a donkey, it’s going to take a solid winter to get the aerobic base up to the next level to handle the Olympic Distance ITU racing. Good banter.

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Whats up now?

Since Karlovy I’ve moved back into Limerick full time. I’m in final year of college (psychology and law) and with my Final Year Project and general college stuff its looking like a tough semester.

I’ve officially started my coaching career with Next Level Coaching!! NLC is run by my current coach Aaron O’Brien. I’ve known Aaron for years at this stage so its been a pretty cool experience learning from him. If you want to check out what we can offer you can throw me a message or check out the website! https://www.nlcoaching.ie/  🙂

I’ve also become the head coach of my home club Nenagh Tri. Pretty excited about this one because I can finally give something back to the club for the incredible help they have given me over the years. Thankfully because of all of this I’m only lifeguarding between 15 and 20 hours a week which is a good bit more manageable than 30+ hours at the pool.

Whats up next?

I suppose my mam will end up reading this so I’m gonna say first up is getting started on my final year project and getting my college work organised. The reality is I’m planning on racing a world cup in Florida on the 13th of October and another one the following week in Ecuador. They are both sprint distance races so I’ve basically just been smashing myself in training since there isn’t much need to focus on extended aerobic work with just two sprint distance races left before I take a break.

So there ya have it, a not so short summary of what I’ve been at lately. I’ll put up something before the race in Florida with some training stats and whatnot for my fellow number nerds 😉

Fair play to you if you made it this far, I applaud you.

Thanks for reading,

Daz

Saturdays are for the boys

Made the little trip up to Longford on Saturday for the second round of the 2018 Super Series. With the way my race calendar is going I wasn’t sure I would manage to get any domestic racing done but the guys in Lanesboro always put on a fantastic event so I couldn’t say no!

I did sit out Olympic distance national champs the week before which was a really hard decision, but I simply couldn’t manage 11 races in 11 weeks. Fair play to everyone who raced though, it sounded like a hellish day.

I had my mam for company for the day. Since I’m focusing on ITU racing this year my parents haven’t really got a chance to see me race so it was nice to have her around. The morning was pretty uneventful until the race briefing (Super Series had a separate briefing). All was standard here until Head TO Eamon Tilley casually slipped into the briefing that it was a non-wetsuit swim. I wont lie, I basically exploded in laughter at the look of shock on peoples faces. The room went silent until Ross Higgins stuck his hand in the air and politely asked “sorry, could you repeat that please” which sent me further into a fit of giggles. Having done 5 non wetsuit races in June alone I’m pretty used to them now so it didn’t matter to me, but I did feel a bit bad for those that were panicking about it.

I’ve been racing mostly the same group of lads for years now and I’ve raced in Lanesborough 4 times (I think) so it was nice to be back somewhere familiar and really enjoy the racing experience of the Super Series.

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Photo courtesy of @Stephen Kelleghan

Eamon was pretty clear that any false starts in the swim would be penalized, but that didn’t stop most of the guys on my right from jumping the gun. Standard I suppose 😛 I started beside Cillian Tierney and James Walton who I expected to be up at the front of the swim. I actually swam too close to Cillian’s lanky arms at one point and got my goggles knocked off but I got them back on quick enough so no damage done. I didn’t feel like we went out very fast and this was proved true when I got swam over countless times at the first buoy. There was more guys there than I was hoping for but soon after Cillian and Kieran Jackson put the foot down a bit and strung the field out.

Kieran decided to take us on a little detour but otherwise the swim went well, I sat on the feet and got out feeling fresh. Kieran pushed a fast pace through transition and got maybe a 3 meter gap on myself, Cillian, James and Sabian. I managed to ace the mount line getting both feet into my shoes before snapping my elastics. As the lads were busy getting their feet into their shoes over the first 200 meters I jumped around Cillian and up to Kieran and we stuck the heads down for a few minutes. Myself and Kieran basically did a 2 man time trial for the whole 20k and got a gap of a minute by the end over the lads. Pretty solid bike ride!

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Heading out onto the run and I felt a little sluggish so I wanted to make Kieran take the lead and drag me to the turn around to give my legs a bit of time to wake up. I led out of T2 and then slowed down hoping he would overtake me, which he didn’t. I slowed down more and started breathing really heavy hoping he would hit the front, still nope. I slowed down again and what did the fecker do? He attacked me! Took off sprinting haha. We had a good laugh about it after the race in fairness. I managed to catch up a minute later and we ran side by side until the 4k mark. We were both taking turns surging and slowing so it was a tactical run.

Having trained with Kieran for years I wasn’t keen on waiting for a sprint so I threw all my eggs in one basket at the 1k to go sign and managed to open a little gap which I held to the finish. Probably the closest finish there has been in the Super Series on the mens side anyway. Always cool to be part of an exciting race and now that Kieran is back on form I’m sure there will be plenty more.

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Photo courtesy of @Gordon Thomson

Big shoutout to Colm, Sean and Lanesboro Tri Club for once again setting the standard high for organizing a Super Series race + National Series race.

It was also my first race since I’ve started using the Kinetica products. I’ve had lots of problems lately with cramping during the run segment of races so I switched it up and used the kinetica caramel and oats energy bar in the build up to the race, alongside the Berry Electro C tablets. Running 16:04 in a tactical run shows things went well!

Now I better get ready to head to my race briefing here in Estonia for Fridays European Sprint Distance Championships.

Happy training

Daz