Duathlon National Champ
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 😉