Monday, October 14, 2013

Post-KAR recovery week

Now that KAR is over for another year (no, it's just something in my eye!), I've had a week to recover and reflect. I've still been training some too.
I took Sunday and Monday off apart from some light, short walks. Tuesday had me back in the gym with the warm up and cool down on the bike - low impact & low intensity. No leg work, that's for sure! The next two days were similar except I also did an easy 5k run on Thursday. It went well, but I'd been having a tight IT band in my right leg since the race. After dinner it was time to go Kenpo training and I got 2hrs 15mins in. Nothing high intensity, just working on forms and techniques.
That evening I started feeling like a head cold was coming on and didn't sleep much. Usually when these two happen together I put it down to my body being too busy recovering from racing/training and take a day off, so Friday was a rest day.
Felt ok on Saturday, so I did 64-65k on the bike. It was cold and I had my wind cheater jacket on the whole time. By the end my fingerless cycling gloves were not enough to keep me warm and even though I had put my overshoes on my feet were like lumps of ice. That evening I went online and bought a turbo trainer.
I've mentioned before that I'll run in almost any weather (-6 in shorts on one occasion), but I'm definitely a fair-weather cyclist.
Sunday was dull and overcast, much like Saturday, but I went out and did a 10k run in the VFFs. For the first 60% of it my legs felt a bit tired, but they felt better towards the end and I picked up the pace. About 15 minutes into the run I wanted to check my pace, but I had forgotten to change the garmin from cycling to running. It wasn't an issue.
Rest day today (Monday) and back to the gym and a 5k run tomorrow!
I have registered for Connemara again. Apparently it takes two and a half years for me to forget how much pain I was in. Training for that will begin in two weeks, once I have recovered from the 90k Nicholas Roche Classic this Saturday.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Race review: KAR13

I was looking forward to this race for a long time, even before last year's race to be honest!
Last year we did the Killarney AR as a 3 person team. I did the two mountain runs, Ronan did the cycling and Brian did the kayak stage. At one point before we registered for last year's race I jokingly said I'd do the race solo and race against the two of them in their team. We did the team event (57k), but I had already planted the seed in my mind. 
This year when I contacted the guys again, neither of them could make it, so I got the chance to do it and decided to do the 67k route. Unfortunately due to a couple of issues/injuries my run training wasn't up to scratch, but it was still an excellent race.
I had done the Powerscourt AR three weeks before, so after that was a few days to recover, about 10 days training and a week taper. Because of the injury I got in May I was cycling a lot more than running and during the race it really showed.
We drove down the morning before, stopping off in a friend's house on the way. The two espressos I had there didn't do much to calm my pre-race nerves though!
I dropped the family off at the Gleneagle Apartments (right beside the hotel where the Expo and finish line was), signed on and dropped the bike out to the start line at Kate Kearney's Cottage.
I got to the bike drop just before sunset

After that I headed back and had dinner with the family. I think I had roast pork and veg. When we had finished we went back to the apartment and I got all my bits together. Its one thing getting ready for a running or cycling race, yet another to be preparing for a multi-sport race. Not only does your kit need to be prepared and checked for each stage, but you have to get your nutrition and hydration plans for the day sorted too. 
My alarm was set for 06:00, but I woke around 04:15 and was unable to sleep, naturally! I tried to sleep, but my brain wasn't having it and eventually just got up. Breakfast was bacon, eggs and white pudding with tea and water. Then it was time to get the racing gear on, fill the water bottles, make sure I had all my food etc and walk over to the bus pick up. The busses were right outside the hotel, so it didn't take long, thankfully!
On the bus there was loads of talk and I got a couple of questions from KAR newbies. After that I put my head back and tried to relax until the bus stopped. Once debussed, I put my cycling gear on the bike, pumped the rear tyre and got ready for the kit check. After that was done I did some dynamic mobility work for the legs until the air horn went off. Then it was running with the pack along the narrow, winding road and up the muddy, rocky, wet trail of stage one.
Just over 6k and not too steep, but the conditions under foot made me take it a bit slower than a normal hill run. With that over, we ran back to the start and jumped on the bikes and on towards the Gap of Dunloe and Moll's Gap, both notorious hills/mountains in the area. The going was pretty slow, but I got a few chances to take some electrolytes, a salt tablet and have a banana along with water. 

At the end of the bike stage there was a dirt trail and suddenly the faster road bikes with their narrow tyres were at a disadvantage and my hybrid bike with wider tyres and a good tread was able to keep up a good pace and still hold the line. I dropped the bike and walked while eating a protein bar and taking on more water while heading to the kayak stage. No point in showing an elevation for that! All the kayaks were two person and as I put my PFD on another guy around my height was waiting, so we teamed up. I jumped in the back (having some experience) and we headed off. We had a strong breeze blowing us to shore, so the outward journey was tough, but it made the homeward bit easier. While I was steering us to compensate for the wind, my "buddy" was steering us back and not putting much effort into paddling. No point in losing the head, I just kept paddling and steering. When we got to shore he admitted that I had done most of the work...
And then it was onto the second run stage, the bit I wasn't really looking forward to, the 18k mountain run. It started off ok, but then we got onto the mountain proper and I slowed right down. It had been quite sunny and warm all day but on the exposed mountain side I had to put on my hat and wind cheater to keep warm, despite my run/walk/climb.

Towards the end of the climb I found myself thinking that I would gladly pay someone to check me in at the checkpoint. Then I remembered that I had no cash or credit cards on me, so I'd have to keep going!
While I was on a slower section I took on another banana and a salt tablet and drank plenty of water. I took this photo from the checkpoint, looking back on the route we had come up.
On the downhill every now and then my quads would give out, so I'd slow down or walk and then pick it up again after a short break. I was delighted to finish that section and get over to the bike again.
I got to the bike, took on more of my electrolytes and water, sent a message to the family and got going.
I loved the last 4k on the bike and pushed the pace the whole time, knowing that I was almost there. We had to cycle past the hotel and under a specially made bridge to a bike drop 200m past. I was able to wave to the family beside the bridge, which was pretty cool. Once I dropped the bike, there was about a 200m run back to the bridge, run over it and about 30m to the last checkin at the finish line. I got a printout of my splits there and then, awesome! Total time was 6:32, not ground-breaking by any means, but given my lack of run training and that I only got started on bike training this year I'm very happy with the finish. We got a free small tub of "protein ice cream", water and bananas - all of which I had. After that I walked back to the bike and cycled it (slowly) to the apartment.
It was only when I sat down that I realised how muddy I was!
Bear in mind, that when getting into/out of the kayak I was half way up to my knees in water, so they would have been worse before that. But then again, I did fall on my ass coming down the second mountain run, so I guess it evens out. To recover, I sat in a cold bath (to ease the inflammation in the leg muscles) while I ate a large plate full of scrambled eggs and bacon, washed down with a protein/electrolyte drink and water.
Over the whole race I ate: two bananas, one protein bar (low carb), three salt tablets, some electrolytes and around 2.5 litres of water. Not only was I feeling full of energy at the end, I wasn't dehydrated either (I checked).
Looking forward to next year already!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Skyrne 50k cycle

As part of my build up to the KAR next weekend and also to encourage a good buddy to keep active, I've been doing a fair bit of cycling this year. So much that next year I'll be (hopefully) getting a road bike, in place of my current , hybrid bike.
I've been doing 50-80k on the bike each weekend, unless I was racing, so when I heard about this fundraiser cycle for just €15 I booked it straight away.
I had decided to take it relatively easy on this one, due to racing the following weekend, but as with a lot of my pacing plans, that didn't happen!

I cycled to the start (Skyrne GFC) with about 20mins to go and met a couple of club mates from the Athletics Club. They were both doing the 100k, so I didn't see them for the rest of the day. After sign in I grabbed a coffee and got my goodie bag. The down-side with cycling to the start was not having anywhere to put the goodie bag. So I ended up putting the energy gel, energy bar, banana and water bottle in my cycling jersey pockets and giving away the bag of crisps.
The 100k group started first and then the 50k shortly after. I started near the front of the pack (we were told in the registration that it is NOT a race), but I was quickly overtaken by most of the group. It was quite clear that I was not one of the "real cyclists" as I call them. The marshalling was excellent and friendly and the hills weren't too long or steep. I think it's an unwritten rule that every cycling event on the county has to go to/over the Hill of Tara. If you look at the course elevation below, Tara is the steepest bit near the middle.

There was a food stop at the top of Tara, which was great, but the hot water hadn't boiled by the time we got there, so I just had the banana I brought with me, some water and got going again. It wasn't that warm and there was a breeze up there, so I decided to keep moving. I was unsure of my average pace, but had made it half way in 63mins, including the climb, so I was happy with that. 
The second half didn't have that many hills, or that's the way it seemed, but it felt slower. Legs getting tired by this stage. The group was well spread out by now and I only saw 5 or 6 cyclists during this part. 
By the time I was on the Skyrne Road again I was wondering when we would be turning off it for a final loop before the finish. As it happened there was no loop and we finished up with around 46k instead of 50. It wasn't a race, so not officially measured, so not a big deal. After getting a burger at the BBQ (with no buns - I don't eat bread) and another coffee I headed off home on the bike again for another 12k or so.
By the time I got home, the sun had come out and I had clocked up 70k before 12 noon. The cycle home was definitely done at a slower pace, but as it was overall downhill I did it one min faster than the cycle to the start that morning.
Time to recover and taper before Killarney!