My 2016 Race Results
2016 was an up and down sort of season with thankfully more ups than downs! I began with great pre-season and good solid training in January & February which really built the foundation for the year. A family holiday in March slowed things somewhat and then a calf injury hung over me for a few weeks and totally threw out my Belfast marathon training. After limping through an adventure race and then feeling a bit better the week before the race I should have had the sense to avoid the race or at least take it easy. But no I bombed it to Mile 10 and then had to walk to Mile 15 to get the bus back into the city!
This should have been the end for my Ultra Marathon ambitions (at least in the short-term) but switching to trail running after this and taking things very slowly I was able to complete my first Ultra at the Mourne Marathon (52 miles) just 6 weeks later in 10hrs 40mins. This was definitely the highlight of my year and gave me a good grounding for the rest of the summer… as well as an unhealthy desire to do another Ultra at some stage as I really enjoyed the experience even with insufficient training!
After all the running I switched back into triathlon mode and had a surprisingly good year all things considered. My swimming is still average but my cycling and running continue to strengthen, particularly now I’ve slipped into an older age group. My triathlon year began with Slateman UK. I absolutely love this race the scenery is amazing and its one of the toughest and most iconic triathlons in the UK. Commensurate with my Ultra training I decided to try the Slateman Savage (sprint triathlon on the Saturday and Standard Triathlon on the Sunday) and similar to the Sandman Savage in 2015 I enjoyed the experience of pacing across 2 races over the weekend.
I then had a race break for a couple of months until Top of the Mourne Olympic triathlon. This is one of the toughest Olympic distance races in Ireland / UK complete with a cycle section over the Mourne Mountains. I was a couple of minutes slower than last year but based on my sporadic training schedule beforehand I was happy enough! The next weekend I rounded off July with Belfast Titanic Triathlon, my first year competing in this race and really enjoyed it. A lot flatter and faster than the previous weekend and a nice way to celebrate my birthday in sensible fashion.
August was busy with work and sponsoring races but I managed to squeeze in a couple of Olympic distance races – Carlingford Triathlon and Dublin City Triathlon. Carlingford was a beautiful race and I really just used it to focus back into racing after a few weeks off but a fast course resulted in a new Olympic distance PB (personal best). I hadn’t planned on racing Dublin City Triathlon as I had a Half Ironman and my biggest triathlon of the year the next weekend but as Amphibia was sponsoring the race at the last moment I decided to use it as a final training run. With little preparation and a slight niggle I was surprised and delighted to finish 3rd in my age group, but sometimes the more relaxed races give the best results!
The following weekend was Lost Sheep and one of the toughest Half Iron distance races in UK/Ireland. The weather forecast the week before was cataclysmic, but thankfully by the time the weekend arrived it had downgraded to just rain and moderate winds. In tough conditions I was happy with a new distance PB of slightly under 5hrs. Not quite my target for the year of 4hr45mins but acceptable considering the conditions. I had planned this to be my last race of the year but in order to qualify for National Series rankings I had to complete a sprint distance race so I entered Port Triathlon a couple of weeks later.
It had been a while since I competed in a Sprint Triathlon but this is a nice flat course and I had a couple of weeks to try and speed things up in training. It’s always nice to mix it up a bit even if the short stuff doesn’t really suit me and again I was more than happy with a top 10% finish and a new Sprint PB. It also qualified me as 71st in the National Series rankings and 2nd in my club… all nice bonuses when the main aim for the year was the Ultra marathon.
Normally at this stage of the year I click into Adventure Race mode, but with an impending arrival into the family I was happy to hang up the race boots for a while and tick along before picking things up again early in the New Year. I did throw a random 10km race into the mix in early October and was on track for 35mins until my hamstring went at the 7km mark. My body is saying thats enough for this year! Happy with my 2016 Race Results, my training still wasn’t where I wanted it to be but I was averaging between 10 and 12 hours in peak season which gave me a solid base and led to PB’s in Sprint, Olympic and Half Iron distances.
Learnings from 2016
Don’t change your routines just because a guide or plan tells you to! I didn’t think I should run again the day after a long/tough run and now I know I cant!
Listen to your body, you are not invincible! I had my first ever DNF (Did Not Finish) during the year, and I cant believe it has actually taken this long to come! Thankfully the injury didn’t cause any lasting damage as I stopped in time instead of pushing it.
We are at the mercy of the elements but better preparation can make a big difference.
Big Race – aim for something big but do a few other races as well, in case the big race doesn’t happen due to illness or injury, or results don’t go your way due to weather, mechanicals etc. These will get you race ready and race fit but also mean your year isn’t depending on one race.
Gear – dont change too soon before a race!
Plans for 2017
Nothing decided yet! The birth of Mya a few weeks ago has put the brakes on training for a while so I’m just tipping along and spending plenty of quality time with her and the family. Between her and a planned family house early next year move I won’t be planning too much for the early season! I applied to the lotto for London Marathon 2017 but wasn’t successful. It’s on my bucket list big time for the next few years but I decided I just didn’t have the time for Charity fundraising at this time. I’ll do a marathon somewhere and hopefully fulfill my long-term aim of pulling down my PB by 25 seconds to a sub-3 marathon! The longer I leave it the slower im bound to get so this will be a big target for next year… meaning I’ll be searching for a relatively fast course not too far away.
In terms of triathlon I’ll be aiming for a sub 4.45 Half Ironman and new PB’s at shorter distances but I don’t know if I will have time for the National Series. I’ll likely throw in a couple of adventure races and something long or a bit mad as well, we have to keep things exciting 🙂 Into my 40th year and I continue to get quicker times each year but I know the body is going to start slowing down soon so I need to make the most of it for now!