A Boru club warrior A Planet Tri Bike shop,shopaholic and a gotri weekend survivors point of view,
Thoughts of a wannabe triathlete on the GoTri.ie endurance training camp Jan 2012
So, end of January, Go Tri endurance training weekend in UL and the wonderful wilds of Killaloe. What’s a thirtysomething desk jockey like me doing here? Sure, I turn up in June for the glamour days and the post race party. But endurance camp, in January – surely this is for the hard cases?
I rock up to UL on a chilly Saturday morning. Look at the faces among the thirty or so in attendance – there’s past and future Olympians – lean mean Davy O’Loughlin who wore the tricolour in Beijing, young Con Doherty and Steven Rooney from the Irish junior international squad, Olympians in the making. Among the coaching crew there’s STL Stephan Teeling Lynch, who’s done it all and Mike Jones who rows oceans in his spare time. There’s national champ Davy Richardson and there’s current European medal holders, take a bow Ms Walkin, and future age group world beaters, if self belief is a requirement, Captain Kennedy will go all the way. Among the faces, lycra and tangle of turbo trainers, I’m sure there are a few Brownlees and Wellingtons here to boot. There’s guys and gals of every age, shape size, Boruvians, Limerick Tri, Ennis Tri, Galway and even Naas.
So, the plan for the next two days – Meet and great followed by 2 hrs pool time, nosh, two hours turbo, 1 hours core routine, 1 hour run drills, cool down, stretch out, home, sleep. Day 2, 9am recovery run, two hours pool time, nosebag, group bike ride, murderous run hills reps, downhill speed work, wallow in ice cold Lough Derg. Stop the lights! That’s, like 14 hours training over 2 January days. That’s like, Ironman level input from a guy still sporting a turkey gut. Wtf have I signed up for?
So, pool session one in the 50m pool. Warm up 1000m and cool down 400m – sorry, that’s like my set. Shall I go now? I could meet you in the bar? Oh no… In between was a mixed set of 4000m of drills and propioceptive work, from supermans to extended doggy style, fins, hand paddles, kick boards, all the toys. There were times I felt enough is enough but no one else was giving up so battled on and got through it. Had Gally packed it in I might have fallen, but no, quitting apparently is not an option. As tiredness crept in, technique flaws were highlighted. In the words of STL, sometimes you got to break it to fix it.
So, grub time, on best behaviour as coach warned us about what should go in (concern about potentially seeing a curry chip encore during a crowded turbo session), and then crammed into Kilmurry village hall for a turbo torture session. A couple of hours of going nowhere with intent, working up a proper sweat while generating enough watts to light up the dark side of the moon.
After the turbo ‘twas time for core and floor work. Aaagghhh. The floor was slick with snot and sweat with tears and blood soon added. The sadistic side of STL emerged as we went through endless rounds of planks, pushups, running man, burbies, squats, step ups. Again, and again, and again. The room was quivering with plankers trying to hold it together. No one broke. No one wanted to be the first.
And so to run. First up some Youtube footage of some hot runner doing funky drills. Looks easy, out to the track, Iron Mike Jones got us going with a 4 lap “warm up” like we needed to warm up, and then a series of very interesting run drills from scatter legs, high heels to Russian dance. Line up a load of age groupers on the start line, tell them it’s not a race, say Go, and see what happens. Yes, form goes out the window as the Chariots of Fire gene kicks in. Track, Go, Race! But look, the fast guys who win stuff in June are doing the drills slowly today? Could there be something in that? As I watch young Con Doherty slowly and expertly doing the running drills it dawns on me that as well as being a gifted athlete this guy has learned how to learn. That’s why he’s going to the Olympics and I’m going to the Olympic Arms bar.
Day one down, home, quick stop at Planet Tri in Killaloe for new hand paddles, pasta, bed.
Day 2 and the “optional” 9:00 a.m. riverside recovery run, well attended, these guys are serious. 7.5km run, 35 minutes with the coach all the time trying to slow the pace down. Included at the end of the run was some visualisation work. Crossing the Joey Hannan Triathlon finishing line, arms held high, victory. I dipped my torso to pip speedy Richardson. Ah well, I’m allowed dream.
Back into the pool for a 4,300 routine, expecting the worst, pleasantly surprised that I was still in one piece after previous day. Excellent session in the outside lane, intensively coached by Jonesy, listen, practice, repeat, improve. There might be something to that. So swimming done, 10km knocked out in 2 days, who would have thunk it?
Quick feed and onto the UL activity centre in Killaloe. Now, for those who don’t know the lie of the land out Killaloe way, when God was laying out the geography of Killaloe she was thinking triathlon – a holy trinity of Swim Bike Run. She laid out the magnificent fresh water Lough Derg, current free, clean, easy access. She made it slightly on the chilly side, cos this is only earth, not heaven. Around the bottom of the lake she sculpted 2 magnificent mountains, on the Clare side, Moylussa and on the Tipp side Tountinne. She decorated the landscape with forest and heather, laced it with tracks and trails and decorated it with mind blowing vistas. For the crack she chucked in some sinful gradients, just to keep people on their toes. To finish the masterpiece man added the magnificent UL Activity Centre and the Planet Tri Triathlon emporium. Triathlon Nirvana in East Clare. Round these parts is a rare breed of hardy people. The bauld Brian Boru once ruled all Ireland from here. The Graves of the Leinstermen on the Tipperary side is testimony to the no nonsense nature of the locals. In more recent times the area has spawned modern day warriors and world beaters on the rugby field like Woody and the Foleys and more recently again gave birth to the Brian Boru Tri club and Brian Boru Tri challenge – Irelands toughest Sprint Tri.
So, afternoon session, group bike ride, over the Ogonnelloe hill, down into Tuamgraney, through Scarriff and on to Mountshannon harbour and return, covering a section of the RAS route and cat 3 climb. A recovery ride, save the legs for the hill reps that follow. Olympic Davy provided the instruction on the ride and broke the group into pods of 4 for team work and group sessions. Boys will be boys and the recovery ride turned into a 40km sprint. Not good. Coach not happy. Brian Boru himself would have baulked at the bollickin coach administered to the troops for breaking ranks. One thing for sure, the hills reps were still going to happen, jelly legs or not, and there would be blood.
So 4 O’clock on a January Sunday, 12 hours training in the legs already this weekend and now the going is about to ramp up a notch or seven. 10 * 300m trail run on a 10% – 15% gradient with checkers at every 100 m to ensure form is being maintained and no slackin’. This was tough, tough tough. Edwin, our Dutch novice in the group had never even seen hills like these back in Holland, never mind run up them and certainly not 10 times. But the group got on with it. Rep after rep, holding form, digging deep, great encouragement from the group and the coaches, urging each other on. Appropriate that this session was at the back end of the weekend. In race terms this is the final climb, the final mile, time to dig deep, leave nothing out there. What I learned from this session is dig deep, keep going, keep form, one step in front of another, there is an end in sight.
Uphill reps down, now the grand finale of the weekend, downhill speed work. Time to Let Yourself Gooooo. So up the hill we go to a straight 100m run that could be used for ski jumping. In pairs, down the hill, ramp up the cadence, enjoy the fly, let yourself go. A liberating feeling, taking the leg turnover to a place my old pegs couldn’t have dreamed possible. 100m downhill sprints, with a further 70 m needed just to put the brakes on. Repeat, faster, harder, believe. Wow, exhilarating. Garmin says I ran at 37.7km per hour. Fluich me!
And so, 5 O’clock on a January evening, sun setting and night chilling, we weary 30 plod back to the centre, legs scorched, lungs burst and wade to within a millimetre of manhood deep into the lake to leave the icy water put out the fire. Tired, happy, feeling a great sense of achievement for starting, surviving and finishing an epic weekend. I’m looking around, considering, are these people extraordinary or are they just ordinary people doing extraordinary things? They are certainly inspiring. I shouldn’t be surprised. Around these parts the bus driver beat the All Blacks. To mix mottos from my favourite sports, to the brave and the faithful, nothing is impossible, but you’ll never know unless you go tri. If torture can be this much fun in January, roll on the racy days of June.
To the Go Tri Team, and the great company that participated in a wonderful weekend, thank you so much.