Monday, October 10, 2011

Summer Marathons 2011!

I got a bit of a marathon craze this summer and between kayak marathons and running marathons I took part in 3 different events between September and October.

First up was the WWKC club race, the Lower Liffey race. I'd been out practicing in the wavehopper a good bit over the summer, but it was the first time I'd had to run any whitewater in it and the first actual race I'd done in it! I entered into Div 4 racing class and overall I did quite well. I was up against some K1 racing boats which were always going to be faster, but I was the second plastic boat to finish the race so was very happy with that performance.

Next up was the Dublin Half Marathon (road race), again my first ever running race of any kind so I was actually quite nervous that I'd end up embarrassing myself. With Daragh's (my Flatmate and an accomplished runner himself) I'd taken up running earlier in the summer and this was my first real test. I set myself a target of 1:50, nothing particularly demanding, but also a respectable enough time for someone who had never done running or even participated in sports (I always played in goals!) that required running before. The first half of the race went very well, and I was slightly ahead of target at the 10 mile mark. Unfortunately however I just ran out of energy for the last 3 miles and I slowed by over a minute a mile for each of those and came home in 1:55. Those last 3 miles were quite possibly the hardest thing I've ever done. I was very tempted to just give up. I just had to keep telling myself how close I was to both the finishing line and my target time. Overall I was satisfied with 1:55, I was hoping to be a bit faster, but I wasn't far off the mark I set for myself and it's a standard to improve from!

Me on the half marathon!

Then last up was the Liffey Descent last Saturday. This is one of the word's premier kayaking events and everywhere I traveled kayaking people would ask me about it. However I'd never taken part, so this was something I had wanted to do for a while. I'd done a bit of practice before and had good preparation with the Lower Liffey. Overall the race went well, I had targeted a top 20 position, but I far exceeded that with a 7th place finish and a time of 1:44 (again all in a plastic boat, slower then those which are normally competitive). However for me it was very much a case of what could have been. The e-mail brief we received prior to the race informed me that my class was to start in wave 4, however we actually went in wave 3. I wasn't ready and ended up some distance from the start line and behind everyone else in the class. It took me more then 5 minutes to even get to the start line (with the clock running during that). After that I had to negotiate slow boats all the way through the Jungle and it was only about 7km in that I got some clear air to race. Overall I'd guess I lost a least 10-15 minutes because of this error, a time that could have put me well in contention for a medal so it was very disappointing to have not got off well.

I also took a swim on Palmerstown weir, We were informed prior to the race that there was a tree in the centre line and we were to avoid that and go left, however upon arriving we were told to aim centre. I wasn't the only one to end up neither on the centre or left line instead dropping backwards into the hole. I've never managed to roll with wings before and this was no exception. Another 5 minutes lost and I was really left wondering where I could have been were it not for these two mistakes.

Myself during the race!

There was a few other DCU paddlers involved in the race as well! Club captain Alan came in an excellent 3rd, and improvement of over 10 positions from last year. New member Laura was racing in a canadian. Before the race I also had a chance encounter with a paddler who had just joined the club in the last week. He ended up wining the GP class making 3 of the top 10 members of DCU Canoe Club, a very impressive return for a small club, here's to more success in future!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Alps 2011

As early summer came around again it was time for what is now becoming an annual pilgrimage to the alps for me! This time the plan was to spend two weeks in Italy. I was joined by Aisling and Trevor from DCUCC and a crew from Mullingar Canoe Club. Unfortunately the weather and conditions in Italy didn't always play ball, it rained heavily at times and levels varied wildly from much too low, too much too high. That said I got some great runs in (the highlight of which was the Ayasse where got my Lv. 5 training done.

After a week of all the weather the Italian Alps could throw at us a chance to get a house in Briancon in France came up, so it was over to there for us. With most of the Mullingar crew returned to Ireland it was a smaller group and we had a fantastic chilled week in the Durance Vally, getting some nice paddling done as well as some climbing and mountain biking. The biking in particular was an experience, going along trails barely half a metre across with over a 50 metre drop of the side wasn't particularly my idea of fun! Nonetheless a good day.

Overall a fantastic two weeks, going for longer then the usual week was certianly worthwhile, we were able to slow the pace down and enjoy it as a holiday insteed of the usual mad rush to paddle all the time. Hopefully back next year to get some of the Italian clasics I missed due to crazy levels and perhaps even for longer then this year!

Dave Corcoran, Steve Burke, Aisling Doherty and myself by the Durance in France

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A dry winter

No blog updates here for a while. Winter has been very dry and there hasn't been much opportunity to get paddling. On the upside on the few days I did get out I managed to get to run some of the local Wicklow runs which have up to now eluded me. I got two low water Dargle runs and a medium level run of the Glenmcnass in. A visit to west Cork saw us get a nice run (if a bit scrappy) run on the upper Bandon, but I still haven't had a chance to run the Clare Glens and the Upper Liffey.

Upper Bandon from Eanna Ryan on Vimeo.

Eanna captured our Upper Bandon Run on video

I have still managed to get out paddling a lot on Club trips with DCU and WWKC and it's great to see many more new paddlers getting into the sport!

Competition wise, I took part in both the varsities (for the fifth and final time :( )and the Jacksons Boatercross, "Wacko in the Jacko".

DCU Polo Team which came in impressive 3rd.

Varsities largely went well, DCU overall came forth and I competed in all 4 events. Polo was first and DCU did very well to finish 3rd, we were unlucky to loose the semi final to runners up trinity and did well to beat a strong and aggressive UL team in the 3rd place play off.

The next event was the Boatercross and the team of myself, Ashling Conway and Alan Barret were very happy with a 3rd place finish on the Upper Bandon.

DCU team on the lead in to the main drop on the Bandon.

The Long distance race later that day did not go as well as my boat turned out not to be waterproof and a stop half way to empty it as well as dragging a few gallons with me ended my chances of a good finish. Freestyle at Cork Sluice was next and even though I didn't feel it went great the judges saw more then I did and we finished a respectable 5th place.

Getting ready for the freestyle comp!

The Jacksons' boatercross was another great event organised by Total Experience and held for the first time in a number of years. I didn't make it through the second round however which was pretty disappointing given the good run of finishes I'd had in boatercrosses up to this. None the less it was a great weekend and hopefully it keeps going strong over the next few years.

Leading heat one over Jacksons Falls.

Next adventure is Italy, heading in two weeks and hoping for good water levels over there!