Tuesday, September 28, 2010

2010 Irish National Marathon Championships

The final goal of the year before some well deserved rest and relaxation (and a chance for my various scars to get the energy they need to heal up properly) had arrived. After not being run in 2009, 2010 marked the return of the Irish National Marathon Championships. I won this title in 2008 and was very much motivated to retain the title.

MBCC (Mountain Biking Club Cork) where the club responsible for running the event – they were holding it in Ireland's largest trail center – Ballyhoura, but they promised much more than trail center riding – and in that, they delivered.

My leadup to the race was good – after our wedding, I rode a few big weeks and then tapered off for the championship itself. The week before, I took part in the Leinster Road Race Championships, motivated to win but had one of the worst sets of legs of the year for the first hour – the decisive hour. After an easy week, it takes a hard session to get my legs going for racing fast and with the Hill Climb Race that was supposed to be ran by Swords CC the day before, being cancelled at the last minute – my 'opener' session was gone. However, a massage by Stewart Carr on Monday had my legs feeling good again. Other than the disaster of a road race, things were going to plan and I felt strong.

The course was going to cover around 63km with 1,500m of climb. The course contained long fireroad climbs, long technical climbs, steep descents, ruts of death, forested singletrack and about 70% (I'm guessing) of the purpose built Ballyhoura singletrack. A challenging course and one that I felt suited me well.

Female winner, Cait Elliot

The race started up a 5km fireroad climb – initially I had Evan Ryan and Dave O'Neil for company, but by the top, I had moved off. I rode the climbs at a good tempo, the trail center stuff as fast as I dared and took it really easy on the technical rocky descents. I was in the lead and paranoid about puncturing on the very pointy rocks so I took my time descending. I had a lot in reserve and felt I could drill it on a few of the longs climbs towards the end if needed.

With a little over an hour of racing to go I came to a dead end on a section (the only section I think) that we doubled back on. There were no signs – and I cursed, very loudly, and with much anguish. I had been VERY diligent watching for course marking and felt that the course had been really really well marked. I remembered seeing a sign 1km back that pointed right(ish) but was clearly taped off. I rode back, met Anthony White (fellow KCNC endurance rider) and we rode back to the junction where I stopped as he was sure he was still right. We faffed around some more (I spent 10 minutes up there faffing!) until basically the first 10 riders were together. We decided that the taped off section must be wrong and followed where the arrows pointed. Very shortly afterwards, a moto rider confirmed we were now correct and apologized profusely for not having had the tape removed in time. I was kinda pissed – I had worked hard enough to make sure I had a good lead in case any mechanicals occurred and with 1 hour of racing to go, it was all back to the start. Motivated, I hammered off.

The rest of the race was thankfully uneventful. The course was really nice and the singletrack a lot of fun to ride in the dry. I had been riding down here on my hardtail training bike a few weeks earlier and by the end of the session I could hardly move as my body was that beaten up. Today, on the full suspension Epic – I felt great. It ate up the course, smoothed out the rough sections and allowed me to really enjoy the course. I finished without the obligatory sore back that is usually associated with trail center type riding.

3 hours 20 (or so) after starting, I finished off my 2010 season crossing the finish line to win my second Marathon Championship and my second National Championship of the season. I think I may be the first Elite to claim both a MTB and road national championship in the same year :)

Other than that one glitch which effected the front 10, the race was very well ran, on a really great course – certainly the best marathon course I have raced on in Ireland. The prizes were sponsored by VANS and went down really well :)

Thanks for all the support along the way in the race, before, during and afterwards. And another special thanks to Alan for coming down with me for the weekend and supporting me at the feed zones and lugging my spare wheels around. It is great to be able to concentrate on the cycling and know that everything else is being taken care of. In addition to my ZipVit Recovery drink when I finished, he even had a Coke waiting for me – how PRO is that? :)

Results are up here and I'll add in more photos from the race as I find them.

For those always asking - my nutrition for the 11:30am marathon was:
LARGE bowl of oats with raisins, cinnamon, a banana, muesli and soy milk. Some orange juice and a large mug of coffee.
ZipVit Energy Bar
500ml ZipVit Energy Drink as I warmed up and one ZipVit Gel
During the race:
4 ZipVit Gels (one caffeine, an hour from the finish)
4 x 500ml of ZipVit Energy Drink


Anonymous said...

Hi Ryan, did you take those gels at regular intervals? I think nutrition really let me down, and 2gels plus osme bars over the course was not enough.

Ryan Sherlock said...

yeah - I took one pretty much every 40-50 minutes (rougly). The ZipVit gels are pretty big at about 200Cal per gel. Some of the other companies have much smaller ones which would mean taking one every 15-20 minutes.

Between energy drink and gels I try to take about 100-120grams of carbs in per hour. Works well for me. While racing off-road I couldn't eat bars, not nearly enough time and too distracting!

Ryan Sherlock said...

Sometimes in road racing I would eat solid food - but in general, all gels. In the RAS (8 days in a row racing 3.5-4 hours a day) I only used Energy Drink and Gels. Never had any issues.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply. I took two small Powerbar gels, one at the first feedzone and one near the last, no wonder I died after 30km. I won't make the mistake again.

Ryan Sherlock said...

During the race, I burned through around 3,800 calories. My glycogen stores should have been pretty much topped up before I started (I'm guessing, for me around 2,500 calories worth of energy). I would have been burning fat too but there is still a deficit. The Gels and Drink supplement that => I finished strong with lots of energy in case people did get close. If I raced off water, the chance of bonking would have been much higher when my glycogen stores ran out.

The PowerBar gels that you took total around 220 Calories - about 1/4 of what I took on in gels.

As I always say though - make sure you try any new nutrional stratagies out in training first - club races - long, fast group rides etc... Not just when you are going easy - your body works differently when you are giving it gas :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Some Good news!
Cruagh road has been resurfaced as of Monday - all thoes nasty potholes gone - well until the next heavy wet snowy weather hits.
All the same the it's a pleasure to ride on .

Mountain Goat

Ryan Sherlock said...

wow, and they fixed it up while I was away - how nice of them.

I'll have to swing by there later on today :)


Ryan Sherlock said...

It is nice alright! http://yfrog.com/28iv7vj

Worth a few seconds anyway - maybe I'll run another hill climb up it some weekend morning...