One of the complications of having three young kids is that the times when people want to train - early mornings, early evenings, holidays and weekends - kids are around -which leaves a bit of a conundrum for me as a mother and coach.
In an attempt to litigate this frustration James and I decided that, when we can, we will always take the opportunity to support our athletes. With Jack, Jade and Johnnie and Cody in tow we headed to Weymouth, its not everyday you get to watch long distance triathlon in the UK. James won here in 2017 and my sister made the effort to come and watch with two young kids so I had no excuse.
Josie Kelly has been coached in triathlon for 6 months, she has been doing triathlon for just 7. As a student Josie needed to invest her triathlon spending money lucratively and she knew coaching was the biggest return on spend that she could possibly make. Some would have bought faster wheels and got 10 seconds quicker. Josie bought a coach for six months and knocked an hour off the time she first targeted....the time her Dad had finished a 70.3 in.
Josie's triathlon journey has been quite a fairytale - not spared from Covid and niggles nor fatigue and time constraints- but the discomfort of those things are easily mitigated with fast and obvious progression in all three sports.
Coaching Josie has been a reminder to me of the courage and experience of first time triathletes. I met her for her first open water session....ever. She was brave, engaged and after that swim she bought a membership to Vobster Quay and swam there every single week up until the week without fail. She was simply amazing in her steadfast attention to improving.
Two weeks prior to her race Josie relayed her shins were hurting. We stopped running immediately. We called it right -they didn't get worse nor inhibit her race , it was a good coaching decision but more importantly backed by a very trusting and communicative relationship.
Standing on the side of the road waiting for our athletes to arrive is stressful and exciting even without the wider family around us. The relief of seeing Josie run with ease, form and quick cadence was enormous and she just kept going. 5hrs34 she did - she came 9th in her age group -the novice triathlete is no more and though not a seasoned racer yet Josie is more mature and knowledgable in her own body than many who have spent years in the sport.
Eoghan Fox also lined up in Weymouth, the third in a string of 70.3 races this summer trying to nail the half marathon off a solid bike.
We are yet to crack the perfect formula for getting Eoghan to show what he can put together off a solid build. There is something to be said for accumulating time in the sport and Eoghan having no back ground in endurance still has big goals and commitment to becoming the best triathlete he can be. Balancing a hectic work life with developing strength endurance on limited endurance metabolism is not simple . In the months of coaching Eoghan there is definite ability in swimming, cycling and running but the combination of nailing a demonstrative strong run off the swim/bike still eludes us given the potential shown in sessions.
Another solid swim and bike in Weymouth maintained that echo of ability but we both know there is more to show in the half marathon. We will go into winter with ambitions of a very steady, solid off season allowing to catch up with life, work on technique and accrue more time in aerobic training to build the base that stabilise the threshold sessions.
It was so good to see Eoghan in person, probably a little loud for him with the six of us, and we can't wait to cheer him on again with a huger smile on his face over that finish line.
Niall Cornyn has become a serial racer as of late - a strategic move we made mid summer that experience of racing and improving his swim were the dominant concerns for the first year of racing professional. Once those skills are improved the cycling and running ability Niall has nurtured can really begin to show.
Niall works full time so Ireland has provided him the platforms needed to race -albeit them sometimes being outside his comfort zone with drafting, or as Sprint and Olympic distances.
This weekend was Ireland Olympic Distance Nationals and as said in the title an Irish Olympian actually turned up for them. Of course Niall lost time to Russell White on the swim but left all a taste of his run prowess striding the deficit down to 75 seconds and going under 32 minutes for the first time.
Most of the racing Niall has done lately is unspecific and non tapered, often race tired.
We have a few weeks now to punctuate his season with an International 70.3 in Venice and perhaps another block of training to race again before Christmas.
Niall has progressed across so many aspects this year and whilst sport owes nobody anything, as his coach, I hope he has the chance to glimpse some of the potential I believe he holds in running off the bike before we spend winter in further preparation for 2023 and the opportunities it holds off a solid base.
I am not sure why Niall only has one shoe on in the photo but I'm pretty sure he ran with two. Maybe he burnt the sole up.
Nick Wol has forgotten more about triathlon than most triathletes will ever know. Covid scuppered many peoples race plans and similarly training regimes and adherence easily went out the window.
This weekend in Brighton was about showing Nick that he still loves racing and that despite best laid plans and commitment that sometimes life, work and family take precedent over sessions but you can still turn up and gain satisfaction from the sport.
The day before the race I thought Nick might pull but with a few reassuring words of support and a surprise spectator (thanks Penny), Nick found his 'why' again. He finished 2nd in his age group (but quite predictively didn't realise his prowess) and most importantly had a ball.
Nick races again this weekend and there are no jitters or doubts. Sometimes a shove or a hug is all you need to get to it. Change in the sport, in age and in priorities can be challenging in sport but you can navigate them all with love for sport and passion for challenge.
Laura Addie has begun to make her mark in professional albiet without a result that wholly satisfies her thirst as of yet. If 6th at Vichy 70.3 was a good start to the European campaign, the appearance at the front of the bike into T2 at Zell-Am-See looked very much like an arrival. That arrival was postponed however halfway through the run when Laura pulled up with a glute strain.
The decision to race IM 70.3 Dresden was a late call and one taken of opportunity for experience rather than glory or definite preparation.
Whilst the weather was looking grim Laura was feeling good but took a spill on the Wednesday before racing and scuppered her helmet on a kerb. Concussion is a difficult diagnosis to make without medical analysis and even then, fairly difficult to quantify. With headaches that day the prognosis to race wasn't that good and Laura in fact pulled up in the swim with severe head ache.
She is feeling mostly recovered now a week on and we are taking training slowly and analytically. This one has a big future if she wants it - it sometimes takes some error, some patience and some luck to get the consistency she craves in professional racing. Next up we aim to go big, prepared and confident.