Last year’s Triathlon Ireland Super Series winner Aidan Callaghan tells us how he qualified for the Ironman World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, which takes place in October.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted, apologies. In the run up to Bolton it was in my head to post updates on training and progress but time and tiredness seemed to be getting the better of me every time I intended to write anything.
Tiredness… that’s one word I would associate with the past six weeks. In undertaking the Ironman distance I was fully aware of the sacrifices and dedication it would take but I think I massively underestimated the toll it would take on my body and my mind.
During my main four-week block of training I can absolutely say that I was on the limit, get up, train, eat, work, eat, train, eat, and go to bed … that was it for four weeks solid.
For four weeks that’s all I did. Was it worth it?? Off course! Would I do it again … I’m going to have to…
Bolton couldn’t have went any better, well it probably could but I’ll try keep this as positive as possible.
I got 9.53.54 in my first Ironman event over a tough course.
With my swim history this season I was glad to turn up at the lake in the morning and see the blue sky forming. I wasn’t too worried about any aspect of the swim and was confident in my ability to get out and stay with the leading age groupers from the beginning.
It was a rolling start and I positioned myself in the second row. I asked a guy in front row what he expected to swim, “50-52 minutes” he told me to which I responded “sound man, if you feel somebody at your feet it’ll be me”.
The starter announced two minutes to go, quick best of luck to Bryan McCrystal and David Sheridan and I was ready to rock. Off we went, it was pretty non-eventful, after a 100 metres I realised my mate in front was full of crap, and would do well to swim 52 min so I past him out and tried to get onto the fella out front on his own.
Within a couple minutes, I realised he was a bit too far at this stage and decided to keep him within 10-20 metres. We passed one or two of the professional girls on the first lap and then entered the water for the second lap, which was considerably busier as all 2,500 athletes were now splashing, fighting and even breast stroking their way through the course. We would have to swim through most of them to get to the finish.
The best line was straight on the buoys and I kept on this the whole way round, most of the traffic was to the right of these although with so many people looking for the same space or line kicks and slaps were never too far away.
I managed to catch and pass the fella in front of me on the 1st lap about half way round and exited the water as the fastest age grouper and 8th fastest swim of the day. Nice one…Bolton Swim exit
After a pretty slow transition time, (Catherine, my fiancee, thought I stopped for tea) I headed out onto the bike. It was a 14 mile section first then two laps of 45 mile or so with another few mile back into transition. My HR was pretty high for the first 40 minutes and was a cause for concern for a while, but once it came down I was happy enough to sit at 33 kmph avg for the duration of the bike leg. My target originally was 35kmph but after the first 90 minutes I knew this would be hard achieved and didn’t want to push too hard and get to the run in bits. Remember Dublin marathon finish line….
A few fellas came sailing past me on the bike and were ripping it up, I was happy to let them go. “Try follow them and be breathing out your arse 15 minutes later” I kept saying to myself. The conversations you have with yourself on a five- hour bike ride can be quiet obscure.
I and one other fella had a good battle for most of the bike leg and this kept the mind occupied. He would make a burst past me, I’d catch him burst past him 15 minutes later, he’d fade away and then come back at me again and so on… Everything went according to plan, gels juices and food all did the trick.
The bike leg flew by in a flash, with massive crowds out cheering you on and music blaring in every village it really was a joy to do. I finished the bike in 5.30 and knew with a decent run I’d come in under 10 hours.
Coming out of transition I was telling myself, “first 2 mile easy Aidan, nice and easy build into it, take it handy”. Mile 1 – 6.45, mile 2 – 6.48 WTF!!! “Slow down”. Remember Dublin marathon finish line… Mile 3 – 7.10 “that’s more like it”.
I aimed to complete the first eight miles in just under the hour and then break the next 18 mile into six mile loops. I got to mile eight at 58 minutes. Another task complete, felt good, no issues with stomach or legs or head. 1st 6 mile loop went to plan, around 42 minutes, starting to feel a bit dodgy, met Bryan on the run, ran with him for a while, he was on his last lap though so when I heard that I was pretty depressed since I had one to go.
These six miles were the toughest, pace went out to 8.30’s for the majority of it, I was still in control and felt okay just not great and just not fit to get my head and legs to work in tandem. Again I kept referring to Dublin, if I have a bad few miles here and can finish strong I’ll be happy. I sacrificed the middle loop and decided to give it my all for the final six miles.
Coming up the hill out of the town for the last time, my Achilles and calves where starting to show the first twitching signs of cramp!
I decided to walk to the top and then began to increase the pace, it worked, the little twitching sensations remained but there was no real pain or cause for concern, my final two miles were 7.15 and 7.10, I crossed the line to those now famous words, You are an Ironman, 9.53.54. Happy Out!
I had loads of support out on the course from Catherine and friends with whom I had gone to college and lived with during my time in Bolton and Manchester. It was great to hear them shouting me on and also great to catch up with them before and after the event.
For now, its recovery time. I’m taking it easy for a couple weeks with no real training plan or goals. The Danny Mc Daid 15k is on next week I’ll give that a rattle and then start concentrating on the Lost Sheep in Kenmare, after which, all roadsBoton Trophy lead to KONA Hawaii, the big Island, the incredibly hot big island…
This will be a massive undertaking but one which I’m really looking forward too. More about the training for that in later posts.
On a side note, if any businesses or organisations would like to help out in funding my trip to the big Island please get in contact with me. I would greatly appreciate any help and would be delighted with the support.