This year the club had three (that's right , THREE!!) of it's members go to the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.
So in the run up to the big day on the Big Island, we had a chat with the three amigos about how they got into triathlon, racing and ,most importantly, food!
Kevin Gilleece 35-39
Alan Kenny, 35-39
Andy Kinane, 35-39
Race History / PBs?
Andy: 5x iron distance finisher (Austria x2, Frankfurt x2 and Barcelona). PB 9h09m
Alan: Four Ironman,
Five marathons (PB; 2:35:51)
Numerous sprint, Olympic distance and half iron race. Plenty of shorter running race as well.
To be honest, I think PBs in triathlons are pretty meaningless. There's such variance from one course to another, I don't pay too much heed to times. I've gone 9:02 in Ironman and don't know my sprint or Olympic PBs off the top of my head.
Kevin: Have done Ironman Austria 4 times (2011-10:09, 2012-9:58, 2015-9:24 & 2017- 9:12) also Challenge Roth in 2014- 10:35 i think. That was a bit of a nightmare race. Crampy crampy!! 5k PB is 16:01, 10k 35:25, half marathon 1:15:48 & marathon 2:49. PB Ironman marathon is 2:59.
When did you start doing Triathlon? What is your background in sport?
Andy: Like many, first triathlon was Athy sprint (2008). Was v nervous beforehand and had more (unused) kit with me that day than I've had at any Ironman! Still don't forget the encouragement I got from Vanessa and other 3Ders that day to calm me down. Was buzzing when I finished! Have zero sporting background. Played football (badly) when younger - was more into hiking and camping with the scouts in my younger days
Alan: I started training for triathlon in the winter of 2006 and did my first race in 2007. I only did sprints and Olympics that summer and did my first half in 2009. Then in 2010, I stepped up to the full distance by doing Challenge Copenhagen.
I didn't have any sporting background of note. When I started triathlon, I was in my mid-twenties and just keeping fit by going to the gym. I became aware of the triathlon scene in Ireland through a housemate and simply fancied giving it a go. Then over the years, bit by bit, I just became more and more dedicated to the training.
Kevin: Started tri in 2007. A friend had a race entry that he wasn’t going to be able to use and convinced me I'd be able for it. Just to be sure i went out one evening to see if I could run 5k without stopping. I had been swimming a bit at the time in my local gym so I knew the 750m would be okay and I figured, sure you're sitting on a seat on a bike, how hard can it be?? I borrowed my friends bike and bike shoes and I was ready to go. Arrived to the race at 9 for a 10am start thinking i had loads of time but registration had closed so no race for me. That race was the 3d Tri Sprint at the NAC and after cursing them on the day a few months later i joined the club!! Background was recreational 5 a side footie with the lads, a bit of golf and some regular yet aimless sessions in the gym after work at the time.
When did you join 3D? How did you come across the club?
Andy: Joined in 2006 but took me two years to actually race! Was working in DCU at the time in the same lab as Thomas D - I think he saw me running in Albert College park and attempting to swim in the campus pool and suggested I try out 3D. Rest is history!
Alan: I joined the club the same year I decided I wanted to do a triathlon, 2006. I came across a number of Dublin based clubs through TI's site. Back then, 3D had by far the best club website. It was the only club for which I could actually figure out where there training took place. The locations suited me and I went along to one of the Saturday morning runs in the Phoenix Park. And here I am11 years later and still a member.
Kevin: See above ;-)
When did KONA come onto your radar? When did you first think it was a realistic goal for you, is this your first time, etc.?
Andy; Did my first Ironman in 2012 and that October pulled an all nighter to watch the pro race in Kona. Was blown away by the challenge and the level of performance in those conditions. Was never on my radar apart from a wild notion. When Kevin qualified in 2015 I was inspired further but still never planned for it as I had enough trouble mastering the race as it was. I changed a lot of things for 2016 when I raced 2x Ironman and both days I raced to the best as I had on the day and nailed it as far as I was concerned both times. Frankfurt 2016 definitely career highlight so far - sense of achievement had me so proud of myself. I still wasn't thinking of Kona though until Grace told me where I finished in Barcelona. Got a slot without even a rolldown - I was shocked and delighted!
Alan: 2017 will be my first time racing in Kona, but bar taking a wrong turn on the bike in 2014, I would have qualified back then. Then I only missed out on qualifying by 9 seconds in 2015. I feel like I've been good enough to qualify for a while and despite it being my first time, I'm not going to Kona with any sense of inferiority.
I raced Ironman 70.3 Phuket in 2012 and finished very near the top of my AG. Id trained harder for that race than any previous race I'd done. My bike and run splits were as good as any of the other age groupers competing that day. That convinced me that to qualify for Kona all I needed to do was keep training hard. And that's what I've done.
Kevin: I never thought it was a realistic goal to be honest. I had known about the ironman world champs in Hawaii since my early years in the sport. I had watched videos on youtube of Dick & Rick Hoyt and thought they were amazing for taking on such a challenge. Getting there myself however never crossed my mind until my name was called out at the slot allocation in Klagenfurt, Austria in 2015.
We LOVE a training journal, tell us about “an average week” training in the leadup to KONA.
Andy: In short - 3x swim, 3x bike and 3x run. As well as this 3x gym and 1x functional movement class with my physio. Volume and type of each varies depending on what's going on but am a creature of habit and have a regular timetable!
Alan: 4/5 swims,
I try to fit in at least one S & C session every week. But it's always the first thing I drop and it doesn't always happen.
20-25 hours on average.
Here's a link to a training log I keep on boards.ie if anybody is interested in the finer details. http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=2057359674
Kevin:. Monday- AM - short overgeared efforts on the bike in the morning, PM - swim with 3D Tri
Tuesday-AM/LUNCH - Interval run of 800s, 1 mile efforts, 2k efforts or progressive tempos, PM - Swim in Sports & Fitness Markiewicz
Wednesday- AM - Short hard efforts on the bike, PM - Long, progressive efforts or overgeared efforts on the bike
Thursday- AM/LUNCH - Short intense run intervals or hills., PM - Swim in Sports & Fitness Markiewicz
Friday- AM/LUNCH - strength & conditioning session, PM - Swim in Sports & Fitness Markiewicz
Saturday- AM - long bike with a short fast run
Sunday- AM - long run sometimes with short efforts or with a fast finish. Try to work hills in where possible.
What about diet – how do you fuel yourself for a considerable training load and also get yourself through a workday?
Andy: Try get the basics right like eating natural, local and in season (including fresh veg from Father in law's polytunnel). After that it's getting a balance right of eating what and when depending on training. For endurance sport you need to be efficient at using fat for fuel so that's something I work on. Keep it simple!
Alan: I don't worry too much about that side of things. If I feel like ice-cream or any other junk food, I'll have it and not stress too much about eating it. When it gets closer to an important race, I'll cut back and eat a bit cleaner. But training 20+ hours a week burns a lot of calories and I'm never too much over my racing weight.
Kevin: Lots of coffee from CoffeeAngel on South Anne Street. Generally my dirt is fairly low carb, lots of salads, veg, eggs, smelly cheeses, mackerel and bacon. I also train fasted whenever possible.
What about your work-life balance, how do you fit everything in? Does your partner/spouse compete?
Andy: I'm an early bird so I like getting my training done early to have quality time elsewhere. Work is demanding with frequent foreign travel. But also flexible and the head of the Irish division is on the committee with Crosshaven tri club. He knows Kona is a big deal and has been very accomodating so I'm very grateful for that. My better half Grace is an accomplished athlete in her own right. In fairness 95% of the silverware at home is hers! So she's very understanding and wouldn't be going to Kona without her support and belief.
Alan: I don't have a partner, so nobody to be accountable to. I generally train twice a day and just get up early do an a.m. session before work and another longer one in the evening. It just becomes routine and I don't think there's anything unusual about it. The hours add up and the cumulative effects of 4-5 years training like this are massive.
Kevin: I'm quite lucky in that my company is very sporty and has a gym so I can squeeze in short sessions at lunch if i need to. My partner is also an accomplished triathlete and completed her 1st Ironman in Austria in 2015. She understands the long hours of training needed to get through an Ironman. Fitting everything in sometimes involves cycling to or from family occasions so that you dont miss a session.
Which is your weakest discipline and how have 3D coaches helped you work through this?
Andy: Don't want to sound egotistical but feel I've trained smart and hard enough with help from a myriad of coaches that I'm now a jack of all trades. I can definitely improve across the board though and that's one reason I get back on the horse day after day. There's always something to learn and improve upon from everything.
Alan: The swim without a doubt. I've been going to Mark's sessions for the last four years and I am gradually getting better, but it's a long road with no shortcuts. There is a structure to his block of sessions. I think I respond well to his methods and he gets me to push harder than any other swim coach I've worked with.
Kevin: It's a toss up between the swim and the bike. I wouldnt point to any one session that has helped but over the years being in 3DTri i've picked up lots of tips when it comes to biking that just sit in the back of my mind. Thats just the nature of training with a club, you pick up knowledge from people that have been there, done that. From the swimming point of view i've learned a lot from all the 3D swim coaches over the last 10 years. When training for Roth in 2014 i didnt swim much with the club and my stroke suffered as a result. Regardless of how experienced you are its always good to have someone look at your swimming stroke to make sure you're not developing bad habits.
What’s it like being in a club with so many other KONA bound athletes? Is there a sense of camaraderie? Do you train together? Is it a support with the mental side of your training?
Andy: Brilliant and an endorsement of the club. We don't train together as much as you might think as we all have our own programmes and routines. The Phoenix Park Sunday long run and the VC breakfast after is a staple meet up point though! Training with others for an Ironman definitely builds a strong bond and friendship. Most of my close friends in the sport have come this way. Am delighted that all 3 of us get to go the same year. I know how dedicated the other two lads are so it's fantastic. Alan after missing out by a couple of seconds and persisting and getting it done with amazing will and commitment. Kevin after what happened in 2015 - to put it all out there after that and do it again... what a legend. Inspirations both.
Alan: It's great to have both Andy and Kevin going as well and we've met up for the odd long run. It's nice to have the company, but mentally I'd cope just fine if I had to do every single bit of training on my own. (As would they I'm sure.) 90% of what I do is on my own and I never have a problem with it. It is an individual sport after all. I used to swim regularly with Andy a few years ago, but outside of club sessions, I've only met him once this year for a swim. We're all following our own programs and things just don't always sync up.
Kevin: It is pretty cool to have 3 people from the one club going to Kona however because we have different work schedules we dont get to do much training together. We all do the monday club swim and sometimes meet up for long runs or long bikes which is great as 5 hours on a bike on your own can be pretty boring! As for the mental side of things, when things get tough in training I normally think of my mother. She has been through a battle with cancer 4 years ago and is going through another one now. When my legs start to throb or my lungs burn i remind myself that I signed up for this pain, she didnt but yet ploughs through it without a complaint. I mentally slap myself in the face and tepl myself to cop on!
Life Post-KONA: What is your post-race meal going to be?
Andy: Am sure you are expecting something 'bold' but with pre race routines all I crave post race is fresh fruit and yoghurt! There is already plans for a session on Mai-Tai cocktails once we're done though so I guess it's that!
Alan: I've no idea. After 9 hours of ingesting sugary, caffeinated gunk, I doubt I'll be able to stomach much. Hopefully, they'll suffice
Kevin: EVERYTHING! Probably a big pizza the evening of the race (low carb out the window).Starting off rhe morning after with a plate of pancakes at Bongo Bens overlooking the ocean. Then perhaps a coffee down the street in Lava Java. After that there might be some celebrations to take care of... ;o)