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6 Hour Ultra Time Trial

Report By Mick Foley

This may be of interest to some of you training for your upcoming iron-man races. I took part in a 6 hour Ultra Time Trial in Sligo last Sunday. This consisted of doing 15.5km laps and seeing how many kilometers you could cover in the allotted time

I headed Saturday afternoon wondering why I do these things, Had planned to do a lap of the course that evening but the further north I traveled the more frequent the heavy showers were becoming, decided to drive a lap of the course instead, the course was pretty much up and down all the way round with the last 6km on a duel-carriage way. Was thinking I might have to re-adjust my aim of 180km.

Didn’t really sleep well as is normal for me before an event and as registration was at 7 its was too early for the breakfast in the hotel so had stocked up with fruit cake and various high calorie snacks to fill up before the race. Registered and set up the bike and noticed that most were using road bikes with clip on bars, after a short race briefing 16 of us headed off in a bunch start, we had been told we had 10km to sort ourselves out and after that normal TT drafting rules applied. I didn’t have to worry about this as 5 lads took off up the road and were gone, it was tempting to chase after them but the plan was to keep the heart rate at around the 80% of max for the first 3 hours and see what happened then. Settled into a nice pace after a few km’s and was happy enough with the pace of the first few laps completing them in approx 29 minutes, spotted another competitor up the road then and slowly reeled him in and we swapped places for the next few laps, it made such a difference to see another person on the road so was enjoying it at this stage and had emptied my first bottle of water and had switched to an energy drink, this seemed to really help me I started to drop into the 28 minute laps, noticed my friend on the road was starting to struggle a bit as I was catching him easily on the hills and he would close the gap on the flat which is the opposite of what normally happens to me. I noticed he was eating a roll on lap 5 so I guessed he had decided not to stop at all. I wanted to go over the 3 hour mark before I stopped and on lap 8 I hit the 100km mark in 3 hours 7 minutes.

Stopped at the end of this lap and ran to the car and replaced my bottles and tried to stuff as much food into me as possible, as I did my buddy from the first few laps coasted by so once I was fully re-fueled I set off after him again, took a few km’s to get going again and went okay until the 4 hour mark, then the mind started to play tricks, every drag became a mountain, every niggle became agony, the wind seemed stronger on the main road and after an hour of not seeing another racer on the road really makes you question your sanity but the hardest part was not really having a finish line to aim for. At least when I reached the 5 hour mark I knew I had 2 laps remaining which was 31km but at this stage the legs were failing, my back was in bits and I was finding it hard to eat anymore gels and bars. So kept telling myself it was like doing the 795 TT route that I have done 1000’s of times at this stage and was imagining where I was on the road. Eventually the garmin beeped that the 6 hours were up but I had to complete the final lap as they calculated your distance on your time for the final lap, this was a tough few km’s as it felt like I was cycling for nothing and the legs were gone. Crossed the line and was given my distance of 183.4km which I was very happy with. I may have completed the 186km if I had been better organised at the stop but that was it, there was no way I was doing another lap.

What I learned which may be of use to you 1) Make sure you train with the equipment your racing with. 2) Make sure you train with the food & drink your racing with. 3) The combination of lucazade sport and water worked well for me. 4) Try to have someone the pass you food and bottles. 5) Pace yourself for the first half, its very tempting to go mad and push as hard as possible, you will pay for it at some stage. Try find someone who is roughly the same pace as you and keep them in sight 6) everything seems like a good idea when your surfing the net, its not so nice when you hit the wall.

Glad I completed the challenge, there is another one on 28th June if any of you would like a good training session under race conditions. I won’t be doing this one myself.

This also showed me what an achievement it is to complete an iron-man. Fair play to any of you who have completed or are attempting one.

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