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A Great Start to the Season!

Like many professionals, Planet X sponsored athelete and Ironman Champion Eimear Mullan has the opportunity to escape to the Med during the colder months. She had a great season in 2013 with four wins and a podium finish in eight other races, including 2nd place at the ETU European Championships and judging from her preparation for the 2014 season, this superb form is set to continue. Earlier this year, she set off for Mallorca with TBB United Kingdom teammate Richie Nicholls and made a flying start with a win at the Porto Colom International Triathlon! Here's the lowdown from Eimear herself:

After getting a good block of base training done in January and February, Ritchie and I headed off to a new training location in Mallorca. We will be based out here at Ferrer hotels for a lot of our training this season. Neither of us had trained in Mallorca much before so we spent a good few days checking out the area and finding the best places for biking and running. There's plenty of options around to keep us entertained!

The weather in Mallorca has generally been warm and sunny as you would expect of a Mediterranean island but there have been occasional days of rain and wind. It just so happens that some of my friends from Milton Keynes chose the most rainy and windy week to visit. These guys are pretty hardcore so it didn't put them off and we ended up doing 2 epic long rides in the rainy, windy, and cold conditions and believe it or not we saw some snow on the climbs! It was great to ride with the guys again and it was a great reminder of the fun times I had when I was starting out as an age grouper in the sport not so long ago.

After a week or two of solid training we broke up our usual routine with a Mountain half marathon. It was kind of a spur of the moment race entry into something neither of us prepared for or thought much about. We headed off to the race in our racing shoes and run vests and got a shuttle bus to the start. Sitting on the bus I had a look at the people around us and most of them looked like they were hardened, experienced trail runners. They reminded me a little of how Forrest Gump looked towards the end of his epic run in the movie. Our race started straight up a mountain which, for both Ritchie and me, was the easy part. Well at least in terms of positioning. Were were easily able to move up the hill and Ritchie had a good lead. I was at the front of the woman's race and very close to the top 3 men. Then came the hard part, the downhill. Both of us struggled on the downhills and some of these runners looked like they were floating across the rocks and boulders, flying down like it was a flat asphalt surface. After nearly breaking my ankle numerous times and thinking that I was probably going to loose my two front teeth when I kept tripping up, I was almost in tears and was just praying for some more even surfaces so I could actually run. Eventually it levelled out for a good portion of the race and I managed to pick up the places I lost on the downhill and rocky sections. I was 1st in the woman's race placing 4th overall and Ritchie finished 3rd after also struggling with the technical sections. I'm not sure I would do it again in a hurry - especially since I couldn't walk property for a week aferwards - but it was a fun experience and a nice change from our usual long run.

It was great to get a competitive run in but what I was most looking forward to was kicking off the triathlon season at Porto Colom International Triathlon. In 2011 I entered it as my first professional race and won. Since I had been training close by, I decided to enter it as my season starter to get a reminder of what it's like to race hard and to get in another good training session. I knew what to expect from the tough, hilly bike course but what I didn't expect was the tough woman's field all wanting to get an early season race.

The course favours a strong biker with a 1k swim, 100k bike, 10k run format so I wasn't sure how I would fair against some renowned bike monsters. As expected Julia Gajer and Eva Wutti stayed ahead of me on the bike and I was in 3rd position going on the run. I had biked hard but when I started running I felt really strong. I was a few minutes back at T2 and with only 10k of running I didn't know if it would be enough to catch the girls in front but I wanted a good workout so pushed hard. At the end of one lap I saw that I was catching both girls quite quickly so I really went for it, catching Julia with about 2k to go and Eva with about 600m to go. It was a very close race and great to get my 3rd win at this race and to get a good tough training session.

Eimear Mullen winning the Porto Colom Triathlon

Next we have Challenge Fuerteventura in less than two weeks followed by Challenge Rimini. They are both tough course so they should suit us well and from then on the races will be pretty regular for both of us.

22 April 2014

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