Yesterday’s race was meant to have been part of my main objectives for the season but as I had to sit it out with injury once more, I had plenty of time to walk up and down supporting the runners I had in action in the race. Overall, the day went very well with a few solid and very credible runs against very committed and talented competition. Overall, we wanted a bit more, but at this level the line between success and failure is precariously thin.
Ian Conroy’s recovery to win made for a fine story in the men’s where early leader Mark Ryan, a last minute recovery from a stomach bug and a few weeks out with a hamstring injury, did well to hang on to second. The tragedy/joy story of the day came for Tom Hogan and Eoin Flynn when the latter outsprinted the former on the final parts of the slope to take the third and last qualifying spot.
Yesterday saw the temporary culmination of my work with Aoife since we started her rehabilitation from the long injury spell she suffered with trapped nerve in her leg (the cause of which remains unknown). After a careful rehabilitation program I designed, we move on to the Lydiard program for the first time and returned to the cross-country scene with two medals wins during the autumn season.
This training may well have been the hardest of her life and I expect I was cursed on numerous occasions but yesterday the patient build-up and lack of serious pre-season racing paid off when she worked her way through the field to secure fourth and would probably have benefitted from having more mountain to play with!
In the end she was nineteen seconds behind Sarah Mulligan with Sarah McCormack, an Irish national plying her hill running trade in Scotland, and Michelle Finn in first and second.
The main thing is we wanted to return Aoife to her 2007/2008 form and then improve upon it enough to be competitive in the Irish trial races. This has now been achieved and we can look back at a “job well done”. But as believers in the Lydiard system, we take to his creed that “champions are everywhere”, so to truly embrace his legacy we have to keep working and never falter in our ambitions to be better than we were and never consider any horizons beyond our reach.
In the meantime we are looking forward to hearing the news regarding team selection so we can start planning the race season training. For a coach this is the most exciting part of the seasons as you get to be exceedingly specific in your training to focus on the demands of whatever particular race comes next.
But our racing is only starting in earnest now and I am very optimistic about the summer ahead for my athletes which is just as well now that my own summer aspirations are no longer realistic. For now, I am a very proud coach sure in the knowledge that I am advising some truly hard-working and dedicated runners.
This is how the men and women compared between this Euro Trial and last year’s World Trial on the same course:
Top 4 Men (2010/2011)
- Brian McMahon 33:29/Ian Conroy 34:49
- Barry Minnock 36:02/Mark Ryan 35:49
- Eoin Flynn 36:19/Eoin Flynn 36:51
- Peter O’Farrell 36:53/Tom Hogan 37:18
Top 4 Women (2010/2011)
- Sharon Bird 33:22/Sarah McCormack 34:56
- Karen Alexander 33:49/Michelle Finn 36:03
- Helen White 37:40/Sarah Mulligan 36:36
- Kate O’Neill 38:18/Aoife Joyce 36:54