It is hereby certified that having passed all of the conditions you are a Triathlete; Tom, wk 14

In case you don’t know already, we’re training for an Ironman. 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and then a marathon (26.2 miles) to run. We’ve told everybody, in fact it’s all we really talk about at the moment.

Back before we started training we were 2 guys who ate too much, drank too much and occasionally ran round a lake called Pugneys near work. Some 2 months on and now we’re 2 guys who still eat too much, still drink too much and occasionally run round Pugneys.

But there’s a subtle difference.

We’re Triathletes now. As of last Sunday.

Now I’m not sure what you have to do to technically be deemed a triathlete but I’m self-certified now that we’ve completed our very first triathlon. It was a 400m swim, 25km cycle and a 5k run to finish – in fact a baby compared to the BEAST in July – but it was the required step up in our training. We’ve been swimming, cycling and running further than that distance but never straight after each other and all in one day and the legs could certainly tell the difference.

Pre-race piccy, sporting the Huub suit courtesy of Minster Law and Reynolds Associates

We stayed in Lincoln the night before to make sure that we were at the start line on time, but it didn’t quite go as well as planned. I had a curry that Saturday night, only a Korma to prevent any ‘issues’ during the race followed by a couple of obligatory Cobras (what’s a curry without a Cobra). I then met Marc in Lincon and we looked for a few places for him to find some grub and of course had a pint in each place we searched. Unfortunately the pubs weren’t serving food this late on in the evening and more unfortunately for us they were of course serving booze. After a ‘few’ beverages as we made our way down Steep Hill we grabbed a meal (McDonalds, like true athletes) and then struggled getting back up the hill.

We woke 5 hours later, popped a couple of paracetamols, got changed into our new tri-suits and cycled the short distance to the start line. Here, our inexperience was plain as day. Transition is where you park your bike and prepare your area for when you go from swim-to-bike or bike-to-run. The idea is you set it up in a manner that makes it easy and quick for you to transition. I was number 104, Marc was 106 and our transition neighbour was number 108. Mr 108 knew what he was doing. Mr 108 was lean, determined and prepared. Mr 108 could crawl a triathlon quicker than we could complete it. What Mr 108 did not need as he tried to get his head in the game was Mr 104 and Mr 106 asking him questions every 2 minutes;

 

“do you wear socks when you cycle”

“which way do you hang your bike”

“where you putting your towel”

“how do I get out of this area”

“do you get a swimming hat”

And every other amateur FAQ that we could muster up. Without Mr 108 we’d have been lost, we owed him a great deal. I’m just not so sure we had the same positive impact on his performance though.

We managed to finally get set up and headed pool side 5 minutes before we were due to start, no time to even get nervous. Next thing I know we’re in the pool doing lengths and I’m making good progress. Swim, kick, breathe, swim, kick, breathe. 8 minutes later and I’m done, trying to pull myself out of the pool like a seal hopping out for fish in the nearby zoo. I run over to my bike and then begins the slowest, most unsmooth transition period you’ll ever see. I’ve struggled to put my socks on, my shoes certainly aren’t as tight as they should be and I’ve mounted my bike because I’m keen to get going. I head out wary of my shoes flying off holding my energy-gel in my teeth and gloves in my hands. I had this idea that a smooth transition period would include me putting my gloves on mid ride and sticking the gel in my back pocket. It wasn’t as smooth as that at all. In fact, it was that un-smooth I had to pull over about 2 meters into the cycle to put my gloves on, finally admitted defeat to the gel and stuffed it up my lycra-style shorts-leg. The ride itself went well, I was steady over the first 5k and then picked the pace up after that, averaging a modest 17mph throughout and more important keeping on the tail of Mr Massey, a budding cyclist, or certainly more of a budding cyclist than me. 

 

Looks can be deceiving, this is actually not a profession transition..

The second transition was smoother than the last, but I almost fell off as I took the final corner at too much speed and then almost failed to stop in time for the transition line. I ran alongside my bike slow enough to make sure I didn’t tangle my feet in the chain, hung it up on the rail and chucked my running shoes on. I headed out onto the run route only 2 and a bit minutes after arriving in transition and in front of Marc. I felt good, I felt moderately quick and more importantly I wasn’t feeling any of last nights Cobras. Then the shoes decided to mess me about and undo, forcing me to stop and do my shoelace for far longer than I wanted to. I set off again quick and keen to make up lost time. I even saw our friend Mr 108 go past us on his returning run and was pleasantly surprised to be greeted with an encouraging smile rather than a smack in the face.

About half way into the run the other shoelace came undone. Evidently these shoes had conspired the night before and were intent on ruining my life. I mean it couldn’t be my fault that during my transition I’d failed to tie my shoelaces up surely?! After a few plods of trying to resist the urge to tie it, I bent down to try lace them all up and at that point all the blood rushing round my body decided to go to my head. Now I’m not sure if it’s because my head is small, or maybe there was just a lot of blood, but I felt like I was rocking about on the wavy canal next to me rather than stood on dry land. I struggled to tie my lace, fighting the need to faint or letting my head pop when luckily a hero emerged. He had a small, fluffy halo above his head and 2 delicate wings. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think a Triatha-angel helped me. I noticed his high vis vest bearing the words “assistance” in what I’m sure were neon, dreamy letters. He bent down and undid the knot that I’d stupidly made, tied my lace and then encouraged me to get going. I even managed to finish with a sprint finish and a ‘bus-driver style nod of the head’ to my hero as I passed him and came across the line in a respectable total time of 1 hour 28 minutes and 40 seconds. 

A flattering sprint finish

The event itself was great, a scenic cycle and peaceful run (bar the laces angel). It was well organised, well supported and good value for money. My mum and sister made the journey to support us, getting up even earlier than we did (although I’m guessing they didn’t drink as much..) and cheering us on during the swim, bike and run. Their encouaragement made sure we carried on going and a huge thanks for coming!

 

Massey coming over the line (shortly after me)

Our first Triathlon certainly gave us some lessons to learn from and areas to improve. Come the big day in Hamburg we wont be as concerned about the time but instead just making it round. This race has also filled us with confidence too though, we’ve both trained for distances longer than this one so we felt relatively comfortable and we know that in the swim and run we should be okay. It’s too late to back out of the BEAST anyway now. Plus we’ve just signed up for Wetherby Triathlon, a slightly longer version than Lincon including open water, to put those lessons into to practice…

Winner winner chicken dinner

And remember, all of this hard work and training is to raise money for Movember, a charity for male cancers, depression and illness. If you could spare any money, no matter how little, please do on our justgiving page;

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/theroadtohamburg

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