Friday 4 October 2013

My Tri History

The first time I came into contact with 'triathlons' came when I befriended a guy living in the same village that I did some in 2007 (Castle Donnington, Leicestershire). He invited me on an evening Mountain Bike ride. During the hill climb out of the village (within the first 5 minutes) he muttered that he really should get back in to Triathlon. I answered .... well, I was so knackered I couldn't speak, but it did start me thinking.

About a year later, my family and I moved back to our native Kent and I continued riding / running for fun. Soon after the move, I found ATC on the internet advertising one of their annual events, The Kingswood Duathlon. I entered and became hooked!

After joining the club, the plan was always to gradually build up the event distances with a view to doing Ironman at some stage. If I'm honest, I'm a year behind schedule. My first events were Sprint Triathlons (500m swim / 26km bike / 5k run) and I found these very difficult. I've come to think that I don't do 'short'! I'm not inclined to 'kill myself' by trying real hard straight away as I think others were doing during this Sprint Event. I tend to like my Lungs to remain on the inside of my body!

Having said that, the few Sprint Tri's that I have completed have been the Club Championship races held once a year at the East Grinstead Tri. The enjoyment here is that the club generally has about 30+ entrants on the day, and the East Grinstead Tri Club generously allow ATC competitors to start at around the same time, so we're able to race against each other and offer tremendous encouragement (via sarcasm usually) throughout. It really does encompass the Clubs social philosophy. I'd really recommend joining a club if you are thinking of entering the world of Tri.

East Grinstead Tri 2013

The other Sprint race that I'm real happy to take part in is the National Club Relays, held in Holme Peerpoint -Nottingham. It's basically a 4-person team where each member does the Swim leg as a relay, then the last swimmer hands to the first cyclist. Each member then completes the cycle leg as a relay, with the last cyclist handing over to the first runner. You get the idea!

It is great to race in the close proximity to others, against your fellow clubies and its real good fun. The last time I took part was 2012 (I messed up my Holiday dates, so this year I was in France! Idiot) ATC had 3 teams entered. Club Men’s Captain organised the teams so that we'd have real close times. With the event lasting something like three and a half hours, we all ended up finishing within a couple of minutes from each other. Ace!

So, short races are not quite my think, so on to slightly longer events.

I've done the Paddock Wood Half Marathon a few years on the trot. It's local, flat (for fast times) and the route passes one of my Aunty's house, so I have a great support club there. Unfortunately it's on mile 12, do I'm usually struggling by that time - not very impressive!

My best time is 1hr 34mins and 43secs which I'm real happy with.

Tri-wise, I jumped straight from Sprint to Middle-distance events (missing the popular Olympic Distance) and entered 'Helvellyn' - a 1 mile swim in Ulswater, a 38 mile ride including a hill climb called 'The Struggle' between Ambleside and the Kirkstone Pass followed by a nice run up and down Mt Helvellyn. Although not exactly half the distance of an Ironman race, it's considered one of the toughest due to the hilly nature of the course.

Now, the event (scenery) was stunning and I completed it in 6hrs 8minutes and a smile on the face, I did feel that I could do a lot better. I had a few bike mechanical issues (really disappointed about that), and the run was more of a hike! It did however confirm that I prefer the longer stuff.

Top of Mt Helvellyn

This year has followed a similar event schedule of Half Marathon, cycle sportive and other local runs, but as I mentioned earlier, I'd mentally planned for a jump straight to full Ironman distance following Helvellyn, but as I was a little disappointed with how this turned out, I decided to do a couple more long endurance events:

Bedgebury Insomnia - a 12 hour Mountain Bike race (8PM to 8AM!!)

Oh yes, right up my street. Mountain bike, off-road. It's the place I'm most comfortable.

Everything about this race went exactly to plan - training and the build-up, nutrition, energy control, pace, bike ran sweet and a nut, great weather.

Although I have no idea how I would do, I came 4th in my category which was somehow won by a Lady!! Think she robbed me of a podium there!

I completed 11 laps of a 13.4Km course. Yep, 147Kms check!

Then, on to ....

The Owler Half Distance - A proper half Ironman distance, 1.2 mile swim - 58 mile bike (Ironman is 56 miles) and a 13.1 mile run.

Coming about a month after the MTB race, this again went really well, with a finishing time of 6hrs 1 minute. The run was a little disappointing, but I'll just call it 'room for improvement'

Split times:

These last two events were a real boost to my confidence and I felt really happy to move on the Long Distance.

Bring it on!

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