The first race I entered was the Glasgow Half Marathon. I was so unprepared I thought it was 10 miles long. I got to the point I expected to finish and was disappointed to find an extra three and a bit miles to go.
One of the people running with me (I think he was a friend of Andrew) had a backpack. At the end he looked in his backpack and discovered he’d been running with a pair of boxing gloves and a 2l bottle of juice. He commented “I thought I’d taken them out before I started!”
He also revealed that running with a backpack meant people shouted at him: “Are you going up a hill?” at least one hundred times. It wasn’t funny the first time.
The first bike race I entered was the Glasgow to Edinburgh cycle challenge, a 55 mile race from Edinburgh (Not Glasgow) to Glasgow (Not Edinburgh). Note the issue with the name. The route had switched around that year so it could finish at the same point the Tour of Britain was supposed to finish.
It was a miserable day. The wind was westerly and the rain was heavy. Four of us set out but one dropped out before we even got to the edge of Edinburgh. Andrew dropped out at the first train station he spotted. Myself and my friend carried on.
I didn’t know anything about bikes so I was using my mountain bike. A bike I still use to this day (some 12 years later.) I thought all bikes were the same so couldn’t understand why my bike was slower than people on racing bikes.
It was hard work and I remember a long slog along a moor into a gale where I felt I wasn’t making any progress. I vowed to get a road bike.
My next race was a couple of years later. It was a 88 mile bike challenge up and round a hill. I hadn’t bought a road bike. I was the only one on a mountain bike. Everyone started riding and before you could say “Hey, why is everyone on road bikes?” I was last.
It didn’t help that I had a backpack on filled with water bottles and sweets.
I made it up the hill but called it a day at the bottom of the other side. It was just too tiring. I learnt a valuable lesson that day. Get a road bike.
Which is why in my next race I still hadn’t bought a road bike. It was the Edinburgh Rat Race. An adventure race for teams of three. The aim was to bike or run a bit, then complete a challenge before biking and running again.
The problem was the challenges were so badly organised there was a queue to do them. At one point it took 30 minutes to do a challange that had taken us 30 minutes to ride to. I asked the guy what happened if we didn’t do the challenge. He said we’d get a 15 minute penalty.
I thought about this and calculated that if we went and finished the race without doing a single challenge we’d have a better time than if we’d done them.
We went to the finish line.
The organiser wasn’t happy. He wouldn’t let us finish. He said it was cheating. I think it was intelligent racing.
I learned a valuable lesson that day. Don’t get a road bike as it doesn’t matter how fast I do a race only whether I enjoy it. (Although I did buy one eventually).