Category Archives: DNF

Did Not Finish – DNF book – Available now

DNF – Did Not Finish is available to order now… https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B09KTCL3G6

Is is our story of 20 years swimming, biking and running. Every one of our results tells a story, even the races we did not finish.

It is a story about finding the joy in racing whether you come first or last.

It contains stories such as ….

Triathletes are modest about their ability but ultra competitive. Which can make training sessions tricky.

I discovered this at a swim session when a coach asked: “I’d like you all to swim eight lengths of the pool at 70% race pace. I’ll time you. Who wants to go first?”

No one volunteered to go first.

“Come on! Who’s fastest?”

Everyone looked at each other in the same way a lift of strangers look at each other after one person has farted. Who was it?

I looked at the man next to me. He was solid muscle. His back had the classic v-profile of an Olympic swimmer. He wore tiny Speedos that were so small and revealing they looked like they’d been tattooed to his crotch. His swim goggles cost more than my last car.

“Hurry up! Someone has to go first!”

The only time I’d been mistaken for a swimmer was when a hairdresser said to me, “Are you a swimmer?” I beamed with pride and replied “yes,” thinking it was because of my swimmer’s physique – but my pride was quickly punctured when the hairdresser said, “I thought so – I examined your hair. It is in terrible condition. It is dry from chlorine.”

I looked at the olympian. It wasn’t that he was in a different league to me: we weren’t even playing the same sport. He said, “you first, mate.”

I replied, “No thanks. You should go first. You look like a fast competitive swimmer.”

He thought about it and said, “no – I think you are quicker.”

So, I went first. I had a five-second head start. Then, on the sixth second, he caught up.

I went as fast as I could, but he kept having to stop to wait for me.

After we’d finished eight laps, the coach said, “are you all happy with your times?”

The man who couldn’t have been more like a fish even if he’d had gills said, “I could have gone faster, but I got held up”.

I looked around and saw everyone else. It was like the scene at the start of Saving Private Ryan. Bodies were strewn in the water. People were screaming in agony. One man looked like he’d swum himself into a heart attack.

The coach asked, “Was that 70% effort?” No-one replied. They were all completely knackered.

Did Not Finish – DNF book – Available now

DNF – Did Not Finish is available to order now… https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B09KTCL3G6

Is is our story of 20 years swimming, biking and running. Every one of our results tells a story, even the races we did not finish.

It is a story about finding the joy in racing whether you come first or last.

It contains stories such as ….

I learnt to swim in the 1980s. My dad taught me using the “do not drown” approach.

He made me stand two metres from a pool wall. I then tried to swim to the wall. If I did not drown, he would increase my swim to three metres from the wall, and then four metres etc.

My fear of drowning meant I quickly learnt to swim. Unfortunately, my Dad only knew the breaststroke so that was all I learnt. He did not see the point in freestyle swimming. His view was “Why do you want to stick your head under the water? There is nothing to see there except people’s feet.”

My school attempted to teach me other strokes but I was not very good at them. I hated the weekly swimming lesson at our local leisure centre. I found the smell of chlorine in the pool overbearing.

I have subsequently discovered chlorine has no smell. The smell in the pool was from chloramines, which build up in pool water when the water is not properly clean. A smelly pool is an unclean pool.

If I had known that, I would have hated swimming even more than I did. 

A common sight, in a leisure centre, during this time period was a footbath in the changing rooms. A sign above it would read, “Always dip your feet into the foot-bath before entering the swimming pool.” Supposedly the foot-bath contained chemicals that prevented foot infections like verrucas.

Modern leisure centres do not have footbaths. Therefore, have we discovered a cure for verruca’s? No – we haven’t. What we have found is the cause of verruca’s. It was the foot-bath!

Leisure centres did not clean the foot baths often enough. It was basically a seething cesspit of fungal infection. I got a foot wart. Andrew got a verruca. Everyone in my school class got something. It’s no wonder that I didn’t swim again after leaving school for university as my abiding memory of learning to swim is a verruca, a dirty pool and almost drowning.

Did Not Finish – DNF book – Available now

DNF – Did Not Finish is available to order now… https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B09KTCL3G6

Is is our story of 20 years swimming, biking and running. Every one of our results tells a story, even the races we did not finish.

It contains stories such as ….

I always remember the day a yogurt landed on my head.

It was November 1995. I was running along a street in Edinburgh.

I was listening to my Sony mini-disc player. That was state of the art back then. I didn’t have a mobile phone. If I’d wanted to make a call, I’d have carried 10 pence and popped into a telephone box. Now I carry a phone larger than my mini-disc player and my 10p piece combined, and we call this progress?

But, before I could question the benefits of technological evolution and even before I could say: “Is that a Muller yogurt falling from the sky?”, a Muller yogurt had fallen from the sky. It landed on my head leaving a trail of goo across my forehead.

I looked upwards. A man was laughing from a third-floor window. He was holding a spoon. It did not require Poirot to work out he was the prime suspect. As much as I was shocked to have been ‘Muller’d’, I was impressed with his aim. I’m sure I would miss If I tried to throw a non-aerodynamic yoghurt pot at someone from a height of 30 foot.

Thankfully, this incident did not put my off running. Although it did put me off Muller yogurt.

Another time, whilst running, I passed two schoolgirls eating chips. One of them shouted “OH MY GOD! I’m going to marry you!”. Which was a nice offer, but I don’t think she was serious. She didn’t even go down on one knee, she was too busy eating a chip.

Which brings me to the most shocking attack on me. I once got hit by a fish supper. It was whilst I was waiting at a traffic junction. As a car passed me, a fish and chip supper were thrown out of the passenger side window. A passenger shouted “Ha! Ha!” and the car drove off.

Is it a crime to throw a fish and chip supper at a stranger? Yes – probably. But I would argue the biggest crime is to throw a fish and chips supper away without eating all the chips. This was in Scotland. You don’t throw away chips in Scotland, you propose with them.

Did Not Finish – DNF book – Available now

DNF – Did Not Finish is available to order now… https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B09KTCL3G6

The book is is our story of 20 years spent swimming, biking and running. Every one of our results tells a story, even the races we did not finish.

It is a story about finding the joy in racing whether you come first or last.

The book contains tales such as ….

To get better we needed to improve – and the fastest way to do that, we thought, was to join a gym.

Andrew and I were both member of the same gym. It was a corporate shed in a posh suburb of Glasgow. The people who went were so rich the car park looked like a Range Rover showroom.

The gym had every facility two ‘world class cyclists’ could possibly need – state of the art gym, state of the art weights and a state-of-the-art pool. Everything was state of the art, except the art – that came from Ikea.

Unfortunately, the only thing we were world class at was our ability to use a jacuzzi.

Some people say there’s nothing better than jumping in a jacuzzi after a hard gym session. They’re wrong. It’s even better if you’ve not used the gym! Why work up a sweat and get tired when you could have spent that time floating in soapy bubbles?

We’d head in and spend ten minutes in the jacuzzi but then we’d get out and get in the other jacuzzi. Yes – this gym was so posh it had two Jacuzzis. At least we got some  exercise walking between the two.

We didn’t just use the two Jacuzzis. We’d often get out and head to the pool…and then past the pool to the sauna. The sauna in any Glasgow gym is predominately a male environment. I’ve often thought the main reason women pay so much for a spa is to avoid sauna-ing with men.

This sauna never had any women but it did have three bald men. Sometimes just one of them, sometimes two but often all three. We called them the “Baldy Men Club”

A sauna is quite small so we could hear their conversation. They only had one topic – themselves. Namely, how well they had used the gym before getting to the sauna.

Week after week we’d listen as each tried to out compete each other. “I just did 10K on the running machine in 30 minutes” One would say. Another would reply “Did you bike 20K first? I always bike first and then run”. The third man would try to beat this and add: “Did I mention I bench pressed three time my body weight today and I didn’t even sweat once?”

We talked about the Baldy Men Club and their strange ways until we realized they probably talk about us – “Can you believe how much nonsense they talk? One of them claims he’s done a stage of the Tour De France but the only exercise I’ve seen him do is dry himself with a towel after the jacuzzi!”