As Glasgow drops to Tier 2 and we finally get permission to move around the country I finally decide to stay in Glasgow and not move around the country by withdrawing from Celtman.
In the end a combination of two things led to my decision to withdraw. First, I need to be confident that I stand reasonable chance of completing the course. I know that people say you should face your fear and that it’s normal to be scared of the challenge ahead but I need to be realistic: I don’t have the swim strength to complete the swim leg and then cycle 120 miles before running a marathon.
My longest swim this year was 2.5k two weeks ago and I didn’t come out of the water feeling energised and ready to cycle. I came out sore and tired and doubting I could have swum another stroke. If I’d another month I believe I’d have had enough time to train but, I don’t have a month, I’ve got two days and I’m not where I need to be to swim 3.4k in the open sea.
Second, TwinBikeDaughter is only five months old and the thought of leaving Mrs TwinBikeRun and TwinBikeDaughter for four days, while taking part in a race that I almost certainly won’t complete, would have been asking too much of them. I would have returned home to find the locks changed and unwelcome visit to TwinBikeDivorceLawyer..!
Sadly, Celtman has been my dream race and it looks like conditions would have been perfect – dry weather, warm(ish) water and a light breeze. But I can’t change the fact that with only five weeks to swim after Glasgow swimming pools re-opened I’m not yet ready for the Celtman swim course.
A sprint triathlon comprises a 750m swim, a 20k bike ride and a 5k run. It was created so that a professional could complete it in around 60 minutes. Which to a pro is a sprint…
To most normal people even a sprint triathlon is a real challenge.
I have not done a sprint race since 2016. I prefer longer distance races but when I saw this was on I thought it would be a good re-introduction to racing after a year without any events in my schedule.
What I didn’t know was that this year’s race was also the Scottish Triathlon Sprint Championship.
Swim – My aim was sub 15 minutes
The swim was split into waves of 50 people based on age groups. I was in the 40-50 age group. I was a bit nervous as I’d not raced in a while. I was also intimidated by just how fit the other other men looked.
In normal life, if I compare myself to the average 40-50 year old then I consider myself very fit. But in his lineup of lean, fit middle aged men I looked like a beached whale of unhealthiness. I tried to stay positive – I might come last but I’ll still be in top 50 in Scotland.
The course was an easy loop. The water was very warm (17C) so I set off fast but I couldn’t keep up with the really good swimmers. I settled into a nice rhythm and I got round with no issues.
I was pleased to be out in 18th place in 13 min.
It would be my best results of the day.
My transition was slow as its not something I practice or care about. I’m only interested in the times for each leg of the race. I think that comes from only doing long distance races were transitions are not that important to my overall result.
Bike – My aim was sub 45 minutes
One of my favourite games to play on long car journeys is “nice town, crap town”.
The rules are very simple. Whenever I am about to pass through a town I’ve not been to before, I try to guess, based on just the name of the town, whether it’s a nice town or a crap town.
The bike route passed through three towns I’d not visited before – Cowdenbeath, Lochgelly and Lochore.
My guess was that Cowdenbeath would be crap. Cows are big ugly beasts so a town based on the name ‘cow’ must be ugly too. I thought the other two would be nice as lochs are beautiful places. I was wrong. They were all crap!
Caveat (twinbikelawyer says I shouldn’t slander whole towns) – I should say, the bits the bike route went through were crap. The other parts of each town might be nice!
I knew my bike leg would be slow. I’d forgotten to check my TT bike until the night before the race. It uses hydraulic brakes but the water pressure was low. The brakes didn’t work. I didn’t have time to sort it so I used my normal bike instead. This bike is comfy and reliable but it’s not quick. All the swimmers who were slower than me soon caught up and passed me.
The course was undulating and the road surface was poor in places. It wasn’t a very scenic course but I was happy with my time of 42 minutes. It was as quick as I was likely to go considering the bike I was using.
I jumped off my bike and then held on to my bike as I mounted a pavement. As I lifted my bike over the pavement the front wheel came flying off. Narrowly missing an official. Is killing an official with a bike wheel a DQ or just a 15 second penalty?
Run – my aim was less than 25 minutes
The run was an out and back course alongside Lochore. I’d only run 200m when I passed by the finish line. My number fell off. I didn’t bother to pick it up as I couldn’t be bothered holding it for the whole race. But a nice man picked it up and handed it back to me when I ran back at the end. Thank you to whoever you were.
It was quite warm on the run. I’d have liked a water stop but I’m guessing COVID regulations don’t allow it as there was none on the course.
I was happy to plod around in 23 minutes.
I was happy to beat all the times I’d aimed for. It was nice to be at an event and see people out enjoying racing again.
It’s my first time in a shop (excepting supermarkets) in over a year.
Salesman: “You don’t want that, it’s shite. I only have it in the shop as a warning not to buy it!“
It was good to see customer service in Glasgow hadn’t changed…
It was both ‘less strange’ and ‘more strange’ than I thought to be shopping in town.
It was strange to be shopping as Mrs TwinBikeRun and I had brought Baby TwinBikeRun with us and it was harder than I thought to move around while pushing a pram. We even walked different streets because “it’s quieter if we go to the next street rather than walk up this one”. While, in shops, Mrs TwinBikeRun was stuck by displays blocking the pram from getting round – shops are not designed for babies, which I’m okay with, as they don’t have a wallet so why should they have a say in how shops are laid out!?!? 🙂
It was less strange than I thought to be in town because there wasn’t a great change in how I shopped. I walked in, I looked round, saw nothing I wanted to buy and then walked out, just as I did a year ago. I’m not a slow browser: I check shops with all the speed of a soldier running across an exposed courtyard with a sniper somewhere on the roofs above.
I was in town to find a new pair of jeans as I don’t like ordering jeans on the internet. They always look different, and you can never tell the fit from a website photo. And I don’t want to order them just to send back. It’s for the same reason I wouldn’t order a mail order bride. Some things need to be seen first.
Baby TwinBikeRun slept through the whole trip and missed out on seeing all the shops with queues out of the door. Primark’s queue stretched along the front of the shop and around a corner. Zara too had a queue which stretched down Buchanan Street. I wondered if the queues were a sign of popularity or a sign of a decent social distancing policy. Perhaps the shops without the queues are the ones to avoid because they spray COVID on the clothes and cough in the changing rooms?
Most people were wearing masks, even on the streets. A few had them over their mouth, most had them around their neck, or, in the case of one man, on top of his head like a clown hat.
“That’s because he talks out of the top of his head,” says Mrs TwinBikeRun.
We put masks on each time we go into a shop, so did everyone else but, in Glasgow, the numbers have still been rising all month. As the rest of the country has moved in tier 2 we remained in tier 3 and, as I write this on Friday 28 May, it looks likely we’ll stay in tier 3 for at least another week.
If so, it’s another week I can’t leave the city unless it’s essential travel – and Celtman is not essential travel.
I now put my chances of taking part in Celtman at less than 10%. I don’t feel at all confident that I have the swimming strength for 3.4km. While I have managed 1 – 2 swims a week since mid April, my arms are very tired after 2km and I haven’t managed to do anything longer.
I’m comfortable with the thought of the bike and the run, and think my running is probably the strongest it’s been before any other long distance race, but, just like evolutionary biology, you can’t run before you can swim.
The postman’s path connects the small town of Tarbert with the even smaller town of Rhenigidale on the south-east edge of the Isle of Harris.
Until 1989, the only way for the outside world to reach Rhenigidale was by boat, or by this path. Goods and post were taken in and out via this route. WHich meant a very long walk for the postman. Thankfully Amazon did not exist back then or he’d never have been able to carry all the post over the hill.
The route can be done as a 13 mile circular path starting in Rhenigidale but I was a bit short for time so I did the spectacular first section as an out and back route.
There is parking in Rhengidale and the path is very obvious. Follow it until you reach the cairn.
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Spectacular Views on a nice day
Rating: 4 out of 5.
There is a car park at the start of the run.
Rating: 1 out of 5.
Rating: 1 out of 5.
Nothing nearby but there are a couple of places in Tarbert.
On Monday, someone had used white chalk to write the following message on a nearby pavement: “Ally, I love you, please call me!”. It was surrounded by love hearts.
By Friday, the message was changed to: “Ally, you are a GIMP!”
The path of true love does not run smooth, even if you use an actual path to declare your love…
This message was the only thing that changed this week as Glasgow remained in Tier 3 COVID restrictions for another week, month and year. We’ve now been locked down so long that, if we were in prison, we’d have been eligible for release on compassionate grounds.
I must admit, despite trying to follow the rules, that I’m not quite sure what the current rules actually are. I live in a postcode that borders the highest rate but also borders one of the lowest, an area which is in Tier 2. If you turn right at the end of my street the pubs are open, if you turn left the pubs have been turned into an emergency COVID vaccination centre to halt the spread of the virus. It’s all quite confusing.
So, this report is brought to you with the slight caveat that I’m not sure if I was or wasn’t breaking the lockdown rules by swimming in Loch Ard last week. Certainly Kinlochard, the village at the end of Loch Ard, was giving very strong ‘Haste Ye Back’ vibes with every parking space displaying a “Do Not Park Here” sign and the local community hall car park closed.
Instead, I parked in the same spot as last time and would point out that there’s only space here for four cars so you may want to come here early to make sure you have a spot. I was there for 9am and there was one other car parked.
The loch itself has warmed up nicely and was around 12 degrees. Depending on your cold water reaction it was either starting to turn cold but pleasant or still on the chilly side. I wore a vest underneath my wetsuit and was fine without gloves or boots. At the end I tried swimming without a wetsuit and it was okay…ish…
For the swim, I swam to one of the islands and back, a swim of around a mile, if you can swim in a staightline. My goggles kept steaming up so I was more crooked than Al Capone and veered to the left as I swam.
Be careful of the water becoming colder the further you swim out. While the water is shallow near the bank it quickly becomes deeper and colder the further out you are. I wouldn’t try this swim unless you were confident that you can swim 2km.
Overall: a fantastic setting for a swim with plenty of options for short or longer routes. The water should only get warmer as we get into summer. Just remember though to check the COVID restrictions.
I’m not the only person who has thought this. There has been rumours race organisers have tried to set up events here, but nothing has ever come to fruition. My guess is that the remote location, the lack of parking and lack of facilities makes it logistically difficult to bring in a large number of competitors to the area.
Instead of waiting for an official race I decided to do my own event. A friend of mine created the route. It starts with a 1500m swim in Loch Ard, then a 50Kish bike ride around Loch Katrine and then a 9km run to a viewpoint overlooking Loch Ard.
Swim – 1500m
At 10AM on the 29th May 2001 Three triathletes entered the water to start the inaugural Loch Ard Triathlon. Only two of us would finish….
That sound quite ominous but it was because TwinBikeAndrew had to be back home by midday to have lunch and a walk with his baby daughter. He was only here to do the swim.
We decided to swim to an island. Stand on the island and then swim back. We thought this would be approximately 1500m. It was for two of us but TwinBikeAndrew took a scenic route – he did 2000m. He claims his googles were a bit foggy which prevented him from sighting properly. Its a massive island, how hard can it be to spot it?
Bike – 50K
At 11am on the 29th May 2001 three triathletes got on their bikes and began the bike leg of the inaugural Loch Ard Triathlon.
At 1101am on the 29th May 2001 three triathletes got off their bikes and stopped the bike leg of the inaugural Loch Ard Triathlon. As one of them couldn’t get their Garmin watch to start recording. And, as everyone knows, if it is not on Strava then it didn’t happen. Therefore we had to wait whilst he fixed it so he could have it on Strava later.
The route was busier than usual. There was a lot of cars on what is normally a very quiet road. I think people were out enjoying the freedom of travel after travel restrictions had eased the week before this.
We choose to first head to the only major climb on the route – the Dukes Pass. My friend had a new bike. I joked he’d need to get a personal record for the climb otherwise the new bike would have to be sent back as faulty!
Thankfully he PR’d.
It was a nice morning for a ride. We took it easy and even stopped (unsuccesfully) at a cafe at the far end of Loch Katrine. We couldn’t buy anything as the cafe had a sign saying “cash only.” We had no cash. We weren’t the only ones. In the five minutes I stood near the café many folk wandered up to the front door, read the sign and then shouted back to friends or family “I haven’t any cash. Has anyone got cash?” Not many did.
Run – 9K
At 1PM on the 29th May 2001 Three triathletes got off their bikes and began the run leg of the inaugural Loch Ard Triathlon. Only two finished….
I think triathlon runs are commonly quite boring. They tend to be loops or out and back runs to nowhere in particular. For the run we decided to run to a viewpoint overlooking the Loch. I thought it would be about 10KM.
On the way out I spotted this guy.
I think it was a snake not a worm. I poked it with a stick. It slithered off in a very snake like way.
One of my friends stopped before the viewpoint as she didn’t fancy running up hills. Two of us carried onto the top
It was very warm!
On the way back down to the start I spotted these weird creatures. It took a few looks before I realized they are naked Alpacas.
Which reminded me of the time I overheard two men looking at Alpacas.
Man 1 – Its a llama
Man 2 – Its an alpaca
Man 1 – NO. ITS A LLAMA
Man 2 – ITS A FUCKING ALPACA!
Man 1 – STICK YOUR APLACA UP YOUR ARSE!
I wish I cared about anything as much as those men cared about alpacas/llamas
When we got back to the the start we noticed it was only 8.9K. We run around in the car park until the distance said 9K. No-one likes finishing at .9 of a km.
A Ronseal video. It does exactly what it says on the tin/description. A man runs every day for a year and then records his thoughts after finishing the last run. Why did he do it? How did he do it? And is going to stop?
As lockdown has had more sequels than Mission Impossible, it seems apt that throughout each one – from ‘Lockdown: The Original Series’ to ‘Friday The 13th Lockdown This Week’ – I’ve become Tom Cruise.
For the last year, Iain TwinBikeRun has made videos of local bike routes and running trails. And, just like Martin Scorsese needs Robert De Niro, Iain TwinBikeRun needed a star for his videos – and who else to turn to than me!
Just like Tom Cruise, I can run.
Just like Tom Cruise, I have a nose so big and pointy I can use it to pot a snooker ball.
But, unlike Tom Cruise, I don’t believe I’m filled with tiny space aliens controlling my mind as I wait for the mothership to descend from the outreaches of the cosmos and whisk me away to intergalactic heaven.
So, basically, I’m 1980s Tom Cruise and not 2020 Tom Cruise. I’m the Cool Cruise! Cocktail Cruise! Maverick!
But what Tom Cruise doesn’t tell you is how hard it is to run on camera. I’ve been running on camera for Iain TwinBikeRun for a year and it goes something like this:
Iain TwinBikeRun: “Run up that hill!”
[Runs half a mile up a hill]
Ian TwinBikeRun (Shouting): “Come back.”
And I run it again because he wants a different angle. And then again because he had his thumb over the camera lens. And then again because he wants an overhead shot with a drone. By the time I’m finished, I’ve been up and down more often than Tom Cruise on Oprah Winfrey’s sofa proclaiming his love for ‘her from Dawson’s Creek’. And I’ve covered more miles than a tarmac spreader.
Tom Cruise makes it look easy. He’s always running on camera. However, I can now see that not only is he a great actor he must also be a great ultra runner because that’s the only way he could get through a day’s filming. If Mission Impossible was accurate he should show him spending 10 minutes each film bent over with his hands on his knees and saying “Just give me a minute, I just need to get my breath back!”.
So, when you watch the videos, spare a thought for the Tom Cruise impersonator running through them. I know I make it look easy but, just like Tom Cruise, I would also like a spaceship to swoop down and rescue me when I hear Iain TwinBikeRun shout for yet another take.