Norseman Training Stats (Iain)

This week was the last week of Norseman training. Thank f$%K!!!

I don’t know whether I’ve done enough training. I’ll discover that in a couple of weeks time when I attempt the race BUT I do know that I’ve done all I could in the time I had available.

My aim has always been to complete rather than compete so on that basis since the start of the year my training stats are:

BIKE
Distance: 2,720.5 mi
Time: 184h 41m
Elev Gain: 100,682 ft
Rides: 164

If I was to ride 2,720.5 miles from Glasgow then I’d end up in Baghdad in Iraq. I suspect at some point in Norseman i’ll wish I was in Baghdad as even getting shot at will be more pleasant than the swim/bike/run!

100,000 ft of elevation is the equivalent of cycling 3 times the height of Everest. Which sounded impressive until I looked up what is the record number of climbs of Everest.  Kami Rita Sherpa has summited 22 times! So my paltry 3 times is just a walk in the park to him.

184 hours is along time to be biking. I could have used that time to learn to paint, speak a foreign language or more likely just watch television. 184 hours of TV means I could have binge watched:

All of Game of Thrones (63 hours)
All of Breaking Bad (62 hours)
Every Marvel film (36 hours)
Every Harry Potter film (22 hours)
One episode of love island. (1 hour)

RUN
Distance: 544.1 mi
Time: 100h 1m
Elev Gain: 37,493 ft
Runs: 101

If I’d have run from my house for 544 miles I’d have ended up in the sea but if I ignore that pesky issue then I’d have ended up in Schleswig-Holstein in Germany. Which until now I’d never heard of! After a quick google I can reveal the most interesting thing I could find about the place.

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On the coat of arms for the state, the symbols of Holstein and Schleswig can both be seen. The two lions represent Schleswig while the leaf of a nettle is for Holstein.

Before the Prussians took over the region, the lions faced away from the nettle. But legend has it that Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck couldn’t bear the idea of the ‘Danish’ lions pointing their bums at the Holstein nettle.

Sorry – It wass not that interesting a story but its the best I could find!

SWIM
Distance 40,808m
Time 19h 4m
Swims 27

When training for an Olympics Michael Phelps would swim 80,000m a week. That’s 1600 laps of a 50m swimming pool. I’ve managed half a week of his training in six months. Which is why I don’t have any Olympic Medals but how many episode of Love Island has he seen? I bet its none. I’ve seen loads. Who’s the success now?….umm probably still him!

Hopefully I’ve reached the start line fit, injury free and happy. I can’t ask for any more than that.

(Although i have one long run and one long bike ride still to do. Hopefully I haven’t jinxed them!)

Ironman Edinburgh 70.3 (Iain)

 

PRE-RACE

I’ve not been ill at all this year until… two days before the race. Thankfully, it was only a head cold but it meant I had a worrying 24 hours on Friday wondering whether I’d be fit enough to take part.

I felt much better on Saturday so I headed through to Edinburgh to register. I didn’t mention my illness to Andrew. I didn’t want him to get the psychological boost of knowing I wasn’t 100% fit.

Registration was quick and easy. I spent longer in the queue to the expo shop than I did registering. I’m always amazed at the amount of tat for sale at the expo. This year’s prize for worst product goes to the IronMan door mat.

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We stayed in Macmerry, a small village near the swim start. The village is tiny but it contains one of the most important facilities in Scotland – the Royal Bank of Scotland datacentre. Billions of pounds of banking trade goes through the site.  There are no signs on the building to indicate its purpose. It looks like an anonymous industrial unit.

I used to visit the site when I worked for RBS. I joined RBS the day the bank collapsed. I don’t think those two events are linked. I’m pretty sure the damage was done before I got there.

Its the worst place I’ve ever worked! I left after six months but not before accidentally getting stuck in the door entry tube to the datacentre. I was there until a security guard rescued me. I don’t miss the place.

SWIM 

Last year we we were one of the last into the water as queuing for the toilet had taken priority over queuing to get into the water.

This year we were also one of the last in as there was still a lack of toilet facilities at the start. Hearing ACDC play “thunderstuck” is supposed to be one of the iconic moments of any IronMan race. It’s less iconic when heard in a portaloo as I tried to get my arm back into my wet-suit sleeve.

It took 30 minutes to get into the water as they only let three people in at a time. This worked out well as there was plenty of space on the swim. I never felt boxed in at any point. Although one guy did swim past me perpendicularly. I’m not sure where he was going!

I enjoyed the swim. The sea was calm. The water was warm and I felt great.

BIKE

I decided to race the bike by “feel” which is my way of saying I forgot my GPS watch! I also forgot my water bottle and my spare tube.  People who say bad luck comes in three’s are wrong. Bad luck comes in fours as I’d also forgotten my sun tan lotion!

On the bright side, this meant my bike was not weighed down with extra bits. I collected a water bottle at the first feed stop so it worked out fine.

The bike route is pretty flat (compared to where I normally ride). The long climbs aren’t very steep and the steep climbs aren’t very long. The first 30 miles are the best part of the course- good road surfaces and nice views over the East Lothian countryside. The route back into Edinburgh had some ‘interesting’ sections – some cobbled roads, a farm road and some pavement.

RUN

I was confident I was well ahead of Andrew so my plan was to run the first two laps of the course and then see how I felt on the last.

It very hot and there was no breeze on the bottom part of the course. The BBC claim it was 21C. Which coincidentally is also the race distance!

 

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I didn’t spot Andrew until the 2nd lap. I was at least 20 minutes ahead of him. I knew at that point I’d won so I took it easy until the finish.

OVERALL

The course was good, the event was well run and I got home in time for my dinner. What more can you ask for in a race?

One major improvement this year is the t-shirt. Last years’ effort was shockingly bad. It looked like the sort of design a contestant from The Apprentice would come up with when they only have five minutes left in a design challenge but hadn’t done any prep work on it.

Us

A Gentleman Never Talks About His Training (Iain)

A famous playwright wrote:

“A gentleman should never talk about his exercise regime or love life. It should be assumed he does none of one but lots of the other. Discussing either makes a man a bore!”

Talking about training is something all runners/cyclists/swimmers are guilty of. We all want to share the amazing training session we had but does anyone actually want to hear about it?

The best example of over sharing is to think about any friends who have new born babies. I have a friend who posts one picture of their kid every few months. It’s sweet to see the child’s progress so I click like on the picture. I have another friend who posts a picture every day. Sometimes multiple times in a day.  At first it was sweet, then annoying and then I unfollowed them as I didn’t need to see there snot nosed vomit machine every time I logged onto social media.

That’s what happens when you talk too much about training. You first become background noise i.e. people scroll past without even reading. You then become annoying, people ignore your posts and, before you know it, no-one is actually looking at your updates.

I realize the hypocrisy of saying don’t talk about training on a blog about training but if I can’t be boring on my own personal blog where can I be boring?

Here’s some common tropes that I find annoying and how to avoid them.

The “smashed it” post

The post which says what a great training session an athlete had. They smashed it! In fact every post says they smashed it. If every session was that great why are they not winning ever race they enter?

I’d suggest occasionally posting something else. A picture of a dog. A picture of some food, or occasionally just write “what a great session…but not as great as last week.”

The look at me post

The post which says “What a great run today. The view was amazing” yet the photo the athlete uploaded is a picture of their face.

I’d suggest post the view, not the viewer. I’ve seen a million shots of their sweaty face. I know it better than I know my own. If I wanted to look at faces I’d get a job as a crime mugshot artist.

The too good to be true post 

The post where the athlete wears clothes which are too clean to ever have been used in a training session. Every shot is photographed professional and the posts seem to be all  taken from one day yet they get posted over a time period of a few weeks.

I don’t trust these posts. I think I’m subliminally getting advertised to. They should occasionally upload a real picture of themselves i.e. falling out of bed, bleary eyed, half drunk from the night before then I’d be more likely be interested when they did post a good shot.

The meme post

“OMG! Meme quotes are amazeballs! LOL” I think I’m quoting Malcolm X correctly here.

If you went to an art class would draw something or just bring a copy of the Mona Lisa? if you went to a music class would you try to play an instrument or would you bring  a Beethoven CD? I prefer people who have confidence in their own work. They quote themselves  – anything said with truth is more inspirational than anything copied from someone else.

The blatant plug post

If any companies wish to sponsor me then be aware that I have very strict morals. I only work with companies who share my core belief – that I should get free stuff. If you fit that brief then I’ll happily plug your product in a photo shoot which we will release picture by picture over a few week period accompanied by me writing about  how I smashed the session using an inspirational meme quote!

PS – the purpose of this blog is to say I won’t be writing about Norseman training until the event but then I’ll post one big post about it for anyone who’s interested in seeing what I did to succeed/fail (delete one after seeing result) at Norseman.

Caledonian Etape 2018 (Iain)

Andrew and I were nearing the end of the Caledonian Etape (the annual 84 mile cycle sportive in Perthshire) when I began to increase my speed. Just a little. Just enough to see if he’d keep up. I went a little bit faster and was starting to build  a gap when I heard him shout.

“IT’S NOT A RACE!”

I knew then that I’d won.

The Etape started in 2009. We’ve done it since 2010 and  Andrew has beaten me every time. Most of the time he wins because he’s better at biking than me but occasionally he uses underhand tactics…

  • One year he arrived at the start having bought a road bike knowing that I had a hybrid. Unsurprisingly, I couldn’t keep up with him.
  • Another time we agreed at the start that if we got separated during the race we’d meet at the next food stop on the course. The race started. He immediately biked off. I didn’t worry about it because I knew I’d get him at the next food stop. I arrived at the food stop. He was nowhere to be seen. I waited 10 minutes. He didn’t turn up. I realized I’d been tricked. He went on to win the race easily because he didn’t stop once!
  • Last year, he brought a “ringer” from his work. The “ringer” was a man who could cycle sub 4 hours for 80 miles. Andrew biked behind the “ringer” to get a pull round the course.

This year he had no underhand tactics….that I’m aware of. Although, I didn’t sleep well the night before the race. Maybe he upped the temperature in the hotel room to disturb me.

The weather forecast was for sunshine. It hadn’t rained in the week before the race. Unsurprisingly, it was wet at the start! We were off at 0632 which meant we got away before the majority of riders. The first five miles were uneventful until we came to a corner. I could see the road kicked up after the corner so I changed to a lower gear before I got there.

As I took the turn I heard the unmistakable sound of a gear clanking away and coming loose as some poor rider tried to get into a lower gear. I thought to myself “What idiot wouldn’t notice the hill! You’d have to be a right twat to not change gears in advance. Who’d be that stupid?”

“IAIN!!!” I heard Andrew shout. I looked round. The idiot was Andrew.

Impressively he’d managed to wrap his chain round his bike crank in such a way it was impossible to pull off. Thankfully a moto-bike mechanic turned up. He looked at it and said “Wow! I’ve never seen one wrapped that tight.” Thankfully after ten minutes of pulling and chain splitting we were able to sort it.

I could at any point have cycled off to ensure I’d win the race. I stayed. Not because I’m nice but so I could spend the rest of the ride reminding Andrew that I could have ridden off and therefore he should declare me champion by default!

We finished together but Andrew knows in his heart I won. Next year I expect him to use every underhand trick he knows to get his Etape crown back!

Some points on the race

  • The course has altered slightly this year as the organizers have added in a hill. Its not a tough climb but it breaks up the first half of the course nicely as I got nice views on the descent.
  • Their was no sports nutrition bars or gels this year. Each stop only had a banana or a flapjack.
  • The registration pack came with a complimentary bike cap. The first time the race has ever given away something for free!
  • The race used to be sponsored by Marie Curie cancer. They didn’t appear on any marketing this year. I’m not sure if that means its not more of a private for profit event.
  • It rained on the course for a couple of minutes which means we still have never had an all dry Etape.

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Having my cake and eating it (Iain)

Recently, whilst queuing at a bakers, an old lady standing ahead of me said:

“Please can I have two doughnuts?”

The baker replied, “Sorry, I’ve run out of normal doughnuts. I’ve only got two two mini doughnuts instead.”

The old lady looked at the very small mini doughnuts and said “No thanks – too much sugar.”

My immediate thought: “WTF!!! They were tiny. They had less sugar than the full sized doughnuts she originally ordered! If she wants to avoid sugar she shouldn’t order multiple donuts at 0830 in the morning!”

She then said: “I’ll have two french fancies instead.”

Which made me think: “YOU DON’T WANT SUGAR BUT NOW YOU’RE ORDERING A CAKE MADE OF SUGAR, COVERED IN SUGAR ICING WITH A SUGAR CREAM FILLLING!!!”

I think in block capitals when thinking loudly.

And her purchase annoyed me as I wanted the french fancies for myself.

I was reminded of this when visiting my parents home (Stornoway) last weekend. My mum saw me and said, “You’re looking broad!”

Which is a polite way of saying “fat bastard”.

I like to think it’s all muscle but, considering I’m sitting here eating a cake, then that would be as delusional as a Theresa May thinking Brexit will be a success.

When I did IronMan UK my weight was 12 Stone. My Current weight is 13 stone which considering I’m 6ft 1 is well within normal healthy range. Strangely, although I’m heavier, all my times and fitness levels are better now than back then.

I can only conclude one thing. Cake make me faster and fitter!

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mmm – fudge doughnut!

Cycling Mount Teide (Iain)

Last week I visited Tenerife. It’s the the largest of the Canary Islands, 200 miles off the west coast of Africa. It’s a four-hour 30 minute flight from Glasgow which meant I had time for two beers, a bottle of coke, a packet of crisps, 100 pages of my book and an episode of The Grand Tour.

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The day before my holiday

For years cyclists such as Bradley Wiggins have come to Tenerife to escape the bad weather at home. Lance Armstrong used to come to escape drug testers (allegedly).

I wasn’t here to train but, as it was snowing at home, I was glad to escape the bad weather. I was on a family vacation but I was allowed one day off to cycle.

I decided to attempt the iconic Mount Tiede climb. Tiede is the a volcano that dominates the island landscape. The road to it reaches a height of 2250m. Its not the highest road climb in Europe but it is the longest continuous ascent as it starts from sea level and doesn’t flatten out or go down until you get near the top.

I was staying in the southern town of Adeje.  I had an all inclusive deal which meant the hardest part of the ride was resisting ordering free beers the day before.

Initially I’d planned toe climb Tiede via the most direct route i.e Adeje to Los Christianos and then TF-28, TF- 51, TF-21 but I’d driven that route previously and got scared by a) the amount of traffic on TF-28 and the steepness of TF-21.

I frantically googled other options and settled on a longer climb which was supposedly on a much quieter road: Adeje to Guia de Isora via TF-82 then up to Aripe to join the TF-38.

I set off as soon as the sun came up. I was slightly apprehensive as cycling on Spanish roads always scares me due to the speed at which cars approach and enter roundabouts. The climbing started from the moment I left the hotel. The first section to the TF-82 was very quiet. I barely so a car or person.

The roundabout at the start of TF-82 was scary. Multiple lanes and lots of fast cars. I did what any coward would do in my situation. I got off my bike and used the pedestrian crossings to get round it. Once on the TF-82 the road was quiet all the way to Guia de Isora. The road has a large hard shoulder so even when a car did pass at speed it didn’t come near me.

It was at this point I realized I’d made an error and forgotten to take any money with me. I had two bottle of water and seven gels. I decided that would hopefully be enough and if not I could always ask another cyclist to lend me a euro for water.

The next section was very difficult. The town of Aripe was so steep I had to push my bike through it. I made the mistake of leaning my bike against a wall to take a picture to demonstrate how steep it was. Unfortunately the bike fell and one of my water bottles fell out and rolled all the way back down through the town. I had to walk down and then do the climb again!

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A quick rest

Once onto the TF-38 it’s a straightforward 23KM climb up onto the volcanic desert of Tiede. The road surface was amazing and there was hardly a car on it. The road cuts through the forest below Tiede which helpfully meant a lot of the ride was shaded from the sun.

I climbed 5KM at a time before stopping to admire the view and drink some water.

The last section was the desert. Great views but busier roads.  I cycled until I reached Los Rocques. The last high point before it dips down to the road to the cable cars that take tourists to the top of Tiede. I didn’t bother with that bit as I’d been there by car. There isn’t much to see other than a toilet and a load of tourists queing for tickets and the loo!

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My Top!

I went down the direct route to Los Christianos. The road was busy the closer I got to sea level. By the end it was a little too busy for my liking. On the way down I spotted some professionals going up. Team UAE, Team Astana and Team Chris Froome! He’s a team as he was the only one I passed who didn’t have team mates.  For some reason he was training by himself with just a Sky car for company. It’s as if he’s got something to hide…

All the teams were going up the hill faster than I was going down. Which shows you how quick they are and how much of a big Jessie I am when descending.

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The Route

Welcome to the Velodrome (Iain)

“This is not a race! Do not treat it as a race. There will be no winners or losers. Are we clear about that?”

I was with a group of about twenty people. We were doing the “Introduction to Track Cycling” course at Glasgow velodrome. The man giving the instruction was the track cycling coach.

“Get on your bikes and do not race! I’m judging you on your ability to ride safely not quickly.”

We were all ready to start. One of the other riders was in full cycling club team kit. Even his socks were branded with the name of his cycling club. He wore sunglasses indoors. He looked like a twat.

“Are we ready to start?” Asked the coach.

A man suddenly appeared next to twattymactwatface. He too wore full cycling kit. He turned to his identical twat and said: “You can win this.”

No – you can’t. Its not a race! Did you not hear what the coach just said?

He started giving Luke Twatwalker a pep talk: “Take it easy on the first lap and then use your power on the second. Don’t be afraid to cut people up.”

No – don’t cut people up! Take it easy on the first lap and then even easier on the second. Demonstrate you can do this safely!

He then added “Fuck them up!” and slapped Encyclopedia Twatania on the back.

ITS NOT A RACE! NO ONE IS GETTING FUCKED UP!

The ‘not a race’ started. Everyone set off at a steady pace except Lance Twatstrong. He shot off. I could hear him mutter: “You can do this”

There’s nothing to do! It’s not a race. It’s a bunch of middle aged men living out a Chris Hoy fantasy. We just want to spin about a bit and then go home for tea.

His mate started shouting “YES! You’re at the front. Keep it up!”

Twatasuarous Tex soon caught up with me. We were both about to reach the tiered banking. He pulled out wide to go round me but he was going too fast and couldn’t control his bike. He hit the top of the track. His bike slipped and he came off. I looked up. The bike and him were now sliding down the banking towards me. I did what any man would do in this situation. I closed my eyes and hoped for the best. Track bikes have no brakes and even if they did I couldn’t use them on the banking.  I had no way of avoiding being hit.

His bike went through mine. I fell off. I hit my head of the wooded boards of the banking and scraped the skin off my arm and shoulder.

The coach came running over. He took one look at the two of us and asked “Are you ok?” My head hurt and I had a bit of skin rash from the slide but nothing serious. Twatzilla looked surprisingly chipper all considering. We both said “I think so…”

The coach thought for a second and said “Thank fuck for that. Now imagine how sore it would have been if you’d been racing!”

I’ve never been back to the velodrome since that day.

Try anything once – Mysore yoga (Iain)

A wise man once said: “You should try anything once.”

What a stupid saying! There’s loads of things I shouldn’t try – not even once.

Should I poke a sleeping lion in the stomach? No, I’ve been mauled by my cat for giving him a friendly tummy rub. Imagine what the king of the jungle would do if I poked him in the guts and called him a fattyfatty bum bum.

Should I paint my body blue, stick on a white beard and demand everyone call me Papa Smurf? No – I’d look look like a fat extra from Avatar.

Should I attempt one of the hardest extreme triathlons on the planet? DOH! I entered Norseman.

So, when given the opportunity to do Mysore yoga I asked will it kill me or open me to ridicule? Thankfully, the answers were “no” and “maybe.” I was worried about the maybe…

In a standard yoga class a teacher leads the students through a sequence of moves. In Mysore a student leads themselves through a sequence at their own pace. Everyone in the class follows the same sequence but the pace may be different.

The class started at 0630 but I could join anytime up till 0700. I need as much beauty sleep as I can get. I turned up at 0659. This meant everyone else had already started.

The Mysore sequence is like building IKEA furniture. If you don’t do it in the right order then a bit won’t fit where you want no matter how far you bend it.

Now imagine building a Kvlar wardrobe but only having the picture of a wardrobe as your guide. That’s Mysore.

I knew I needed to start by standing at the top of the mat. I also knew I had to finish by lying flat but I couldn’t remember the steps in between.

I looked around the class. One woman was bent over in a position her chiropractor would call “a broken spine”. Another girl was wrapped so tightly together only a can opener was going to get her unwrapped.

I decided to do neither of those moves. I attempted a bend from the hip. No one laughed so I thought I might be onto something. I do a few more bends to waste a few minutes. The teacher comes over “what are you doing?”

“Warming up?”

She says “Let me give you a guide”.

Great! That’ll help. She hands me some pics of people in positions that would be called pornographic if there was a partner involved. She says “Just do two of these and then three of these.”

I look at the diagram. It might as well be in Hindi as I don’t understand any of it. It turns out it is in Hindi.

I do a few more hip bends. I think I might be the best hip bender in the class. In fact, I think I might be the biggest bender here. Ummm that doesn’t sound right…

She come back over. “What are you doing?”

“Still warming up?” I reply.

“No your supposed to be doing this sequence.” She demonstrates it.

“Ahhh, it’s that sequence. I understand now.” I don’t.

She leaves. I bend my hips some more. I think if there was a hip bending competition in the Olympics I’d win a gold medal.Unless there was a Russian hip bender. He’d probably cheat and I’d get silver. I’d be gutted when I hear the Russian national anthem as we stand on the medal podium. Years later it would be discovered he was cheating! He’d get disqualified. I’d be the belated champion but it wouldn’t be the same. Instead of a podium I’d get my medal through the post. Damn you, Sergei!

She interrupts my daydream, “what are you doing?”

“I’ve warmed up!” I confidently state.

She takes pity on me. “Just lie down. Do you want a blanket to keep warm?”

“No thanks, I don’t like blankets of any size,shape or texture. You you might say I have a blanket ban…”

She doesn’t laugh. It’s probably too early in the morning for chuckles.

I give it five minutes and when she’s busy adjusting/torturing another Mysore student I sneak out.

The wise man was correct to say “do anything once” but he should also have said – don’t do it twice!

The Hebridean Triathlon (Iain)

My mum was born in the Outer Hebrides. She is a native Gaelic speaker who didn’t learn English until she went to primary school. If she spoke Gaelic in school, a teacher would punish her with a cane! She very quickly became a fluent English speaker.

I was born in Glasgow but grew up in the Outer Hebrides. I’m a native English speaker who didn’t learn Gaelic until I went to primary school. Nobody hit me with a cane. I failed Gaelic. I blame the lack of “motivation”. I know only two Gaelic phrases: “How are you?” and “I am cold and wet.”

Which, in Scotland, is all you really need.

I was reminded of this whilst battling wind and rain at last weekend’s Hebridean Triathlon.

This was the second time the event has been held. Last year I came in the top 10…because there was only 10 competitors!

In the last year the organisers have done a great job encouraging participation from both men and woman. 25 people took to the start line with an almost equal split of men and woman.

Swim

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Last year the swim was in a loch by the sea but this time it was in the sea by the loch. Which is a bit of a tongue twister but it was a great move from the organizers as the sea was much more enjoyable to swim in.

Last year I wrote: “I took a detour on the first lap…”

I was determined to sight better this year. I did! This time I took a detour on the second lap.

Bike

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The bike course is an out and back route to the Callanish Stones. It was an undulating route into a very strong headwind. If that wasn’t hard enough. The heavens opened and the rain/hail started.

The wind was so strong. it took nearly an hour to do the out route but only 35 minutes to get back.

By the end of the cycle I was battered by the elements. All I could think was “Tha mi fuar agus fhluich” I’ll let you work out which of my Gaelic phrase that translates to.

Run

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I’d finished the bike just ahead of a fellow athlete from the Glasgow Triathlon Club. I was determined to stay ahead so set off at a steady pace.

The weather wasn’t any better but this was helpful because instead of letting my mind think about how much I hate running. Instead, I thought about how much I hate the rain!

I felt quite good on the run and managed to overtake a few people who were ahead of me.

Overall.

I was happy with my performance. My time was down on last year but due to the weather so was everyone else’s.

I’ll leave the last word to one of the competitors who wrote:

“Thank you all for putting on one of the best triathlons I have participated in. The course is hard to beat and the relaxed atmosphere was just perfect. Well done to everyone involved.”

Challenge Weymouth 2014 (Iain)

Next weekend we’re both racing Ironman Edinburgh. It’s three years since we last did a middle distance triathlon (1.8KM swim, 55 mile bike, 13.1 mile run). Here’s how we got on last time…

Up until 2014, the UK “Challenge” triathlon had taken place in Henley-on-Thames. A place so posh it needs hyphens. The people of Henley hated the triathlon. The closed road race would often be interrupted by a Range Rover or Aston Martin. The locals having decided that closed only meant closed to cheap cars.

In 2013, Andrew and I entered Challenge Henley, a middle distance triathlon. It was well organised and, as it was at the end of the summer, we could train for it when the weather was good rather than over the winter. We enjoyed it so much we wanted to do it again but the locals had decreed no more triathlon so the race moved to Weymouth.

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Weymouth is a place that doesn’t need hyphens. If you love ice cream, chips and donkey rides then this is the town for you. It’s also worth a visit if you want to see Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper recreated as a sandcastle.

We drove down on the Friday before the race. We wanted the extra day to get ready and recover from the drive. Google maps said it would take 8 hours but it doesn’t take into account any other cars or roadworks. It was closer to 12 hours. We should have got a medal for just getting there.

There’s plenty of accommodation in the area. We stayed in an ex Ministry Of Defence building that was used to test bombs. This meant the walls were so thick, WiFi and mobile phones didn’t work.

Registration/Setup

Registration took place at the pier, which is the end point of the race. The transition areas for the swim/bike/run was about a mile and a half away along the beach. This is ok but it meant you have to work out where to park your car on race morning. Do you want a long walk to the start but be close to the finish or vice versa?

Registration takes a couple of minutes and we were given all the usual – a race number, a tattoo of the number and different colored bags to put our transition stuff in. One for the bike, one for the run and one for post event.

We went back to the hotel to sort everything out. Once we had all the stuff ready we headed over to transition. At this point my brother remembered that he had not put any his bags into the car. So it was back to the hotel…and then back to transition! As a forfeit he had to buy me dinner. I picked the expensive options.

Swim

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The hotel was open for breakfast from 3AM so I popped along at 5AM for some Weetabix. There was a few others eating. They all had Weetabix too except one man who was having a full English breakfast. I assume he was just a hungry insomniac rather than an athlete.

We choose to park nearer to the finish than the start. As we walked along the beach to transition  we noticed just how fierce the waves were. A quick check of Twitter (always a useful reference to find out whats going on) revealed the waves were so strong the course was going to be altered and the full length race was going to be shortened. Our race would be delayed by 30 minutes.

This meant a long cold wait by the sea as we watched the full distance athletes struggle in the waves. I’d swam in similar conditions last year in a charity event in fife. That day the weather was so bad the Women’s Golf open was cancelled. I hadn’t enjoyed it as it became an exercise in survival rather than fun. I wasn’t looking forward to the swim!

Luckily it calmed down slightly by the time we were due to start so we decided to give it a go. After all, whats the worse that can happen?

It was two laps out and back to a buoy. The way out was very choppy. I quickly lost my brother in the swell. Sighting was straightforward as there was so many folk around I just followed everyone else. I actually quite enjoyed it but it probably helped that I’d been swimming in the sea whilst on holiday the week before so I was used to the salt.

I finished the swim in about 45 minutes.

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Transition 

We have an agreement that we wait for each other in transition. As neither of us is going to win the race we just race each other so all we care about it the times for each section. I had a 10 minute wait for him before he turned up. He said he was delayed as he’d gone for a spin on a boat! If I knew that was an option then I’d have taken it. He had felt fine on lap 1 but, near the end of lap 2, he was sick so had to hitch a lift on the boat so he could be ill. Luckily it was just all the salt that had upset his stomach – or maybe he’d ordered a full English breakfast when I wasn’t looking.

Bike

Experts say you shouldn’t change anything before a race. I decided to ignore that advice and put aero bars on my bike and I adjusted my seating position. I’d never used aero bars and I was surprised at just how great they were! I’m going to use them all the time now. [NOTE: I wrote this in 2014. I’ve barely used them since!] The race was one lap of 55 miles into the countryside. It was fairly flat with some slight hills. I saw some riders getting off their bikes and walk up the hills. They should move to Scotland and learn what real hills are like.

Highlights of the ride was passing a Tank Museum. The speed signs on the road to it had separate speed limits for tanks and cars.

I enjoyed the bike ride and I finished it in 3hrs 10min

Transition 

I waited for about 15 minutes for my brother. He likes watching his speedometer and keeping to a steady pace whilst I don’t bother with any tech and just cycle faster when I feel good and slower when I don’t. I think this is why he is better at going up hills than me but I’m usually better on flatter courses.

Run

Annoyingly the run was 15 miles. Which I thought was a bit unfair, as it was a half marathon race not a half and a bit race. We had no choice in the matter so off we went. The course was two and a half laps of the seafront taking in a section past all the pubs called “the beer mile.”

Whilst on the run we passed a section of beach which contained just one man: one man playing the bagpipes. One man playing the bagpipes badly. It was clear why he had that part of the beach to himself. Even in one of the most southern parts of England there was still a reminder of home.

The run was good and I dropped my brother after half way as his chat was dull 🙂 I then made a fatal error! I thought I’d run for a bit with headphones on. I didn’t realise doing so is a complete no-no! I do it on all running races so I assumed it was okay here. I’d find out about it at the end when I wanted to check my result….

I finished the run in 2hr 3min and then hung about for 15 minutes until my brother finished.

We both checked the distance on our watches and it had only been 13.1 miles so we were thankful it had been changed from 15. It later transpired this change meant the full distance runners didn’t do a full marathon. Their race was 4k short.

Overall

It was a good well organised race in a nice part of the world. Both myself and my brother beat our time from last year on all three disciplines so we were happy. Afterwards I went to check our times and found out

A) My brother had been DQ’d. It turns out a ride in a boat isn’t allowed

B) I was marked as “withdrawn from race” which was news to me! I then found out it was due to been spotted wearing headphones.

Luckily neither of us care about the final result other than who beat who and we still got our medal 🙂

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