Dreaming of Celtman 2020 (Andrew)

IronMan UK was my one and only long distance triathlon. Never again I said. That was it. One go. Done it. Never need to do it again.

Except for Norseman.

And possibly Challenge Roth.

But the chances of getting in were so slim that IronMan UK was, I thought, the only time I’d ever swim 3.9km again, probably the only time I’d ever cycle more than 100 miles and definitely the only time I’d run a marathon as I don’t like running long distances. 

Oh, and except for Celtman too. 

Apart from those three races, I was never going to voluntarily spend an entire day racing again!

But what were the chances of getting into Norseman? Challenge Roth or Celtman? People try for years and don’t get into any of them. I applied, still with no expectation of getting in, and, straight away, I’ve got a place in Norseman.

A couple of years later and I manage to get a place in Challenge Roth too.

And now I have a place in Celtman.

I don’t know whether God likes a laugh, but he certainly enjoys a good ironic chuckle. 

While Norseman was fantastic. I’ve written about it on the blog and you can find out all about it. Roth too. And they were both ‘special’ and they have given me some great memories (along with a deep, deep fear of losing my watch while swimming – read about it here and, four months later, I’m still mentally scarred by it!), it’s Celtman which means the most to me because it was Celtman that got me interested in triathlons.

I never watched triathlons on telly. I’d never heard of IronMan or knew anything about the World Championships in Hawaii. I knew triathlons existed, I’d even tried to the New Year’s Triathlon in Edinburgh but I was like a dog playing football. It might know to chase a ball but that’s all it has in common with a footballer. I knew you needed to swim, bike and run but I didn’t know it was better to swim freestyle, that a mountain bike is not the professional triathlete’s first choice or that the run is something you race, not walk in to finish. 

Celtman changed that. I was watching the Adventure Show on BBC Scotland. Every month it reports from different events across Scotland. In 2011, it reported back from the first Celtman extreme triathlon. 3.4km swim on the west coast of Scotland, a 120 mile cycle round the Applecross penisula and then a marathon up a Munro and finish in Torridon. 

“That’s impossible,” I said, “how do they do that?” 

Every year since I’ve watched the Adventure Show and thought I would love to take part but secretly I knew that I wasn’t good enough. I don’t want to swim through jellyfish in freezing cold water. I’ve never cycled 120 miles. I’ve never run a marathon up a mountain. That’s what other people do.

But as I started to train for races in middle distance, then long distance, then Norseman and Roth, I started to think this year that maybe, with a bit more effort, I could be ready for Celtman. Because I don’t want to just complete it. I want to stand at the top of the mountain and be one of the few competitors who complete the whole course. In order to do that you need to be halfway through the run eleven hours after starting. Which means I’ll have around 8 hours to complete 120 miles on the bike, knowing that my swim time is the one thing I won’t be able to change no matter how hard I train. 

And, to make this Celtman, even better, unlike Norseman and Roth, Iain will be racing too, which will be a good incentive for both training and on the day itself. Though it has spoiled my support runner plans as he was going to run the final half with me!

Now that I’ve secured a spot I keep thinking of the first edition. I think how impossible it seemed and I think how possible it now is. I can’t wait to take part!

The hero pose (Andrew)

For years philosophers have debated a simple question: if an athlete runs in the woods and no one is there to give it a thumbs up on Strava, did it really happen?

That’s why it’s important we record every run, ride and swim and upload it to social media as soon as we press save. If it’s not on Strava then it didn’t happen.

But it’s not just the stats that matter. On social media you also need to manage your image. Not only did you ride today – but you rode like a hero. Oh yeah.

That’s why it’s important that we also take a photo of every run and ride (but not swim as there might be children present in the pool and we don’t want to be reported to the attendant for lurking in the shallow end holding out a portable camera and gurning like a duck).

Today, I had my first ride outside since cough-gate, the illness/conspiracy that took out January and half of February. We (Iain, myself and another keen cyclist) went for a 40 mile spin round Ayrshire, though Eaglesham, Whitelee Wind farm, Kilmaurs and Stewarton.

At the wind farm we spotted a cyclist struggling at the side of the road. “Do you need any help?” We asked.

“My chain’s broken,” he said, “do you have a chain breaker?”

We did. He then asked if we knew how to use it and all three of us looked at each other and went.

“Ermmmmmm!”

No body knew how to use the one tool that everyone has to repair a chain.

“Don’t worry, lads,” he said, “I think I know what to do?”

20 minutes later, as Iain helped keep the chain together while he worked the chain breaker, it finally looked intact. Our good samaritan deed done.

We then cycled off before he tested it so that we would 100% know we did the right thing by stopping and we 100% would never know if it broke two minutes later and he was left stranded in the middle of Eaglesham moor.

Our good deed done we stopped for a photo just after Stewarton. The sun was starting to set. We had a good straight road behind and it was time to adopt the “just out of for a spin, I’m not knackered, honest guv, work it like a boss pose”.

You can see it below. Note:

  1. Lean casually on the handlebars like you would at a bar when you don’t want to show you are really keen to be served.
  2. Smile!
  3. Turn the wheel slightly otherwise you could be posing on a pogo stick.
  4. Smile!

img_0894

It doesn’t show my heavy bike (the one with wheels bigger than tank tracks so as to be comfy when commuting), my heavy legs (the one with a bum bigger than tank tracks so as to be comfy when sitting) or my heavy mind (oh God, this is tougher than a turbo, what is this thing called ‘head wind’?).

I’m a god. A cycling god. Look at that bronze sky. That easy pose. I could ride for miles and miles! I’m Kanye West on a BMX! I’m invincible!

And knackered.

But happy.

First ride outside done.