Tag Archives: swimming

Race Plan 2017 (Iain)

The general theme of this year’s plan is… no overseas races! I’ve travelled to races for the last few years and it would be selfish to do it again this year.

Other than that my only criteria is that the race should be within two hours of my house, although:

  • I’ve made an exception for Chester as it’s such a great race.
  • Celtman is two hours from my parent’s house in Stornoway so I don’t count that either!

January 28th – Buchlyvie 10K

I’ve entered this race twice before. Each time it was cancelled due to bad weather. I’m hoping this is third time lucky.

February 12th – Kirkintilloch 12.5K

A quiet undulating course which is conveniently near my house. It was icy last year. Hopefully, this time I get round without slipping and, hopefully, I beat Andrew again.

March 12th – Balloch to Clydebank Half Marathon

My traditional start to the year. If I do it in less than 1hr 45min then I know I haven’t been too lazy over the winter.

March 19th – Alloa Half Marathon

Similarly if I can run a half marathon a week after Balloch then I also know my stamina is okay. Andrew has never attempted this. I think he’s too afraid of losing twice in a week 😉

March 26th – Stirling Duathalon

I’ve never done a duathalon so this should be interesting…

April 22nd – Dirty Reiver 

A race I’ve never done before, but it looks good https://www.dirtyreiver.co.uk/  It’s a an off road bike race on forrest tracks. I’m looking forward to trying something new. I’ve also lost to Andrew on every other bike surface so maybe this is the one I’ll win on!

May 6th – Bealch Beag

A warm up for Celtman as its in the same area. Its an event I’m excited about. Years ago,  I did the original race but I’ve never done it since. Back then I knew nothing about biking. Hopefully now I know a little bit more I’ll do better.

May 13th – Loch Leven Half Marathon

A return of an old favorite. I love this race. One of my favorite running memories is running it on a gloriously sunny day with Andrew. It was the last day of the SPL championship. As we got to the 10mile point we discovered Celtic had won the league. We ran the last three miles very happily.

May 21st – Caledonian Etape

My yearly hope I’ll beat Andrew but inevitably lose race

June 4th – Chester Standard Triathalon

Great swim course, bike course and run course. So many triathalons fail at least one of these. So signing up is a no brainer as its brilliant.

June 17th – Celtman (support)

I’ll do my best to find Andrew fresh pancakes for the bike leg as he enjoyed them at Norseman.

July 2nd – Iron Man Edinburgh (70.3)

I couldn’t resist signing up. It starts in Gosford House. One of Scotland’s grandest homes. I’ve always wanted to visit it, but its closed to the public. This seemed the perfect opportunity to combine my love of visiting interesting places and racing. Also I went to university in Edinburgh and lived there so I know the course well.

I know I won’t end up doing all of these as normal life will throw up other events (unexpected weddings/births/fun) but hopefully I’ll enjoy as many as possible especially as I’ve already paid for them!

(The  fourth discipline of racing after swim/bike/run is paying for it.)

Pop goes the weasely hip (Andrew)

“I’ve had a problem with my right hip. Just a wee niggly pain. I’ve rested it for a month and, before I go home for Christmas, I thought I’d get it checked to make sure it’s all fixed.”

And, with that, I removed all my clothes except my boxers.

Just to be clear, I was prompted to do that.

I don’t just rip off my clothes at the drop of a hat, jumper, trousers and socks. I booked a visit to a physio in Larbert, one I’d been to before so I knew the routine. I would say what was wrong with me. She’d say strip. I’d strip then she’d prod me with her thumbs and make me scream.

Again, just to be clear, she asked first if it was okay to prod me. Though I think “prod” is not the medical term. Her term might have been “apply pressure to the muscle to cause it to release” but, whatever the right term, the effect was the same. She prodded my back and then I screamed.

But that was just the start.

“Your right leg is tighter than your left.”

“I know,” I said “I can never get money out of my right pocket.”

She didn’t laugh. I assume she hadn’t heard.

“Lie on your side. Bend your knee. Raise your arm. Put your hand here. Keep that leg straight.”

I try and follow but it feels like I’m trying to re-create a chalk outline of the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

“Don’t worry if you can’t manage it,” she said, “just breathe out.”

I did.

And she pushed down on my knee.

Just to be clear, she didn’t ask me first. It was assault. A vicious attack. An unproved invasion of my physical space and a –



A balloon had exploded. The planet had exploded. I’d just heard the Big Bang.

“That’s it,” she said, “got it, you’re cured!”

And I was. I couldn’t feel any pain. Whatever had popped had stopped whatever was niggling the jiggling of my legs and hips.

It was a miracle.

But, blimey, it hurt. But at least it was over. Done.

Then she said the five words you never want to hear from a physio.

No, not “It’s not meant to crack!”

Or “Let’s call the Doctor now.”

Or “Can I cup the balls?”

It’s worse. It’s “Let’s do the other side!”


All I want for Xmas is sunscreen (Iain)

He’s making a list,

And checking it twice,

He looks again!

He can’t believe the price!

Santa Claus is buying prezzies for triathletes!

Ho, ho, ho! Merry Xmas!

It’s the time of year my mum asks what I’d like for Xmas and I say “How about this saddle for my bike?” I show her the saddle and she goes “HOW MUCH!!!”

In fairness, I said the same when she said she’d like Jo Malone perfume.

It’s easy to get a present for Andrew. I just get something I’d like myself. That way – if he doesn’t like it,  I keep it!

This year, I’ve found the perfect present for Celtman: Sunscreen.


You may wonder why he needs sunscreen for a race famed for its lack of sun. This sunscreen is special. Not only does it prevent sun burn it also repels jelly fish! Celtman is famed for its jelly fish so this would be the perfect gift except for one thing…

Celtman is an extreme triathlon! It’s not a cuddly triathlon. It’s not going to give Andrew a hug and tell him everything’s going to be okay! He’s supposed to suffer.

Giving him sunscreen would be against the spirit of the event.

So, I’ve ordered a different sunscreen. One which will make his swim extreme. I don’t want to spoil his Christmas surprise by saying which one it is but I will reveal one thing – it was really difficult to find one containing a jellyfish aphrodisiac!

The one with jellyfish in it (Andrew)

Some people get survival tips from a TV adventurer Bear Grylls. A man who hides his luxury caravan hidden just out of shot. Other people get their tips from Ray Mears, a man who tries to avoid being bitten by snakes but whose very name is an anagram of “Ar! My Arse!”

Me, I get my survival tips from 90s sitcom Friends.

There’s not many 90s sitcoms that you can turn to for survival tips. Frasier could help you charm a maître-d. Only Fools & Horses would warn you about the dangerous lack of support in wine bars. But only Friends could help you in the wild, and by wild, I mean beach. And, by beach, I mean tourist beach, with lifeguards and flags to warn you before you go for a swim. Also ice cream. And cocktails. And a lounger and free towels. 

In Friends, six friends, hence the title of the programme, in case you’ve not seen it, go the beach. One of the friends is stung by a jellyfish and another of the friends suggests they, ahem, relieve themselves on the spot where it stings as, ahem, urine, ahem, is a cure for jelly fish stings…

Now, you have to ask yourself how this cure was first discovered. Who’s first thought was “I know, let’s piss on it!” and, having found success in combatting jellyfish, did they try and expand?

“I have a headache, does anyone have any aspirin?”

“No need, I know what to do – let’s stand on a chair and piss on your head!”

“I’ve broken my leg, can someone call an ambulance?”

“Save yourself a phone call – I’ve got a better idea – let’s piss on it!”

In Friends that’s exactly what they do. They piss on the friend with the jellyfish sting and, lo and behold, the friend is cured. Or at least I think that’s what happens. I’ve not seen this episode in years so I can’t absolutely say that there is an episode of Friends where five friends form a circle and piss on the sixth. I can imagine that happening in Seinfeld, but somehow it doesn’t seem right for Friends. Perhaps they all did it into a cup and then it was poured on delicately.

Anyways, whether circle pished or applied from a potty pot, that episode of Friends stuck in my mind and I’ve always known what to do when a jellyfish stings. Fortunately, I’ve never had to put this into practice as I’ve never been stung by a jellyfish. Until now…

I thought I would be during Norseman. I even grew a beard to protect my face. (I say beard, it was more bum fluff with ambition). A beard stops the jellyfish from stinging. But, the beard wasn’t necessary as there was something else that stopped the jellyfish from stinging: cold fresh water. It was too cold and not salty enough for jellyfish in the fjords.

Celtman is a different story. There are thousands of jellyfish in the swim section and all race reports talk about swimming through them.

Luckily, unfortunately, in my first sea swim since entering Celtman I had a chance to experience a jellyfish sting. I was swimming off South Beach in Miami (which, with its loungers, cocktails, warm water and dusky heat is ideal training for the cold sharp Scottish water of Celtman) when I felt small electric shocks along my arm. I knew I was stung but I wasn’t sure by what. I could feel an itchiness and knew I had to swim back to shore and speak to the lifeguard but all I could think was “Is he going to piss on it?”

I’d seen Friends, I knew what happened next.

I climbed the lifeguards’ tower, showed him my arm, now turning blotchy red, and said “I think I’ve been stung.”

He said “It’s a jellyfish, let me get something for that.”

And he grabbed a bottle.

While part of me thought how good it was that he prepared for this emergency by bottling himself in advance, another part of me thought “Please let it be something else, please let it be anything else”.

“It’s vinegar,” he said, spraying the liquid on my outstretched arm.

I sniffed.

I smelt chips.

I realized I was the chips.

It was vinegar.

Vinegar is a cure for jellyfish.

Thank you, Jesus!

Now I can tell Iain he doesn’t need a special water bottle to help at transition or that the only place he can go to the toilet is my left arm. Instead, along with the gels, energy bards and high energy drinks, he just needs a bottle of Saxo vinegar – filled with pish.

Celtman 2017 (Andrew)


I’d entered the ballot for Norseman and Celtman but only wanted one to succeed. I want to do Norseman again, but not next year. It’s too soon. But, because it’s a ballot, and I won’t get to choose if I’m lucky enough to enter it again, I entered anyway, to build up my chances in future years. Luckily, I didn’t get in.

However, Celtman was the race I wanted to enter. I’d seen the very first race on BBC Scotland’s The Adventure Show and I’ve always wanted to do it. After Norseman I didn’t fancy another race abroad so Celtman was my first choice. I just had to hope I’d be lucky in the ballot.

I got the email mid-afternoon. I read it. It said “You are in the race!.” and I thought: “Why has it got a full stop after the exclamation mark?”. Then it said “Please read the whole of this message very carefully”. And I thought: “I have and, really, why has it got a full stop after the exclamation mark?”.

It’s strange the things you think of when dream come true. Neil Armstrong probably thought: “Have I switched the oven off?” when he landed on the moon.

It takes a second or two for the reality to hit. I was in.

Ironically, and just like last year when I heard about Norseman, I’m injured at the moment. A twinge. A dodgy right hip. A few weeks of rest to take care of it. This week I started running and cycling again. A run through some trails north of Aviemore and 10 miles on the turbo, which have now become the first run and the first ride towards Celtman 2017!

Triathlon’s biggest challenge(Andrew)

You can’t believe you’ve got to do this. It’s too much. You’ve been putting it off for ages but you know it’s time. You need to do this. Now.

But you hesitate. You don’t know if you can do this. Even the thought of it makes you wish you could just sit in your favourite chair with your feet up and the telly on. Instead you’ve got to prepare. There’s shoes, socks, cycling shorts, tops, both cycling and running, various towels, some used, some not, a wet suit, and gels. It’s too much. Why couldn’t you do something simpler instead? Something that didn’t involve more items than an Argos catalogue.

You’ve got no choice though. You’ve already signed up. You set this challenge and now you need to face it. The hardest point of all. Not the swim. Not the cycle. Not the run. Not the many, many hours battling the elements, your body, your mind. This is worse. This is the moment you always dread. The point when you just want to give up and never do another race again.

This is reaching into your bag once you get home and sorting out your kit for washing…

This is the real challenge of triathlon….

“Why is my wetsuit covered in reeds? We were in a swimming pool?!?!?”

“Ugh…. this sock is… solid???!?!?!?”

“Don’t open the bag of half eaten bananas! No!!!!! Aaargggh! The smell! We’re all going to die!!!!!!”

Is Yoga is all about me? (Iain)

What do yoga instructors have for breakfast ?


“Om” is a mystical, spiritual sound often heard in yoga classes. Another sound often heard in class is a fart, but this is neither mystical or spiritual. If they were then eating beans it would be a much more enlightening experience.

I try to go to yoga once a week. I often fail. Yoga is about your own personal journey. In my case it’s a journey with many stops, detours and wrong turns.

During the class I tend not to pay too much attention to the spiritual side of yoga because I’ve got enough on my mind trying to work out where my arms and legs should be.

But I did pay attention to one statement: the teacher mentioned that one of the aims of yoga is to have an absence of Ego.

That’s a great goal!

Just one minor point – if yoga is the absence of ego why is the yoga studio named after them and why is their name in massive letters above the door?

Long Course Weekend – Swim (Iain)

The last time I visited Wales was eight years ago. I went down with my girlfriend (of the time) and a couple of friends. Our plan was to climb Snowdon. My two friends decided to run it, so my girlfriend and I walked and we agreed to meet our friends at the top.

We started walking and we soon came to a break in the path. It wasn’t clear which way to go so we choose the right hand path. After a short distance there was a sign that said “Crib Goch route”. I hoped Grib Goch was Welsh for ‘easy route’.

We weren’t confident about our choice but as there was another couple ahead of us we thought “lets follow them as they look like they know what they are doing”. However, the route started to get steeper and steeper until we were on all fours climbing a vertical wall -and, when we got to the top, we realised we’d climbed the wrong mountain. It wasn’t Snowdon. It was its partner, which I found out afterwards is called Grib Goch. It turned out Grib Goch was Welsh for, well… Grib Goch.

The only way back was down the vertical path we’d just climbed or along a ridge so narrow you couldn’t stand up on it. Either side of the ridge was a huge vertical drop. A fall on either side would lead to death.

Luckily, we made it across. Mostly on all fours while holding on for dear life.


It was the first and last ridge walk I’ve ever done.

Once we made it to the top of Snowdon my friends asked how we got on. My girlfriend replied that we’d got lost and had ended up rimming – confusing the term for ridge with something a whole lot different.

My friends laughed and then asked –

“Did you enjoy rimming?”

She replied: “I loved it. I want to do more rimming when I get back to Scotland”

I didn’t have the heart to point out her error. It was too funny.

My mistake. I should have pointed it out. She went to work the next week and told her friends and clients that she’d spent the weekend in wales rimming with three guys.

I’ve always wanted to come back to Wales. A couple of years ago I watched a TV show about the Tenby Long Course weekend. At the same time I saw an episode of Grand Designs set in Tenby where a couple renovated the lifeboat house. The race was the perfect opportunity to revisit wales, do a fun event and check out a cool house. I just hoped it wouldn’t involve ridging or rimming.

The swim was amazing. It takes place in a sheltered beach cove surrounded by the town. It comprises two loops of a triangle with an Australian exit. When viewing the course from the town I thought the hardest leg would be the middle section and the easiest would be the last. I was wrong. The easiest was the middle and the hardest the last.

I also thought the sea looked flat calm. It wasn’t. There was enough of a swell to keep the swim exciting/interesting/terrifying.

My sighting was good and according to my GPS I swam the same-ish route on both laps.

I was confident of beating Andrew as I’d swam in the sea more often him and I assumed he’d probably be slightly cautious.

If you do race it then I’d advise:
– Try to start near the front as there’s a lot of people taking part
– The course is setup for the whole weekend so you can have a practice swim at any point.
– Practice sighting. The markers are quite far apart so use landmarks instead. I used the house from Grand Designs.
– Book somewhere to eat for afterwards as the town’s mobbed with hungry swimmers.

I’ll write in my next post about the bike and run…