The summer of 2017. I woke up early to make sure that I could log on to the Challenge Roth registration page. Nathan and I had our fingers on the mouse ready and as soon as the booking system was open we were signed up for race day on July 1st 2018. Just as well, as it had sold out within 2 minutes!!
Nathan had convinced me that I could do a long course Triathlon and that this was the one to do. Normally the weather is good and the course is known to be one of the quickest in the world due to the limited elevation. But when I say he convinced me, I mean he said “do you want to do it?”. And with me being the type of person who says yes first and think about things later I naturally said “OK!”.
I had already signed up for my first marathon, the Inaugural Birmingham Marathon, and with my cycling going from strength to strength, I thought that it would be a simple process. I had nearly 12 months to learn and train, so how hard can this be…..
And this is pretty much where the optimism ended. And since then the stress levels are through the roof. Every week, nay, every day I have doubts about whether I can do this.
My Cycling, as we have covered in previous posts, has improved considerably. I have no doubt I can cycle 112 miles, as I have done this distance many a time and over all types of conditions. But this is the only dead cert I have. And make no mistake I am not doing this to try to podium in my ages category. My aim is pretty simple, and that is to finish. So why the stress??
Well, my first marathon never happened. I had to pull out of the Birmingham marathon due to injury. A hip injury that would cripple me about 8 miles into a run. This was back in October 2016, so not a big problem as I still have time. So I entered the Brighton Marathon which is on April 13th, and also the MK Festival of Run 20 miler which is March 10th. And I am happy to say that the training was going well. That was until 3 weeks ago when I got an inflamed disc in my lower back. This was a few days after a decent 15 mile training run. Since then i have only managed about 3 runs, with the furthest being 7 miles.
This goal is definitely moving further and further away from me.
And then there is the swimming. Ah, the swimming. Where do I begin with this element of the triathlon? Quick history. I learnt to swim late in my youth, when I was about 6. Then in high school my Mums hand writing resembled mine when she use to write a sick note to excuse me from swimming for the lesson. I hated it.
As you can guess this means that my swimming was head above the water with a bad breast stroke action.
So I had the lesson to teach me to swim. This lesson was back to basics and just teaching me how to breathe and what I had to do with the stroke. The fins were donned. The pull buoy was wedged. And the drills were started.
My problem was that I was only doing this 2 days a week, and in hindsight I should have been swimming more and more back then.
We are now in March. I have no open water experience. I am still swimming with the buoyancy shorts and my swimming sessions get up to about 1600m total. And this is mixed with pull buoy lengths and normal lengths. These legs will just not get horizontal and it makes my stroke fall apart without the buoy. The sessions per week have increased to 3-4 times, which is helping, but I know I have a long way to go and very little time to achieve the impossible.
I am told that when swimming in a wetsuit my legs will float much better. But I am also aware that come race day if the water temperature is higher than 24.5degrees celsius then wetsuits are denied…….. NNNNNOOOOOOO!
For those that are not familiar with the long course distances – I have to swim 3.8km (with a cut of time of 2 hr 15 mins), 180km cycle, then finishing with a 42.2km marathon run!!
I have one training race at Blenheim Triathlon, June 3rd 2018, which is a sprint triathlon. This will be a good tester to see how the training has been, especially how my swimming has come on. Sink or swim I guess….
The training is relentless, and it is only going to get harder. I need to be putting in 14-20 hours a week training on top of working, and having a life away from all of this.
So I have to ask myself, why? I am pretty sure come July 2nd I will know why. And I WILL be able to call myself a Long Course Triathlete. Despite the stress and the doubt, I have to believe. I will be there on the start line come race day and I will finish it. And who knows, I may even podium 🙂