Halls menthol strength at Glasgow Euro AG Champs

So this is a race report about a sprint distance triathlon raced in Glasgow.

Ah ha you’ll be thinking that at last, this race report can’t possibly contain the words Ironman and non-wetsuit. Sorry but I’m going to try and fit them in somehow #laughingface.

It’s pretty much 6 years to the day that I was talked into participating in Brigg sprint.

“Go on” they said, “you’re fit enough, give it a go”.

So I did. In an Aldi tri suit that cost £14 and on Neil’s old hybrid bike, wearing my trainers and an MTB helmet. What can I say other than, that was me hooked.

It took another 2 years really for me to realise that there was such a thing as an age grouper. Who would have thought that you could represent your country. I thought that that sounded great, but still not thinking that I would ever be fast enough for that type of racing, I carried on taking part in local events. I was always in awe of the ladies within the club that were at that level though.

Fast forward another 2 years, I raced at Nottingham sprint. This was an age group qualifier, but I wasn’t there for that. I was just there to race as I quite liked the course. I finished on the podium in 2nd place in my age group which would have given me a GB spot if I’d had registered my intension to race for GB. I hadn’t registered, but now I knew it was possible.

That’s where it all starts and a plan of action was taken.

1 – get a coach. Steve Clark, hired.

2- up grade my bike. My beloved Lady Liv, purchased.

3- enter qualifying races. Done.

Glasgow European champs was the one I was really after. It meant that I could have family with me and that we could book tickets to see the swimming and cycling etc that was taking place over that week, perfect. I’d got myself some roll down places for champs in Rotterdam and tatu at olympic distance, but decided not to take these up. I had managed to get myself a Q3 place for Glasgow and that was that.

So to the beginning of this season started well. I was getting podium finishes. I raced at the regional open water champs and won there so qualified to race at the Nationals. All was going well. The problem was that I had this niggle in my left ankle which was not going away. I teach fitness classes all the time on niggles and they just come and go. Unfortunately this one wasn’t going to just go. This one decided to blow at Hatfield sprint, just 7 weeks before Glasgow.

All I could do was swim for 3 weeks. That’s ok, I said. Plenty of training for the national open water race. Are you ready, here’s the non wetsuit swim section. The A.S.A have different rules to BTF and their water temp for non wetsuit is 20 degrees. So knowing it was going to be non wetsuit, I trained non wetsuit (have I said it enough). Only to have that race cancelled due to 40mph winds on the day.

Fast forward to leaving for Glasgow. I did manage to get turbo and cycling training done once I was off the crutches. Only the running was a no go. In fact my first real run was while we were in Glasgow. It was very slow and felt very tough. But I was not not starting and finishing that race.

The lead up to the race, having race briefings, route reccies, signing in, making sure that your bike was in transition at the right time was all very complicated. I was assured by others that its not normally as complicated, it was because we were having to work around lots of other events etc. I found all of this quite stressful but it was very well organised and everything went to plan.

The opening ceremony is a little surreal. Wearing your GB outfit and walking behind the union jack flag is something that you don’t think is going to happen to you in your 40’s.

After what was an amazing week watching some fabulous sport, it was my turn. I’d pal’d up with a couple of other first timers so we arranged to meet in transiton and stick together as we were racing at the same time. The day before, I had watched the elite men race. At the start of their swim, some loud heart beat drums had sounded over the speakers just before they dived in. “god I hope they don’t do that for us” I said to Neil “its enough to make your heart stop with fright”. Well they DID do that for us. Sending the fear of god through your body before the horn goes for the start and then your off. For me the swim went to plan. There was the usual tussle for position, but nothing to aggressive. Out of the water in about 10th which is where I expected to be. Now the run from the swim to transition was long, and my foot and ankle were not really happy about running bare foot, but tough, it had to be done. Jumped on my bike. The bike course is pretty undulating and for us was a 3 lapper. This was when I knew that I wasn’t race fit at all. Lap 1 was a killer, plus I had women coming past me that I know wouldn’t normally overtake me. Never mind, I said, just crack on, all you can do is your best. It just happens that my best that day was going to be my slowest ever sprint race in 6 years. Pleased that the bike had finished I put my trainers on and ran past the spectators in the stands, saw Neil, Beth, Louise and my mum and dad. I knew I couldn’t race the run, so I looked up, gave them a big wave and a thumbs up. Neil pretty much knows that that’s code for me saying “I’m done”. At this point the only thing I could do was just keep plodding, the finishers medal was so lovely, I wanted mine, and I’d trained and raced hard to get here. Thanking all the marshals as I ran the slowest 5k in the history of man, I decided to soak up the atmosphere and just enjoy. Us age groupers had a huge crowd cheering us on. Little children and adults shouting out “well done Hall” “keep going GB”, makes you feel great. I think my smile was huge, and they all got big thumbs up from me. I crossed the finish with my arm’s held up in the air.

So a week later, what are my thoughts. Well there bitter sweet. I’m totally gutted that I couldn’t race the race I’d trained for and I will probably feel that way for some time.

Was it an amazing experience? Absolutely. I enjoyed representing my country and wore my GB outfit with pride.

Would I go for GB qualification again? Yes. But not for a couple of years.

Whats next? Well for me it’s time to scratch that Ironman itch (told you that I’d get it in). Ironman Bolton 2019 is booked. Plus a little something called Slateman savage, and guess who’s to thank for talking me into that one. Yes you’ve guessed it – MR DAVE GIBBS.