On 12th July 2016 I completed the Staffordshire Ironman 70.3 in 6hrs 34mins. Why am I delighted by this? Well go back nearly 3 years. An overweight (18.8st) 45 year old Sales Manager with high blood pressure and above normal Cholesterol decided that sitting on his rear all day was not good for him, what to do?
Never ran, only swam to the pool bar on holiday, a friend was selling her road bike, that seemed like an idea. Started going out 2-3 times a week and found I actually liked it, and then came the crunch point where my family threatened to disown me, spending a fortune on a new bike? No, far worse than that I bought some Lycra!!
A colleague at work then convinced me to try a TT from the King Billy pub run by some group called Lincsquad. Turned up, signed on, did it and thought that is a bit of a rush! So who are these blue, white and black clad super men and women? Having a pint in the pub afterwards which is apparently compulsory, a lady who I later find out makes a mean egg, bacon and sausage butty, Claire Dolby told me about this group known as Lincsquad and what they get up to. During the chat she said you should have a go at a Triathlon, a what?! Apparently it’s a Swim-bike-run. It’s the end of the year so the only event left to enter is the Drax Tri. Never worried about making a fool of myself so why not. Better start “training”! Trips to Brigg leisure centre and Saturday morning Parkruns began, at this point I couldn’t do front crawl or run 5k without walking!! Training continued and the morning arrived, rolled up at Goole leisure centre at stupid o’clock on a Sunday morning, what am I doing! So I start in the second wave and do 16 lengths breaststroke, biked and walk/ran to finish in 1hr 18mins, not fast but I was now officially a Triathlete!! And hooked!
To avoid boring you with all the details from then until 12th June I did several Sprint Tri’s, Sportives, 10k’s and 50+ parkruns, got destroyed by Steve Clarks circuits (mind you Donnas are worse!) and foolishly entered the Staffordshire 70.3 Ironman with 2 work colleagues, Ashley Evans and Matt Austin. I know this club have athletes who do full ironman and longer, big swims and other ridiculess events but for me this seemed almost beyond reach, but could I do it?
Race weekend came around, car packed; set off to Shugborough Hall, Staffordshire, the event centre. Racking a bit complicated as transition 1 and 2 are 12 miles apart. Many exotic bikes and superhuman looking people with Ironman tattoos everywhere gave me a few doubts, bumping into Gary Horner was good, quick chat and felt better. I’m here now so game on! Race day alarm goes off at 3; 30am! Breakfast of toast jam and coffee taken, arrive at Chasewater, and meet up with Ash and Matt who are in waves before me so I get to see them start. See Gary again, how can he seems so relaxed? Nerves are really kicking in, maybe I should of done an Olympic distance before this, jumping from a sprint to this seems too far, too late now. I could do with going to the loo again but the queues are massive. Weather cloudy, chance of a shower later, yea right!
Lakes calm and my wave is called forward and it’s a rolling start into the water, I hang to the outside to give me some clear water and chance to calm down, apart from a couple of collisions the swim was great bang on target of 40mins, I should say my overall target is to finish, secretly sub 7hrs is what I want. Quite a long run to T1 but spot my wife Jane and a quick smile to let her know I’m ok (she worries, thinks I’m mad doing this). Now this is where I’ll get some stick from you “pros” but if I’m to finish this I need to feel comfortable so a full change into bike gear took 9mins in T1. Turns out for me it was the right choice as the rain came for almost the entire time out on the bike, saw lots of early punctures and 3 guys being attended to by paramedics, hope there all ok, several sharp bends catching them out. Enjoyed the bike course not flat with a few short climbs and one longer on to Cannock Chase followed by a long decent into T2. My target was 3 ½ hrs. for the bike, actual was 3.19, just the run to come only done 13.1 miles once so this is the bit I’m most worried about. Another 9min change in T2 and out on to the 3 laps of Shugborough Estate, it said it was a mixture of road, gravel and grass, it turned out to be road and mud! Lap 1 felt good the crowd was fantastic along the route really encouraging, the rain had stopped at this time. Lap 2 and a knew I was slowing, past the finish for the second time and I could hear and see others heading down the “magic carpet” one more lap and that would be me. Lap 3 and I walked through the aid stations and halfway up the hill but I knew at this point with 2 miles to go I was going to finish. 3rd lap band collected and the last turn into the main grounds, 500m to go then I’m turning onto the finish chute, onto the carpet, Jane at the side shouting me on, my name over the tanoy, what a feeling to cross that line I’d done it. Something that for me 3 years ago sounded impossible, then for some reason I welled up, relief maybe but I had tears in my eyes. A hug from Jane put that right and my long distance tri career is over, I’ve achieved what I set out to do but that’s it. Back to short distance from now on, hats off to those who go longer and repeat but not for me.
The purpose of this report is to tell my story but also to thank those within Lincsquad, from the coaches who helped turn me from the stereotypical couch potato to a half ironman and every one of you who has at some point offered words of encouragement during training or events, you would be surprised at how much the shout of “well done” or “keep it going” helps and makes it that bit easier and is very much appreciated. No matter what your level or ability this club is beyond doubt the best!!! Lastly I have to thank my wife Jane who has put up with me disappearing to train and compete for the last 2 years.
P.S. I’m now 47 but 3.8st lighter, normal Cholesterol, blood pressure is under control and feel a hell of a lot fitter and healthier.