World Long Distance Tri Champs
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Before I talk about my challenge, I thought you’d like to know a bit of the back story.
In 2008, having just turned 39, I realised with 40 fast approaching it was time to do something about my growing waistline and lack of exercise. Little did I know back then ho much this would transform everything about my life. My goal at the time was just to run. I remember using a 5k porgram from BUPA’s website that started with a 5 min run then a 1 min walk and gradually increased the run and reduce the walk. I still have the same feeling of euphoria when I recall the first full mile I ran back then as any achievement since.
Within a year, I found myself lining up for the London Marathon which I completed in a little over 3 & Half hours and in the top 10 of finishers. I was hooked, but knowing one or two triathletes, I thought I would give that a try and by September had completed my first Olympic Tri, again in a respectable time of 2:45.
At the time, I was a CEO of a large leisure business. So profound was the effect on me of my own journey, in 2013 I took the decision to give up the day job and be a full-time wellbeing coach, helping other business leaders discover the journey I had been on.
In 2014 the business was started, the same year I took on my first Ironman (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, then a full marathon), I took on Nice France, I chose that mostly because I’m a terrible climber and it was full of really big climbs. I like to challenge my body like that, make it get out of its comfort zone. I finished in 12:51, and ahead of my two training buddies!
Last year (2015), I set 3 major goals;
1 – To cycle to Paris from London in under 24 hours including the ferry, then complete the Paris Marathon the next day in April
2 – To qualify for Team GB at Ironman in the ETU, European Long Distance Champs in Weymouth, by competing in a local Middle (the fab Monster Mojo at Peterborough)
3 – Compete in Ironman UK – a race that produces very similar times to Nice, but this time in under 12 hours.
Then disaster struck, just 4 weeks before Paris, in the best form of my life a the end of a 100-mile ride, I was struck by a car and found myself in A&E having X-rays and CT scans on my neck with suspicion of a break. Thankfully, it was just a lot fo soft tissue damage and a lot of concussion. The next 3 weeks were hell, dizziness, confusion, headaches, neck and back pain, and of course, no work on my start up business. Having said that, I recall thinking on the CT scan bed, I know this isn’t broken and I will go to Paris. On the Tuesday of the 4th week, I managed to convince my doctor I was fit enough and he signed me off for the trip. Luckily, the other guys I was going with were very sympathetic and were happy for the substandard me to tag along. Well we didn’t quite make 24 hours, some of that was down to my fitness, some down to mechanicals and some due to navigation. We made it in a little over 25 hours, getting into our hotel at about 7:30pm Saturday night. A bath and bit of food then bed ready for the marathon. Only 2 of us were doing both, me the old guy suffering from fatigue like you wouldn’t believe and Sion, the 20 something super fit guy! The next day Sion and I got up early to take on the marathon. I lost Sion at the start, and set out on my own. The first 2 miles felt pretty good, then boom! I hit the wall, yes you read right, I hit the wall after 2 miles! The DOMS from the trip and lack of prep hit me. I remember thinking just put one foot in front of the other, and that’s what I did for another 24.2 miles. I finished in a respectable 4h 50mins. Sion pulled up with an injury at 8 miles. Having nearly died 4 weeks before, I was the only one to make the whole thing.
A few weeks later I find myself in Peterborough fir the Monster Mojo middle. My thigh blew up on the bike from the Paris trip, but I ground out 5th place in my age group and more importantly I was only 10% greater than my age group winner, meaning my time was good enough for British Triathlon to consider.
Another couple of months and it was time for Ironman UK. The whole family made the trip, which was lovely. The weather decided to make things difficult. Gales and vertical rain in parts. And again that leg was trouble. One of those winds that seem to follow you. I didn’t make 12 hours, around 13 again, but I was 20% higher places than last time, and this time beat all 3 of my training buddies!
We arrived home on the Monday after that race to an email from British Triathlon. I had qualified for the European Long Distance Champs in just 8 weeks time. What an honour! With a bit of corporate support I could find the trip (remember I’d given up corporate life to build a startup). The trip was amazing! The swim was different- the weather got progressively worse, so big waves and some rather large jelly fish! Then that leg decided to give me even more trouble than before, after 30 miles on the bike, my thigh was hurting so much I wanted to cry, but what were my choices? Stop? Go slower? Or grit my teeth and get it done. I obviously took the latter. Another 82 miles of pain in the bike then the same on the marathon, but I did it. And in the end a time of 12:21 so nearly broke that 12 hour barrier, albeit on an easier course.
After that race I took 4 month off to allow some recovery. I just had to coach myself to get out on the road on the bike, I found myself liking for any excuse to ride indoors, I suspect it was a delayed reaction to the crash. I had just carried on all year.
I’m now (April 16) nearly back to full fitness and in a month take on the European Long Distance Duathlon on Copenhagen, again with a little help from some customers and business partners.
Then a few weeks ago I found out I had qualified for the big one the ITU World Long Distance Triathlon Champs in Oklahoma in September 2016. As I said earlier, With my business very much in the early stages, self-funding is not an option, so without support, I will not make the trip.
My long-term goal is to compete at Kona (The Ironman World Champs) when I am 50 in 3 years. To do so, I need more international race experience, and to get quite a lot quicker (probably under 10 hours).
If you have been inspired by my story and can help in any way, I would be eternally grateful .
Thanks for taking time to read this.