“If you can’t laugh at yourself then somebody else will“, words to live by and a good reminder that you shouldn’t always take things so seriously otherwise life will pass you by along with any sort of enjoyment you might have had.
With that in mind I thought I’d take a break from boring you with yet another run or swim, etc and instead I’d like to share some memories from previous events.
Dipping my toe in the water
My first taste of triathlon took place a few years ago when I decided to enter my local super sprint tri as a relay team in conjunction with my brother (who did the run) and a very good friend of mine (who did the bike) whilst I threw myself in the pool.
It was a fresh spring morning as I nervously lined up in the changing rooms waiting to be called forward for my start time along with several other people all at various levels of experience ranging from first timers like myself right up to Ironman veterans using this as a fitness test to benchmark themselves at the start of ‘the season’.
I set off in the pool and eventually made it to the end although this could be because I drank most of the water as I floundered my way through lap after lap. Climbing out at the end I took off outside and down to transition where I handed the relay bracelet over to my friend and off he went on the bike.
At the end of the event, having watched all the other participants challenge themselves, my mind started wandering and that afternoon when I got home I immediately entered the same event’s second super sprint tri which was due to take place that autumn. This gave me a few months to put some training in so that by the time the event came round I managed to drag myself round the whole course and though it may not have looked pretty or been fast, etc I’d caught the bug and wanted more of it.
Fast forward another year and a few events later, I’d managed to talk a few friends from work into entering a super sprint tri with me with bragging rights up for grabs.
We all met up one cold and misty Sunday morning at the leisure centre that was to be the start and end of one of the funniest events I’ve been involved in. We’d all put the same estimated swim times in so we all lined up at the pool ready to start at the same time. Rob and I had done several running and cycle events together previously and had both been open and honest about how terrible we were at swimming so we stood casually by our lanes and joked about various things whilst Gaz, our other friend and colleague, paced around the edge of his lane like a boxer ready for a title fight. Now even though Gaz had been a royal marine in his past it’s fair to say that his waist line had seen better days and he’d often been the butt of many a ‘chunky’ joke, all of which were taken in good spirits as that’s the type of friendship and camaraderie that we all had. What we weren’t aware of was that in his youth Gaz had been really rather good at swimming and so when the whistle went he was off like a torpedo whilst Rob and I splashed around. Gaz was out of the pool whilst we still had about 4 lengths left to do. This gave great pleasure to some of our shift who had managed to turn up and watch as he took off down the ramp and into transition well ahead of the two of us. Rob was out of the pool about 60 seconds ahead of me and it seems all three of us were pushing hard on the bikes.
The cycle route was an out and back route meaning that we passed each other at least once going opposite directions and this buoyed Gaz who was still in the lead as we all got through the bike section and on to the run the gaps between us had closed and it was all to play for.
The run took us out of the leisure centre car park, through the nearby town centre and out along a country lane towards a cone that was to be our half way point before heading back. As I approached the half way point (although I didn’t know it yet) I saw both Gaz and Rob running towards me on the other side of the lane, I was running faster than I normally do in an event but was desperate not to be last and somehow, between breaths, I managed to shout at them “how far to the cone!?” Gaz, ever the tactician and thinking literally on his feet shouted back “about 5 mins down that way” as he nodded over his shoulder. As my head dropped a little at this thought I plodded on and quickly realised, as the mist lifted, that what he’d said was utter bullshit as the cone appeared about 50m away! I rounded it and picked up the pace, determined to hunt that tool down as I headed back into the town centre. As I ran through the high street and out the other side I could see that Gaz was only a few hundred metres ahead of me as he approached the small bridge that would take us over the canal that ran alongside the leisure centre where the finish line was located. Rob was nowhere to be seen but this was to be expected as he was (and still is) easily the better runner amongst us.
As I approached the top of the canal bridge I’d closed the gap on Gaz to about 20 metres as he’d gone through the turnstile and dropped down the muddy footpath towards the towpath alongside the canal and the side of the leisure centre. I practically fell down that footpath as I chased him down and before I knew it we were on the final straight and heading for the finish line 50 metres away from us alongside the canal. Now I had two options, do I run on the dew covered grass and risk slipping or the loose gravel and risk having to slow down. I chose the grass and gave it my all as the commentator, who had previously lost the will to live as he congratulated the occasional participant that crossed the finishing line, lit up at the sight of a sprint finish between two guys that were clearly blowing out of their arses! He was jumping up and down in the commentary booth cheering us on but all I could hear were the voices of my shift in my head as, despite giving it my absolute all, I had nothing else to give and Gaz crossed the finishing line 2 seconds ahead of me! 2 sodding seconds! Rob had finished 90 seconds ahead of us but that was immaterial as the fat lad had beaten the gobshite! So excited was Gaz that whilst Rob and I enjoyed our full English breakfasts at the nearby truckers cafe to replace the lost calories, Gaz was too distracted as he rang friends and family to regale them with what had just taken place.
That was over 4 years ago but we still laugh about it now and it goes to show that you should never underestimate someone, either that or do your research on them before challenging them to an event!
Feel free to share your stories or just laugh at mine.