Zero to 113 in six weeks (part one)!!

It’s 6am in the morning on Sunday 4th June 2017 – and I’m in a wetsuit, standing in the shallow waters of Keynes Park, what the hell am I doing!! The answer, in short, is my first ever triathlon – and I’ve picked the 1/2 ironman distance Cotswold 113 to dip my toe in the water!!

Let’s backtrack a bit, and try and answer that question – what the hell am I doing here!!

Well, for the last few years I’ve been trying to find something to give me the kick I need to get back on the bike and do some riding – the problem being (and this sounds very big headed!!) having done the Etape twice with no training, I needed to find something to scare me into doing some training for it, otherwise I just won’t bother!! That, and it was about time I found out what all this “triathlon” fuss was about!!

So in late 2016 I got my entry in for the Cotswold 113 – a locally based 1/2 ironman distance event run by Graeme Hardie of 113 Events in Swindon. His events are known for being really relaxed, and the perfect event for a total novice like me!! Albeit for people that have actually done some training!!

So, 1st January and it was time to start doing some training, and it started off OK – I got in the pool a few times and realised I couldn’t swim very well!! I couldn’t do 100m, let alone the 1900m I’d need to do come June 4th!! Thankfully local open water swim coach (and fellow 113 first-timer) Jason Tait from South West Swim was on hand to give me some (for that read A LOT!!) of pointers – and make sure I didn’t drown!! I event got in a few runs and the odd bike ride, so all was looking good.

Then, the Cotswold Spring Classic sportive started getting near – and when that happens everything goes out of the window and I focus on getting that event right for those taking part. It didn’t help that I picked up a knee injury from trying to start running with a 5k run – rather than building it up slowly!! So that meant swimming, cycling and running stopped – completely!! Any improvement I had made had been un-done very quickly!!

Before I know it, it’s mid-April (6 weeks out from the event) and I’ve not done anything for over five weeks – apart from the odd ride to work (10 miles each way!). I’m in trouble!!

Time to get in the lake and give this open water swimming a go – I’ve got a wetsuit (thank you Orca!) and I’m ready to use it!! What a disaster!! Down at Lake 32 there’s a 400m course marked out – it took an age to get round, most of it breast stroke rather than front crawl!! Not good!!

Over the next six weeks I got in a good number of swims, trying to build up the distance – and a few bike rides too. But no runs – there was no point buggering my knee up again, so I’d just leave the running till the day!! Afteral, I’ve been walking for 36 years – how hard can it be to jog / walk 13 miles!!!!!!!!!

Four weeks out from the event, and I thought it was time to get myself checked out to make sure I can make it through the event!! So I booked myself in with Sarah at Synergy Sports Massage for a once over – and the result, I’m in a mess!! Tight ham strings, buggered hip flexors and a bad back & shoulders. This is going to be interesting!!

Two weeks out I do my longest ride by far – a whole 54 miles, and the full bike course for the event!! Hardly big training!! It’s not going well, the swimming is still a massive struggle and although I’m doing more swimming than anything else, I’m still not able to go any real distance front crawl before having to stop for a break / switch to breast stroke!!!

10 days out – enter Jason Tait (South West Swim) who’s doing the event as well, and I get a swimming lesson in the lake from him. A bit of help with sighting, and a lot of help with pacing – even to the point we change my stroke / breathing rotation!! Nothing like leaving it a little late!! Jason is doing the 113 as well, and hasn’t done much cycling – although he’s done more running than me. Will be interesting to see if I can catch him on the bike, as he’ll be out of the water in about 1/2 the time I am!!!

Final week, and there’s not much point doing any more!! Might as well leave it till Sunday now. Haven’t practised transition yet – how hard can it be!! Let’s leave that till the day, I’ll just make sure everything I’ve got is in my bag and make sure I put it on before I get on the bike!!

Sunday 4th June 2017 – 4am, alarm goes off. No backing out now!! Get up without waking the kids (or dog!!), have some breakfast and head off to the race.

Next up, part two of zero to 113 in six weeks – race day (at least doing some swimming / cycling and running with a number on!!).

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