Something I’m sure anyone who does a triathlon gets asked on numerous occasions, closely followed by the “Why?”
For me, it all started from a drunken bet at Christmas 2009. I got an email from an old mate who just said “Here’s the link, if you dare”. It was entry to the Wilmslow Half Marathon, so having some pretty decent wine sloshing about in me, I put my name down. I was going to the gym then, but not really seriously so this would be quite a step up for me.
To be fair, I did a reasonable amount of training for it, and when race day came round, I was confident that I would at least finish it, which was my main, initial aim. I did it but had to have two or three walking breaks around the course. I finished in about 2 hours 25 minutes so nothing special, but I got a real buzz out of doing it. I’d never done anything like that before, and really enjoyed the experience in some sort of perverse way. Twelve months later, I was back, determined to beat my previous time. As I remember, I probably didn’t do as much training for this as I’d finished the year before so that was one thing that was out of my mind, not finishing. I plodded round the course, probably only had a couple of walking breaks but didn’t beat the previous years time, which didn’t impress me at all.
In the October of that year, we went away on holiday, and when I saw the pictures of me by the pool, something clicked inside me and I just thought I had to get my arse into gear and do something about my weight. At that point, I was nearly 16 1/2 stone. My wife mentioned she had talked to a lady at one of these lunch things that she went to about a diet that was very strict but it gave results. After some prompting, I discovered it was called Lighter Life and there was quite a local rep. A couple of days later, I’m having my “consultation” with the local rep. Yes its very strict, but if you have the will power, then it gives results. I wont harp on about the rights and wrongs of how they do it, all I will say in the 6 months or so I did it, I lost 4 1/2 stone, and that weight has stayed off. I’ve tried other diets but this is the one that worked for me.
In the middle of this, Wilmslow Half appeared. At this point, I’d lost about 3 stone, so by not carrying that round, I beat the 2010 and 2011 times by 15 minutes to do it in 2 hours 10 minutes. The thing that impressed me most was I did it without taking a walking break. The next target had to be beating 2 hours so I entered the Tatton Half in November. Like an awful lot of races, this was billed as “the flattest half in the country”, pity they forgot to mention the last couple of miles was up Tatton Mile, or all the railway bridges we went over. Anyway, managed to run it all but just missed the 2 hours by 2 minutes. That gave me confidence moving forward as I’m not the fastest by any means.
While all the running was going on, I was at the gym 3 times a week with a trainer. This helped the weight loss obviously but also started me thinking about if I could do anything other than running. One of the other trainers had done some Iron Man triathlons, so we got chatting and he suggested that I give a sprint tri a go. Swimming has never been a problem, running I can get away with so it was just the bike, how hard can it be? There’s that phrase, “You never forget how to ride a bike”. That may well be true, but what the hell have they done to the gears in the past 30 years since I rode a bike!! And you clip your feet in now? Sod that, I’m going to wobble about looking like a mobile accident, which pretty much I did. Having said that, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and that brings me round to actually answering the questions, “You’re doing what?” and “Why?”
The first question is easy, I’m doing a triathlon. The only difference in the answer is the distance, be it a sprint or Iron distance. To be honest, if its a sprint, people tend to understand it and don’t query it, I’ve had more “Why”‘s since I decided on doing IMUK than I’ve ever had.
For me, I’m doing it to see just how far I can actually push myself, not just physically but mentally. I know my body will be able to take it, its just whether my brain lets it. I’m sure it will be nice to have the kudos of telling people you’ve done an Iron Man, assuming I finish but I just want to prove that I can do it to myself. And most of all, I just want to experience the emotion of running down that final few hundred yards and as I cross the line I hear “Malcolm, you are an Iron Man.”