I was entering a mid-life crisis and had just embraced the full on MAMIL look and was on the look out for a challenge. A triathlon seemed a stretch with my swimming technique and distance (2 lengths of a pool before stopping for a breath) but we all need to start somewhere. Norwich Tri 2020 was the target to tie in with my 50th year, but COVID soon changed that plan, so 2021 it was to be. This is also tied in with my sons first adult event, and after some on and off training we booked in for both the 2021 Windsor and Norwich triathlons. My swimming had been improving, as it couldn’t really get any worse, but it was slowly getting there with a few embarrassing moments.
First one was at Whitlingham lake when I gulped a load of water and couldn’t stop coughing so I ended up being taken back to the decking in a boat only to be met by my sons form tutor Mrs Swanepoel. I was surprised at the lack of ridiculing I received from Di at the time so I must have looked a mess. Second one was at my first mass swim start at Windsor, I was making my way to the edge and towards the back when they started the race. I tried to keep going with everyone, but my heart rate shot up, so I just floated on my back and when the kayak came over to ask if all was well, I just replied “I’m OK just gathering my thoughts” this worked as after calming down I carried on and all went well. The rest of 2021 went OK so I signed up for Vichy Ironman 2022 and thought my goal of completing one of them would be done. Vichy cancelled the swim the day before, just after I had registered, so no other option but to do the bike and run and look at the mill pond of a river which we couldn’t swim in due to the storm a few nights before. I was gutted, all the training and expense for a long bike and run but the atmosphere and the things I learnt during the event was great. In 2023 my son had qualified for an event in Belgium so the plan was to tie up the dates into one trip so I could have another chance at an Ironman. Options were Kalmar or Copenhagen, and I picked Kalmar as it looked better for support around the course.
August 2023 and at last we are off to Kalmar and very happy that I managed to get the bike in a roof box. Harwich to Hook ferry then a 2-day drive staying at Oland on the other side of the Kalmar bridge which was ideal as a good section of the bike course is on Oland. Registration and check in all very smooth with a great town and the sea was looking lovely and calm as we drove across the bridge. The morning of the event was misty, cool and a bit of a breeze so after a quick check of the bike it was a 10min walk to the swim start where the nerves kicked in. I positioned myself under the 1hr 20-time flag and a few others looked more nervous than me which always seems to help. Rolling swim start where you could dive or jump in, so I jumped as there was no way a dive was going to go well with so many people around you. As soon as we got out of the harbour the sea changed and it was rougher than what I’d been swimming in practice; getting used to people around you for the whole swim was also new. I got out without much movement in position, but it took 1hr 37 and I think the swim influenced the finishing numbers, I was just happy to be out. Transition went OK and onto the bike. I had enough kit with me to fix most things as my goal was to complete it, so I had 2 puncture repair cans, chain links, tape, straps, allen keys, mole grips, pliers and other bits and bobs. After Vichy I thought I would grab what I could at the feed stations on route without stopping as they always have plenty of food and drink. Bike was a bit breezy in some parts but generally OK. Got off the bike at medium speed as you never know what’s going to happen when your feet touch the ground again, but I was shown up by the person behind me who launched off the bike into a sprint over the line lifting the front of his bike up with the wheels still spinning. Everyone looked at each other in shock before cheering but that was a waste of time as he was already gone and probably out on the run. For me a steady shuffle through transition with a full change planned before the run, but everyone seemed to be staying in their tri suits so not wanting to look unprofessional, I did the same. After a bit of Vaseline in a few chosen spots and a toilet break I was off. Run was flat and a long way. Very happy to finally finish a full Ironman and the reviews where right about the support in and around Kalmar as the locals use the event as an excuse to move their speakers outside and have a party in the front gardens or on the street and when you hit the town section the atmosphere and noise is just brilliant. 13hrs 19min.