Strathclyde Triathalon – 18th May 2014

Strathclyde Triathalon is a standard distance race (1.5km swim, 38km bike, 10km run) which takes place in Strathclyde Country Park. The Park is home to an amusement park. It would be cool if you could do a race in the amusement park. 1.5km of dodgems, 38km of rollercoaster riding followed by a 10km haunted house run.


This was my third race in three weeks. Due to a throat infection I hadn’t done any training during the week. This was the third infection in a month so I’ve done very little running in that time. I find if I don’t run regularly my running fitness disappears very quickly!

We were in the 2nd group racing today which didn’t start until 0920 but the race notes said transition would close at 07.35 so annoyingly we had to get there early. It was even more annoying that once we got there they said transition would reopen again later to allow the 2nd group to put their bikes in. In the few triathlon’s I’ve done I’ve allot of time is spent just hanging around waiting.

Swim (34min 27s)

I haven’t been in openwater since October so I was slightly nervous as I expected the water to be cold. Luckily it had been warm recently and the water temperature was 15C. I thought I’d try out some new socks, gloves and cap anyway as I’d brought them with me and seemed a shame not to give them a go.

We got into the water and had to head over to the start line. There wasn’t much time for a warm up and I felt I would have benefited from some extra time as it takes me a little while to adjust to the cold as my chest tends to constrict and I struggle to breathe properly.

The first lap was awful. Normally my chest clears quite quickly but today it was three quarters of the way round before I felt good. At the end of the lap I had to leave the water and then jump back in the pool. Luckily I’d done this before at Henley so knew to get the legs moving quickly before I get pulled out otherwise its a struggle to walk.

I didn’t dive in as I’m about as graceful as a fat ballerina.  The man next to me did and had a huge belly flop. It sounded so painful that  one of the volunteers and myself visibly winced.

The second lap was fine other than swimming towards the wrong bouy. My sighting is usally ok-ish but in this case I just screwed up and thought it was the right one.

Bike (1hr 24min 42s)

I felt good on the bike and was pleased when I spotted my brother and discovered I was about 3/4 of the course ahead of him. The sun was out and it was quite warm  which made for a pleasant ride.

There was alot of very expensive tri bikes on the course and I quite like hearing the loud noise they make as they overtake even if I am secretly envious that my bike can;t go that fast!

Unluckily on lap 6 I got a puncture and lost all of my advantage over my brother!

Whilst fixing it another man stopped and asked if I’d fix his too. I took one look at his tyre and spotted it had a massive 3 inch hole in it. I advised that he was better off walking back as it was beyone my skill level to repair.

Run (53min 34s)

I managed to set off on the run just before my brother. My stomach was cramping quite badly so I took the first 5km very easily. On the second 5km I didn’t feel any better so I ran and walked it by counting in my head. A 100 count of running then 30 of walking.

After Race

We received a voucher for a free sandwich. The only one left was called “Just Ham” they weren’t kidding. It was just bread with ham. I congratulate anyone who managed to eat one as it was boggin!


I enjoyed the race but I think the combination of being ill and racing over the last few weeks had caught up with me. I had set out with the goal of doing it in less than 3hrs and beating my brother so I was happy to have achieved both but I also learnt allot so there’s plenty of room for improvement.

Now I’m looking forward to a weekend off racing!


Caledonian Etape – 11 May 2014

In 2001  Harry Potter author J K Rowling purchased a Perthshire country estate called Killiechassie house.  It’s a beautiful house in a glorious country setting.

There’s only one issue with the house. Every year cyclists doing the Caledonian etape pass by her front gate.

Why is this an issue? Her house has one feature that’s very appealing to cyclists. The front driveway is slightly inset making it a great place to jump off a bike and take a toilet stop in relative privacy. I wonder how many people realise who’s gate they are taking a wizz on.


The Caledonian etape is 81 miles on a relatively flat course in Perthshire. It starts and finishes in Pitlochry. I’ve done it a few times before but this year I hadn’t done much training for it. My longest training ride was only 35 miles. I hoped that by doing more running this year it would compensate for less biking.

I did it with my brother, who normally beats me, I wasn’t expecting this year to be any different. We stayed in Blairgowrie. The B+B was nice and it was convenient to the start line being only 25 min from Pitlochry.

We went out for a curry in the evening. The service was so bad they forgot to bring us poppadoms. Luckily the main course was tasty but we did have to wait 90 poppadom-less minutes for it!


The alarm went off at 0515 and we were out of the B+B by 0545. The only other people staying there were also doing the race so the owner had offered to get up and cook us breakfast. I said it was OK as I only want cereal but she insisted I have  a full Scottish fry up! She seemed disappointed when I insisted that I only wanted the  cereal.

Instead of parking in the official car park we parked up on a verge on the way into Pitlochry. It saves time queuing to get in to the car park.

The start is on Pitlochry high street. It’s not well organised so every year its a battle trying to get through the crowds to the start line. It would make more sense to get people to congregate in the bus park off the high street and just call groups up as and when they are needed.

The weather forecast had been bad but luckily it was a dry start and there was virtually no wind.

The race was straightforward. Its mostly on B type roads but the surface is good so you can go at a steady 20 mph-ish. I missed out the first couple of water stops as I felt fine and didn’t need anything.

The only notable incident on the way round was when a man in front of me slipped a gear on a hill climb and came off. His bike hit my front wheel but I got my foot off the pedal in time so was able to stay upright. Unfortunately,  I heard a heavy thump behind me where a women was not so lucky and had fallen onto her shoulder.

My brother beat me at the sprint, king of the mountain and the end! These were the only times I saw him as he spent the race drafting behind me! I hope the victory was worth him staring at my arse for four and a half hours.

Post Race

After the race you get a medal and a bottle of water. I’d like to see them offer some food. I know its for charity but surely the budget could stretch to at least offering  a chocolate biscuit.

Both of our times were better than last year which means the only lesson I can take from the race is that if I want to get better at cycling I should do running!

















The last time I did a sprint Triathalon was the 2009 Edinburgh New Years Day triathlon.

  • It was the first time I had swam since school so I only knew how to do a slow breast stroke.
  • I stopped after the swim to use the hair-dryer! I blame my mum as she said never go outside with wet hair or I’ll catch a cold.
  • I did the bike section on a mountain bike which broke on lap 2.
  • I was very hungover after drinking until 4am the night before so the run was queasy.

I eventually finished 3rd last.

So 5 years later I was determined to improve to at least 4th last!


I picked up my brother who was racing too which is great as I have someone to compare my performance against. The disadvantage is that I have a bigger car so I always have to pick him up even though it adds 45 min to my journey!

We were late setting off so by the time we arrived the official car park was full. I parked on a side street but forgot to note which one. This would cause a problem later…


I had my swim video’d and analysed (by the Glasgow triathlon club) a few weeks previous to the race. It was excellent as they pointed out where I was going wrong but due to being ill I’d only swam a couple of times since then.  I thought their advice had made things better so I was looking forward to seeing how I got on.

I started in the same lane as my brother and he was going ahead of me. Normally he is slightly quicker than me but in this race I caught up and passed him on lap 3. I caught up with the first swimmer 3/4 of the way through and passed him too. I finished the swim in 13:30min-ish. I think the coaching with the club had really helped!

I’d bough a pair of tri shorts before the race and was pleased at just how good they felt when swimming. I should have bought a top too as running topless out of the pool was chilly but at least it wasn’t too far to transition. In transition I took my time as I’d

a) packed everything away to keep it out of the rain

b) I’d accidentally put my safety pins through the front and back of my cycle top preventing me from getting into the top! DOH!

Now I see why people use tri belts.


The bike was 4 laps of a straightforward circuit. Strangely the first half of the loop felt uphill but I found it easier than the 2nd half which felt downhill. It must have been the wind. I kept passing my brother at the same point on the course which was good as it meant he wasn’t catching up with me!

There was quite a variety of bikes on the course from mountain bikes to hybrids to full on time trial specific machines. It made me think that triathlons shouldn’t be just about age group results but about how much you spent on your bike. i thought that until  I saw one man on a hybrid race past a man on his time trial bike. Maybe I should just train harder!


The run is the first time I’ve ever seen a spray can used as course guide. After running 2km ish I had to run round it to start back towards the centre. I remember thinking why didn’t he just just spray the ground instead of putting the can there?

The last km was through a muddy path. Annoyingly, I was wearing new trainers so I  abandoned running quickly and instead ran cleanly. Its amazing how clean you try to keep your shoes for the first month you have them!


There was a short wait to see my brother finish. He was positive that he had been catching me up on the bike and run. Thankfully the result computer at the finish line (a great feature) proved him wrong but we were both happy with our times. Thankfully I was better than 4th last.

As I’d forgotten where the car was parked I spent 20 min spinning round on my bike exploring the back streets of bishopbriggs trying to find it!