Norseman Triathlon

The gym manager of the Western Isles Leisure Centre once said to Andrew and I: “If you two were clever you’d only have one gym membership”. Little did he know, that’s what we were already doing!

The membership was a photo ID so, as we’re identical twins, we’d pass the card to whichever one of us wanted to use it.

Similarly, we can both use each other’s bikes.  Between us we have a mountain bike, a time trial bike, an aero bike, a cyclocross bike, a road bike with a 28 cassette and a road bike with a 32 cassette.

For this race Andrew decided to use my 32 cassette bike as it copes best with hills. This decision had one issue. Andrew has the bike bag so he would have to get it from his loft to my house.

He called to say he had the bag and could he drop it off the next day. He then added – “There’s just one problem. I’ve injured myself lifting it down from the loft!”

Idiot!

The adventure was nearly over before it began!

Although it did make me think this may be karma coming back. Revenge for the gym membership.

The physio worked wonders and Andrew was patched back together before the flight. He was as good as new…although he is 38 so the phrase should be – as good as new-ish. The physio isn’t a miracle worker.

We flew from Edinburgh to Oslo. It’s a short flight but, due to the time difference, we land after midnight.

Once we land it takes an hour to retrieve the bags. We head outside to collect a taxi. The driver takes one look at the bike bag and says it won’t fit in his car and even if it did there wouldn’t be room for the two of us.

I put the bike in the boot and sit in the back. He’s wrong. He mumbles something and then probably bumped the fare up to twice the standard rate!

Welcome to Norway!

The hotel has a waffle machine. A hot burning girdle lying open on a table. If British health and safety was here they’d go mad. Thankfully they are not here so I throw caution to the wind and made a waffle. Delicious.

We take the opportunity to cut bread and steal the cheese and ham. We’ll have them for lunch.

According to our car rental instructions the Hotel is across the road from the car rental location. We head over. It isn’t the car rental location. Even though that’s what’s written on our booking. They tell us we have to go back to the airport. Oh well, we have plenty of time it’s only 300km to eidfjord. That won’t take long. We can afford the delay.

An hour later then intended we’re on our way. The car is big and brand new. The man at the rental desk tried to sell us a GPS. We said no. When we get to the car it has one built in. I’m glad we didn’t pay extra for it!

We enter the destination as Eidfjord. The GPS thinks for a minute and then tells us it’ll take five hours. Nonsense! We’ll be there way before then. I was right. It was wrong. It took longer.

Driving in Norway is slow. Cars barely ever go above 50 kmph and even rarer do they overtake.

This may partly be due to their being barely a straight road between Oslo and Eidfjord. It may also be due to speed limits that I have unintentionally broken throughout the Journey.

I wish I could tell you the scenery was stunning but it required full concentration to make sure I didn’t miss the next turn in the road.

Andrew on the other hand raved about the view.

I feel like Morgan freeman in Driving Miss Daisy. If Miss Daisy was a lazy triathlete who claimed he needed the rest in the car to better prepare for his race!

Eidfjord is a beautiful but tiny town. It’s surrounded by mountains and is the perfect setting for a race.

We couldn’t stay there so I’d booked the closest place I could find to it. http://www.ovre-eidfjord.com/

13892307_10154314344768162_1390814182140077994_nThe hotel was quirky but nice. When we arrived a fellow competitor was arguing with the owner about the price of the room. He couldn’t understand why he was being charged more for having six people in a two bed room. He argued that he should pay for two!

I admired his logic and his cheapskatedness.

We left them arguing and decided to visit the biggest waterfall in Norway.

It was a few miles away so it was back into the car. By the end of the trip I’d spent more time with the car then I’ve spent with some friends!

We parked near the viewpoint of the falls. It’s a great view and well worth a visit. Although the markers showing where people have died did make me extra careful with my footing.

We headed back to eidfjord to get some supplies and to check out the town. I decided to test the water temperature in the only manner I knew how. I stick my hand in. It wasn’t too cold. No different from current Scottish loch condition.

We took some photos around town and then head back to the B+B to get some sleep.

Breakfast was waffles. Yay.

Unfortunately they’d all been eaten. The buffet had opened at 8am and everything was eaten by 0801. Triathletes like to eat and they like to get up early.

The waitress said she’d never seen so many folk turn up at once.

Looking at the “competition” it was clear there was some very fit athletes here and they were just the supporters.

I did wonder what they made of myself and Andrew. I didn’t ask. I didn’t want to hear what a Norwegian sounds like laughing.

We headed into town to register and to get the bike serviced. The flight over had damaged one of the disc brakes. It was slightly bent. I wasn’t worried. At worse we could bash it with a hammer.

13876311_10154314344673162_3062910982430429298_nWhilst the bike got serviced we went for a swim.

Huub had sponsored a practice session. Lots of athletes took the opportunity to have a go swimming out to the yellow buoy that would be used on the real course.

Andrew immediacy noticed a problem. He’d forgotten his swim goggles. Idiot (again!)

He went to the Huub stall to buy a new pair. They were 450 NOK which converted to GBP is equivalent to f’ing expensive!

The swim was great. The water was chilly but not unpleasant. Although I overheard a man from Dubai complain about how cold it was. I think his and my idea of hot and cold differ wildly!

The water wasn’t very salty which must be due to water flowing in off the mountains.

Andrew did one lap of the course. I did two. The swim reassured him that the big one wouldn’t be too bad.

The service man had finished with the bike and it now worked like a charm. Things were looking up.

Feck, deck, feck, feck!

The bike was making a sound. Not a good sound like wiiiiiissshhhh of speed but a grrrnnnnnhhhkkk of metal.

It seemed to be coming from the front wheel.

I now regretted taking the bike out for a spin. I’d noticed a big climb behind our B and B and thought it would be a good test for the bike but on the way down it had started crunching.

I stopped and spun the wheel. It was sticking. This was a problem!

I was near the B & B so I spun along. Planning to look at it without Andrew finding out. It would just worry him.

Annoyingly he was standing outside.

I had to tell him. He was worried. The service man was now shut and the race was tommorow.

“We need a plan,” he said

“We need google,” I replied.

I started googling grinding disc brake pads.

Andrew looked worried. He repeated, “we need a plan”

I told him to get the bike

“No, we need a plan”

Get the bike!

“We need a plan”

What’s the point of a plan if we don’t have the bike? He didn’t seem to grasp that whatever the plan the first step would be to get the bike.

He stropped off to get it.

I found the video I wanted. It explained how to loss the callers on the brake.

He came back. I took out an Allen key and loosened the callipers. The wheel ran smooth. Andrew looked relieved and worried. He may have secretly hoped that this would get him out of having to race!

We celebrated our achievement by having Norwegian meatballs. There’s a reason I’d never heard of them over their more famous Swedish rivals. They tasted disgusting.

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If 3 am is an ungodly time to get up, getting up at 2.30 am is even worse.

Today was the day. It was now or never. Which is a strange expression. It should actually be “It was now or never or…in a minute! Cant’t you see I’m busy. I’ll get to it when I can!”

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We left the B&B quickly and headed to Eidfjord. There’s plenty of parking spaces near the ferry but Andrew refused to use them. He was worried that the police would turn up and fine us. Its 3 am. I think the police have got better things to do than check anyone is parking illegally.

We park at the the school. On the walk to the ferry I point out to Andrew all the Cars parked in the spaces he said not to use.

The port is busy. A lot of athletes and supporters are here. I look at the ferry and notice it has a TV lounge! And comfy chairs! And its showing the Olympics! Extreme Triathalon? My Arse!

On the way into transition Andrew has to show that his bike’s front and back lights work and that he has a reflective jacket.

The volunteer checks his jacket and says its not reflective. It is very yellow but its not reflective! Andrew blames it on buying a cheap one from Decathalon. Idiot!

Luckily the volunteer had a spare so he gave that to Andrew. The winner has a black T-shirt but I bet he doesn’t have a Norseman branded reflective vest.

I wish Andrew luck and he heads onto the ferry.

I decide to drive down the coast to watch the start. Surprisingly no-one else had thought of this so I was on my own watching the start. I can’t imagine what people did in town. It must be pretty dull waiting for the swimmers to come back.

13873048_10153645915211196_6084655913261949439_nAfter they jumped in I headed back to town. I stopped at a pier near the yellow buoy and watched the race leaders zoom past. My watch said 50 minutes so it seemed like they were slow or the race had started late. I later found out this years swim times were slow due to the tide.

I got back to the pier in enough time to watch Andrew come out. I showed him over to the transition point and helped him get changed. About half the swimmer were still in the water so his swim time was pretty good.

I sent him off and said I’d see him in a couple of hours time at the top of the hill.

I notice a man at the pier has made fresh pancakes. I buy four so that Andrew will have a treat at the top of the hill. I then eat two. Oh well. Two is still a treat!

I then headed back to the B & B to get some breakfast. Mmm waffles. Its a hard life being a support team!

I’ve lost Andrew.

I saw him a minute ago. I passed him in the car. I gave him a wave and the parked at the next available parking spot. I’ve now waited 20 minutes and he’s not gone past!

I’m on the plateua. Due to thick mist visibility is 100m and it’s freezing cold. I wouldn’t like to be in a car in these conditions, let alone on a bike.

I decide something has gone wrong. He’s gone past and I didn’t notice or something’s happened before he got here.

I decide to head back down the road. I travel for 10 minutes and don’t spot him!

Its now colder and wetter and I imagine he will be wondering where I’ve gone.

I race along the road. After 10 minutes I still haven’t spotted him.

After 20 minutes, I’m worried. Something must have gone wrong.

After 30 minutes I spot a very cold and wet looking cyclist ahead. Its Andrew!

I pass and wave and this time park where he can see me.

It turns out he had cycled past me. My parking spot was in an awkward place. He assumed it wasn’t my car. I must have missed him as I was too busy concentrating on not crashing the car as I maneuvered into the space!

I thought he’d be angry so I pull out my trump card – the pancakes!

I think quickly and then ask him.

“Do you want a Twix?”

Andrew is standing in front of me. He’s shaking due to the cold. I offer him the sweet. He’s still cold and shaking but at least he gets chocolate biscuit snack.

He says he’s struggling to bike due to the cold. The weather is bad and it doesn’t look like it’s going to let up.

Luckily I’d packed Goretex trousers, thick fleece top and a jacket. He takes off his wet clothes and replaces them with the new ones. He now looks ready…to climb Everest!

At least he’ll be dry and warm even if he’s not going to be very aerodynamic.

He says he’ll cycle to the next town before deciding whether to carry on.

I hope he keeps going. It would be a shame to finish at this point.

We pass the next town and come off the plateau. That section is supposed to be fast but due to the weather he never got up to a good speed.

Thankfully he now feels warmer and decides to continue.

13886465_10153645913911196_8173376943594334046_nThe next half of the race has four climbs. They are all manageable. There’s a climb of 400m near Glasgow called the Crow Road. So we split each section into how many Crow Roads it is. As in, this next climb is 1.5 crow roads. The one after is 2x Crow Road etc It helps to put each bit into perspective.

For the next 50 miles we get into a pattern of he bikes and I drive a short distance up the road. He then either passes me or pulls in and gets food. It seems to work well.

At the top of the last climb support has to end. Its all downhill now so I leave him to it and head to Transition 2. There’s not many folk here. Most of the competitors have already been through. I go for a walk and watch a couple posing for wedding photos.

Andrew eventually arrives. I expect him to call it a day. He’s been out on the bike for 8 hours+ and is pretty knackered!

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He decides to quit. He doesn’t have the energy to run over  a speed bump let alone a huge hill.

We pack up and head off. As we drive the route towards our accommodation we see the athletes struggling along the road. No part of either of us thinks we wish we’d continued.

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“How’s the legs?”

“Sore” replied Andrew.

He’s lying in bed in rjukan. A nice wee town at the base of “Zombie Hill.” The famed section of Norseman where runners switch from running on the flat to climbing  Mt. Gaustatoppe.

I’m feeling fit so I’ve decided to take the bike out and head up the mountain. The climb is hard but its more a mental thing than anything else. It doesn’t have many hairpins so each section feels like a long slog.

On the road people have painted zombies or inspirational words. Its easy to tell the UK supporters as they’ve painted the wrong side of the road!

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I stop once I get to the Furnicular railway that takes tourists to the stop. I notice its open and running so I head back down hoping to convince Andrew that we should go the top. It feels like the logical conclusion to our trip should be on top of the mountain!

Thankfully he’s up for it and even more thankfully he’s done all the packing!

Th13906646_10154314344108162_7927054594518622418_ne funicular is great. Its split into two trains. One that takes us into the mountain and then another that takes us to the top. We share a cabin with an older couple.

From the exit its just a few hundred metres to the Norseman hut. Its great to see the finish line even if its 24 hours later!

We take some pics and record a video of Andrew crossing the finish line.

We then pop into the hut to buy waffles. All races should have waffles at the finish!

On the way back down the same couple are in our train carraige. The man says “Not much to see, was there?”

Not really but if we hadn’t gone up we’d always have regreted it!

The aim of the trip was to enjoy the adventure. We had an adventure and we enjoyed it. What more to life is there than that?:-)

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Hebridean Triathalon -30th July 2016 – 2:58:40

“Blue-green algae occurs when specific types of photosynthetic bacteria forms blooms”

Blue-green algae can be toxic to animal and humans. Although it’s a misnomer as its not actually an algae. There’s a useful/useless fact you can tell your friends.

The Hebridean triathlon is the first ever triathlon to be held on the Isle Of Lewis. This year’s event was a test event. The organisers had never done a triathlon themselves so credit to them for putting on a successful event.

Nine hardy souls had agreed to test the course. A mixture of individuals and teams.

Swim – 30 min

The day before the event blue-green algae was found in the loch. Luckily a retest of water in the morning showed no sign of it.

The swim was two laps. The water was so full of peat it felt like swimming in a pint of Guinness. I could barely see my hand in front of my face. I forgot to start my GPS watch so I can’t check how accurate my sighting was.

I know I took a detour on the first lap as a canoeist came over and pointed me towards the correct buoy. I was swimming towards the wrong one.

The second lap was fine and I was out of the water in 30 minutes. I could have been quicker if I’d gone in the correct direction but I was happy with the time.

Bike – 1hr 26 min

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The bike course was an out and back loop to the Callanish Stones. An ancient stone circle site. There was a strong north westerly wind but it never felt like it was helping on the way out or back.

The route was “lumpy” with one minor 15% climb(!). It was short but I could feel the front of my bike lifting as I tried to go up it.

On the road it was sometimes better to cycle on the pavement. This sounds dodgy but pavements on the island are just an additional bit of concrete next to the road. Some of the pavements have been laid later than the road so they are smoother to ride on.

My time was slow but it never felt like a fast course. I think most people came in slower than they expected.

Run – 57 min

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This is the slowest I’ve ever run a 10k! The route was out and back through a local village. It was as “lumpy” as the bike route.

It was strange running along with so few people about. When I finally saw someone in their garden I gave them a big wave. Relief that someone else was out and about.

Thankfully the last 2km are mostly downhill. The first time in the day I felt it was easy.

Overall

Great first race on the island which should go from strength to strength. The course is good, the location is amazing and the food at the end is the best of any race I’ve done.

Just don’t expect a PB:-)

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Tenby Long Course Weekender

When learner drivers sit their driving test they have to watch a hazard perception video. The footage was shot in Wales. How do I know this? Because one of the frequently asked questions in leaner centres is – why does it say “ARAF” on the road? “Araf” is Welsh for “slow” and it’s only seen in Wales.

Having now driven through Wales I’ve come to the conclusion Araf doesn’t mean slow down, it means your journey will be slow. Much slower than I thought it would be. It’s so slow I wondered if I ‘d ever get to my destination.

Wales is beautiful but I’d still build a motorway through it!

My destination was Tenby for the Long Course Weekend. Instead of swimming/biking/running in one day I’d be doing it over a more leisurely three days.

Before I detail the race I’ll mention the one complaint I have about it.

My start time for the bike ride was 0945. The organisers of the event implemented a cutoff at mile 66 of 1330.

When signing up for the event I was asked whether I wanted an early or late start but there wasn’t a cutoff mentioned. If I’d known I’d have chosen the early start.

I contacted the organisers to ask for an earlier start. I was told changing the start time was not possible and “sorry for the inconvenience”.

It’s more than an inconvenience to know in advance that I won’t complete a section of an event due to something I was not told in advance when signing up.

I checked the results and of the 3393 people in the race only 60 went at a pace that could have made the 1st lap cut-off (if they had started at 0945). I also checked and a number of riders who were due to start at 0945 had set off much earlier. Their times had been registered despite being told in the race notes that the timing chips would only be active ten minutes before the start time.

I asked why those riders were allowed to start early and it was reiterated that the start times couldn’t be changed due to “health and safety reasons.” Yet they didn’t disqualify any early starters despite the fact those riders must have been breaking the health and safety rules!

Even the top 10 racers in the event got to start earlier.

There was a number of very angry riders at the end of the 1st lap who weren’t allowed to continue.

In future I hope they implement a less strict cutoff time. 15mph is the common timing on most races I’ve entered. They should also ask riders for an anticipated time rather than an early or late start.

The races has rules, punish riders who break them not the ones who follow them.

SWIM

The last time I visited Wales was eight years ago. I went down with my girlfriend (of the time) and a couple of friends. Our plan was to climb Snowdon. My two friends decided to run it, so my girlfriend and I walked and we agreed to meet our friends at the top.

We started walking and we soon came to a break in the path. It wasn’t clear which way to go so we choose the right hand path. After a short distance there was a sign that said “Crib Goch route”. I hoped Grib Goch was Welsh for ‘easy route’.

We weren’t confident about our choice but as there was another couple ahead of us we thought “lets follow them as they look like they know what they are doing”. However, the route started to get steeper and steeper until we were on all fours climbing a vertical wall -and, when we got to the top, we realised we’d climbed the wrong mountain. It wasn’t Snowdon. It was its partner, which I found out afterwards is called Grib Goch. It turned out Grib Goch was Welsh for, well… Grib Goch.

The only way back was down the vertical path we’d just climbed or along a ridge so narrow you couldn’t stand up on it. Either side of the ridge was a huge vertical drop. A fall on either side would lead to death.

Luckily, we made it across. Mostly on all fours while holding on for dear life.

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It was the first and last ridge walk I’ve ever done.

Once we made it to the top of Snowdon my friends asked how we got on. My girlfriend replied that we’d got lost and had ended up rimming – confusing the term for ridge with something a whole lot different.

My friends laughed and then asked –

“Did you enjoy rimming?”

She replied: “I loved it. I want to do more rimming when I get back to Scotland”

I didn’t have the heart to point out her error. It was too funny.

My mistake. I should have pointed it out. She went to work the next week and told her friends and clients that she’d spent the weekend in wales rimming with three guys.

I’ve always wanted to come back to Wales. A couple of years ago I watched a TV show about the Tenby Long Course weekend. At the same time I saw an episode of Grand Designs set in Tenby where a couple renovated the lifeboat house. The race was the perfect opportunity to revisit wales, do a fun event and check out a cool house. I just hoped it wouldn’t involve ridging or rimming.

The swim was amazing. It takes place in a sheltered beach cove surrounded by the town. It comprises two loops of a triangle with an Australian exit. When viewing the course from the town I thought the hardest leg would be the middle section and the easiest would be the last. I was wrong. The easiest was the middle and the hardest the last.

I also thought the sea looked flat calm. It wasn’t. There was enough of a swell to keep the swim exciting/interesting/terrifying.

My sighting was good and according to my GPS I swam the same-ish route on both laps.

I was confident of beating Andrew as I’d swam in the sea more often him and I assumed he’d probably be slightly cautious.

If you do race it then I’d advise:
– Try to start near the front as there’s a lot of people taking part
– The course is setup for the whole weekend so you can have a practice swim at any point.
– Practice sighting. The markers are quite far apart so use landmarks instead. I used the house from Grand Designs.
– Book somewhere to eat for afterwards as the town’s mobbed with hungry swimmers.

BIKE + RUN

Last night, I watched a program about people who swim the English channel. The pilot of a boat told one swimmer: “You need to be prepared.”

The swimmer replied “Prepared for what?”

“After doing this you’ll never be the same again!”

Which implies some life changing profoundness will be gained through completing the challenge but I’ve found that’s not always the case. I once had the same conversation as the swimmer and pilot with a friend of mine. He’d accepted my challenge to eat 12 Cadbury creme eggs in one sitting.

“After doing this you’ll never be the same again!”

He was never the same again. He used to love creme eggs but now can’t abide anything with caramel in it.

I don’t think I’ve learnt anything profound by completing race but I have learnt one lesson. I don’t like racing in the cold, rain and wind!

I wish I could tell you how I overcame the hellish weather, the problem with start times and the atrocious food stops at the Long Course Weekend Bike Race but I can’t. It was wet and miserable so I did one lap of the course. That was more than enough.

Instead of battling on we finished early. We used the free time to watch the movie “Central Intelligence” which was very enjoyable.

Some quick thoughts about the bike leg.

– There are no timing mats on the course until near the end of the lap. We should have done the big loop twice rather doing the small one and getting caught out by the cutoff time.
– The feedstops were pretty bad. No sport gels and the “energy drink” was diluted orange. I know this because a woman at one stop told me after I’d asked what it was.
– The course is roughly the same as Ironman Wales. This has a fearsome reputation but I didn’t find it that bad. There’s no long climbs just lots of short one. None of which required me to get out of my seat.

Thankfully the weather was a lot better on the Sunday. Andrew had won the bike leg so this was the decider. I was confident of victory having beaten him in most running races over the last few years. I was too confident.

I started off way to fast and bonked at mile 9. I thought I’d done enough to coast round ahead of him but I was wrong. He caught and passed me. I didn’t see again until the end. He was the deserved winner….this time!

Some quick thoughts about the run leg.
– Its a very undulating course. Don’t start off too fast and be prepared for some steady climbs.
– The food stops were fine for a half marathon but if i was doing the full I’d have preferred a better selection.
– The finish into Tenby is great. A big crowd cheering me on was a relief after the steep hill into Tenby.

Would I do the Long Course Weekend again? No but that’s not due to the race. Its a tricky location to get to due to all the driving from Scotland. Worth visiting once but never again!

Seven Hills Race – 27th June – 2:37:43

Edinburgh is famous for its castle…which is on a hill;  its folly…which is on a hill; and its observatory…which is on a hill. Also its zoo…which is on a hill and its volcano…which isn’t on a hill. It is a hill.

The city’s slogan is “Inspiring Edinburgh” but it should be “Edinburgh – hilly as f**K!”

Every year a race takes place where runners navigate to and run up all the hills. I did it once before in 2008. One of my friends was doing it too. He said we should take it easy and treat the race like a training run.

As soon as the race started two good looking woman ran past at a speed faster than training pace. My mate immediately ran off. The last I saw him he was chasing the girls down shouting “Where are you two from?”

This year I was running it by myself as Andrew hadn’t fully recovered from his stomach bug.

The race begins on Calton Hill before heading to Castle hill. Unfortunately the race almost immediately stopped as 300 runners tried to get down Calton Hill’s steps but a group of Spanish holidaymakers were trying to get up. When they got out of the way the race resumed.

After Castle Hill its a long run out to Corstorphine Hill. I wasn’t 100% sure of the way so I followed the crowd. Thankfully the crowd wasn’t Spanish so I went the right way.

It’s another long run to the next hill. This section is not very scenic as its mostly through streets. At the summit a man said to me “Well done Andrew!” I replied “Iain!” He looked disappointed. Which means I must be a disappointing Andrew (to some people!)

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The next two hills are the most scenic part of the course. From the top I got great views of the city. One of the summits had a bagpiper. He looked very sweaty as the sun was out and it was very warm. My legs were starting to feel the effects of all the climbing so I’d walked rather than ran to the top.

From there it was onto Arthur’s Seat. You can skip through a halls of residence to scale a wall to get there quicker but the organiser warned us the walls is 7ft high. I took the long route. I walked most of Arthur’s Seat as my ankle was sore.

It was then back to the start. I crossed the finish line and was handed….a medal? No! I crossed the finish line and was handed a beer mat. Which is one of the most unusual finishing prizes that I’ve ever received.

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Chester Triathlon – 12th June 2016 (02:37:35)

At university my mate worked for a comedy sketch group. The group comprised three guys and a girl. The girl couldn’t act, and she wasn’t funny, but she did have large breasts.

As talented as the guys were, she was the only one who became a success. She starred in Hollyoaks. The soap for people who like dramatic over the top storylines but only if it involves large breasted women and fit guys.

This weekend I was in Chester where Hollyoaks is set.  I didn’t spot any large breasted women but I did see a lot of fit guys….due to the Chester Triathalon.

We’d done the race a couple of years ago so this time I was hoping to improve my performance. I had a secret weapon – I’d ordered a new pair of shorts. There was only one problem. They were indecently short.

They not only made me look like a knob they also showed off my knob.

Unfortunately I had no alternative pair so the people of Chester were in for a treat…sorry…a sight! A very horrific sight.

Registration was next to the hotel so we got up early and headed over. The biggest decision was what swim cap to choose. Our wave had a choice of green/blue. We went for Celtic Green.

Swim (00:31:04) 

The swim was in the river Dee. The swim was enjoyable. It was 900m approximately up the river before turning and returning. My sighting was good so I didn’t feel I’d zig-zagged too badly.

At the end I thought the exit was in a different place to were it actually was so I swam past it and had to turn. Some idiot was following my feet so he made the same error. When I got out the water I turned round and discovered that idiot was Andrew.

He’d spotted me at the turning and had decided to have a tow to the finish.

Bike (01:13:21)

The bike ride was a nice loop out from the city into Wales and back. The road were excellent and it was virtually car free.

My aim was to average at least 20mph and stay ahead of Andrew! Luckily I got of transition just before him so I was able to bomb up the road. He made the same miscalculation as the week before and assumed his steady riding would eventually reel me in. It didn’t!

Run (00:48:15)

I felt much better on the run than I had recently. It was three loops of a riverside course with a water stop on each loop. It was enjoyable especially once I had worked out my brother wasn’t going to catch me.

At one point a guy asked what time I was aiming for. I said 48 minutes. He asked if it was okay to pace behind me. I said yes. Unfortunately he was so close that when a bollard suddenly appeared I was able to avoid it but he collided with it. Sorry!

Overall

I won the race and take a 4-2 lead in the Todd championship. I knocked 11 minutes of my PB so I was happy with that. I won’t wear the shorts again.

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Stirling Sprint Triathlon – 01:20:06

This year was my third attempt at the this race. Last year I improved my time by just one second over the previous result.

At that rate of improvement it’ll be nearly 1200 years before I’ll be quick enough to win the Olympics. I

I started in the same swim lane as my brother.. After 10 laps I realised he was drafting behind me and I was making his swim easier! I immediately stopped at the end of the lane and made him go ahead. I then drafted him. Towards the end I tapped to overtake as I had a cunning plan which relied on getting out the pool first.

I accelerated to give me a short lead but just enough to get to transition first. I knew Andrew would take longer than me as he had an Aero helmet and it would take longer to put on than mine. I changed quickly and sped off.

Once I was out on the road. I went as fast as possible so that I’d be out of sight when he hit the road. I anticipated he’d then take it steady in the belief that his time trial bike and aero helmet would give him an advantage. If he could see me then he’d know what to pace to go at but this way I bet he’d choose a speed steady but slower pace.

Throughout the ride I thought he’d zoom past but luckily he didn’t. I didn’t know at the time but he thought a guy ahead of him was me. He kept the other “me” in his sights!

The run is two laps of a loop on the campus. I spotted Andrew towards the end of lap 1. He was at least 5 minutes behind so I knew their was no chance he’d catch up which made the remaining section of the run very enjoyable!

I was pleased to be 5 minutes better than last year which means if I continue that rate of improvement I could win the Olympics in Tokyo 2020!

I wonder what odds a bookie would give me for that that?

Swim: 00:15:16, Transition: 00:02:03, Bike: 00:37:48, Transition: 00:01:31, Run: 00:23:27

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Stornoway Half Marathon – 1hr 44min 59s

SCENE: A NIGHTCLUB. 

It’s late at night. So late that it’s no longer today but tomorrow. Our “hero” is at the bar. He’s ordering his 7th pint of the evening/early morning. It could be his 8th. It could be his 20th. He lost count a while ago.

BARMAN

Didn’t you say you were running a half marathon tomorrow….sorry, today?

OUR HERO

What….ummm..pint…YAY….music! <starts dancing>

BARMAN (laughing)

I’ll see you at the start then!

OUR HERO (singing)

Do you remember when we used to sing,
Sha la la la la la la la la la la te da

END SCENE

The next day our “hero” made it to the half marathon but was so hungover he couldn’t hold the pen to fill in the entry form. He ran the first three miles quicker than he’d ever run before as he was desperate to get to the water stop.

It was a beautiful sunny day and the drink poured out of him in alcoholic sweaty drops. He finished the race faster than he’s ever done a half marathon before – and he spends the rest of the day in bed ill. He misses the Scottish cup final because he’s asleep/comatose.

He vows never to drink before a race again but…

He repeats this scene the next four times he enters the same race. Each time he vows never to drink again.

This weekend was the fifth attempt, and this time he vowed he would definitely do the race sober…

I achieved my goal and reached the start line sober. There was a good turnout for the race and the sun was shining. A rare sight in Stornoway – about as rare as a sober runner.

The organisers had changed the route since the last time I’d entered but it was still undulating with a few wee hills. The weather was good and I set off strongly. Too strongly: I tired in the second half and couldn’t keep up the same pace.

I finished with a personal best for the race so I was happy with that. I was only one minute quicker than my drunk time which implies I was fitter back then or that its actually okay to have a drink before the race!

Now, where did I put my dancing shoes…

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