Salford Triathlon – The Swim

Yesterday I blogged about my first triathlon of the year. You can read about it here. A few weeks earlier I completed the swim as part of a work relay.

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I work at Wardell-Armstrong, who have been one of the sponsors of the Salford Triathlon since it’s inception. Because of the sponsorship, the firm is given four free places, and so that as many people as possible can take part all four places are used in the relay event. Knowing that there would be a lack of swimmers I put my name down, even though it is my slowest discipline. It was also only the second time this year that I’ve put on my wetsuit. They shrink in the winter.

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The swim was in Salford Quay, which is probably one of the cleanest places I’ve swam in. The last time I swam there was a 10km, which was definitely a bit long. This time the bouys had been put out in the right places, and with there wasn’t too much agro with the start, which was nice.

I was hoping for about 30 minutes, which was almost exactly what I did, although it was a long run into transition for the handover to my colleague on the bike.

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Once I’d handed over I got myself changed and walked around much of the bike course to cheer on my work colleagues. The problem was that I really wanted to be doing the whole thing, even though I’m a long way off full fitness, which was why later that weekend I entered the Sedbergh Triathlon, and I might even manage another race in September.

My team mates also did really well, as we came in fifth team overall, and fourth men’s team. Next year though, I will definitely do the whole race.

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#Bemoredoug

This is a difficult blog entry to write. A few days ago Doug Waymark died while swimming the channel. Last year another swimmer, Nick Thomas, also died. Both men were part of the ultra-distance triathlon community, which isn’t very large, so you see many of the same faces at every race.

In 2014 I successfully completed a double ironman, after a DNF in 2013. I finished 12th. Doug was 13th, although all we both wanted was to finish relatively unscathed. He was 4 years younger than me, which is no age to die. His family and friends set up the hashtag #bemoredoug, hence the title of my blog entry, to make it easier for people to discover what a great bloke he was and to share stories.

In 2016 I completed a triple ironman. Over the three days of racing there were various other races and distances, including what was called a 3-2-1 swim. This involved a triple ironman swim on the Friday, a double on the Saturday and a single on the Sunday. A total of 14.4 miles of swimming. One competitor in this event, seen in the photo below without a wetsuit, was Nick.

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Nick was training for a cross channel swim later in the year, and when not doing the 3-2-1 swim he helped out with the other races over the weekend. When I crossed the finish line he handed me my medal and I could see the pleasure on his face that I’d completed what for me was a huge challenge.

“He died doing what he loved” was one of the tributes to Nick last year. I don’t want to die doing what I love, I want to live doing what I love. I want to die in my own bed when I’m in my 100’s, having lead a full life.

I’ll soon be 50, and there is so much out there that I want to do. The untimely deaths of these great and wonderful men has hit me hard. I need to make things happen before it’s too late. I don’t have a bucket list, it’s too cliched, but here are a few of the adventures I am going to start planning.

  • Big adventure – spend a couple of years cycling round the world.
  • Medium adventure – complete 50 and then 100 parkruns across the whole of the UK.
  • Small adventure – drink quality rum from Guyana, snuggling on the sofa with my beautiful wife while watching Game of Thrones series 7.

Rest in Piece Doug and Nick, you’ll both be missed by so many people.

A complete lack of swimming etiquette

If you swim more often than once or twice a year, you’ll soon realise that there is a certain amount of swimming etiquette, generally in the lanes. The obvious ones being don’t get in the fast lane if you’re going to swim really really slowly. Another one that annoys my wife is when people stand around chatting at the end of the lane and don’t move out of the way when she’s trying to turn. I suggested that when it happens she should practice her tumble turns.

I generally don’t get bothered by it because I tend to go swimming either first thing in the morning or late at night. When I started my new job in Leigh I went swimming in the local pool each Monday, but it was far too warm and the ‘fast’ lane was decidedly slow. I found a different pool in Howe Bridge, only a couple of miles from work. The temperature is cooler and it’s far less busy. The pool could do with a bit of a re-vamp, but I like the place.

They have two lanes set up in the morning, but they very rarely have the directional boards, like the one in the photo.

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This shouldn’t be a problem, but today I came across something new. There was someone already in the lane as I got in. I waited to see which side she came back on before I set off. As I turned around at the end of the pool she was coming towards me.

“Are we going round and round” she asked me.

“Always” I replied, a bit surprised. I must have sounded a bit gruff by the look she gave me, so I asked her what would we do if a third person got in the lane. She was obviously a bit put out as she moved into the main pool and I had the lane to myself. I’ve probably swam in dozens of different pools all over the country, and I’ve never come across people wanting to swim up and down a lane, one on each side. To me it makes perfect sense to swim clockwise or anti-clockwise. Maybe it’s just me getting old and becoming a grumpy old man.

In other news, I’ve entered my first triathlon of the year. The Howgills sprint triathlon in Sedbergh next weekend. I’ll see you there.

 

Good to be back

It’s good to be back, back in Lancaster after 15 months of working in Scunthorpe, and it’s good to be back posting random stuff on my blog. First post back is a short one, bit I will try to post at least once a week (yeah right).

I’ve entered a triple ironman in June, so I needed to have a good long swim. The plan was for an 8km swim in the local Uni pool, but to take it 1k at a time, stopping for a drink after each 40 lengths. I also had an Etixx energy bar 30 minutes before I started and one of their frankly horrible tasting red berry caffeine gels ten minutes before getting in the pool. I had also asked my girlfriend to tie up my beard so that it wouldn’t get in the way.

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As I climbed into the pool I tried not to visualize 320 lengths, as this would feel like an insurmountable challenge, instead, as I said earlier, only looking at the next 40 lengths. In the end I didn’t find it too hard and could easily have gone further than the 8150m that I completed. This was my longest ever pool swim, and although it wasn’t fast, 3 seconds under 3 hours, it was a very good confidence building swim. Hopefully I’ll complete a 10km pool swim sometime in May.

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Ironman distance open water swim

Once a year COLT organise a timed ironman open water swim at the lake that we use. Two years ago I recorded 59 minutes. I wasn’t super fast, so the course was definitely a few laps short. Last year it took me 1 hour and 15 minutes, maybe a little long. This year the buoys have moved slightly, so a GPS watch was given to one of the canoeists. He canoed two laps, in a straight line between each buoy. I can’t remember the exact distance that was recorded, but the distance was set at 10 laps for the full ironman swim. The Captain announced before the start that if we swam in a perfect line between each buoy we would probably be a couple of hundred metres short. No one swims in a straight line.

Listening to the Captain giving us our instructions on a nice sunny evening.

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There was an extra canoeist who would record our numbers each time we swam past, although it was our responsibility to shout out our number each time. About 25 swimmers lined up for the full distance, all resplendent in yellow swimming caps with numbers on the side.

Hobbit is at the front with the small stylish beard, Andy Ley without the beard, and at the back, me with the proper beard.

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And we’re off. Some swimmers took it seriously by running into the water, others had a more relaxed approach.

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Usually the open water swim starts at 7 pm, but all of us doing the timed swim were set off 15 minutes early. When the gun went off I walked into the water, no running in for me. This was my longest swim since Enduroman (race reportĀ here) and I had only swam a couple of times in the last few weeks, so I wasn’t sure how I would cope. I was wearing a nose clip as loads of people had been suffering from hay-fever like symptoms due to the pollen on the top of the water. I was also using my trusty Blu-tac ear plugs.

I set off at a nice relaxed pace, but didn’t feel too great. My wetsuit was rubbing at the back a little. I still hadn’t bought more vaseline after losing mine at Enduroman. At the start of my second lap there was all of the regular swimmers to negotiate, although it made it easy to sight each buoy.

When there aren’t too many swimmers I don’t like to try and draft, but someone else did and every few strokes my feet would get a tap. I tried to ignore it, but after a while it gets annoying. Do me a favour, once or twice is OK, 20-30 times and you are a d*ck.

About halfway through I was lapped by a couple of people and then I lapped a couple of others. By the start of lap six I started to feel not too bad, and a couple of laps later I definitely started to speed up. The last lap was great and I rounded the canoe for the last time and turned for shore.

The stopwatch wouldn’t stop until you had passed the Captain sitting in his chair up the beach, so for once I did run out of the water. I recorded a time of 1 hour 13 minutes. Slower than any of my official ironman swims, but quicker than what I would do in a pool. This probably means that the distance was fairly accurate, and that most of the triathlons that I have done have had slightly short swims. Swimming is my weakest discipline, so I don’t really mind.

It was a good evening with a Q & A afterwards on Outlaw and IM Bolton, which I didn’t stay for as I was cycling home. One thing that did make me think was would I be able to complete another 40 laps on top of the 10 that I did. That’s the challenge if I do decide to have a go next year at a continuous Quin. We’ll see.