A Journey of a 1000 miles starts with a single step

Triathlon Home from Work Triathlon Home from Work - 2009

In 2008 I had not done any major fund raising event because I was now working full time and was finding it hard enough without having to train for another multi-day activity. My thinking for my next fund raiser was to reduce the duration of it and make it a more concentrated effort, with this in mind I was considering an Ironman Triathlon as a possible next fundraiser for Headway.

In December 2008, I started the try to teach myself to swim front crawl, I can swim breast stoke quite well, I use to swim 2-3km on Saturday mornings in the summer when I lived in Germany.

After the change of the clocks, when there was enough daylight to enable me to do the cycle home without having to have lights on the bike, I would pick a day without a strong wind, cycle the 42km into work and then after work user the Link Centre 25m swimming pool in Swindon to swim 1.5km, then cycle the 42km home and after getting home do a 10km run. These distances, with the cycle stage being 2km longer, are the distances of the Olympic Distance triathlon.

This would be a good measure of my swimming and my overall performance over the 3 disciplines.

After 4 months of attempting to develop my front crawl technique, I could do 100m without having to stop. Unlike running and cycling, swimming is a lot of technique, which I am struggling with. I decided that, so I did not miss the summer, I would do the swimming stage using breast stroke. In theory it is slower than front crawl but not for me, until I can swim it properly.

I had done little cycling or running training because of my focus on swimming, but I had done the Marlborough Downs Challenge in May and improved on my previous time.

The weather was either too wet or too windy until early June for attempting this ‘Tri-home’. For my cycle home leg I needed the wind from the SW to not be too strong. The forecast for winds of 10-15 mph from the SW and no rain on 11th June was the best it had been since the clocks changed.

On 10th June I took my swimming gear into work and left it there for the following day. I took it easy on my cycle to work although with a following wind of 20mph (the forecast had been wrong)didn’t bode well for the cycle home, I averaged 15mph .

During the day the wind speed dropped to around 15mph.

I left work early and cycled to the Link Centre where I met Mel, from work, who was going to do the swim with me. The pool was relatively empty because it was before most people had finished work, so I was able to plough up and down without getting held up by other swimmers.

I finished the 1.5km breast stoke in around 35 min. The timings are not accurate but a fairly good indication of how I was getting on.

I then dried off and got changed into cycling gear before stuffing my swimming gear into my rucksack and going out and unlocking my bike for the cycle home. This was not a fast ‘transition’; I had to leave the Link Centre, pack up my swimming gear and unlock my bike.

This took me around 5 minutes. I was not feeling at all tired, may be an indication that I could have gone faster, or was I subconsciously saving myself for the remaining cycle and run?

So, about 40 minutes after I started, I was onto the bike and riding home, I was following my usual route home: Out through Hook, onto the B4042 to Brinkworth, turn left at the 3 Crowns pub to Dauntsey, onto the B4069 at Swallett Gate, turn left to Foxham, through Kellaways to Langley Burrell, then onto the B4528 past Hardenhuish School and back onto the lanes through Easton and Gastard to home in Whitley.

It felt hard in to the wind along the road to Brinkworth where there is little shelter from the wind and it is along a ridge between the M4 and tributaries of the River Avon

It was into the wind again from Foxham to Langley Burrel after which there were a few more dips and raises to get a respite from the wind.

I managed an average speed of 15.9 mph which was slightly more than in the morning and into a headwind. I took me 1:38 for the cycle. Again, I was not feeling unduly tired. The fastest that I have done the ride into work was 1:28 and that is on a slightly shorter route. I think that I was definitely holding back so that I could complete the run.

I expected the next part to be psychologically the hardest, getting home on the bike and then going out again for a run, this turned out to be fine. It took me about 1 minute to get changed into running shorts and trainers and start off.

There are potentially several places where I could shorten the run route and make it about 3km, but once past these I knew that I would complete the run distance. The run route took me out of Whitley to Atworth, Broughton Gifford, Norrington Common Shaw and back to Whitley and took me 53 minutes.

The total time for getting home was 3:10 which included the getting changed and unlocking the bike at the Link Centre. If I exclude the slow 'transition' times the total is just over 3 hours at 3:06, which considering that I have not done a triathlon before and swam breast stroke is a time that I am pleased with.

I think that my front crawl would not have been up to swimming 1.5km even if I had continued trying to improve it, I still have a long way to go before my front crawl is even as good as my breast stroke. I have a Total Immersion swimming book and have taken some swimming lessons to see if I can improve my technique.

I do not think that I will do an Ironman triathlon but will so something similar, the cost of Ironman and the mass participation event puts me off. I would rather do something more like the Pembrokshire Coast Path run or 3 Peaks, 2 Legs and a bike .

The other aspect that puts me of it is that if I was to do an Ironman I would feel that I needed to put in a proper training plan and this would take up too much of my time. I could try to ‘have a bash’ at one but given the costs involved I would want to try to make it worth my while by doing the best I can.