Most people ask: Why would you do that? It’s a good question. I have to admit, it does seem kind of crazy when I say the distances, one after the other, after the other.
I think I love the training best. A solid routine imposed on my scatterbrain week. Small, achievable goals, getting slightly bigger each time. I’ve done more today than before. Listed targets ticked off at a pace that’s much quicker than the two-inch-forward-one-inch-back of the everyday.
There are the long cycle rides around my beautiful Gower roads. I notice things I’d never have time to see in a car. With the passing weeks, a parade of hedgerow flowers; rouge daffs, bluebells, pink campions. A badger, preserved in perfect 2D. A farmhouse stripped of its paint one week, splendid white the next. You might have guessed, I’m not the fastest on the bike.
For once, I feel the difference of food. The kick of a carb bar halfway through a ride. The boost of an isotonic drink on a run. The craving for protein at the end of the day.
Injuries aren’t fun, but I’d be lying if I said I don’t enjoy playing physio to myself. Just for a few weeks, I’m the footballers I idolised as a kid. No, I can’t go out yet, my calf needs two more days.
There’s the feeling as the event approaches, that I might have done it all wrong. Anxiety that I won’t be able to make the course. It’s all part of it.
And then, the day. Lining out my shoes, goggles, race numbers, drinks and good luck socks the night before like a child on their first day of school.
Most people hate the swimming start; it’s a boil up of fists and feet and elbows. But there’s something about the silence when I put my face in the cold water and make my first stroke. It’s calming. Like when the aeroplane takes off and you realise, even if you’ve forgotten something, there’s nothing more you can do.
I overtake people. People overtake me. There is pain along the way. But the doubt is gone.
And finally, finally the finish. Aching legs and elation. Food. Hours of rerunning the best bits, the worst bits, with equal satisfaction. In years to come I’ll forget most of the views from the cycle, the conversations on the run, the supporters who waved me on. But the day itself will always be there. A tiny medal pinned to my timeline. A milestone and a smile.
That’s why I tri.
Exhausted at the end of the Gauntlet, Lough Cutra