Training gets a little too much for Adam Hurrell as the fear and enormity of the Virgin Active London Triathlon sets in.
My esteemed Triathlon Plus colleague Tom Ballard is a pivotal member of Team Triathlon Plus-Boardman who are taking part in the individual efforts of the Virgin Active London Triathlon next month.
His physical fitness and training determination and commitment are treated by his colleagues with some significant respect. I admire his fearless nature when it comes to all things fitness based. His idea of a holiday is spent doing a 70.3 somewhere, usually whilst staying in portable accommodation. My idea of a holiday is sipping a Bombay and tonic on a terrace while deciding whether to have to the lobster paté or the mussels to start, whilst staying in air-conditioned static accommodation usually built out of brick. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no fatty, I go to the gym roughly four times a week but equally I am by no means an athlete. I couldn’t even get selected for the second form first 11 so I feared doing a triathlon was somewhat out of my remit.
You can understand my trepidation therefore, when our learned leader of all things magazine based, editor of Triathlon Plus, Elizabeth Hufton, announced that it may be a good idea for the remaining team members to enter the London Triathlon as a relay team. This verbal contribution of hers was uttered a couple of weeks ago now and unfortunately for yours truly the mouth was employed before the bean and the reply of, “Oh what a great idea guv” was ejaculated before a thorough and comprehensive risk assessment of the situation could be carried out.
You therefore join me in the second week of my London tri training routine. Yours truly has been volunteered for the swim stage of the race with Liz doing the bike and our Winker Watson look-a-like Art Editor Rob Moxon doing the 10km run. As a qualified PADI open water diver, getting me to do the swim was the obvious choice. It also meant that whilst the others were biking and running I’d have enough time to compose and adjust my appearance before we re-group for the inevitable finishing line photographs. I thought, ‘Well, I’ve dived in the Med and the Pacific and in a quarry in Leicestershire with a water temperature of 4°C how hard can it be?’ The thing is, swimming competitively on the surface is a darn sight harder than pootling around under the surface looking at the fishes.
Our coaching editor, a charming and altogether handsome chap, Phil Mosley, wrote me a lovely training plan last week that I have been doing my best to follow and it is about now that the fear is beginning to set in.
Phil’s plan is incredibly detailed and laden with jargon and code acronyms. As a chap, I love a bit of jargon every now and again, however, his plan is honestly putting the fear of God into me and remembering what I am supposed to be doing in each session once I’m actually in the pool is proving to be tricky. I am endeavouring to do it justice though – now that I have worked out that my lap-timer doesn’t record my laps when I’m doing drills so I need to actually count how many lengths I’ve done during those bits! This is a relief because swimming your fourth length ten times gets a little frustrating after a while.
However, when someone cute is swimming in the next lane, counting is much harder than you may think. Swimming in a pool can be such a mind-numbingly boring activity it’s little wonder concentration and thoughts usually drift off to some other more engaging topic. Like how great it would be take a Ferrari 288GTO round some closed Alpine roads or how I’d like to cross Europe in a Bentley Brooklands coupe.
As I said the fear of the enormity of this challenge is beginning to get to me. If I don’t finish the others don’t even get to start. Not only that, I will be swimming with several hundred other people in a London dock full of Thames water. How many times have you been to a dock, looked at the cold, dark brown water and thought, ‘Hmm, yeah I don’t want to get in there’? Exactly. I’m also worried that I wont be physically fit enough in time to make it, forget how long it may take.
I’m actually worried I will crash and drown at the 500m point. And I’ve got 1500m to swim. This is the biggest physical challenge I have ever taken part in.
I have taken some heart from the continued support and encouragement from colleagues who have reassured me that I probably can make it round and that if I don’t I will have at least 24 hours to gather the stuff off my desk before I get fired, so that has removed some of my fears. In addition they assure me that no-one has died doing the race, well not yet anyway.
Yesterday, I thought however, that if I can manage swimming 1.5km in the pool and managed to do that a few times then the chances of my being able to do it for real next month may be increased. So on Sunday morning I hit the pool at Bath’s Fitness First with the aim of swimming 1500m. I just had to bash through it regardless of how long it would take. To my surprise and significant relief I got through it without stopping in a little over 42 minutes. Certainly a little work is required to reduce the time, but at least I know now I can do it. I celebrated my aqua-milestone, (well nearly anyway as 1.5km is 0.9 miles but who’s splitting hairs?), with a trip to the pictures with Rob to see the new Bourne film, the Bourne Legacy. Disappointing to be honest. Nowhere near as good as the Matt Damon days and I was totally confused as to what was going on within about the first five minutes or so. Shame, as the action sequences were excellent but the plot was decidedly lacking. Having said that though, I reckon if I saw it a second time I may have an increased chance of having a clue of what was going on.
In that regard the film and Mosley’s swim training guides are very similar. They are both totally incomprehensible at first glance, but second, third and often fourth readings later and the light of the bean and the eye work together and a minute dawning of understanding of forthcoming training events begins to occur. With a bit of luck anyway.
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