Inspired to Tri

Nick Hewitt
Weymouth Ironman 70.3

Until 2017 my only experience of triathlon was Helvellyn in 2009, which I enjoyed immensely even though I finished well down. As I was a totally useless swimmer, an ok cyclist but a reasonable fell runner, I had the satisfaction of passing many people on the run. Last year, however, my partner, Jennifer Hutton, decided to return to the sport after an absence of many years and entered Ironman UK at Bolton this summer. Over the autumn, winter and spring I watched in awe as she trained for this massive undertaking, and on the day itself I was just amazed at how well she coped with it all, how much she enjoyed it, how easy she made it look, and how well she did.

Watching Jenn over this period was inspirational and when my daughter and her boyfriend asked if we were interested in going to Weymouth to do the Ironman 70.3 with them in September I surprised myself by enthusiastically saying yes. During Jenn’s training for Ironman UK we did a lot of riding together – as we have done for years – and running too, but I knew that swimming was very much my weak point. So over the spring and summer I began going to the pool, starting off by struggling to swim 100 m and slowly building up until I could manage two laps of the pond at Carnforth on Monday evenings. It was during the summer that I thought I’d better join the club as well. I also did the last Capernwray mid-week sprint race, which I found hard and slightly demoralizing.

In the weeks leading up to Weymouth I was very nervous about the sea swim, and wasn’t even sure I could finish it in time. Lining up to start was nerve-wracking, especially as I got separated from Jenn, Lehna and Matt, and stood by myself surrounded by hundreds of highly tuned triathletes (ok – some of them were equally nervous, but most exuded way too much confidence for my liking). I was shivering, getting colder and colder and more and more nervous and was quite relieved when we started shuffling forward and I suddenly found myself in the English Channel.

I found the first 500 m difficult and for a while I felt very sick, but gradually I settled down and began to think “I can do this” and “it’s horrible but it could have been much worse”. I almost enjoyed the middle section but struggled again coming into the beach. Boy, was I glad to get out of there!

Coming out of T1, I saw Jenn on her bike and we rode the whole leg together, being careful not to draft but nevertheless sticking together. The ride was great, and although undulating it was by no means Lancashire/Cumbria hilly. It was fun doing it together. The run was also enjoyable, mainly because of the novelty of running on flat tarmac and trying to keep tabs of the laps. Towards the end of the run, my legs began to malfunction a bit and I was very pleased to see the finish. Memo to self – if we go back next year, do more flat road running beforehand, because running up and down fells doesn’t really help…

Overall, we had a great weekend away and all four of us really enjoyed the race. I was very pleased to finish in 6 hours 33 mins – 6th in my age group. I was also really pleased to be able to sample the Ironman experience – even if it was only half the real thing. I ‘d like to do better next time. And of course, Jenn has now inspired my to try a full one….

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