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Friday, 10 May 2013

Ben's Last Day as a Virgin

“Enjoy your last day as a triathlon virgin” said Ben Webeck of ABCPure coaching.

I feel like a character from Game of Thrones or a cold war spy that’s about to defect. For years I have taken the mickey out of triathletes, shunned them for their poor bike handling skills and slight self-righteousness. I have got the same weird look from all of my cycling friends when I have told them that I am doing a triathlon; a dirty look that says “why would you want to do that”? Yet here I stand, on the brink of betraying my kin and becoming one of “them”. And I know that once I have taken this step, there’s no turning back.

It is a strange and foreign world to me though. For a start, these guys seem to never stop training. The place is full of triathletes running up and down the roads, sweat dripping down their faces, or wetsuit round their waists heading for yet another swim. Does tapering not exist in the world of triathlon? I thought the idea was to get to the line fresh and ready to go? I took my bike for a gentle shake down yesterday (never came out of the little ring) and there were guys hammering past me in full aero helmets in 27 degree heat!!!! While the most I intend to do on the day before is a quick ride up and down the street to make sure my Di2 battery charged properly, some of these guys are going to swim, bike and run!!!!!!!

It’s been great to bump into so many Bespoke customers while I’ve been out here. According to the event program, over 25% of the field is British….. a fact I must remember if I feel the urge to curse at people for getting in my way on the bike leg. It’s also the first Ironman run event for 36% of the competitors….. though how many of this 36% are also complete triathlon virgins I have no idea. Seeing as there are 3500 people doing this, we got registered nice and early. I got my first “Ironman” rucksack (which was the first time I realised I was officially “one of them” now) and my pack with transition bags and numbers. HOW MANY NUMBERS!!!! They seem to go everywhere, there’s 3 on the helmet alone!!!!

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Ben and Cat from ABCPure coaching for taking me under their wing and showing me the ropes. On the first day they took me down to the beach for my first ever open water swim. The water by the beach is so calm you can almost see your reflection in it. After a quick intro into how to get a wetsuit on, we were into the water and away. I was surprised at how much I liked it. Not having a wall to hit meant I could concentrate on my stroke. I even swam in a straight line….. sort of. And sighting the buoys was reasonably easy too. I hadn’t planned to swim too far but before I knew it I was 400m out but I’m glad I did because that’s where the waves started. These weren’t too bad and it was good to experience them.  At 500m I said goodbye from Ben and Cat and cut across to the other side. This is when I looked back to the shore….. damn it looked a long way away. But I realised that it was very easy to float for a bit and take a rest before heading back. All told, I finished and felt good and I no longer fear the dreaded swim.

So, all that’s left is to rack my bike, hang my transition bags and eat my body weight in pasta. Then it’s a sleepless night and it’s all systems go. Weather report looks thankfully favourable for a ginger person (but it won’t stop me bathing in factor 50+). As you’ll see from the pictures, I’m bib number 1033 and start at 8:30am CET. Follow my progress at

The bike is racked, the race bags are hung.

Ben Hallam the cyclist is dead; long live triathlete Ben.

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