I can remember the exact moment I first became interested in triathlon. It was 10 June 2011 when I met a friend of mine for lunch at the Fox in Tangley in Hampshire. He had delayed our lunch meeting by a few weeks because he was away in Lanzarote doing something called Ironman. I spent lunch grilling him about the race. The more he told me, the more I wanted to know. The seed was sown. He has a lot to answer for, or I have a lot to thank him for, depending on which way you look at it.
Several years on after trying a few short triathlons I decided I wanted to “go long” so I asked him for some tips about long-distance triathlon and he gave me one piece of advice. Surprisingly it wasn’t about training or bikes or nutrition it was about something completely different. He said that the most important thing about doing a long distance triathlon is the conversation you have with your wife.
He knows the enormous time commitment training for an Ironman requires and he understands that there is enough mental and physical stress without constantly having to live with a disgruntled partner who isn’t completely signed up to the adventure. I am sure many triathletes can relate to this – as can many triathletes’ partners!
I have been waging a gentle campaign for a while now trying to bring Cate round to the joys of triathlon. The chances of her ever doing a triathlon are about zero, but I would like her to like that I like it! In the same way that I like that she likes horses.
I took a big step forward at Christmas when I persuaded her to come to the Tri Club Christmas dinner. We had a great evening and most important Cate realised that triathletes are not a bunch of weirdos but, in the case of our club, a really nice bunch of people. A few days later my 11-year old daughter let slip that Mummy had said that they should both take more interest in my triathlon escapades. Progress!
Fast forward to this weekend as Cate and I are lying in bed. The gentle triathlon campaign has continued over the Christmas period and I feel I am continuing to make progress. Cate is reading her book and I am flicking through TV channels. With nothing on I switch on a recording of last summer’s Outlaw iron distance triathlon. It was a brutally hot day and I watch in awe as pros battle the conditions to finish in unimaginably quick times. Then come the age groupers. It’s dark by the time many of them finish, but there isn’t an empty seat in the grandstand at the finish line. The atmosphere is incredible and I get that spine tingling feeling you get when someone achieves something they never thought possible and the tears flow freely (theirs not mine!).
It felt like this was a good moment to continue Cate’s introduction to triathlon and I drew her attention to the emotional scenes on the TV. She put down her book with a sigh and looked up at the television. I waited for the smile as she tried to be interested for my sake.
Just at that moment the scene on the TV changed from the blood, sweat and tears of the Outlaw finish line, to a couple of Outlaw finishers renewing their marriage vows, in triathlon suits, beside the finish line later in the day. I panicked slightly knowing the damage this would do and quickly tried to change channel but it was too late. Cate stared at the TV, mouth open in disbelief and looked across at me. A look that said: “You cannot be serious. Is this the sport you do? They are weirdos”.
Two steps forwards and one step back.