Nick is an incredible runner and a World Class age group duathlete with countless wins to his name, so to step away from his obvious talents and take on the swim element of multisport is quite an ambitious step, yet it is already paying dividends…
With the weather warming up and the triathlon season rapidly approaching (and securing the early season aims of becoming a British Masters champion on the track) it has been time to throw the spikes in the bin and develop my swimming to an almost competitive state. To ease myself into my first ever triathlon season, I started off with 2 pool-based aquathlons in London. The first was the Kingfisher Aquathlon in Wimbledon which consisted of a 400 metre swim followed by a 9k trail run.
It was obvious from the start that there was some considerable talent in the pool and when I completed my 400 metre swim, I knew that I would have to apply as much pressure as possible just to make it into the top 10 of an ultra competitive 170-strong field. Fortunately I just managed this coming in 9th and getting the 2nd fast run split of the day. Second up was the somewhat smaller Ealing aquathlon with only around 40 athletes taking on the 400 metre swim / 5k trail combo. Again, the swimming contingent made their presence felt and it was left for me to attack as much as possible on the run. Securing the fastest run split of the day led to me to my first multi-sport podium (2nd) that wasn’t in duathlon.
Next up, the real thing, open water triathlon! Having hastily competed 3 Saturdays worth of open water swim training in Essex I decided to enter the Hillingdon triathlon (a 600m/25k/6k triathlon). What could possibly go wrong? Well, as it turned out, most of what usually goes wrong for first time open water triathletes. 200 metres into the swim and panic mode was fully engaged with the realisation that I was in the middle of a lake, 200 metres from the shore and fighting for breath! I was close to calling it a day at this stage, but ploughed on through and eventually made it onto the bike and run course. Fortunately I managed to overcome my initial fears and thanks to a reasonable bike and the fastest run of the day, I almost cracked the top 10 (12th).
With my first open swim tri out of the way, I tried my first European qualifier the following week at Grendon. It’s probably fair to point out at this stage the rather ambitious scale I set myself here considering that 7 months ago I couldn’t swim more than 2 lengths in a swimming pool or even swim freestyle! Anyway, in complete contrast to Hillingdon, I had a fantastic stress free swim without entertaining any notions of drowning or big sharks. This realisation that I was now a fully fledged triathlete lasted as long as I got onto my bike and about 400 metres from transition. A sadistically placed speed-bump pushed me off the bars and I lost control and eventually came crashing down. It was a slow speed impact, but due to the dry conditions and it being a gravel service road the consequent road rash was horrific with ankle, knee, hip, shoulder, elbow and hand all taking the pain. After enjoying the swim so much I had no intention of quitting, so completed the bike in some pain and with blood pouring from my hand! Fortunately I had another great run and managed to qualify for the 2014 European Triathlon Championships. This was also the first and therefore hardest race to qualify from so it was worth carrying on at Grendon despite the agony of crashing!
As ever, thanks to the help of all our fantastic sponsors:
www.huubdesign.com – Wetsuits
www.limarhelmets.com – Helmets & Glasses
www.lakecycling.co.uk – Cycling Footwear
www.jagwireusa.com – Cables & Housing
www.shimano.com – Groupsets
www.max-mediagroup.co.uk – Team PR
www.amphibia-sport.com – Transition Bags
www.schwalbe.com – Tyres
www.lezyne.com – Pumps, Tools, Bottle Cages
www.juicelubes.co.uk – Lubrication
All pro snaps courtesy of Jolekha Shasha