I was going to save this until after the race, but it will be true whatever the outcome at the weekend, so it seems appropriate to post now. A year ago, when Paul and I signed up for Ironman Wales, I think we could have best been described as ‘enthusiastic joiners’ in the world of triathlon. I had predominantly only participated in novice and sprint distance events, all of them marvellously slowly, and only just completed my first ever standard distance event which nearly killed me (or so it felt at the time). To say we have come some way since then would be the understatement of the year, and yes, we’ve put in a lot of hard work, but there is very little benefit to be had from directionless, unstructured training, and we couldn’t have improved a fraction of the amount we have, without the input of some extremely important and supportive coaches.
Glasgow Triathlon Club Coaching Team
There is a large and varied coaching team at GTC. We have attended countless swim, run and bike coached sessions through GTC which, over the last 3 years, has taken us from barely being able to do a length of front crawl, to being strong, confident swimmers, faster runners, and much more accomplished cyclists. Many of the coaches do this on a voluntary basis, and all show patience, humour and support whatever your ability. This is where our love of triathlon was established and continues to grow. Since the mad rush of sign-ups for IMW, GTC have also put on some specific IM-related training sessions, focusing on a wide range of race features, including psychological well-being, nutrition and race planning. We couldn’t have even contemplated signing up for an IM without the core training we’ve benefited from in the club.
Fiona (Fit & Fabulous)
I’ve spoken a lot about Fiona in previous posts. She took me on shortly after signing up and worked tirelessly with me throughout the winter months on predominantly my core strength and conditioning, which has made a huge difference, and I am sure is the reason I have survived the year essentially injury free. She believed in me from the start and has enthusiasm and a zest for life that surpasses anyone else I know, despite facing her own challenges. A genuinely fabulous person who will go on to inspire many more in the future. Thank you Fiona!
Crawford (Project 3)
I think perhaps the most important reason for writing this blog is because of Crawford. There is no way we would be anywhere close to where we are now if it wasn’t for his input over the last eight months. Despite looking after many top level athletes, he agreed to take us on (somewhat to my surprise) and we haven’t looked back since. He wasn’t put off by the sheer enormity of the challenge of getting me to the start of IMW (although has admitted more recently that he did have some concerns lol). But poor Crawford has had to put up with rather a lot of jip from me over this time – he is regularly chastised on my blog for making me work far too hard, or not letting me taper, gets rather a lot of rude comments when making me sprint up hills in his run sessions, and now knows not to even try to talk to me during his early Monday morning circuits classes as I’m much too grumpy. And that’s not to mention the endless emails and texts I send for advice/help. These complaints have all been received with good humour, whilst he continues to encourage me to achieve goals way beyond anything I would have thought possible. He is calm and polite at all times, and never makes anyone feel less worthy than anyone else. Indeed at his run sessions, which are attended by many frankly Olympic-standard athletes (or certainly so it seems to me), we are split into three groups – the fast group, the medium group and group 3. Suffice to say I am in group 3 and we all know this is the slow group, but he never calls us that which is a most thoughtful tactic. He has pushed me to limits I didn’t think were possible and both my fitness and performance have changed beyond recognition. I will not be the fastest on Sunday by a country mile, and indeed I still think it will be nothing short of a miracle if I finish before the cut off, but I know that with his guidance, help and support, I could not have been better prepared for the task in hand. If I do complete the race on Sunday I think he should be knighted and I will be writing to the Queen to tell her as much (although she does seem a little taken up with other issues currently).
In truth, it is likely we will keep training under Crawford’s watchful eye (don’t worry – I will not be doing another Ironman but we will continue with (shorter) triathlons and having seen our progress thus far, we would like to build on that) – if for no other reason than it is fantastically reassuring to have someone else take control of your training and not have to worry about doing too much/not doing enough/doing the wrong things etc etc. I would miss that Sunday night anticipation of looking up what my forthcoming week holds in store for me. I’m not 100% sure that I will be totally as compliant with my instructions with IMW out the way, and certainly I don’t anticipate the crisp eating situation will improve, but at least I won’t resort to cheating (unlike you Viv Gough with your ‘rounding up’ of hours on Training Peaks lol).
Crawford I cannot tell you how grateful I am to you for even agreeing to take me on, and then persevering patiently with me to get me here. Thank you.