It is the universal law of triathlon that just as you find some form in one discipline, you lose it in another. So it is with me at the moment where I have FINALLY started to put together some reasonable running results, only for my cycling form to plummet faster than a fat man off a diving board. My return to running form started in a cross-country league race back in March. I was racing in a 12k road run the very next day so in a bid to save my legs for a possible cash prize, I set off at a sedate pace for a nice bimble round the fields. Unfortunately, unknown to me, my coach Dave Watson was there watching his partner in the ladies race, and he spied me taking it easy near the back of the pack.
For the next 35 minutes or so the rest of the pack was treated to the sight of a purple-faced coach bellowing threats at a red-faced athlete who looked like he was running for his life. As I am more scared of Dave than I am of death, I consequently overtook 40 people, smashing my PB and recording my highest ever finish. My fear continued through to the next day when I ran another PB and finished 11th. Since then things have kept getting better. A top 20 finish in the Regency 10k in a new PB of 36.20 and two WINS (old fart’s category anyway) in the Massey’s Easter 5-miler and the May Godiva Harriers 5-miler where I crossed the line as the fastest over-40. Such is my new found confidence that I’ve entered Bristol 10k in search of another PB, and I have now have unrealistic hopes of the same at the Coventry half-marathon and Stockholm marathon. Those who know me will no doubt think that this level of optimism proves that when it comes to my sanity, the cheese has finally slid off the cracker. In cycling though, things are coming apart. In 10 mile TTs last year I was knocking on the door of 22 minutes – this year I’m just about scraping past the bog-seat of 24 minutes. What’s gone wrong? Partly it’s due to my accident last year in that I lost three months of training and a shed-load of confidence.
I realised that I must be quite tense on the bike when I finished my first “10” of the season when the lads almost had to prise my fingers off my tri-bars with a claw hammer, and I spent the next 15 minutes wandering round looking up at the sky because my neck muscles were locked up tighter than an escort in Boy George’s flat. Another reason for my slowing speeds could be my new job. Readers with good memories may recall I worked for National Express, a company which operates a series of manned mobile toilets around the UK’s motorway network. Well, earlier this year I left the fascinating world of bus stops behind for a job working at Sustrans, the cycling and walking charity.
My job now is to help manage the National Cycle Network, which means that I spend most of my days doing miles and miles on a mountain bike which weighs about two-tons compared to my lovely Focus Cayo, and which frankly is knackering me out. Not that I’m complaining, because as I’m now paid to cycle all day that technically makes me a Pro. My mates are not at all jealous of my new job, and have in no way threatened to kidnap me and sell me to Bulgarian gangsters if I don’t shut up about how much fun I’m having. Having mentioned running and cycling it would be remiss of me not to mention swimming, especially as I have had some more success here, albeit thoroughly undeserved. Our new swimming coach at Coventry Masters entered a bunch of us into races at the Midland Masters Swimming Gala.
Given that the last time I swam in a gala was 25 years ago I’m happy to say I won silver and bronze medals in the 200m freestyle relay and the 200m medley relay – the operative word in both cases being “relay”, which meant that, much like Paul Gasgoigne, I was carried home by three blokes. The gala was surprisingly tiring though – not because of the swimming but because of how exhausting it is posing around the pool with your waist sucked in and your chest puffed out. My efforts proved that I’m no stranger to beautiful women…. I’m an irrelevance to beautiful women. Tune in next time for more of this rubbish, PLUS race reports on my 10k, half-marathon, marathon, some hooky time-trials and finally some triathlons, as I take a break from Ironman training to take on my first Olympic distance race since 2005. Ps – I’d like to dedicate this column to my dad Roy Brunt who passed away in March at the age of 80. He bought me my first bike, taught me to ride it, and then cycled with me every weekend – mostly, it has to be said, to the pub which has created a lifelong link for me between cycling and pleasure. For this alone, he is my hero.