"Sydney was the first Paralympics where the competitors felt like equals, London is the first where they’ve been treated as heroes.”
So I managed to get tickets for myself and the family to go to see one of the Equestrian events at Greenwich Park. Saturday morning and a train journey got us to within sight of Greenwich Park nice and early so we popped into a nice pub which was open for coffees and breakfasts. After filling up on caffeine and croissants we headed off to the queue for the event.
|My two ladies about to queue|
A short wait and we were allowed in and followed the crowd until we reached security and those super efficient army men and women. Once through security we made our way into the event arena.
|The way into the arena - Savannah looks daunted|
We made our way to our seats and got settled in when I decided I wanted a coffee and a Cornetto ice cream. So up I jumped and fought through the crowds to the stalls. Unlike everywhere else we'd been on our Olympic journey there was not much queuing involved and I quickly got the coffee and Cornetto's and returned to my seat.
|The view from my seat.|
|Britian's Lee Pearson enters the Arena|
|Lee Pearson does his thing|
First though I had the Swineshead 10 miler to do. I've had a bit of a crap year as far as fitness goes and the run up to this run was no difference. I'd been in bed with a nasty cold a week before so I was still recovering but I'd missed this race the previous year due to an operation so I was not missing it again. The day of the race came and I was hoping this year to get under 1 hour 30 minutes. I should have realised that I was not in the best shape ever and on the day it was really really hot. I gave my wife a kiss and set off for the start line saying "I should be back in 90 minutes or so" - boy was that an optimistic guess.
We were off and I felt pretty good and was doing a reasonable pace, I thought I might actually make a personal best. It was all going well until I got to around mile six when the heat and my lack of fitness hit me hard. I was downing cups and cups of water at the water stops and went from a decent pace to crawling along inside a mile. For the first time ever I was forced to run/walk as I was feeling so crap. Along the way the occasional ambulance shot past on their way to a runner in trouble. Eventually I made it across the finish line where I was called over to a table lined with cold water. "Water?" I said, "I need a beer!"
My wife got me a beer, a hot dog and an ice cream all of which were consumed with relish as I crashed on a grass verge. My wife told me that the St John's ambulance people had been running about calling for the relatives of fallen runners. My time was a pitiful 1 hour 50 minutes and I felt rough. Even worse I had a triathlon to do in a few weeks.
So we come to the triathlon. I'd convince my work mate, a large Slovakian dude and cool guy, to come along and compete so that I'd not be on my own. First thing I discovered was just how bloody early these things start. Four thirty in the morning I had to get up to ensure I had time to have breakfast and get over to where the triathlon was being held. My mate turned up for me and we loaded my bike in the back of his car with his bike and we were off. We arrived in plenty of time and got registered, took ownership of our free fleece, race numbers and racked the bikes.
Sooner than I'd have liked I was in my trunks, chip attached to my ankle and queuing for the 400 meters swim. Then I was in the water and like a fly in soup I flapped along at an ever decreasing pace. Within a few laps my mate swam past - I already knew he was going to beat me on the swim. Thing is he may be a large guy but he's a good swimmer and better than me on the bike so the plan was to not let him get too far away in the swim and cycle part so that I had a chance to catch him on the run. I exited the pool and ran outside to the transition area and the 25k cycle ride and feck me it was cold. At the bikes I found my mate standing by his bike, naked - bollock naked - and getting changed. I think I said "Well fuck me!" before asking if I could borrow the towel. A quick dry of the hair and I flung on some shorts, my trainers and a light jacket and I was off followed closely by my mate who was being told off by a laughing lady over his nudity.
|Not at all looking knackered|
Getting into the T2 transition I could see my mate had already racked his bike and was nowhere to be seen. I had no idea how far ahead of me he was so no idea if I had enough time to catch him up. I racked the bike and set off on the run. First thing I noticed was that I was struggling to breath, my chest felt tight and I was wheezing. Oh dear, I thought, would I have to stop? Then ahead of me I saw my mate and that gave me a spur on. I jogged past and said hi but forgot to ask what lap he was on and, as this was a two and a half lap 5k, I had no idea if I'd just taken the lead or was still a lap behind. Luckily my breathing cleared and I could run more smoothly and enjoy the rest of the run.
|It's Mo Farah all over again !|