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The London Triathlon in aid of Cancer Research

Cancer Research UK
Just Giving


Part one, getting off the sofa.

After several family members and friends had battled with cancer I decided to try and raise some money for Cancer Research. I decided that a couple of years ago but couldn't think of anything I could do to help. A chain of events led me to the London triathlon. I'd been getting sore knees at work and eventually went for physio to sort them out. The physiotherapist is into triathlon and her boyfriend is very successful. She suggested I started cycling to strengthen my knee and swim a little as they're non-weight bearing exercises that would help with the repair. After several weeks I found myself completing an on-line entry form for the 2004 London Triathlon, mainly to secure a place but they relieved my account of the entry fee straight away and I was officially in the race!

The event takes place in Docklands on 1st August 2004 and involves a 1500m swim in The Royal Victoria Dock, a 40k bike ride and a 10k run (for those that still work in old money: just under 1 mile swim, 25 mile bike and 6.25 mile run). I've never been a swimmer or runner and haven't done either since they made me do it at school about 20 years ago. I've cycled a little but not for about ten years (since our wedding). I weighed in at 100.8kg (15 stone 12lbs) which is 23kg too much (close on four stone). Basically this is a log for someone who's attempting to go from a couch potato to triathlete and this is the place where sponsors can keep track of what's going on. If you would like to donate money to Cancer Research then press the Just Giving logo above or the thermometer on the left and you'll be taken to my on-line sponsorship page where you can give. If you use this method money will be transferred straight to their account and they'll avoid paying tax so the Chancellor will effectively add another 28% to your donation. Not bad eh? It's perfectly safe so there's no need to worry. Alternatively, you can physically give me the money and I'll pay it in.

Forget Atkins, if you want to exercise you should load up on your carbohydrates. There are simple and complex carbs, think of simple as a top up of your quick energy stores and complex as a slow release store. Aim to eat 3-5 grams per kilo of body weight per day for 3-5 hours of exercise per week and 6-7g/kg/day for 10 hours/week. 8-9g/kg/day for 20+ hours/week. So, if I'm exercising for 10 hours a week and I weigh 80kg (I wish!), the sum would look like this:

6 x 80 = 480g per day.

Atkins recommends 20g per day, you see why people feel tired on that diet? Read the labels of foods and load up, starch is complex carbs and sugar is simple carbs.

Quick Carb Meal
Two bananas and a tin of rice pudding, carbs: 115g

You need protein too, its used to repair and build muscle. Eat 1g for every pound of body weight per day.

My goal is not to finish last and make it around with some dignity still intact. I'll have to wear a wet suit so as long as there are no whaling ships in the area I should be alright. I'd love to raise a significant amount of money, around £500 and it'd be nice to get a few other people into exercise too. Remember, the healthier we all live the less chance we'll need the help of Cancer Research!

Read more about triathlon on the BBC sports academy site:

Right, let's kick off...

SwimJune 03:
I jumped in the pool at West Wickham at 6.30am one Tuesday morning and assumed I could swim. I couldn't see why they'd be a problem, probably just needed to build on my speed a little. Half an hour later I stumbled back to the changing room exhausted. I'd managed just over half a dozen lengths and that had me stopping after each one to catch my breath. It was really hard work. I had a headache through sucking water up my nose and felt shaky, my arms and legs throbbed with the effort. To top it all I couldn't swim the front crawl (recommended for the event) and had to mix the arm action of the breast stroke with the leg kick of the butterfly to avoid any knee pain from the breast stroke kick. At that time in the morning people are there to swim so it's fairly quiet. Until I arrived! Most of the noise was me coughing and gasping for air! Obviously I'm not a natural born swimmer. My layers of blubber didn't even help me to float.

July/August: Continued work on getting from one end to the other. Took things nice and easy, just getting used to being in the water. Speed picked up a bit, able to swim 800 metres in 35 minutes but still can't do the front crawl.

September: Took some time off work so had more time to spend in the pool. Struggled with the front crawl again and decided I needed some goggles to help. Increased my 'breast stroke' distance to 1667 metres. Bought goggles and still struggled but at least I can see where I'm going. Feel like a right idiot wearing them, can't imagine how I'll feel in a wet suit.

October: Swimming two times a week and front crawl is coming along slowly. Able to swim a whole length so I can get in some practice. Swim the crawl up the pool and breast stroke back (to recover). The big problem is breathing. I seem to get it all wrong when I get too tense, if I relax it seems to be OK. Keep getting my co-ordination all wrong so breathing out above the water and trying to breath in under. Getting sore shoulders and neck. Increased the distance again to 1800 metres in an hour, exactly half the speed I need for the day but only half that is using front crawl so there's still some more speed to come. I don't feel I'm using much strength to swim so hopefully there's more speed when I do. Only need to swim another 100 metres and I've covered the Half Ironman distance, now there's a thought!

BikeJune/July 03:
I've cycled before so knew what to expect. I took it easy to avoid putting too much pressure through my knees. The plan was to ride around the block and avoid the hills (which is difficult around here), taking things very easy until I build up some muscles to speed up and go further. Everything's going to plan and there's no problems other than the bike needing new parts, it's been in the shed too long.

August: My plan for cycling was to be able to cycle over Toys Hill by Christmas. (click <HERE> to see a map) and I just about managed it in the middle of August. I was over taken by an old lady on a shopping bike, complete with a basket of shopping, but that didn't stop me being happy about it. Toys Hill is the highest hill in Kent, rising from 66 to 235 metres in a little over a kilometre. Things are going better than expected.

September: More of the same and coming on well, managing to do my 32 mile cycle over Toys Hill in just over 2 hours 10 minutes. No longer using the lowest gears either. It's a real pleasure to be able to cycle through our country side. Knees are much better.

October: Dark nights are causing a problem. I haven't got time to get home and around the block before it gets dark. Wasn't really sure what to do but the people at mentioned a Trax Turbo Trainer. It's a frame that lifts the rear wheel off the ground and turns your bike into an exercise bike. The back wheel runs against a flywheel that you vary to simulate different conditions. I tried it out and it's good but because you're not moving you get really hot. Still, that's easier to take care of than freezing cold and wet. So it's the turbo twice during the week and the long Toys Hill ride on Sunday. I might need to increase the long Sunday ride. The idea is to exercise for the time of the race so you can get used to pushing for that length of time. I'll have to loop around and go over Toys Hill again!

Online Physio:
Triathlon Articles:
Triathlon Organisations:

RunJune 03:
I didn't have the knees for running so I thought walking would be a good idea. Apparently walking uses the same amount of energy as running so it should be a good way of building up to starting running. Went on loads of really nice walks, Toys Hill is nice; the South Downs, walking along from Ditchling Beacon car park and Bewl Water near Tunbridge Wells.

September: I've lost lots of weight (now 88kg) so I've started running. The physio said running is different because it's the only weight bearing event and the likelihood is I'll get hurt. Don't you hate it when people are right? I warmed up and stretched, like they tell you, got to the park and run ONE STEP and tore a muscle (adductor) in my left thigh . I didn't expect an injury that fast. Went back for more physio and she 'ultra sounded' it to get it to heal. The following week I got sore knees from running. Managing to run around two miles but I need to stop getting hurt. Soreness affects swimming but not cycling.

October: Still getting sore knees but ice and Deep Heat clears it up. It's gradually getting easier, can run two miles straight off but not much further. Joined the gym at the pool to build my muscles during the winter and use their tread mills. Apparently, rowing is a good exercise for runners as it strengthens the muscles used to balance the one's used to run. Got an insect bite while running that turned into 'cellulitis', had to take loads of antibiotics to get rid of it. I'm just not supposed to run!

For part 2, click: HERE

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