Team Wales official photographer inspired to take up Triathlon after photographing the event in Australia
Ian Cook Team Wales Commonwealth Games photographer decided to give Triathlon a go after photographing Triathlon events last summer
Here is his story
Where did I begin
I have been on the Triathlon scene for a while, well in a working sense anyway. As a working photographer, I have covered many events from the London 2012 Olympic games, ITU Triathlon events and local Triathlon's such as Mumbles, Gower Tri & Long course weekend and been commissioned by 220 Triathlon magazine.
Competing in a Triathlon never really crossed my mind, but it was my time in Australia as Team Wales photographer that got me thinking about it. During my first week in Australia I was staying in an apartment with members of the Welsh Triathlon team Beverley Lewis and Amy Jenner and over the week we became good friends, NOT that I was there a lot as my hours were crazy, so I only ever got back late in the evenings.
A few months after the games, I received an email from Welsh Triathlon asking if I was available to photograph thier upcoming Bala Triathlon event. It was here I got to know the other members of Welsh Triathlon and we all got on great.
I remember Amy and one of her colleagues discussing going for an early morning swim. So I asked what time? To which the reply was “5am” To which I replied with the word “NUTTERS sod that for a game of soldiers”. Thinking to myself knowing a full day of work was ahead of us and they are on about going for a swim. Utter madness to me anyway.
During the Bala Tri event, it got me thinking could I do a Triathlon? After all, I am a middle-aged man just turned 41, well overweight at 14 ½ stone. I was so unfit, stuck in a rut. On the way home and I was toying with the idea about doing a Triathlon as a goal for next year.
A few weeks passed and an old mate of mine contacted me to say he’s going to do a Triathlon next year. The idea again popped into my head, so I started researching training for Triathlon beginners and after a few days, I contacted Amy asking if doing a Go-Tri would be a good way to introduce myself into the world of Triathlon. She mentioned one in October, but that for me (at the time) was too soon. I said I’m looking at next year sometime. Amy suggested I join a Triathlon club, so I signed up to Welsh Triathlon and joined my first club in South Wales.
The next step
I made the jump I was now training for my first Triathlon. When asked what my weakest discipline was, the answer was all three of them. I hate running, I could swim but not far, and I hadn’t ridden a bike for many years. My friend recommended joining my local couch to 5km programme, to which I did, and it surprised me that I actually started to look forward to going for runs as it was in a community of people in the same boat as me, well in terms of wanting to get fitter and lead a healthier lifestyle.
My first swimming session at my Triathlon club was a nerve-biting one, but after a few minutes that was all gone, and I surprised myself how far I could swim in my first session. Over a 1000 meter in an hour (lots of stops) but after that, I felt good. I now knew what drills were and I knew I could incorporate that into my swimming sessions in my local gym. Biking wise I went and bought the cheapest bike I could find off eBay £150 for a road bike - bargain. My mate loaned me his turbo trainer, so I could cycle indoors, and this was where I had lack of experience. As I am short 5’ 6” the bike I bought had 650 wheels, so didn’t realise the wheel dimensions etc. Only 700 wheels could I get a training tyre for. Oh well, we live and learn.
About a month into my training all was going well, I had picked up loads of useful information from the club Facebook members page. It’s amazing that you can go in as a complete novice and be accepted and everyone is friendly and offering advice or sharing their experience on whatever topic you need to know about. This was a big help to me. I was chatting to my mate and we were discussing how his training was going when he dropped the bombshell “I’ve signed up for my first Triathlon”. I was like what are you mad? But then I realised that my mate has been doing marathons for a while, so l thought that he is already halfway there.
He said I should enter “No chance”. But after a few days, my training was going well I could swim 400m comfortably and my C25K programme on track, I could start to see my fitness levels improve. I started going on bike rides on the weekend with my mate Paul and knew then that I needed to work on my bike endurance, as it was shocking. A few weeks after my mate dropped the bombshell, I did it. I signed up for my first Triathlon. What the hell had I just done, was I ready? HELL NO, but I thought it’s an entry level Tri and a good one to see what it was all about, and one to see how I cope with it, and to let me know what I need to really work on. When I informed my mate that I had entered he was buzzing and asked me what time would I like to finish it in. My reply was simple I didn’t have a time goal, my goal was just to complete it and I didn’t care if I was last. I just wanted to do it and learn from the experience.
Part two coming soon………..