I’d just flown in from Barcelona where I’d got this awesome tattoo of a muay Thai fighter on my thigh.
The plan on landing in Geneva, Switzerland was that I’d stay with Luc for the month at his family home in Lausanne.
It was August 2014 and a brilliant time to be in Europe.
Once I settled in at Luc’s place we immediately were able to find a gym that looked like it would be perfect.
The head coach there (Jamal) was a current Muay Thai world champion in his weight class and after an initial couple of group sessions, he agreed to teach me privately.
I’d fractured my toe in my first fight in Rio, but now it had healed up and I was ready to train/fight again.
It quickly became apparent after a month-long holiday with Luc, backpacking through South America that my month-long timeline in Lausanne would not give me the time I needed to actually get a fight in.
Things were different in Europe and there was red tape, medical checks, and regulations.
In Brazil, if you turned up to the gym regularly and it looked like you could fight – you could fight!
Luc and I were walking back from the supermarket when we came upon a sign
‘Enter TRILAUSANNE 29th August 2014’.
The timing was perfect.
I was in Lausanne and without being able to train for a fight – fighting didn’t quite carry the same gravitas. The thought in my mind was always – well what was this for then?
I tossed the idea around in my head for around 5 minutes.
It was Olympic distance, which was a 1.5km swim, 40km bike ride, and 10km run. The numbers sounded eminently achievable having come from an ultramarathon background where I was used to running many further distances.
Furthermore, I’d already booked in to do an Ironman the year after in South Africa (and had not given that any thought either) and so this seemed like a great way to get on that journey of figuring it out.
‘Fook it – let’s do it brother schlag!’ I chortled to Luc.
That day we both signed up for the event – and with it just 2 weeks out – we hastily began training.
Unfortunately, Luc was to rupture a ligament in his knee whilst we were training in a different gym over the holiday break.
Whilst Jamal was able to coach me privately, he wasn’t able to get me a fight in the timeline we had, so I’d joined another gym where it had initially looked like it might be promising.
The coaching was of a wholly worse standard, however – and we’d soon see this as Luc would twist his knee very sharply whilst extending his backhand and hurt something.
So our running sessions together came to an end – as we’d gone on runs in the hot summer sun and now it was up to me to swim, bike and run.
Training went as well as training can go when you have so little time to train.
Luc managed to find an old bike in his shed that I could use for training and would join me on some swims I did in the local swimming pool.
I’d never really liked bike riding or enjoyed swimming much – and as was clear to see – I was slow in both disciplines.
Really f*cking slow.
Luc and I would head to the local pool to do an hour-long swim in preparation for the triathlon (the longest swim I’d ever done before) – and we’d swim front crawl/breaststroke up and down the pool for an hour.
Alongside this, I’d take the mountain bike Luc found in his shed out around the local fields. Luc’s family lived just outside Lausanne in a small village called Chigny and there were country lanes that I could cycle down.
I’d go out for 30-45 minutes at a time and would cycle in sprints up and down these lanes until I felt ready to come back.
And was how I trained for an Olympic Triathlon.
Part of the training that I underwent whilst in Lausanne was talking and working through my relationship problems regarding Daniela with Luc.
We’d been broken up for around 18 months, and whilst I’d dated there was no one that anything meaningful had materialised with.
I’d taken this relationship break up much worse than the ones I’d been in previously with Tina, Charlene, and Maria because Daniela and I had lived together for several months in England and Spain.
Yet things didn’t work out.
And with Luc’s support in listening to me jabber and trying to work through the simple challenge of not trying to contact Daniela – he was helping me to try to find a final way forward.
The pain that I felt about how things turned out probably explains why I dived into many grand activities such as this.
I was seeking to swap emotional pain for physical pain – the much lesser of the two.
Race day had finally come!
Somehow I’d not read up on anything when it came to triathlons (Luc and I both) – and truth be told upon quick reflection – I’ve been a terrible student of all the sports I’ve been in pretty much.
I’ve never really googled ‘Olympic Triathlon Preparation’, ‘Correct Swimming Technique’ ‘Cycling triathlon, ‘Olympic Triathlon Lausanne’ ‘Olympic triathlon race day tips.
To be honest – writing this has given me a revelation all by itself that when it comes to sports I’m actually a terrible student.
(I’m now moving forward to do my best to correct that and spend at least 6-8 hours Googling, reading, taking notes and allocating a £100 budget per sport I’m involved in).
It’s easy to see now why it went the way it did, why the commentator came up to talk to me and why I was given a special mention at the end of the race.
Of course, I didn’t know any of this as the horn sounded and I jumped into the water and see off into the lake.
What a very memorable day this would prove to be, with a police escort…………
(Find out more in the next letter)