Meet a triathlete friend – Gary Painting

I’ve not really had time to post much in the last 10 days so am going to post my next ‘meet a triathlete friend’.

Many of you will know Gary Painting as the Event Director of Southampton parkrun. However, Gary is also a triathlete! I’ve known Gary for several year’s now since meeting at parkrun.

Here’s some info on his life as a triathlete so far…

What do you do when you’re not competing or training?
Well unfortunately I have to work (which really interrupts my training!) but far more interesting is that I’m lucky enough to be the Event Director of Southampton parkrun, it keeps me pretty busy but I take great pride in being a part of such a great event that brings so many people together. I can also be found playing darts, playing guitar or singing along to Meat Loaf.
How long have you been a triathlete?
I guess since I got into the pool of my first Tri at last years May Day Tri (not really having a clue what I was doing at that point). Thoroughly enjoyed it and opened my eyes as to how different a challenge it was to just running.
What got you hooked on triathlons?
That has to be watching the 2012 Olympic men’s race, was the first time I’d actually watched a triathlon. Just looked like so much fun and felt like something I had to try, then after that first event I was totally hooked.
Who are your triathlon inspirations?
Liz Carter, I’ve only met her a few times but she always seems to be having the most amazing time!
What have you been particularly proud of achieving in triathlon?
I feel I’m only just getting started in triathlon so nothing too major yet but was really chuffed with completing my first Olympic distance with the run split not being far off my 10K PB.
What does your typical training week consist of?
I’m really bad at making a plan and sticking to it, I just try to do a lot and work on my weaknesses. I cycle to work and back every day, do a turbo session and a long ride every week, swim a couple of lunchtimes and run when my hip co-operates. (I have bursitis in my hip at the moment so my running has pretty much ground to a halt, which is really annoying as I mainly run to stay sane).
What’s your favourite triathlon discipline and why?
That has be the run. I’ve been running for 5 years or so it’s by far my strongest discipline, (so I’m glad it comes at the end!) I’m not a great runner but do ok, so it’s nice to chase some people down who have overtaken me on the bike!
What’s your least favourite triathlon discipline and why?
I guess that would have it be the swim, I really enjoy swimming but it’s that threat of drowning, being set upon by sea creatures or taking a kick to the face that gets me nervous more than the bike and run. These are all the stupid things that are going through my head whilst on the outside trying to keep a smooth and relaxed stroke!
What triathlon targets do you have in your sights?
I’m doing Challenge Weymouth half iron distance in September, that will do for now. I will have to do a full ironman in the next few years though… half anything just isn’t job done!
What’s your favourite triathlon event (e.g. sprint, Olympic, Half or Full)?
Having only done a few sprints and one Olympic distance I’d have to say Olympic. I’m hoping come September I’ll be able to say half!
What’s your favourite triathlon event so far?
Has to be the mass race in Hyde Park last year as part of the ITU grand final. It was my first Olympic distance so was a big deal at the time, running on the famous blue carpet was pretty cool and the fact I won my place there through parkrun made it even better!
If you could share one triathlon tip or secret to success, what would it be?
Do loads of brick sessions! Running off the bike was the biggest thing for me to get used to, and of course make sure you find a way to enjoy it.
What’s your favourite triathlon related gadget, piece of equipment or web site?
I haven’t gone crazy on gadgets just yet, not as much as I’d like too anyway. At the moment it has it be my aero bars, makes me feel like a pro.
What’s your next triathlon and what are your goals for that event?
Next up is Worthing Olympic distance next Sunday (6th July). Target is to survive my first sea swim, get through the run without annoying my hip too much, and beat last years time from Hyde Park.

Meet a triathlete friend – Paul Thomas

It’s a rest day today and that means that other than the blog post I wrote at silly o’clock this morning, I’m taking it easy. However, it gives me an opportunity to post another ‘meet a triathlete friend‘ post. This one’s about a fellow Southampton Tri Club member, Paul Thomas.

I see Paul weekly at the Monday evening STC swim (he’s a much faster swimmer than me!) and more recently also at the Wednesday morning pre-dawn swim session. Paul is also competing in the Challenge Weymouth Half Distance Triathlon in September.

I’ve struggled to find a picture of Paul without him holding a beer… 😉 Let’s get straight on with the Q&A!

What do you do when you’re not competing or training?

When I’m not competing I am either working, sleeping or playing with my two children. Life is busy!!

How long have you been a triathlete?

I have only been doing triathlon for 18 months and got hooked from the 1st event.

What got you hooked on triathlons?

I did a sprint distance with new work colleagues at Eton Dorney. I swore I would never do it again all the way round but as soon as I crossed the line I knew I would do another just to see how much time I could take off.

Who are your triathlon inspirations?

Inspirational figures have to include Rick and Dick Hoyt who, despite massive obstacles to overcome, they competed in the world champs in Hawaii several times with a smile on their face the whole way.

What have you been particularly proud of achieving in triathlon?

My proudest moment came in my first event this year where I smashed my sprint pb by a huge margin at Eton Dorney. 1:11:52 I think. Despite an average swim and a stitch on the run I felt like I had a good bike leg and avoided jelly legs.

What does your typical training week consist of?

Training is now ramping up significantly as a result of working towards half iron distance in September. I am starting to swim 2.5 hrs a week, 2hrs running, 2.5hrs cycling. Some would argue not enough but I still need to enjoy life!!!

What’s your favourite triathlon discipline and why?

I change my mind every time about my favourite discipline. I like all of the them. However, because I have been plagued with calf injuries all year, when I can run, I really enjoy and appreciate it.

What’s your least favourite triathlon discipline and why?

I’m becoming less happy about the swim part after getting a full on kick to the face in my last event which almost ended my race.

What triathlon targets do you have in your sights?

Triathlon target for me this year is to complete Challenge Weymouth Half Distance. My only other challenge this year was to finish in the top half of every event I do. So far I have achieved top third so I am ahead of target.

What’s your favourite triathlon event (e.g. sprint, Olympic, Half or Full)?

My favourite event is probably Olympic purely because you feel more in a rhythm and less rushed than you do in a sprint.

What’s your favourite triathlon event so far?

My favourite event so far was Eton Dorney Evening Sprint. Probably because of my finishing time and the awesome conditions

If you could share one triathlon tip or secret to success, what would it be?

I think I am still too new to this sport to give any tips. One thing I did pick up from someone was to wear two swim hats when the water is cold. It did make a difference.

What’s your favourite triathlon related gadget, piece of equipment or web site? 

Favourite gadget is just my simple little bike computer. I think I bought it for £20 but it is invaluable to me on the bike leg as I know what pace to hold comfortable. It keeps me pushing without killing myself.

What’s your next triathlon and what are your goals for that event?

Next triathlon is the local Eastleigh Open Water Triathlon event. My goal is to go sub 1:10 as the swim is shorter (unless they measure it wrong again!!). Hopefully that would be enough to give me a top 30 place ish

Another great triathlon story from Paul. I have a few more in the wings and will post them soon. If you’re a triathlete friend and I’ve not asked you to participate yet, don’t worry! Your time will come!!

Meet a triathlete friend – Neil Clelland

One day and two ‘Meet a triathlete friend’ posts.

Neil is another triathlon friend who I met at the Wednesday morning STC swim sessions several months ago.

Neil has recently completed in Ironman 70.3 Mallorca earlier in the year and you’ll read more about his amazing experience below.

As with the other posts in this series, I’ve asked Neil to answer questions related to his triathlon history, experience as well as asking him for advice.

What do you do when you’re not competing or training?

I enjoy wasting time with my wife, which usually means chatting in coffee shops or getting absorbed in Game of Thrones. I also play guitar in a local punk band.

How long have you been a triathlete?

I did my first triathlon in 2009, but due to circumstances I then didn’t do any for a couple of years. I started to get back into it in 2012.

What got you hooked on triathlons?

I was hooked as soon as I crossed the finish line of that first race in 2009. I had some friends who were signing up for a triathlon and asked me if I wanted to join them, so we could train together and have a bit of fun. Whilst I knew I could run 10km, I could not imagine swimming 1500m or riding 40km – let alone doing them one after the other. As it happened I signed up and then the race sold out before my friends had entered, so I ended up doing the training and everything on my own. It took a lot perseverance, but I have never forgotten the feeling of pure joy and satisfaction I got from finishing. Entering that race was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Who are your triathlon inspirations?
I get inspiration from the achievements of those around me. Within Southampton Triathlon Club and around Southampton there are many people who are competing on the world stage and people, like yourself James, who are making a massively positive impact on those around them with their help and support through various clubs and parkrun etc. These are all down-to-earth, humble and “normal” people who are achieving extra-ordinary things – it is a privilege to be around them.

What have you been particularly proud of achieving in triathlon?

In 2012 I did a number of events for charity raising over £2500 in the process. The idea was to do a total of 500 km across 4 running events (Exbury 10km, Wiltshire 10 mile, Reading half marathon, Gloucester marathon) and 4 triathlons (Crystal Palace sprint, Steelman Olympic, Marlow Half distance, Midnight Man Full distance). I was definitely proud of myself for completing this, especially as I’d never run a marathon or done a triathlon that was longer than Olympic distance.

What does your typical training week consist of?

Swim: STC swim sessions on Mon, Wed and Sat; Bike: turbo trainer on Tues, long ride on Sunday; Run: try to get a couple of lunchtime runs in during the week, mixing recovery; tempo and hill sessions. This year, I’ve also been adding in 2-3 specific core and strength sessions per week.

What’s your favourite triathlon discipline and why?

I am enjoying my bike at the moment. This is the area I’ve improved the most since starting triathlon, so it is satisfying to see that.

What’s your least favourite triathlon discipline and why?

This would have to be the swim. If I didn’t do triathlon, I would only splash about in hot countries on holiday.

What triathlon targets do you have in your sights?

In 2012, when I did the Midnight Man, I hated the training and I hated the race. I think this came down to the fact that I did not have a good enough fitness base to build upon. I feel I did not give the distance the respect it requires. Having said that, I would love to have another go at it, when I feel I am more ready. In fact, I have it provisionally planned for 2021 – so it’s definitely a long-term target!

What’s your favourite triathlon event (e.g. sprint, Olympic, Half or Full)?

Half. You can’t fake a half, you have to put the training in – but it is not quite so life-consuming as a Full.

What’s your favourite triathlon event so far?

I’d have to say the IM 70.3 Mallorca that I did this year. The bike course was just stunning and with it being Julian’s stag do, there were a lot of friendly faces on the course.

If you could share one triathlon tip or secret to success, what would it be?

It would probably be to find a training program or approach which has a rationale that resonates with you. There is a lot of contradictory information and advice flying about, but I think if you find something that you believe will work, then the chances are it will work for you.

What’s your favourite triathlon related gadget, piece of equipment or web site?

It would have to be my Garmin. I have the old 310XT and it is a bit like having a an old desktop computer on my wrist, but it comes with me everywhere – I love the data and the analysis.

What’s your next triathlon and what are your goals for that event?

I am doing the Swashbuckler at the start of July. It is the first time my inlaws are coming to cheer me on, so my goal is to be sprinting up the final hill through Bucklers Hard as a vision of power and strength. Seriously though, as naff as it sounds, my primary goal for every event is to try and enjoy it and feel that I have given the best of myself. If I can beat last years time of 5:33 as well, that would be great too!

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Meet a triathlete friend – Ian Fearon

It’s time for another ‘meet a triathlon friend’ post and today’s is from Ian Fearon.

Ian is another friend that I met through parkrun and a very keen triathlete (although I only found out about this fairly recently!)

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What do you do when you’re not competing or training?

Dream about competing and training! It’s a constant thing, as are all passions. Aside from that I work damn hard at work and also love spending time with the kids and family. Oh, and I play Candy Crush. Way too much!!!

How long have you been a triathlete?

Since 2010. I did a marathon in Eindhoven and suffered massively with ilitotibial band syndrome. So I told myself no more marathons, but I needed something to do so I took up cycling and then convinced myself to give tri a go. I couldn’t swim for toffee and remember the first day in the pool, 4 lengths almost killed me!

What got you hooked on triathlons?

Lycra. Love the stuff 🙂 And you can run around in public in it and no-one bats an eyelid! Aside from that I have no idea. It’s just something that grew on me and constantly made me want more, to go further, and the irony is that I started tri to do something else other than marathons and ended up doing iron distance! Perhaps one thing for me, as the worlds biggest introvert, is the solitude of long-distance training and the time it gives me to be with myself. And maybe it’s the feeling of achievement that you get from setting yourself a big challenge and then doing something amazing.

Who are your triathlon inspirations?

Dave Scott and Mark Allen; possibly the two greatest Ironman athletes the world has ever seen. The book that tells their story, Iron War, is a compelling read and puts you right into their heads. They are amazing athletes, totally committed, hugely competitive but in two totally different ways. And they achieve what they have for little reward compared to some of the overpaid athletes and sports stars who achieve far less.

What have you been particularly proud of achieving in triathlon?

Iron distance at Outlaw. Finishing an iron distance race was such an amazing feeling , and the pride came from setting myself a target, putting the hours in, and achieving something I will never forget. I finished it in 12:16, a time to this day I still wonder how the hell I did it!

What does your typical training week consist of?

I have a very rigid structure and routine so I always know what I am doing on a given day and my family always know where I am! I find that way I can fit in everything else that I need to do. That said, I’m not running at the moment due to a bad knee injury, which also stops me cycling too far. Typically I swim open water at 6am every Tuesday and Saturday at Eastleigh Lakeside and do a long pool swim on a Thursday night. I bike to work most days (commuting in a car is such a waste of training time!) and do a slightly longer ride on a Saturday. But battling broken bones in my back and a bad right knee has made me cut back on training time. I will be back in full swing soon I hope.

What’s your favourite triathlon discipline and why?

Running. Love it. Which is why I’m so frustrated currently as I can’t run due to injury.

What’s your least favourite triathlon discipline and why?

Everyone’s least favourite is the swim and I’m no different! But I’m improving though and better technique learned in SwimExpert lessons has taken me a long way.

What triathlon targets do you have in your sights?

I don’t have any currently as I want to focus on healing. If I were to dream and be injury free, I would say I want to do a sub-12 Ironman. If fully fit I know I have it in me. One day……

What’s your favourite triathlon event (e.g. sprint, Olympic, Half or Full)?

I have to say full. The training is a challenge in itself, and the day itself is a complete roller coaster of emotion which ends in a feeling of elation that is totally amazing. And you get to do lots of everything you love!

What’s your favourite triathlon event so far?

I don’t like the big events, the mega ones that are way too commercial and designed to cram as many triathletes in as they possibly can to make more money. I fell foul of that in a tri last year – the organisers cut so many corners when it came to safety which I feel was a major factor in a bad accident I had in transition.

I know I keep saying the same thing but to answer the question I would have to say Outlaw, an iron-distance event held in Nottingham. It’s so well organised, numbers are sensibly capped, and spectators are catered for brilliantly in all of the three disciplines so the family really felt like a big part of my day. I even stopped for a chat with them half way through the run 🙂

If you could share one triathlon tip or secret to success, what would it be?

Leave no stone unturned and plan everything. Have a plan and stick to it, unless you get an injury and then you need to adjust sensibly. And pay attention to every last detail – for Outlaw I even found out what hydration they were giving out on race day and used that exclusively in training. Little things like that can affect your body on race day with big effects.

What’s your favourite triathlon related gadget, piece of equipment or web site?

I have to say my trusty Garmin 910XT. It does everything with me, tells me how many lengths I have done in the pool (counting is so hard!) and tells me how fast I on on foot or wheels. And as a compete statto it gives me lots of numbers I can use to plot pretty graphs :-).

What’s your next triathlon and what are your goals for that event?

As I say, injury means I don’t have one. But in my dreams…. I am going to cross an Ironman finish line….as the clock says 11:59:59……

Many thanks Ian. Great answers and advice. I have to say that Outlaw is definitely on my to-do list after Ian’s recommendation and I have to agree that Garmin 910XT is a major bit of triathlon tech which I couldn’t live without.

Meet a triathlete friend – Donna Lovelock

It’s time for my 2nd ‘Meet a triathlete friend’ and this time let me introduce Donna Lovelock to you.

I’ve known Donna for a few years as a fellow parkrunner although over the last 9 months or so, our paths have crossed on many occasions including regularly sharing a lane at Monday evening STC pool sessions (and the occasional Saturday morning), some aquathlons and lake swims at Eastleigh Lakes and a few parkruns. D

Donna also helps me a lot at Southampton junior parkrun both as a Run Director and also managing the volunteer rota each week. Really appreciate Donna’s help with that.

Donna has completed the London Marathon as has set her goal for next year of completing an Ironman!

Right, lets’s go. It’s question time…

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What do you do when you’re not competing or training?

Sleep, eat and help out at Southampton junior parkrun!

How long have you been a triathlete?

About 2 years

What got you hooked on triathlons?

A friend of mine was into tri’s and convinced me to enter one, then I injured my knee skiing and couldn’t run for almost a year so started cycling instead and it went from there.

Who are your triathlon inspirations?

Chris McCormack, ironman legend!

What have you been particularly proud of achieving in triathlon?

Completing a middle distance at the end of my first proper tri season. I don’t do things by half measures!

What does your typical training week consist of?

My usual sessions are ones with Lordshill Road Runners and Southampton Tri Club and the rest I make up as I go along but it’s something like this:

Monday: LRR run, STC swim

Tuesday: circuits, STC track (turbo in the winter)

Wednesday: cycle to and from work, STC swim or LRR run

Thursday: cycle to and from work

Friday: rest or run

Weekends: whatever I feel like doing depending on the weather!

What’s your favourite triathlon discipline and why?

Getting the bling at the end! As for the disciplines… I don’t really have one, I tend to plod them all. If I had to pick, possibly the bike, but I’m not as fast on it as I’d like to be!

What’s your least favourite triathlon discipline and why?

Getting out of bed at stupid o’clock. As for the actual tri its self… if I had to choose, probably the run. It’s tough running off the bike and I’m lazy and don’t do anywhere near enough brick work!

What triathlon targets do you have in your sights?

2015 Ironman

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What’s your favourite triathlon event (e.g. sprint, Olympic, Half or iron)?

Half Iron. I’m definitely a diesel, not a petrol engine!

What’s your favourite triathlon event so far?

Boscombe Salty Sea Dog series. Out and backs can be dull but it also means you get to see your friends who are competing several times on the bike and the run and shout encouragement!

If you could share one triathlon tip or secret to success, what would it be?

Chill out! Enjoy your training, do what you feel like. Don’t get fixated on religiously following training plans to the last detail or scrutinising your Garmin every 30 seconds and definitely eat whatever you like! (Err, maybe don’t follow this advice if you’re serious about triathlon and want to post good race times!!)

What’s your favourite triathlon related gadget, piece of equipment or web site?

Wiggle.co.uk (And I do love my bike!)

What’s your next triathlon and what are your goals for that event?

Swashbuckler. My first goal is to not drown in the Beaulieu river! 2nd is to not get caught in cross winds during my first bike outing with 80mm rims. Lastly, to not die on the run due to a distinct lack of long run training!

Many thanks for sharing some of your triathlon story with me Donna! I find it hard to believe any triathlete that considers themselves lazy! 🙂

Meet a fellow triathlete – Chris Stocks

Well, to save me having to write my own blog post, I’ve enlisted the help of a friend and fellow triathlete to fill up a post by answering some questions with some interesting answers. I’ve chosen friends who don’t have blogs so we find about about those that may not already share much of their triathlon journey.

In my first such ‘Q&A’ style post, I’ve chosen Chris Stocks. I’ve known Chris for a few years as a fellow parkrunner and, more recently, as a fellow triathlete although he’s competed in triathlon for about 10 years.

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Chris is a regular volunteer at both Eastleigh parkrun and Southampton junior parkrun. He’s a quick runner who’s competed in many local events. A few weeks ago, he was the Race Director for the Braishfield Beer Run.

I put a list of questions to Chris and he was quick to respond. So, here you go…

What do you do when you’re not competing or training?

I am a dad and a grandad so getting to see everyone and keeping up with who is doing what and when keeps me on my toes. I try to help friends out with planning targets for their training and get involved with parkrun as much as I can. Watching the Juniors really inspires me.

How long have you been a triathlete?

My first triathlon was in 2004 and since then I have managed about 28. I have stepped up a bit in recent years with more friends joining the sport.

What got you hooked on triathlons?

I am not a fast runner, I am not a fast swimmer, I am no Bradley Wiggins and have very little talent but I am determined and have good endurance. I see 3 chances to do better as a bonus.

Who are your triathlon inspirations?

I’m sure you are expecting me to say Brownlows and I am always amazed by them. I am going to say Barbara Metz Lindquist. She was in the 2004 Olympics and was just awe-inspiring.

What have you been particularly proud of achieving in triathlon?

I have a history with open water swimming and had to overcome some serious fears and memories. I am proud I can swim in open water.

What does your typical training week consist of?

I won’t bore you with it all but it goes a bit like this:-
M run
T swim run bike
W rest
Th swim bike run
F bike
S run
Su compete or watch others compete.

What’s your favourite triathlon discipline and why?

My favourite discipline is the run because you get to finish and feel amazing.

What’s your least favourite triathlon discipline and why?

The run because it is the hardest for me and hurts the most.

What triathlon targets do you have in your sights?

I want to complete an Ironman. I may never get there but I will never stop chasing it.

What’s your favourite triathlon event (e.g. sprint, Olympic, Half or Full)?

I love sprint. It takes me around 1:20 or less and suits me best.

What’s your favourite triathlon event so far?

My favourite event so far has to be Cotswold Super Sprint because I had lots of friends in the race with me and I was really lifted by that.

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If you could share one triathlon tip or secret to success, what would it be?

Relax !

What’s your favourite triathlon related gadget, piece of equipment or web site?

I use MTV/x clips on my shoes
Mountain bike peddle clips. Smaller, stronger and adjustable.

What’s your next triathlon and what are your goals for that event?

Eastleigh Open Water 29/6/14 sub 1:20 and faster transitions.

So, there you go. We regularly see Chris at local events and now you know a little more about his triathlon journey to date.

If you’d like to share your story (especially if you don’t have a blog where you’ve shared information before), please get in touch. Otherwise, I may well ask if you meet the criteria!