My Triathlon Story By Russell Parry

From Fat Lad to Half Ironman (one day I’m upgrading this to Ironman!)

I started doing triathlons in 2013 at the age of 31. It was something I’d always wanted to try but had never actually done anything about. So what made me get round to it then?

At the end of 2009 I was unhealthy and overweight and took up running to get fit. I also found I enjoyed it which was a bonus. From starting with 0.6 mile loop (which used to kill me!), I built it up and completed many 10k runs, a half marathon and then my first marathon in Manchester in 2012. This was a massive achievement for me and it made me feel like I could do anything…but then I got a hamstring injury, which made running very painful.

I didn’t want to lose my hard-earned fitness so I decided to take up swimming as I’d been a decent club swimmer when younger. When I got back into the pool, I realised I was still pretty quick and still had the technique which helped a lot. So I continued to swim once a week and, as my hamstring injury recovered, went running as well. Whilst I was doing this my Dad entered and completed his first triathlon at the age of 58. I thought this was amazing and it inspired me to actually do a triathlon myself. I thought all I needed was a bike and I’d be good to go!! (I now know this isn’t true. The amount of kit you need is ridiculous and must be continually upgraded if you think it will make you faster!).

I started to research bikes and events and decided my first race would be the 2013 Clitheroe pool triathlon, which was a bit longer than a sprint distance at 400m pool swim, 30k bike and 8k run. So now I needed to get a bike. Not wanting to spend a fortune I was looking at an aluminium frame carbon fork and, as luck had it, my Dad’s friend was selling one. It had only been ridden a few times and was like new so I snapped it up. I got my Cube Attempt road bike for £500 (picture in the ‘My Bike’ forum). This was in January 2013 and I had till April to get myself ready. I hadn’t ridden a bike for years so I had to get straight on it and start practising even though it was winter and the weather was horrible. After many cold rides I was getting the hang of the bike and it definitely helped that I already had the fitness from my swimming and running. Then I got myself some more gear: tri shorts and top, clip on pedals and shoes (After doing my research I came to the conclusion these would make me quicker).

Before I knew it race day was upon me. I was nervous and excited at the same time but ready to go. The weather wasn’t on my side – it was absolutely awful and in my view must have been the wettest and windiest day on record! I got through the pool swim no problem. Then it was onto the bike. Conditions didn’t make it easy. In fact it was damn hard, especially the hill. Jeffrey Hill is a well known challenge on the bike route and I’d come across nothing like it in my training so it was a shock. Anyway, I struggled up and only made it due to my bike’s generous gearing. There were points where I thought I’d gone wrong on the course, not having seen any signs for a while, but I carried on and did eventually come across one. I also fell off at one point when my chain came off and brought the bike to a standstill without me clipping out (something I’ve found out most cyclists have done at some point). Luckily it was a soft landing and I managed to get back up and carry on. I rode into transition having completed a very slow 30k bike ride. I was shattered, but got round the run course to cross the line coming 170th out of 227. Not the greatest result, but for me it’s one of my best as the goal was to get round and nothing else. The weather certainly didn’t play ball and looking back it was so horrendous I don’t know why I ever wanted to try another one after this experience but I still enjoyed it and felt a great sense of achievement. My love for triathlon was born!

I’ve since done many sprint distance and standard races and even a half Ironman. I’ve been on the podium and represented my country at the European Championships in Geneva in 2015. So it’s been an amazing journey from being a fat lad jogging round the block. I’ve enjoyed doing triathlons with my Dad (who is still going strong at 61). His support, the support of my wife and kids cheering me on along the way and also the help, advice and encouragement I’ve had from all my family and colleagues has made a massive difference. I know my story isn’t unique and many of you have similar tales to tell. I created this site so that people can share their stories, experiences and love for everything swim, bike and run related.

So now you know my story. If you want to tell yours email it and I will publish it on the site.