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Sat 15th Jun 2019
Bob is back...AND racing again!
Posted by: Bob Holloway
Posted on: Tuesday 16th September 2014

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No more false starts... Bob Holloway IS back, and he has returned to triathlon racing! One of Tri247's original columnists, Bob has suffered with some serious health problems in recent years and despite a few (false!) starts at returning to health, fitness and racing, it has been a long time since 2008.

Well, finally Bob has managed to make it back to the start line, lost a load of weight - and with that satisfied feeling from racing again. Here is his report from the Cotswold Sprint Triathlon.

Bob is back in action – honestly!

Like you, I have also lost count of the number of times in recent years I have blogged about my return to triathlon after hanging up my wheels in 2008. So many false starts, broken promises and too many pies. Compared to my ideal race weight of just over 10st, by the time I hit my 60th birthday in April, I had hit an all-time high of 13st 3lbs.

But there was something about reaching that milestone of 60 that made me think again about what I had been missing and what I had yet to achieve in both the sport of triathlon and duathlon. And so it was that five months ago, I brushed off the cobwebs from the bike, fitted it to my trusty turbo trainer – and died! Well, not quite, but it was hard work and even light pedalling sent the heart rate soaring. Clearly, there was a great deal of work to do if I was to get anywhere fit enough to race as I was once able to. I knew that with consistent training I could complete a triathlon, but could I compete at the sharp end?

As motivation, I entered the Windsor Sprint Triathlon and started to work hard on the bike. Run training was less frequent with no more than one session a week to start with, the aim being to up the rate once the weight had started to shift. I also started weekly open water swim sessions at Datchet Lake. My first session in the water lasted 200m with a recovery stop at each of the three marker buoys! This was certainly not going to be easy!

In the end, I didn't race at Windsor. By the end of May I was up to running five miles at a comfortable eight minute miling pace but on the Sunday before Windsor, my left calf gave out and ended up walking the last two miles back home. After a week's abstention, I resumed running, but only once a week. But even this didn't do the trick. The calf let me down again in August and this time I decided to abstain totally from running for three weeks to allow it to recover and heal. I took solace in the amount of hard work I was doing on the turbo trainer and crossed my fingers that there would be a cross over effect on my running.

Having missed Windsor, I was determined to test my new found fitness, relatively speaking! I therefore turned to an old friend, the Cotswold Sprint Triathlon. This had always been my end of season favourite race where I had managed to win my age group on three out of the four occasions I raced there between 2001 and 2004. Back in the day, I could knock out the race in 65 minutes and however hard I tried to banish the thought from my mind, there was always a voice in my head telling me that I could still perform at that level. But on my training times, I thought that a target of 1hr 20 mins was achievable, though with so little run training or brick sessions, I had serious concerns about how the run would turn out.

So there I was at 8.00am on Sunday 7th September standing before an expanse of water with mixed feelings. It was great to be back racing again and soaking up the pre-race atmosphere but there was also a shedload of nerves about this voyage into the unknown. I had managed a handful of 750m open water swims but racing it would be another matter. In the end, I decided to take it steady but was disappointed to clock a time of 16min 48s. I had been managing times around 15mins in training and thought that I had put in more effort and slowed down less on race day. Perhaps the swim was long or maybe I took it too steady?

Being race rusty, I forget about using a stronger leg kick over the final section to get blood into the legs. It was no surprise therefore when I struggled to walk upright on my way to T1. I also felt dizzy and sick, which made me think whether I really was up to this racing lark. I then went to the wrong rack and wasted even more time. In the end, T1 took 2mins 32s, a world (slow) record for me at the sprint distance!

But all the doom and gloom was soon forgotten as I hit the road on my new Planet-X Exocet 2. This was the first time I had ridden her on the open road and boy did she move. To cut a long story short, I completed the 12.5 mile bike section in 33min 42s, a personal best for the race! Entering T2, I felt rejuvenated if not slightly wary about the next stage.

Planet-X Exocet 2

It didn't take me long to realise that I had not brought my running legs with me. Perhaps I should have tried harder to erase any memory of the days when I could complete this run in 17 mins (yes, it was under-distance) but as I jogged around the two lap course and was overtaken by more folk than I could manage, the difference between then and now became increasingly apparent. OK, my run training hadn't gone to plan and although I managed to get my weight down to 12 stone by race day, this was still a stone or so over my ideal race weight. I completed the 5km run in just over 24 minutes which wasn't bad, though I can't help feeling that it is still under distance. I also managed to complete the run without stopping which had been one of pre-race aims.

I crossed the finish line in 1hr 19mins, just inside my pre-race target of 1hr 20mins. So mission accomplished and with the satisfaction that with a solid winter's training and more weight loss, I could be racing next season somewhere close to the form I enjoyed back in the day.

So yes, Bob is back, and this time, for real!

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