Ed Stivala Athlete Ambassador
Ed was overweight and unfit but that didn't stop him from working hard and becoming a triathlete. He talks to Sundried about training and racing.
Have you always been into sport?
No! I took a break from sport after a crushing defeat in the Egg and Spoon Race at age six and did nothing until I was in my late forties and starting to see the big 50 on the horizon. But at nearly twenty stone and with years of inactivity behind me, I suppose most people assumed getting fit would never happen… let alone competing in Age Group Triathlon.
What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?
I joined a local multi-sport club for some motivation and encouragement around running (which was still quite new to me and I think I could run about 5k at that time… enough to do a Parkrun). But the people in the triathlon group seemed to be having a lot more fun! So in complete naivety, I decided to get involved and they were incredibly welcoming. They were also all training for the Long Course Mallorca event, I had no idea really what that would entail, but in my innocence, signed up for the long distance event on the basis that my friends were dong it.
What’s been your favourite race to date and why?
I think it would have to be Castle Triathlon’s race at Chateaux Chantilly. It’s a stunning location with a superb bike and run course. The logistics from the UK are quite easy and it’s just a really relaxing location to spend some time at. Even though the race isn’t closed roads, locally everyone is so bike friendly it is virtually as good as a closed road event. And very fast surfaces. I’m certainly looking forward to being able to race there again, hopefully 2021.
And your proudest achievement?
Without a doubt finishing the marathon at the Mallorca Long Course race which was exactly 12 months after I finished my very first 10k charity run!
For those that might not be familiar with it, the event is a full distance triathlon race but held over three days. Swim Friday, Bike Saturday and Run Sunday. It’s a different challenge to a ‘regular’ Iron distance race in that you obviously get overnight rest, but you also have three start lines and the challenge of getting yourself loosened up each morning as well as figuring out your nutrition. Ironman is a long time to stay focused and race and a massive physical challenge. This was a different challenge in that you are starting Friday morning and in your head you know you are not done until sometime on Sunday. Even between the three events you are not really relaxing, so it has a different psychological aspect to it.
It stands out for me as something that I’m really proud of as I did it in my first year in triathlon and exactly one year from managing to just about complete a 10k charity run!
Have you ever had any racing disasters/your toughest race yet?
Every race feels tough at the time! And similarly I have had too many disasters to list them all. But one that stands out was a local 70.3 race. In the preceding race I had not used any sunblock and ended up with really bad sunburn. So at this particular race I decided to not make the same mistake twice and made sure I used plenty just before the start of the race. Swimming out to the start my googles fogged up so I took them off and tried to clean them, only to get sun cream from my fingers all over the inside of the lenses. It was pretty hard to see, and then realised that the first part of the swim was into the rising sunlight… And I could see absolutely NOTHING and goggles were leaking.
It was a complete disaster and I was immediately dropped from the main group and could hardly even see the turn markers. I was so far out of the race by half way through the swim I was very close to just pulling out and calling it a day. Luckily I had a word with myself and decided that if nothing else I may as well use it as a training session and do the swim and bike.
That turned out to be a good call. I made up a lot of ground on the bike leg as the course really suited me and others were struggling. Had an OK run too and it ended up being an OK result. That taught me that 70.3 is a long race and you have no idea early on how it will play out for others. So you might feel like you are having a nightmare, but you don’t know how bad a day others might be having or what might happen. Keep going, do your best and cross the finish line, because you just never know!
How do you overcome setbacks?
For me it’s all about knowing there will be set backs and it’s very rare for a plan to work out exactly how you envisaged. Therefore I don’t worry about the things I can’t control and make sure that I make the best choices with the things that I can control. There is always a way through a setback, so no point letting it frustrate me, just keep moving forward.
What advice do you wish you'd been given before you started competing?
You spend a LOT of time training, so enjoy the training and the process of getting ready as much as the race itself, else it will feel like a long road to the start line! Every race I have learned something, the result might not have always been what I wanted, but I have always gone home with something to help me race better next time.
What are your goals?
2020 has obviously been a difficult year for people all over the world because of the Pandemic and of course the real challenges have been for people that have lost loved ones. So naturally not being able to race fades into insignificance against that. But like many in the sport, I have used the time away from racing to work on base fitness and some technique points that have never been quite good enough. My focus has shifted to 2021 and my goals for when we can race again will be to see what I can do with Duathlon at the Middle Distance.
I have two Triathlons on my bucket list; Challenge Roth and Tri Alp D’Huez. I would love to experience the atmosphere of racing Roth, particularly on the bike leg. As for Tri Alpe D’Huez… It’s just a really tough race and I would love the challenge of it. Although I hate cold water, so the swim will not be my finest hour!
Who do you take your inspiration from?
There are just so many people that inspire me! But they are never on a podium or looking confident and composed on a start line. I find huge inspiration from those that have never seen themselves as athletic or sporty, but find the tenacity to keep showing up to exercise and knowing that if they do that they will eventually improve and become the version of themselves they want to be. They have self belief and huge inner strength - thats what I find inspirational.
What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?
There is a lot to like about SunDried in terms of ethics and sustainability. But Im afraid I am a bit more superficial than that… It just looks great! Putting on great looking kit makes you feel good even before you step out the door. Favourite bit of kit would be Snowdon Mens Ultra Cool T-Shirt- simple, comfy and yes… It looks good!