Thomas Collins Athlete Ambassador
Tom did his very first triathlon on a whim but was soon hooked. He now races in memory of his grandad. He talks to Sundried about life as a triathlete.
Have you always been into sport?
Whilst I would say that I have always been sporty, at school I played all manner of sports from hockey and rugby to cricket and squash. It is however only now, since I found Triathlon, that I have taken it more seriously and given myself some focused training.
What made you decide to enter triathlon?
My very first was an open water sprint at Dorney Lake in 2012, I borrowed everything apart from a t-shirt and trainers. I entered because a mate had to pull out and told me I should just give it a go, it was my first open water swim ever... and I was awful. Nearly drowning in the swim, 5 minutes in each transition and, having never run off the bike before, stumbled round the 5km run... suffice to say I crossed the line with the biggest grin on my face.
I wanted to get into triathlon there and then but, wrongly, thought that I should become a better swimmer, cyclist and runner first. I didn't do a triathlon again until 2014.
In September 2013, my granddad passed away. Being in the Army, we had always had banter about how fit you needed to be "these days" vs the "good old days", I joked that I would do an Ironman to prove how fit I was to him... I never got the chance.
At that moment I decided to tackle 2 full distance races to raise money for Heart Research UK in memory of my granddad; I raised £2000.
What’s been your best race to date?
My focus is more on the longer distances at the moment but my best race was a pool Sprint at Kimbolton Castle in 2016. I did it for a laugh and to support a friend and everything just went right and I won my age group, came 5th overall and very narrowly missed a sub 1 hour time. It wasn't a massive race, but for me it was a real confidence boost.
And your proudest achievement?
I would say finishing Ironman Wales in 2014. It was the hardest thing that I have ever done and demons crept in several times over the course of the race telling me I could stop, it would be ok, no one will think any less of you... it was also my most disaster filled race.
Have you ever had any racing disasters / your toughest race yet?
As above, Ironman Wales 2014 was my toughest race. A rough sea swim led to me swallowing a lot of sea water and throwing up several times. 2 punctures on the bike followed by rolling over on my ankle early in the run, compensating with a bit of a limp leading to serious knee pain... I felt like giving up at both transitions and with every km on the run… the support of my family out on the course however, the memory of my granddad and the thought of those my sponsorship money could help kept me going.
How do you overcome setbacks?
Setbacks and failure are a part of life, nobody is perfect and even if your training and preparation is perfect, something can (and probably will) go wrong. I carry this outlook with me in all avenues of my life... so triathlon is no different. Once I accepted this it became very easy to brush aside the setbacks and crack on. That is not to say I don't get annoyed by setbacks, otherwise there is no motivation for me to learn and grow, but I don't let them govern me.
What is the best bit of advice you wish someone had told you before you started competing?
Just get on with it. I wasted time thinking I had to get better at the disciplines before racing... but racing is the most awesome feeling... so just get on with it... you will learn as you go.
What are your goals for 2017/18?
I have just moved house and job, and my racing is done for this year. I am commuting for the first time in my life and so aim to use that as a training vehicle. For 2018, I intend to put in a big winter and then look towards AG qualification at the Middle Distance. It is a step up, will take some hard work and may not happen in 2018... if not, I will learn from it and target becoming a GB AG athlete by the end of 2019.
Who do you take your inspiration from?
Becoming a father changed my outlook in ways I didn't think it needed changing. It has made me very conscious of being a role model, in all respects to my son. He may only be 2 years old, but when he sees me exercise or race, he understands what I am doing and whilst he may not understand why, he will in time.
Ultimately, I draw my inspiration from my son, I want to be the best I can be at something I love and instil in him a sense of hard work, dedication and a drive to keep yourself fit and healthy.
What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?
What the Sundried brand represents is not only a positive step in looking after our world, but also the people in it. The idea that you would not be able to consider yourself a health and fitness brand if those in the supply chain, at any stage, could not afford to eat, is a very powerful and moving premise.
As the warmer months draw to a close, the Grande Casse Hoody is quickly becoming my favourite piece of any active clothing. A great fit, I am able to rely on it to keep me warm on the way to the gym or pool, whether it be first thing in the morning, or in the evening.