In 2014 the BK Group of companies celebrate their 20-year anniversary. In order to celebrate together with my company I decided to give myself a challenge for the year and registered myself for the London Triathlon on 3th of August 2014. Why London? Because BK Group is a company with British capital, founded in 1994 in Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia by the main shareholder, Kevin Probert-Ehaver. The first suppliers of the BK companies were from Britain as well, so the London triathlon was just the right place to mark this anniversary.
The idea to attend the London triathlon was born in February 2014 when one of my friends who lives in London suggested I join his teammates for the triathlon. I had already run some 21km marathons but the triathlon was totally new for me. I was dreaming of doing a triathlon some day so I accepted my friend‘s offer in a few seconds J. I didn‘t think it would be really hard work and take a long time to prepare myself for such an event. The triathlon has three different elements: swimming, cycling and running. And the Olympic distances which we planned to complete are 1.5km in swimming, 40km in cycling and 10km in running. I wasn‘t scared of cycling and definitely wasn‘t scared of running because I already attended a few events before and have done regular training for this. But swimming was totally new for me. Swimming in itself is nothing special you may think, but 1.5km….. suppose the swimming pool is 25m long, it means 60 lengths; if the pool is 50m, then 30 lengths. And it is really hard. So I went to the swimming pool to check it out. I jumped in the water and I started to swim a bit. After a few meters I realized I need a trainer, because my swimming skills are, oh, it sounds right to say that I had no swimming skills J. So I went to the trainer and said „hello my name is Andrius and I want to do the triathlon this August“. Later I learned that my trainer was Paulius Viktoravičius, the Lithuanian 100m, 4x100m, 4x200m freestyle and 4×100 complex style record holder. He took part in the Olympic games in Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008. So he asked me what swimming styles I can swim. I said I don‘t know what styles there are J. OK, he said. Then what distance you can swim now? I said I don‘t know, I haven‘t tried. He looked at me and said – OK, I see. After a while he asked: so do you know how to swim at all? I said I guess so. OK then, show me, he said. I jumped in the pool and started to swim. He looked and said OK that‘s enough. Then he asked rhetorically: „when is that triathlon?….“ J So I understood that my swimming skills are soooooo bad that I need to learn everything from the beginning.
So I started to go to a swimming pool two days a week. The Swimming pool opens at 6.30 in the morning and I was one of their first customers at the door on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I said to myself: I will do everything I can and I will reach good swimming form and will attend the London Triathlon. Training sessions passed and I saw a good progress in my swimming. But after a month I broke my leg accidentally while climbing the stairs. At first I thought maybe its just a strain, but when I went to hospital I was told: -„you will be in plaster for one month“. I knew that I had a short preparation time even without this month in plaster and a month in plaster would be too long. Moreover, rehabilitation after taking off the plaster cast would be another 2 months. I said to myself I won‘t wait so long. So after 3 weeks I took the plaster off. I started to run very slowly. I went to a swimming pool to do some easy training. During swimming workouts I felt pain in my left leg but I knew I can‘t sit at home and wait until the leg will be better.
After two months it was May already. My trainer suggested I take part in the Sprint in the Kupiskis Open Baltic Triathlon championship. I was very nervous before this sprint. It was my first time in a triathlon at all. I knew how to plan long-distance running and what pace should I keep. But here you need to plan your pace not just for running but for swimming and biking too. So I was standing at the start line with trembling legs and wondering, what‘s going to happen?
The start signal sounded and I began to swim. After 100m I remembered I had not turned my GPS watch on J – in my excitement I had forgotten. So I turned the watch on and continued to swim. It wasn‘t as bad as I thought when standing at the start line. Of course all of my competitors just left me behind, but I continued to swim and didn‘t spend much time thinking „Oh, I‘m the last one“ J. After the swim I went to the transition zone where I should take my bike and start the 20km cycling. Everything went quite smoothly and after a few minutes I already tried to do my best on the bike. I thought: I am strongest in running, and after the bike I will do the run very easily. But just after I put my running shoes on and tried to run, I felt my legs muscles collapsing. Then I realized here is my finish line and I can‘t do any more. This situation was very unexpected for me so I didn‘t know what to do. I felt only pain in my legs and tried to think as fast as possible what to do. But after 500m I saw that my right leg is already OK and I could reach the finish. So I started to run faster and faster until I reached the finish. I was very happy. My time was 1 hour and 27 minutes but this wasn‘t the main thing. The main thing was to reach the finish and I did it. 3 days after this sprint I couldn‘t walk. The pain in my legs was so strong that I called my friends to ask advice about what to do. I had massages, kept ice on my legs and after 3 days I came back to a swimming pool and road track to continue my workouts.
The more you achieve, the bigger your ambition becomes. Before London there was one more triathlon in Lithuania. It was Olympic distance in Trakai. I decided to attend this triathlon because I wanted to know what the Olympic distance is like and to be sure that I would be well prepared for London. The strange thing was the starting time. It was 8.00 AM. So at first I was thinking „dammit, I want to sleep a bit longer in the morning but I need to wake up for the triathlon…“ But next day I understood this time was about that what we needed. Because the temperature at midday was around 30°C. So swimming and cycling were ok. But once I started to run I felt that it was very hot. There was no wind, just sun and blue sky. I ran 5km and everything was great. After 2km more I already started to think „oh, the finish is after 3km more so it´s not too bad…“ and once I started to think about the finish I felt a load on my legs. My mind was on that finish line already. I started to dream about a bottle of cold water and the cool lake which I will jump into to cool myself down. Those 3km were longer than all the kilometers I had done before. And time went by but the number of kilometers seemed to stay the same. No matter what where and why but I crossed the finish line and was very proud of myself. I did this olympic distance in 2hours 50minutes. My aim was to do it in under 3hours, so I reached my goal!
Finally the Day has come. It is 31st July and we are flying to London. 3 days left before the Triathlon.
After the Trakai triathlon I worked very hard. I saw my weak sides and decided to improve them in the time before going to London. So I felt quite confident and this time the plan was to do all the distance in 2hours and 40minutes. Usually you dedicate a few days before the event to resting and there are no hard workouts allowed. So I ran 10km on the road next to the Thames in London. I also went to a swimming pool to work on my stroke. Everything was nice and easy until the last night. On the last night before the triathlon I woke up and my stomach felt heavy. I though hm… maybe I ate some bad food in the evening. So I went to the kitchen, took a glass of water and went back to bed. I said to my wife that I didn‘t feel very good, I have some problems with my stomach. She said OK… go and take some cola. She said if I have some problems cola is the right thing to solve all the problems. OK! I went to the kitchen again, took a glass of cola and went back to bed. After a few minutes something happened. I just jumped up from the bed and started to look for a bucket. Of course I was thinking „Andrius, be calm, everything will be fine you won‘t vomit, this is just an illusion….“ But it wasn‘t an illusion. I spent an hour in the toilet vomiting everything I had eaten that evening. In the morning my friend‘s wife said she also had some problems with her stomach and she spent the night in the toilet too. So we found out it was a 24hour stomach bug. Damn! I said to myself. I spent so much time preparing for this triathlon but last night’s show just crossed everything out. I started to wonder whether I should start or not, because I was feeling so bad. But the thought of how much time I spent preparing for this didn’t let me give up. My friend Aleksas and I went to the Excel exhibition center where the triathlon show was based. The start was at 13.40. We were in the exhibition center at 11.00. I took some mineral water and started to pray my stomach will start to run. But it didn’t
No matter what, I still decided to start this race and reach my aims. In our wave which started at 13.40 there were 500 people. So everything was very confusing and this kind of race was the first in my life. We jumped into the water and waited for the start.
After the start signal, all the crowd started to swim. I got a punch to my head, then someone started to tickle my legs for about 50m. So I spent half the distance just to get a clear space for my swim. We discussed before the swim what would happen if I want to vomit while swimming J. It was a funny discussion but luckily I didn‘t. My swimming time was 30 minutes which was a great time for me. I jumped out of the water and started to run to transition zone.
My first thought was that I don‘t feel as bad as I thought. So probably everything will be OK. And it was – until I jumped on the bike and started to drink Isodrinks. My stomach had stopped so all my efforts to get some energy from a drink were pointless. Then I just realized I should forget about the 2hours and 40minutes, now my aim is just to finish this triathlon.
After long 40km on the bike I came back to transition zone. I remember our zone was named AD. So I went to AD zone and started to check where my running shoes were. I looked at my watch and I saw I had spent 3 minutes already in that transition zone but I couldn’t find the place where I left my running shoes. For those who are thinking: how can it be that he can’t find the place where he left all the stuff, I should explain that there were around five thousand participants. So it was a huge mess on that transition zone. Anyway, after 3 and a half minutes I just looked to another side of the AD zone and I saw my shoes lying there waiting for me. The beginning of the run was strange to me. I still felt my stomach full of Isodrinks and nothing happening there. It was very nice that on the running zone there were a lot of people who supported runners with their cheering, wooden bells and other stuff they have. So it does not matter that I was tired and sick, the atmosphere was warm and friendly. That was a good motivation for me to do my best on the run.
After running 5km I checked my watch and I saw that maybe I could do it in 2 hours and 40 minutes, I just need to push myself a bit. So I started to run a bit faster. I had 12 minutes left to do the final lap and each lap was 3.3km. So 4 minutes for 1km. Hmm… that’s not easy but I must try. I did those 3.3 km in 13 and a half minutes and finished in the time of 2 hours, 41minutes and 44 seconds.
It was only 1minute and 44seconds outside my target. But I was very happy. What’s funny is that after the finish line you get a mug of beer J Yes, indeed! Erdinger Beer company was the main sponsor of this event J. They promoted their alcofree beer which is not only alcofree but even has some isotonic ingredients in it. Tasted great!
So cheers from London Triathlon for the 20th Anniversary of BK Group of companies, Cheers to Kevin Probert-Ehaver, chairman of BK Group, Cheers to Apollo Fire, Cheers to Fire Fighting enterprises, Cheers to CQR and Cheers to Ultracell – all British companies which have worked with our Group for many years! May the qualities of determination and endurance which are needed in triathlons help strengthen our businesses and our partnerships!