Having trained as a nurse in the 1980s and worked in operating theatres for 30 years, Patrick Larke has been supporting his colleagues working in the intensive treatment unit (ITU) during Covid-19.
“After a year or so as a nursing assistant to see if I could withstand some of the sights and smells without passing out I started my nurse training. I moved straight into theatres from qualification and have been there ever since.
“From the beginning, Covid has affected all areas of the hospital. The demand for anaesthetists in ITU meant many of our lists had to be sacrificed to release them, at the same time ITU staff were desperate for help and the nature of the work in operating theatres meant theatre staff would be high on the list to provide that help.
“Since the first wave came and went, I returned to theatres for a few months. My request to be temporarily redeployed to support my colleagues in Critical Care was approved and I and many others have been there for the last month or so.”
Working on the frontline, Patrick has witnessed first-hand the pressures that the NHS and NHS staff face and has tailored the way he trains as a result.
“I can tell you it’s a different world when you see the victims of this awful virus first-hand rather than just listening to the endless numbers thrown at everyone on the news,” he said.
“Since Covid started I have stuck to turbo and treadmill at home. I feel I have to practice what I preach on Facebook about not going out and exposing myself and others to unnecessary danger.
“The only good thing about indoor exercise is the traffic free environment means I can switch off to the outside world. I don't have to think about anything other than picking a decent rock album and crank up the volume - Metallica is always in there somewhere and I always come away feeling better in myself but slightly deaf I find.”
Patrick first got into triathlon when he semi-retired in 2012. Having been a keen runner, he took up cycling with the awareness that non-impact exercise would reduce the likelihood to injury.
“As I got older, the injuries were becoming more frequent, so I thought I'd buy a bike and cycling seemed to be becoming a bit more popular in the running club anyway,” he added.
“After watching a triathlon on TV, I thought I should chuck some swimming into the mix and have a go. It was then that I discovered a gentle breaststroke up to the pool bar was very different to swimming as a sport.
“It took me over a year of practice to become very bad at front crawl and has taken many years of training to remain very bad at front crawl - I'm still faster at breaststroke and have given up any hope of improving my swimming.
“I’m a member of Tri-Anglia Triathlon Club and was quite happy taking part in the short, local, pool-based triathlons until I stupidly read Chrissie Wellington’s book – she’s cost me a fortune in new bikes and wetsuits.
“I did the Blenheim Palace triathlon a couple of times (the first time breaststroke) and eventually the Holkham Half a couple of times which was my personal highlight so far.
“I'll be honest I don't have any aims for triathlon in 2021. Like most people I'm going to settle for getting to the end of the year in one piece.”
If you’re a key worker within the triathlon community and would like to share your story, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.