August 17, 2016
People often believe my first big race must have been a running event, but in fact this is not true it was actually a Triathlon.
In 2005 I was working as a volunteer coordinator for Newham Council and one of our annual gigs to provide support to was The London Triathlon. Now I didn’t even know what a Triathlon was at that time, so the whole experience was mind blowing to me.
I spent a very long and very tiring weekend managing my team of 200 volunteers, and even got stuck in myself marshalling out on the course. It was an incredible experience and I fell in love with the sport, wondering if I could do such a thing…I made the mistake of telling the guy in charge of the event at the time and that was it, I found myself with a FREE place to take part in a super sprint the following year.
It was a great kickstart to my fitness journey, because at the time I was a size 20, weighed close to 19 stone and did very little exercise at all.
The impending event which I had told all of my work colleagues and volunteers about, forced me to start training. I bought a bike from my mums catalogue (thats how clueless I was) took some adult swimming lessons (because I could only swim breast stroke with any confidence) and the running? well how hard could the running be hey?
Looking back now I realise just how naive I was, not just about the massive task that lay ahead but also in how little I knew about the sport and how much I was flying by the seat of my pants. I don’t know what possessed me to sign up and how I didn’t give up at some point along the way.
Before I knew it the date had arrived.
I made my way to The Excel centre with my heavy bright yellow mountain bike, my size 20 wetsuit which I had found online for £49 and not had a chance to test properly, and a mis match of kit I had convinced myself would be most suitable…which turned out not to be.
The sight of so many super fit bodies in the transition area was a little daunting…and I scanned the massive space for a glimpse of another fat body…there were none, well none I could notice.
I racked my bike, laid out all of my kit and made my way to the dock where the swim would begin. My whole family had turned up to see me compete…in part because my Grandad (who had been a docker) had made the comment
Do you know how many dead bodies there are in that dock…lets hope you don’t join them
I have never felt fear like I did this day…but equally the sense of accomplishment after it was all over has never been matched either.
The swim went well, of course I got kicked and swam over and had a few moments of panic thinking about dead bodies beneath me, but I came out onto dockside in 13 minutes 11 seconds for a 400 meter swim…twice as fast as some of the other swimmers.
This was the part I was fearing most having only just learned how to swim.
My cycle wasn’t as speedy as I tried to get my ever so heavy bike around the 10K route in the midday sun. A flat tyre didn’t help…but I didn’t know how to fix it so I just kept going…walking up the steep hills when it got really tough.
39.39 was my time and as I entered transition for the 2nd time I wondered if my legs would even work for the run….they didn’t really.
My run was more of a walk jog waddle…taking me 22.41 to cover 2.5k around the dock with spectators enjoying the weather and beer. I don’t know how I ran the last 500 meters or so…all I wanted to do was collapse on the floor in a heap
I finished the whole event 5th from last out of 140 competitors in my wave…taking 1 hour and twenty four minutes and two seconds to cross the finish line.
I collected my medal and I sobbed.
This was the one and only time this has EVER happened to me.
It was an incredible experience, and one I have always been most proud of.
So how come I haven’t done one since?
Well I think its because I realised on reflection how incredibly naive I had been…and I promised myself I would only do another triathlon if I had all the right kit and the chance to train properly for it…so in effect I have talked myself out of the whole sport…perhaps believing that Triathlon isn’t really for people like me.
Now I know this is absolutely not that case, and I have really enjoyed watching members of my online running club The Clubhouse training for Triathlons from beginners GoTri and sprint events right the way up to IronMans (I kid you not)
The increase in social media, and online fitness groups for women have helped break down the barriers to this sport and apparently Triathlon has seen an 88% increase in female participation since 2012 which is fantastic.
So why am I telling you all of this? I recently got my bike fixed, and am enjoying swimming in my local pool…none other than the London 2012 Aquatic Centre…I know, I know I am a lucky girl…and it dawned on me, that I have no excuse really.
So 10 years after my first and only Triathlon…I have finally decided I want to do another one.
There I said it.
I am going to start training for my next Triathlon
And to get me in the mood I am helping British Triathlon to promote #YourGOTRI – a Rio 2016 inspired campaign, designed to get people off the couch and into the sport for the first time as they create their own triathlons this summer.
Jack Buckner, CEO of British Triathlon, says:
The aim of this campaign is to inspire new triathletes and break down any perceived barriers about the sport being too challenging, intimidating or expensive. Anyone who completes a swim, a bike and a run is a triathlete, and the goal is to encourage people to enter a triathlon event in 2017, giving themselves an achievable goal to work towards.
So we want you guys to go online to www.gotri.org/yourgotri and build a triathlon that suits your life.
Over the next few days I will also be launching a competition via our social media channels (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) to give two lucky ladies a chance to take part in a Triathlon event with me, plus the opportunity to challenge the perception of Triathlon by showing that bodies of all shapes and sizes can enjoy the sport.