Is it as easy as the Brownlee brothers make it look?

I have always been open to trying new ideas and activities – the reason I bought my mountain bike in the first place was that a friend suggested entering a multi-sport race (canoeing, running and mountain biking) – she had to wait for me on the run and then the roles were reversed in the cycling – in the canoeing we had technical issues in that we couldn’t go in a straight line!  What was meant to be a mile turned out to be nearer two for us with all our zigzags and we nearly got sank by a big boat in the process – but I loved it – especially as it involved no swimming!  We were chuffed to pieces to win the price for the fastest female pair – until we realised that we were the only female pair in the race and we had come almost last!  Oh well – at least there were 3 guys that were slower than us 🙂

One of the many river crossings in Mongolia – the water was very cold!

As a result of having bought a bike I thought I had better use it – so my mountain bike became surrogate horse (sadly work allows no time to keep animals any longer) and off I went over the bridle ways in Hertfordshire and then a few weekends in the Peak District.  Next thing I knew I had an unexpected month of holiday on my hands when I was changing jobs so I thought Mongolia sounded like a fun place to go cycling so off I went.  It was amazing and harder than I ever thought possible but I still didn’t want it to end – ended up doing 650km off road in 2 weeks camping all the way.  Key learning for me was always take your own saddle with you when going on a cycling holiday – two weeks of a painful bottom is not fun!

When I started my new job and they said we are entering a team in the Blenheim triathlon come and join us.  OK why not (it’s not something I would ever have thought about on my doing own but somehow in a group it didn’t seem so bad –plus it was six months away so plenty of time to change my mind!) – it was a sprint distance which sounded OK when I realised that you didn’t have to sprint it! 750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run – I knew I could do the bike section, and despite not being a runner at a push I could force myself around 5km (even if I had to walk) – only problem was I couldn’t swim more than 2 lengths front crawl without dying!  It was one of those things I had been meaning to learn but had just never got round to doing it.  So I signed up for a few one on one swim lessons at my gym – and learnt to swim front crawl all over again. 

At the end of my first ever triathlon

And so the training began – I even tried one open water swim before the event which was weird – I couldn’t breathe and felt so scared because I couldn’t see the bottom.  Even got excited and bought myself a road bike for it.  I was petrified on the day but managed to get round in about 2 hours, I didn’t care that I was the slowest of my colleagues – I had got around, it wasn’t pretty but I did it and the event was so huge there were many people much slower than me.  I got such a buzz, the crowd cheering me seemed to put energy into dead legs – I knew how the Olympic athletes felt!

Last year when work said they were doing it again I jumped at the chance – only this time I had the added knowledge that I knew I could do it so wasn’t scared – I didn’t train as much as I picked up an injury before it and couldn’t run.  I had done lots of cycling for it (went on a cycling holiday Coast to Coast across Sardinia – it’s very hilly – loved the 25km downhill at the end) but this was all on my mountain bike and my road bike had been gathering dust for a year.  I had forgotten how different the two bikes were around the gearing so in the event I had real problems and my chain fell off 3 times.  I ended up finishing 15mins slower which I was a bit disappointed about – but there were still people slower than me.

I then didn’t cycle for almost a year – firstly I broke my coccyx so couldn’t sit down for three months, work got in the way over the winter and then I went to Tanzania for 5 months where I had did no exercise whatsoever other than walking.  I got back at the end of June this year having missed Blenheim and thought I had better get fit again.  I started doing some exercise but with no real goal in mind and then came the Olympics in London.  I got addicted – I went to see as much as I could – one of which included the mens triathlon.  The Brownlee brothers made it look so easy – the fact that Jonny collapsed at the end clearly showed that it wasn’t, but my mind blocked this out!  I was there wondering if I could actually do the distance.

Again next thing I knew I was in a conversation with a friend who said she had entered the Daley Thompson Diamond Tri at the end of September so why didn’t I join her.  I needed a goal and thought this could be the perfect opportunity.  SMART as we say in the business world – specific, measureable, achievable, realistic and time bound – OK so not so sure about the achievable bit but we shall see.  So I went ahead and entered the Olympic distance one (1500m swim, 40km bike and 10km run – gulp!).  Turns out my friend meant she was doing the shorter sprint distance one on the same day – oops – oh well it’s done now. 

I have no idea whatsoever whether I am capable of doing it – but I won’t know if I don’t try – it’s a new challenge for me and gives me something to aim for.  Many people keep telling me they couldn’t do something like that – of course they could if they put their mind to it – it’s all in the attitude – I’m a firm believer in anyone can do something if they put their mind to it.  Others say I am mad – I don’t think so – I think I am just trying to push the boundaries of my comfort zone and see what I am physically capable – and if I can lose weight and get fit again along the way (my other goal!) even better.  It’s those people who do Ironman distances that are mad!!!!!!

Right better get training now then!


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