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A relative newcomer to the world of triathlon. No groundbreaking insights, just my thoughts on training, racing and life in general...

Are you mental? Swim, bike, run - a sport for nutters

fannyjaneby fannyjaneSep 14th 2013
"Are you mental?" How many of us have heard that question from friends/family/work colleagues about our training? And why is it that triathlon, once it grips you, can become such a brilliantly all-consuming pass-time?

My friends and family are no stranger to me spending a lot of my spare time training. As an active member of Bristol Ariel rowing club, they are used to seeing me get up at ungodly hours of the day and disappear off to the river for a few hours. They've heard me grunting away on the rowing machine (aka erg) at home, trying to beat previous PBs - go faster, get stronger. I've got three kids and other mum friends always state their amazement that I manage to fit in a session on the erg - I explain it's a question of priorities. While they go for a coffee after the school run, I nip home and knock off a couple of 5ks.

However, last year I decided to give triathlon a try. I had my third baby in May 2012 - my local triathlon, a charity event to raise money for Wotton Pool which happens to be right outside my house, is in June. I thought taking part in the June 2013 triathlon would be a great motivator to lose the baby weight and would give myself plenty of time to prepare. The distances were 380m swim, 20k bike, 7k run - as someone who's used to exercise this seemed fairly manageable.

What I didn't bargain on was how much I would enjoy the training and how fantastic that feeling of crossing the finishing line would be. To start with, my aim for the race was just to finish. In the end using a borrowed bike, helmet, tri-suit but lovely new, comfy trainers (courtesy of The Triathlon Shop in Bristol) I came a fairly respectable (I thought) 4th out of the women and 19th overall (out of 36 competitors).

I was hooked! With some encouragement from long standing nutter (aka triathlete) and friend John, from Tri Coaching, I entered an open water swimming event and Westonbirt triathlon. Now I really had an excuse to get out there and put in the miles on the bike/pool/pavement. And I've loved every minute of it. Like a lot of us I seem to find swimming the hardest thing to get right and in all three events I've done so far, despite best intentions, have ended up swimming breast-stroke. The running, which I thought would be my nemesis, I have come to love - and, to my amazement, I've got faster and faster (but I'm preparing myself for that plateau). And cycling is just brilliantly exhilarating, especially on the ups and downs of the Cotswolds where I live.

My open water swim time was so-so, but I relished the challenge of doing something so far out of my comfort zone. Westonbirt tri was just awesome. Even on a windy, overcast day the atmosphere was relaxed and fun, the event organisers and marshals were friendly and helpful and the setting was beautiful. The feeling as I crossed the finish line was almost indescribable - I wanted to sing and dance about (although some killjoy told me that meant I hadn't tried hard enough). I was ecstatic to come 7th out of the women and 81st overall (out of 205 competitors).

So now, as a fully initiated nutter I'm not going to be satisfied until I've won one - or given it my best shot... and I'm tempted to give the longer distance olympic triathlon a go for next summer.

And to all my dear friends and my lovely family - my response to the above question is: "Absolutely not! You'd be mental not to give it a try..."
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