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From Parkbench to Triathlete

Seeing into the future

parkbenchby parkbenchAug 14th 2010
Once upon a time, I started running. I wasn't very good, but I wasn't the worst. That's not my usual style, so I entered a couple of local races. There wasn't any fairy-tale ending, although I was getting further from the back. Then I gave up. Not 100% sure why. A bit of illness, a bit of marriage and a couple of kids, I guess. In 2008, I decided to run again. I wasn't making it into size 30" waisted pants and had just been bought two pairs of 32". That was enough for me. So I ran a little more, although a bit slower than before. I entered a couple of races and was still not the worst. The next bit is kind of a grey area. I only owned a mountain bike for work, which I rarely used and my swimming was 25m breast-stroke, max. I just can't remember when the thought of a triathlon entered my head. I can recall seeing a banner displayed on a local park fence, advertising a triathlon, but knew I'd NEVER manage the swim. At some point, I bought a road bike (for around £180), which spent 90% of its time in the shed, and I ventured to the swimming pool. My cycling was poor and my swimming worse. I knocked it on the head. Around June 2009, I must have decided to give it another go. Armed with YouTube videos, I tried to teach myself FC and also be able to cycle 12 miles without locking up with cramp. Entering a local, pool based, triathlon in the September, I could just manage the 20k ride, as for the swimming, I still couldn't swim with my face in the water and only manage 50m efforts. Fortunately, in a pool you can stop every length 'to let faster swimmers past' ;-). On the day, I thought I was ready. After 20m in the pool, I realised I was not. It was over. I needed to get out of the pool and call it a day. The question was when. It had to be at the end of a length, but should it be the shallow end or the deep end, nearest the exit ? The lengths started to slip by and at some point, I realised that I was going to make it. In the end my swim time was 10th from last, but STILL not the worst. The bike went okay and I managed to run the 5k without stopping to walk, although my pace was limited by the fact that my quads were set to cramp up if I ran any faster. Finally, it was over. I'd done my first tri and was still in one piece. My times were lousy, with a total of 1.36 and change, but I'd done it, and I wanted to do it again.
This year, in May, I was better prepared. My swimming had improved by at least 30%. I was exhaling underwater and I could swim the full 500m. I'd done more 20k rides on the bike, increasing my speed with every passing month. My run time was struggling. A history of calf injuries was making me take it easy, so I didn't ruin my race. This time I was ready. It was the hottest day of the year. I took my swim time down from 18.5 to 13.5, I knocked a wedge off my bike time, but lost ground on the run. The heat was stifling. I ended up with a sub 1.25 total, even though my run time was slower than last year !!! My target of moving up 100 places in the results was smashed !!! I was hoping to improve even further when I do the same September tri again, however, trying clipless shoes has left me with an achilles problem that wouldn't shake. Eventually (much too late) I decided to visit a physio and now have the injury on its way out. My cycling hasn't suffered that much, nor my swimming (even though not any faster), but once again, my running is not to a standard that I am capable of. If everything goes to plan, I should make sub 1.23 this time.
As for seeing the future, when I first started triathlon training, I set some long term targets, which I referred to as 'golden'. They were impossible at that time, but I'm now hoping (dreaming ?) that with a good solid 8 months training and some swim coaching, that I could actually achieve them. I'm also hoping to do my first oly distance next year. It all starts here, and though I may falter from time to time, I never seem to give up.

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