“It’s amazing what you can achieve when you accept the high chance of failure and do it anyway” Laura Fountain
I have a new addiction! I have discovered the exciting world of triathlon, well a little bit of it anyway, I’m still fairly clueless to be honest. But who knew combining three different sports could be so much more exhilarating than just doing one. Triathlon is a growing sport and it seems there are lots of you triathletes out there, people I never knew had it in them coming out of the triathlon woodwork! Every Tom, Dick and Harry it seems has done a triathlon at some point, given it a whirl, been there done that got the wetsuit! Knowing this helps make the sport feel a lot more accessible and much less scary, which is great, as to be honest it’s pretty flipping scary. I have just signed up for my first one called the ‘Tough Crow’ and it involves a 400m swim, a 20k cycle finishing with a challenging 5k. The biggest challenge however will be that it starts at 7am! It seems triathletes are early risers and for those that know me well, an early riser I am not!
I have been enjoying combining my new interest in triathlon with my love of reading and have been reading up on the subject. I am now on my third book about individuals who have been drawn into the sport and there is a common theme running throughout all of their stories. They were intrigued and curious to give it a go and ended up going further and challenging themselves more than they could ever have imagined. I am inspired by the very real fears people have overcome to take part and compete in this sport. The author of one triathlon book, a lady called Laura Fountain, learnt to swim for her first triathlon, overcoming her fear of drowning, and went on to do an Iron Man. She says;
“I knew when I started all this Triathlon business that there was a good chance I wouldn’t be able to do it – that my swim would go badly, that my bike would get a puncture or a broken chain, that I would miss the cut-off times and be forced to pull out of the race. But I carried on regardless. Because I’m not scared of failure and there’s no challenge in attempting stuff you know you can do”.
I love that gutsiness. I have to admit I am scared of failure and this gives me a feeling of anxiety, serious butterflies in the stomach, when I think about doing something I haven’t done before. But I guess the courage lies in doing it anyway.
My main fear is the swim. I’m a fairly strong swimmer but I’ve never done any longer distance open water swimming before. I went to a swim training session and the instructor was telling stories of how scrappy it gets in the water. He was advocating Vaseline on the ankles so people couldn’t grab them to clamber over you! He also shared some valuable techniques to stop people grabbing hold of you and potentially half drowning you. I’m hoping my first experience is substantially less dog eat dog than this but part of me might quite enjoy getting all Jackie Chan on their rubber encased butts!
The bike has been a revelation. I am not an adrenalin junkie, being too scared of heights to ever do anything too crazy. However when going downhill at speed I feel the most connected to my inner adrenalin junkie that I have ever been! It is such a buzz and I’m looking forward to learning more about becoming a better cyclist and becoming one with the Lycra! First lesson learnt, padding in your shorts is essential. However it does feel like wearing a slice of bread between your legs! According to Chrissie Wellington (four time World Ironman Champion) the combative move on the bike part of the race is to pee if anyone is trying to ride in your slip stream, this is called ‘drafting’, spraying a warning shot over their bow so to speak! A more Bear Grylls move than Jackie Chan and not one I can imagine using anytime soon.
Combining the three different sports means It starts to get all technical and you have to consider how to seamlessly move from one to the other, swimming to bike to running, these are called the ‘transitions’. It basically involves wearing lots of tight Lycra and air drying! Training sessions may also include combining two of the disciplines and practicing the transitions. My first attempt was not so successful. My training buddy Amanda and I tried out a bike/swim session. Cycling to a swimming pool, doing our laps and then cycling home. Trying to be as authentic as possible we didn’t use the changing rooms. We didn’t factor in dripping all over the leisure centres reception floor and stripping off in front of the bemused staff. Crazy ladies alert!
Then there is all the equipment and gadgets and clothing. Cue a serious ebay dependency, daily searching for the perfect fitting tri wetsuit, and a weird desire to own tons of sports gear. A new bike and a few hundred pounds poorer my wonderful long suffering husband is saying ‘I told you so’ having predicted I would spend lots of money on my new venture. I can see why sports and fitness gear is a growing market. Just purchasing new gear makes you feel more professional! Apparently there is mathematical rule among cyclists: ideal number of bikes to own = N+1 where N= number of bikes you currently own. However a more helpful rule for some may be: Ideal number of bikes to own = X-1 where X = number of bikes it would take for your partner to move out!
However the most memorable lesson I have learnt so far on my triathlon journey is not to type ‘tricurious’ into a search engine, it could get you into all sorts of trouble. I was looking for a birthday present for my triathlon training buddy and saw on Amazon an anecdotal book written by two ladies about their new to triathlon experiences. It looked funny so I thought I would search if I could buy it elsewhere cheaper. I searched under the title name ‘tricurious’ and let’s just say if you want a book on Menage a Trois techniques, I can point you in the right direction!