Keep in low gear

In 2012 I ran the London Marathon. I was gifted the entry with 12 weeks to go and decided that since it was London’s Olympic year, even if I had to walk it, I was determined to give it a go. As it happened I snuck over the line just under the 5 hour mark – which considering I’d only managed a 14 miler as my ‘long’ run, was fine by me. I vowed to follow it up with another challenge as soon as possible, but family, work and getting a dog, got in the way!

So here we are looking at 2016, it’s almost another Olympic year and time to follow-up that vow... so I’ve decided to enter a half Ironman distance triathlon. 

My first foray into multi-sport events was donkey’s years ago. I was a competitive canoeist and fit, so up for trying things out.

My friend Hilary asked me if I fancied joining her in a swim/run event at Hampton open-air pool. It was November and freezing. I was one of the slowest out of the water and by the time I had put on my thermals, hat and gloves, I was last - clearly I was the only competitor who had visions of passing out from the cold.

So, as I set off on the run the leader was on his way back, powering to victory in nothing but a pair of tiny trunks with his number inked on his arm – I nearly shouted,

“Oy muppet - you do know we’re not in Hawaii don’t you?”

That was probably 25 years ago and last year I made my come back by taking part in the UCI London triathlon. In the intervening years I’ve watched triathlon grow from an expensive sport for obsessive, 0% body fat nutters (in my mind), to an inclusive and welcoming sport for all levels.

 My trusty Bobbin Scout

The genius of having age-group categories actively encourages people of all ages to give it a go - I am now 50 but no one bats an eyelid that I’ve entered, which is great because I don’t want to make a big deal of my age either.

So, it’s done – I’ve entered the Cotswold 113 (middle distance triathlon) on June 12th next year and it’s time to think about a vague training plan. After my triathlon this summer I was sent all sorts of techy information on my performance, including the splits, my positioning per discipline and my age rating.

Big or small, I hate hills

I’ll confess now, I’m not very techy and don’t even wear a training watch, but it was fascinating to assess my race in such detail. Most surprising was that the cycle section was my slowest (I had expected it to be the swim since I’d only just learnt to do the front crawl). So with the cycle leg being 56 miles next summer I am going to have to make some major improvements.

Here are my fairly modest aims for the next couple of months:

  1. Do a 30-40 mile ride once a week;
  2. Learn to ride up hills confidently;
  3. Get used to using cycle shoes.

Cycle shoes – it’s time to face the fear!

Wish me luck - I’ll be reporting back next month on my progress and if anyone wants to share any peals of wisdom they will most welcome!

Read Part 2

Kit to get you through winter