My First Novice Triathlon - A Brief Story on my Triathlon Fixation

author : paulee74
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I like to go out a few times a week. I like good food. I have often lost my way on the path to the holy grail of fitness.

Now before you quickly skim over this page and think, “Not a chance!” I’d like to say that I’m not superfit, I don’t have biceps on my triceps, and I don’t like eating birdseed for 3 meals a day. I’m your average Jersey (that’s Jersey in the UK) resident. Which, for those of you who don’t know, contains the highest ratio of alcohol consumption per capita in Europe. So, I like to go out a few times a week. I like good food. I have often lost my way on the path to the holy grail of fitness and all that it entails—the six pack, the rippling muscles, the ability to walk up a flight of stairs without getting out of breath! But there has always been a part of me that has wanted to test myself, to see if I could hack it in an endurance event, such as a marathon or a triathlon. So upon my 30th birthday last year, I decided that this was it—no more hiding from it, no more excuses, I would go for it.

So I duly started to train and educate myself about what a triathlon would entail. Like most sports, it was a bit overwhelming initially. But I eventually managed to buy a bike for £25 out of the local newspaper, I built up my base level of fitness by swimming, running, and cycling for a few months. Then I started to look around for events to enter. We are lucky enough here in Jersey to have a rich diversity of sports clubs, and we do have a triathlon club (called, funnily enough, “Jersey Triathlon Club”). So I got in contact with them, in anticipation of there being an event I could enter. This was where I learned my first lesson: Triathlon is a seasonal sport, and the season was nearly over.

pThere was one event to go, which consisted of a 1.5km swim, a 40km cycle, and a 10km run…all in one day, ladies and gentlemen!!! So I decided to give it a miss for the year and to have a go the following year. As luck would have it, the Jersey Triathlon Club holds a novice event in June, so I set my sights on this—a 750m sea swim, a 20km cycle, and a 5km run, which I felt was much more manageable. Of course I had to wait another 11 months until this event, and I’d like to say that this was the part of the story where I trained hard all through the winter, breaking all my personal bests, and becoming a lean mean physical machine. However, the reality was that I, like many of us during the winter, forgot all about the concept of exercise, drank too much, ate too much, and made some vague resolutions on New Year’s Eve about doing a triathlon this year—really!!

So fast forward to late March. I had been following my “get your beautiful beach body” gym routine for a few months, and I suddenly realized that the novice event was upon me. So I started to train, still not believing I had the bottle to do it. But in a flash of inspiration one day, I posted off the application form, paid the £5 entry fee, and it all seemed a little more real. I was now committed…..

On race day, I was on Long Beach in Gorey, nervously surveying the other competitors. Some looked like they knew what they are doing, and a few, like me, were obvious first timers, wearing their bike helmets back to front, etc.

So at 8 o’clock (that’s in the morning, by the way, folks—Lesson 2: Triathlon is an early morning sport!) we were lined up parallel to the beautifully calm Gorey sea, awaiting the klaxon to go off and signal the start of my triathlon career. And then we were off; swimming in a pack of about 50 people to the first buoy, until the quicker ones got ahead and the slower ones went to the back. I was one of the latter, but I managed to stay afloat and going forward. I exited the 750m swim with at least a few people behind me, which was all I wanted. As I exited the water, there were people on the beach applauding all the competitors as they made their way to their bikes. As soon as I left the water, I was a little unstable on my feet, but managed to get out of my wetsuit, put my trainers on and find my £25 bike amongst all the other shiny new carbon fiber super bikes.

 

So now the 20km bike section. I set off and nearly crashed into someone ahead of me straight away. But I managed to negotiate the 20km route with the aid of the all-important energy drink, and the bystanders clapping each time I went past the transition area. Once I got back and was heading out to do the run, I thought I was home and dry…but little did I know about the effect of cycling before you run. Your hamstrings tighten up due to the different motion of cycling vs. running, then when you get off the bike and try to run, you feel like the tin man from The Wizard of Oz!

I ran along the promenade, and by this stage my mind was oblivious to the pain my body was in. All I could think about was the finish line, and the free banana cake I had spied when I came from the cycle to drop off my bike!!

Again the bystanders were amazing, clapping and cheering me on. Looking back at the photos of the event, in every single photo I am beaming like a Cheshire cat—even though it was one of the hardest things I have ever done! I finished the event in 1 hour and 15 minutes, and even got a t-shirt to say I completed it.

I’ll now admit that I am completely hooked on the sport, have invested more time in training, and have completed 2 more triathlons since. I am now in off-season training, looking to build on my fitness and speed for next year and hopefully knock a few minutes off my Olympic time.

So I guess the moral of the story is that if you want to do something badly enough, then by hook or by crook you can achieve it. Set realistic goals and set aside a bit of time to train and track your progress, and anything is possible.

If you are interested in triathlon in Jersey, the website is www.jerseytriclub.org 

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date: October 30, 2005

paulee74