Running a triathlon over forty | personal training | fitness over fortySunday 13th July was the day I lost my triathlon virginity and I was very pleased that I did it with Sharon and Nicola.  Great support and encouragement for each other and I am very very proud of them.

Shock Absorber Women Only Triathlon.

Sharon, I knew she could do it and had the determination as she had completed one before.  I credit her with having the experience of the event, and thank you for sharing and inspiring both Nicola and I with it.
When I met Nicola at the beginning of March 2013 I never expected to be running a triathlon with her 17 months later.  A total inspiration.  Nicola did what I talk about in my newsletters, she made a decision, turned up to train, kept her eye on what she wanted and got the result.
And it didn’t go with hiccups for all three of us.  Back in February Nicola fell and sprained her ankle and hurt her knee.  The caused three weeks out of training and then gingerly getting back into it.  The plan of slowly getting back into training worked.

Sharon has had her own hiccup, coming back from two weeks in New Zealand, then jet lagged and taken ill took about a month out of her training too.
And me, I was ill the week before the race with headaches and generally feeling a deflated version of myself.  Looking back I think that was my nerves showing themselves, I needn’t have worried.
So here’s how losing my virginity went:  all 1 hour 48 minutes and 8 seconds of it

400m swim in outdoor lake (Dorney Lake where the Olympic rowing was held)

21.2K bike ride around the lake

5K run up the side of the lake

Best bit:  the start and the finish.  The water was 21 degrees and really lovely.
Worse bit:  The swim with a girl in front of me stopping to check on her friend frequently
Biggest surprise good:  the bike ride, I hired a road bike.  Thin tyres make them much quicker, but I can’t remember if I have ever ridden a road bike for any length of time.  I really enjoyed this section and my energy was really good, although beginning to get hungry in the final lap (total of 4 laps)
Biggest surprise bad:  when we changed from bike to run it felt like someone had stolen my legs.  My energy depleted quite quickly and I had to talk to myself during the whole run.  Fortunately I know some good motivational stuff so used it on myself and kept myself going.

Coming down the last bit home I was feeling sick from the effort and emotional from the achievement.  Oh the drama, was I going to collapse over the finish line, crying and throwing up.  Nah!  Bumped into someone I know and forgot all about it.
Things not to do: wear my hair in plaits and leave them hanging out of the bottom of my swimming cap…..I looked like Viking!
And the biggest question is….  Will I do it again?  Yes, absolutely definitely.


Sharon’s Triathlon Story

Running a triathlon over forty | personal training | fitness over fortyOnce upon a time I declared that you would never get me into a wetsuit.  And when I started working with Alison I told her “I don’t run”.  Then with some strong encouragement from my friends (they’re very persuasive) I decided to do a triathlon.  Now I needed a wetsuit, a bike, running shoes, and to run. 

I started run/walking which is where you run 1 minute walk 1 minute with the goal to build it up to, oh say, a whole 5 minutes running.  Which seemed an interminable time and yet so far from the 5k I needed to be able to run.  And I fell at the first hurdle when on my way to buy a bike. In my haste to meet my lovely friend (she who had persuaded me into this triathlon journey) I tripped on a broken paving stone and injured my ankle and knee. I hobbled home with no bike and no training for the next 3 weeks during which time I worried that I would lose my hard gained ability to run even 2 minutes.  Once back at training I started running again on the treadmill.  Don’t run on a treadmill it  is a miserable experience. As it started to get lighter and warmer in the mornings I started to run with Alison around Finsbury Park a couple of times per week.  In next to no time we’d moved on from run/walking to actual running, although in my case it felt a lot like plodding at times.  And it didn’t seem all that long before we reached the magic 5k, albeit my finishing with a very sore aching knee.  Something i sometimes experienced during or after cycling or running.  With that and the ankle not completely healed I was convinced that I would be limping home in pain after the triathlon but was still determined to turn up and give it a go.

So yes I did succeed in buying a bike.  I enjoyed lovely rides along the Lee Valley and did training laps around Regent’s Park trailing behind the pelotons of lycra on their very expensive looking bikes, going twice as fast and making it look effortless.  I did my brick training (that’s for when your body has to switch from the muscles used for cycling to the muscles used for running and your legs feel like lead) in the gym, mainly cos that’s how i could best fit it into my week. I cycled as fast as I could for 10k and then got on the treadmill and ran for 10 minutes. You’ve probably guessed I hate running on the treadmill.  I would get terrible cramp in my calves but I have since read that this is common particularly when you are not used to it.  

Meanwhile I needed a wet suit and I set off with some trepidation and my encouraging friends to the triathlon show with the mission to get me a wetsuit.  I wasn’t at all convinced I’d be able to find one to fit me and insisted on trying the largest women’s size available (WXL) at the blueseventy stand.  The wonderful blueseventy people patiently explained that it was too large for me and persuaded me to try the next size down.  Trying on wetsuits for the first time is a palaver but secretly I was thrilled that I only needed a large rather than an extra large.  Now I just needed to learn how to put it on. So every Sunday morning I would practice putting on the wetsuit.  The first time it took well over 10 minutes and I couldn’t get the zip to budge (the zip’s in the back). Next time I got the zip half way up and on the third Sunday I was able to pull the zip all the way.  The next thing was to actually get it wet and Alison and I headed off to the Serpentine Lido.  The water was freezing, my chest felt constricted in the wet suit, and I felt like I couldn’t breath, again these apparently are common reactions when first trying open water swimming, but knowing it and experiencing it is not quite the same thing. “Breathe more often” was Alison’s advice and that certainly helped.

Triathlon day arrives and we are in transition putting on our wetsuits, getting in the water, swimming, getting out of the water, getting out of the wetsuit, getting on the bike, cycling four laps – the head wind on one side of the lake seemingly getting stronger with each lap, off the bike, and on our feet, legs feeling like lead, though that does wear off, and bizarrely both after a seemingly interminable time of putting one foot in front of the other and yet also almost before you know it I am crossing the finish line, receiving the medal around my neck, feeling great, no pain, and somewhat amazed that I actually did it.


Nicola’s Triathlon Story.

Running a triathlon over forty | personal training | fitness over fortyThe sprint tri at Dorney Lake went surprisingly well and it was lovely to be doing it with friends! I had done it 3 years ago, completely on my own and definitely helped to have the encouragement and support. I had done some training but not enough in some areas and that showed on the bike section. I was very happy with the swim, managed to swim pretty non stop so was pleased with that. Should have been a bit quicker in the first transition but then off on the bike! I took my banana along to give me some energy – maybe that was my error. The wind down on side was pretty full in the face and made it very tiring. I went past some people early on but then a lot of people on road bikes(mine is a hybrid) seem to go past me with relative ease and I couldn’t keep up with them which was a bit frustrating!! Second transition was fine and then off on the run. Once the legs start moving properly after the bike, I felt very good on the run! It was great to finish and to then celebrate with Nic & Alison!!