Lets just make this clear. I can’t do this. I’m not a natural athlete, I’ve never been competitive, I didn’t do sports at school unless I was forced and even then I was the kid at the back. I had a go at shaking this off in my early twenties by doing Taekwondo for a few years with some success but otherwise nothing. A lot of starts, a lot of plans but nothing stuck.
How did I get here?
A couple of years ago (May 2015) two events happened more or less simultaneously. My brother called and asked if I wanted to do the London to Brighton bike ride with him and some mates. I agreed, signed up, bought a bike and loosely followed their online training programme. The other was being asked if I’d do the swim leg of a team relay in the London Triathlon.
The Sunday morning bike ride became a feature with getting up around 06:30 and heading out to do a lap of Richmond Park and back. This ride was about 35km in total and I took a couple of breaks. Over the 12 weeks ahead of the L2B as it was know I built up the distance and when possible did a midweek “shorter faster” ride. Pretty impressive consistency for me but I was driven by nagging concern about not making it up the notoriously steep Ditchling Beacon – or having to bail out half way through the ride.
The team triathlon was a fundraiser organised by CBS who I do freelance work for. Creating a dozen or so triathlon teams from the people I knew at CBS seemed implausible. But out of the woodwork came runners, cyclists, a few who could swim and a few others willing to throw themselves into the unknown and have a go. I thought I could swim but in reality – as it turned out – I was just willing.
It was organised by Leigh. She is from Connecticut has an intonation in her voice with enthusiasm built in. So when Leigh says: “Hey you wanna swim in this Triathlon thing?” It sounds like this is going to be the best thing in your life – EVER! So I said yes.
The first few swimming sessions were at my local pool where the barrier is down in the early morning connecting two pools to make a 50m Olympic sized pool, a rare thing and less than a mile from home. Trouble was that I was pretty puffed out after a couple of lengths so only clocking up 100 meter’s before I needed to take a break. My whole effort from a session might just get me to 400m or maybe 500m including time dropping out of front call to breaststroke and catch my breath. The race distance being 750m. And – unthinkable to me now – I used to drive there.
At this stage I hadn’t even contemplated what it might be like putting on a wetsuit and going in the open water.