No. I really can’t do this.

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.








Author: Anthony Wood

Freelance Lighting Cameraman

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