23. January 2015 · Comments Off on Where it all began: a sort-of love story · Categories: Triathlon · Tags:

I’ve been asked how I got into triathlon and endurance running, especially since originally I hated running.  Truth is, there were a lot of factors, including a lot of people who really inspired me, but I will save that for another day.

I guess the very beginning starts with my trusty London commuter bike.  A heavy GT Palomar step-through steel frame I picked up secondhand for £199.  Which saw me through a decade of commuting to work in the London streets, various attempts at road cycling and even, back in 2004, my very first (and only) mountain bike race:

June 2004, Hampshire, with Tom.  I entered the 30km race.  He did the longer one - no idea what that was.

June 2004, Hampshire, with Tom. I entered the 30km race. He did the longer one, whatever that was!

I had no idea what I was doing.  I fell off, I was covered in mud, I got sunburned, and I absolutely loved it.  Don’t ask me how long I took – I have no clue.

(I think racing was maybe a bit more fun before I started caring about times….)

I commuted to work by bike, I rode my clunker for some shorter road rides, and even the occasional off-road adventure with friends.

Obviously a true mountain biker wouldn't have had to get off the bike! - borrowing Tom's MTB for a day out cycling

Obviously a true mountain biker wouldn’t have had to get off the bike! – borrowing Tom’s MTB for a day out cycling

Tom did his first triathlon not long after I did that first race (on that same mountain bike!).  It took me another 8 years before I tried one too.  After years of talking about buying a road bike, but not being willing to part with the cash, I finally bought a Pearson Pave in summer 2011.

I started running because I wanted to get fitter for the bike (ironic, because now I prefer running).  I was always a decent swimmer, so once I was comfortably running 5km, it occurred to me… why not try this crazy triathlon stuff that Tom does?  Spring 2012:  Human Race Sprint Tri at Dorney Lake!

But I wasn’t brave enough to venture into the unknown alone.  No, I recruited my amazingly game-for-anything friend Jojo to do the tri with me (you can read her write-up on it here, with more photos).  Doing it with Jojo made it that much less scary.  I was so thankful to have her with me on the start line, even if she decided ultimately that tri wasn’t for her.

Trying on our rental wetsuits at Cycle Surgery

(Jojo went on to run two excellent half marathons since that triathlon. And yes, we ran our first half marathon race together, too, which she enjoyed much more than the tri, and have done a gazillion cycle rides and sportives together and she kicks my ass on the bike every time.)

DSC_6482 My first triathlon

My first triathlon, the Nuffield Health Tri Challenge, sprint distance, 2012


Jojo finding her kick for a sprint finish!

We had perfect weather for it, hot and sunny (not exactly the norm in the UK).  I absolutely loved the race, but at the same time I couldn’t possibly conceive how it was humanly possible to go any further than the 750m swim, 22km bike and 5km run.

Since that day, while I’m still a relative newbie, I’ve gone on to do Ironman and Half Ironman, marathons and ultras.  But I’m not sure I was ever as proud of myself as the day I did my very first sprint triathlon!

And that very first bike?  Any Londoners reading this will know that it’s pretty exceptional that I rode it daily for a decade in London and it was never once stolen (OK – nobody else wanted it).  And it lived outside, too.  When we left this autumn, it went to my friend Malgosia who I hope will continue to love it for me.

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