I did my first triathlon – The Banbury Tri – on a mountain bike in 1998 and came joint last. But that didn’t matter at all. While there were a few pointy-helmeted ones, and some very fit firefighters (in both senses of the word) we were largely an amateurish crew: mountain bikes, no lycra and in it for a laugh. I finally gravitated more to running and stopped doing triathlons in 2002 (it was the helmet hair that finished me off).
After several years of running 10ks, half marathons and marathons, I returned to triathlon in 2010 at the ripe old age of 50 and absolutely loved it (again). This time the bikes were better, lycra mandatory and there was lots of lovely new kit to buy. As a, let’s say, ‘mature’ athlete, I found the pressure was off and I enjoyed racing different distances within my age group. I tended to prefer the longer races and in 2011, at Vitruvian, I qualified to race at the Triathlon Long Distance World Championships in Spain in 2012, coming 10th in my Age Group. This was an amazing experience all round.
One great thing about joining a tri club is chatting to all the other members and hearing about their exploits – but beware, it rubs off and one day you might well find yourself saying – an Ironman? Yes, ok then, why not? And having done ONE…..
This year, however, I am focusing on the half-ironman distance. I qualified for the European Middle Distance Championships in September and am planning on enjoying the scenery of Austria and the camaraderie of Team GB and other members of Team Cherwell who have also qualified.
Triathlon can become less a sport and more a lifestyle and it is easy to become slightly obsessive; downloading stuff from your Garmin poring over stats and then, of course, there’s Strava. However, I can’t recommend it enough. Plus, with every training session, you will have earned that glass of wine, piece of cake or both. And Team Cherwell is a brilliant club to be part of – whether it’s open-water swimming at Stowe Lake in the summer or track sessions on a Monday, it’s great to train with like-minded people, have a laugh and enjoy the sense of well-being and fitness exercise brings.