I remember being out with my then partner and his friends about 11 years ago,  and the conversation turned to the subject of the local triathlon that was due to take place that month. Oh, how we laughed! The general concensus was that people who participated in such events were to be pitied…I kept quiet, for I was a coward, and dared not speak of my seemingly unattainable dream to join the ranks of these amazing, fearless athletes…

At that time, I was still struggling with depression and very disordered eating. I was also in a pretty abusive relationship, with a partner who was verbally and physically violent. Somehow, I managed to keep on swimming and surfing, despite this vast background of personal, varied problems!

I’d often had phases in my life when I was unable to get out to do anything but, happily, I’d also had phases where I would cycle everywhere and swim too. Even had a few times of going out for very short runs, which generally took place at silly o’clock in order to avoid people.

A wander off onto the moors

I was in a situation, about eight years ago, where I had a daily commute of about 100miles, so I decided to save some dosh by cycling some of the way in. I’d then head for the swimming pool which was near my workplace. Ah, they were halcyon days…my cycle in was actually pretty hairy and scary: it was on a heavy-traffic route, and I’d often be skimmed past by trucks and cars (hmm. Nothing changes in that respect. I must put my camera on my bike). And the weather could be evil! Memories of being soaked, blown all over the place at times, my poor bones frozen and aching…but I also remember seeing the sun rise over the moorland, frost having laid its own chilly, bony fingers over the gorse and bent-over, wind-swept trees.

So, I was already swimming and cycling on a frequent basis. Running? Not so much, as it’s my worst discipline – I’m just not built for walking faster than 3-4 mph! When my sister then told me about a triathlon that was happening in her locality, and that she’d challenged herself to do it, I couldn’t resist…there can be an element of competition between my siblings: I try not to get entwined in it all, but on this occasion I definitely had to join in. Result? Nope, not just the one triathlon entry, but two (y’know, just to ensure that I had snuck in some actual race practice before joining my sister in her community’s event…!).

One of my first triathlons…

My initial triathlons were completed on my mountain bike, wearing my swimming cossie underneath cycling or running shorts. Transitions were gentle and taken at a, hmm, leisurely pace. No sense of urgency there! But I enjoyed these first two triathlons, and stayed around for the awards at the end of each one, looking on in admiration and amazement at these super-humans with their posh gear and weird-looking bikes. I was hooked…little did I know that I’d win my own awards, or that I’d complete a 70.3 – or enter an ironman – nearly ten years later…