Last October, M and I went to support my parents competing in a local triathlon. 400m swimming in a local school swimming pool followed by a 15km cycle ride and then a 5km run. We were impressed that they both completed it and decided to enter as a team. Being a fairly casual affair (in some cases, even the run was being completed by 2 family members) we figured that once the baby came along, M could do the swimming and cycling part and I would do the running part, handing over the baby like a relay baton.
But last week, inspired by the Olympics (who wasn't) I decided I needed a challenge. Something to achieve of my own. My own milestone which wasn't baby related. I would enter as an individual.
I thought, as this event is rather casual, that the distances were quite short. A cursory amount of research has suggested though that the cycling might be a little short (it is dictated here by the suitable lap length of twice round a course) it isn't far off a normal amateur triathlon.
So, as with all challenges, shopping is the first step. I have obtained a swimsuit which is suitable for actual swimming rather than say lying around on the beach (harder than you'd think; in the end I got it from Sweaty Betty) and I have dug out actual running kit from the depths of my wardrobe. And by actual running kit I mean even proper left and right footed socks, back from the days when I completed a 5km round Hyde Park and then a 10km Run London round Battersea Park in the same summer. I'm considering whether new trainers would be advised (mine are a little tight now my feet seem to have grown during pregnancy and they must be about 8 years old). I also need a bike. (A minor challenge which I am working on).
As for the actual, you know, training side of the preparation, well, I've downloaded a running app for my phone and looked up a basic 8 week training programme. On Sunday we took the baby for her first swim and I began the swimming 'training'. If you can call it that. I did two lengths whilst M held a whining baby who wanted some food. Next time I will do some laps whilst M swims with the baby and vice versa. Tonight we donned our running kit and took the baby in the pram for a 3.5km run/walk round the local woods and parkland.
This morning I was so sad that the Olympics were over. This evening, as we ran I could feel a tiny glimpse of that feeling of freedom that sport when you are fit gives you and I wanted it back. I used to be hugely fit, spending hours a week playing lacrosse, netball, ballet and 3 sessions of gymnastics training per week. One winter, when I was about 11, I remember competing in a school cross country competition. Of coming in the top three or four places and being given a letter, inviting me to join the area athletics club. I didn't take it up, choosing gymnastics instead. This past weekend, I thought about that letter, wondering what might have been had I chosen athletics not gymnastics. But gymnastics offered something exciting, exhilarating. It wasn't just running laps (or hurdles, or high jump, although I later competed in those events for my school). It was running and dancing and power and precision and a testing of my daring. Now, at 30, I can derive pleasure from only running. Back then, running was the 800m warm up we did before every gymnastics session; sprinting was the vault run up, the mere preparation for the main event. These days, I have lost my nerve. My days of flips and somersaults relegated to memories, the local newspaper clippings that my mother keeps in her filing cabinet and a basketful of medals in the loft. Running however, I can still do. I can't fall off running; it doesn't require nerves of steel and I don't need to master it time and time again. All I need to do is do it.
Photo by Steve Takes Pictures via Flickr