Sunday, 20 May 2012

Task 4: Triathlon Torture

When I wrote 'run a charity race' on my list I envisioned myself doing the local fun run or perhaps a 10k at best. I think my friends would class me as competitive and when I was younger I would hate to lose at anything let alone sport. As I got older though I have come to realise its not all about winning- and as cliche as it sounds- its the taking part that counts. Whilst my competitive streak has come down a notch I still love a challenge. If theres is a choice I will always take the more difficult route- what's the point in doing things by halves? Whilst it is a great attitude to have, I regularly find myself in situations questioning why I am doing this (bungee jump anyone?)...and Sunday 13th May 2012 was no different....

...let me take you back to December when I started to look into which charity event to take part in. As I searched the Internet looking at fun run's nothing was appealing so I made the very big mistake in searching 'triathlon'. A list of events came up and I struggled to find anything that was before June but not too soon that I didn't have time to train. Then I spotted the Stratford 220 Triathlon taking place 13th May- Perfect! 5 months was plenty of time to train..or so I thought.

I was not particularly unhealthy but I hadn't done any regular exercise since school and I am partial to a weekend curry and few glasses of wine! I decided the perfect way to get back into shape was to begin a boot camp. There was one starting not far from work and some of my colleagues were interested in too, I started my first session and wondered what on earth I had let myself in for. I had no idea how unfit I was and getting stitch in the warm-up is never a good sign, but as the next 4 weeks continued each session got more comfortable and I was even able to go for a jog once I got home. My triathlon training had officially began! For those who are not familiar with triathlons they comprise of running, swimming and cycling. I was in the 'Fun, Female' category so I was completing a 200m swim, followed by a 14mile cycle and finally a 2mile run. That may sound easy to some but I challenge any of you to give it a go!

Whilst the training began well, regular run's and a weekly swim I would be lying if I said I didn't lose motivation about 2 months before the event. After a 2 week break from exercise I picked up a knee injury and each run felt harder than the previous. Morale was low and my ambition to be the best in my category was replaced by just wanting to complete it! I probably didn't take the event as serious as I should of since I didn't actually go on a bike until the week of the event (yes-really!). It is no excuse but with all the other tasks taking place I barely had time to sleep let alone anything else.

The week of the event came and as I received my email detailing all the information the nerves really hit. I am terrible with nerves at the best of times but I really did not want to let anyone down or let the training I had managed to do be a waste. The day before the event I was informed that I should be 'carbo-loading' which basically involves eating as many carbohydrates as possible. This was music to my ears- finally some training I would be good at! It is fair to say that not only did I eat enough carbs to feed a family I took it as an excuse to eat anything in sight too. Before bed, I got all my kit ready, packed my rucksack and lay my tri-suit on the bottom of my bed- all that was left to do now was complete this bloody thing.

On the way there I listened to my ipod so I could 'get in the zone' but nothing could distract my nerves when we got nearer to Stratford leisure centre and I saw all the neon yellow signs saying 'WARNING- TRIATHLON TAKING PLACE'. We passed what must of been the 'Sprint Male' category as they completed the cycle and they all looked very tired. As we pulled into the car park all you could hear was whistles and people cheering- I genuinely felt I was taking part in the Olympics.

I signed in, had my number '829' wrote on my arm and leg and waited patiently for my start time. As the time drew closer I racked my cycle in its position and stripped down to the tri-suit (possibly the least flattering item you could ever wear). I made my way into the pool and had my safety brief. I have never been so nervous and could feel my heart pounding as each person in front of me took their place in the pool. We began at 15 second intervals and had to do six lengths before tackling the cycle. Before I knew it my number was called and I clung on to the edge of the pool. It was now or never, everything had come down to this and the next time I would stop would be when I finished. I was given the nod and off I went...

..I thought I was doing quite well until 2 people took over me. I tried to concentrate on my breathing as I knew swimming was not my strong point but after 5 lengths any technique went out the window and I frantically splashed my way to the end. Throwing my luminous orange swimming cap into the box I ran outside to start my cycle. I felt cold and like all the eyes were on me as I put my trainers, tshirt and helmet on. As I started to run to the 'mount point' I gave my family and friends one last wave and off I went onto the busy roads. I found the beginning of the cycle particularly difficult. The roads were busy, inclined and I had very little idea what gear to be in! Somehow I got into a rhythm and strangely miles 5-12 went very quickly. I remember shouting to myself at mile 13 to keep going as the tiredness really kicked in. The wind was against us the whole way and I could feel my injured knee creeping back in. The relief when I saw the leisure centre was incredible, and being met by my 'supporters' gave me much needed motivation for the final leg. I put my bike back in the rack and threw my helmet to the ground..

..The run was the part I had trained the most for and as I began the grassy route all I could think about was how heavy my legs were. I always remembered my Nan telling me that 2 miles was running to Aldridge and back from her house so I started to picture where I would be if I was running at home. Strangely enough it did work and when I reached the turn point of the run I knew the end was in sight. I kept listening for the tannoy so I knew I was nearly at the end, and as soon as I heard it I launched into a full on sprint. I dont know where the energy came from but my numb legs went as fast as they possibly could and as I turned the corner I saw the finish line. I had finally done it :-)

The finish seems a blur but I remember having a big hug from my Mum and being ongratulated by my friends. It was the most physically challenging event I have ever done but I knew Oliver would of loved that I had pushed myself to do it. I wish, like the bungee jump, I could say I would do it again but that was definitely my first and last triathlon! I hadn't quite finished best in my category but I beat the time I aimed for..and afterall it's the taking part that counts.

Big thank you to my family and friends for the continuous support over the last 5 months and for putting up with my constant whining!

I would like to take this opportunity to remind you there is less than a month and my list now looks like this...

1. Go to New York
2. Get a tattoo
3. Appear on a TV programme
4. Run a charity race
5. Buy a pair of designer shoes
6. Start a blog
7. Learn Welsh
8. Hold a tarantula (or one seriously massive spider!)
9. Go to a music festival
10. Bet £100 on red or black at the casino
11. Climb Snowdon
12. Watch the sunrise on new years day
13. Get a piercing- not ears!!
14. Go on a blind date

15. Volunteer for a day
16. Write the first chapter of my book
17. Go to Paris
18. Streak19. Ride a motorbike
20. Appear on the radio 
21. Go to Scotland22. Learn to do the splits
23. Do a bungee jump

Remember you can donate on line at

If you think you can help with any of the tasks left then please do not hesitate to contact me at

Thank you for reading and your continual support,

Grace xx

1 comment:

  1. May 2012 at 22:46

    You're doing great Grace, I'm awed by what you have done.
    The rest will be a doddle, especially learning Welsh in less than a month lol
    All the very best to you!