Blog of a Late 50s Newbie Triathlete

Monday 10th October 2016 – Day 1

I have been worrying since last night about an event I have registered for in May 2017.   In a moment of what-can-I-do-next, a moment of sheer impulse, I signed up for my first triathlon.  It’s a baby triathlon, called a supersprint nowhere near as hard as the mighty athletes attempt, the Brownlee brothers are my inspiration –  sweat, sores, jelly knees, exhaustion, tight lycra, salty sea water and keeping  going.  It’s the easiest of all triathlons.  I don’t want to get injured, I don’t care how long it takes, I only want to prove to myself that I can do it.  Mine is a personal attempt to do something I never thought I would do, a 400k swim, (8 x 50m of an olympic size pool), followed by 21.2k (13.17307 mile) cycle ride, followed by a 5k (3.10686 mile) run.  I’ve run 5k, I can swim 8 lengths, whether I can cycle 13.17307 miles is another matter…whether I can do all three one after another is worrying me from now for a multitude of reasons, and I only signed up yesterday.  Does this mean that I have another 7 months of anxiety?

Things that worry me –  the transition from wetsuit to bike, to wear a tri suit or not?  Will compression shorts and a fitted top be adequate under my wetsuit?  And what if I can’t get the thing off? I once fell over at the Lido trying to get out of a wetsuit and then started laughing so much I ended up struggling on the floor.  I cannot see this kind of behaviour being accepted at as esteemed triathlon venue.  I have of course discovered something called suit juice.

Should I wear my glasses and trust that they won’t shoot off at the worst, possible moment, taking me via the wrong route or worse still, crashing into someone or something?  See, I’m really worried.  I have already replayed the entire supersprint triathlon, at least three times, and each time something else goes wrong.  And I haven’t even started training yet.

I have decided no socks are necessary, it’s only 5k, I have good trainers (lots of good trainers) and there is no need for proper cycling shoes, I’m a beginner, I don’t need fancy, Elite clothing.  I am not an Elite athlete, much as I would like to be.  AND, wearing the same pair of trainers for bike and run mean I can ease myself gently, oh so gently, off the uncomfortable seat of my bike and run in the same trainers rather than changing into a different pair.  Yes, I have been researching all things triathlon.  I have been looking at tri suits and wet suits (I already have one) and the cost…the cost…and the colours and styles.  Did I say that I love accessories?


I took 5 days away from exercise after a 5k run with an obstacle course.  This was good.  This was necessary.  Yesterday after 49 minutes of yoga, I signed up for the supersprint triathlon.  I have walked a half marathon around New York, run 5k, jumped out of an aeroplane with a parachute, cycled from London to Brighton…the latter two when I was in my 20s…I used to throw the javelin for Barnet, when I was about 14, came late to swimming, only learned freestyle about 8 years ago, and started running in April this year, after telling everyone never to run because it’s bad for you.

Today was my first day of training, which was no different to any other day at the gym.  30 minutes on the cross trainer, a quick set of various weights, some floor work, stretching and home to eat popcorn.  Except the cross trainer decided to stop 10 mins into my workout, I reset it, it stopped again, I hopped onto another cross trainer and I was cross, because my training had been interrupted.  As I climbed Kilimanjaro,  I looked out at the view of the pool, 14 degrees of cool water, I imaged getting out of my wetsuit and cycling around the park several times then throwing my bike into the hands of a willing helper and running like I have never run before.  It’s not the activities that worries me, it’s all the bits that bring them together, where will my clothes be, what if I need to go to the loo, tri suits make peeing very hard and I am no Paula Radcliffe, what if I’m hungry or thirsty, I am not accomplished at carrying energy bars and bottles of water on my body.

And then there’s the question of the bike…because the only one I have fold up and has small wheels (no, not a Brompton) kept for seaside rides.  I need big wheels and I need them now.  To borrow, not to buy, because on the day I am renting one and we have no room at home for a proper sized bike.  I am worrying about the bike on the day, I will not have ridden it, I won’t be used to the seat, what if it’s the wrong height or too uncomfortable and what if I don’t know how to use a puncture kit and I have a puncture?  I’m worried.  Really worried.  I wonder if Elastoplast will do?

Day 2.  In the pool…



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