My First Triathlon

The euphoric fans that greeted me as I left Edinburgh’s Commonwealth Pool cheered in marvelled adulation at my achievement. With frenzied hollering they cheered: “my hero!”, “the people’s champion!”, “the third Brownlee?”...or that’s how I remember it.

On New Year’s Day I completed my first Triathlon, a sprint distance that began energetically with eight lengths of a 50m pool, middled with three laps on two wheels around a steadily steeper Arthur’s Seat and finished with an ugly fourth lap, this time on two leaded legs.

Although the reception I received was slightly more muted than the one I described the sense of achievement was still great. I was buzzing at the post-race pub gathering where chat quickly focussed upon where the next triathlon endeavour would take place and over what distance…

So why did I try a Tri? Steadily decreasing fitness and an ever increasing waistline led to dwindling enthusiasm for the repetitive running events that I have participated in since I moved to Edinburgh thirteen years ago. I was really struggling for motivation to race and subsequently to train. Not only did I need a change, I needed a challenge, something that would scare me out of bed in the mornings and refuel my starving athleticism.

Active Root had sponsored a number of triathlons in 2019, including the British Championships in Aberfeldy. I’d like to say that I was inspired by the athletes at these events, but the reality was that they were so far beyond anything I thought I could do that I found it hard to relate to their achievements. Rather I was attracted to the variety of forms of exercise that triathlons consist of.

Swimming would represent my biggest challenge. Having never really swum before, my technique was an indistinct mix of flounder, panic and asphyxiation. After a number of swimming lessons with Edinburgh Racing Club my technique improved marginally, though my ability remained resolutely lacking. Having spoken to a few other triathletes (and I now count myself as one of them!), confidence seems to be the crux issue when it comes to swimming. Mine was fragile and I have to thank my swimming partner Jill who spent many an early morning geeing me up. Our plan for the swim: survival.

I was far more upbeat about the cycle, though riding on a road bike proved interesting at first. Having invested in a noble two wheeled steed I suddenly found myself nose to handlebars, naively critical of the height of my saddle, only for my Active Root co-founder to explain what aerodynamics are. I loved the cycle during the race – there’s something highly masochistic about cycling uphill, the relentless quad burn is addictive.

Lastly the run, the sport whose waning love had forced into this racing melodrama. I got round, mostly with fleet of foot though a few walked steps were trodden during the more enhanced gradient at the back of Arthur’s Seat.

Finally I crossed the line, the race commentator announcing my name as if I was a prestigious Olympian. Done. Challenge complete. Hugs all round. Now to celebrate the New Year…with a nap.

If you’ve read so far then I guess I should reward you with some mind blowing insights into why you should try a triathlon. Or perhaps I shall indulge my ego by providing you with some top tips? Carpe diem, YOLO, etc… However the stringent word count limit entitles me to only a few more words.

I am ‘super happy’ to have tried something new. It’s encouraged me to train more and energised my passion for endurance sport. I’m back in the game.