I joke that I took up triathlons to have an excuse to book Sundays off work. Today I was questioning that when I had to be up at 3.40 am to drive myself to Cambridgeshire for one of the British Sprint Triathlon Championships at St Neots. Some of the guys I do swim training with were there but I tried to avoid them, I like to remain focused. Admittedly I was a little nervous but clearly the morning cold and early start had drained the colour from my skin as one of the boys had wanted to give me a hug but thought the better of it.
The night before is when the nerves arrive, then when treading water at the start line I simply want to get going. Finally, one minute after the start horn, I am in my happy rhythm and remember why I love this sport. I am embracing the challenges of being outside and the three disciplines (swim, bike and run) mean all my muscles are being put through their paces, for a prolonged. The purity of the sport is an entirely separate world from my job and the comforts of home, apart from using a bike triathlons are about your body and your will. At the moment I am trying sprint distance tri’s (half the length of what the pros do in the Olympics) which is a 750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run.
One of the other things I love about competing in any sports event, as I have mentioned before, are the smugness I have knowing I had done all this before most people are awake and the kit you get. This time round I was kindly given a white sweat-licking t-shirt. Not the most practical colour but I will be proud to have the “British Championship” tagline across my back as I continue my training.
I am the last person to give myself praise but looking at the slip of paper the officials gave me with my preliminary times I am actually pretty chuffed with my efforts. Some people say you have not pushed yourself hard enough unless you puke at the finish line. Personally, I think this is dangerous for the body and is a guaranteed path to a medical professional. I finished the race today feeling fatigued and although I always want to finish faster knew that my little pegs could not have been willed to go any quicker. This is only my second sprint tri competition (the first being last September) and seeing as I was racing with many attempting to qualify for the World Championships, including previous Team GB members, I am proud of how I held my own. Perhaps most importantly, or maybe my success was a result of it, I enjoyed every second of the race.