A proud school mum shows off her tandem skydive photo, a tick on her 40th year to do list. I think: “what a good idea, a 40th year to do list.” I turn and ask a dad-friend if he’s ever fancied having a go at triathlon.
While slightly hysterically laughing about sudden triathlon suggestion, an intensely active, just-done-a-marathon dad expresses interest in joining in.
One week later
Wife of marathon man tells me he is pestering her to find out which triathlon. Gulp.
Two weeks later
Little H and I attend Olympics. I get fired up about sport, trying new things, the reward of effort, leading by example. Manage to commit to triathlon goal on blog (see here if you missed post ‘I don’t want to be in Olympics’). Now public. Double gulp.
Two weeks later
Arrive on holiday to discover French gite hosts are triathletes, indeed one is a coach and ex-pro, no less. Watch them disappear off for daily bike rides, swims, runs. Feel a teensy bit envious of lifestyle, bodies.
One week later
Husband asks casually over wine and cheese if I’m serious about triathlon. I (deep breath, big glug) nod yes. Husband calls my bluff. Offers early Christmas present of coaching by ex-pro triathlete. Gulps so big just manage not to choke on wine.
Spend hour with pro talking goals, training plans, races, kit. Express concern re swimming – never learnt front crawl. Bravado surfaces – maybe I could do or watch a race this season to get a feel for it. Shopping list grows; from goggles to road bike to gym membership to swim lessons. Realisation of extent of challenge deepens. Feel excited, apprehensive, a bit gung-ho.
Last night of holiday
Have swimming lesson in small gite pool. Have to stop, gasping for breath after one length of 5 metres. All bravado deflated to fear. The reality of racing a 400m swim hits. Coach suggests how exciting it is to be starting right at the beginning. Decoded: Wow, she really wasn’t joking when she said she couldn’t do front crawl.
Kit list gets longer. Many swim aids required, starting with swimsuit. Coach, husband and I agree halter neck, boy short tankini not really appropriate.
Two days later
On return home, training time negotiations and kit shopping begin. Whenever brain idle, thoughts turn to triathlon. Mix of excitement (Cool – a new, difficult challenge! A chance to be properly fit! Professional help to do my best and not just ‘enjoy the experience and not embarrass myself’!), nerves (Can I conquer front crawl – being forced to control breathing when working hard in particular. Will I have the mental strength for proper training that hurts and takes sustained commitment) and wondering about all the unknowns (How does it feel to swim with loads of other people? Will I ride and run in a swim/wetsuit? How much will it hurt not to have crotch padding for a 20km bike ride? Is the transition from bike to run as hard as everyone says? Will this take over my life completely or just mostly? Will I want to do another one? Will all this cost and effort and using up of husband support points be worth it?).
5.40am Monday morning after holiday
Out for a run before Mr H off to work. And so the journey begins.