Over the years, despite a brave outward façade, I’ve often struggled with self-doubt.
I always find, however, that the self-doubt is always in fierce competition with my desire not to be outdone.
Which is exactly what brought me back to Ullswater Triathlon this July.
After a less than stellar outing the year previously where I battled the waves before succumbing to a panic attack I was fearful of another outing ending in the same outcome. There is no denying that I’m not the strongest swimmer and I’m much happier out of the water than in it but there was definitely an itch to be scratched which is how I ended up donning the wetsuit and tri-suit again.
I’d had about six months off swimming since last year’s triathlon. I had no desire to get in the water again and I genuinely thought that my triathlon days may well be over. But, with a two month gap between training schedules and the triathlon falling slap bang in the middle it seemed like fate was trying to give me a nudge.
Swimming training started again in earnest, and in secret, towards the end of January. I was keen to ensure that I was capable of getting back up to the distance before signing up.
I was surprised how quickly it all started to click to be honest. I was up to the distance without breaks within a month and it was a case of working on speed after that. I’m never going to be the best, or fastest, swimmer in the world but I could definitely make improvements.
All in all I was pretty pleased with how things had gone training wise. The main goal was to get in and out of the water having completed the distance and, hopefully, with no issues.
The morning of the event wasn’t great. As I was cleaning my bike and just having a general tidy up my brake cable snapped. Disaster. I headed off to the trusted local bike store and, thankfully, they managed to get it sorted while I grabbed a bite to eat and waited anxiously.
Kev, who was also doing the sprint tri, picked myself and the bike up and we headed off to the caravan park to get parked up, meet up with Sarah who was supporting, and get sorted before the event start.
Luckily, with it being a fairly local event, there were plenty of people around offering words of support (special shout outs on that count to Sarah, Heather, Anni, Amanda and Kathryn) while I wandered about looking terrified. The weather gods were playing their part and the conditions looked to be relatively calm so all in all I was hopeful of getting in and out of the water in good condition before bashing on with the more enjoyable parts of a triathlon.
Once in the water it was obvious that I was going to be right at the back from the start and, as it was, I ended up picking up my own personal kayaker. The standard group had set off before the sprint so no sooner had I started than they started barrelling past me for their second leg. This was the precise moment last year when I started to panic. But, given that the conditions were calmer this time, I simply moved to the side a bit to allow them to get past and then steadied back into my rhythm.
The kayaker was lovely as she offered words of encouragement and support throughout. In what seemed like no time I came to the end of the swim and was out of the water. The first major hurdle was over with and I could relax.
The bike leg wasn’t too bad at all. At just over 16 miles I cycled through Askham, Lowther estate, Eamont Bridge and Yanwath before arriving back at Pooley Bridge to start my run.
Running is my wheelhouse so I was straight off the bike and into the groove to knock out the 5km run around the caravan-park before hitting the finish funnel.
Once I crossed the line I was given the biggest hug by Amanda as she slipped the medal over my head and I considered the event put to bed.
I finished the event in 2:01.47 in 92nd (of 112). Kev managed to knock it out 25 minutes quicker finishing in a very impressive 27th.
I was pleased I went back and finished the event and I’ll never rule out another triathlon but for now I’m hanging up the three disciplines and sticking to one. There’s a lot I want to do between now and next year and most of it involves running.
Much thanks to Sport in Action for organising another great event.
Next up for me would be Hell on the Humber. More on that next time.