Tell us about yourself as a Triathlete

I have to admit that I’ve never actually raced yet, unless you can count the weekly mini triathlon at Club la Santa about 25 yrs ago, but I’ve counted myself as a triathlete, rather than a runner for just over 2 months. I suppose I’ve being toying with the idea of getting into long distance triathlons for quite a while, as marathons alone seem a bit short and no longer the challenge they once were, especially as I can no longer seriously dream of PBs. (I’ve raced well over 30 road marathons, and run more than that number of  off-road marathons and ultras over the last 30yrs), and because years ago I got the idea that most triathletes train far harder and more seriously than most runners.

Just two problems, my swimming was not up to scratch, although I’ve swam off and on just about all my life, and that my bike hadn’t come out of the shed for about 20yrs.  2 years ago, I signed up for Penny’s 6 week effortless endurance course, and in the summer started open water swimming. In the winter I regularly go to Penny’s Thursday evening classes, and have had several one to one sessions in the endless pool. There is so much technique to learn, and I’m really frustrated by how slow I swim, but loving the challenge of looking for magic solutions.

Over the last 2 years my running had been rather goalless, so my training had lost its direction and my pace had slipped. In my head, I’m a really competitive person, and I wasn’t dealing with that at all well. So over the summer, mulling over new goals, it was a toss up between ultra running, or an Ironman triathlon.  Then I was further inspired by Penny’s Ironman Copenhagen.

I’ll be bottom end age group for triathlon, I’m about to retire, so I’ll have plenty of time to train and my old dog no longer wants long walks. So all in all the perfect year to go for it, so I decided to bite the Ironperson bullet.

The bike was still in the shed, but shorter races wouldn’t have motivated me go to get going. So I got the bike out, bought my first clipless pedals, (scary) and cycled 11.2mls (1/10th distance done).  Since then, I’ve done longer rides, up to 56miles now, and a shiny new bike is on order. (I’m assured that it will go at least 2mph faster than my old vintage racing bike).

My running is now back on track too, though now only 4 sessions a week, but including one long run, (3-4hrs), and some speed work and I can feel the pace coming back, though still a long way to go.

I’m loving the mix of training, and finding that I can train far more hours each day, without getting too tired, than I would be able to, just running. And I’m excited by having the excuse to buy new toys, especially the new bike.

And motivation – a new challenge, with new goals and the gamble of not knowing what is possible. My head in now well back into the zone.

What is your proudest Triathlon related achievement? 

The highlights of my running career, are my marathon PB, 3:08 in 1989, which got me into the championship start.(The cut off point was then 3:10, not the 3:15 it is now, and pre Chip Timing, so my gun time of 3:09:25 just made it, and twice I had the privilege of competing in the championship race, when all the championship women ran with the elite women in an early start).  And then, in 2009, I ran in the World Masters Championship, and won the bronze medal in my age-group.

What are you training for at the moment

Ironman Barcelona – nothing like jumping in at the deep end, though I will do a few shorter races beforehand  to find out all about it

What are your favourite training sessions and why

Long endurance runs, and now rides, on country footpaths and lanes.  I love being out in the countryside, usually on my own, and happy to be out for hours (as long as the weather isn’t too bad).

And swimming, concentrating on new focal points, trying to swim the length in fewer strokes, in the hope it will suddenly make me go loads faster.

What are your least favourite training sessions and can you share any tips for getting through them

Anything I have to do that involves getting out of bed early, or going out in the rain.  Luckily I’ve almost always been able to train at lunchtime and evenings. When necessary.

My tip is to make a deal with yourself that if it’s really that bad you turn back after 10mins, knowing that it will be fine once you get going, and you’ll feel so good once it’s over.

What are the biggest challenges that you face being a triathlete

The bit I’m most scared about at the moment is meeting the bike cut-off.  I have absolutely no idea if I’ll be able to ride fast enough, and without using so much energy that I have nothing left for the run. I guess the fear will make me train harder and longer on the bike.

How have you grown as an athlete in the last few years 

Old! That’s the scariest bit. How much can I realistically expect my running pace to come back, or my cycling and swimming develop. But until I’ve started racing, I can always dream….

What are your future ambitions and dream goals?

How about we take one year at a time.  Will sub 12hrs ever be possible, however hard I train?