August 29, 2013 at 5:59
Posted by Rachael Woolston
Want a new challenge? Fitbitch Michelle Doyle decided to do just that by taking on her first triathlon…
When you are a child, you fling yourself into new challenges without a second thought. Try a cartwheel off a park bench? Why not. Cycle a bike without stablisers. No problem.
But as we get older, our willingness to try something new is often undermined until entire years can go by where we think, ‘Oh I must try that one day.’ Yet that one day never comes until you find yourself twenty years older wondering where all those experiences that help to make you feel alive have gone.
Fitbitch client Michelle Doyle certainly can not be accused of that in 2013 after she took on three new challenges, all out of her comfort zone, including Tough Mudder, the Shine Midnight Marathon Walk and the Shock Absorber Women Only Triathlon, in July her first ever triathlon.
She’s one of the first honorary members of our Inspire Team, a new initiative that we will be launching big in 2014. Open to both men and women, all you have to do is commit to training for something totally new to you and help raise money for charity to be part of our Team Inspire crew. Email us to register your interest for 2014 Inspire.
Read on for Michelle’s account of her first sprint triathon, involving a 400m open water lake swim, 20kk bike ride and 5k run.
Event review: ShockAbsorber Women’s Only Triathlon
I hate exercising in the heat, and as the week before my triathlon in July got hotter and hotter, I started panicking. Saturday’s weather forecast was 30 degrees.
I’d been planning to wear leggings and sports bra under my wetsuit. Unconventional, but I hadn’t wanted to shell out more money on a tri suit having already had to buy a wet suit. On top of that I felt a little self conscious about the thought of stripping down to just my swiming costume.
My nerves were not helped when I arrived at Eton Dorney Lake, the setting of the Olympic rowing events, to see other women looking very professional in tri suits and expensive looking road bikes.
Me? I had my £300 mountain bike with a comfy sofa seat. I was so relieved that I had at least removed my shopping basket from the front.
As a woman only event, the atmosphere was supportive, but I was still relieved my friend was with me for moral support and who helped pass the two hours before my race start at 1.15pm.
Getting ready for the start
By the time I’d laid out my kit and ‘racked’ my bike, which meant hooking the seat over a pole to keep it in place, it was time to don my swimming cap and goggles, as my group was called to the water’s edge.
After all the worrying about the wet suit, the organisers banned their use saying it was too hot so I was in my leggings and sports bra.
Still, it was a relief to see other first timers in my group, who looked just as nervous as I felt.
It was a deep water start, which meant I couldn’t touch the floor, although you could hold on to the pontoon. But that, together with a murky start and worrying about being kicked or pulled when the swim started (stories I’d heard) meant I felt completely unsettled.
But as the race started, the worst I felt was someone touching my foot. Not that I felt relaxed.
I’d done one open water practise swim in the sea, the rest of it had beein in the swimming pool. Being in the lake was completely different.
Weeds kept wrapping themselves around my arms and the water was so murky, it was disorientating and I felt panicked because I kept swimming off the route.
In the end, I decided to change to breaststroke to get my bearings and my breath back. I decided to stick with that and keep calm but I was so relieved to see the end approaching, a slope out of the lake.
Off for a ride
Coming out of the lake near the back of my wave, meant I stayed focused to get changed and on to the bike.
I’d been imagining chaos with people struggling but with no wetsuits to take off, it was quick. All I had to do was put my socks and running shoes on, throw on my running vest and bike helmet and I was off.
With the sun beating down, being cold wasn’t an issue. But there was a strong head wind which made the four laps seem like hard work. But I sipped on water as I cycled and along with a mouthful of a disgusting tasting energy gel, I was ready for my most dreaded part of the event, the run.
Running with Mel C
OK, so I didn’t quite ‘run’ with Mel C, she overtook me as I ran through the 29degree heat.
Running is not my strong point and so I’d set myself the goal of not walking and I was determined. Although as I saw my dad on the sidelines cheering me on, I nearly burst into tears.
Finally, hours after I’d woken up that morning, I crossed the finish line. I was missing the trademark Fitbitch sprint finish but I was so happy and proud of myself.
Would I do it again? Definitely although in the spring not the heat of winter.
- Practise sighting
- There is no black line running down the middle of a lake like in a swimming lane. Next time I’d practise ‘sighting’, looking out for various landmarks to keep me on track and orientated on the swim.
- Practise open water swimming
- Nothing but experience will help get you accostumed to swimming in murky, perhaps colder water. The more you do, the less anxious you’ll feel
- Don’t panic about not being a pro
- Triathlons, especially women only events are really friendly and there are always other beginners.
If you wish to donate, Michelle has one event left in her fundraising triple challenge www.virginmoneygiving.com/
If you’ve been inspired by Michelle’s experience, there is still time this season to sign up for a triathlon. Try the super friendly beginner’s Brighton MultiSports Triathlon which includes a pool swim 22nd September, 2013.