Five years ago, not long after my youngest was born, I sat in the cafe at Virgin gym in Kingston chatting to one of the personal trainers about coming along to their Triathlon Club. But with three young kids, and later on two jobs, there was no way I could ever commit to the training.
One year ago, my circumstances changed massively. A move to my home town of Bangor, Northern Ireland in July 2016, somehow gave me the drive to focus on this ambition that had only grown since that initial conversation. I bought a road bike in August, and in September a turbo trainer was delivered to my door (a surprise present from my awesome sister!). This made it possible for me train on the bike every morning at 5am before the kids woke up. Running and swimming were fitted in around the school drop offs/pick ups and work, with longer weekend sessions made possible by my Mum and Dad (and their never ending patience with me and my looney 3!).
June 2017: I had no excuse for not entering the Peninsula Sprint Triathlon. Especially as it was from beach at the end of my road. My sis flew over to look after the children – thank you, and thank you for having them the night before so I could get my ‘race head’ on.
Here is an account of some of the things that were going through my head during the race. It is a VERY cleaned up version. If you can imagine in real life, every other word was very sweary. Very, very sweary.
The 750m Sea Swim “Booooof, aiooooo, elbow in my face…..I’m seeing stars! I’m fine, keep going, no problem.
Mmmmm, I can’t move my jaw, it hurts. Keep going you’re fine. All part of the experience! Just try not to get kicked in the head……that could be worse. What are all these people doing here??? Move out of my way! Not far now. Where’s the next buoy. Yellow, yellow, yellow, look for the yellow buoy. Over there, FFS it’s that way!”
Transition 1: Exiting the water to get on the bike. “Wwwwaooooo, the world is spinning. Waaaaooooo, don’t fall over. Smile at my 3 little people. High five, Mummy’s
feeling great, amazing!!! Waaoooo………focus, don’t fall over. Ok, you’ve got this! Oh jeez, I should be running to the bike!……..pick up your legs…….one two three four five six seven eight. Bike. Where’s my bike? Here you are! Ok, legs out of wetsuit. Why is everything still spinning…….find something to hold on to. You know how to peel a wetsuit off, you’ve done this a million times! Ok bike shoes on, good well done. I really shouldn’t be cycling in this state, I feel like I’m totally drunk. It will be fine. Helmet and glasses on. Run with the bike to the line, don’t slip over…….. clip shoes in, don’t fall off, for goodness sake don’t fall off!!!! High five Me, you didn’t fall off! Ahhhh my lovely bike and a smooth road. Sea swims are for nutters.
The 20 km Cycle: This is funnnnnnnn, hey there are police holding up the cars! Thank you! I love you!!! Oh s***, that guy’s come off his bike. He’s lying on the road. What am I doing?!!! Why am I here? Never mind, I sure he’ll be fine. This is fun again! Legs are feeling good, I’m catching that bike in front. What do I do?? Seems a bit rude to overtake. **** it, I’m going to it anyway. Next!! Oh there’s a girl to over take, BOOOOOM, go legs……..is it a girl? Top half looks like a bloke………….suspiciously smooth legs though. It’s a bloke! Ha ha, lovely hair free legs, must get some tips, tee heee!
Marshalls in your yellow vests. I love you, you make me so happy when you clap and say I’m doing really well. I think we should be best friends, you are soooo lovely. You tell me I can do this and it’s not far now. Thank you!! They said it’s not far now! Hang on, that was 2 minutes ago, I’m still not at the end of the bike leg……you lied to me!! Waaaaaaaah! I’m dying here! Waaaaaaah!
Transition 2: Bike to 5 km run: Yellow line!! Off the bike, run to the bike rack. DO NOT skite on your arse in these slippy shoes. Bike in to rack. Yikes!! How do I hook the bike on to the rack. Focus concentrate, quickly QUICKLY, you’ve rehersed this. There we go back of saddle over the bar. Nooooo!! *$!*!% The bike’s fallen off and taken the next one with it! I’m going to pass out, my eyes are all weird and my hands won’t work because. I’ve spent 37 minutes gripping the handle bars for dear life! Ok, focus. Front of saddle on the bar. Fix the other bike. Good, well done, you’ve got this. Shoe change, work hands work!! Mouth swill of Lucozade. Ha ha! The advantages of being a sports dietitan and knowing the carb mouth swill secret! Don’t swallow any, you know it will make you want to puke. Swill it around, spit it out. Ok where can a spit this gob full out. S***, there’s a photographer…………I can’t spit out now, that would be so disgusting to have that on camera! Abandon nutrition strategy! Swallow the Lucozade. Hope I don’t vom. Jesus my legs.
Final stretch of the 5km run to the finish. “Nearly done, just a few steps on the beach then
through the finish line. Hang on a minute, I’ve got to go to the end of the beach and back again? Jesus no.
I am actually going to puke. Walk 10 steps. Thank you marshall for cheering me on, I’m so sorry for not running, but I’m going to puke. Run again, toughen up, do not walk, it’s like the Marathon Des Sable, if those guys can run 250km over Sahara sand, I can do 500m of Ballyholme Beach! I can see the finish line!! OMG the sand has turned all soft and fluffy, this is cruel! The race briefing said this is a flat course, not a fluffy sandy flat course! Just look at the ground, 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8, focus on the ground, 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8. Up the ramp………I’m there! Finished! Sit down, heave, deep breaths, don’t throw up on your children.
10 minutes later: I could SO do that all over again. Olympic distance NO PROBLEM!!
24 hours later: my body feels like a sack of potatoes and my mind is somewhat catatonic. But in a good way 🙂
Thank you to http://bradleyquinn.com for the photos.
We all know the benefits of being ‘healthy’. But if living a healthy lifestyle was easy, then everyone would be doing it, right? On paper, eating nutritious food and taking regular exercise is a no brainer. So what’s the problem?
I hate the thought of food being categorised as ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’. I believe no food should be demonised, however it’s an unavoidable fact that some foods nourish our bodies more than others. Nobody is obliged to be healthy all the time. We all have unhealthy habits, and these are up to us as individuals with minds of our own. Happiness is what matters, not a social standard of what is deemed as healthy.
If you really do feel content with your diet, whether you live on burgers and chips or have a nutritionally brilliant diet, then that’s nobody’s business but your own. If you feel that you would be happier by making changes to what you eat, but find it difficult, then here are some motivation ideas that you might find helpful…..
- You’ll never regret choosing the more positive option eg. yoghurt and strawberries over a bar of chocolate. Before making a choice, ask how you will feel in an hour. Think of how great you will feel psychologically and physically after a whole week or month of making daily positive choices.
- “I deserve this, I’ve had a hard day”. Try not to use food as a reward, to relieve stress or to make you happy. Food is primarily fuel for our bodies. Once again think longer term….how will you feel in an hour after eating half (or a whole) tub of ice cream? How much better would you feel rewarding yourself in other ways eg. walk to the shop after dinner to buy yourself a magazine or a tub of cherries to munch on the way home.
- We often tell ourselves that we can’t do without something that we have regularly. A common thing to hear is “I’m addicted to chocolate” or “I’m addicted to bread”. Your mind is powerful in both positive and negative ways. If you want to change your habit, turn the negative in to the positive. By saying: “I’m addicted, therefore I can’t do anything about it”, you are essentially removing your responsibility for what you feed yourself. Tell yourself, “I am in control of my thoughts, I am in control of what I buy, and I am in control of what I feed my body.”
- Sometimes, it’s as if the biscuit tin is calling you, drawing your hand towards it like a magnet. If it helps, imagine a little demon on your shoulder. It is telling you to have another biscuit and, go on just one more, and, well, you may as well finish the lot. Tell it in the strongest possible way (!) to bog off and to stop sabotaging your efforts.
- If you can’t resist temptation, then make things easier on yourself by not having the foods you are trying to avoid in the cupboard or fridge. Get. Rid. Of. It. People often tell me, ‘but it’s for the kids/ visitors’. Too much of it is not good for you and it’s not good for them either. Replace with healthier alternatives.
Ultimately, we have to take responsibility for ourselves. Isn’t it a great thing that we can!?