Trying to explain why I do what I do...
This is the usual reaction, when I tell people what I've been doing at the weekend, or what I'm training for.....
“How old are you? Wouldn't you much rather sit on the sofa!"
I quite regularly hear these... even more so when I explain that I'm not going to win... I'm doing it for the joy of participation.... there is no prize money or glory involved...
And I know it has an impact, an affect on the people I know and love...
Friends and family sometimes get the short straw.. with me being unavailable, tired, changing plans, watching the weather and work colleagues think of me as anti-social as I miss the evening drinks or slope off early as I'm up training first thing the next morning.
Holidays for the last few years have all been based around races or events, and my kids favourite joke is telling their friends that I love my bike more than them!
I know it sometimes seems as if my "hobby" takes over my world.
But when you ask me why - its actually really quite easy to describe...building memories and getting experiences and moments that enrich my life in a way that nothing else can provide.
When I'm training..
I love being out on a ride in the early morning, seeing the countryside as I go...
I love being out for a run along a quiet stretch of the coast, on the promenade at home, watching and hearing the waves, while my brain empties and I can feel my heart, lungs and legs working.
When I'm exercising, I don't have the usual melee of thoughts and things to do spinning round.. I seem to find an inner peace quite quickly and the act of exercise de-stresses me. I can focus on the task ahead, and also have time to think.
At the beginning of this year, I kept a note of the birds and animals I saw on my rides : Deer, Owls, Jays, Foxes, Buzzards, Peregrine. I wouldn't have seen them in a car, and wouldn't be walking in these areas as they are so far from home or remote from my usual routes.
And for the events themselves, there are a multitude of memories.. for example the anticipation of the start:
- Walking into the sea for my first triathlon, off Bexhill seafront. Fighting the swell and waves and then being taken by the current. I can remember getting about 100 yards offshore and my front crawl was done, I was gasping, but was picked up by the crest of a wave and then trod water laughing thinking this is just bonkers.
- Waiting in the starting section at London Marathon.. being one of 30,000 people setting off at the same time, the whole buzz of thousands of nervous people, close together just waiting to be off. Everyone talks to each other.. where are you from? first time? good luck!
- The starting canon being fired at the start of my first ironman. I was in about the 15th wave, and each group had about 5 steps before the start, so our group had spent time on land, on the edge of the canal, in the canal, in the "next start" pen, and then finally the start pen.
Each group had a canon fire them off.. a real canon!
The canal was lined with thousands of people from 6am..
I can still vividly remember the canon going off and setting out on my journey.
- The start of my second ironman - getting the shuttle bus to the lake and a fine early morning mist hanging over the whole area, slowly clearing as we got closer to the off. It was a mass start, with 1750 people swarming into the lake.. some trying to get close to the start line, but most of us trying to work out how we could get a clear run. Land of Hope and Glory blaring out of the PA system and then the hooter sounding for the start.
People say a mass start is like being in a washing machine, and the drone footage captures the mayhem.
I can't say I enjoyed it... but it was a great experience!
At that moment, wondering if I have trained enough.. will I go well…. will I finish.. what will go wrong today...
I remember these as if it were yesterday, and when I get to a point I can't do them any more, I will be able to say....
I tried it... I did it.. I had a go...