Well, it is all getting rather serious here at Triathlon HQ! The weather has taken a turn for the better and this has made running and cycling a lot easier - and a great deal more appealing I have to admit. My new kit (which now includes a pink dayglo running jacket, a snazzy new cycling helmet and a Nike Sports band thing) has been broken in and I am starting to feel comfortable with the swim and the run. I will even admit to a few evenings rehearsing taking off the wetsuit quickly, although I maintain that transition will not be important for me and I still insist and getting dry before I get on to the bike!
My times have been improving too. It might not take me a whole day to get around the course after all. When I began in November I thought I would be lucky to complete the course in less than 2 hours, but now I think 1 hour 40 is a realistic target. A great deal will depend upon the weather and upon future training of course. I hope that time will improve in the next 6 weeks. However, I also might injure myself and have to hobble round. It could be boiling hot on the day, the chain could come off my bike, I might crash on the bike... actually, I'm not going to think about that. It makes me feel slightly nauseous thinking of what could go wrong on the day. I shall concentrate on how well training is going first. I have stayed on the bike and it is in one piece. The front crawl is coming along nicely, though it is hardly graceful, and the running is still as enjoyable as ever. There. That's better.
What is really rewarding though is all of the help and encouragement that I have been receiving from all sorts of people. It seems that sport really can bring people together and give them something in common that age or experience might deny. At the pool, lifeguards and swimmers have been giving me tips and hints, suggesting exercises and techniques to try. When I stopped for a Magnum ice cream part way through my 20 mile bike ride the other day, the lady in the shop was full of praise for my efforts and determination. At work, at the gym, even at parties and get togethers, people have asked about my training, given me encouragement and shared their own stories and expertise. Nobody has laughed at someone like me (unfit, overweight and generally scathing about keeping fit) doing something like this. Everyone has had a story to tell or something to try. I gave an assembly at another school about it the other day, the theme of the week was the Olympic Values, and the teachers at the end of it came up to me to wish me luck, as did some of the pupils.
People need to talk, this seems to be true. However, people also want to encourage me and share their experience and expertise with me. When the going gets tough, I keep receiving encouragement at just the right time to keep going. Every time someone sponsors me, or tells me a story or gives me a tip for training, every time a stranger stops to take a moment to say something, it makes me want to keep going. I remember that I am doing this for a worthwhile cause, not just for myself. When I feel like giving up, and all the times that I stop mid-run and think to myself 'Why am I doing this?', hope renews itself and I remember that I am doing this for two charities who work hard to help those who suffer from terrible illnesses.