Back in 1999 I met Peggy. She had a profound impact on my life, and not in the way you might think. Peggy was in training for the Wildflower long distance triathlon when I met her, I was just a computer geek addicted to email. She had that glint in her eye, that infectious enthusiasm that I've since discovered many triathletes have. 3-months after meeting her I entered my first triathlon, the Cannons St Albans triathlon, organised by Tri-Force.
I was petrified. I was a 40-something, overweight computer geek with a disfigured right leg that was 2-inches short. I showed up at the triathlon on a 10+ yr-old
The swim was a 400m, 16-length pool which I completed in with T1. The bike was 20k in 44:12 and the run was a long 5k completed in 32:32. Not only did I really enjoy myself training for and taking part in the race, but I truly caught the triathlon bug. I have that glint in my eye.
And so it came to be, some six years later, that I was back for the same event for the first time since that first race. In the interim I went on to compete in some fifty triathlons, to represent GB at two ITU World Championships(2001, 2002) and the 2004 European Championships; to race three Half Ironman distance races, only to finish two of them and most importantly, I went on to chair the Tri-Force club and with a number of other key people, Howard Davis, Dave Dawson and many others, to run the Cannons St Albans Triathlon for 3-years..
The course has changed a little, but last Sunday, at I started my 16-lengths. I'd learned to to pace my swim and not go mad from the start, I finished a comfortable , a quick walk out of the pool then fast run into transition. Almost seamlessly I put on my helmet, grabbed my bike and headed out to the mount line, with a smooth jump I was on and off. After a suitable time of getting up to speed I put my feet in my shoes and for the rest of the revised bike course, that I designed, I maintained just above 20MPH coming in in 41:52, an average of 21.3MPH. I had a perfect dismount, a swift run into transition, rack the bike, off with my helmet, on with the hat and run shoes and out on to the run.
It wasn't until the last 100yds or so that I was passed by anyone, so I knew I'd had a good race, and even then only by number 157 who'd I'd joked with while we were waiting for the swim start that he was almost young enough to be my son. I'd overtaken 18-people, and only been passed by one.
It has been a very long journey. On the way I've hurt a lot of people that I care deeply for. Most especially, Wendy. I'll never be able to explain why, what or apologise enough. But hopefully someday you will be able to forgive me. To my kids, Ella, Lauren and Olli, I miss you so much and I am so proud of you, no matter what.
But when it comes down to it, I've found the real me again. Coming 2nd in my age group, 36th overall, having the 17th fastest bike, heck even my run was only 7-seconds outside a PB, meant so much to me. I know you'll never understand.
Thanks to all the Tri-Force club members who helped out on Sunday; more importantly thanks to all the club members who were there on the way. To Sam Pritchard for explaining why drafting was wrong back in 99; to John Clarke for giving me the chance to become Club chair; to Sian Brice, Steve Trew, Andrea Whitcombe, Spencer Smith for showing the approachable, ordinary people face of elite triathlon; to Henry Budgett, John Lunt and Jasmine Flatters for being, well, the Human Race; to Iain Curtis for just being there and encouraging me; to Richard Melvern for getting official access to the Blue Lagoon; to Lawrence and Martin for being there for the early Saturday rides; to Kristine W., Catherine Knight, Graeme Kempson and so many more for just being there and for all those new members and novices who followed after me, asked questions and stuck with it to become what they wanted to be.
This wasn’t meant to be an Oscar speech, it was much more important than that.
"If you had one shot, one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted, one moment, would you capture it or just let it slip?"
"You only get one get one shot, do not miss a chance to blow, this opportunity burns once in a lifetime; you better never let it go..."
What it takes.
Swim 400m: 9:03 inc T1, 51st overall
Bike inc T2, 17th overall, fastest in age group
Run , 96th overall,
36th overall, 235 finishers
2nd 45-49 age group, 14 competitors