A heart for Triathlon – off to the Worlds!
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My story starts much later in life than for most budding triathletes at the age of 39.
January 2009, I was sitting on a sofa with my second child, just weeks old, and my friend hopped over the fence to tell me I needed to get back into shape. Her idea was to do that by training for a triathlon.
Frankly I didn’t know what that meant and wondered how a relatively old new mother could even achieve such a thing. But I wanted to at least give it a try.
I tried and succeeded by the skin of my teeth; it was torturous – my bike was all wrong – but in some weird way, I really enjoyed it! A new bike was bought, I learnt to swim front crawl, found a triathlon club and slowly, but surely, I made myself into a triathlete with some help from several people along the way, including the patience of my kids, and transformed my fitness to a level I thought I could never achieve.
After a year or so I got more ambitious with the types of triathlon races I was doing and surprised myself by often ranking top 3 in my age group.
Last summer I took part in the ITU London Triathlon in Hyde Park, just for the buzz of taking part where the London 2012 Olympics had happened.
When I got home, my husband asked me why I had a “1″ next to my name on the results website. I had come first in my age group!
Friends in my triathlon club encouraged me to start to try to qualify for European and World Triathlon Championship races. I sort of giggled, but thought, ‘what have you got to lose?’
Sadly, shortly after that critical experience in my triathlon career, I found out that I had arrhythmia [an irregular heart beart]. For a fit person, it was quite a confusing diagnosis and I had to embark on a barrage of tests to ensure I didn’t have a life-threatening form of this heart condition.
Although I do have some oddities in the electrical circuiting in the heart, after much testing and 4 months of detraining – which seriously diminished my form – I was deemed fit to return to sport this February.
To top it all off, I also discovered I had ripped the shock absorber in my hip and was told the ball of my femur, which was an odd shape, had caused it. So, whilst I was detraining, I had an operation last December to fix it - so that it wouldn’t wipe out the next year sport-wise.
A very clever surgeon Prof. Ernest Schilders patched me up and after 12 weeks I was able to slowly start running again, after a period on crutches.
In an attempt to try and dig myself out of a hole filled with anxiety of how to cope with the arrhythmia and the big question mark over whether my hip operation would work properly, I sat down at the computer and signed myself up for a few qualifiers.
The first one I tried, I was slow. It was early in the year and cold in the river and the scar tissue in the hip was still playing up. But determined not to be beaten, I tried again about a month or so afterwards at Eton Dorney.
Much to my surprise I qualified for the World Sprint Triathlon Championships at the ITU Chicago Grand Final in September this year!
My aim was to qualify for Team GB before I was 75 and I am happy to be slightly ahead of schedule
There is a campaign for women’s sport in Britain at the moment called This Girl Can and I have tried my best to follow this motto and never give up, despite what has been thrown in my way.
Unfortunately Age-Group athletes are not funded in any way so it is a personal expense every time we race.
So, please support me if you can to give me the boost I need to complete my dream of getting to Chicago!