It’s official, I am a triathlete!

Shelly Beresford -

I am writing this, my final blog, as a triathlete! The official London Triathlon guide book said that once ‘one’ had completed whatever distance ‘one’ had entered, ‘one’ could claim triathlete status, so that’s what I’m doing. Hi, my name is Shelly, and I am a triathlete!

I can honestly say it was the hardest physical thing I’ve ever done, and the thing I’ve been most nervous about. The thing about triathlon is it’s all about you. There’s no one else to bring you along, you have to do it yourself, so it’s not just the physical aspect of competing, it’s the mental aspect of keeping going, and trying to go faster!

I really had no idea what to expect, and the whole set up was excellent, they’d clearly held an event or two before! There were volunteers all over the excel centre telling you what to do and where to go, very important when you’re a newbie and wandering round looking like a newbie!

After arriving, collecting my timing chip and racking my bike I had a couple of hours to wait until it was my time to shine, there was quite a buzz as I walked around, people who had finished already were proudly striding about in their trisuits, medal round their necks, coconut water in hand! 

As I sat munching on Soreen and oatcakes my support team started arriving, full of smiles and encouragement and before I knew it, it was time to gather at the swim assembly point. At this stage I mostly felt sick and sweaty, as I listened intently to the health and safety briefing.

I and my fellow 400 + comrades in my wave were told if we were nervous about the swim, to stay to the back and/or side which was always my plan. It was at this stage that in was announced that we had several celebrities in our wave, as well as a blind swimmer and her guide. Amazing.

Getting into the Docks seems quite surreal now, all those months of early morning swims and aches and pains and appalling technique had come to fruition, and the result was me sitting on a makeshift pontoon try to put my nose clip on and work up the nerve to get in the water.

It took a while. The volunteers were trying to get everyone in as quickly as possible and over to the starting buoys, it didn’t matter how many times I was told to “go for it” it wasn’t quite happening. That was until a camera appeared from nowhere and was shoved in my face, I made a splash pretty quickly after that!

It’s hard to describe how difficult it is to swim with 400+ other people in front of you – I really was at the back – but I quickly learnt that it wasn’t about technique right then, forget rhythm. I quickly learnt I was quite a bit quicker than those at the back and I now had quite a challenge to pass people and get on my merry way!

So after around 200m of being kicked, hit and swum over, I made it round the first buoy, the novice swimmers and breaststrokers were behind me and I managed to get some space, remember what I had learnt from the lake, and start moving in and drafting people and then passing them.

And you know what, it was great, I loved it! I felt good and strong and 750m went by in a flash. Before I knew it I was clambering onto the pontoon and trying to get out of my wetsuit whilst controlling my breathing!! After all those months of dread and fear, it was over! And now I was game on for the cycle.

My first transition went well; I even managed to put on my ABTA LifeLine vest before I set of on the 20k ride. The only thing I can tell you about the ride is that 20k is a long way. Who would have thought it! And then the wind picked up and it started raining! And it seemed even longer!!

It was on my first loop that I found my supporters, and this was simply because one of my lovely friends had thought to wear a red shirt and she had an orange hat! Clearly a seasoned spectator as I saw her immediately, a lovely sunset with a big smile!! A cheer from them, a little fist pump from me, and I was onto loop two! My favourite thing about the bike bit of the tri was the no stopping at traffic lights! Riding on London roads and not having to stop on red was such a novelty, I loved it!

My second transition turned out to be super speedy, not having bike shoes and cycling in my runners paid off, and after racking my bike and removing my helmet – not allowed until your bike has been racked – I was off on the 5k run.

My brick training was worth it, it was at this point I knew my legs would feel like lead and they did! They really did! My supporters had hot footed it to the run viewing points and they spotted me immediately! Amongst the cheers I heard a “come on go faster” from my swim training partner which I responded appropriately to… the two laps are a bit of a blur now, but I remember thinking I really want to go faster but I was almost all out of gas!

Running for the finish line was great, the end was in sight; I even managed a little sprint! And then it was done. My medal and coconut water collected I found my support team and there were sweaty hugs all round! 

A few hours later I received my official time via a text message, 1:44.16. This included a 21.12 swim. I was amazed, I had predicted at least 30 minutes! However, worryingly, my first thought was, ooo what if I’d been nearer the front, how much faster could I have gone! And that said it all. Right there and then I knew this wasn’t the end of my triathlon career. I confirmed that the very next day as we went to support my crazy (“come on go faster”) friend in his race and I purchased my very own wetsuit. Rats.

The Oscars speech…
A massive thank you to everyone that has supported me over the past seven months, which is basically everyone I know! This was a huge challenge for me and people have been amazing with tips, kind words of encouragement, massages, messages and not forgetting sponsorship. Thank you thank you lovely people, I promise to talk about something else now. My second tri won’t be as daunting for me, and I promise, as boring for you!

The money bit!
All in all I raised £760 + gift aid, so probably around £1,000. Amazing people! Thank you for your generosity and belief I could do it! All your kindly donated money will be put to fantastic use by ABTA LifeLine I promise. I really hope you all have that warm and fuzzy feeling you get from doing good, because you can be safe in the knowledge that at some point over the coming months your generosity is going to help someone who has nowhere else to go and really needs a lifeline. Amazing.

Well done us!It’s official, I am a triathlete!

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