My first half iron distance triathlon was my second triathlon ever. I had only ever attempted a sprint in the French mountains a few months before. A friend teased that I should come and do a real triathlon in Dubai, she was a veteran at 70.3 distances and has a strong understanding of the sport and required endurance. Me…..I was naive and keen to impress.
“What the hell am I doing” was my only thought as I looked around and saw no one and nothing but sand. My wheels were spinning at 16kmh or at least that’s what Garmin said even though my heart was pounding and legs were screaming. The wind was blowing a gale, I felt like I was back on the piste in a blizzard only now sand for snow. Above, the sun glared down with a strength unknown to any man. I seriously contemplated manufacturing a puncture, wishing an injury upon myself or even better being swallowed up by the nearest sand dune and waking up to realise it had all been a bad dream. Alas……I still had over 40km to go.
I finally finished the worst conditions race possible with a time of just sub 7 hrs. More importantly than leaving with just a medal I left with an urge to continue in this great sport and improve myself both mentally and physically for the next race.
Triathlon is an interesting sport
Triathlon is an interesting sport, a discipline that calls to a select few and becomes a way of life. No matter how you found the sport once there you are addicted. Endless hours in the pool, months running wherever you can find the time and moments on the bike that feel like you have been sitting there for days; not to mention all this whilst juggling your family, work, friends, kids school, piano or ballet classes. Food? That becomes a whole new way of life and understanding. If you are not a qualified nutritionist before entering triathlon you soon will be.
After a year of continually spinning my wheels, running around the same courses and swimming the same lengths in the same pool with no gains I finally understood the benefits of smart training. Luckily I was swept up into the Fitness First Dubai Ironman effort and enrolled in the Masters Swim classes. I have always considered myself a competent swimmer although it would take a little persuasion to enter the pool however working directly with a qualified coach, Talal Almoallem (@talal_almoallem) and training on regular days within a group has improved my technique and efficiency in the water that I am now happy to say has shaved almost 10 minutes off my 1.9km swim time. Completing the Dubai Ironman 70.3 in 2017 was a huge goal for me and I owe my PB time to training with Talal and the team at Fitness First.
Being taught the benefits of swimming sets and the strategy behind them has made me re-evaluate my other disciplines in the sport. With continual support and advice from the Fitness First team I am confident to say that my swimming and biking have both taken large improved steps towards further successes. Alongside the varied classes on offer and the one to one gym instruction my core and overall fitness has jumped enormously which is beginning to be seen in my day to day running programs. With continued guidance from the experts in their fields and the best equipment available in the UAE I have really found new purpose in my gym visits.
Whatever the reasons to get fit there is added benefit throughout your life from living a healthier lifestyle. My journey has just begun and already I am so thankful to the Masters Swim class for helping me get both my feet on the ground to a more productive training schedule where I can see actual results. I have more energy in my day, my days are longer, I am more focused and I now actually look forward to getting in the pool or on the bike. I still struggle some days with the thought of having to do a 10km run, particularly in the summer heat here but what can I say…..my gyms aircon is almost as cool as the staff!