How to start racing – The Jonesie Diary – Where it all began

Where #teamjones began……How to start racing……Let’s start at the beginning….

I get asked these types of questions a lot…..

‘How do you do it?’    ‘I could never compete at that level – how to start racing?’     ‘You must be so strict with your diet?’    ‘I could never cycle that far?’   ‘A marathon at the end of a race?!’

There isn’t an easy answer. So I thought I would share some insight as to where it all began for me – I know there are many people out there who think perhaps they aren’t ‘good enough to race’ or perhaps are worried where to start or how to get into the racing scene… This is my story of how I took up racing Triathlon, from my first ride to my first ever swimming lesson…

Triathlon, cycling, running, trail running, swimming – fitness in general – is my hobby, I enjoy it. My idea of relaxing is going out for a run on a cold frosty morning….. But I haven’t always done it. I don’t class myself as ‘athletic’ and I’m not from a sporty family, so I didn’t grow up with a wall full of school trophies. One old school pal jokes with me about my sporty outcome – as I’m pretty sure my P.E teacher would be asking me for an ID check if she could see me now!

I’ve always liked to try and ‘keep fit’. A bit of gym cross trainer few times a week, perhaps a fitness video here and there but I was into my mid 20’s before I discovered I liked running. I would run to the next village and back twice a week, with my huge iPod in a cringe-worthy armband, breathing in the fresh air & de-stressing. My own free time, that’s what being outside meant for me. Life before Garmin watches, before Strava. I built up to running for an hour, encouraged a few friends to run with me once a week and my 10k loop was born!

I entered my 1st ever 10K race in 2006 and scooped it in at just under an hour. 

I completed my 1st ever half marathon, laughing all the way around in just under 2 hours.

A few years later I realised I needed something more sociable as running clubs were full of….. well runners and I’m most certainly not a runner! I decided to try something new, so I bought a bike &  entered a cycle race. The London to Brighton cycle ride was on the cards. I purchased clip in shoes on the way and attached them at the start line.  I soon thought ‘oh gawd what have I done’. I didn’t once get off my nice shiny new bike! For over 60miles!  Simply because I couldn’t unclip!! Made riding up Box Hill an experience! A medal around my neck, the thrill of nearly breaking my ankles with cleats and passing ‘cyclists’ going up Box Hill, sparked something inside my soul…. I could ride… and most importantly…… I could chat while doing it!! My passion for bikes was sparked, MTB, Cross, adventure & speed & a whole lot of kit!

In 2012 I decided I needed a new challenge. I wasn’t so keen on duathlon as I didn’t run very fast and triathlon had always been off the menu as I couldn’t swim front crawl …so adult swimming lessons were on the horizon. New kit acquired, suit, goggles, hat and swimming toys… things started looking up! I found a coach who seemed to understand my fear of drowning and would actually get into the pool with me, physically and mentally help me overcome my fears. I was totally shocking, couldn’t even swim a width of the pool….. But I’m a stubborn goat, so lessons came a plenty. Practising 4 times a week, I was determined to not be ‘sh1t’. Oh, and I started dating my swim coach – so there was a silver lining to this new hideous sport of swimming.

In April 2013 my swim coach/ partner ;-) said I was ready to enter a triathlon…. I was totally bricking it, to put it mildly, only a little pool sprint, he said. 16 lengths of a swimming pool was my idea of total hell on earth. Get me onto my lovely TT bike and I was happy, but I had to swim 400m first…. Ever seen a grown woman cry and shake with fear?….Well, any spectators that day in West Wales would have seen me quaking in my tri suit. I had a panic attack while swimming – couldn’t breathe but also couldn’t stop…. wouldn’t stop…. At the end of one of the lengths (I’m sure they miscounted as I felt like I was in there all day) A lifeguard asked if I was ok – OMG!!! The shame…. I had to keep going!…. Eventually, I was out of the horrendous pool, no idea how long I had taken, who cares….. I didn’t drown, get me on my bike!!!  I had, of course, purchased a fancy bike for the occasion, deep section rims, gears at the end of the tri bars, I could now master clip-ins – so like a flying squirrel onto the bike, I was offffff…. Passing all the ‘swimmers’, picking them off one by one…omg I LOVED this feeling….

The run leg of the race was a nifty 5k, no idea on pacing, I knew I could run 10k, so 5k would be easy – ish – right?!  Well after an eventful race, running around the transition the wrong way and not to mention a ton of rookie errors….I came 3rd woman!!! Longest swim known to mankind,  fastest bike split of all the ladies and the run was not too shabby either. My partner was also racing and he caught 2nd overall! A great day for #teamjones. This was the beginning of something great, I loved racing, I loved racing with my partner, I was totally addicted to this sport!

So, you see, we all have to start somewhere. I started small, a nice friendly race, the support of my partner and family cheering from the sidelines – I didn’t have a clue – didn’t even collect my trophy as I thought it was a mistake ha!!!

So to answer some of the questions from above

‘How do you do it’ – training is my hobby, I enjoy it. Love what you do and you will never do a days work in your life.  

‘I could never compete at that level – How to start racing?’ Everyone has to start somewhere. Yes, I’ve raced some pretty epic races, Team GB, Ironman, Ultra marathons – it didn’t happen overnight. Pick your target and go for it.     

‘You must be so strict with your diet’   Food is a fuel for your body. You have to respect what goes in. You can’t expect an F1 racing car to deliver results if there isn’t top quality fuel inside. I do however fall off the wagon…..

‘I could never cycle that far’ Train hard – race easy…. 112 miles in an Ironman race is indeed a long way – but I put the miles in during the months leading up to my race. I will be forever in debt to my pals for joining me on 100milers, rainy days and supplying me with copious Snickers bars!   

‘A ultra marathon, how far is that?!’  Simple answer is – a long flipping way…. You know when you are an endurance athlete when you casually say, ‘oh it’s just 10 x 10k’s’…. My coach has indeed banned me from entering any crazy distance running events this year…

Kit Review:

A few new pieces of Stolen Goat kit have landed with #teamjones this month. My husband is forever grumbling that I use his ¾ length leg warmers for my short little legs… So, Stolen Goat Orkaan Waterproof Reflective Leg Warmers are gracing my pins. The little pattern on the back of the leg lights up bright white when a light is shone upon it. Great for dark nights!!  And of course, I have to have the matching Stolen Goat Orkaan Waterproof Arm Warmers – Morse Black too!….Did you know….. the dots and dashes are actually Morse code – FACT! – guess what it means?

Both these little beauties have made an integral upgrade to my baggy, saggy, previous arm warmers. No more freezing 3 inches of a leg that the previous ¾’s didn’t cover! MAKE SURE YOU GET THEM!

And of course, no new kit order would be the same without a touch of Sock Doping….. Stolen Goat Coolmax SocksZap Black – a common black theme to my black sombre winter weather view on riding!!

Girly advice – go small – tight is right when it comes to lycra – no arms look good with baggy elbow bits! Yes, perhaps a touch of ‘pull in’ on upper thigh with the gripper on the leg warmers, but girls we are talking high FTP season – quadzillas are being born for the 2017 season. I’m 163cms and the small leg warmers are a plenty in length, & just right everywhere else. Be warm fellow Goat riders – be co-ordinated – Be safe.

TTFN Goats