It has now been 5 weeks since I completed my second marathon of the year and, due to injury, I have not run since. In some respects it has been driving me crazy – can I really call myself a runner if I’m not running? – but in others it has given me a chance to recharge my batteries and consider the second half of the year.
At the beginning of the year I set out my challenge: run the Paris, Edinburgh and Loch Ness marathons plus the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half marathon, Scottish Half marathon and anything else that came up along the way to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. Both Paris and Edinburgh are done, Loch Ness is at the end of September and the Scottish Half takes place along the way at the beginning of September. One disappointment was the cancellation of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half as this was an event I enjoyed last year. Of course, since that race should actually have taken place today, the fact that it was cancelled has turned out to be a good thing (for me anyway) as I would not have been able to do it. That said, ever since it was cancelled I have been keen to add something else to my challenge in its place, but nothing seemed quite right…until now.
Yes, today I can announce the addition of two, yes two, new events to my 2014 challenge and this time, they are a little bit different (by which I mean they are NOT running events – shock horror!).
I should at this stage point out that I always characterise myself as a runner. Workouts are mainly running and anything else I do (TRX, Metafit, core/strength work, cross training) happens either to specifically help my running or because I’m injured and can’t run (hello exercise bike, I’m talking to you here). I don’t “do” any other sports, classes or activities, I just run. Running is easy – I put my shoes on and head out the door – which is why I like it. There’s no complicated equipment, no reliance on other people and no need for carrying excessive amounts of kit with me. This makes me happy.
But then an opportunity came my way.
A couple of weeks ago, I was approached by Macmillan’s Fundraising Manager in this area and asked if I would be interested in taking part in the Macmillan Cycletta Scotland (which takes place practically on my doorstep at Scone Palace and the surrounding roads) on October 5th. Cycletta, if you haven’t come across it before, is a series of women-only cycling events which take place around the UK, with distances ranging from 20km to 100km, and with support from Olympic gold medallist Victoria Pendleton. Their aim is to get more women involved in cycling so the distances are achievable even for those who haven’t been on a bike in years, and Macmillan is the title sponsor this year. It’s a great idea and I certainly haven’t been on a bike in years so I guess I fall into their target market, but a cycling event? That’s complicated equipment (a bike and all the potential mechanical failures that go with it), different kit (a helmet of course plus I wouldn’t want to go anywhere near a bike without some extra padding for those sensitive areas!) not to mention venturing out on roads where drivers give cyclists precisely zero room as they overtake (and the fact that I have absolutely no idea how to use bike gears!).
My initial response was no, but then Steve made me think it over: I have a decent bike which could be serviced easily, I have plenty of time to learn to use the gears and the roads will be quiet and well managed for the event. So I checked out the website, asked the oracle that is Facebook (a unanimous “do it!”) and arranged to get my bike serviced, then last Sunday I bravely ventured out around the North Inch and riverside path while Steve ran alongside me.
Ok, so it wasn’t my beloved running, but I did enjoy it and it was great to be outside again after being cooped up in the gym for so long, so when I got home I signed up for the 20km novice Cycletta. I know it doesn’t sound much, especially to more experienced cyclists, but the world of cycling is all new to me. Physically, I’m more than capable of covering the distance, but the event is just one week after the Loch Ness marathon so I will be taking part on weary legs and my cv system will be shot to bits from the 26.2 mile run! Now that I’ve gotten used to the idea and been out on my bike a couple more times, I’m getting quite excited about it. I don’t think cycling will be the great love for me that running is, but it is a good way to cross train and a great substitute to get me out and about while I’m recovering from my injury. I guess “The Cycling Princess”(!) better get used to seeing things like this:
If any of my female readers are in the UK and there is a Cycletta event near you, then I would encourage you to sign up. You can take part on any kind of bike (road, mountain, hybrid, bikes with baskets and streamers…) and there is mechanical support along the way as well as treat stops and post-event pampering. Very civilised!
Luckily, I already have some minimal cycling kit (including the all-important padded shorts!) but I knew that I should probably get some more (padded shorts especially) if I’m going to be using my bike a bit more. And Aldi conveniently obliged by having some cycling kit on offer this week. I have previously recommended their running kit (and the cycling kit I already have is from there) so after a cycle this morning, I headed up there to get some stuff:
Unfortunately, there wasn’t a pair of ladies shorts to be seen (I suspect people were up there super early!) but if you look to the right of the photo then you might notice something: a tri-suit. This was on sale from a previous offer and, at half price, cheaper than the non-existent shorts as well as being equipped with the requisite padding. And it will come in handy for the second event I am announcing…
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have entered the Relay Wild Triathlon which will be staged by Perth Tri Club on the 24th of August. Steve took part in this event last year which involves teams of 4. Each competitor completes the full triathlon (200m pool swim, 5.8km cycle and 1.2km run all in and around the grounds of Kilgraston school) then tags the next member of their team. It looked great fun but I spent most of the afternoon fielding questions about why I wasn’t taking part, so this year I’m part of one of the two teams Steve has entered (one male and one female). Even better, there is no need to be able to swim “properly” as this is a fun event aimed at introducing triathlon to people for the first time (although there will, of course, be more experienced triathletes there). This means that I can pull out my best “old-lady-who-doesn’t-want-to-get-her-hair-wet” breaststroke before moving on to the bike and run sections where I will feel a bit more confident. Who knows, I might even try to learn the front crawl now it’s the school summer holidays and I have a bit of time! Either way, by the end of August I will “technically” be a triathlete as I will have taken part in a swim-bike-run event (and at least I’ll look the part in my new tri-suit!)
Hopefully I will be able to start running again soon as there has been a definite improvement in my leg, however in the meantime I have a rather different focus in preparing for my first ever triathlon and my first ever cycling event. I will no doubt feel nervous when it comes to the events, but it’s good to try something different and I’m excited about taking on new challenges. Who knows, I may even enjoy them, but the important thing is that I continue to raise awareness of the work that Macmillan does for those affected by cancer and help raise vital funds to help them carry on.
Do you cycle?
Have you ever taken part in a triathlon or would you like to?