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I’ve never warmed to the idea of doing a triathlon. It has a lot to do with the uncomfortably early morning starts, daunting claustrophobic swims, confusing transitions, risky cycling conditions and the torturous run…and don’t forget the skin tight, butt-pad unitard that obliterates all sense of self esteem.

What’s more, I can’t see the point of participating in a race I won’t win.  So when I filled in for a Stanton and Williamson team member at the Sydney Corporate Triathlon who flaked at the last moment, I wasn’t particularly excited. I only said yes because I was going to be at the event anyway, and unlike most triathlons it started at the reasonable time of 7:30am and the course was so short a kindergartener could do it.

Obviously I hadn’t prepared for the event but I felt confident that I could complete the course and still get on with the rest of my day as planned. I hadn’t slept at all for the past two nights either. I was tired.

I have always insisted that swimming be my “fun” activity. I do a little cycle training, and I occasionally run for the purpose of keeping fit, but swimming is only ever just for enjoyment. I don’t work on my form or technique, I don’t do laps and when I get tired after ten minutes, I leave the water in search of ice cream. Until recently I didn’t own goggles, in fact I found them at the beach and Champ brought me a Speedo swimsuit the day before the race.

I was not feeling confident about the swim but I knew I’d get there in the end. Thankfully the water temperature was a lot more pleasant than standing on the shore in the crisp morning breeze in my swimmers. I also missed the memo about maintaining the corporate attire theme. Everyone was wearing black while I was wearing fluro neon blights. I was a flamingo among penguins. I swam about as well as a flamingo among penguins too. The best part of the swim was quite accidently patting the small, delicate jellyfish in the water while I splashed and splattered my way through the water. It was a surprising sensation and I was sorry I didn’t have more time to admire them. The worst part of the swim was being smacked and kicked by everyone else in my wave. Breathing was also difficult so I back stoked every now and then to catch my breath.

350m later I was out of the water. Thank goodness. Transition was quick and easy, I’ve seen it done so many times that I felt like an expert at this part already. The bike course was too short. I knew this was the only opportunity I had to reel in any of those people who had beat me in the swim so I put my sneakers to the pedals and powered on like I was being chased by a pack of angry motorists. Annoyingly lots of the cyclists were all over place and made passing difficult. All too son I was back at transition and running.

My race belt buttons broke instantly so I had to clip on the race number with an alligator clip. I’m not sure why it was included in the race pack but I’m glad it was. I ran the whole way but not nearly as quickly as I know I’m capable of. This frustrated me. The mind was willing but the muscles were not interested. I wasn’t in pain, I just couldn’t go faster. Grrrrr.

My Champion was there waiting for me at the finish line with a smile and the camera. Begrudgingly I had finally done it, my first triathlon.