’s Abby Ray took on the challenge of triathlon this summer and there’s just one problem: she has a sneaking suspicion that triathletes are just a little bit boring…

Dart 10K swim

It’s been four months since I plunged into the freezing waters of the River Avon for my first sprint tri. That swim was the longest 22 minutes and three seconds of my life that saw me blow up in the first 10 strokes, and my body go into total shock under race conditions. My parents were standing on the river bank, screaming encouragement. As their shouts got louder and louder, until the whole crowd was staring at me pseudo-drowning, I stopped, stood up in the three feet of water and asked them politely to please “just piss off so I can finish my race”. I never thought I’d make it to the end of that swim, nor the Kilamnjaroesque bike course, nor that final slog of a run. But finish I did (sixth from last). The next morning I had one of two options – decide to never swim in open water again. Or tackle it head on. And being a stubborn bugger, I went with the latter.

It’s been four months since that race, and four months since triathlon started ruining my life. Elite athlete Phil Graves had told me “you’re not a triathlete until you’re racing” and I’d comfortably plodded through last winter’s training as a non-triathlete, swimming, biking and running – yes, but with no real sense of urgency. I believed that by going through the motions I’d somehow pull it all together come race day and foolishly begun thinking that tri wasn’t that hard. Having crawled on all fours out of the end of my first race season, I now know that it’s not that hard to do triathlon and be a bit shit at it – but to do it well it’s going to take a lot of pain, suffering and commitment.

At first my aim was to survive a race. Now I get narky if I haven’t squeezed in two disciplines a day and filled in my training diary with the same detail as a tax return. I don’t consider it a session if I haven’t got my Garmin to record splits, average speed and worked out my percentage improvement. Oh, and what’s the point of a ride if you can’t post it on Facebook, right? (just in case anyone was in any doubt of your rockness).

This year for me’s been all about fixing that open water fear – culminating in a 10k swim two weeks ago along the River Dart. Yes, I know – 10k. That’s over double an Ironman swim. So having nailed the swim (that’s four pool sessions and one river swim a week for two months), I’m now dealing with the problem of transition. No, not the infamous fourth discipline of slipping from one set of kit to the next – but rather the transition from late-night booze hound to this rather irritating, inflexible, training-obsessed quinoa-scoffing convert. My problem with it is my sneaky suspicion that triathletes are boring.

We’re always the ones lurking around on Facebook night after night, looking for someone equally too exhausted to do anything else to chat to. Posting smug status updates about how much we’ve trained, what races we’re entering, what kit we’re after. As one of the worst culprits of this, I’m beginning to bore myself.

I went on a date last week with another triathlete and we spent the whole evening talking about tri. This on top of my day job (reading and writing about tri) and, then how do I relax? I go and bloody train for tri. Enough already! It frightens me that becoming good at my sport will mean I’m not much good at anything else – including some good old-fashioned spontaneous fun. And that’s a big piece of me to kiss goodbye to. So I’m thinking of Giving Andy Schlek a ring and see if he fancies hanging out – I reckon he’d be up for a three-hour training ride followed by a couple of bottles of rioja. I’m recruiting for athletes with an alcohol problem, until I’ve fully transitioned. And who knows – a good winter’s training, and I might finally find a blinding PB becomes the perfect antidote to 2010’s DTs…