Written by Frances Weston
Before meeting my husband, Duncan in 2004, the world of Triathlon wasn’t on my radar at all. While I’d always enjoyed exercising up to a point, swimming, cycling and running competitively was something I thought only very strange people did!
But 12 years later, on a grey day wet day in February, I found myself agreeing to do my first triathlon, with only 3 months to prepare, at age 56. As I write this, the Ashbourne Triathlon is just over a week away and I’m really bricking it – I wish I could say that I meant that in ‘Tri’ lingo, i.e. dutifully mastering my transitions from swim to bike and bike to run, but sadly not.
Why did I agree to this? A combination of factors really; nearly losing our 10 year old Labrador, Tilly, had put me in a reflective mood while I’d sat nursing her for a couple of days and made me realise I hadn’t really pushed myself at anything for a long time. Also, as any menopausal women reading this will know, our bodies start behaving in strange ways and mine was no exception. Lots of aches and pains, sleepless nights and a few too many spare tyres (with no motivation or energy to exercise) were making me feel miserable and I wanted to try and do something about it.
But the main reason I agreed to do this crazy thing, was because I wanted to raise money for Nature and Nurture CIC, a not for profit social enterprise set up by Duncan and myself to offer free psychological and holistic therapies to children and young people in and around Derbyshire who are experiencing emotional distress.
While Duncan’s passion has always been triathlon, mine has been my work as a counsellor/play therapist with children and young people. Childrens’ mental health has been much in the news lately due to the chronic lack of services available to help them. 1 in 10 children and young people have a diagnosable mental health problem and many more are struggling with the stresses of modern life.
Nature and Nurture offers a beautiful, low-stress environment combined with the best of evidence based and innovative therapies including animal assisted therapy and ecotherapy. We have been successful in attracting some funding but we desperately need more! Its costs us around £1750 to offer one child an assessment and 10 sessions of therapy.
So, how’s the training going? Well, I joined a gym for the first time in my life and have been dragging myself there 3 times a week before work (a killer!) My swim is going to be slow – I’m a breaststroke only kind of a girl with a fear of putting my face underwater, so not a great combo for speed. The cycling has been challenging: I bought a ladies road bike from e-bay – mine was a city bike made from girders so deemed inappropriate – but found it impossible to ride and felt like the saddle would need to be surgically removed! So I am now the proud owner of a hybrid which I took out for the first time last week, and managed to fall off. The running? Well, let’s just say I’m not a natural and leave it at that. Thank goodness for iPods to distract me from the pain, puffing and panting. But, overall I’m getting slimmer and stronger and feel like my old self again, which is fantastic. Getting in to the tiny new tri suit is going to be a challenge in itself though.
I’ll be joined on the day by a lovely team of people – Kirsty Cooper, Lynn Furber, Louisa Duckmanton, Jack Sharman and hubby Duncan – who are also helping to raise funds for Nature and Nurture.
Apologies to Duncan and all you serious triathletes out there, as I fear my time will probably be the slowest in triathlon history. BUT I’m going to enjoy it, and give it my best shot, and hopefully we’ll raise enough money to help at least one child who is going through a tough time.
For more information about Nature and Nurture CIC or to make a donation, please visit our website.