Diary  of a Triathlete June 2009  by Harold Schogger


In February this year I got a bee in my bonnet to do a mini-triathlon. My cousin who is 13 years younger than me had done the Mazda Triathlon in 2008 and I had sponsored him. After years of doing the Swimathon I thought it was time to branch out into cycling and running. It was my mid life crisis and despite not being allowed to have a road bike and hating cross running at school, with my young cousin, Justyn, and my friend John we signed up with the Banana Army which sponsors Leukaemia reseqarch to do the Mini-triathlon the first weekend of  June.

My training started with once round the block running aboiut half a miule in 10  minutes and initially that almost did me in. However after one week I increased it to two laps round the block and subsequently up to Mill Hill Circus, back to Mowbray Parade Edgware a distance of about 3  miles and I kept this up twice to three times a week until the Marathon.

I borrowed a bike and crash helmet from my nephew  and after having it fully serviced. (You get bikes fully serviced annually in much the same way you do with cars) I started on my cycling. I was reluctant to ride on the roads and was warned by a local community police woman to not ride on the pavement or she would issue me with an immediate £30 fine. When I suggested that she “was doing her job” she retorted “If I was doing my job I would give you a ticket now”. She also told me not to ride with ipod and headphone because apparently that is dangerous and you might not hear traffic. I  took her advice and to the road.(most of the time). My cyling improved and by mid March I was regularly doing 20 kilometres round the streets of Stanmore, Edgware. Mill Hill and Burnt Oak. Brockley Hill is VERY STEEP. You certainly know you have done some meaningful exercise if you go there.

In order to do the triathlon you have to wear a wet suit and my friend found a very nice water sports shop in Sandbanks and I bought my first wet suit which was very long. When I suggested that it was the wrong size, the shop informed me that all I had to do was roll the sleeves and legs up and it would seal . My first sojourn to Hamstead Ponds was a very daunting experience. Although I am a reasonably strong swimmer, I found swimming with the wet suit on very unsettling and was wondering what I had let myself in for. My young cousin seemed to swim around the pond three times (1200 metres) almost  without drawing breath. But I wasn’t going to give in that easily. A second visit was made and I felt happier following the buoys and managed to do the requisite  2 laps (800 metres) that were required on the day of the triathlon.

By Mid April I was doing all three disciplines regularly and sometimes doing two dsisciplines one after the other. Allegedly all this exercise was doing me good and I had lost about half a stone on the scales. Pity I could not leave out the sweets and biscuits as I am sure I would have lost more. Two weeks before the event at a bridge event a fellow bridge player said I was looking well which was encouraging, particularly as she knew nothing of my current exercise regime.

The day of the triathlon arrived and John and I set off for Blenheim for an 11.40 start at the lake. I managed to find myself right at the back of the pack and swam the 800 metres in half an hour, 10 minutes longer than I had hoped. Maybe it was because I was too busy talking to the rescue craft  guy who was patrolling the water instead of getting on with my swim. The “Transition” is supposed to be quick but I probably took about 5 minutes to change out of the wet suit and swimming costume before getting on my bike for the second stage. The second stage involved going around the course three times, and my friend, a professional cyclist had assured me that Blenheim was flat. Blenheim was NOT FLAT and the steepness of the circuit meant many people were overtaking me. More to the point EVERYBODY was overtaking me and some 1 hour and 25 minutes later in the pouring rain I completed the cycle path. Now the second transistion to running. After parking my bike and discovering that people had parked their bike on my clean towel I ventured off to the running track. Each of the two laps took 25 minutes approximately and after 2 hours 55 Minutes I had completed my “first” triathlon at the age of 57 on the rainiest day of the year so far. Fortunately Blenheim is beautiful which distracted me from the horrendous weather.

To date I have raised £1300 for Leukaemia Research and my health could not be better.

Will I do another triathlon ? If John is  game next year . Maybe. If a few people read this article and want to contact me and make up a team from Central it could be a lot of fun next June. After all you do have 9 months to get ready.