HOOP UK would like to thank member Alice for raising an amazing £225 by competing in her first ever triathlon. Well done on your truly amazing achievement Alice.
I realised my weight had no bearing on my ability to do things that made me feel good when I read an article that my personal trainer, Chris, gave me to read about a man who had weighed about the same as me and who had done a triathlon. We chatted about what was involved in undertaking a triathlon during my fitness session and the more I thought about it the more I realised I wanted to have a go at taking part in one. I suggested people who would probably join me in a team effort. If I could get a team together it would mean that one person would do the swim part, another the cycle part and yet another the running part. I thought I could do the swimming, my cousin (Helen) is a brilliant cyclist who has done triathlons before and my friend James runs to keep himself fit. Before the end of my session I had my team planned, Chris had found me a date for a triathlon that was taking place in 3 months time and I was full of enthusiasm to ask Helen and James if they were up for taking part with me. They were and Helen entered us into the event! Heck, I was a size 30 and I was going to swim 800 meters in a real triathlon event. I was very nervous about taking part being the size I was but then again, why should my size stop me from doing something that I wanted to? I had read so many stories about people who were going to achieve their ambition as soon as they had lost so many pounds or stones. I didn’t want to be added to that list. I wanted to show that I am about more than my size.
I knew that I would be the weakest link in our team and so I set about a tough training regime, swimming 5 or 6
times a week and having my weekly session with Chris. I was aware that people would look at me when I went swimming but I decided that their opinions would not stop me achieving my ambition. The amount of support I received from people in and out of the pool was unbelievable and I never felt any negativity towards what I was trying to do. I did have moments where I doubted my ability, particularly the thought of standing among committed athletes at my size in a swimming costume. That was a very intimidating thought. I did not know how they would react. Chris assured me I would not be ridiculed by my fellow competitors and he was right.
On the day of the event I felt sick. I looked out of the car window and saw fit people with expensive bicycles and other athletes warming up. I the biggest entrant by far and for two pins I would have got back in the car but I had my 2-year old twins with me and I was not going to let them see me quit!
I went to sign for the timing chip. As the swimmer of the team I would be taking part first. It was too small to go around my ankle but it would go around my wrist. I thought, ‘there’s something else to make me stand out’ but at least it meant I could take part. It sounds a simple enough challenge to swim 800 meters then run 100 meters as fast as I could in front of spectators (with no water to hide under – eek!) then hand the timing chip over to the next team member.
In the changing room it was scary – it was the first time I had worn my costume among athletes and I felt terrified. I wanted to take a towel to wrap around me when I went to stand by the poolside but that was not allowed because all the swimmershad to be ‘pool ready’. While I was waiting for my turn to start my swim a lady next to me wished me luck, told me it would soon be over and reassured me that I would be ok. Also, as I looked at the people gathered to watch I saw that nobody was laughing or staring at me.
I got in the water and all my nerves turned into determination to do well. I remember looking up as I was swimming and hearing my children shouting, “Swim like a fish mummy!” By the time I had swum my 800 meters I didn’t care less about the spectators – I had to get the timing chimp to Helen and that was all that was on my mind. I ran as fast as I could and I could hear her shouting to me that I was doing great. I was so focussed that it wasn’t until after she left on her bike that I realised I was stood in the middle of a field in my swimming costumes with no towel to wrap around me and I had to walk through car parks to get back to the changing room! And still nobody was laughing at me; I was accepted as a triathlete who had given her all. My trainer, Chris, came running up to me and told me how proud he was of me. I felt on top of the world! Helen and James both did marvelously in their sections and we finished 8th out of 22 teams. We were all very happy with the result and I didn’t stop smiling for about a week. I had achieved a dream and I am a triathlete.
As a member of the HOOP community I am aware that lots of people don’t have the courage to follow their dreams and ambitions due to their size. I hope my story shows that if you believe in yourself and put in the work that is needed everyone can try to make their dreams come true. My foray into the world of triathlons has led to a love of open water swimming and since then I have taken part in The Big Swim which is a 1.5 kilometre open water swim and next year I intend to swim the length of Lake Windermere. I’ll let you know when that’s done!