My Journey into Triathlon – By Ambassador James Phillips
Really there’s only one person to blame for introducing me to triathlon and for everything that’s come since! A great friend of mine who I lived with throughout my university years came back from summer break full of enthusiasm for a sport I knew nothing about – triathlon. Oh right yeah, the sport that’s actually 3 sports and only for crazy fit people? No thanks!
After a bit of convincing I was talked into going along to a couple of ‘taster’ sessions and before I knew it the claws were in.
As a student who’d been indulging in all of the usual student ‘activities’ I’d become aware of my deteriorating fitness that had been built up, with little to no appreciation, over countless teenage years rowing.
I saw triathlon a completely new challenge, I didn’t own a bike, never had swimming lessons and had only ran recreationally during winters as cross-training for rowing.
I had no preconceptions with my performance in any of the sports and to be honest, I thought of the first few swims as a success if I managed not to drown whilst barely stringing 2 lengths together.
Racing wasn’t even on my radar, I was just enjoying the ability to string 3 (sometimes even 4) lengths together and hitting the roads on the weekend and exploring Dartmoor by bike – I loved Exeter, but I had no idea how lucky I was until I started training and exploring what the rest of Devon had to offer when you ventured out on two wheels! I was suddenly spending whole Saturdays exploring the Moors and finding new cafes for the compulsory coffee and cake stop.
My introduction to multi-sport racing came in the form of an aquathlon (Swim-Run) as part of the Exeter Triathlon Club aquathlon series, I swam like a brick and froze running around in swim shorts (it was only March!) but weirdly loved every minute of it. Again, I’m not sure if this was from the challenge of the foreign event or the amazing camaraderie of everyone taking part but when I got home I was straight on my laptop looking for more!
I’m lucky enough to live on the South coast and it didn’t take me long to find my first triathlon, a Salty Sea Dog sprint race on Bournemouth sea front. I honestly had no idea if I was going to finish the race, it was a proper open-water sea swim followed by a 20km ride along the clifftop and finishing with a 5km run along the promenade. I’d like to say I can remember everything about my first race but to be honest it was all just a blur! I didn’t drown, I didn’t crash and I managed to put one foot in front of the other until I crossed the finish line with a grin from ear-to-ear. Not only had I finished the damn thing I actually came 2nd!
I had no idea of what that meant in the grand scheme of triathlon but suddenly a new fire was lit and my competitive side came out, I wanted to do it again but faster! After numerous races since, I am where I am today excited for what the future holds.
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