Rebecca Merchant with her Go Tri medal

A post I can now finally write, I completed a triathlon today! I never thought I would say this. I COMPLETED a triathlon! I never had an interest in completing in a triathlon before but when my friend asked me to join her for the one in Stoke, I thought ‘why not’. So…

How did I find it?

It was hard! When I parked up, I was quietly confident that I would be able to do it. Purely because I do a 5k run most weeks on parkrun, I had practiced swimming ten lengths at my local pool and I do quite a bit of cycling so didn’t think it would be too rough. The instructions were clear on where I had to go and the race marshall’s explained everything really well. The triathlon started with the swim. The swimming I went quite hard in. When I got out of the pool to do the bike ride, wearing the TriSuit I felt so exposed it felt like I was running naked. Soon I was off cycling, cycling took me down the A34 which was quite busy!  Luckily for me it was a sunny day which was drying the TriSuit nicely.

After dumping my bike I finished with the run. That part was the worst for me, my legs felt like jelly as they had gone from being used to pedalling to suddenly having to run! At this point each directional marker was a marker for me to aim to pass. I felt my breathing feel really heavy. I remember at one point I was thinking ‘do a triathlon, I said, it will be fun, I said‘. I also remember that feeling when I ran down the hill to find out I had to do a second lap. Awful! I was so determined to get that finisher’s medal and that feeling when I got it just cancelled out all of the pain.

Did I train for the triathlon?

Yes I did! Although it was a beginners triathlon, I didn’t want to go into it completely blind. I attended as many parkrun’s as possible for the running and the week before I managed to get a free week’s gym membership at my local leisure centre. So I used the pool there all of the time to test myself on the lengths. Funnily enough although I would say cycling is my strongest sport, I didn’t do much cycling leading up to the race. However, I was constantly attending circuit training at G-Force in Stafford so I was constantly being active.

What did I wear?

This part was the part I was most nervous about. After spending a bargain £12 on entry, I didn’t want to spend £30 on a TriSuit. I emailed Gold Events who were hosting the Stoke-on-Trent triathlon and they said that you could wear a swimsuit. The thought of running in my swimsuit did not appeal to me, so I got on ebay and got a cheap suit for £20. I chucked on a long armed cycling jersey and just used my usual trainers.

Would you do another one?

I would! Gold Events are running three in the Stoke-on-Trent area and if you attend all three you get a special shirt which is what I would quite like to aim for. I would also like to train a bit more and see if I can improve on my time.

Rebecca with her bike and medal at Go Tri in Stoke

How do I get involved?

Go Tri is approved by Triathlon England and its ethos is for the triathlon to be accessible for all. See all events by accessing there website here.

On the Bank Holiday Holiday weekend my partner and I headed over to Cannock Chase to go mountain biking for the day. Both being quite keen road and track cyclists, mountain biking was something new to try.
Cannock Chase is situated on Staffordshire which is in the West Midlands. Easily accessible from the M6.

You can hire out bikes but we both brought our own as hiring bikes are £30 each. My bike is nothing fancy just a cheap Apollo brought second hand. At Cannock Chase there are different routes to try with the black route being the hardest and the green route being the easiest. We both decided the Blue Route (the middle of the two) would be best- 7 1/2 miles long so not too short but not long for us as we both are not used to riding on tough terrain.

The signage is excellent and we soon got going along our way (just to note you can download trail maps from the internet). The paths are wide so you can go more at your own pace as you don’t feel that you are holding anyone up. The route was easily achievable with a nice selection of uphill cycling with some fun downhill riding and plenty of puddles and dips to go through!
On the blue route there wasn’t any obstacles to overcome however I am aware there are obstacles on the red and black routes.

Physically I found the ride quite tough. I hate cycling up hills so having a hill right at the beginning of the route certainly does not motivate me! It took around an hour and a half to do the route whereas if I was on my road bike I would have cycled twice the distance in that time. This could be because of the bike that I had not being the best.  However I felt that I had a good workout and Cannock Chase is lovely to look at. So I couldn’t resist stopping and taking a few photos.

At the end we wondered around a Swinnerton Cycles a shop that is situated there. The shop mainly sells mountain bikes and gear but also lots of nutritional food. There is also a pressure washer which for a £1.00 you can spray your bikes down which is extremely handy if you went in the rain like I did to get mud off.

The second time I headed back to Cannock I tried the longest of the blue route which was 12 miles. This time it was sunny therefore I managed to take some really good pictures. I had recently brought a better bike (a Carrera in case you were wondering) and sold my Apollo and it made such a difference. I found that the bike could cope better with the terrain as it was lighter. Even though the route was longer it was much easier on a better bike.

There are plenty of facilities at Cannock Chase as well as Swinnerton Cycles mentioned above there are toilets and a cafe shop as well as a go- ape course and you could hire a segway if you want.

If you would like to go mountain biking in Cannock Chase or see what else the park has to offer check the website out here