As officially the clumsiest person in the world, I have been doomed to live a life of no team sports. Do believe me when I say I have zero coordination, I fall on a daily basis on the stairs at home, and as a result, my roommates are sick of the tea stains on the staircase.
Nonetheless, I used to be a happy leisure runner and occasional race runner, but lately I have begun to realise that my body has been asking for a challenge for quite a long time. Anyway, two months ago, as a fresher here in St Andrews, I was looking for a sports team to join and so I headed to the Sports Fair. Obviously I was looking for something involving no coordination, but I guess fate had it written that I should meet Arina (President of StAUTriathlon Team). She was so enthusiastic about her society that I couldn’t say no when she asked me to join them the following day for a trial cycling session. She subsequently confessed to me – a couple of weeks later – that she had regretted signing me up only minutes after making her pitch when she overheard me saying to the Sailing Club boys (who were quite cute, by the way) that theirs was the only club my mum had forbidden me to join; the shipping costs of a dead body to Spain would be sky high…! My mum certainly knows what kind of daughter she has; I would have ended up on the Atlantic Ocean floor bundled up in ropes.
The following day I started regretting having stepped out if the comfy safe zone. Only when Mark Diamond (Captain of the StAUTri) brought me a road bike, did the word DANGER flashed across my mind. Despite having to constantly remind myself on which side of the road to cycle on, I couldn’t have enjoyed that first ride any more. And within two weeks of joining up, I was convinced (nay, almost forced) to sign up for the duathlon competition in Aboyne.
Once there, I was so nervous – I just wanted things to start. The first lap was the running so it didn’t prove very difficult; on the cycling, I was overtaken by everybody, but I didn’t mind. By that time, I had already earned a bad reputation in the team due to my non-existent navigation skills so everybody was betting I would get lost. The hard time came when I stepped down off the bike and couldn’t find a free spot on the rack. (According to Mark, I started shouting in Spanish at the bike, but I don’t remember any of this). I do remember, though, that the thought of throwing the bike on the ground crossed my mind. But, since I hadn’t paid attention at the briefing, I didn’t know the rules very well and obviously I didn’t want to risk being disqualified after so much work, so I somehow managed to shove it on the rack. That is when the real hell started it; my legs were a combination of jelly and pounds and pounds of potatoes. I was so tired that the mere thought of giving up was harder than keeping moving.
Throughout that last lap I kept repeating the words my friend, Patty Peoples (USA Champion), as she wisely says: “See it/Believe it/Achieve it”. And finally I did manage to finish (safe and sound). Stepping onto a road bike and training my ass off everyday are things I would have never expected doing, but sometimes a challenge is just that – something we haven’t imagined doing. I had never set my mind on using a road bike, which didn’t mean I couldn’t. As you might see, I am now, irreversibly, head over wheels in love with my triathlon team – they have become my family here. My point is this: do take risks in life, as even if something sounds crazy (or you might be very bad at it), it may just be something that can make you truly happy.