Wednesday, 18 May 2011

137 men and now I ache

The sun was shining, I was surrounded by men in rubber and we were about to get wet and sweaty. Nope to the plot from some X-rated movie but my first triathlon of this year, oh and the rubber was actually neoprene.

Last Friday my family drove the 4 hours from our home to Nottingham to take part in the Speedo Big Triathlon. Its a long drive but I had a race credit to use after pulling out of my first attempt at completing an Ironman race last summer because of a knee injury.

We stayed at a Holiday Inn overnight. While checking in I asked the receptionist if there was anywhere that I could put my bike rather than leave it in the car overnight. She said that they would put it in a meeting room and asked what was happening as there were apparently a few other people who had asked the same thing. Some had even gone so far as to explain that their bikes were worth more than their cars!

We had a lovely room with two double beds. Other half and I shared one bed, son got the other all to himself.

The food was good, if expensive. All of the staff were really friendly and helpful. I have a feeling that this was one of the hotels that I looked at when I booked for the race last year but then went for another one instead. Next time I'm in Nottingham I'll go for this hotel again though, especially as we now know that there is a pub about 100 yards away where we can get a cheaper meal than the hotel put on.

Saturday we were up early despite the fact that my race didn't start until noon. We wanted to get packed, have breakfast and get to the race venue at a reasonable time as my sister and the twins were going to come up see us, they only live about an hours drive away rather than the normal 3 hours.

Race mornings for me are a nightmare. I've taken part in several swims and triathlons and more runs than I care to think about but one thing is always the same, I need my own toilet. No matter how many races I've done, how prepared I am for them, race morning the nerves hit me first things and I spend a lot of time sequestered away wondering why I am doing a race. Last Saturday was no different.

Once I'd managed to pry myself from the toilet we checked out of the hotel, repacked the car and made our way to Holm Pierrepont where the race was being held.

We parked up and wandered through to the the lake and spent a bit of time watching the under 40s race. We were just in time to see the winner come in off the run. From time to time we watched as the remaining competitors either came in off the run or finished the bike leg and started off on the run. The last guy to go out on the run was racing for a friend's daughter and raising money for charity. He completed the race and got a well deserved round of applause both when he set off on the run and when he crossed the line.

My own race was a bit mixed. Overall my time was 1 hour 31 minutes which I was happy with. The individual parts of the race I've mixed feelings about.

My swim, which although it turned out to be a good time, was a bit rubbish. When the hooter went off I launched into front crawl. 750 metres front crawl is not a problem for me, I've done that distance and further in a wetsuit. This time though I'd positioned myself in the wrong place and found myself clashing with other swimmers and totally unable to settle into a steady stroke and breathing pattern. Resorting to breaststroke in order to give me a bit of time while everyone else got going I never returned to front crawl. In the end I completed the swim in just under 18 minutes.

On leaving the water I started to remove my wetsuit as I made my way to my bike. Stomping on my wetsuit to remove it I felt a sudden sharp pain across my calf. My initial thought was that I'd got cramp but as I bent down to remove my wetsuit the pain disappeared. Now my worry was that I'd actually torn something in my calf. I did that with my other leg a few years ago and its only now that I'm managing to build up the strength in that leg again.

The bike leg went quite smoothly. I'm not the fastest or most confident of cyclist but I managed to get around the 20 kilometres in 45 minutes.

Off the bike and on with my running shoes and off I went for the last 5 kilometres of the race. I was back in my comfort zone at this point and managed to catch and overtake about 5 people before crossing the finish line in just over 27 minutes. Looking at the result I actually did quite well with my run time compared to a lot of the competitors that finished in front of me.

I eventually crossed the line in 1 hour 31 minutes, something I'm quite happy with.

After the race I caught up with my sister and the twins. J, the oldest of the two girls, was fine with me. She got a little bit upset when I sat her on the saddle of my bike. C, her sister, was not impressed either with being sat on the bike. It turned out though that she just wasn't impressed with me at all and as we were walking back to the car gave me an evil look. She does that look in such style by looking up at you from underneath her fringe.

C has given me that look before while we were staying at my parents. It took her a good few hours to get used to me that time, this time it only took half an hour.

Having waved goodbye to my sister and the girls we began the long journey back home. Pizza washed down with wine rounded off a long, tiring but overall enjoyable day. I'm almost recovered from it, my legs have ached in at the top of my thighs since then but that's finally passing. Interestingly my legs reacted the same way after the Yeovil half marathon, perhaps I'm simply getting old!

The next month sees another two races, one at Dorney Lake, which is just a swim, and the other in Bala, which is a middle distance triathlon. Once those are out of the way I get a chance for a rest and to beginning working towards my next race which is in the autumn.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Taking a class

I've written before about my burlesque lessons and preparing a routine to perform to some friends. A couple of times while doing that I was invited to join the intermediate class. Well this week I finally did just that.

It was fabulous!

The classes are on a Tuesday evening so I finished work a half an hour early and quickly changed into a tee-shirt and tracksuit bottoms so that I'd be comfortable during the lesson. Getting into the car I entered the address of the venue into the SatNav and found that I was going to be an hour early when I got there. As Homer Simpson would say "Doh!". There was no way that I could go home beforehand as it would mean getting questioned by my father-in-law who has been staying with us so I made a few stops on the way, one of which was to grab something to eat. Next time I'll arrange to visit a friend who lives in Bristol.

I eventually arrived at the venue with 15 minutes to spare and found that it was very busy as there was a show going on elsewhere in the building and people were arriving for that. Getting there is something that I'm going to have to think seriously about as at some point Jenny is going to make an appearance for the class and it will take a lot of confidence to walk from the car to the venue and then up to the dance studio.

I hung around outside the building watching people going in, a couple of women that went in I decided could be there for the class but wasn't sure, when I finally got into the dance studio I found that I was right.

I was incredibly nervous about going to the class. I wasn't sure how the other women were going to react. Would they be OK with me being there? Would they be a lot better than me? What would we be doing in the class? So many unknowns.

Eventually I decided that I couldn't wait any longer and had to go up to the class so I went in, asked where the class was and made my way to the studio.

Peering through the door I couldn't see anyone so pushed it open and went in. The rest of the class were at one end of the room and all turned to look at me as I entered. My teacher saw me and waved me in. I dumped my bag and joined the rest of the class. My instructor asked me if I wanted to be known "as J or B", female name or male name. "J" I answered so that's how I was introduced.

We started off with some warm ups and then a few people recapped what they'd done the previous week.

We then got into our heels and did some more warming up before starting to work through a routine.

Everyone is really good and moves so easily. I don't quite feel so natural just yet but I was amazed that I found myself walking quite well and also quite quickly in heels. These lessons are going to be so good for me when it comes to moving about as a woman, just need to get my movements to be a bit more fluid and a bit more feminine.

We went over the routine a good few times, adding bits to it as we mastered a section.

Being new there were somethings that I felt a bit shy about but with time I'm hoping that will change as I get to know people and feel more relaxed and confident.

We ended the evening by working on our burlesque characters in small groups. Each group had to come up with a group pose and a headline to go with it for each of the groups characters.

For my character we came up with a pose where I was recreating the famous Christine Keeler image with the chair while the other two posed as a married couple. The headline "Jenna Soils DFS Sofa".

Being spontaneously creative is something that I find really difficult, especially in a group setting. Doing these exercises is going to be a real challenge but its going to help me to develop as a person.

It does mean that I'm going to have to start thinking about my burlesque character of Jenna Von Risque.

I'm so looking forward to my next class now that I know what to expect.

One thing that did come out which I thought was fantastic and showed that the other women had no problem with me being there was when we were doing the exercise in the small group and I described my character and her costume. The other two promptly turned around and told me they couldn't wait to see my corset.

The sad bit is that I don't live in Bristol. It would be so better if I did as I wouldn't have so far to travel and I'd also be able to get to the shows and other events that the school and instructors are involved in. I'd also be able to go out with the girls when they organize a night out.

I told a friend about all this and she said that she has a feeling that my life is going to be in Bristol. I'm not sure how that is going to happen but if it did then I wouldn't object.