Jacqueline Simpson has been with GTC for two-and-a-half years and credits the club with helping to keep her motivated through lockdown.
The chef and lecturer says: “Lockdown has given me more time to train. At the beginning of the first lockdown, between GTC and Clydesdale Amateur Rowing club (CARC), which I am also a member of, there was so much support and so many training sessions that I stayed motivated and probably was the fittest I had been in years. The lovely weather also helped.
“This second lockdown has been tougher mentally, but I know that if I have some sort of challenge or goal to aim for, I won’t give up and that keeps me motivated.
“It can be something simple like signing up for a couple of run or spin sessions at the start of the week and once they are in my diary, I’ll always turn up.”
Jacqueline has high praise for the club. She says: “GTC has fantastic coaches, members and organised training sessions and the things I think that particularly helped me this year were the challenges set by the GTC coaches.
“For example, I enjoyed the weekly time trial on the bike and the run and at the end of a week of training, I would set out to try to beat the previous week’s time.
“I also enjoyed the podcast running sessions with Vicky on a Monday night.”
“My rowing club also set a few good challenges and I came second in my age group in a UK time trial for both running and cycling (I got a lovely medal).
“The other thing that helped was getting away to Europe in the summer for four weeks, when you could travel. It was both nerve wracking and brilliant. My husband and I took our wee caravan on the two-day ferry to Santander and then cycled, ate and drank our way to France.”
‘I have always been sporty”
Jacqueline came to triathlon through mountain biking, although she has long been involved in many sports. She says: “I was a member of Glasgow Mountain Bike Club and went out with them rain, hail or snow twice a week for about 10 years. It was great adrenaline-filled fun.
“Although we cycled all over Scotland, most of us agreed that the best technical tracks were in Mugdock Park. I even had one named after me, Jackie’s Root.
“From there, I went to the ‘dark side’ and started riding road bikes and entered the odd Audax and Etape. These are supposed to be non-competitive, but I beg to differ.
“I am also lucky enough to have a friend who lives in Switzerland, so I have enjoyed many weekends of skiing.”
However, Jacqueline confesses she had not run or swam a stroke of front crawl before November 2018.
‘Triathlon happened by accident’
Jacqueline says: Triathlon happened by accident and never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d be in a triathlon club.”
She explains: “I was at a very low ebb. My dad had died, my dog – who used to run beside my bike with me – died and my son’s flatmate had committed suicide, all in the space of a few months. Joining the club gave me focus again, but this happened by accident…
“I had just finished a stand-up paddle board session at Pinkston and Dougie Mac was taking an open water session and said to me, ‘Are you in the next group?’ I told him I couldn’t swim front crawl but that I had always wanted to do open water swimming.
“To cut a long story short, he said that I should come along to Western Baths, so I went that Sunday night thinking that it was a swimming club I was going to.
“The rest is history. Learning to do a decent crawl is probably one of my proudest achievements, thanks to Dougie and the rest of the coaches.”
A love of training with like-minded people
It’s the training that Jacqueline most enjoys and finishing a race or challenge. She says: “I don’t think I like the racing and every time it gets closer to competing, I vow never to enter anything again. I don’t like the pressure and it just stresses me out.
“Most of all, I love the non-judgmental environment that we train in. Everyone is so encouraging at training sessions. I’m always blown away by the commitment and professionalism of the coaches.”
Jacqueline doesn’t have a favourite triathlon discipline. She says: “I like them all in equal measures. They are all more fun in a warmer climate, which I usually get to enjoy for a few weeks a year.”
Jacqueline’s best sports achievements include cycling five “cols” in the Alps in a week. They included Aubisque, Peyresourde, Aspin, Solour and then the Tourmalet. She says: “I cried when I got to the top of the Tourmalet. Despite 27 gears it was a hard climb. This was my 50th birthday present. My tips is, don’t marry a cyclist.
“This summer i reached the top of the Covadonga in Spain. I think that next time it might be on an electric bike.
“The Covadonga was another first. Once on the descent, visibility was about 10 yards. I made the back brake work for its money and when I stopped for a bit, the callipers were smoking as the escaping oil burnt off. The next bit of descent was interesting…”
“Doing the 100km Etape Caledonia was also great day and with perfect weather conditions.”
Flying on a trapeze. It was scary.
Getting up one day and deciding to cycle 100 miles. From my door to the Ardlui Hotel on Loch Lomond and back (the flattest route I could find).
Finishing the Bishopbriggs Triathlon.
Completing Triathlon Scotland’s Woman in Open water course, run by GTC, and then doing Go Swim Loch Lomond on the most beautiful and perfect day.
The River Tay open water swim on a very cold and windy day.
Running 10km, another GTC course lead by Nicola Dawson, she encouraged us to add another 1km on to our run every week, by following her training plan. I would never have attempted it or believed I could have run that far.
Not forgetting, completing all the badges in the GTC Badge-athon. That was the best fun I’ve had in ages.
Training and racing
Jacqueline says it is the “positivity of the GTC coaches and friends around about me” that get her through a training session. She adds: “I usually sing a song to myself, such as Jack Savoretti, or recently, because I’m moving to Largs, Oh I do Like to be Beside the Seaside.”
Jacqueline’s goals for this season are the Bishopbriggs Sprint Triathlon and Go Swim Loch Lomond.
She also hopes to get into a swimming pool and “get back to where I was before lockdown”. She adds: “I’ve joined the Aubrey Wild Swimmers, in Largs, so I’m hoping to go swimming with them.
“And I want to attend as many GTC training sessions as I can.”
Jacqueline’s tips for triathlon
Learn and practise the techniques the coaches show you. It makes everything so much easier.
Give yourself permission to have a week off now and again.
Set yourself a goal to work towards because this will give your training purpose.
Don’t say: “Leave the weak!”
Do say: “Where is the cake shop?”