Kathleen (left in the main photo) arrived at Glasgow Triathlon Club two years ago with a long history of running behind her having grown up as part of a keen running family.
“My mum, dad, sister, aunties and uncles all run. It was a family thing,” she says. “I ran until I was 18 and then I took it up again in 2015 when I did the Glasgow Women’s 10k.”
Kathleen, who is also a member of Giffnock North AC, had been aware of the sport of triathlon for a couple of decades. She says: “My mum took part in triathlons, including the East Kilbride Tri and the Scottish Borders series, some 20 years ago so it was on my radar.”
But it wasn’t until she was battling a repeated running injury that the idea of triathlon came to Kathleen.
The civil engineer, who has two young sons aged nine and 11, says: “I was recovering from yet another calf Injury and around the same time my husband bought me a gravel bike for my 40th birthday.
“My physio suggested cycling or swimming to get my sport fix and as a way to recover and build strength.
“I ended up cycling to work almost every day and swimming again after 30 years away from a pool. So, I thought, why not have a go at some triathlons?”
Kathleen was also encouraged by her friends at a running group called the Turban Trotters (TTs), who had done a few triathlons themselves.
‘It’s a great challenge’
Kathleen reveals she enjoys the challenge of triathlon with all three disciplines in one event. Her favoured sport shifts between cycling and running. She says: “My love for running is a bit hit and miss sometimes so let’s just say my least favourite discipline is swimming.”
However, Kathleen reports that her swimming has improved since joining GTC. She says: “My swimming has come on thanks to a switch to bi-lateral breathing. I am grateful to Lochlan for his coaching on this.
“I have also benefited from endurance build-up through proper training.”
So far, Kathleen, who races in the vets cage category, has taken part in novice distance triathlons. She won her first race at Cupar. She had aspirations this year, before lockdown arrived, to compete in longer distance events.
She says: “I had a list including Cupar Sprint Tri, Isle of Bute Tri and the biggie, the Yorkshireman Half. I’m still hoping that the Craggy Island Triathlon happens in October.”
Meet new people
For Kathleen, sport has been a chance to meet new people and to share in the same outlook. She says: “It has been great to meet a lovely bunch of people – both my running family and at GTC – who have the same love of sport and the same slight madness you need to go out in the wet and cold and train.
“It is great how we always encourage each other to keep going and no one minds if you are not looking your best!
“Also, I’m quite shy but through running and tri I’ve come out my shell more, whether talking to random people at the pool or fellow cyclists out on the roads.”
It is people that helps Kathleen to get through a tough training session. She says: “I can’t seem to run on my own these days – I need people to be there with me.
“When I am racing, I keep going with the thought of a cup of tea and cake – chocolate preferably – at the finish.”
Lockdown has been hard for many people and Kathleen has found her motivation has been up and down, mostly due to missing the social side of sport.
She says: “Through talking with other people, I know we are all feeling the same about lockdown and motivation, which helps.
“The club on-line sessions have certainly helped with keeping my training going and my motivation.”
Kathleen hopes that with the easing of lockdown restrictions she will be able to gain more confidence and experience of open water swimming.
She says: “I also want to find a love for running again and I am thinking that the trails may be the way forward.”
Her goals in triathlon are “to have fun”. She says: “I’d also like to complete a few half IMs and triathlons that are more off-road. I do love a bit of mud and hills.”
Kathleen’s triathlon tip: Enjoy it! Even the pain in training/racing, the hills, the wet, the cold and the headwinds… you know you love it all really.