Taking part in only two sprint triathlons prior to an inaugural standard distance triathlon would be daunting for some.
Signing up to one of your first events in a foreign country might also seem stressful for many triathletes.
And slipping over in the middle of a transition and falling flat on your face could easily put some people off an event.
Yet GTC member Rachel Beedie took all this in her stride last month when she finished the Stockholm Triathlon as 46th female and in a time of 2.53.31.
Rachel, 33, who joined the club in January, said: “I entered Stockholm on a whim when a friend who lives in the city suggested it. I thought, ‘Why not’, although I really had no idea what I was letting myself in for.
“To be honest, it wasn’t something I ever imagined I would do and while I have always enjoyed swimming and cycling I used to insist that I would never do a sport that involves changing your shoes!”
In fact, Rachel, of Glasgow, admits she was “a bit scared” about the running section of triathlons. She said: “I have always thought that most triathletes come from a running background so I was worried about that aspect because I was not a runner.
“Then, after entering the Stockholm event, I thought I’d just needed to get on with the training. I have actually really enjoyed the challenge of all three different disciplines, which has surprised me.
“It’s tough to fit it all in, but you rarely get bored as there is so much variety and so much to learn.”
Racing in Stockholm
Rachel described the event as “amazing”. She said: “From the buzz of four thousand competitors and spectators milling around before the start, to the floating DJ next to the start line, to the whoosh of air as I sped around the course on my bike and my realisation halfway through the bike that I could beat my target time of three hours if I kept pushing, I loved it all.
“The mix of relief, pain, joy, and sadness that it was nearly all over on the (uphill) home straight was simply incredible.”
During the event, Rachel says she learned a great deal. For example, she knows now that she needs to keep an eye out for other people’s discarded caps in transition.
She said: “Some people had discarded their swim hats on the walkway going into T1 and this is what caused me to slip over. My friend managed to get a photo of me sprawled on the ground. I badly bruised my toe in the process but I only realised this after the finish line.”
Rachel also warns other triathletes not to leave anything to do on the morning of the race. She said: “I was organised with most of my prep, but had attached my tri bars to my bike the evening before and thought I would check the position and tighten them before the start.
“I completely forgot to do so and spent most of the ride section tugging them into place each time I changed position on the bike. This happened quite a lot because the course was twisty.”
Rachel was delighted overall with her time but believes she can improve on her transitions. She said: “I think I had a good excuse for long transitions because this area was huge but I could still definitely improve.
“Also, I need to work harder on improving my running before next time. I also need to practise sighting on my swim to avoid swimming about 200m further than was needed.”
Despite the organisation and cost involved in travelling overseas for a triathlon, Rachel would recommend the Stockholm event. She said: “Taking part in an event with so many other people is great fun. Also, I found that racing around a foreign city meant there was always something interesting to look at.”
Praise for GTC
Rachel credits the club with helping her to reach her race goal this year. She said: “The coached swimming sessions, both pool and open water, have been ideal.
“There is no way I would have done so much swim training if left to my own devices as I get bored of swimming up and down. Instead, I found myself looking forward to my swims with the club.
“The club bike rides, parkruns and the training weekend have also helped with motivation, getting tips and generally making training more fun.”