Jude Haggar

13407041_10154302457457174_5583587290029987650_nI’ve always enjoyed sport. My family did too and as a child I tried lots of sport including golf, tennis, water skiing, surfing, climbing, rock caving, lacrosse, hockey and more. At primary school in Trinidad, where I was born, I loved running and especially the 100m and funny sack race:) I swam after school with my mum and brother at our local pool (to mainly keep cool as it was always so hot!) and every Sunday afternoon we would spend the day at the beach body surfing. We’d play golf and tennis in the weekends and kept very active outdoors in glorious tropical sunshine.

My big passion was ballet and I’d completed all the Royal Ballet school grades by the time I was 14. The next step would have been to apply for professional dance school but my parents had other ideas for me at that time! When my parents moved to Scotland I continued to enjoy running and competing for my school in Edinburgh at short distance, long jump and lacrosse. Occasionally I hired a mountain bike with a friend and went cycling in Aberdeenshire or jumped into the freezing lakes! At Uni in Bristol I became a little lazy but if I felt I wanted to do sport I went swimming or out for a run. When I worked in London before I had my children I continued to occasionally run or swim for fitness.

Having had three children, I was encouraged by Sarah Russell who runs a local running club that I was part of, to give triathlon a go. I was curious as I had been with trying lots of sports. She helped me buy my first bike (a Trek domane) and went out for a ride with me to give me confidence. I loved the first feelings I had of being able to cycle further than I could ever run, the feeling of fresh air in my lungs and the challenge of climbing on local hills! It took some amusing falls (in my own driveway!) and a few tears before I felt comfortable with riding in cleats and that was it. I was hooked! Around the same time I decided that I’d like to join a club to be part of a group who swam and rode regularly. I liked the friendly look of Tunbridge Wells Tri club, sent an email to Eric and I joined.

Eric taught me how to improve my swim. I focused on learning to breathe bilaterally, being streamlined and the importance of what’s happening under the water! Soon I felt at ease. Having grown up by the sea I swam from a very early age and have always enjoyed swimming but I’d never swum competitively in the past. I was offered the opportunity to be part of my school swim team at 14 but I declined on the basis that I didn’t want to get out of bed at 5am at boarding school in Scotland (it was far too cold!

When the club Sunday rides started I enjoyed riding as part of a group and remember in particular Eric, Ken and Jamie really encouraging me especially on the hills.

I went to a TriLife training day at Hever with the intention of my first race being a sprint at  Hever castle in Sep 2013, but bizarrely picked up a MRSA infection on my knee a week before my race which made my entire lower leg swell up and suffering with a high temperature and barely being able to walk I was forced to spectate instead! This made me more determined and I signed up for Sevenoaks the following year and in addition joined TriLife having met Liz Scott and felt I would benefit from structured training. She continues to guide and encourage me.

I’m very lucky to have time during the week to train. I have a lot of admiration for those triathletes who combine a full time career and a family. I didn’t return to work after I had my 3 children as I’d been working for ipc media in London and wished to be 100% there for my children when they were growing up. I’m still doing that for them now but am going to go back to education soon to study nutrition which triathlon has inspired me to do.

Why do I love Triathlon?

It feels very very special being part of a triathlon club and I’ve made some great friendships through the club especially one friendship in particular. It keeps me healthy which in itself gives me more energy in caring for my three children. It has motivated my children to participate in sport and to be motivated in other areas of their lives. The excitement of competing in races is great  and knowing that each of us in those races are doing the very best we can in our own ways. Competing in triathlon races has given me the opportunity to visit many places in the UK that I wouldn’t have visited otherwise including a few in other countries.

My first Tri race was at Sevenoaks in April 2014. I’ve made improvements since my first race in all disciplines and the joy I feel in training and competing especially with a club will continue to spur me on. My best race to date was competing in the European championships in Lisbon this year. I felt I worked the hardest I could in all three disciplines but I also learnt yet more about myself as I feel I do in each race that I compete in. My ultimate goal is to compete in a full ironman distance event, dare I say maybe one day at Kona! I’ve had many hobbies over the years but I can truly say this is my favourite. To me it’s not just a  physical challenge but equally a mental challenge. I believe a positive attitude and mindset counts for a lot in triathlon.

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