Su Bonner

13254110_10153647955291033_3261022903721705594_nMy journey into triathlon began in my mid forties. I have always been fit and active, more of a gym bunny than an outdoor exerciser, but I’ve always enjoyed a physical challenge. My husband, Jim, had what I jokingly describe as his mid-life crisis and decided he wanted to compete in his first triathlon, an Ironman! (well, long course race). He’d somehow heard about the newly formed Tunbridge Wells Triathlon Club and started to go to swimming sessions. He tried to encourage me along, but although a fairly competent swimmer, the last training I’d done was at a swimming club at the age of eleven. My blast to the end of a 25 metre pool, followed by hyperventilating wasn’t going to get me far! Jim and the friendly, reassuring TWTC founder Eric persuaded me I could take it at my own pace, so I started to swim more regularly. At this point though, I wasn’t fully under the triathlon spell.

The realisation that triathlon really was a sport for all, including me, came when I went to watch Jim and our son James compete at Hever. During that morning I watched all shapes, sizes and abilities all having fun and decided if they could, I could!! With a rush of blood to the head I duly signed up for the Sevenoaks Sprint and the Snowdonia Slateman in Wales, another slightly longer sprint, but over quite testing terrain for a newbie.

Over the next few months I trained hard, getting to grips with my first ever road bike, regular runs and swimming, under the watchful guidance of Eric. Unfortunately, I sustained a tendon injury just before Sevenoaks, so disappointingly I had to cheer Jim and James on from the sidelines. Due to the injury, my first triathlon was now to be the Snowdonia Slateman; quite a daunting prospect!1390583_10151916128704301_772450365_n

In reality it was one of the most thrilling things I’ve done. Thankfully, I’ve never been phased by swimming in open water, so that aspect didn’t freak me out. However, the 11 degree dip in Lake Padarn was quite a shock to the system! The cold resulted in lots of wetsuit-clad figures staggering around T1 and rendered me sightly confused… I can still hear Jim shouting at me, “wrong shoes!!” as I attempted to pull on my trainers instead of my bike shoes! The cycle up Llanberis Pass was challenging, but overtaking a few people gave me such a buzz. I was loving this new sport! The run up into the slate quarry was just a blur, too painful to remember I think, but the feeling of achievement I felt crossing the line was incredible… I know it’s a cliche but I was well and truly hooked!

Over the past four years I’ve enjoyed each and every race I’ve entered, and more than anything love the challenge of the training. Being part of an amazing, friendly club has just cemented my love for the sport. There is always someone around to offer encouragement, support and praise and share stories that would bore the pants off most of the population!

I’m yet to become enthused by gear ratios, groupsets, crank lengths and aerodynamics, but I may get there…

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