Morley Tri Club News


Joanne's Triathlon Journey

Here Joanne shares her awe inspiring triathlon journey. I think that you will agree that you’re never too old to have a go at triathlon.  Joanne loves to challenge herself and wants to inspire others to give TRI a go.

It was never my intention to be part of any sporting club never mind Triathlon. After running solo for a number of years, not setting any goals or any aspirations I joined Morley Running Club. My sister had joined so I thought I would try it; my sons didn’t need me as much and Wayne was off doing his own thing with Dewsbury Running Club, and I wanted something ‘just for me.’ I was never going to be up at the front as I was never sporty as a child and liked to remain ‘invisible’ and just do my solo runs with my peaked cap firmly down so no eye contact could be made.

Morley Running Club (MRC) Group 1 beckoned and Gary was the Run Leader and made me feel really welcome we chatted away and I felt really comfortable. I was at the back but after a few weeks my pace was increasing (please bear mind even now my best is a 10-minute mile). I was at the front and thought I would give Group 2 a go and then onto Group 3 and that was where I felt comfortable. I began to see regular faces and over time built up some lovely friendships (you know who you are 😊) as I looked forward to my Wednesday night runs.

So, on the 31st of August 2019 my Triathlon journey began, how on earth did I get to this point. I still have no idea! After seeing the ‘New’ Morley Triathlon Club being advertised on the MRC Facebook chat, welcoming people to learn to swim front crawl (if you could do 50 metres) I thought I would like to learn that not thinking of Triathlon in any way.

Swimming if anything was my go-to sport. Bearing in mind I wear glasses so I was part of the breaststroke, head firmly out of the water swimming lady brigade but could happily do a mile and was content with that. However, I really wanted to be able to swim front crawl. So, I plucked up the courage and booked onto my first session. Goggles and swim cap bought I was so nervous. Those horrid school P.E sessions were foremost in my mind (reader please note I was then the grand old age of 52).

Paul and Claire were coaching, I got changed and ransacked my bag and realised I had left the goggles and swim cap at home. How embarrassing as I was not off to a good start. Jeannette kindly offered me one of her spare swim caps and Paul went rummaging in ‘lost property’ and found me a pair of goggles. I was so glad there was no filming as my two lengths must have been a sight for sore eyes (toddler and doggy paddle springs to mind). Paul invited me across to an unused lane and spent the whole session just getting me to ‘bubble, bubble breathe.’ Looking back that first session made all the difference for me to continue, the one-to-one tuition was invaluable.

The weeks ticked by and every week I was learning something new. From the push off, the rotation, the breathing, the arm position, and the pull etc. Each week I would go off and practise what I was shown to be ready to move onto the next technique the following week. The hardest thing was the breathing and managing to keep going beyond 50 metres, then 100 metres and so that by the time Christmas 2019 came along I could swim one mile completely in front crawl.

Everyone was motivated and all working towards their own Triathlon journey, I hadn’t even got a bike and my whole reason for joining was selfishly for the swimming coaching, but I was in awe of everyone’s story and what they were or had achieved and silently was feeling this was also something I could do albeit at my pace. I liked the idea that there was no race as such involved, you may have started at similar times, but the journey was your own and yours alone. By this time, I had completed a couple of 10k organised races with Morley Running Club and bimbled along just averaging 66 mins per 10k which I was more than happy with, just to complete them was my aim.

After having conversations with Wayne, who had completed the Leeds Triathlon that year I bought a Hybrid bike for my birthday which was in November 2019. We’d get out on our rides and I bravely and excitedly entered my ‘First Go Tri’. This is a ‘taster’ usually a 400k swim 12k bike and 2.5k run for the following April.  I was not confident on the bike and still aren't really but then COVID hit in March 2020, Wayne was furloughed I was still working part-time, and this opportunity was too good to miss, it was like a Sunday Christmas Bank Holiday every day and we would get out together for our daily exercise whenever we could. Gradually my strength increased, and I was enjoying it to the point that through the ‘Cycle to work’ scheme I put a deposit down on a ‘Road’ bike, drop handlebars slightly terrifying but ‘she’ was and is gorgeous and light, my trusty hybrid now felt like a tank and was sadly relegated.

We are still in 2020 and the thoughts and chats within the club see me branching out to Open Water swimming. Please bear in mind again, I am that person that paddles in the sea and if anything moves or is spotted, I am out of there like a flash. After a number of conversations and encouragement from ‘MTC’ everyone was recommending the  ‘Blue Lagooners’ at Womersley. So Jeannette and myself booked on the beginner’s session. Wetsuit bought and aunexpected excitement at the thought or what I was about to do, we could not have asked for a more beautiful Sunny May Day. The conditions were perfect and the coaches were superb. We both signed up and became immediate members and now enjoy weekly outdoor swims (weather and temperature permitting) with quite a few of the MTC members. Wayne and I even went to the Lakes and swam in Buttermere which was such a tranquil experience.

We now jump forward to the world opening its doors (social distancing). MTC start to run Bike/run sessions at Dartmouth Park to get us back out there as a club which is very much welcomed as we have lived in a cocoon/bubble for so long. The training tackles the dreaded brick run (running straight after cycling, jelly dead legs is the best way to describe the feeling) and the cancelled events are rebooked for 2021.

'I'm the tortoise at the back,  but I never give up and will just keep on going whatever time I finish'

The Leeds Go Tri was my first ever Triathlon, MTC had organised a beginner’s swim session at Roundhay Park to let us have a practise in the lake, the coaches were supportive and encouraging and I was thankful of the chance to get in before the big event as the lake seemed quite daunting. We were blessed with another beautiful day, the conditions were perfect, the amount of support from MTC was a real boost and made you feel you could conquer the world even at my beginner’s level. What an accomplishment from the swim to the transition to getting out on the bike and then the run was a great feeling of satisfaction, I was not racing anyone I was just doing my own thing in my own time, no pressures no demands from anyone, I just fully enjoyed the experience. The last Tri for me this year was a relay at Nottingham which was just a fun, relaxed day with friends, Wayne had signed up with me and we had 2 teams taking part, we weren’t out for any wins or trophies, maybe a bit of sunstroke and topping up your tan as it was one of the hottest days the year (Aug 2022) but it was a great way to end the season.    

I won’t bore you anymore with the other events I took part in as each one was my own journey but with the continued support, camaraderie, laughter, and new friendships built it has been and still is a pleasure to be a part of the community of Morley Triathlon Club, with special thanks Mikey, Mick, Alison and Gary for encouraging me.

Thanks for reading

Joanne Ryan