A Blog by Marius Pelser, Support in Mind Scotland Charity Ambassador

For a while now I have been wanting to be a triathlete. The endorphins from running and cycling was good for my mental wellbeing but I wanted to push myself a bit more physically.

As some of you might now, in January I did my first novice triathlon in Edinburgh. Despite the cold wet weather I thoroughly enjoyed it and decided to take this sport a bit further. I joined an amazing club called Edinburgh#3 and have been soaking up as much info as I can get and train for the next event.

Well, on 12 August 2018 I got that chance to take this sport a step further. I was standing in Strathclyde Park dressed in a wetsuit, swim cap and goggles ready to take the plunge. I was unexpectedly calm and felt in control. The days leading up to the race was a different kettle of fish. I had self-doubt, I was nervous and was petrified of the swim leg. It’s not that I cannot swim but I struggle swimming with a wetsuit on.

It took a lot of self motivation to get me to that point at the waters edge. I needed to remind myself why I am doing it. My motivation was twofold. Firstly, I know that I manage my PTSD with physical exercise and secondly, I had committed to this event and raised money for Support in Mind Scotland, an amazing charity that is doing so much to help people with mental illness and their families.

So back to the water....

The starter summoned us onto the pontoon and then to get into the water. Flipping heck!! The loch has a darkish green tint to the water and, oh yes, it was cold. We were in the water for about a minute when the hooter sounded. I was off, trying to remember everything the coaches had covered in training sessions but was struggling. That blasted wetsuit made it feel like I can’t breathe. I knew it would be a difficult swim so just kept telling myself that I need to finish it. It’s only 750 meters after all.

Coming out of the water and into T1 (transition from swim to bike) I was exhausted but I knew the worst was behind me. I did the ‘wetsuit dance’ to get out of it and slipped into my cleats. Helmet was on and I was off for the ride. It was a 18.6km route through the park and basically included some hills and fast downhill into a hairpin turn (dead turn). I loved the cycle and the experience was made even better when I spotted my wife and daughter shouting from the side of the track.

Into T2 (bike to run) I absolutely nailed the dismount. The coaches would have been proud. The joy I felt was made even better when I heard my name shouted from the stands. This time it wasn’t just my family but also some fellow clubbers who raced earlier, and much faster than me. I slipped into my talcum powder filled shoes and off I went into a 5k run.

The run was everything I expected. I started with dead legs whilst they adjust from cycling to running and then, knowing that I worked hard on the bike, that I would be running on tired legs. The run concluded in a ‘blue carpet’ finish. I felt like a pro running into a podium place (I wish).

Overall the day was excellent. The course, the same one used for the European Championships, was amazing and I learnt so much about myself and the sport. I learnt that:

  • No matter how difficult it feels, if I try hard, I can succeed.
  • Being tired is no reason to stop.
  • In the race of life, look for those friendly faces in the crowd. It will give you a boost of energy knowing that someone is there for you.

Now to start planning for the next one.

A huge thanks again to everyone who has supported me and also for the generous donations. My JustGiving page will remain open for some time should you still wish to make a donation to SiMS. The page can be found here - www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Marius-Pelser2