Community > Melinda Atkinson
I didn't start here, a GBR Age Group triathlete, it still sounds like it's not me! I have never exercised, never been a 'sporty person' or even made a school sports team. I began my journey as a slightly chubby post baby mummy joining the gym of Sequoia at The Grove in order to return to the old me. It was here I met Mark, an instructor trying to research the benefits of weight training for women. He needed a guinea pig & I needed a focus, it worked for us both. I'm still very much into my strength & conditioning work today.
A few years into my life at Sequoia my best friend and training partner went off to cycle in China. I had done some of the training with her but felt unfulfilled when she left as I had no goal. So, as she was not a swimmer I signed us both up for a triathlon involving kayaking, mountain biking and running; I sent her a message saying "I'm buying running trainers so we can learn to run". Sounds ridiculous but I was not a runner, nor a kayaker! We bought a kayak and had many a laugh throwing it into the canal just off the Grove golf fairways & paddled the waterways of Watford-Hemel. The Grove's fitness co-ordinator, Sophie, got us both running in no time and some months later we went on to win that triathlon being the first female team back.
I kept up with my cycling, buying a road bike and discovering a true passion. I rode Belgium to London for the charity Right to Play, then a ride from Hemel to Paris and many other bike sportives in between.
In November 2012 when out one night with friends I found myself agreeing to sign up for a half ironman. Little did I know the only bigger mistake I could have made was to sign up for a full ironman - you see I had not done a triathlon before. After a long winter of training with no real idea of what I was doing, overcoming the injuries and mental challenges faced after being a victim of an attack whilst out running, and fighting through the negative critics who thought I'd bitten off more than I could chew, I rocked up to the start line in Majorca May 2013 a complete novice ready to have a go at my first ever triathlon. Success! I managed to get round in 5:56hrs far better than I'd hoped.
In the months after my half ironman I picked up a Coach to guide me properly and provide more structure to my training. Roland Kemp, a freelance British Triathlon coach and spin instructor at The Grove, was the man. Since then I have trained hard, competed in a few more triathlons and duathlons of various distances and attained a new PB at half ironman distance of 5:09hrs. I also found myself being selected for the GBR team in my age group for the European Championships in October 2014, a year earlier than I had been secretly planning. Finally picked for a sport team age 39years!
More recently I have completed the Etape du Tour. Of the 11000 who started this section of the Tour de France route I was one of only 280 women who finished out of the 8453 finishers. I will be riding the Prudential Ride 100 London-Surrey on 12 August and then compete in another three triathlons to round off the month before heading into the lead up to the European Championships.
It's been quite a journey so far and I must thank EJ Physio for keeping me injury free with regular massages, acupuncture & physio and for their continuing support.