Miriam Simmons Athlete Ambassador
Miriam didn't get into sport until later in life but has since completed some amazing challenges. She talks to Sundried about life as a triathlete.
Have you always been into sport?
I only really started getting into sport after my divorce. I was in my 40s, I noticed I was unfit and putting on weight. I didn't like either so I decided to do something about it!
How did you first get into triathlon?
I had heard of a local triathlon club, MedwayTri, which welcomed anyone at any stage of fitness and any age. As it covers three sports I enjoyed, I decided to give it a go. I had to seriously tackle my front crawl swimming technique and sometimes this was tough as I seemed always to be the slowest. I have never really been a strong swimmer, especially with front crawl. However, I found in triathlon I could make up the slow swim times on the bike and run part which was very rewarding!
What's been your favourite race to date and why?
My favourite race to date was the Windsor Triathlon, as I did it in memory of my father who died of dementia. I was brought up nearby and my father also taught maths at Windsor Boys school and was well loved, so Windsor is very special to me.
My mother and friends came to watch and cheer me on; it was the first race she had supported me at since school! The cycling part was quite emotional for me as it brought back many familiar family memories, covering many places I had grown up in. I did shed a tear or two. When I completed the race by the magnificent Windsor Castle, it was so euphoric and felt amazing. I also managed to raise some money for The Dementia Charity too.
And your proudest achievement?
I think my proudest achievement to date is completing Man vs Mountain Rat Race 2016 in Snowdonia, Wales. It's a 22-mile run over the mountain with land and water obstacles thrown in. Jumping from height into a freezing quarry was one, then carrying on to another obstacle and so on. This time I raised money for a local Hospice, where a close friend of mine had been lovingly cared for during his last few days. I was completely knackered after this race, but my friendly team kept me going throughout with support and welcome humour, which is much needed going up a mountain in the rain with 60mph winds!
Have you ever had any racing disasters?
I was cycling with my local club one weekend when one of the guys overtook me on a descent, so I decided to try and catch him up! I didn't know the hill, the others shouted out to be careful, but I didn't hear as I was in 'chase' mode. I crashed into a fence at 35mph on a sharp, wet bend on a busy road. I luckily had time to pick between a brick wall or wooden fence to stop me as my brakes were only making my bike wobble. I knew the fence was softer and safer as the brick wall was closer to the road and would have thrown me into the line of traffic.
I head a crack, and thought 'there goes my carbon bike frame', but it turns out, the crack was my scapula and my collar bone! I had crashed at an accident black spot, or so the ambulance crew told me.
After this accident (my greatest sporting setback), I turned to yoga as this was gentle and allowed me to get fit again carefully. My yoga teacher also pointed out that the shoulder injury had caused misalignment in my body, which I have subsequently slowly corrected. Yoga helped me mentally and physically regain my sporting confidence and I think it really complements my sporty life.
What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started out?
Before starting triathlons, I wish someone had introduced me to yoga for the stretching and calming qualities it has. Some other advice I wish I had been given:
- Relax more in all the stages of a race
- Everyone is nervous
- Do the best you can with your own abilities
- It's your race, no one else's
What are your goals?
My only goal is to get fitter with age and respect my body and mind. I'm not that competitive so it's not about winning, but I want to challenge myself. I'd like to cycle abroad in far-off places such as Cambodia and further afield and maybe across the continent; always raising money for a given cause is a must!
I feel I am an ordinary woman who likes to challenge herself, not grow old and boring! We all have choices and I choose to be an inspiration to all women in their 50s!
Who inspires you?
I love reading about 'ordinary folk' doing extraordinary things, like Danny Bent and Joshua Skeets (who is local to me).
Why work with Sundried?
I love the brand as it's British and considers the environment and the impact we have on it. I love the fact some of the gear is made from coffee grounds! Very clever.