A few years ago I was employed as a police constable in the training unit at Gypsy Hill police station in Lambeth. My job was to ensure that all 900 or so cops working on Lambeth borough received mandatory training required to carry out their job.
The bread and butter of the role was to deliver first aid and officer safety training. I also carried responsibility for delivering other training as and when required by the Metropolitan Police Service. A new procedure perhaps or revamped form that required training input to ensure consistency of completion.
A little while after I’d been at Gypsy, we were summoned to the central training unit in Victoria for two days worth of a ‘Train the Trainer’ package around a new initiative called ‘Every Child Matters’. From it we were expected to deliver a mandatory day long training package for all officers on the borough.
Essentially, it was a day long training package on Domestic Abuse. Subtitled ‘murder prevention’ it embraced police attitude towards dealing with domestic abuse calls. To the delight of all, it also introduced a new form required for completion at all domestics, the 124D.
Once again you were probably expecting another race report from Outlaw and once again I expect you are reading this wondering how on earth this relates in any way to Ironman.
Bear with me (although the link is tenuous I grant you).
With the package written for delivery on borough and dates scheduled for training we started to deliver. Although I had a co-trainer (who was a trainer counsellor working in local refuges) it was a long slog. The training tackled various attitudes in the class towards domestic abuse and discussed common misunderstandings and assumptions.
Statistically, you are likely to have at least one victim in ever four (men and women) and at least one perpetrator in every four (remember the abuse does not have to consitute violent behaviour). So, possibly four perpetrators and four victims (not counting friends and family of victims) per class. It was like opening Pandoras Box every day with no time or real training to put it all back together again at the end of the day. At sixteen to a class, nine hundred is a lot of classes.
Once home each evening, I drank a lot of wine.
Anyway, half way through we were getting reasonably good at it. We could anticipate questions, identify potential trouble makers and stem them off mid flow. We lead the classes through the minefield each day and drank lots each night.
We were getting pretty comfortable with each day until one particular day. We had a full class, sixteen seats filled with a multitude of attitudes and experience. We were discussing the possible reasons why pregnancy is an accelerating factor within domestic abuse. Often triggering a move from ‘abuse’ to ‘violence’. A male PC brought up hormones, shared an experience about how moody his wife was during pregnancy, another male PC concurred with the sentiment. A gentle murmur of approval echoed round the room. A WPC shared her moodswing experience, another pipped in with how she turned into the bitch from hell when on her period and received a standing ovation.
Within five minutes we’d gone from reasonable discussion to baying hounds.
The counsellor and I sat there aghast in stunned silence before, in disgust, I lost my temper and sent them all out to think about what had just happened.
To this day, I will never know what happened in that class. What I do know though is I had witnessed the power of group dynamics under a charismatic leader. And I learned that women generally don’t come out of domestic situations well.
That lesson popped into my head as I was slogging along against a tasty headwind in the southern loop of the Outlaw triathlon. The swim earlier that morning had gone reasonable well and I’d exited the water in the usual 1.50 ish.
Actually, a greater result had been avoiding the usual face plant executed by the Outlaw team employed to haul people out of the water. By the time the ‘mind the step’ had registered I was normally face first back in the lake wondering how long it was going to take me to learn.
The answer is clearly about 5 years!
And this year, as I gingerly stepped over the imaginary step, I congratulated myself on side stepping that particular bomb.
Once I’d ran past G in the transition tent and got myself sorted, I found myself in front of him heading out of T1. But, I must have forgotten to pack my enthusiasm, for I found it sadly lacking once out on the bike course. I’d maintained a steady 16 mph prior to the thought detailed above. But then, once that lesson had popped up in my head, I found it increasingly difficult to maintain.
By now, thoroughly depressed and desperately wanting a cup of tea, I decided to go back to camp once I’d executed the first loop.
The process of dealing with life had left me exhausted and I had nothing to prove today. Although, many who meant a lot to me did and were out there on the course. I felt it would be worth sacking my day (I’ll come back stronger for it) and in the meantime concentrating my energies on cheering and urging them homeward. I would be better served there. So, once I reached the roundabout, I turned for home feeling more relieved than sad.
It was the right decision to make.
I changed and wearing all of the clothes I had packed (the weather was ‘biblical’ for most of the day) enjoyed first one cup of tea and then another. I met up with Lee who gave me a hug and a chin up and spent an enjoyable couple of hours with her, before spending the rest of the day watch someone achieve the incredible out of something that looked impossible. Then I returned to the hotel for a well deserved hot shower, bed and a contemplation of life.