If you haven’t read it yet take a look at ITU London pre-race post.
I woke up before my alarm even went off. Had a coffee and a shower and then started packing my kit bag. As is hinted at by the name triathlon is basically three different sports joined together. So packing is pretty much three sets of kit — one for each of Swim, Bike and Run. With my loaded rucksack i cycled into town to the bus station and the first miss-step of the day. I checked there was space on the next bus to London for by bike and then discovered that the bus company’s credit card machine was out of order and the only nearby cash machine 1) had a long queue 2) charges a few quid for withdrawals. So i cycled up the road to a real bank’s cash machine got some caash out and went back to the bus station just in time to see the bus pull out from the stand!
As always i had given myself a fair bit of a time buffer so got a ticket and waited for the next bus. Despite the early start didn’t manage to sleep so instead caught up on a few podcasts as we travelled down the M40.
The bus stops at Marble Arch in the north-east corner of Hyde Park so all i had to do was cross the park to the race area. There were no signs at the entrance to the park which was a bit odd but I guess they figured none were needed.
As this was an ITU venue it felt a lot more ‘professional’ with grandstand seating infant of the swim area. While us amateurs don’t get to use the posh transition area we do get to race the same course.Instead of sending out your race pack you go to the registration desk and collect the envelope which contains your race numbers, a timing chip and a colour-coded swim cap. There was a few dozen people all sat next to their bikes looking at the set of stickers trying to work out where they went — there was a poster but i think most people had’t noticed it as they all seamed to have a different idea where they should go! You got three for the helmet (front and sides), one to wrap round the seat post and one for your kit bag along with main bib for the bike & run. My swim wave had white swim caps With the various stickers applied i wandered through the event expo and decided to have something to eat as there was still an hour of so before my start time. I turned down the various fluorescent green kale smoothies and other healthy options and instead opted for the nutritionally balanced goodness that is — a burger (though i should point out I didn’t have chips).
It was quite funny as there i was in my full race kit standing buy my nike in the sunshine eating a burger and you could tell some of the more serious athletes were trying to work out if it was either a post race celebration (in which case how come i didn’t look even slightly tired) or if i was indeed doing the unthinkable and having a burger before my race.
After lunch i grabbed a double espresso and headed to transition to rack my bike and layout all the kit. They give a cursory glance over the bike to ensure it is safe to race. Even when not racing whenever you are with the bike you must have your bike helmet on, and that point I got told off for not having the straps on my cycle helmet tight enough. Oops!Found a nice spot near the end of the row and laid out my kit — cycle & running shoes, socks, race number, drink bottle etc. and then milled about for a bit waiting to put on my wetsuit as it was quite warm i didn’t want to over heat. There was a mix of first timers and a few who looked like they toolkit deadly serious. I’d like to think i’m in the middle — I want to do well but not at the expense of enjoying the event. The atmosphere was really good as everyone was starting to get exited/nervous/pumped about the race. Then it was time to put on the wetsuit and head to the start…
The start was amazing — while the elites get to dive in we were told to line up along the pontoon and then lower ourselves into the water and to keep one hand on the pontoon until the start gun. There were a few daft comments about the likelihood of bumping into one of the swans or seeing fish etc. which helped to lightened the mood and the water was surprisingly nice. Then it was the 30second to go announcement. Goggles on, face in the water, OK actually colder than it first seemed but adrenalin flowing like a river through my body. and then 10 seconds. then 3–2–1– GO!!And we were off, I went for it and wow did it feel good, it seemed to take forever to get to the first buoy but i’d taken a good line and had clear water ahead so I felt i was doing well, all thoughts of bilateral breathing gone, it was a clockwise course keeping all the buoys on your left and i favour my right side so that was perfect. passed the second buoy still feeling good think that there was still a fair bit to go but could see less than a dozen swim hats infront of me. then i overtook someone, then another, then a coupe of swimmers with other coloured swim hats — they were still completing their swim from a previous wave. At the fourth buoy now and time to turn for the back straight. sun was shinning water was good i was a happy bunny.
There was a huge sculpture of a swimmer floating along side the course which looked amazing as i went by. Passed a few more people and it was time to turn again for the final leg i could see a few people ahead and tried as hard as i could one guy just got passed me as we came up the ramp out of the water. I was buzzing i knew i was pretty near the front. It turns out that i was 6th out the water in my wave, in a time of 14 minutes 30 for the 750M swim. Something i’m immensely proud of.Then it was time for a short jog to the transition and time to get out of the wetsuit put on glasses, socks, cycling shoes, gloves, number bib and cycling helmet and then wheel the bike to the mount line. Swung my leg over the cross bar clipped my right foot in and boom, i was off. Let me just say this now. I LOVE CYCLING. I may not have good pedal technique or core strength or any of the other things a decent cyclist needs by i have got passion, there is a moment of serenity when i roll forward clip in the pedals and stand up and just let rip. The closed cores was beautiful as i cycled round the edge of Hyde Park. I overtook everyone i could, a couple of guys on tri bikes with their pointy hats and aero wheels made it passed me but that was about it.
The course wasn’t quite as flat as i expected which came as a bit of a shock but that meant there were a couple of little descents which is always a bonus! There were a couple of hard-stop u-turns at either end of the course which provided a great opportunity for overtaking. There was one guy in a red tri kit who i had a really good battle with he got passed me in traffic and then i clawed my way back then on the next lap overtook only for him to make it passed again a little later. in the end it definitely made me ride faster. At the end of the third lap i came in to transition and had a brief panic that i had;t done enough laps – the entire row only had 2 bikes in it…both the 10k tri bikes with pointy hats having from the tri bars. Had I really come in third out of my wave? You bet i did! I was so happy. 39 minutes 33 seconds just 3 seconds off 2nd place and 30 in front of 4th! With that it was time ditch the bike as I swapped to my trainers and set off on the run. I made a slight error with my GPS watch as i finished the bike — instead of pressing lap/ transition button i had paused the timer. I did’t realise ’till i went ot check my pace and found it was’t running. bugger. Now i had no idea how i was doing. So i ran on feel which i am not good at and just slogged through it. I struggle to take on water while running — my throat just closes up and i end up chucking the water cups at myself rather than drinking, for the town & Gown i carried a lucazade sport bottle the whole way so i could just sip and probably should have done the same here but had’t expected the glorious sunshine! Other than that i could almost say I enjoyed the run. Annoyingly as i came towards the end of the last lap i realised i still had something left so i sprinted the final few hundred meters to the line. I even remembered to look up at the giant clock and to my amazement it said 1 h 23… and as i closed in on the line i felt a massive sigh of relief — so yeah i didn’t run as well as i potentially could have done but i beat my target by around 7 minutes — final chip time was recorded as 1h23m11 seconds. Thanks for reading and whatever activities you do, remember to have fun!