The last 8 weeks have been insane – hence no blogging. I’ve been up and down the country, done a few tris, looked after some piglets for a weekend and we’ve started the puppy off with his training to become a water rescue dog – look out for him in the safety boat at a triathlon near you soon! To round up my training and triathlon doings, I’m going to write a few posts over the coming days (fingers crossed I don’t get distracted and trail off mid-seri…).
For some reason, I’ve chosen to start with the London Tri, even though it’s one of the more recent races. Sod doing things in chronological order.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I won a place in the Olympic + distance race at the London Triathlon. It turned out the race was the day after a BBQ we’d been invited to months and months ago – this meant driving from ‘oop north (near Manchester) to London the night before the race. As could be expected, we stayed far too long and didn’t leave the BBQ until gone 6pm. This meant we arrived in London near midnight and my pre-race nutrition consisted of a cheese and onion sandwich and some MaccyD’s chips at Watford Gap. Healthy. We crashed out in the Hotel Ibis for all of 5 hours, then it was time to race!
The London Tri is the biggest triathlon in the world, with 16 000 competitors over two days taking to the streets around the ExCel centre. The ExCel itself is essentially a massive, empty, hangar-like space located in London’s Docklands, making it a perfect venue for a large scale triathlon.
The swim was in the Royal Victoria Dock at the back of the ExCel, which as you would expect is full of lurrrrvely Thames water. I’m not going to lie, this is some of the most disgusting water I’ve ever had the privilege to swim in – it was brown, it stank and when actually swimming you couldn’t see further than your elbow. My wave set off at 6:30 am, along with some of the standard distance competitors. It was crowded, and some of the competitors were not enjoying the swim. I stopped to ask a guy if he was OK (he was struggling) – his response was “No! I’ve never done this before!”, to which I (essentially) replied “Put your goggles back on, take a deep breath and get a grip on yourself!”; though I think I phrased it more kindly at the time. Anyway, I cracked on and once I found myself a good bit of space I got into my rhythm and actually enjoyed the swim. I was also grateful of the little shower on the way back into transition – I felt a lot less minging after that!
The run into transition was hilariously long, and for some reason we had to run around all the empty racking left by Saturday’s competitors – perhaps the organisers could have opened up a channel through it? Anyway – I was lucky enough to be on the Westminster route for the race – meaning I got to cycle from the ExCel to the Houses of Parliament and back. On closed roads. In beautiful sunshine. In the middle of London. That might have been worth the £120-something entry fee alone (had I paid it!). The course itself was interesting, not too flat, not too hilly with tunnels to keep it interesting. The long tunnel (not sure of the name – anyone know?) featured a sweeping downhill, where I’m sure I saw my speedo hit 58kph. Exhilarating stuff. The cycle consisted of 3 laps so I got to do this 3 times. I also had to do the climb out of this tunnel 3 times, which proved quite draining by lap 3 – which showed in my times. I was over 9 minutes slower on the third lap, compared to the first. I’d like to say this was strategy and I was taking it easy. I was taking it easy, but only because I was bloody knackered. All in all, a fantastic ride though.
The run was a little less inspiring scenery-wise, being 4 laps around the Docklands area at the back of the ExCel. It was, however, jam packed with spectators by the time I got there, which was brilliant. There had even been a gantry erected across the run course so that people could cross – but it was mostly being used in order to get a better view! I walked through the aid stations to make sure I took on as much water as I needed as it was very warm, though I wish I hadn’t now as I finished the run in 1:02:23 – I’d have been under an hour if I hadn’t been fannying about. I also got to run with (read: slowly behind) some of the pro women and junior elites – Jodie Stimpson was absolutely ripping it up, and Sky Draper was charging too. She looks so graceful when she runs, like she’s floating along on a little cloud. This makes me very jealous – I’ve mentioned my crazy arm thing in previous posts.
I finished in 5:18:53 – not too shabby. I had a great day (aside from paying £15 to park the bloody car) – thanks Wiggle – though I’m not sure I’d pay to do this event again. Mainly due to the horrendous water, but also due to the size of the event. It was so big it felt a little soulless – I think a lot of the first timers may have felt intimidated by the imposing size of the venue (I know I would have, but I am a wuss) and there wasn’t as much chattiness in transition before the race as there tends to be at smaller events. That and it is bloody expensive. £125 for the Oly+ is steep, as is £87 for the standard Oly. And you don’t even get a t shirt for that!