My ‘A’ race for this year was the London Triathlon, the world’s largest triathlon held in and around the Excel Center in London’s docklands. The event takes place over two days with multiple waves of differing distances. This year I entered the sprint distance (750m swim in the Victoria Dock, two loops totaling 20km on the bike course and two loops to make up a 5km run).
I had a bit of a surprise several weeks ago when I received my start time of 4:30pm. I’m much more used to early morning race starts so I knew it would be quite a different experience.
Looking back over my training diary I have had a steady 8 week block of 3 – 4 sessions a week, focusing on high intensity bike intervals with a BRICK run, an open water swim session and a longer run / sprints. I had a big boost getting a PB in a 10k race and was feeling confident going into this race.
On the day we drove down in the morning and had plenty of time to register and watch some of the other waves go off. It was a lovely sunny day with a large crowd cheering everyone on.
Our wave assembled in the main hall before walking down the stairs and out onto the pontoon before jumping into the water. It was a snug 19 degrees but bright sun light skimming off the surface. I made my way to the start buoys but found myself rather nearer the front of the pack then I would have wanted. When the hooter went off it was go go, but I soon found myself in the melee of feet and arms which made it very difficult to get into a rhythm.
After the first turn I decided to get out wide and get some clear water to get into my stroke. What I didn’t realise was just quite how wide I had gone!
I came in from the swim in 17 minutes, a good minute or so quicker then my last open water sprint though not quite as fast as I would have liked.
In the London Triathlon you get given a giant plastic bag to put your wet suit in before you enter the transition area so it’s a mad scramble to get unzipped and slide your suit off. This all worked easily for me and the short jog back to where my bike was racked got my legs going.
There was a bit of wind out there and plenty of other riders to get in the way / overtake but straight away I felt strong and started pushing. I finally got to use my aero bars on some of the long straights which made a huge difference. After two laps I came in at 43 minutes which was a PB for me over that distance so I was very chuffed. I was trying hard to take on fluids during the ride but I was very hot and I felt like I was always trying to catch up.
I managed to undo my shoe straps for a good dismount and had a quick rack, got my charity vest on and trainers and headed off for the start of the run course.
I knew this wasn’t going to be a super-fast time, my legs felt very heavy from the bike and I was feeling very hot. Instead of trying to blast it I decided to enjoy the two laps with a large crowd and lots of other runners around.
In the end I completed the run leg in 29 minutes, way off my target pace but I made sure I crossed the line with a big smile! I was racing to raise money for The Stroke Association and managed to raise over £500.
I’ve got two more races left this season and I’ll be focusing on improving my run time off the bike. My bike intervals seem to be paying off and the swim training continues to improve. All-in-all, I’d definitely do the London Triathlon again, it’s a great event for participants and spectators.