It was the biggest triathlon in the world – 13 000 people descended on London’s Excel near the Docklands for a swim, bike and run on the 7th and 8th August 2010. I won a place thanks to Runners World (or was that Triathletes World?) website, along with my Ironman Sleek 150 touch screen watch (worth £79.99 you know).
Getting the bike down to London was actually harder work than the Triathlon itself, even the bike had to show it’s ticket. Bike-Train-Escalators-Steps-London traffic-London-Buslane-watch out pedestrians here I come. I had forgot how busy London was. But no hills? Where are the hills?
If God invented marathons to keep people from doing anything more stupid, triathlon must have taken Him completely by surprise – P. Z. Pearce
I was down for the sprint – my first sprint – 750m swim, 20k bike and 5k run. Only small in comparison to an Ironman but I had only done one mini triathlon before so this was a huge challenge for me. Arriving at Excel via the Woolwich Ferry provided an experience in itself, free to take us from South to North. We like free.
My first major panic was that I had forgotten my ID, Was I to race? Thank goodness for technology and a bank card. I am in! Yeah! The event was taking place as people milled round Excel, bike racks, bikes, bike racks and runners everywhere. Lots of “bike in”, “run out”, “swim in”, “swim out” – wow this looked a little too complicated for my liking -was I about to take Math’s A level or a degree in Physical Education?
First was to rack the bike. This is like a wine rack apart from the bikes are the wine and no one is drunk. A free green water bottle and drink were handed out to competitors entering the bike rack area. But no water? I needed water, h20 – to mix a bit of an energy drink for my cycle. Supporting £1.30 for a small bottle of water was not my idea of satisfaction. And they say don’t get dehydrated. Rubbish.
Bike Racked, Toilet stop, energy thingies had, ready steady, get that wet suit on. Wet suit on, googles at the ready, google goggles on Android. Geeking already.
The swim was about to commence as 400 or so females mounted the “swim in” area supporting bright pink “London Triathlon swim caps”. This is just a state of mind nothing else. After the swim brief we were channeled to the waters’ edge. I wasn’t sure were to position myself being a fairly strong swimmer. As one of the first in the water I got second in line or as much in line as swimmers can make in water but never underestimate the power of stupid people in large group as some people began to try to swim beyond the canoes which were trying to keep us behind an invisible start line.
And the gun went as we splashed and fought our way through the water and pink swim caps, at one point within the first 25 metres I got whacked but soon got pace and escaped the weaker swimmers, placing myself behind a couple of other girls using the technique of drafting which is perfectly legal in swimming and helps maintain energy as the front swimmer does all the hard work – gottya!
Triathlons are 90% mental and the other half physical
– paraphrasing Yoggi Berra
750m later we were given a helping hand out of the slippery water. I felt ok, the sun was still shining although I knew that my next challenge would be tough – getting my wetsuit off. Some of the weaker swimmers even beat me in doing this, but this was only my second triathlon. Once the wet suit was off I grabbed my complementary drink and ran through transition towards my bike. Helmet on, cycles shoes on, water bottle all ready, phone with speedometer all ready and off I got out of “bike out” and round the roads of Excel twice.
Pain is nothing compared to what it feels like to quit
Why was I the only one without a racing bike or a tri bike? Me and my little hybrid cycled away although I was aware of its chuggyness compared to the sleek racing bikes that overtook me. Yet I did over take some people on mountain bikes and up the slopes even overtook a couple of girls on their racers – so nerr nerr nee nerr nerr to racing bikes. I took in half a sneaky gel on the first half and the other half on the second half – something of two halves? A bit sticky but it gave me an extra boost especially as the wind had picked up and the rain had began to pour down. It was drier in the water than on the bike.
End of bike, jumped off – ran back into transition even with cycle shoes on – nearly slipped kept running, kept slipping – running in my dreams? Nope this was reality. Mad reality but really it’s simple but its not easy – done the swim, done the bike now for the 5k run – 5.4k as I found out afterwards.
Triathlon, from the outside looking in you can’t understand it, and from the inside looking out you can’t explain it
I felt comfortable as I approached the first lap, Oxygen is overrated anyway even though I overtook most people on my first lap. “Well done keep going” I heard someone shout at me, “why thank you” answered back two girls who were walking that I had just overtook. A race is an exercise in leaving others behind.
The end of the first lap and a little slope, only I found it a non struggle as I strode up in true Sheffield hilly style and into Excel (missing out Word and Power-point but finding Access) and back out for my second lap. I was lapping this up as I overtook even more runners and spotted a good benchmark person in front of me supporting a tri-suit, this one I am going to catch, my demon head told me, and my demon head was right as we both ran near on 2km together until I sped in in front up the ramp again and back into Excel and round and round to finish my first ever Sprint Triathlon in 1 hr 32 minutes.
Total Time: 1.32.04
Swim Time: 15.02
Transition 1: 4.43
Transition 2: 3.32
Category / Gender Position: 53 (out of 607)