London Triathlon: The Lowdown
The London Triathlon seems like a distant memory to me now. Mainly because it's taken me two long weeks to get around to writing this post but also because it was such a big build up to an event over so quickly.
To summarise my thoughts on the tri, I would say that absolutely everyone one should do one. I felt so bored before when running, stuck in a hamster wheel of injury and putting pressure on myself to do well (why, no one else cares?), hammering through training because I 'had to' do it. Training for the tri was a breath of fresh air, getting to mix up three disciplines so there was always something I felt like doing that day. It was however, probably the hardest race I've ever done. It's hard to put my finger on what it was about it that was so hard - maybe the sheer hysteria around the event - so many people there with SO MUCH GEAR all looking like total pro's, or maybe just physically taking part in the swim which was such a big personal challenge for me. Anyway, overall I loved it. Except for the bit when my back wheel fell off my bike on the way home...
Whilst I appreciate I have nothing to compare it to, London Tri as an event was great - very well organised and easy to get to. I am biased because I live in East London (as being able to travel to an event in minutes rather than hours is such a joy) but my family came in from Bucks (love you guys!) and didn't have any issues. The event is so staggered throughout the weekend that the tubes weren't busy and the Excel is so close to the station.
Enough of the boring stuff, here's the Lowdown on my London Triathlon:
1. The swim start was as brutal as I was expecting it to be. In fact, as I was walking in, I even heard someone say "well, that was HORRIFIC!" - that really calmed my nerves...The thing was though, I was expecting it to be awful and to be surrounded by nervous hysterical people thrashing around and flailing their limbs, to get kicked in the face, feel cold etc. so it didn't take me by surprise. What did surprise me was how hard it was to start swimming at my own pace and in my own stroke, because it was so crowded. It probably took me half of the swim to get into the rhythm without people swimming over me, and even then I changed my stroke so I was just breathing on one side, mainly because I was too scared to take my eye off the finishing line. I thought I would come out last of the swim but I was easily sat in the middle of the crowd - yey me.
2. On a related point to the above, I swam much faster than I thought I would - there's nothing like a race to give you some adrenaline.
3. 'Sighting' in the swim was really not something to worry about. Concerned I was going to have some triathlon horror story by swimming 100 metres in the wrong direction or something, I religiously kept my eyes in front but there really was no need. Giant red piggies and yellow buoys highlighted the route. Plus the other hundred or so women also swimming.
4. The Thames was really not as dirty as I expected. The Serpentine felt far murkier.
5. It's easier to find your bike than you think. As you rack up in waves, there really only is one or two lines where your bike can be, so any thoughts of running around the length of the Excel looking for your wheels is something to forget about.
6. As the old saying goes, having all the gear doesn't necessarily mean people have any idea. I overtook people in the cycle who were on tri-bikes and in cleats, and I am not a strong cyclist. You also don't need all those things for your first tri.
7. It's fine to take your time in transitions. I took five minutes in T1 taking off my wetsuit, drying my feet and having something to drink.
8. If you have any form of basic fitness, the distances in a sprint triathlon are all well within your reach. Without much (or any) training, most people could complete a 5km run or a 12.5 mile bike ride, so it's really just the swim to think about. Break each distance down and they are easily doable and it's not so scary.
9. There will be one discipline which is your bread and butter and that's when you can take the time to relax - I loved the run and found it easy, grabbing gels and water and lapping up the crowds and music. No it wasn't particularly fast (25 mins) but it was enjoyable, and that's what matters.
10. The London Tri is great for spectators - your family and friends can watch all three parts without moving more than a few metres. So much easier than traipsing around London with sixty thousand other people a la the marathon.
11. Your finish time literally means nothing to most people, who won't even ask you, as they won't have a benchmark about what is 'good' - for me that was a dream. I really hate it when the first thing someone asks you after an event is what your time is - why, did you run a marathon this morning too?
12. Having said the above, there will still be some oddball that will go look up your time. There always is.
13. There are so many people doing their first tri at London Tri - as in, a third of people there! You are all in the same boat. Relax and remind yourself to enjoy it!