Race Report: The London Triathlon | Eclectic Cake: Race Report: The London Triathlon

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Race Report: The London Triathlon

WHAT:  Sprint triathlon, 750m swim-20k cycle-5k run
WHERE:  ExCel, London
WHEN:  2-3rd August 2014

Training helps prepare your body for whatever ridiculous event you want to put it through. It will make your legs stronger, your lungs fuller and your mind tougher. So it comes as absolutely no surprise that I found my biggest sprint triathlon, the London Triathlon, pretty tough after having done absolutely no swim or cycle training since my last triathlon in June.

One minute I was happily bobbing around and peeing in my wetsuit*, the next I was in a chaos of splashing swimmers all fighting for space. Just the sound of the start whistle was enough to fill me with panic, I wasn't ready! But my options were limited: 1) Stay still, be battered by a herd of front crawlers and die in the Thames, the same way a distant ancestor went (although it's likely his triathlon was less swim–bike–run, more beer–wine–whisky, which was rapidly sounding more appealing). Or 2) stop stalling, accept I'm underprepared and attempt to do this thing. After receiving an accidental punch in the side and one on my leg, I decided to splash forwards.

Once the fastest swimmers had cleared the group, space opened up and I only had myself to fight with. My arms were tired and my breathing heavy but I wrestled with them until they finally submitted. We were working together, keeping a rhythm, just a slightly slower one than if we'd practiced.

I slung myself out of the water and into what felt like the longest transition route I've ever seen. Already exhausted, I was now faced with the thing I find hardest of all – the thing that's easily forgotten, that is quickly "rescheduled" if something more appealing comes up, the thing I should be doing more to improve. Armed with the mantra "it will only be over after you start", I grabbed my handlebars and rolled onto the bike course.

Whoever told me the course was flat is a lier! I tried all the gears and still my legs argued with me. Judging from the number of people that whizzed by – from TT bikes to mountain bikes – the course was still a quick one. I just wish I could have enjoyed some of their speed but I did my best to be positive – keep a "can do" attitude – and for one whole lap I was. Then I passed the sign reminding me I had to do it all over again. WAH! 

It was easy to see where to rack my bike in transition, it was pretty much the only space left, everyone was already running. That was the one thing I had been practising and for almost the first time in over an hour, I began to overtake people and was actually glad to see a bit of an incline. Even more glad to see the finishers' ramp of glory – everyone who crossed the line was celebrated with a lit podium under the arch and a name check from the commentator.

In those 15 milliseconds of fame, I realised just what a difference a bit of positive thinking makes...and stubbornness to not give in. 

*Don't judge me until you've tried dashing for a last-minute wee whilst wearing a trisuit and wetsuit!

Thank you to Drink Positiv for the race place and post-race hydration.

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