Being part of the Science in Sports Ambassador team has nothing but perks! As well as getting a steady supply of what i feel is the best training supplements and support i also get from time to time get offered race entries.
When i found out the SiS were the nutritional provider for the London Triathlon weekend and i had been given the chance to enter, how could I say no. I was told i could choose whatever race i wanted so i spent some time looking through the options and then it appeared!
Up until now my journey into triathlon had stuck safely in sprint distances but it felt a long way to go to do a sprint regardless of how iconic it was! Also once i began to look through race routes and more event information i realised that due to the venue the sprints were a multiple lap affair around the Excel Centre but the Olympic Distance race on the Sunday saw closed roads to Big Ben and back. That was it, decision made! Just the small point of stepping up to a 1500m swim, 40km bike and 10km run!
With a new found focus training started well. My running mojo hadn’t still fully returned but using the Exeter University Pool gave my swim training a new lease of life and ride outs in good weather with my friend @Itsbeef helped build confidence each week.
Training went well and times came down distances grew and i was beginning to feel ready for a new challenge. Timing could not have been better. London Tri fell on the weekend after school had broken up allowing no pressure of returning to work after but a long holiday! I had offered to help team SiS with promotion and general duties on the Saturday before my race on Sunday.
So a quick jaunt up on the Friday to mums and then a journey around the M25 to the Excel centre. I had found an airBnB literally a stones throw from the excel. My host was amazing, not only was there free parking, she was more than happy for my bake to come inside and happy for me to check out after i’d raced and had a shower! Win, Win!!
So a brief walk over the pedestrian foot bridge over to the Excel allowed me to see the swim course. The water looked a little green but with lots of space it was a 1 lap swim which i was much happier (Don’t like lap races). I stop and watched the TriStars racing as a wave had just set off and was shocked at the speed! I’m sure there were a few future world athletes in the dock.
Walking down the longest corridor in Europe i was fully immersed in all things Tri. Surrounded by expensive bikes, athletes of all shapes and sizes and lots of lycra! It wasn’t until i turned the corner into the main hall the sheer size of the event hit home! With part of the run lap inside the hall adding to the atmosphere as well as the finish there was a great buzz in the hall. Moving through the few outlets selling everything you may need, want or had forgotten trying not to dribble too much over the bikes around me i was in search of Seb and the rest of the SiS Team.
SiS were giving out gels on the course, Whey20’s at the finish but also had a small stand giving away gels to the competitors as they entered transition! Now transition was nothing like i had ever seen in a race! Transition must have spanned the size of 2 possibly 3 football pitch’s. Space for everyone racing in the waves of the day to rack and get ready. The officials were being their usual organised and officious selves which made entry and exit from transition smooth and fairly quick through the checks.
It was great to be there on the Saturday and get a feel for the event. This is by far the biggest Triathlon possibly event I’ve done. Watching those who have done many Tri’s as well as those first timers milling about as well as giving advice on race nutrition was great to take my mind off my race and my worries of the unknown!
It still does surprise me how many people turn up to an event and decide to use the supplied nutrition without ever trying it before or even worse never having used fuelling in races! Mine is always a well advised and practised routine! At least i know i can rely on SiS to be good for most regardless if they have used it before!
So as the last wave set off for the day i met up with Katerina, fellow organiser of @UKTrichat and Owner or @RaceCheck for some tea and a catch up. This was great for my nerves as it took my mind off things as well as a brief catch up with @myblondereality
After seeing Katerina back to the tube i headed back to my AirBnB. It was empty and quiet so a quick brew and a chance to prep things for the early start before a good night sleep……………………………….. Sadly the neighbours had other ideas. As a 30th birthday party got into full swing i saw every hour pass until it died down around 3am! my alarm was set for 6!
So even with little sleep like most i woke before the alarm, sprung out of bed to begin my pre race ritual. Porridge, SiS Go Hydro and the constant checking of kit. I was lucky to be testing some new kit out for this race too. i had the new Aqua Sphere Kayenne Goggles, Garmin Forerunner 935 on my arm, a Fab new Pearl Izumi Sleeved Tri Suit and of course the amazing Ridley Fenix SL. So with kit on Charlie Mcleod sports cloak on to keep me warm i headed over the bridge to rack my kit.
I had registered and picked up m chip the day before so it was very smooth. The hall was quieter than the day before due to the time. The races had not begun so it was a mood of preparation and nerves. I did the helmet checks and then headed into transition. Now even though it was quiet i managed to miss read the signs and racked my bike in the area for the wave before mine. I choose not to move it as i’d set my kit up!
Kit laid out, checked, checked again and AGAIN i walk the transitions from swim to bike, bike to run. The reason i didn’t want to move was partly because i had a good spot in the long transitions which was easy to spot.
So with wetsuit half on, goggles in hand i headed out of transition to wait for my wave start. I met up wit a few other people racing with SiS and we chatted through our expectations and experiences. Going into the unknown i had a hope to get under 3hrs but was unsure about what to expect so finishing was the focus!
As we entered the holding pen we were handed our swim caps. The wave was split into 2 due to the numbers, we would enter the water just after the first group but it still was a busy pen! The compare went through the safety briefing and got us ready before i downed my SiS Caffeine shot and headed down the stairs to dockside. Goggles on, Cap over the top i jumped into the water and decided to swim over to the inner side of the course.
The course was a large rectangle and we would travel around it in a clockwise direction. The inner rope was further from the pontoon which made it quieter. This decision paid off as throughout the swim i was never run over and although catching the other half of the wave in front of me it was fairly smooth. Far from my fears of how it could have gone.
So final turn taken and i headed for the pontoon, a quick scrabble out a push of the button on my 935 and i was heading up the dockside to transition. We had to remove our wetsuit and put it in a bag before heading UP the stairs to the main hall before running about 300m to our racks. My decision to not moved my bike was good as the bikes around me had gone making it easier to get sorted.
Helmet on, number on, bike unracked and i was off to the mount line. As i crossed the line i jumped on my bike glided down the ramp while fiddling with my shoes and i was off!! This was the bit i was most looking forward too! We headed out over a few flyovers before heading through a few tunnels before we settled onto the road running into Westminster. I was feeling good, it felt fast but i didn’t want to look at my watch so jut kept plugging on.
It was hard at times to keep up the cadence and speed as i forgot i was racing and was enjoying the view. Tower of London passed, London Eye and then i began to make out the turn point at Big Ben. There were good numbers out on the course cheering you on making it even better! I made the turn point and headed back to the excel. The est of the ride seemed to go fairly quickly. With focusing on taking on Fluid and trying to pick off riders i was soon at the turn around point for the smaller lap. Taking on my gel ready for the run i have about 3 km left of the bike.
Transition for the bike was easy. Dismount and then racking was about 200m away. I had a bit of a fight with my trainer and then my race check visor went on and i was off. I was trying to do the maths in my head of the times but couldn’t work it out so just decided to go as fast as i could and see what had happened at the end.
The run course was 3 loops along the dockside and then inside the Excel and out again. The run course was fairly busy and felt like the start of a half marathon at times and i spend a fair bit of lap 1 weaving in and out. On each lap you had a little horrible ramp up of about 30m to head into the excel and then we snaked about inside being cheered on by the crowds before heading out again. It was a warm day and i found the air hard to take in when doing the inside part and was happy to get back outside!
Lap 1 went, lap 2 went and i saw the time. My wave had started at 8:35 ish and it was 10:40 something i was going to be well inside 3hrs! Maybe even close to 2:30!! It spurred me on for the last lap. My legs were tired, i was hot, the course seemed to get busier but i plugged on! Turn point tick, metal path, tick, Spectator gantry, tick and oh the ramp!! I made it back inside for the lat time. Crowds had got busier as the race had gone on and the atmosphere inside was great i turned the last corner and followed the ‘Finish’ signs and ran up the last straight trying to up the pace (I’m sure it hadn’t in real life!) i heard the commentator call my name as i got to the final 20m. I crossed the line and stopped my 935. I had completed my first ever Olympic distance Triathlon!!
Now what was my time????? I was given my medal, a bottle of water and i headed off to look at the screens to see my time!
2:34:42!! i was chuffed! not only sub 3 but nearly Sub 2:30!! I was pleased wit a sub 50 10km to finish but know that i can work on my time on the bike and swim to find the extra speed i need to shave 4 mins 42 and of course sort my Transitions out! I had done it! i staggered through to the recovery zone. Grabbed a few Whey20’s and headed back to get my kit!
I was so happy to finish in 1 piece as well as finish with the time i got. My legs felt sore but i already began to unpick the race and look at where i could have found 4 minutes. After downing a quick Rego at the SiS stand i headed back in to grab my kit from transition. It still hadn’t sunk in but i had stepped up to Olympic after only 2 sprint races.
So would i do London again…….. Yes the atmosphere was great, the Westminster course was amazing and even though the water looked green, visibility wasn’t great, it didn’t taste too bad! I’m not sure if i would have done the lap races but the iconic Westminster route is a must for triathletes.
So after getting my kit together i hung around to watch the elites make it look far easier than i did before heading back for a shower, pack the car and begin the journey back t sunny Devon.
The Journey home is long enough to get you thinking…….. What next? Do i go 70.3? Do i try for London Marathon again? what is my next challenge? Luckily i haven’t answered that question yet but i have a few ideas so watch this space!!
Happy racing! 😉