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TriHardAlan - Tales of an Age Grouper
TriHardAlan - Tales of an Age Grouper

London Triathlon - Race Report

TriHardAlanby TriHardAlanAug 5th 2014
It’s considered a bit of a Marmite event this one so thought I would give my take on things for those that haven’t done it before.

For me it was a case of going back to where it all began back in 2008 with a hired wetsuit and a MTB and a DNF with a puncture. But it didn’t put me of and I was back the next year on my first road bike (which I still commute and train on) thinking I knew what I was doing and with a 34 min swim, 1.12 bike and a 37 min run clocked a 2.35.01, loving every second and vowed to come back and go sub 2.30. Fast forward to this year and having a bit of a gap year and racing just for fun thought it was time to go back and despite going sub 2.15 last year I was still a little excited to be in the sub 2.30 wave. It kind of felt like playing in the big playground for the first time.

In the build up, well, it wasn’t really a build up. When I entered I did think this would probably be a big occasion for me but having clocked a 2.09.52 at Dorney two weeks ago including a 1.01 bike leg it now feels, correctly or not, my seasons work is done, it can’t get any better now. I normally guard against confidence, let alone over confidence, as that’s when it falls apart for me but decided to roll with it and felt almost complacent about doing well and didn’t really bother with any kind of rest or preparation.

On the day I decided to drive round the North Circular and approach from the east and left plenty of time to get stuck in traffic and car parking queues, but there was neither. The car park is now in one of the halls and is very slick with plenty of space. One thing to beware, they had “£15 all days parking” signs displayed and some people paid this but no one was collecting the tickets so I didn’t bother. Arrived at registration to pick up my timing chip at 6.30, for a 9.10 start. Little early maybe. After a bit of chat to various people, checking out the swim start, transition exits/entries etc made may way over to the swim assembly area……

Just before the gun went I realized my Garmin already had 4 mins and running on it, ooops. Time to reset, no, hooter went! Oh well, not to worry, head down and of we go. At this point I was back to the big playground thing, the big kids play rough. In theory there are a lot of people around the same ability, I had company all the way round. And not all of it was pleasant. At one point the guy on the right hit me on the back of the head five strokes on the trot! Was that not annoying him, cant be doing much for his catch! Pushed him away in the end. More people zig zagging cutting across me as I concentrated on swimming straight, and did. And the field never really panned out. It was also, despite not being tidal, far choppier on the way back. The first girl from the Female sub 2.40 wave, who had set of 3 minutes later, went pass me and I tried to catch a draft. That didn’t last long. So it was back to the business of getting my feet tickled and avoiding elbows and fists. Took the last turn, kicked for the last 50m or so and exited up the ramp to take wetsuit of and in the bag provided before you go up the still wet and treacherous steps to the transition hall. I am told the swim is long and I am hoping it is, 27.27.

Its big! As I said the wetsuit is already of before you enter the hall so it’s a matter of sprinting all the way round to your bike. Being first to arrive in the morning I bagged a spot as close as possible to bike exit. Out in 3.25.

After Dorney this was the bit I was most looking forward to. On current form my bike is stronger than my run, and I was enjoying that. On closed roads tearing up that Embankment at 40+ kph appealed. After a twisty turny technical start out of the center I settled down and not for the first time recently the cornering felt a little rough on the bike (more on that later) but that doesn’t affect straight line speed so time to buckle up and put the hammer down. Except it wasn’t going down quite as far as I would have liked. Combination of a head cross wind and the undulations of the flyovers meant I wasn’t hitting the k splits I had imagined. But it was great fun, especially going through the tunnels. Sound childish? Probably. Especially as I was thinking about the scene in Fast & Furious 6 as I did so :D And nobody was going past me at this point. After the turn around at Westminster I was hoping for a big increase in speed, but only got a minor one. Was topping 40 kph now on the flat bits at least and still chasing people down. One guy went past, we swapped positions a couple of times but he eventually dropped me and I wasn’t prepared to push any harder to pursue him. After passing the Excel center turned and passed again for much of the same but this time turning at Billingsgate for a shorter lap 2. Back up the ramp to transition, smooth dismount and ran back in to the hall. Not sure how short the bike leg is as you lose your Garmin signal in the tunnels but definitely not 40k so hard to say how well I did with a 1.01.17.

It’s not quite so round the houses as T1 as you can take a direct path to your spot but is still a fair old trot. All went smoothly enough though and I used the long trot out to pick up some speed and get the run muscles working, out in 2.12

3 lap course, quite twisty turny and each lap includes the run up the ramp to and in to the hall. So again you lose your signal so again I am unsure how short the course is. But its huge fun. The crowds were great and it’s never easy to run at that intensity in a Triathlon so lovely to get some encouragement form some fellow Thames Turbo's out on the course. Didn’t feel I was running my best but was cutting through the field and enjoying the weaving in and out of people where the course narrows. Had what I think was a couple of elite juniors for company for a little while but dropped them and on lap 2 passed the guy who had overtaken me on the bike. Saw somebody who I had been chatting to before hand and is a regular high finisher in the Thames Turbo races blast past me and tried briefly to stay with him but realizing he was on a different lap thought better of it and settled back in to my own rhythm. On the last lap I picked out one last guy to target to keep me honest and up the ramp for the last time and round the last couple of bends in the hall passed him but he out sprinted me to the line. Time, 36.39.

Total: 2.10.58

The stats:
Out of 416 people in the 45-49 Age Group I had the 39th quickest swim, 15th T1, 11th bike, 11th T2 and 4th run. As the race progressed I moved from 39th in the swim, to 34th out of T1, to 15th after the bike, to 11th after T2 and to finish in 5th.

Overall, 5th in AG at an event of this size is a decent result. I don’t think I was at my best and the only thing to definitely conclude is that some more work on my swim is required, it’s still simply not good enough. But I was happy enough overall.

Overall impression and would I recommend this race? Love it and most definitely! Having done Windsor for the first time this year and now able to compare the two I think London is far superior. The novelty of the closed London roads, the fact you don’t have to register and rack the day before, nobody is walking in the swim, sub 2.30 wave option, you can choose what day and route you race on and the infinitely superior car parking with no queues all help towards this.

As for my rough steering on my bike, well, the stem part of the forks that goes up in to the headset has a massive crack in it! Not sure how dangerous that was but with some kind help from my fellow Thames Turbo club mates will have a temporary set in place for Liverpool and the British Standard Championships next week.
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