A Saturday afternoon wave at a race in London should be the easiest thing for me to prepare for right? Apparently not, as I always like to overcomplicate things for my race at the London Triathlon. This time it was a work BBQ on the Friday night, chased with a marshaling the legendary Serpentine Handicap and picking my brother (also racing) up from Charing Cross before the race.
We got there by a combination of cycling and DLR, and thanks to some conservative time allowances for the journey, we had plenty of time to faff and fettle. This is ideal for me; the more time I have in transition to lay out my kit “just so”, and figure out the traffic routing through transition, the calmer I become.
We headed to “Swim Assembly” 20 minutes before our wave start, as requested and picked up our swim hats and last minute race briefing. There was just time to check in with our supporters too before we were shepherded down to the water.
Swim – 750m, 15:48
I got a good position for the swim start, surrounded by athletes of a similar speed so that I was neither swam over, nor swimming over others.
The course was a simple rectangle, however on the back leg, I still managed to go off-course, look up and realise that the rest of the field was over to my right. Perhaps more open-water sighting should be on my training list.
After the prolonged hot weather, the water was not at all cold, perfect for me as I get cold easily, but still a wetsuit swim due to the organiser’s agreement with the owners. Wetsuits need to be stripped between the swim exit and transition entrance, to minimise water being carried into transition. I lost a little time here trying to pull the suit over the timing chip. I’m wondering if shortening the left leg of my wetsuit even more would help with stripping over these chips.
Overall, I was pleased with the swim time; it’s been a while since my last 750m open water swim at Hyde Park last year.
T1 – 4:22
Transition is always a bit lengthy at these large events. The huge number of competitors means a large transition which takes a while to run through. I did manage to find my stuff with no mistakes or running beyond it, a nice improvement on previous races.
Bike – 20km, ????
My exact bike split is sadly unknown. I forgot to stop my Garmin until I re-racked the bike, and my timing chip didn’t report a time at “Bike In”. However my chip did register a time for bike at T2 of 42:18, and my Garmin reports a time of 41:29, with a moving time of 39:21. I suspect that London Triathlon is my first ever sub-40min bike split!
The bike course for the sprint is two laps of the dual carriageway immediately outside the ExCel conference centre which hosts the race. For the sprint this is quite boring (the Olympic distance race goes in to central London), but this was perfect for me; head down speed on wide roads with no distractions. No wonder it was quick! And then back into transition for the 5km run.
T2 – ????
As mentioned above, my timing chip didn’t register at “Bike In”, only on “Run Out”. This means that the official results groups my bike and T2 time together as an excessively long 42:18. I’d guess that transition was around 2:30-3:00 mins, based on other people who finished with a similar time to me, and the length of the indoor route through transition. At least I easily found my position this time!
Run – 5km, 26:49
The run course is also a little dull; 2 laps of an out and back along the dockyard. In fairness, this is perhaps not helped by building work meaning some of the course is along a construction hoarding.
As usual, I just focussed on doing my own thing and trying to hold a pace that would bring me in around 25mins. The little ramp up to the 1st floor from ground level was unwelcome at the end, but I still had enough for a little sprint finish.
Finishers names were called over the PA system as the ran under the finish arch, which was a really nice touch; famous for a few seconds.
Total time – 01:29:15
Following on from Hamburg, where I said I’d like to work on my bike, I’m extremely happy to produce a sub-40min bike split. It might have taken a minute out of my run legs, but the overall time saving makes it worth it.
Next race for me is Thames Turbo Sprint, at Hampton Pool. A ~400m pool swim with no wetsuit and a straight (but open roads) bike course should also allow a quick time. It’ll be a great benchmark compared to my first ever triathlon there last year too!
All photos are courtesy of my friend Julia who came along to support us!