I was eagerly anticipating this final race of the Thames Turbo Sprint Race series for 2 reasons: having been there previously as a competitor and trainee official, I know it’s a great race, but more importantly, it was my first ever triathlon. Time to see how 18 months of training and my TT bike fare against last year’s performance.
The first thing to say about these Thames Turbo sprints is how well they are organised and just how many great marshals they get to stand on a rainy roundabout on their Bank Holiday Monday! Thank you marshals!
It’s always an early start for these races; with it being an open roads race, it’s good to get out while the general public are still eating their bank holiday breakfast. An early start works well for me though, so I wasn’t worried and got there in good time. Pool swims make life so much easier without having to cart a wetsuit around too!
The race takes a ‘time trial’ format in the pool, with a competitor starting every 15 seconds in number order. I was bib number 258, so I had a little while to wait which I used to take on a gel and double-check my transition set up.
Swim – 400m, 9:13
The swim is 12 lengths of the outdoor, heated 33m Hampton Pool. It wasn’t a particularly inspired swim by me, but I was only overtaken by one athlete in the water, so I held my place relatively well, and came out in roughly the time that my training in the pool would indicate, so no complaints either!
T1 – 1:25
The smaller transition at the Thames Turbo sprints meant finding my spot in transition was easy – no mistakes this time! And of course, no wetsuit also helps to make a speedy T1. Given the rain and how wet my bike shoes were, there was basically no point in drying my legs so I just got right on with it.
I’m beginning to think it might be worth learning the flying mount. Ok, so it’s only a few seconds, but it also looks pretty cool…
Bike – 21.5k, 41:26
I don’t know where these bike legs have come from recently, but I was really happy with my bike split. I couldn’t make it another sub-40 bike, but given the extra 1.5k over the normal sprint distance, I was very pleased. I’m still chasing the elusive 20mph average speed for my bike split – this is 19.8mph. I mean, if I round up…
I paced it nicely off the competitor in front, keeping him more than the requisite 7m away but still enough of a carrot to chase. This worked well until the end, when I felt him flagging and so came past.
I trialled a new nutrition strategy of taping a gel to my top tube to take after the turning point of the out and back course. The technique of taping it by the tab so that you only have to grab it and it opens is great; you get an open gel and the little tab stays taped to the bike so you don’t litter the countryside. I wonder if that sugar hit is responsible (physiologically or psychologically) for my performance in the run.
T2 and no-compete zone – 6:53 (1:11 in T2)
This course is slightly unusual in that there is a ‘no compete zone’ between the bike and T2, to allow competitors back to transition without losing time to a traffic-light controlled right turn. You have 7mins to negotiate this zone before timing starts again which makes for an easy pedal back.
Once at T2, it was all plain sailing as per T1. I could have saved a few seconds by putting my Garmin back on to my wrist from the handlebars in the no compete zone rather than transition, but no problem.
Run – 5km, 22:44
Now this is where I was really pleased with my race. I was very happy to set my quickest bike split, but also slightly worried about how that push might affect my run. Pushing hard on the bike at London delivered a slightly disappointing 26min 5k, so I was a little wary.
Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to see my Garmin registering a 7.10min/mile pace after around 2 miles, and showing no signs of fading. It did run through my mind that perhaps the watch was lying to me, as I didn’t feel that fast. But sure enough, I came through the finish line in 22:44 – a new 5k PB (open or triathlon!)
Total time – 01:16:01
You might have been able to guess, but I was very happy with my performance in this race. The swim could have been faster, but I backed up a quick (for me) bike leg with a 5k PB, so I can’t complain at all. Comparing it to my first Thames Turbo sprint, I knocked a whopping 15mins off my time, so all in all a very happy triathlete!
I’ve not yet added a next triathlon to the calandar, although I hope to fit in one more before the season ends. I have booked up my first ever swim-only race next weekend at the Great London Swim, which’ll be my first ever open water mile!