On the 17th July 2019 I took part in the London Triathlon 2019. This was the first time I have taken part in this event, in its 22 years of existence. To be honest, I don’t consider myself a triathlete, not a serious one anyway. I am a runner, I enjoy running, but I like to take part in Ironman for the challenge. I don’t plan on taking part in lots of triathlons, but it would be nice to improve, and alas the only way I’m going to do that is by taking part in more.
After the swim was cancelled in Ironman Hamburg last year (see full review HERE) I decided to enter Ironman Vichy. I had been concerned in Hamburg about the possibility of a non wetsuit swim, so in order to face my fear I booked Ironman Vichy knowing full well it’s been non wetsuit for the last 4 years. I consider the best way to overcome a fear is to face it.
Once again I have done lots of running over the last 12 months, but I haven’t trained adequately in any other discipline. I’ve actually cycled more than ever in terms of miles, but that’s because I’m commuting to work, but this is only a total of 13 miles a day. In fact I’ve not ridden further than 7 miles in one go this year. I had also been making many excuses about swimming, and until last month hadn’t swam at all in 2019. With this in mind I was looking for a bit of motivation, and that is when I decided to enter the London Triathlon. I decided to enter the Olympic distance on the Saturday. I decided on the Olympic for a nice training session for Ironman Vichy, and I picked the Saturday because it is a slightly later start than the Sunday. On all accounts Sunday is more scenic as you go into London, but I would have struggled to get in early enough.
Off to the Start
I was nervous about getting to the start, as I didn’t want to have to drag my wife and kids with me, and I dont drive, so was relying on public transport. I had a bad start having cycled to the underground and being told that I wasn’t allowed on that line with my bike. So I had to cycle to another line. To make matters worse, I had prepared two bottles of water, one with electrolytes, and left them in my kitchen. I tried not to stress about it, and I actually got to the Expo in plenty of time.
I arrived and racked my bikes and prepared my kit, I then had a quick look around. There wasn’t much there to be honest, but I picked up a bottle of water for my bike, and a can of Tenzing. I then had a bit of time to chill out in advance of my swim start. Everything was relaxed and friendly, and it was good seeing other waves start.
The swim is where I’m most nervous, and this is the first time I’ve put my wetsuit on in over a year (fortunately it still fits). We all got together and the race briefing was fantastic. The brief was delivered in an energetic and enthusiastic way, which built lots of confidence.
We then went and got into the water where we had a 5 minute wait before the start. At 22 degrees the water temperature was good. I had set my watch to Triathlon mode, looking forward to using this for the first time, unfortunately my GPS was lost when I was waiting to start, and when I got out the water I realised no distance had been recorded. I kept my watch going in transition and then on the bike it continued to not record distance, and wouldn’t pick up GPS for some reason. So I stopped the activity and started a bike ride, which worked.
I decided to stay to the side to stay away from the hustle and bustle. This was actually the most civilised open water swim I’ve ever done, and I didn’t get hit once. Perhaps this is because I swam really wide.
When I started I seemed to be heavy breathing and struggled with breath, so I took some time to control my breathing
Once I got to half way I was in a better rhythm that I could have sustained for longer. I wasn’t the quickest, but I’m happy enough with my performance, I felt comfortable.
I was really impressed with the number of kayaks out in the water, I felt a sense of safety, and this would be a great event for even a nervous swimmer, with confidence of support on the course. Although they kept coming really close to me, but in fairness I was too wide, and they were trying to keep me on course.
I finished, and felt ok actually.
T1 is fairly long. As you get out you have to take off your wetsuit before you go in transition. Volunteers hand you a plastic bag and even help undress you, it’s all very supportive. It’s then a fairly long transition up stairs and around the racking before getting your bike. The stairs were a bit hazardous as they were wet, and this should be looked at for health and safety reasons.
The bike & troubles…
I didn’t take much time once I got to my bike, just put on my socks and cycle shoes, had a bit of nutrition and water, then was off again.
Again I was impressed with the bike course. Yes it’s not the most scenic course in the world, being 4 out and back laps, but it was relatively flat, and although there were lots of waves, and busy, I never felt like I was held up by anyone.
The roads were not great in places, and the rain water, mixed with lots of loose stones, meant I saw a lot of riders trying to fix punctures, or walking back to transition. What I did like was all the support around the course, and marshals helping people fix punctures. A lot of events don’t allow outside assistance, but this will put new triathletes off. Seeing people being helped and supported was great.
My ride was going really well. Again, I wasn’t breaking any records, but was happy to be averaging about 18 miles and hour. There are a few bends that zapped pace, but other than that the only bad bit was a particularly bumpy section a few hundred metres before lap point. As I was approaching the end of my 3rd lap I was thinking how well it was going, and how glad I wasn’t one of the poor people I had passed fixing a puncture. I went over the bumpy section and just then my tyre pressure felt off, I carried on riding as I wasn’t sure, but I wanted to test it so I pushed down hard on the front wheel and it was clear I had a puncture, great.
I pulled over to fix my puncture and this took me about 18 minutes, I’m not the quickest, but changing the tyre is fine. What I struggle with is getting the last bit of the tyre back on, and this took about 10 minutes.
Once I fixed my tyre I was a little more cautious for the last lap. For one I had lost my group from my wave, but most importantly I only had one spare inner tube, and if I had another puncture that would have been the end of my ride.
I had a good ride, and finished strong, the turn into transition was a steep finally.
Now no my feet
The T2 was straight forward, and I didn’t spend much time. I just racked my bike and put my trainers on. A quick sip of water and some more nutrition, and I was off. I’m not going to lie, my low back was agony and it took me a while to stand up straight, so I went to the railings to try and stretch off a little. By the time I got to the Run Out section I was feeling fine.
I started off at around 7:05 min miles and it felt comfortable. The run route is 4 laps, a simple, mostly flat out and back. Again not the most scenic runs, but for a 10k it’s not to bad. There are two aid stations on each lap, and although the course isn’t wide, I wasn’t really delayed at any point. It can get busy as there are numerous waves, and I had to weave a lot around people.
The run is my strongest point, and I spent the whole run over taking people, which gives a bit of a boost. There were only a couple of runners who overtook me, and I was able to maintain my pace throughout. I only slowed coming into each lap as there was an incline
Overall the run was really good apart from one incident. As I was coming in to get water on the second lap I was behind another runner, I grabbed water and then he immediately stopped, with no warning. I managed to stop myself from running into him, and put my hands on his shoulders as I stopped momentum. It wasn’t a big collision, it could have been a lot worse. Although it was annoying, it is just one of those things, so I carried on. About a minute later I heard “oi”, I thought nothing of it, and then I was pushed hard from behind. I turned and he pushed me again, and said I pushed him. I couldn’t believe what was happening, this is not what I expect from this sport. Perception is a curious thing, he chased me and tried starting a fight, because he thought I pushed him, when in fact I stopped myself from running him over, based on his actions. I barely even touched him and it was certainly an accident, the briefest of encounters. He pushed me for a third time so I pushed him back and told him very firmly not to touch me again, he seemed to get the message, so I carried on running.
The final two laps went well, and I didn’t feel tempted to #pickupthepace. I was happy maintaining the pace, and finished feeling good.
What a fantastic Triathlon. The London Triathlon is a great event for everyone. There are lots of distances to choose from, and in every category there were first timers, club triathletes and age groupers. There were people turning up with bikes worth more than cars, and others ranged from midrange to very basic, there was even one guy on a Boris Bike.
It is nice to see such an inclusive event. At the end you receive a nice medal and finishers tee. I also grabbed a couple of cans of Tenzing and some water. Overall a successful training session for Ironman Vichy, which is my next planned event.