On Sunday 6th August, our Operations Manager Toby took on his first triathlon, the Challenge London Sprint Triathlon. He found the whole event to be challenging but inspiring.
The day started early for a lot of the competitors. The earliest wave of events started with the new Middle Distance race, which covers a 1.9km swim, 80km cycle and a 21km run. This was followed by the Olympic Distance, Sprint and then the Super Sprint.
I was in the Excel by around 9:30am, making my way in from Surrey. A limited amount of breakfast with a few high protein, high energy flapjacks, bananas and sweets. Changed into my tri-suit and wetsuit over the top, we all congregated toward the holding area where we were all keen to kick off our Sprint race. It soon became clear there was a medical emergency in the water and our wave plus a few waves ahead of us were held and were required to wait around until the event could continue. After a good 45 minutes of waiting, most athlete's decided to disperse to grab more food and drink supplies and de-wetsuit so that we wouldn't over heat. Finally after a long delay of 80 minutes, our wave got the go ahead and we threw ourselves into the Royal Victoria Dock under a pulse start. The water temperature was very comfortable in a wetsuit at around 18'C. My first stint of the swim was at a good pace and settled in quickly. It was when the turn around the 2nd Bouey things started to slow, swimming into a strong head wind. I fought it out as best I could, finally reaching the out ramp and dragging myself up and onto the dock.
Wetsuit off, into a bag and running or at least putting one leg in front of the other in a quick fashion, I was back in the transition area to fit my socks, road shoes, helmet on, down some flat - full fat coke and out the door to start the cycle part of the event. Due to the delay in start, the cycle part of the event was revised to be slightly shorter in length, but to complete 3 laps instead of the 2 as planned. In one direction of the ride was easy going with a nice tail wind, flying past plenty of riders. The other direction was much more of a challenge with a huge headwind, racing in from across the dock. This slowed my pace considerably, but I'm sure it was echoed for all riders. 23k later and the cycle side of things was complete after a not so very welcome hill climb back into the transition area.
Bike hung back on the racking, helmet off, a quick shoe swap and another quick handful of sweets, I was on thew move again. Out the door and into the sun for the final leg of the triathlon. Running. My legs felt surprisingly good despite what they had endured thus far. 2 laps were required to be completed to reach the 5k distance, with many supporters cheering the athletes on. I could tell my pace was slower than normal, but I kept at it, knowing that the end was in sight. Nearing the end of the final leg, I was cruising in on the up ramp, into the main hall and through the floods of supporters to cross the line in a sub 2hr time. Achieving my aim of finishing before the two hour mark, I was exhausted, buzzing and amazed that I had managed to complete my first triathlon, without issue and without stopping.
Overall, as this was my first triathlon, I felt good with my times and how my body coped. I will admit, I definitely didn't do enough swim training and having better suited gear for the event would have saved me time in the transition stages. Initially, I was very happy with how I did and my overall time, but as the days passed post event and at the time of writing this, I would have preferred to get a better time for my category and been closer to the 90 minute mark.
What would I have changed or done differently.
A triathlon specific wetsuit would have been a better option that my surf wetsuit, I'm sure. Getting out of it was a mission in itself. This may have been partly down to my exhaustion.
Less headwind would have been great, but sadly we can't control the weather.
The big question is; will I be doing another one?
The answer to that would be: Absolutely. I have already been looking into other events I could do, to prove to myself that I can better my time.
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