Three weeks ago I was offered a media spot in the London Triathlon. A quick look in the diary (much needed after a few too many double bookings recently) showed I was free that day and had a few friends taking part so I gratefully accepted.
I had never done a triathlon before. Mara- Aqua- Du- Swim- Beer- athons yes, but never officially a three sport race. My husband and I share a bike so if he gets to the registration page first then I get the official photographer & sherpa role for the day. This race had slipped under Alex’s radar so I claimed the bike for the day and dug out my trisuit.
I didn’t do much specific training for the Sprint Distance event as I was already swimming at least once a week with Impact PT’s #swimsquad swimming lessons or in the open water at the Royal Docks. Plus, I was cycle commuting around 8 miles a few days a week. I was taking the event seriously, but looked at my training and really didn’t think I could add much to benefit it any further.
‘Twas the night before a triathlon and all through the house… EVERYONE was stirring because there are like 100 million things to pack.
— Laura Stewart (@ledavies) August 7, 2015
My race was on Saturday afternoon so I skipped after work drinks and went home to put my feet up with a pizza and thought about packing until 10pm when I realised I’d have to get a lot of things that were piled in my room into 1 bag.
Saturday morning I woke up and made waffles. The leisurely 3:10pm start of my wave meant there was lots of extra carb loading time.
After waffles I jumped on my bike, cycled to the Tap Room to buy some post-race beers, and then hop on the Overground & DLR to the Excel Centre.
After racking my bike in transition I made my way up to the balcony of the excel centre to meet some Team Tricurious. These lucky triathletes were invited to join Laura & Katie at the triathlon all in support of giving triathlon a go. Everyone was all smiles with nervous energy ready for their big day. It was hard to be anything but happy as we stood in the sun watching wave after wave of people start their triathlon adventure.
I realised I hadn’t had any lunch but didn’t want to eat too much before my race so made a quick stop at the Powerbar stand and bought one of their delicious waffles that taste like candy but are clearly labelled POWER and ENERGY so fine to eat for lunch before a race.
After squeezing into my wetsuit (with added POWER and ENERGY) those of us in the Female Sprint Wave made our way to the swim assembly for a rousing cheer (and some LOLz when the guy tried to get us to a SPARTACUS cheer, but one woman yelled out. I AM WOMAN NOT SPARTACUS). Down to the water and refreshingly right into the water. On such a hot afternoon it was extra refreshing to get right in. With a hundred (or so) women in the wave it was a big start and took a while to find some room to swim in. I mistakenly held back and found myself behind a row of breaststrokers which are not easy to pass *sees open water* *gets kicked in the ribs* but I picked my way through the first 100m or so slow and steady.
Finding my swim groove as we passed the giant pig on the back straight I kept at it and even made a move between two women in a gap *just* big enough for me. I was pretty proud of that as have never really pushed myself to swim that close to people before.
Out of the water and a smooth wetsuit peel off into the bin bag and all I had to negotiate were the world’s most dangerous stairs and 150 metres of a prickly & husky carpet to get back to transition. A quick-ish change (for me) and I was running with my bike back out into the sun. The bike course was FUN. Since I mostly cycle while commuting it’s all stop and go and safety first stuff. The closed roads were all about FUN (and watching out for fellow competitors and behaving in a safe manner of course) but getting to actually go on a bike made me realise why everyone seems to rave about those long rides.
2 laps of the bike course done and back into the excel centre to drop the bike off and pick up my running visor. The run course was narrow with lots of twists and turns but that meant many opportunities to see everyone else on the course. The cool shower and water stops were very welcome and all in all it was a great 2 laps.
The finish was around a giant beer balloon and through the finishing arch and straight to the beer tent (non-alcoholic so perfect recovery drink). No penalties on the board for me so I got my medal and headed back to transition to meet the girls and pack up our stuff.
Triathlon done, now the real fun started. I met up with the rest of Team Tricurious, and their fans, and we set up camp on the run course cheering on every last athlete on the course that day.
We had guys crossing the lanes to give us high fives (and some of the beer we were offering) and lots of smiles from those on their last few laps of the day.
Katie made the team an amazing Tricurious cake and we celebrated the achievements of all 6 team members who spent 4 months training for this event. Speaking with all of them was so inspiring and I’m really excited to see how they keep going in the world of triathlons!
Thank you to the AJ Bell London Triathlon for the complementary entry. And to Team Tricurious for the friendly smiles, beers, cake, and amazing t-shirt!