A number of WTC members took part in the London Triathlon in 2021 – here are their results and their experiences.
London Triathlon – Linsey Giles.
I had originally entered last years London Tri as a sprint, but as it had been postponed, and I had successfully managed a sprint last year I changed it to an Olympic, which would be the longest distance I had done. Those of you that know me know that the bike would not be a problem, and I can do a half decent run, however the swim was the bit I would need to focus on.
For that full “olympic” experience, we arranged to stay with a friend of ours who lives in the old 2012 Olympic village in Stratford (this weekend Matthew I was mostly representing Vietnam).
Turns out that it’s 27km from Harrow to Stratford, so I rode over on Saturday afternoon, then headed down to Excel to pick up my race pack. The ride over was uneventful, but when I got off there was that worrying whooosh sound as all the air leaves a tyre at the same time. Yes I had a flat front tyre. A quick WhatsApp to Carolyn to bring some extra CO2 and another spare inner when she came over later and off to excel we went. Race pack picked up, the event village was a bit disappointing (I suspect most of this is down to COVID), I was hoping to pick up a new tyre as I wasn’t happy with the small hole in my existing one.
Pain-free Fun once again came into its own, with Decathlon looking like the closest place, and I managed to bag the last 700×25 tyre they had. Even better it was half decent !
Back to the flat, one quick(ish) tyre change and a large amount of pasta and time for bed.
Race Day: The 7km down to Excel went really quickly, despite taking it gently. Bike racked and off for a sit down (naturally I was early). I came back to get my wetsuit on and bumped into Lubos as he was in the wave before me. Wetsuit on (with a bit of help doing it up from the guy racked next to me), had a gel, and off we went to join the queue – I couldn’t see Lubos, but I did see DJ in the distance.
Down to the start ramp we went – Garmin set to Tri mode to pick up some GPS before we start swimming. At this point I made the mistake of looking up the course to orientate my self with where the buoys were. The top buoy looked like a long way away ! Whilst I’ve swum over 1500m before at MT’s it’s several loops. Too late now though, and off we went.
First few 100m felt fairly good, then I had a minor sense of humour failure for no logical reason and my arms felt so heavy ! Push through it, I just need to get the swim done, then I can get my head down on the bike. I started concentrating on my technique a bit more and focusing on the actual swim. Relax – keep swimming, one stroke after the other. I managed to get into a decent rhythm and slowly worked my way round the course. About half way along the return we started getting overtaken by the next wave. Am actually quite impressed it took them that long – was expecting it much earlier than that ! Richards Iron Man race review kept coming back to me here – keep swimming, brush your hand against your thigh.
Eventually we got to the pontoon to get out. Managed to miss the edge (I thought it went further than it did), out of the water, wetsuit off (much easier when lube has been applied) and into bag, and up the stairs (saying thank you to the guys with the endless job of trying to mop them !) and into transition, noting that both the people either side of me are already on the bike course. On the plus side this meant finding my bike a lot easier.
Helmet on, feet dry, socks on, bike shoes on, race number on and off we go. Gently jogging in cleats is definitely an art. Over the mount line, tilt the bike, clip in and off we go – taking it gently to start with as we worked our way out of the Excel centre. As I went under a bridge I heard a massive “Go Linsey” from James S which I swear gave me an extra 50W of power for free !
Onto the course proper and off we go. The bike leg is where I’m strongest so making up time by overtaking is key here. It also means I don’t really have to think about the drafting rules too much – just overtake all the time. My nutrition plan for the bike was a bottle of energy during, and a gel just after the Westminster turn. Pedal, sip, head down and stay in the aero position and settle into the new bike. It’s fast. Keeping to the power budget, we pushed through the rain when it came, turned at Westminster, had my gel and headed back down the course. I’m pretty sure I overtook DJ at one point (and if it wasn’t DJ many apologies to the person who I attempted to shout encouragement to). Back past Excel to much cheering from the WTC support crew who had found a good spot. All too soon it was back into transition (I could have easily done another couple of loops of that circuit !) and time for a run.
Bike shoes off, running shoes on, helmet off, sunglasses (!) on and off to the run we went. Another Gel taken as we headed out (thankfully finding a bin for the wrapper) and onto the run course.
My plan had me doing 6 minute km, and after a few minutes I looked at my watch to see I was running 5:10’s ! Slow down… slow down. Off we continued (having slowed down a bit, but not by much) – out on the first leg and spotted Lubos coming the other way.
Round the first turning point and about the 3rd of the way back I heard a massive “Go Willesden” and a wave from someone I recognised in the other direction so a wave back seemed in order.
I spent the rest of the race trying to remember their name. I’m pretty good with faces, I knew I had seen them at training, but the name was escaping me. I ran past my first sighting of James McAulay (which is odd as he wasn’t competing in this event).
Back into excel for the end of the first lap (who put that hill there), grabbed some water to dunk over my head (and backs of elbows and neck) and off we continued on the 2nd lap – keeping an eye out for WTC members either coming past me, or going the other way.
Another James Mc, no it’s not, but he’s got at least 5 doppelgangers out on the run course today. Same face went past (I seemed to be channelling an animal from the muppets wave by this point in time) and then I went past the WTC cheering point WOO HOO !
Around the loops we went, more water on head, down the ramp and check the pace again. I’m still way faster than I was wanting, but my legs are feeling good(ish) so lets keep it up and see where we get to.
Carolyn finally spots me on the run, a cheer from WTC as I go past them, up to the turning point, around again and heading back. Wave at…. I’m still trying to put the name to the face (this has kept me occupied during the entire run so far, pretty sure it starts with an E, but it’s not Emily, or Emma… nope still can’t remember).
On the home straight – legs starting to hurt, but it’s not far now. Wishing I had taken on another gel, need to remember that for next time. Past WTC, Past Carolyn, up the hill and back into Excel for the last time – turn right and onto the carpet and through the finish line. WOOO HOOO I’ve made it.
Grabbed my medal and a t-shirt (and some energy bars things) and bumped into Lubos who helped me figure out it was Ellen who had been waving, just before she came over the line.
Conclusions. My aims for this were
- Not get overtaken by Des, Dave, Emily or Becca (there were starting an hour behind me)
- Sub 3:30.
Chatting with James S the day before, I was thinking sub 90 mins on the bike would be good – my legs had been all over the place in training the last few weeks and I genuinely didn’t really know what was in them, so I’m super pleased with the result. Less pleased with falling off on the greenway back up to stratford, but that’s my own fault.
Swim was tolerable, bike awesome and I’m still not sure where that run came from. Looking at the Garmin stats at home that evening it was a 10k PB for me which I’m really surprised by.