September 12, 2016
Over the past month or so I have been supporting British Triathlons #YourGoTri campaign, a marketing drive to show that any body can give Triathlon a go, and to point new comers to the sport to the range of events on offer around the country.
Now, the last multi sport event I did was the London Triathlon in 2006…so yes 10 years ago (you can read a blog post I wrote about it with hideous pictures here). I have wanted to do another Triathlon, but for some reason just haven’t got my act together, there was always too many excuses…I haven’t got a decent bike, I don’t have time to train for 3 different sports.
But the point is I do participate in all 3 disciplines quite regularly, I run, I swim and I cycle…all as badly as each other most of the time.
Initially as part of my work on #YourGoTri I was going to take part in a SuperSprint Triathlon in Leeds this weekend, but the logistics just didn’t work for me, so I decided to do something a little closer to home….very close to home in fact.
The Olympic Park…i.e. my local park…i.e. 2 minutes away from my home.
Plus…no swimming…just a run and a bike…oh and a run.
On its website the event is described as follows…
The duathlon (run-bike-run) events take place on the magnificent closed road circuit at the VeloPark surrounding the 2012 Olympic Velodrome. The events are chip timed with medals for all finishers and podium medals. The events are suitable to all ability levels and is an ideal venue for your first duathlon.
There are changing and showering facilities as well a cafe on site. You can also hire bikes from the VeloPark venue.
The events are usually over; 3.2km (2 laps) Run-16km (10 laps) Cycle-1.6km (1 lap) Run. COST £12 for Triathlon England members £17 for non-Triathlon England members
So I signed up…pumped up my tyres…and mentally prepared myself for what lay ahead.
I arrived at the VeloPark at about 8.30…a little keen as registration didn’t open until 8.45…so I sat upstairs watching the track cyclists for a while. It was a beautiful sunny day, and I had not brought sunglasses or really thoughts about fluids or nutrition.
My body was already aching as a result of Fridays CrossFit session, the short flat cycle across the Olympic Park hadn’t given me much confidence and I knew the more hilly road circuit was going to test me…if for no other reason that I HATE laps.
As I queued to get my timing chip and number I started to panic a little. Where were the beginners, everyone was wearing TriSuits and had super cool aerodynamic bikes…I had only just removed the basket from mine last night.
As I sat getting myself organised I chatted to a couple of friendly guys who reassured me that its the taking part that matters, and then I had a quick chat with Jon Train from British Triathlon who was the race official on the day…his message was “just do your best”
But with a small field of less than 100 participants I was still very nervous.
After a short race briefing we set off…the first bit was downhill which was great, but within less than 30 seconds I was right at the back and struggling to keep the runner ahead of me in sight. I chuckled when I noticed all around the track in the mornings sunshine were an army of snails…mocking me they were, I’m sure!!!
The circuit was beautiful, full of wildlife and inspiring views across London no doubting that…but flat it was not.
I managed to do the two run laps in 18.11…which actually isn’t too shabby considering my average race pace is around 12-13 minutes per mile…but I was still way behind the rest of the athletes, and as I started my second lap, guys were coming into transition to grab their bikes.
I did not panic. I could not go any faster.
Finally I got on my bike. I wasn’t sure what I could do. I only tend to use my bike to pop to the shops, or to accompany my daughter to school on hers…I did cycle to the dentist a few weeks ago in Central London which was a 14K round trip…but completely flat.
I did the first 1 mile bike lap in 5 minutes and 8 seconds. Could I keep that speed up? Even if I did we were still talking 50 minutes for the cycle leg…the website had mentioned the presentations being made an hour and 15 minutes after the start…by which time everyone should be finished…no pressure then.
All I could do was keep going.
By lap 3 I was a little tearful. The hills were killing my legs. And when I went out of my saddle to get some more power, my shoulders and sides were hurting from Fridays workout. For a moment I wondered if there was any way of pulling out.
I got off my bike at lap 5 to drink some water. I had only brought one bottle, and I had drunk most of it after the run, and had no way of carrying it with me on my bike.
5 down 5 to go…come on Julie
The final 5 laps went really quickly really…I just wanted it to be over.
Just by chance there was a Cancer Research Pretty Muddy going on in the Olympic Park, with part of the course going over the bridge across the cycle circuit, or the perimeter of the VeloDrome…and a few people I knew shouted out to me…which was lovely…I needed it to keep me motivated.
Finally I was off the dreaded bike…completing the bike leg in 58.23
But now my legs didn’t appear to want to work…they were like jelly, but like concrete at the same time…a very peculiar feeling. A lovely female steward offered to run part of it with me, I said “I’m better on my own” which on reflection was pretty rude…I just wasn’t sure how much I could actually run.
Turns out it was all of it…I didn’t walk at all.
I came down the finishing straight with a whole heap of people cheering me on, finishing the event in a total of 1 hour 36 minutes and 46 seconds…a whole 17 minutes after the penultimate athlete…however a few folk didn’t do their sums right and only did 9 laps…so came after me on the results table which gives me a little comfort I suppose…there were also a few numpties who did 11
As the medal was placed around my neck I laughed with sheer relief…it was over.
Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed it.
But I was glad it was over.
Multisports events, Triathlons, Duathlons whatever we call them, they are a strange sport really, I guess because there is such diversity in abilities all in the same race, and the reliance on kit adds a whole new dimension to it too. If there were more beginners at the event I probably wouldn’t have stuck out like a sore thumb…but its chicken and egg…people think triathlons are only for super fit people, they don’t see people like me take part too often, so they write them off as a possibility.
Well, hopefully that is going to change with fantastic campaigns like #yourgotri
And I will be back…I may even consider a triathlon next…ooopsss did I just say that out loud?
On Sunday 13th November the VeloPark is hosting a Women’s Only event which I am hoping to take part in….same distances, same venue, and hopefully we will get an army of Too Fat to Run ladies down to give it a go.
You can enter here