On the 8th August 2021 I took part in The London Triathlon 2021. After taking part in the Saturday Olympic Distance at the London Triathlon 2019 (see Blog HERE), I had planned to go back in 2020, but we all know what happened there. So I decided to take part this year, but have a look at the more scenic Westminster route on the Sunday. The Sunday event feels like a bit more of a hassle with public transport etc, but I wanted to compare the two. So I entered my second ever Olympic Distance Triathlon (both of which have been the London Triathlon).
I have to admit, I was feeling really anxious coming to this race. I had been preparing for 2020, but with everything going on I just haven’t trained for my swim properly, and haven’t been open water swimming for a whole year. I was particularly nervous because of my swim difficulties at my last Triathlon which was Ironman Vichy 2019 (see what happened HERE).
I decided to Rack my bike on the Saturday as recommended by the organisers, this is because of the earlier start of the Olympic on the Sunday. I was planning on cycling but with the torrential rain I decided it was safer to get public transport. It took so long having to go certain routes with bike, but better to be safe. I arrived at 14:20, but had to wait until 15:00 to register and rack. It took a long time in all to just go and rack my bike, and this for me is the only negative of the Sunday version. If you are staying closer or driving, then it would not make a difference, so would recommend it. Logistically for me it is more difficult, but worth it. It was lovely to catch up with Annie and Nick on the Saturday. Nick also gave me some tips which helped calm my nerves, and he is going to give me some coaching pointers to help me improve my Ironman time, which I’m really grateful for.
Sunday morning I got up for the first tube. Annoyingly the first two didn’t run, so waited 40 minutes for the tube. It didn’t matter though as I still got there in plenty of time. It had been recommended to rack and register on the Saturday, but the reality is there were no queues in the morning, and I was 70 minutes early just killing time. I am still glad I racked my bike on the Saturday, for all the hassle, it took the stress out of the morning.
After checking all my kit I decided to go to the toilet one last time (which is a pain when wearing wetsuit and trisuit). I then met Nick who was in my start wave.
Swim – 38:06
There was no in person brief this year, and the start was rolling rather than a mass start like last year). Rather than all getting in the water and going at same time, we ran in which staggered us a bit. I started at the back of my wave, and intentionally took a very cautious start. I swam wide to make sure I didn’t have any issues. I felt slow at the start, but got into a good stride. There was heavy wind and I was going with it, so I started to feel fast, and efficient. I got to the turn in about 15 minutes, I was flying and was excited to see if I could maintain the pace. However as I turned at the buoy the fast swimmers from the wave behind had caught up. Where I had swam wide on the out section, this wasn’t really possible on the way back, and I started getting swimmers bumping into me, and I had very little space, so I slowed down. I like to be left to my swim, and the whole way back I had company. On top of this we were now swimming against the wind. It didn’t feel more difficult, but I was slower and the water was choppy. I definitely drank more of the Thames on the way back.
I finished in 38:06. When I spoke to Nick at the start I said I was aiming for 35 to 40, but in my head I wanted sub 38, so I am very happy to have achieved 38 mins. To be honest, when I was in the water I thought I would have done better as I started stronger. I am not disappointed to be 3 mins slower than last time. I haven’t swam nearly enough, and haven’t swam in open water for a year. I have a lot of room to improve in the swim, but I was happy getting out with 38.
T1 – 4:53
As I got out the water I was handed a plastic bag. I got my wetsuit half way down and started to run in, but was stopped. I hadn’t realised we had to take off wetsuit before we went inside. I don’t think we did last time, but this absolutely makes sense, as I remember thinking it was a bit slippy last time. So I sat down and took off my wetsuit. I had forgotten how long the run was in T1, which seemed like it took forever. Interestingly my T1 time is comparable to last time. I was 40 seconds faster… although on my watch I thought I was longer with a faster swim.
Bike – 1:10:42
The bike was amazing. Don’t get my wrong, it wasn’t ideal. It rained heavy at times, and was windy in places. I took certain parts very cautiously as I was nervous. There were a couple of narrow sections where I slowed too. But on the whole it felt great. I usually coast too much on the bike, but I kept the power on and averaged over 20 miles an hour, which I’m so happy about. If I can do anything close to this in Ironman I will literally take hours off my finish time. I don’t usually really overtake anyone on the bike. But today I did, it felt good to be going strong the whole ride.
The course didn’t measure correctly on my garmin because of the long tunnel we went through twice. Annoyingly my fastest was going through that tunnel but it’s not recorded owing to GPS. I didn’t actually know for sure how quickly I was going because of the GPS issue. I had thought I might be on for 1:20 which I would have been very happy with, so when I ame in at 1:10 I couldn’t believe it. It is not the same course as last time as this is the Westminster route. Also I got a puncture last time that cost me… but I 100% went faster and held my pace. A 29 minute PB for an Olympic Distance cycle, I am really happy with this stat.
T2 – 2:58
Not a lot to say about T2. The bike finished up a ramp which is the hardest part of the ride. A simple change and I was out. I also managed to do it 30 seconds quicker than last time. I will take that.
Run – 44:04
The run is always my best bit. In any triathlon I know when I get to this bit I will be OK. My plan was a sub 45 min 10k, I wanted to sit around a 7 min mile and see how it went. It went well. I felt good on the whole run, and maintained my pace throughout. I was not flat out, and could have gone a couple of minutes faster, but would have hated it… instead I finished feeling great.
The only downside of the run was how busy it was. I didn’t have any major delays but definitely ran a little slower because it was so busy. Also the turn marker was up from Saturday. Saturday had 4 laps, and 3 on Sunday. There was a 200 metres until the turn sign, and it was much longer than that… a little disappointing on first time round haha, but I worked out the reason and it was fine. Its a lovely flat course except the ramp to the expo for lap change and finish.
It was good to see Annie and Nick on the course, and I hadn’t realised I ran slightly quicker than last time. Only 30 seconds, but it all adds up.
Finish – 2:40:41
So a huge 28 minute PB for my second Olympic Distance triathlon. I definitely preferred the Westminster route. Despite the rain and wind, I am happy with my performance. I’ve decided I definitely don’t like open water swimming, but that’s ok. To be honest, like most things, I go for a challenge, so I will just embrace the bits I don’t enjoy.
Doing these things are always better with friends, and Nick and Annie were fantastic, so lovely to catch up with them at the end. For me this is step one of my Ironman Training. I have London Duathlon next, followed by Ironman Weymouth 70.3, and then the big one… if they let me in the County… Ironman California.
So what are your working towards?