Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Race Report - Part I

Well I say Part I but I may get this done in a oner - in which case it's Part I of I... ;o)....ok just finished and it's Part I of a few parts by the looks of it... blimey I can go on when I get into the rhythem can't I - try to pay attention now and not get too bored ;o)

Where to begin... hummm... well generally the week before the race I was feeling ok. Having noted that Science in Sport (my preferred fueling brand) had brought out a caffeine "energy" version of their gel I thought I'd get some and do some training with it... So Thursday morning saw me get up early (6am - very early for me), to have half a gel and go and swim. Felt great in the water - either the gel or just me. Still the gel seemed to digest ok... so I thought I'd check with my last pre-event spin out of a 20k bike/ 4k run... Got up early doors again Friday did the bike, had the gel and ran on it completely fine. So the race nutrition was clear in my mind.... ensure fully hydrated before, have a normal gel just before the swim, take 500ml of carbo/ electrolyte fluid plus two gels on the bike (1 caffeine, 1 normal), then stuff another 2 gels in my pockets at T2 for the run (if needed), again 1 caff and 1 normal. Good, fuel strategy set .. tick.

Next thing to sort was the racking/ staying over dilemma. Us Sunday afternoon racers had to rack bikes and helmets (but nothing else) Saturday. After some discussion with training buddy Leanne we worked out we could take one car Sat (a bit of a squash, 3 adults + 2 bikes) and another car Sunday - which Dan (the superhero mentioned in previous reports) driving Sunday - which would have been ideal then I wouldn't have to drive myself the 2 hours home whilst exhausted.... Anyhow - in the end that didn't work out as I hadn't realised my hotel was on a 5 day cancellation policy (silly me, there's me thinking in the modern era it'd be 24hours). So being a tight wade and not wanting to part with money for nothing in return I turned back to plan A and stayed overnight Saturday. In the end I think this worked out well - and probably a lot less stressful then coming home and having to deal with potential traffic nightmares the next day.... Sat strategy understood - tick.

So all was set. I'd leave some point Saturday. Meet Leanne and Dan, rack bikes, have a little looky around the expo, watch some sprint races go off and generally get my bearings. And that's when I started getting nervous, excited, with the occasional feeling of being generally overwhelmed. And it was still only Friday night - just under 48hours to go!! OMG

The day before the race:
So I woke early - almost giddy with excitement. Pfaffed for England around the house, kept thinking thoughts like "I must remember my camera", "I must remember my race belt", "what if I forget my bike shoes? That'll be ok as I'll wear my trainers. God what if I forget my trainers"... and so on. Obviously the thing to have done at this stage would have been to write a list and get about packing. No not this triathlete. I thought what was needed was a little bit of blackcurrant jam making! Well it turned out to be not only a relaxing distraction, but also a success. I'm pleased to say the jam did set and actually tastes nice too. Things were boding well!! ;o)

I did text Leanne at some point Saturday morning when I started getting the excited/ nervous thing again to see if they'd left yet. No came the reply - evidently she was in the same mental state as I. Although note there was no jam making in her household!! ;o)

I finally packed my transition/kit bag and my overnight bag and set off about midday. As can be the case the roads were a nightmare and it did take me a full two++ hours to get to the east side of London. On the dual carriageway coming into the city I got my first glipse of the buildings at Canary Warf which was near the venue for the race and the adrenalin started to flow.

I had to negotiate some closed roads (due to the sprints that were going on). And finally got to the hotel which was next door to the Excel Centre and Victoria Docks where the whole event was going down.

The hotel was great - well it did have aircon which I was more then thankful for. The temperatures were already above anything we had had over here in the last two months, so on heading to the centre to rack my bike I decided the best thing to do was keep on drinking, either the free water or free gatorade - anything to remain hyrdated. The whole place was just buzzing with an atmosphere you only get a major sporting occasions. Lots of people racing and loads more watching and waiting for loved ones. Oh and the place was HUGE. I mean really REALLY big. Over the two days there were 12,000 triathletes racing in a mix of super-sprint, sprint, team relay and Olympic events. So I guess it was always going to be big - but have you ever seen a transition area like this......OH MY GOD! Was about all I could think! The photo above is taken on a installed bridge taking competitors and supporters over the run entry/ exit lanes. My bike was racked somewhere toward the very end (far, far, away) so the start of the run was a few 100m before you even got out of the door! The picture to the left was taken from my bike rack. You can just about see the gantry of the bridge in the distance where the one above was taken. By the time we were in transition on Sunday the place was heaving full of bikes. It would have been one hell of an insurance claim if there had been a fire overnight or something!

I met up with Leanne in Transition.. our bikes were on the same row (along with about 100+others!), about 50m apart. Lucky for me I was only the third bike stand in so I thought I'd be able to spot her easy enough the next day.

Having got the bikes sorted Leanne, Dan and I went along to look at one of the swim starts going off. Talk about fish feeding frenzy!
The picture first left is some swimmers mid-race. The blue/ black jetty you can see is the entry point into the water, with the start line to the right just out of shot. The jetty further along with a bigh orange buoy is the exit point. As you can see a lovely flat dock to swim in :o)

This photo you can just make out all the fishee's in the water waiting to start. It really was a great venue :o) Although I must say the water ain't all that great .. eugh!

Having watched a bit out in the sun I bide a fond farewell to Leanne and Dan who were driving back home, and went in search of a white mesh cap to run in the next day. No way was I going to be doing myself any favours by running in the dark one (with no air vents) that I had with me. I'm pleased to report however I sourced my cap quite quickly and despite several attempts to shop I evidently wasn't in the mood and that cap was the only thing I puchased! Amazing! Finally, getting a bit feet weary, I headed back for the nice coolness of my room to get some food in and rest up. Not wanting to partake in the buffet I eyed up a nice looking risotto on the restaurant room service menu. Only to be told I couldn't have it as the menu wasn't running due to the buffet! Hummm I had to resort to the out of hours room menu where the only non saturated fat food I could find was ...... chicken cooked in a yellow thai curry sauce.... I did pause for thought before I ordered it... and ordered it anyway - nothing like a hearty meal before a race eh! Obviously I just had to have dessert and as there was a cheese board option I had that too!! Having quenched both my thirst and appetite I was feeling decidely uncomfortable with my feet up on the bed and decided the best thing for me (and my indegestion) was to go for a little stroll as the sun was setting. Lovely..... and that's when I saw this.....

Yes they had moved the buoys back. From the 400m sprint circuit... back out beyond the boat docked up... right out to my hotel!!! This is when I had another OMG moment!

Seeing the length of the swim there in front of me was just amazing.

The sun was setting. The course was set. My bike and helmet were happily in transition. I had all my kit. I had eaten. Things were coming together. A dream of a year ago had one more sleep before it became a reality.

I went to bed thinking ... EK! With a few OMGs thrown in and the occasional "I must be mad! What was I thinking"

Sweet dreams! Part II "RACE DAY" coming soon :o)


  1. Eeek! LOL. Get on with it, will ya? Like I got any room to talk ;-)

  2. Holy smokes! that transition area is HUGE. would have freaked me out for sure.

  3. You weren't wrong - it's definitely building into a Dickensian epic!

  4. Cut to the chase - does Harry kill Voldermort in the end?

  5. I just know I would lose my bike in there! Man that is huge! The views on the water are gorgeous! Can't wait for the next part!