The London Sprint Triathlon was yesterday: 750m swim, 21km bike, 5.2km run. The Excel Centre was quite a big, daunting venue for my first race of any kind, and my race was last on at 17:00.
It was a horrible day for it – persistent rain and a bit of a wind. I’d managed a couple of swims in my wetsuit, and it was beginning to feel less like an alien lifeform engulfing me. I knew I could do the distance.
In the event, however, it wasn’t the distance, the wetsuit or the open water that bothered me it was complete inability to deal with swimming with so many people (over 300 in my wave).
I just couldn’t get any rhythm, with feet and arms and heads everywhere. So I panicked and hyperventilated. The unfamiliarity of the open water, and of my first race obviously contributed, but the main problem was swimming in a crowd.
Once I was away from other swimmers, I got into some rhythm, but every time I caught up with a group, I’d start to panic again and lose the plot. The kayak marshals were great, but I nearly gave up there and then. In the end, I completed the swim leg in over 28 minutes.
I walked slowly through transition 1, and used it to regroup, but felt much better once I was on my bike and starting to overtake people. I’d always known this would be my best discipline, and was reasonably pleased with my time of 46:29 in persistent rain and wind.
By the time I got to the run, I just decided to treat it as a jog in the park, and make sure I got home in one piece, without walking. It took me 31:37, and I finished in 1:55:23.
I felt pretty good afterwards, and just have slightly tired legs today. I’d do it again, but I’d try to pick an event with fewer competitors, and sort out my open water swimming, so that I have more in reserve to deal with the splashing crowds.