Before I start, I must say that one of the pleasures of being
able to race is to be able to say "thank you" to some of the volunteers without
whom.... There are literally hundreds of them out there who turn out,
often at stupid o'clock to stand around in the wet and cold, and with little or
no thanks from us, the competitors. I can't stop and say 'thanks' to
everyone, but I do try and thank a couple along the way. The looks on
their faces are worth a gold medal to me and so I'll say it here to all those
people who give up their time for often scant reward - THANK YOU.
Ok, enough of that. London, second time around.
Arrived at the Excel a little after 11, having left home at just after 8am and dropping Shona at the
outlaws around 10. Managed to park in
the basement; parking, as last year, cost a tenner for the day, though with no
entrance or exit control, I do wonder whether anyone actually checked the cars.
No matter, my conscience is clear.
Found my way up to the main concourse, registered, collected
timing chip and found the delectable Trudi Willis from the MND Association. I've been
in contact with this girl for a year or two, and so it was nice to be finally
able to say 'hello' in the flesh. Such a lovely girl, so personable,
enthusiastic and a
credit to the charity.
Went to rack up, and discovered I'd forgotten to bring my
helmet. Thankfully it was in the car, and not a million miles away either,
so I parked the bike by registration and retrieved said item. At this
point Nicola texted to say that she and Kev, my PT, were on the way; this news
cheered me immensely and, when I did bump into them later, it gave me a huge
lift - thanks guys.
For various reasons I was a little slow/late getting across to
the swim assembly area. Don't suppose I missed much, it's the same guy who
does Blenheim, I've heard him a few times now and he does get us going. We
finally got downstairs and into the water; there was quite a crowd and, believe
me, even when you can't see your supporters, the noise does give a bit of a lift.
We started, we swam and, for once I started on the inside track
- but not too close to the front. Tried a bit of crawl but not too often;
I'm still conscious of a dodgy bicep tendon but, for all that, I did a bit here and
there. I wasn't right at the back and, provisionally, am happy with the
The reworking of the Excel meant that the routes were slightly
different compared to last year. The stairs up were still as damp, and the
floor didn't seem quite so slippery - though the matting did help a bit there.
Found the bike quickly enough, helmet, socks (pre-worn and bedded in), shoes,
glasses and race belt (watch the fitting next time, one hole ripped!) were put on and I
Think the bike went ok, though I could do with getting
more confidence on the drop bars and generally on the speed side of things. It wasn't
a disaster, until I hit the purpose-built temporary ramp back into the Excel.
Managed to pop the rear tire but thankfully it hung on long enough for me to a)
get up the ramp and b) get to the dismount line.
Trotted back to my slot, changed shoes, dropped the bike and
glasses and headed out at a slow pace for the run. Yes, slow. The
left calf had twanged in the water whilst attempting the crawl and again on the
bike. I was going to finish, and in a good time, so I wasn't going to
attempt going for glory.
Spotted the gang from the charity on the way out, and indeed several times
along the way; tried to smile each time. Finally spotted Shona and Chris
on the way back and also saw Kev & Nic several times. Seriously, you have
no idea how good it feels to see supporters out on the route.
The run was a bit of a slog, but I kept going, stopping only to
walk around the sharp end of circuit turns and to take on water. I stuck
to a steady pace all the way and tried not to run myself into the ground,
bearing in mind he earlier niggles in the calf. Saving it for the final
few yards was the name of the game, so that I could at least look like I could
keep on going. Sometimes easier said than done, but all that time spent on
the treadmill does pay off.
Provisional times (all improved on last year) received on the day at 22:29:
Swim 21:02, bike 42:37, run 28:23 - total 1:40:57. Which
beats last years 1:48:29 by 7:32 - so yes, I'm very happy with that.
Thanks to all the wonderful people who have made donations to
the cause! There is still time to donate, please be as generous as you