Well, we did it! On Saturday 8 August, 21 of us from Perrys, Cannon Services (UK) and friends and family, met up at the Excel Centre on the banks of the Royal Victoria Dock to take part in the London Triathlon. These are some of my experiences:
To say I was nervous as we came up to our 2 o'clock start, is an understatement. The swim was the first discipline which meant jumping into the dock and swimming 2 laps of a course marked with inflatable buoys, 1500 metres in all. I didn't get off to a great start, seeming to forget much of what Lara, my swimming teacher, had been telling me in the weeks leading up to the event but I did, eventually, settle down. About two-thirds of the way round though, the shoulder injury that has been nagging me for a few weeks really began to hurt and as I came up to the end of the first lap I had to make a decision. Carry on and risk causing more damage, possibly forcing me out of the rest of the event, or leave the swim early and, hopefully, complete both the cycle and the run.
Whilst extremely disappointed, I decided to let my head rule my heart and leave the swim to go and get my bike in transition 1.
To my family who were watching, I apologise, as not expecting me to leave after one lap and not seeing me finish near the back were concerned that I may have sunk to the bottom of the dock, never to be seen again!
The bike was always going to be my strongest of the 3 disciplines and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 4 laps of a 10k circuit, with supporters cheering on. Unfortunately my family only got there as I was coming back on the final lap (having still been waiting for me to exit the water!) but it was a real boost to see them waving and shouting from the side. There were some seriously fast riders on the course and some incredible pieces of kit, with matching price tags, no doubt. The call "on the right" meant that someone was just about to overtake you………. on the right, clever, huh? I am pleased to say that I made the call a few times!
From the bike, transition 2 went into the run. 10k, slightly undulating, which for me (and many others) was a mixture of running and walking as we completed the 4 laps. Again, it was great to have people cheering on, you certainly couldn't miss the towering figure of Stewart standing close to the final bend. There were also words of encouragement from both friends and complete strangers alike as you passed each other or ran beside them. Then, as I entered the hall for the final time and crossed the line I heard my name read out and I was confronted by the offer of a pint of lager (non- alcoholic!), the "finish line" photograph, and hugs from my family. Something that started out as an off-the-cuff comment a year ago was finally over.
To be part of the largest triathlon in the world (13,000 competitors over 2 days) was just brilliant, sharing the event with some serious athletes and those who, like us, were doing it for the challenge and to raise money for charity.
After the event, I invested in a post-race massage on my aching shoulder and legs which, whilst uncomfortable at the time, is probably responsible for me being able to walk downstairs this morning and type this! It was, though, part way through the massage that the realisation dawned on me that earlier in the day, I had given my wife the car keys and my phone for safekeeping and that half an hour ago she had left with the rest of the family to catch the train back home……….doh! After having to admit this to my two colleagues with whom I had travelled up, (thanks gents for not calling me rude names, at least to my face!) there were some frantic phone calls and a while later my little brother, having quickly jumped off of the train at Lewisham and travelled back up the line, appeared back at the Excel. We quickly loaded the bikes and headed off for Kent, tired but happy.
My thanks go to all those that took part or came up to support us, to those that have been more than generous with their sponsorship, to Matthew and Lara for their patience in improving my swimming technique and my confidence in the open water, and to my family for their unending support in allowing me to indulge my mid-life crisis!
As I sit here typing this blog I have been reflecting on my decision, yesterday. I am disappointed not to have completed the full distance in the swim but did I make the right call? Yes, I think so. Will I do another triathlon?………………………..