Note to future Team USA members: No matter where the ITU World Championships are being held, pack a hat, gloves, and warm clothes. And a parka, fur-lined boots, and thermal underwear.
Today started off in the upper 40's with water temps in the upper 50's. We could see our breath and frost was evident on the blue carpet of the finish chute. So, as a not super-fast swimmer who hates the cold, I was VERY happy (elated, overjoyed, jumping up and down...) to discover the swim had been reduced from 1500 to 750m. Supposedly that was due to some ITU rule about air temp vs water temp, but I still found it odd that last year in New Zealand, it was colder, windier, and the water temp was lower, but we swam the whole 1500 in crazy chop!!
Anyway, I am lobbing for future a ITU Grand Final in Mexico!
I set up my transition area when it opened at 5 am, with a borrowed flashlight ("torch") from the front desk of the hotel. The race began at 7, but I wasn't to head off until 9:25 so I returned to the hotel to have coffee and breakfast and stay warm!
race morning the sun made a brief appearance for a few hours!!
One new thing I did this year that I learned from watching Sarah Reinertsen was that I swam with my race number and belt on under my wetsuit since we needed them for the bike. I folded it up for the swim to get it out of the way but I never noticed it! I used the Challenged Athlete Foundation race belt she gave me for a little extra mojo.
I suited up and checked my bag, along with the 2000+ other checked bags!
I'll start with results then a brief description - I finished 27th out of 105, so roughly top quarter. The swim I was top half (49th of 105), bike I was 28th, run was 25th, T1 was 38th, T2 was 39th. The Brits are all over the top-25. It was a decent race for me, but LOOK at the top three who finished 12 and 13 minutes faster! Well done, well done!! Thanks for giving me a very high mark to aim for!
This time I took care to be at the front of the line so I'd be positioned to the far left of the pontoon, giving me a straighter shot to the first buoy and keeping the pack on right side that I tend to breath to more often. It's a long process to get through the swim corral process so I was happy when we could finally get in the water so I could....yes...pee. At that point the sun was out and the water felt pretty good. This swim was much straighter and smarter than the Aquathalon. I felt good exiting and making the long muddy run through transition. (Hi to reader Kathy who I met in the swim queue!!)
OMG, what an unbelievable course! I wished I'd had a GoPro onboard to share it as words cannot do justice. We couldn't pre-ride the route so it was hard to go all-out in parts on the first loop till I got it sorted out. There were quite a number of speed "humps" and cobblestones, metal plates, tight S turns, and four 180 degree turns. Spectators pretty much lined the course and it was probably the closest I will ever get to feeling like a pro cyclist/triathlete. Little groups of pedestrians would be hurriedly ushered across the road. We'd hear cheers in many languages, cowbells, etc. It was freaking AWESOME. I ended up in a pack of about 5 girls who changed position repeatedly over the course. I tried hard to escape them, telling myself not to let them set my pace, but we were all going all out. The wind really picked up on the last 1/4 of the ride and I had to stay on my base bar for parts just for stability. My heart rate stayed in the 170's which is like uber-threshold for me, average pace 21.4 mph, pretty decent on that type of course. I'm always happy to finish without a mechanical issue or flat, which was not the case for many.
I ran what I felt I could run, it turned out to be a 7:09/minute pace. That's better than I've been doing and my legs held up with very little "worry" on my part. It was a three-loop course and the spectators help so much! It's great to hear "Go Martin" and "Go US" and check out all the three-letter country codes on all the butts as I pass or they pass me by. Our neighbors the Hobarts happened to be in town and they came to the park to watch. It was great to see them along the course and after the race, they treated me to lunch with them and their youngest son who was very enthusiastic about the city!
One part of the course was some kind of plastic interlocking overlay that was put over a muddy path. That was not fun to run on but probably better than the mud would have been.
On each loop I passed by the USA Triathlon contingent as they were ready with the US flags and I couldn't wait to grab one on my third and final loop! As I finished, I felt a flood of emotion for a successful race, without mishap, capping off the main part of my race year. It's been a long and tough one. I made my way over to the race course and stood in one place for a very long time while I took in the race, the week, the season, the sport. I hardly knew what to do with myself next. (Eating was not an option since for some strange reason there was NO post-race food for any of the races, unless you wanted to stand in a long line at one of the food-trucks and pay for a meal.)
thanks, Hobarts for the pic!
Team USA PartyWe all look forward to the Team party the evening after the last race of the week. We had the whole Swan Pub reserved for us.
We get the commemorative pin, which is pretty cool to add to the collection. But best of all, we get to see friends, meet other triathletes, and exchange stories from the week and the year.
I asked if this was the "kids" table, but those are some talented "kids"!!!
The Team USA ladies of Endurance Films Racing Team - Laura, me, Megan, and Diane
With Tim Yount and Stephanie Praetola
My dinner from the Porchester - steak and ale pie....mmmmmmmm!!!!!
I'm off to bed for my last sleep in London. Then tomorrow I'll have breakfast with my cousin and his wife who, like my neighbors, just happened to be in London too. Roo and I head to the airport at noon, which is insanely early for a 4:20 pm flight but that's what you get for booking with the race transport service.