Last weekend I took part in the Vitality World Triathlon London. A first for me, so whatever I did was going to be a PB. So nothing to stress about other than getting across London with my bike and all my kit to go and have a bit of fun.
Whilst I took to running only a few years ago and I’ve moved from strength to strength, swimming and cycling have always come naturally to me. Maybe because I think of them as more playful sports. Growing up in the sleepy seaside village I did back in Cape Town, it’s not hard to understand why. Our lives centred around the beach, swimming in the open sea and jumping on our bikes in search of an adventure.
Running was something we were made to do for athletics and we never really grasped why it was important to train and honestly we were never really inclined to do so. We would head out into the dunes and head up the side of a mountain only to see what the view was like from the top.
I’ve forgotten a lot of this over the years and was reminded about it when I was reading something the other day which mentioned that maybe part of why we run is to find the joy we lost from our childhood and the journey of being a runner is discovery. I definitely agree, as it’s brought me back in touch with many things I’d stopped through the years, like jumping on a bike and heading into the hills until there’s no fuel left in the tank or finding an oasis to swim in which isn’t chlorinated.
I had given up on the idea of being able to swim in the sea here, mainly because it’s far away but I’ve discovered a renewed love for swimming in the ponds dotted around London. If it’s big enough for me to do a few laps in it, you’ll probably find me there!
I suppose it was only a matter of time before I joined my love of running with the playfulness I experience swimming and cycling and after a few nudges from friends who enjoy triathlons, I signed up to my first sprint.
The experience on the day is far different than a marathon, which has this huge build up to the start, where triathlons have start times throughout the day and people entering and exiting the transition area all the time. Yet there’s peace in the chaos. Rack up, store your bag and head to the pontoon.
I had been warned of the group swim start in open water triathlons. Choppy, people swimming over each other and feeling like it’s a case of sink or swim. I can confirm everything is true. But then it’s easy to stop, pop up, see where people are heading and figure the best path ahead and just go. 750m passes by quickly and before you know it you’re pulling the top of your wetsuit off and heading to your bike.
I really enjoy cycling, so doing 22km without too much change in elevation was going to be fine and was perfect time to have a bite to eat and take on some hydration so that I wouldn’t feel the need to on the run. Anyway, I could push a little on the run as it was only 5km.
I finished in 01:23:57, coming 29th in category and 163rd overall
Swim: 0:15:22 Bike: 0:41:53 Run: 0:19:42
I used to feel that concentrating on being good at one thing would be the answer but when it comes to running, I found that it’s crosstraining which makes you better at your game. It put me back on my bike and even though its only mainly commuting I do with it, it always manages to be fun (I know, a bit weird coming from someone navigating some of the worst traffic in London). This year running dropped me back in the water regularly and it’s this which has changed not only my enjoyment of sport but what I get out of it.
Sometimes there isn’t simply one thing which is the answer to being better at what you do.