AJ Bell London Triathlon 2018

cert20x30-SUNA5158The AJ Bell London Triathlon (21 years strong) is the worlds largest triathlon with over 11,000 participants. Overall, if I consider the race day as a whole, they didn’t do a bad job. On the other hand, when you have raced with awesome RD’s and venues…the London Tri left some things to be desired.

1. If you have such a large social media presence with a “worlds largest” in your name then when people ask questions – ANSWER THEM! Dedicate someone to respond to questions posted on your site or update the freakin’ FAQ’s on a regular. NOBODY EVER responded to one damn question asked by anybody. You had to rely on word of mouth answers from previous race athletes

2. Athlete Guide. Just burn the damn thing on the trash heap of misinformation/no-information.
* Expo – Who knows? Hours? – Whenever? Just make sure you are in the building 90 min before race time.
* Transition opens? – Just be there 90 min before race time.
* Transition closes? – who knows. It didn’t. People arrived whenever and joined a group when they were ready.
* Could you pick up your race packet the day before the race? – Who knows. Didn’t say. Just recommended you be there 90 min before your wave. Due to recon, we found out that we could pick up packet before 6pm day before.
* Cutoffs? Naw, maybe, we will let you know. They “reserve the right to ask any participant to curtail any leg of the event at their discretion to ensure competitor safety….Specifically – all morning competitors must have passed the Leamouth Roundabout on second lap of bike leg by 11:40”

3. Things I had to just “get my mind right” about:
* Show up, rack and race

* A transition area the size of a football field

* You have to take off your wetsuit BEFORE you enter building, stuff in a bag while also trying to get to transition, climb 2 flights of stairs and dump at your bike.
* Where DA HELL are the restrooms/portapotties?

* Ride LEFT, Pass RIGHT (Remember to say “On Your Right”)

So, with all that said, lets get to it…

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               TODAY IS CHALLENGE DAY!

I love this picture my mother took of us walking to the transition area inside the the ExCel Center. We look fierce and ready to do battle. Time to get it done!

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When they opened the doors to the show floor it was like a line at an amusement park to get into transition and then you racked by race start/race as you arrived. 1st come first serve.

We set up our gear and then 20 min before your wave started you lined up in the chute and they gave you a swim cap right there. Okay.

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One min we were in the corral, then next we are on the dock and they are yelling for you to get in the water. It was a mass start. The horn goes off and ….

SWIM (1500m – actual 1973yds): 42min 2:08/100m
orig-SWIB0841Uneventful…EXCEPT we were swimming directly into the sun so sighting on the red pigs was damn near impossible. I took some time to front stroke while I got my bearings and found something bigger (bridge tower) that was in line with the Pig Buoy that was the first turn. I sighted as best I could on the bridge tower and made the turn. Lot of people doing breast stroke making it very hard to pass without getting kicked. Ugggaaahh. The water was calm and not as gross as I had predicted. I felt great and was pleased with my pace and time. Stripped my wetsuit, shoved it in the bag and then was directed up two flights of stairs into transition. I was not prepared for those stairs so I had long transition time so I could "safely” get up the stairs and walk on the concrete floor to transition without busting my ass…that would come much later on the run.

BIKE 80K/49.7miles 3:35/avg 14mph:

This bike course kicked my ASS. 3 laps of pure DISRESPECT. Unless the Brits have a different definition of flat & fast, there was NOTHING flat about it. NOT A DAMN THING. The first loop I was avg about 15mph despite the fact that there were very narrow curve sections where people whizzed past without saying a damn work and so close that if you were fast enough you could snatch their bottles. Nobody said “on your right”. This course and the people on it require you to have your bike handling skills sharp or you would bite it…like into a curb or jersey wall. The climbing up and out of tunnels and up and over highway ramps was just RE-DAMN-DICULOUS. By lap 3, I was OVER IT. My last 5 miles – slow as frozen molasses. I was so thrilled to be heading to transition until I saw the ramp we had to go up. It was so steep that people were unclipping, standing – anything, just to get up. Ugggaaahhh!!!!

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Side Note: People certainly are NOT used to people talking and/or encouraging each other. I don’t know how many people I scared or shocked when I said something. I nearly caused a crash when I screamed – “GO GET IT, CRYSTAL” – across the highway as I was going out on a loop and Crystal was coming back. They wasn’t ready for Wakandians.

RUN 5 miles 1:19 (pathetic zone):

orig-SUND9322It was hot as hades. CENTER OF THE SUN HOT by this time. I actually thought I was moving faster than the time says I was, but I guess stopping EVERY SINGLE TIME to drench myself with water – SLOOOWWW. The course was 4 laps which didn’t make sense to me after my first two laps…it was apparent that each lap was more than 2 miles and by time I finished the 4th lap I would be at about 7 miles. Whatever…just get it done. The course was a 4 lap obstacle course of uneven mats, poorly marked broken/uneven concrete and indoor slippery running past the GOSH DANG FINISH CHUTE 3 – THREE – FUGGING TIMES. For the love of all that is HOLY. And then it happened, on lap two, I tripped on a uneven part of the path and fell so hard that I knocked the wind out of myself. My visor and sunglasses went flying. This nice man snatched me up off the ground, gave me his water and each time he saw me on the course, he checked in. Bless him. I dusted myself off and plodded along. As I came into the hall to do my last lap, I saw Shaunna Payne Gold standing near the split for more loops or the finish talking to two ladies. I come around and they say “sorry, the Elites have started so you can’t go out.” STRAIGHT BULLSHIGGITY THAT WAS NO WHERE IN THE ATHLETES GUIDE. I suppose they didn’t want a couple of back of the pack Athena's out on the course fugging with them filming the elite race. GTFOOHWTBS. Shaunna and I stood there for a minute and then since we had no choice, I applied lipstick and we ran in together.

I adapted, improvised and overcame all the obstacles put before me. It wasn’t my best race overall, it wasn’t my worst either. I handled all the unfamiliar with a perspective of live, love and learn.  I had a wonderful time.