Posted by: keepfishing | August 22, 2008

London #3: An afternoon out in Docklands

In a rigorous scientific experiment investigating exactly how far adrenaline alone will take you, I recently attempted to survive a triathlon. Merely half the length of the Olympic distance, swimming 750m, cycling 20km and running 5km still didn’t exactly sound like a walk in the park.

Race preperation was less than perfect. Apart from the lack of serious training, I was at a wedding the day before in Edinburgh, ceidlidhing the night away and enjoying the odd cigar. After an extensive 5 hour sleep, I rose to catch a 7:30am train to London, which spent most of the journey threatening to be cancelled. Fortunately, it survived (although still begging the question of what kids who steal signalling wire do with it all??) and after arriving only a little late, began the negotiation of the underground. Now the tube isn’t a particularly fun way to travel at the best of times, but when you’ve got a full 80l backpack and a soaking wet road bike (did I mention the driving wind and rain?) that threatens to muddy everyone’s jeans, it becomes a little trickier. Eventually, along with some other bold race-travellers, we emerged at West Ham and contemplated our next challenge: how to get the ExCel Centre.

Some of the more intrepid had printed a map, so we started out following them (an 80l bag on top of a bike with narrow slick tyres suddenly seemed not such a smart idea), which fell flat approximately 100m down the road when the road was closed. So we embarked on a trip through the local estate, avoiding small children throwing rocks at us (ok, not really) and the lorries using the flyover who didn’t really want a man on his bike to be on the road.


Eventually I got to the centre a couple of hours before the race time and promptly started stealing as much of the free Gatorade as possible, in order to create the optimum hydration schedule. Unfortunately this was a tactic doomed to failure as I managed to drop my water bottle as soon as I had emerged from the centre on my bike, leaving me with 40 minutes of drinking the puddle water sprayed up by the bike in front. 

What eventually transpired was surprisingly a lot of fun. Unlike half marathons, where I get pretty bored, I was always able to look forward to the next section. Admittedly, training properly for the swim might have helped, where I mostly felt like drowning and resorted to breaststroke by the end so I could at least see the folk I was running into. Practicing the transition between cycling and running may also have been advisable, as having a stride length precisely equal to my pedal diameter meant I spent the first 500m running like I had a brick up my arse.

Ultimately though, the expensive purchase of a tri wetsuit was worth it, and I can’t wait to do my next one and actually train for it. For those interested, I finished the swim in 18m07, the cycle in 43:05 and the run in 23:13. Add a few mins for the transitions and it totalled at 1:30:43. Not too shabby, me thinks. All in time for me to change, put back on the back pack and cycle 5 miles to the nearest train station, so I could make it in time for my sister’s wedding the next day. 

Worth a look is the footage of me crossing the line (put 2279 in as the race number), if only for my bizarre floppy ankles. Anyone have a spare ligament I can have?

Anyone want to do the Olympic distance next year?



  1. You were my hero until yeaterday.

    Yesterday I found out my brother is joining the United States Marine Corps. Hoo-hah!

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