When I saw an office email going around about supporting Impetus-PEF charity at a triathlon event at Eton Dorney Lake, I immediately got myself signed up. I liked the idea of fundraising as a part of a team, and I’d been wanting to try out the course for some time. With the race being near the end of season, it was optimal timing for testing my fitness.
My preparation for the Impetus Triathlon was considerably better than Leeds Castle. I was happy with my performance there but I knew I had a lot more to give. After racing at Leeds Castle, I’d gone to the Velopark regularly with my good friends at Greenwich Tritons. I built on my fitness and started putting in some decent bike miles on the turbo and closed road circuits. Things started going well. A good run at the New Forest 10K, a 5K PB at parkrun and a 30 minute PB at the Velopark. Things were certainly starting to come together and just in time for the Impetus Triathlon.
The Impetus Triathlon was heavily sponsored by prominent City organisations, like CVC, Blackstone, KKR, Apax, Coller Capital and Inflexion. Having big companies and professionals taking part in fundraising in this way came with obvious advantages, and in total the event raised a staggering £270k.
For me, it was an interesting experience racing with other city professionals. On the one hand, it was a smaller field, so less people to contend with on the day, but on the other hand, I was competing with a group of people who probably had stronger motivation/drive and stamina than most people and who certainly had the money to buy the more expensive bikes and gear! My hope was to do the best I could and hopefully match the competition on the day.
The race was on a Saturday, so Clinton and I stayed at a hotel near Windsor castle on the Friday. Saturday morning soon arrived and we drove to Windsor Castle at about 7.30am. My race wasn’t starting until 9.30 but I wanted to leave plenty of time for registration and parking. Registration was relaxed and easy and there were quite a few stalls set up, offering free snacks and drinks.
After I registered and stuck the requisite stickers on my bike and helmet, I went into transition and laid out my stuff. There were several races running on the same day: the Olympic distance triathlon (1.5 swim/42.4km bike/10k run), Duathlon (5k run/31.8k bike/5k run), “challenge” distance triathlon (800m swim/31.8km bike/7.5k run) and sprint distance triathlon (400m swim/21.2k bike/5k run). Mine was the sprint – the fourth event to start that morning, behind Olympic distance triathlon, Duathlon and challenge triathlon.
By the time I’d laid out my staff and wriggled half into my wetsuit, a bunch of people doing the Olympic distance were already coming out of the water. I gave my office roommate Peter a quick cheer as he came out, then got myself ready for my swim start. Briefing done, we were told to get into the water, which was chillier than I thought! I’d debated earlier in the week whether I should swim without a wetsuit (in order to save time at transition) and I was glad that I’d chosen the wetsuit in the end!
The event started with a 400m swim. I was aiming to start at the back but, during the two minutes treading cold water, my mind zoned out and I ended up drifting to the front – school girl error! I tried to stay with the front pack but I didn’t quite have the pace so for most of the swim I was basically swimming on my own.
My swim time was 7:27, which was my fastest 400m time in open water! I thought I was way back but it turned out I was the 10th swimmer (and the 4th woman) to come out of the water.
The transition was less than 100m from the swim exit. Once I had my wetsuit down to my waist, I jogged to transition, chucked my wetsuit on the floor, then quickly put on my helmet and shoes, and off I went. Somehow this took 2 and a half minutes? I definitely need to get faster at transition.
The bike route was flat as flat could be and comprised of 4 laps around the lake. There was nowhere that you could take a wrong turning, nowhere to get lost and only maybe two slightly tricky bends. other than that is was flat, straight and easy.
As soon as I got on the bike, I began passing quite a few people, but I was passed by quite a few people too. I could hear them coming with their disc wheels rumbling as they caught me up and passed me. Quite a few people were on proper time trial bikes with deep section rims making me a feel a little out of place. None of the people who passed me were women though, and that gave me extra confidence, knowing that I had to be doing well in the female race! When I headed back towards the charity tents I checked the time on my watch and it said that my average pace was 30km/hr – not too shabby!
The transition to the run was very quick. Bike racked, helmet off and I was good to go.
The run course was very simple course – out and back on a completely flat path along the right hand shore of the lake. We did this twice and then had 100m or so to the finish line. Once again, as easy as it could be. I felt a slight niggle in my right glute as I headed out but when I started running I felt all right – I was actually surprised by how strong my legs felt, given that I hadn’t really done any brick sessions in preparation for this race! The interval sessions with the Tritons must have paid off. Before long I was gaining on people ahead of me and soon started overtaking almost everybody.
I continued to run well and just before the turnaround on the first lap I saw I saw the first lady coming back! I recognised her because she was the only one who didn’t wear a wetsuit for the swim! I knew I wasn’t far behind her so I continued to push the pace. Near the end of the first lap I passed her, and I knew then that I could win the race if I just kept going!
I ran a 5k time of 20:48 – and ended up taking first place in the race! My finishing time was 1h14 – knocking over 15 minutes off my previous sprint PB!
After I finished my race, I went back to the course to cheer for Peter and Edwina. Peter had a really good run out and ran 37 minutes something for a 10k off the bike! He also came third in the Olympic Distance race, which was pretty incredible since the competition in the men’s field was so high!
While winning is not everything, it certainly felt pretty good to get on the podium in my first year of doing triathlon. I loved feeling strong and fit, I loved being part of something amazing and I loved seeing how far I’d come since the last one.
With the win in my bag, my debut triathlon season was over. I’d certainly given it a good go and given that I hadn’t been able to swim last year I’d given it a pretty good bash I reckon! The aim for next year is to build on this year and step up to the next distance. My eyes are firmly on Ironman distance in 2019!