Leap Day Sports - The Triathlife of Jesse Thomas

London Triathlon Race Report

Wow.  Dudes swim fast.  

But….that actually wasn't too bad.

As usual, I was pretty disappointed with my race when I crossed the finish line.  And as usual, once I talked to the people that know me best, saw the actual results, and digested the performance a bit, I felt a lot better about it.  So here are my initial thoughts on my first draft-legal race, The London Triathlon.  If this is too much info for you to handle, you should at least read the last paragraph.

Swim:  58th (out of 70), 20:27

Me swimming with the lead group…before the race starts.

I was expecting to get dropped on the swim, and the short story is…I got dropped.  I was in the back of a group (right where I wanted to be) for the first 600-700 meters, and then didn't go around the buoy very well (by which I mean I ran into it), and next thing you know, I'm in No Man's Land.  I started swimming by myself, and for the rest of the swim thought I was in last place and was worried that I would miss the cutoff time (25 minutes) and completely embarrass myself.  I literally swam the rest of the way solo, which is not what you want to do if you swim like I do (slow and not in a straight line).  However, turns out I came out in 20:27, which is a 1500m PR for me, and I was only 2.5 minutes off the lead pack, which is a ways, but a significant improvement over the 4-5 minutes the lead group used to put on me (and this lead group included world champions and multiple Olympians).

Bike:  63rd, 1:00:17 

Ok, so this isn't as bad as it looks.  There was a small group of six guys that came out of the water 20-30 seconds in front of me.  I hammered the transition and the first part of the bike to catch them, but it wasn't in the cards.  They grouped up with another 4-5 guys about 3 minutes into the ride and were out of sight in another minute or two.  So I went back to hanging out in No Man's Land, only this time not in a wetsuit, but on a borrowed road bike with broken aerobars.  Needless to say, this was the mental low point of the race.  I couldn't see anyone in front of me, or behind me.  I was pretty pissed.  I mean, I could have just signed up for a non-drafting race and had the exact same experience, at least I would have been on a TT bike.  After I gave in to my fate, I realized that I would at least get a nice ride through central London on closed roads, which is kind of cool.  So I started hammering, and rode the first 10 miles completely solo.  At the first turn-around, I saw a group of six about 30 seconds behind me, so I slowed down, let them catch me, and then rode with them the rest of the way.  It was a solid pace, and WAY more fun than suffering alone.  So while my time was slow, I'll bet I lost 2-4 minutes in the first 10 miles during my little Tour of London.

Run:  4th, 33:30

I had a good run.  It would have been nice to get the fastest time, but the guys who ran faster than me (top 3 finishers) have some pretty impressive credentials – Courtney Atkinson (2008 Olympian, 4x Aussie National Champ), Tim Don (2006 World Champ, 4x British National Champ), Jarrod Shoemaker (2008 USA Olympian, U23 World Champ).  I had no idea where I was in the race, and luckily had Lauren there to keep me positive and cranking.  I think I could have run faster had I been in the thick of things, but overall I am pleased with the run effort.

Overall:  27th Place, 1:57:32  Full Results Here

You know it's been a solid race when you're sweaty, blurry, and biting your upper lip with frizzed-out hair.

27th Place doesn't exactly knock my socks off.  I mean, the winners finished 8 minutes in front of me…..But, with some perspective, this was a pretty decent performance.  Main points being:

  1. I PR'd in the swim, even though I swam most of it alone.  I was also the closest I've ever been to the leaders, and in the most competitive swim group I've ever raced against by far.
  2. According to the results, if I had come out of the water 20 seconds sooner, I would have biked at least 1.5-2 minutes faster, leaving me in 20th place.  If I had come out the water 1 minute faster, I would have biked 3-4 minutes faster, putting me in the top 12-15.  A minute is a lot, but it's definitely do-able.
  3. This was my first draft legal race, and it was against Olympians, World Champions, and a ton of other internationally competitive racers, so I need to not be so freaking hard on myself.  27th really isn't that bad a finish, my parents and wife would tell me it's actually a good finish.  I won't go that far, but I see what they're saying. 

I obviously need to swim faster to be competitive in these races.   But, I absolutely believe I can find another minute on the swim, which I think will get me 3-4 minutes total in the race.  Two minutes on the swim?  Who knows.  But the potential is definitely out there.

The most interesting and funny part of the race:

So the run was 4 loops, and when I started my run, the leaders were just starting their second loop.  So I effectively jumped right into the thick of the race.  This isn't a big deal really, except I was the only guy that far back (being lapped) who was actually running the same pace as the leaders.  So "Channel 4" was broadcasting the race live, and I was moving my way up through the top 8, and apparently creating some buzz with the TV producer because their motorcycle (and camera) filmed me off and on for probably 40% of my run…The whole time I was moving up from 60th to 27th place!  Nice!  I tried to give them a signal, etc, and then I was like, you know what, who cares?  Inside Out Sports, my team sponsor, will love the exposure, so just go with it!  I at least had the decency to tell couple guys I passed not to worry, because they had a lap up on me….

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