Last weekend I competed in the World Triathlon Seres Grand Final in London, UK. When I set my schedule for the 2013 season, September 15th this was one of the circled dates. Being there was a great accomplishment, but I wasn’t in the race to be a participant. I was in London to compete–ready to see how I stacked up against the world’s best.
Now, “world’s best” is a term that gets thrown around an awful lot…
In this case, “world’s best” meant the 70 male triathletes who had best proven their talents in 2013, and I was one of them. Mentally and physically I was in a good place, and I thought with a great day I could crack the top-20. I had a good swim through the chilly Serpentine river in downtown London, but a poor first transition cost me a chance at making the lead pack on the bike. I’ve been practicing my transitions, but sometimes it doesn’t go the way you planned. That’s life–er, I mean, that’s racing. I settled in with a group of 30 or so guys, and we maintained a :30 to :40 gap to the leaders on the bike. While it may not seem like much, in a race this competitive :40 is an eternity. For some perspective, the time gap between my 36th place finish and 20th place was 1:00. It was an additional :47 to 4th place.
Through the second transition and onto the early parts of the run, I focused on staying within myself. I was confident that some of the guys up the road would come back to me if I stayed patient. Not enough of them did, and I know where I need to improve to become more competitive in 2014. I finished a respectable 36th, but if you know me then you know 36th in the world is about 35 places behind where I want to finish.
|Look at the spectators–London Weather!|
The International Triathlon Union does a fantastic job organizing these races in big cities all over the world. They put on the world’s best events, give the races the world’s best coverage, and attract the world’s best competition. This year I raced in San Diego, Hamburg, and London, and I hope to take part in the entire 7 or 8 race series next season.
It’s a strange feeling to compete on one of these world-class courses. It’s a little ironic that I was biking past and through historical landmarks including Buckingham Palace and the Wellington Arch, yet all my focus was on the other competitors. I remember at one point looking up and seeing Big Ben in the distance, yet the giant clock only reminded me of the time gap to the front guys. While other tourists will leave London with memories of historical tours and photos of the changing of the guard, my London experiences taught me the streets around Buckingham Palace are really slippery when they’re wet. Hyde Park also runs slightly uphill from east to west. Appreciate history–but don’t be afraid to make your own.
|Picture of the course in front of Buckingham Palace (photo from londontown.com)|
This experience was sweeter because I shared it with those I love. My family has supported me from the beginning, and to have them cheering me on meant a great deal. It was very much their race too.