On the day that top British triathlete Helen Jenkins secured her London 2012 qualification slot with an inspiring win in the Dextro Energy Triathlon London, another team got ready to take on the Hyde Park course: The TW Relay Team.
As the watch hands rushed ever closer to our race slot, the nerves really started to kick in, for me at least. Triathlon suddenly seemed a very alien and terrifying discipline compared to running races alone. Would I accidentally disqualify our team, would I fall off on some of the sharp bends of the course and how could I possibly compare to some of the keen triathletes racking up around me?
Fortunately pre-race nerves don't last too long. As soon as I was running with the bike into the transition zone, I felt the rush of nerves and adrenaline combine into that heady feeling you only get in races. Then before I had much more time to think, it was time to get stuck into the course.
The first of the three laps seemed the hardest. Every time I saw the signs saying 'sharp corner ahead', I slowed significantly and I quickly realised how much more bend practice I need for future races.
Pacing on traffic-free roads also felt quite surreal after getting used to constant stop-starting on London's roads. The first half of the first lap I went out too fast and started flagging, then I pulled the pace back for the second half and remained at a steady speed.
At the end of the race I still felt quite fresh legged and I could have easily notched up another few laps at my race pace. Given that I could cycle 22K in 45 minutes on a Wattbike on resistance level four, I know I was capable of going faster than my final race time (53:42). Letting me down was not getting enough traffic-free bike practise, not using a device to measure my pace or RPM and being overly cautious on the day.
Having typed that lament, I can happily admit that I loved the race itself. Part of the battle building up to the Dextro Energy Triathlon London was to conquer my irrational dislike of cycling. Before race day I had already achieved that milestone. The race was an added bonus and as exhilarating and rewarding as any running equivalent.
And as first cycling races go, you couldn't ask for more; the marshals were the friendliest I've experienced and fellow (rival) triathlon teams cheered me on as I raced to and from our rack. My friends came along to cheer and add to my collection entitled 'the world's least photogenic racer' (thanks guys!). I even got to congratulate Helen Jenkins on her win in person in the VIP lounge. Well it's a tough life being a journalist...
I'm a little disappointed we didn't hit our target of sub-1:30 (our final race time was 1:40:23) and I take a hefty portion of the blame for not making my legs work as hard as they could have, but it's only a shade of disappointment. I'm really proud of what I achieved both in training and on the day, I Ioved the race and it was great competing alongside Alice and James.
Perhaps I'm being overly optimistic, but I I know I can do better at my next race, the Valencia Triathlon, next month. On my to-do list is to join a triathlon club and to start swotting up on racing techniques. The TW Relay Team may be over, but its legacy lives on.