Tuesday, July 10, 2018

JP Morgan Run: The American Brexit (4th of July) Edition

"Well this is unexpected..."

This is my thought as it started to rain on my bike ride to Battersea Park. Don't get me wrong, I welcomed it mostly. I don't remember the last time London saw rain. It's been scorchio for weeks now... yes I am talking about London, England. My biggest concern was more me wearing a white t-shirt and getting drenched.

All my coworkers were wearing the same, so I supposed we would all be awkwardly British together.

The JPMorgan run had ~30,000 runners this year over two days. That only 5,000 less people than the entirety of West Somerset. So, needless to say, it was crowded. In remembering my loo-mageddon from last year as soon as I dropped my bag off  I headed towards the port-a-loos. Oh of course I choose the line with the loos that are not flushing, so I have to move to a different queue. Classic. This entire time we are being chided by the organizers to get to our starting pens and THE RACE IS STARTING IN TEN MINUTES. No one moved, so neither did I.

I started the trek to my pen, the white pen. More lines, more waiting... I felt like we were being led out of the park. Then we stopped finally and waited for 6:45pm-- we heard the shot of the starting gun and we all started to get ready for our turn to go....

We went at 7:15. 7:15. I could have had a luxurious sit on the loo instead of a fast and furious scramble. I understand they said they were staggering start times this year, but a whole 30 minutes?! People were ending by the time I was starting!

However, starting to make my way around the course I can see why they staggered the start times how they did. It was chock FULL of people. All over the place. I cant imagine what it would had been like had we only had 5 minutes between pens (I found out later they staggered people within pens too adding to the time). It basically would have been shuffling rather than running.

Still the marshalls had their hands full, people with headphones on or blatantly not listening when being asked to stay off the pavement. Seriously people, headphone use is a privilege not a right, use it wisely else they will pull their use completely.

I have a love hate relationship with the last 600m of the course. The JPM run is not 5km. No no. Its 5.6km. To account for this, they have this terrible loop where you see the finish line and if you are not paying attention, think all you have to do is round the corner and you are there. That my friend, is a mistake. So many people start their sprint 500m too early-- only to understand their mistake too late and they are depleted. Then I trudge along past them with the veteran knowledge of the loop and knowing there are a few more turns before I turn on the burners.

Given the sheer amount of people, this event is incredibly well organised. It's a bit manic and the loo situation never really seems to get any better, but as long as you know then its doable. However, they have water (although I heard reports of them running out of water?) and the food is decent enough. Plus TWO t-shirts! Not bad for a free event.

My only comment to the race directors would be to tell walkers to stay to the left or right (one or the other or heck even both). This way there is a clear lane for everyone else jogging/running/hopping along. Tell them early and tell them often, this way there is no confusion. I heard walkers being exasperated by runners and runners being exasperated by walkers. I get it. It's frustrating to both sides. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

CapitalTri Duathlon

Most importantly, I kept my shades on
throughout the duathlon. 
You know how when you are doing an athletic activity you keep telling yourself "Do your own race..."? Thats really bloody hard to do. Monday night a the Lee Valley Velopark was no different.

I saddled up (pun intended) around quarter to 7. No one was there, I started to get a bit nervous. Did I get the date wrong? I checked my email. Nope. Right date. I asked the lady at the front desk. "They normally come in around 7-7:15". I guess I was a bit too eager! Oh well, now I know.

So they open the gate and you follow the sign to the road track. I checked in with a very lovely man with CapitalTri. He wrote my number on my hand and let me know there was a race briefing at about 7:25. Plenty of time to 'rack' my bike, which in this case was to place it along the fence in the transition zone with the rest of my kit.

Whilst waiting I started chatting to a women who has done quite a few of these. She helped to put my mind at ease about how it was going to work. Big things to remember:
  1. You can't be on your bike in the transition zone 
  2. Your helmet must be on at all times when you have your bike (even whilst running with it). 
  3. When running stay to the left
  4. When cycling pass on your right and be vocal about passing to other cyclists

ME: "Are you training for anything?"
HER: "The alpe d'huez triathlon"
ME: "Oh wow!" ::internally thinking Do your own race, do your own race::

Again this sounds so easy, and I felt like I was going OK on my run. I did my 2 miles in 16:34(8:17/mile), which for me is not too bad speed wise. It had some hills (inclines, whatever) but it was good as it gave me an idea as to what the bike ride was going to be like.

Well, thats what I thought.

I felt good on the first few bits. I honestly did, then I hit the first hill, ugh this sucks. Need to drop gears faster. Zoom zoom! People are passing me. That's fine, I have 10 laps to catch up.

I don't think I caught up with anyone. At least I don't remember passing anyone. I would of remembered because I would have gotten to shout "On your right!" I did NOT say that the entire time.

What was I doing wrong? I assume it was partly my form and mostly my gear control. There definitely were times I was spinning with no resistance, which equates to no power. So quite a few things to work on. 31 minutes later, I happily finished my 10 laps.

Oh but we were not done. After that I needed to get off my bike and run another two laps. This sounded beyond not pleasant, but what the hey I am there so I plod through. I didn't do too bad considering, another 2 miles in 18:02 (9:01/mile).

Looking at the results, I was actually middle of the pack for the cycling-- which it didn't seem that way at the time. Maybe had I heeded the "Do your own race" mantra, I would have stopped worrying about others and maybe could have fixed my form/gear issues faster.

Where I was more back of the pack was running... ugh. However, in my eyes I feel I could gain back quite a few minutes if I learned to cycle better, so that would offset my running. I guess this is what they mean when they say usually triathletes are good at one skill, OK at another, and not so good on the remaining event. But which one am I strongest at? I dont feel good at any of them. I would have said running, but the results skew that a bit.

OR--- how about I just stop worrying about comparing myself to others and DO MY OWN RACE.

...and train better. Turns out the Velopark has training sessions as well (and its only £5 a go on the course if you have your own bike and helmet, if you don't you can rent making it a tad pricier).... and considering the event was a mere £13 it my not be my last one with the CapitalTri group.

Does anyone else have this problem? How do you stick true to your mantra when you have the niggling doubts?
The sun sets on the Velopark...