Sunday, 22 August 2010

A civilised traithlon

Here's the plan.  A mile swim in an outdoor pool, breakfast, a 40km cycle ride with a halfway lunch stop, tea and cake, finished off with a 10km run and dinner.  A very civilised attempt at a triathlon.

And here's how it actually went...

Five of us met up at the Parliament Hill lido on the edge of Hampstead Heath on a warm Saturday morning.  I was a little nervous as I don't much like swimming or cold water, and I'm not a great swimmer either.  And I'd never heard of a 60 metre long pool before, let alone swum in one.  Getting in wasn't as bad as I expected - the water was a balmy 18 degrees and the pool was full of early morning swimmers.

Enjoying the swim
The pool has a stainless steel bottom to help warm the water, although at the start of the length its a bit shallow at only a metre deep.  Once my heart had recovered from the shock of getting in, I managed a total of six lengths, pausing to catch my breath after each one, before my body had had enough and was shivering.  The others varied between two lengths and about 20 before we ran out of time.

Raring to go

Next stop was the outdoor cafe just around the corner for tea and scrambled eggs on toast which set us up nicely for starting the bike ride at 11:30am.  John MacDonald, the organiser, had left the maps at work so we followed the route from a mix of his memory and GPS enabled phone.  We were soon out onto the Parkland Walk and then River Lea for a gentle cycle down to Greenwich.  Jane's hire bike was an interesting but not deliberate choice - a 3-speed ladies shopper with basket - and Richard and John were riding with no gears at all!  John had a puncture, but we were soon rolling again, taking in views along Regent's Canal and the Thames path.  We eventually arrived in Greenwich in time for a late lunch from the market and a rest in front of what's left of The Cutty Sark (not much at the moment) and a quick trip to the next door National Maritime museum

How many men does it take to change a puncture?
By the time we set off from Greenwich, John had another puncture and we stopped at a helpful bike shop to get a pump and replacement inner tube (you'd think one of the five of us would have brought a pump).  There was some dissent at this point as to whether we should take the passenger ferry back as far as Westminster, but we pushed on.  Kitty had been setting the pace on the bikes all day and dropped us on the ride back into central London and through St James's Park and Hyde Park back up to the tea stop at John's house in Kilburn.

After tea and cake and waning enthusiasm brought on by the effects of the bike ride, we dragged ourselves out for a pleasant 10km run around the streets of Kilburn and Camden.  I can't report much of where we ran because it was dark and by that point I was tired and just pushing myself to get round.

Night running
This event wasn't about speed - rather a fun day out with a decent amount of exercise thrown in and the chance to say we'd completed a triathlon!  Let's hope it becomes an annual fixture.  Thanks to John for organising and Kitty for the photos.

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