Taking the plunge

Yesterday I started writing a blog entry on my phone. Quite difficult; hate touchscreens. I didn’t finish it, obviously, but here’s what you almost missed:

I am attempting to write this entry on my phone, so heaven knows how well this will work. I’ll probably get tired of arguing with autocorrect before long – at which point, have fun interpreting this post!

Currently I’m on the bus (because London rail transport seems to work on the basis that folks from SE postcodes are only welcome over the river during the working week, not for leisure purposes). I’m on a fairly cold bus heading to the Serpertine for a last wetsuit swim practice before next week’s triathlon. I expect to feel refreshed by this, in the manner of a toothpaste advert. I’m definitely not sat here just dreading entering the water, but even more dreading exiting the water and taking the wetsuit off and facing the cold air.
It’s my own fault that we’re doing this, as well, since I suggested it. My newbie tri buddy has never swum in the Serpentine before, so, as the murk and duck poo can be disorienting, I told him we should swim here instead of the lovely clarity of Brockwell Lido so that he knows what to expect. Also useful for me, of course. I”ve just noticed I’m running late as well.

Actually the swim was brilliant. Bringing out the wetsuits at the lido makes for instant camaraderie, especially amongst those of us who are less accomplished than those black rubber speed demons zooming through the water. And EVERYONE looks like a speed demon in a wetsuit – even people going slowly look as though they just aren’t really trying yet. It’s a brilliant illusion, and I’m fooled every time. As my training buddy and I hovered at the edge of the water, feeling slightly out of our depth (ha!) convincing ourselves that it probably wasn’t as cold or as duck-pooey as it looked, one swimmer lifted his head ten yards from the end of a length and yelled to his friend, “Oh my God, one length and my arms are knackered!” And with that, we entered the water. Truly, these were our people.

Ok – actually, with the grandstand up on the other side of the river, and international triathletes pouring into London ready for a week’s worth of racing that starts on Wednesday, there were some real speed demons in the water. And they are so admirable and inspiring to watch. Two Australians matching each other stroke for stroke, hurtling along the length of the buoys. A couple from the Netherlands (I think) – the woman in a sleeveless suit, gracefully overtaking me on every single length with barely a splash.  The sun was out, the clouds were skudding across the blue, geese were flying overhead. It was one of the best swims I’ve had in a long time and I’m seriously considering joining the Serpies so that I can keep going back over winter (the lido closes to the general public from Wednesday).

ITU PruHealth Triathlon added this to their facebook wall yesterday – the blue carpet finishing stretch! (Photography credit all theirs.)

So now it’s just five days until we race at Hyde Park, and finally I’m excited rather than nervous or pretending it’s not happening. Seeing the structure of race going up as a splashed about brought back memories of what a fantastic time I had back in 2011. I’m even slightly jealous of my friend, who’s doing this for the first time. A good cyclist, a fantastic runner, and a very determined new swimmer, I think he’s going to fall in love with the sport big time – but there’s nothing quite like that first time you finish all three disciplines and cross the finish line. Ok, I’m not slightly jealous. I’m really jealous. Also glad I talked him into giving it ago.

Yep – triathlon is going the way of marathons in terms of popularity, but that’s entirely the fault of triathletes (with a healthy push from the Olympics). Ballots and soaring prices are a pain, but we’re all so evangelistic about it. And we can’t seriously expect the people giving it a go to try once and then move on to a different sport. How many of us have managed that?

Coming up the weekend after race is the London 48-Hour Film Project.

On Tuesday, CM and I attended a meet-and-greet for film teams at the Phoenix. People showed up with most of their crew, but unfortunately for us, the bulk of us live everywhere but London, and the only other person in London also has to juggle uni around this, so it was just us. Lots of useful questions asked and answered, and also a chance to get a feel for the camaraderie of the whole thing.

The Sci-Fi project was fun, but conducted in such a way that you ducked in and out and never really got a feel for the other teams. The set up for this competition is such that everyone starts together, literally, in the same room. People who had taken part previously recognised each other. Sophie, running the competition, knows all the team leaders (and she and the team behind the competition are working their socks off organising it around full time jobs). We also saw last year’s London and worldwide winning films and they were fabulous. And also attainable. The whole thing was inspiring rather than overwhelming and we left raring to get organised.

The message that we should organise as much as we can in advance (locations, actors, music, identify potential problems) was hammered home. So I’ve been contacting old school and uni acquaintances begging music, checking the permits needed for the area where we live. I need to print out location permits for the people who are kindly letting us use their land and space.  Paperwork has never been so much fun.

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