After a relatively easy trip from Germany to London, I checked into the Hilton Canary Wharf on Thursday afternoon. Although feeling a bit better, and better by the day, I was still quite tired as I tried to recover from my cold, so I settled into my room, went for an easy run with Jimmy and then we headed out to grab some dinner.
Friday, I found my way to a local pool for my easy swim. It was quite warm and the lanes were about two times as wide as they needed to be, but I had a good time swimming about. I still didn't feel very good in the water but pushed through, hoping I'd come right by race day.
A friend of mine arranged for us to go see Pygmalion at the Old Vic Theatre on Friday night. Turns out, he knows Kevin Spacey... yes, like the actor, who is the artisitic director of the theatre. We had amazing seats and the show was absolutely fantastic. I love going to the theatre and was so excited to have a chance to see a show in London. After the show, we took a walk out to the edge of the river where we got to see the London Eye and Big Ben all lit up at night. It was quite spectacular.
Saturday, I woke early and tackled my bike and run pre-race workouts. It was a good thing too as the weather turned sour by mid-day. I had a media interview in the early afternoon over at the ExCel center where transition and the race expo were held. I wanted to go for a swim in the Thames in my wetsuit, but was not allowed, so I put my wetsuit on and jumped into the endless pool that was setup in the middle of the expo. I had never been in one before but figured it was better than a pool workout in my wetsuit. It was good fun and my final prep for the following day.
Then, of course, it was time for the race briefing and the all important pre-race dinner... PIZZA! With a 10:20am race start it meant that I could wake at a relatively normal hour on Sunday and eat a proper breakfast without a problem.
I was not nervous at all until I woke up on Sunday. But my early morning shake out run felt great so I was optimistic about the prospects for the race later in the day.
The race start was in water. We all lined up, treading water against the current, and when the horn blasted I took off. I felt alright and got out well. But then, about 300 meters into the swim, my body shut down. I tried to stay positive, but everything felt like lead and it was a struggle to remain in contact with the front group. Eventually, I lost them and ended up swimming with a smaller group of women. I felt like I was swimming at training speed, just completely unable to get my heart rate to elevate.
Exiting the water, I was still in a small group. So, I ran hard through transition and mounted my bicycle. I was still focused on riding hard and catching the group of women ahead. Only problem, I found myself doing nothing more than going backwards. It was like races in 2007 where I kept getting spit out of each pack that rode by. Ultimately, ending up alone for much of the ride.
I dismounted and tried to keep focused on the 10k run, believing I could still run some women down and get back into the top 10. But, by a few hundred meters in I realized that the tank was really out of gas and that the 10k was going to be a disaster. I was exhausted, feeling completely flat and pretty much ready for a vacation from triathlon. I haven't felt that way in over a year, so, I called it a day. I really didn't want to pull out, but I also recognized the very real possibility that I might dig myself into an even larger hole and perhaps relapse my sickness making it difficult for me to pull together any form for Chicago in a few weeks time. I just simply did not recover over the last 2 weeks from the 3 weeks of racing prior.
Despite the tough day at the office on Sunday, London was fantastic. I got to see Hyde Park and to see where the Olympic race will be held in 2012. It sent shivers through my body and gives me a focus point to draw on for the next 4 years. I will definitely plan to head back to London before 2012 and hopefully race in the London Triathlon again.
I am now back in Los Angeles... Santa Monica to be exact. I took a trip down to the Chinese Consulate this morning to apply for my Chinese Visa as I am heading over to Beijing on Saturday night so that I can be there to cheer for my brother as he races in the triathlon event early next week.