Archive for February, 2018

Bramley Baths indoor triathlon

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018 | Sport

Last Sunday, Bramley Baths triathlon team ran an indoor triathlon: swim, bike and run using the pool, gym bikes and treadmills. It was a lot of fun, despite what the facial expression in the photograph might suggest.

The course

The race started with a 250-yard swim in the pool. Yep, yards. Bramley Baths was constructed in 1904 and metric wasn’t a big thing back then. This knocked nearly 10% of the distance off from when I calculated my expected swim time in The Edge’s pool.

After that, it was on to the fitness studio where they had static bikes set up. Finally, on to the gym to use the treadmills.

Transitions were untimed for safety reasons: they didn’t want people rushing around the building and running into each other, other gym users and the many sharp corners that feature in Edwardian architecture. This meant it was a fairly stress-free event, especially as there was a short queue for the bikes, giving us time to get our breath back.

The results

My combined time was 30:23, which placed me 7th out of 31 participants. This broke down to 5:19 in the swim, 20:37 on the bike and 4:27 on the run.

30:23

I’m pleased with that. It would have been nice to get my bike under 20 minutes (and thus my time under 30 minutes), as I have ridden faster on the gym bikes at The Edge. However, I’m not sure how comparable they are to each other (or real riding) as I don’t know how accurate the speed and distance calculations are.

My swim was slightly ahead of my predicted time (5:36), but I wasn’t pushing that hard when I set my estimated time, and I knew I had an untimed transition coming up, so I went a little harder than I would have done in a normal triathlon.

Running gait analysis

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018 | Sport

Since I hurt my foot in November, it has taken a long time to get running again. So, I decided to invest in some injury prevention. Top of that list was a running gait analysis.

I could go to a running shop where they would put me on a treadmill and analyse what was going on. However, there is a severe risk that what would happen is that it would magically turn out I needed a new, £100+ pair of trainers. In fact, that’s exactly what did happen to me.

So, I was looking for somewhere that might be able to give me some better advice. I found David at West Leeds Practice. They are a physiotherapy clinic based in the city centre and one of the services they offer is a running gait analysis.

It’s certainly thorough. We started off with some strength exercises, testing the differences between my left and my right side. My left was weaker, and this was no surprise to me, but having measured it, David has then been able to give me a strengthening routine tailored to improving it.

Then I hopped on the treadmill and we did a video analysis. I ran for a little bit and then we analysed what was going on with my arms and legs from a range of different angles. There was some stuff here, too, such as my crossing my legs over the centre was I run. I think this was exhibited by the rather small size of the treadmill, but it’s something I’ve been mindful of ever since.

Finally, he gave me a set of foot pods to place on my trainers and monitor my running for a week. I went back a week later to get the analysis (all of which was included in my session) and we reviewed my cadence, ground contact time and oscillation. I’m working on improving my cadence at the moment. It’s too early to say whether it is working or not, though the few test runs I have done made things go from red to green on my Garmin run reports.

All in all, I like what they do. David was very evidence-based and the analysis is certainly in detail: we looked at a lot of different things and reviewed all the ways I could improve my technique and reduce the chance of future injury. If you run a lot, it is worth investing in.

2018: What’s on my agenda?

Monday, February 19th, 2018 | Life

The so-called new year is a pretty arbitrary deadline that evolved from a series of long-dead popes. Still, as arbitrary deadlines go, it is a great chance to regroup and take stock of what’s been going on and what we want to achieve in the next solar rotation.

Of course, it’s now the middle of February. So, I’m going to stop thinking and finally publish this.

Be better at business

I declared that 2017 was my year of marketing and I have learnt a lot about building sales funnels, capturing leads and building an audience. But none of it has been hugely successful and certainly not good enough to provide a real income.

Part of the problem is that I’m struggling to engage with step one: build what people want, not what you want them to want. So, I’m going to double down on this.

Finish my master’s degree

By the middle of last month, I felt like giving up. My grades have not met my own personal standard, and while there is a queue of people telling me that a merit (the equivalent of a 2:1) is a great grade to have, it doesn’t feel like it. Especially now Venla is here. There are standards to be set: there is no award for coming second in the Nobel Prize voting. Or, worst still, settling for winning a non-natural science-based prize.

But I don’t like giving up and that certainly wouldn’t set a good example, even if we would be a lot richer. And I’m excited about my dissertation, or, at least, motivated to get on with it.

Triathlon & fitness

Last year felt like a pretty slow year for fitness. Sure, I smashed my 5km, 10km and half marathon times, but it all felt a bit like business as usual. This year, I’m taking things up a gear. A bit of business as usual two: aiming for a sub-2 hour half marathon, but also looking at longer distances and continuing my move over to triathlon.

Four things we learnt from Nick’s 40th birthday party

Saturday, February 17th, 2018 | Friends

Earlier this month we trekked down to Huddersfield for a surprise party of my friend, and former boss, Nick. Here are four things we learnt…

Karaoke bands are a thing

You can have a band that turn up and play backing music while you sing along to lyrics from an iPad mounted on a mic stand. What an awesome idea.

A great find by party organiser Lee-Anne. She booked them after being impressed by a gig they did in Manchester. And had the heart to stick with them even after they politely told her that they have never played in Manchester and she must be confusing them with a different band.

Star Wars-themed does not automatically mean fancy dress

In my defence, I was assuming Elina would choose the white robe outfit. It was 100% her that assumed I would want her to go in a golden bikini. Which is not true, because finding a Jabba the Hutt costume is both expensive and difficult.

Venla likes to fight stormtroopers

Especially if they are inflatable and easy to push over.

John Smith’s Stadium is quite nice

Everyone knows that you burn calories just by being in a sports venue, even if you are just there to consume alcohol, buffet food and some kind of delicious chocolate ganache tartlet.

Auntie Doreen’s 90th birthday party

Friday, February 16th, 2018 | Family & Parenting

A few weeks ago, we attended my Auntie Doreen’s 90th birthday party. It was an afternoon tea at a working men’s club. It’s not a venue that would have struck me as being good at afternoon tea.

Yet, ironically, they can serve a decent afternoon tea. What they can’t do, is serve decent beer or properly mixed coke. But who needs such things when you have high-quality cake.

Venla had a giraffe of a time. That’s like a whale of a time, except she was on a giraffe.

Galileo Day 2018

Thursday, February 15th, 2018 | Events

“In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual.” Galileo Galilei.

Super Bowl LII

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018 | Sport

This is what a Super Bowl party looks like when you grow up and lose all of your friends:

Venla, my sole companion for the evening, fell asleep two hours before kick-off.

Which is a shame, because it was a great game. It felt like the narrative had gone a bit off the rails when the Patriots didn’t win. I’m not used to that happening in Super Bowls. It also means that Brady had now lost three Super Bowls: one more he’ll match the record (I’m not bragging, but I haven’t lost any).

The Eagles finish the season on a high, and while it’s not quite the five straight wins that the 49ers finished the season with, the Eagles can be proud of what they have achieved.

And now Elina can enjoy a blissful six months of no NFL.

Never trust Google Maps

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018 | Life

On a previous ride to Eccup Resoviour, Google Maps took me on a “public footpath” that was more bog than path and involved me having to shoulder my bike over several fences.

Yet, even this experience, did not prepare me for that happened when I asked Google Maps to route me from Guiseley to Apperley Bridge. The road seemed to be a farm lane. Then a dirt track. Then this:

But it gets worse. After I had traversed this valley of rubble, I then had to ford a river.

I checked to see if I could tell Google Maps to avoid routing me on public footpaths and keep to actual, real roads. But there isn’t.

It’s really a poor experience on their part. On my Garmin sat nav, I can view the map without inputting a destination, and it will automatically move the vehicle and re-centre the map as I drive. Google Maps won’t let me do that, either.

Darwin Day 2018

Monday, February 12th, 2018 | Life

Happy Darwin Day!

Middleton Winter Duathlon

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018 | Sport

A few weeks ago I took part in the Middleton Winter Duathlon. It was a run-bike-run affair with 2.5km of running, 5km of biking and a final 2.5km of running.

The picture above is not Middleton woods. But I was too busy racing to take a photo so this stock one will have to do.

The event itself was reasonably well organised. There were plenty of marshalls. It wasn’t always quite clear where we were supposed to go, but on the whole, I got around. And I got a t-shirt, which isn’t bad for £5 registration.

The results haven’t appeared on the website. My phone clocked me in at 42:34. That’s quite slow, primarily because the bike course was entirely on a hill so my pace up the hill was much slower than it would be on the flat. It’s on Map My Run.

EDIT: They’ve seen emailed around a link to a Facebook page with the results displayed in a giant image. Strange, but it works. I came 13th out of a field of 35. My official time was 42:22.