Archive for the ‘Sport’ Category

World Triathlon Leeds 2019

Tuesday, June 18th, 2019 | Sport

The 2018 World Triathlon Leeds was the first standard distance triathlon I signed up for (although I actually completed Wetherby two weeks earlier) and was my target race for the year. I lost my timing chip in the lake and so technically registered a DNF. The swim was cut in half due to fog, so the 2:43:00 I registered on my Garmin would have been 3:03:00 with a full swim.

This year, I was hoping to improve, mostly by setting an official time.

The preparation could have gone better. Two days before, Venla handed me her cold. I could feel a little tickle, which by Saturday had turned into a full cold. It took me 28 minutes to complete parkrun and it rained all day, which made for a wet affair at registration. Thankfully, it dried up on Sunday for the race itself.

I was in the Yorkshire Championship. We didn’t start until 8:35, which made for a lice line-in compared to the 7:10 start I had last year. It also meant that almost everyone else in Hyde Park Harriers was in the same wave as me. They were all in their beautiful club tri suits. Alas, mine did not turn up in time.

The swim

The swim went well. I was just under 40 minutes, which is my useful benchmark. I had my family chasing me around the lake cheering me on which provided some extra speed boost. We were the second-to-last standard distance wave, so not many people swimming over the top of me.

Getting out, I remembered just how long transition is at this event. It goes on forever. There is probably a kilometre of running between the swim exit, finding my bike, and taking it to the mount line and then doing it all again in T2.

The bike

I took it steady on the bike. I always imagine that everyone will come flying past me on the descent down Stonegate Road but almost nobody did. On the second lap, I caught up with Dan from the club. The course was getting fairly quiet towards the end and Farhad was cheering us all on, and taking photos, at the turnaround point.

The run

As I exited T2 I took stock of my overall time. It was unlikely that I would be able to go under three hours, a goal that I missed by 15 seconds at Allerthorpe Classic last year. I would have to run a 49-minute 10km and that seemed to big an ask.

But I decided to run hard anyway. I suspected that the course was slightly shorter than 10km, at least as Garmin would measure it, and it was mostly downhill. So, I thought if I put myself in the position to be around that time, I would see what happened.

Once I made it to The Headrow there was lots of support: members of the club, my family and many people who were already turning out to watch the elite races. As I came down The Headrow at the 8km mark I realised I was at 2:50:00, giving me ten minutes to complete the final two kilometres. This was by no means in the bag because I had to run up The Headrow, and the distance on my watch could be inaccurate, but it was looking good.

It was only as I rounded the final corner that I knew I was going to go sub-3.

The result

My official time was:

2:58:00

Putting me 48th in the 57 that entered the Yorkshire Championship. Not quite a qualifying time yet! But there were four Harriers behind me, so not the lanterne rouge, either. That breaks down to:

Section Time
Swim 39:25
T1 8:32
Bike 1:19:04
T2 4:02
Run 46:59
Total 2:58:00

An eight-minute transition sounds awful. But even Naomi, who qualified for the European age-group championships last year, took five minutes due to the amount of running.

46:59 on the run is a superb time for me. My personal best 10km is 47:39, that I set at Wetherby triathlon last year. This could represent a new fastest time, then. That said, my Garmin measured it as 9.86km, which, if accurate, means a proper 10km would have taken me another minute. And it was mostly downhill.

As ever, my running outshines the other disciplines: I set the 26th fastest time on the run, which puts me on the top half.

I’m really pleased to have gone under three hours at the standard distance for the first time.

Well done to all of the other Hyde Park Harriers who raced, too. I know so many of you achieved huge PBs. And overall wins, too: Amy and Cat took first and second prize in the women’s Yorkshire Championship.

Champions League final 2019

Saturday, June 8th, 2019 | Sport

Britain won. Well done, Britain!

The Flat 100 2019

Thursday, June 6th, 2019 | Sport

The Flat 100, formerly known as the Flat n Fast 100, is a sportive that starts in South Yorkshire and takes in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire. Last year I achieved my longest ever ride when I rode the 100km (technically a 106km) route.

This year, I was aiming for the 100 miler, which would make it my equal longest ride with the one I completed just five days before.

It was a busy event: 1,300 people registered a time. This meant the queues were big, too. I arrived at Thorne shortly after 7am but between queuing for the car park, queuing to register (the S-W surnames line was way longer than all the others) and then queuing to cross the start line meant that I didn’t get on the road until nearly 9am, almost two hours after arriving.

It was colder than expected. Foolishly, when I checked the weather, I had put in “Thorpe” rather than “Thorne”, so was surprised when it started raining. Luckily, it did so just as we arrived at the feed stop and stopped just as we were leaving. After that, it brightened up and I had to re-apply suncream at the second feed stop.

I rode with Bogdan for the first 80km before he peeled off onto the medium route. After that, I surfed a few wheels. One group kept yelling “Chris, are you there?” until I was forced to answer “yes” before pulling alongside them and explaining that I probably wasn’t the Chris they were after.

I clocked in with an average speed of 26.7 kph, which is a good pace for me, especially as I rode fairly conservatively for the first 100 km or so. The whole thing took less than six hours of cycling and 6:39 including breaks, which bodes well for The Yorkshireman.

Ice hockey world championships 2019

Wednesday, May 29th, 2019 | Sport

I’m sure that in your house, like ours, May is all about the ice hockey world championships. It has been a superb year for both Britain and Finland.

Two years ago, Britain was in the third division. But, having won their division two years running, they found themselves in the top tier playing countries that actually play ice hockey. There are two groups of eight with the bottom from each being related and it was always going to be a struggle to stay up.

The initial scorelines were predictable: 3-1 to Germany, 8-0 to Canada, 9-0 to Denmark and 5-0 to Finland. The only people we seriously scored against were the US, who still beat us 5-3. It came down to the final game: Britain vs France. The loser was going down, and France had been in the top division for a while.

In the second period, France took a 3-0 lead. Surely it was all over? But then Dowd found the back of the net for Britain. And them Hammond. The third period started 3-2. Farmer brought us level in the third period and we went into overtime and then bang! Davies puts an overtime winner past France to keep us up.

Meanwhile, Finland easily made it through the group stage as usual. They came second, behind Canada, despite having beaten them, due to wobbles against Germany and the US. The route to the final was no easy path: there are four good ice hockey teams in the world and Finland had to beat them all.

It started with a 5-4 overtime win against Sweden in the quarterfinals. Next up: Russia, with the sole goal producing a 1-0 win for Finland. Finally, the final itself. Having beaten the 3rd and 2nd ranked teams in the world, they now had to take on the 1st.

Canada started well, taking a 1-0 lead in the first quarter. But Finland was not out: Anttila, who scored the winner against Russia in the semi-final, brought Finland level in the second period. Two minutes in period 3, he scored again! With five minutes to go, Pesonen scored to give Finland a 3-1 lead. Canada immediately pulled their goalie but it was no good. Finland took their third world championship!

Driffield Triathlon

Friday, May 24th, 2019 | Sport

Driffield is a town in East Yorkshire and home to one of the first Freebird events of the year: Driffield Triathlon. It is on the same weekend as Evolve Sprint, Harrogate Triathlon and the Leeds Half Marathon. Busy weekend! In the end, a sizable contingent from Hyde Park Harriers decided we would make the trip.

It was a lovely day. A little cold at first but the sun was shining and it got warmer as the day went on. In the end, I came home having caught the sun on my forehead.

I still had a cold so I wasn’t sure how I was going to perform. The swim went well. I couldn’t get into rhyme at Tadcaster but things went much better here. I was placed with competitors of a more similar level, which helped.

The bike was fine, too, the hills were gentle and I took it fairly easy. The course was only around 17 km so it looks like a fast time. My run was just slightly slower than Skipton, which I think is a good result given I was feeling under the weather.

I was the first Harrier home, though some would argue this was because I set off an hour before everyone else. Meanwhile, Naomi won her age group.

My finishing time:

1:15:56

Here are my splits:

Stage Time
Swim 10:35
T1 02:39
Bike 36:36
T2 01:37
Run 24:28
Total 1:15:56

After the race, the club convened at Water Lane Boathouse for a social.

Back in the lake

Monday, May 20th, 2019 | Sport

The open water season has arrived!

Getting back into a wetsuit reminded me just how uncomfortable swimming in a wetsuit can be lol. Last year, the water was down to 11 degrees at one point so I was expecting the 16 degrees to feel balmy. It did not. But soon warmed up once I started swimming.

I put a small hole in my wet suit and, frustratingly, when I went to glue it back together I found that my glue had tried up over the winter. So, lesson learnt, order a new tube of neoprene glue in the spring.

Tadcaster Triathlon

Saturday, May 11th, 2019 | Sport

For many, May bank holiday was a time to relax. Maybe recover from having cycled the Tour de Yorkshire long route the day before. For me, my alarm went off at 7am, letting me know that it was time to get up and head to Tadcaster for the sprint triathlon.

It’s a slightly unusual setup. It starts with a 400-metre swim in the community pool. There is then a 400 metre run up the hill to the brewery car park where the transition is located. You exit transition onto a 14km cycle route around local roads before heading back into transition and then out onto a 7km run course that finishes back down the hill at the pool.

The pool at Skipton Triathlon was as warm as bath water. Tadcaster’s pool was rather cooler. I couldn’t keep my heart rate down during the swim and kept having to keep my head out of the water for stretches to get my breath. Everyone else in my lane had terrible swim time estimates and lapped my several times.

Once exiting the pool we pulled out trainers on and ran up the hill. You get a swim+ time to account for the extra run.

The bike course was reasonably flat. I tried to keep my power under 200 Watts in the spirit of taking it easy and concentrating on technique. There was one tiny hill. It wasn’t much, but after an entire day in the saddle yesterday, I could really feel it.

The run starts off on the road before turning to the riverbank for some trail. Mostly this was fine although there was one section which involved crossing a narrow bridge with no fence on one side before scrambling over a rocky path. Despite being tired, I managed to run a 5:09 per km without going too deep, so I’m pleased with that.

My official time was:

1:17:38

That breaks down as follows:

Stage Time
Swim 10:33
Swim+ 12:21
T1 02:36
Bike 28:41
T2 01:31
Run 32:32
Total 1:17:38

We timed it just right: it began to rain just as we were packing up our equipment in transition. By the time I arrived back in Leeds, hailstones were coming down.

Tour de Yorkshire 2019

Friday, May 10th, 2019 | Sport

Last year I completed the medium route of the Tour de Yorkshire, making it the longest ride I had ever done by some 10km and the highest I’d climbed at 1,200 metres. This year I was planning to do a similar thing: the long route features 123 km and 2,400 metres of climbing.

It was decisively colder than last year when I came away with sunburn. I wasn’t planning on too many layers but in the end went for a full Under Armour base layer top and bottom with my rain cape in my jersey pocket. Thank god I did. 20km in I had to pull over and put the rain cape on, and it stayed on for the rest of the day. I should have taken my winter gloves, too.

I met Bogdan at city square at 7am and we cycled up to the start, getting through the queue and onto the load about 7:45. The first section of the ride was easy, although I did find myself needing a rather urgent bathroom break as we approached the first feed stop.

Things were reasonably flat (Yorkshire flat) until we reached Summerbridge, at which point we encountered our first real challenge of the day. The road went straight out of the back. And straight up. Arguably, this was the hardest climb. it started at about 11% and just kept on getting steeper. Even at the top you simply found yourself on a false flat of 5%.

The road continued to go up and up in stages as we headed around Brimham Rocks. Finally, it dropped down into Pateley Bridge where the second feed stop was located. I stuffed my face, which was a bold choice given what was to come next: the legendary Greenhow climb.

I did Nidderdale triathlon in September and drove home via Greenhow. I remember thinking at the time “fuck me, wouldn’t want to do this on a bicycle.” Well, here I was doing it. It was hard. But, thankfully, the toughest gradients come in four distinct segments, and you get a chance to get your breath back in between.

One woman was going up on a mountain bike. I told her I was jealous of the gearing. She laughed and told me that pretty much everyone else that had gone past her had said the exact same thing.

The top of Greenhow was a cold, lonely place. We turned and headed towards Fewston Reservoir where we would join up with the medium route. By this time, everyone on the medium route had finished, though. As we struggled up Snowdon Bank, the clock continued to tick and the race looked over: almost everyone else left in the course was pushing their bike up the hills with a defeated look on their face.

The descent into Otley was a fast one. They close the pro finish line at 3:35 to get ready for the peloton coming through. And I was determined that I wouldn’t miss it because of comfort breaking. I certainly didn’t set any records, but the 56.8 kph I managed really pushed my comfort zone.

Then it was out of the back of Otley and onto East Chevin Road. The long 11% grind. It felt easier this year than it did last year, even on tired legs. It hurt but it was manageable. There was no fear that I would have to give up, only that I would have to enjoy a lot of pain.

By the time we reached the top, we had less than an hour to get to the line in time. We both gritted our teeth and put the power down and steamed down into Leeds, cursing every traffic light that made us stop. Then we hit Tinshill and found ourselves with yet another climb. This was too much and we had to take a short break. Within 10km of the line, we had almost made it. One last effort would see us through.

Again we climbed into the bikes and powered up to the hill before turning to descend onto Spen Lane and Burley Road. Burley Road itself goes up and down. The groupetto that has formed around us quickly worked out I was lying when I said this was “definitely the last little hill” but chose to believe anyway so that they could convince their bodies to make the cut-off.

As we entered the barriered section on The Headrow, the large crowds that had already gathered cheered and banged on the barriers as we crossed the line with just 10 minutes to spare. By the time we had collected our medals and chatted to Elin and John, who were on hand with some much-needed chocolate and beer, they were already clearing the tents away. But it did not matter: we had made it!

I had set a new longest ride ever, beating my previous best by 13 km. I had set a new climbing record, more than doubling my previous attempt, which was in fact last year’s Tour de Yorkshire medium route. And my lower back hurt so much that I could no longer bend down. But who needs a working back when you’ve just smashed the Tour de Yorkshire long route?

My official time was 7:40:26. We had two feed stops, and I spent some time catching my breath at the top of the climbs. But the total elapsed time since cycling out of my front gate was closer to 8:30. A tough day in the saddle but a very rewarding one.

Garmin Forerunner 945: Should you upgrade?

Saturday, May 4th, 2019 | Sport, Tech

Garmin has announced a new range of watches, including a new flagship Forerunner model, the 945. At over £500, it’s a lot of money to ask for if you are upgrading from the 935. So, should you? Here is my breakdown of the new features.

Music

You can now store up to 1,000 songs from Spotify on your watch. Thus allowing you to go out running and listen to music without your phone. This isn’t a selling point for me. I don’t go without my phone, nor do I listen to music while running. I do sometimes listen to audiobooks. But as the watch only supports Spotify and one other platform, that isn’t an option. It also means having Bluetooth headphones and I don’t want yet another device to charge.

Full maps

And in colour, no less. The breadcrumbs are gone and now you have full maps with routing capability like a sat nav. Some of my friends who do trail runs have said this would be useful to them. However, as I road run, and have never used the maps on my watch, this isn’t a selling point for me. Might be useful in a triathlon run, I guess, but the breadcrumbs would probably be fine. And I’ve never used them so far.

Garmin Pay

Now we’re talking. The idea that I could go out without my credit card because I could just pay on my watch is appealing. That said, I would still take my phone, so I could pay with that. And what isn’t widely mentioned is that Garmin Pay currently supports almost no UK banks. In fact, none of the banks I have a credit or debit cards with are currently supported. So, this might be something for the future, but right now is pretty useless.

Battery life

The 945 still provides two weeks in normal mode, but the GPS mode now boasts an impressive 36 hours, up from 24 hours on the 935. How does it achieve this? By using a new lower-power GPS chip. This sacrifices some accuracy, however. It also supports the new Galileo satellite system, but turning that on will use more power. So, this isn’t necessarily an upgrade, depending on what you value the most.

Improved stats

The stats look pretty similar to the old ones. And they’re not super-useful. It provides you with a training load, for example. But it only includes activities you record on your watch. It can sync from the Edge 1030, but it can’t sync from any other Garmin product or other workouts. I do my structured training on TrainerRoad, so the Garmin stats are meaningless.

Summary

Honestly, I’m relieved. When I heard there was a new top-of-the-range Forerunner out, I thought that sounded like an expense I did not need. But having reviewed the features, I don’t. Right now, it doesn’t offer anything substantially better than my 935.

LBT Brownlee duathlon April 2019

Tuesday, April 30th, 2019 | Sport

On Saturday. I completed my second duathlon at the Brownlee circuit. Hosted by Leeds & Bradford Triathlon Club, it takes place on a regular basis and I completed my first one in March.

I had my new bike wheels fitted the day before, so I was keen to see how they would perform. The answer is badly :(. I was 15 seconds behind last month but a lot of that was lost on the bike.

Section March April
Run 1 20:27 19:46
T1 1:13 1:11
Bike 19:32 20:34
T2 1:00 1:02
Run 2 5:19 5:12
Total 47:30 47:45

That said, I’m not totally heartbroken. It was miserable weather. It rained pretty much the whole bike section and so I wasn’t as confident going through the corners at speed. I also backed it off down the hill due to the strong crosswinds.

I also went hard at parkrun in the morning to check my form. I only managed 23:45 there, despite my best effort. But that’s no excuse because my power numbers were only negligibly less.

Ultimately, I need more data and to test them in the dry.

Thanks to LBT for hosting another good event.