Archive for the ‘Sport’ Category

1,000 miles of running

Saturday, December 26th, 2020 | Sport

A few weeks ago, I was chatting to my friend Lucy who mentioned she was closing in on running 1,000 miles in 2020. Just out of interest I checked my stats and I found I was around 90 kilometres short of the 1,609 kilometres that represents the 1,000-mile mark!

Thanks to an early morning run on Chrismas Day, I crossed the virtual finish line. 50% of the work was done during May and June while I was completing in the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee, but it was nice to finish the year strong too.

Alba jersey

Sunday, December 20th, 2020 | Sport

Last year, I joined local cycling club Alba Rosa. I didn’t ride with them during the winter as I can’t put mudguards on my aero bike and I don’t have a winter bike. And I mainly joined for the TT races. But by the time summer arrived, we were belly deep in COVID and everything we cancelled.

So, I haven’t actually done anything with the club. But I did want a Pactimo jersey, so when the club shop opened, I decided I should at least enjoy the membership benefit of being able to buy club gear.

It’s winter so I haven’t had a chance to try it yet (it’s Gabba temperatures at the moment). But when summer comes, it will be rice to swap out my poorly-designed HPH jersey with my this one.

Garmin HRM-Dual battery replacement

Tuesday, November 24th, 2020 | Sport, Video

The Garmin HRM-Dual is a heart rate monitor that I do not like. It has no internal memory and I keep seeing drop-outs on Zwift.

Worst still, though, when it comes to replacing the battery you have to unscrew the back. And Garmin’s official website recommends a Philips #0 head screwdriver: but it’s actually a #00. I figured this out too late and now my heart rate monitor is ruined (and on it’s way back to Garmin).

If you can live without Bluetooth in your heart rate monitor then get the Garmin HRM-Tri. Otherwise, get the Polar H10.

Yoga for triathletes

Wednesday, November 18th, 2020 | Sport, Video

I’ve been running some yoga classes for the triathlon club. Below, you can find a 46-minute flow class designed to open up your hips: it is great for running, cycling, sport in general or just building some strength and flexibility. There are more classes on the way so drop me a message if you want to join them live.

Run coaching

Thursday, October 29th, 2020 | Sport

I have been coaching triathlon for a while now, but recently I started coaching with the run club, too. The key thing is to remember to take the group photo. Keeping runners alive and injury-free is great, too, once you’ve got the photo.

LEJOG

Friday, October 16th, 2020 | Family & Parenting, Sport

With COVID forcing everything to go virtual, for this year’s father’s day, we got my dad the Land’s End to John o’ Groats running challenge. It is a 1,744.2 kilometre ultramarathon that winds its way up the UK via a needlessly indirect route and we undertook it as a family.

We set a 140-day (20-week) target. Early days went well because I was polishing off the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee and even when I stopped running as much everyone else was crushing it. This included a week where my parents walked about 100 miles around Flamborough that pushed us even further ahead.

In the end, we finished in 103 days, 5 weeks ahead of schedule. The biggest contribution came from my dad who filed 542.8 km of the distance himself. We finished it off with a socially-distanced walk using a WhatsApp video call.

Daffodils sportive

Tuesday, October 13th, 2020 | Sport

Sportives are back! Last week, Bogdan and I completed the Daffodils sportive that starts from Thirsk. It had everyone you would want from Yorkshire: beautiful views, rolling hills, and wide, quiet roads.

It was raining when I woke up and raining the whole way through the sportive. I don’t have any clear glasses so I look a bit miserable in the photos but it is mostly because I was trying to keep the rain out of my eyes: once we were cycling I was enjoying it.

My maximum speed was 57.8 kph coming down one of the hills. Later that day, Filippo Ganna won the prologue (the opening stage time trial) of the Giro d’Italia with an average speed of 58.8 kph.

I hate cold, wet feet so I went full winter gear: winter socks, Mavic winter boots and my Spatz extra-thick overshoes. I did get a little bit of water or sweat in there but they felt warm and dry for the whole event.

Everything took place outside. You had to book your start time down to the minute. This worked better than the long queues at other events although there may have been fewer participants. They had loads of portapotties at the HQ (and I mostly rate events based on their toilet availability) so that was great, and we got a sausage in a bun at the end.

How long do the Nike Vaporfly Next% shoes last?

Saturday, September 26th, 2020 | Sport

How durable are the Nike Vaporfly Next% running shoes? Some people have suggested they are only good for 100-200 kilometres, so I tested mine to destruction to find out.

After nine months and 915 kilometres of running (just under 570 miles), the upper tore away from the sole in the arch. I was two kilometres away from the finish line at Windermere Triathlon at the time but managed to finish the race.

How long will they last? Based on these figures, if you are doing two 10k runs per week, you will get 11 months out of them. If you are doing 30-40km per week (20-30 miles), you will get six months.

I’ve never had a shoe fail on me like this before, so it’s probably fair to say that the durability is not as high as other shoes. But I still got nearly 1,000 kilometres out of them with no noticeable drop off in performance so they are far from a race-day-only shoe that you need to replace after each marathon, either.

Voodoo Limba bike review

Thursday, September 24th, 2020 | Reviews, Sport

In this video, I’ll review the Voodoo Limba cyclocross (adventure) bike from Halfords. It’s an entry-level cross bike that is more affordable than other brands and got me through my first few sportives and triathlons.

Unfortunately, it has been plagued with problems for me. The back wheel has literally fallen off twice. How much user error can you get from a quick release skewer? Once maybe, but they are just not that complicated.

The front wheel jumps violently to the side when I brake. I’ve had multiple bike shops try to fix it with no luck. I think it’s a problem with the axle but the wheels are generic so there is no practical way to fix them.

Nor are the wheels balanced. The front wheel constantly veers to the left, making it harder to handle and impossible to run with in transition.

The groupset is Claris, which is Shimano’s cheapest road groupset and it is terrible. The rear cassette constantly deindexes and is impossible to get reindexed correctly. And every time I change gear on the front rings, the chain comes off.

I’ve done all the standard debugging, like adjusting the barrel adjuster and re-aligning the brake pads with no success. I’ve also taken it to multiple bike shops and they have had little success also.

As a result of the issues with the brakes, and the wheels, and the gears, I don’t ride the bike anymore because I’m genuinely scared that I’m going to die. In my opinion, it is worth paying more for a higher quality bike.

EpicMan Windermere Triathlon

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020 | Sport

It’s been a challenging year for all of us. Thanks to a receding coronavirus, there has been a triathlon season, however. Albeit a short one. I signed up; for five races: Evolve quarter, sprint, Derby, Windermere and Goole. Goole was cancelled and I picked up a cold just before Evolve sprint so I wasn’t allowed to race. It lastest past Derby triathlon, meaning I only got to race two of the five races.

Still, two is better than none, and at least Windermere is one of the pretty ones. We made a long weekend of it, renting a converted barn in Crosthwaite and used the time to take in some of the lakes, including Venla beating us all up Gummer’s How.

The swim

I had a pretty terrible swim: it took nearly 50 minutes. I am a slow swimmer anyway, but I am usually under 40 minutes for 1,500 metres. I think a couple of factors contributed. I took it easy and decided to treat myself to breaststroke. That way I could look around at the beautiful scenary, especially looking up at the north end of the lake. It was also a slow start as you cross the timing mat, then run down into the water. But it’s pretty stoney and shallow, so it doesn’t lend itself to running and diving.

The course was also a little confusing. There were supposed to be eight buoys on the water, and the standard distance went around six of them. But, on the day, there were actually ten of them, of which we had to go around eight. This led to some confusion in the swim pack ahead of me on the way out, and me getting confused on the way back as extra buoys kept appearing.

I was second to last out of the water, although this isn’t really an accurate measure because it was a staggered start due to COVID and I was in the second-to-last wave, 25 minutes after the race started.

The bike

The bike course was a story of two halves. One of the issues with the Lake District is that there is a lot of cars and the first half of the bike course meant we were travelling down main roads with cars whizzing by, or on smaller roads, cars would get stuck behind slower cyclists (especially on hills) and I would get stuck behind the car.

The second half was on smaller roads and this was much nicer. It was reasonably flat for the Lake District: 450 metres of climbing over 37.5 km and only one steep climb that topped out at 13%.

The run

The run took place in the grounds of YMCA Lakeside. It was all trail, and some bits involved scrabbling down a few rocks. As I climbed down one of the little walls, the rock beneith my foot gave way and started rolling down the hill. I had to jump off it Super Mario style.

Given the sun was up and beating away by this point, I was pleased to be running through the trees most of the time, though. I had a small issue 2 kilometres from the finish when my running shoes ripped but luckily they stayed on for the remainder of the run!

I am very glad it was dry as it would be a challenging run course in the wet. Some parts were muddy and I slipped a couple of times. But I was wearing my road shoes.

The result

My official time was:

3:20:32

But the splits were initially bit of a mystery. Officially, my swim time was 12:30:45, my bike was 1:26:50, my run was 1:01:08 and my transition times were instant. On my watch, I clocked 49:20, 3:15, 1:26:52, 3:59 and 57:07.

But they later updated the results to be 49:19, 3:15, 1:26:50, 4:03, 57:05, which matches up with my watch.

The pictures are available for free, although heavily watermarked and to find them you have to manually search through the nearly 12,000 photos they have uploaded. As there were three distances going on at the same time, there was no indication where I might be in the pictures. I found my bike and run ones, and I don’t think there is a finish line one. Still, free, so no complaints.

Conclusion

Organising a COVID-secure event is a huge challenge and it’s not like triathlon events are a profitable industry in normal times (unless you’re Ironman, and even they are in financial trouble). So, a big thank you to Epic Events for getting it organised.

Some triathlons are fast, flat and great for PBs. Others are more about having a great experience in a beautiful location. This race is the latter.