Archive for the ‘Sport’ Category

Virtual parkrun PB attempt

Saturday, April 25th, 2020 | Sport

The lockdown seems like a good excuse to do some fast running. And, now that I have decided that I can live with the Nike Next%, I was eager to see if they really could reduce my 5km PB time. So, I decided to go out early Tuesday morning while it was still cool.

I felt crap when I got up. I didn’t think about abandoning, but I did think “remember this feeling for the next time you’re feeling crap, in case you ace it”. The weather was pretty good: nice and cool but there was also a strong headwind on the finishing straight.

I jogged up there but had to come down to a walk on Clarendon Road because the shoes were really digging into my feet. As I reached the top, it eased off a bit, and I figured it was going to hurt a lot anyway, so I might as well give it a go. After a few minutes sit down in the park, I counted down from 10 and set off.

My first kilometre came in at 4:08. After that, I had to back off a little as my chest started to burn. My previous PB was 22:06, so even on a great day, sub-21 was unlikely. Therefore, anything near 4:12 was acceptable. I settled in around the 4:20s, which I was fine with as even a 22:30 would show I could still run at around my best.

As each kilometre went by, where my watch said I was and where I knew the parkrun markers would be, drifted apart. I had specifically turned GLONASS on, as well as GPS, to get a more accurate reading but it was to no avail.

As I fit the final straight I smashed into the wind and felt like I was sprinting while simultaneously feeling like I was slowing down. I crossed roughly where the parkrun finish line is at 21:06, although I had to keep running to 21:29 until my watch registered 5km.

21:06

Which was one was correct? I’m going with the official parkrun course, which I assume they have carefully measured. It was a clear day, though, so there should have been a good satellite signal.

After the run, I collapsed on the grass and took 5-10 minutes before I could get up and walk again. Based on the parkrun line time, I was exactly 60 seconds faster than my previous PB. At 4%, the shoes would give me 53 seconds. That means I was the other 7 seconds of improvement. Or at 5%, 67 seconds, in which case I lost 7 seconds. But either way, my fast running is still in good shape. Of course, it is easier without the crowds, too.

And that’s the story of how I got up before 9am for the first time since the lockdown started.

Ironman VR3

Friday, April 24th, 2020 | Sport

Last weekend was the third virtual Ironman race. The first two were middle and standard, while this one was sprint distance 1.5km run, 20km bike and a 5km run. As with VR2, I decided to do it as a single block with timed transitions.

The first run was a bit of a mess. I thought I would go through the Dark Arches, around the station and back home. But it quickly became apparent that this was way more than 1500 metres, so I turned around in the arches and headed back. This gave me a 1.7km run at 5:19 per km.

The bike was a blast out to Horsforth and back. I took the back way to Kirstall Road, going around the Armley Gyratory, which makes for a lovely course when there are no cars on it. I only managed an average speed of 28.7 kph. It was never going to be race speed with all of the traffic lights, but also slower than when I did it last week. That time I was filled with anger and adrenaline at my computer, so maybe that is the secret to a good performance.

The second run felt a bit slow to start off but was anything but. I ended up running a 22:29, my second fastest ever 5km. That included my lace coming untied and having to stop to retire it. The same thing happened to me on my previous 10km run. They don’t mention that in the Nike Next% advertising!

My total time was 1:23:04. Alas, Ironman had a technology fail and only recorded two of my activities, so I didn’t get my digital badge (or at least won’t have it until customer support get back to me, and to be honest, it seems unlikely they will). Still, very pleased with the run.

Ironman VR2

Wednesday, April 15th, 2020 | Sport

Ironman VR2 was a standard distance race with a 3km run, 40km bike and 10km run. I decided I wanted some real race practice, so decided to knock it out in a single session.

I set up a transition area in my car park, locking my bike onto the roof carrier and my stuff in my boot before setting off on the first run: a gentle tour around town. I must have been a bit sluggish as it came in at 16:08, although it was slightly over 5km.

Arriving back at my car park, I grabbed my bike, changed my shoes and set off on the cycle. I have started using the route down to Rothwell while the traffic is quite as it is much flatter than going north (it’s still Yorkshire, obviously) so it’s a good chance to use the aero bars a little more. I got some real back pain around 25km in, but it eased off towards the end.

After another transition, I was back in my running shoes and starting to fly. I finished the 10km in 48:10. That’s two minutes behind my 10km PB, but given I didn’t feel I was pushing that hard, and it was warm, and I had already been racing for two hours, I was surprised at how quick my time was.

Thumbs up to Ironman. I was a bit worried their software would get confused given I had recorded it as a duathlon, but it read it perfectly. Thumbs down to Garmin. I finally have my Edge pairing with my phone again, but the date is two days off, so it thought the bike session was two days ago.

My official result was:

2:36:12

That includes any extra distance I did but does not include the transition times. Good enough for position 7,179 out of 11,977 finishers. Although, the comparisons are meaningless given we’re all racing on different terrain.

Ironman VR1

Wednesday, April 8th, 2020 | Sport

With the triathlon season looking increasingly grim, World Triathlon Corporation has announced a series of virtual challenges, starting with Ironman VR1. This was a middle-distance format with a 5km run, 90km bike and 21km run.

You could complete them in any order starting from 6pm GMT on Friday and finishing at midnight on Sunday. They also had pro challenges with women racing on Saturday and men racing on Sunday. This only included the bike course, done inside on a turbo, via Rouvy.

I put in my 5km on Friday evening. A nice change to use my Nike Next%. Sub-24 minutes without having to push too hard. Then I got up super-early on Saturday morning (8am, things have been slack since the lockdown) and headed out for a loop of Rothwell, Tadcaster, Harewood and home on the bike. There are few cars about and I was able to get down on the aero bars for most of it.

Finally, a long, slow plod on Sunday afternoon for the 21km. I went back to my trusty Brooks Revenna and finished in just over two hours.

It would have been nice to have more than 48 hours notice this was taking place! And, in typical World Triathlon Corporation style, the technology is terrible: my login did not work, I got my confirmation email three times and it keeps saying “register for this event” long after I have completed it.

I didn’t win. I came 3,396 out of 5,320, with a total time of:

5:55:25

My splits were 23:37 for the 5km run, 3:29:47 for the 90km bike and 2:02:01 for the 21km run. Those figures are not accurate, though. First, I cycled 91.66km and ran 21.1km, and it takes the total time. But it also does not factor in elapsed time. I had auto-pause on on my Garmin, which would have pushed me over six hours if not.

What is the law regarding exercise during COVID-19

Saturday, April 4th, 2020 | Sport

I’ve seen a lot of confusion about what we can and cannot do, exercise-wise, during COVID-19. That’s not surprising because what the law says, what the government guidelines say, and what Michael Gove has suggested are all different. In this blog post, I’ll break it down.

You can read Coronavirus Act on Parliament’s website. Which you probably should do, because I have no legal training and am in no way providing any kind of indemnified legal advice.

Can I go outside to exercise?

Yes. In order to leave your home, you need a reasonable excuse. The law (in England) then lists these reasons and includes “to take exercise either alone or with other members of their household”.

Can I go outside to exercise with other people?

Not unless you live with them, as the law says you can only go either alone or with members of your household.

Can I go out more than once per day?

Yes, you can. The law does not prohibit this.

However, where possible, you should avoid this. The government guidelines (which are guidelines, not laws) ask us to keep it to once per day and while it is not illegal to go out more, it makes sense for us to follow the guidelines.

Note that this specifically applies to England: in Wales, you are legally limited to going out once per day for exercise.

Is there a limit as to how far I can go?

No. You can go as far as you want. Neither the law nor the government guidelines, place any restrictions on distance.

That said, it makes sense to stick to your usual routine. If you try a 200-mile ride for the first time and end up exploding and needing someone to come pick you up, that is someone else having to travel.

Do I have to keep it to a maximum of one hour?

No, neither the law nor the government guidelines specify any kind of limit.

I think this may have come from a press briefing where Michael Gove said he expected people would be running for 30 minutes to an hour and encouraged people to stick to their regular routine.

Sticking to your regular routine makes sense, as explained above, so if you don’t usually exercise for more than an hour, I wouldn’t start now. But if you usually do long runs and rides, you are free to continue doing so.

Can I travel somewhere to start my exercise?

Some people have been travelling to national parks to exercise in the middle of nowhere. Can you do this? Probably, but you probably shouldn’t.

The law says you can go out to exercise, and the government guidelines don’t explicitly ban driving to a park either, but the government has said that you should avoid doing this during press briefings.

The concern is that more cars on the road, means more potential collisions, taking up hospital resources. Therefore, unless there is a specific reason you cannot exercise from your home, you should start from your front door.

Swimming 3km

Friday, March 27th, 2020 | Sport

I’ve been working super hard on my front crawl since September: getting in the pool three times a week, every week, and relentlessly doing drills. It’s going well. In February, I reached 3km continuous.

Unfortunately, now all the pools are closed so everything has come to a halt. Lakes are too cold, and there are movement restrictions anyway. Let’s hope that better times are on their way soon.

Covidman

Monday, March 23rd, 2020 | Sport

Fed up of your 2020 races being cancelled and lacking motivation? Let me introduce you to the Covidman triathlon.

Triathlon training is hard. It requires a lot of dedication. Ideally, it requires a goal. That is why so many of us pick some big A races each year and work towards them. But the 2020 season is not giving us any of that. Early races, as far as World Triathlon Leeds in June, have already been cancelled. Many more cancellations are likely to follow.

So, how do we stay motivated when there is nothing to train for?

I’m proposing Covidman. It is an unsupported one-person race you do by yourself. Pick your distance and swim, bike and run as appropriate.

This is a tricky proposition in itself. Namely, where does one swim? If the pools remain closed, it is unlikely there will be organised swim sessions. Let’s hope the North Sea is nice and warm this year, if so. And certainly worth investing in a tow float.

The bike course should be less of a problem as there are very few cars on the road. On long format, toilet breaks might need to be rather natural, and some homemade aid stations might become necessary. Short format could be done on a turbo, although I find anything more than an hour of indoor cycling to be deeply uncomfortable on my bottom.

Finally, the run. Even in short format, most people appreciate an aid station by this point, so perhaps laps around our houses might be the best option.

It should be clear by this point that I don’t really have a plan. Just a rough outline and an ironic name. But I am no longer training aimlessly: I’m training for Covidman.

HPH spin

Thursday, March 12th, 2020 | Sport

January means spin class for Hyde Park Harriers. Back before everyone was posting #FullKitWanker photos on Strava, I was showing up in my shiny new HPH cycling jersey. Completely inappropriate for a sweaty spin room, but what’s the point in buying it if you can’t show up to club events in the kit?

Pilates

Wednesday, March 11th, 2020 | Sport

Yesterday, I did my first pilates session. It was led by Alison at Yoga Hero.

It is sort of similar to yoga, but sort of different. There is strength work and there is a connection to the breath. But pilates is more straight-up strength. It’s yoga without all of the ethereal magic sprinkled in. Some of the stuff was really hard and I think I’ll be borrowing the ideas for my home strength and conditioning routine.

First impressions are that I enjoyed it, but not as much as yoga. I like the magic, just a little. But most of all I think I like savasana. But I will definitely be back to pilates; it will be a nice supplement to working out at home.

Super Bowl LIV

Saturday, February 15th, 2020 | Sport

It has been six years since the San Francisco 49ers made it to the play-offs. They made it there every year under Jim Harbaough, until we went 8-8, and he got fired.

Obviously, that was a stupid decision. Over the next few years, we became only the second-ever team to fire three head coaches in three years. And, for the record, the other team was also us a few decades ago. Finally, Kyle Shanian came in and after two okay-ish seasons, we were hot again. Coming in the top NFC seed, we beat our way past the Vikings and the Packers, both convincingly.

But, alas, the big day was not to be. It was going so well and we build up a commanding league. But Patrick Mahomes did his thing and ended up stealing the victory with only a few minutes to go.

At least it was an exciting game. Which makes up for last year that was officially the most boring Super Bowl in history.

And Shakira rocked the half time show. I still haven’t got Whenever, Whereever out of my head.