Archive for the ‘Sport’ Category

Weymouth parkrun

Saturday, September 28th, 2019 | Sport

Our holiday in Weymouth gave me a chance to do some parkrun tourism. I wondered whether it would be incredibly busy with 2,700 athletes descending in the town for IRONMAN. However, it turns out most of them were too serious to do a parkrun the day before.

The course is a mini loop through the trees of Lodmoor park before and out and back that goes to the far side and then back to the loop. The sun was shining, and once you hid from the coastal wind, it was hot.

Everyone was friendly, and it was an enjoyable run.

Nidderdale Triathlon 2019

Friday, September 27th, 2019 | Sport

Nidderdale is a fun triathlon. Pool-based, surprisingly flat for a Nidderdale and offering the best finishers t-shirt of any race is have done, it is a great way to finish the season.

Last year it was my ninth and final. This year it was a warm-up for my two remaining races. The weather was much better this year. It was the only race I dragged Elina and Venla did last year and it rained the whole day. Not much sun this year either but at least it was dry.

The swim

Due to poor timing on my part, I only arrived at the poolside two minutes before I was due to start and was almost immediately in the water. I took the first half easy as I lazily drafted another swimmer before speeding up for the second half.

The bike

The bike course is rolling, but the rolls are small enough that you can spend most of the time on your aero bars. Only one Pearson overtook me, and he cruised past on his hoods even while I was aero.

On the way back, I ended up caught behind a traffic jam of cars trying to get over a narrow bridge. My descending was much faster thanks to the dry roads, though, and no chain drop in the final corner this year, either.

The run

Nothing much to report here. I did not push too hard as my endless cold was still dragging on.

The result

I finished with a time of:

1:19:42

That is around five and a half minutes faster than last year. Position splits were 112th (swim), 36th (T1), 39th (bike), 87th (T2), 51st (run) out of 170. That was good enough for 53rd place.

My splits were:

Section 2019 2018 Diff
Swim 10:54 12:42 -1:48
T1 01:07 02:02 -0:55
Bike 41:28 46:23 -4:55
T2 01:13 02:08 -0:55
Run 24:59 22:39 +2:20
Total 1:19:42 1:26:23 -5:41

My faster swim time is really T1 time: last year it was raining so many of us put our shoes on after leaving the pool but before crossing the timing mat.

Evolve Sprint Triathlon 2019

Thursday, September 5th, 2019 | Sport

It feels like I have missed everything at the Blue Lagoon this year. Last year, I did my first open water triathlon at the Evolve sprint and was one of 30 athletes to do the quarter, too. This year, the May sprint and the August event had sold out, and the standard clashed with the Yorkshireman. Thankfully, there was a second sprint I was finally able to attend!

I went in not feeling fresh. I had picked up another cold, which would make this the 12th triathlon of the year for me, and 5th while having a cold. On top of that, race 11 was Sundowner Sprint, 24 hours beforehand. Still, I wasn’t looking to set a record time, I just wanted to have some fun.

The swim

The water was nice and warm but the swim was hard. I think I was tired going in. I took 21 minutes, compared to 18 minutes at Sundowner the day before, although it is possible the courses are different lengths. Other swimmers kept crossing in front of me with their can’t-sight-for-shit style.

I worked hard towards the end and came into T1 a little lightheaded again. I had to sit down to take my wetsuit off but still managed to get in and out in just over two minutes. I managed a scoot mount, too, but then couldn’t clip in for ages.

The bike

Allerthorpe has spoilt me: the pan flat roads and sweeping corners. Womersley is different. It is still mostly flat with only one real hill. However, there are sharp corners you have to slow down for and sprint back up to speed on the other side. And the wind was stronger. Sometimes constantly battering you, sometimes waiting for a gap in the trees to give you a surprise shove.

I managed to stay on the aero bars for most of the bike. I am coming around to the idea of wind. It slows anyone down who is not in the aero position. And those they have them are often too nervous to use them or will artificially limit their speed to whatever they feel comfortable with. These are all great chances for me to make some gains on the competition.

I averaged 30.8 kph. This is 3 kph slower than I managed the day before at Allerthorpe. My average power was similar: 214 Watts vs 216 Watts, so I assume the elevation accounts for the slower speed.

The run

I was not looking to set anything on fire on the run. So, I set off at a steady pace. By this point, the sun had come out and I was regretting locking my suncream in the car. Although, in my defence, it was lightly raining when I made that decision.

Naomi had finished by this point and Graeme was half a lap ahead of me on the cross so we kept crossing paths. They both gave me a high-5 on the way around, which was much welcome. But I also want to state, for the record, that they initiated these (just in case they pick up my cold!). I took a bath at the drink station on the final lap.

It would have been nice to get under 90 minutes, but as I came through the trail towards the finish line I could see I wouldn’t be managing that. In the end, I was 46 seconds over.

The result

I finished in:

1:30:46

That is just under 5 seconds quicker than when I did Evolve sprint last year. Given the 2018 event was only a 500-metre swim and the run was slightly shorter too, that seems like a respectable effort.

I finished a fair way beyond Naomi. But, in my defence, so did everyone else in the race. Here she is collecting her prize:

My spits were:

Section Time
Swim 20:49
T1 1:17
Bike 43:38
T2 0:47
Run 24:18

The times are all rounded to the nearest second in this post, so will not add up exactly to the total time. That was good enough for 36th out of 86 finishers. I got the 13th fastest bike split, tying for the position with Naomi who had the exact same time. My run was split was 29th, which seems okay for not going too deep. 11 people finished behind me on the swim.

Sundowner Sprint Triathlon

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019 | Sport

Last year, I completed Sundowner to do my first middle distance race. This year, I was coming to do the sprint that takes place beforehand. The club was well represented: I was joined by Ruth, Dave, Julie, Mat and Claudia, with TeeJay cheering us on, too.

I started with a warm-up run around the lake. Unfortunately, at some point, my car keys fell out of my pocket and I had a stressful 20-minute search for them. It was my own stupid fault for putting them in my hoodie pocket, although difficult to do anything else when you tri suit has no pockets. Luckily, they were found and I was able to get back into my car in time to buy a bacon sandwich before the start.

The swim

I start near the front of the swim pack now. It means people swim over me but also means that I do not have an extra 20 metres to swim. The pinch point at the start made it difficult, though, and I was stuck behind people for a while.

Once the pack thinned out I was able to get into a rhyme. I mixed up breaststroke with some speedy front crawl. My heart rate picked at 185 at one point! Ideally, it would have been better if I could be consistent. But that’s something to work on for later.

Transition 1

T1 went well. I have not quite mastered getting my wetsuit off like the pros yet. In the end, I had a quick sit down as I was feeling a little lightheaded and dizzy from the swim. Everything was set up well: shoes ready go to and my bike computer had synced with both my power metre and heart rate monitor.

Due to the number of athletes, there was a queue to get out of transition. This was a little frustrating but I still got in and out in under two minutes. I managed a scoot mount but it took me a few attempts to get my cleats in before I could.

The bike

The bike was just the right amount of windy. There was enough that it slowed anyone done who was not in the aero position but not quite enough that I was too nervous to get down on the bars. The bike course was as busy as T1 and I spent the whole time going passed people.

It was the same course as Allerthorpe Sprint in July, so we can directly compare numbers. The weather was a little cooler today but with more wind.

Metric Sundowner Sprint Allerthorpe Sprint
Average speed 33.9 kph 31.5 kph
Average moving speed 34.1 kph 31.5 kph
Average power 216 Watts 217 Watts
Normalised power 224 Watts 224 Watts
Average heart rate 183 186

Power output was almost identical and yet I went a lot faster thanks to the aero bars. My heart rate was a little higher in July, which I am guessing was due to the heat.

Unlike Allerthorpe Classic, I managed to get on my aero bars. But I was already overtaking someone by the time I reached the photo point 50 metres down the road.

Transition 2

No problems here. Helmet off, shoes off, trainers on.

The run

I decided to take it easy on the run. I was ill (Venla had infected me again) so I was not looking to push myself too hard. I paced it nicely and it did not hurt too much. Two people overtook me. I have got used to this since I improved my performance on the bike.

The result

I finished with a time of:

1:18:23

That was good enough for 74th out of 263 and made me the first Harrier home. My splits were as follows:

Section Position Time July Difference
Swim 200 18:08 18:21 -0:13
T1 37 1:49 1:52 -0:03
Bike 31 33:01 35:55 -2:54
T2 80 1:33 1:43 -0:10
Run 81 23:50 22:17 +1:33
Total 74 1:18:23 1:20:10 -1:47

Even though I took it easy on the run, I am consistently placing better in the bike than the run now. This feels super weird given that I am from a running background. But I am not complaining. Other than at the speed everyone else is running.

They took the finish line photo just as I was raising my arms in victory.

Overall, a fun day racing with lovely people.

Coalville Triathlon

Monday, September 2nd, 2019 | Sport

My fingers were itching. I had not done a triathlon for nearly three weeks. I needed a hit. Only two races were taking place over the bank holiday: one on the south coast and one near Nottingham. Coalville Triathlon it was, then.

It is targetted at first-timers, so looking at last year’s results I thought I had a chance to do pretty well. The fastest bike split was 42 minutes, for example, and I knew I could go sub-40 over 20km. Was the bike course longer? Was it on narrow roads where I would be stuck behind other cyclists, or having to wait for cars at junctions? Surely it could not be that easy.

We arrived before the leisure centre had opened and found a queue at the door to get to the toilets. No queue at registration, thankfully, and I was able to rack up with no problems.

The swim

The swim was pool-based. I donned my Huub swim cap and entered the pool. I was in a middle wave and only had to overtake one person. Everyone else seemed to have given an accurate swim time, except one lass who was smashing it with tumble turns at the end of every length.

T1 went well. I remembered to open the velcro on my shoes before the race which saved a little bit of time.

The bike

Bike

Having driven for nearly two hours to nice flat Leicestershire, I got a rude awakening as to why everyone was taking 42 minutes on the bike. The first two kilometres were all uphill and the entire course was lumpy. There was only one section where I could get on the aero bars.

My bike computer was not picking up my power metre, so I tried to restart it. This was successful – but then I lost my heart rate. A few other things slowed me down. As I was coming down the hill, a lorry pulled out to avoid a car parked on their side of the road and I had to hit the brakes. On the final hill, I got stuck behind some cars who were themselves stuck behind slower cyclists.

I finished the bike section in 43 minutes. This was a minute behind the winner’s time last year, so I was pretty happy with that.

The run

T2 was okay. It was my first time using elastic laces and no socks. It was a bit difficult to get one of them on but I managed it eventually. I then tried to run out of T2 with my helmet on, though. I realised this five metres from my bike and had to run back.

The run was on a trail that was narrow at times. It was an out-and-back which made it difficult to pass people at times as the path was overgrown and I did not want to imped people coming the other way. I ran a 22:08, which is just off my 5km PB, but Garmin thinks I only ran 4.5km. One person passed me, who went on to run an 18-minute 5km and place 3rd overall.

Run

The result

I finished in a time of:

1:17:13

And my splits were:

Stage 2019
Swim 10:16
T1 0:50
Bike 42:58
T2 1:00
Run 22:08

Check out those slick transition times. The days of 5-minute T1s are long gone, at least in short format racing. That was good enough for 14th overall out of a field of 106. I was the 11th male and 5th male veteran 30-39.

Parkrun Day: The Film

Thursday, August 22nd, 2019 | Sport, Video

Last week, when Hyde Park Harriers took on Leeds parkruns, I took my GoPro along to document the trip. Here is the film I made.

Parkrun Day

Wednesday, August 21st, 2019 | Sport

Every year, Hyde Park Harriers try to take on all of the parkuns in Leeds in a single day. This has become more and more of a challenge as new parkruns start. By this year, 2019, there are now nine of them. With two more starting soon, I have no idea what we will do next year. Possibly a multi-day event.

Having so many parkruns means the distance this year was up to 45km. Anything longer than 42.2km is technically an ultramarathon. 45km is pretty much the easiest ultramarathon you can possibly do, especially as you get a break when driving between them. Or so I thought. It turns out that having a break just gives your legs a chance to seize up.

Roundhay

We started bright and early at 7:30am. Ed Sheran had taken over most of the park so we had to forgo the regular parkrun route and do two laps of the lake instead. Nobody was sad to miss the long drag of the hill up to the mansion in favour of a beautiful view of the lake. It was sunny on the near side and rained on the far side.

Potternewton

By Potternewton, I was already feeling it. Bad times only 5km in! I wanted to pace myself so I walked up some of the hills. Meanwhile, Marcos Angel Valero Palacios came sprinting past me to take a course record of 15:59.

Temple Newsam

I had not packed a lot of food as I only decided to come for it at the last minute and had not had a chance to stock up, so by Temple Newsam I was hungry. I grabbed a coke, a sausage roll and a caramel shortbread from the cafe. The sun was out in full force by Temple Newsam, and Amy and Paul made a guest appearance.

Rothwell

The sun continued to beat down at Rothwell so I took a quick break to suncream up. The tarmac was starting to pound my legs by this point, so I was pleased to have grass to run on for most of it. How easy was everyone else taking it? Toby and Rich lapped me at this one.

Middleton Woods

Ah, the sweet shade of the woods. I felt good at Middleton, at least for the first three kilometres. I was still walking up some fo the hills but was running everything else. After the run, we had lunch on the bike cafe. A cheeseburger and chips went down well, accompanied by two bottles of orange juice and another can of coke.

Cross Flatts

It has cooled down a little by Cross Flatts and we dispatched the course without too much trouble. I felt no ill effects from having stuffed my face.

Bramley

By Bramley, I was tired but feeling good. I had finished both my bidons by this point, so we went to the shop to reload. The ground was a bit soggy when I moved off the tarmac and onto the grass.

Armley

This one was always going to be a challenge because it was so deep in but not quite at the end. We took it really steady so it didn’t hurt too much.

Woodhouse Moor

Ah, the end! I was excited to arrive here and we were joined by a few other Harriers. I went hard to try and put in a good time, but the fatigue meant that a “good time” was still 31 minutes. After crossing the finish line, I would say I felt amazing, but I mostly felt sick. That’s pretty standard with anything over three hours, though.

Conclusion

I can’t believe I made it. Eight others also claimed all of the runs, and while Greg missed Roundhay, he did the most work out of all of us as he cycled between each one. Thank you to Toby for organising it and Ellie for keeping me company at the back.

I’ll see you all next year… for one of the parkuns ;).

Allerthorpe Classic 2019

Wednesday, August 14th, 2019 | Sport

Allerthorpe Classic is a standard distance triathlon that takes place in York on the first Sunday of August. I I raced it last year and perfectly paced myself for a sub-3 time before discovering the run was 10.5km and I ended up with 3:00:15. I had unfinished business.

Pre-race

This year looked equally hot and sunny. I had some cereal for breakfast and half a Clif bar at the venue. I ran into Dan and Alison before the race. Alison was with the elite swimmers 20 minutes ahead of us, while Dan had a two-minute head start over me.

The swim

I used a mixture of front crawl and breaststroke. I would have been happy slowly paddling around, but I am having some knee pain which messes up my breaststroke. Half the swimmers in my wave hung back, but I didn’t really want to swim an extra twenty metres, so I went to the front. This inevitably meant I was in the middle of the pack jostling for position, but no serious blows were landed.

By the second lap, things had calmed down and I had clear water. At the far side of the lake, I could feel my swim cap coming off. Normally, I would stop to put it back on. But I decided I didn’t want to lose time and that it was not my fault that the organisers failed to provide a swim cap for my head shape. So, I let it go and did the rest of the swim without it. Some lose hair, but nothing that got in the way.

As we headed to the swim exit, I just managed to pass someone from the wave in front of ours, mostly thanks to their complete inability to sight. It is incredible how much further people swim because their sighting is terrible.

Best of all, I finally remembered not to fiddle with my watch until I was passed the swim exit photography point.

Transition 1

I managed a fairly speedy T1 (for me), although struggled to get my wetsuit off and had to sit down. I slapped some more sun cream on. Unfortunately, despite putting sun cream on both before the race and here, I still came home sunburnt. There is no way to escape it!

Foolishly, I had not turned my bike computer on before the race, so as I hurried out of T1 I was trying to turn it on and load up the route.

The bike

I knew where the photo point was on the route: just as you start the bike. Before the race, I had visions of getting straight down onto my aero bars and getting an awesome photo of me powering away. Unfortunately, I was still trying to sort my computer out at the time, and so all I got was a photo of my meddling with my head unit.

Worse, in the confusion of trying to sort my bike computer out, I forgot to hit the lap button on my watch. I was 12 minutes into the cycle before I noticed!

Once I had stopped fiddling, I got down to business. And by business, I mean onto the aero bars. This was my first real test on them and I had a little wobble early on that knocked my confidence. But I knew if I didn’t get straight back down on them the fear would grow, so I wasted no time in tucking back in.

I used them for most of the course, occasionally going back to my handlebars to overtake and when I spotted oncoming cars, and occasionally to give my legs a break as it is slightly harder to put out power in the aero position. I wondered how my back would hold up as I usually get quite a lot of lower back pain while racing but, surprisingly, I think I got less than usual.

The results of the aero bars were great. Comparing it to Allerthorpe Sprint last month, I only averaged 197 Watts, compared to the 217 Watts I did last month, and yet my average speed increased from 31.5 kph to 32.9 kph. That means I went 5% faster while using 10% less energy.

Fueling on the bike was difficult as my tri suit does not have any pockets. Instead, I put my gel flask in my top tube bag. It was a bit difficult to get it in and out compared to a back pocket, but it worked.

As we were coming down the final road through Allerthorpe I overtook Dan who was powering away the final few kilometres.

Transition 2

I felt a little light-headed in T2 and was concerned that I had not taken enough carbs so I ripped open my spare energy gel and took a mouthful. Then it was on to the run.

My bike split had been so good that I now had 67 minutes to complete the 10.5km run in order to achieve a sub-3 hour time. Something I think I would struggle to miss if I had tried.

The run

By this point it was midday and the sun was blazing. After about a kilometre I ran into Dan again: apparently, my T2 had been slower than I thought! We had a chat before I picked up the pace. I started out at 5:00 per kilometre before dropping it down to 5:15 per kilometre to make sure I could finish in the heat.

At the second drinks station, I took my caffeine gel and washed it down with some water, the remaining of which went over my head. I walked the final drinks station to get some more water, too.

Unusually, a couple of runners overtook me. The first was a woman who then blew up. I found her walking at 7km. After I had overtaken her she took off again and overtook me, before walking and being overtaken again. She made one final assault and managed to catch me before dropping off permanently. The other two were a man who also blew up, got caught by me, and then took off again into the distance, and another guy who was running at roughly my pace the whole way around.

I cannot blame them for walking. The final three kilometres were so difficult; all I wanted to do was walk. But I told myself that walking was for longer distances: there was no reason to walk for these piddly little ones. I told myself I could walk when I got to 9km if I really needed to. By then I wanted to finish so held it all the way to the end.

The result

My official time was:

2:47:16

And my splits were:

Stage 2019 2018 Diff
Swim 39:34 40:49 -1:15
T1 09:09 03:40 -1:31
Bike 1:09:07 1:20:35 -11:28
T2 02:15 01:49 +0:26
Run 54:09 53:19 +0:50
Total 2:46:16 3:00:15 -12:59

It is by far the fastest standard distance race I have done. The bike is only 38km, and it is a flat and fast course, but the run is slightly longer. My increase in T2 is to be expected as I now cycle without socks and then put my socks on in T2, hence a much faster T1 but slightly slower T2.

Similarly, I’m not too worried about the increase in my run time. In last year’s race, I was sprinting my heart out to get under three hours. There was no need to try and kill myself this year as I knew I would be comfortably under.

Almost all of the improvement came on the bike. Given I only improved slightly at the sprint race last month, I can only attribute that to the aero bars, possibly including some placebo effect from having them on my bike.

I was 146th out of 306 finishers, so just in the top half, which is great! My position splits were 276 (swim), 150 (T1), 94 (bike), 264 (T2) and 110 (run). I have never placed higher in the bike than the run before: normally my run is far ahead of everything else, so this was a new experience for me.

After the race, we cooled off in the lake before I stuffed my face with recovery carbs and protein, and had a massage.

Conclusion

I have done so many races at Allerthorpe now that it feels like a second home. I am very pleased with my bike time and now feel completely justified in buying a triathlon bike. Hopefully, it will be a little cooler next year!

Redcar Sprint Triathlon

Monday, August 5th, 2019 | Sport

A sea swim? Closed roads? Draft legal? Who could say no?!? Cat, Greg, myself and nearly 200 other athletes could not.

Pre-race

Thanks to Greg to booking ahead, we had an HPH table in the club zone. This was super useful for having somewhere to dump all of my stuff and go rooting through my bags. Luckily, there was no rain, but it was nice to have some indoor space anyway.

The swim

We walked down to the beach and had five minutes to wade into the sea and have a swim to warm up. After that, we waded back to the shore and lined up on the start line. When the whistle went, the fastest swimmers charged into the water while the rest of us waded in a little more slowly.

The water was choppy. As the waves came and went we bobbed up and down. I swallowed a lot of seawater. It was fun to be back in the sea at first, but the more I swam, the saltier my mouth became until it started to burn my throat.

Once we are out past the first buoy, we turned to swim parallel with the shore. This made it easier than swimming directly into the waves. In some ways, the waves made it easier to do front crawl than breaststroke, although you did get a sensation of falling when your hand came down into the water in front of you.

After the final buoy, I turned towards the shore. The waves pushed me forward but then seemed to drag me back. It felt frustrating and I had to use markers to test that I was still moving forward, which I was.

My total swim time was 22 minutes including getting off the beach. This is pretty typical for me; slightly slower because of the beach run and challenge of swimming in the sea.

Transition 1

The water became shallow a fair distance out and it made for a slow wade to the beach. We then ran up in it and into T1. I had brought a bottle of water to wash the sand off my feet before giving them a quick dry and throwing my bike shoes on.

The bike

The bike course was on closed roads, mostly along the seafront. It was also draft legal, although you could only draft with people of the same gender. The closest roads made for fun racing as you could go around a corner without worrying about oncoming traffic: although you did have to watch out for parked cars on some roads!

The first lap was lonely. As I am a slow swimmer, I was mostly on my own. At the second lap, I began to find people to draft. I assumed I had caught people up as we were quite well matched on the bike. I followed a couple of people’s wheels, although nobody ever seemed to follow mine.

At the end of the third lap, most of the athletes I was cycling with peeled off into T2. It turns out they were a lap ahead of me, which I was surprised at as they clearly could not out-bike me. This made for a lonely final lap. Drafting made it a lot easier and I was regularly doing 35 kph without too much effort.

There were supporters all around transition, and, at the far end of the course, a church group outside of their building. I decided to give them a wave on my final lap and got an extra loud cheer.

Transition 2

Nothing much to report here. I pulled my shoes and socks on and set off on the run.

The run

The run route took us along the promenade and back again, followed by a quick loop around the boating lake to complete the lap. There were three in total. I almost followed someone going the wrong way at the turnaround point but managed to correct just in time.

I saw Cat coming the other way, and Greg up ahead, almost I suspected (quite correctly) that he was a lap ahead of me.

As I came towards the last half of the final lap I could see that I wasn’t quite going to be able to squeeze it under 90 minutes, so I decided not to push too hard and enjoy it instead, walking across the line in celebration.

As I crossed the line, my sister and brother-in-law had turned up to cheer me on (I completely missed them) and Elina and Venla were also there (I completely missed them, too), but did see the rest of the Harriers cheering me on. What we can learn from this is that if you want to be seen, at a minimum, you need to be wearing a Harriers jersey.

The result

My overall time was:

1:30:27

And my splits were:

Section Time
Swim 23:50
T1 01:41
Bike 37:47
T2 01:28
Run 25:39

I am satisfied with those times. The swim was more like 22 minutes plus extra time to wade up the beach. And the run was pretty speedy given it was 5.5km.

Conclusion

I would highly recommend Redcar sprint triathlon. The sea swim adds an extra challenge and the closed roads make the bike section a lot of fun.

Cricket World Cup

Saturday, July 27th, 2019 | Sport

We won!

I literally know nothing about this. But I need a blog post for my end of year review. Although it seems hard to believe that this is the first time we have won it. We literally invented the sport so that it would be too confusing and boring for any other country to be good at.