Archive for the ‘Sport’ Category

The Yorkshireman

Friday, June 28th, 2019 | Sport

Last Sunday, I completed my first full distance triathlon. Full distance, also known as iron or Ironman, is a 3.8km swim, followed by a 180km cycle, and finishes with a marathon. It takes the elites about eight hours while normal people get 17 hours to complete it before the cut-off.

It’s been a crazy few years. In 2017, I saw the Ironman World Championships pop up in my Facebook feed. I didn’t really know what it was, but I watched it and thought “that looks cool”. One month later, I did a GO TRI at Temple Newsam. This was followed by a sprint distance in April, a standard distance in May and a middle distance in September.

It was never supposed to happen this fast. But then Freebird announced they were launching a full distance race in Yorkshire, named The Yorkshireman, and I decided the opportunity to take part in the first Yorkshireman was not to be missed.

Pre-race

I arrived on Saturday as we were camping the day before and of the race. The campsite was a bit of a walk from the event village but had toilets and showers. There were no queues at registration but there was a mandatory 20-minute race briefing video to watch.

Once that was done I was able to rack my bike and my bags. I was worried the bags would be a bit small to fit all of my kit in as I was doing a full costume change between disciplines. However, they were very generously sized. We were also able to go down and see the swim start with a guided tour taking place every hour.

We took part in the inaugural flat cap run, which was predominantly an event for children. It was a 900-metre run starting and finishing at the event finish line. Venla picked up the lantern rouge but also won her age group as she was the only toddler taking part.

I got to bed about 9pm but it was an hour before we got Venla to sleep and a bit longer until I drifted off. I got up at 4:30 and had some cereal and half a banana before heading down to the race start. Oh, and two immodium tablets. Never forget the immodium before a big race.

The swim

The swim was the hardest part of the race and the hardest swim I have ever done.

We gathered by the river bank and my parents appeared to cheer me on. As we jumped into the water I made my way to the back of the pack and jokingly asked “is this where the normal people start?” which gave us all a giggle.

The swim started with a long stretch upstream. The current wasn’t strong but it was noticeable. I tried to keep to the side to stay out of the fastest current but in doing so I kicked a concrete jetty and hurt my foot. At the turnaround bouy, I stopped to do a gel.

On the way back I tried to keep more central but still struggled. I was tired, aching and cold. I tried to speed up at one point but almost immediately cramped up and had to get some help from the water safety crew. So much for the gel seeing that off.

Worse, I had drunk so much of the River Ure by this point that my bladder was bursting. You may want to skip to the bike section if you don’t want graphic detail. Every stroke felt like I was being kicked in the bladder. You might think “well, why not just go, you’re in a river after all”. I would agree, but if you have ever tried to wee in a wetsuit, you will know how difficult it is.

Twenty years of being an adult have taught me not to wee myself. You need to relax. But you cannot relax while you’re swimming. Even if you stop and tread water it is super difficult. I had even practised in some of my open water sessions but not been able to do it.

To complete the swim, I needed to get back to the start then go downstream and back up again to complete the final 400 metres.

Unfortunately, by this point I was in so much pain, so cold and so fed up that I thought about giving up. I stopped to tread water and decide what to do. “Just swim over to the jetty and all the pain will be over,” a voice said to me. I seriously considered it.

Somehow, I convinced myself to struggle on. Reminding myself of the six months of training helped. As I made it to the final buoy, my bladder decided it had had enough and finally opened unconditionally. I think I emptied half of the River Ure back into it. I shouted “come on Chris, you can do this” and the water safety crew took up the chant, too, cheering me on.

Transition 1

I was helped out of the water two hours after I had jumped in. There were less than 100 of us doing the full distance, but nearly 500 doing the half and by a stroke of good luck for me, they started two hours after. Thus, as I was hauled out of the water, hundreds of middle distance athletes who were waiting to get into the water clapped and cheered me on.

I managed a bit of a run into the transition tent, collected my bag and collapsed into a chair in the changing area. The guy sat next to me had brought a supermarket pot of pasta and a fork to eat it with. I took a second bathroom break to empty the remaining River Ure out and then collected my bike and set off on the road.

The bike

180km (112 miles) is a long way. I had ridden two 160km rides in the build-up to the race but this would by a small margin be my longest ride ever. Pretty quickly into the bike I realised I wouldn’t be hitting my nutrition targets as my stomach didn’t want to tolerate so much food. I stopped every 15km to stretch my back out and used those opportunities to eat, too. That made for roughly 12 stops and I counted down.

The weather was mixed. Early on the sun came out and I spent some time at one stop putting suncream on. Later on, it looked like it was going to rain, although it held off throughout the bike.

The bike section consisted of an out section, three loops and a back. There was a feed station on the loop which I used to change my two sports drink bottles for another sports drink and a water bottle. I also took a bathroom break on the final lap.

As well as my scheduled stops, I stopped twice to help people. One guy had got his chain jammed in his front cassette. I couldn’t offer much but moral support and go back to the marshall nearby, but he sent me a message after the race to thank you for stopping. The second time, some poor guy on the half had accidentally done the bike loop twice, rather than once, and was now lost.

Frustratingly, on both occasions, Garmin put me on the previous lap, so I had to calculate my own distance to go from then on. My Garmin also crashed about 10 minutes into the ride but luckily restarted after another five minutes and worked okay from them on (apart from the distance issue).

Parts of it were long and boring. I used my mindfulness practice, and occasionally a bit of singing. A mixture of rock and Eurovision. Sometimes I wanted to give up, especially when it was time to start another lap. I could come back and try again next year. But I reminded myself that if I did that, I would have to do that damn swim again.

Towards the end, I was getting hungry and my back was really hurting so I stopped at 30km, 20km and 10km before finally making it back.

Transition 2

On returning transition, I got the pro treatment as they were racking everyone’s bikes for them. I grabbed my bag, threw my running kit on and headed out, finding my family at the exit to transition waiting to wave me off.

Unfortunately, they had to wait a little longer as immediately turned to take yet another bathroom stop, before finally starting my run.

The run

By this point, it was 4pm. I had until 11pm to complete the race but if you were starting your final lap after 9pm you had to do a slightly different route. Even though it was the same length, I wanted to do the “real” route, so I figured if I put in two speedy laps I could walk the remaining two and still do that.

At the first feed stop, I grabbed some energy drink, jelly babies and crisps. I began running at an easy pace of around 6:30 per kilometre and decided to walk each aid station where I would do another cup of energy drink. I completed the first two laps in around 1:10:00 per lap. Each time I came back into the grounds my family were there to cheer me on.

In my pre-race plan, I had banned myself from having any caffeine until halfway through the run. So, I was pleased to arrive on the third lap and start replacing my energy drink for coke. I did some more maths and realised that if I put in another lap of 1:10:00 I could walk the final lap and still do a sub-5-hour run split and sub-15-hour overall. So, I kept running.

As I finished the third lap, I took a final bathroom break just as it started to rain. Luckily it was only light with the heavier rain staying away until just after I finished. I walked for a bit, chatting with a guy who was also doing his first full distance.

But I couldn’t stick with walking. I was feeling alive. I was actually going to finish this thing. Although I started mixing in some more walking, I did some of my fastest running here, too, putting in several sub-6-minute kilometres.

The finish

As I entered the grounds for the final time, my dad met me a few hundred metres from the finish and we ran side-by-side to the rest of my family and then joined into one big group to cross the line together.

It felt surreal. It was amazing, of course, but also it didn’t really sink in straight away. And despite the excitement, you’re also utterly empty, you feel sick and tired and everything aches.

I collected my medal, my t-shirt and my time. We then went to the registration tent so I could get a massage and eat some food. My parents had brought the car down so that my mum could drive me back to the campsite. Venla was so excited that she was running around until midnight.

I was pretty wired, too. Between the excitement, the caffeine and sound of the rain on the tent, I tried and failed to sleep until 2am. At that point, I gave up and went and sat in my car for two hours and listened to an audiobook. At 4am, I finally managed to fall asleep and slept until 8-9ish.

Recovery

When J woke up on Monday, I felt pretty tired and ill. I managed a slice of toast albeit very slowly. We drove back to Leeds and went to McDonald’s for lunch, which I found a big struggle to get down, too. It was only that evening I felt I could eat normally again.

Then there was the soreness. I got another massage on Tuesday, but my legs and back continued to ache for the next week.

The result

The headline figure was my overall time:

14:35:12

My spreadsheet put me anywhere from 14.25 hours to 16.75 hours. But I didn’t really believe this was possible. I was sure it would be longer. So, it was a lovely surprise to get it down to the lower end of the estimates.

In terms of placing, this put me 56th overall. 93 registered, but only 79 started and only 70 finished. Surprisingly, this put me 3rd in my age group. It was out of a total of 6 but I will take a top half finish! The winner, Chris Cope, finished in 09:28:02, 45 minutes ahead of anyone else.

My splits were as follows:

Section Time
Swim 01:59:17
T1 00:16:11
Bike 07:31:12
T2 00:08:23
Run 04:40:07
Total 14:35:12

That gave me the 30th fastest run split, which again I’m pretty pleased to be in the top half.

And one more record for the books: apparently, I am the first official Hyde Park Harrier to complete a full distance triathlon (i.e. the first member to race under the club name to do so).

Event organisation

The event organisation was first class. From the moment we arrived at Newby Hall there were staff and marshalls everywhere. And they knew what was going on. There was no queue for registration. There were people helping out and showing you where everything was in transition. There were marshalls on every junction of the 140.6-mile course (well, there were loops, but it’s still a lot of course) and three people on each feed station handing out drinks.

Everyone was encouraging and friendly. They printed out names on our race numbers and the marshalls used them to cheer us on by name. The event village felt pro quality and there were plenty of toilets, the lack of which really annoys me at other races.

In short, Freebird did an amazing job organising it.

Another highlight of the race: the medal was in metric!

Thank yous

A bunch of people to thank here:

First, my wife. I made sure to seek her permission before signing up for the race because ten hours of training per week is a huge amount of training. I don’t think I shirked my share of looking after Venla, but it did mean that when it wasn’t my turn, I was invariably out training rather than spending time with her.

Second, my parents. They came for the weekend, were up at 6am to cheer me on at the start and still there at 9pm. They were there when I finished the bike and for every lap of the run. When they weren’t cheering me on they were bringing their car up to drive me back to the campsite or cooking me some post-race sausages. They were the ultimate support crew.

Third, everyone at Hyde Park Harriers triathlon club for the encouragement over the last two years.

And finally, all of the marshalls, volunteers and team at Freebird Events for putting on such an awesome race.

Summary

Now that I have had a chance for it to sink in, I am super proud be an ironman (well, technically, a Yorkshireman).

A lot of people have asked me “are you going to do another one?” The answer is, I’m not saying never, but I don’t have any plans. It hasn’t put me off. But I would need to get my swim sorted before doing another. And it is a lot of training to commit to. Finishing a marathon didn’t inspire me to do anymore and I’m not sure this will, either. But I’ll see how I feel next year.

Would I recommend full distance? No, because I don’t want you blaming me when you get halfway through a race and decide to curse my name :D.

Further reading

I have separate blog posts on fuelling for the race and how do you keep going for 14 hours.

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.