Archive for the ‘Sport’ Category

Braham Pie-athlon

Monday, December 18th, 2017 | Sport

It’s Christmas. Which means mince pies are everywhere. In the kitchen. In the office. And, apparently, on the triathlon course. Why? Because last Sunday was the Braham pie-athlon.

Organised by Tadcaster Triathlon Team, it was identical to their first Go Tri event that I raced last month with one important difference: in each transition area, you had to scoff a mince pie.

I was hoping for good things. At the last one, I was ill. That said, I still completed it in a time of 33:21, and this time I had to add a few mince pies as well.

Despite a frosty and wet morning, the day warmed up a little. By the start of the race, it was a balmy 6 degrees Celsius. Everyone laughed at me for lining up on the start line in just a t-shirt, but it was clearly the correct decision as I was good temperature throughout the race.

And we’re off

The first 2km was relatively easy. I’m running on a damaged ankle at the moment, which gave me a bit of grief but didn’t slow me down.

However, things got tough as we arrived in transition one. I had done extensive training before the race. However, I had done it all using deep-filled mince pies. We were handed a thin and crispy one. This has a totally different filling to pastry ratio making it much more difficult to eat.

It also put me at a disadvantage against the people changing their shoes, as they could eat and shoe-change. Thus, it didn’t really slow them down. Whereas I was otherwise ready to pick my bike up.

The bike leg

I exited transition alongside one other guide and got ahead of him. For a good five metres. That was mainly due to me being able to hop on my bike quickly whereas it took him a few seconds to clip into his £2,000 Felt B-series TT bike. Once he had clipped in, he caught up pretty quickly.

We headed down the old A1 and I quickly overtook someone. I was then on my own for the next 3km before spotting someone in my metaphorical mirrors. I kept ahead of him for another 3km, but with 1km to go, he finally overtook me. The effort had worn him out though, and I took the place back as we reached the dismount line and ran into transition two.

The final sprint

We were handed our second mince pies as we left T2, meaning we could eat them on the run. This is hard to do. It’s impossible to eat and breathe in sufficient oxygen for running at the same time. But by the 500m mark I had I had finished munching and the stomach pains disappeared.

The results

I came 9th out of a field of 22. Last time I was 22 out of 32, which suggests that I am improving or that the good athletes were scared off by their lack of scoffing skills.

My final time was:

34:25

That means it was 1:04 slower than last time. Not a great result as even if you say it took me all of that time to scoff the mince pies, it means I haven’t really improved much.

However, it seems everyone found it harder.

The guy who won both races, Harry Robson, was 2:56 slower with this race. The guy who came second in this race was also 2:26 slower than the previous event. So, perhaps it was an improvement after all.

The splits

It’s impossible to report exact splits without a fancy triathlon watch (so, I will be needing one of those) but I can estimate it from the pace fluctuations.

I’ve put in last time as a comparison.

Section Pie-athlon Previous race
Run 9:52 9:48
T1 2:05 (11:57) 0:35 (10:23)
Bike 16:57 (28:52) 17:32 (27:55)
T2 0:35 (29:27) 0:50 (28:45)
Run 4:58 (34:25) 4:36 (33:21)
Total 34:25 33:21
Gap to winner 5:10 7:02

Looking at the data, I think it’s probably nonsense: you just cannot accurately gauge which section is which without a clear marker that a sports watch would provide.

Conclusion

It was a lot of fun. I would definitely do another pie-athlon. Tadcaster Triathlon Team did a great job of organising it. I finished the day with a long bath. For my bike. Then I had a quick shower with the remaining hot water.

Triathlon For Beginners

Thursday, December 7th, 2017 | Books, Sport

Triathlon For Beginners: Everything you need to know about training, nutrition, kit, motivation, racing, and much more is a book by Dan Golding.

I was keen to read it to see how my current knowledge matched up. As it turns out, it matches up reasonably well. If you’ve been around the triathlon world for any amount of time, or done a few, you will probably know a lot of what is in the book.

But that doesn’t mean it isn’t interesting. Golding goes deeper into the science of each aspect so unless you really know your stuff, there is something to learn.

Take nutrition, for example. I knew we had around 90 minutes of glycogen. But, after that is gone, exactly how many kcals do I need to put in my body to keep going, and at what rate? Everyone is different, of course, but Golding provides a guide.

He also expounds on an important concept that books are picking up on more and more (including mine): you have to remind the reader that reading this book isn’t enough; they need to put it into practice, too.

How much this helps, I’m not sure. But the anecdotes about what happens probably do help. Between Golding’s recollection of being unable to get his wetsuit off, and my own experience of running out of T2 still wearing my cycling helmet, I think I’ll think I’ll be able to convince myself that transition practice is time well spent.

If you’re thinking about taking up triathlon, or you’re still in your first season, this book is worth reading.

GO TRI Braham

Monday, November 20th, 2017 | Sport

Hot off the heels of GO TRI Temple Newsam, I signed up for GO TRI Braham.

It was a different setup: less running and more cycling. The cycling was on the road and slightly less hilly. It was also more competitive: people turned up with racing bikes and separate shoes for running and cycling.

The competitiveness was most obvious on the road. I held my own on the run but I was overtaken by a lot of people in the cycle, even on the climb. The revised format made it a quicker course, though, and in the end, I finished 22nd, same as last week.

My time was 33:21

Despite being slow relative to the other athletes, I wasn’t too disappointed by my time. Despite being ill, I still averaged 24kmph. That is nothing to write home about if you are a cyclist. But, as I struggled to get my speed above 20kmph on the towpath, and kept telling myself I would be faster on clear roads, a little vindication did make me feel better.

The event was well organised and the results were online the same day.

GO TRI Temple Newsam

Sunday, November 19th, 2017 | Sport

Last week, I completed my first triathlon. Except it wasn’t a triathlon, nor was it anything like a real distance.

It was the “GO TRI Temple Newsam”, a novice event designed to get people into triathlon that is organised by the British Triathlon federation. It took the format of a duathlon with a 2km run, 5km bike and another 2km run.

Despite a slow start, leaving me dead last, I managed to pull up the pace and pass most of the field. In the end, I came home in 22nd position, out of a field of 58. Not a total disaster for my first event.

My time was 37:07.

Coming off the bike was hard. I did a duathlon training session on my birthday, and for the first kilometre, I had no running legs. That’s not a huge thing when you are running 10k, but quite a big thing when you are only running two.

It was also a good reminder that my descending on the bike sucks. I lost a few places coming down the hill because I was on my breaks and other people weren’t. Luckily, what goes down must come up, and I was a faster climber than everyone who overtook me.

Event-wise, I think it was good. It felt a tad disorganised at times, but that didn’t really matter: everyone knew what was going on and there were marshalls at all of the key points, so that is all you need.

My only criticism is that we were promised a secure transition area for our bikes. But, that turned out to be the middle of the field. Not a problem when you are riding a Halfords-own-brand bike, but if you brought your £1,000 bike (which is pretty common if you are into your cycling) you would probably be quite annoyed.

It was good fun and I would do it again. Especially when it warms up a little bit!

Bingley Five Rise Locks

Tuesday, November 14th, 2017 | Sport

If you know what a canal lock is, you can probably work out what Bingley Five Rise is.

It’s quite a climb on a bike. I’m not pretending that it’s long, or it’s anything like what the professional racers are tackling on grand tours (for kilometres at a time). But, compared to the rest of the canal, the 18 metres of climbing is a lot. Wikipedia pegs it at 20%.

Indeed, having done around Eccup and the airport, I would say it’s as short, steep and nasty as anything that Leeds has to offer.

I haven’t been beaten by a climb yet, though, and this one was no exception. A bit of first gear and some riding out of the saddle and bingo, you’re at the top.

Except you’re not at the top. Because, when you get to the top, you run into a gate. Still on the hill, so you can’t just comfortably put your foot down and wheel yourself through. You’re still on the climb, trying to navigate this stupid wooden fence.

And yet, if I were to take a chainsaw to that wooden fence, in the eyes of so-called British justice, I would be the one in the wrong.

Gendered cycling helmets

Sunday, November 12th, 2017 | Sport

Recently, Elina and I bought cycling helmets. You may think that they would just be one design for everyone. After all, men and women have basically the same head. Sure, men have larger heads, on average, but that isn’t a reason to gender them: just make them in a variety of sizes.

But that isn’t how it works. Men, who presumably spend more money on such gear, get a range of sizes. And features. Mine, for example, has MIPS. This is the latest safety standard to protect my head in the event of a crash.

Sounds good.

Elina on the other hand, bought a woman’s helmet. Here is what hers has:

Yep, it has a little hole where you can put your hair through. It’s not even special. I can do that with my helmet.

This is how the 49ers can make the playoffs

Thursday, November 9th, 2017 | Sport

At 0-9 this year, some would say that things are looking pretty bad for the San Francisco 49ers.

But all hope is not lost. Indeed, there is still a chance we can make the playoffs. Here is how:

  1. The 49ers win all of their remaining games, taking them to 7-9. Not a likely result for playoffs, but possible. I think it was always Kyle Shanahan’s plan to build dramatic tension before going on a winning streak, anyway.
  2. The LA Rams, currently at 6-3, go on to lose all of their remaining games. This takes them to 6-10.
  3. The Seattle Seahawks, currently at 5-3, go on to lose all of their remaining games except for one (they have to beat the Rams). That takes them to 6-10, too.
  4. The Arizona Cardinals, currently 4-4, go on to lose all of their remaining games except for two (they have to beat the Rams and the Seahawks), which also takes them to 6-10.

Thus the division ends with San Francisco on top with 7-9, and everyone else below at 6-10.

It’s a fair bit to ask, I’ll admit. First, we need to win all seven games. Then there are another 16 games were not involved in that need to go exactly our way. Which is every other game that everyone else in the division is involved in with no margin for error.

Abbey Dash 2017

Monday, November 6th, 2017 | Sport

November means the Abbey Dash. Last year I set my personal best over 10k, 56:45, which bested my previous PB of the awesome time of 59:59 set at the Leeds 10k.

This year I had a support time, as Elina and Venla came down to the starting pen. Much welcomed given how cold it was as I could keep my hoodie on until the final 10 minutes before the race.

This year seemed bigger than ever. The announcer said 11,000, though whether that many actually showed up I’m not sure.

My target time was 54 minutes, nearly three minutes ahead of my personal best. It was carefully calculated from the Run Less, Run Faster conversation tables which told me that if I could run a 54-minute 10k, I could do a sub-2 hour half marathon.

However, training has been going really well recently, including taking my Parkrun PB down to 24:37, so I decided to set off fast and slow down when my chest felt like it was going to explode.

As it happens, I managed to avoid this and bring it home in:

49:46

Very chuffed. Well ahead of my target. I had done a sub-50 training run, but it’s always harder on race day because you can never take the perfect like, so you always end up running an additional 100-200 metres with all of the dodging around people and taking corners wide.

I came on to the finishing straight, and Strava told me I had hit 10k with 49:11, giving me 49 seconds to sprint to the actual finish.

Does this mean I can run a sub-2 hour half marathon? Hopefully! It’s not as straightforward as it might seem. The Abbey Dash is very flat while the Leeds Half is almost entirely set on hills. Second, the weather is often very warm in May. But that is certainly the target.

The conversation tables also suggest I can run a sub-4 hour marathon. But I doubt that would be true!

A big shout out to Jane for whom this was her first 10k race. And it was great to grab a beer with Rob, Dr Chris and Elina after the race.

Parkrun 131

Wednesday, October 25th, 2017 | Sport

Last Saturday I completed my 131st Parkrun. I was feeling good so was determined to make it a PB (personal best) day. Of course, intentions don’t always match up to how you feel on the morning.

As it happens, the wind as with me. Not literally, there was a headwind on the back straight. But I pushed, and having only set my current PB back in August, managed to set a lower one of:

24:37

I’m pretty pleased with that, especially with the Abbey Dash looming large. Here is an updated graph of my Parkrun history:

You’ll notice that with the trend line, I should be world champion sometime next week. I’m pretty sure that’s how it works.

Here is why you need every single cycling accessory

Tuesday, October 24th, 2017 | Sport

Every bike shop is stacked to the rafters with expensive accessories. But, wanting to be frugal, I rejected the idea that you needed them. I bought a bike and nothing else. No accessories at all. I refused to be pulled into this expensive world.

And then the real world hit me, and I realised how wrong I was.

This is my story. A story of how you actually do need a bunch of accessories, and will massively regret it if you don’t get them.

Shorts

True, you don’t really need these. Just like you don’t need a cup even if someone is going to kick you in the genitals over and over again. But any sustained time on the bike and you’re going to start getting sore.

I managed one ride. By the end of the first hour, my bottom was regretting it. Padded shorts are well worth the investment.

Bottle cage

Human beings literally die if they don’t get water on a regular basis. Even by re-using a sports bottle that I already owned, I still had to buy a cage to put it in.

Multitool

Oh, you want to fit that cage to your bike? Too bad, because the Allen key size doesn’t quite match the six different ones you have left over from Ikea. So, you have two options. One is to go cap in hand around to your dad’s every time you want to change your saddle height. Or two is to buy a multitool.

I tried to get away with option one. But my parents go on holiday too often for it to work.

Jersey

Great, so, I’ve now got my water, but nowhere to put an energy bar. Or my wallet or keys, or basically anything. This is because if you have a regular pocket on a bike, things fall out of it. So, you either need to use shorts or trousers will jip pockets (of which I do not have loads), or buy something with pockets.

Like a jersey. Which has three. For things like keys. It’s that or use some kind of elaborate wave system to try and tell your wife you’re home and want to be let back in.

Inner tube, pump

On my fifth bike ride, my back wheel fell off. I don’t know how to change a wheel. But even if I did, it wouldn’t have been much use because I don’t own a pump or a spare inner tube. Useful purchases, then.

Saddle bag

Oh, you want to have those things for when you need them in an emergency? Looks like you will be buying a saddle back to store them in, then.

Lock

Now we’re rocking and rolling. Sure, we’ve had to give in and buy seven accessories, but now we’re set, right?

Well, yes, unless you have any friends. Or want to ride your back to any kind of location. Because if you wanted to do any of that, you’re going to need a bike lock to lock it up at your destination.

Again, you have options.

You could get your friend to use their bike lock to secure both your bikes, for example. In which case, hope you have a generous friend with a suitably flexible bike lock.

Or you could move to Oxford, where nobody really uses them.

Short of that, you will be investing in an expensive lock because even the expensive ones only provide about a minute’s protection from determined thieves. And one lock is pretty much a starting point: you will want to get a second one to try and hang on to your wheels as well.

Cover

Now your bike is covered in expensive things in a country where it rains all of the time. Maybe you have an indoor storage area. We live in a flat, so the bikes have to live on the balcony. That means investing in a rain cover.

Helmet

I don’t bother with a helmet because the evidence for them is mixed. But a lot of people look at my weirdly. And if I want to ride any organised events or competitions, a helmet will be mandatory.

Lights

Lights are optional, unless, of course, you ever plan on commuting on your bike. In which case, you best hope you only work 10 am to 3 pm, otherwise, you’ll be riding to and from work illegally.

Glasses

Glasses aren’t required unless you want to a) see where you are going in the sun and b) ever ride near a canal or river. If you do want to ride by a waterway, you have the choice of either wearing some glasses or repeatedly being hit in the eye by insects until you blindly ride your bike into said waterway.

Gloves

You can live without gloves unless you want to be able to use your hands at the end of the cycle. For example, being able to use a keyboard in the office or operate your keys to unlock your front door when you get home.

In either of these scenarios seem likely, you will want to ensure there is at least some heat left in your hands when you arrive at your destination.

Mud guards

I don’t care about getting muddy when I go cycling. However, if you ever plan on riding when anyone else, you might start to care. And, if you go out with a cycling club, they are likely to be mandatory.

Things you don’t need

There is one thing you genuinely don’t need to buy for your bike, and that is a computer. The one thing that is actually fun and interesting. Which really digs the claw in. If you want to be frugal, you need to buy every single cycling accessory except the one you actually want.

Summary

People sometimes say that you should avoid spending a fortune on cycling accessories.

However, that is a little unrealistic. I tried it. I bought zero accessories for my bike. But, one after another, I was forced to invest in them. Cycling is a tricky thing to do on a budget.