Posts Tagged ‘Allerthorpe’

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.

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!

Allerthorpe Sprint Triathlon 2019

Sunday, July 7th, 2019 | Sport

I completed Allerthorpe Sprint Triathlon last year in a time of 1:30:17. This year, I dragged Elina and Venla along, thinking they could enjoy the sunshine and paddle in the lake. As it turns out, the day was cool and overcast: perfect for racing.

I had come down ill on Friday and still felt pretty rough. The combination of having a toddler and a compromised immune system from a training load designed for ironman hasn’t been working out well for me: I had a cold for Driffield and World Triathlon Leeds, too. However, I decided to power through and race anyway, especially as I set a great time at Leeds.

The swim

The swim went well. I was in the last of three waves setting off five minutes apart. I mostly used breaststroke with some front crawl to try and say on the feet of other people when I needed to speed up. Just at the end, I managed to overtake one of the slower swimmers from the wave in front of us!

Having cramped up in my ironman swim, and in one of the long prep swims, I was a bit nervous of it happening again. This was irrational because I only cramp after over an hour in the water. But it still played on my mind and I had to back off once or twice.

The bike

I had decided to go without socks on the bike, so as I entered into T1 I just had to pull my wetsuit off and pull my tri shoes on. This made for a T1 time of just over two minutes: a far cry from the 16 minutes at The Yorkshireman or eight minutes in Leeds. I forgot to take my neck protector off, though and had to do the entire bike with a giant piece of rubber around my neck.

The bike felt pretty fast and I tried to keep my watts around 220. My swim was a bit faster this time which meant there was an uber biker that was a slower swimmer than me. Baring that overtake, though, it was business as usual with me gaining places consistently throughout the bike and run.

The run

In T2, I pulled on my flat cap and headed out for the 5km. I went out a little too fast on the run, but nothing I could not handle. After the first kilometre, I settled down into a sensible face and held that to the end. I managed a sprint finish, hence the look on my face as I came through the finish gate.

The result

My official time was:

1:20:10

It’s a shame it wasn’t 11 seconds faster. I was 17 seconds over 1:30:00 last year, and I just missed three hours by 15 seconds at Allerthorpe Classic. But that was somewhat intended: I didn’t look at the overall time on my watch because I knew if I was around the 1:20:00 mark, I would push myself harder than I wanted while I was ill.

Splits were as follows:

Stage 2019 2018 Diff
Swim 18:21 22:01 -3:40
T1 01:52 04:39 -2:47
Bike 35:55 37:10 -1:15
T2 01:43 1:27 +0:16
Run 22:17 25:01 -2:44
Total 1:20:10 1:30:17 -10:07

Pleased with almost everything there. A sub-20 swim is a great swim for me. Maybe a bit disappointed by the bike time as I’m now riding a super aero ride bike with aero wheels on, too. That is a lot of cash for very little extra speed. T2 was slightly slower because I put my socks on in T2 rather than T1. 22:17 is a super 5km run time: only 11 seconds slower than my all-time 5km PB.

I came 75th overall, out of a field of 166 finishers. 11th in my age group.

It was also my first race in my club tri suit. Does that account for the 10 minutes knocked off my time? Maybe so!

Sundowner Triathlon: My first middle distance race

Wednesday, September 5th, 2018 | Sport

A middle distance triathlon is a 1,900 metre swim, 90 km bike and 21 km run (half marathon). In old money, that’s 1.2 miles in the water, 56 miles on the bike and a 13-mile jog. It’s the thing that Alister Brownlee is moving up to. And, in a moment of madness over the summer, what I signed up to, too.

Preparation

Even though it is my first year doing triathlon, I feel pretty well versed. I had already done three sprint distance and four standard distance races, so I knew what to expect. My August was full of big sessions: 100 km bike rides, 30 km runs and one never-ending day when I cycled to Bolton Abbey and back before doing a 10 km run.

The preparation was more than just physical training. I upgraded my bike to clipless pedals, something which I had been meaning to do anything but this gave me the push. Wiggle delivered palettes of nutrition to my house so that I had enough gels to get me through the training sessions and the race itself. I revised my own sport psychology course.

A week before the race, it looked like disaster had struck. In my final training run, a 36 km slog, my calf muscle began playing up and eventually left me limping. I should have stopped, but I didn’t because it had gradually come on. If something goes pop, you know you’ve done real damage. But if something just hurts more and more, it’s often fine. As it happens, it wasn’t fine and kept hurting all weekend.

So, I had a decision to make. Did I try to race on it or not? If it had been the start of the season, then probably not. But, as it was the end, I decided I would try and get back to training and see how it felt. I got back in the pool on Tuesday, back on the bike on Wednesday and went for a short run on Thursday. It held up fine. Between rest, strength exercises and a physio session, I had got lucky. The big day arrived…

The day itself

Sundowner starts at noon. You have eight hours to beat the cut-off time, so it’s designed to coincide with the sun going down, hence the name. This is a much more civilized time to start a triathlon. Not only did it mean I could get up at 7am, rather than 5am, but it also meant that instead of starting the run in the noonday sun, we started it at 4-5pm when the heat of the day was starting to pass.

I arrived in Allerthorpe just after 10am, where I met up with the Hyde Park Harriers who had just completed the Sundowner Sprint Triathlon. Registration and racking my bike were uneventful.

The swim

Things were eventful from the start. About 100 metres into the swim one of my fellow competitors had a panic attack, so I had to stop and summon help for him. This meant I had lost of the feet of the large swim in front of me and it was a hard chase to get back on.

Things were quiet after that until the last few hundred metres of the swim when the pack of faster swimmers from the wave behind me caught up. There was nowhere to hide: there were dozens and dozens of them everywhere you swam. You couldn’t help but accidentally kick people as they groped me from behind.

Despite stopping at the start, I clocked in at 50:20, which was right on target.

The bike

90 km is a long way to cycle. The nice thing about York is that it is pan flat. Even compared to the Flat n Fast 100 it is super-flat. No wonder the entire place floods.

The downside is that there are no hills to break up the wind. So, while it was an easier bike than the Tour de Yorkshire, there were some tough stretches when you were battling a headwind and the tailwind that I assume we got at some point did not compensate.

Most of all, though, it was the sheer length of the bike that made it hard. I counted down in 10 km increments, which is when I took my feeds. But, to reduce the monotony, I also counted down in 10%s (81 km, 72 km, 63 km, etc) as well as quarters, thirds and halves. That way, I was never more than 9 km away from my next milestone and usually a lot less.

By the end of the bike, I was uncomfortable. My back was aching, my bottom was sore and I was fed up with being on a bike. Unfortunately, I had budgeted for a bike fit, but only at the end of the year, so my position is not yet ideal.

I finished the bike in 3:34:01. Not a great time but safely within the cut-off.

I’m not sure why I look like a giant in this photograph.

The run

Finally came the half marathon to finish things off. This is what I was most nervous about because I thought if my leg was going to give up anywhere, it would probably be the run. And that would have been a lot of suffering for nothing.

I was pretty tired by this point, so I decided that I would walk past the aid stations as I took on food and drink, and then run all of the rest. This tactic worked well although the definition of where an aid station started and finished gradually got longer as the race went on.

I wasn’t sure whether I should keep running or not. Part of me wanted to be able to say I had run the whole thing. But another part of me wanted to say that I had been strong enough to recognise when there is a time for compassion and allow myself to walk.

In the end, my pace calculations settled the debate. As each kilometre ticked by, I worked out how fast I had to run to be within my target time of below seven hours. By 19.5 kilometres I had still had over 20 minutes to do the last mile. So, I allowed myself to walk the next 500 metres before running the final kilometre.

I finished the run in 2:08:54, which felt good given my half marathon PB is 1:52:24.

The finish

Official time:

6:48:13

I want to tell you that the finish was amazing and worth the endless hours of training and seven hours of hell that I had put myself through. And, for a split second, it did feel amazing.

But the truth is that triathlons, like marathons, don’t feel amazing at the end. Parkruns feel amazing. You’ve been working your cardio system hard for half an hour, and then you stop and the pain instantly goes away. Endurance events aren’t like that. Your muscles don’t stop aching when you stop moving. That’s not to say it isn’t worth doing. But the real reward comes when you wake up the next day, and every day, and get to think “wow, I actually did that.”

What I mostly felt after the race was thirsty. Within the first hour, I had downed four drinks: two J2Os, a can of Red Bull and a Lucozade Energy. A did a 500ml bottle o Coke on the drive back and two litre-sizes bottles of juice when I got home.

Not much else was going on. As a competitor, I got a hog roast sandwich and a dessert as part of my registration fee, at the afterparty. I made it halfway through the sandwich before I had to give up. It was heartbreaking to see good pork to go to waste but what else could I do?

The future

So, what’s next? I genuinely have no idea.

A full distance Ironman? Not yet. I am sick of training, sick of being on a bike, and sick of triathlon. I mean, not sick enough to not race Nidderdale next week. But sick enough to be glad that the season is coming to an end. And while I might be willing to do it all again next year, doing a full distance race would have to involve me doubling my training load. Middle distance is easy: I swim 2,000 metres in the pool, I might bike 100 km at a sportive and I like the half marathon distance. But I haven’t done any of the full distance even individually.

Another middle distance? Maybe. For the first 24 hours, I genuinely felt like I didn’t want to ever do that again. But like a mother who had slowly forgotten the pain of childbirth, I’m starting to think it might be okay to do another.

But right now we’re heading into the off-season. I’m going to do some running, but mostly I’m going to sit on my sofa eating Ben & Jerry’s and getting fat. And dream of the good old glory days when I beat the sun going down.

Allerthorpe Classic triathlon

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018 | Sport

In July, I travelled to Allerthorpe, near York, to compete in the Allerthorpe Sprint Triathlon. Despite trying my hardest, a mistake in T1 wasted some valuable time and I came in a mere 17 seconds over an hour and a half. This time, I was returning for the Classic, a standard distance race. Would my performance improve?

For comparison, I managed 3:02:18 at Wetherby and 2:57:40 at Evolve Quarter. However, every course has different distances and every day has different weather conditions, so it’s difficult to make direct comparisons. This is especially true of Evolve which completely messed with the distances.

The swim was a two-lap horse-shoe-shaped course around the lake. This was better than the sprint, which just went around the edge, which is often too shallow to swim in. T1 went well and I was soon on the bike and away. I couldn’t quite maintain the pace of the sprint triathlon (over 30 kph average) due to the distance, but also because it was windier.

Finally came the run. 10km in the blazing heat of midday. I got about 4km in before I decided I was never doing another triathlon again. I had finished the bike in around 1:20, so I knew if I could do a good run I would sneak under three hours.

I started out running a sub-5 minute kilometre pace. But, as with Evolve, the heat got me to and I was forced to drop back a little. Not too much, though. I was running around a 5:10 pace, which would bring me home just within the window, even accounting for grabbing some water at the water stations.

Then, disaster. The 10km marker came and went and I was still 500 metres from the finish line. Despite a sprint finish to try and bring it home, my final time was:

3:00:15

Gutted. At least we were allowed to cool off in the lake afterwards. Although we had to share the lake and grounds with the world’s largest collection of hoverflies, which were everywhere. For my trouble, I got a blister and some sunburn, despite applying suncream before the race and again during the first kilometre of the run.

My official splits and split positions were 40:49 (240), 03:40 (225), 1:20:35 (204), 01:49 (184), 53:19 (94). That put me 191 out of 250 finishers (261 total). The winner, Dan Harbridge finished in 2:01:23 and the last person home managed 4:20:32.

I’m heading back to Allerthorpe at the start of September for another race. I think I’m owed a dry but cloudy day by now.

Allerthorpe Sprint Triathlon

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018 | Sport

Allerthorpe is a village about ten miles outside of York. They are hosting a series of triathlon over the summer, including this one, the Allerthorpe Sprint.

The swim wasn’t great. Few venues have the luxury of the beautiful clear waters of the Blue Lagoon or the size of Waterloo Lake. In this case, the lake was small, requiring two laps for the 750-metre swim, murky and shallow: you could walk a large amount of the swim.

T1 wasn’t smooth, either. I got everything done and then realised that I hadn’t vaselined my toes, so I had to take my shoes and socks back off, do some toe care and then put everything back on.

Once on the bike, things started looking up, though. I was really pleased with my average speed of 28.6 kph that I set at the Evolve Quarter and at the start of the bike section here I thought to myself “if I keep training hard, I’ll hit 30 kph eventually”. As it happens, I did just that. Faster even, as I managed 31 kph.

T2 and the run were smooth, also. I was about 25 minutes in the run, which clocked in at a little over 5km, so I’m happy with that given the heat.

In the end, my time was:

1:30:17

My spreadsheet predicted I would be around 1:33:11, so I was pleased to be ahead of that. But it was disappointing that if I hadn’t made the mistake in T1 I would have gone sub-90.

I am happy enough with Allerthorpe as a venue, too. Which is good news because I am back racing there at the start of August and again at the start of September.