Posts Tagged ‘open water’

Finland swimming

Wednesday, August 1st, 2018 | Life

During our recent trip to Finland, we spent some time at the lake and in the sea.

When I first went swimming at the Blue Lagoon, they asked me if I had done open water swimming before. Because I said yes, they assumed I knew all about wetsuits, acclimatisation and how to get rescued. I had to explain to them that in Finland, we just jump in the lake and swim. Some drown, but that must be what god intended.

We went to the same lake we’ve visited during previous trips, which makes sense because it has a nice beach, changing facilities and toilets (both just huts) and a pier to jump off if you so wish.

We also tried to find a nice beach around Uusikaupunki so we could swim in the sea. The beautiful beaches of Pori they were not.

The first one had so much plant life that whenever you swam, you ended up getting caught up in it.

Meanwhile, the second one stubbornly refused to get deep no matter how far I waded out. Venla had a good splash in that one, though.

Next time, I think it is worth the drive up to Pori. Or just swim in the lakes, which is always a pleasant experience.

Evolve Quarter Triathlon

Thursday, June 28th, 2018 | Sport

Last week I was back in Womersely for the Evolve Quarter Triathlon. It’s described as a quarter, rather than a standard/Olympic distance because it’s based on a quarter of a full distance: that means 1,000 metres, 45 km bike and 10.5 km run.

The Blue Lagoon is a beautiful place to swim and made a great venue for the sprint race last month. Due to the warm weather, the water temperature was up to 23 degrees by the start of the race. At this temperature, it’s technically wetsuits banned according to British triathlon rules.

It was a mass start from deep water. As we set off, the entire field swam away from me. One other competitor soon slowed down, though, and I was able to overtake them and come out second-to-last out of the swim.

As we hit the bike, I stayed ahead for 15km before moving to the back of the race. But it wasn’t to last long as I passed two people, and later a further three. Overall, the bike went fantastic. I finished in under 1:35, with an average speed of 28.6 kph. This smashes my previous best pace of 27 kph at Wetherby Triathlon.

The roads were mostly quiet, with a few busy stretches. No stops required, and the road quality was consistently good. The maintenance engineers on the level crossing very kindly agreed to set up the traffic lights to allow the racers to come through without stopping.

Then came the run, though. After two hours of racing, it was 1:30pm in the afternoon, the sun was at its height, and a complete lack of breeze provided no wind chill from the 25-degree heat.

Despite applying suncream as I ran, my first kilometre was the fastest. After that, the heat got too intense and I was forced to drop the pace. As went on, I got slower and slower. Time and time again I was convinced that I needed to stop and walk. And time and time again I somehow found the strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

I made it to the aid station at 6 km and stopped to down two glasses of water and some energy drink. Off again I went, burping with the amount of liquid I had just consumed. Two kilometres later and a race support car offered me an orange juice, and I downed that, too.

In the end, my run split was 55 minutes. 7 minutes slower than normal. However, I passed the fast biker and three other people on the run, and, it turned out, someone who got lost, too. And even the guy who won said he was 9 minutes slower than normal and had to stop at the aid station, too.

In the end, I finished 20th out of 30, with a time of:

2:57:40

I was chuffed to be under three hours. Although it is a little different from standard distance, it seems comparable.

After the race, we cooled off in the shallows of the lagoon beach. Evolve events are awesome. Really friendly, a great team of marshalls and a beautiful location to race in. Not to be missed!

Evolve Sprint Triathlon

Saturday, May 19th, 2018 | Sport

After visiting the Blue Lagoon for an open water swim a few weeks ago, I returned to compete in their sprint distance triathlon.

I got there one hour forty-five before the race, which was more than enough time to faff about. Despite warnings of rain, it was gloriously sunny. Too sunny in fact: despite the copious amounts of sport-specific suncream (at £8.50 per bottle) I applied, I still came away with sunburn.

54 of us took part, and I ended up about two-thirds down the rankings in 33rd. The swim went well: the water temperature had risen to a balmy 16.2 degrees C. That still feels really cold when you get in, but once you are swimming it is fine, and my hands were still mostly usable when we came out. I managed to avoid being last in the swim and things only went forward from there.

The bike course was two laps around some local roads. There were very quiet and I barely saw any cars. It’s a pretty flat course with only one real hill and no serious descending, so it suited me well. The run was a bit too warm but otherwise fine.

My official time was:

1:30:51.4

Here is a comparison between my time here and Skipton triathlon.

Stage Evolve Skiption
Swim 12:29 9:36
T1 4:09 5:46
Bike 52:06 53:05
T2 0:50 1:56
Run 21:14 23:40
Total 1:30:51 1:34:02

I put this in more because it looked interesting than that it is of any value. It’s very difficult to compare across venues as they all have different lengths. This was a 500-metre open water swim, vs the 400-metre pool swim at Skipton, but also the distance between getting out of the water and getting to my bike varies massively.

I’m fairly sure the run distance here was less than 5km as I’ve never run a 21:14 before. Skipton was also a lot hillier. But this table isn’t completely pointless. I’m pleased that my T1 time didn’t increase even though I had a wetsuit to take off this time.

It was my first race as a member of Hyde Park Harriers and it was a nice perk to be part of a club rather than hanging around like a total loner. Everyone was very friendly. A big thank you to Graeme for spotting me and Gill for bringing the bacon, and congratulations to Naomi for winning first place in the women’s category.

Next stop, Wetherby triathlon…

Open water swimming

Friday, May 4th, 2018 | Sport

In Finland, open water swimming is straightforward: you get drunk and then at midnight, jump in the nearest lake. Some swim, some don’t. But that’s just nature’s way; it’s survival of the fittest. Over in Britain, it seems a little different.

I wanted to get some open water practice in before the triathlon season gets any further. So, I booked into the Blue Lagooners down near Pontefract. Here’s me trying on my wetsuit beforehand.

It was cold. Very, very cold. But not as bad as I imagined. The wetsuit does a great job of keeping you warm. It was only my hands and feet that were frozen. This made for quite a challenge when it came time to get out, as trying to get a wetsuit off is difficult at the best of times, but even harder when your hands are numb.

The venue is nice. They have a 250 metre and a 500-metre course. The changing rooms are just huts on the lakeside. The staff are friendly and provided a lot of useful information on getting the most from the session.

I managed 1,500 metres in the end. Although, for some reason, my Garmin recorded it as 44 metres. I’m looking forward to future events and, more importantly, to the lake warming up a little more.