Posts Tagged ‘triathlon’

Goole Triathlon

Sunday, October 20th, 2019 | Sport

Goole Triathlon is a sprint race that takes place at the start of October. It starts with a 400 metre pool swim in Goole’s leisure centre (which has a massive slide in it!) before taking in the pan flight sights on a 20km bike and 5km run course.

My dad was there, along with his friend Tim, to do their first sprint distance. I clearly need to stay on my toes as their times were not too far behind mine! Venla came along to cheer them home.

IRONMAN’s technology problems

Monday, October 7th, 2019 | Tech

Last week, I wrote about how IRONMAN, as an organisation, do not always have the best reputation among athletes. I do not think this is justified at their events. However, it is frustrating that nobody within the IRONMAN organisation has ever used a computer. Here are some of the problems we have run into.

Registration not working

It was a pain to get through the registration form to create my profile. When I came back a few months later, they had changed their registration system and I had to re-register. Their new form did not work at all. There was no error; the form simply did not do anything.

When I emailed support, they asked me to re-try it. This time it did not work because something had been created in the background and now I could not register with the same details.

Profile problems

Once I was registered and logged in, my upcoming race was missing. I had to email support to get them to sort it out. It took a few emails back and forth to get it sorted.

When I turned up in Weymouth, my date of birth was incorrect. It was a simple matter to get it sorted with the team there, but again frustrating.

Club registration

You cannot just enter your club in your registration form. You have to get the club to give IRONMAN a bunch of personal details for them, too. Graeme was kind enough to do this so that I could list Hyde Park Harriers as my club.

However, they never sent the email confirmation and when I contacted support a month later, they said they had lost of the club registration and we would have to complete it all again if we wanted the club to be listed.

Online store

The online store does not work. I have tried to buy some stuff several times and each time it says that the item is in stock but when I try to add it to my basket it says they have no stock left.

Website design

Oh my, have you ever seen a website designed as badly as IRONMAN?

It is not a mobile-first design, despite mobile traffic overtaking desktop traffic years ago. In fact, if you try to access many of the pages on the website, you do not even get a terrible desktop-designed page. You get a page saying “not available on mobile” like it is the Nineties.

The website is slow.

The navigation is confusing. If you go to a particular race, you have the main website navigation across the top and you have to click a little red button at the bottom of the page instead to access the pages about that particular race.

It is hard to get the information you want. I was trying to find the results for IRONMAN Wales from last year. They are not there, as far as I can tell.

Their SEO is also terrible. Every time I searched for IRONMAN Weymouth, I would get the discontinued full distance race, rather than the half distance that is still running. This would be a relatively easy fix in a sitemap or a robots.txt.

What does a year in triathlon cost?

Sunday, October 6th, 2019 | Religion & Politics, Sport

If you have done some triathlon, you may have noticed that it is dominated by white people. There is very little representation for minorities. One reason could be the cost. Triathlon is expensive. I am not talking about the super-aero bike, or fancy wetsuit, or all the other gear you need. You can get by without most of that. But just entering races is expensive.

In this article, I will break down just how expensive it is, based on my 2019 season.

Registration fees

The biggest cost is registering for races. I did 15 races this year.

Race Fee
Skipton £38
Driffield £54
Tadcaster £45
Leeds £95
Yorkshireman £285
Allerthorpe sprint £54
Castle Howard £99
Redcar £42
Allerthorpe Classic £64
Coalville £46
Sundowner sprint £54
Evolve sprint £40
Nidderdale £47
Ironman Weymouth £281
Evolve mixed relay £20

That makes for an eye-watering total cost of £1,263. Bear in mind that my registration fees are slightly lower than some other people’s because I have already paid for a British Triathlon race licence, that typically saves me £5 on each race. That cost me £40 but has since increased in price.

It is also worth noting that almost half of my fees came from two races: my full distance race and the IRONMAN 70.3. So, if you wanted to stick to short format racing, you could 10 races a year for £500. This is still a lot of money, though, and requires you to avoid big-brand events like World Triathlon Leeds and the Castle Triathlon Series.

Are these fees justified?

On the whole, yes. Some people have argued that £50 is too much of a race. But if you think of the logistics of triathlon: water safety crew, swim caps, a secure transition to avoid bike theft, timing chips, aid stations, bike mechanics and (often, but not always) free photos, there are a lot of costs.

Once you move up to full distance, there are even more considerations. You have to have changing tents, overnight security so people can rack the day before, marshalls on the course for 17 hours, a tonne of nutrition, 180km of road to cover, massages and food after the race, toilets everywhere just to mention a few.

That said, some fees are suspicious. Why does the Castle Howard triathlon cost twice as much as other standard distances races? Why does IRONMAN 70.3 Weymouth cost twice as much as other middle distance races?

Other hidden costs

As well as race registration fees, there are some other hidden costs that I think often get forgotten about.

Transport. Most triathlons take place in rural locations where the roads are quiet. This means you have to drive to them. It is difficult to car share because you need to fit the bikes in the car. So, you need to be able to run and fuel a car.

Parking. About half the races I did had free car parking. The others charged extra and while it was typically a small amount, that is another £30 to add on over the course of a year.

Nutrition. This is not a big issue in short format racing. But starts to add up when you are doing long format (or running a marathon). For my full distance race, I took 18 gels and 4 energy bars. At around £2 a pop, that is £44 worth of nutrition in a single race. For Weymouth, I took 8 gels and 1 energy bar, so a much more reasonable £18.

But then there are the drinks, too. I take two 750ml bottles filled with a carb drink. I often discard these bottles at the aid station bottle drops, which means an additional £15 per race. Plus, you need to do long training runs and rides. Which means you need to pay for nutrition for these, too. I did two 100-mile rides and an 80-mile ride as prep for my full distance, and those could well have been £30 per ride in nutrition.

Conclusion

Twelve hundred pounds on registration fees, plus several hundred of nutrition, is an incredibly large amount of money. People can spend a lot on their hobbies, and that is arguably justified if it brings them a lot of pleasure. But that is not even including all the equipment and fancy bike stuff I buy.

Of course, few triathletes race as much as I do. And many stick to short format racing. But I know there are people who do not race as much as they would like to because they cannot afford to. I do not think this is because event organisers are ripping people off (maybe some are). But it is no surprise that the sport is full of rich white people.

Evolve mixed team relay

Thursday, October 3rd, 2019 | Sport

So, here it was. My final race of the 2019 triathlon series. As a season finale, it made for an excellent choice: the mixed team relay contained 49 teams, 10 of which were from Hyde Park Harriers. With the Blue Lagoon being an intimate venue, it meant an afternoon of hanging out with the entire triathlon club. A perfect end of the year.

The weather could not dampen our spirits. But it tried as hard as it could. It rained the whole day, only easing off towards the end of the event. This made for a wet and cold wait until it was my turn to jump into the water. Luckily, my turn came just before I started getting too cold and once I was racing I felt fine.

Cat led our team off strongly. She was one of only two athletes to go without a wetsuit and one of the first out of the water. She handed over to Matt who continued to smash it for our team. Julie put in a speedy third leg and it was down to me to not lose too many places before crossing the line.

Photo by Atmospheric Images

The swim went well. I did mostly front crawl, with a quick breaststroke break in the middle. I was over my predicted time, but that was because I miscalculated as my pace was spot on.

The bike was a mixed bag. My power meter was not working so I spent the first 100 metres trying to restart my Garmin with no success. After that, I got my head down. Mostly on the aero bars. There was just a stretch of open fields after the crossroads where I occasionally had to come off them due to crosswinds. 29.1 kph is not that faster overall, but being within 3 kph of Curtis feels like a victory. The biggest challenge was keeping my heart rate down: it was 190 when I came off the bike, which is typically what I would run at.

Photo by Atmospheric Images

The run was a bit of an unknown. I do not usually run such short distances, so I figured I would be about six minutes. In the end, I was 6:20 which seems spot on given the conditions. The run route took in the trail route around the back of the lake, which produced ankle-deep puddles flanking muddy banks. My lovely white trainers will never be the same again. I also had to ease off a little on the finishing straight so we could line the team up for the finish.

We crossed the line hand-in-hand. Our time was 2:42:05, which was good enough for 23rd place overall. Thank you to Cat, Julie and Matt for racing with me and I am looking forward to more mixed team relays next year.

Is IRONMAN too corporate?

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019 | Sport

IRONMAN is a trademark of the World Triathlon Corporation, a privately owned business. It should not be confused with the International Triathlon Union which is the international governing body for the sport. This is why Ironman distance races are often called things like Lakesman or described as iron distance or full distance.

Several people I know have adviced me to be wary of IRONMAN-branded events because they are a “bit wanky” and too up themselves. Having recently completed IRONMAN 70.3 Weymouth, I have had the chance to observe this up close for myself.

Is the reputation justified? In my opinion, they are good events. But I understand why people think that about them. Below, I will break it down.

Price

Let’s start with the big one: price. Once you add in the ACTIVE.com registration fee, I paid £280.80 for IRONMAN 70.3 Weymouth. That is a lot of cash.

The average triathlon costs around £50. But things get much more expensive at middle and full distance because of the logistics of running a race for 8-17 hours, and the changing tents, toilets, nutrition and other costs that they run into.

But even so, £280.80 is a lot. Consider that for The Yorkshireman, I paid £285. That was a full-distance race. If you want to do the half, it is only £145. Cotswold 113 is £164.

Super expensive compared to other middle distance races then.

But do you get more at the IRONMAN events? There are a couple of things. Slightly more porta-potties. They had them at every aid station. Sundowner had none but The Yorkshireman had plenty, but not as many as IRONMAN.

IRONMAN close the roads. This is nice as 90km is a long way, and the only other races that do this are the shorter Redcar and World Triathlon Leeds. That said, most triathlons take place on roads with almost no cars and we were not allowed to cross the centre line, so I am not sure it made a huge difference.

We also received a backpack and a finishers t-shirt, so two gifts. The backpack is very nice and I have been using it a lot. The t-shirt is a bit rubbish, though, I suspect to drive us to buy the nice t-shirts from the merch store.

So, £130 for closed roads and a backpack. It’s hard to conclude anything other than that we are paying a lot for the brand name.

Finish line

Both The Outlaw and The Yorkshireman allow you to run down the finish line with your friends and family. IRONMAN is very clear that if anyone does that, the athlete will be disqualified. This is the thing they get the most shit for.

To be fair to them, they did address this issue at the athlete briefing.

They said their reasons were twofold. One, they did not want any non-athletes impeding an athlete that might be trying to set a qualifying time for the world championship or to represent their country. This is a consideration other races may not have.

Second, they said if the athlete collapses and needs medical attention, they do not want to be dealing with children or loved ones when their medical team have work to do.

Other races manage these logistics, but at least IRONMAN are upfront about their reasons and having heard them, I can understand why they may choose to do that.

Cut-off times

In any long format race, you have cut-off times you have to meet or you fail to achieve the title of Ironman. That said, how much they are enforced varies from event to event. I know Freebird let people finish well after 8pm at Sundowner, for example, and told me they would have kept the Yorkshireman finish line as open as long as needed.

IRONMAN seems a mixed bag. Even though I was well ahead of the cut-off when coming out of the swim, a marshall was yelling “you need to get out, we’re closing the doors in 3 minutes”. That said, the last athlete came across the line at 8:23:something, even though the cut-off time was 8 hours.

Sponsors

Everything is sponsored. The aid stations are Enevit. The swim, bike and run sections are individually sponsored by Roka, Ventum and Hoka.

I don’t really have a problem with this. Sponsorship is a part of life in sport. In some ways it was good: when we finished, we got Domino’s pizza. It is a little annoying that Enevit provides all of the nutrition, though, as it doesn’t seem to be available in the UK, so I could not try their products in advance.

Event size

2,700 athletes took part in Weymouth, according to IRONMAN. It is a similar size to Leeds. The downside is that there is a lot of organisation around this regarding registering, racking, etc. And it took them an hour to get us all into the water.

But it has advantages, too. The crowds were bigger than almost any other event. World Triathlon Leeds is the only one that musters as much support. People yelling out your name and some encouragement is very welcome seven hours into a race.

Conclusion

I like pretty much everything about the IRONMAN event. It was well organised, smooth and there was plenty of support. It was a high-quality event and still a pretty friendly affair. I would recommend their events.

That said, it is expensive. And given the organisation at The Yorkshireman was pretty much as good, I can only conclude that the extra money is mostly because of the brand name.

IRONMAN 70.3 Weymouth

Monday, September 30th, 2019 | Sport

I first took up triathlon after watching the Ironman World Championships and thinking that looked like a tough challenge. I had a rough schedule in my mind: do an Olympic distance next year and think about Weymouth the year after.

As it happens, I ended up doing my first middle distance race in my first year and my first full distance race this year. But I was keen to do Weymouth anyway as that had been the goal at some point.

If nothing else, it was still a challenging course. A sea swim and an undulating bike course would be much harder than Allerthorpe. Especially as last year was the weekend they cancelled. Leo South due to gale force winds. IRONMAN halved the swim and advised people to use their shallow wheels.

Preparation

I arrived in Weymouth on Wednesday. We were staying for a week, combining the race with a family and friends holiday. I took a spin down the promenade on Thursday morning to suss everything out.

Being there early meant I could register first thing on Friday morning, avoiding any queues. I also took in the Friday evening athletes’ briefing. On Saturday, we had specific time slots to rack our bikes, but there were no queues at 1 pm even if you were not in your slot.

I had a splash around in the sea on Thursday and Saturday and a bit more of a swim in my wetsuit on Friday. I also did Weymouth parkrun on Saturday morning.

Pre-race

Elina came with me to the start. I got up at 6 am, had a pretty boring breakfast and then headed out just before 6. When we arrived at the start, they announced the swim had been cut in half due to safety concerns. I am not sure what they were as the sea was calmer than Redcar. Lack of water safety crew, perhaps?

I set my bike up, dropped my finish like bag off and queued for a toilet. Finally, I put my wetsuit on and prepared for the race.

This was probably the hardest hard. I still had 30 minutes to wait as they had delayed the start due to the shortened swim, and then it took them a full hour to get us all into the water. Staying warm for this length of time is hard (star jumps in a wetsuit) and although they had carpet down, this only started just before the start line, so we were stood on stones for over an hour. By the time I got to the start, my feet were in agony, I was cold, fed up and ready to have a little cry.

I would have quite liked to give up at this point. Unfortunately, there were two problems with this. One was that even if I pulled out of the reason, I wouldn’t magically be transported back to my nice warm home. So, I might as well do the swim. Second, was that I don’t give up easily. It’s probably a personality flaw. But quite useful in this instance.

We finally reached the carpet where volunteers were letting people into the water one-by-one, to allow plenty of space between swimmers. I don’t think that happens in Kona.

The swim

After being in a cold and rainy beach for hours, the sea was lovely and warm to jump in. it was a triangular course with an out, along the waves, and then back into the shore. I took it steady using a mixture of breaststroke with some added front crawl whenever I decided I was moving too slowly.

I think swimming out into the waves is the easiest. Moving along the waves is hard because they keep slamming into your side when you are not expecting it. And swimming back towards shore gives you a quick bump forward, then a long pull back before the next wave.

Transition 1

I took 27 minutes in the swim (with a cut off of 35) plus 10 minutes of transition should have given me plenty of time to get changed and ready. Unfortunately, it was rather stressful as a marshall kept yelling “get out, you need to get out, we’re closing the doors in 6/3 minutes”, despite athletes still being in the water. I made it out and took a precautionary toilet stop on the way to my bike.

The bike

Weymouth is a tough bike course. It is a 90km circular route that just seems to go uphill all of the way. There was barely a flat inch on the course so I spent very little time on my aero bars. Some descents, but mostly climbs, including three categorised climbs (by that I mean they were marked on RideWithGPS). The hardest maxed out about 12%, so not Yorkshire-tough, but still unpleasant in the middle of a seven-hour race.

The hills did not give much time back: the descents were often narrow, muddy and covered in rainwater so blasting down them was difficult, especially with so many other athletes on the course.

There was a tonne of punctures. I have never seen so many people changing tyres on the side of the road. Luckily, my tubeless tyres and I did not run into any problems.

Because of all of the climbing, my lower back started hurting quite early on. This eased off as the race went on, and the pain shifted to my bottom being fed up of sitting on the saddle. Despite my overshoes, my shoes were squelching inside them.

I took a gel every 10 kilometres, planning to have a break to stop and stretch at 30km and 60km. As it happens I was feeling a little better by 60km so I carried on until 80km for my final stop-riding-for-a-minute break.

It was at least warm and the fact that I had dropped my gloves in a puddle during T1 did not matter as I did not need them.

Transition 2

I racked my bike and took another brief toilet break before heading into the tent. The fall of my left foot was hurting quite a bit but was fine once I got up and started running. There was less time pressure with this transition as I was well below the 4.5-hour cut-off.

The run

The run was 4.5 loops of the promenade, starting at transition and ended up at the other end of Weymouth seafront where the finish line was located. Early doors it was dwelling on my mind that 21 kilometres was a lot of kilometres but I soon settled into an easy rhythm.

We had all of the weather on the run. I took my suncream with me and ended up applying some more to my arms mid-run. An hour later and heavy rain washed most of it off. I felt rather tight in my legs so I alternated between isotonic and cola at the feed stations (or, on one occasion, taking both). I purposely walked each feed station but otherwise ran all of the way.

It was busy on the run course when I started but began to thin out the longer I was running. There was still plenty of volunteers and supplies at all of the aid stations. On the final lap, I treated myself to one last wee to make sure I was not distracted at the finish.

As I headed to the finish, I found my friends cheering me on at the corner and Elina and Venla on the finishing straight. I stopped to give Venla a high-five. I punched the air as I crossed the finish line in what I hoped would look cool but, in reality, looked more like some strange body twist.

Apparently, I was “very excited to be here”, according to the commentator. And I was.

Post race

After the race, we were all given a few slices of Domino’s pizza. I managed to eat them which is far better than I managed after Sundowner. I went to say high to Elina and Venla, then went for a massage, picked up my finishers bag and put some warm clothing on.

I stuck around the finish line to watch the final finishers come across the line.

The finishers t-shirt was a bit rubbish, which I assume is to drive us to buy the nice paid-for merchandise available in the shop. Which I did, because it was lovely gear. It would have been nice to have a shuttle bus back to transition to collect my bike as the additional 2km kilometre walk was not a welcome one. But I made it and managed to slowly cycle back to our accommodation in time for tea.

The result

My official time was:

7:28:01

Which is 12 seconds faster than my time at Sundowner! But do not get excited too soon. Sundowner was a full-length swim, so when you add on the extra 25 minutes the swim should have taken me, my pace was slower.

I am happy, though. I knew Weymouth was going to be a hard course and did not expect to set a faster time than Sundowner, so this was in line with my expectations.

Section Weymouth Sundowner
Swim 27:06 50:20
T1 11:15 7:35
Bike 3:46:10 3:34:01
T2 11:44 7:12
Run 2:11:44 2:09:05
Total 6:48:01 6:48:13

That was good enough for 1,703rd place. It was a big transition and I had toilet breaks, so everything I would expect: slightly slower transition times, much slower pace on the bike due to the hills and a very similar run split.

Conclusion

This is a cool event and I am pleased that I did it. It was hard, too, though. If you go do something like Castle Howard or Helvellyn and think “this is a fun challenge” then you will love this race. But, if you think “this is why I love Allerthorpe”, you will probably want to stick to easier courses.

I think my biggest takeaway is that I do need to bring some clothing and footwear for queuing up in before the start of big races. And to work on my victory celebration.

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.