Posts Tagged ‘triathlon’

EpicMan Windermere Triathlon

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020 | Sport

It’s been a challenging year for all of us. Thanks to a receding coronavirus, there has been a triathlon season, however. Albeit a short one. I signed up; for five races: Evolve quarter, sprint, Derby, Windermere and Goole. Goole was cancelled and I picked up a cold just before Evolve sprint so I wasn’t allowed to race. It lastest past Derby triathlon, meaning I only got to race two of the five races.

Still, two is better than none, and at least Windermere is one of the pretty ones. We made a long weekend of it, renting a converted barn in Crosthwaite and used the time to take in some of the lakes, including Venla beating us all up Gummer’s How.

The swim

I had a pretty terrible swim: it took nearly 50 minutes. I am a slow swimmer anyway, but I am usually under 40 minutes for 1,500 metres. I think a couple of factors contributed. I took it easy and decided to treat myself to breaststroke. That way I could look around at the beautiful scenary, especially looking up at the north end of the lake. It was also a slow start as you cross the timing mat, then run down into the water. But it’s pretty stoney and shallow, so it doesn’t lend itself to running and diving.

The course was also a little confusing. There were supposed to be eight buoys on the water, and the standard distance went around six of them. But, on the day, there were actually ten of them, of which we had to go around eight. This led to some confusion in the swim pack ahead of me on the way out, and me getting confused on the way back as extra buoys kept appearing.

I was second to last out of the water, although this isn’t really an accurate measure because it was a staggered start due to COVID and I was in the second-to-last wave, 25 minutes after the race started.

The bike

The bike course was a story of two halves. One of the issues with the Lake District is that there is a lot of cars and the first half of the bike course meant we were travelling down main roads with cars whizzing by, or on smaller roads, cars would get stuck behind slower cyclists (especially on hills) and I would get stuck behind the car.

The second half was on smaller roads and this was much nicer. It was reasonably flat for the Lake District: 450 metres of climbing over 37.5 km and only one steep climb that topped out at 13%.

The run

The run took place in the grounds of YMCA Lakeside. It was all trail, and some bits involved scrabbling down a few rocks. As I climbed down one of the little walls, the rock beneith my foot gave way and started rolling down the hill. I had to jump off it Super Mario style.

Given the sun was up and beating away by this point, I was pleased to be running through the trees most of the time, though. I had a small issue 2 kilometres from the finish when my running shoes ripped but luckily they stayed on for the remainder of the run!

I am very glad it was dry as it would be a challenging run course in the wet. Some parts were muddy and I slipped a couple of times. But I was wearing my road shoes.

The result

My official time was:

3:20:32

But the splits were initially bit of a mystery. Officially, my swim time was 12:30:45, my bike was 1:26:50, my run was 1:01:08 and my transition times were instant. On my watch, I clocked 49:20, 3:15, 1:26:52, 3:59 and 57:07.

But they later updated the results to be 49:19, 3:15, 1:26:50, 4:03, 57:05, which matches up with my watch.

The pictures are available for free, although heavily watermarked and to find them you have to manually search through the nearly 12,000 photos they have uploaded. As there were three distances going on at the same time, there was no indication where I might be in the pictures. I found my bike and run ones, and I don’t think there is a finish line one. Still, free, so no complaints.

Conclusion

Organising a COVID-secure event is a huge challenge and it’s not like triathlon events are a profitable industry in normal times (unless you’re Ironman, and even they are in financial trouble). So, a big thank you to Epic Events for getting it organised.

Some triathlons are fast, flat and great for PBs. Others are more about having a great experience in a beautiful location. This race is the latter.

Can you train for an Ironman in 6 weeks?

Thursday, September 3rd, 2020 | Sport, Video

Many athletes spend years preparing for a full distance (Ironman) triathlon. But what if you only have 6 weeks? In this video, I’ll give it a go. To be fair, I wasn’t going from a standing start. I spent the first three months of 2020 on my training plan. Then COVID-19 happened, all the races got cancelled, and I spent the next few months running the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee.

Then, six weeks before the race, Dalesman announced they were going ahead with their full distance race. So, I thought I would give it a go. Is it enough time to get ready? Let’s find out!

Skip to 8:15 for the sexy training montage and 15:57 for some race day footage.

Woolenman Triathlon

Wednesday, August 26th, 2020 | Sport

Back in March, when all the races started getting cancelled, I decided that if all else failed, I would do a self-supported race which eventually became known as Woolenman. Last weekend, I

The plan

With Outlaw and Ironman Copenhagen cancelled, I wanted to go full distance. But with some changes.

Several races, including Dalesman, changed their swim course to a 1,000-metre loop and allowing athletes to choose how many loops they did before getting on the bike. I adopted a similar plan. My swimming pool is still closed so it had to be open water, and the lake I use is only open for an hour so my swim would be capped at that.

Next problem: the lake does not open until 9 am and that is way too late to start a full distance triathlon so I would have to start the bike before that: making it bike-swim-bike-run.

The start

I got up at 4:15 am to have breakfast. The choice of champions, of course: toast, an apple, juice and plenty of Imodium. I set off just before 5:15 am. This meant I was setting off in the dark and was able to watch the sunrise as I headed towards Methley.

I completed the first 75 km without too many problems. There was some headwind coming back towards Ledsham but it certainly did not feel like the 60 kmph gusts that were promised.

The swim

After racking my bike, I headed down to the lake and set off on the swim. I decided to do 3 big loops and 1 little loop, which should have been 1,750 metres, plus getting to and from shore, should have been just under 1,900 metres (half distance). My watch only registered 1,690 metres but it’s often not accurate when swimming.

I did think about getting out early, especially as I typically have stomach issues after swimming in open water, but I decided it might feel like cheating if I only did 1,000 metres and still called it a full-distance race.

The bike

After the swim, I headed home. I was cold by this point, probably because I went home in my wet tri shorts, so I tried to warm up and eat something before jumping on the bike.

The second half of the bike was a longer segment. The weather was mixed: the rain started and stopped and sometimes it was light enough to stay in my jersey and other times it was heavy. I stopped to put on and take off my rain cape multiple times.

My lower back tends to suffer on the bike but I held up reasonably well until towards the end, maybe Otley, when it really started aching. I was pushing to make sure I was well within the cut-off and hoping to start the round by around 4 pm and caught between wanting to keep up the pace and mounting fatigue.

Gels were not sitting well with me so I hate a lot of Haribo, flapjack and jellies. Once I reached Bramhope I knew I was on the home stretch and headed down the hill, via Burley Road and Kirkstall Road back into T2.

The run

Only a marathon to go. I laced up my shoes and put crates of nutrition in my car that I was using as an aid station. The run course was a 5km loop that I used for Endure24. On the second loop, I encountered some stomach issues and had to return home for a break.

Things didn’t get much better after that. I walked most of the third loop and felt exhausted, so I decided to break out the Red Bull a loop early than planned. The fourth loop was tough, too, but after this, the caffeine and extra food I was eating kicked in and I picked up the pace. The next 15 km went well, and I put in some 5:30-6:00 kilometres.

As I reached the last 7 km, the sun had gone down and the rain started. I put on my rain jacket and switched to my B loop: around Leeds Dock and back through town where there is street lighting. Even the food and caffeine could not save me by this point and I walked the first 6 km with a bottle of coke in my hand.

Eventually, the coke drunk and realising I was a final kilometre from home, I managed a gentle run for the final 6-7 minutes to arrive back at home.

The finish

You might think it feels amazing to finish a full-distance race. But honestly, it usually doesn’t. Anything long-distance: marathon, ultra, middle distance, full distance: you’ve just given everything and are totally drained. This one was a weird one. I think if the run had been 32-37 km, I would have felt great as I rode my caffeine high. But, by the end, I was back to feeling like death.

Still, it felt good to cross the makeshift finish line and put on my medal.

I managed to each some sausage butties after the race and in what turned out to be an excellent move, I used this special triathlete muscle recovery gel that you mix with hot water in a large tub.

The timings

Working out timing is difficult. My bike computer says I started at 05:11. My watch says I stopped running at 21:29, so the total elapsed time was 16:18, a good 42 minutes ahead of the traditional 17-hour cut-off for a full-distance race.

My swim was 52:15, which is pretty slow although a good 4-5 minutes of that was getting in and out of the lake. And marginally faster than the 3:08 I swam at Yorkshireman last year.

My bike time is anyone’s guess. My computer said it was 7:39:64 but that was with auto-pause on. So, we could look at the elapsed time, but that was 10:24:39 because it had a swim in the middle. Also, Garmin added over 45 minutes and a phantom 6 km while I was swimming, so my moving time was sub-7 hours. Average moving speed was 25.9 kph. This is slightly better than the 25.3 kph average moving speed I did at Yorkshireman over the same elevation (roughly 1,200 metres).

My best guess for actual time on the bike was 2:51:46 in bike 1, and then roughly 11:15 to 15:35 in bike 2. That makes a total elapsed time of roughly 7:12:00, which is exactly 25 kph. Who knows if that is accurate, though, because I have no real way of telling if 11:15 was an accurate time for when I got back on the bike. My average speed over elapsed time at Yorkshireman was 23.6 kph accounting for stops to stretch my back and trying to help another athlete unjam their chain.

My run time was 4:56:30, but that is with some pauses to account for getting to the aid stations that would usually be on-course. Elapsed time was 5:14:04. Either of these values is notably slowe than the 4:40:35 I ran at Yorkshireman.

So, what do those numbers mean?

Well, if we move this data to Outlaw, I would have hit the cut-offs. I was on for a sub-two-hour swim, 7:12:00 bike split and 5:14:00 marathon. At Copenhagen, it would have been close: the cut-off to start the run is 9:30:00, so I would have had to go through transition in under 20 minutes. That sounds stupidly easy, but I was 15 minutes each at Yorkshireman! I could easily reduce that by moving my bathroom breaks onto the bike and run course, and by just getting a move on.

Areas for improvement

My swim was no faster than last year, but it was front crawl rather than breaststroke, so I feel like that is a much better base for getting faster moving forward. Assuming I don’t get ill with the amount of water I swallow, which has been a real problem with open water swimming for me.

I didn’t use the aero bars at all on the bike. I tried using them at the Evolve triathlon last week and I almost immediately started to get a lot of lower back pain. I got plenty of this last year too, but not this bad, so I decided to play it safe and not use them.

I have been stretching for 20 minutes every day since lockdown in an attempt to free up my hamstrings in the hope that would solve it. No luck so far (my hamstrings have relaxed a little but no change in pain), but if I can crack that, I can get far more aero and take a lot more time off the bike. Maybe I just need to buy a tri bike and get the better geometry, you say?

Conclusion

I’m now a two-time full distance finisher. I’ve officially proved it was no a fluke. Now I can chill out for the rest of the year and hopefully get some more races in now the season is starting to open up.

Evolve Quarter Triathlon 2020

Tuesday, August 25th, 2020 | Sport

Last week, I finally did a triathlon in 2020. With British Triathlon’s new social distance guidelines in place, Evolve became one of the first event organisers to stage an event in 2020 (maybe even the first) with their standard and middle distance event.

Organisation was good. There was quite a queue to get in using the drive-through registration, but that is understandable given the COVID-19 requirements. Other than this causing a slight delay to the start, everything went very smoothly for us as athletes.

As it was a quarter, rather than a standard distance, the distances were 1,000-metre swim, 47 km bike and 10 km run.

My splits were:

Section Time
Swim 26:28
T1 2:26
Bike 1:37:48
T2 3:38
Run 50:50

With a total time of:

3:01:09

I made a conscious decision at the start of the run that I wanted to enjoy it rather than try to push for sub-three-hours. I did the same race in 2018 and finished in 2:57:40, but I think the swim and bike course were slightly longer this time.

Ironman VR17 and Leeds virtual media

Thursday, August 6th, 2020 | Sport

Ironman VR17 was another race that I did finish but I was technically a DNF due to Garmin’s incompetence. I couldn’t access the .fit files to upload to Ironman Virtual Club so despite riding 160 km that weekend, I didn’t manage to get it into Virtual Club to record my result. Thanks, Garmin.

But on the plus side, my World Triathlon Leeds virtual challenge medal has turned up.

Garmin outage, Ironman VR16 and Leeds virtual

Tuesday, July 28th, 2020 | Sport, Tech

As you may know, Garmin have had a massive outage. It went down Wednesday night/Thursday morning and started coming back online on Monday, so 4-5 days. It took out their website, call centres, Garmin Connection, production line in Taiwan and even services like flyGarmin and Garmin Pilot.

Garmin’s software is awful at the best of times. Syncs constantly fail with the Garmin Connect mobile app, there are a bunch of bugs in their website that have lastest years (I still can’t see my swim from Wetherby Triathlon) and a lot of stuff crashes and does not work as it should. Hopefully, this will be a kick up their ass to make things better.

As a result, this has put a lot of strain on the things that rely on Garmin.

I managed to record my World Triathlon Leeds virtual event and earn my certificate. I was less lucky with Ironman VR16. Unusually, Ironman was on the ball and extended the deadline but technical problems at Garmin’s end with synced rides going missing and activities not reporting correctly meant I gave up after an hour of messing around. Thanks for that, Garmin. Still, even if I do not have the badge, I know I was a VR16 finisher in my heart.

The cycle was particularly challenging. I did 120 km, but a third of the way through a bolt fell out of my cleat (see above) and I had to do the last 3.5 hours with one foot clipped in and the other riding the flat side of the pedal. Thankfully, there were no major climbs or descents.

I’m renaming Covidman

Thursday, July 23rd, 2020 | Life

Back in March, I announced Covidman self-supported triathlon to train for while everything else was cancelled. It took a back seat during GVRAT and would have been replaced by Dalesman if it had not been cancelled two weeks after being announced. But now it’s back on.

With one tweak, however. I’m changing the name. Covidman made sense back in March as a symbol that through all of the changes we had to make to keep people safe, we were still going to enjoy life and do what we love.

But the British government hasn’t kept people safe. Excess deaths have now reached over 60,000. It is one of the worst death rates in the world. And, in that light, the name Covidman seems too lighthearted for such a tragic situation. So, I’m renaming it Woolenman in honour of Leeds’s history.

Ironman VR15

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020 | Sport

I hsven’t been doing any fast running recently. The endless base miles for GVRAT have been slow plods and Ironman VR14 was an easy run, too.

However, I decided to do VR15 as a brick. Not the full 40 km bike and 13 km run, as I had already done 100 km on the bike the day before. But, as a warm-up, I did a 20 km blast up to Horsforth and back on the bike before setting off on the run.

The first two kilometres were a little sluggish but the rest were down around 4:40 per kilometre, finishing on a 4:05. Total time for the 10km was 47:12, which is one of the fastest 10ks I have ever run. So, pretty pleased with that. Although, there is an important caveat that I took a break at the turnaround point, so it’s technically a Ross Barkley time.

I was originally planning to do the 13 km as one fast block, but after stopping my watch and restarting it for the 3km, I realised I burnt my legs trying to get a good 10k time. So, I finished off the final 3km in a still-not-shabby 5:00 per kilometre.

Ironman VR14

Thursday, July 16th, 2020 | Sport

Now that I have my bike back, and have prep for Dalesman to do, I am back on the Ironman VR events. I did not feel much like running after GVRAT but luckily it was only a sprint distance, so a 6.5 km run combined with my existing bike rides did nicely.

Ironman VR13

Tuesday, June 30th, 2020 | Sport

My long-awaited return to Ironman VR racing. I completed all of one to eight (except five, so not all one to eight), but then had my first ever DNF in multisport racing when my rear mech exploded 30 km into the bike route. Since then, my Bianchi has been at Woodrup getting repaired. Thankfully, it is now back in my possession and racing again.

I did the run in a 13 km on Saturday morning and then settled in on Sunday for the 40 km bike ride. Stormy winds eventually convinced me to stay inside on the turbo, but only after I had stopped at 27 km on the Saturday after the Zwift race. I should have thought that one through.

I had a look around the Watopia courses and settled on big loop. At 42 km it was the closest match to the distance and, compared to the others, did not seem that hilly at 650 metres of climbing.

It was very hilly. The first thing it did was take me up Epic KOM, which took 35 minutes. On the flat, I can nail that distance in 1:20:00. I was still peddling at around 1:33:00 after the jungle loop also included a long and sustained climb. And because of GVRAT, I still had to get off the bike and do a 10 km run, even though I had already finished the run for Ironman VR13.

Oh well, lesson learned. Next time I might just grit my teeth and do four boring laps of the 10 km flat route.

93 minutes on the turbo wasn’t too uncomfortable. Having the smart trainer gives a bit more wiggle, but I did have to get out of the saddle a few times to give my ass a break. Less unpleasant than previous training sessions, though. I’m not sure whether it’s the smart trainer, the change in evaluation or the new shorts but it feels a bit less unpleasant than previous 90-minute rides.