Posts Tagged ‘triathlon’

World Triathlon Leeds elite races

Saturday, June 23rd, 2018 | Sport

Long after us age groupers had packed up and gone home, they gave the elite racers a chance to race the same course at World Triathlon Leeds.

It’s a very spectator friendly course in Leeds because they make them do seven loops of the course on the bikes and then four loops of the same course on the run. So, if you can get a good spot, you can see everyone come past eleven times.

Many people opted to view from The Headrow where they could enjoy the sunshine while watching the race. We’re from Yorkshire and Finland, and we have a Yorkshire-Finn baby, so we chose Greek Street, which was firmly in the shade for the entire day.

The barriers they put up are brilliant. I wish they were there all of the time. We could let Venla run around as much as she wanted without fear that she would run out into the middle of the road and get knocked over by a car (or in this case a bike, or a runner).

It was awesome to see Vicky Holland and Georgia Taylor-Brown take a one-two for Team GB. Not quite as perfect as if Jessica Learmonth had won it, given she is the local girl, but still a superb result.

In the men’s race, both Tom Bishop and Marc Austin ran awesome races. Bishop came home in 6th, which I think is his best ever result in ITU.

Unfortunately, Johnnie Brownlee had to pull out with stomach issues. In fact, a lot of athletes who had swum in the River Trent in Nottingham on Thursday had the same thing. It struck a chord with me because I assumed I had food poisoning last month. But it was only a day or two after I had done Wetherby Triathlon in the River Aire.

World Triathlon Leeds

Friday, June 22nd, 2018 | Sport

Back in November last year I was wondering whether multisport might be for me. So, I took part in the inaugural GO TRI Temple Newsam duathlon and decided it was fun enough to register for the World Triathlon Series event that was taking place in Leeds next summer.

Since then, I’ve been busy. I’ve done a bunch of GO TRI events, Skipton, Evolve and Wetherby triathlon, so I had already hit my goal of completing an Olympic distance triathlon. But it was gratifying to reach the race I had targetted for almost a year.

With it being an ITU World Series event, it was big. There was 2,000 of us doing the standard distance alone, plus many more people doing the sprint distance and GO TRI events that ran the day before. So big, in fact, that we had to go check out bikes into transition the day before the race.

You also had the chance to do a familiarisation swim on Saturday while checking your bike in. This was fairly relaxed: there were no rules, you could swim wherever you liked. I did two laps of the 750m course.

On the day itself there was mist on the lake, so they cut the men’s age group swim to a single lap of 750 metres. This was a little disappointing as I was ready for the full thing. But did mean that I only got caught by one of the waves setting off after me, which were spaced five minutes apart. So, at least I didn’t have a bunch of people swimming over me. The mist cleared up soon after and the women, who set off an hour later, got to do the full distance.

Tragedy struck at transition one, though I didn’t know it at the time. My timing chip bracelet fell off my ankle, so I don’t have an official time after crossing the swim exit map.

The bike went well. I managed to maintain an average speed of 26.5 kph. This is slightly slower than the 27 kph I averaged at Wetherby, but I am more than happy with that because Wetherby was flat. In contrast, I thought the drag up Stonegate Road would slow me down a lot.

Nobody was laughing at my low-geared cross bike as we hit the 8% section. Nobody laughed at any point; everyone was very friendly. Even the officials in transition were firm but fair when someone unracked their bike without their helmet on. No DQ, but he had to take his bike back, re-rack it, put his helmet on and start again.

I saw two or three mountain bikes on the course, so I wasn’t the only person there without a £5,000 tri bike.

I felt pretty crab when starting the run and I was glad that I had an additional gel flask to take with me. More aid stations on the run would have been nicer. The city centre run was cool: not huge crowds, but enough people cheering that it gave you a bit of a boost. Including Julie & Tim.

Thanks to the shortened swim, I made it home in:

2:43:00

This was comparable to Wetherby. 20 minutes faster, but then I saved 20 minutes on the shorter swim. The bike was also 4km shorter, but it was hillier and there was about a kilometre of running inside transition that added quite a lot of time.

More importantly, I finished more than seven hours before the so-called “winner” of the men’s race, Richard Murray. Sure, the elite race had a later start time, but in my defence, I did ask if I could switch to the elite race so that I wouldn’t have to get up so early.

The 50 Best Tips Ever for Triathlon

Saturday, June 9th, 2018 | Books

The 50 Best Tips EVER for Triathlon Swimming, Biking and Running is a book by Scott Welle. Welle is a motivational speaker and has completed half a dozen Ironman triathlon as well as ultramarathons and many other events.

I took some useful advice away from this book.

Welle argues that you should take it really easy up a hill and go as fast as you can down. Typically, you would think of climbing as hard and descending as some recovery time. But he points out that going 10% faster up a hill is not much faster, whereas 10% faster when descending makes a big difference.

He also argues that transition is not that important because it is so little of your time overall. It’s not that he suggests you ignore it: he does suggest some planning and rehearsal. But he argues you aren’t going to make big gains here because it’s such a small percentage of your race overall.

He shuns all the fancy bike accessories you can buy, except for some wheels and an aero helmet. The only essential you need after buying a good bike is a proper bike fit. And he shuns junk miles: everything should be really easy or really hard. Ideally, some of it should be on grass to be easier on the body.

Nutrition wise, he suggests eating 200-300 kcals per hour you will be racing. So, two hours before, take on 400-600 kcals of carbs, no protein, fibre or fat. During exercise, 200-400 kcals per hour depending on your body weight. And for recovery, use a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein.

Wetherby Triathlon

Friday, June 1st, 2018 | Sport

Last week, I completed my first standard distance triathlon. Standard distance is 1500 metres swimming, 40km bike and 10km run. This is the distance then use in the Olympics and one of the distances they use in the World Triathlon Series, alongside the shorter sprint distance.

It starts in Wetherby with a swim in the River Aire. Luckily, we didn’t have to tackle the weir. The course goes upstream, then down, then up again. The current didn’t seem to make any difference as I couldn’t tell it was flowing.

It was lovely and warm compared to the lakes I’ve been swimming in. It was clocked at 18 degrees the evening before and while it might have go down overnight, it felt warmer than the 16 degrees at the Evolve sprint race.

The bike was an out and back course to Boroughbridge. It was very flat with a headwind on the way out and a tailwind on the way back. This made for easy riding: I managed an average speed of 27.3 kph, which is faster than I went at Evolve. Finally, the run went down the Sustrans route that runs through Wetherby.

There were two or three people behind me at the end of the swim, it was all even on the bike and I passed five people on the run. With it being my first standard distance I assumed I would be somewhere in the 3:30-4:00 range. But I was a lot faster. My time was:

3:02:18

I couldn’t believe it when they gave me the printout. Everyone seemed to make it home faster than previous years so maybe it was just a fast year. But, importantly, I managed to avoid being the lanterne rouge, which was a very real threat based on my initial estimates and previous year’s results.

I’m clearly a runner pretending to be a triathlete. If you compare what place I was for each section:

Swim: 98/102
T1:   96/102
Bike: 94/102
T2:   96/102
Run:  64/102

I’m one of the slowest people in most sections, until the run, when I vastly move up the rankings.

My next triathlon is ITU World Series Leeds, where I’m hoping there will be a much wider range of abilities so I’m not at the back for the entire race.

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…

Skipton Triathlon

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018 | Sport

Skipton triathlon is often considered the first triathlon of the season and claims to be the UK’s largest pool-based triathlon with around 900 people registering to take part. For me, it represented my first professional distance event: I’ve done a lot of mini triathlons but this was my first chance to get my teeth into an hour-plus race.

I arrived two hours early to give myself plenty of time to faff around and get comfortable. The car park is Skipton auction mart, where we make our annual pilgrimage to Yarndale. It feels like the only bit of Skipton I ever get to see.

Despite all of my preparation, I made some silly mistakes. Foremost of them was leaving my goggles hanging on my handlebars: something I only realised once I was sitting at the poolside ready to go. I also forgot to vaseline all of the key areas and managed to misplace my energy gels. However, none of this was fatal to my race and I finished ahead of my target window of 1:45 to 2 hours.

1:34:02

This breaks down to 9:36 for the 400m the swim, 5:46 in T1, 53:05 for the 22km bike, 1:56 in T2 and 23:40 on the 5km run.

I’m pretty happy with all of that. 9:36 in the swim suggests I should swim without my goggles the whole time: perhaps some improvement is needed in my technique. 5:46 in T1 is a long time. But it didn’t feel like I was messing about: it just takes time to get your shoes and socks on, and I would rather take care of my toes than shave a few seconds off.

53:05 on the bike represents an average moving speed of 25.6 km/h. This certainly isn’t the 40 km/h the pros race at but given I often struggle to hold 21-22, I’m happy with the result. I was expecting the course to be hillier than it was as the GPS said 240m of climbing but it was actually only half that. 23:40 is only 32 seconds slower than my Parkrun PB, so no problems with the run.

For comparison, the winner finished in 57:26, so 36:36 quicker than me. I was 368th out of a total field of 759 that made it to the end. The lantern rouge finished in 3:35:13.

The event was very well organised. At every point there was an army of volunteers helping out with registration, poolside, checking people in and out of transition and marking the route. The event starts at 8:00am and the last person doesn’t finish until around 4:30pm, so the volunteers do an amazing job.

Bramley Baths triathlon

Thursday, April 12th, 2018 | Sport

Last weekend, I headed back to Bramley Baths for another Go Tri event. The first was an indoor triathlon that took place in February. This one was a more traditional affair with the bike and the run outdoors.

The distances were a 230m swim, 5km bike and 1.5km run.

We set off in waves three minutes apart. I was in the third wave. The swim went well. I was 5:30 despite getting stuck behind someone else, which suggests I should easily be able to hit the 11:00 minute target at sprint distance.

The first transition took two minutes. Seems okay given I had to dry my feet and get my shoes and socks off. But now all of my stuff is covered in talc.

The bike was a mixed bag. I forgot to stop my watch until I had racked my bike, so although my average speed is 21.1 kmph, I think it was actually more like 23 if I had recorded it properly. In general, it feels like I overtook a lot more people than caught me.

The run was good. I was 4:25 per kilometre, which is a faster pace than my Parkrun PB. I overtook two people with no places conceded.

The results

I finished the race with a total time of:

27:53

Which translated to 8th out of a field of 31. The winning time was 23:45, with the first female home at 28:46 and the last person home at 51:48.

The event

Bramley Baths did an excellent job of organising everything. There were loads of volunteers including people lane counting in the pools, managing and helping out in transition and marshalling the bike and run courses.

Triathlon: Winning at 70.3

Saturday, March 24th, 2018 | Books

Triathlon: Winning at 70.3: How to Dominate the Middle Distance is a book by Dan Golding.

Golding is the same guy that wrote Triathlon For Beginners, which I wrote about in December. I think that Winning at 70.3 is probably even better.

Although it is focused on middle distance triathlon (also known as 70.3 or half-ironman), I think this is worthwhile reading for anyone doing Olympic distance because it will put you in good habits. Sure, you can get away with less core strength training at Olympic. But do you want to get away with it, or do you want to stay injury free and put in place patterns that would allow you to move up if you ever wanted to? I would suggest the latter.

It’s not a beginners book, so if you’re not familiar with the basics of triathlon or the terminology, you might struggle. It’s not inaccessible, but it doesn’t break things down to anywhere near the same level as Golding’s other book.

For me, one of the most useful parts of the book was the specific exercises and tests to do. For example, how to measure your sweat rate so you know how much water to drink during a race. Others bit were a bit confusing. Golding talks about heart rate zones, for example, saying they are the “common” ones. But they don’t seem to map onto Garmin’s, or the 7 zones a lot of cyclists talk about, so it’s not clear how to incorporate them into training.

It’s also full of helpful tips, such as saving time by strategically weeing towards the end of your swim and thus avoiding the chance that you’ll have to go again.

All in all, an excellent guide to triathlon.

Bramley Baths indoor triathlon

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018 | Sport

Last Sunday, Bramley Baths triathlon team ran an indoor triathlon: swim, bike and run using the pool, gym bikes and treadmills. It was a lot of fun, despite what the facial expression in the photograph might suggest.

The course

The race started with a 250-yard swim in the pool. Yep, yards. Bramley Baths was constructed in 1904 and metric wasn’t a big thing back then. This knocked nearly 10% of the distance off from when I calculated my expected swim time in The Edge’s pool.

After that, it was on to the fitness studio where they had static bikes set up. Finally, on to the gym to use the treadmills.

Transitions were untimed for safety reasons: they didn’t want people rushing around the building and running into each other, other gym users and the many sharp corners that feature in Edwardian architecture. This meant it was a fairly stress-free event, especially as there was a short queue for the bikes, giving us time to get our breath back.

The results

My combined time was 30:23, which placed me 7th out of 31 participants. This broke down to 5:19 in the swim, 20:37 on the bike and 4:27 on the run.

30:23

I’m pleased with that. It would have been nice to get my bike under 20 minutes (and thus my time under 30 minutes), as I have ridden faster on the gym bikes at The Edge. However, I’m not sure how comparable they are to each other (or real riding) as I don’t know how accurate the speed and distance calculations are.

My swim was slightly ahead of my predicted time (5:36), but I wasn’t pushing that hard when I set my estimated time, and I knew I had an untimed transition coming up, so I went a little harder than I would have done in a normal triathlon.

2018: What’s on my agenda?

Monday, February 19th, 2018 | Life

The so-called new year is a pretty arbitrary deadline that evolved from a series of long-dead popes. Still, as arbitrary deadlines go, it is a great chance to regroup and take stock of what’s been going on and what we want to achieve in the next solar rotation.

Of course, it’s now the middle of February. So, I’m going to stop thinking and finally publish this.

Be better at business

I declared that 2017 was my year of marketing and I have learnt a lot about building sales funnels, capturing leads and building an audience. But none of it has been hugely successful and certainly not good enough to provide a real income.

Part of the problem is that I’m struggling to engage with step one: build what people want, not what you want them to want. So, I’m going to double down on this.

Finish my master’s degree

By the middle of last month, I felt like giving up. My grades have not met my own personal standard, and while there is a queue of people telling me that a merit (the equivalent of a 2:1) is a great grade to have, it doesn’t feel like it. Especially now Venla is here. There are standards to be set: there is no award for coming second in the Nobel Prize voting. Or, worst still, settling for winning a non-natural science-based prize.

But I don’t like giving up and that certainly wouldn’t set a good example, even if we would be a lot richer. And I’m excited about my dissertation, or, at least, motivated to get on with it.

Triathlon & fitness

Last year felt like a pretty slow year for fitness. Sure, I smashed my 5km, 10km and half marathon times, but it all felt a bit like business as usual. This year, I’m taking things up a gear. A bit of business as usual two: aiming for a sub-2 hour half marathon, but also looking at longer distances and continuing my move over to triathlon.