Posts Tagged ‘york’

National Railway Museum

Saturday, October 27th, 2018 | Life

Here’s a possibly controversial opinion. The Nation Railway Museum: not that good? I mean, it’s pretty good, and it’s free, but it’s not as amazing as I imagined it would be.

In fairness, the nature of my visit didn’t help the matter. I went there to meet Elina and Venla after the Yorkshire Marathon and so headed straight to the Great Hall where they were located. In some ways, this is the centrepiece of the museum. But in other ways, it is the most boring.

They have a bunch of trains. But you can’t go in them. I mean, they’re trains. They’re designed to have people in them. It’s not like they’re the Mona Lisa: they were built for people to go inside.

Or, at very least, allow us to look in them. Bus most didn’t even had steps up so you could take a peak, and even when they did, they only slowed you the ends of the trains, rather than a proper walkway. Without them, it’s just not that good because trains are really tall.

I thought the station hall was a lot better. This is set up like a train station so you can see into each of the carriages and you can go into several of them, too. The postal train was really interesting.

More importantly, Venla had a good day. If you gave her a giant hall where she could run around in, she would have a briliant time with that alone. Being able to scream “choo choo train” every minute for several hours was just an added bonus.

Yorkshire Marathon

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018 | Sport

I’m a marathon runner. I have a medal to prove it. And it was a hard-earned one because running it was quite possibly one of the most miserable days of running I have ever had.

Last year I ran the Yorkshire 10 Mile and it was cool and dry. Great running conditions. This year it was cold and wet. Last year there was no queue for the shuttle bus. This year there was a 25-minute queue. On the plus side, this removed waiting around before the race as I only made it to the start line with five minutes to go.

The first 13km was pretty miserable as the idea of four hours of running in the rain soaked through. The next 7km was occupied by trying to find a toilet, which finally turned up 7km later. And the last 42km was mostly occupied by pain.

By 35km I was ready to walk. The only thing that kept me going was knowing that I was only just ahead of the pace required to finish in under four hours. In the end, I promised myself I could walk up the hill on the finishing straight (what a terrible place to put a hill, right?). But, by the time I got there, I decided I could keep going and kept putting one foot in front of another until I reached the line.

My final time was:

3:57:17

My goal was just to complete it, with a stretch goal of sub-four hours, so I’m pleased with that time.

People tell you that it is an amazing feeling to finish a marathon. But it’s not. I knew it wasn’t going to be because I’ve spent all summer racing triathlon. But, what I wasn’t prepared for was the dramatic increase in pain after I crossed the line. I was limping in both legs and my ankles were screaming. They continued to hurt even after I swallowed the two ibuprofen I had with me.

The rain fell all morning and continued for the entire run. I was absolutely soaked through by the finish. I brought a full change of clothes, except for pants, so even after I got changed, my wet pants just soaked through my jogging bottoms again. Even with my two t-shirts and winter jacket on, I was so cold that I kept biting myself.

Thankfully, by the next morning, the pain had faded and I felt a little better. I was feeling sore and stiff, but not injured. And I was able to walk down stairs.

Would I do it again? Probably. I haven’t been bitten by the bug: I’m not looking forward to signing up for more races. But I could be tempted by a few of the famous ones.

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.

York-Leeds-York sportive

Monday, March 19th, 2018 | Sport

Last week, I took part in the Velo 29 York-Leeds-York sportive.

The name suggests that you ride from York to Leeds and back to York. Which you do, if you do the longer routes. However, this only being my second sportive after the Festive Fifty, I decided to do the short route. At 65km, this was still the longest ride I had ever done, albeit be only five additional kilometres.

There was a long queue to get to the start, so, with Bogdan stuck at the back of a slow-moving queue, I set off on my own.

It rained the whole time. By the end of it, everything was soaked. I had to dry out the money inside my waterproof jacket. My waterproof shoe covers had given way and become saturated. I tried my best to maintain a “make the best of it” spirit, but even that got wet eventually.

Velo 29’s event management

I only have Sportive HQ’s event management to compare against, but they seemed a similar standard.

There was lots of parking at the venue and it was easy to find a spot at York Auction Mart. This also created a large indoor space to set off from. They said there would be changing facilities, though this turned out just to be a few toilets with a long queue.

Setting off took a long time: I think Bogdan was 15-20 minute behind me, even though I had been hanging around for a similar timeframe from the start of the race.

The feed station was good. They had sandwiches, pork pies and cakes, as well as energy gels. At the Festive Fifty, they just had drinks and bacon sandwiches. However, I did miss the warm sandwich this time. When we got back, we got a small sausage in a bun. The medal and the free 5-minute massage were a nice touch.

The event was chip timed and matched up well to the time on my watch.

The course itself was a bit surprising. It was predominantly on-road, but sometimes we were taken off-road. This wasn’t a problem on my cross bike, but I would have been quite annoyed if I had been on a road bike.

At times the route was confusing. They make a big thing about the amount of signage they put out and there is a lot. However, there was so much that sometimes it didn’t make it very obvious which signage we were supposed to be following and which was for people going the other way.

My performance

I finished in 3:03:12, including a 12 minute stop at the feed station. This gave me an average speed of 22.8kmph and an average moving speed of 23.4kmph.

I was the 62nd person back overall (in a field of 1,139) but that is meaningless because most people were doing the medium or long route and most people were there to have fun rather than race (including me). Fair play to the seven people who finished the medium route (97km) before I finished the short.

Here is a comparison between my first sportive and this one:

Metric York-Leeds-York Festivity Fifty
Distance 65.13km 49.61km
Moving time 2:48:29 2:14:28
Elevation 221m 146m
Average speed 23.2 kmph 22.1 kmph
Average power 89 W 91 W

I’m not sure how to interpret these figures. I think they’re not great: I did maintain a slightly faster average speed and over a longer distance. And there are some good reasons I might have been slower: the weather was awful, there were some off-road sections, it was a new longest ride, I ran a half marathon the day before and it’s possible that Strava overestimated my speed at the Festive Fifty.

However, there are a bunch of reasons to be disappointed. My estimated average power was lower and there was no massive headwind this time. More importantly, both are just slow. I’ve done a lot of work on the bike over the past four months and yet I’m still barely making the triathlon cut-off pace even on courses as flat as York.

Conclusion

Given how wet and cold it was, I don’t think I did “enjoy” it. However, it was good enough that I think it would be a lot of fun in the warm and dry, so I will be signing up for more when the weather gets warmer.

Yorkshire 10 Mile

Monday, October 9th, 2017 | Sport

Early October means the Yorkshire Marathon Festival. It’s a “festival” because not only is there the Yorkshire Marathon but they also run a 10-mile race alongside it. It’s set on the streets of York which makes for a flat course.

Route

The route starts out on the university campus. It runs into town, going around the minster and then leads out into the countryside. At five miles the marathon and 10-mile split before joining back together later on.

There is only one hill in the whole of York and it is at the start and finish straight. This is the worst design ever: at the start, you go down the hill, when you’re fresh and bottlenecked in so you can’t take advantage of it. On the way back you’re exhausted and have to up the thing.

It takes in a lot of lovely scenery. However, the sections through the centre of York are often cobbled, uneven and cramped, so you have to spend your whole time watching where you are going. Once you get out into the country you can relax a little more.

Organisation

The event was well organised. They had several transport routes including a park and run option and a city shuttle bus. I decided to get an Airbnb in the centre and then get the shuttle bus over. I didn’t turn up until 9:30 am and still managed to get to the start by the time the race kicked off: 10:15 am.

Here is me on the bus:

As soon as I finished there was a bus to take me back, too. There were some queues for another bus, which I think was the park and run. That did not open until noon, which is after some of the 10 milers finish, so that could explain it.

There were plenty of toilets and separate urinals. There were not many pacers, but those that were there had the big flags that Run For All always put on.

The only confusing thing was the event village. You get off the bus and then it is quite a walk to the start and finish line. Not only does this add a lot of walking but it is quite confusing to find. On the way there I followed everyone else. However, on the way back I had to find my own way and got confused several times.

Goody bag

I’m going to have to give them a D for goody pack quality. It had three chocolate-type bars in there. But two of them had peanut in: not much use for anyone with an allergy, or merely a strong dislike of peanuts. And the shoestring sweets where impossible to tear into.

York as a city

York is a beautiful city as most of us know. However, accessible it is not. Anyone with a pram (like us), wheelchair or simply limited mobility is in for a rough time. It’s not just that the buildings are inaccessible and the streets are cobbled. It’s that the pavements are often small, broken and badly maintained. This makes it very difficult to get around if you are not a fit and healthy adult.

Results

I haven’t been doing much long distance stuff since the Leeds Half Marathon 2017 and have been ill for the last couple of weeks so I set myself some fairly relaxed target of 1:36:00. My stretch target was 1:30:00 as this would indicate whether I would be able to go sub-2 hours in the next half marathon (of course, Leeds is a lot less flat).

In the end, I felt pretty good on the day and brought it home in 1:27:30, two and a half minutes ahead of my stretch target.

1:27:30

Here is me at the end:

I waited around for the first marathon runner to finish. I thought they would finish before me: 90 minutes running plus 45 minutes head start means they only needed to run a 2:15:00 to beat me back. As it happens, the first runner didn’t make it back until 2:24 something. Far faster than I could ever run it, but a good 22 minutes behind the world record. He was also white, which suggests that serious marathon runners don’t come to York.

Speaking of unusually white people, here is Venla with my medal:

My new trainers have been causing a few blisters on my longer runs (anything above 10k) so I was quite pleased that I finally put enough vaseline on my toes to keep them healthy.

Summary

This was a fun event and good test for me to see how running a race away from home worked out (everything in Leeds starts next to my house). I am looking forward to going back to the festival next year.

It’s a good race to do if you want to avoid hills and see some nice scenary, as long as you’re willing to brave the transport challenges.

York Skeptics

Sunday, September 15th, 2013 | Photos

Last month, I finally found time to head up to the very excellent York Skeptics. It was good to see a lot of friendly faces and an interesting talk on autism.

While there, I took the opportunity to take some photos and polarise the flip out of them.

IMG_0420 IMG_0422 IMG_0425 IMG_0426 IMG_0437 IMG_0438

York EbOrators

Monday, June 24th, 2013 | Public Speaking

To ensure the Leeds clubs are the best clubs they can be, I’m trying to get round some of the other local Toastmasters clubs to see what ideas we can take from them. The first club on my list was York EbOrators.

They’re a small club, similar to White Rose, though they do seem to have a slightly more established membership – they had most of the roles filled, with a few duplicates and interesting, omitted the sergeant at arms role entirely.

There were a number of differences that got me thinking – they have CC and CL achievement boards in the room, and they also include grammarian and ah counter in the evaluation voting. Definitely worth the visit, if only to truly appreciate the high standards that Leeds City has achieved.

Mixed grill, in a burger

Friday, August 3rd, 2012 | Events, Photos

It’s been a while since I last stopped by York Brights, so I decided it was high time to turn up to a meeting. It was a somewhat intimate affair, with only six of us there (usually there are loads of people these days), but the conversation was never the less it’s usual excellent standard. We also noticed an item on the menu we hadn’t seen before.

The mega mixed grill burger as it is known is just that – a mixed grill in a burger. They start off with a huge burger, was at least half a pound, if not more – I just don’t really know how much a pound is but it was definitely at least as big as two McQuarters. They then put a fried egg, a gammon steak, a chicken fillet, a pineapple ring and a sausage, wrap it all in the world’s largest bread bun and surround it with chips. Amazing.

Mega mixed grill burger