Archive for August, 2020

Symfony PHP Framework course

Sunday, August 30th, 2020 | News

Learn Symfony PHP Framework with my new course. It will take you all the way from installing Symfony to building a complete eCommerce store. We will explore routing, databases, static assets (Encore, SASS), forms and validation, email delivery and more.

Introductory Human Physiology

Saturday, August 29th, 2020 | Life

I recently completed Introductory Human Physiology. It is the second physiology course I have taken and it was pretty difficult. There is so much to human physiology that the courses do not have much overlap.

For example, I have also done a bunch of courses in diet and nutrition. But we did very little on metabolism in this course. Instead, we were treated to a deep dive on how the kidneys make urine. I did nail one module, the nervous system, thanks to my biopsychology background, which I think is the only exam I achieved 100% on the first attempt. But I got through them all in the end.

Anyway, now that I have studied physiology, I guess this makes me a physician?

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.

The Murder at the Vicarage

Monday, August 24th, 2020 | Books

The Murder at the Vicarage is a mystery novel by Agatha Christie. It is the first one I have read to feature Miss Marple.

I have heard plenty of jokes about the death rate in St Mary Mead and I do wonder how exactly so many novels will be spun out on the topic. Maybe she travels? Anyway, I enjoyed the book.

Murder on the Orient Express

Sunday, August 23rd, 2020 | Books

Murder on the Orient Express is a mystery novel by Agatha Christie. It features Hercule Poirot and revolves around a passenger being murdered on the famous train that Poirot happens to be travelling on.

It has a nice twist (spoilers: there’s a twist!) although not quite as intriguing as And Then There Were None. I was not in love with Poirot as a character initially but I have since warmed to him. Overall, an enjoyable read.

And Then There Were None

Saturday, August 22nd, 2020 | Books

And Then There Were None is a mystery novel by Agatha Christie. It was another punt on my unused Audible credits as recommended by Elina. It was the first Christie novel I have read and does without her two famous characters, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot.

I really enjoyed it. In many ways, maybe I should not have started with such a good Christie novel as it has massively set my expectations for the other books I am reading.

Blood of Elves

Friday, August 21st, 2020 | Books

Blood of Elves is a fantasy fiction book by Andrzej Sapkowski. It is the first in the Witcher series and having a bunch of Audible credits I took a punt and bought the first three. I did not pay off massively, but it was an enjoyable read.

The audio is quiet which is annoying as I have to listen to it at maximum volume. The story is okay, but not as gripping as A Song of Ice and Fire which is the nearest thing I could describe to to in my admittedly limited reading of fantasy.

Intake Breathing review

Thursday, August 20th, 2020 | Reviews, Video

Intake Breathing promises to open the nose of those of us who predominantly breathe through our mouths. Here is my review of it.

Farewell, Nike Zoom Span

Wednesday, August 19th, 2020 | Photos

Non-runners can never understand how hard it is to get rid of your favourite pair of old running shoes. We’ve been through so much together.