Archive for May, 2021

English Channel virtual swim

Saturday, May 29th, 2021 | Sport

I have done a bunch of the Conqueror challenges including Route 66 that used to be the longest one. Taking on the shortest, the English Channel, was something else. Why? Because I wanted to swim it. When the pools opened again I wanted something to motivate me so swimming the 32 kilometres seemed like a good challenge.

I have been in the pool and the lake quite a lot as I try to work on my swim. Progress is going well: I have made some speed gains already in the six weeks since the pools reopened. Everything else is a land-based challenge so I might end up swimming up Everest or around the pyramids next!

Daffodils sportive 2020

Friday, May 28th, 2021 | Sport

Daffodils sportive is a Velo29 event that starts in Thirsk. It usually takes place in March, when the daffodils are out, but has been delayed for the past two years. Bogdan and I did the short route in October and decided to come back this May for the medium route.

Bogdan was made significant gains over the winter and his FTP is now much higher than mine. This was evident on the climbs that he powered up while staying in the saddle. I was worried I would be holding him back (and maybe I was!) but we got around without issue and my endurance came in helpful towards the end of the ride as I was still feeling pretty good.

I say “without issue” but I did lose a cleat bolt. This has happened a few times so it is definitely not me failing to tighten it correctly as I checked it after each incident. I had the mechanic tighten it at one of the feed stops and luckily it held in place for the rest of the ride.

We are clearly faster. The 2021 event was 65 km with 863 metres of climbing and we averaged 23.7 kph. The medium route was 120 km with 1,682 of climbing, so roughly double both, and we averaged 24.6 kph (0.9 kph faster). My average power was 18 watts higher while my average heart rate was 13 bpm lower, suggesting my fitness has improved.

We were very lucky with the weather. It was predicted to be wet and I came in full rain gear. But barely a drop fell the whole time. We were able to sit down on the grass with our sausage in a bun at the end and relax. And yet, by the time we got back on the motorway to go home, I had to slow down to 45 mph because visibility was so poor due to the heavy rain. Perfect timing!

Tadcaster triathlon 2021

Thursday, May 27th, 2021 | Sport

Triathlon is back! Tadcaster was the first race of the season for many of us coming just after things started to open up. It was so good to get back to triathlon racing as it feels like 2021 is going to be a full season, albeit with plenty of COVID adjustments in place.

Eight of us from Hyde Park Harriers were racing: Naomi, Graeme, Leigh, JP, Paul, Aron, Carlos and myself. It is a pool-based sprint race with some odd distances: 400-metre swim, 14 km bike and then usually a 7 km trail run. However, due to flooding, it was changed to a road-based run of 5.5 km.

I was very pleased with my performance at every point. I have included my 2019 results but they do not directly compare: transition has moved to further away and te run route was totally different.

Stage 2021 2019
Swim+ 12:30 12:21
T1 01:10 02:36
Bike 25:59 28:41
T2 01:49 01:31
Run 22:54 32:32
Total 1:04:20 1:17:38

The “swim+” time includes the swim plus running to transition. My swim was faster than previous years, and I think under 9 minutes, which is probably a PB. The bike splits can be compared and I was faster there. While the run splits cannot be compared I was dumbstruck to find I had the fastest run split of the eight of us. I think everyone else was having a bad day!

Still, if I can continue to reduce my swim times I could be right in the mix as only Naomi and Carlos set faster bike splits. Now I know people were having bad days there as JP’s FTP is literally nearly 100 Watts higher than mine. In any case, it was just awesome to see everyone and race with them again.

Eurovision 2021

Wednesday, May 26th, 2021 | Distractions

In another step towards normality, we were able to hold our Eurovision party this year, albeit with only a couple of friends and far more COVID testing. This is good because Eurovision is really a thing you need to do with other people. We also did our own voting and our top six came out as:

Russia, 19
Malta, 16
France, 15
Finland, 14
Ukraine, 13
Iceland, 11

France came 2nd, Iceland came 4th, Ukraine came 5th, Finland came 6th, Malta in 7th and Russia in 8th. So, we were on the mark with most of it. But Switzerland took us by surprise. It was a joke entry, right? And, Italy one, which also did not make it onto our scoreboard.

I didn’t like the songs when I listened through before the contest but the night itself won me over. A few of them will make it onto my Eurovision Spotify playlist: Italy (Zitti e Buoni), Sweden (Voices), Finland (Dark Side), Serbia (Loco Loco), Cyprus (El Diablo), and maybe Iceland (10 Years). I’ve also added Romania (Amnesia) which did not make the final.

Cycle Sense TT

Tuesday, May 18th, 2021 | Sport

Back in 2019, I joined Alba Rosa with the intention of taking part in some cycling time trials. Then COVID happened and everything was cancelled. Thankfully, it appears that we are on our way out of the pandemic, and last week I finally got to try my hand.

I was second to start and second to finish with an overall place of 32 out of 37. Happy with all of that. This was my first time trial and over the 10 miles, I averaged 34.6 kph. There was no wind and the course was flat and straight so it was easy to stay aero. I think it will take a while before I really dial my effort in.

Couples counselling course

Sunday, May 16th, 2021 | News

Just released a new course: Couples Counselling using Systemic Family Therapy. Helping couples is a different process to individual psychotherapy as there are two sets of needs and emotions to manage, but also that the relationship itself has emergent properties that need to be handled. Systemic therapy provides that underlying theory that we need to make it work.

You can preview the course on Udemy or watch the video below.

7in7 documentary

Tuesday, May 4th, 2021 | Sport, Video

The 7in7 challenge may be over, but you can relive the adventure vis the video below.

7in7 Challenge: Day 7

Sunday, May 2nd, 2021 | Sport

When I started this challenge, nobody told me I would have to get up at 6:30 am on a Sunday to go swimming. Is there any higher form of suffering? My arms were heavy and I think this affected my swim stroke was I started to feel pain in my right shoulder towards the end. Luckily, it was the final swim.

Bogdan joined me for the bike course and we headed up into the hills of Wharfedale to take in Harewood, Almscliffe Crag, Stainburn and Leatherley before a cafe stop in Otley to miss some of the rain. The climb back to Leeds was still wet but the sun came back out as we descended back into the city centre.

Finally, Danni joined me for a tour of Meanwood Valley and Headingley to finish the challenge!

Thank you to everyone who has supported the challenge through donating and running and cycling with me. We have now raised over £700 to help Unseen combat modern slavery via the JustGiving page.


Total time: 23 hours 24 minutes
Distance: 10,650 metres swam, 302 km cycled, 70 kilometres run
Average calories consumed per day: 4,687 kcals

7in7 Challenge: Day 6

Saturday, May 1st, 2021 | Sport

Back in the lake this morning. The temperature had dropped another one and a half degrees and was now down to 11.8. My socks and gloves helped but this time I couldn’t even keep my core body warm. I made it through the first five of six laps but then started to struggle and the water safety team politely but firmly hinted it might be time to get out. I was shivering a lot when I came out and had to stuff my towel in my mouth to stop biting myself.

Under BTF rules, when the water temperature is 11 degrees the maximum swim length is 500 metres. But this is a challenge, not a race, so I decided to use the backup pool swim I had booked for the evening to do another 250 metres, topping the 1,350 metres from the lake up to more than the 1,500-metre target. Tomorrow I am planning to swim in the pool but I have the lake as a backup and if I do end up in the lake, I will be sticking to 500 metres!

The bike was uneventful; an out-and-back to Castleford with a stop for shortbread and brownies on the way. As if that route wasn’t lovely enough already, the little cafe van seems to be there every day.

The run took in several laps of Kirkstall Valley Nature Reserve. I ran a strong first three kilometres before running out of energy and dropping down to a walk. This happens a lot when I am fatigued and was a regular feature of GVRAT. Eventually, the blood gets flowing and I can pick the pace up again: I finished with a strong final few kilometres including a 4:18 km at the end.

Swim: Blue Lagoon, 44:57 (plus The Edge, 7:09)
Bike: Castleford out-and-back, 1:30:00
Run: Kirkstall Valley Nature Reserve, 53:42