Archive for June, 2021

World Triathlon Leeds 2021

Wednesday, June 9th, 2021 | Sport

This was a weird race for me. For many people, World Triathlon Leeds is all they think about, and maybe the one triathlon they do that year. For me, coming just a week after my third full distance at Evolve Trio, all I was thinking about was how to survive my first 4-kilometre open water swim. Evolve Trio was mercifully split over the bank holiday weekend but that meant finishing on Monday, recovering on Tuesday, and only thinking about Leeds on Wednesday.

Saturday races

Even though I wasn’t racing on Saturday I braved a 6am start to get down to the mark and cheer people on. My dad and Tim and Andy were in the sprint race from 8 am onwards and my mum and sister were in the GoTri at 10 o’clock. This made for a tough day trying to run around the park to see everyone at various points. Especially when you are pushing a 4-year-old in a buggy!

It was awesome to see everyone finish. We might have to rename it Worfolk Triathlon Leeds after this.

I had been so busy with Evolve Trio and work that I didn’t even have a nutrition plan for the next day but luckily OTE had a stall in the event village that allowed me to stock up on goodies. After that we headed to a friend’s leaving do (he’s moving to Japan) and then a family BBQ, meaning I only got to pack my bags at 8 pm, just before I needed to be in bed for a 5 am start.

The swim

The new COVID arrival times made for a bit of a rush setting up in transition. But I managed to get everything done and down to the swim start in time. This was my first 1,500 metres that I was planning to do entirely in front crawl and for the first time I found myself getting jostled by the pack. I leaned away from but in future, I might try leaning into the maelstrom.

The swim went really well. I clocked in at 33:34, and I would usually be around the 40-minute mark, so around 6 minutes saved there.

The bike

I forgot how much the hills in Leeds get into my back. The first lap saw me put some power down but it was an absolute killer on my lower back. In some ways, it was worse than the 189 kilometres of last weekend. By the second lap, I managed to settle down a little, keep my cadence higher and get down on the aero bars a little more. And, to be honest, just eased off a little as I reminded myself this was technically a “recovery” race. I saved around another six minutes compared to my 2019 time.

The run

Even though I have done Roundhay parkrun a bunch of times, I thought the hill was more of a gentle drag. Then you hit it and it turns out it is a hill. Some gentle pacing help me below 5:00 per kilometre which I was pleased with for a run I didn’t go 100% on. Although the run route a slight elevation gain, compared to the usual drop into the city centre, it clocked in at only 9.5 kilometres, and so I was a couple of minutes ahead of 2019 here, too. Plus I had half the tri club to cheer me on down the finish straight.

The result

It is impossible to do a direct comparison between this year and 2019 but I have included the figures here. Obviously big improvements moving from breaststroke to front crawl. I think my running has come along more than my cycling. My 2019 run was my 10k PB until the Abbey Dash so beating that without going 100% felt like a pretty good result.

Discipline 2021 2019
Swim 33:34 39:25
T1 5:44 8:32
Bike 1:13:16 1:19:04
T2 4:52 4:02
Run 45:28 46:59
Total 2:42:52 2:58:00

All in all, 2:42:52 is a sizable improvement even adjusting for the course being potentially easier. That was good enough for 32 out of 72 athletes, but being in the M35-39 age group, only 5 out of 6. What a stupid age group to be in.

The aftermath

Perhaps the best part of the day was being able to have a sit-down, each as much junk food as I could fit in my stomach and spend time with my fellow tri club members. It has been a lonely 14 months since lockdown came in and so the return of racing as a club is a much welcome addition back into my life.

Keeping the pros in the park was also great for spectating.

Overall, a very enjoyable but tiring weekend. I was pleased to put my feet up on Monday and watch the triathlon on iPlayer.

Evolve Trio

Thursday, June 3rd, 2021 | Sport

Evolve Trio is a new event for 2021 run by the Blue Lagooners team. It is designed to be an accessible form of triathlon with the swim, cycle and run split over the bank holiday weekend with one on each day. Additionally, the course is split into four laps and athletes can choose how many laps they do, making the distance standard to full.

The swim

22 of us were on the start line on Saturday for 1-4 laps of the one-kilometre swim course. The swim is not my strong point: I did a four-kilometre swim in the pool before Yorkshireman, as well as a 3.5-kilometre open water swim in which I got cramp, then I did the Yorkshireman itself, which I also cramped and found pretty traumatic.

After that, I decided I would get in the pool and swim four kilometres every week. Then COVID happened and no lake or pool opened for more than an hour. So, my preparation was not where I wanted it to be. However, since the pools opened last month, I have managed to fit in 23 swims including a 10.5-kilometre week as part of the 7in7 challenge.

As a result, I was sure how it was going to go. But it went well! I got around in 1:35:58. That was good enough to pick up the lanterne rouge by 15 seconds. Potentially, I could go faster at Outlaw given the course is 200 metres shorter and there may be less stopping for snacking (may!). 12 of us completed the maximum four laps.

The bike

Sunday brought the bike course. It should have been 1-4 laps of a 45-kilometre loop. However, roadworks added an extra 47.2 kilometres, making it 178.8 kilometres in total. Officially it was sportive rules so it wasn’t cheating when a bunch of us were drafting a tractor. But tractors also go slower than we can cycle. There were other riders for the first hour but after that it was lonely. Thankfully, there were race vehicles on the course and the marshals cheering us on.

Womersley is flat so I was able to get plenty of speed. I went through the first 30 kilometres in under an hour and averaged 29 kph. Part of it was also increased power: at Yorkshireman, I output 153 Watts and averaged 25.3 kph and 156 Watts with an average of 24.4 kph at Woolenman. This time I output 188 Watts so I like to think that had something to do with going an hour faster and finishing in 6:37:46. Seven us of completed the maximum four laps.

The last lap was hard. Despite constant eating, I was still hungry and probably quite dehydrated by then. Or maybe the sunburn was kicking in on the few areas of skin that I missed, despite sun creaming three times. The final time I did while cycling: new skill!

The run

Finally, the run. Getting up at 6am was not my ideal bank holiday but it comes with the territory. The other days started at noon and 11am which gave my stomach time to settle. The early start was harder, though, and my stomach felt uneasy the whole way around. I still managed to eat enough, though and kept a good pace the whole way around.

Because of my sunburn, I decided to run in my Under Armour HeatGear base layers. Luckily, it wasn’t too warm and went between sun and shade most of the morning. I started feeling good in the final two kilometres when my mind settled down and focused on how close the finish was.

I finished the run in 3:38:30, more than an hour ahead of my Yorkshireman time and even further ahead of my Woolenman time. Six of us completed the maximum four laps.

The result

My total time was:

11:52:13

Officially, it was a personal challenge and there were no prizes. But unofficially, that was good enough for third place out of the six of us that completed all four laps of all four disciplines. Which meets my fifth place at Hubble Bubble.

Although it puts me over two-and-a-half hours ahead of previous full distance triathlons they do not directly compare as I was able to rest between each discipline. Also, the swim course was 200 metres longer, the bike course was nine kilometres longer but had much less climbing, and the run course was shorter. Still, it has been a big confidence boost for Outlaw.

I got a different medal for each event and they fit together like a jigsaw.

A big thank you to Bev, Morg and the whole team down at Blue Lagoon for keeping us safe and looking after us for the entire weekend.