Archive for the ‘Sport’ Category

Cycle Sense TT: Tadcaster

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2021 | Sport

I finally made it to a second Cycle Sense TT last week! It did not go well. But it could have gone way worse.

it was a Thursday evening and the skies were grey with a chance of rain. However, I don’t have any clear or photochromatic sunglasses. Do not blame me! I have spent nine months trying to find a way to get a pair of Smith Attack MAG or Roka R1s but neither of them supplies their full range to the UK. I am not big fan of the Oakley look and Rapha do not do clear lenses. What am I supposed to do?

As a result, I decided to race with no glasses. However, as I started, the rain came down and got quite heavy halfway through. I was struggling to see so I reached into my pocket to pull my sunglasses out. This combined with my second piece of poor planning: keep my car keys in the same pocket. They came out with them and fell into the middle of the road. Luckily, the cars behind me missed them. But I had to stop, take my bike off the course, run back, recover my keys, get back to my bike and get back onto the road and up to speed again.

This added a lot of additional time on and I ended up with:

29:56

Two minutes slower than my first TT. Said performance earned me the lanterne rouge, placing 20th out of 20 riders and a full 1:29 behind the person in 19th. My power numbers were similar to the last time so I may well have come last even without said incident. And it is not like I crashed or got hurt, you know, beyond the bruised ego from it happening right in front of the photographer! He was very nice about it.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Stats

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