Archive for the ‘Sport’ Category

Dalesman Triathlon

Thursday, August 26th, 2021 | Sport

My third and final full distance triathlon of the year. It was a little Déjà vu as I booked it last year as a replacement for Copenhagen but Dalesman was then cancelled too. I ended up re-booking this race a few weeks before when I again couldn’t get into Denmark. I went in with the intention of having some “fun” rather than to set a time.

I couldn’t find any accommodation in Ripon so I stayed at home and drove up in the morning, leaving the house just before 4 am. This made for a long day!

The swim

Two and a half laps of the lake in the middle of Ripon racecourse. There was a lot of plant life and reeds. Even more so than Outlaw as at least in Nottingham, you can swim away from them. But at least here the water was clearer than I have seen at any swim and so you could see what you kept grabbing handfuls of.

It all went well: only a few swimmers lapped me and those that did gave plenty of room. I was a little chilly towards the end. I did successfully do a wee while still swimming, though, which was a big timesaver compared to having to stop and tread water.

The bike

The bike was hilly. Almost 2,000 metres of climbing compared to 850 at the salt flats of Nottingham. To an extend that is just how Yorkshire is, although Newby Hall where the Yorkshireman is based is right next door and has a much flatter bike course. Garmin classified seven stretches as climbs, and it was a two-lap course, so 14 in total. Nothing too bad, though: we did go through the moors but they were all short and not too steep. Nothing compared to coming up Chevin Bank, for example.

I certainly felt the sting, though. It was my slowest average moving speed of any full distance. Even slower than my first ever, but thanks to fewer stops, I was still faster overall. My average power was slightly lower than Outlaw (149 Watts vs 157 Watts) but the normalised power was higher (184 Watts vs 172 Watts) showing the stop-start effort as went up and down the hills.

I spent a lot of the time on the bike thinking about my life choices. Every time I finish a long-distance race, I somehow forget how much it hurts. And then I find myself back in this situation. Other strategies for passing the time included singing along to some Billy Talent and re-writing Harry Potter as a Mary Sue fan fiction.

I ate more solid food than I planned. My gel flask had leaked and I could not find any on the first aid station so I was making do with energy bars, sweets and sports drinks. I felt sick pretty much the whole race but barely anything came up so I just kept putting more fuel in in some kind of dare game with my stomach.

The run

The sun came out for the run. It also rained. I was trying to take it easy but also aware that if I ran a 4:33 marathon I would go under 14 hours. This was appealing even though I deliberately came in with a few of having fun. I ran when I wanted to and walked when I needed to without focusing on the time.

I was planning to drink Mountain Fuel energy drink at each aid station but the only drink they had was water, so I went for a combination of water and mini sausage rolls. On lap two I grabbed my Lucozade from my special needs and then on lap three I pulled out my bidon filled with Red Bull. That first taste of caffeine was the highlight of the race. I gasped so audibly the woman in front of me turned around to see what was going on.

With the three big laps out of the way, the two smaller laps were easier. I decided to stop eating and hope my all-day fuelling would carry me through. I finally started feeling good (as good as you can 13 hours into a race) and gradually picked up the pace, running a 5:03 for my 42nd kilometre. The course finishes with a final “glory lap” around the transition and event village and I was all smiles. No slowing down, though, as I wanted that sub-14. I hit the finish straight with two minutes to spare and took a leisurely stroll across the line.

The result

I finished with:

13:58:21

Lovely to get under the 14 hour mark on a relatively hilly course. My splits were as follows:

Disipline Time
Swim 1:33:40
T1 18:51
Bike 7:24:42
T2 9:42
Run 4:31:26

After Outlaw, it was nice to get back to a transition that isn’t a kilometre long. Plus, my fastest full distance swim by several minutes.

The event

Organising a full distance triathlon is a huge task and can only be more difficult during a pandemic. So thank you to the TriHard team for putting it all together.

That said, there were niggles compared with IRONMAN, OBS or Freebird. Race information came out in a patchwork fashion and TriHard deflected emails: they asked us to wait until the final email promising answers, then sent a final email to say they didn’t have time to answer emails anymore. Water temperature was not checked in the morning. Transition did not open until 5:15, despite the race briefing being at 5:45. There was only one toilet in transition and I ended up queuing in T1. They had “Mountain Fuel” on the aid stations but this seemed to mean different things for the bike and run. Nor was it clear how many aid stations there would be. Multiple athletes got lost on the run.

None of this is a disaster and much of the event was flawless. And it certainly does not detract from the hard work that all of the volunteers put in, all of whom offered plenty of encouragement and were kind and supportive. Plus the photos were included!

Summary

Now that I am sitting on my sofa I am glad I did the race. But I am also looking forward to a little more relaxation and some shorter format races.

Evolve Quarter Triathlon 2021

Thursday, August 19th, 2021 | Sport

Last year, the Evolve Quarter Triathlon was my first of the year due to COVID cancelling or postponing everyone else. This year, it was race 14 in the 2021 WTS (Worfolk Triathlon Series). It’s so good to be racing again!

The swim

Mass starts are back. As mass starts have not been a thing for the past two years, this was the first swim that I was competitive enough to be in the pack on a mass start. It’s annoying. Bodies flying everywhere. An endless stream of athletes unable to sight. No serious incidents, though.

The bike

Pleased with this. Last year, I really struggled to stay down on my aero bars due to back pain that I was hoping I had eliminated with four months of daily stretching. I had not. But after twelve months of daily stretching, things are looking more hopeful.

Also, I was highly incentivised to stay on them as a tailwind helped us on the first half of the circuit and a headwind slowed us down on the second.

The run

Another happy performance. I wanted to take it easy on the run to save my legs for last week. And thanks to a solid bike split, I saw I had 59 minutes to run it in in under three hours. Even so, I took plenty of scalps and nobody overtook me.

The result

Nearly 13 minutes faster than last year and comfortable under three hours. The course was the same as last year: 1,000-metre swim, 47 km bike and 10 km run.

2:48:14

Here are my splits:

Disipline 2021 2020
Swim 25:39 26:27
T1 1:31 2:26
Bike 1:31:39 1:37:48
T2 2:02 3:38
Run 47:23 50:50
Total 2:48:14 3:01:09

The event was very well organised. There was no real queue to get in as all the volunteers kept the whole process moving with check-in, registration, parking, and checking of details and bikes all split into separate sections. We did have to wait until all of the half competitors finished the bike leg to retrieve our biles, but at least we could get our bags and car keys before then.

parkrun PB and Leeds Dock swimming

Wednesday, August 18th, 2021 | Sport

Last Saturday, Leeds Dock opened up for open water swimming. Jp, Graeme and I completed Woodhouse Moor parkrun then headed down for a dip.

As it was only my third parkrun back, and I have got a lot speedier since I ran a 22:06 in 2018. So, without meaning to but simply trying to keep JP in sight ahead of me, I ran a PB of 21:05. I think I could go faster as I was held up at the start, but I don’t want to pretend I wasn’t working hard!

I would sum up the swim at Leeds Dock as cold. But nice. I am dubious of their self-admitted guesses that it was 17 degrees. I would have guessed at 15-16 but could be mistaken. Once I was swimming, though, it wasn’t too bad. It was mostly the initial getting in and warming up as it was jumping in or use the ladder: no gentle bay area like you get at the Blue Lagoon.

They have a 240-metre loop and there were only a few other swimmers in the water so no traffic to navigate. The water was clean and weed-free. You couldn’t see the bottom but that’s true of basically everywhere I have swum.

Tokyo Olympics

Saturday, August 14th, 2021 | Sport

It’s not been my favourite Olympics but the Olympics is always good. Being on in the middle of the night, I kept accidentally seeing spoilers on social media or checking BBC news without thinking and that took a lot of the magic out of it. And the coverage was split between BBC and Eurosport.

However, I did stay up for the mixed team relay and that was amazing.

Around The Park, Around The Clock

Thursday, August 12th, 2021 | Sport

Last weekend, Hyde Park Harriers ran our first backyard ultra. I say Harriers, for legal purposes I need to make it clear that Toby technically “organised” the event and that we all participated at our own risk. And a lovely job he did, too.

In the “standard” backyard ultra format, you run a 6 km loop every hour and anyone who does not make it back to the finish line for the next hour is eliminated. The winner is the last person standing. The winner normally turns up around the end of the third day after nearly 500 kilometres of running.

As this was our first one, we made it a little easier: it was a five-kilometre three laps of Woodhouse Moor course and time-boxed to 12 hours. People could drop in and out as they wished but around nine of us completed all 12 laps (or 36 laps, depending on what you count as a “lap”), resulting in 60 kilometres of running.

It was raining pretty heavily at 8 am when we started but despite the weather, a large group of us kicked off the running. As the day wore on, it became warmer and less rainy which was much appreciated given we had 20-30 minutes to cool down between laps. My cumulative time was just over 5:48, so I was averaging around a 29-minute 5k. More importantly, my hips held up just two weeks after Outlaw.

Well done to everyone who took part and thank you to Toby for organising, everyone who brought food for the club picnic that took place in the middle, the good people who watched our stuff at base camp and Tim for letting us use Coffee on the Crescent as toilet facilities.

Evolve mixed team relay 2021

Wednesday, August 11th, 2021 | Sport

The Evolve Mixed Team Relay is probably my favourite event of the year. They held the first one in 2019 as a test event to stage one to line up with the Olympics. It was September, getting colder, and it rained all day. But we still loved it. And HPH took ten teams.

COVID delayed both the Olympics and 2020 event but when this year rolled around we were back on. And, as with the 2019 event, we woke up to heavy rain. Luckily it gradually eased off throughout the day and we finished the event in the sunshine.

The effect COVID has had on participation is evident. We only took five teams this year and were still the best-represented club. Despite this, it felt like a small piece of normality: catching up with everyone, racing with the club and having fun.

Our team consisted of TeeJay, myself, Laura and Paul and we named ourselves Paddling Peddling Plodders. The more competitive HPH teams were storming it for most of the race but alas, Wakefield came through in the final run leg to take the victory, leaving us with a still very respectable 2nd and 4th place.

The swim and the bike course remained the same but the run course has switched to the trail loop around the lake. All of these times were taken from my watch so transition times are not going to be mega-accurate as it was when I remembered to press the button. Still, a general trend of getting faster.

Discipline 2021 2019
Swim 5:09 7:36
T1 1:24 3:05
Bike 19:58 20:46
T2 0:37 0:45
Run 5:58 6:22
Total 33:04 38:34

Most importantly, I finally made it into the club group photo! The previous two were taken at Castle Howard and World Triathlon Leeds. I was at both of these events but missed out of the photo, so I was not about to let this one happen without me!

Congratulations to Rosie, JP, Leigh and Alison who were the first HPH team home. And to Cara and Sam who were completing their first triathlon.

I’m already looking forward to the mixed team relay next year. It’s a brilliant event for both hardcore triathletes to those who have never done one before, or anyone who like interacting with other human beings.

Stand up paddleboarding

Saturday, July 31st, 2021 | Sport

Earlier this week I tried stand up paddleboarding (SUP). It’s basically canoeing on a surfboard and it’s a lot of fun. It was run by Bev at the Blue Lagoon and despite a lot of wind, she got us up and going pretty quickly. We also practised rescues. I managed to avoid falling in until the final race at the end. Can’t win them all, I guess!

Tour de France 2021

Thursday, July 29th, 2021 | Sport

The story of this year’s Tour de France was Mark Cavendish. Why? For two reasons. On is Cavendish’s amazing comeback. After years of trying to recover from Epstein–Barr and everyone writing him off, he returned to form to win four stages at The Tour.

This is particularly notable because it equalled the long-standing record of Eddy Merckx for the most Tour de France stage victories. This is a huge achievement for anyone but Cavendish wasn’t even supposed to be at the tour: he was only added to the Deceuninck–Quick-Step when Sam Bennett pulled out.

The second reason that this year’s tour was all about Cavendish was that Tadej Pogačar crushed everyone in the general classification. He finished with a gap of 5:20. In the past 20 years, the only other rider to win by more than five minutes was Vincenzo Nibali in 2014.

Euro 2020

Wednesday, July 28th, 2021 | Sport

Technically, football did come home as he finally was at Wemberly. And, for the first time since 1966, England was in it. What a time to be alive.

The England team did themselves proud. Not only were they unbeaten until a final that could only be settled by penalties but their behaviour outside of the game has been a shining light in an era of high political corruption. My favourite part of the tournament was where a very small minority mocked a German girl for crying and the public raised £36,000 for foreign children via JustGiving to show that minority what we thought of that.

The final didn’t go quite as many of us hoped for. However, we can all take some comfort in England going 1-0 to start, thus allowing me to get a £25 consultation bet on Italy to win. While I would rather have seen England win the tournament, the new Rapha base layer that paid for is a big comfort.

Outlaw Triathlon

Tuesday, July 27th, 2021 | Sport

Outlaw is a full distance triathlon that takes place at the National Water Sports Centre. A 3.8-kilometre swim, 180-kilometre cycle and 42.2-kilometre run around the scenic Holme Pierrepont country park and wider Nottingham region. What better way to spend a Sunday?

The swim

The swim takes place in the regatta lake which seems to be some kind of water-based plant nursery. I was swimming quite far out and I was still grabbing handfuls of the stuff at points.

It was long and hard. I had a wee panic attack on the out lap and had to switch to breaststroke to get my breathing under control. Having dealt with that, I allowed myself a quick look at my watch only to discover I was only 36 minutes in! Thankfully, I managed to settle down and the return leg was a little easier.

My intention was to speed T1 up a little (by my standards). I had gone with my tri shorts so that I could wear them for the entire race (previously I had done a full costume change). Somehow, I took longer. It did not help that transition was over 600 metres long: 1,300 athletes were mostly on two rows of racking that stretched along the lakeside. Wrestling with my top, applying sun cream, taking care of my feet and snacking on non-portable foods added up quickly. I did avoid sunburn, though, so probably worth it in the end.

The bike

The bike starts with a beautiful lap of the lake before heading out onto the roads. These were great. They’re not fully closed World Triathlon Leeds. But we did sometimes have a lane coned off, or the roads were quiet, and at almost all of the junctions, they had traffic management stopping cars and giving us priority. I think I only had to stop once at a roundabout and then only for a few seconds. There were a couple of roads where cars were holding me up but it usually kept moving as side roads were closed to stop them from turning.

I was religious with my nutrition and made my way through OTE, Clif, Haribo, Torq gels and several bottles of Lucozade.

The course was fast and flat. Technically, there was one hill in it which briefly maxed out at 11%. But nobody from Yorkshire would describe it as a climb. I spent a lot of time on my aero bars simply because it was more comfortable: the lack of elevation meant I could spin at a reasonably high cadence and protect my lower back.

The discomfort was mostly in my bottom from being sat in the saddle for so long. That and a kind of low-level-pain boredom. Only in full distance can you get to the two-thirds point, 120 kilometres in, and think “only the last little bit to do now” and yet still have two hours of cycling ahead of you. I might need to look at my cleat position, too. It was stressing my plantar fascia and for a nine-kilometre stretch, I unclipped and rode on the flat side of my pedals so I could move more onto the ball of my foot.

I stopped at aid station four just to try and kill the loneliness and take a minute to just not be on the bike anymore before taking on the final leg back to transition. T2 was a much-welcome sight. I took almost as long in T2 as I did in T1 and I have literally no idea how because I can’t really remember it. I didn’t eat anything or change my outfit (other than my shoes) but the time just disappeared.

The run

I walked the first few hundred metres as I ate some crisps and then set off in earnest. Some on-the-run maths suggested that if I ran a 4:17 marathon I could finish in under 13 hours. I had no idea how possible that was. I ran a 4:40 marathon at Yorkshireman but I was on for around 3:40 at Evolve Trio when better rested. I thought if I kept myself roughly in the game we would just see what happened.

What happened was it hurt. A lot. I was somewhere in the 5:30-6:00 range, plus walking the aid stations. I grabbed a High5 energy drink and a slice of orange at each one. My plan was to make it to 20 kilometres before moving onto coke (sweet caffeine) and for once I made it. By that point, I was doing High5 and coke at most of the aid stations as I could feel my calves tightening up.

Around 12 kilometres in my stomach started churning. I found a portapotty but I was so dosed up on Imodium that it didn’t help. I kept running. With it being a two-lap course, I was expecting to spend the first lap being overtaken by faster runners on their way to finishing their second lap. But almost nobody did. Most people were walking. A few were running at a much slower pace than me.

Despite a constant feeling that I was slowing down and that there was no point trying because I would never manage a 4:17 marathon, I kept trying to accept the pain and keep moving in the hope that it would pass. It did not pass but my watch kept saying 6:00 per kilometre and I reached the 32-kilometre mark I at least gained the comfort of “only one more hour of this”.

By this point, I could have potentially done some run-walking. But not much of it and I wanted to allow some time for emergency toilet breaks, the course measuring as longer than 42.2 or any cramp that would force me to slow down. So, I kept pushing knowing that if I got to 40 or 41, the adrenaline would push me through the final 10 minutes.

The finish

They should make the finish chute a kilometre long. A whole day of suffering for a finish that lasts 30 seconds. There were 30 great seconds, though. There was a big crowd cheering me down the line. It is impossible to take it all in. I wish I could freeze that moment in time, or at least remember to pause and walk it, but I was so fatigued, caffeinated and excited that it was difficult to think straight.

You might expect that crossing the finish line is the end of the suffering. But (in my experience) that is not the case in long format racing. If anything, it gets worse. my body stiffens up and it is hard to get up and down. And I just feel ill. It took me two hours to stomach anything and that is a surprisingly quick time frame compared with previous races.

My final time was:

12:50:05

My splits are below. While I am counting this as my fourth full distance triathlon, I compare it to my first in the table below. Both Woolenman and Evolve Trio are more recent but their event format was slightly different so Yorkshireman is the most compatible.

Discipline Outlaw Yorkshireman
Swim 1:37:20 1:59:17
T1 18:05 16:11
Bike 6:31:33 7:31:12
T2 17:00 8:23
Run 4:06:07 4:40:07
Total 12:50:05 14:35:12

That was good enough for a top-half finish: 502 out of 1053. My run split was the 136th fastest. And nearly 200 athletes took even longer than I did in transition 😂.

What’s next? I’m not sure. I have IRONMAN Copenhagen booked but I have also got everything I wanted out of full distance triathlon so not particularly inclined to do another. Time will tell.