Monthly Archives: September 2013

Parkrun PB

I made another jump in my times this weekend when I got a shiny new PB at Leeds Hyde Park parkrun. Not sure if it was just good running, or the fact I spent the whole 5k chasing my younger brother, but I managed to improve my PB from 18:53 to 18:27. That’s a massive jump and, given the interrupted sleep from the smallest child the night before, totally unexpected.

The only real problem is that I am now closer to 18 minutes than 19, so need to knock off another 27 (well, 28) seconds. Need to hit the track again!


Kirkstall Abbey 7

This Sunday I was down for to be doing the Harewood 10k rail race, round the grounds of Harewood house. However, chatting to Adam from Kirkstall Harriers on the Saturday  morning at parkrun (more about that later) I found out that it was the Kirkstall Abbey 7 (well, 6.7, but that doesn’t sound as good), which I’ve done before (under the name of Kirkstall valley rail race) and was much closer to home. With my whole family up for my dad’s 60th the less time spent out of the house the better, so a last minute change was made.

As I’ve said, I have done this race before, waaaaaaay back in 2008 when  was still new at this running thing, but I remembered it being a good one. The morning of the race was unseasonably hot and I wasn’t feeling in too great shape having smashed a quick parkrun the day before, and more importantly, having ruined my legs from hours of bouncing on the bouncy castle we had in the back garden for dad’s 60th. Who knew that a bouncy castle could cause so much pain! (I got off lightly, my sister-in-law gave her self a concussion from all the bouncing!)


The race took off from Kirkstall Abbey, up the A65 and then dropped down onto the Leeds Liverpool canal tow path. A little wooded section next to the River Aire and then back along the canal and down he A65 before finishing at the Abbey. Miles 2-4 were agony, my legs really resenting being made to run after all the bouncing, but the last 2ish miles went well and I managed to overtake all the people who had gone past me as I was struggling.


Finished in a time of 44:29, which was faster than my 54:36 from 2008 (only my 6th ever race) and finished in a position of 24th from 241 finishers. Thinking back I believe that last time out I can 36th(ish) so the quality of the racers has greatly improved over the last 5 years!

The marshalling was friendly and very supportive, and the goodie back at the end included a bottle of Saltaire Brewerys Summer Blonde, which  am looking forward to drinking!

Off Season Building

With the last triathlon of the season behind me it’s time to look at how I can build fitness nad speed over the off season. Things I think I need to work on;

Bike speed; Need to work on keeping a higher average speed, needs lots of concerted efforts at pace and lots of time on the turbo. Need to be looking to average around 40km/h, an increase in 5km/h. Over the last year I went from 30 to 35 km/h  so I’ve already started to head in the right direction.

Swimming; I need to up my speed more. Having asked around a bit it seems the best way to do this is to do more longer sets at speed, something like 3x500m, and then sets of 100, 200, 300, 400, 500m with minimal rest between. It was pointed out that my stamina is there so just doing sets of 1500 isn’t going to really achieve much. Also I need to be able to tumble turn. I used to be able to kind of do it, but recent attempts when at the pool with the family have resulted more in me drowning than a smooth quick turn.

Strength and Conditioning; I need to improve my shoulder flexibility which the exercises the physio have helped with already, and I need to improve my core to get more power through my glutes when on the bike and run.  Yoga has been more consistent of late and I need to keep it up, possibly get to a few proper taught lessons if I can.

Running; I’m getting faster thanks to the help from the coaches as the tri club track sessions and once I get my posture sorted out I should see some great improvements, I hope to get along to a few of the Yorkshire Winter League cross country races this year, having only made it to one in the previous 2 years, So slack.

Bugger it!

The smallest boy’s nursery have just changed the rules about how many days you can attend, meaning his current one day a week would have to be increased to two, something which at present is not financially viable. This does mean that he will be at home all week and my one day off will be no more, What this means is no more Wednesday Big Bike Rides out in the open air, and instead a load more time on the turbo trainer.


Leeds Triathlon – Analysis

So race over, lets have a look at how I fared against my targets and against previous years. First up how did I do against my targets:

time comparisons

Breaking out the green for achieved and red for not lets look at timing differences. OK, so I had a slower swim than I wanted, I had been aiming for a 25:30 swim leg. The time I spent swimming was actually 25:34, but as mentioned I my race report it’s a long old stony run up hill to T1. I think I can say I’m fairly happy with that. Both Transitions and my bike were quicker than y targets, and my run was only a single second slower than target. All in all I think I more or less achieved my targets, and more importunately I beat my target overall time, setting a new course PB. Awesome.  So lets look closer at the respective legs.

time comparisons 2011

The Swim – Yes my swim wasn’t as fast as I had set my target for,


but comparing it to my previous best year in 2011, the weekend before I raced Challenge Henley when I was at possibly the peak combination of fitness and youth, I was only 4 seconds slower. I have been working hard on my swim over the last few weeks, and my time has been coming down (if you ignore my last 2 swim sessions, 26:27, 28:24 wtf) so to actually swim a time consistent with that is satisfying. I must just of had a blinder back in 2011.

The bike – I beat my target time for the bike, and put a nice gap between this year and 2011, but I was a little disappointed with the bike. I know I had a small mechanical issue (losing the big ring) but I should have been, and have been quicker.


I was quicker than my 1:22:41 back in 2011 but given that I was racing along a route I rain over I should have been getting better times. I had my Garmin attached to my bike so I could look at the data once I was finished (I didn’t transfer it for the run as that would have been a time consuming phaff) and it shows that despite giving it my best effort I only managed to set PBs on 4 Strava sections, with 2 2nd best efforts and 3 3rd bests. There are more sections than that, and given that this was a all out race effort I would have hoped for a better return.

bike strava

Still, I did get some PBs and will have to work harder over the winter and early part of next season to make sure I have a more consistent high effort going into it next year. Maybe a power meter might help. When I get a spare grand and a half…


The Run – I often run well at Leeds, and this year was no exception, beating my old PB for the course and coming agonisingly close to my target time, which I had to stretch myself. Hill 60 is a killer and half the battle with the course is forcing your legs to keep going once you crest the hill as it is all too easy to coast round the top and loose time. Hunting down runner after runner really helped as the run, particularly when chasing a time goal is as much of a mental challenge as a physical one,  I did glance at my watch as I left T2 so I had a vague idea on what time I was running, but not enough to know just how much I needed to push t get under target time. Still, missing it by a second, whilst annoying, isn’t too bad. I think next time out I need to have a better grasp on my timings so I now further out how much to push. DOn’t get me wrong, there was no slacking, and on the final 500m ish I gave it the beans, leaving nothing on the course, but maybe if I kicked a half step earlier… shoulda, woulda, coulda.

Transitions – As with all transitions you get your spot and have to make the most of it, only a matter of seconds in it either way across all the times I’ve done this race, but t does give me an excuse for another pretty graph.


Where did I come in relation to the rest of the competitors though? Overall I came 25th from a field of 296, and 3rd in my AG, highest ever finish and best result in AG. The winner, Stephen Scofield won in a time of 02:07:03, a pretty solid time!  For the swim I came 56th and 46th for the bike. I had the 10th fastest run split of the day, good to know all the time on at the track on a Thursday evening has paid off, and as mentioned previously I was not overtaken on the run for the first time. I was beaten by one relay team (cheats! do the whole thing 🙂 ) and didn’t get chicked. I was the 4th finisher from Leeds Bradford Tri Club. Nice.


Summing up, I beat or got close to 2 of my target times, and my swim was what I had hoped for with regards to my in the water time. I was faster overall but still not happy with my bike or swim performances. I need to do much more structured training on the turbo/roads and in the pool over the winter months, and try and find some time to get to some coached pool sessions with the club.

The biggest fail of the whole race though was on the target set by my younger, less handsome brother who came third last year;

‘You better come third or higher. Don’t let me down.’

I feel like the whole day was a failure…

Leeds Triathlon – Report

So the fears of bad weather were unfounded, though the short ride up to the park left me with frozen fingers, and a sense that the bike could be a really cold one.

I arrived with plenty of time to find my spot, set my gear up and double check that I knew where the transition ins and out were, and the quickest way to get through transition. With that done there was still time to chat to a couple of friends and other members of the tri club, before putting the wetsuit half on and wondering down to the watch the first couple of swim waves set off.

Time for me to enter the water. Knocking back a gel as I entered the holding pen to be counted safely into the water I realised how cold my wet were, having been standing in the dewy grass barefoot for the last 30 minutes, but as I entered the water it was almost tropically warm compared the the outside air temp, and a quick pee got everything nicely warmed up. I wasn’t in the water long before the air horn went and my yellow hatted wave were off. I’d gotten faily near the front of my wave and as we powered forward to the first buoy and turning  point I managed to get a reasonable start, and then find some feet to set on whilst the thrashing around me really got going. Only one person tried to swim on me, but a little extra enthusiastic kicking and arm waving (I believe the pros call it ‘swimming faster’) and they were behind me. The course is a bit of an ‘L’ shape;

leeds swim

Sighting is important here as you don’t want to be heading towards the wrong buoy and lengthening your swim. My sighting is generally quite good and I was able to hit the buoys dead on. Heading north after the first turn I was able to catch a glance behind and see a see of yellow swim caps behind me, and not too many in front, this was looking like it might turn out to be a reasonable swim. The one difficulty with this swim is that as it’s quite late in the year and early in the morning the sun is still low in the sky when the swim starts which can make seeing difficult. Fortunately after one bad swim a couple of years back where I couldn’t see anything and had to wait for someone to overtake me for me to follow them I have always swum in smoked goggles. This made things a little easier but I was glad when I got towards turn 2 and was shaded by the trees surrounding the lake. It was a simple swim to the final turn along the fr edge of the lake, again finding feet to latch onto and get a little draft, my arms still feeling fresh, through my legs were feeling slightly tired. Again a nice direct line and a tight turn round the buoy and I was heading back to the swim exit, by this point I was having to swim round some of the swimmers from the previous swim wave. Round the stragglers of wave 2 and I was at the jetty and exiting the water, a quick check of the watch showed a swim time of 25:34, but the official swim time wouldn’t stop until I made the long slog up the hill to T1. A  wave to my family who were there to see the swim and I was off to T1.

The run from swim exit to T1 is the only part of the whole event I’m not keen on. the first part is on a stony, muddy path, then its on rough, rough concrete, and then over twig and stone covered grass, and is quite a long run up hill. I know they can’t do anything about the distance, but some blue matting to stop your feet getting torn to shreds would be nice!

T1 went well, glass on, number belt on (unlike last tear where I was out of T1 before I realised I’d forgotten it!), helmet on grab bike and off. One area where I do need to improve is my bike mounting, as it feels a little stop start, especially compared to some of the cracking flying mounts that were going on around me, maybe something to practice in the off season. Along the south edge of the lake and I was out onto the roads, feet in shoes (elastic bands having done the trick) without too much bother and gunning it.

The bike course, out past Weatherby, back and then through Wike is largely the route I train on, so I know it well, all the lumps, bumps, turns, patches of bone juddering poor surface and more importantly where the headwinds normally are.

leeds bike

It was bloody cold to start with. Through the sun was doing it’s best to warm everything up the first half hour on the bike was a struggle to keep my fingers from falling off due to the cold, only exacerbated by how quickly I was going (or thought I was) There is a drag uphill within the first couple of miles and this did help to get things warmed up a little. I pushed as hard as I could on the bike with not many people passing me, and those which did all looked like serious athletes on expensive bikes, with me blitzing past those from earlier waves. It wasn’t too long before I had reached the turn around point at the Bridge Inn and was heading back, time fora gel. The return leg was good, and not a sign of the headwind I have often done battle with, I didn’t get held up at the Weatherby roundabout, and only slowed a little by traffic stuck behind other cyclist. Not to worry, take it easy and hammer it when I get better road conditions. The route back take a turn at Collingham and up into Wike, which the much lumpier, and has several short, sharp hills which really do punish the legs. The old bike course for Leeds Triathlon used to do three laps round these roads and I was once again glad that the slightly longer, yet much fatter new course was being used. I really wish I’d done more work round these hills as my legs were feeling it, still pushing on, very taking many, being overtaken by a few. I have never been too worried at being overtaken on the bike, through with more work I will, as my run is the strongest element and I know I can hunt down these who have passed me with relative ease. Coming to the end of the hilly bits of Wike and starting to head back towards the park and T2 I had a bike issue. The gearing cable for my crank had come loose and I was stuck in the small chain ring. I had noticed that the gear leaver needed to be moved more and more to get into the big ring but it finally went. Fortunately there wasn’t far to go, and even better I wasn’t stuck in the big ring with those hills still to climb. Still it did mean that on the remaining flat/downhill sections I couldn’t push as fast as I wanted to. Then into the dead zone. Having to cross through two sets of busy traffic lights and with a massive downhill section (which has been relaid recently, a good job as it was down right scary before) this was a change to rest the legs a little and get another gel down. Nice and easy through before powering back into the park and towards T2.

I’ve always been wary of the approach the T2 in Roundhay park as there are often people the with dogs who seem oblivious to the goings on and wonder around not really paying attention. I know they are public paths and we have no more right to use them than anyone else, but sometimes you have to wonder about peoples self preservation skills and ability to know their surroundings. The other reason is due to the surface of the path where the dismount line is. On my first time at Leeds I was coming into T2 with someone just ahead. I was out of my shoes ready for a flying dismount when the person in front unclipped and jumped off their bike. their cleats slid, as did they going  one way with theri bike flying right in front of me, meaning I had to drop my bike and leap over theirs. This bent the drop bars on my bike, and where I landed barefooted on the concrete path, tore the soles of my feet to shreds. Ouch.

This time no such issue, I was in about out of transition in a flash, having dropped my bike and grabbed my water and gel, donned my shoes and turned my race number to the front in a quick, well practised manner. Still couldn’t feel my feet through, so I had to assume that my shoes were on well enough.

The three lap run course is a little tough, with Hill 60 being climbed three times.

leeds run

Going round Soldiers Field does give you a good clear view of the other people on the run and plenty of opportunity to set your targets on someone and then chase them down, before a fast decent past Mansion House before either finishing or doing your other laps. My run went well, and although I didn’t feel fast (never do on the run!) I was passing more and more people, and seemingly speeding up. I saw a friend who cheered me on three times and took, what for me counts as a decent race photo, thank you G!

toms run

2 laps done and the third lap was feeling hard, but again I set my sights on running down the people in front until it was time to kick for the like over the last 500m or so, made easier by being able to see the finish from the top of the park and it being nearly all down hill. The final run in is down hill and I hammered it home, overtaking one last person before I crossed the line and collapsed into a sweaty heap. Announced over the line as 2:30:21. Bugger.

I had set my goal time of sub 2:30 (standard) with a more specific time of 2:28:20. Oh well, I tried my best and didn’t have the greatest bike. We’ll see what the official time is when they take out the dead zone.

Time to gather my gear and head home having cheered home three friends who I knew would be racing. All who did well, especial Neil in 2:44 for his first Olympic Distance race. Good Job all round chaps.

Normally they have an events service where you can print out your race results more or less as you finish, which was not there this year. However late that afternoon I got an email confirming my times as:

Swim 00:27:10
T1 00:01:10
Bike 01:24:34
T2 00:00:41
Run 00:36:46
Total 02:27:04

So I made it under my target goal. My run time was fast, my bike OK and my swim kind of what I’d been hoping for in the water. Still think I can go quicker though.

Xtramile have done this race for 5 years now and it is always very well run, as are the other races I have done with them (well OK it’s on the Leeds Xpress) and I know I will be returning next year. It would seem silly to do such a well run, fun race which is so close to home. And I need to beat this years time as well!

Leeds Triathlon – Results lite

My first thoughts were ‘well, that was ok’. A little disappointed initially as I clocked a 2:30:34 by my watch but then I got the official results emailed which included the bike time with the dead zone time removed.

Swim 00:27:10
T1 00:01:10
Bike 01:24:34
T2 00:00:41
Run 00:36:46
Total 02:27:04

PB for the course, 25th overall, 3rd in AG and no one passed me on the run. Not bad.