About the Event

The event comprises:

- Swim 750 m (in the cold water of Hartlepool Marina!)

- Cycle ~20 km (from Hartlepool Marina to Seaton Carew 3 times)

- Run 5 km (around the Marina)


I did the swim by myself with Benjamin supervising from the shore.

For the Cycle, we used our special tandem - a Hase Pino. I aspire to Benjamin helping with the pedalling, but he rarely does, unless I am trying to stay still and talk to someone!

For the run we used Benjamin's cross country wheelchair - an Advance Mobility Freedom chair.


Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Big Lime Triathlon Race Report

Final summary of our Big Lime Triathlon on Sunday now I have photos of the run part.

We had the best weather we could have hoped for - quite warm and sunny with no wind or rain - perfect!

This is how it went....(The boring comparison of times against what we had hoped to do is here).

Alarm at 04:50 for a breakfast of a big bowl of porridge to build up the energy reserves.

Laura and I cycled down to the start for 0630 to register and set up.  We spoke to the race referee, who allocated us a nice corner of the transition area because the tandem is much bigger than a normal bike, so would have stuck out into the gangway, and we have the wheelchair to contend with.

Sandie and Benjamin came down by car just before the start and Benjamin enjoyed preparing for the race on the Wingfield Castle paddle steamer.













I went down to the dock for a little dip to acclimatise while Benjamin warmed up a bit more.












Swim
  • The swim was surprisingly pleasant.  
  • I started from as near to the back as I could manage - there was a bit of competition for that starting position!
  • The water was a bit cooler than a couple of weeks ago (15 degC compared to 16 degC last time), but it was not bad - I had got used to it after about 100 m.
  • The fast swimmers all disappeared off into the distance and I was with the breaststroke swimmers and the slower front crawlers.
  • The shocking thing was that I was passing people.  (I can't promise I am in this photo, but you get the idea of what it was like!)
  • At one point I passed someone who was struggling a bit so I told him to slow down a bit and concentrate on breathing.   You would almost have thought I knew something about open water swimming.....2 practices and a third of a race make all the difference....
  • The rest of it was nice and steady - overtook a few more and then caught up to some going about the same pace as me, so I just paddled onto the slipway and jogged off to find the tandem.
Transition 1
  • The first transition was never going to be fast for us - as well as me getting out of the wetsuit (getting it over the timing chip on my ankle was difficult), and getting my cycle top over my damp back, we had to find Benjamin and get him on.    Should have worn my cycle top under the wetsuit to make it easier....
  • I thought the mount point was going to be quite a way out of the transition area, so I had agreed to meet Sandie and Laura with Benjamin up on the road out of the way.   As it happened the mount line was quite close, so I could have put Benjamin into the tandem in transition.  Not to worry!
Cycle
We'd go really fast if Benjamin pedalled!
  • We didn't do as well on the cycle as I had  hoped - we were overtaken by more people than we overtook (I think - hard to tell because the fast cyclists lapped us!).
  • The other competitors were really great though and shouted encouragement as they whizzed by!
  • I think I was a bit worried about running out of energy and did not really go as hard on the bike as I could have.  We averaged 23.5 km/hr, which was better than last weekend, but the conditions were perfect and I think we could have gone faster.  I suspect I  had  got into a 'we are not chasing anyone down so we'll just tootle along and wave to the marshals and spectators' frame of mind...It made it more fun though!
  • Was quite thirsty on the ride, and I had to slow down a lot to drink out of a bottle without becoming unstable - may have to go for a back-pack drink carrier for next time.
Transition 2
  • I don't remember much of the cycle to run transition - must have been delirious by then....
  • We stopped the tandem at the dismount line and I wheeled the tandem with Benjamin in it into transition.
  • Sandie helped Benjamin into the wheelchair.
  • Benjamin started his mars bar treat to fuel him while I got into my running shoes - the velcro cycling shoes and elastic laces on my running shoes made this nice and easy.
  • Benjamin was still eating a third of the way around the first lap...

Run

Benjamin on the home straight!
  • The run felt hard....but it was four small laps, which meant we went through the spectators quite a few times, and they all shouted encouragement, which Benjamin liked and it did encourage me to keep the pressure on.
  • The surprising thing was that for all it felt hard, and I didn't feel like I was going very fast, we were overtaking quite a lot of competitors.
  • My guess is that because we had not done particularly well in the swim or cycle, we were well down the field, and we were among the competitors who were struggling most, and running comes more naturally to me than the other disciplines.  Also, we were quite well back and I think we were un-lapping ourselves rather than overtaking them as such.
  • I did feel quite bad about overtaking people pushing Benjamin - being overtaken is one thing, but overtaken by a wheelchair must be a bit disheartening, but everyone was really good and encouraged us on as we went by.
  • With a couple of hundred metres to go to the finish we abandoned the wheelchair so Benjamin could finish the race under his own steam - he enjoyed approaching the finish with the crowd cheering.
Overall
  • A really enjoyable morning - I was really pleased that Benjamin liked it, which was helped immensely by the good weather.  Benjamin even looked at his medal!
  • I always say that I don't enjoy doing sport, I just enjoy having done it, but this one was fun even during.   This is probably a sign that I was not trying quite hard enough, or I was too delirious to realise how much it hurt!
  • The organisation was great, and Gemma from Hartlepool Council made a good job of making it happen, and making sure that Benjamin and I had a bit of special treatment off the referees so we didn't get disqualified.
  • The help from Sandie and Laura looking after Benjamin made it possible for us to do it - thank you!
  • And we raised several hundred pounds for the Hartlepool Special Needs Support Group which is a bonus.  

So now I am wondering what to enter next - people said that open water swimming is addictive, and I think they are right!

Monday, 23 September 2013

Triathlon Performance Analysis - Comparison to Expectations

In my Expectations Management post, I said what our time budget was for the various parts of the race. I thought I ought to compare them to what actually happened....

I have corrected some of the times because the course was a different length than I expected in some places - the swim was ~720m compared to 750, and the cycle was about 16.3 km rather than 20 km. On the other hand the run was 5.6 km rather than 5 km (cycle and run lengths according to my gps watch).
The results of the race are published on the Hartlepool Council web site.

PhaseMy BudgetMy Optimistic ViewActual Corrected
Swim30 min 20 min 16:06 16:46
Cycle60 min 50 min 43:41 53:36
Run30 min 20 min 27:21 24:25
Total120 min90 min 1:31:5295+5 (transition)
=100 min

So once I have corrected the times for the slightly different race distances, the cycle and run were both mid way between my budget and 'optimistic view' (so maybe I couldn't have done the cycle much quicker after all - I guess the tandem and Benjamin is a lot heavier than the bikes most people were using, and I don't like to go too fast in case it goes unstable...).   The surprising one was the swim being faster than my optimistic view.   I think that is down to Laura helping pace me up and down the pool so much.

Our finishing position was 142 out of 158 starters which is what I would have expected when we set out.  I was surprised it was not higher after the run because we were overtaking quite a lot of people, but I think we were un-lapping ourselves rather than really overtaking them.    So I am quite pleased that our timing was in line with our earlier 'Expectations Management'!.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Initial Race Report

Hartlepool Big Lime Triathlon race day today!   We had the best weather we could have hoped for - quite warm and sunny with no wind or rain - perfect!

I don't have photos of the run, which my Mam and Dad took, so I'll update this later, but this is how it went....


Laura and I cycled down to the start for 0630 to register and set up.  We spoke to the race referee, who allocated us a nice corner of the transition area because the tandem is much bigger than a normal bike, so would have stuck out into the gangway, and we have he wheelchair to contend with.

Sandie and Benjamin came down by car just before the start and Benjamin enjoyed preparing for the race on the Wingfield Castle paddle steamer.













I went down to the dock for a little dip to acclimatise while Benjamin warmed up a bit more.












Swim
  • The swim was surprisingly pleasant.  
  • I started from as near to the back as I could manage - there was a bit of competition for that starting position!
  • The water was a bit cooler than a couple of weeks ago (15degC compared to 16degC last time), but it was not bad - I had got used to it after about 100m.
  • The shocking thing was that I was passing people.   The fast swimmers all disappeared off into the distance and I was with the breaststroke swimmers and the slower front crawlers.
  • At one point I passed someone who was struggling a bit so I told him to slow down a bit and concentrate on breathing.   You would almost have thought I knew something about open water swimming.....2 practices and a third of a race make all the difference....
  • The rest of it was nice and steady - overtook a few more and then caught up to some going about the same pace as me, so I just paddled onto the slipway and jogged off to find the tandem.
Transition 1
  • The first transition was never going to be fast for us - as well as me getting out of the wetsuit (getting it over the timing chip on my ankle was difficult), and getting my cycle top over my damp back, we had to find Benjamin and get him on.    Should have worn my cycle top under the wetsuit to make it easier....
  • I thought the mount point was going to be quite a way out of the transition area, so I had agreed to meet Sandie and Laura with Benjamin up on the road out of the way.   As it happened the mount line was quite close, so I could have put Benjamin into the tandem in transition.  Not to worry!
Cycle
  • We didn't do as well on the cycle as I had hoped - we were overtaken by more people than we overtook (I think - hard to tell because the fast cyclists lapped us!).
  • The other competitors were really great though and shouted encouragement as they whizzed by!
  • I think I was a bit worried about running out of energy and did not really go as hard on the bike as I could have.  We averaged 23.5 km/hr, which was better than last weekend, but the conditions were perfect and I think we could have gone faster.  I suspect I had got into a 'we are not chasing anyone down so we'll just tootle along and wave to the marshals and spectators' frame of mind...It made it more fun though!
  • Was quite thirsty on the ride, and I had to slow down a lot to drink out of a bottle without becoming unstable - may have to go for a back-pack drink carrier for next time.
Transition 2
  • I don't remember much of the cycle to run transition - must have been delirious by then....
  • We stopped the tandem at the dismount line and I wheeled the tandem with Benjamin in it into transition.
  • Sandie helped Benjamin into the wheelchair.
  • Benjamin started his mars bar treat to fuel him while I got into my running shoes - the velcro cycling shoes and elastic laces on my running shoes made this nice and easy.

Run

  • The run felt hard....but it was four small laps, which meant we went through the spectators quite a few times, and they all shouted encouragement, which Benjamin liked and it did encourage me to keep the pressure on.
  • The surprising thing was that for all it felt hard, and I didn't feel like I was going very fast, we were overtaking quite a lot of competitors.
  • My guess is that because we had not done particularly well in the swim or cycle, we were well down the field, and we were among the competitors who were struggling most, and running comes more naturally to me than the other disciplines.
  • I did feel quite bad about overtaking people pushing Benjamin - being overtaken is one thing, but overtaken by a wheelchair must be a bit disheartening, but everyone was really good and encouraged us on as we went by.
  • With a couple of hundred metres to go to the finish we abandoned the wheelchair so Benjamin could finish the race under his own steam - he enjoyed approaching the finish with the crowd cheering.
Overall
  • A really enjoyable morning - I was really pleased that Benjamin liked it, which was helped immensely by the good weather.
  • I always say that I don't enjoy doing sport, I just enjoy having done it, but this one was fun even during.   This is probably a sign that I was not trying quite hard enough, or I was too delirious to realise how much it hurt!
  • The organisation was great, and Gemma from Hartlepool Council made a good job of making it happen, and making sure that Benjamin and I had a bit of special treatment off the referees so we didn't get disqualified.
  • The help from Sandie and Laura looking after Benjamin made it possible for us to do it - thank you!
  • And we raised several hundred pounds for the Hartlepool Special Needs Support Group which is a bonus.  

So now I am wondering what to enter next - people said that open water swimming is addictive, and I think they are right!

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Triathlon Tactics

Just in case I forget, the tactics we are adopting for the Triathlon are:

  • Swim:  Start at the back, go nice and steady for the first half, then think about speeding up in the second half if I feel up to it.   I won't be too surprised if there is some competition for starting at the back.....The objective is to survive this part of the race and not worry about time - I'm not good enough for that.
  • Cycle:  Once we get going (I think the transition will be slow to get Benjamin into the tandem and get the tandem to the mount line), go hard all the way - nice and simple that way - no thinking required!
  • Run:  See what we have got left.  I'll keep an emergency energy gel for the last lap on the bike so we should have something left, and at least it is only 5k - I can crawl that if necessary!   The plan is to get Benjamin out of his wheelchair for the last couple of hundred metres so he can finish himself - he might have to push me by then!
No problem!   Don't tell the opposition our tactics though!

Triathlon Preparations

Well, the Triathlon is tomorrow, so we have been doing some final preparations.
No exercise now - we are concentrating on the resting and eating part of preparation, and I think this is an aspect of sport that we are particularly good at.....

I had double jacket potato with my tea and am having pasta for supper to build me up.   Thought I should maybe avoid beer though...

It is going to be an early start in the morning - alarm at 04:50 for breakfast at 0500 to give me time to digest it before the 0800 kick off, so I thought I should pack everything up tonight ready, because my brain may not work at that time of the morning.

I haven't packed the cycling kit because the plan is that I will cycle down to the docks on the tandem to register early, then Sandie will bring Benjamin down in the car just before the start.  So what I have in by bag is:

  1. Bottles of drink
  2. A few energy gells
  3. Some sliced mars bars for Benjamin
  4. Wetsuit
  5. Nylon t-shirt for under the wetsuit.
  6. Towel
  7. Sports watch.
  8. Number belt and safety pins.
  9. Running socks.
  10. Running shoes with elastic laces.
  11. Emergency £20 note in case we run out of oomph and have to stop at the pub (pity it starts at 0800 on a Sunday - we will have a long time to wait).
  12. I will have my cycling top, cycling shorts and cycling shoes on for the ride down.
Sandie is bringing a bag of extra clothes down in the car when she brings Benjamin and the wheelchair.

So, I think we are all ready.  Best of all, the weather forecast for tomorrow is good, so Benjamin will enjoy it - it would have been a bit of an ordeal for him if it was raining - phew!

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Energy Requirements

Sorry, but the physicist in me wants to do sums.  Here is a quick go at calculating the total energy requirements for the Sprint (half Olympic distance) triathlon.

Assumptions
  • Swim pace is 1000m in 22 min, which is what I have been doing in the pool.
  • Cycle energy requirement is as per my heart rate monitor results (891 kCal, 3.7 MJ)
  • Run pace is about 7 minute miles.  I add the energy for me running to the equivalent for propelling the wheelchair, which I will assume is a bike for now.
Swim
1000m in 22 min is 2.7 km/hr, which is about 45 m/min.  The calculator at http://www.brianmac.co.uk/energyexp.htm suggests that this should only use about 140 kCal (0.6 MJ)
I have a bit of trouble believing this - maybe that is true for someone with good swimming technique, but I think I do it very inefficiently.

Bike
I did some calculations here: http://team-bee.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/a-second-final-bike-practice-and.html, and came to the conclusion that the bike energy requirements are about 891 kCal (3.7 MJ)

Run
My hoped for 7 min/mile pace is 13.7 km/hr.  The calculator at  http://www.brianmac.co.uk/energyexp.htm suggests that the run will need about 300 kCal (1.3 MJ).
There is something to add for the wheelchair - using http://www.gribble.org/cycling/power_v_speed.html suggests that about 20 W would be appropriate, which would be about 0.02 MJ.  I think that that calculator calculates work done.  If I am only 20% efficient, this would mean that I would need to consume 0.1 MJ to deliver that work.
This gives a total for the run of 1.4 MJ.

Total

  • Swim - 0.6 MJ
  • Cycle - 3.7 MJ
  • Run - 1.4 MJ
  • Total - 5.7 MJ
I am quite surprised that it appears that the cycle is so energy intensive compared to the swim and the run.  I suppose it will take over twice the time of each of the other activities, which could account for it, but I thought the event may have been designed to balance the disciplines more.   It could be that I have used inconsistent calculation methods - maybe the heart rate method for the cycle is over-estimating compared to the theoretical methods for the cycle and run.   I think I may become a sport performance geek next.....

Summary
Using my new proposed SI unit of energy, the Mars Bar, the calculated energy requirement of 5.7 MJ equates to about 5 Mars Bars, which is quite a lot of stodge to eat!

A Second 'Final' Bike Practice, and thoughts on Energy Balance

We did our 'Final' bike practice yesterday because the weather forecast for this morning was so awful.
 But, by 9am it was brightening up, so I thought we should take the opportunity for a bit more training.

We did our usual (slightly extended triathlon course) - Hartlepool Marina to Seaton Carew and back, three times.

But although it had stopped raining, it was very windy - not sure what the actual wind speed was, but looking at the forecast it is likely to be over 15 mph, so would be ~20 km/hr.   It was South-Westerly, so it was between a head and a cross wind going down the sea front towards Seaton Carew.

It was very hard work.  Even Laura was struggling and was quite happy to tuck in behind my wheel - yesterday she had to stop and wait for us a couple of times.   She was pretty had-it when we finished this time.  It was the slowest we have done this route - it took us 70 min, which is over our 60 min target.

But how much energy did it use?  Ridewithgps.com says 418 kCal (=1756 KJ, or just over 1.5 Mars Bars).   My Heart Rate Monitor said 823 kCal (=3457 KJ, or over 3 Mars Bars).   I am minded to believe the Heart rate as being more realistic, because the GPS analysis does not know anything about the wind resistance, or that I am pushing Benjamin along too.

The similar analysis for yesterday's ride from the Heart Rate was 3700 KJ - which suggests that I used less energy today than I did yesterday.  I suspect this is a mental issue - we gave up on the idea of riding to a pace when we realised how strong the head wind was, so our first and second laps were maybe not done as hard as they could have been - I was saving energy to make sure we got around the last one.  We also paused for 30 sec or so to re-fuel Laura on the second lap .   An energy gell on the second lap may have helped the final lap too....So, for all today's ride felt like it hurt more, I may not have worked as hard as I did yesterday, it just doesn't feel like that!

I hope we have better weather for the race.  My preference for weather would be:

  1. Cool, no wind, no rain.
  2. Windy (I don't like the wind as shown above, but Benjamin doesn't mind)
  3. Raining (Benjamin does not like the rain - he sits with his head in his hands and waits for it to be over, so it would not make it a fun event for him).
We'll see on Sunday.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Final Bike Practice - What to eat?



We went down to do the Triathlon cycle course this morning,
because the weather forecast for tomorrow is awful, and Benjamin does not like the rain.
There was a northerly breeze, which seemed to get stronger on each lap, which means the return leg of each lap was a serious struggle.
We did the 22 km in just over 60 minutes - average 22 km/hr.   Not quite the 25 km/hr I would like to do, but it's ok - I keep reminding myself that the target of doing this with Benjamin is to complete it, not to be competitive, but I keep getting 'go faster' thoughts.

I did an experiment and did not eat during the ride - just a negligible
energy drink to stop me turning into a prune.  I think I was starting to run out of oompf on the last return leg, but it was not bad - I suspect that not eating will encourage the muscles to store more glycogen, but I haven't checked if this is true or not.   Will definitely need to eat for the race.

Ridewithgps.com says I used 430 calories (I am sure it means kcal, not cal), but it doesn't know I was pedalling the equivalent of a 70 kg bike into the wind, so it should underestimate.
I got a cheap heart rate monitor from tesco a couple of weeks ago.  It said my average heart rate was about 155 bpm, and says I used 891 kcal.   I guess heart rate should be a reasonable approximation to power output - I must read up how this works.

So now I must do some sums and decide what I need to eat to keep going at full power  891 kcal is 3.7 MJ, or over 3 Mars bars.   I'll have to try to calculate how much energy  I use in the swim.   Sounds like a job for a rainy afternoon tomorrow!

Friday, 13 September 2013

Bit more swimming

Back to the pool after tea - We ran down to the pool then Laura paced me over 1000 m.   It took 22 min, which is a little longer than I would like, but I was concentrating on nice long steady strokes to avoid running out of oompf.
Tried a quick change back into running clothes - surprisingly difficult to get a t-shirt on when damp, but my snazzy new elastic laces worked ok - the shoes can be pulled on and tightened very quickly, and were still comfortable to run in.
I have given up running now until the race - I am getting too paranoid about injuring myself - I will concentrate on the resting and eating part of preparation, which is one of my favourite bits....

Monday, 9 September 2013

Another Cycle Practice

Had another go at the triathlon cycle course on Sunday.  A bit breezy, but not too bad.   Averaged 22 km/hr.  I'd like to do it a bit quicker, but that will have to do.   It is quite hard work and the challenge is going to be to eat enough to keep me going - more about that later.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Try-a-Tri

I went on the Try-a-Tri event that the local authority had organised to help with preparation for the triathlon.   I went by myself because it is not really Benjamin's sort of thing.
In the morning the coaches went through a few triathlon techniques such as:

  • Basic running training (just like old times - strides, high knee lifts etc. hadn't done that sort of thing for ages.)
  • Core body strength exercises (these felt like they were doing a lot of good - I may not be able to move in the morning!).
  • Transition skills (how to prepare your kit, and run with a bike)
  • Cycling (bike control, getting on and off without crashing - remember to un-clip from your pedals...).
In the afternoon we did the part that I was particularly keen on - a dip-in-the-dock (sorry, open water swimming practice).  This went much better than the dip-in-the-sea last weekend:
  • The water temperature was higher than the sea, so I didn't suffer the thermal shock problem - it wasn't too unpleasant at all!
  • No waves!
  • I jointed the novice swimmers, as I am rubbish at swimming.  The coach helped us be confident that it was very difficult to drown in a wet suit by asking us to sit on the bottom of the dock.   I didn't make it all the way down, but when I opened my eyes there were a few jellyfish floating past - it was very good - just like the sea life centre!
  • It was hard to judge how the swim went because we did lots of short ones rather than just a slog around the 750m course, but it wasn't bad - the front crawlers were faster than me, but I don't think I was the slowest, which is encouraging.
So, a very good, well organised day.   Thanks to Hartlepool Council for organising it!

Friday, 6 September 2013

Expectations Management

I am a bit concerned that some people are under the misguided impression that we may do well in this event, so here is a bit of expectations management!
Here I have compared my time budget and more optimistic view of the possibilities against the fastest and slowest competitors in the recent Redcar Triathlon, which is the same distance (http://www.trihard.co.uk/Results/Redcar%20Prov%20Results%202013.xls).

PhaseMy BudgetMy Optimistic ViewRedcar Tri fastestRedcar Tri slowest
Swim30 min 20 min8 min22 min
Cycle60 min 50 min32 min55 min
Run30 min 20 min17 min43 min (outlier - others at 36 min)
Total120 min90 min57 min120 min (113 min)

So you can see, Sharon (and one or two others!), my challenge is to see if  I can avoid being last in this event - not to do well!

Sunday, 1 September 2013

A bit more cycle practice


videoBack in our comfort zone this morning - another crack at the Triathlon cycle course.  The difference today was that there was a bit of a stiff breeze, and more importantly there was an event on the sea front that meant there were a lot of dog walkers on the cycle path.
I don't mind sharing the path with pedestrians - they have as much right to use it as me, but I was starting to loose my sense of humour with the number that liked to walk 5 abreast and expected me to squeeze past them - this meant lots of slowing down and accelerating, which takes it out of you when the combined weight of the tandem and Benjamin is about 70 kg - makes it rather a heavy bike!

We gave up with the cycle path after the half way point and used the road.  It was just as well because we found that the road has some hills that the cycle path bypasses (well, small undulations really, but it makes a difference with a 70 kg bike....)
Anyway, this is all just an excuse for us being slower than last time - it took us about 64 minutes (against our budget of 60 mins), and I was feeling a bit worn out after it - will have to work on my eating....
Benjamin enjoyed the ride though!

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Cold Water Swimming 1

Although I have lived by the sea most of my life, I have never had the urge to get into it, but I thought I should try out the new wetsuit and learn to swim in cold water.   This morning, Sandie, Laura and Benjamin took me down to the beach to learn to swim...That is, Seaton Carew beach in North East England - the North Sea....
The wetsuit was good at protecting the  body, arms and legs, but the extremities still suffered with the cold.   I first noticed that agonising feeling of cold water on the hands, then when they had acclimatised, the back of my neck got it, before finally my forehead when I started to swim properly.
It was quite a lot harder than I expected to start with, but once I was used to it I got better, and towards the end I was managing something like my swimming pool swim technique.
Sandie thinks I did about 800m and it will have taken about 25 min.
I definitely need to practice this a bit so that I can just get in and swim - it took 3 attempts to get going this morning, which is not good for a race!
Benjamin enjoyed the beach though...


video

Friday, 30 August 2013

What to Wear?

As someone that normally steers well clear of cold water, I don't have a handy wetsuit in the wardrobe, so what to wear for the Triathlon swim?
Everything I have read says that you need a special swimming wetsuit that will keep you warm, but is flexible enough to swim, and also has a smooth surface to reduce friction.
But these are quite expensive for what is probably going to be a one-off event for me.   I could hire one, but then realised that Amazon has a mega special offer on a 'normal' one that makes it about half the price of hiring a good one.
So I have bought a very cheap 'normal' wetsuit (for <£19!) to see what that is like - if it proves impossible to swim in, I will hire a good one.

The wetsuit arrived this morning and I was pleasantly surprised - I managed to put it on, and I can imagine swimming in it - I think the limiting thing for the swim will be my poor technique rather than poor equipment!   Even tested it by getting into a bath of cold water.  I can't say that it was pleasant, but I could lie in it without feeling like I was getting hypothermia.

Will try it out in Hartlepool Bay on Saturday morning......

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Cycle and Run 1

Had our first go at doing the 20 km cycle ride, then trying to run....
video
video

Cycle went ok - less wind than on Sunday so not so much difference between the outward and return legs as can be seen on the ridewithgps analysis.

Averaged over 21 km/hr, and we covered more than the race distance (22 km rather than 20 km), in about 1 hour, which is ok by me.

Forgot to take my gps logger off the bike and take it with us on the run, so no detailed analysis.

The run did not feel as bad as I had expected - we did one lap of the course (~2.5 km) in ~15 min. This is over 9 min/mile pace, which is probably why it felt quite easy.

Benjamin is less confident in going fast in the wheelchair than he is the tandem (especially on bumpy ground - he doesn't trust me!), so I might have to limit how hard we push the run anyway.



Monday, 26 August 2013

Learning to Swim 4

After Laura pointed out that my breaststroke is faster than my front crawl, I have abandoned the idea of learning front crawl for the race.
Went to the swimming pool this morning for another 1000 m practice, with Laura pace making.

Not too bad - pool quiet so no excuses there, and managed the 1000 m in 22 min, which would be the equivalent of under 17 min for the 750 m race (on a like for like basis).

Of course the race will be in cold water wearing a wetsuit, so I will keep my estimate of 30 min for the swim for now, and treat anything less than that as a pleasant surprise!

Sunday, 25 August 2013

What to Eat?

I have done a few calculations on the energy requirements of the cycle part of the triathlon.   It is a flat 20 km cycle ride.   The main thing is that I am pedalling both myself (65 kg), Benjamin (45 kg) and the Hase Pino tandem (25 kg) - 135 kg in total - quite a weight.  Also as the Pino does not handle well in tight turns, and we will have to stop at a couple of junctions, I think we will have to stop and then accelerate back up to speed about 15 times in the race.

Someone else has kindly worked out the maths to save me the problem, and suggested some default settings for drag coefficient etc. (http://www.gribble.org/cycling/power_v_speed.html).

I used that to determine that the power requirement for us doing ~25 km/hr will be around 115 W, giving a total energy requirement for the 20 km race of ~330 kJ.    Accelerating up to 25 km/hr 15 times will need another ~49 kJ, giving a total energy requirement of ~380 kJ.   This does not sound much (90 kcal for those who like old units).

But, that is the work done by the rider (er...me!), who is not that efficient.  Stanford University says ~20% (http://large.stanford.edu/courses/2011/ph240/maher1/), which means that to deliver 380 kJ, I will have to consume 1900 kJ, which is ~450 kcal.

To calibrate this, 1900 kJ is nearly 2 Mars Bars (1095 kJ each), so I will need to eat quite a lot to maintain energy balance.

The calculations are available here.

The things left to do are:

  • Do this calculation for the swim and the run.
  • Estimate how much stored energy I have before I hit 'the wall', so I know how much to eat during the race - I know that after about 2 hours of exercise without eating (running or cycling) I run out of oomph, so this will probably do for a calibration.
Update to follow.....

Cycle Course Practice

Rather than our usual leisurely Sunday morning cycle ride, we decided to try out the triathlon cycle route - it is from Hartlepool Marina down the promenade to Seaton Carew and back - three times.  Should be about 20k of easy flat riding.

I was not planning on it being a difficult ride, so we only brought a few jelly snakes for sustenance - quite a mistake!

The Hase Pino tandem is a bit ungainly at low speed and tight turns, so we had a few little problems - the main one is when we leave the road to join the cycle path on the sea front where there is only one dropped kerb so we had to squeeze between cars to get onto the path.  Then there is a bit of a chicane to get through the sea wall.

Benjamin on his Hase Pino tandem.
The main thing though is that normal North East England summer weather has returned, and there was
quite a stiff northerly wind so we blew nicely to Seaton Carew, doing about 30 km/hr, but once we turned to head back we slowed a lot.  The first return leg we did about 20 km/hr, but by the time we got to the last one, the jelly snakes had worn off and my legs were not doing well, and we only did about 15 km/hr.   Overall average was just over 19 km/hr, so we are on course to do the cycle in about 1 hour, which is what I had expected.

Benjamin was very pleased with travelling so fast and shouted encouragement and waved a lot.   No sign of helping with the pedalling though, even when I was struggling on the last return leg!

I definitely need to come up with a plan for what to eat though - jelly snakes, mars bars, or something high tech?   I'll have a go at calculating how much energy I will need, then I will know how much to eat - a future post once I have done some sums.




Friday, 16 August 2013

Learning to Swim 3

Another attempt at learning to swim front crawl, with Laura pace making for me again.

I managed about 8 lengths front crawl, but had to do it very slowly to manage to breath enough, and I got quite dizzy with my head going from side to side to breathe.  

Gave up and went back to breaststroke.....

Overall time still not good - 24 minutes for the 1000 m, but Laura reckons I was noticeably faster doing breaststroke than front crawl.   Maybe I will try all breaststroke next time to see what sort of time I can do.

Then I have to decide what wetsuit to get, and learn to swim in that.....The cycle and run are going to feel easy by comparison!

Monday, 12 August 2013

Learning to Swim 2

Went to Mill House for another swimming practice with Laura tonight.   It was much busier than on Friday, so it was a bit more difficult to get into a rhythm.  Still, tried to do front crawl again.   Made over 2.5 lengths before I ran out of oxygen, which was a bit better than last time, but had to complete the 1000 m using breaststroke.

Halfway through the session they put a barrier across the bottom of the pool, so we had to try to re-calculate the number of lengths we had to do while exercising.   Mental arithmetic is really hard when exercising!

Conclusion is still that I am rubbish at swimming.....I sense a last place coming on!

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Running Technique



We will do the run with Benjamin in his cross country wheelchair, so I will have to learn to run pushing it.

I am used to using it walking, but I will have to adjust my running technique because I may have problems kicking the chair, and I will not be able to use my arms like I usually do when I am running.

So, we went for a try out this morning on a course that is about the same as the actual race (http://ridewithgps.com/trips/1615602).
It went pretty well - the wheelchair handle is far enough behind the back wheels that it did not interfere with my stride, which was good - Benjamin's previous one was smaller and I used to kick it if I tried to run normally.

The main surprise was how hard it was on my arms - I will have to decide whether to run with elbows locked to reduce the strain, or maybe move closer to the handle so I can push it along with my body to some extent.

Still, we did the 5 km in less than 24 min - a good bit slower than I would expect doing the run by myself, but not too bad for a first attempt with the wheelchair.

Learning to Swim

I have never been any good at swimming, so the swim part of the triathlon is going to be quite a challenge.   I went to the baths on Friday to check I could do the distance before entering.

I thought I'd do 1000 m, as the event is 750 m, but is in cold water, which I expect to feel much harder.

Laura came along to pace me.   She was not impressed with my swimming ability - ran out of oxygen after one and a half lengths of front crawl and had to drop back to breaststroke, which I do not think is very efficient.
Still, did the 1000m in 25 mins, which gave me confidence that I will survive the event, but am going to have to try to learn how to do front crawl before the race.....

We would do much better as a team if Laura was allowed to do the swim part, but she is not old enough to compete, so it will have to be me...

Cycle Preparation


We do quite a lot of cycling on our special tandem, along with my daughter, Laura on her bike - it is our usual Sunday morning activity.

This summer we have done a few longer rides to get us ready.   Our favourite is from Hartlepool - Greatham - Cowpen Bewley - Billingham - Wolviston - Castle Eden - Hartlepool.

When we did it a few weeks ago we did it a bit too quickly and the pub at Castle Eden had not opened when we arrived, so we had to do a little detour: http://ridewithgps.com/trips/1518156.

This ride was over 50 km, so is well in excess of the 20 km ride for the Triathlon, so we should be ok
for that.  There is no way we will keep up with folks on lightweight road bikes though!

It was so hot that we had to stop at the pub for a  well deserved glass of something nice!

The Event

Hartlepool Borough Council have organised a Sprint Triathlon towards the end of September this year, and Benjamin and I have entered as a team.  The event comprises:

  • Swim 750 m (in the cold water of Hartlepool Marina!)
  • Cycle ~20 km (from Hartlepool Marina to Seaton Carew 3 times)
  • Run 5 km (around the Marina)
Although some hardy people have done full Ironman triathlons with a disabled person (e.g. Team Hoyt), I can not think of a way of doing the swim safely with Benjamin - if he was in a little boat, he would get too excited and overturn it by throwing his weight around.  If we did it with him in the water, he would drink the water from the dock marina and make himself ill.  Also I am rubbish at swimming and am not confident that I could complete the course while trying to help someone else - not drowning myself will be quite a challenge....Therefore, I will do the swim by myself with Benjamin supervising from the shore.  There will be a few posts about the swim, because I need to learn to swim by 22 September....This will be our weakest part of the event by a long way.

For the Cycle, we will use our special tandem - a Hase Pino.   On that, Benjamin sits on a recumbent seat on the front (he can not balance on a normal bike seat), with his feet on the front pedals.  I sit on the back and pedal and steer.   I aspire to Benjamin helping with the pedalling, but he rarely does, unless I am trying to stay still and talk to someone!   We use this a lot, so the cycle is going to be the strongest part of the event for us.

For the run we will use Benjamin's cross country wheelchair - an Advance Mobility Freedom chair.   I am not a bad runner, but will have to learn the best technique for pushing a wheelchair while running, because I won't be able to use my arms like I usually do when running.

The rest of the posts in this blog will be about our preparations for this event.

About Us

My son, Benjamin has quite a few challenges - he is autistic and has severe learning difficulties as well as physical issues such as coordination problems, epilepsy and very poor eyesight.
He can walk, but tires out easily, and might refuse to move if he thinks something in a different direction is more interesting, so we always take a wheelchair for him if we go anywhere in case he needs it.
Benjamin does not talk, but lets us know if he likes something by shouting excitedly.

I have fancied doing a sporting event with him for quite a while, because he likes going fast, but when he was less than 16 he was not allowed to enter half marathons etc. even in a wheelchair.   But now he is 16 we can think about entering something....  Best do it now before Benjamin gets too heavy, or I get too old!