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!