Lochore Sprint Triathlon 2021 (Iain)

A sprint triathlon comprises a 750m swim, a 20k bike ride and a 5k run. It was created so that a professional could complete it in around 60 minutes. Which to a pro is a sprint…

To most normal people even a sprint triathlon is a real challenge.

I have not done a sprint race since 2016. I prefer longer distance races but when I saw this was on I thought it would be a good re-introduction to racing after a year without any events in my schedule.

What I didn’t know was that this year’s race was also the Scottish Triathlon Sprint Championship.

Swim – My aim was sub 15 minutes

The swim was split into waves of 50 people based on age groups. I was in the 40-50 age group. I was a bit nervous as I’d not raced in a while. I was also intimidated by just how fit the other other men looked.

In normal life, if I compare myself to the average 40-50 year old then I consider myself very fit. But in his lineup of lean, fit middle aged men I looked like a beached whale of unhealthiness. I tried to stay positive – I might come last but I’ll still be in top 50 in Scotland.

The course was an easy loop. The water was very warm (17C) so I set off fast but I couldn’t keep up with the really good swimmers. I settled into a nice rhythm and I got round with no issues.

I was pleased to be out in 18th place in 13 min.

It would be my best results of the day.

Transition

My transition was slow as its not something I practice or care about. I’m only interested in the times for each leg of the race. I think that comes from only doing long distance races were transitions are not that important to my overall result.

Bike – My aim was sub 45 minutes

One of my favourite games to play on long car journeys is “nice town, crap town”.

The rules are very simple. Whenever I am about to pass through a town I’ve not been to before, I try to guess, based on just the name of the town, whether it’s a nice town or a crap town.

The bike route passed through three towns I’d not visited before – Cowdenbeath, Lochgelly and Lochore.

My guess was that Cowdenbeath would be crap. Cows are big ugly beasts so a town based on the name ‘cow’ must be ugly too. I thought the other two would be nice as lochs are beautiful places. I was wrong. They were all crap!

Caveat (twinbikelawyer says I shouldn’t slander whole towns) – I should say, the bits the bike route went through were crap. The other parts of each town might be nice!

I knew my bike leg would be slow. I’d forgotten to check my TT bike until the night before the race. It uses hydraulic brakes but the water pressure was low. The brakes didn’t work. I didn’t have time to sort it so I used my normal bike instead. This bike is comfy and reliable but it’s not quick. All the swimmers who were slower than me soon caught up and passed me.

The course was undulating and the road surface was poor in places. It wasn’t a very scenic course but I was happy with my time of 42 minutes. It was as quick as I was likely to go considering the bike I was using.

Transition

I jumped off my bike and then held on to my bike as I mounted a pavement. As I lifted my bike over the pavement the front wheel came flying off. Narrowly missing an official. Is killing an official with a bike wheel a DQ or just a 15 second penalty?

Run – my aim was less than 25 minutes

The run was an out and back course alongside Lochore. I’d only run 200m when I passed by the finish line. My number fell off. I didn’t bother to pick it up as I couldn’t be bothered holding it for the whole race. But a nice man picked it up and handed it back to me when I ran back at the end. Thank you to whoever you were.

It was quite warm on the run. I’d have liked a water stop but I’m guessing COVID regulations don’t allow it as there was none on the course.

I was happy to plod around in 23 minutes.

Overall

I was happy to beat all the times I’d aimed for. It was nice to be at an event and see people out enjoying racing again.

Training For Celtman: May (Andrew)

It’s my first time in a shop (excepting supermarkets) in over a year.

Salesman: “You don’t want that, it’s shite. I only have it in the shop as a warning not to buy it!

It was good to see customer service in Glasgow hadn’t changed…

It was both ‘less strange’ and ‘more strange’ than I thought to be shopping in town.

It was strange to be shopping as Mrs TwinBikeRun and I had brought Baby TwinBikeRun with us and it was harder than I thought to move around while pushing a pram. We even walked different streets because “it’s quieter if we go to the next street rather than walk up this one”. While, in shops, Mrs TwinBikeRun was stuck by displays blocking the pram from getting round – shops are not designed for babies, which I’m okay with, as they don’t have a wallet so why should they have a say in how shops are laid out!?!? 🙂

It was less strange than I thought to be in town because there wasn’t a great change in how I shopped. I walked in, I looked round, saw nothing I wanted to buy and then walked out, just as I did a year ago. I’m not a slow browser: I check shops with all the speed of a soldier running across an exposed courtyard with a sniper somewhere on the roofs above.  

I was in town to find a new pair of jeans as I don’t like ordering jeans on the internet. They always look different, and you can never tell the fit from a website photo. And I don’t want to order them just to send back. It’s for the same reason I wouldn’t order a mail order bride. Some things need to be seen first.

Baby TwinBikeRun slept through the whole trip and missed out on seeing all the shops with queues out of the door. Primark’s queue stretched along the front of the shop and around a corner. Zara too had a queue which stretched down Buchanan Street. I wondered if the queues were a sign of popularity or a sign of a decent social distancing policy. Perhaps the shops without the queues are the ones to avoid because they spray COVID on the clothes and cough in the changing rooms?

Most people were wearing masks, even on the streets. A few had them over their mouth, most had them around their neck, or, in the case of one man, on top of his head like a clown hat.

That’s because he talks out of the top of his head,” says Mrs TwinBikeRun.

We put masks on each time we go into a shop, so did everyone else but, in Glasgow, the numbers have still been rising all month. As the rest of the country has moved in tier 2 we remained in tier 3 and, as I write this on Friday 28 May, it looks likely we’ll stay in tier 3 for at least another week.

If so, it’s another week I can’t leave the city unless it’s essential travel – and Celtman is not essential travel.

I now put my chances of taking part in Celtman at less than 10%. I don’t feel at all confident that I have the swimming strength for 3.4km. While I have managed 1 – 2 swims a week since mid April, my arms are very tired after 2km and I haven’t managed to do anything longer.

I’m comfortable with the thought of the bike and the run, and think my running is probably the strongest it’s been before any other long distance race, but, just like evolutionary biology, you can’t run before you can swim.

Outdoor Swim Review – Loch Ard Revisited 2021 (Andrew)

You can ready my original reports here: Loch Ard and Loch Ard-er

On Monday, someone had used white chalk to write the following message on a nearby pavement: “Ally, I love you, please call me!”. It was surrounded by love hearts.

By Friday, the message was changed to: “Ally, you are a GIMP!”

The path of true love does not run smooth, even if you use an actual path to declare your love…

This message was the only thing that changed this week as Glasgow remained in Tier 3 COVID restrictions for another week, month and year. We’ve now been locked down so long that, if we were in prison, we’d have been eligible for release on compassionate grounds.

I must admit, despite trying to follow the rules, that I’m not quite sure what the current rules actually are. I live in a postcode that borders the highest rate but also borders one of the lowest, an area which is in Tier 2. If you turn right at the end of my street the pubs are open, if you turn left the pubs have been turned into an emergency COVID vaccination centre to halt the spread of the virus. It’s all quite confusing.

So, this report is brought to you with the slight caveat that I’m not sure if I was or wasn’t breaking the lockdown rules by swimming in Loch Ard last week. Certainly Kinlochard, the village at the end of Loch Ard, was giving very strong ‘Haste Ye Back’ vibes with every parking space displaying a “Do Not Park Here” sign and the local community hall car park closed.

Instead, I parked in the same spot as last time and would point out that there’s only space here for four cars so you may want to come here early to make sure you have a spot. I was there for 9am and there was one other car parked.

The loch itself has warmed up nicely and was around 12 degrees. Depending on your cold water reaction it was either starting to turn cold but pleasant or still on the chilly side. I wore a vest underneath my wetsuit and was fine without gloves or boots. At the end I tried swimming without a wetsuit and it was okay…ish…

For the swim, I swam to one of the islands and back, a swim of around a mile, if you can swim in a staightline. My goggles kept steaming up so I was more crooked than Al Capone and veered to the left as I swam.

Be careful of the water becoming colder the further you swim out. While the water is shallow near the bank it quickly becomes deeper and colder the further out you are. I wouldn’t try this swim unless you were confident that you can swim 2km.

Overall: a fantastic setting for a swim with plenty of options for short or longer routes. The water should only get warmer as we get into summer. Just remember though to check the COVID restrictions.

Lockdown – One Year On – Part Five (Andrew)

I wrote the following entry a year ago and then decided not to publish it given the uncertainty over how COVID would affect everyone. It seems okay to publish it now as a way to look back at this time last year.

There are rainbows in windows. Mostly hand drawn, mostly the work of young children but others are clearly the work of parents with a steady hand and a good eye for a radius while drawing onto a window. I didn’t know what they were so, for the last two days, I thought that Pride had moved indoors. That’s nice, support the LBTG+ community. However, it turns out to be a project started by schools and spread online to encourage children to put up paintings to spread hope. This week the rainbows have been joined by soft toys. Teddy bears and plush dolls hanging in the windows next to the rainbows. Now it looks like Pride has moved indoors and started lynching Big Ted.  

On Thursday we were outside walking the dog when the clap for the NHS started. We were in a park and could see people stand on their doorsteps in the houses which surrounded it. As the clapping started, as people banged on pots and pans, I joined in and thought: “this must be what it’s like to be a footballer for a team with no supporters. I thought of ‘doing the airplane’ and maybe a celebratory knee slide but joining in and clapping instead was the right thing to do.  

It’s peak week. Two weeks into lockdown and life has a routine. Get up at 7am. Breakfast. Mrs TwinbikeRun walks the dog and I start work at 8am and she starts at 9am. Team call at 9:15. Less about work and more about seeing everyone. Yesterday we were asked what we did at the weekend. I said: “On Friday, I watched One Man Two Governors streamed from the National Theatre. On Sunday, I watched Swan Lake from the Paris Opera House. God, I miss Scottish football.”

I was called a middle class tosser. I couldn’t argue with that.

Lunch is 12:30. Mrs TwinBike Run has tried lunchtime yoga while I have a toastie. If you want to survive the apocalypse, don’t get flexible, get a toastie machine. You’ll run out of stretches, but you’ll never run out of fillings.

Work until 5 then close computer and try not to check work again until next day. We’ll have dinner, walk the dog and then watch some television. Normally I would have the news on a loop but I don’t think it’s healthy to have hours of virus news with updating death scores and speculation about what might happen next. I like my news with indirect consequences. Brexit. Politics. A disagreement about ideologies not a scythe cutting through the nation. Boris Johnson is seriously ill. Last night he was admitted to hospital and has been given oxygen to breathe. I do wish him well though. I disagree with his complete lack of beliefs but I offer my best wishes to him and his family. And his family. And his family. And his American IT woman. And the woman he met down the pub on Tuesday night. And…

[Postscript. Boris got better. Wait, that’s not right. Sorry. He recovered. He didn’t get better, he’s still useless.]

What is a decent time for 2000m row? (Iain)

A young man, carrying a very large box up the driveway of my house, screams, “this is too heavy. I can’t carry it any further.”

An older man is supervising the lift. He shouts back, “stop your whining!”

The young lad retorts, “its too heavy! My fingers hurt!”

I do not think he is suited to life as a delivery driver.

He is carrying a rowing machine. I ordered one a long time ago but due to a rowing machine shortage and delays caused by Brexit it had taken 6 months to arrive. Which means its unlikely I will now be able to qualify for this years UK Olympic rowing team. That’s definitely the reason that has stopped my selection….

I decided I needed a goal for my rowing so I tried to find out what is a good time and distance for a row. I came across the answer from an unlikely source, Australia’s favorite singing mutant – Wolverine or as as he prefers to be known Shug Jackman.

Shug is what people in Scotland call people called Hugh. I have no idea why.

So there’s my goal. I decided to try to get good enough to do 2000m in seven minutes. If so, i’ll be as good as Shug.

I decided to do a test row of 2000m so I’d have a benchmark time to improve on. I didn’t row too hard but I kept a good pace. I did 2000m in 6 min 45s.

Bugger! It turns out my target time was set by a man who is not very good at rowing.

Oh well – I’m now off to check if any of the other X-Men have set a better time that I can aim for.

Lockdown – One Year On – Part Four (Andrew)

I wrote the following entry a year ago and then decided not to publish it given the uncertainty over how COVID would affect everyone. It seems okay to publish it now as a way to look back at this time last year.

I thought I had trouble breathing last night. Every so often I’d need to take a deep breath while I could feel a heaviness over the top of my chest. It didn’t help that I was also coughing… and had turned green and smelt faintly of decay.

Those last two symptoms might be hyperbole.

Did I have the Coronavirus? Or, after 130 minutes on the indoor bike cycling through Zwift, was I just tired?

We seem to be gripped by a fear that everyone is about to die. Even though the statistics show that we’re not. That most people will pick up the virus and then recover a few days later, we’re treating it like the end of the world, which is depressing. I thought the world would end in fire and brimstone, not with a mountain of bogroll and tinned tomatoes.

Maybe we’ve been spoiled by films and television. We see the endtimes in terms of the spectacular when, in fact, for everyone but the heroes battling to save the planet, it ends with a full fridge and a clean bum.

I worry about catching it. I’m being irrational but still I scour websites for “What are the symptons?”, “What does it feel like to have the virus?” and “how many 42 year olds have died from the Coronavirus?”.

It’s pointless. I’m looking for answers to confirm a fear. I should be looking for “How many people have recovered from the Coronavirus?” and “How many 42 years olds have won the lottery?” because the numbers are much more comforting. 

At work today we had a call to plan how we’ll deal with the virus. Travel stopped between offices. Cancelling meetings. Limiting use of the kitchen. Asking people to let us know if they think they are ‘vulnerable’ and what to do with someone who decides to self isolate for two weeks then comes back only to self-isolate again and again until it starts to snow in December and they can take the Christmas break.

We have an action plan but it’s already out of date. We issued it 5pm. By 5:05, Boris Johnson was recommending everyone worked from home and that whole households should isolate for 14 days if one member showed symptoms. Maybe the extra toilet roll has started to make sense?

Lockdown – One Year On – Part Three (Andrew)

I wrote the following entry a year ago and then decided not to publish it given the uncertainty over how COVID would affect everyone. I didn’t want to publish an entry talking about going to the swimming pool when it might have been safer to stay at home. It seems okay to publish it now as a way to look back at this time last year.

We’ve been at home all week. On Monday, Boris Johnson announced a nationwide lockdown, which we’d missed as we were walking the dog and, with the announcement trailed in advance as a ‘big statement’ we pretty much expected to find that we’d been incarcerated on our return. Not that it made much difference to us. Mrs TwinbikeRun has been home for six days and I’d been home for four. We weren’t going back to work or out and about now. 

At home we’ve divided the house in two with each of us at opposite ends of the top floor. We share a speaker and she gets to choose the playlists as I don’t need to listen to music while working and can easily tune it out if I need to. However, after one day we need to establish some Spotify ground rules when choosing tracks. And, according to Mrs E, rule number one is that it’s entirely reasonable to listen to One Direction’s album ‘Made In The AM’ five times in a row.

At work, on Monday lunchtime the Scottish government announced that we must close down all work for the foreseeable. On Monday night the UK government announced we could stay open. We listened to Nicola Sturgeon and not Boris and closed down on Tuesday. Others didn’t which led to one newspaper report of angry staff recording conversation with their boss to ask him “Who was more important, the chief exec who ordered them to work, or Nicola Sturgeon?”. The answer: “Well, Nicola doesn’t pay your wages does she?”.

A day later everyone was shut. Everyone was on “furlough” and we just had a skeleton crew. “I don’t think that’s an appropriate name!” I said and the next day we were the “core team”. 

Today, is the weekend and I can tell because my laptop is closed.

Other than that I’ve tried to clean my bikes, get them ready for summer and generally potter around the garden. I don’t potter round gardens. I pay people to do the gardening. I hate gardening. Instead, I realised something bad about me today: it takes around 500 people to die before I will willingly take out a lawnmower and cut the grass. 

Film Friday: A Day In The Life Pro Triathletes (Andrew)

Lucy Charles-Barclay and Reece Barclay are both professional triathletes and husband and wife. Both were swimmers before converting to triathlon in 2014 having no background in running or cycling. They are now both successful professionals and Lucy has become one of the best triathletes in the world.

Their YouTube channel is worth a follow and this video in particular is worth a watch to see what a typical day of training if like for them as they get close to a race. I say “typical” but as the video was shot in lockdown it also shows how they are training and having to comply with COVID regulations.

Film Friday: Bob Graham: Ultra Running Documentary (Andrew)

The Bob Graham Round ultra running challenge is a challenge to run up and down 42 mountains (aka Fells) in the Lake District within 24 hours. The challenge is named after the first person to complete it back in June 1932, Bob Graham, a guest house owner. For the next 90 years he would have be pleased that other people have followed in his footsteps as his challenge inspires people to travel to the Lake District to complete it – and he can rent them a room when they arrived. It should be called the Bob Graham Advert.

This documentary about the Bob Graham Round follows Danish runner Kristina Madsen as she attempted the round in 2019. I’ve read a number of books about the challenge and they all say the same thing: if you’re attempting the challenge there will be a big community of runners willing to help you. Previous racers, local runners who know the fells, everyone will go out of their way to help anyone trying the challenge. And this documentary is no different, it shows the problems she had when some of her support pulled out, the people who stepped into help her, and it shows how grateful she is for everyone’s support. It’s nice. Very nice. But…

… wouldn’t it be great to see just one film where someone turns round and says “why are you talking about my support crew, they didn’t run it/cycle it or swim the Atlantic – I did! It was all me! I am the greatest!”

Humble is nice but it would make a change to see Kanye West or Donald Trump complete the Bob Graham.