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.

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...

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....

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!