Saturday, 25 April 2015

Behind the Scenes.

Another productive and fruitful day - especially as it was meant to chuck it down.
 
I've just got in from a mornings training that included an hours swim with a miserable mid section of 800m kick (thanks Amy.) Actually the set was particularly useful because of the 400m f/c warm up. After taking yesterday as a rest day and pre occupying over the bad swim at Southwell last Sunday I had decided in the week that maybe it was down to a loss of power through weight loss. It gets hard to keep weight on without eating crap when you need to find 3500 / 4000cal a day to stand still. Once you start race season it is a battle in itself to maintain fighting weight. Last night we went out for tea and totally pigged out on cheesy nacho starters, along with a shared platter of various fried things, and then a turf and surf for the main. All washed down with 2 pints. 2 Pints!! (My first drink for 3 weeks, and the most in a single sitting since Christmas). So a day of no exercise and over indulgence....turns out my body was grateful. Into the pool this morning, 400m warm up, 6:02min without even trying. There was easy another 15 to 20 seconds in me there. So, lesson learnt, sometimes its good to ease off a bit. Talking to a mate after the set he pointed out the obvious "you trained through that race, you were obviously just tired". Sometimes you need to hear the obvious for it to sink in.
 
We then did a quick half an hour interval run set, everyone putting in a solid effort and then home and out on the bike for 50 miles. I ummed & arred about it with the wind being as it is, but apart from the odd gust that snuck through the gaps in the hedge that caught the back disk everything was fine.
 
I say fine, a few miles of 30+mph with a strong wind on your back is great fun, but I didn't think it was so clever grinding it out the other way.  That said the ride remained comfortable with some beautiful rolling clouds, all dark and broiling, but with the sunlight catching them and contrasting vividly again the now fresh green hedgerows and bright yellow of the stinking oil seed rape that is swiftly coming into bloom. A strong wind often seems to bring great visibility, and today felt like everything was in HD with the contrast turned up to high. That and some tunes in my ears along with only 1 pillock motorist instead of the usual few made for an easy 20.5mph average over the full 50, never stepping over 150 on the HR monitor. Its built a bit more confidence for the 70.3 that's 3 weeks today.
 
So, home and off the bike. The family are out, and the lawn is mown. I have to stay in to wait for some furniture to be delivered, and thought I'd check the counts on the blog view.

And there we have it......

 
So there we have it. 100,430 views. Inside 6 months I am struggling to believe it, but the computer says YES!.

As promised to celebrate I'd now like to hand over to my special blog guest for the day, no one other than Steve Paley - Operations Manager for 1Step Beyond Promotions, and organiser (along with others in their close and professional team) of The East Midland Sprint Series Triathlons, and the likes of the Outlaw (Iron distance) Triathlon and  numerous other events. This close team of dedicated people have brought a great series of events to the Midlands and beyond, and have won 'Race of the Year' back to back for no less than the last 4 years for their troubles. If you haven't already then its worth checking out their website at http://www.onestepbeyond.org.uk/. There's something there for everyone, from beginner to pro, if your thinking of having a go at your first event - get signed up.

We all turn up and enjoy these events, often without really thinking about what is involved from the other side, so without further a do here is Steve to give us an insight into what goes on behind the scenes to make sure we all have a great day:


Behind the Scenes with OSB – Southwell Tri 2015

 It won’t be any surprise to hear that as soon as each event finishes we start looking forward 12 months to the following year’s event. So Southwell Tri 2015 started for us in May 2014 with the event debrief looking at what worked and what can be improved upon to make the experience for you the athlete better next time round. Then it’s a question of putting these suggestions and recommendations, which come from our awesome event crew and you the athletes, into practice.

 What an event 2015 was, from behind the scenes the plan that we put in place went according to plan, well almost! It was different for us this year having to move the event base from the Leisure Centre up to Southwell Rugby Club.

 With the added complication of having to switch the event date after the entries had already been rolling in, trust me when I say it’s no mean feat to switch over 300 individuals entries across the 2 events that we had to switch round and it kept the office busy for weeks to get communication with everybody, it really helps us if we have an up to date email address that people will reply to, you’ll be amazed at how many people don’t read emails – but we got there in the end making use of the old fashion method of communication called a telephone which is used less and less these days. How old do I sound!

 For us the team really kicks into top gear as soon as the entries for the event close, which means all systems go! With entries closing on the Wednesday morning the main priority is getting the start list sorted so all of you know your race numbers and start times. It would be great if this only took 5 mins, unfortunately it is a very long winded process due to the way that we seed and manage the start list. Things we need to ensure are up to date:

1.       Any changes athletes have informed us about – including swim time changes, so we can seed swimmers to be swimming with people of the same speed. It is important that people give accurate times so they don’t impede other athletes in the pool.

2.       Ages and putting you all into the correct age groups.

3.       Sorting the ladies into the women’s only swim lanes to save them from the testosterone filled male lanes!

 This process can take half a day for one person to put together – that’s if there aren’t any issues with downloading the data from the entry system. On this occasion we had issues which meant that we were also then reliant on others to provide us with the information we needed to get you your start time.

With nearly 2000 labels to print, 625 envelopes to stuff with race numbers and bike security stickers, age category prizes to get produced, Timing data to send to the timing team, T-shirts to order and get printed not only do we have pressure in the office to get everything ready for you to make your race day go as smooth as possible. In addition we also apply a huge amount of pressure on our suppliers to ensure that we get all of these items ready for you when registration opens at 06:45!

 In amongst all of this we need to recruit a team of approximately 60 volunteers to help make your day run like a dream. The people that come to help us deliver our events are by far the best event crew in the country! You might think us biased, though it’s not us that says this, it’s you the athletes that come and race at our events. Their commitment doesn’t start on race day, we regularly get volunteers that give up their whole weekend to ensure you get a top race experience. On the Saturday at Southwell we had a team of 15 on site from 10am to get the event site set-up. If you have a look at the short time lapse video on our facebook page you will see the rugby club field change from a rugby pitch to a triathlon race venue. We left the venue at 17:30 Saturday evening, leaving overnight security on site to make sure everything is ready and waiting for our return to the venue prior to 0600 Sunday morning. Our dedicated and committed Cadet group arrived onsite at 1800 to camp overnight and were well catered for by Southwell Rugby Club who kept them fed and watered before calling it a day.

Race Day: after the final preparations are implemented and the course is signed off and ready to go, that’s when we have to be ready to react to anything to ensure the event looks like a swan gliding along a river – serene and calm on top, legs going like the clappers to keep moving forwards. This is where problem solving and fire fighting skills come to the fore to ensure the event continues smoothly. This ranges from ensuring all competitors have somewhere to park, to your welfare should you have an accident whilst on the course.

This is where our race crew are outstanding, their ability to spot problems before they arise and communicate them to us to implement a solution to enable them to keep you safe and the event flowing.

It may seem to the untrained eye that my job out on the bike course in the event van constitutes sitting on my arse, keeping warm (which was clearly the place to be on Sunday) is an easy job! Being a cheerleader and a coiled spring to kick into action at any time to respond to anything that happens out on the highway is sometimes boring, and sometimes I’m dashing around like a man possessed to ensure you’re all taken care of out on the road. Expertly assisted by our awesome Moto Ref’s who aren’t just there to stop you naughty people drafting, they are there as extra eyes and ears to help keep you safe on the road. Reacting quickly to collect stranded people was high on the priority list on Sunday given the cool conditions. From collecting stranded cyclists and finding a cyclist who crashed (who did get back up and carry on) it’s not always easy to find you. Thanks this week have to go to the athlete that told me of a cyclist that had crashed, without his communication we would have not been able to locate the athlete concerned and then deploy the medical team to the appropriate location to administer appropriate treatment.

Post Race: So once you’ve all finished, packed your kit away travelled home, showered and snuggled up to recover on the sofa nice and warm our team of volunteers are on site packing away the kit and tidying up after you’ve all long gone. Pack up done we left Southwell Rugby Club at around 1630 to travel home / back to the office to drop off the vans at the office.

 So the next time you’re at an event make sure you smile, and say thanks to the volunteers as without them your event experience wouldn’t be the same without them!

 So here we are on Tuesday and the final van is being emptied and kit being sorted ready to do it all over again for the David Lloyd Lincoln Sprint Tri on the 3rd May.
 
Steve Paley : The only Triathlete ever to survive a swim section Swan Attack.
 
Thanks Steve. I hope you all enjoyed that. And thank you again for reading. I have another juicy addition to the blog lined up, but at the risk of overloading you all I will post that later. Thanks again.