Race report

Thanks to everyone who sponsored me and Flavio Menezes for the Noosa Triathlon. I finished in 3:04:55, a personal best. The highlight was finishing in the top half (31/72) of my age-gender category for the run leg, the first time I’ve managed this in any leg of a tri. As regards the 1.5k swim, though, the less said the better. Flavio outdid himself (and me) finishing in 2:50. As you can see from the sidebar we raised $2320 for Heartkids which is really great. Thanks again!

Bike helmet laws

This article by fellow-MAMIL Michael O’Reilly makes an argument I’d been meaning to post. Whatever the merits of bike helmet laws in general, the costs clearly outweigh them in relation to bike-share schemes like CityCycle in Brisbane.

We clearly need a category of exemptions that lets people hire a slow bike for touring around our cities. Having done that, I’d extend it to anyone willing to take the trouble to apply for exemption, while maintaining the helmet rule as the default. I certainly wouldn’t seek an exemption – I like my head the way it is – but I can imagine there are people who would make the choice, and it’s not so obvious that their judgement should be over-ridden.

Pounds of flesh

In kindly sponsoring my effort in the Noosa Triathlon, where I’m supporting HeartKids (click on the button at the right to help) long-time commenter Jack Strocchi made a demand for a “pound of flesh” in return. Sad to say, I’m going to shortchange him. Based on past performance I expect to burn about 2500 calories (or about 10 Megajoules, just to make life hard for some of the computationally-challenged media figures we’ve been poking fun at lately). That corresponds to about 10 ounces (300g) of fat, most of which will be replaced in advance with a big pasta meal the night before the race. Of course, if I allow fluid loss, and weigh in just after the race, it will be more like 2kg.

One of the side benefits of taking up exercise is that I can now do all sorts of conversions of this kind. For example, a glass of red wine is about 150 calories (600 kJ)[1], and running uses about 75cals/km[2] so I have to run 2k to burn it, which seems like a fair deal. By contrast, despite their healthy image, a typical muffin is about 450cal/6km, definitely not worth it to me.

Perhaps I’m a bit too obsessed with numbers. But on matters of this kind, I’m with Lord Kelvin who observed

I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely, in your thoughts, advanced to the stage of science, whatever the matter may be.

Update A fun theoretical observation that just came to me, and which I don’t remember seeing anywhere else. It’s obvious and well known that, the heavier you are, the more energy you need just to move yourself about. In fact, a 50 per cent increase in body weight implies a 25 per cent increase in the energy intake needed to sustain a given level of activity (try this calculator). What this means is that there is a linearly increasing relationship between body weight and the energy intake consistent with maintaining that weight. Turning that around, any given energy intake is consistent with a unique stable weight, for given activity level. So, whatever your starting point, if you eat the amount consistent with your target weight, and change nothing else, you will end up there, sooner or later.

fn1. A "standard drink" is more like 100, but that's a small glass. If you are keeping count for driving purposes, two drinks of any kind usually amount to three standard drinks.

fn2. Surprisingly, so does walking. Energy consumption is determined mainly by distance travelled and body mass – the speed at which you go affects the rate of energy use, but not (much) the total over a given distance.

Keep me ahead of the zombies

The counter on my fundraiser widget is not updating properly, but I’m happy to say we’ve already raised $380 for HeartKids. Thanks to everyone who has given so far – I’ll be sending individual thankyous soon. There’s still plenty of time to get your donation in before the end of the financial year, but the sooner you do, the sooner I’ll be able to show the undead hordes a clean pair of heels.

To give everyone an incentive, if I get $500 in donations by Monday*, I’ll match it.

*You can also donate to Flavio’s part of the effort, which is tallied separately

HeartKids fundraiser

Just in time for the end of the financial year, another fundraiser! I’m planning to run in the Noosa Triathlon in November. My friend Flavio Menezes and I have set up a charity fundraising team, with the hopeful title “Faster Than Zombies #2”, and you can give money through the Everyday Hero widget on the sidebar. We’re aiming to raise $4000 between us. A few points which I hope will help to get the credit cards out:

* We’ll be supporting HeartKids Queensland which helps children born with heart disease and their families. I know it’s always hard to choose which charities to support, but this one does a lot of good and scores really well on the “warm inner glow” scale

* Last time around, some commenters expressed concern about the cost charged by Everyday Hero. I raised this with HeartKids and got the advice that, for a small charity like theirs, going through Everyday Hero is more cost-effective than handling donations directly

* This blog is free and always will be. The only financial return I ask for is support in efforts like this one.

* For those in paid work, donations are tax deductible. That means you can give more!

I know not everyone can afford to give much to charity, and many of you will have made your own choices already. But for those with a bit of spare cash, here’s a chance to put it to good use.

Crying poor

The Queensland government has cited an alleged financial crisis as one of its spurious justifications for the sale of public assets, but apparently it can find a spare billion or so to spray on yet another sporting event which will almost certainly return little or nothing in revenue. I had my say on the Commonwealth Games bid here and here. The ABC story includes Treasurer Andrew Fraser’s admission that the proceeds of the asset sales, which were supposedly going to finance schools and hospitals, are the source of this luxury expenditure.

I’m happy to say that on this occasion I was accurately quoted in the Oz. The reporter Roseane Barrett did her job properly, and there was no editorial interference, presumably because the story was critical of a Labor government.

Exercise again

I can’t bring myself to post about the latest manoeuvring for numbers in the Parliament, and nothing much is going to happen on policy until that’s all resolved. So, since exercise seems to be one of the topics in which nearly everyone is interested (and there are lots of other blogs devoted to the topic on which *everyone* is interested), I thought I would expand on my last post. That post made it seem as if I’m focused on running, but actually I try for a more diverse portfolio
* Group training, three or four times a week
* Running, 5k or so, twice a week, mostly on treadmill or soft surfaces. I was running further and on hard surfaces but cut back when I started getting knee pain
* Cycling, 20-30km, once or twice a week, plus riding into work intermittently
* Swimming, 500m-1K, two or three times a week
That seems to be enough to keep my muscles a bit sore most of the time, but to avoid obvious injury to my joints. Following some problems a few months ago, I’ve been getting some useful advice from my physiotherapist and a sports podiatrist on how to avoid knee injuries from running.