Thursday, March 31, 2011

March 2011 Stats

Swim: 3.07km, 2.4km/hr - Slack on distance but slightly faster on form.

Bike: 257.18km, 20.4km/hr, 2963m el, 152bpm avg - Further, faster, higher.

Run: 68.03km, 8.5km/hr, 905m el, 135bpm avg- Further, faster, higher. Yessss!

Other: Downhill skiing Walking 41.76km. Strength: Non - tut tut but it's really not been the weather fur it!

A Nigtmare in a Good Way

Out of bed too late to be getting the vanu to its MOT on time - particularly as I have to get to the post office first to pick up some lovely lovely knitting yarn. The traffic is a nightmare so I go the long way around, stopping to reassure the garage that I'm still coming. The run to work from the garage is turning out nice so I purposefully head off the long way round to take in minor roads (no cars) and footpaths. It's 49 minutes of running and 8km. Almost as far as it would've been to run from home. I'm over the moon.

I arrive at work at 10am, just in time for a conference call. What's happening next? My lunchtime is consumed with baby cuddling. By 3pm I lose patience with the garage and phone to check the Vanu has passed.

It has, Hmm, I could've come to get it at lunchtime - but the baby-cuddling.

As it is, I'm desperately trying to get that deliverable finished at 4:30 when I should be leaving at 5. I'm swearing and emailing my design reviewer (which he subsequently ignores) at 5pm.

I race as fast as possible to the garage the direct route. One eye on the time, my mind on the distance and my ears on the phone, waiting for the call to let me know they're about to close so i can tell them, at 5:30 that I'm only at the bottom of the hill and they can come and get me.

At 5:30pm I'm outside the locked gate and my van is nowhere to be seen. I have a 3.5 mile trek home so I send TSK a message to get some food in and set about the walk/run home. After 5 minutes my blisters are starting to grow where I rushed my shoes on and I'm still wearing my thick socks and my calfs are killing me. I sit on a bench on Shitstreet and remove my fleecy socks for my compressions ones.

With my 3/4 length leggings this amuses a car full of shit bag boys but I really don't care any more. By the time I get near the A57 the occasional beep from passing vehicles is wearing a bit thin but I still don't give a shit. In an attempt to mute the pipe I make sure I'm running anywhere the traffic is close in proximity or moving slowly - the junctions, the M1 roundabout and the A57 by Todwick turning.

This is where I see TSK riding towards me. White van man beeps and I give him a choice of fingers, not caring if it's Steve from our road. I am done with it. As TSK heads off to save the day with shopping for dinner i continue walking / jogging / limping to the house.

By the time I reach the driveway there really is nothing left and I walk slowly and gingerly up to the house. I was supposed to run 12.5km this week for my training. Instead I've managed 18.5 (or 12.5 miles). This is as far as I've ever run (/walked) in my new feet.

Whilst exhausted and pissed off with the garage I am chuffed that I have made this distance without the chronic hamstring pain that was threatening. More than anything I am pleased because this means I should be able to pace myself to run to work and back again and take my tri training forwards from where I left off distance work on February 19th to get used to the new feet.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Trunce 1

Last year in my new infatuation with fell running, I managed to run Trunce 9 – the last of the 2010 series. In it I stoped through all of the river crossings and had a downhill sprint finish which I won. Afterwards, my team mate informed me that there’s extra points for the series if I beat m yPB so what I should’ve done was go slow that in my 2011 series I remarkably come up with a series of points-winning PDs. Tactically correct but really, not my style. Saving myself? What’s that?

Trunce 1 was, to say the least, busy. 2 long queues of those already registered and new runners stretched 1/3 way across the 10 ha field. I feigned a warm up with my legs still sore from the Newbury Duathlon and ran around the field. I tempered my clothing to the weather conditions – ¾ lengths and teeshirt and joined the near-back of the start field. I had a relaxed start what with the aching legs and as a result, queued for 2-3 minutes at the first gate. At the river crossings I decided my worn out legs didn’t need to be wet so I picked my way across the slippery stepping stones. I eventually found my running legs and started to pass those around me. At the deepest river crossing I again opted for the stepping stones only to pass a man wade-walking through the river, the water lapping above his knees. As onlookers shouted to him to cross further upstream. He caught me up, shivering away from the bank, his adrenaline connected and powering up the hill to warm-up after his drenching.

For the first time ever in a fell race, I managed to start overtaking people on the flat parts of the course which gave me a huge boost. To be fair, this might be because I started so far back. I passed a lot of people up the climb to the last km and when you’ve slogged past folks, hyperventilating, you really have to follow it up. Along the flat road a man passed me so I draughted him, running just off his right shoulder out of the wind. He was breathing quite heavily so I thought I’d be able to stick with him. Twice he relaxed a little and slowed down before attempting a break to attack. Twice I stayed with him. We turned onto the downhill and my draughting advantage was goneas we turned out of the wind and he was just going too slow so I stretched out my long legs and ran past him and 3 other people.

Then we hit the flat sprint out to the finish. I’d gone off too early and two of the guys including the one I’d drafted passed me into the finishing funnel. Not so bad though – 43:03 for a first fell race of the season compares with 42:42 despite the queue for the gate. Next time I’ll be starting a bit nearer the front.

23rd Female

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Newbury Duathlon Race Thoughts

4:45 am is not an acceptable time for an alarm clock on Saturday, never mind a race day Saturday but let's just regress for a moment to 7:00 on Friday night when we realised we'd made it to Northampton without the keys for the Wootton Bassett house.

A swift call to the old cat sitter found us crawling around in the bushes and the recycling bin at Wootton Bassett trying to find the keys and talking to the neighbours to figure out whether she'd been round or forgotten.

We got ourselves in at 8pm. Cooked and ate dinner and hit the newly transported 2 single mattresses on an old-fashioned UK size double bed frame. A little skew when we went to bed turned into sleeping on a 45 degree slope in the middle of the night - or so my brain thought.

4:45 am. Drive to Oxford park and ride. Drop off boyfriend for 300km Audax. Retreat to Chievely services via a few wrong exits in the fugg of 5:45am. Toilet stop.

Bed down for 2 hours with bike leaning ominously above me and my thermarest and my lovely snuggley Rab down sleeping bag. Wake up refreshed at 8am. Toilet stop.

Coffee and buns, lunch bought, race drinks made up using bottled water from M&S. I am totally weaned onto Northern water again now. Race clothes on.

8:30am Drive back to Chievely village and register for Duathlon. Show evidence of payment for season on account of losing triathlon card in wallet in Switzerland. Talk to neighbouring car owner whilst drinking coffee and checking tyre pressure in the sunshine. Moderate panic when I realise helmet is not in the transition box then distinctly remember sticking race number to helmet and realise it's on my bike.

Rack bike, lay out box - shoes in right order, near top. Gloves opened and laid on top of shoes. Energy food. Number on belt. Drinking drinking drinking. Feeding as stomach convinced still hungry. It has, after all, been working on and off for 5 hours already.

I am missing my wetsuit / swim costume and the prospect of doing this thing soaking wet. I did my racing nail polish – as usual on Friday night – toenails too. I couldn’t get it out of my head that I wasn’t going to get my feet out.

Faffing. Clothes changed, on off on again and off again. Running round the field, down the road. Race briefing which I spend chatting to a chatty woman. One last shed of layers as I conclude it is warm enough to race in my vest.

A man backing away from the front runners nearly walks backwards into someone and we're off - forwards mate, not backwards.

My target today is to run my own race - not get caught up into competitions I can't manage. I tried to set myself some target speeds based on my race targets for ADIL and the Helvellyn Tri but they're so difficult to compare with this event. My target flat speed of 7min/km is so slow on this little field in Chievely and at the start of the race so many people are going much faster than that. It's not that I can't resist joining them, I just feel so slow at my target speed so I run at what makes me comfortable.

There's some cheeky hills and I realise I'm trying quite hard to keep pace with those around me. It does hurt; can I really keep this up? I use a technique to take my mind off the pain - looking up. It's really hard to focus on the negative when you look up and as soon as I'd looked up my brain stopped saying, "hurty hurty... must hurry" and said, "Ooh bumblebee".

I felt good off the road as we bounced down some steps and my feet started swishing through lush green grass instead of pavement pounding. Last night's rain had soaked into the soil meaning it wasn't dusty and had evaporated from the grass. I had little battles up the lesser inclines.

When we hit the longest and steepest hill, my fell runner’s legs did their thing and I passed several people. The sunlight dappled through the overhanging branches of trees and life was good up until the final road section back to transition but then the pain was taken away as I chatted to number 142, out of surgery 5 weeks ago, this is the start of her training for the ironman distance at Henley in the summer. She's brought her mountain bike to do some resistance training on the ride.

In T1 everything is smooth. I exit transition to find a marshal walking along the curb stopping me from getting onto the road. Something to do with a car coming. Ahead of him is a woman turning her pedal around by hand before lifting her foot over her top tube to mount her bike. Seriously, if you're going to do that, do me the favour of buying yourself a ladies' bike.

Faced by the misery of waiting for all this to get out of my way, I jog along the pavement, place my bike in the road in front of it all and do a running mount to get going. I set off down the road at 38km/hr. My target average is 27. I see neither the nervous lady, nor the car that probably waited for her again.

I have no idea about the profile of this course. I am here because Andrew was starting the event in Oxford. It's not a big race for me, just a training event really. I'm not sure that if I carry on at 38kph there will be plenty of redress later as I slog up some hill at 14kph.

I start ticking people off, slinking by on my tri bars. I finally catch up number 142. That mountain bike is bloody quick. Beyond this, a number of similarly skilled riders start to group together. Two women and one man. We pass each other time and again, sometimes three abreast, working our way between other competitors and negotiating inconsiderate motor vehicles which just get in the way. One of us is a better climber, another passes then lets up as they take a drink, someone else is better on the flat. We all help each other, calling out when it's safe to pull in, shouting out when a runner is coming down the road. Gradually, one by one, I pass them for the last time and keep going.

I try to think about achieving my target speed of 27kph but my initial pace and the hills surprised me so much that I lost the will to plan it, to try to do anything with it or to think about it. At one point I was horrified to see my average speed was only 20kph but then realised that my run was included. I gave up at that point on trying to calculate my output to achieve the average and got on with riding.

The hilly bits start. My estimate that this would be a flattish course was not justified with first, rolling hills followed by one hell of a climb and I even had to get out of the top chain ring eventually.

The gradient and the niggling cramp in my calf conspire to force me to plan on idling a little bit on the ride back to the finish. Thankfully the course becomes suitably technical so none of my esteemed assailants were able to catch me. Twisty country lanes and gravelly potholes put paid to that.

There was a slight young man playing carrot ahead of me, going just that fraction slower than me that I could watch him and stalk him down over a long period of time.

My real pacer came when one of the misschief riders from last year's road race circuit passed me on a narrow village lane whilst training. It was obviously making her feel good to ride past people with 5km of running race in their legs so I used her to make me feel good and gave her a run for her money up a couple of steep climbs through villages. This is probably overstating it as she was already ahead and probably had no clue I was there but I kept pace with her anyway.

The "STOP" turn which had been so sorely emphasised as a foot-down-or-you're-out disqualification point was a bit of a disappointment. NOT actually a road-legal stop but a broken line give-way. I followed the marshal’s orders to put a foot down which amounted to a rolling stop with me scraping my cleat along the tarmac as I rolled down to around 4mph with sparks flying (in my head).

I approached some imaginary stop sign with a clear (if a little oblique) view that there was no traffic coming for 200m or so and I was sent on my way, somewhat confused.

My last overtake of the ride was done on the vehicular side of a traffic-calming ramp as the other chap carefully passed through the flatter cycle lane covering his brakes. I executed the ultimate flying dismount amongst flapping marshals and cheering crowds in the dismount area. Thankfully I kept my leg cramps under control though my stomach gently glopped as I ran into transition. I spend 2min: 20s in T2. When I put my running shoes back on they're lovely and warm - the black rubber of the new insoles cooked under the opaque lid of my tri box in the sunshine.

Some time is spent trying to persuade the guy I just passed to carry on as he complained of a sore calf. I offered ibuprofen gel and ran off, taking my gloves off and stuffing them in my pocket with the Garmin and an energy gel.

For the third part of the day I had no choice but to run my own race for I was pretty much alone. Partly a curse because I had no one to drive me to go faster, partly a blessing because no one was around to push me too hard too early.

I just kept plugging away at what did turn out to be an awesome speed over the 2nd 5km - for me. 5:40min/km. A couple of times I swore Colin Papworth the podiatrist a miracle-worker as my feet felt so comfortable and none of the usual serious pain in my legs was happening. The thought of my feet leaping forwards from the toes without unnecessary twisting or slipping carried me forwards even faster.

2 people passed me and I did try to go with them but there was nothing there so I continued my trudge, at least still driving myself to run up the hills. 3 people caught me on the final road section. I sped up to stay with them, feeling like I was trying too hard too early but making sure I was just draughting.

When we hit the last loop of the field, the pace increased yet again but I just couldn't manage it so I let them go. Thankfully only two people ran away from me, not three. I kept my pace as high as I could around the field and unleashed that secret extra sprint for the line that lies in the last lap bag of tricks on the final corner from the playing fields and through the finish line. I wasn’t sprinting against anyone other than the clock. I wanted to finish sub-2-hours but the Garmin didn’t include my transitions so I had no idea how close I was. A nice young marshal waited patiently to recover my timing chip whilst I walked all the rubbish out of my legs. A lady and a boy scout gave me water and a banana as I walked around in circles cooling down.

I popped into transition as it seemed like a safe, quiet and comfortable place to be with my things. I took the opportunity to stretch in peace in my shorts and vest under the spring sunshine.

What an incredible feeling of euphoria.

I didn't want to take my bike out of transition and admit the race was over. I was enjoying myself so much.

Walking across the carpark to the vanu, I was struck by the knowledge that I could've kept going. Not at the same speed but I could've. I packed the bike away in the vanu, kicked back the drivers' seat and ate my lunch whilst chatting to the other competitors and watching volunteers at work. Racing, vanu and sunshine. Except for TSK's absence, there’s no more perfect combination.

Run 1: 26:08 5:13.6min/km 125/137 overall. 9/22 women


Bike: 54:03 27.75km/hr 80/137 overall 5/22 women


Run 2: 28:09 5:37 min/km 117/131 overall 16/21 women. Need to improve this.

Total 1:53:01. Not bad for sub-2 hours.

12/27 female

4/5 age group female

107/141 starters

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


I am not going to sully the mood of this post by indulging in the self depreciation that goes with the foolish leaving of my wallet at the Alpen Hotel and the chaotic morning that evolved the next day. Instead I will continue to recall the image of a chunky black man in a blonde wig sitting outside one of Klosters most exclusive hotels drinking a beer and Tim's comment that if you turned up there on the first day of your holiday you'd really think you were in the wrong place. All that I will say about the incident other than to acknowledge it happened and it was my fault is to say, "Silver Lining, this shit really does happen to us all".

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Poor me

My head still doesn't want to get up but of course not, it's 5.30 am UK time but there's ski-ing to be done so the body is willing. I twitch the curtains, intrigued as to what's outside the window. A wall, a hedge and praise the lord, a spattering of snow even at this level. I head for the living room window before thinking of breakfast. Probably to make sure yesterday's nastiness is gone before I commit to getting up. I am rewarded with a glorious view of a snowy mountain that I'm sure wasn't there yesterday and a sky as blue as I've seen since Obergurgl.

Breakfast is eaten with as much speed as two coffees will allow and much faffing ensues.

We go to see the gorgeous Roman for some skis and a 20-a-day cashier voice sells me a ticket which goes in my pocket and isn't needed for the rest of the day. What a rip off. With my touring skis I could have walked up before anyone was out of bed. He heh. Yeah right.

Our determination in venturing out this weekend was rewarded with smiles, empty slopes and pristine pistes. My hosts theorised that last week's lousy conditions had scared most into the decision that the season was over and it was time to pop the planks in the basement and declare it spring. All the better for us to play in.

There's nothing quite like ski-ing an area with its locals and for someone like me who tends to control the day's ski-ing in a holiday situation, it was luxury to just sit back in the chair lift and my boots and let Tim and Fi guide the day's events.

We soon met up with Sara and Mark and after a run or two we headed across the mountain to find Catia. My fears that Fi's friends would find me somehow rude and crass were quickly quashed when a tirade of banter about pants, personal hygiene and Mark's sexuality started to develop alongside some very fluent swearwords. Swiss jokes were quickly translated for me and the day was an absolute peach. I was ribbed for my order of hot chocolate instead of the more traditional Jagertea but only because I ordered it before the beer that I ordered with my Gulaschesuppe. What more can one say about a beautiful day of ski-ing?

The company was amazing. My legs still hurt more than ever from too much walking in the wrong shoes but the more alcohol I drank, the less it bothered me. The joy of being the only non-german speaker was my ability to switch off from time to time and gaze into the trees and the sunshine.

Particularly as we waited for the last bit of enjoyable piste to melt to a condition which justified us leaving the mountain in time to drink champagne whilst the sun set on the Alpen Hotel. It wouldn't be a trip to Fi and Tim's without a taste of how the other half live.

Sunday evening was the last day of the carnival season in Klosters so a fancy dress theme was going on and amongst others we were passed in one surreal moment by the porche car salesman's wife dressed in a pink diamante mask and tutu with her son dressed as a cyberman, the blues band with massive-thighed dancers, the hotel staff all dressed in flamenco (women in show girl head dresses), what looked like the men from 118 and a black man in drag and a blonde ByoncĂ© wig. If all this and drinking champagne in the company of Angus Deaton wasn't enough to see how the other half live we went to nosey around Brian's new 5.3M CHF (£3.7M) apartment. It's still a shell of a building but we could still marvel at the 2900 CHF (£ 2000 ) shower head in the wellness area, even if it hadn't been delivered yet. It would have been rude to take photos but this is the garage with enough room for all of Brian's ferraris, his Lambo and maybe even room for the porche he bought his wife for her 40th.

Put in my place back with the poor people we drove down to the cheaper apartment in Klosters to eat my favourite Swiss dish as a treat. I suppose the poor must have some pleasure in life.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Lobbing it down

I arrived in Zurich city at 11. 12 swiss time after a flight and train. Once I managed to cram my suitcase in the tiny left luggage locker I was drawn, as ever, towards the old town, shops and beautiful old buildings. This time I managed to find lovely boutiquey shops alongside the river which contained TSK's birthday present.

Everywhere were beautiful murals of cats and flowers, sculptures and beautiful roofs.

I left the history behind and grabbed sushi. £12 worth but when in Switzerland... and I've never actually eaten caviar.

Eaten in a square in front of a fountain with tourists passing by and swinging my feet on the stone bench.

I headed for the business district to have a look at the government buildings which were a bit of a disappointment built of red brick. Beyond the business district I started to look for the station. Mostly I failed but I did find some very tasty shops including North Face with its sculpture outside and this rather dubiously named store.

I enjoyed the bikes inside and outside the shops...

some of them...

and walked around in a big circle. Finally read a map properly and arrived at the station just to receive a call from Fi and Tim asking where I was. Some minor watch adjustments and I arrived in Kusnacht station to a lovely welcoming party.

We drink tea then pack up the car to drive straight to Klosters where Fi cooks lovely dinner and we drink far too much wine and beer for the altitude. But when with old friends, there's no other option really is there?

Talk is of a miserable day tomorrow so there's no need to rush out of bed either. We look out of the window but resort to watching the weather channel because we can't see the other side of the valley for cloud. A big weather system is stuck at the bottom of the valley but will eventually overcome the geology and start snowing in the valley.

We eat a very piggy and leisurely breakfast then start walking, starting to leave in jeans but switching to walking trousers as it starts to rain. The only real joy is in the fresh air, the company and birdsong although most birds are trying to stay dry. We trudge through the rain chatting endlessly until we reach a mountain hut where, of course, I insisted on food.

Some fine mountain ham, cheese and hot chocolate followed by beer and finally facing up to the cold, increasingly horizontal increasingly snow.

Well wrapped up, sunglasses on to stave off the snow stinging my eyes as it's now coming at up straight on and hands in pockets we trudge home, a little quieter. Some of us avoiding the snow. Others digesting sausage. Back at the flat we sit and watch rugby and drink beer for the rest of the day, cook food, talk and watch the weather report. Images of the mountain summit on night ski-ing evening are of a floodlight moving around the screen in a fog of driving snow.

We all fall down... into bed. The inside of my legs are killing me. The same way they hurt with my old insoles so I conclude it was the fault of my old boots yesterday and not my walk in my fell shoes today. I fall asleep hoping that tomorrow they hurt less or at least they wont affect my skiing because tomorrow is going to be awesome. The snow outside lulls me quickly to sleep and I dream of the promised -10 degrees and bright sunshine tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Boing boing

Lunchtime and I've had enough. Shoes on and out into the abyss. The fog has descended on Sheffield and from my office I can see no further than the street at the end of our tiny car park. It's definitely a day for the sunshine glasses so I'm avoiding eye contact with colleagues so they're not short sighted enough to believe I think I look good in my Bono specs.

Straight up the hill from work. My old run route home in the days when I could manage it. Turning off for the church steps again. I am forced to say hello to the year in industry student as I summit and he declares me "a bit keen".

Little does he know that I am to spend the next 30 minutes running up and down this hill over and over. Different routes, slopes, steps, tracks, the road, the quarry. Up the high street for a bit then back to the leet where Hollowgate awaits.

The longest flight of steps. I haven't yet conquered running all the way to the top of this. It's uneven and steep steep steep but it's great fell running practise right in the back garden of where where work so this is why I can't complain about my job.

I've counted them on the photograph. There's about 32 steps. I've never counted them when I'm running but it might be interesting to do... If I can find the inclination.

I ping out the top, gasping for breath despite the fact that I am only walking now. I look at the watch. Whilst I'm satisfied that I've done enough hill climbing, I've only been out for 15 minutes and life's too short to rush back to work so I head off up the track towards home. After a short time things flatten out then head downhill and I stretch out the running legs for a while before starting up the slope to the top of the motorway cutting. Only part way and I declare it to be enough for the day with the downhill I just ran now being an uphill. A gentle plod back to the office via the garage for chocolate sustenance. I love lunchtime running.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Outdone myself

The best weekend for writing and the least inclination to do so. My penning brain seems to be broken. I guess I'm too tired. You wore me out ladies.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Windy Bikely Work Day

In an extreme reversal of yesterday, this morning I got up with a vague, yet firmly cemented plan to ride to work on the race bike. I hadn't packed. I had a lie in to repay myself for the late night and I watched breakfast news with blatant disregard for the time. I put no work pressures on myself whatsoever. I can do this because I know that next time I am busy I will bust a gut for them.

TSK left for work and I dressed, cuddled the cat before mercilessly throwing him out and carefully packed my rucsac and bike. More haste less speed has never been truer as will calmly got ready in record time. I considered watching in amusement as the cat pleaded to come back in. Watching him come to terms with bypassing me only to find himself faced with the grim posse me a day alone in the utility room.

Onto the path, aside adjustments to the light fitting on the handlebars whilst passing too close to the boss's wife's car. Whooshing down the driveway hoping the horses aren't out. Onto the open stretch across the field where today's mad wind whips me up to 40kph before I turn to do the rest of the journey into the wind. 3 weeks ago I put my tri bars on the bike and h
ave been confused as to why they're uncomfortable. I think I did this last year - assumed I'd be most comfortable in the least aero position. In fact, taking the risers out completely was the best thing and I effectively hid from the wind all the way to work. There was little traffic considering the M1 was closed. The climb to Ulley was a bit of a relief from the wind. Emerging through the village I then descended with gusto towards the reservoir. More gusto than speed I was actually passed by a car! (horror) as the headwind was so great. Him out of the way I settled into the aero bars, challenging myself to go the distance this time instead of bottling it and sitting up on the brakes. I dropped behind the wall alongside the dam which protects motorists from the water and instantly sped up out of the wind - not to mention wobbling as the constant stream of air I had been fighting dropped away.

I let the bike roll and banked into the corner with ease, sweeping round with inches between my helmet and the stone wall. Upright across the dam then another sweeping bend exiting just shy of a pothole with an oncoming vehicle the other side of it. I whooped my way down the road.

There was a work experience student at my desk in the morning. I left her to it and set up in the big meeting room on the smartboard. I have worked today on a 64 inch screen.

At 5:15 there really wasn't any point in starting a new bit of work so I got changed and jumped back on the bike. It was a sprightly jump as it was cold. I reminded myself I'd promised to do a longer ride after work and turned left instead of right.

I rode through some villages I've been to before down roads I've taken before then went out on a limb. Finding myself riding along the river Morthern, I wished I'd taken my strength training ride up the hill to Carr but continued, enjoying the stream babbling alongside the road

Eventually there was another turning for Carr and it took me away from the ride home so, Carr it was. In Carr there was a turning for Roche Abbey, where I spent a very pleasant day 2 summers ago whilst TSk was undergoing hell during a 600km event.

I didn't get a glimpse of at Roche Abbey as I roared past on my bike. I just about recognised the gateway - which was closed. I did stop to capture the sunset at the end of the lane and text TSK to let him know I was coming home the long way. It had never occurred to me before that I could ride home this way and I was quite proud.

I stuck with the A658 for a while. The traffic was fairly forgiving. I'm not surprising as the surface was lush and I was doing 30mph at least. I eventually turned off for Firbeck, recognising that I should start heading in this direction before I hit the M1. Firbeck turned out to be a lovely village with some ace-looking stone houses, a pub and a pashley holding up someones garden plants display.

I upgraded the sunset.

Turning into the wind was rewardingly hard on the legs. I grimaced into the sunset, after I took one more picture and ploughed on strongly. The grimace became a grin (honest) and I really enjoyed the workout. The front lights didn't come on until I reached Dinnington and the traffic had more or less dissappeared. I arrived home the same time as TSK on this 1 hour ride in from work.

I suspect Roche Abbey may get another visit.

Lunchtime 10k. In the bag.

Ulley reservoir path

Tufted ducks hiding from the fishermen.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

The Evil Power of Rest

You feel rubbish. You need a day off. In the morning it feels like a great idea and a good excuse to do what you like including nothing. You still take running gear in case you feel like it later. By lunchtime you look whistfully at the bag. You know you want to but you just don't want to so you just eat.

You get home from work thinking that you could do some spinning on the bike because it doesn't involve going outside. You acknowledge you're grumpy and must be tired so you don't do spinning.

You regress to doing nothing. You make dinner. Despite your best resolve to get an early night you get stuck into a 1990 's film you still haven't seen and snap at the one you love because you're tired and you've wasted all this time today and you won't give yourself a break.

You stay up later to wait for the washing machine to end it's cycle because you feel guilty about being snicketty and don't want to be left awake with your angry feelings of inadequacies and a day devoid of any real exertion to tire you out and yet you're oh so tired.

Sometimes I hate rest days.

Toughing it out

Monday morning the weekend's cold is still lingering but I can't resist a swim. So I haul myself, the bike and all my swim gear over to the pool at 7.30am to rack up laps with the old ladies and gents. I think after 42 laps that I might be able to make it to 60 but foot cramp kicks in. I can't be bothered to have that fight with my body so I give in and take my cold for a hot shower.

The ride from the pool to work is painfully slow

but it's a beautiful day and I have my hat on against the cold so I really enjoy myself. I arrive at the office and my friend Roger (here on to be known as my coach) asks if I'm OK. "Serendipitous" I reply. It's the only word I can think of to describe the feeling of being so tired and yet knowing that at 10am I am already satisfied with my day and work is merely consequential. The ride home in the evening is after sunset but the sky is first orange then inky blue with the tiniest hint of gold disappearing behind the field alongside the driveway. The shoots of green corn hinting at the summer ahead. I have the enthusiasm to manage some strength training, dragging my bags up the hills with the best resistance effort. I arrive home before blackness exhausted.

After a half hour of winding down with some unpacking and a change of clothes I repack for the next day and do it all again. I'd like to take Phoenix for some aero position training but I am committed to taking the hefty laptop to work.

Riding Lovely always makes of happy and I get ready for work with enthusiasm. If ever one of my steeds could be described as trusty it's this one. I go through my usual routine before leaving the house and am horified to find that most of the previous day's nutrition leaves my body in one go. Sorry if you're eating your breakfast but I've not been convinced that sandwich shop that serves work has the best hygeine standards for some time. Apart from the shakes and a slight feeling of nausea I feel OK so I resolutely cook up a 1.25litre bottle of protein drink and slowly ride to work drinking it along the way. To my relief, this solution seems to work.

The spoils of intended road repairs on my country lane routes are welcome but for now I have to head home through the villages so I can efficiently avoid potholes in the streetlighting instead of bouncing about in the thin beam of my bike light. Again I get in exhausted but this time I have the satisfaction that work has a job well done and a deadline met on time.

Pancakes. It's time to cook pancakes.

Sunday, March 06, 2011


Yesterday we found time with my cold to go to the rather promiscuously named Sheffield Adventure Film Festival. I had already intended to go and meet up with my friend Stuart (Mr Johnson) who mentioned that he was exhibiting his artwork here when I bumped into him at the National Cyclo-cross Championships in January.

As the weeks passed approaching the SHAFF, my brain went into some kind of melt-down and I completely failed to make any decisions on what lectures to visit, what films to go and see or which events to go and watch. Some of the films on offer I have seen. Some of the presentations are by people I can chat to after a race. Some of the people there are climbers whose names I vaguely recognise from times gone by but whose sport I associate with a darker time in my life that I still yearn for yet don't feel the urge to repeat certain aspects of.

While I attach a certain level of "Turn off your TV screen and go and do something more interesting" to most of the sports I pursue, I admit that SHAFF was a big draw and I knew I'd regret it if I saw nothing so the cold was a perfect excuse to head into town after lunch, do a bit of bike-related shopping and then head out to the cinema.

We spent about 45 minutes admiring Stuart's work. He's awfully good. We talked through where all of his paintings were and the channels he has had to go through to get permission to sell reproductions of photographs by some of the world's leading mountaineers.

Stuart proudly shows off his work.
but is more proud of the photo he had taken with Andy Kirkpatric yesterday.

We watched Bike Films 2 - the second of a collection of cycling films, actually mountain bike films. The jumps and tricks became a little boring after a while and I would've given up completely if it hadn' t been for the promise of "Life Cycle", the third and final film of the group. On the upside, Mount Washington, my old ski hill was on the first film including the little tree runs we used to take the kids down on lessons. "Life Cycle" turned out to be less promising than suggested by the guy who did the intro, another excuse for filming bikers hammering down rediculous downhill routes, salvaged only by the clever imagery of the seasons swooping through the forest behind the rider as he passed along the trail - vibrant greens turning to orange then grey then snowfall gathering. Enthusiastic mishmash about riding in 6inches of snow when I know Jill and her pugsley regularly trudge through knee-deep powder together.

The whole thing made me disgustingly enthused to get back out there being adventurous and I was quite happy to bump into another friend, Nick Craig after the show. Clutching a pint of Guiness to soothe his cold, he was off to watch the Steve Pete demonstration.

I declared that next year we would walk down here from our Sheffield house so we could drink as much beer as we like, not worry about parking and spend the whole weekend enjoying the spectacle and catching up with friends. I have since discovered the weekend pass tickets although on a beautiful day like today, I'm not sure they're appropriate. I am sorely tempted to return there today to watch the running films selection.

I have no excuses since I have been out for my run already although I will probably, instead manage a bike ride with my paniers to the supermarket to pick up stuff we forgot last week and get some miles in whilst I am at it. Decisions decisions. I fear that if I become any more motivated, my brain may explode.

My run today was glorious. I didn't want to repeat yesterdays route. I fancied more distance but didn't want to get in the car and drive anywhere because with the cold, I wouldn't be able to get on and do the distance I'd otherwise like to, having indulged diesel in the drive out. I decided to man up and take on the footpath from Towick to Anston which I'd been putting off because I don't know what condition it's in. If its in good condition, it's an easy run but I didn't fancy bog hopping if that's what it was going to take.

I checked the map before leaving to discover I had a choice of routes - footpath and bridlepath. I decided to take the footpath and if it was shitty, try the bridlepath further along. I scoped out the return route which avoided the main road - but still put me on some fairly busy, pavement-less minor roads.

I reached the church in Todwick down a lane I'd never thought to try and said hello to a couple of dog walkers passing the park. At the end of the tarmac lane the path was very do-able. Despite the recent rain it was well drained, slightly sandy soil which ran alongside the field, paralell to the main A57. A strip of bright sunshine moved across the field and for a moment bathed me in the prelude of summer.

There were no slippery bits at all. It wasn't till I neared the end of the path I thought of the option of returning along the bridlepath and to my delight, the two joined eachother 100m from the road meaning I didn't even need to negotiate the lanes of a different village.

The return bridlepath was also lovely and sandy. One minor slobby bit which either of my shoes could've coped with but I was glad I was in the fell shoes.
In the distance, at least 15 vehicles surrounded a couple of ox-bow lakes in the fields. I wondered just how many fish could be left in there to fish-out but apparently plenty as another two vehicles passed me on the dirt-track from the fishery.

I was back in the village. I toyed with calculating the extra distance I had run, trying to estimate the length of the two paths and adding to yesterday's distance. Turns out I was a bit short and my run was only 8.55km. Still, over 5 miles so I can be happy. The legs still hurt. Can I, I wonder, legitimately add to yesderday's effort and proclaim myself a 13km weekend run?

Anything that gets me closer to beliving I can comfortably complete the Newbury Duathlon in three weeks time gives me a boost so I'll go for that.

The Power of Rest

Off excercise with a cold for two whole days. One spent feeling rubbish followed by a restful day at home with a computer on my knee and a hanky by my side.

One run on Saturday just before lunch after a long lie-in.

The 8th fastest run I've done (out of 21 samples) and the only thing I was trying to do was to keep my heart rate slow.

On the flip side, today my head is full of green stuff. TSK does not need to take this out for a ride.

Friday, March 04, 2011


Finally it's here, I'm coming down with a cold.

Tempted as I am to stay at home on the sick, I left my running shoes at work on Tuesday and I damn-well want to use them this weekend. Cold or no cold. Though obviously the effort expended will depend on the presence of the cold.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Long day swim

Out the door at 7am for a 8am train to Cheltenham. A meeting at 11 in Gloucester. Back to the station and work on the train to Sheffield. Straight to Ponds Forge after a browse around the shops for a 1.1km swim. Foot cramp from walking in work shoes put a stop to the swim but I'm still knackered anyway.

Brought the efficiency up 2 points to 48 and I can feel it this morning.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Down but not out.

I decided the neck could manage a spinning session last night so I can accustom to the new bike position and get some strength training in. So nice to finally feel like I've done something with the day.

Got the cadence and indoor distance sensor up and running so good to know I can do 20.43km in an evening.

The thought I could do the tri distance at home without going outside has served to remind me that the Helvellyn ride will only be 40km. Because it's the later race in the year, I keep thinking I'm going to have to do the Helvellyn run after the mamouth 89km Half Ironman bike. Not the case. Not that it's going to be an easy ride but it's not quite so terifying as my mind sometimes lets me think.