Friday, December 30, 2016


2016 is fizzling out like a bad smelling fart here.

What started as an epic and enthusiastic week got battered by storms. There are domesyic chores I promised myself I would do and I feel I had better get them done by the end of the year otherwise it will be back to work and everything will get forgotten till next year... maybe.

The curtain fabric for the living room has been rolled up in a plastic bag since 2013 (according to the label).  It has now reached something curtains-shaped with only the hemming and hanging to do.

Then there's the not-so-small matter of a training plan for next year. A work in progress which now needs finishing for motivational purposes following the cyclo cross season so as not to waste all that goodly gotten progress. Like a big wave of momentum crashing from the high of the 'cross nationals into 'learning to swin again' (yay!)

The plan is complicated this year. Breaks every 2 or 3 days because I have learned that I thrive on good recovery. This approach also allows me more space to juggle work commitments, though my new years resolution is to bow to those interruptions less frequently. I may even apply for unpaid leave on our flexible benefits to give me more time to train and travel to/from events. So I know my plan is too complicated and so probably wrong but there is purpose and methodology to it and it is now complete and black and white so there's another bit of 2016's chores out of the way.

Tomorrow is its last day. It's been an ok year for me, with highlights in May (Lisbon), June (Kielder), July (The Legend Tri) and September - TorinoNice (forever engraved in my heart) and a great 3 Peaks Cyclo-cross.

After that, the 'cross season was everything I needed it to be: great fun. If my reaction on Tuesday is anything to go by, "Is that it? Is it over?", my endurance on the bike is thriving.

Come and get it 2017!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Macclesfield Supacross

Raced with Dame Sarah Storey - cycling heroine.
Came 101st... shouldda sprinted for that extra place.
Felt on fire, though tired.

22 effort kms.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Boxing Day Bogtrot 2016

2 overshot checkpoints.  8 miles (13kms) of mostly thrashing through thigh-deep heather.  48 effort miles on foot.  Not sure how that fits in to the festive 500.

Lanterne Rouge.

I will take it as a compliment that the organiser has never returned back to base in time to get soup before - meaning that although I was slower than everyone else today, I was less slow than the slow people who didn't dare race today.

The weather was still windy but gloriously sunny and it only hailed on me very briefly.

I got lost and lay in the grass to check my navigation and I had just gone out by 100m and got straight back on track so I'm pretty pleased with that aspect of it and looking forwards to the next one.

Long may it continue.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas ride

Fought up the Loxley valley.

Turned for Strines

Headed onto the A57 for refuge

Set out for King's Tree but decided to hit the Bamford Triangle instead.

Shared some chocolate with random kids on bikes... with their mum's permission.


Great Hucklow - the least windy climb in the peak... until the top.

Flowers hanging in there.

Finally a tail wind along Bretton top.

Down to Eyam then Grindleford.  Starting to get really chuffin' knackered now.

Debated whisky at the Maynard but couldn't stomach it so it's a good job it was shut.

On / off tail wind over Ringinglow.

32 miles per hour through Redmires without trying.

From 4pm sweaty cyclists to 6pm lamb christmas dinner and respectability.

Nicely done team Pamplemouse.

62 real kms, 95 effort ones.

The 2016 Festive 500

At this time of year there is the Festive 500 challenge  - to ride 500km between Christmas eve and New Year. Every year I think, 'that'd be great to do' and I never do.

Here's cycling magazine recommendations for completion of the Festive 500.

So this year I said I would and then it dawned on me that in the 8 days of the Festive500 I have 2 hardcore cyclo cross races which, although they tire me out only count for 12km and leave me without the time or inclination to do anything else.

I also like to go out for a mountain bike ride with Glyn and TSK and this year we combine with the extra pleasure of meeting Glyn's new laydee. So I won't be missing out on that. Mountain bike rides are, by their nature, shorter and mostly harder than road rides.

Cycling Weekly recommends that I avoid hilly rides to churn out the kms. Fortunately I live in Sheffield so avoiding climbs isn't a thing. Apart from being pretty bad at climbing, I actually really like it. The challenge, the warm, the rhythm, the change of position on the bike, the focus.

Thanks to my japanther boots, the cold is no longer an issue. I am hoping that yesterday's wind fest was the worst of it so I have already ridden through the toughest, riskiest day of the 8.

When there's cyclo cross on the cards though, pacing myself isn't going to help. When I was passed yesterday by Sheffrec's 22mph pace group there was nothing I could have done to jump on the back for a lift due to being half way through a strength training regimen that leaves me a little more tense and more exhausted everytime I do it so I will have to settle for what pace I get and with my legs and the storm, yesterday's was 10.5mph.

A day off. Well. Based on doing reasonably well in one of those cross races, a day off is essential but does reduce the number of days available to ride kms.

So how do I do the Festive 500 then? Well, I don't. With maths though, I will find a way. Whether I double my off road miles as 2 wheeled chick suggested or multiply my miles by their training zones or count every 100metres elevation as 1km (giving me an extra 24km yesterday). I might somehow achieve my own Festive500. Whether Rapha send me a cloth badge through the post or not is not something that I will not lose sleep over in 2017. Will I have had more fun on a bike than someone ploughing through Cambridgeshire lanes in he dark and pissing rain? Maybe so.  All we can be sure of is I will have ridden more different bikes in more varied conditions with a wider selection of friends from Britain's quiet cycling elite to work colleagues who go back 20 years.

I am happy that's going to fulfil my Christmas wishes.

The little cabin

I've been reading Jill Homer's books and dreaming of Alaskan wilderness, life on the bike and out of a bivi bag and every time I put the book down I have to return to my own drudging life of city scapes, life in an engineering office and from a stone-fronted terraced house with a draughty loft and a minor stream running through the basement.

I just started to read 'Arctic Glass'. Page 2 on the kindle recounts a return home from work to their 'little one-room cabin' and I look around me and finally feel like I am lucky to live here. Not because I have 6 rooms (if you count the drafty loft and a the basement with its trickle) but because this is my one room cabin. To have more than this we would need to work harder, gamble more on loans, pay more interest and do / spend less time / money on bikes.

Our 6 rooms - living, kitchen, bed, spare (just big enough for a single bed and a clothes horse), loft and basement mean that the only people who visit are hardy or close family and therefore the only people who understand our overflowing home of bikes, muddy fell shoes, excessive outdoor gear and wetsuits hanging from every corner of those spare rooms. And Sheffield is our perfect city. It provides our jobs and gives us somewhere serviced from which to access the Peak. It is our basecamp.

The only thing I'd change? Our noisy neighbour but really, he's a dickhead less than 1 in 20 days of the year.

And so the trudgery continues of working to support the cabin, gradually, very gradually turning it into somewhere more cosy and less cruddy - give or take a few damp spots - as, after 4 years of being here we finally get around to 'sorting the house out'.

Note to visitors: it's still going to be a hovel by your standards

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Eve Ride - Solo


Yorkshire Bridge

Hope and the Adventure Cafe for tea and scone... and cream and jam.

Fought to get to Mam Nick.  Elderly lady plus dog suggested I ride the other way.  Blown up Mam Nick - feel like I cheated.

Feign wobble along Rushup edge to discourage motorists passing too close in the wind.

Put on a sprint to set off down Winnats ahead of all remaining motorists.  Rewarded with having the descent to myself until well after the bottom cattle grid.  Small cheer.

Turn up Pindale.

Can't face the headwind again at the top so turn down the quarry instead which is steeper and rockier than steep can be.

Spat out back in Hope and rejoin main road all the way to Hathersage.





Total 72 real km. 1259m climbing. 201km effort kms.

A pointless and impossible waste of space. And the point at which I had to take action to avoid losing my mind.

I was really looking forward to work on Wednesday. I had already had 2 days off which we filled with productive work on our house whilst I recovered from my cold. The temptation and guilt to go out on my bike was there but I avoided it with more rubbish to ditch; more stuff to donate and sell. We bought a new sofa to make more space in the living room and arranged for the old one to go.      

On Monday I saw Marcus at accelerate who turned me into a porcupine by filling me with needles and gave me some great advice to work on strength gaps which were causing me an imballance and basically, a very sore knee.

It worked.  By Tuesday I wanted to run and by Wednesday I was ready to ride first and then try running on Thursday.

Thank god I rode to work.

There are no words to explain the catastrophic destruction of my sense of purpose in my career.  It would be unprofessional to do so here but I basically lost all hope following what started out as a 10 minute monologue.  I cried until lunchtime before working the rest of the day, cried all my way home on the bike, half the night and into the next morning.  I went back to bed at 6am and slept until 9. before going to site and then crying some more on the way home.

Needless to say I didn't do my new leg exercises on Wednesday night.

On Thursday after rationalising with myself well into the evening, I was finally able to let go.  We went to the pub.  I didn't drink.  Christmas is going to be a dry one.  I did my leg exercises when we got home.

I suffered further meltdowns into Friday morning as I tried to do some work but eventually failed when I accidentally stood on my laptop, no doubt leading me into further trouble.  It is not a happy time and yet, there is a large part of me which can not fathom that any of it is my fault... except for the standing on the laptop thing - that is my fault.  So I shall move on, care for myself and slowly and purposefully recover in my own time this week.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Birthday Post 2016

Saturday - Birthday

After weeks of improving and sailing through life, I finally came to a grinding halt this week.  The arrival of the flu / cold virus to our offices wiped me out for the week but somehow I managed to keep working... I didn't push myself to.  If I couldn't work, I wouldn't have but the cold wasn't that bad.  So I worked - I just drove everywhere and my only exercise was a swim on Monday, yoga on Tuesday and a day walking around site on Wednesday.

I have also been suffering a gammy knee.  A sharp, shooting pain when I descend stairs - or climb them for that matter.  On its own it's not stopped me running but it will do soon - once the cold has gone.  I nursed it through yoga practice (probably shouldn't have) and tried to be careful with it on site.

By Friday I felt better but I was still snotty.  I could breathe OK but when I bent down to tie my shoelaces, pain seared through my head, teeth, face and neck and I got dizzy.  Sinuses blocked.  I took it easy for my Birthday.  Went to some shops, had lunch, came home to "make the house less depressing".  Most people call it cleaning but I leave that so long it becomes, "making the house less depressing".  It takes the process of cleaning from Chore to Pleasant Experience by making it so direly urgent.

It lasted about 20 minutes before I decided I wanted to clean my mountain bike before it got dark and then work on it and then it was all, like, dinner time and time to go to the cinema to watch, "The Eagle Huntress" which is a beautiful film about a teenage girl in Mongolia that breaks down boundaries doing what she loves.  Gorgeous cinematography and story-telling.

We walked there and back - more exercise I guess.  It was a beautiful day.  Not 100% what I was hoping for but the best of a sick me. Last year I went for a Bad Run on my Birthday - though it was rather nice, it was shorter than intended and slower than everyone I know.  Looks like I'm starting from the same place this year.

I feel like I should write something profound and another-yearly but birthdays are just days really.  As decades go, I suspect it's better than my 23rd and definitely better than my 33rd.

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

Cold remedy, eat, work, paracetamol, reading, sleep (a lot), repeat.

On the plus side I am reading Jill Homer so it's getting me excited for months to come on the bike.

Tuesday - Yoga

I hate myself.  I knew I was getting sick but I went to yoga anyway.  My last chance at a strength session this week since Thursday morning was being stolen for a meeting.  Decided to do a strength set before the cold set in properly and took me off my feet.  So glad I did in retrospect.  The cold is taking longer to clear than I thought it would.

Yoga was tough because I forced my sore knee to play along.  In retrospect I made it worse.  Shit happens.

Monday - Swim - 1.1km 28 minutes - 25:28 moving

I didn't feel horrible on Monday until later so I went to the pool on my bike.  It's a little demoralising stripping off all the layers you've just put on after only 6 minutes of riding but enjoyable putting them all back on before stepping out into December air with damp hair.

I did sets of 6 with short rests of less than 30 seconds between.  Although I felt like I stopped early, I'm happy with how I felt, the time it took and my swimming in general after 2 weeks off allowing a twinged right wrist to calm down.

Hopefully I'll be back to a mile before I know it.  Whilst I was being passed by the fast girls, I was close to being able to sit on feet so I'm getting there.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

And back at it - A Peak 50 miler

Saturday - Road ride 51 miles, 4:39:06, 1516m el.

I will not lounge on the sofa.  I will chose the best day of the weekend to go out on my bike.  I mean I want to swim / run but I also want to ride and I don't want to do it on a cruddy day... it'd be nice to swim today so I have a day off before I swim again on Monday... and go to yoga on Tuesday but I will just pick the best day and go for a ride... I so want to go out on my bike.

Excuse granted.  Saturday is to be the better day with a glimmer of sunshine and one whole degree warmer than Sunday.  So we sprung off the sofa at 9:30 and got dressed and were out the door by 10:20. 

I wasnt' feeling nearly so sprightly as last weekend as we rode up to friends to feed the cats.  Then powered out over Rhod Moor and joined the A57.  Flitting between coat on / zip up / zip down, my fleece was doing most of the work.  We took the back road to Hope where we stopped for lunch as we were a full hour now behind my progress last weekend.  

Poor choice for cold food but hey, onward to Castleton and the back-road climbs that took us up 30% climb in Pindale.  Damn that climb is hard but I coped with it better than I have done before.  Half way around and into Peak Forest and Peak Dale I am starting to realise that I try harder when TSK is around.  That's OK because I need to increase my speed.  I thought, with some hint of depression that last weekend I had not ridden my bike fast enough to constitute a healthy speed for an audax ride.  An Audax has a minimum speed of 15km/hr and I had ridden all day at 10mph average (16km/hr) but included several lunch stops.  If I worked out the miles to hours ratio, I had covered my 60 miles at an average speed of 14km/hr and this bugged me.  I'm not the fastest Audaxer but I've never been timed out before.

There have been less free miles this week and more trying not to get left too far behind on the climbs also with a little bit of battling a breeze thrown in.  Last week I'd clearly done more miles by this point in the day but was less concerned about getting home.  I was already starting to ache here today as we changed our mind about direction and re-descended a hill to take a turn towards Miller's Dale.  

I was still fighting up the hills though.  In fact, I realised that I am getting ready for bigger rides because the hill climbs no longer bother me.  Up or down or flat, it's all just a part of the journey.  I no longer seem to feel the gnawing sense of, "Oh GOD! We don't have to ride up *that* do we?!"  I just get on with it.  I dunno, maybe nowadays I am rocking a bigger gear range.

Millers dale gave and excellent photo opportunity of the dale and the bridge that we were about to pass under twice before heading back towards home.

Riding along here I realised that last weekend's ride had involved a lot of hiking as I walked my bike down to the A6 down a footpath and also as I pushed it out of Eyam.  That realisation made me feel a lot better about progress and my ability to complete a 120 mile ride at the end of February in the frozen North West of this country.

Back to today: After 3 hours of riding I was desperate for the desert that went with my lunch so I suggested a stop in Tideswell.  Since it was later in the day there was plenty of space in the slightly warmer café so, no special Ginger Pudding for me!  I had to eat apple and raspberry crumble with custard instead.  I then drank too much tea (seems such a waste to throw that third cup away) before heading back out into a slight drizzle which stayed with us all the way back.  

We turned for Litton as I continued my tour of parts of the ride I did last weekend.  TSK was enjoying himself seeing new places.  The tea partly fuelled the rest of the ride, partly hindered it by making me feel a little full!  Litton, Foolow, Eyam, Grindleford, they all slipped by in some kind of efforted riding which all felt much more productive than some of the bimbling that I've been guilty of in recent years.  If I can keep using my legs for 50 mile rides, I'd like to think I can limp through an Audax by freewheeling the other 70... something like that anyway!

The good news is, that although I couldn't be bothered to do any shopping on the way back to the house this week, I did't feel nearly as sore when we stopped riding.  Clearly my shoulders and neck are starting to get used to this again.  

Feeling Flat

Monday - Walk 2km

Officially knackered from the weekend so Monday started out as a 100% rest day.  The office was hard work but I had an excuse to leave at 3:30 for a drive to Dalby Forest where I had booked a pod on a campsite as my accommodation before the next day's site visit.

Traffic on the M1 was snarled up for a minor crash just ahead of me.  I didn't see the crash but got caught up in the police road closure and sat at my off-engined car for 30 minutes.

The campsite was perfect - deserted - and run by a lovely farm woman and many dogs and children and a husband off somewhere doing things.  She checked me in and left me to it. Frost bristled from every structure - hoarey and white.

I went to Thornton le Dale for dinner, supplies and cash.  I over-did it on the dinner and gave myself a chronic indigestion which kept me awake feeling sick approaching midnight.  I'd purposefully kept the pod slightly cool to combat cabin fever but found myself shivering in my sleeping bag in between going to the loo across the campsite.  I gave up at 11:30 and set off down the lane for a walk to let things settle.  I burped and farted at the stars - the last I was to see of them as the weather changed the next day.  Flavours of my dinner returned to me and when I was convinced I wasn't going to be sick anymore, I turned around and headed back to my sleeping bag where I turned up the heater and wore my down coat to compliment my sleeping bag.  I threw my dry robe over my legs just to be sure.  God knows how I'll cope on a winter camp in a tent!

Tuesday - Mountain Bike Ride 18 miles, 2h:19m 533m el.

Day starts with porridge and coffee made on a picnic table encrusted in dry frost.  The birdsong is deafening and although every move has to be carefully choreographed to be efficient so I can stay warm, it all works out.  A sit mat inadvertently brought in my rucsac saves my backside and enables this moment of calm before the day ahead.  I am in bliss.

Get in from the site meeting at about 3:30pm.  Instantly get changed into bike gear whilst eating a chocolate bar then drag my mountain bike out of the car and charge off into the fallen darkness of a foggy Dalby Forest.  I have no idea where the trails are so I make several false turns onto footpaths and retrace my steps before I finally reach what I assume to be the carpark proper.  I finally find the red route after much hunting and follow the arrows into the darkness off the GPS map and between the trees.

I fought a losing battle of light.  The cateye stayed bright but never ever pointed in the right direction so the riding was either slow or haphazardly exciting!  I rode burms, pedalled over drop offs which seemed like blunt cliffs but turned into easy run-outs on the bright side of the lip.  I was TOTALLY engaged for around an hour and 20minutes until I decided it was time for dinner.  I chose a trail which took me back to the road but on the screen of the Garmin it was hard to see that it didn't actually meet the road.

As I set off down the over-grown path, I should have turned back but it was too intriguing to back out of until I heard crashing in the undergrowth and was suddenly reminded of wild boar.  After a conversation earlier in the day about Canada and Africa I had been thinking how lucky we are to live in a country where I needn't fear creatures who actually intend to do humans harm... and in the darkness I remembered wild boar.  I wrote the crashing noises off to deer and as quickly found myself at a tee junction.  Both routes seemed to take me back the way I came so I randomly picked one and ended up on the trail I'd been on 15 minutes earlier so I retraced, this time turning off for the road the "long" way, soon to pass where I'd just been at the tee junction - probably only 2metres from the road, yet invisible through the impenetrable trees and fog.

When I finally reached the road, I had to dig out my head torch.  The tiny spot light from Alpkit that was clipped to it was the only rear light I had in my possession so I put the head torch on over my helmet and started the flashy goodness.  As I stood in the darkness - all except for the cateye and the rouge bouncing off the wet leaves behind me, I listened to the drops of water falling meticulously in the forest.  Not a drop of rain, just air of 99% humidity settling dew drops onto everything in sight.  It was like winter defrosting all around me.

Once on the road I saw the first people I'd seen all evening - 3 mountain bikers. They turned left as I turned left and I didn't even have chance to say hello.  I little while later, a formation of 4 roadies with lights so good I thought they were a car at first.

We said hello!  Hey, human interaction!

Thanks to my flashy light, I didn't have to stop and pull over when two more cars came by.

I returned to camp just as chronic hunger was starting to set in.  I paid my landlady her money and enquired tentatively about the status of hot water.  After 2 days on the site I hadn't dared to run the tap for long enough to find out if the hot water was on - instead resorting to cold hand washes before stuffing my mits back into my gloves.  Cue an excruciating 2 minutes of pressing the button on the shower whilst hopping on cold tiles.  The water was indeed hot enough to enjoy the shower.  

Once I made it out of the wash rooms, the rain had started.  I sat on the deck of my pod and cooked in the darkness.  It was so warm I ditched my down coat and sat on my foam roller wearing fleece.  I leaned back against the door of the pod and listened to the rain beyond my little, lit porch.  You don't get that kind of solitude in a hotel.

Wednesday - Decamp

Only the exercise associated with breaking camp.  I drive through the drizzly North York Moors to Middlesborough then a wander around the factory.

Thursday - Rest day

After returning home from Middlesborough at 8pm Wednesday night, exhausted, I did nothing on Thursday.

Friday - Rest day

Dressed for riding to work but then couldn't be bothered with the faff of loading the bike and moving the car and finding my tool bag.  So I drove to work, dressed like I was going for a run and went to the pub instead.

Saturday - Separate ride - see report

Sunday - 7  mile walk

Well, it wasn't a snowy, blue sky day, wilderness walk but a Christmas shopping expedition which also nailed my Birthday present from TSK and - if I can't manage a run - at least saw me spending 4 hours of the day on my feet which counts for more than nothing... and now I am ready to take on next week.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Back to work with good intentions and a "week of the bike" kind of week

Saturday, 57 miles ride, 5hrs 40min, 1900m climbing

The weather was good and I was in the mood for a long ride - especially after last night's temptation towards the darkness and the fact that I had a lovely new coat in a delivery on Friday night.

I packed an extra warm layer, spare leggings and the coat and wore thick gloves, hat, buff and a softshell jacket with venting.  The leggings were long but not fleecy, given a gentler weather forecast.  I have to admit, I didn't think I'd wear the coat but it was a good audax load to train with.

I had a broad plan to ride to Buxton, head over some favourite roads around Kettleshulme and then back via Chapel en le Frith and the Snake.  I headed out to the peak via Hathersage, turning off to Great Hucklow because I wanted to ride smaller roads and stopped in Tideswell for lunch where I was served awesome pea and ham soup and washed it down with ginger pudding.

I wiggled then over to Buxton around the ugly Fairfield quarry but on obtaining Buxton, I ran out of courage and faith that I could still be in a reasonable state for tomorrow if I did anything other than wobble home.  However, it was my intention to wobble home, not go directly so there was still plenty of fun to look forwards to.

I briefly touched on the A6 then took a back road away around Harpur Hill.  Still heading South so I turned for King Sterndale and attained an ominous sign that said there was no access to the A6 - which I actually wanted to cross, not access.  After some map deliberation I decided to push my luck and see how far I could get on a road that petered out into (at best) an un-claimed trail or at worst, a private road.

I rode through the lovely hamlet, past the church and the village green until the road deteriorated into the track I was expecting then headed off down a steep hillside.  I peered over the edge - there was an alternate footpath but that went steeply through a field and crossed the railway at an undefined point.  I hedged my bets with the trail and walked my bike down the steep slope as the tyres were incapable of grip on the wet rocks and leaves.

To my joy, the track continued over a stone bridge above the railway and descended further downhill to the A6.  Mission accomplished.

Unfortunately I couldn't access the path on the other side.  It was a proper footpath so I climbed back out on my bike on the A6 and descended again down into Millersdale before turning for Litton to avoid a second pass of Tideswell. 

Foolow was next followed by Eyam where I forgot to turn left but I was in the mood for a walk so I went down a narrowing lane then got off and pushed my bike along a footpath through the trees for some way.  

Having enjoyed the occasional walk on the TNR, I enjoyed my woodland ramble quite a lot.  I made a joke of it as 4 wool-coat clad loveys walked the otherway, saying, "Don't ask, I just fancied a walk with my bike, OKay?".  Thing is, that was exactly what I fancied.

Down the steep Sir William Hill, (can't believe it's a race the other way) and over to Grindleford where I knew where I was going - straight home, finally.  I hauled up Froggat so slow and hungrily that I nearly made a deal with myself to stop at the Costa in Broomhill but eventually decided on the direct ride home, sucking it up until I got back to the house and stopping only to buy my dinner on the way home.  Better to save the money for more adventures hey?

I had sore shoulders at Sainsburys so I guess I need to do some more 60 mile rides before I progress into longer distances but it felt good to be ready to do that much at least.  In order to get my purchases in my bag I had to put on my new coat which was fine as I needed another layer for the cold down hill to my house.  I congratulated myself on chosing a size that will fit perfectly over the contents of rear pockets full of stuff in a fleecy jersey.  So the coat got a wear and I am officially pleased with it.

Friday, 17 miles ride to work and home via town

See previous post

Thursday - rest day

Recovering from the long drive home on Wednesday evening.  I got to the end of the day and realised I had forgotten my turbo trainer for turbo.  The thought of borrowing one was all the excuse I needed not to go.

Wednesday - 4.4 mile run, 54:41

Despite a rubbish night's sleep, I was awake at 6:30am.  Blessed the service engineer for suggesting a 10am start and got myself out for a run along the Grand Union Canal fuelled by nothing more than a biscuit.  SO pleased I reccied the local area on google maps / bikehike the night before and indulged in simple run down the canal one way and back on the other side.  

It was beautiful in the clear morning air and I watched the sun rise on a very frosty (but dry) landscape.

A day on site put me at 14000 steps for the day.

I drove from Aylesbury to Worksop for a massage which left me a bit nasal and wobbly but was well worth it given what's coming up... Well, whether it was worth it or not, I enjoyed the chat!  I left Jackie's very motivated.

Tuesday. gym

A surprise hotel in the South of England got me into the gym because I forgot my head torch for running. I at least put in 3x10 squats of 10kg and some bridge once I got to the hotel gym.  I was tempted by a dip in the pool but it was only 16m long and I was hungry so that had to wait.

Monday.  Ride to work and back - 15 miles

Friday, December 02, 2016

The Dreaded Works Christmas Do

I have had a great day on my bike today.

I started the day in a bad mood, dreading the annual social parade that is the Christmas Do, the time of the year when I realise that my life is so very different from some others and I don't necessarily relish that difference or, potentially live up to other's expectations - not that I care anymore.

I did still want to ride to work so I tossed caution out the window, dispensed with image and rode to work wearing the trousers I intended to wear for the evening with a change of blouse packed.

The new Alpkit pants are very comfy for riding in and only escaped from the security of my socks once but avoided being snagged in the chain. They are incredibly sretchy - akin to being in a reasonably thick pair of leggings.

When I left the office at 4.45 it was drizzling so I put on rain legs and coat to be on the safe side and headed out into the traffic, remembering at that moment that I had meant to put makeup on but probably not a bad thing, given the drizzle and all. Of course I was soon away from the traffic on my canal route and enjoying the ride as the rain got heavier.

I was disappointed to find out my friend's indoor bike park is now more exclusive since he moved out so I parked the bike in the rain, marvelling at the number of buildings with overhangs and porches that could accommodate covered cycle parks under their wings and yet, there lie barren and bleakly well lit every night... I mean why spoil a building with the messy practicality of a functional bike park?

Still, I used the building cover to shelter whilst I  removed overshoes, helmet and gloves and reorganised my spare bag to protect clean clothes from messy cycling shoes as I pulledon my suede boots. I considered changing my shirt but concluded that I didn't need to be that hobo and this is Sheffield city centre on a Friday night, not a cyclo cross race car park. The restaurant would have to cope with my cycling jersey for a few minutes.

I seamlessly changed into my flowery blouse in the ladies' loo, despite the cubicle being so small the door clipped the toilet seat. I even treated myself to a pairof knickers instead of padded cycling shorts.

Once changed I rejoined my colleagues, relieved that mountain biking Simon had an empty seat opposite him along with Andy who was on his last day with the team. It was effectively his leaving do so I was glad to have spent another pleasant evening with him again (we were on site together last week).

After our lovely meal they tried to make me go in a spangly place filled with spangly people. I put my nose in the door and lots of spangly faces eyed my mucky Carradice and suede rigger boots suspiciously, drew their boggling wine glasses closer and shuffled in the uncomfortable shoes they had been standing up in for too long already this evening.  We seemed to be at the back of a long line of people standing at the bar to get a drink they could stand up and hug for too long and I was starting to struggle with claustrophobia.

I made brief apologies to Simon then bolted for the door.  Without a second glance for Andy  (who was still smoking at the door) I paced down the street to where Phoenix was parked. I sat down on the dry, covered steps and changed back into my cycling shoes, rain legs and waterproof jacket and added my helmet to my hat. Now, I know this isn't a good look - l checked in the mirror the other day and my face is too small for the ensemble - but I didn't care tonight. It was fucking warm is what it was.

As I wrapped the waist band of my rain legs around my waist the straps cut wet slithers of cold across my belly fat where the thin tops I was wearing were not tucked in to my trousers, I thought, 'this is the worst of Audax' - this cold and this damp. This recycling of wet cloth to be rewarmed with every disembarkation from the controls and yet I would rather be leaving a control right then.

I snaked through the streets of Sheffield and gradually the drunk people thinned out.

At home I briefly didn't feel like stopping and I nearly pitched the tent for a trial winter bivi in the garden but remembered why we don't do that - because cats.

So I put bread on to bake and settled down for an evening of recovery - recovery for furtherment of adventure tomorrow.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A grounding and stabilising week at home

Sunday: Bradley Woods Cyclo-cross 5.6 miles, 43 minutes 30s

Much as I'm looking forwards to cyclo-cross today, I'm also yearning for the day when I can go for a long ride on a Sunday - or generally doing whatever I feel like.

To be fair, I started off feeling positive.  Then I got stomach cramp and had the worst start ever with 5 people passing me in the first 5 minutes.  Once Lynn came past I relaxed and even considered quitting the pain was so bad.  Thankfully, that got rid of the stomach cramp and I went on to regain five places, one of which was a place on the podium as second FV40.

It was a good day.

Saturday: Kind of a rest day.

Washing bikes from last weekend's muddy cyclocross AND swapping the curtains from downstairs to upstairs so there's no more mould trap below the windowsill.  The upstairs curtains have now been sawn off and will soon be replaced by new ones when I get around to making them up.

Friday: Ride to work and back - 11.3 miles, 66 minutes

So sick of driving now and it had stopped raining and being shit and turned into quite a pleasant morning.  

I left my house and turned up the hill and felt the satisfying out-turn of the weight training earlier in the week - every pedal stroke carrying me further up the hill than usual.  The ride in was lovely.  

I didn't feel like riding home in the daylight around 4pm.  I hadn't even recalled that it was Black Friday and Meadowhall would be hell so I'm glad I worked through, into darkness, completed the task I'd set myself to do on Friday and eventually left around 8:30pm.  Thankfully the traffic had died down and I mostly had a pleasant ride over the hill (avoiding all the boy racers) and climbed seamlessly up to home.

In retrospect I should've left at 4 anyway and taken the long ride home but it's already been a really long week.

I got to bed - obviously late - and climbed grumpily into bed.  TSK had discovered mould that had grown up the curtains, along the wall and down the back of the drawers where all our clothes live.  I couldn't sleep with wheezing and got up and went to sleep on the sofa, where I stayed from midnight till around 6am.

Thursday: 15 mile turbo 51 minutes. 3.5 mile run 32 minutes

Had a meeting at work that started at 9am to tell me about how to avoid stress.  I was stressed because someone made me miss my yoga class.

They only gave us 45 minutes for lunch, despite me asking for longer so I went for a run anyway and walked in 15 minutes late and sweaty but no longer stressed.

Managed to stretch the working day to 6:24pm and still arrived at STC Turbo in time to wait for the Beavers to finish their evening Beavering. Some satisfying spinning drills followed my more intense strength work - 9 minute intervals now and I did it properly instead of messing about.

Wednesday: 1 mile swim , evening weights

Back to the gym in the car as the rain eased off but I still felt a bit soft.  45 minutes to swim a mile broken down into 400m sets - with a couple of 150m sets towards the end.  It felt much better nursing my way through it like that.  Every set was more controlled.  I was still tired at the end but looking forwards to gluing it all together into a successful set one day.

The only day of the week I finished on time so I went in the loft to do weights whilst waiting for TSK to return from whatever he'd been up to.  Upped the reps and some of the weights.  Mainly felt smug.

Tuesday: Yoga

Starting easy, right?  With a trip to the gym on the way to work and an intense breathing session to build lung strength.  With all the racing I do on weak legs, I think my brain might ooze out of my ears if my lungs get any stronger.

It's a problem with yoga, although I love it I never really know what I'm going to get from the classes but occasionally I go to one where I learn something new and very useful.

Monday: Rest day

Cyclo-cross was tough on Sunday and Monday was pissy wet.  I've hardly been at my new job a week and I needed some time in the office to process all I had seen, talk to some people, plan.  It turned into a week.


Swim: 1mile
Bike: 32 miles 
Run: 3.5 mile

Monday, November 21, 2016

Ugh. A week of looking forwards to the time I can work outside all day and still train.

Sunday - Cyclocross 6 miles, 45 minutes

It took a bit of self motivation to get out since I was feeling like I had a cold but once I arrived and set Andrew off, I felt better. I got a bunch of chores done that I have been meaning to tackle for some time - saddle position, new cleats in my shoes. 

I got a flying start but this time it stuck beyond the first corner and to my amazement i held 3rd place for some time before Hannah came past.

I was passed by 2 girls on the hill climb as I wheezed my way up but they both remounted too early and I ran back past hitting the slalom descent first, fast and sideways.

Andrew told me I was fourth and I did my best to reel in 3rd place but inevitably Sinead, 20years my junior slipped by just as my bike started to clig with a pile of leaves i accidentally rode through.

I did a half lap on Red whilst Andrew cleaned out my best bike then changed back onto my trusty steed until my chain dropped off, thankfully within sight of the pits and just before the finish line, which I crossed on Red in 5th place and way ahead of my usual result (even taking into account that many of the fast racers were overseas).

Finally a cross race close to what I know I can achieve. Question is: was it a  week of working on my feet? Last weekend's weights session? Or 5 minutes turbo session on Friday night? Who knows?

Saturday - Walk 2 mile

A week like this deserves a rest day sometimes. I reytturned some overpriced cloth hes that really didn't match me as much as the tag implied and  we did a supermarket shop.  All good intentions to do some weights when I got home evaporated so instead we walked.

Friday - Swim 1350m, 1.19 mile turbo.

I didn't set my alarm but woke up naturally at 6am.  Thank you thank you! Oh! Rest day.  Surprisingly, I felt like getting up, so I did.  Had some breakfast in my room and set out for the pool which, I had learned on Monday, opens at 6:30 am.

The post code for the place was not in the database on the satnav so I chose the nearest one but then as I approached, started following the signs for the leisure centre.  On arriving at the
leisure centre, it didn't look like the picture so I checked if there was a pool, only to get the answer, "No it's on the other side of town".  The chap gave me the street name and I found it instantly.  It was on the road that I used to approach town.    

On arriving at reception at 7:10 I found that on Fridays the pool opens at 7:30.  Oh well, another late start at the "office".  I got changed and waited further until we were allowed to pay our money.

The promised 33m pool was split via a boom into 25m + shallow end so I was further disappointed but otherwise, it was water, not too shallow and there was a glimpse out of the window of the sandstone railway bridge arches as I ploughed up and down.

The swimming was not as fruitful as expected.  I managed a constructive 15 minutes during which time I discovered that my watch was struggling to count laps (only 13 lengths logged - should have been around 30). The rest of my time was frittered away doing kicks - although kicks are productive and a constructive way to spend another 15 minutes.  There were a few laps of breast stroke thrown in, though I left the pool without any idea how far I had swum today.

At the other end of a working day that involved liquid nitrogen (I could watch it boil for hours), more walking around and a 3.5 hour drive back to Sheffield over the Snake Pass in the snow (and being strong and not going for a run in the icy rain), I went to a party and sat on a turbo trainer for 5 minutes, racing (the substantially smaller) Eddie, in aid of Norton Wheelers affiliations.  Eddie was riding an adult's bike without a saddle but sitting on a towel tied on with electrical tape.  All the other grownups had raced for 10 minutes whilst I refused blankly to play.  Since Eddie was only doing 5 minutes I agreed to keep him company and be almost beaten my somebody 1/3 my size.  The sacrifices I make to encourage the youngsters.

Thursday - rest day

I say rest day... an average office day with no exercise for me looks like around 4000 steps.  

On Thursday I did 6304 steps - mostly between 8am and 3pm.

It wasn't a particularly physical day - wandering around checking pipes - and it involved some substantial food intake - but at 3pm the light rain we'd been managing all day turned into a downpour and the four of us rushed to huddle in the electrical building to avoid being drenched.  The diesel generator was propping the door open and, having been inhaling its fumes most of the day I was now overcome by them.  

When the rain eased off, I stepped back out into the "fresh" air and immediately felt a bit rubbish.  My brain could not concentrate and I gave up and returned to my hotel room to "do some paperwork".  Whereby I had a bath, drank some coffee which had no effect so I went to sleep for 45 minutes only to be woken by the boys wanting to make a plan for dinner.  

I dragged them out to a 16th Century Forge pub and we ate beautiful food.

Wednesday - 7 mile night roadie run

I had planned to ride to the conference but as I was heading back to Carlisle I took the car and found that parking at Old Trafford was insanely easy.  Suitably informed on the process of lifting in the nuclear industry, I headed North again back to Carlisle.  

I'd organised to have dinner with my colleague in the bar at around 7:30 when I arrived but to my relief he wasn't answering his phone.  To my relief because I felt like running.  I text'd him then set about figuring out what to do.  I realised I didn't *feel* like running but I wanted to so I wore my road shoes and set out to JOG as much as I liked - just jog.  Just as far as I wanted to go.

Well, jogging turned to running and I got funky with the route finding and set myself on a much longer trail.  Considering this was a jog and a few walk stops to check the map I got back to the hotel after a 70 minute 7 mile run, pretty pleased with myself.

As I walked back, the colleague rang and colleague II arrived and we all ate mediocre hotel food together.

Tuesday - 15 mile MTB mainly road. Some trail

Tried to get up at 5 without success. At 630 managed it then finally got out by 7 and rode for as long as I dared.  I am concerned that this new aspect to my work will put paid to future training consistency but also aware that spending 7 hours of the day on my feet will be superior to sitting at my desk all day in terms of benefits.  

A little embarrassingly, as I rode past the site, the team saw me coming back to the hotel to get changed.  A good day of walking around site followed. Knackered in manchester preparing for a conference tomorrow and starting to doubt why I am doing this to myself..

Monday - restish 

But with shit loads of office work and a long drive.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

This week limped into...

Sunday - 42 mile ride 976m el.

I didn't feel like cyclo-cross this morning and then I discovered that the parking was not at the event and it sealed my desire for a longer ride.  I've enjoyed what I took from the Alps so much I don't want to lose the strength endurance built up so I changed the tyres on my spare wheels for roadies and took the lightweight bike out. Possibly frivolous for this time of year but it stayed dry and I had a lot of fun.  

I wasn't packing any low gears so I had to struggle on the hills which was doing good for my self-confidence as I took everything in my stride.  So different from my last roadie ride.  After lunch in Hope we set off up Mam Nick, aced it then dropped down Winnats and headed home over Surprise view. 

Everything had been within my limits.  Thanks to the weather there was more dripping with sweat than swearing about being cold.  Might as well make the most of it while I can.

Saturday - Strength training - Prep phase

When I have day like this I have to remind myself I said I would train consistently. Not just burn myself out too early on. Consistency takes restraint as well as dedication

I didn't feel like doing anything this morning.  The outside didn't feel welcoming and even the inside felt chilly in the loft.  The thought of taking my car anywhere was not appealing but, having sat on the sofa till 11 reading my book, I had to do something and set my mind on starting my strength training for this season.  Starting at the bottom - never comfortable and a little tedious.  High reps, low weights to get used to it.  Still wore me out good and proper.  Had to eat before going out with TSK for lunch.

Weight training wasn't explosive or amazing but it was really satisfying starting something that will contribute to success in July.  Keeping it up will be the key.

Spent the afternoon getting ready for Sunday racing.  It's nice being able to do my strength training then not worry about Sunday 'cross.  It feels like I'm paying the Alp proper respect.

Friday - Rest day

Filled with working, I used the car to get to and from work to give me a break from the training and the stupid.  I very much deserved it.  However, the work wasn't easy so not much of a rest day.

Thursday - Lunchtime Run 6.7 miles, evening turbo 20 miles.

Given I had to take the car to achieve turbo in the evening, I packed my running kit and luxuriated in the traffic knowing I would otherwise be effortlessly carriaged to my training sessions that day.  Set out at lunchtime to run the canal and the bastards had closed it so I ran even further than usual, nearly plonked my ass in a rancid puddle of muck and had a generically horrible run through North Rotherham's dodgier industrial estates and MeadowHell.  Sprinted back to the office to get back in time for lunch servings, only to be suprised by a 28 minute 5k and my fastest mile in training.

Rushed over to turbo arriving just on time without any traffic hold ups!  Another strength training session with varied resistance.  Proper tired me out.  20 miles passed quickly with a lot of banter though I'm not entirely sure I believe my pooter that I did 20 miles in an hour.

Wednesday - 1600m swim, MTB to work & back

Bloody cold this morning - finally!  Still I felt like swimming so I did swimming.  Took a long time to get changed 3 times out of / into all my cycling gear.  Ploughed straight through crawl swimming and managed to churn out a mile for the first time this year.  Very satisfying until I realised it took me 42 minutes.  Oh well, I've been here much later in the year and still salvaged it.

Wobbled into work down the canal and got completely filthy again after my shower.  Then spent the evening riding home awkwardly, slowly nursing a slow puncture and a sore hand where I pinched my hand in the pump.  Went out of my way to find street-side pump stations since my own wasn't working out for me.  Got in at 8:30pm having left the office at 6 ish.

Tuesday - Yoga

Chris yoga is harder than Helena yoga.  Always more upper body with the men!  So nice to mix them up and get a bit of both.

I meant to go to track in the evening but I worked hard and was tired.  I left to get to track early but it was too early so I went home to cook delicious food instead.  Considering I was missing 3 of the ingredients, it didn't go too badly.  At least I got an early night and had fresh bread in the morning.

Monday - bike to work & swim 1300m

After Sunday's hangover, I didn't really feel brilliant all week but I set out on Monday to make myself catch up. The first half of the week was a success with a new project to look forward to at work  but it waned from there as fatigue and the reality of the tough week ahead set in.

A steady wobbly ride to work via the pool where I hauled my way through 6 kick laps and a total of 40 lengths.  At least the kicking seems to be making a difference.

Monday, November 07, 2016

This week was

Saturday - 30 mile mountain bike 1000m climb

Took EmVee out with good intentions to do a really long ride.  Didn't leave till 10:30 and with it being winter and having taken a weird turn off route, just resorted to linking together a bunch of lanes I've never ridden on before.  It was blissful as everything worked out and I was really satisfied to achieve 30 miles without really thinking about it.

Went out later and got so drunk that I needed  Sunday as a rest day.  Oh well, never mind.  I guess it's the time of year to do it.


Decided to make Friday a rest day and turn Saturday into something worthwhile instead of sitting around on the sofa complaining at being tired from Friday's training.

Thursday - yoga bike 11 miles

I went to see Helena for a wringing out.  I was tired but doing sun salutations between a full rising sun was perfect and the leg strength sessions to go with it. Yes!

I took the car in to work along with the bike and turbo trainer and churned out a nice 11 miles over 45 minutes in the scout hut.

Wednesday  - bike 7.5 mile run 11 miles

I got up at my leisure feeling tired but after breakfast managed to persuade myself to ride so long as I took the mountain bike. 

A bloody enjoyable trip to work and managed to take my running gear for the journey home. Forgot my head torch but didn't let that stop me and carried my bike light in my hand. Did most of the canal, only  using the light for the dark bridges. When I left work I was doubting I would run the whole thing , especially the point of the run home - the 100m hill climb at the end.

When I got there I floated up it like it wasn't even a hill.  It seems something great has happened to my running endurance... now if I can just get some sleep!

Tuesday - swim 1km yoga 

Morning swimming pool session with 6 lanes of kicking. I called it quits when I got bored and went to work. A snack of peanut butter ryvita meant that I was ready for yoga before lunch and stretched most of Sundays race and Thursdays squash out before doing some strength exercises that set it all back again. The only downside is not making it to track running. 

Monday - rest day 

A great day for a job application. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Good weekends follow a rubbish week

Saturday October 29th 13:55 - Road Bike ride 27.5miles in 2h:34m - 646m el.

Baby steps to success. Take my squash-broken body out for a very slow 2.5 hour ride in the rain. Get back to the house on dry roads. It wasn't a hard ride, it's just that my legs hurt all the way round. Didn't get out of breath, raise my heart rate or work up a sweat. Very efficient!

Off to the hair dressers to persuade them on some compromising image between professional engineer and badass mountain biker.

Sunday October 30th 19:36 Wakefield Cyclo-cross & 10k offroad run 1h:02min

Ace to see Ali Sea today and race together again. Shame I couldn't offer more encouragement, I got caught up in a battle with Nicky Hartle. So glad I have company to race with this year. I might be slower but she is MUCH faster. Keeps things interesting and gives me a great work-out. TSK enjoyed his race but lost a place due to an undiagnosed flat tyre in the last lap. I rediscovered my triathlete legs today and managed a cheeky 10k in the Rivelin Valley before collapsing in a heap in the shower.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

A game of stats that I forgot to play

I forgot to play this game last year... logging my stats for progress throughout the year.  It's a good game that often makes me feel better about what I'm doing.  Last year I felt like I was over-reliant on it so I stopped but November is a good time to review the previous year.  It's the boundary where I get sick of being crap at short fast races and plod off to enter something endurance - Celtman, Kielder (December), Helvellyn, they've all been entered in the deep dark winter of the year before.  So I'm getting in early with Alpe d'Huez and playing, what was last year?

First of all, there's 2015's view (post-Celtman recovery from PE year):

This years 8 months of training for Olympic tri does not look too much different in some alarming ways to Celtman but has been much more fun:
Swim - 25.2 miles 34hours 8mins. (half!)Bike - 1748 miles 159 hours 11 mins 24.2km climbing. (almost identical!)Run - 224 miles 50hours 14 mins 8.3km vertical climb. (happy!)
or a total of 289 hours training

In 2014, I wrote this about my Celtman Training:

Training since November:Swim - 55.5 miles 35hours 57mins. Bike - 1782 miles 159 hours 41 mins 24.8km climbingRun - 388 miles 88hours 20 mins 14.2km vertical climb.  
or a total of 281 hours training

So what yield do I have from my Kielder Ironman year 2016? - still an Ironman year but without the life-threatening illness.

Swim - 63 miles 77hours 28mins. (what happened to the speed???!!!)
Bike - 2761 miles 295 hours 10 mins 55km climbing
Run - 431 miles 132hours 14 mins 12.4km vertical climb. 

or a total of 504 hrs training.

It's odd that I feel more proud of my Ironman now than I have been all year.  I still think, with all that extra training, that it should have gone better but it makes me extremely happy that I have entered a big race like AdH.  Whilst I swore I'd never do another Ironman, AdH is a nice balance between a short swim and my favourite bit - a big serious kick-ass bike ride.  With Torino Nice still sitting in my legs and enthusiasm for long, hilly rides on the mountain bike not actually subsiding, I feel a swell of confidence where yesterday there was a little bit of terror.

The last thing to say on this is I have compared the few cyclo-cross results from this year from previous lap times on the same courses and whilst I don't feel like I'm doing well (last year was incredible in the literal sense) I am actually lapping faster than in recent years.  Apparently I just have more awesome competition nowadays which I think is a great thing.


Finally.  Decision made.  2017 Tri target: Conquer the Alp
Alpe d'Huez
Three trips to the Alps this year then*.

*though possibly one in the Dolomites instead

Friday, October 28, 2016

A cluster **** of a week

Actually, I allowed myself a pretty sweet rest week, after Monday's "recovery" ride on the mountain bike on my new Jones Bars.  They're nice, but I feel like I'm riding a 1950's motorcycle now and not too sure they'll be any more comfortable than the old bars.  Only time will tell... a lot of time to see if they still make my hands hurt after 800 miles of up.

On Tuesday evening I sent an (apparently) controversial email stating a few facts in somewhat lighthearted way.  This led some people in senior management to think I was losing it and others to email me in a rage.  I largely shrugged it off, indicated that I wasn't sorry (apparently cages had been rattled and some people had had to do some work) and I remained convicted to the message I had sent.

In the middle of this day I had to ride over to the hospital to collect the great news that I don't have breast cancer although it had taken 2 biopsies (an apparently a massive meeting) for the doctors to reach this conclusion.  You know how it is, you're not to worry but you do and then you realise it's a massive fucking relief.

I'd like to say that I handled it incredibly well except I found myself on my easy ride home on Wednesday evening, crying my eyes out from all the hassle.

I expected to have a terrible night's sleep so I took some herbal sleep remedy and instead slept like a baby and woke at 5am steaming ready to go so I swam.  I managed 4 whole lengths of kick drills (improving) and swam in total for 30 minutes.  I'm not overdoing it and am improving on last year's swim record of ONE session in October.  I am intending to improve further on ZERO in November and FOUR in December.

I further washed down Wednesday's cruddy day with a game of squash - my first in 8 years - whereby I at least made an impression on the SHEQ manager at work so hey, that's always a new department that might have me!

Let's just say beating a small ball against a wall was great at easing the stress, less good for my body which is now in a broken heap on the sofa.  I gave it a wring out on the yoga mat this morning then let it do nothing else all day.

I feel like I've regained my composure now and spent most of the afternoon considering what to do with the cluster that is next tri season.

I have realised that the world tri champs is in September - a time when I'd much rather be repeating the Torino Nice Rally.  So I won't be qualifying for the world champs.  I have to admit I am mildly relieved since the prospect of racing flatly around Rotterdam at vast expense wasn't appealing.  So I need a new target.  I can't decide whether to make it a second Euro's qualifying race or a really hard half Ironman that I've had my eye on for a while.  £/fun, the half Ironman is much better value and I get to kick off my altitude training a month earlier!

I stumbled across this wonderful blogger who speaks her mind incredibly fluidly.  My favourite excerpt so far being: "I like triathlons and I've done a few but... it's just, I can't stand... Triathletes, 'Yeah I know!'".  So there I am, I am out of excuses.  It's time for me to enter one of the least triathloney triathlons there is that I think I can still do with my cold water incapabilities.  If it's in July - why am I entering it now?  Because I need some fucking focus and motivation and direction is why.  Because I need to be training for something next year, not for something in 2018.  Because I need to be tired all over again and have some reason not to get stuck in the office... every bleeding... day...

And as I start to plan a bunch of long hilly rides - on and off road - I'm only left with one question... on this winter - "Cyclo-cross, what *IS* that???"

Saturday, October 22, 2016

This week

This week has been hectic in a good way.  Lots of riding, running and one swim.  Lots of yoga.

I've been putting off taking any iron tablets as I want to show the doctor what my bloods are like without them but by Friday I felt so dreadful that I decided to take the few tablets I have left and see what happens.  If I suddenly feel massively better, I'll have to tell the doctor that.

I didn't feel  like training on Friday but I still took my swimming stuff anyway.

When I got to going home time I didn't feel like swimming but I did feel like a long ride so that's what I did - leaving my swim stuff at work (I can use it on Monday) and taking the long ride home.  I didn't get much time in daylight although I got to give my light a rest along the trail that runs alongside the M1, traffic free.  When I hit public roads again it was dark but clear.  A little chilly but lovely for riding.

I climbed I descended.  I didn't get cold, though I did get disco leg on the way down Jawbone hill and suffered some frightening wheel wobble for the first time... which just made the disco leg worse.  Over the hill to the estate before circling back to home to finish with a glorious ride up our hill!  All the way to the top.  Incredibly satisfying to be out.  I could've stayed out longer - if my stomach and legs would have let me.

Monday, October 17, 2016

5 - 12 Things

 I had this recommendation a few weeks ago. Actually, the day after the 3 Peaks. I haven't adhered to the rules as some of these actions are ideals rather than specific targets but at least I have finally found the time to sit down and write them out.

  1. Train consistently. 
  2. Swim kick improvement 
  3. STC coaching when I can manage 1 hr swimming
  4. Norton Saturdays every other week or equivalent, morphing into time trials nearer the season. 
  5. 2 yoga per week 
  6. In bed by 10:30 every day
  7. 1 weekday 20 mile ride
  8. 1 hill reps run session per week 
  9. 1 intervals run session per week 
  10. Develop quiet confidence 
  11. Stay hydrated 
  12. Monthly massages

Friday, October 14, 2016

Making it through

Running. Making hard work pass easier and  my last training session of the week. Ok. I didn't ride to them all. Late nights and tired got in the way.

I went. I got tired and I got faster and today a 5 mile 6.5 mph run felt easy. The off season is about remembering how much fun we have doing the things that we love. It's about stopping to take  photos and enjoying the wildlife.

It's about life.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A beautiful point

A ballet teacher once said I had a "Beautiful point" (toes).  In theory, this should make me an excellent swimmer.  So I am focusing on pointing my toes when I kick.

The first four laps of kick practice today were tedious as last week but were around 15 seconds faster so yay for progress.  I did them earlier this time so that I could get another set in later.

They tired me out so much that I decided not to do too much more, maybe just two more lengths.

This time I set off at a right pelt!  It went really well but I burned out by the time I got to the middle of the length.  Perhaps this is the problem.  My kick is "ok" but just not sustainable.  It's pretty much the problem with my whole swimming at the moment.

So I did some froggy-legs and then kicked the rest of the length and did the same on the return trip.  This seemed to go much better for me and during the times I was actually kicking, I was less depressingly slow.

So it gives me something to look forwards to next time.

When I went back to regular swimming my legs were so knackered I didn't actually kick at all.  It didn't seem to have any detrimental effect whatsoever but I'm sure things will all come together in the long run.

Getting to work I can feel the muscles aching - new muscles - and they're good running muscles too so long runs and coming togethers are all on the cards.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Monday happy

After a  really mardy post on Sunday I have had a great start to the week. 

Without any mud to clean off the bike I got Lovely out of the basement and cleaned her instead in readiness for winter commuting.  With a plethora of evening training courses I need a bike I can carry all my stuff around on.

I rode to work on Monday and this morning have all my running gear wih me for track training. Where last week was a real effort to do 3 sessions, I feel like this week I might be able to ride to them all.

Derby National Trophy 2016

It really was a lovely day at Derby. I didn't do well in the race at all. It was so very fast, my bike was all at odds with different tyres on the front compared to the back.

I had to fight not to be last and was beaten by quite some margin by someone that has been behind me in the field for years. I am happy for her but of course upset at myself and worrying if anything is wrong with me.

Am I over tired? 
Am I ill?
Early season crapness?
Did I do too little training? 
The wrong kind of training? (probably).

After the race, lots of friends asked if I enjoyed it and if it went well and I tried to be polite and not mardy but how can you when the answer is, "No, I / it didn't"... and then you have to explain, and then I saw Crispin and he said the most perfect thing, "not your best day". Engineers. They really do know everything. 

But I had such fun this week. Starting my triathlon season early, working on the house for the first time in years. So I can't woŕry about cyclo cross this year. 

I will enjoy it like I always do and I will be there at all my local races but I think I will hit the national trophy on the head. I enjoy the support and encouragement from Yorkshire and a lot of old friends in the North West but I hate the over-zealous officialdom, the rudeness, the timescales, the road racing courses that turn into quagmires in the face of 8 races per day and the paparazzi of jetwash machines and pit bracelets, the miles of travelling and weekends away (that aren't in the Lake District).

See you at the National Championships British Cycling, I will be the one at the back of the grid.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Being Brave II - the very very short run

A day of doing DIY.  My first attempt at de-cluttering saw me dig out an old door that's been cluttering the spare room, waiting to go on the spare room door hinges.  Having 2 doors in a room is over the top.

I knew I had to cut 2 inches of the bottom but didn't expect to do an inch off each side too.  Ah well.

One re-crafted, sanded door ready to be re-hung the next time I get around to de-cluttering.

Andrew came in from a ride and we went for lunch then I dressed like I was going to go for a run to put me in the mood.  I had stomach cramps so was addressing that with drinking water.

I hoovered too then once I'd finally rehydrated, set off for my run.

After 1.29 miles my legs were wobbly and I was struggling to maintain any pace through a rumbling tummy.  My down hill running was atrocious.

I gave up any aspirations of a longer run onto the moors and instead settled for winding down to the valley floor and jogging home.  25 minutes for the first 2 miles then I arrived home after 37 minutes for 4 miles.  Diabolical.

Still, tha's what the off season is all about no?

Still, this week I have managed to ride my bike twice (3rd time tomorrow), swim once and run twice as well as 2 yoga sets.  I've learned there's no point going to STC swim training since I can't swim for an hour yet and I have survived.  Looking forwards to next week already.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Being Brave

It's pretty scary going back to basics.  It's pretty scary starting again.

I haven't swum since the seaside experience at Worthing (force 6 gales).  I was recently challenged to develop a positive attitude and write down 5 - 12 things to change this year.  I haven't done so yet but one of the things resolutely on the list is to improve my swimming.  It's a part of the time reduction plan and an area where I can make massive gains.  In theory, around 10 minutes but possibly only 6 would be required.

The worst aspect of my swimming, I believe, is my kick.  When I only kick, much of my propulsion is gone.  I find this surprising since I have strong legs but then much of the kick in swimming comes from the hips (and probably back / core) and I know these things to be weak in me.  I usually don't do kick drills because I am so bad at them it depresses me and I have, to date, seen little point in beating up something so inherently bad.

Still, my resolve is to improve this aspect of my race and since there's not much gain to be had in changing my stroke (and I find it incredibly difficult to turn over much faster or harder without losing finesse) I have to start looking at my kick.  All coaches have told me my stroke looks fine so there must be something not happening right.

Since my kick is so obviously ineffective, I figure we can make huge gains here.

So I resolved to do kick drills on a regular basis right through till next season.

I've been trying to swim all week so I ran out of time today and HAD to go swimming this morning.

I decided to only swim 30 minutes (not lap counting) because I forgot to put my lap counter on and I really forget to count, when left to my own devices.  There's far too much going on in my head.

I started swimming until I fatigued and looked at my watch, 7min 35s.  Perfect.  I can do 4 x 7:30s and make up 30 minutes.  I felt like I'd swum 10 - 14 laps.  So many that I couldn't have remembered to count them and not so many that I was swimming super-fast.  I did it again and the second time around stopped at 16:24 - improved endurance.  I swam again and clocked 26:00.  Brilliant. Getting better.

Time for kicks.

I grabbed a buoy and got in the slow lane.  Not even going to inconvenience the middle lane with this!

Off to a great start - assisted by the water jets from the shallow end.  Then slowed to nothing.  Old ladies swam by.

Only the gradual arrival of the steps persuaded me that I was actually making some progress then WHAM!  I was hit by the side-current from the opposite side of the pool and had to kick even harder just to swim in a straight line.  Still, I wobbled onwards and just about managed to steer myself in a semi-circle before doing some froggy-legs to manoeuvre myself in the opposite direction.

Off I went again, slowly waddling my way down the pool and fighting that side current again.  Once I reached the wall I had to put my feet down and walk to the edge.  There was no fighting those water jets.

I had to get my breath back before setting off again and repeating it all.  Pointy toes, wiggly legs, achey arms.

Back to the shallows and my watch was reading 31:46.  It took me 7 minutes to kick 4 lengths.



but my first baby steps to swimming improvement.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

New day. New season. New sessions. New normal.

Enough of the peaks and troughs, it's time to start making training a part of the new normal.

One day offline to recover from my first cyclo cross of the season and now it's back to yoga followed by a run session with STC tonight.

I am struggling to contain my excitement... which is not really how yoga should be.

Old fashioned PS. too much of an exciting day and completely unable to sleep. Perhaps I will get used to it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

End of season ponderings

Although it's the start of the cyclo-cross season, the 3 Peaks cyclo-cross falls more comfortably into the end of the triathlon season than into the beginning of 'cross.  It's a multidiscipline race of riding and running (with weather-dependent swimming) which is definitely an endurance event rather than a speedy 40 minutes of hell.

My warm-down from triathlon was the Torino Nice Rally (more to come) and then the Peaks naturally tagged onto the end of that.  As a result, I now feel like I can declare tri season over.

Before the Peaks I had already planned what I'm aiming for next year (qualification for the worlds team in 2018) and I am also debating whether I can fit another project legitimately into that plan... but that's also for another time...  I have registered for two worlds qualifying races and may sneak a third one in.  I also have registered a Euro's one too just in case but this does clash with the other plan so that's why that's for another time.  I'm trying to avoid planning for next year's tri season too soon so I don't burn out but I'm so looking forwards to it I can hardly help myself.

This has been exascerbated by...

A conversation in the pub last night

How interesting it is working with a coach. An archery coach but still, interesting talking to someone trained in the development of self belief. I am due to spend the next 3 days with the guy in a hazop and after the weekend he has spent at a coaching conference I am about sure that he will spend the rest of this week psycho analysing us.

Tonight after a long discussion about my tri year and targets for next I disclosed that I am not very good at triathlon, I just love it.  He laughed at me and said, "did you just hear yourself?"  Yep, I suppose I have to work on that self-belief thing but to be honest, I'm just not arrogant enough to go around boasting about how good I am and there's plenty of people to point out that I'm regularly beaten by a lot of people who - dont' want to / can't be bothered to / can't afford to / don't see the point in - registering for their national team.  I am just passionate about what I do.

But it's not that I don't think this qualifying year is doable or that I can't get the times, I just know how much effort it will take and that's the bit I am not sure I can sustain.  That prompted an interesting question - Do I fail because I don't try? or do I stop trying because I think I am going to fail and therefore there's no point trying?

An email in my inbox

Tonight an email in my inbox has invited me to write a list of 5 to 12 things that I need to change about next year's training to be successful.  It's a good plan and one that I should take on because things are occurring to me all the time.  It's a tough one because when I do well it's usually down to an unstructured approach and a life filled with wonderful events and experiences - most entered or even just concocted on the spur of the moment.

I know the things that do work and I need to do more of them.  I also have a plan of how to achieve the time that I need to meet and so all this needs to go down on paper. 

This blog is probably the place for it but right now it's a tiny list and it's one  that needs more thought - not scribbling down now on an empty belly but it will be done... probably after I've eaten some food.  One thing that will go on it though is self belief because, in a world where people tell you that what you're doing isn't worthwhile or good enough far too often, it's healthy to have a bit of "I can do this" in your life.