Sunday 31 January 2010

R.I.P Dorothy

Had a good training week I am glad to report. Completed all my planned objectives. Hope this training pays off in the audax next week. Would be great if this training plus audax means that my impending London to Paris trip is just a walk in the park ...Since the 'mid-week menace' report, I cycled a further 2 times. The first was just a quick 10 mile blast with Ron around country lanes in Studley. The second was quite exciting and included a large portion off road. I think I will repeat this second run and use it as one of my training rides. I am going to call this the 'naught-over-ford sting' route. Such a name is given because from the starting point in Studley the route goes over fields in Oversley following a public footpath rather than a bridleway (ie 'naughty' fields). It was over these 'naughty' fields that I took my first fall from Scotty, no damage done, really I should wait till the fields are less water logged. From these 'naughty' fields the route continued to Oversley Woods and then further, passing through Coughton Ford. Once the ford was hit, the skies darkened and it snowed heavily. The 'sting' is a name title that I am going to add to my routes if I add a little 'sting in the tail' at the end. This 'sting' is essentially 2 short but relatively steep hill climbs - namely 'The Slough' and 'St Judes Avenue'. My new bike shoes arrived this week too, I have yet to use them. I will report on my shoes next blog.

Ran only one more time. This run was during work time and it felt so good to be running, knowing that I'm getting paid to do so. This run was around Ladywood reservoir.
Dorothy (the duck) died. I guess the mistaken gender was too much for him to bear. The rescue centre reported that he had been tried on 3 different antibiotics but it didn't shift the infection. This infection had gotten all the way to his air sack and in the end the vet had to put him down. R.I.P Dorothy.
Weekly totals: Swam for 45 mins; Cycled 105 miles; Ran for 90 mins; Skipped for 4 mins.

Wednesday 27 January 2010

Mid-week menace

I am very lucky to be employed, I know. However, there is no doubt that it is awesome being away from work. Today is mid-week and because I am using annual leave I have been able to do so much I thought I'd share my training happenings in a mid-week round up.

Swimming is going ok. Still only swimming once a week but I think I am improving. My front crawl isn't getting any faster but I am able to swim for 30 mins before I take a rest break (20 mins was my previous max).

Cycling is going great. Have been cycling lots this week, mostly beacause the impending audax looms. Have used all 3 of my bikes. The road bike no longer leaves me with a dirty stripe on my back thanks to it's newly fitted mud-guards. My feet hurt where the cleats attach to the pedal though (and with this in mind have ordered some new shoes which I can't really afford). Cult cycles worked their magic on the specialized and she now has a new lease of life. It only cost £45 to fix her up and now she has a sparkling new chain and brakes that work! Not all the gears work on the specialized but I have a wide enough range to get to work and back in style. Scotty is awesome and is definately a real mountain bike now. Not only has she done over a 100 miles (in less than 2 weeks!) but she has punctured (grr) and eaten dirt on the 'follow the dog' trail at Cannock Chase. Cannock Chase is home to the Midlands first dedicated mountain bike (mtb) trail. The follow the dog route is a 7 mile intermediate mtb trail aimed at competent mtb'ers. Even though I had cycled here before, I found this quite tough this time round and it had certainly changed somewhat. Highlights of the trail included the stegosaurus rock garden (not here on previous occasions), the boardwalk (now has additional boardwalks) and the chainslapper descent. In easter, Cannock should have a new 'phase 2' trail open for experienced riders. Hmmm ...
Running is going ok. Hardest problem with running is getting motivated. My first run was ok, it was with Cody and constituted her daily walk. My friend Natalia provided the motivation for the second run - she said she admired the fact that I keep myself busy (if only she knew..). I ran the Studley 'triangle' for the first time this year, let's hope it's not the last ...

Skipping is still near impossible. I skipped for a total of 2 minutes. Is so hard to skip without stopping - either my rhythm gets out of sync or I run out of puff. My mother talked about getting or borrowing my rope - now this would be fun to watch!

'Loose lips sink ships'.

Sunday 24 January 2010

Exercise by proxy*

The tail end of the week went down hill. Not down hill on a mountain bike, just down hill. The specialised had 'popped her tubes', the computer on my road bike 'said no' (but the bike did manage a trip to work), John had to pull out of the audax and I got fever.

Carmel (better known as 'Caramel') took a motherly role and prevented me from running around Ladywood reservoir with my fever. So, I resorted to 'exercise by proxy' where I visited other folks blog sites and read about their training and using transference directly benefitted from their efforts. Ron had been using his new secret weapon - a pair of rollers, Andy had been training hard for the audax and used a taxi on his return leg of a 55 miler and Si (another fellow LEJOGer) had done some magic and is now coming along to do the audax too.

Work has a habit of getting in the way of fun. With this in mind, I am taking next week off and plan to take it easy. Hopefully Scotty and I will have a few outings to comment about.'I had some christmas cards with a brussel sprout on. His name was Ian, which I thought was nice'.*

Weekly totals: Swam for 45 mins; Cycled 71 miles; Ran for 40 mins; Skipped for 4 mins.

*Title and quote courtesy of my friend Sarah G.

Thursday 21 January 2010

'The specialized' turns her wheels up

This week started off so well. Hewell Road swimming pool was re-open and I took my first swim (in that pool) of 2010. I discovered something strange - I was able to swim harder, faster and longer if I removed my goggles .... My swimming reamins poor but it is improving.

A nice couple of runs this week. Both runs were with Cody, my little 4 legged training partner. This first run was over Studley fields and the second was an awesome cross country run in Henley following an undualting path which was slippy, muddy and wet.

Skipping is a joke. It's really hard! Still trying to skip for just 2 mins without a break. Grr!

Cycled to work for the first time this year. The specialized is a lot heavier and slower than my road bike, but after a good hour and a half, she made it! Scotty is awesome and feels so incredibly light after cycling the specialized. Ron and I took Scotty on a variation of 'Ron's 1 hour loop' route which included a spot of off-road action and lots of mud. Scotty feels like a real mountain bike now (though Ron says she ain't a real bike till she's done a 100 miles). Bad news hit today though. The specialized died! Turned her wheels up! Gone! 9 miles away from work, heading for home, her chain snapped. Luckily I was only 2 miles away from a train station (and cycled a top speed of 39.7 mph down-hill with no chain). Am hoping the specialized is only 'gone' temporarily - have taken her to 'Cult Cycles' to see if they can work their magic.

Sunday 17 January 2010

Specialized menace!

My work bike, aka 'the specialized' has not been too happy since Scotty appeared on the scene. Indeed, on the self same day that Scotty came home, the specialized' front wheel skewer had seized up and had to be removed by local bike shop. Following that, the front disc brake started to rub against the wheel rim. Took the specialized to 'the meeting' (to meet Ron who would hopefully fix said problems) and could you believe it? - the rear disc brake started rubbing against the wheel rim. Grr! After much maintenance, 'love', fiddling and filing, the specialized is ready to roll again. 2 miles was all the specialized managed today, lets hope she makes the 20 mile journey to work tomorrow. If she's lucky I'll treat her to a service soon - she really does need some attention paid to brake lever, chain, casette ...

On a brighter note I managed to squeeze in a 20 min run with Cody over the 'corn fields' in Studley. It was a mostly pleasant run. Felt a wee bit sad that the lovely snow had gone. Cody ran a little bit extra today as she was chased away by 3 menace collie's.
In view of the absent snow, I took out my skipping rope. This was really, really hard work. I struggled to skip for 5 mins (out of breath, did no more than 26 revolutions at a time and sweating like crazy). I will attempt to keep skipping and start real easy - just attempting to skip continously for 2 mins. Once I am able to skip continously for 2 mins, I will try for 3 mins and keep working up. Following my skip, my calves felt stretched and somewhat painful, so I guess some good must be happening - 'no pain, no gain', right?! An article on the internet stated that skipping is 'comparable to running at 12kph when you consider the number of calories burned per minute'. Oh well, must skip ...

Weekly totals: Did not swim; Cycled 63 miles; Ran for 65 mins; and skipped for 5 mins.

Saturday 16 January 2010

Audax awareness and Scotty's first TROAD

Is only 3 weeks till my first audax event! Got an email today detailing the route and providing useful information. The good news is that there are 3 'controls', otherwise known as 'cafe or tea room stops'! Woo hoo! On the downside, it is 123k on poor tired legs. But on the plus side again, there is free food on completion of the event! The route looks pretty awesome and is divided into 3 stages (hence the 3 controls). These stages are Hartlebury to Upton, Upton to Evesham, and Evesham to Hartlebury. I remember Ron telling me all about 'audax etiquette' and our subsequent mudguard purchases. Wise old Ron, the email itself stated 'in wet conditions, as a courtesy to other riders and cafe owners, the use of mudguards is strongly recommended'. With the audax in mind and without further ado I took Scotty out for her first 'TROAD' run today with Ron and Jon (Scotty wont be doing the audax, that'll be my road bike). To be fair, this was a 'TROAD variation' route. We took a variation mostly because everywhere was incredibly flooded and patches of ice were common-place. I wouldn't be able to do a solo TROAD yet as I am still quite unfamiliar with the route. Ron, who is familiar with the route, nearly missed a turning, which incidently was called 'blind lane'. The first part of the route took us from Studley and into Ullenhall (mostly following the start to the 'deer' route), where after just 5 miles Ron punctured. I attempted to help out by inflating the damaged tube but ended up pulling the tube valve off in my pump - was a good job a puncture hole was actually present! Once back on the move again we kept weaving into and out of places that were familair and unfamailiar with me. Part of this variation route took us onto road that I cycled yesterday, on the way home from the bike shop (which is also my way into work). Am pretty convinced we skirted around Beoley and Kings Norton and somehow managed to come out into Alvechurch. From Alvechurch we headed to the Forge Mill in Redditch where we followed the Millers trail to Arrow Valley lake. This trail was awesome. It was covered in a layer of slushy ice and passed over several small bridges. Some of the trail was not visible as the river has burst it's banks and was covering the ground before us. From Arrow Valley lake we followed the cycle path all the way back to Studley over much slushy ice again. Ron and Jon were definately 'back-sliding'!

Cycled a distance of 25 miles at an average speed of 11.2 mph and a max of 33.2 mph.

Friday 15 January 2010

Asics, Dorothy and Scotty

Lots of snow at the beginning of the week. This was great because Cody and I have quite taken to running in this awesome white substance. We ran the fields of Studley on 3 consecutive days, only for 15 mins at a time, but still, we ran. Folk sometimes ask what shoes I run in, so here is a pic of my current 'kicks'. For each of my 'snow runs' I have been using these 'Asics gel trail sensor 2' shoes. I also have a pair of 'Asics gel nimbus 11' shoes which are probably better suited for running on tarmac. They would be no good in the snow because they are not made of gore-tex.

Mid-week when Cody and I were walking the snow covered fields of Studley, she made a discovery. Cody's initial find was a snow man and she started to perform a funny dance around it. It was quite amusing, until I realised that she had actually found something else. Buried under this snow man (which was in the middle of the field, a good distance from the river) was a duck. An adult duck, looking a bit worse for wear and sporting a frozen beak. There were no other ducks about and this one was obviously in need of some attention. I affectionately named the duck 'Dorothy' and took her home. Once home I wrapped Cody's hot water bottle in a tea towel (a christmas present from my ma) and placed it in a cycle shoe box. Dorothy was lifted into the box next, then ripped up pages of cycling weekly magazine packaged her in, in an attempt to keep her warm. I contacted the vet, who wasn't the most helpful, but provided me with a telephone no. for Vale Wildlife Rescue. The folk at Vale Wildlife Rescue said they could look after Dorothy, but I would have to take her there. My dad kindly agreed to take Dorothy and I to said rescue centre. The chap at the centre informed me that Dorothy was a mallard - a male duck! I don't think Dorothy minded having a mistaken gender, as her chances of survival were now improved somewhat and 'he' was going to be given fluids and much TLC. The chap at the rescue centre gave me a reference no. for Dorothy so that I could ring back and check on his fate. I made a call on friday and was told that 'the vet has done a thorough assessment ... he (the duck not the vet!) was attacked by something, he has bite wounds on his back and a fractured leg ... he is taking fluids ... if he makes it he'll have a limp'. Dorothy appears to be making progress. I may make another call next week and report progress (or otherwise) on this blog.

Following my adventure with Dorothy, I undertook some research. I was enlightened to discover that ducks 'have an opening called a cloaca that acts for both reproduction and excretion'. The definition of an egg is 'a duck in a shell suit'. (Joke courtesy of my mother).

I was hoping to pick up my new bike on monday, but it hadn't been delivered to bike shop because of the severe weather conditions (ie snow). This was probably a blessing given my past and recent history of cycle mis-haps. However, my lovely new dream machine arrived today! Woo hoo! I am now the proud owner of a Scott Scale 20 hardtail! I cycled my bike home from the bike shop and sure enough she's awesome. Because I am so original, I have named my new bike 'Scotty'. Scotty and I are going to have lots of fun together! Ron, Jon and I are planning to take Scottie on the 'TROAD' route tomorrow, but I couldn't wait that long, so did a blast of the 'deer route' tonight. The route was scarey in places as it was very foggy, incredibly flooded and there was menace ice in places. Wonder if the weekend will be as eventfull as the week thus far?!

Saturday 9 January 2010


This week has been quite awesome. Most of the UK has been covered in a blanket of snow and it has been the coldest winter for 30 years. More snow is expected so here's hoping next week will be equally as awesome.

Took my first swim of the year. It was lovely to step into a warm pool after walking in the cold crunching snow to get there. The snow had prevented a number of folk from venturing out, which was great because I had the pool to myself for a while and only had to share it with 3 others before I left.

Cycling was a no-go this week. As crazy as I may be, there was no way I was going to attempt to cycle on those frozen glassy looking roads. Shame I don't possess or have access to a turbo trainer or equivelent. Did spend time equipping my road bike with those 'crud' road racer mudguards which are 'the latest ultra-light mudguard for road bikes', weighing in at only 180g. Is not a good idea to fit these mudguards after drinking mulled wine from Aldi (even if it is award winning!), as Ron discovered as he snapped the end off a front mudguard. I paid the deposit on my new dream machine too! - hopefully, on monday I will be the proud owner of a Scott Scale hardtail...

Ran on 4 occasions this week. Each run was only for 15 minutes. My first run was around Arrow Vale lake (I used to waltz around this lake at often times when I lived in Redditch) which had completely frozen over. I was baked following this run despite the temperature being -4C. My next run was along the Alcester Road which was covered in snow. I was quite suprised how much grip the snow offered and was grateful my running shoes were made of gore-tex. The last 2 runs were in different snow covered fields around Studley and Redditch (as pictured above). Cody came along for the field runs - the -5C temperatures didn't bother her as she was wearing a fur coat (and sporting a snow beard).
I did not hop, skip or jump this week. I have the means now though - my skipping rope arrived in the post. Am not sure I can skip, but when the snow clears I will have a go and post the result here.

This week also saw the first camping expedition for me this year. Ron, John Mitchell, Mark, Christopher and I stealthily stroll into woods near Sambourne. We found a good spot to camp and busied ourselves finding wood and quickly had a roaring fire going. The night was spent chatting, drinking beer, sharing stories, star gazing and eating delicious sausages. In the early hours of the morning we crawled into our bivvy bags (no tent!) and slept underneath the stars. I guess it was about -4C and at times it snowed too. With the bright moon and tree silhoutte's it looked like a scene from E.T. We all managed to get some sleep and several hours later when we were all up, I cooked some more sausages on the same fire that was still burning. I spotted a deer just a short distance ahead when I went for my morning pee. We finished our adventure by having a friendly sledding competition - 'young' Christopher was the winner (he was only 10 or 11 years old)!

'Why do caterpillars crawl? Why is there a sky? Why is there a world at all? And why do I ask why?'
Weekly totals: Swam for 45 mins; Cycled nowhere; Ran for 60 mins.

Sunday 3 January 2010

First run of 2010!

What I'm running from and what I'm running to, I do not know. What I do know is, is that today I ran. I ran not very far, but I ran - I did not use my car. It took loads of mental pushing and coaxing to run, but go me! I ran!

Weekly totals: Did not swim; Cycled 16 miles; Ran for 15 mins.

Saturday 2 January 2010

Goodbye cube...

Today I have cycled my first miles of 2010. I took my work bike out and leisurely cycled the Deer route. I had to take it easy today following all the excess food I had over christmas, plus the fact I've been lazy and because there was lots of ice patches covering the roads. I saw no deers en-route (even the electrically lit up deer had been removed). However, I saw a loose (?stray) dog which is kinda weird, as I saw another loose dog the last time I cycled the route. The ice gave me the fear a little bit, but I felt somewhat relieved knowing that I now have insurance via the Cyclist's Touring Club (CTC).

I parted company with my cube today (the bike that was involved in my injuries last year). I sold her for a small sum and am considering my next bike. Hmm, maybe a scott scale hardtail?!

Used the diary Jane got me to record my deer route cycle. I know it's a running log book but am going to use it to record all my training and sporting achievements. Let's hope this diary records some great events!

Friday 1 January 2010

I am gonna make it through this year if it kills me...

Some folk hear voices in their head - I hear music. The title above is some lyrics from the song currently filling my head space. It's called 'this year' by 'the mountain goats', and it's not as morbid as one might think, indeed another line states 'there will be singing and dancing in Jerusalem next year'.

Anyways, welcome to a new year! I've had a lazy start to 2010. Have not even thought about running or swimming and have taken a break from cycling too. My sister Jane has kindly brought me 'the complete runner's day-by-day log 2010 calender' which is basically a diary to record all my hard work running efforts. I'll guess I'll have to start running now. Thanks Jane ...

At the start of this new year, I weigh 88kg, have 2 missing teeth, am un-fit and am feeling lazy. I hope to lose weight, replace teeth, get fit and feel motivated real soon. Let's take a journey and surf some horizon's ...

Happy New Year 2022

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