Sunday 29 April 2012

SJ's big toe!

Oh, and for those wanting to know how SJ is doing post marathon - take a look at her big toe!

Back in the saddle

First venture this week was a cycle around the TTT 20 route. Just a minute off my quickest time. Weather had forecast rain so I was wearing my new Rohan jacket - however, no rain was to be seen. The jacket was swapped to a larger size, but this was seriously too big, so I swapped back. All good now.
Wednesday would have been a great day to test my new jackets waterproofing. It was a seriously miserable day and the rain hammered down. I didn't use the new jacket though, instead I wore my old trusty jacket and went out on my mountain bike instead. I hooked up with Ron and we cycled some old paths around Astwood Bank and naughty fields. A relatively short cycle but fun all the same.

As chance would have it, Thursday was a real wet and miserable day too.  I seized the opportunity and took Cayo out to test my new jacket. The jacket performed almost perfect - it kept me completely dry and snug despite the heavy rain, menace hail and gusty winds. Only minor menace with the jacket is that under layers want to ride up and pass the sleeve ends. The route I chose to complete was the good old TROAD route. I hadn't cycled this route for a while because I kept getting lost and had forgotten about it. My cousin Aid reminded me of the route (he rode it with Ron after my wedding) and Ron emailed me the instructions today. Ron (and maybe John) created this route a long time back and it is so named because it is The Ride Of Absolute Doom. Or so they say. This ride is quite hilly (includes the menace Cobley Hill), is just over 25 miles long and for a newbie is quite demanding. Todays ride was not quite as demanding as I previously remembered and we all know bigger and better hills. TROAD is the perfect ride however, if you want some climbing action but only have a couple of hours to spare. Ron rides an extended TROAD, maybe I'll ride that next week and feed back.

Weekly totals: Cycled 62 miles.

Monday 23 April 2012

SJ's London Marathon 2012 Experience

This week saw SJ complete the London 2012 Marathon! What an awesome experience! Fantastic achievement SJ - well done. Please scroll down to read more about SJ's run.

The week started great and finished great too. To start I took Florence out for her usual TTT 20 route and completed it in my fastest time yet! 2 minutes faster than my previous best time and 7 minutes faster than my first recorded attempt. Well pleased. Took my Heart Rate (HR) measurements and as expected both my average and maximum HR was higher than previous attempts.
Repeated the TTT 20 route again on Tuesday. Not as fast as previous day (what do you expect?!) and my HR was a little lower too. Weather forecast today was not good, but I fared okay. Heavy rain just before I set out but was fine during ride. Wore my new jacket which was great, kept me very snug and warm, however feel the arms could be a little longer. Think I will try and swap jacket for an extra large. Am also thinking of putting mud-guards on Florence and making her an all-weather machine.

Thursday saw me complete the TTT 20 route for a third time this week. Sadly, I noted a strange phenomena - the more I cycle the slower I get! This was my slowest lap this week - a whole 5 minutes slower than the first cycle this week.

On Friday I headed down to London with my folks to meet up with SJ and Lin. SJ and Lin had been out preparing SJ for her marathon. This preparation involved the buying of lots of gels, hydration drinks and the likes and, of course, registering for the event. 
Saturday was spent chilling out and Sunday was SJ's marathon - the London 2012 Marathon! Early Saturday morning, SJ, Lin, Ma, Pa and I took to the trains and tube and made our way to Greenwich. We dropped SJ off at her start point and then hooked up with my buddy Chris Hodge.

Whilst SJ was mentally preparing for her race, the rest of us were munching on some 'secret' bacon sarnies that Lin had made - delicious. So long was the wait for the start, we munched on additional cup cakes and drank tea. And then the race began!

We made our way to Cutty Sark to get our first glimpse of SJ, about 6 miles from her start point. Watching all these folk (about 36,000 of them) made my eyes go funny and I felt like I was tripping out. So much so, I didn't see SJ as she ran straight past! I knew she was there because the others had spotted her so I shouted out 'SARAH JANE' all the same. Raced around the course to another bend and caught glimpse of my wife this time and shouted her name again. It was awesome seeing her, she looked fit and happy and I was very proud.

We made an (un)educated guess as to what time SJ would reach the Tower Bridge and battled our way there through masses of people and utilised public transport. We didn't see SJ, she was running faster than we predicted. What a super star! It was good supporting others all the same. 'Come on Guss, you don't need a buss'. 'Go Jane you ain't feeling no pain'. Etc.

We made our way to the 20 mile mark. Whilst waiting and cheering on others, SJ phoned. SJ phoned me a couple of times during her run and assured me she was running at the same time. Crazy girl! About 20 seconds after this call, SJ spotted me, came over and gave me a big hug and a big big kiss! Wow. She looked great, happy, and appeared to be thoroughly enjoying this experience. 
SJ told me later that after conquering the 16 mile mark it was no real bother as she just told herself 'only 10 miles left, I can run that'. And run that she did! Never saw SJ run her final stretch, but she ran it in style - sprinting the last mile. SJ completed her marathon in a very impressive 4 hours and 51 minutes! Way to go SJ! She got a pat on the back, a 'well done' and a well deserved medal!
Thanks to everyone who supported SJ and especially those who sponsored her. She was raising funds for the BackCare charity and reached (and exceeded) her £1,500 target. Well done. Please visit SJ's own page here:

Big claps also go to Jas Payne and Simon Hook, 2 of our friends, for running and completing this marathon too. You can read Jas's story by clicking on the link to her blog on the right of the screen under 'the blog's that I'm stalking' section. Well done all!

Weekly totals: Cycled 60 miles; SJ ran her first marathon! 

Monday 16 April 2012

The mysterious disappearance of Killer Chris

This week I did mostly nothing...

Sarah Jane and I planned to have another session with Chris - the personal trainer guy, but as is his style, he vanished. SJ planned to run this week, however house chores put play to that. I planned to go out cycling lots this week, but the weather amongst other things prevented that. Kick boxing was something that SJ and I were gonna try this week, maybe we will 'after the marathon'.

I did manage to get out for one cycle. I took Florence for a lap of the TTT 20 route. This was nearly a no-goer, it had been raining and Florence is a fair weather bike. However, the rain had stopped and the sun shone just long enough for me to complete my cycle. I forgot to record my heart rate.

Towards the end of the week, SJ and I went shopping (with gift monies from our wedding). We decided to buy just a couple of sporty items. I got myself a lovely, bright orange, Rohan cycling jacket that is fully waterproof and windproof. SJ got herself a child's badminton racket (an adult racket is too long for her and she always catches her arm on the handle).
On Sunday, we put SJ's new racket to good use. We played our first game of badminton as a married couple in our first game for ages. We played at Studley Leisure Centre, which again was a first for us. It was a great game - though it never really brings the best of us two out. Final score - 3 all.
Weekly totals: Cycled 20 miles.

Sunday 8 April 2012

Sam Weller's April Foolery not to mention my own!

April foolery indeed! SJ and I spent the first day of this week with a character from last year. Yes, Monday was spent in the company of Chris. Not Chris Hodge (aka Mr Orange) - he's away in Bulgaria, badger baiting or something. Not Chris Edwards (Mr Potato Head) - he's safely away in Newbury, with the rest of the Berks! (Pun, Ha!) And no, not Aunty Chris - that's just silly. Our evening was spent with 'killer' Chris (aka Chris PT). This Chris was the guy who provided SJ and I with personal training sessions for a few weeks last year before mysteriously disappearing. We weren't sure what happened to him, but remembered his sessions were fun although left us feeling crippled each time. Anyways, Chris PT got back in touch and we had another session. And we left feeling crippled. It was fun doing all sorts of exercise (including boxing, running, sit-ups etc) at Morton Stanley Park and we plan to have another session next week.
Tuesday was my first cycle of the week. I took Florence out for a lap of the TTT 20 route in the morning and have now cycled 100 miles on this new machine! Was a good cycle and I completed this in my quickest time (which is still 1 hour and 11 minutes). I wore my heart rate (HR) monitor today just for fun and it revealed that my average HR (AHR) was 142 and my maximum HR (MHR) was 179. This basically means that my heart was working out at about 70% of it's maximum and reached over 90%. Wow, how cool. I might record my HR the next few times I cycle the TTT 20 route and see (hope) I can reduce my AHR and quicken my time.
Wednesday's April Madness was clear to see and feel. Despite only being 4 days into April, the weather had gone mad. Last week (for my wedding) we had glorious sunny weather, on this day we had rain, sleet and snow! So bad was the weather, I decided not to take Florence out as was previously planned. Florence has no mud-guards and is a fair-weather bike. Instead I did a solo run around the Studley Triangle. It felt strange not having SJ running beside me (she was at work).

No exercising on Thursday, however another goal was accomplished! SJ had raised a total of £1,500 for her chosen charity (BackCare). SJ pledged to raise this total for her bond place in the London 2012  marathon. Big, big thanks to all those who have supported and sponsored SJ - that's one weight off her shoulders. At time of writing, SJ has just 16 days to go until another weight is lifted and she runs said marathon. For those who would like further updates about SJ's progress or for those wishing to donate to her cause, please follow this link: Well done SJ!

On Friday, SJ laced up her new kicks and took me for a run. We ran the extended Studley Triangle. For such a miserable looking day, we soon heated up.
Saturday saw me complete the Sam Weller's April Foolery audax (as pictured above). This was a 204k cycling event, scoring 1.75AAA points. Started this audax at 8 a.m in Tewkesbury. This was the first 200k I had ridden this year, and my first as a married man. (Some of the random pictures on this blog are choice cards sent for my wedding). The first stage wasn't too bad and led to Bromyard where I stopped to eat beans on toast washed down with a mug of tea. The second stage was quite fat and flash initially but soon reverted to undulating again. The weather was pretty awful and waterproofs had to be used. The second control was in Ludlow, a very pretty area. Had just a shortbread biscuit, apple and cup of tea here before heading off. This next control was very long (77k) and very hilly in places. Stopped about halfway through this stage just to eat a hot cross bun. Yum! Got to the control at Wormelow Tump feeling pretty whacked and decided to stop for quite a rest and more food. At this junction there was just one cyclist ahead of me. Whilst I sat down and ate a bag of crisps, sausage roll and boost bar, I saw about another 5 cyclists come into the control and promptly leave. With just 50k left to go, I remounted my cycle and sped off towards the arrivee. This last section was still undulating but mostly descending I think (check the profile below). Felt pleased once I reached the arrivee, at last a 200k under my belt and the necessary AAA points for April.
During this audax I covered 126 miles and it took 10 hours and 3 minutes. Strangely, Mark Rigby (the organiser) was able to validate brevet cards at the finish and return them straightaway instead of having to post them out. Great stuff.

Weekly totals: Ran 7.2 miles; Cycled 147 miles.

Monday 2 April 2012

Honeymoon, part 1

Had a wonderful wedding day and a great honeymoon. Our honeymoon is in 2 parts, the first part took place at Studley Castle and Weston Super Mare and the second part will take place sometime in the future in China and Hong Kong. Although only recently married, this did not stop SJ (my wife) and I from exercising.
Indeed, SJ and I ran on the second day of our honeymoon. Our run was in sweltering heat. God had blessed us with perfect weather for our wedding and this summer like weather continued for the whole duration of our honeymoon. The run started from Kewstoke, where we were staying, right beside the sea front. Almost immediately we were running through a very undulating track through Weston Woods. The woods were hard work but the tree cover provided nice shade from the hot sun. My thoughts only momentarily turned to cycling as we passed an awesome BMX track created in these woods. Once out of the woods we ran a little on the road, passing the old Weston pier before crossing a jetty over a lake. After the lake we ran across Weston's sea front passing the new pier all the way until we ran out of sea front. Strangely, I got wolf whistled when I removed my top. We stopped and downed a bottle of water here before embarking on our return journey. On our return, we ran across the beach front until we reached the pier then essentially ran the same route back that we initially followed. A great run, but I was somewhat whacked by the time we finished.
Midweek proved to be pretty awesome on the exercise front. First off, I took Scotty for a lap around the Breadcrumb Trail. Crossed over naughty fields to reach said trail. The ground was rock hard and the weather had continued to be kind and warm. At one point I was suspended momentarily in the air - my camelbak had become caught in a tree. After hovering for just a few seconds the elastic cord snapped! Grr, much menace. Mark Weaver keeps all his tools and kit in a separate bottle in his 2nd bottle cage - this may be the way forward?! After the trail I visited old trails that lead near to Studley Castle. Didn't quite make it to the top of Thistle Fall Hill but hey, so what. Passed through the 'bird park', down the big hill and thought about my honeymoon as I caught site of the Castle. Returned home feeling jolly after my morning out. Better yet, my wife came home early too. SJ took me for a run. We ran the extended Studley Triangle. We didn't do too bad considering it was still real hot. Am pleased it's SJ running the London marathon and not my good self!

The last adventure of the week really sealed the fact that I'm glad SJ is running a marathon and not me! I accompanied her (on Queeny, my bike) on one of her long runs. SJ ran, without stopping all the way to Alcester. From Alcester she continued to Oversley Woods and ran around them. I'm sure she won't mind me pointing this out, but let me tell you, when she first started running, a run around the woods would be more than enough for her. After the woods, she ran back to Alcester via Kinwarton and then ran some more all the way back to Studley! SJ didn't even moan or groan! I felt tired and I was on my bike! Well done SJ and thanks for the little tuck stop on the return route!

Oh, and married life is awesome!
Weekly totals: Ran 11.3 miles; Cycled 38 miles.

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