Friday 27 March 2015

Parkrunning across the universe...

Another great start to the week. Ran my third Parkrun and could you believe it - Aid (my cousin) joined me. Against all odd's, he ran. Better yet, I think he actually enjoyed it! I finished in 39th place out of 281 runners and came 8th in my age category. I set another personal best and ran this run with a time of 22:14. Was very happy with my time and know I can better this as I didn't do a sprint finish. Aid did well on his first ever 5k run, his time was 31:25.

I cycled to the start and finish of the Parkrun event which was nice. Once back home, I changed into my 'proper' cycling gear and joined Aid again for a cycling jolly. We cycled a route similar to the one I cycled with Roger last week on his tandem. We omitted the Cofton Hackett hills and added a little detour from the Jimney Ring. A good all-round day though felt we should really have finished with a swim!
Finished the week with a usual to and back cycle commute. The chocolate smell that I could sniff as I passed Cadbury's was delicious. I've been informed they actually make chocolate bicycles!

Friday 20 March 2015

Doo's 40th and recollections of yesteryear!

It was my 40th birthday this week and sure enough I had the usual hippopotamus greetings and salutations on the celebration of my arrival into the World. Thanks to all those who sent me well wishes and the like. High five's to all those who sent me cards, texts, messages, monies and gifts.
A number of my cards appeared to follow a sporty theme. Lots of bicycles for sure. My wife SJ also got me a sporty birthday cake which was decorated with an impression of my good self cycling my commute bike. Nice touch and it tasted delicious!
A number of my gifts also followed a sporty theme. Such gifts included running arm warmers, whey and protein bars and a drink safe water-to-go bottle (all courtesy of Lin). With my birthday monies I purchased an awesome pair of Brooks PureGrit 3 trail running shoes and 2 pairs of running shorts (thanks SJ, Ma and Pa, Kim and Aunty Chris). I had a whole bunch of other great stuff too including a very classy watch (cheers SJ) indicating that my time is nearly up...
Am not sure how many days I have left on this planet but 40 does feel like a half-way point to me. 'Down hill from here mate'. Looking forward might be a good idea but I haven't done that, oh no, I've looked back and managed to find a whole list of previously completed sporty events. In this list is my first ever 5k and 10k race, as well as my first LEJOG trip. Wow, I ran a 5k race like nearly 7 years ago. Where does time go? Have a butchers at my list and you'll have some idea!
  • 1 – 12 Sept 2009 LEJOG cycle, 971.57 miles (raised £372.10 for CMaD)
  • 18 Aug 2009 Wedgnock Summer Race Series, Race 4 (Warwick) 10k. Finished 60/103 (50:35)
  • 25 July 2009 Fierce 10 Run (Moreton Morrell, Warwickshire) 10 miles (harsh hills, mud pits, horse jumps and water wading). Finished 56/71 (1:31:18)
  • 16 July 2009 Wedgnock Summer Race Series, Race 3 (Warwick) 10k. Finished 51/96 (48:55)
  • 4 July 2009 Birmingham and Black Country 1/2 Marathon Run, 13.1 miles. Finished 281/637 (1:57:32)
  • 18 June 2009 Wedgnock Summer Race Series, Race 2 (Warwick) 10k. Finished 65/118 (50:55)
  • 21 May 2009 Wedgnock Summer Race Series, Race 1 (Warwick) 10k. Finished 81/126 (52:40)
  • 18 – 25 Apr 2009 Lapland Husky Trail, Arctic Sled Challenge (Norway/Sweden) 250k. (Raised £128.50 for CMaD)
  • 7 Mar 2009 Clumber Park Sprint Duathlon (Nottinghamshire) Run 5k – Bike 20k – Run 2.5k. Finished 70/134 (1:20:57). (Run 1 26:11, Bike 41:31, Run 2 13:14). (Raised £72.50 for CMaD)
  • 31 Jan 2009 Wedgnock Winter Mud & Mayhem Cross Country Run, Race 3 (Warwick) 10k.  Finished 77/122 (1:05:37). (Raised £66 for CMaD)
  • 27 Dec 2008 Wheaton Aston Road Run, Race (Stafford) 10k. Finished 291/387 (55:13). (Raised £134.65 for CMaD)
  • 19 Oct 2008 Maid Marion Cross Country (Trail) Run (Nottingham) 5k. Finished 35/88 (28:47). (Raised £271.67 for CMaD)

Wednesday 18 March 2015

Parkrun/Studley Triangle/Lunar Cycle/Tandem

Started this week by running my 2nd Parkrun event at Arrow Valley Park. In a kinda duathlon style, I cycled to and from the event as well. I finished in 38th place (out of 315) and came 10th in my age category. Better yet, I set a new PB (personal best) at this event and had my fastest time this year. My super funky TomTom GPS watch thing crashed which was disappointing (think it needed a software update) but all good now and at least the Parkrun folk provide official results. Just like my previous run here, Strava measured it as 4.9k! My actual, official run time was 22:25.

According to Runner's World magazine (April 2015) a whopping 20% of 'mental factors such as motivation and self-belief contribute to sporting success'. So, with much determination and a dose of self-belief - I wonder if I could run a 5k in 20 minutes?! The other 80% probably involves training etc.. Hmm...

Ran again in the week. On this occasion I ran the Studley Triangle. Nice run which measured 4.98k on my TomTom (how annoying - I wanted a bang on 5k). Had planned to run the day before but 'forgot' of my plans and ate too much breakfast to run on. I had work and planned to run back but again 'forgot' and purchased a return rail ticket. The heavens opened big time so perhaps it was for the best.
Doo, SJ, Melody and Lunar
First ride of the week was with Lunar. We cycled to Arrow Valley Lake to meet up with SJ and Melody. The valve burst in the tube before we set off which was a trifle menace.
It was fun watching Lunar play at the park and feed the ducks at Arrow Valley Lake. One of the killer ducks nipped us both but I managed to fend off said duck before she fed on Lunar or took her back to her lair. After expending so much energy it was no surprise that Lunar fell asleep on our trek back home.
A killer duck, be warned...
Mid-week, I cycled my last ever trek as a chap in his 30's. Interestingly enough, I spent this trip with a 70 plus year old! Indeed, this was an adventure with Roger and 'The Beast' (his tandem). We cycled over 50 miles on this adventure and our journey is presented below.
So much adventure in one tandem trip. Almost upon leaving Rogers address we zoomed down a hill at over 50 kph (which felt really fast on this tandem, especially considering this was only my second trip out on said bike, not to mention the fact that Roger was totally blind). We had a great day out and despite it initially being a little chilly, the return leg was like a summers day. Some of the roads we cycled were part of the Snowdrop Express. We cycled past Jonny Edgers farm (and Inknet). Much wildlife was seen and I got within a foot of some lovely bird of prey and almost hit a random stray dog. At one junction we had to dismount the bike because we (I) ignored signs that said 'road closed'. The road was having steaming hot tarmac laid down and much heavy machinery was blocking the road. The workers kindly let us past with a couple walking Roger through safely. The workers warned that the tyres would pop if they touched the hot tarmac. The last few k was a real sting in the tail as the road we whizzed down at the start, now had to be climbed. Not a massive hill but felt big on a tandem - we climbed a height of over 200 metres. Better yet, I had used the gears to move the chain on the front triple chain ring (into the granny gear) for the first time. My second tandem lesson was a real treat! Looking forward to my next trip already!
Hilliness profile of tandem adventure

Saturday 14 March 2015

Every good boy deserves fudge

First ride of the week was a jolly with Aid. Hadn't ridden with him for a long time, so this made a welcome change. We both cycled using my bikes - Aid took my MTB and I used my cycle-cross. We cycled to the Arrow Valley Lake so I could point out the start of the Parkrun events. Aid says he'll run a Parkrun with me in a couple of weeks. Place your bets now, I reckon he'll be a DNS! We finished our trek by cycling the familiar Deer route. Nice.
All my cycling activities this week used the same bike - my Genesis Day One single-speed cycle-cross. I had fitted her with a new saddle, a Brooks Cambium. This saddle was just fine (although more flexible than my other Cambium Brooks saddle). I figured that since I spend most days on this bike a comfortable perch should be a must. Not disappointed! Tested this saddle on a work and back commute and 2 additional jollies in the week!

Only ran on one occasion. This was my run from Cadbury's into work. Each and every time I have ran this route it has taken me 33 minutes (according to Strava).
This week I also got my hands on a new toy! This toy, or gadget, was a TomTom multi-sport cardio GPS sports watch. Have only used it once thus far (on my last cycle trip) but already consider it the dogs doo-dah's. It has functions that allow it to be used for cycling, swimming and running. Better yet it measures heart rate without the need of a chest strap. Expensive - yes. However, my buddy Chris works for TomTom so I was able to negotiate 'mates rates'. 

Friday 6 March 2015

Parkrun and the usual fun

Started this week with my very first ever Parkrun. Parkrun are a kind or organisation that organise free, weekly timed 5k runs around the world. They are open to everyone and relatively easy to take part in. All such events take place in pleasant parkland surroundings and my event was held at Arrow Valley Lake. These events aren't races as such, however, I really wanted to beat all the best expected 5k times for my buddies on Strava. Out of my list of friends, I am currently the slowest. Phil B is top of the leader board with a time of 19:39 (of which I'm spurious curious), followed by Alex 24:10, Trev 24:54 and John 'Mitchum' 24:49 who I most want to beat. John and I have spoken about this Parkrun event and hope to meet up one time in the future and 'race'. Ha! My current best expected time is 26:01. Hmmm.
The weather was a bit grizzly on my first Parkrun but that didn't stop approximately 300 people taking part. I started near the front and man, it was a little congested. Not long into the run and everyone was a little more spaced out. I ran so hard, I felt 'spaced out' in a different sense! It was 2 laps around the lake and a little extra to the start and finish to make it 5k. Only thing was, my Garmin forerunner watch recorded route as being only 4.9k. Grr! Because of this discrepancy, my estimated best 5k time remained unchanged. How annoying, especially considering my finish time was 23:29 (according to watch), or 22:18 according to Strava. My official time was 23:28, and I finished 49th out of 282. Very pleased with my first Parkrun.
Whichever time I choose to use, they all beat the estimated 5k best efforts of the majority of my Strava buddies. Phil B, in fact, was the only exception - he remained ahead. Most importantly Johnny Mitchum was beat, however, due to the distance discrepancy, John was still ahead. Our comparisons were as follows:
Mitchum vs Doo
As can be seen from the table above, our 1 k distances matched. I'm currently a second behind on the 1 mile best effort. The 5k remains unchanged. Hmmm. Just wait for our first race! (Since posting, John has upped his game and has even better estimates. Grrr).

I ran once more in the week. This was my now familiar towpath run between Bournville and work. This time I ran from, rather than to, work. Just as I was nearing the finish another runner caught me up and engaged in conversation (couldn't he see I had ear phones on?!) which was kinda nice but rather unexpected. This other chap had also ran from town but his finish was Solihull - he was doing a 12 mile trip!

Even more unexpectedly was a message from Phil B (via Strava) which read ''I wish you hadn't beaten my best time on your first one!''. How cool. I'm so pleased I did. I think I will run further Parkrun events just to experience faster running. Maybe I'll cycle to and from future Parkrun events too.
Feeling like a proper, real runner and all, I got the latest edition of Runner's World magazine (March 2015). Quoting from p27 it read 'Fitter muscles can help you combat stress... Mice bred to have well conditioned muscles didn't develop depressive symptoms when they were exposed to prolonged stress, while normal mice did'. The study indicated that well trained muscles have higher levels of an enzyme that purges the body of kynurenine, a substance produced during times of stress that's linked to depression. Same page also stated that 15 weekly miles is 'associated with a 40% reduction in deaths from Alzheimer's disease'. I found this most interesting, as I am a Psychiatric Nurse, who's currently into running and feeling really quite stressed out!
Work had been quite challenging of late, and as this is a blog about my challenge menace's, allow me waffle on a little. End of April last year I was fortunate enough to start managing a small team of nurses (4 including myself) on a suicide prevention pilot. We were all seconded for a 12 month period and have made good progress to date creating, developing and maintaining this service. Sadly, all 3 of the nurses in my team are leaving as they have all applied for new posts and been successful (which is great), moving on to higher graded positions. This has left me with a huge gap to fill - I require 3 nurses to join a newly developed team and have had to advertise vacancies in a speedy manner and am looking to interview next week. Seconded posts only require a months notice and the training of new staff will take some time. On top of that, there has been little interest largely because I can only advertise a 3 month secondment to those joining my team (as funding has not yet been confirmed). I think I best keep running!
Cycled to work commuter style on two occasions throughout the week. Largely uneventful. Jenny Genesis had been kitted out with a rather funky new Fender front mudguard thing though (£3.33 Plane X). It didn't fit properly initially, but with a little 'Tim Tool-man Taylor' trickery it fitted just fine. The black bands are gone, it attached using allen bolt screws on the down tube. Also fitted a new Cambium Brooks saddle to this bike too! Well, it felt so good on my other bike and I figured I spend more (most) days on this bike. I chose the darker slate colour this time around. The neutral colour looked better but slate suited this bike. Strangely, this saddle did not come in a fancy box like the last and the saddle felt slightly different too - it was more flexible than the other one. Hmmm. Yet to test this new saddle but will report back soon! 

Happy New Year 2022

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