Saturday 25 April 2015


On reflection, the past week wasn't so bad on the training front. Well, it started well but just ended a trifle pants. Hmmm.

Monday was a bicycle commute to work and back. On my trip to work I cycled a stretch I had never cycled before and indeed there be dragons! On my return I nearly killed a few folk because despite my bell ringing they just didn't want to move out of my way.

Tuesday was a run commute in both directions. Running from Cadbury's into work felt fine. However, during the return plod I felt tired and out of puff. Despite my mantra 'I'm running away from work', I still felt awful. I ran approximately 8 miles in all. I'm not sure if this counted as a long run as it was in 2 parts.

Wednesday was a repeat of Monday. Well, kinda anyway. Another bicycle commute but on familiar route and no death wish folk.

Thursday was my biggest run in months, probably years. I ran 6 miles all the way from Kings Norton train station into work. This run felt good and it took me just under an hour. Felt nice to be wearing my new running vest/jacket thing too. Am not sure if this run was 'long' in the grand scheme of things, but it was a long run for me. I hope to run a long run at least once a week now.
And that was that for my week. I had hoped to enter Parkrun on Saturday but that didn't materialise. Sadly I felt whacked, de-motivated and generally fed up and couldn't push myself to run. On top of that I had to work too. Phil had ran Parkrun and had gotten another PB (well done!) - if I was certain he was going to be there perhaps I would have attended too. Aid was a no show due to his bust ankle. On the subject of running downers, John Mitchum is now beating my expected best results on Strava too. Grr!

To end this blog on a brighter note... Got an email from Madegood and they reported that the London-Edingburgh-London film is going to be screened (premiere) on 1 August 2015. How awesome! Click here for LEL film trailer.

Saturday 18 April 2015

No PBP. Another PB. A forest. Training for the olympics.

Today I did not ride my planned PBP 300k qualifying event. There went my plans for PBP. Not to worry, I successfully completed same in 2011. I've got the medal. I haven't got the shirt though because I gave that to Chris.

Today I ran my 5th Parkrun at Arrow Valley. I finished in 40th place out of 336 runners and had a time of 21:51. That meant I had again achieved a PB (personal best) and ran my fastest 5k ever! Phil Brown was running today too which was nice. He also achieved a PB and felt I had inspired him to do so.

Wanting a new challenge, I asked friends and family for suggestions. Gary suggested the London or New York marathon. Jamie suggested a 5k run in under 20 minutes. Most folk gave no suggestions. I liked Gary's suggestions. Jamie was just being silly.
Have entered the ballot for London Marathon a number of times but never got a place and have missed out this year. It would be a lovely marathon to run - I know this because my lovely wife completed it in 2012. New York is a lovely place (have visited) but I couldn't possibly afford a flight and stuff to get there and run. Am sure I could enter another marathon though...
SJ running the London Marathon
And that's exactly what I have done. I have entered the 'Heart of England Forest Marathon'. This is a 26.2 mile, off-road run, that starts and finishes in the Medieval market town of Henley-in-Arden. The route passes through Ullenhall, Coughton, Alcester and Aston Cantlow - all destinations just a spit away from where I live. Entry was only £15 and my entry fee ensures that one native tree (Silver Birch, Oak or Beech) will be planted in the new forest. How cool is that?! Will have plenty of time to train too, the event is not until 3 Oct 2015.
Heart of England Forest Marathon (suggested route)
Got a buzz from all this new excitement. In my eagerness I started training for the Olympics as can be seen in the video below. I wonder if I'm pushing things just a little... Doo training for the olympics

Friday 17 April 2015

No PBP for me :(

This week was a bummer! I was looking forward to cycling my second qualifying event for the PBP with Chris, Jamie, Andy and Becky but sadly it wasn't to be. 2 days before the event, in classic Chris style, he decided he wasn't going to ride said 300k event. Worse still, Chris said he couldn't be bothered with the qualifying events full stop, so in effect, he had thrown in the towel for any plans of PBP. I knew I could still ride the 300k event with some good friends and potentially have some fun but the PBP was then over for me too. I had booked my 400k and 600k events especially to ride with my buddy Chris and would not want to cycle these events solo style. I had preferred events in mind, but chose these events so I could cycle with Chris. These events all started in Poynton and were far from home (for both Chris and I). If I had known Chris was a 'no go' I would have chose more local events and cycled with Ron, and maybe Jamie and Andy. In addition to that, I paid to do these events and paid for accommodation too! Grr! Chris said he didn't enjoy the 200k event last week and didn't realise I was only cycling PBP because of him. This story might sound a trifle familiar - Chris encouraged me to cycle LEL with him, then he pulled out. I would never have attempted to get a pass for PBP if Chris had not showed an interest. All this guff hasn't been posted to have a dig at Chris, rather to explain the reasons for why I am not continuing with my planned rides. Not completing the PBP wasn't such a big issue for me, I have a PBP medal already and a big tick next to PBP on my bucket list. My frustration was with the fact that I had been training since Christmas for this event and had 'messed my wife's head up' with pleas and plans and nonsense. My mate Ron will be disappointed too.
On a brighter note, I cycled a lovely commute to work and back this week. The weather was great - bright and sunny. So nice was the weather that I didn't have to wear my usual cycling jacket. On this trip I debuted my new Rapha cross country jersey! I had also changed the tyres on my Genesis bike back to my 'summer' ones. I prefer my commute on dry bright days compared to wet dark ones.

On the running front, I ran 3 times! Each run was my usual run to work. First run and I chose to run intervals but instead of walking during the rests, I jogged instead. My heart rate didn't appear to dramatically change in line with my pace. Hmm, I wonder why not. For compare and contrast purposes I have added 2 graphs below which show my heart rate and pace for each of the interval runs I have completed to date.
The graph above shows pace in blue and heart rate in red. I warmed up for 10 minutes, the ran intervals - hard for 1 minute followed by a rest (walking) for one minute. I then jogged to cool down. It looks quite dramatic don't you think?!
The run above shows the data following a 10 minute warm up, then ran intervals. The intervals were a hard run for 30 seconds followed by a 1 minute rest (jogging). I then jogged some more to cool down. My heart rate didn't look quite so dramatic and didn't appear in tune with my pace.

My other runs were just my usual plod from start to finish. I was quite tired on the last run and think I might have over worked my poor calf muscles a little. This was all still kinda new to me.

Now that PBP plans are dashed, I just might invest more time to running. I have no major plans or goals. I'd like to chase something, any ideas welcome....

Sunday 12 April 2015

2 Battles

This week started with the completion of my first qualifying event for PBP. This event was the '2 Battles' 200k audax. An event that I have cycled before as both a permanent and calendar event. At just before 8 a.m. I met up with Chris, Jamie, Andy and Trev ready for the start of this adventure. Each and everyone one of us had that 'can't be bothered attitude' and had clearly lost our mojo's. The weather was pants, it was cold and wet with dark clouds above. Chris and I were testing some 'secret' video recording camera's but my phone app was playing up too. 

Once we set off, it just got colder and wetter. Despite wearing waterproof shorts and shoe covers, my bum and feet still got wet. Slowly, I lost feeling in my hands and feet were becoming numb. Chris and I kept losing contact with 'the lads' before gaining contact again. I think we got to the first control before the lads but definitely left after them. Chris and I had a real proper audax breakfast you see - beans and eggs on toast - the lads just had cake. 
What no real audax breakfast?!
This was a welcome stop. Not only did I eat well, I stripped off many layers and allowed my stuff to dry (or at least warm) on the radiators. Am quite the professional now...
Chris and our drying layers
We had cycled about 50k up until the first control. Now we had eaten breakfast, the rain had gone and the sun came out. Blue skies replaced the grey and it didn't rain again. Fuelled, dry and returned feelings to my digits, this section proved a little better than the first. The route was a lot more lumpy than I remembered though with a few tough climbs (with some cyclists walking).
Hilliness profile of the 2 battles
We had an info control at the 80k point, where we had to name a pub. The pub was called the 'Witch and Sow', probably named after some of the locals in the village. We stopped for a short break here and after leaving I remembered my glasses were left on a wall. I returned to reclaim them witch was a bit of a sow (see what I did there?!) After about a further 20k we reached the half way point and the next control.

This control was ok but I felt ripped off paying £6 for a 'bowl' of pasta which was more like a 'saucer'. The lads had gotten here before Chris and I and left before us too. Much faffing as I toyed with layer changes and stuff.

This next section was tough. The wind was blowing against us which in turn was making us huff and puff. It was quite a battle fighting against it. 2 Battles, hmm, the rain and the wind? During this stage I stole a pull from a group of 3 others which helped me evade the wind for a brief spell. I chased after this group of three because I was convinced it was Jamie, Andy and Trev. It was only when I tried conversing with Jamie that I realised it wasn't him. Their likeness was uncanny, and I took a photo (at the finish) just to demonstrate what a convincing imposter this guy was....
Jamie dopple
The penultimate control was a Shell garage where we finally caught up with the real Jamie and the lads. I awarded myself with sandwich and ice cream for getting this far. Sadly my ice cream (actually a Feast) dropped off the stick before I could take my last bite. Oh well...
It was nice to cycle the final stage as a group of five. I think we were all a bit pooped but the banter and general chit chat helped us to forget our aches and pains and took us to the finish with no real worries. A relatively tough day out for a teeny weeny 200k qualifying ride - just a 300, 400 and 600k event to go now. Oh, and the 300k qualifier is next weekend...

Chris and I celebrated our achievement with a weird and wonderful fish carvery with ice cream and toppings for dessert. Delicious, made the hard work kinda worthwhile. Have no idea how our recordings went - Chris reclaimed his camera. Should he send me the finished movie result, I'll post a link to this wonderful blog.

Saturday 11 April 2015

Another PB

Started the week by completing my 4th ever Parkrun at Arrow Valley Lake. The start had to be moved into a completely new area because the 'Pikey Fair' was in town. Runners weren't too sure where the finish would be. Regardless of the (new) start and finish lines, I finished in 37th place out of a field of 319 runners. I set a new personal best and ran my fastest time ever. My time was 22:10, 4 seconds faster than my previous PB. Cycled to and from the start which was nice.
Heart rate made pretty patterns during my 'interval commute'
Am wanting and hoping to run a 5k in a time of 20 minutes and despite my last 4 races at Parkrun getting progressively quicker, I am still over 2 minutes behind my ideal time. I read somewhere that the only way to run fast, is to run fast. Sounds kinda obvious. However, a lot of my research seems to suggest that running at speed is a good way to improve one’s times and suggests ‘speed work’ or ‘intervals’ is a good way of doing this. With that in mind, I ran my fist work commute ‘interval style’. I ran a familiar route (Bournville into work – 6.5k) but instead of plodding from start to finish, I added a bunch of intervals in the middle section. Essentially, I plodded for 10 minutes (warm up), ran 6 sets of intervals (1 min fast running followed by 1 min walking – recovery) and then plodded to the finish (cool down). My run took longer than usual (about an extra 4 mins) but I felt that perhaps my training was more specific now – who knows? I think I might reduce my fast running times to 30 seconds because I found I couldn’t run hard for 60 seconds at a time and naturally slowed. I’ll keep the recovery time the same. Is all new to me but I guess it’s good to experiment. I wont interval run more than once in any week. I did run one more time in the week, another run commute but this run was just a plod from beginning to end.

Cycled into work on Tuesday and boy, it really was a misty day! Quite nippy first thing in the morning. On the return leg, it was really bright and sunny. So bright and sunny in fact, that the whole of Birmingham seemed to come to life. I hadn't seen the towpath so occupied in such a long time. Commuting became a bit of a menace as the 'one way' tunnels were starting to form queues and the tunnel dwellers appeared reluctant to leave their shelter. It was misty again on my next cycle commute on the Thursday. Terribly warm on the return leg again too. Once home, I removed the winter tyres from my bike and swiftly replaced with the summer ones. Spring has sprung!

Friday 3 April 2015

A busy week

A number of my friends, families and associates have been doing or have planned all sorts of wonderful things of late. Lin is raising monies for 'Population Matters' and plans to cycle 100 miles, check out her page here: Lin's page. Jess Pearson is planning to climb Mount Snowdon at midnight and raise money for Alzheimers, visit her page here: Jess's page. Dave Bushel plans to raise money for prostate cancer awareness by cycling 100 miles, check his page here: Dave's page. Si and Andy will be raising monies soon too for charity by cycling the Tour de France a week before the professionals (watch this space). 

Closer to home, Ron had been busy acquiring bike related stuff. His current mantra being ‘buy bike stuff now, repent later’. He had some wonderful new kit but don’t think his Mrs was too impressed. Ron has been busy completing qualifying events for PBP.

That’s what other folk are doing, what about me?! Well, I plan to complete my 200 and 300 PBP qualifiers this month and hope to ride with Jamie, Andy, Trev, Becky Burns and potentially Chris. Most of us are contemplating PBP but I don’t think any of us have completed a qualifying ride this season.

I am still trying to beat my running 5k PB time of 22:14 and plan at least one further Parkrun this month. Was hoping Aid would join me as he seemed to be doing just fine, however, he’s injured after a personal training session or something. Can you believe it? I wonder if it’s really because he got ‘chicked’ by his niece Katie on their last Parkrun together?!

As for my training this past week, it really was quite active. I commuted to work and back by cycle on 3 occasions. On my first trip it was really windy, with gusts around 45mph. A tree had fallen and blocked the tow path and I managed to tear my overshoes in the scramble to get around it. The return leg was very wet and very cold – I had no feeling in my hands once I returned home. The second commute had all seasons in one ride and another fallen tree had to be dealt with. I also had to sacrifice a buff on this trip as I had an emergency. Third commute was nice into work and I didn't get drenched on my return, despite the weather warnings - bonus!. Ran into work on one occasion with my funky new shoes. I might take these shoes back because they didn't make me run faster! Lastly, I had a short trek on my single –speed road bike during my off day which was nice.

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