Sunday 27 March 2016

Week 17 (Clowning about)

Monday was probably my most demanding and energetic training session to date. Two triathlon disciplines were tackled - these being a cycle followed by a 'brick' run. The cycle route I chose was the Isoman 2016 full bike route. My bike of choice for this adventure was my winter bike. I figured I would 'test' the route before tackling it on my Ironman bike. I made a few slight changes to the route - I wanted to start and finish close to home and other changes were made just because route finding was not perfect. Locating the actual, 'official start' proved to be most menace. I found Arrow Vale lake alright but could not pin point the start line. I essentially avoided some dual carriageway before I picked up the 'real' route in Webheath. Much of the roads in Redditch were of quite poor quality with many a pot hole or lump - was kinda pleased I wasn't using Kay-O with her lovely minimal spoked front wheel. As the ride continued the roads appeared to improve. The whole adventure covered just under 100k which was a long time to spend on a bike without a break. I did stop once for an emergency pee but that was my only stop. My buddy Chris likes to snack every 25k when he is on a long distance ride and I copied that tact. I ate 2 coco pops cereal bars and a harvest chewy bar whilst sat on the bike. (SJ and I had a sneaky McD's after our breakfast before this adventure too). The route was ok, it covered much of the Avenger route that I cycled previously (thankfully the headwind was not as severe this time around) but was nothing to shout about really.
Ice O'Man route, 97k
Once off the bike, back at my parents, I stripped off my cycling gear and donned my running gear. I clicked 'run' on my TomTom watch and off I plodded. The 'elephant leg' phenomena was in full force. My legs felt tired, achey and heavy. As I ran and ran my legs started to improve. My run took a cross country style and took me over the fields of Studley (retracing much of my Forest of England marathon) and up towards Henley. I never actually reached Henley and ran across fields and tracks that were new to me. My run took me into Mappleborough Green and past where SJ and I had our wedding reception. Legs were starting to feel tired at this point but they successfully took me back to Studley Village and then home via more on and off road running. Must have covered about 15k in all. Was quite pleased with my training session as a whole but had hoped to run for a slightly longer period of time (wanted to run for 2 hours, actually ran 1:38).

Tuesday was a run commute into work on tired legs. I didn't run particularly hard (no intervals), just hard enough to get me to work. Ran just over 10k in just over an hour.

Midweek menace! I had an urgent care meeting to attend which meant I had to take my car (and hence could not run or cycle to work). I figured the meeting venue was located near a swimming pool, so decided to swim and take advantage of this fact. My swim was slow but I made sure I swam 2,000m before getting out of the pool.
My dear wife SJ. Sure, she's a clown...
Thursday was another run commute into work. This was a harder run, interval style. 10k, in less than an hour! This day was also my 4th wedding anniversary. Had been happily married 4 years to the very day! Barbara (old bat on a bike) was also married this self same day too!
Friday was a bank holiday mostly spent with my wife and kids. We went to a park called 'All the Wild Things' (or something like that) in Honeybourne. Just like 'Where The Wild Things Are', this place was awesome! It was an animal park with all sorts of wild things - including dinosaurs, sharks and all manner of wild things. Lunar and I actually held a python and I tapped an armadillo too (don't think I'd ever seen one of those before).
Stroking Monty
Whoa, that was an awesome day. I concluded my evening by going for a short (about 4k) cross country run. It was dark and I got wet feet as I couldn't see the wet muddy puddles as I ran across the fields. D'oh!
Saturday was spent on 'Kay-O' (my ironman bike) where I cycled the Avenger route I cycled on 'Winter' last week. This time around was much faster (by a whole 2.5 kph) but was still windy, though mostly side winds this time around. Despite SJ downloading AccuWeather app on my phone (which assured no rain), it rained and I got quite wet. Hmm.
Sunday was a funny old day. I had wanted to use this day to extend my cycling and swimming activities. I hate swimming but managed to force myself to swim 2,000 metres. I love cycling but didn't find the 'whatever-it-is' to go for another ride or indoor spin. On the whole, I felt I had a good training week, just maybe down a little on the cycling front.

*Some of the pictures in this blog above were from b'day cards that nice folk sent out to me the previous week. Thanks, as ever, for all those who have supported me in any way.

Sunday 20 March 2016

Week 18 (Birthday Week)

Determined to make sure this week was better than the last. Started off with a run commute into work. Usual 10k run. Interval style. Felt I had worked quite hard as my calf muscles were feeling sore after my activity.

Tuesday turned out to be quite a dramatic day. Decided to cycle to work and took a slightly different route to my usual. Bombed down a descent heading towards an island in Kings Norton and whoosh! My bike went right and I went left and down. Ouch! It felt like I had hit some ice or diesel but I'm not sure. My rear light smashed to bits, pedal scratched, bar plug went AWOL, saddle scuffed and otherwise okay. I landed on my arm and bum - surprisingly my clothes did not rip and no blood. The cars behind and at the island just ignored my bike and body on the road and just drove past me. Except one woman, who stopped her car and got out to make sure I was okay. She asked if I wanted her to phone anybody. How kind. Apart from some road rash on my bum and a little bruising to my shin I was all good. Continued my trip into work without any further menace. My day at work was ok but strangely my arm felt heavier than it normally did - must have been from my fall. Cycle home was all fine. Once home, I took off my cycling shoes and replaced them for my Lunarglide 6's and went for a short run. That's right, I completed a brick! My wee 2.5k completed my training for that day.

Woke up with a sore arm on Wednesday but otherwise felt fine. Decided to go for a cross country run which I hadn't done in a long time. My run took me over the fields of Studley where I headed for the castle. Had been so long since I had ran here that there was new public paths and signs in place.
These public footpaths passed the entrance to the secret garden, though I thought it best I did not enter. Who knew what horrors may be waiting there. Maybe another time?
I think I veered off the public right of way path and ended up at a fishing pond. This pond (a carp pond I think) had its own island and the remains of some building (like an old haunted house) could be seen on it. Spooky!
I turned around here and ran back following the Forest of England marathon route that I ran last year. My run took me past Purity brewery and a nearby hidden camping ground. This camping ground had gypsy like caravans for rent - that might be fun with the wife and kids one time?! Ran on and on and came out in Coughton where I turned around and ran back home following different off road tracks back into my village. Such a lovely run covering about 15k in all. I just might run more off road treks as the scenery and adventure beats that of the road. Later on Wednesday, I took to the water and swam 1,400 metres. My swim was at Kingsley pool, just a short 20m pool but this was the self same pool where I met Phil. Phil was the guy who introduced me to Redditch Triathlon club. So, Phil was instrumental, you could say, in getting me to where I am now. Where am I now?! - about 18 weeks away from an epic adventure known as Ironman!

Thursday was a great day. This was a cycle commute to work and back day with me leaving work early in the afternoon - bonus! A nice sun shining day, just had to go out for a 'brick' run once I got home. I ran just over 5k repeating the start of the cross country run I ran earlier in the week. Studley castle looked even better in the bright sunshine.
Studley castle
 Short swim was Friday's activity. Back in a 25m pool. Swam just 1,500m in all.

Saturday was my birthday. My wife, as usual, got me an awesome gift. This year she gave me a PBP print '90 hours' which was just awesome and is pictured at the top of this blog post. The PBP I completed was back in 2011. SJ and I were 'courting' and she was my support whilst we were in the city of love. Talking of love, my work chums sent the lovely picture below. I was genuinely touched.
The 'nice folk' from work. (Thank you Flair, Waseem, H, Dashi and Jen)
SJ also got me a tortoise but I think he had rigor mortis...
My birthday didn't stop me from training - I decided to cycle the Avenger route I competed in last year (only this time around I started and finished in my village as opposed to Ragley Hall). Lovely fast route out with tail wind and crippling return with the menace head wind. Cycled 67k in all. Once home, a lovely birthday cake was waiting for me. Yummers!
I know a lot of you might be eager to rush out and buy me belated birthday presents but please don't. Instead, please sponsor my latest charity - that being Papyrus. Papyrus help promote the fact that with appropriate support and education, young suicide can be prevented. Suicide is the biggest killer of young people - male and female -under 35 in the UK. Please sponsor my by following this link: support Papyrus. A big, big thanks to all those that have supported and/or sponsored me thus far. I'd like to thank everyone in person, however, with so many 'anonymous' donations that ain't going to be possible.

Finished my week with a 2,000m swim and a 9k cross country run to Studley Castle and back. Real pleased I had a good training week after so many naff one's. One word to describe how I feel - 'whacked'!

Sunday 13 March 2016

Week 19

This week started just like the last one ended. That's right, this week kicked off with a cycle commute into work and back. Certainly had my monies worth out of Jenny, my Genesis single-speed cyclo-cross bike.
Is it too early for the Easter bunny?
Tuesday was great mentally but pants physically. Physically no training took place. Today was a long work based trip to York and back via train. Mentally it was great because it reminded me of my Audax Arrow adventure. On said adventure, my mates Chris, Ron, Jamie Andy and I cycled about 420k in 24 hours to reach this wonderful destination of York. Travelling along the same roads we cycled just flooded my heads with thoughts of cycling, adventure and friendship.
Andrew, Jamie, Doo, Ron and Chris chilling out on Easter Arrow 2014
We really should do an adventure like that again. Yeah, it's hard, mad and tough. But for the fun, camaraderie and memories it's definitely worth it. 

Wednesday was a non-training day. I was at work 9-9 and couldn't even run there because my day started with an urgent care meeting that required me taking my car. Too late after work to do anything but sleep.

Thursday was a wee bit menace. I was denied my day off as I had to attend a meeting at work focusing on solution finding. Prior to work though, I managed to squeeze in a little swim of 1,875m. To get to work I took my 'ironman bike' which was great. Super speedy commute when compared to my slow cyclocross bike. On return commute, I popped in to see Russ and Alex and Kay-O was fitted with a new black saddle (otherwise identical to the demo one). A change of tubes and tyres and a new bottle cage (to fit new saddle) and I think bike is race ready. How exciting?! 
Friday was a non-training day. My morning was busy with taking the rug rats to nursery and then heading over to Coventry with Flair, H and G to attend a suicide prevention conference. With all the presentations my head hurt when it finished and my body refused to go out and run later that night.

I asked my daughter Lunar "what's daddy good at - running, swimming, cycling?" She replied "eating". Hmm.

Saturday was a full day at work. The day began with a quick run first though which was nice. I ran along the canal up to Smethwick before turning around and running back like an urban rat through the streets of Birmingham. It was nice to run through Summerfield Park - I had thoughts of walking my dog (Surfer Rosa) there when I used to work with Ladywood Home Treatment Team and visit a local respite unit. Those were the days... Ran just short of 12k in all. 

My week finished with a double-whammy! Nothing to shout about really. I started with a swim but only managed 60 (25m) lengths. The pool was crowded and as well as swallowing much water, I also suffered with cramps. After swimming, my legs were happy to run around the Studley TRIangle (see what I did there?) on a beautiful sunny day.

All in all, this was a rubbish week. Quite frustrated with how difficult it is to find time and energy to dedicate to my training. I did not swim long or far and found swimming itself a struggle. I did not cycle as far or as frequently as I would have liked. I have not ran long or far for nearly a month now and this really has to change as I have a Milton Keynes Marathon approaching real soon (let alone this crazy idea of an IronMan). Am sure you could all make me feel much better by simply sponsoring one of my chosen charities...

To support Macmillan, follow this link: Macmillan cancer support
To support Christadelphian Meal A Day, follow this link: MAD
To support Scope, follow this link: Scope

Thanks for all the support thus far. I will do my bit and try and increase my training times over the next week too. Oh man, only 18 weeks to go...

Sunday 6 March 2016

Week 20 Redditch Reliability Ride and other adventures

Decided to listen to my body this week. Only problem was, my body said 'no'. No exercise took place on Monday as my body was feeling run down. On a brighter note, the results for the Go Tri aquathlon   event (that was completed last weekend) were published and (can you believe it?) I finished in 8th position. 50 athletes took part, 5 of which did not finish. I never expected that.
Tuesday was a push to get any exercise done. I fought against my lack of motivation and managed to jump on the turbo trainer for about an hour. As an aside, I spent my working day with an Assertive Outreach team which was nice. So great so see a team that continues to practice with a social model of care.

Had planned to cycle to Weston on Wednesday, however, the foul weather fairies put a stop to that! I still went to Weston but took the car (and kids and wife) instead. Started the morning with a 1,500m swim - the fairies couldn't prevent that!

Quick run around my village on Thursday. A bit of a push to get started but once I started running I really didn't want to stop. Ran about 7.5k in a leisurely style.

Friday was another run. A 10k commute into work. Interval style.

Saturday was a great day. Took Kay-O to see Russ and Alex who upgraded her that little bit more. That's right - Alex fitted a new brake cable and Russ replaced my old seat post and saddle with a new 'in-line' post and triathlon saddle. My position on the bike was much improved - i.e. my arms form more of an 'L' shape when I'm on my tri-bars.
More pIMp action
As for the saddle, well it just looked wrong! Apparently they are all the rage. Only one thing for it, and that was to test it...
Looks wrong doesn't it?!
My test ride was the Redditch Reliability Ride that I missed last weekend. A 102k ride that 'misses out the big hills to Broadway and back' to quote my mate Mark Edmunds. The route out was great and I was averaging 32kph. Nice descents and a tail wind, how great were the outdoors! The return was not so great - head wind and more of a climb. I saw my average speed get lower and lower (28.3k by the end). It was nice to cycle over 100k on my pIMped bike. The bars were fine. As for the saddle, well, it wasn't comfy (after all, it's not a Brook's) but it wasn't too bad. I was left a little sore but it wasn't really too much different to the saddle I removed. Once I was cycling, I kinda forgot what saddle I was on and just cycled. I think I will invest in this saddle as it does allow me to get into a better position, was only marginally less comfy than previous saddle and the saddle is able to fit 2 bottle cages behind it - bonus! Following this adventure, I cycled home and boy I suddenly felt very tired and had achey arms and neck.

To finish my training for the week, I cycled to work and back commute style on the Sunday. Was kinda nice cycling my cyclo-cross bike after neglecting her for a while. She was caked in mud and will probably stay in that state for a while. On my way into work it was actually snowing. On the return it was just cold. Brrr, winter ain't gone yet.

At the conclusion of the week, I was quite dis-pleased with my training. Am finding it hard to find the time to train as much as I would like. I only swam once and only ran twice which was quite pathetic. I was about 2 hours down on my planned training total. On a brighter note, I was pleased with my cycling efforts. Next week isn't looking too great with far too many days at work pencilled in. Funny thing was that the high-light of the week was spending time away from training and doing stuff with my wife, kids and parents in Weston.

To conclude this weeks blog post I'd like to inform of the Christadelphian Meal A Day fund or (MAD fund). This is a worthy charity I aim to support and hope readers of this blog will sponsor me by sending monies their way. As I'm sure you guessed, this charity helps feed desperate folk. To sponsor me, please follow this link: Thank you.

Happy New Year 2022

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