Tuesday, 22 November 2011

It's been a while...

Ages since I posted anything, but not from want of trying.  The bloggy thing on my iPad has chosen to conk out, losing several posts, so I gave up.  Which I suppose IS "from want of trying"...

Anyway - since the Jennings I've been doing a bit, interspersed with doing not much.  The cycling's been fairly consistent with a commute most weeks and out with the club pretty much every weekend.  The running's been pretty pants though, with just a couple of runs average, and some weeks just the one.

We had a brilliant, brilliant day out at the Cumbrian Cracker, which goes from Grasmere, over Red Bank and down Coniston to Cartmel, then comes back through Grizedale.  Did it with Herb, Rick, Rich and Dave, and even the newbies managed to stay with us to half way.  There's quite a climb over Field Broughton to the A590, and we split into two groups there.  There's also a proper pull up from the visitor centre at Grizedale before dropping back into Hawkshead and back to Grasmere to finish.  Great day out on an utterly perfect day.

Coniston on the way up - Perfect...
Since then, which was 6 November, I've had a couple of ropey weeks, mainly driven by work and last week the cold from Hell, which just knocked me out for three days.  I recovered enough to get out with the club on Sunday, when we did a nice steady ride (good job it was steady, as I was pretty snotty and I the summer bike's gone away for the winter now).

The most significant event has been having my now-annual medical, which showed me that I haven't imagined the fact I've been getting fatter.  I was a bit overweight a year ago, but I've put on a stone since then, my cholesterol is up (although not massively so) and my body fat % is unbelievably high.  Something Must Be Done.

I think this might be the jolt I need to get fit (which is good, as I've got the Brass Monkey in about ten weeks and I don't want to be humiliated).  I've set myself the target of losing 10lbs by the New Year and another 10lbs by the time I take the kids skiing in February.  That would have me back at my proper "fit weight" over a sensible timescale, and hopefully in good shape for the Three Peaks in April.  We'll see - progress in the first five days has been good anyway!

I'm only going to weigh myself once a week, so this Monday's weigh-inis the baseline.

Wish me luck...

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Better week with a soggy finish

This feel I finally felt like a combination of travel, idleness and other stuff hadn't conspired to make it impossible to get out and do stuff.  I managed to run Monday and Tuesday, then cycle in on Thursday, run again Friday and finished the week with a decent 53 mile ride with the club.

I ran on my own on Monday, with a cheeky little 6:40 mile in the middle, which surprisingly didn't feel completely eyeballs out.  Then on Tuesday I ran at work with Herb, with a steady 5m on the canal feeling nice and steady.

Thursday was time for my first ride in on my Boardman winter bike, and all seems lovely, although the nobbly tyres will have to go.  I wasn't quite as much of a drag on Herb this time, but I was still struggling to hold his wheel a lot of the way.

Friday's run was a change from up and down the canal, with a trip down to the Fisherman's and a hillier return through the streets of Bingle.

Saturday saw me at Xscape in Castleford watching M & L reacquaint themselves with skis and snow and stuff - which thankfully went very well, so the next couple of lessons are booked in.  They both enjoyed it, and M was clearly getting some of the "muscle memory" back as she was snowploughing pretty confidently by the end:

Today's club run was planned to be a A+B ride up to Arncliffe then over to Malham, but with a big group and slippy roads Herb and I decided we'd probably cut off and come home a different way.  It was good to be out with a larger group, but the leader(s) didn't do much of a job as there were people being spat off the back all the way up Wharfedale.  We sort of regrouped at Threshfield, but then we were off again at a fair old lick.  Herb and I came back down the Hawkswick side of Littondale, which is a beautiful little road, then headed home through Hebden, App'trick and a cuppa at CAv Pav.  53 rather damp miles, but we were saying if we can keep up a decent mileage through the winter we should hit the spring in better shape than this year.  Which will help as we've booked a September trip to Pollensa for a long weekend's cycling, and I really want to get up the Puig Major without struggling this time!

Monday, 10 October 2011

Long time no post

Seems ages since I last posted anything, and it would be nice to say it's because I've been eyeballs out training - but sadly not.  However I've not been idle, and it was good to get my bike mileage over 300 in September.  I reckon 300 miles a month in the summer has to be about par, with really 100 mile a week being nearer what I should aim for.  My running mileage has been shocking - I suspect I'll be lucky to be averaging 10 miles a week over the summer.

However, I do seem to have got back into the habit of doing something three or four times a week, and I'm pleased to report I've forced myself to cycle into work once a week three out of the last four weeks.  My new Boardman has now arrived, so the bike shed's looking a bit crammed til my summer bike goes on its hibernation trip to The Herb's cellar - but I'll probably keep that out for the Cumbrian Cracker at the start of November.

New bike - discs and nobbly tyres...
I'm enjoying my single speed, although it's amazingly hard work on knobbly tyres compared with slicks - I rode in on Friday with a very understanding Herb who patiently span along as I gave it full beans at about 1,000 rpm to just hit 20mph!  On Sunday we forced ourselves down to Ilkley and did a very soggy 30 miles up to Linton and back down the main road.  One of the lads did a "Wiggo-esque" stint on the front so we averaged nearly 25mph on the 3 miles from Cracoe to Embsay.

I've also been buying stuff to make the winter commute more bearable (as well as bikes!) - new Hope lights front and rear, slick tyres for the single speed and the CX and other assorted bits and bobs.  Just need to drag my arese out and do it now - we've decided to run tomorrow and bike Thursday as there looks to be a slight improvement in the weather, but I think I might aim for 2 commutes a week plus a couple of runs, then try and get a longer run in at the weekend plus club run Sunday.

All depending on passouts, of course...

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Daft muddy stuff and a single speed adventure

Now I have a tendency to want to try new things - I have a hankering to do an accelerated free fall course.  I want to ski down the Pas de Chèvre in Chamonix.  I want to learn French.  But on Sunday I watched a sporting event I have no intention of ever doing - the Three Peaks Cyclo Cross.  Herb and I were a bit short of time so rather than join the Ilkley crew for an 8am start we drove to Gargrave (well why spend three hundred quid on a posh bike rack if you're not going to use it to avoid cycling on the A65?).

We then took the back roads through Bank Newton, Rathmell and Lawkland to Cold Cotes where we met Rick and Bob, plus the Ilkley CC group who'd ridden over a few minutes ahead.  This is where the racers come off Ingleborough, their first "peak" and hit the road before heading off round to Whernside.

We saw plenty of thrills and spills, with some seriously muddy boys and girls riding down the slippery grass bank to the road.

We hung around for about an hour, and watched the majority of the field come through.  Towards the end we saw the bizarre spectacle of Steve Brock and his mobile mechanic set up - which looked more like the two wheeled equivalent of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  Still - it keeps him happy...

Steve and his Heath Robinson bike...
We headed off home, via Bell Busk this time for a fairly easy 48 miles.

Then today it was time to try out my new single speed Genesis bike.  Fortunately Herb wasn't with me as I was late setting off, and also whilst it's great fun, and the simplicity of the thing is very satisfying, it pretty much has a maximum speed of 20mph on the flat, as the 42-18 gearing is just about low enough to get me up the hills on the "valley" way to work and back, it's a bit high for powering along the flat bits.

Still - I shall persevere, as once I've cracked the single-speed bit I'll flip that back wheel and give fixed a go.


Tuesday, 20 September 2011


Risk Committee (of which there now appear to be about eight a month) finished a full 90 minutes early today, so my "after work" run (which was instead of cycling to work on my new single speed - too wet to take it out!) became a lunch run.

Up past Tesco, left then as the first mile beeped I speeded up to a comfortably brisk pace, which turned out to be about 7:25.  I kept this up for three miles then slowed to about 7:50 for the last mile to give me a steady five miler at an average of 7:30 or so.


Golf tomorrow, then London Thursday but I'll hopefully bike and maybe run as well on Friday.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Jennings River Ride

Had a good week last week for exercise, riding and running 4 days out of 7, with over 100 bike miles done.  75 of which were yesterday on the rather splendid Jennings River Ride, which was a tour of a load of Cumbrian bridges that were washed out in the floods a few years back.

I was with The Herb and Rick, plus Dave A who'd opted for the shorter, 38 mile route as he wasn't sure how his climbing legs would be.  We started out from Keswick after the usual Herb-journey, consisting of food, gaffing and poo stops, with a nice flat ride up Bassenthwaite, where we turned off at the Castle Inn Hotel (scene of a crap weekend with Kazza a couple of years back) and crossed our first rebuilt bridge.

This led to a more undulating, but not testing, section to Cockermouth where we said goodbye to Dave, as the medium route had a feedstop there.  We continued to Workington for our, rather paltry, feed by another bridge.  There was then a veritable collection of bridges as we headed down to Ennerdale Bridge then back up through Loweswater to Lorton, where we rejoined the medium riders to climb over Whinlatter Pass.

I'd done this on the C2C a year or two ago, and then simply sat on Rob's wheel all the way - however this time there was a large complement of folk on mountain bikes walking and weaving their way up.  I was chasing an irritating fat bloke who'd been overtaking us then dropping back for about ten miles, so I went a bit into the red zone up here, but whilst it's fairly long it's not massively steep and I was soon out on the main road and climbing the last bit to the Forestry Commission place at the top.

The descent was a bit hairy, but we were quickly at the next, even weedier feed stop - "A shortbread biscuit and a banana! What more could a man want?" asked the nice lady.  "Erm...a sausage roll and a cheese butty?" I suggested.

Herb on Newlands with the steep ramp straight ahead
Next it was off up Newlands, a new climb on me which Rick told us is "not steep".  My arse - there's a lot of it that's not steep but there's a brutal straight ramp at the top which I only saw one other bloke ride up apart from us.  You can just about see it in the picture above, and the relief on my face in the photo below taken at the top is palpable!

Phew! Note the walkers behind...
The descent from Newlands was magnificent, and as we turned left past Buttermere YHA (ah, memories...used to go once a month when I was 6!) I was thinking to myself it was pretty much done - 60 miles on the clock, only 15 to go and 12 of them are downhill or flat.  Rick had also assured us that Honister from this side is "easy".  Yeah, right...

The descent from Newlands into Buttermere, with Rick's yellow jersey just visible near the front of the cars
It's perhaps not Hardknott-steep or Wrynose-sustained, but the upper section is tough - steep bit followed by a non-rest section, then more steep and finally a lung-bursting finale past the quarry workings to the top.  Again I saw nobody else ride all of it apart from us, and I was weaving like mad to keep some momentum going.  Looking at the GPS track there was a full half mile where I averaged only 4mph.

The calm before the storm - the flat approach to Honister

And there it is - the steep part visible just left of centre
Finally it was over, and we saw Borrowdale spread out below us - well we would have had there not been a massive cloud heading up the hill towards us - so it was on with the jackets and a careful descent into the cloudburst, before Herb turned into his "Meat" alter-ego and put the hammer down past the Bowderstone, Shepherds and the Lodore - Rick and I worked together and just caught him before the roundabout in Keswick.

We finished with a total time of 5:40, but a moving time for me of 5:12, so an average speed of just over 14.5mph.  Satisfying and a superb set of climbs to finish, but that's the last time I ever believe my big brother when he tells me something's "not steep"!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

What a blast!

Ran yesterday lunch - along due to a lack of Herbs and Newmanators - 5 miles (with a Garmin that stopped after 3.8m) at something around 7:30 pace overall but the canal bit was probably nearer 7:20 - which felt ok generally.

Then today I had promised myself faithfully that I'd bike to work and back, so I was a touch concerned when paul the squeaky weatherman warned of high winds and squally showers - sounded more like the shipping forecast than north yorkshire.  The second stage of the Tour of Britain had been cancelled due to the winds.  However the promise, even if only to myself, had been made, so 7am saw me up with Maisie, "getting my shit together" and I was out of the door in an outfit I really wasn't sure about by 7:30.

The ride along Shires Lane felt tough, and by the time we were climbing up Cross Bank my legs were already feeling how they used to feel back in early 2009 when I started this cycling and running nonsense - when I always seemed to train tired.

Herb kindly dragged me down to Cross Hills where the wind started to come from a friendlier direction, and we arrived at work after a 47min ride in - a long way slower than the old days when we did it in under 40 quite often, but this was a proper windy day and an average of 18mph isn't bad given the conditions.

We were expecting it to have eased off by sometime, but it was still a stiff breeze and it had now decided to rain as well.  Again Herb played the strong man and I was happy to take very short turns on the front and increasingly long ones sat in his slipstream.  Home was about 48 minutes, so respectable at 17mph for a windier, wetter and more uphill ride.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Lumpy club run

There were no ride leaders for the Ilkley club run today - disappointing that in a club of about 400 members we can't rustle up three or four people each weekend who can commit to turning up, but hey ho.  So, with a slight hangover I felt I'd better go and lead a B ride.

Vic and l'Herb showed up at 7:45 too, so I thought I'd better go.  Fortunately I'd kept up my water consumption last night as my beer intake continued, so the hangover wasn't too bad and had pretty much cleared by the time we got to the old bridge.  The original plan was another plod up to Kettlewell and back, but I decided that we could do something slightly more interesting and go up to Greenhow via West End and come home via Grassington.

So it was that ten of us set off towards Askwith, at a fairly healthy pace.  It seems that every time I lead a ride I get a load of pseudo-A Groupers out for an "easy day", and so it was again.  I was the last up to the top of the moor road climb, and was pretty much hanging on most of the way to Greenhow.

We turned into the wind, and the usual blast along to Grassington turned out to be pretty tough, so I was grateful to have some strong lads to sit behind.  At Grassington we turned south and the going was easier through Burnsall and Appletreewick.

The last bit up from Bolton Abbey was hard though, as we were back into the wind again, but we were soon home with 48 miles on the clock and lunchtime still an hour away.  Nice day.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

A couple of runs and a bit of speed

Just a bit mind...

Trying very hard to get my exercise organised, but it's proving difficult - although after this weekend I'm going to be more disciplined about food and exercise.  Yes really...

Anyway - this week passed quickly again, and before I knew it it was Thursday and I'd done nothing.  To be fair the weather's been shite so biking in would have been a trial, plus my bottom bracket was sounding horribly graunchy after last weekend.

Anyway - Thursday and it was out for a lunchtime steady one with Herb and Newmanator - just 4 miles, just under 8 min pace and for me at least it felt pretty comfortable.  Herb was gasping like a rapist...

Then Friday's plan was for a slightly longer one (for "longer" read "about 6 miles") with Newman, but his weedy hockey legs let him down so he dipped out.  Shame really, as it was a perfect cycling day, but I was running so run I did.

A mile up to the canal, then a bit of an effort for two miles - which pleasingly came out at just under 6:40 pace, which whilst that was planned marathon pace a few months ago is still a great deal quicker than I have been running.  So - more of the same required, methinks.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Bog all running but a bit of biking

Blimey - three weeks since last post - and I was in Italy and riding to San Jimmy!

Been back a couple of weeks now, and whilst I've done a bit of running it's all been a bit hit and miss.  I can report, however, that I am hideously unfit, and probably very fat indeed (the latter I've been too scared to confirm but I feel lardy in the extreme).

My replacement Garmin 610 had been delivered whilst we were away, so my runs are recorded at Garmin Connect, but they total about 15 miles a week at an embarrassingly slow pace.  Whatever - I've probably done slightly more running this August than last, and I managed a 3:11 marathon this spring.  Ber.

More worrying is my bike form - I'd kind of kidded myself that because I managed the 130 miles up to Newcastle easily, and I've been getting a 50+ miler in most weekends then I'd be the picture of fitness when the road headed uphill.  Well, no...

I did the Ilkley club run up to the Buckden triangle, finishing over Halton Heights, which went ok, but I did find the climb hard after 60 miles or so.  Doesn't bode well...

Then last weekend me, Bob and The Herb headed over to the Forest of Bowland for some tourist avoidance.  We did a fairly lumpy 65 miles over to Settle, then a windy climb up Cross o' Greet then back over from Keasden.  By the end I was feeling thigh burn the likes of which I don't think I've had since last year's EduD - eek.

Still - a nice day out:

Then after another week of failing to cycle to work today was the Evans Skipton Sportive.  I'd entered the long 100 mile ride, but thoughts of riding over Buttertubs then back over Oxnop to Askrigg put me off, so Herb and I went for the shorter route, which also allowed me to get home in time to watch Wiggo lose the Jersey in the Vuelta.

A stiff climb up the Raikes and a tortuous route on back roads popped us out on the Rylstone road, then more daft routing dropped us into Airton via the long way round.  Into Malham for our major climb up the Cove Road - harder than I remember it, but lots of rest sections and just enough walkers to make us feel good about ourselves.

The road to Arncliffe has a beast of a steep section, but again Herb and I managed to pass a few folk and not get passed ourselves.  Job done, we thought, as we were turning for home after the feed stop at Kettlewell.

Virtually everyone else at the stop were doing the honourable thing and doing the 100 miler, but the route had been changed after Fleet Moss so Buttertubs was no longer on the agenda - even so the call of an easy(ish) day proved too strong for me and Herb and we headed back down the valley.

The blast to Burnsall and garden was quickly dispensed, but I found the last section of the climb up from Burnsall hard, and felt it as we climbed back over Barden Moor.  At the top there was a "5 miles to go" sign, and it felt odd riding through Embsay and back into Skipton to hand back our dibbers, eat a bowl of pasta and get home for about 12:45, with an average speed of just under 15mph.

Respectable, but more work needed, fatty.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

San Gimignano

Made it! Gave up on the stored rides in my Garmin, as it doesn't seem to like following a previously mapped out route - it's a headstrong little bugger. So the idea today was to simply go from village to village on a pre-determined route. Certaldo (know my way there), San Gimi, then back via Ulignano and Barberino.

The climb up from oir house was tough again, but at least this time I knew what was coming, and I was soon on the long descent into Certaldo. This time I knew that I had to keep going into the centre to get across both the railway and the river.

From this point I set the Garmin to find San Gimi, but I also followed road signs when Garmin tried to take me up dirt tracks. There are unclassified roads here in Tuscany that would just be tracks at home, but the Garmin seems to think they're ideal for cycling on - I'm sure they are if you're on 32mm tyres and a touring chainset, but on 53-39 and 23mm tyres they're a no-no.

In the end the main road was fab - perfect road surface, about five miles of steady climbing and stupendous views. Near the top I was passed by three lads with San Gimignano tops on, so I hitched a ride to the roundabout just below the village. I didn't see a convenient caff, so I turned for home straight away after a couple of pictures.

The descent down to Ulignano was stunning, and necessitated several photo stops looking back up to San Gimi.

Back down in the valley they're building a new trunk road from Empoli down to Siena, so the road looks nothing like the map, with new roundabouts and bridges, but eventually I was on the right road. A stiff climb (particularly on 39-26) up to the little village of Vito, then an undulating ride to Barnerino and I was back on home territory.

A final bump down the track to home saw 32 miles on the clock and about 3,100' of climbing - but apart from the track up from home and the graunch into Vito it was nearly all in a continental style, so generally easy angled and great road surfaces. Cracking holiday cycling.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Tuscany ride number 1

Arrived in Tuscany after the smoothest journey imaginable on Tuesday. The place we're staying is fab - quiet, scenic and lots of room. And wifi! With three ipod touches, two keen facebookers and me in the family it's becoming the next "must have", along with dishwasher, pool, and convenient bike hire.

Speaking of which, a nice man called Paulo turned up yesterday with a carbon Trek US Postal bicycle yesterday - full Ultegra groupset, Fulcrum Racing 5 wheels - perfect, apart from the full size chainset...

Now our rural idyll is down a km of track - alternates dirt and tarmac, with some steep bits - so the first section of today's ride was death on a stick. With 28 degree temperatures and baking sun, anything steep was going to be hard work.

Fortunately after the gnarly introduction I had about 10km of downhill. I had planned a route to San Gimignano, going via Certaldo, but unfortunately I've not got the hang of getting a route into my Edge 800 without it changing the route to one it prefers - so on the outskirts of Certaldo it ordered me to turn left up an unsurfaced road. Bog off, thought I, and carried on, reckoning I knew where to go. In Certaldo the Edge got very confused, so I decided to follow my nose and see where that got me.

Nowhere, was the answer... After setting the GPS to take me to San G, after another 5k or so I realised that instead of my planned 30 miler it was going to be nearer 40, so another change of plan saw me heading back towards Barberino val di Elsa, which I knew was on the way home.

Despite the navigational challenges, the scenery was classic Tuscany, with rolling roads, olive groves and vineyards everywhere. The climbs, whilst tough in parts didn't feel that long, although having checked afterwards I was going generally uphill for about 10 miles coming back.

A flick through the local "big city" of Tavarnelle and I was soon heading back down the rough road to our house, with 20 miles on the clock and a far better idea of where to go next time!

San Gimignano or bust, I reckon...

Monday, 8 August 2011

Pre-holiday week - but at least there's some running!

Bike to work: fail
Bike with the club: fail
Four runs during the week: fail

Never mind - this last week was the last one before holidays, so there was lots to do at work.  Managed a 4 miler up to Halton East, with the legs at least feeling human, then a nearly-6 miler up in Gossie midweek.  Then I did nothing til saturday when young Lils decided she wanted to resurrect her Parkrun career, so despite an afternoon in the Scarboro Taps on Friday we were off to Bradford at 8:15 Saturday.

Lily worked dead hard, and was rewarded with a new PB of 26:00, so I reckon before long she'll be averaging 8 min miles if she puts some training in.

Off to Tuscany tomorrow morning, with a bike organised and four 30-40 mile routes in the Garmin.  If I can manage those plus a couple of runs that'll be probably the most exercise I've done in weeks!


Sunday, 31 July 2011

Running! Hurrah!

Well I took the fact that bits of scabby skin had started to fall off my toe as a good sign, so on Thursday I took it out for a little run.  Just four miles along the canal from work, with the HR nice and low but the legs feeling they were being worked pretty hard.

The next day I had intended to get out at lunch, but made my excuses but just as I was about to get in the car and go home for a beer after "one of those days" I saw my bag and gave myself a bit of a talking to and did another four miler.  And my legs again found it hard work.  More needed, I think.

No biking this week, until Lily requested my company on a trip up to the ice-cream place at Halton East, so I pooled up there with her and glowed with pride as she dug in and rode up the hill without getting off for the first time.  Nice one, Lils.

Then today I had volunteered to lead the "B1" ride at Ilkley CC, so I was committed to turning up.  Herb persuaded me to ride from home, and Vic tagged along for the ride too.  A gentle 9 1/2 mile warm up to the old bridge, then we were off with a group of eight, all of whom looked distinctly lithe and fit, and as there was no "A" ride today I was worried that perhaps I'd be lading from the back.

And so it proved - I'd selected a very lumpy route, going up from Askwith, over to West End, then up to Greenhow before dropping into Pateley and climbing up again to Dacre, Menwith Hill and final over Norwood back to Otley.

I was near or at the back on every climb, a stark reminder of just how much I've let myself go this year.  When we get back from hols it's diet, running and exercise needed.

By the time Herb and I got back to Embsay we had 60 miles on the clock, a shedload of ascent and tired legs.  On putting it into Rubitrack, this is my second highest bike mileage month ever with 370, so another couple of those should see my belly reducing and my legs getting stronger.

More running this week, methinks, and another weekend of bike miles before Tuscany and a full size chain set awaits...

PS Oh, and Bob - if you want a gnarly local climb get your arse up Ellers Rd out of Sutton - gnarliest of the gnarly.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Still no running...

Another week of no running last week - had the stitches out of my poorly foot, which improved things somewhat, but then me and Herb's rainy lumpfest last Sunday left me with soggy bits of dead skin everywhere and a still-sore toe.

So - bike it was again.  This week's fun was an after-work ride with Adam, Sue and Rich - on his new Cube carbon steed.  Down the old roads to Crosshills, up the Lothersdale road (where Adam tried to give us a bit of pain and failed), then down to Cononley, up over to Silsden and a climb up Holden Lane, where Sue gave us lots of pain without really trying.

Then Saturday we were off to York for Angry's 40th celebrations, so I decided to cycle.  I chose quiet, but mainly flat roads, and had a lovely pootle through Ilkley, Otley, Wetherby and all sorts of little villages.  50 miles done with very little effort in well under 3 hours, so respectable pace and a good work out before drinking beer and winning (well, Karen winning) some money.

The foot does seem to be about fixed now, so i think some running will have to be done - probably a month off now, so it'll be like starting from scratch again.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

lumps 'n' bumps

After failing to get my second bike to work in on Friday, the stage was set for a decent Saturday ride. Despite horrid forecast Herb and I decided that something must be done, so we set off in dismal looking, but dry, conditions over Halton Heights.

We'd decided to do a longer version of last Sunday's ride, so it was up to App'trick then the climb up to the Greenhow road. It seems ages since we've been out in the proper wet, and my new brake shoes on the back were less than confidence inspiring, so I descended gingerly into Pateley, but not so gingerly I could actually turn off at the right place.

The climb up towards Dacre is new to us, but the number of chevrons on the road suggested it was going to be hard work. In the end it was steep bits interspersed with easier sections, but by this time we were pretty cold and wet so it became pretty tough as we climbed past Darley towards Menwith Hill.

We crossed the A59, and then turned left, away from home, which felt illogical with the weather so crap. We skirted Harrogate, then dropped down past Almscliff and turned for home at last. The return journey was easier than the first half, but a climb over Langbar the "easy" way kept us interested.

A last pull up through Halton East saw us home wet, cold and a bit knackered, with 55 hilly miles on the clock and 4 hours of non-stop cycling under our belts. Sure it'll do us good later in the summer, but it certainly felt like hard work at times.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Shorter but lumpier

Look at the lumps on that...
Bonus bike ride with l'Herb today - K is in London seeing The Take Thats, so I am on child duty for the weekend.  M, with her astounding social life, disappeared to Harrogate yesterday with one of her mates then stayed over for a sleepover, so it was just me and the Lilster.  We watched Gulliver's Travels (quite funny) and drank pop, and in the middle of it a delightful offer from Mrs l'Herb to have both our kids this morning.  A quick text to Maisie and we were sorted.

Herb arrived about 10, and he'd had an idea about doing something vaguely Pateley.  I wasn't sure if we'd manage that in the alloted two hours, but we headed over Halton Heights and Barden toward App'trick.  We turned right instead of our usual left and rode up the lane towards the Pateley Bridge road - which I've been driving along quite a lot recently as the A59's been shut for repairs.  I was expecting quite a tussle, but it was pretty reasonable, albeit very pretty.

Herb above Appletreewick
We were debating whether it was feasible to get to Pateley, but even though we hit the main road with only about ten miles on the clock, we'd taken about 50 mins to get there.  We decided to turn right at Greenhow, then see where our noses took us.

The road to Greenhow had a couple of cheeky little climbs on it, and we were glad to turn right towards Blubberhouses.  We decided that we didn't have time to get all thew way over to Askwith, although that'd be a good longer ride for sometime, so we tirned right again towards West End.

This had a tough little ascent on it too, and this took us to the right turn that avoids the gnarly bit of the Kex Gill road.

The climb going towards West End
Just before you hit the A59 there's a nice stretch of paved bridleway that desposits you at the top of the descent - but unfortunately the contractors have used the last 400m of it as a dumping ground for waste tarmac:
Waste tarmac - can they do that?
We debated flogging through the long grass to the side, but in the end turned round and rode an extra half mile of horrid A59.  I'm no expert on rights of way, but I'd have thought dumping hundreds of tons of crap on a bridleway has to be against the rules.  I feel a letter coming on...

Anyway, a whizz down the A59, a quick brew in Bolton Abbey and we were soon home, having burned significantly more than our two hour passout but having put nearly 30 miles and 1,000 metres of climbing into our legs.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

A week of bugger all - then a bit of a bike ride

After a grand day out with Ilkley CC last week proved to be the laziest in living memory - did no exercise whatsoever, ate the odd pie and drank fairly extensively (although my attendance at my first mortgage industry awards do in a few years was booze free).

The Friday saw me drinking a pint of lager beer at about 9:45 in that most salubrious of establishments, Weatherspoons on Park Row.  The reason being we were off to see the one dayer between England and Sri Lanka.  There'd been much discussion about legwear, but in the end I went with a short and a flip-flop.  Had I gone with a longer trouser and a fuller footwear, who knows what the day would have brought, but as it happened I had a bizarre flip-flop related accident at about 1 1/12 pints in and found myself being stitched up, anaesthetic free by a doctor somewhere under the East Stand.  Ouch.

I should stress that this was not a pissed-up, stagger into something injury (the stitches would have hurt less if it had been) - so I was fully able to ask the doctor the burning question:

"Will I be able to ride my bike on Monday?"

"I wouldn't advise it" he said "how far?"

"Erm...130 miles..."


What does he know?  He might know about stitches and stuff, but he doesn't understand just how stiff a bike shoe is, right?

Anyway - several beers later I got home and tried my shoe on - my eyes lit up, Cindarella-like, as I realised that it fitted!  Now all I had to do was cope with the pain.

I managed a short ride round the block on Sunday, then on Monday was up at 5 to drive to Crossflatts for our "Bike to Work" charity ride.  Me, Rob, Herb and Rhys Silverwood (surely not a real name) were joined by our domestiques Rick and Jim, plus the support team of Rachel and Jo, and set off up through Micklethwaite.  Something of a leg-stretcher for 6am, but we were soon through Otley and heading for Ripon.

Near Knayton, north of Thirsk
Herb's Edge 705 took us down a weird off road stretch, but this proved to be a short-cut and deposited us just up from Maccy D's, our proscribed meeting point in Ripon.  A sausage Mc Muffin, a check of the map, then it was off north again.  I can relate to the readership that there are no hills between Ripon and Doxford, so we made brilliant time to Brompton near Nortallerton, where we met the girls and ate some sausage rolls.  We said tata to Jim and Rick here, then the team was down to four.  We again made good time to Sedgefield, via a private road threatening dire consequences if we were caught (we weren't).  At Sedgefield the sun came out and the temperature rocketed to a level at which Rob felt able to remove his vest.

The bridge over the Wear

The last section to Doxford was a bit of a navigational nightmare, as my Edge 800 hadn't got the route on, but we eventually made it with the easiest 90 miles on the clock I can remember.  A quick whizz round with our buckets and we were off again, now relying on destinations keyed into my Edge 800.  We were headed for Jarrow, which meant crossing the Wear, then more urban riding to try and find the bike tunnel under the Tyne.  The satellites didn't let us down, and we were soon under the river and on the final stretch to Gosforth.

The Tyne bike tunnel
 We finished about 10 hours after setting off, but with a riding time of under 8 hours and an average speed of not far short of 17mph - not bad for a bloke with one foot!  We raised about £3300 for charity, and had a cracking day out in the process.  I was very pleased that it really didn't feel too tough at all, and my toe wasn't too much trouble.

Now, however, I need to get it healed and get some bloody running done!

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Phew what a scorcher etc etc.

Burnsall looking bonny
 Well the rain did its usual thing at Glasto (there was a suggestion that it's God's way of telling Bono who's the real Daddy - what a tosspot that bloke is), and yesterday I did the "jacket round the waist" thing mentioned in Terry's blog - just a sweaty 5 miles up to Halton East to give a poxy 16m for the week.

But apparently today and tomorrow is Summertime, so Herb and I set off for Ilkley this morning bright and early without arm, leg or neck warmers.  Langbar was, as usual, a bit of a struggle, but we arrived at the old bridge bang on 8:30 - and were immediately off again.  A very prompt start for once.

Passing Kilnsey going north

The "B" group seems to be the default for a lot of people, so a group of about 5 in the A group and a similar number in the C group left about 15 of us in the middle bunch.  Off up to Barden, then through Grassington and Kilnsey, with the crag looking seepage free and a few lads arriving to go and dog something to death (sorry - in modern parlance that's "working a route").
Herb in Littondale
 There was a puncture around this point, so we agreed to take it steady up to Arncliffe and regroup at some point, but in the end that was the last we saw of half the group.  To try and meet up again we u-turned at Arncliffe but no sign of them, so it was back on the back lanes via Conistone, Hebden and the Cav Pav.  Herb and I bid our chums a cheery farewell and flogged back up through Halton East to give us a comfortable 53 mile ride in about 3:30, so averaging just short of 15mph including Langbar first thing.

And Kilnsey coming back!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

More bikes and a bit of running

Grim weather on Sunday saw me waking up at 7am hoping against hope that Herb would text to say he didn't want to cycle.  No such luck, as the lanky biking machine wouldn't be put off by something as trivial as gale force wind and torrential rain.  So at 7:45 we were off, me with a slight hangover from a K induced night of beeriness, heading over to Ilkley via Langbar.

We got to the Old Bridge after a breathless ascent of Langbar, although I managed to avoid getting dropped by Herb - just.  We then set off with the B group back up the valley towards Barden, with an agreement we'd try and stick together and a planned average speed of about 15mph.  This time we had a more evenly matched group than last time we were out with Ilkley CC, and the pace stayed fairly high with just a few slowings down to allow people to get back on after being dropped.

We went up the main road to Kettlewell then came back on the back road, via Appletreewick and the Cav Pav.  At Bolton Abbey Herb and I bid the group farewell and headed home via Halton East, and ended the day with a comfortable 51 miles in the bag.

This week I'd failed to cycle in again, but have managed a couple of runs, one up in Newcastle.

I'm getting a bit pissed off with my inability to manage my time and motivation properly, so my planned 4 runs a week seems to be 2, and 2 bike rides has become 1.

More effort needed, fatty...

Wednesday, 15 June 2011


Hideous rainstorm hit the Aire Valley tonight just before 5pm.  Just after 5pm I went out for a run.

It was damp, drippy and squelchy, but I did a comfortable six miles at about 7:30 pace - not blistering but respectable.  I do need to start to increase my mileage though - whilst I considered doing more the CNBA fairy alighted on my shoulder and told me to get home and eat some mashed potatoes.

Worryingly Herb has gone cycling crazy - cycled in yesterday then tonight was off to do the lumpy ride through Haworth we did the other day.  Was tempted to keep up by cycling tomorrow but as I have to be in early for some supplier presentations I think I'll give it a miss.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Hills hills and more hills

After the effort of Sunday we had a post-work bike pootle organised with Rich and The Newmanator - plus a guest appearance from Angry.  Dave, who'd done his longest ever ride on Sunday, was considering coming out, especially when I said it would be a steady recovery.  In the end he didn't, and I'm quite glad he decided against it as I don't think he'd have been very happy with me.

Out along the old roads through Steeton was fine, with Rich doing well to hang on into the wind, then a turn through Sutton-in-Craven.  Going past the pub some lads shouted "Good luck lads - you'll need it on that 'ill!" - so maybe we should have known...

I knew the bottom was pretty steep, but my memory of what happens after that was fairly hazy - as it turns out it's probably one of the more sustained bits of steepness I can recall riding up!  The first third of a mile has an average gradient of 18% - there's then a slackening off (but by no means easy angled) before it kicks up again - a total of nearly a mile and a half of climbing with absolutely no let up.  And Angry absolutely spanked me - it was like I was pedalling through porridge.  I was imagining Rich swearing at me as he walked up, and The Newmanator was also off the bike for a fair bit (but to be fair that is a shopping bike...).

Then it was a scary descent down into Goose Eye before a surprisingly easy climb out into Oakworth, then another frightening drop down the appropriately named Tim Lane and another steep, gnarly climb up to Haworth.

I'd told the lads that it was flat after this, but local Rich said there weren't any flat ways out of Haworth, and as we turned right near the station I could hear his voice behind me saying "Shit, no! Not up there!"

But shit, yes, "up there" we went, to a give way line on a 20% hill then more climbing beyond the junction.  Finally we came out above Cullingworth and were rewarded with a descent back to Bingley for beer and a chat.

But what a ride - only 20 miles, but nearly half the ascent we did on Sunday in 75, and that was concentrated in the middle 7!  Brilliant, if testing 90 minute ride after work - definitely one to be repeated!

Look at the lumps on that...

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Roses Round

A rubbish week exercise-wise this week - too much work, too much travelling and the one night (Tuesday) I was going to get out I'd forgotten my shoes.  I did, however, play golf on Thursday and came second.  Clever old me (well, shitty everyone else, as I didn't exactly burn it up out there).

Anyway, today, Herb and I toed (or more accurately "wheeled") the line at the Roses Round sportive at Tosside.  We've done this before, including a prety speedy time (even though I say so myself) a couple of years ago.  However today we had a newbie roadie, Dave, with us, so it was going to be a case of nursing him round, at least for part of the way.

The route starts with a hooning downhill and some fast roads to Slaidburn, then a right turn sees the work start at about 5 miles in.  This is the start of the climb over towards Bentham, but there's a couple of hills beforehand before the real meaty bit starts.  We waited for Dave before the drop down to the main climb, and were rewarded with some great views in the sunshine.

Looking over towards Pen y Ghent before the Cross 'o Greet climb

Dave collected, we spun down to the start of the ascent, which is one of those that lets you see what's coming all the way from the bottom.  Dave was finding his own pace, but we were passed by a couple of guys in full Hope gear at the bottom and Herb's competitive instincts kicked in.  As it happens they weren't exactly flying, so we just enjoyed a bit of banter on the way up.  The wind seemed to be behind, so the climb was at its most benign, and we crested the top in about 12 minutes, a pretty respectable time.
On the descent from Cross o' Greet, Howgills (?) in the distance

We waited for Dave, who made pretty good time, then cracked on to the first feedstop at Settle.  When I've done this event before I was quite disappointed as whilst they filled your bottles, food was extra - so I was very impressed to see butties, cake, biscuits and malt loaf laid out for us to trough.

We agreed with Dave that we'd stick together to Grassington at about 50 miles, then Herb and I would press on.  K was at a rounders tournament and she would have, I assumed, two very bored girls with her waiting to be taken home to sit open mouthed in front of the telly (which seems more boring to me that running around with your mates, but hey ho).  Maisie is of course recovering from her first proper bike crash when she had a "racing incident" with her mate and had to pay a visit to A&E to have a cut sorted out - so she seems to feel that telly/Wii sitting is very much the order of the day.

Anyway - we regrouped at Stainforth for the second big climb, and Herb and I both found it relatively easy - Dave was starting to feel it a bit, so we agreed to try and stick together, especially down Littondale which threatened to be into the wind.

Dave at the top of the Pen y Ghent climb - the last photo opportunity before the rain!
 We managed to keep Dave with us down Littondale, which probably cost us a bit of time but will have made his life a lot easier, as the breeze was by now quite stiff, with the sky getting darker.  More tea and cake at Grassington (this was now becoming an excellent value event - Herb probably ate his entry fee in flapjack) when we bid Dave goodbye and headed off into the gloom and, by now, rain.  Herb engaged in his usual sartorial debate wondering whether it was pertex, gilet or nothing.  In the end he elected for arm warmers and gilet and we were off.

On my fast ride I did the last 25 miles or so in 1:35, so we were hoping we could get somewhere close to that.  The rain was hammering down now though, and we were getting cold and very wet.  After Airton we started counting down from 20 miles, and pretty soon we were through Hellifield and onto the climb over to Bolton-by-Bowland - and within 10m of the finish.

The last 5m is tough (particularly as we were now drenched), as it's 3 miles of gentle uphill followed by a couple of miles of much steeper ascent.  Herb had the bit between his teeth though and as we finally had some people to chase we really pressed on - big ring, heads down, HR bouncing up to levels I'd expect to see running.

We finished with a moving time of just over 5 hrs, half an hour or so slower than my "fast" ride in 2009, but I think we probably used up most of that in the bits where we were helping Dave, particularly down Littondale where you can normally really crack on. 

Both of us were pretty chuffed with how it'd gone, as we've agreed to ride from Bingley to Sunderland then up to Gosforth on a charity "bike to work" day, which will see us hanging onto Thackray for grim death for about 120 miles.

It'll be nice to do something altruistic for a change - over the last week I've been pretty humbled by this young lady's blog - she's 15, she's from Ulverston where K and I are from, and she's dying from cancer.  She's created a "bucket list" of things to do before she "kicks the bucket", and this week it "went viral" on Twitter.  Lots of people were asking her how they could contribute to help her do the things she wants to do - but she's asked that people sponsor her sister, Milly, who's doing the Race for Life - and today pledges went through £30,000!!  This is fantastic, and a far better use of blog time than the usual self-absorbed "look at me" shite you usually see posted (present blog very much included).  If any of the few people who do read this haven't come across Alice and Milly then have a look - and if any of you have but haven't contributed, then get your hands in your pockets!

Sunday, 5 June 2011


Suffering from a large dose of blog apathy recently, and a little bit of exercise apathy too.  I've been ticking over ok, running a bit (including a really good progressive 10 miler last week with miles from 7:40 to 6:20), and riding my bike more than of late.  It's a combination of not really having much to aim for (Great North Run, charity bike ride to work, but nothing to stir the soul) and also work getting...well...not busier just more complicated.  Potential restructures, salary reviews for people - all takes up energy and time, so I've had a bit of a tendency to just go schlonk when I get home.

Anyway - this isn't some sort of confessional where I'm going to promise to ride 100 miles and run 40 miles a week.  I'm just determined to give myself the opportunity to do something most days and then take it.

So this week will be running tomorrow and Tuesday, probably a day off Wednesday, then a game of golf (sorry - I know it doesn't count) and either a bike to work or a run home Friday.  Sunday's the Roses Round which is 70 miles or so, which will be a good indicator if Herb and I are ok for our ride to work (120 miles, I think) at the beginning of July.

Today was a nice 40 miler with Ilkley CC - out to Hampsthwaite via Almscliff, then back via Menwith Hill and Norwood Edge.  Herb and I (and a couple of others) are kind of stuck somewhere between the A and B groups - 40 miles at an average of just under 16mph is fine, but there's a lot of stopping and starting as there are a few folks who struggle, especially on the hills.  We've decided to give the B group another few weeks then looks at blowing out of our arses with the A team later in the summer.

The Ilkley CC team with Almscliff in the background

There were a couple of punctures today, which made it even slower, but whilst it's not frustrating as such, it's clear that if we're going to get fitter we need to be getting pushed a bit more than we are with this group.  Which is a bit like "the story of my life" training-wise at the moment - I'm not really pushing myself or being pushed - maybe I need an "objective"...

Monday, 16 May 2011

A nice week, if quiet...

Ran for the first time since London on what felt like quite recovered legs last Monday - just 8 miles, and not terribly quick (although I think I was probably bobbing along at about 7:20 pace on the canal).  I actually felt fairly light on my feet, which shows the amount of time it's taken to recover, and shows how much the combination of London and the Peaks took out of me.

Did another steady 5 on Wednesday night in Newcastle, then nothing until Sunday, when I ditched the Etape du Dales (thankfully - it sounded horrendous) and went out with Herb and my new cycling club chums from Ilkley CC.  The "A" ride (which the Afterburner reckons me and Herb should just about be able to hang on to the back of) was cancelled, as all the fast boys would be up doing the Etape, so we hooked up with the "B" group, leaving the Old Bridge at 8:30.  Out to Askwith, and up to the moor, which reminded up how much fun riding in a group can be - people to talk to, people to draft, and no need to cower in the gutter every time a car passes.

We dropped down to the reservoirs on a road that's new to me, then headed over to Harrogate and Pannal before turning for home at Kirkby Overblow.  The pace was very comfortable, and Herb and I were always somewhere near the fron, which suggests to me that we'll be about "A and a half" standard - which for me means the B group for a few weeks whilst I get some more stamina.

We came back via Castley and Leathley, with an encounter with a mad old woman at Farnley who objected to us stopping on the edge of the road, and would prefer us to be right out in the middle where we could get run over.  A blast back to Ilkley saw us do a really nice 38 miles at an average speed of 15.5mph, so not blistering but respectable.

Rick came round shell-shocked from the Etape, having taken 9:30 (Herb and I were 8:12 in much more clement conditions last year).  Tis confirmed our decision to pootle.

Then today I took my posh new Garmin 610 out for a run for the first time - 6 miles on the canal with the middle 4 as an effort.  2 were into the wind and were 6:42 and 6:33, then I turned at Riddlesden and came back in 6:28 and 6:23.  A mile back saw me do 6 miles at an average of under 7min pace - the first decent effort for a couple of weeks.

Saturday, 7 May 2011


I've done a bit of exercise this week, but not a lot.  My blisters have been sore (til Wednesday) and my legs have been sore (til Friday) so I managed a cycle commute and a ploddy (although I did a couple of 7:15 miles just to show I could) 5 miles on Friday evening.

The week's "event" was the West Riding Classic, a new sportive based in Clapham near Ingleton.  I picked The Herb up aftre battling with my new towbar and my bike rack, then we were away about 9 o'clock.

Ingleborough from Kingsdale.  I ran(ish) up that bugger last week.

We had a decent run over to Ingleton then a bit of a battle over to Kingsdale before we crested the watershed and saw this:

The view down into Dentdale
Stunning (and a great deal more stunning than that picture looks).  Once in Dentdale we turned east and realised that there was "a bit of a breeze" blowing.  It got tougher and tougher, and Herb started to struggle with his bad back, so the decision was taken that we'd do the 60 mile route instead of the 75 miler.

The pull up to Newby Head was really hard, but once we turned down towards Ribblehead the speed and the spirits rose.  And why wouldn't they?

Ribblehead with Whernside in the background.  I ran(ish) up that bugger last week as well.
After we turned at Ribblehead the wind got stronger and Herb really started to struggle - he's definitely a lot bike fitter than me and I was leaving him almost at will.  Eventually after a couple of stretch stops we hit Horton and the feed.  Lovely soup, a cup of coffee and a quick check of may wallet left me energised...and terrified.  I'd carefully put Karen's car key in my wallet and put the wallet in my jersey pocket.  Sadly I was in my car not Karen's, which was sat, unlocked, with the key in the armrest, in the car park in Clapham.

Herb suggested going back and I didn't need much persuading - the weather was looking ominous and I could imagine the pain of making 5 years loan repayments on a car that'd been nicked.  A brilliant blast through Helwith Bridge and Austwick quickly saw us back at the car park and my still immobile car, so we handed in our chips and went home after an enjoyable but interrupted 40 mile ride.  And it lashed it down 10 minutes after we finished.

A good event, and one we'll go back to, and well done to Bob for getting round the full 75 mile route.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Ticked it

Well I did it, but it wasn't pretty.

3 Peaks race yesterday in glorious but very windy weather.  I arrived at Horton and was surprised to feel really quite nervous - which is odd as I didn't have much of a target other then to get round without getting timed out.  I lined up with several other Harriers, and we were soon off and climbing up Pen y Ghent.  I found I was able to run most of the initial climb, which meant I passed quite a few people - no trouble from my legs at this early stage.

I hit the top of PyG in about 40 minutes, so slightly up on 4:30 schedule, and made good time to Ribblehead where I was a good 25 minutes inside the cut off.  The only problem was the underside of my heels were sore, which I assume is my compression socks sliding about in my shoes - whatever the cause this meant I was struggling to run quickly downhill from very early on.

After a quick slurp of water at Riblehead it was off to the second peak, Whernside, via a route I've never done - straight up the middle to the summit.  This was all walking, and in my case pretty bloody slow walking too!  On the way up here was when my legs realised that this wasn't another steady recovery run after London and decided to let me know they weren't pleased.  I got to the top having dropped a few places, then struggled on the descent with my dodgy feet.

Me and Rebecca M-W just after the Hill Inn - before the pain really started...Photo Terry Lonergan
 The main objective for the day was to hit the Hill Inn check within 3:30 to be allowed to finish - which I did in under 3 hours, so apart from being absolutely shagged out with sore feet and dehydration there was nothing to stop me.

I ran quite a bit of the initial section, but once we hit the paved section I was pretty much walkign everything, and I really struggled up the last steep bit before the ridge.  A kind bloke saw my problems and gave me a quick drink, which helped get me the last bit to the summit via another slurp from a marshall.

Just the descent then - which I'd secretly been hoping would be my moment of triumph as my marathon trained legs took me down the last 4 3/4 miles in about 40 minutes.  Erm...no... What actually happened was my shot at legs and agonising feet ran-walked it in 48 minutes and just failed to get under 4:30.

My left foot - note blisters on the heel and the ball.  Ouch.

Would I do it again 13 days after London?  Of course I bloody wouldn't - that'd be stupid.  Would I do it again if I'd trained specifically for it and rested properly ? Abso-bloody-lutely.  I suspect I could get under 4:15 without too much bother, and a sub-4 should be feasible if I did a proper "campaign" of lots of hills and longer off-road runs.  Which gives me a dilemma for 2012 - do I give London another bash, or do I give the 3 Peaks a proper go?

Decisions, decisions...

Friday, 29 April 2011

Another quiet week

As this weekend's 3 Peaks race isn't going to be an eyeballs out time-chasing effort I've had an easy time of it after Monday's bike ride.  Just the one run, a briskish 5 miler on Wednesday afternoon, all about 7:20 pace and all very comfortable, apart from very tight calves.

There doesn't seem any reason for this, and I've not felt a reaction after the run, but I think I'll be running in my girly knee socks again just to be sure. 

Monday, 25 April 2011

Recovery week

Well Sally the Massage Lady seemed to help (although that may just have been the passage of time), but by Thursday the worst of the DOMS seemed to have gone from my legs.  Just a couple of very gentle 4 milers this week, but then on Friday the weather was still cracking, it was a bank holiday and we were child free for the weekend, so out came my bicycle.

Just a steady one on Friday, with lots of low gear spinning - Halton Heights, Langbar, Ilkley and home for a 22 miler with no great effort involved.  I've decided cycling is to be the key to my sub-3 marathon as it seems to be the way I get weight off the best, so I shall be trying to get at the very least 200 miles a month for the rest of the summer, along with keeping the running ticking over.

A weekend of beery fun at Tim and Helen's wedding then a call from The Herb last night - did I fancy a bike ride today?  Yep - the weather is supposed to break some time this week, so I decided to make the most of it.

The Herb was ill (isn't he always?) so he had his excuses in nice and early, but for once I think he might not be bluffing, as he was very slow up most of the hills today.

Herb just getting to the top of Langbar

Halton Heights, then Langbar, then Askwith Moor Rd made for a lumpy first half, then we turned left instead of our normal right and headed down to Blubberhouses.  I've had my eye on a little road that is parallel to the A59 at Kex Gill, so at Blubbs we went straight across and headed up towards West End.  We weren't sure exactly where the viscious little climb is, but sod's law says it was before we turned off - but as is often the case the memory was worse than the reality and we were both up it without too much eyeball bleeding.

The Menwith Hill golf balls from Askwith Moor

The unknown bit of road proved to be lovely, and a short section of tarmac bridleway saw us at the very top of the A59's descent into Wharfedale.  I was hoping for a really fast descent, but in the end I don't think we touched much over 40mph, but atb least it was around 3 1/2 miles without turning a pedal.

A quick cup of tea at Bolton Abbey and home for a very pleasant 34 miler.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Fickle, me?

You know that bit down there where I said "definitely not in 2012"? Well I'm wavering.

Reason being that whilst I don't think I was ever in sub-3 shape this year, I wasn't far off. I reckon a bit of weight off and a touch more commitment then I could run that reasonably comfortably.

So he's an outline plan:

Spend the summer on my bike, which always gets the weight off. Then start running seriously again in the autumn, via GNR and Abbey Dash, then build up for a proper go at sub-3 if the weather's right at VLM 2012. I'd kick myself if I decided not to and it was perfect weather, so I'm moving towards thinking I might at least enter when the GFA window opens.

Very sore legs this week, but a couple of 4 milers and a visit to Sally the sports massage lady seems to have loosened things up. A couple of bike rides over the weekend and then a few gentle sessions next week and we'll see how we go at the 3 Peaks a week Saturday.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Well that's it done then...

Back from London yesterday, having had a very, very tough day in the sun.

Went down Saturday morning and via a combination of Boris Bike, tube and DLR arrived at the expo.  Registered, got my chip and had a wander round a few stalls, including viewing and buying the new Nike+ GPS watch.  Well it's waterproof - it'd be rude not to.

Then spent a dull afternoon lounging around the hotel room before going out for tea with lots of Harriers and their families.  Paul S and Emma both looking for 4:15 and young Dan chasing something speedy - I was the veteran of the group and was dispensing sage advice whilst not really knowing what I was looking for.

The weather forecast was for hot weather, but the peak temps weren't expected until mid-afternoon, so I thought a PB could be feasible, if not sub-3.  So finally I decided the strategy would be to set off at about 7min pace and see how I felt after a few miles.

The Fast GFA start was brilliant, and I met up with a few of my RW chums, including Martin who was painted purple.  The pen was crowded (presumably a result of dropping the blokes' U40 time to 3:10) but even so we were away and over the line in under a minute.

7 min pace felt comfortable, and I went through 5k in 21:30, so decided to keep it going.  15k came and went at about the same pace, with the temperature still feeling ok.  Over Tower Bridge and past halfway in 1:31 - so no chance of sub-3, but that was never really on the cards.  However a 1:35 2nd half would give a nice PB and I was still feeling good.

It's tricky to know where I started to struggle - the stats would suggest 30-35k, so really only in the last 6 or 7 miles, but to be honest I was feeling pretty warm from 15m onwards.  From 35km to the last mile I felty like I was running through treacle, but actually my worst 5k was still averaging 8:14 - so not the 9:50's of 2007.  I also managed to resists the temptation to have a little walk, although I did need to stop to stretch out an onset of cramp in my hamstrings.

I saw another RW mate, Poacher, on the embankment walking, and I tried to persuade him to run the last mile with me, but he was suffering so I left him to it.  I did find that when I put my mind to it I could actually go a bit quicker, so I speeded up a bit for the last mile and a half after the 40k marker, and stopped the watch on 3:11:25.

So not the sub-3 I'd started off hoping for, but given how much travelling I've done, and the slight motivational problems I've had now and again (I really did think of jacking in a mile into a 20 miler a few weeks ago) I'm pretty pleased to have got within 4mins of a PB.  The weather was horrid in the last hour, and nearly everyone I met afterwards said they'd struggled and had missed their target.

Will I do it again?  Certainly not next year, but I think I'll be back for another bash in 2013 - it'd be rude not to, wouldn't it?