Monday, 30 January 2012

Another chilly week

It seems to have been blimmin' chilly for about a week now, but to be honest give me cold and still over warm and windy any day.

Last week panned out pretty much as planned - firstly a bimble round Hyde Park, which turned out to be decidedly brisk.  There was some sort of time trial/race going on, so all the usual iPod laden joggers had been replaced by gnarly looking dudes, some of whom were in vests and shorts.  I was miling at low 7's (and below 7's by the end) and was overtaken by about half a dozen guys all looking steely eyed and determined.  Still, got me back in time for the footy.

The Thursday saw me and the Herb, along with our new training bud Sue, at the track for a slightly longer efforts session than of late.  A decent warm up then 5x1k off 200's.  Sue's first time on the track, and as expected she gave us a mild kicking - lapping probably 3-5 seconds quicker than me (and a lot quicker than Herb who was suffering a bit and looked even more Forrest Gump than usual).  My reps were all between 3:45 and 3:50, which is respectable, but not the 3:35's I was running a couple of years ago - still, not bad and there's more to come I'm sure.

Steady 4m Friday, then Saturday saw me and the girls at Cas for our last practice session in the big fridge before Morzine in a couple of weeks.  It's great to see how far they've come, especially Lily who had effectively never skied before.  She's verging on the "overconfident" so it'll be interesting to see how she goes over there.  Maisie is more in control, so I think she'll cope better when it steepens up.

Sunday I'd planned to go out with the club on the long training ride, so drove down to Ilkley instead of riding, but a change of plan (well a lack of a clear one, really) meant I went with the usual group instead.  Having driven down, of course I'd managed to forget helmet and battery, so a helmet less, lightless ride was had over to Kirby Overblow and back via Castley - a nice 40 miles in perfect, if slightly icy conditions.

Today was back to work, and all the systems conked out, so The Newmanator and Bobby T set off for a Reverse Tomes.  The problem with Rob is that even though he's not at his fittest, he can't seem to stop pushing, so the result was a (for me) very fast run up the hill to Morton, then a PB time overall of just under 40 minutes for the 5.25 miles.

Spin class tonight, which is definitely feeling easier.

My main challenge now after a good January is to keep it up through Feb.  Rugby this weekend, then two weekends of skiing and then a trip to Keswick with K for our anniversary means that cycling opportunities will be limited to commuting, unless I can scab a ride on the Saturday before skiing.  Running at weekends will be equally limited, along with doing nothing when we're skiing for a week.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012


Did the hilly five miler from work yesterday with the Newmanator and its inventor and inspiration, Chris Tomes.  The route, henceforth known as The Reverse Tomes, is the run up through the Mortons to the top of the moor, then back down through Riddlesden to a flat couple of miles on the canal.  It's a Reverse Tomes as the first time I ran it we went the other way round, which is a flat couple of miles then a stupidly steep climb up and then a ridiculously easy run back down to work.  The Reverse Tomes gives a long climb with a few steep bits, then a short steep descent, good for leg speed, then a flat finish that you can run hard or easy.

Anyway... the three of us set off after a bit of a debate about clothing.  I went for pertex, Tomes went for a gilet and The Newmanator went for a t-shirt.  Win to me - sleet and a stinking headwind on the way up left me slightly concerned for Tim's welfare.  Nevertheless the little trooper made it and we enjoyed a speedy descent and a reasonably brisk couple of miles back.  A good, but chilly lunchtime.

Then today it was that perfect combination for a ride into work - wet AND cold.  Obviously there's just a touch of irony in my use of the word "perfect" - it was bloody awful.  The Herb and I distracted ourselves by alternately talking about how "it's much worse when it's windy" and trying to make each other fall off by not paying attention and swerving into each other's way.

Separate rides home, and I was quite pleased with how strong I felt considering I've only had two days off running or biking in the last 20.  I suspect there was some wind assistance but I actually got home quicker than we went in - a very unusual "negative split" for a bike commute.

London tomorrow - hopefully a pootle round a park or two, then track Thursday if I can get back in time.

Sunday, 22 January 2012


I'm in a bit of a quandary, me.  I've recently become a tad weather obsessed - not because of the effect on short-term running and cycling activities, but because of the effect on our forthcoming ski trip to Morzine.

Just prior to Christmas, following the driest November in living memory, even the relatively high slopes of Avoriaz (just above Morzine) were green, brown, grey - everything but white.  This got me interested in the forum on the Snowheads website, and particularly this thread.  There's links to various weather models posted, and I've got quite knowledgeable about low pressure areas dipping down from the arctic and bringing storms 9and lots of snow) to the Alps.  The good news is that after the snow-drought of the autumn the winter so far looks amazing - nearly 3m of snow up top and Morzine's got plenty too.

However, these low pressure areas that are bringing snow to the Haute Savoie are also bringing westerly winds across Embsay, which is making it a right bugger to get out and do anything.  I've decided that Saturdays are my long(ish) off road run day, so yesterday I set off to do my 8m circuit of the moor, finishing past Embsay Crag.  I felt pretty good on the way up to Halton Heights, but then when I hit the moor and turned to start the climb up to the summit the wind hit me - it was absolutely brutal.  I've never felt so much resistance when running - you expect it on a bike, but this made me feel like I was running through treacle.

It was worth a full 90 seconds a mile on the two mile climb up to the top, and even reduced me to walking  for a few yards on the steepest bit.

Eventually I turned left again and "only" had a gale force side wind, which made for easier going but still tricky running on the narrow single-track. My legs were absolutely battered when I got home, which made the fact it was a minute slower than last week even harder to take!

I'd intended to get out with the club today, but given the sound of the wind and rain, Herb and I decided to sack it off for this morning and see what the afternoon brings - probably more wind and rain, but on the bright side, more snow in Morzine!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Gently bumbling with ma bros

The hitherto non-cyclist transformed.  Note fat git back right (not my mum...)

Very, very cold ride into work yesterday, and a still chilly ride home for an early finish.  We had family round in the shape of my mum, Rick (cycling bro), Kath (cycling bro's cycling wife), Keith (hitherto non-cycling bro) and Annie ((hitherto non-cycling bro's wife) - clear?

A splendid repast (though I say so myself) of pasta and stuff, no beer (get me!) and a bit of pudding (sorry, belly) and much talk of Mallorca cycling trips - which the hitherto non-cycling bro has agreed to come on.  Not entirely sure he knows what he's letting himself in for, as even with a few months to get ready the big mountains ride might be a bit much - mind you I'm expecting it might be a bit much for some rather more experienced cyclists amongst us.

Anyway - the hitherto non-cycling bro has been given a hybrid bike - indeterminate brand, 26" wheels and knobbly tyres, but no boingy bits and a decidedly racy looking saddle was transformed in our utility room into a road speed machine by the addition of some slick tyres.  The hitherto non-cycling bro, size 7 feet and lots of boingy bits, was similarly transformed by the addition of some groovy white cycling shoes and an unused Marmite thermal jacket.

We met Rick, who'd heroically cycled the 17 miles or so from home, in Clitheroe and set off, via a bike shop to adjust Keith's saddle, for an enjoyable wimble round some pleasant lanes.  I think we went to Whalley, I'm certain we went to Waddington and I suspect we nearly went to Grindleton.  We also met the ladies at a nice caff where our mam bought us some coffee.

Just 20 miles or so, and hardly earth shattering pace-wise, but a lovely day (when it stopped drizzling) to be out with your big brothers and filling the hitherto non-cyclist's head with Stuff You Must Have (think GPS, summer bike, winter bike, posh glasses etc etc).  The other thing we decide he Must Have is a dinky little baker's cap to wear under his helmet - so on our return to the car I duly presented Keith with the daft headgear in the photo above - no longer a hitherto non-cycling bro - in the space of a morning I now have two bros of the cycling variety!

Roll on Mallorca...

Sunday, 15 January 2012

A great weekend

Well that's the weekend almost done and I'm still sticking to my plan - no beer, better diet and get on it as far as exercise goes.

Thursday was my rest day, and I was ready for it after 10 days of doing something, then Friday saw me and Herb out at lunch in lovely weather running up through East Morton and down through Riddlesden.  It's the reverse of a daft run Chris Tomes took me on a few months ago, where we went along the canal for a couple of miles then a ludicrously steep climb for a mile then a gentle, fast (and no effort) downhill back to work.  This way you get a good two miles of uphill before a silly downhill and a flat run back.  Felt reasonably strong on the up, which is good, as between now and April I've got to get quite good at up.

Then yesterday I took Izzy out for what will become my "long run" day, normally off road.  We went along to Halton east then up the green lane to Halton Heights, which felt ok, instead of the usual lung-bursting grovel.  We then crossed over onto the moor and began the climb up to the top, pausing for a quick snap for Izz:

The cunning plan was that Izzy would haul me up the climb to the top, but she decided that she'd rather run alongside me, so all the effort was my own.  As with Friday I felt ok most of the way up the climb, so despite the fact I seem to be staying resolutely hefty perhaps I'm getting a bit stronger.

At the top we turned left to head back down via Eastby and the church - 8 miles, about 70 minutes and tired legs.  I've got about twelve weeks to be able to do that distance three times over.  Blimey...

A really cold night last night, so I was quietly hoping Herb would declare it too sloppy to cycle - no such luck.  Even my feeble excuse that I couldn't get my bike out because the shed lock was frozen fell on deaf ears, so just after half nine we were off over Halton Heights, wheezing and blowing like the old blokes we  are.

We decided to stick to main roads, so at the Wharfedale road we turned last and followed our noses.  It was absolutely beautiful, with half the valley in shade and so still frosty, and the other half green(ish).  At Grassington we decided to keep heading up the valley and add in the climb up to Kidstones, the watershed between Wharfedale and Bishopdale.

Herb north of Buckden

We had both forgotten what the climb up to Kidstones is like, having only done it once during a sportive from Richmond, but I'd forgotten it slightly less than Herb so had a vague recollection of "uppy bit, pub, another uppy bit, top" - and so it proved.  Both of us found the climb reasonably easy, and were then surprised when we came down it to find it felt quite steep.  Either way, the extra height meant the views were spectacular, and I took the opportunity afforded by getting a slight lead on Herb to take some pictures at the top.  I still surprise myself sometimes with just how stunning the area we live in is - constantly changing, always beautiful.
Looking back down from Kidstones

The ride back down the valley (via a rather splendid egg butty in Kettlewell) took about an hour, with the blast down from Cracoe enlivened by having a lad to chase, who seemed to go faster than us on the flat and a lot slower than us on the hills - we caught him just before the turn off to Brackenley Lane - male pride satisfied.

Herb hitting the heights

The final bit of drama was Herb having a massive blowout about half a mile from his house, so we decided it was better for him to walk home, rather than start messing about mending punctures.

A grand day to end a grand week - about 22 miles of running and 70 miles of biking - not quite the 30 and 100 I'd like to get to, but it's getting easier each time out.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Still at it...

Well today is my first rest day in 10, and if I say so myself I think I've earned it.

Red meat - none
Beer - none
Runs - 6
Spin classes (sorry) - 1
Bike rides - 3

Weight lost?  No idea - but I feel a bit fitter.  Dragged myself to the track on Tuesday on my own, where I did 6x800 with most of the reps being in the 3:05-3:10 space - nowhere near as quick as a couple of years ago when they'd have been 2:50 or so, but it was blowy and being on your own does drag the enthusiasm down a bit, meaning I wasn't busting a gut (not to say it wasn't tough).

Three Peaks entered, so whilst I'm not intending to have the sort of planned schedule I did for my marathon last year I do need to start thinking about getting some long runs in.  I think I'll aim for march though, as February is taken up with skiing, rugby and wedding anniversaries.

Onwards and upwards - back to running tomorrow and hopefully first longish off road run on Saturday (my first of the year, Izzy's first ever).

Monday, 9 January 2012

A double sesh

Not content with the no beer/more running/less meat start to the year today I achieved (for a fat, under-motivated biffa) a bit of a milestone.  Firstly I went for a run at lunchtime - it was lovely - temperate, sunny and still - just the job for a 4 and a bit miler at just under 7:40 pace (which felt comfy, another good sign).  Nothing remarkable in that, you may say - but that meant I've done something every day for a week.  Not high mileage, not fast pace, but I either rode a bike or ran somewhere every day for a week.  Hurrah.

Then later this evening I went with the Herb to Aireville Pool and did a spin class - so a "double" exercise session.  I'm still unconvinced by spinning - even though I try to crank up the resistance there was only one exercise where my legs felt they were getting a good seeing to.  More effort needed or just a bit of a sweaty gym-bunny con-job?  Don't know - but we're going back next week for another go - well, given that The Herb has purchased some skin-tight muscle gear (think gay disco meets speed skater) he needs somewhere to go other than Queens Court in Leeds...

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Happy new year, fatty

Well back in November I said I was going to lose 10lbs by the new year.  You're probably wondering if I managed it.

Did I buggery.

So I hit the new year still pretty unfit (ticking over exercise-wise, but still too much beer and fatty stuff to drop any weight).  But as usual with the new year came resolutions, and I do feel like I've started off better than either of the last two years.

Eat lots more fish - tick
Eat less red meat - tick
Soup at lunch - tick
No beer til Feb - tick
More running - tick
Get out on my bike - tick.

Now I know it's only a week, but the "calendar" view on Rubitrack looks a lot more healthy - 4 runs and two bike rides this week, including a gnarly lump-fest over to Pendle and back today with Herb.

Now just got to stick with it...

I've decided that if I get a stone off by the end of March I can have a new bike - a Rose Bikes carbon jobby with Ultegra Di2 is looking favourite, so I'd better start taking this seriously!