Thursday, 28 October 2010

Today, back to work

Just a quickie... went back to work after a week off.  Always get jumpy and nervous beforehand - what's happened, gone wrong?  I always try to delay logging on to the screen of unread emails and today, somewhat fortunately, I had a 10am meeting in Headquarters with my Manager.  Perfect excuse.

I arrived a few minutes early and just as I was walking in my phone bleep saying I had a message.  Tempting as it was to answer, I let it go to voicemail.  Adrian was a little tied up, seeing the HR Manager about the latest round of staff cuts, so the question was whether I would mind waiting a little.

"Fine, no problem" I said "Gives me a chance to deal with some emails"
Why did I say that, the last thing I wanted to do.

Meeting was pleasant, drove back to my office.  Went into town to get my Mother-in-Law's watch from the watchmaker, as it was being repaired.  "Closed on Thursday" said the sign.  How quaint.  How annoying.

After a little more procrastination and a few more excuses, I logged on for a proper look at the 284 emails.  Quite a few could be deleted straight away; daily arrests who's who, car park, central heating pump.  A few could be read and replied instantly, plenty of others will have to wait.

So not too bad.  Phew.  Training event tomorrow.

Came home.  After dinner we all watched a recording of World's Strictest Parents.  Becky likes having strict parents, Hannah understands why she only has Chocolate spread on a Sunday.

All's well.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Pete's Eats

Pete's Eats, 40 High Street
Llanberis, Gwynedd, N.Wales
Without wanting to tempt fate, I often find myself wondering what I'd do if I ever lost my job.  Without knowing the real impact of the nice Mr Osbourn's Comprehensive Spending Review (aka Those Savage Cuts leading to the R word) it's hard to know if ever this would become a reality.  If ever it did become a reality, something like Pete's Eats could be just the thing.....

Our friend Dave was really keen on Pete's Eats.  Even when we were having our "Snowdonia" planning meeting at their house, he said that it would be a great place to go - and he was right!  Apparently a place, he explained, where there were good sized portions and ideal for carb loading in preparing for a day slogging up and down Snowdon.  In my mind's eye I built this mental picture of Pete's Eats having lots of rugged looking hikers and climbers as customers, consuming pasta and lentil everything in a YHA setting.

I wasn't too far off, allowing for a little stereotyping.  Finding it was a piece of (organic carrot) cake  "just turn left and it'll be obvious Doug, you can't miss it, not even you".  Sure enough it was easy to find, along with somewhere to park, just along the street.  Isn't it fantastic to just park somewhere for free nowadays!

We settled ourselves - all eight of us - in what might be the back room.  Elsewhere there were a good handful of others at various stages of their meals.  One by one we went and ordered our meals.  Naturally the kids all went for Chips and Something Ugh while us grown-ups went for grown-up meals.  Though not cheap, the prices were fair and reasonable.  Rachel had a Lasagne with a side salad.  It was huge!  Naturally as the loving hubby I about to offer to help but before I could utter a word olives were coming my way followed by tomatoes.

I ordered mine - Lentil & Bean Curry with Rice from the specials board.  "Is it hot?" I asked.
The Assistant said it would be nice and warm and then realised what I was asking.
"Nah, it's not too hot or spicy, quite mild really, OK?"
This, it turned out could have been a tad misleading, reminiscent of those student days when we'd all out-do each other with the hot curries we would eat without flinching.  It was fine, healthy and filling.  So filling I just couldn't manage that last bit of rice and it's not often I ever do that!
Becky & Hannah

Monday, 25 October 2010

Ridgeway Run 2010

Last year, I enjoyed the Ridgeway Run so much I decided to do it again this year; it's the only time I've run a race more than once.  Last year my time was 1 hr 18mins, or thereabouts.  Position 118 out of 474 runners.  This year I managed to beat that and came in at 1hr 17 mins which I was really pleased with.

The race itself was good humoured, well organised and had a fairly small, local feel which I really liked.

The route went from the edge of Tring along a lane, over a road to the edge of the Ashridge Estate.  A mostly gentle climb took us past the golf club and eventually out to the Bridgewater monument which was probably the highest point.  I remember smiling as I approached the monument as there was a bunch of young kids banging away on all kind of pots and pans - that was a lovely encouragement!

I was determined not to make the same mistake as I did last year.  Towards the end of the race I figured I was getting fairly close to the finish line and then made a real dash for it - only to find the start line was NOT the finish line.  The finish line (obvious when I thought about it) was back at the Cricket Club, maybe half a mile further on!  It served me right, all those people I overtook as I made my dashed, then cruised pass me as I panted away.  So, no, I didn't make the same mistake, especially as someone had thoughtfully put up a "One Mile to Go" sign.

After the race, no time to linger beyond getting my goody bag as Rachel and I were hosting a Sunday lunch at Church - so a quick drive home, shower and jog into Church - just in the nick of time.  I really was on yet another Runners High and so I decided to wear the tee-shirt - a naff green with printed on it, denoting the 10.10am start on the 10th of the 10th month, 2010.  Nobody noticed or commented on it, shame I though but served me right!

I really liked the race overall, nice distance, beautiful scenery and fair weather.  Perhaps one thing that sticks in my mind: as much as I feel pleased with myself, lets keep it in perspective.  Don't gloat.  Besides, there was a man, clearly older than myself who ran the last few miles either just in front or behind.  He got across the finish line before me - and according to the results, he's in his 60s.  Wow, that is impressive!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Which challenge? Run or Cycle?

My faithful Dawes Galaxy at Silverstone
I have in mind a challenge for next year.  Saying that is the easy bit, making my mind up is the difficult part.  I want a challenge, perhaps a running challenge - which I'll really enjoy - or a long distance cycling challenge.  Perhaps a tour or an Audax event.  Could even use one to train for the other.

So I need some suggestions.  I've looked at the Deloitte Ride Across Britain event and it looks tempting but I'm not sure I can hack 110 miles a day. What is even more challenging about this JOGLE (aka John O'Groats to Lands End) ride is that it would appear to be riding into the prevailing wind.  Surely LEJOG is kinder? Perhaps a lighter bike would help?  Then there's the good ol' CTC holidays  Near my office is a branch of Cotswold camping and a while back I took a look at their range of single tents.  Some were really impreesively light and compact (is this what they refer to as credit card touring?).

The motivation for this falls into three camps:

  1. Staying in good shape and improving my fitness
  2. Having the satisfaction of pushing myself; an adventure, something new
  3. Not having too many regrets when I'm a grumpy old man

Now it's October 2010 it's not too early to start training and planning.  Time scale to aim for is probably last week of July 2011 when Rachel and the girls are camping with friends.

I like the idea of a new bike.  Fantastic as my c1985 Dawes Galaxy is, I fancy getting something updated.  So what's so bad about the Dawes, apart from a few bits of rust appearing?  The gears are so awful I tend to heave myself up a short hill rather than change gear.  The imperial 27" tyres are increasingly hard to find.

I paid a visit to SJS Cycles to see their Thorn bikes particularly their Club Tour and their Audax bike  I've also been interested in Evans Cycles when we pop into Milton Keynes as they always have a good range of fast looking bike in stock

So, what's it to be?  Aim for an endurance event or ride?  Aim for a marathon?

Saturday, 9 October 2010

A midsummer's night ride

Wallie and myself.   Belas Knapp, Gloucestershire June 2010 - about 3.00am and just before dawn
Wallie and I had promised ourselves a bike ride in May 2010 and had a date arranged for quite some time.  With various things at work taking place it meant I had to call it off.  Try as we might, we just couldn't find another date that suited us and it was then we hit on the idea of a night ride, when it wouldn't matter what was going on at work, providing we decided on a particular Friday in June.

ON the day it went to plan; we met 10.15pm ish in the usual car park at Burford, had a cup of tea and then set off into the night with the last of a few raindrops falling.  Wallie had a route planned, around 50 miles mostly through backroads.  Quite a magical experience seeing the last glow from the sun fade almost to nothing on the horizon - interestingly it was always there, very faint but nonetheless it was there as a dull glow different from the occasional glimpse of sodium flavoured light pollution from a distant town.

We pedalled along, sometimes chatting, sometimes just listening to the whir of our wheels and the countryside at night.  Occasionally we'd see a cat, or perhaps a badger come out onto the road, clock us coming and then run for it.  From time to time a car may pass but before too long there were no car s around and any bedroom lights were gradually being turned off one by one.  We felt like burglars, gliding almost silently around at night, albeit with hi-viz clothing and bright LED lights.  It must have been at around 2.00am when I suddenly felt tired; I'd been fine before.  Suddenly it was really hard to concentrate on what I was seeing and having to make a conscious decision to go a little slower on some of the downhill sweeps.  I think Wallie was just the same, though he didn't say.  After a little more, we seemed to have a second wind, another burst of energy and we got to Belas Knapp, an ancient burial mound.  Wallie had been there before, commentating that "...we'll need to push our bikes a little when we got off the road but only for a couple of minutes".  Well, that was an understatment as we plodded through a few fields, woods etc.

When we got to the mound it was suddenly like being on top of the world.  We walked around and over it to get our bearings.  Then, standing there on the top at 3.10am I said to Wallie "look it's getting lighter".  That faint glow on the horizon, just a shade brighter.  A second later, a bird woke up with the start of the dawn chorus, or maybe a false start prompted by us stirring the night.

Soon we were on our way through the same - but drastically different - landscape.  Roads that we'd cycled on an hour before were taking on a misty quality and it was wonderful seeing the surrounding hills, hedges, trees all appear in a misty faint light.  Looking down into the valleys I remember wondering whether I was witnessing a new fairly tale lake but there we were up above the mist in the gloomy valleys.

I remember feeling incredibly cold at around 4.00am and time to stop for a snack and to put on an extra layer.  Neither of us were talking too much, a combination of feeling utterly tired and also through being in awe of those beautiful surroundings.  Wallie broke the silence by reminding me how he will avoid a main road like the plague.  No matter how remote or quiet, main roads and Wallie do not mix well.

Wallie and his Claud Butler cycle and my Dawes Galaxy cycle
"There's a green lane we can take, look here it is on the map, you can see in runs parallel to the A40 and straight back to Burford".  OK, deal done.  At first it was ok, we could both manage it alright although after a little while it was more hybrid bike territory rather than a skinny wheel tourer.  A little further on it was then more MTB land followed by 4WD and a tractor.  It was hilarious!  We got soaked and became even colder through pushing along through the tall wet grass and Wallie continuously apologising, which of course I milked it for all I could.  A few miles later Wallie hit the "wall" and suddenly started to really struggle saying how it was really the first ride he'd done since last year.  No problem, it's ok in trying to offer a bit of commoradary.  What kept us both going so well in those last few miles was the prospect of a fry-up breakfast.

In my car I'd packed the camping stove with the usual sausages, bacon, eggs etc (all healthy, h'emmmm) but I could smell those mushrooms even before I started cooking!  Absolutely fantastic!  Breakfast and two gallons of tea later, we each set off in our opposite directions.  I drove in a kind-of sleepy autopilot way back home, revelling in what we'd just done.  Marvellous.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Type A runner?

Asics Gel 1150 with X Socks
If someone can have a Type A personality, is it possible to be a Type A Runner?

Possible traits....
  • In racing, am I in the first 20%, regardless of age?
  • How do I compare with other veterans of my age?
  • Be prepared to start well back in the pack and hang back for the first half and then "go for it"
  • What's my running form like?
  • I could have done better
  • I'm not going to take energy gels any more to help me run faster
  • My best is yet to come
  • I'm just not satisfied
  • I must train alone
  • I must always have a future race in my diary

    Running times....

    My worn out legs with the very hard wearing Asics Gel 1150 and fabulous X Socks

    ....before I totally forget:

    Feb 2009  Knebworth 10k about 55 mins
    June 2009 Whipsnade 10k about 53 mins
    Oct 2009 Ridgeway 15k about 1hr 18mins
    Mar 2010 Bath half 1hr 48mins
    June 2010 St Albans half 1hr 44mins
    October 2010 Ridgeway 15k 1hr 17 mins
    November 2010 Leighton Buzzard Dirt half 1hr 44mins (90th of 384) flippin' cold
    June 2011St Albans half 1 hr 42mins (424 out of 1941)
    October 2011 Ridgeway 15k 1hr 18mins (122 out of 517) could have done better
    April 2012 MK Marathon 4 hours 12 minutes (about middle of field) first marathon - cold and wet
    May 2013 MK Marathon 3 hours 58 minutes; second marathon - sunny, warm and very pleased

    Treadmill PB times:
    Sept 2010 10k 45mins 40s
    Sept 2010 1 mile 6mins 20s
    Nov 2010 10k 44mins 44s (knackered)
    Nov 2010 10 miles 1hr 26mins (tired but ok)