Sunday, 3 May 2015

Sing out loud, the chain gang song

Sat in my dressing gown , I stared vacantly out of the window into the empty street. The only movement were the rivulets of water trickling down the window and the tulips swaying the wind, their petals closed in protest. What a day. Didn’t fancy getting soaked out there. Make a mess of the bike as well.

Maybe it will clear’ I told myself. 
An hour later the house was empty apart from me and the dog. The rain continued.
The rest of them had cleared off to a local half marathon. After another half an hour I dug out the rollers. For anyone unfamiliar with this fiendish apparatus, you balance your bike on it and then ride on the spot, the rollers suspended on a low frame allowing the wheels to move; but you stay put.

I put leggings on and a tracksuit top over my t shirt, put a hat on and dug out a bike. It took me 5 minutes to get moving. I generally find it’s a tedious and thankless form of exercise. A last resort.

I got off and put on Mike Rutherfords Smallcreeps Day on the CD player and ramped up the sound. After 8 minutes, the hat came off. After 10, I had a sweat on and after 12, small drops of perspiration began a rhythmical pit-pit from the end of my nose onto the crossbar of the bike. May bank holiday weekend. Outside, still the rain came. After 25 minutes you begin to stew slowly in your own juices. A subtle smell of warm rubber envelops the room.

I was getting a bit bored and tired after half an hour. My backside was a bit achy. The regime doesn’t allow you to stop (or you fall off) or alter your riding position very much as keeping your balance is just as critical as pedalling. After 40 minutes I got off for a drink and changed the CD. I was going to call it a day, but when Ian McShane’s throaty growl sprang from the Missions, supported by Trevor Horns unmatched production in ‘Slave to the Rhythm’. I grabbed a towel and had to get back on the bike and purged out another 20 minutes of effort, the windows steaming up all the while in the little room.

After an hour I tried to take a selfie, but lost the back wheel and was projected sideways onto the arm of the settee in a slow motion fall. Graceless. She (Jones the Rhythm) was busy pounding out ‘never stop the action, keep it up, keep it up.’ Deciding I had had enough after 65 minutes, I dismounted picked up the newspaper which I'd put under the bike to mop up the small puddle of salty toil and took off into the kitchen for a drink and handfuls of Sainsburys Strawberry Granola.
I was soaked. Ironic that.
Later I get a text saying the youngsters finished 3rd in her first half marathon. I taught her everything she knows, you know!

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Tubeless

I had pretty much another week off last week to give the injury a rest, but this week I've managed 4 or 5 rides over around 20 or 30 miles. While its been pretty damn chilly, even with the sun out, I have managed to drag my sorry torso around the shallow hills of south Northumberland at reasonable speed. Still a few pounds too heavy, mind.
However, there has been a price to pay.  I was up this morning surrounded by a bunch of tubes.... and a bowl of water. Calling someone a 'tube' was a form of mild abuse where I come from, but these are bike tubes. The frequent potholes coupled with a worn tyre have meant that I've used up all my spare bike tubes and have had to spend the early hours patching and 'making do' before 30 miles late this morning with the club.



Its a long weekend and holiday on Monday. The youngster is doing the Sunderland Half marathon and the other one managed a fast time at London last week, so I am feeling like a member of the backroom staff at the mo.
I may venture out and try the old leg on an easy 2 miler. Meanwhile, the training shoes shut themselves up in the attic last week. As they pulled the ladder up and shut the trapdoor behind them they ranted something about 'not being loved anymore'. Even as I tried to jump to catch the door before it closed, they shouted not to come up until I was prepared to take them out somewhere. You've got to feel a bit of pathos for the old battered Brooks, eh?  As I walked down the stairs, I shouted up about going out to get myself a new model. That shut them up.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Pan right...Pull back... Stop

I took the bike on Thursday to Lincoln and had an hours blast around Market Rasen in the sun. Flat as a pancake with some lovely polished tarmac to boot.
The old coach gave me a call Friday and tempted me out for a steady 7 miler through the woods. It was the first run in a week and went well until mile 5, when the hamstring made its presence felt and I completed the run in what's become a familiar near- mincing stride. Its time to spend some cash and get some healing hands on the old leg I think.

There's been no such problems on the bike though. That pedalling action is mostly compression so I belted out to Blyth this morning to watch the Blyth 10k with the two youngsters racing. As they finished it began to rain and 10 minutes later, while heading home the sky got darker, the rain got harder and temperatures kept dropping,  I veered off road and rode to the drive-through window of a nearby Mcdonalds to get a plastic bag for my mobile phone. They didn't have one. I got one from a helpful woman in the nearby corner shop. I was badly unprepared for rain and 5 miles from home I was drenched and cold. I kept telling myself to man up but the wind chill was, well, Baltic. The water was dripping off my nose and my arm-warmers had hired themselves out as small freshwater reservoirs. I knew my feet were cold although they were numb.
I could still see them. They were wearing the same shoes as they'd left the house with.
I started to freeze in the rain like Rutger Hauer's Roy Baty in Bladerunner.  My head dropped and I started mumbling 'I've… seen things you people wouldn't believe… Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the 'whatever' Gate. All those… moments… will be lost in time.....yes, I felt about as good as a replicant past its sell by date.

Getting home I changed and took to bed to warm up with teeth chattering. The feet were icy cold. What a wimp. So its not been a very productive day, although saying that, the biking is coming on. You can always tell that - after a few weeks the average speed goes up a couple of notches.

As I lay in bed I put the tele on. When I looked closer I thought there was something or someone I recognised on the screen...Enhance 224 to 176; pull back; centre......gimme a copy there.... Ahh what a good movie that is.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

All change

Its the election debate on the tele: I watched around 5 minutes of it. I already made my mind up who I'll vote for 6 months ago. The rhetoric has driven me to blog. Party Dogma and Rhetoric. Smashing.

I'd like nothing less than to tell you about how much running I had been doing, but the hamstring issues continue. I managed 20 miles over 3 sessions last week, but it was still being needy. Like a clingy friend not buying his round.  It's going to need a bit longer. I've just heard someone say 'like a petulant school child'; mmm, yes, that's excellent politics.

Now that April's arrived and I'm about to finish my latest read, that old classic 'Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance', I feel we should focus on the good stuff. Its time to pump up the tyres on the bikes currently hanging up in the garage (like some mechanical bats wintering in the dark and swinging from the rafters). Best get them out into the Daffodil spring.

It was 18 miles tonight, and I think I might do double that tomorrow. The normal races are out of bounds at present, so instead, I am focussing on the Caldeonia Sportive in May. Looking forward to taking coffee in Pitlochry; one of my favourist places. True, I haven't got a number, bit that didn't stop my mentor down south inviting me up. I won't keep up with him, but as long as I can get by, I'll by fine.

Since I started running 12 years ago, I lost weight and now fancy myself as a bit of a Grimpeur. This is in contrast to me when I used to race in the early 80's when I was a bit of a sprinter. I did a VO2 max test for a PhD student in 1983. I still have the printout of the test and the results. It was 81 which I think excited him. He assured me I was in good condition. I read later that Contadors is 89. I think now it would be around 62 ish....Auntie Aggie is peering over my shoulder now and has whispered 'its about time you found out what it is, you slacker....'. She can be cutting sometimes.

If I don't manage 250 miles this month, I will eat my hat. After all, I used to be an athlete.

Next on the book list is 'Dune'. All change......

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Crab Soup

Its been a while since I did any blogging. I've not been slacking (well, not much).
Early in January I had a pep talk from my old mentor and began to up the training again after a very dull 2014 season. I decided against a trip to Kenya or Colorado until I managed to get to nearer 40 miles a week training. If I need altitude training I just go up the stairs. To reproduce the thin air thing, I simply stick my head in the laundry basket. Not much oxygen there... 

I pulled my hamstring in Mid January and only just got through the Signals Relays early in February where our 4 man crack vets team picked up a wee regional bronze medal.
Progress continued into late February and I began eyeing some events, but Thursday night a week ago I pulled up again in training. All that long legged stretching out doing the fast stuff plays havoc with my little stubby ligaments and as scotty says 'they canny take it, captain'.

The last few weeks have been hampered by something called work, to such an extent that I've had to work weekends. What a blidy cheek. Whats happened to the work life balance. Someone has chucked the scales out. The 40 mile target has fallen through the basement and I am poking around trying to manage some stolen exercise. It culminated on Saturday in a trip to the gym for the first time in a year. I did alright and mostly did sit-ups, crunches and dumbbell stuff. But on Monday I could hardly move my arms and have spent 2 days walking like a crab, the arms capable of only going sideways like the claws that they are.
Today has been much better, so here I am on the blog. Doesn't take much arm action, blogging, really. tap,tap, tap.
My down south buddy has found me a place in the Caledonia etape in May, so I've had the bike out and there's a lot of work to do in that department also.
I have a long weekend booked off next weekend, so I might just be able to get the 2015 campaign started then. Here's hoping.  

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Winter training camp

Just back from 3 days attending the winter training camp. Not much mileage in these conditions, but the landscape and ploughing through the snow was magic. Running...snow....how much better can it get?  Who needs to go to Banff when Scotland has this? There was a post run critique of course every night (!),with dominoes, at HQ. Essential.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Morpeth 11k & the old Monks Race, Hart

I followed the run at the Guisborough Woods race with 2 more over the last week. The Morpeth 11k was on New Years Day and the Old Monks Race, which I had never run before, was on the 4th January. I ran the 11k last year in 41.21 and was narrowly beaten into 2nd place in category. This year as around 180 rampaged through the barren countryside lanes I was grafting like a good 'un just to hang on behind a cycling clubmate who has taken up duathlon. He was around 10 seconds ahead. He's a rangey runner with a good stride and it took me until the 10k mark to catch and pass him. However, I regretted it immediately with the finish being so close and up over the last little hill, I feigned a slow down and he came past at which point I tucked in and burst back over the last 50 metres to take 2nd V50 again. My time was around 40 seconds slower but it was the best run I had had in months and retreated to the pub later to welcome in the new year in an upbeat state of mind. Can't argue with £20 worth of vouchers.

There was a choice on Sunday and me and the youngster decided to take the easy option choosing a trail race rather than a fell race. The Old Monks Race is around 5.5miles of trail, and includes a wooded section, wide farm tracks and a stretch along the old railway line which is flat but uninspiring. There was a little too much tarmac for me, but the crowd of around 300 fairly swamped the village hall at Hart, near Hartlepool. There were many runners in road shoes and I was in a dilemma as to whether to wear road shoes or studs and opted for the latter. It was around zero degrees but at least the sun was up. I sat in a little group before we left the tarmac mostly going downhill. Then the track took us down through a woody dene and across a ford where the water was low and along the flat rail line before kicking up into the woods. There was little space to pass and no one came through the woods, but a bloke in a grey hat and shabby t-shirt passed earlier along the railway and I remember thinking 'he might be over 50'. The track cut back across the railway line then we climbed up a steady hill out of the woods where the track became a farm road and I ran for a mile with a local Hartlepool runner for a while. He had a clubmate ahead and fired on, but by then I was in a good steady pace and, not having seen any old monks, decided it was time to head back and I finished in 29th place and again 2nd v50, but not by much.  We enjoyed the race and the free tea and cakes afterwards: Didn't get a chance to visit the Anglo Saxon church which I ran past in the warm up. Overall, the form is returning slowly. Just need to keep the training going.