Saturday, 31 August 2013

In Spain - taking it easy

Holiday time and taking it easy trying to heal the Achillies tendon problem - still not there yet!

My old Ribble came with me so I have done a bit of cycling. The running has been kept to a minimum - nothing over 5km and all easy pace. Decent amount of swimming.

Been trying to incorporate my stretching exercises but the tendon problem hasn't gone away yet.

Here is a picture of my favourite run route along the seafront - hot stuff!

Beautiful views of the beach on this morning's easy cycle ride - watching Spain come to life:

The only problem is the food and drink is in abundance and I have put on a few unwanted pounds - will sort on my return to the UK.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Not in the mood

Still struggling a bit - body in a bit of a mess and generally not in the right frame of mood for training.

I am completing the daily exercises / stretches to try and help the Achilles problem and had plans to incorporate with a very easy jog around Preston Park. This morning when I tried it the pain in the tendons hadn't eased and I thought it wise to cut the session short.

Still managed about 100km on the bike this week with two decent commutes. All relatively easy in zone 1-2. No swimming simply because my elbow is still a little cut up from my bike incident but hope to get in the pool for a Club swim tomorrow morning.

I am looking forward to a change of scenery next week as I have some time with the family in Spain. Hopefully it is what I need to recharge the batteries and sort out my injuries. 

The plan is to take the road bike (still currently the Ribble - patched up) as I know some great rides close to the villa where we are staying.

I cannot seem to get out of the habit of getting up early even on holiday and normally find by 7am (a decent lie in for me) that I am ready to go. This is a great opportunity to sneak out early when it is not as hot as later in the day and get in an early ride on the bike. I normally aim to get a 1-2 hour ride in and a quick swim before the rest of the family have surfaced from their beds. That means I can spend the majority of the day chilling and spending time with the kids and still feel like I have got some training in. Also helps me staying relatively in shape as the food and drink intake on holiday is higher than normal, as you may expect.

My family are also quite active so there is always time for swimming in the pool and sea plus ball games down at the beach. In addition the children all run now and want to go out for a family run together - magic moments! Hopefully my Achilles will hold out and I will really enjoy some easy run sessions with the kids.

The villa has Wi-Fi so I will try to write one  or two posts for the blog while I am away. I am also looking forward to reading a few decent books and will publish the titles and my thoughts in due course - mix of motivational and fitness books.

Before I sign out a few special mentions - fantastic effort by Matt Ryley (again) for cracking 11 hours in Ironman UK on a pretty difficult (hilly) course - another amazing race from him. Also total respect for Chris Bud, fellow Club member experiencing his first Ironman, and Andrew Lambert, who I met on the London 2 Paris ride. Neither had their ideal race and the results they personally wanted but still got across the line - a great achievement.

Finally best of luck to Nick Finch, one of the Club's top athletes, as he takes on Ironman Sweden this weekend. Nick is hoping for sub 10 hours and a possible Kona slot - I will be following his progress and wish him all the very best.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Feeling a bit sorry for myself - Crash Test Dummy!

Not a great week for training - bit of a disaster on Thursday!

I have been thinking about a new road bike via the Ride2work scheme and Evans Cycles had a heavily discounted (slightly soiled) carbon Jamis with electronic Ultegra Di2, which was delivered to the Brighton store for me to try out - so good so far!

On Thursday I had a gap in my work diary and decided to take a test ride on the Jamis beauty.

It certainly felt good, I loved the electronic whirring as the front derailleur moved up and down changing from the big to small cog and back the other way.

I cycled down to Preston Park on the main road to complete a few circuits of the velodrome. On route I headed down a side road only to see a guy watering the plants with his hose in the middle of the road. With little time to react I had to cycle over the hose. I am sure I wouldn't have had any problems on my own bikes but with the very slick tyres on the Jamis (no grip at all) I lost the bike from under me and found myself sliding down the road. My right elbow took the brunt of the impact but the bike was not in great shape - one of the spokes had come out of the front wheel and it was badly buckled. Elsewhere there was damage to the rubber hoods on the gears/brakes and the saddle was a little chewed up - I suppose given the circumstances it could have been a lot worse.

One lady kindly came over to see if I was alright. The guy with the hose mumbled something like 'that was your fault mate' and went on with his watering. Then a couple of local thugs were shouting out their window 'F**king Cyclist - always causing trouble'. I couldn't of chosen a worst neighbourhood to have an accident!

Despite the blood dripping from my elbow and cuts/ grazes on my hands and legs I was still more worried about the borrowed bike and how I was going to explain this disaster to Evans Cycles. Given the abuse I was getting in the street I picked myself and the bike up and headed back to Evans - about a 15-20min walk. I had to carry the bike for most of the way or lift the front wheel to keep moving, all the time I was inspecting the damage and trying not to think about my own wounds.

When I finally got back to the Evans store it was a little busy but they were generally OK and more concerned about me than the bike. The damage to the Jamis was checked out by the mechanic and he confirmed £15-20 should be enough to fix the front wheel. Fortunately as the bike had been soiled beforehand they didn't seem to upset about the front hoods or saddle damage. The was no noticeable damage to the frame, I think I actually got off quite lightly.

I left Evans and headed for Boots, which is opposite, to be patched up. After 2 hours from leaving the office I was back, feeliing pretty sorry for myself (a bit of a dummy - 'a crash test dummy') only having ridden the bike for only 10 mins.

I still have the option to buy it but I think not - too many bad vibes.

So with my Achilles' tendon problem still not cleared up I feel a bit of a mess and training since the 'fun and games' on Thursday has been nil.

Big thanks out to Alan Law of The Physio, Fitness and Wellbeing Company for all the great advice about my Achillies problem on Saturday morning. I left with a sensible plan for getting me back to normal form. Hopefully a fortnight in the sun with plenty of rest and relaxation should also help.

Monday, 5 August 2013

RideLondon100 - what an event (race)

This blog post was not supposed to be a race report!

I had intended on briefing followers of this blog on a relatively easy and enjoyable charity ride with a few friends taking in some great sights around London and the Surrey countryside. I knew it was going to be a large event but generally thought the range of abilities would be very mixed and the majority would be inexperienced riders on all kinds of bikes - I was wrong! The thousands of riders I started with were hardly inexperienced, nearly all owned high-end road bikes and you could sense that they were going to ride this hard from the start.

The commentator at the start of the event also highlighted a number of times this was to be a charity event and not a race. The first 2 miles didn't even count towards the overall time (a timing mat was positioned 2 miles from the start to provide what is known as a rolling start), however riders were already in race mode before the official time was even recorded.

I must have been averaging 30-35km per hour in the 2 mile warm up and even then it seemed I was one of the slower riders. My thoughts at the time were that these speed merchants will blow up and I will be passing most of them on the Surrey Hills. Well that didn't happen either, the pace seemed relentless throughout.

Whether it was the wide closed roads, the perfect conditions (not too hot or cold, no rain), the overall quality of cyclists (may be a 100 mile event put off the first timers) or simply that it was a fast course, most riders seemed to be up for the challenge and to give it their all.

My overall time for the 100 miles was 5:42 and I registered just over 20 mins of stops according to my Garmin. During my main stop (at 71 km in) I did check my phone, made a few texts, Tweets etc. to let everyone know how I was doing. I certainly needed some nutrition at that stage and a few minutes to rest my backside but to be honest should have headed off sooner. At that stop it was also an opportunity to let one of my friends who started a few minutes behind me to catch up so we could cycle the second half together. In the end it turned out that he was stronger than me in the second half and I recommended he go ahead and we met again at the finish. Generally it was difficult to cycle with one or more riders for any length of time as the numbers (20,000 in total) were so large. To be honest, I was very surprised not to see any accidents during the day, again probably because of the quality of cyclists. It did have a much different feel compared to say the London 2 Brighton charity cycle event.

Our pre-planning for the event was excellent (and a little lucky) - we booked a Premier Inn in the City, near Tower Bridge, which was comfortable enough. We drove up, sorted out registration at the ExCel centre on route, and parked in a NCP car park around the corner from the hotel. Because the City is generally empty during most weekends the parking rates are very reasonable. However, we were amazed that the cost for parking the car for 1.5 days was just £2. We had booked a restaurant (Zizzi) in the very fashionable and upmarket St. Katherine’s Dock for 7:30pm and were in bed by 10:30pm ready for a 4am wake up as we had to be at the Olympic Park (approx. 5 miles away) before 5:30am. Breakfast was in our room (a few supplies purchased from the Tesco Metro near the hotel).

The event finished on the Mall at Buckingham Palace and we spent an hour resting in Green Park topping up on nutrition (whatever we found in our finishers bags) and waiting for some of the other riders in our group. Thereafter we cycled (still on empty closed roads) back to the City and jumped in the car for the journey home. I am so pleased we didn't have to try and get home via train, which could have been a real hassle with bikes (British Rail not always helpful in supporting cycle events and travel to and from London - one of my 'pet hates').

My old Ribble was rebuilt for the event and with a new cassette (big '29' ring on the back - great for hills), cranks, chain and bottom bracket was looking pretty good. Still interested in a new bike but in no panic to upgrade immediately - I do like Ultegra Di2!

I will be back with additional blog posts on Ironman UK (2 of my friends competed in this event) and further training soon but no current events in the diary - I was considering Xterra in September (another Vachery event) and Barns Green half-marathon later in the month. I also have some interest in a 50-mile ultra running event (probably off-road) and possibly trying Crossfit to help with strength / core training. Lots to cover!

At Olympic Park, start of RideLondon100

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