The Weekend That Was Supposed To Be

Holkham Half Iron was today.

I was supposed to be racing it.

I didn’t.

Anyone that has been following this blog (hahahahaha) knows that I transferred my place to Outlaw X in September. A most wise and excellent choice. To the point that although the weather looked perfect – I didnt feel bad about not doing it. Although I did remind myself that I need to run.

So what did I do instead?

I surprised myself.

It is becoming a bit of a bad habit to say yes to the random things my mates suggest. About a week ago one mate sent me a link to race he had signed up for – up near Consett on Derwent Reservoir. Asked if I fancied it – and camping (with my new tent). Well bit of a daft question. I read through and debated it – but then it dawned on me I could use this to my advantage.

I decided I would use this as the perfect opportunity to head north (what a surprise!) and go cycle in my favourite part of the world – Northumberland.

I decided not to race but still go and camp and support my mate racing, while also riding my bike.

It was actually quite hard getting myself up and out on the Saturday morning to be honest – there was a little voice in my head wondering whether it was worth the money (fuel) and time going all the way north just to ride for a few hours when I could do a 40 mile ride at home. I had already printed off some OS maps just to keep in my pocket as I don’t have a cycle computer, and my bike was in the car – sod it. I overrode the little voice of doubt and thought it would do me good to go.

It was. Road trip central. I set off at half 7, donned in lycra from the start. I stopped at Scotch Corner as per normal and got some funny looks – which considering the lycra was unsurprising. I made Beadnell for 10.45. Driving North makes me so happy!

The weather was absolutely lovely but as I sorted out my bike and got ready to go (this is quite a quick process when you are on your own!) I realised that my route meant that I was going to be cycling back with a headwind!

Ah well.

My route was taking me towards Boulmer via the coast and then back round towards Lesbury and up to Rennington before heading over North Sunderland and into Bamburgh – this was a long tough slog actually – headwind and up hill – but the view was worth it (see the picture!). The other thing that made it worth the slog was the tail wind from Bamburgh through to Beadnell and some amazing speeds and top 10s on Strava!

It was bliss! I stopped eventually at the harbour in Beadnell for an ice cream before cycling back round to the car and heading back to Derwent Reservoir. It was mixed feelings though – it was an epic ride in terms of scenery and just sheer enjoyment – I was over the moon with myself at cycling so far away from home (without the usual back up) on my own! But equally – I really would have liked to have had someone to share it with. The joy of a good bike ride is like nothing else!

However I was feeling – it definitely helped reset the happiness/wellbeing button in my own head.

So looking forward to riding up there again and planning my next trip up there!

The mystery of the Phantom Phaeton

I have been getting some ribbing from some mates about the actual existence of my TT bike that I bought for an absolute bargain in April. Admittedly it was a bit deserved. This beauty of a speed machine has been sat in the garage doing noting but looking pretty since I bought it because I knew I needed to get a fit done.

Getting a fit on my TT bike has not been at the top of my priorities but then my mate sent me the details of a local coach who did bike fits for £65 – too good a price to pass over.

So with that, decision was made and I booked an appointment.

I wish I had done it sooner! Or rather known about Mark sooner. Really great service and even looked at my cleats.

Far more thorough than fits I’ve had done elsewhere.

Firstly – a good chat! My plans/aims with the bike – or what would I predominately be doing with said bike (does make a difference), my current fitness, my flexibility, height, weight, stats, length of inner leg etc, followed by taking all the bike measurements as it stood. Oh and sorting out the position of the cleats on my shoes. They were well out!

Then came attaching sticky reflective dots for the camera to pick up when filming me cycle. That was the first part.

The second part consisted of then tweaking measurements, positions, stem length and height and saddle. Essentially bringing everything in – my initial concern was that the frame would be too big for me (its a small Ridley Phaeton T) but no issues.

And this is exactly WHY I haven’t ridden it until I had a fit. What a difference and far more stable/comfortable position. I really cannot fault my experience – and I have all the details of my fit and measurements and a new saddle to test as well as a stem to try out. So I need to go ride it now – this I am VERY excited about.

When I got home – I did go do a quick spin around the block. With more practice and training I reckon I could really nail some decent speed in the next year or two.

I am beginning to wonder if I am becoming a cyclist who swims rather than a triathlete or a swimmer who cycles…. Not that it matters!

Getting Back On It

It is twelve weeks today until Outlaw X in September – which, alongside Coniston end to end swim, are my two big goals now. After spending most of May socialising and June recovering from said socialising, its time to get back on it.

Timing, hopefully, should improve in terms of how much time I have to train. Work is the same in terms of the day job – although I have a week off soon, but the tutoring work will probably ease up over summer – or rather my one to ones will.

I am slowly starting to up my swimming and the Time Trials will finish in three weeks time – although it has to be said I’ll miss them! I am slowly starting to put together a plan for the next few weeks with what I’ve got planned but I need to start prioritising running as a running total of 15km in June is pretty poor – and not going to get me around the half marathon at the end of a 70.2!

At least I feel like I am starting from a reasonable decent place with most things. Just need to get the mojo back!

Nearing burnout!

My mother has been mentioning for a while that she thinks I am doing too much. Three weekends away on the trot, working/tutoring silly hours, trying to train and to date (theres a blog post in there all by itself) – I think she might have a point. May might just have caught up with me.

I am getting better at spotting the signs of tiredness and near burn out – and I do try to get ahead and prevent it – this week has been a case of me trying to do this. I had planned to restart my training plan this week but I’ve called quits for the week.

Yesterday I could have cried out of sheer tiredness and ashiness – this is my own doing. I might have technically been at home this weekend but I cycled Saturday and then went on a hen do which resulted in me not getting to bed until 2am the following morning and naturally waking up early! Sunday night was as bad as I went to see one of my mate -resulting in another night of only 5 or 6 hours sleep – so I was starting the week on a bit of a sleep deficit. Being at home is more tiring that travelling and being out and about.

My body and my bank balance are currently very unhappy with me!

I’ve also had a bout of DOMS – which is unusual for me really and alongside not eating properly (lack of meal prep on my side with being away so much) – I really need to try and get back on it.

So this week I am NOT feeling guilty about not training as much or about being quite selfish and leaving a chuck of the To Do list as it is – still to do. It isn’t going away but no-one is going to suffer if I don’t get it done.

I do, however, need to call my bike insurance company up and sort out some advertising for my business.

I will come back stronger. As always!

Edinburgh Marathon Festival Road Trip 2019

What an absolutely epic weekend!

It should be clear by now that I love road trips and that this May has been full of them. It is possible that this weekend has been one of my favourites! All of them have involved eating a lot, drinking a lot and racing, a lot. All good I hear you say! Well you would be right!

There are two main parts to this – the races and the rest of it.

I’ll get to the races but I like chronological order. Possibly due to my inner historian. Anyway…

Background

Why Edinburgh? Why Edinburgh Marathon Festival (EMF) weekend?

Why not? One of my mates is doing Endure 24. He has signed up to run it solo. Edinburgh Marathon Festival formed part of his training plan of sorts (the 5k, the 10k and the marathon). Because our mates and myself are thoughtful, kind and supportive (knowing the likelihood of him reading this – we love you but we think you are a little crazy sometimes), we decided to tag along in support. In my case, with the thoughts of doing Holkham, I decided that it would prompt me to keep running as part of my own training. I decided to sign up for the half-marathon and then cheer on the marathon. I later signed up for the 5k after getting a discount voucher from EMF for my birthday. One of our other mates signed up for the 5k, the 10k and marathon out of support.

This is the result of post-swim/training discussions that result in all sorts of crazy, wonderful plans.

Edinburgh is one of my favourite cities so it was never going to take much persuading to get me there. Any excuse!

The actual trip

So the actual plan of action. There was four of us going to race. We travelled up in pairs and made our plans. I managed to persuade my mate to book first class train tickets – making the most of my railcard – both to Edinburgh and back. This was the wisest decision ever, even if we did lower the average age of the travellers in first considerably. More on this later. My mate, in turn, proceeded to book the wrong tickets home – causing me mini-heart palpitations. Thankfully, he realised! He was also responsible for booking the hostel.

Plans in place we met on the station platform at lunch on Friday and took the train to Edinburgh – making the most of the complimentary drinks and food while doing a great deal of people watching and general chatting. I love traveling by train, and its even better first class! What bemused me most though was how little luggage I had compared to my mate – however I was NOT complaining about this later and was soon rather impressed with his travelling skills. All kudos to him!

Arrival in Edinburgh and searching for our hostel reminded me how many steps there were in the city. To be perfectly honest, I followed my mate so he could have lead me on a right merry dance and I’d never have known! I knew where we were staying would be pretty cool but it was better than I thought it would be. We were Hostelling at the Kick Ass Hostel in Grassmarket – it was genuinely the funkiest place I have ever stayed – in these cool pods! Towel rail, hooks, plug sockets, own mini light, AND funky colour changing lights, black out curtain and own locker cupboard. Bar, plenty of toilets and showers, kitchen etc. All for £30 a night! Winning!

So far so awesome. So first night involved eating pizza, finding our feet and drinking Guiness. Our other mates had got to Edinburgh but both were poorly. This turned out to be a complete bummer as it meant neither of them would be racing. At all. The whole reason we were there. These things happen though. An early night was had and the next day saw my mate racing the 10k, and then both of us doing the 5k. Which was a bit surreal to be fair. Doing one race after the other? Well, I say that, but that was my mate. Watching and then both racing – and the number of people/organisation was impressive. More about the races in particular can be found here.

Post race plan was pretty simple really. Back to the hostel, shower, nap, eat. All of which we did. Brunch and Supper, where I went back in February, was literally around a corner or two from where we were staying so we wandered over before heading into the centre for some retail therapy/drooling over kit. Mentally spending a lot of money. This was followed by tea (I did say we ate a lot!) at a place called Mamma’s in Grassmarket – really reasonably priced, really fresh and really good service. No curry this time. Pre race pasta.

Nerves were starting to kick in about Sunday though. I was feeling it – I suspect my mate was too but he wasn’t showing it as much as I was moaning about it! Constant weather forecast checking and me debating kit and whether I should have brought a long sleeved top summed up my evening! Although I warm up a LOT when I’m running.

Sunday morning came, and I crawled out of bed – my mate came to the start line with me – well actually, it would be more truthful to say he lead me to my race – I was just following his lead! Either way – my mate’s forward planning came to the fore – black plastic bin bags! Kept the rain off perfectly. Anyway – this isn’t so much about the races as the weekend. My mates race start time was two hours after mine so after I’d set off – I’ve no idea what he got up to!

I’m going to skip forward now to post race and getting back into Edinburgh as the race day antics can sit in another post (which I’ve linked above).

We got back into Edinburgh and hobbled back to the hostel – first priority was clearly Guiness. Naturally! Then showers and then berating our mate for not racing. Followed by more drinks in the Beehive. Although our poorly mate deserves some credit – we did manage to all meet up and he suggested Zizzi’s and it was lush! So the eating and drinking carried on. Full three courses for me and the tired marathoner and pizza and desert for the poorly one. There was an internal debate about a final drink but tiredness had kicked in and so we all parted ways and headed back to sleep.

And thankful for a 10am train.

Monday morning – the pair of us aching and stiff, and me suffering with some blisters hobbled about getting our stuff together before a morning coffee and checking out of the hostel. The walk to the station was slower than our original walk from the station. It was at this point where I reminded my mate that he would soon be thankful for first class tickets home. The train was packed down in standard and probably a lot noisier too! We definitely made the most of the complimentary food and drinks, the bit extra space and the quietness. Discussing our weekend, the medal haul and me suggesting another road trip (the key is to drip feed these idea!).

It was with mixed feelings that we departed the train in York – parting ways on the station as I headed to Piccadilly to get the bus back to my pick up point. Sad that the weekend was over, that the racing was over and that I had no more planned road trips. I am more impressed that I didn’t lose my mate over the weekend or that it was as laid back as it was.

I haven’t been so chilled in so long.

Clearly in my mind I’m planning my next road trips and how to rope my mates in….

Maybe I am the bad influence?!

Pressing Reset – Holkham

This has come as a bit of a surprise to even me but after seeing a Facebook post about changing my A race, a month of being far too sociable and thinking I can manage to balance everything, as well as a rubbish race last night and cold….. I’ve decided to quit Holkham and change to Outlaw X in September.

After speaking to mates last night and some equally awesome people on Twitter, this will come as no real surprise – there are multiple reasons for this and I am quite happy to share them – I don’t feel at all bad about changing my race or my priorities – in fact if anything, going to see Graeme Obree speak last week has just reaffirmed my own outlook to not really care what others think, to not worry too much about life’s purpose and to enjoy the moment. I’m not a pro and life happens and no-one will die as a result of me changing my mind!

So why the change?

  • I don’t think I will be race fit in 6 weeks. That is completely my own doing. I had a plan. I was, at the start, doing well to keep to The Plan. Then I booked too many social things and took on extra work with my own business and an extra day at work in the day job, that I’ve struggled to fit it in – slowly heading towards burn out.
  • I was too ambitious with my initial training plan – I think this may have contributed to my loss of running mojo. It had all started so well too! I know too well though that this does ebb and flow anyway.
  • My friend withdrawing meant that I was racing far from home on my own. Ok this is a bit of a no-goer as an excuse and her decision, like mine, has been the right one (so no feeling bad!!). Changing my race means I can probably actually get out on the bike more with her, which was part of the original plan when we discussed Holkham anyway so win win! We will be back! And I’d still like to do Holkham.
  • Delaying/changing my A race means I can take on board what I’ve learnt in the last three months and get it right or rather improve it. How many people honestly get to reset their training during a race season? We are still only just in to triathlon racing season and I’ve a reasonably ok base on which to restart – so taking this as a mini win.
  • I need to reset – building on from the last point. I’ve come down with cold/chesty cough and noticed last night how much it effects my riding. As well as getting a good kick in the backside about doing more hills and actually going and doing some S&C – as one of my mates keeps nagging me to do. I need to mix up my training again. I also need to swim more as I have signed up for Coniston End to End and that now lands BEFORE my half-iron distance race.
  • Outlaw X is quite a bit closer to home. I hadn’t sorted out my accommodation for Holkham but Nottinghamshire is closer – which has some obvious travelling advantages. I also think I know a few people who might be doing it so that’s a bit of a winner for me too.
  • The weather will, hopefully, stand a chance of being cooler. Equally, there is a higher chance of it being a lot wetter – but I don’t really do well in heat – to be fair, this is just an advantage of having a later race – it could end up being an Indian summer and hot!
  • It gives me chance to go do some sportive that I’d like to do which will help with training – after last years events and thinking about my cycle fitness by September last year – I was in a good place – hopefully I will be in an even better place by this September!
  • Hopefully I have learnt to not book in too many social events – or rather, balance them a bit better. I feel like, after 8 years of being in a relationship with someone who actually wasn’t that spontaneous and that up for mini-adventures, I’ve been making up for lost time. I don’t want to lose that but I’ve been thinking about this a lot since Alnwick Sprint a couple of weeks ago – why not incorporate my mini-adventures/road trips with training? So going forward, I want to incorporate them.
  • Triathlon/training has taken over a bit too much and I need to step back as well I think. Hopefully in changing races, I can actually take a step back. I am heeding the warnings of my friends about burnout before I do actually properly burn out.

Genuinely think this is a good call on my part. A middle distance triathlon was the goal for this year and changing it has all sorts of advantages. It also means that I stand a better chance of getting a time I am actually happy with compared to racing in 6 weeks and possibly breaking myself!

Roll on a summer of training and enjoying life!

 

Bad Day at the Office

Well what a loada rubbish that was. Thursday evening is last becoming one of my favourite nights of the week simply due to Time Trials but tonight I was genuinely quite ready to chuck it all in and throw my beloved Ridley into a hedge. I also have a new found appreciation as to why pro cyclists will do almost anything to avoid germs and nasty bugs.

I shouldn’t make excuses but hear me out. I started with a sore throat at the beginning of the week. I was actually a bit concerned it might turn into tonsillitis but its morphed into a chesty cough/cold. Every now and then I am having horrible chesty coughing fits to the extent it sounds like I am going to cough up a lung. Deep joy. Hindsight is telling me that racing tonight was a bad idea and I should have marshalled.

Either way – I rocked up in a pretty good mood. Tonight’s TT route is ridiculously pretty but also VERY rolling but with some fab decent and some reasonably nice long flats, followed by some awful rolling (‘undulating’) hills back in. Usual banter with mates – whats been nice this year so far is that there have been more club members rock up and I am starting to slowly get to know other riders from the other clubs. All well and good. I refused to sign on until they had so I was somewhere near the back. Bike set up, a good coughing fit, ready to roll.

So, rolled up to start line, usual rigmarole – all good. Set off. All good. First left hand turn. All good.

Yeah that didn’t last.

Issues with breaks caused me to stop – they were sticking. We had to alter these to suit new wheels as they are wider rims that the factory fit ones, but even so, they had been fine on the warm up. Sorted it, carried on – with what felt like nothing in my legs. Brilliant. Carried on, knowing full well that I wasn’t going to PB tonight – but ah well. Enjoy the sun and the views. All good.

Then I just seemed to have problems with my gears. This might be my doing and I think I’ve knocked something out of sync. Either way, it put myself in a right mood. Looking at the rolling hills and my watch and thinking this is just absolute s***. I literally had nothing in me and I actually thought at one point I was going to bonk. Considering last time I did this course I averaged a nice 28.8kph average I was definitely not feeling it, and when I passed a friend marshalling I nearly considered bailing all together

It was that bad an attempt tonight that I had two mates set out to come find me, thats how worried they were – they thought I’d had a puncture but no. They had both gone opposite ways around the course to come find me – which to be fair, all kudos to them looking out for me. It took me a good amount of time to actually chill out. I passed the finish line and literally just carried back on until  one of my mates found me – I felt a bit bad as I’d actually just cycled off with my race number and ignored TT etiquette of shouting out my number passed the timer. Ah well.

Catching up with the first mate, I slowly started calming down and between him and another, put my head back in its rightful place – its always useful/good to have someone close to spout off at when things go south! And by the time the second mate who had come to find me, actually found me, I was in the pub. Properly calm.

I am just putting it down to a bad day at the office and realising just how much of an effect having a cold has on my cycling (and maybe not eating enough today). More so than on my running. Or maybe it’s just that I care more about my cycling?

This has, along with a facebook post from earlier, got me thinking about Holkham and whether to change my race to September – but that is for another post.