Ellerton Park – Swim little fishes swim!

Swimming has its educational value – mental, moral, and physical – in giving you a sense of mastery over an element, and of power of saving life, and in the development of wind and limb.’ Robert Baden-Powell

Swimming, over the last few months, has been a blessing and a heart saver. A lot of my friends swear by running as cheap therapy but for me, it’s always swimming. My swim set, how much I swim, where I swim, how much effort I put in – the ability to actually swim ‘mastery over an element’ is my therapy. I really can switch off when I swim and focus on the moment and what I am doing. It has helped my mental wellbeing after everything that’s happened and it has helped my physical body get physically fitter. Not so sure about the moral benefits, other than being able to take the moral high ground after an early morning set before work!

As such, I always feel the need to share my love of swimming and finding little gems. Today, myself and seven other club members headed over to Ellerton Park to go and swim. My friend wanted to so we opened it up to the club and in the end eight of us rocked up to swim.

For those who haven”t heard or been to Ellerton Park, it is not far from Scorton, Richmond in North Yorkshire. It really is a hidden little gem! Clean, quiet and open all day – what is not to love?

I really should have asked everyone how far they swam in order to get a grand total – I know that I did four laps (my longest OW swim of the year at 2.3km) and that one mate did 11 laps, and another 5, so theres 20 between three of us. I also heard later on that another club member had gone across in the afternoon and enjoyed it.

It was a bit of a trek to Ellerton Park from home, however, as I think I’ve mentioned before – I think it will become important in next year as I train for my planned A race of the season. Apart from been clean and quiet – it has, as stated above, long opening hours. It is definitely worth a trip.

Quick run down….

Location – Ellerton Park, Scorton, Richmond, North Yorkshire, DL10 6AP

Cost – £5, cash only.

Facilities – Changing/shower room, steps into the water, burger van (varied opening hours – so don’t count on it!), not far from local cafe though, with Tri-ology located above it.

Spotters/lifeguards – no. Definitely worth taking a tow float/mates to spot.

Swim loop – 530m loop around 3 buoys, clockwise, can get a bit choppy.

Opening times – If I remember rightly, the season is usually March to September, and opening hours at rough 9 to 6, give or take an hour. I’ll try to double check next time I’m up there – but regardless – you can swim all day if you want!

Water quality – really highly rated – and you can tell when you get in! No pool/lake fever for me at all. Definitely a major selling point.

Parking – yep – and a decent amount of it too.

Other important info – Can be weedy, going off past experience, spring water fed so although warm when sun has been on it, can be cooler quite quickly. Usually pretty clear. Quite deep – you cannot stand up unless you swim right to the side, and even then it is only a small ledge. You may find yourself swimming over divers and occasionally some boats may be in there. They only accept cash! This is also a venue for a local midweek sprint triathlon too.

Lured to the dark side of cycling

‘You can’t buy happiness but you can buy a bike and that’s pretty close.’ Anonymous

Yesterday was indeed a day of great happiness. For various reasons.

It started with a decent swim (all the best days usually involve swimming) at the gym, and was followed by a very long solo road trip. I say very long, it wasn’t too bad to be honest but the traffic was a bit rubbish. The swim and solo road trip weren’t the cause of the great happiness that washed over me.

It all started over a week ago – a message from a friend regarding a CX bike he’d seen on Facebook and a frantic text to me to tell me about it and persuade me to call about it. I did, and in doing so, I ended up travelling up to Newcastle to go look at a second hand, extra small, Ridley XBow (being a short female, second hand bikes that fit are quite rare!).

I had been debating cyclocross for cross training but it would appear I have been lured to the dark side of cycling after all it would seem as I came home with said bike. I came home poorer but also richer – nothing quite beats N+1 in all honesty. I was grinning from ear to ear all the way home! It helps that I like the paint job on it better than more recent models.

The problem is now, I need to sort out the mudguards – bike hasn’t been raced and used more as a winter hack/commuter and I think I need to tweak a bit with the saddle height. Saying that though, the lady I bought the bike off had a shorted stem put on it – which is what I had to do to my Ridley Liz. I also need to sort out the cleats for the shoes as I’m used to SPD-SL and these aren’t! Regardless….

Seriously excited.

Seriously gutted I won’t get a chance to play until the end of the week!

 

Best get a move on and up my bike handling skills!

 

What have I let myself in for?! (No one mention MTB – I fear the worse!)

Ride, ride, ride!

“Ride a bike. Ride a bike. Ride a bike” – Fausto Coppi, on how to improve

The only way I am actually going to get better on the bike is to actually go ride (I could say the same about running – I really need to work on that!). At the moment, I have no more races pencilled in for this year and as a result, I don’t really have a training plan. This has the advantage in that I can swim/bike/run as I like without feeling guilty but the downside in the fact that my running is being sorely neglected for cycling, swimming and gym work.

So with no races booked, my current dedication to my cycling and proving to myself what I’m capable off – a month or so ago I signed up for the York 100 sportive – 68 miles. I’ve done it before and enjoyed it so I thought why not!

The plan was to ride in from home, do the sportive, and ride home, rounding it up to 100 miles. This was the plan until this morning. In the end, I persuaded a friend to join me. He’s a bit of a beast on the bike. I finished on 80 hard earned miles.

I cycled to the start – all well and good. Met my mate, registered, and set off. All well and good. Made a very good pace out of town (my spin has improved massively and the TTs have paid off too) and headed towards some climbs. The thing with the York 100 is that it starts off fairly flat and finishes fairly flat, but has a very bumpy middle. There is nothing really major to actually report – it was really uneventful really, but there two observations that I want to make.

  1. Nutrition – I tried something different today. After being mocked for taking so much food that I realised today I genuinely don’t need, I did try some new nutrition. I’ve been a fan of High5 4:1 – it is good stuff but equally can be a bit sweet. On a recommendation, I bought some Tailwind (Caffenated Raspberry Buzz if you really want to know). I tried it in the pool – not so great – but on the bike, wow! Genuinely really impressed. It is a lot like rocket fuel. I took some extra but wish I’d had enough to fill a third bottle it was that good. I had a spare pouch of the High5 but missed having the Tailwind. My belly hasn’t felt badly and it wasn’t too sweet and sickly either. Going to stick with it and see how it goes.
  2. My cycling fitness – It has definitely improved this year, massively. But also over the last few years. 112 PR/2nd/3rds on Strava on that route – and more importantly, not once did I unclip up any climbs, including a very long climb out of Leavening and a climb out of Thixendale at 17% and with some help admittedly, I am also managing to maintain a good pace and dig deep at the end of a ride too. I am feeling very smug tonight. I also managed to average just shy of 15mph too. Former attempts at the York 100 have been so much slower and compared to my riding at the beginning of the year? Well. I am sooooo on it!

All in all, today was a very good day in the office!

Late night musings of the heart.

‘Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.’ – Dalai Lama

This is very much a late night musing as I’m wide awake and overthinking. I’ve lost count of how many weeks it is since he left me for another woman and despite there still being some pain and rawness – for the most part it’s gone. I’m not quite at the ‘not caring’ stage as such but I don’t think that’s far off – I’m not avoiding him as much as he’s avoiding me! However, some realisations have been made and it’s been interesting. Helped by putting the world to rights. I feel the urge to list them. Are you sitting comfortably?

Here goes….Not particularly in order….

Realisations about ‘us’/him/our relationship:

  • As soon as a relationship requires commitment or work – he bolts. Turns out it’s a (very) reoccurring pattern. So why did we last so long you ask? I’m too laid back.
  • He’ll do the same to her. I await karma striking. When it does, I’ll probably be past caring, but it will.
  • On the same theme, he will grow into a lonely, old man. I did tell him this. He agreed.
  • He’ll never admit it, but I think one day he’ll regret what he’s done. Maybe not now – but one day. See above.
  • Both of them and their mates know what they’ve done isn’t on – trying to blend in and clearly feeling awkward. It’s obvious they all knew something was going on before I did. Genuinely don’t believe that they didn’t act/do anything before he left me.
  • He’s a complete coward (putting it mildly) and a poor example to good men out there despite appearances. Who knew eh?
  • Apparently eight years isn’t worth fighting for. It is apparently acceptable to just bury your head in the sand and hope problems will magically go away.
  • I put more effort in than him.
  • He put me in situations where clearly he aimed to spend time with her while appearing to spend time with me.
  • Turns out I was the supportive one. More on this below.
  • This list could go on but it would get very bitchy and sweary. So I shall leave it at that.

Realisations about my mates and myself.

  • I was too bloody nice! This harks back to last point above. I can’t think of one race that I did because I wanted to, that he didn’t, that he came and supported me at. I either did same races as him or he did same race as me. There’s been things I’ve really wanted to do (SUP) that he’s had no interest in and he hasn’t supported me in (although I’ll admit he was quite supportive while I did my PGCE – the levels of support given to him between career change and triathlon make his support seriously pale in comparison!). I also did 95% of the running in our relationship too and when I was stressing every week about kit I needed – absolutely no understanding whatsoever about how this was starting to affect me.
  • I have THE greatest friends in the world. Honestly. There’s a core bunch of about 7 or 8 people that, without them, I’d be in a far worse place. They have listened and supported without moaning – at least to me – about it. Been sympathetic, got me out doing stuff and generally been all round awesome. Some of this has also come from unexpected places as well – so beyond that core 7/8 people there has been some wider support from club mates/Twitter and beyond that has surprised me and helped me. Checking in on me and making sure to nag me to eat/stay positive/tell me exactly what I’ve needed to hear. I am eternally grateful.
  • I’ve pretty much put the voodoo doll away (this relates to a conversation at a TT a few weeks ago – ‘You’re going to have to put that voodoo doll away eventually’ after a long moan about what o should have done.
  • Staying on the theme of friends. They really are the family you choose for yourself. Surrounding yourself with good people is a great healer.
  • I am made of stronger stuff than I realise. Coming out of the pit of despair that was the break up – a friend mentioned this week about how strong I’ve been dealing with things and rising above things. My world was shattered to the core and it’s foundations when he left me. I’ve had no choice but to rebuild it. No point in hanging around. There maybe odd tweaks on the way but life is for living.
  • My self esteem/confidence isn’t too bad but even I need an ego boost occasionally. Turns out I am actually desirable and not at all past it. Not that I ever thought I was past it but I was beginning to wonder if there was something wrong with me!
  • Being single for the first time as a fully fledged adult is interesting and actually fun – I’ve not had time to sit and dwell too much – I’m too busy doing so much random stuff – and things I want to do! I don’t have to hang around waiting for anyone, I can go meet new people, I don’t have to consider anyone else.
  • Which leads on to – any future relationship – I need to remember to be my own person and do what makes me happy more. Life is too short to be a sheep that merely follows. I did too much of that.
  • I can, in fact, look after my bikes myself and sort out stuff. And be organised. Far more self reliant.
  • I’ve less patience for nonsense.
  • Did I mention I have the best mates ever?
  • I am braver than I realise too. I’ve big plans and they are scary. With little to lose – why not?
  • There are still plenty of single blokes out there. That’s been an interesting wake up call! I’m seeing life/dating in a whole different light and I’ve a better sense of self and just what I don’t want. Probably more so than what I do want actually.
  • I’ve spent more time with my cousins – this is quite a big deal actually as there’s a group that are close and I always wanted to be in their crowd – they’ve always looked out for me but it’s really come into its own recently. Definitely feel much closer – and at the end of the day, family and friends – ultimately relationships are are what matter and the love that goes with it.
  • Love heals.
  • My heart will recover. My heart is recovering.

Yes I wanted to marry him and yes I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. There were a lot of things I thought I wanted. I can’t really regret anything. I’ve gained/learnt/done more than I could have imagined over last 8 years. But it’s beginning to look like I’ve had a lucky escape – everything happens for a reason and it may just turn out to be the greatest stroke of luck it happening now!

It’s all coming together nicely!

“It never gets easier, you just get faster” – Greg LeMond

I meant to write earlier in the week but the last two weeks have been surprisingly hectic and random.

Although firstly, a mini update on how things have gone in terms of ‘the ex’ and her. I was recently at one of the local triathlons (for various reasons) and in transition. I didnt see him – although knew he was about, but she was racing. I knew she would be. First time all year she hasn’t raced in club colours and was clearly trying very hard to blend in. I’ve never seen anyone in and out of transition as quick! She ran past me as she headed out so I decided to just cheer her on. By name. She looked rather uncomfortable. To be far, both of them should be feeling uncomfortable and awkward, but its not me making it so. My own feelings on the whole thing were enlightening – I have most certainly turned a corner, knowing full well karma will one day strike.

That’s actually the least exciting thing thats happened really.

There has been quite a lot of cycling training wise and little of anything else.

So awesome things that have happened….

  • Last TT of the season – genuinely gutted and really wish I’d started earlier in the season. Two minute improvement on the course from a few weeks previous. 1st (and only!) woman racing too. It has had an awesome impact on my cycling too.
  • Needed an ego boost. Got it. Found a new cycling partner out of it. Although he is predominately a mountain biker, he put me through my paces the other weekend.
  • Awesome club ride today actually – and not only that, I cycled into town solo, did the group ride and then had lunch with a friend before cycling home solo, making a 30 mile club ride in to a 70 mile ride, with 2s knocked of my own QOM  (Queen of the Mountain). 30 group miles, and 40 solo miles!
  • A fab run or two with my friends – putting the world to rights (As always) and discussing plans for next years racing.
  • A really successful shadow official assignment.
  • Booking a holiday to go and support friends doing the ETU championships in Ibiza – very excited!
  • Booked YHA for the club trip (only 5 of us going but, still – will be awesome!)
  • Tried on my friends speed suit – seriously – how is a woman supposed to get that over her hips? Must have been designed by someone with no hips or waist?!
  • Spend the last two nights in a hot tub. Enough said.
  • Some fab conversations with friends both online and in real life.

There is a bright light at the end of the tunnel and its heading up fast!

Rumblings and Grumblings!

“Cycling isn’t a game, it’s a sport. Tough, hard and unpitying, and it requires great sacrifices. One plays football, or tennis, or hockey. One doesn’t play at cycling” – Jean de Gribaldy

I often let myself get talked into some daft ideas. Last weekend was no exception.

Last Friday I got talked into cycling the Ryedale Rumble two days following. One of the lads who comes in to work had been roped in via work and was not happy about it and in all honesty, I was a bit worried about him doing it. He was supposed to be doing the 100 miler but had decided he was doing the shorter 50 miler. Wise choice I thought, but in it being a wiser choice, I was still a bit nervous about him doing it, and after a brief conversation and failure on my part to look at the weather forecast, I agreed to go do it with him.

That’s the reason I ended up, on a very wet and windy morning at Ryedale School.

I spend all of Saturday grumbling to anyone and everyone about how horrific this ride was going to be and how if I didn’t turn up to work on Monday we would all know why. Turns out the weather was as rubbish as expected and that Boltby Bank really is that step. I was warm enough but even my waterproofs didn’t last the long haul. I should have been miserable.

It’s turned out to be one of the best rides ever – yes it was slow, yes it was wet, yes the wind was howling (literally getting blown sideways), but some how, I spend most of the ride grinning. How much of that had to do with knowing that I had put some miles in my legs, as well as just accepting I was going to be wet, I don’t know. Part of my does know, however, that I actually proved to myself that I can ride in pretty awful conditions and survive! Think it has definitely done my mental strength some good!

Actually beginning to feel rather excited about next year’s racing and what I might actually be able to achieve – coupled with this year’s TTs and the temptation to go play at cyclocross……

Solo riding

“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride.”
John F. Kennedy

This morning, this quote is true. It’s been a bit cloudy and overcast but still warm and a bit breezy.  I’ve been after getting a longer ride in all week with being off work but it hasn’t happened so after a bit of a lie in this morning, I actually made the effort to get up and set myself a target of cycling 50km solo. There is also the little matter of a 68 mile sportive I’ve signed up to…

To a lot of people, 50 solo kilometres of riding, isn’t anything major. It isn’t the first time I’ve done it either, but it’s the first time since I’ve become single I’ve set out to just ride with no destination really in mind and ridden. I suppose at the moment, I need to get used to riding solo as he was my main cycling partner. After a conversation with a mate this morning, I am considering joining local cycling group beyond that of the tri club to get some more miles in with other people – that’s quite daunting and I could ride with the club but at the moment, I don’t want to be any where NEAR my ex and her. There are a couple of others I’d quite like to avoid too at the moment as I don’t trust them after recent events. Mainly due to my ex in all honesty.

Anyway, back to my actual ride. Normally, I get a bit sick of my own company on the bike, especially when things are hard. Today was quite a revelation – it was a bit hard at times, trying to maintain a decent pace into a bit of a headwind but it was actually quite nice to be eating up the miles and the 57km ridden actually flew by uneventfully. I wish I had eaten breakfast though, I mean, I managed it but really should have eaten. My appetite still isn’t 100% normal. Also need to figure out what works breakfast wise too I think. Riding solo was good today, I don’t think I thought about very much actually while I was riding. Partially zoned out of my own thoughts while concentrating on the cycling. I am taking this as a good sign, even though I know some rides will be far more challenging, with future plans formulating, I am taking this as a good sign.

Lessons learnt – EAT breakfast before cycling and solo miles cycling can be therapeutic!