Archive for April, 2013


listing season


The final stages of preparation for The Trip are underway. In addition to last weekend’s Big Training Binge (35km bike Friday evening, 20km run Saturday morning, 50km bike Sunday morning), I have been making lists. A list of what will be needed for a 6 day trip across Holland and Belgium by train or car is very different from what we’ll need to take for a cycling trip. Less is more. Or more precisely, multi-faceted is more. So a jacket needs to be waterproof, to pack down small and be windproof enough to act as shield from the cold should it turn breezy. Wet wipes will serve all manner of purposes – cleaning hands before meals, freshening up in the absence of a shower and also cleaning grease / grime off bike components and hands should we need to attempt any running repairs. There is also lists for:

  1. Race wear – running shoes, shorts, t-shirt, pins for race number etc.

  2. Travel Documents – tickets, email confirmations of reservations at B&B’s

  3. Essentials – clothing, wash bag, first aid kits, toolkits

  4. Tech – phones, iPods, chargers

See, I am doing it again – I can’t stop myself. Often, HMC and I would be taking the same things so we have had to rationalise in what must, to an outsider, seem like some bizarre bargaining game… “OK, I’ll take the suntan cream and the Wet Wipes if you take the first aid kit and the iPod charger…”

I have tweaked and lubed the bike and am confident that I can complete the Half Marathon. The 2 unknown quantities are:

  1. What will the cumulative effect of the trip do to me and how will that effect the Half Marathon at the end of the trip?

  2. HMC and I do not have the best track record on long cycle rides. True, we have done some training rides in the past that have gone off without incident but during the 2 Dunwich Dynamo’s we have done, in the first HMC clipped the kerb in the middle of the night and suffered a pinch flat that we had to repair in the pitch black in the middle of nowhere. In the second, I took a spectacular tumble into a drainage ditch at the side of a field –damaging both our bikes and meaning we had to cobble together 1 good bike from the 2 damaged ones so that HMC could complete the route and collect the car to come and pick me up

So a pessimist might say that, given our history, we are bound to have some sort of incident on our trip. An optimist would say that even if something does happen, we have dealt with problems in the past so are well equipped to deal with any technical hitches. Time will tell. And this time next week we’ll be waiting to board the ferry to the Hook Of Holland.


weekend whirl


With only 2 weeks to go before Hauling My Carcass and I attempt to cycle from the UK to Maas in Belgium to run the Maas Half Marathon, spring finally arrived in the UK bringing with it the fear that I have not prepared enough.

I have reached the “Paranoid” stage in my preparations – a stage that I am sure is very familiar to many of you: The race looms and you feel you are underprepared. But there is also the secret fear that if you train now and injure yourself, you could put the race in jeopardy. I managed to talk myself out of the paranoia by promising myself that if I ran on Saturday morning, I could spend Saturday afternoon celebrating Record Store Day by meeting up with some friends in Berwick Street and whiling away the afternoon soaking up some sunshine and buying some music. Incentives, even when they are to yourself, are a great motivator.

So, bright and early Saturday morning (and it was both bright and early), I set off for a 16.6kms run in the sunshine. I seem to have plateau’d in my running and now hit a point at about 12km where no matter how hard I push, I doggedly travel at the same pace. Frustrating. But it was still 16.6km in the bank. And it meant I could go and play in the sunshine in the afternoon…

Sunday was cycling day. I’d decided that I also needed to get some miles in on the bike and so I packed the bike up with everything that I intend to take on the trip to Belgium – firstly to make sure it all fitted and stayed put, and secondly to get used to cycling with panniers and bags loaded down with 6 days worth of stuff – clothes, washbag, tools, running gear.

It was beautiful cycling through the countryside in the early morning sun – I’d deliberately taken an undulating / hilly route to begin with and then decided just to keep cycling until I was approximately half way through my desired distance and then turn round and make up the return leg as I went along. The uphills were tough – the extra weight slowing me down and adding an odd pendulum effect to the sway of the bike when up out of the saddle. The flat and downhills were lovely with the weight working in my favour. Just shy of 60kms done and I arrived back home with a big grin on my face. I felt great.

The weekends activity took its toll that evening when, after dinner, I sat down to watch a programme on television and found myself struggling to keep my eyes open after a few minutes. But it was a satisfied sort of tiredness – the sort where you feel justified in getting a good night’s sleep because you’ve earned it.


Hertford 10k race report


Or what used to be known as The Hertford Charity Run – I have run this race a few times now and I still really enjoy it. It could be the proximity to my house (I walked to the starting line from home – took about 15 minutes). The picturesque, well marshaled route – out along the Cole Green Way and then through a number of small, Hertfordshire villages before rejoining the Cole Green Way to head back to the finish. Or it could be the finish itself – a tough uphill that sees many give up and walk before a big finish right in front of County Hall and the crowd of cheering spectators.

I did get caught up a little at the beginning, positioning myself too far down the field before the start, meaning I had to try and pick my way through the runners on the narrowest and most congested part of the course. So the first mile or so was spent in a bunch of 6-6.30mins/km paced runners when I wanted to be doing 5.30mins/km. Also, I was running in Vibrams along a bridle path so needed to try and keep a little distance between me and the runners in front to ensure I could see enough ground in front of me to avoid landing on any stones of bits of tree branch.

Once out onto the road, the race opened up and the sun/breeze combined to create almost perfect conditions – if a little windy on the exposed sections. Marshaling, as always, was frequent and encouraging with an added water/Jelly Baby station just before 5km.

Because I have run the race before, I am aware of the big hill at the end. Subsequently, I began to slow (not sure if it is consciously or unconsciously) around the 8km mark and a handful of people slowly overtook. I think I have some inbuilt mechanism that tells me to ease up and conserve energy for the hill at the end. Once at the hill, many of my “overtakers” end up just ahead of me and walking up the hill. Some were run/walking. I am always intent on not stopping to walk, although my legs and lungs protest. The encouragement from the crowd and the knowledge that the end is imminent make it bearable but it is still one of the toughest and most satisfying finishes.

My only criticism from a few years back was that the race used to be “approximately 10k”. I am not sure if the organisers have taken heed and tweaked the route to find and extra 500m (the race used to be about 9.5km) or whether my Garmin had mis-measured, but Sunday’s distance showed as 10.11km

Incredibly, this was my first race this year and therefore not as quick as previous years (approx 3 mins slower than last year. Also, I think the combination of mixed training I have been doing (forsaking some runs for longer cycle rides) and getting stuck for the first 1-2kms contributed to the slower time. It’s still a great race though and I’ll be back again next year.


Spring forward…

Easter: 4 days off for the ceremonial eating of chocolate. But not for me. The return of snow the previous weekend had me forlornly looking out of the window and wallowing in guilt. I had retreated into that horrible pre-race dilemma – I have a race preceded by a big cycle trip in 5 weeks time. I should be training. But if I train and it is icy, I may fall over whilst running or fall off the bike and not be able to do the very event that I am training for. Therefore I won’t train. But I  will feel guilty for not training.

So each of my Easter mornings consisted of either a run or a cycle. I alternated – run the first day, cycle the next, run the third day, cycle the fourth. By the end of the 4 days, I at least felt smug that I had done 4 consecutive days of training as I gingerly made my way up and down stairs or struggled to get up out of a chair.

And then Winter seemed to ebb away, leaving some comparatively mild days. I managed a 16km evening run after work without the use of tights, gloves and a head torch. And then Sunday morning, I actually had sunglasses and short sleeves on for the run for the first time since… probably October!

And the sun does have such a psychological effect on me. I bounded out of the house on the Sunday morning and headed off – with only a vague idea of where I wanted to run. In the end, I sought out one of my old Berlin Marathon Training Routes – running along shady bridle paths into the next town and back again clocking up 19km in the process. And it felt good.

Most of my recent runs had been the day after a long cycle ride and the difference was noticeable. My legs no longer felt heavy – I was bounding along – a spring in my step. Mentally, this is a massive reassurance for me. I had been agonising over the heavy-legged feeling for a few weeks… Maybe I was just getting old and this is how it was going to be from now on. Turns out the legs were just knackered from the previous day’s exertions.

So Sunday will see the annual running of my local 10k – The Hertford Charity Run. I love it because it is a small, local race with a friendly feel and a killer hill right at the end. Most of the route I run regularly when out training but the hill is generally avoided – except on race day when I treat (!) myself. So I shall stay away from the bike this week and hope for sun on Sunday morning so I can fully enjoy the race.

RSS Unknown Feed

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Fit Artist

RSS Unknown Feed

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Ware2Barefoot

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Unknown Feed

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Unknown Feed

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.


Vision Treadmills at Fitness Superstore