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jack of two trades

Longer evenings and a more temperate climate of late has meant that I could ramp up the training a little bit. The purchase of a new bike a few months back has also made me split my time between running and cycling.

Which means it would be sensible to split my planned events throughout the year into a combination of separate cycling and running events… So I have.

Last year, a cyclist friend and I found out too late about the Ellis 50 Miler so decided to schedule a long ride on the same day and aim to get to the Ellis 50 finish line as the main chunk of the field should begin to finish. Embarrassingly, a few bystanders mistook us for entrants and “clapped us home” as we were cycling towards the finish to cheer the real competitors home. There will be no such mistake this year as we got our entries in early and we can hopefully accept the spectators applause without guilt.

There is also the Dunwich Dynamo – one of my most favourite events – and Hauling My Carcass and I will once again tackle this overnight monster of a ride. Unusually, this year will be the first that either of us has had the luxury of a geared bike as all previous attempts have been on our single speeds. It will be interesting to see how the addition of gears alters the experience.

Running wise, I was disappointed to see that this year, my home race, the Hertford 10k isn’t being run. I love this race and was sniffing around for something else to do. My boss suggested that the next best thing to a home town race is a race local to your place of work so I have signed up for the Ealing Half Marathon at the end of September. I am hoping that the combination of a summer of running coupled with my cycling training will mean that I will get super skinny and super fast in time for this…?!?!

There is also the annual ridiculous European Adventure that HMC & I do every year. Regular readers will know that last year was a cycle trip to the Maas Half Marathon – this year is a little less ambitious although I suspect just as much fun as HMC, his wife and I head to Jersey to run a 5k on the Friday, a 10k Saturday and a Half Marathon on Sunday before flying home Sunday night.

And if that lot doesn’t get me motivated, I don’t know what will! It’s nice coming out of Winter and into Spring with a bunch of different events to aim for. To get me started, HMC have planned a 75km cycling jaunt across the South Downs next week which I am very much looking forward to. So it’s all go once again – exciting and a little daunting: just how I like it.



aerial adventure

They say that you should try and not pass on your fears and shortcomings to your offspring. It would appear that I have been successful in this as my eldest (12yr old) son requested that, for a birthday treat, he would like to try a High Ropes Adventure. I am, ahem, “not good with heights” and my palms started sweating at the mere mention of it but I calmed myself enough to log on to Activity Superstore and order a “High Ropes Adventure for Two“… I just had to convince my wife to do it with him now…

Much grovelling later, and Mrs Eatingtrees and SonNumberOne had booked their afternoon for Half Term. It was all very easy and they even managed to change the date at late notice due to us not fully checking our calendar for planned half term events.

So, the day came and , after a briefing session, they were on their way up the ladders to the first level. Once clipped on to the safety wiring, they were off, navigating the high wires and series of suspended planks that was their route through the skies. My palms were now pouring just watching them and, once the circuit of the first level had been completed, my wife called it a day and joined the rest of the sensible people on the ground.

My son, wanted to go up to the second level, so we watched from the ground as he traversed more obstacles even further from the floor. I was reduced to pacing up and down at this point. Pacing up and down and checking my emails on my phone. In fact looking anywhere but up – where my son was making his way towards the grand finale…

IMAG0504 IMAG0506

The end of the course is a 10 metre freefall – the harness is clipped to a rope attached to a fan and you basically, and there is no subtle way to phrase this, hurl yourself off of a platform and plummet to the floor. Obviously, this is a completely safe “freefall” and science would back up the claim that a giant air brake is a pretty dependable system. Still, it is hard for a parent scared of heights to watch his first born throw himself from a platform 10 metres up.

My son was breathless with exhilaration when he met up with me afterwards, he had enjoyed the day and immediately asked if he could come back again to tackle the higher 30 metre freefall next time. He can, but I may not be able to take it all again!

The day was booked through Activity Superstore – they have a whole range of gift experiences for kids and adults, you can browse them HERE.


time out

No run for me last weekend. Low-level chest infection coupled with horrible, pouring rain meant that I had time to do a little research about a potential new bicycle purchase. The internet was trawled, bicycle retail establishments visited, hands were wrung. More of this later…

So yesterday, Saturday, I went out for 12km and found it hard going. It was slow and the lungs struggled for the first 5k – to be honest it felt more like a month that I had missed rather than 10 days without a run. However, I returned home, showered and then felt right as rain in no time. Ready for the afternoon..

An afternoon in which I was to collect my new bike!

I had been toying with the idea of a new bicycle for a while and that usually is quite a long process. It goes something along the lines of… research, read reviews, re-evaluate how much I want to spend, ask around, research some more, find something that catches your eye, ignore all previous research and buy on gut feeling. I ended up buying a second hand Boardman CX Team cyclocross bike off of ebay which came strongly recommended by a friend of mine who knows about these things. I collected it on Saturday afternoon and was itching to get out on it to see how it rode.

Sunday morning was almost perfect as long as I stayed out of the headwind and the bike does not disappoint. Silky smooth on the road, even on knobbly cyclocross tyres, and real fun to ride. I am used to using the singlespeed and was concerned that the noise of the derailleur would bother me but it is almost silent and is so much fun to ride that I extended my “quick trial” to just shy of 30 miles of grin inducing pedalling.

So, I know that me banging on about cycling is a little off topic but I suppose the tenuous link to running is that it should hopefully improve my cadence and my stamina and I’ll lose some weight and I’ll become faster. Or not. Who cares?


a sentimental story

Winter evenings mean that I will often forego my usual canal towpath route in favour of more well-lit paths. A few times, 11 year old SonNumberOne has asked to run with me. Because I will generally run about 10-12km in the evening, I have politely declined but suggested that he cycle with me whilst I run. This is great for both of us as he enjoys going out on his bike in the dark and I have someone to talk to whilst pounding the streets.

A few weeks back, SonNumberOne once again asked if he could come out and run with me. As it was relatively early, I agreed and we settled on a looping course that meant we had a number of opportunities to cut the run short if he began to get too tired. He has run a couple of 2k kids races and we have attempted 4kms (at his request), but these were stopping and starting runs and I could see that he was struggling.

Tonight however, he was adamant that he wanted to run 10kms – I said that we could try but that at any point, we could cut the run short if he was getting tired. We set off and I fully believed we’d get to 5km and he would say he’d had enough. We chatted through the first couple of kilometres and I gave him the choice of stopping at 2kms or carrying on – if we carried on, we would not be able to stop again until 5km. He chose to push on and we set off up a long unlit hill with just our torches to guide us. Again at the top, we could have cut the run short but he was determined to continue. He began to slow but was  desperate not to stop and walk so we carried on. As we got towards another fork in the route where we could have taken one of 2 routes, I again gave him the choice which way to go. This time he chose to finish the run so we turned right and headed home. We covered 9kms and he ran all the way. Not bad for an 11 year old who hasn’t run any sort of substantial distance for about 4 months! I really enjoyed having him run with me and he has asked if we can do it again.

And, without being too saccharine, there are 2 morals to this story:

1) As unlikely as it may seem, at some point and for however briefly, you will become a role-model for your kids so try to be a good one.

2) Your kids are probably more capable of some things than you think



I have had a bit of a blogging sabbatical. Not a running sabbatical you understand – no, no, no. If anything, I have been running a little more than usual. I started a new job at the end of October which not only is very enjoyable but also gives me a little more free time so I can usually squeeze in a mid-week after work run.

In addition to this, I am also able to work from some of our other offices so I am not commuting into London 5 days a week any more. At least once a week, I work from an office which is cycling distance from home so I get to enjoy a bicycle commute which usually consists of a straight-forward cycle to work but the return journey is where I really get to have some fun. For the return trip, instead of taking the road route home, I head for the bridle path which takes me the “scenic route” back to my house. It is about 2 miles longer but is infinitely more enjoyable. I leave work, jump onto the bike, turn on my high powered front light and head off into the mud and the darkness. It is exhilarating to hurtle through pitch dark with only a pool of light for about 4 metres in front of you – everything to the sides is just inky blackness. I will often arrive home with a huge muddy stripe up my front and a massive grin on my face. I now look forward to my bike commute, it is without a doubt one of the highlights of my working week.

And it is having a mostly positive effect on my running – I have been finding that my overall fitness and stamina have both improved. My 12k Sunday runs are now usually 16km+ and occasionally as much as 25km. Don’t get me wrong, anything over about 15km is still a puch but my recovery times are much improved and I do not suffer afterwards – I jump in the shower and am as good as new. The more active I am, the more active I am able to continue to be.

So, that was just a quickie to bring things up to date. Normal service will be resumed now that I have acclimatised to my new job – I just need it to rain a bit less now!

So all that remains is to wish you all a belated Happy New Year.

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