Archive for the 'Ranting' Category

08
Jul
13

moving target

 

I was feeling a little paranoid last week. I can go for months and months without incident on the pushbike and then…

 

Last Saturday, I was up early for a brisk 12km run. There is something quite satisfying about arriving back home knowing that your run for the day is complete before most people have had breakfast. Sunday morning was similar except that, with the Dunwich Dynamo in just a few weeks, I decided to head out early on the bike, get about 50km done and be home in time for a cappuccino and some toast when the rest of the family decided to surface. About 20km in, I narrowly avoid being mown down by a bronze coloured 4×4 that came hurtling onto the roundabout that I was already on. A split second decision on my behalf, on whether to try and stop or just keep going as fast as I could, meant that the fast moving hunk of metal missed my back wheel by a few centimetres. About a minute later, the rush of adrenaline kicked in and I trembled my way through the next few kms. A few lovely, sweeping countryside kilometres later and I am back in town where another car narrowly misses me – this time by overtaking me and then turning immediately left in front of me.

 

I arrived home feeling a little shaken and incredibly lucky. After recounting the incidents to Mrs Eatingtrees and being told to “be careful”, I smugly enjoyed the rest of the day knowing that my exercise for the weekend was in the bag. Incredibly, the next day on the way to work, a car decided to slowly drift across the road and into the side of me whilst I was on the motorbike. Luckily, I managed to manouvre myself out of the way but not before his hubcap had worn a hole in my overtrousers. Another near miss and another upping of the paranoia quota.

 

Playing it safe, I decided that this week I would just concentrate on running – a quick 10k one evening after work and then 12km first thing Saturday before it got too hot. I was out by 8am but even then it was beginning to warm up. By the time I was nearing the end I was choosing which side of the path to run on based solely on which would offer the most shade. It seems that the weather has gone from Early Spring to High Summer in the space of a week and I find the transition from around 10 degrees to nearly 30 degrees saps my energy and turns runs into slogs. I am sure in another few weeks I will be used to running in these sorts of temperatures just as an Early Autumn sets in…

 

11
Jun
13

enter the luddite

 

Friday evening, and after a horrific week at work, I decided that the only thing that would lift my spirits was to get out for a run after work. A weary 12kms was duly completed and although it was a plod, it did serve to at least forget about the week and prepare myself for the weekend.

I had hoped that the weather this weekend would resemble that of the previous weekend – bright clear morning and warm, sunny afternoons. Unfortunately, grey cloud was in evidence so when I woke up on Sunday and looked out of the window, all enthusiasm for a long bike ride evaporated.

So I decided to tackle Mrs Eatingtrees’ bike instead. Inspired by what I had seen in Holland and Belgium, I was going to fit a rack to the back of the wife’s bike, adjust the brakes, cut down the handlebars and turn it from a mountain bike into something that more suited what it was actually used for – nipping to the shops or going on a picnic. All was well until I attempted to adjust the derailleur – it had long been neglected and shifted to some of the gears although not always reliably. I had adjusted gears on my mountain bikes before… what could possibly go wrong?

3 hours later and I am stood in the back garden, a face like thunder, trying to Google information on derailleur adjustment with hands covered in a thick layer of stick and slightly gritty chain grease. Nothing I could do seemed to improve the situation and I became increasingly frustrated… how could something so seemingly simple refuse to work so stubbornly.

Eventually, I put the bike angrily back in the garage and gently seethed for the rest of the day at my inability to fix it.

After last weeks bout of gear envy, I am firmly back in the singlespeed camp as no amount of slowly grinding my way up hills can compare with the frustration of being beaten into submission by a few twisty bits of metal, some cogs and some cabling!

24
Mar
13

guilt

I’d been so good. Running, cycling. Slowly building up distance. Then…

I had planned a 50km cycle for Saturday and a 20km run for Sunday. Early weekend mornings recently have been taken up with this combination for the past 4 weeks. I’d worked my way up from 10k runs and no cycling to a 17k run and 40ish kilometre cycle. Then I heard that snow was forecast for this weekend.

I thought perhaps I could outwit it by waking early on Saturday morning and getting in at least one of my two sessions before the snow hit. Wrong. At 6.45am, I woke – ready, primed – to find that the snow had come down overnight. Bugger. Seems the weather doesn’t keep regular hours after all.

I did see a few hardy souls out in it over the weekend, wrapped up, grimacing their way through the snow. And I could have joined them but for 2 things. I am training for a Trans-European cycle trip and Half Marathon in 5 weeks. A tumble from the bike in the snow or a slip whilst running could easily mean that the trip would need to be cancelled – which I obviously don’t want. Secondly, to force myself out in such harsh conditions would make the training feel like a chore – I had a glimpse of this mindset whilst training for the Marathon last year. Losing the fun of getting out and running / cycling at this stage would be sad – particularly if I am to spend 5 days in the saddle followed by a Half Marathon.

So instead. I head off into the garage where the weights and bench are and go hell for leather on the free weights for an hour. Then spend the rest of the weekend tackling chores and ferrying my kids around feeling just a little guilty that I haven’t got out on the bike or for a run. And it’s this guilty feeling which I am hoping will give me additional momentum for when the snow and ice does clear and I can once again continue to prepare for what will probably be one of the most physically tough but potentially enjoyable things I have attempted.

13
Nov
12

Working… Like a dog

People often comment that they feel a little lost after completing a big race. There is a gap in their life as they are no longer training for a specific event and the event they had been working towards has passed. I think I may have experienced this a tiny bit but before I had time to recognise it, I started a new job and that has filled the time that would have been spent training and thinking about the upcoming race. It has filled it with work. Lots and lots of work. And commuting.

Commuting was something that I hadn’t done in a long while: my previous position was mostly home based and when I did need to travel, it was mostly on my own terms and outside of rush hour. So to be hurled back into an hour each way motorcycle commute was a bit of a shock. Now, don’t get me wrong, a motorcycle commute is one of the finest ways to get to work (weather permitting) but I’d forgotten how much I take my life in my hands each time I put the crash helmet on and set off on the bike. Cars pulling out in front of you, drivers opening their doors as you whizz alongside them, abuse from van drivers as you nip past whilst they are stuck in traffic.

Even with my wonderful motorcycle commute, it means I am out of the house for usually 12 hours every day leaving not much time left for being a Dad, a husband, oh, and a runner.

So I have managed to squeeze in about 2 runs a week since starting the new job, one by the light of a headtorch after work one evening and then usually another longer run (17-18kms) at the weekend. What is disheartening is that I can slowly feel the fitness that I had attained whilst training for Berlin ebbing away as 18km runs feel like they’re getting tougher. Although, there might be a small light at the end of a tunnel as today I struck up a conversation with a colleague at work who was about to do a running commute 7kms back home. I asked if she ever went out for a run after work rather than just running home. She doesn’t, currently, but did seem interested when I mentioned that I might try and start getting in a few laps of Regents Park some evenings after work.

So currently not much to report on the running front although I hope that I can strike a better work/life balance that means I don’t spend my entire day working or commuting. Although, on a brighter note, Hauling My Carcass and I are working on a fiendish plan for next years European Running Adventure… watch this space.

 

13
Feb
12

miserable

Everyone gets their fair share of crappy runs. I had one of mine yesterday. After the mild euphoria of my unplanned long(ish) run a couple of Sundays back and then the absurdity of running in the dark and the snow at Grim I came back to Earth with a plop this week. This last week the snow has meant that there was very little I could do in the way of running… normally snow does not stop me from getting out but this was particularly nasty as after the first day it hardened into some kind of superslippery perma-frost which was almost impossible to run on. Then, a little later in the week, another flurry meant that there was a deceptively soft fluffy layer on top of the hard ice beneath. Not running weather.
Becoming increasingly frustrated at not being able to get out and run, I vowed to myself that Sunday morning, come hell or high water, I would venture out. So I wrapped up (hat, buff, 2 x long sleeve tops, gloves, tights, shorts etc) and set off.
And I really wanted to enjoy my first run in a week but failed. Within minutes of me leaving the house, in addition to the black ice under foot, everything seemed to become grey as a misty, drizzley moistness hung in the air, dampening everything including my spirits. Hertfordshire Council seemed to have been caught out by the long predicted cold snap that the media had been threatening for weeks and neglected to grit or clear any of the pathways. The frequent slippery patches meant that some parts of my normal route would be impassable so I had to stick to a workmanlike “out and back” along the main road. Even so, the ice under foot did at points have me tottering like a tipsy lady in too high stilletoes.
So an uninspired and uninspirational 11.6kms and the best thing about it was getting home and getting in the shower. Pah! Things can only get better…

28
Jul
11

the great mope of 2011

Since injuring my foot in an unfortunate tree root / foot interface towards the tail end of Juneathon, I have been experiencing what the experts refer to as “Running Envy”. The symptoms of this cruel affliction are, firstly, the inability to run oneself. This gives rise to feelings of inadequecy, a rejection of anything running related and the involuntary act of muttering “bastard” under ones breath whenever someone else is observed running. Sufferers of this condition often transfer their fixation with running onto other sports. As an example, the “Running Envy” victim may avoid all running related pastimes, including such things as not reading blog posts, and instead focus his obsession on some unrelated sport, for example cycling and the Tour De France, he may read blogs related to cycling like the always excellent Bike Snob and perhaps even take part in silly long-distance overnight bicycling events himself.
Which is all very well, but when said silly long distance overnight bicycling event leaves your bike with an annoying creak and the need for replacement parts, any kind of participation in this surrogate sporting activity becomes difficult in itself. So when my new bottom bracket and cranks arrived, I was keen to get them replaced as soon as possible. When I had first built the bike, I wanted it to be as “original” as possible, keeping and re-using as many of the original parts as I could and retaining the spirit of the original 30+ year old contraption. As I have now done over a thousand kilometres on the bike, wear and tear has begun to take it’s toll and I have realised that a 30 year old cottered crankset may not be the best solution to turning the wheels. So the cranks and bottom bracket were replaced and then the bike taken out for a spin last night. The pedalling feels so much smoother and it is obvious now that the old bottom bracket was literally on it’s last legs. Like an overdue visit to the Opticians, you don’t realise how bad things have got until they are suddenly put right.
And, despite still having pain in my foot, it does at last appear to be getting better. So after flunking out on my “one running race per month for 2011” commitment in July. I hope to be getting back to some tentative running in time for the Bearbrook 10k in a couple of weeks time.
Ohh… look! What’s that over there? Looks like… Looks like my Mojo. I think I’ll go and get it back…

Soundtrack to this post: Augustus Pablo – Tippa Tone Blues

06
Jun
11

juneathon day 6: monty pythons “the garmin sketch”

“Ullo Miss! I wish to register a complaint”
As if it wasn’t difficult enough to drag myself out for a run after yesterdays 50 mile cycle ride… I’d decided on a route that used to be a favourite of mine but that I hadn’t run for a while. I summoned up the will to get changed and get out and I was happily running along on used up legs when about 15 minutes into the run, I happened to glance down at the Garmin. It said I’d been running for just under 15 minutes and that I had covered exactly… hold on… exactly zero metres. What! But…
What little enthusiaism for today’s run that I had managed to muster soon vanished and no amount of swearing and jabbing at the Garmin with angry, impatient fingers would make it obey. My only hope was that it was playing some kind of satellite navigation equipment joke on me and that when I got home, it would see the error of it’s ways and upload the proper distance. Which of course it didn’t. So, like a man who doesn’t possess a Garmin would do, I patiently mapped out my run on Running Free Online, saved it and imported just the time (grrrrrrr) from the Garmin. 9.8kms apparently in 50.08 and another run in the VFF’s. And now I’m off to show the little blue menace who is boss…




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