Here we go, another Town & Gown 10k. Jules had entered too, managing to fit some training runs in around her crazy shift pattern. Sunday dawned sunny and bright, and I was hopeful of a better run than I’d had 10 days earlier at round 1 of the Mota-vation race series at Charlton-on-Otmoor where I’d struggled round at 6:45 minute miling, and been outsprinted at the finish by a resurgent Laurie Hearn of Headington Road Runners (Garmin file here).
A fairly gentle warm up to get my creaky old right achilles moving and then we were off, a minute early thanks to Christine Hamilton‘s eagerness! I set off at a “manageable” pace and was pleased to see a couple of sub-4 minute kilometre splits straight off the bat. The long drag up the High Street slowed me a little and then it was time to settle in and find some people to pace out the rest of the race with. After the loop north of the Parks, I passed the 5km mark in 20:06. Knowing that I’d slow a little in the second half, sub-41 minutes still looked on the cards. I was jockeying for position with a couple of women here, but they started to slow up as we hit the Parks for the last couple of km. Some runners seem to thrive on this fine gravel surface, others go backwards. I was just trying to stay with anyone who came past. Had a bit of a slump with a kilometre to go and then managed to lift myself for the last bit to the finish, happy to cross the line in a half-decent time of 40:42 (results). [My Garmin file's here. I decided to wear an HRM for this event, curious to see how much fitness I'd lost. Funnily enough, my average - 167 - and max - 174 - were exactly the same as last year, when I'd run 39:40, but I'd been a little, ahem, slimmer.]
I found a few friendly faces to chat with while I caught my breath and then jogged over to the last loop of the course to cheer Jules on; she was looking pretty comfortable and finished just outside the hour. We stopped off at Maison Blanc for almond croissants as treat and then pedalled home to slump about in the sunshine. Decided I’d have at least 10 days off running to let my right achilles and left knee aches settle down – I’m not happy that I’m not comfortable running at the moment. Plenty of heel drop stretching to do on the right calf.
Another outing for the fixed-gear TT bike. This being an open event, the day before I’d upped the gear to 52×15 (93.6″), about as big a gear as the chain I’ve got on there will wrap without dropping down a tooth at the rear sprocket. I’d also fitted an old Cateye Strada computer so I knew what the time was and how far I’d ridden, although it does kind of spoil the clean look of the bike and I might go back to just wearing a GPS watch.
I managed a bit more running in the week before, but my right achilles and left knee were sore again after all that, so I didn’t feel like pushing it too much on the drags of this course (the H25/4 – a lap and a half of the Great Missenden A413). It was cold morning, but worth riding as there were only 14 riders on the startsheet – I was likely to get on the podium, if nothing else! It felt *really* cold when I was warming up so I started out with two baselayers under my skinsuit, but this might’ve been overkill as I started to get quite warm towards the end. I didn’t quite have the oomph to make it on to the podium, finishing 4th with 1:02:14 which might be my slowest ever 25 (including trike rides, I think). Pete Lawrence won it with a speedy 55:32.
Still having fun riding fixed, I might stick with it for a bit more of the season yet. I wish my knee/achilles would quieten down though. I had this idea that I’d just cruise through the year, running four or five times a week, but that’s not going to happen if I don’t take it easy on them. The achilles is particularly annoying – that’s been grumbling along since last August.
I’ve never ridden the High Wycombe CC-organised Longwick 10-mile club time trial course, but fancied another outing on the fixer so off I went, keen to explore. It had been a lovely sunny day and there was very little breeze so a large field was expected. I signed on with all the “others”, who get to ride after the HWCC league members have gone. There were very many league entries and I didn’t get a start until 7:42.
My warm up was a little bit complicated by the fact that I’d not brought a watch with me (and I’ve not fitted a computer to my fixed gear bike yet) so I found it difficult to judge how long I should be warming up for. Anyway, I had a good ride, there were only a few places where I felt overgeared, and many more where I could have done with something a little larger as I was close to spinning out - those sections were a good chance for me to catch my breath – I’m still not too fit! I was pleased to stop the clock at 24:22 [Result - I'm down with the "private riders" at the foot of the page]. The fixed gear worked well up the drags to each end of the course and I was lucky not to get baulked at the roundabouts – it can be tricky getting going again on fixed. I was on 50×15 (90″) again and I think I might gear up a little for the weekend’s 25-miler.
This is quite a nice little course and should ride it more often – it’s only a half hour drive from Cowley – even if I do have to hang about while all the league riders have a go. Hopefully it’ll quieten down a bit once VC10 start their Tuesday evening club events on the super fast Tring bypass next month.
Over the winter I’d accumulated various bits towards a fixed gear TT project bike. There were two major things I needed to look out for: a pursuit track frame with front forks drilled for a brake, and a disc wheel for screw-on freewheel, preferably clincher, as I find they’re easier to deal with and this was supposed to be a budget build. I was lucky to pick up both within the space of a few weeks: a Dolan pursuit frame came up for sale on the TT forum, complete with headset, chain & saddle, and I “won” a first generation Hed disc wheel from eBay for just £100. The frame was perfect – 52cm seat tube and 54cm top tube – and its pursuit geometry should mean it wasn’t as twitchy as a standard track frame. (Years ago I did some club TTs on a track bike, but it was super unstable and very twitchy due to its steep/short frame – less than ideal for the more relaxed world of road time trialling.) Apart from the adapter and track axle needed to space the rear sprocket on the disc, the other components came out of my spares boxes or were won cheaply off eBay. The build came together one cold weekend in March when I was still feeling a bit under the weather:
I decided to give it a test ride at a club 10-mile TT on the Lechlade/A361 course. My first club TT for nearly 2 years - I’ve been so busy organising them that I’ve not had the chance to ride one. It was blowing a gale, so less than ideal for a fixed gear day, but at least it was a straight headwind out/tailwind home. I crawled the 5.5 miles to the turn and then spun like crazy back to the timekeeper, 50×15 (90-inches) was hardly a big enough gear there but I’d had fun. I’d forgotten just how involving racing a fixed gear bike is. I stopped the clock at 25:18 (Mark Jones, on the comeback trail from serious illness, won with an astonishing 21:53 – results HERE) and vowed to race this fixed gear bike again very soon. If nothing else, it gives me a good way to hide how unfit I’ve become on the bike lately!
Back in the middle of January I bought a series of virtual Audax DIY-by-GPS cards, the idea being that I’d build up the distances after I’d recovered from the Thames Trot. I still had in the back of my mind that although I was planning on an easy year’s training, I should still be able to complete a Super Randonneur series (200, 300, 400 & 600km). However, the weather remained grim and I had a series of colds and niggles and hardly rode my bike at all. I finally decided I was sort of fit enough to have a crack at a 200km ride and the weather forecast didn’t look too bad – mostly dry, at least. I applied to ride my “Burbage” route, which goes Oxford-Streatley-Burbage-Malmesbury-Lechlade-Oxford, for a total ride of about 206km.
After a bit of faffing on Sunday morning (I’d spent the previous afternoon riding about in the rain, marshalling at the Antelope 3-up TTT), I set off shortly after 8am, orange squash in my 900ml bottles and a malt loaf in my back pocket. It was quite pleasant out, not too warm, and I was trying to conserve as much energy as possible for later in the ride but the strong headwind all the way to the foot of Streatley Hill made this a tricky proposition. I really struggled up the hill in my bottom gear (34×25) – a sure sign that I was not very fit. This was only my sixth road ride since the end of November. The wind was a constant annoyance down and around the outskirts of Newbury and along the A4, where I saw the remnants of the Newbury RC club run coming the other way. The climb and headwind out of Hungerford reduced me to a crawl and it wasn’t until I’d “turned the corner” of this ride at Burbage that I my speed picked up with a bit of tailwind.
After climbing over the Marlborough downs and descending to Wootton Bassett, I was pondering stopping for a refill of my bottles (and I was starting to feel like I’d need a bit of respite from the pounding the bike was giving me), but I pressed on to Malmesbury at 125km, and a welcome petrol station. Although my legs were merely tired, my arms, hands and feet were aching badly and I was glad to stop in the sunshine for a sandwich and a drink, and text Jules to let her know how I was getting on.
Leaving Malmesbury the wind was more on my back, and I spun along the back roads of Ashton Keynes, over the A419 and through Lechlade to cross the flat lands of Bampton and climb over Boars Hill for the descent to Oxford. Very tired and sore at the end, clearly I have much work to do on my long-distance bike endurance if I want to capture another Super Randonneur series.
Cycled: 206km total in 8h00, inc. 13 minutes stopped at various temporary traffic lights + lunchstop.
After a successful run in the Thames Trot, a pretty quiet month on the training front. I had a sore achilles and knee and needed to take some time off, so it was great to have the opportunity to go to a few gigs, the highlight of which was, of course, Young Marble Giants at Dingwalls. I also saw Stornoway at the Oxford Town Hall the week after. It was a good gig, and they played their hits from the Beachcomber’s Windowsill LP as well as some new stuff, but that venue didn’t do them any favours.
Just as I was starting to feel like getting back into it again, I managed a decent 2500m time trial on the erg and then came down with a cold. Nothing much, just enough to keep me from running around with the same energy as usual for a couple of weeks. Although I was feeling a bit rough, I did manage a 86km bike ride before the cold really took hold, my first outside for 3 months. I rode down to Pangbourne and Tilehurst to find out where I went wrong on the Thames Trot.
I’m starting to feel a bit healthier now and thinking about stepping up the mileage again. Also toying with the idea of joining Oxford City AC and doing some racing and training with them – I’d like to keep my running up to scratch this year. I’m not sure how much chasing about for bike racing and triathlon I want to continue doing, this year at least. I’ve serviced my trike and fitted some standard handlebars to it, I reckon that’ll be up for sale soon (I sold off the trispokes at the end of last year). I’ve achieved pretty much all I set out to do on that machine. I still think I could improve my distance for the 24-hour TT, but that might take more investment in training this year than I’m prepared to commit to.
I’m even toying with the idea of selling my car. I’d always have Jules’ Polo if I needed it, although it doesn’t have so much space, and I could use hire cars if I needed them – I worked out it costs me about £1100 a year to keep my old Mondeo on the road, even before I’ve thrown any fuel at it. It would limit the amount of chasing about I’d be able to do for the cycling club though – I don’t think the big warning signs we use on the A40 would fit in her car, even with the seats down. Something to ponder, anyway. I like the idea of simplifying things a bit.
Rest days = 8
Hours = 26:19 (6:35 per week)
On Sunday night I finally got to see without question my favourite ever band, playing live at Dingwalls in Camden, London.
It’s funny to think of the journey my musical tastes have been on, but I remember a classmate at school playing the Final Day single by Young Marble Giants to me in 1980 when I was just 16. I went down to Past & Present Records on St Albans Road, Watford, the next week and bought it. I was captivated by the sparcity of the sound, the short songs which tell their tale in three minutes or less, and how the clipped bass drove the song along, plus those beautiful vocals with the captivating lyrics (I’ve since learnt that the songs were Stuart Moxham’s, and he wanted to sing them, with more emotion. However, Alison’s flatter delivery works perfectly). I’ve always been a sucker for a bass-driven sound; around the same time I was starting to listen to early Cure recordings like Seventeen Seconds and later Faith which have much the same structure. When I started tuning into John Peel’s late-night Radio 1 shows about a year after that, I discovered Joy Division, with Peter Hook’s bass line driving the songs along. Much later on, Single Bass (Jennifer Moore) has captured for me that sharp, plucked bass line/girly singer sound, although she doesn’t gig much these days.
I’ve still got that Final Day 45, although my Colossal Youth LP and Test Card EP got sold on a few years ago. Those tracks have since appeared in CD collections, the most recent of which has sleeve notes by Simon Reynolds. I’ve only played that 45 a few precious times, committing it to cassette tape to “preserve” the vinyl, and I made a cardboard outer to protect the sleeve. [As an aside: in my fresher year at college, I had the room next door to Simon Reynolds. He was always dressed very "punk" for an Oxford University student, but the sounds coming out of his room were quite familiar to me. Being a year below him he slightly intimidated me though and we never spoke. An opportunity missed! Colossal Youth was something of a talisman for my student years - Never far from my turntable, all my friends seemed to have a copy and if they didn't, I soon made sure they'd had at least one hearing of it.]
My Final Day record (note the sticky bit, top right corner on the front where the price sticker would’ve been). I used to be able to draw that Young Marble Giants logo by heart, on my school exercise books.
Young Marble Giants split up very soon after they’d released the Test Card EP, in 1981. In a way, this has worked in their favour, they have left this brief, but near-perfect list of songs, no acrimonious second LP or any of that nonsense. What-you-see-is-what you-get, refined, much like the brief period of time each individual song occupies.
They split long before I started going to gigs in earnest, so I never got the chance to see them live (later I was curious though, to wonder how those songs would’ve worked in a gig). In the early 1990s I went through a phase of going to loads of gigs, sometime three or four a week, and I’d seen Alison Statton playing with Spike Williams at the Jazz Cafe in the 1990s. Her voice was still as distinctive as ever so when I became aware that YMG had been playing the odd gig or two here and there from about 2005/06, my interest was piqued. Mostly festivals though, some in France. I didn’t think their sound would carry well in a field and anyway, I wasn’t going to pay £150 just to see one band. At the time I was distracted by my cycling/sporting ambitions, as well as going through a divorce and the consequences of that in the years after. Eventually a gig came up that I’d be able to get to – Dingwalls in Camden, February 2013. It sold out but I got a ticket.
I was so excited that I got to Camden a minute before Dingwalls even opened. No matter, it was only snowing (again!) outside, bah. There was already a queue, and I’d seen from Facebook that people had travelled from Paris by Eurostar, and Edinburgh by ‘plane to see this gig! First we had the support act – The Flowers – they were a three-piece doing a kind of twee girl singer/loud guitar & drums noise combo. Pretty good actually. And then the main act.
Dingwalls is a pretty small, intimate space, and I’d managed to get a good place, down by the front, although (frustratingly for me) I realised too late that I was the wrong side of the stage to see Phil Moxham’s finger-work on the bass. No matter. From the opening bars of the first song (should’ve written the set list down – I have a terrible memory for these things), the emotion of 32 years ago, listening to the minimalist Final Day in my schoolmate’s room, came back to me. Tears of joy rolled down my cheeks. Wow, I wasn’t expecting that. The guy standing next to me also appeared to have caught some dust in his eye ;-)
The whole gig was a delight from start to finish. Alison’s voice was as light and distinctive as ever; she almost non-sings the songs, which I think is what makes them so fantastic. Stuart Moxham was clearly enjoying himself, and Alison was far from as shy as she used to be on stage – she had the odd quip or two for us in-between songs (we loved “did you get bored there?” when they played Radio Silents, in a version of the song which must’ve been a whole three minutes long, and “can we take you with us, you’re great” to the audience after a particularly rapturous reception for one song). Stuart quipped “back to the beginning” before Ode to Booker T. They had Andrew Moxham on drums, substituting for the drum machine as he has done for the last few years. Phil Moxham’s bass playing was as sharp as ever, driving the songs along and playing the bass with a plectrum (!) – the whole performance was electrifying. I think the audience made more noise in the applause than the band in the playing; damn, we were quiet when they played. We got a slightly rough-and-ready version of the fantastic Final Day towards the end of the set (introduced to a ripple of applause), and I’d never realised that for this tune Phil and Stuart swap places, with Phil playing the keyboard.
All too soon, we’d had 50 minutes of magical songs and Alison seemed as surprised as the audience that we’d got to the end of their set list. Of course they came back for an encore of two more songs, including Salad Days. What a wonderful evening, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world, only had to wait near-on 33 years for it.
The journey home was a bit epic, with snow falling and so on. I was glad I’d taken the next day off work so I had time to assimilate the evening in my mind. I went for a couple of hours walk in the slush and snow, with my MP3 playing Colossal Youth for me one more time.
[PS. They posted up the set list last night:
[Flickr pages of recent Young Marble Giants gig photos HERE]
This was a new experience for me. As part of my year off from taking triathlons and so on seriously I thought I’d have a go at a bit of ultra-distance running. If there’s one aspect of my triathlons I’d like to improve, it’s my running. I’m not sure that training for an ultra is going to do my running speed any good, but it’ll get me out the door and into some nice long mileages. I’ve often seen runners out on this race in years past and the idea of running down the towpath from Oxford to Henley was appealing – nice and flat, a mostly soft surface, and off the roads.
Training went OK. After I’d recovered from Luton marathon I followed the 50-mile training programme outlined in Relentless Forward Progress. After a diet of 20-hour weeks in ironman training, the 50-mile weeks in this schedule felt pretty easy at times (although hard on my legs) and I often increased the length of the midweek runs, or fitted in a couple of extra indoor rowing sessions in a week. The long weekend runs I found quite tough to start with. I managed to build to a longest of 53km, and most Saturdays I’d be out for at least 25–33km. My left knee had got a bit sore and my right achilles was creaking quite a bit (I’ve had that injury, on and off, since last August!). Running about in the snow, mid-January, hadn’t helped either of them, although it did give me a chance to break in my trail shoes a bit more. Both niggles calmed down a fair bit in the 10-day taper.
In the week before the race the snow had melted and the water had flooded the Thames towpath. This led to a last minute route change from the organisers, and quite a bit more road work, for a route of only 43 miles. I stayed late at work on Friday afternoon so I could print a few maps off in case I needed them the next day. Although there was more road in the re-route I decided to stick with my trail shoes. They’d provide me with some grip on the muddy sections and they aren’t that clumpy on the road. The weather forecast was looking great – sunny and cold – if nothing else.
Walking the mile and a half to the Prince of Wales in Iffley for the 8:30am start my trail shoes were nipping me a bit, a problem I’ve not had before, but then, I’ve never walked any distance in them either. After registering and picking up my number and timing tag I tried a few jogs and they were fine – I was half thinking I’d have to change to the spare road shoes, but they stayed in my rucksac to be transported to the finish. I had a small bumbag to carry a headtorch, a few spare gels, the route sheet, and some Zero electrolyte tabs to put in my Nathan hand-held bottle as I went round.
After a ten-minute delay we were off. A gentle jog at first, negotiating all the twists and turns of the towpath. Our feet were soaked in cold water within the first half-mile – I was hoping that wouldn’t bring on blisters – and then it was out on to the roads through Radley and Abingdon, where the Parkrun was just finishing. At the first checkpoint near Culham Lock, I stopped for a gel and to top up my bottle and grabbed half a slice of cake, munching it on the move. I was feeling pretty comfortable, jogging along at a conversational pace.
Video of the start, I’m running through the shot in about 0:36: YouTube
After Culham I found myself running with a couple of others – Wendy, a veteran of two 100-mile events last year, and Simon, who’d only done one 50km race last year. We negotiated the mud around Long Wittenham, but it was a struggle and I could feel I was working too hard here, and then after bit more road some really heavy muddy sections on the stretch to Shillingford Bridge. I walked most of the mud here. Although I had trail shoes on I didn’t want to risk turning an ankle. Coming into the second checkpoint at Benson I was still feeling OK. I stopped for more cake and a top-up of my bottles. Matt C was here, from Didcot. He’d done the Parkrun and it was good to have a quick chat while I topped up my supplies.
I was soon on my way. More road-bashing to Goring. The sun was getting quite warm now and I unzipped my top.
Photo from the 30km point, look at the state of my shoes!
I could see Simon up ahead and eventually he stopped at the side of the road near South Stoke to pass a layer to his partner who’d driven up, and I caught him. I think he thought I’d leap-frogged ahead of him at the last checkpoint. We ran into Goring together. There was a car parked half on the pavement. I went to the inside of it and Simon ran around the road side. As I passed it the door sprang open and caught me full in the chest with a terrific crack. The young lad was apologetic, but I was severely winded. I walked up the road for a minute with Simon to get my breath back before we jogged the last half mile into checkpoint 3.
We stopped for more cake and gels and another bottle top up before I said “let’s go” and we were on our way again. It took a minute or two to get going properly – our legs were starting to get tired of the road. But we were soon climbing a little onto a bridepath which was much softer underfoot. We caught up with Paul Ali (“Avon” from the Fetch forum) and one other guy and I was happy to let them lead for a bit through the wooded muddy sections. The marathon distance passed somewhere along here, in about 3h45. Once the surface improved a bit, I stepped out again and led away from two others into Whitchurch and Pangbourne.
It was here I made a route-error. We were missing out the Thames Path here again and instead of turning left on the road for Reading, I turned right. There had been a left/right error at this point in the temporary route sheet mailed out on Thursday which’d been corrected on the one handed out on the day, but I’d not noticed. I ran about 2.6km in the wrong direction before I realised the mistake I’d made. Unfortunately, two other runners had followed me. I felt bad for them as I doubled-back.
Back on the correct route I was catching and passing small groups of slower runners all the time, but coming into checkpoint 4 at Purley I was starting to feel tired and the enormity of the task left was starting to play on my mind. That inadvertent detour hadn’t helped. I asked a marshall how far it was to the next CP, and they said 8 miles. That seemed like quite a long way, but I set out and soon caught a few and passed a few more runners. I was looking out for signs to the Thames Path off the road here and must’ve missed the first one. When I got to the second, a group of runners were coming back up the path from that direction – they didn’t think it was the right way (although looking at the map later, they were mistaken, it was correct – maybe it was flooded here and they didn’t fancy it?). I pressed on down the road to the next major left turn where I knew I’d be able to pick up the towpath to Caversham Bridge for sure. My stride had dropped to little more than a gentle jog now, and a stronger runner who I’d been alongside earlier, leaving the checkpoint, passed me easily. I was still passing a few others though.
After Reading the towpath was occasionally underwater. Just ankle-deep at first, but then as we got further away from the town and the path became more rural, the fields were completely underwater in places, where they weren’t they were heavy with mud. At one point I found myself wading shin-deep through water for about 50 metres. It wasn’t pleasant and I was worried what state my feet’d be in afterwards, but at the same time I knew checkpoint 5 was just around the corner and I’d be on the home stretch.
A photo of one of the worst bits of flooding, from the Runner’s World forum
At checkpoint 5, next to Sonning Bridge, I stopped for a final refill of Zero and some cake and walked out across the bridge. I’d caught someone up here and jogged the first half mile around Sonning Eye with them but they had stronger legs and once we’d crossed the A4155 he disappeared up the road. There was a bit of an uphill drag to Binfield Heath. Nothing much of a hill really but it reduced me to a jog/walk; I really didn’t have much energy left. My left knee was sore and my right ankle/achilles was complaining a bit. I could feel a bit of a blister developing on a toe of my right foot and my armpits were sore where my baselayer was rubbing. I didn’t care though, if I just kept moving forward, I’d finish in daylight, my original target.
Over the top there were more bridlepaths to navigate. I made a slight route error at a path junction and ended up on a private driveway, but I was soon back on the correct path and jogging into Henley with two or three other runners who’d appeared from nowhere. I realised I was just going to get under 7 hours and that gave me the motivation to keep moving in that last mile or so. I was relieved to cross the line, dib my timing chip for the last time and get that finisher’s medal. Paul Ali was here, and so was Wendy. They’d finished about 10 minutes before me, having made a route error on the last stage and run 44 miles. I’d clocked 46.5 miles in the end, nearly the official old distance of the Thames Trot before all the re-routing (47 miles, I think).
I stopped for some sweet tea and a few mini-pork pies before collecting my change of clothes and heading to the station for my train back to Oxford. Tired, but very happy with my efforts. Strangely, although I was knackered it took a couple of nights before I got a decent sleep. My right achilles is very stiff and sore – it needs a rest. I reckon it’ll take me a couple of weeks at least to get over this but I’m already thinking about doing another ultra later in the year, it was a good adventure.
[Here's someone else's take on the day's running, from Run247.com]
A decent month’s running, I just about made it past 300km again, to build on December’s 366km. Apart from the occasional blast on the erg (I managed a 37:58 10km time trial yesterday, very happy with that), that’s mostly all I’ve done. I passed the cycling club Powertap wheel on to someone else in the middle of the month but have successfully used it to re-calibrate my Tacx Flow turbo trainer so that it now reads power fairly accurately and reproducibly from 140W to 320W.
Work’s been quite full-on and stressy lately, and with the colder weather I’ve done quite a bit of winter hibernation inbetween times, sitting about at home watching films and reading books. A week with snow on the ground didn’t put too much of a dent in my weekly mileage – out and about on snowy parkland in trail shoes and with a headtorch – and then a few days after it had cleared, it was warm enough to go out for an evening run in shorts! Our weather is really up and down.
The Thames Trot 50 is in two days’ time, and all the melting snow has swollen the River Thames and flooded the towpath such that this evening I’ve received an email from the organiser saying it’ll be re-jigged to an all-road run. This’ll be harder on our feet but I can’t say I’m not unhappy about that as most of my long runs have been on tarmac anyway. I’ve picked up a few niggles in the last big mileage weeks – a sore and clunky knee has left me using the lift at work to get to the top floor, and the achilles that got irritated last summer has been creaking again. I’m glad to feel though, that the taper of the last 10 days has allowed these aches and pains some recovery time and they shouldn’t bother me at all on Saturday. Starting to get quite nervous/excited and looking forward to the challenge ahead.
Rest days = 4
Hours = 34:49 (7:52 per week)
Run 366½km/21 sessions
Hours = 42:11 (9:32 per week)
Rest days = 2
Hours = 660:20 (12:40 per week)
Rest days = 43
Total sessions = 445
Only a couple of big peaks this year, but they were both something I can look back on with some pride – sub 10 hours with 9:39 at Challenge Roth at the beginning of July, and then a month later, 300 yards short of a national record over 12 hours on the trike, 255.708 miles.
I also managed a 22:44 10-mile TT on the trike and last-gasp PB, a 52 minute 25-mile bike TT in September when I thought my season was already over. In between all that I got a few top-10 finishes in duathlons and triathlons and some good age-group podium results. Although I’ve not been ill at all this year, recently I’ve struggled with a bit of tendonitis in my right achilles and a sore left knee, but have managed a qualifying good-for-age time for the London marathon in 2014 at Luton marathon, 3:14. December has seen a move towards building distance for the coming Thames Trot 50. I’ve really piled in the kilometres and finished up with a 53km run on Sunday just gone, and some big numbers for the month which I’m pleased with.
I finished the 2012 summer pretty tired, both mentally and physically – it can be quite hard chasing up and down the country for races and good results, as well as trying to organise a summer of midweek club time trials in my role as chairman of Oxford City RC – and I’ve decided that 2013 will be a year for regroupement. Taking it easy and working on my running, which I love, but which has also been a bit of a weak point in my triathlons. My plan is that it’ll leave me fresh for 2014, when I’ll turn 50 and start racing in a new triathlon age group. The good thing about running is it’s much less time-consuming. With the bike I don’t really feel like I’ve done anything worthwhile unless I’ve been out for a good hour and a half whereas a decent run session can be fitted into a lunch-hour. More time spent in the garden, maybe. I’m also thinking of testing the water in some longer, ultra running events this year (hence the Thames Trot 50 idea), and will be interested to see how that pans out. But overall, a year of just ticking over, maintaining my fitness and strength with running and weights, and hiding anonymously in the middle of a running race every so often appeals.