A quick stock-take on Monday morning revealed no injuries from Sunday’s ultra. My muscles felt ‘well exercised’ but the only discomfort was in the quads, high in the thigh on both legs.
The biggest question marks had been around the knees and the Achilles tendons but, happily, they were working well and pain-free. The toe I blistered on Thursday was fine and the ear infection that started on Saturday was not a problem either. I was horribly under-prepared but got away with it – I was very lucky.
With very restricted training, the run time was not important. I didn’t look at the time once during the whole of the run and that was very liberating. Despite that, it seems I was 57th out of 175 doing the Sunday run, and first in the 60-69 men’s age group. I was over 2 hours clear of the chap in second but there were only 4 of us in the category … ‘old enough to know better’ comes to mind.
The whole thing was very well organised, the volunteers were excellent and the community spirit among competitors was also really good. There must have been around 2500 runners in all, the majority tackling the full 100k course – all credit to them.
With my eyes off the cycling for a while I had rather forgotten about the club’s sportive on Saturday 17th July. On Monday I entered the medium distance ride (50 miles – 80k) and agreed to be part of the team putting up the route arrows on Friday.
My legs were fine by Wednesday so I got on the turbo in the evening for a gentle spin to reintroduce them to movement – 15k (9.3 miles) in 30 minutes.
A gentle 50 minutes in the gym on Thursday morning with light weights and some stretching and then back to the old gravel pits in the afternoon for a second open water swimming session with the friend I’m doing the triathlon with. As we drove over there he uttered the dreaded words ‘it might be fun to do that ultra marathon next year’ … can I resist doing it with him?
The swimming session was very good. I’m getting more confident in the water, didn’t feel cold and loved the buoyancy of the wetsuit – it did help keep my legs high and speeded me up a bit. I tried to do proper sighting but it confused me totally – I may have to buy a periscope.
On Friday I did the shop session and then spent hours putting out sportive direction arrows. That’s a long job at the best of times but I went with a friend whose Land Rover Discovery suffered a major suspension failure half way round. A second friend drove out to help me complete the route but the original companion had a several hour wait for a pick-up truck.
The sportive on Saturday was a really excellent event with a record turnout and very good weather (if you like it hot – and according to Billy Wilder, some do). It was a foolish thing to be doing after the ultra, and my only other ride since April was a short and slow one leading a children’s cycle training session.
I got away at about 9.40 – one of 90 entrants on the 50 mile route on roads I know pretty well and in some lovely countryside in Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire. It was already fairly hot by that time and got well over 28℃ (82℉).
I cycled most of it on my own after a tandem I was cycling with (actually more ‘behind’ than ‘with’) stopped with a chain issue early on. In the first hour I rode 28k (17.7 miles) and much the same in the second hour – but the ultra was still in my legs and that (and the hills and the heat) told in the last hour when I covered 24k (15 miles).
Altogether just over 80k (50 miles) with 660m (2,165 feet) of climbing in just under 3 hours at 26.8kph (around 16.7mph). Pleasingly, 30 Strava achievements.
I ran with my wife on a hot Sunday morning (a short run, 5.5k) – strange how easily we can condition our thinking, we got to the biggest hill on the run and I wondered for a moment whether I should have been walking up it, in proper ultra style.
In the garden for much of the rest of the day, mowing, to make up for the neglect I’ve shown it recently …. there’s always a price to pay …
I say I was gardening for ‘much’ of the day as I managed to watch the conclusion of Le Tour. Bravo Tadej Pogacar, what a rider that man is. So disappointed that Mark Cavendish didn’t win and take the record for Tour victories … let’s hope he has a chance next year.
With the ultra out of the way, attention turns to the triathlon in September (more swimming, I fear).
Interesting stuff this week
1. African wise words: A cutting word is worse than a bowstring, a cut may heal, but the cut of the tongue does not
2. BBC News website: Seoul bans speedy songs in gyms to stop sweating
Gyms in Seoul and its surrounding region have been told not to play music with a tempo higher than 120 beats per minute, in order to limit the spread of Covid-19. Treadmills will be limited to a maximum of 6km/h (3.7 mph).
Health officials say the restrictions will prevent people from breathing too fast or splashing sweat on each other.
3. BBC News website: Ship that blocked the Suez Canal finally leaves the waterway
Terms of the deal were not disclosed but Egypt had demanded $550m (£397m) from the owners. The ship has been impounded for three months near the canal city of Ismailia.
As it got under way, Egyptian TV showed footage of the captain and a crew member being presented with flowers and a plaque on board the ship.
Some of the most expensive flowers ever
4. Football’s gone to Rome, it’s gone to Rome …
England’s defeat at the hands of Italy (in a penalty shoot out) on Sunday evening had a horrible whiff of inevitability about it. It’s very sad – not least for those who missed their penalties as they will have to live with those misses for the rest of their careers, such is the mentality of so many English football supporters. Congratulations to Italy.
No consolation, but I nailed second place in the fantasy football league. It’s a great local charity supporting children who are carers for others, so it’s a pleasure to donate the winnings back to the charity.
Great job on the ultra. Glad the blister, Achilles, and knees didn’t give you any problems. Also, great job on the sportive. I can’t believe you did both of those in a week! Glad you are getting more comfortable with the open water swims too.
Wow to Seoul not wanting you to sweat in the gym, or breath too hard. Isn’t that the purpose of going there?
Nice of you to donate your winnings back to the charity!
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Thank you – every bit as much as I’d want to do in a week! The sportive was very hot and I was very non-compliant if it had been in Seoul!
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Well done again on the ultra. Good to see you’ve been infected by the virulent bug!
As for swimming: try and think of sighting as just part of breathing. So maybe every fifth cycle of breaths, turn to the side, take in a lungful, pop the head up instead of sideways back into the water, have a quick look, then back down again. The trick is to do it quickly and smoothly and not let it bugger up the rhythm too much. I admit it’s easier to describe than do…
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Thank you. Better the ultra bug in preference to that other one doing the rounds.
I have little swimming rhythm to disrupt but I’ll try your version of sighting. The coach taking our session says ‘after breath to the left, as right hand goes in lift head, take stroke with left hand (head still up) and then turn head to right and breathe as normal. I think of myself as quite coordinated but so far it’s beyond me. I have an open water slot on Wednesday (no coaching) so will try different versions – frankly I prefer the sound of yours for its appealing simplicity.
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Well the last thing I want to do is confuse the issue… I don’t think the two things are that different really. It’s partly how you understand them and apply them. Best of luck anyway. Some things fall into place with a little practice (and in my experience, some things also fall apart!).
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