Monthly Archives: May 2022

Blenheim triathlon (May 2022) – race report

Breaking the habit of a lifetime – only the second picture of me in several years of blogging.
Funny how my blond hair, in some lights, can look grey

Sunday 29th May was the Blenheim triathlon – my 3rd attempt at the sprint distance, including September last year at Blenheim (later in the year then because of a Covid postponement).

It’s a 750m lake swim, 19.8km on the bike and 5.4km run. In addition, there is a nasty 400m uphill run from the lake to transition after the swim.

The day was cool and overcast as my friend and I arrived at Blenheim about 7.45am for a 9am start – unreasonably early for me. Collecting the race pack was easy and we set up in transition in the very grand setting of the palace courtyard.

Apart from the marshal insisting that the bikes were racked the wrong way round, everything was slick and the rest of the marshals were very helpful in terms of information on the various entrances and exits from transition. The wrong-way bikes were addressed by swapping places with the people on the opposite side of the racking.

We got to the swim start with about 10 minutes to spare – it is a bit of a walk from the car park to transition and from transition to the lake. The pre-race instructions were both jolly and clear. The swim start used a ‘time trial’ style with everyone in two lines walking to the starting ramp with a couple of seconds between swimmers entering the water.

That’s good in avoiding the ‘washing machine’ scrum of a mass start in the water, but doesn’t give any time to acclimatise to the lake before starting to swim. Luckily, the water was 18.3℃ (65℉) so it wasn’t a major issue (wetsuits were compulsory) but much colder could have been a bit of a shock to the system.

The swim is 750m and I didn’t swim well (my swimming is not good at the best of times). To begin with, I forgot almost everything I’ve learned in the pool – undoubtedly, I would have benefitted from more than two open water swims so far this year. I improved a bit as the swim went on but was a minute slower than I was last year. There was no barging or blocking on the swim (possibly because most people were simply gliding past me) and having others in the water made navigation easier so I swam in an almost straight line for once.

Quite a few people walk up the nasty little hill from the lake to transition but I ran (slowly) as I took my arms out of the wetsuit. My friend had a great swim and was in transition as I arrived (and provided a very good marker to help find my bike). Usually, I struggle to get out of the wetsuit but this time it was still nicely wet on the outside and peeled off reasonably well.

Blenheim Palace – the transition is in this courtyard

It was still chilly and I considered putting on a long sleeve cycling top, but didn’t. The first few hundred meters were a bit cold but the tri-suit soon dried and I warmed up.

The ride (19.8km) is certainly ‘undulating’ and mostly on paths rather than roadways, all in the palace grounds. Although people were pretty good at keeping left and not drafting, bits where overtaking led to 3 bikes abreast were a bit snug. It’s 3 laps of the route and I had a lot of fun although it was hard, being just my third ride outside this year. I was 35 seconds slower than last year.

It was rather nice to see all shapes and sizes of competitor and bikes with straight bars, mudguards and one with a rear bike rack, in addition to a few ‘elites’ with time trial bikes and tri-bars.

I had swapped my clip-in pedals for pedals with toe clips. The thinking was that the little I might lose on the road would be more than made up for by having only one change of shoes and easier runs from and back into transition. It worked well and my second transition was fairly quick.

The run is 5.4km (two laps) and, again, not flat – slight ‘jelly legs’ to start with, but it went pretty well. My running this year has mainly been training for July’s 100km ultra marathon so speed has not been a priority – and there is no doubt that running faster does need faster training sessions. Despite that I took the best part of 2 minutes off last year’s run time.

I was 3rd out of 35 in my 65-69 age group with a total time of 1h 37m 17 seconds (a little quicker than last year, mainly thanks to a faster run). Last year I was 6th out of 34.

My friend and training companion had a very good race – an excellent swim, a strong ride and (considering he has hardly run at all this year because of an ankle ligament issue) a cracking run.

My splits were:

Swim (750m): 19:02 minutes

T1: 5:58 minutes (including the run to get there)

Ride (19.8km): 41.14 @28.82kph

T2: 1:46 minutes

Run (5.4km): 29:17 @ 5.25m/km

I was 16 seconds/100m slower than the average of all swimmers, 2.84kph faster than the average bike speed and 12 seconds/km ahead of the average run speed. A nice simple event, no need for nutrition or fluids during it and no aches or pains afterwards.

I was in the top 1/3rd of all competitors (nearly 3000) and top 40% of all men.

It’s a very good event, well organised, good marshals, a very picturesque setting (both the ride and run loop around the lake) and it feels good, all being in the grounds of the palace. It’s fairly expensive, in my opinion, but is a very good introduction to triathlons with open water swims. This year (in the name of sustainability, I guess) the medal was a bit less impressive than last year’s and there was no finisher’s t-shirt – boo.

I enjoyed it but I’m not sure if I’ll do this event again – it might depend on how my attempt at an olympic distance triathlon goes in September (I’ve got to improve my open water swimming) as Blenheim offers only sprint and super sprint distances.

Interesting stuff this week (Just one – it’s a short week)

1. African wise words: If you heal the leg of a person, do not be surprised if they use it to run away

Run (x2), swim (x2), turbo, gym, triathlon (plus democratic jackdaws and clever contact lenses)

Blenheim Palace – the transition area for the triathlon is this courtyard

With the ultra training plan on a cut-back week, I decided to get the bulk of the 25km target done early. Monday morning was 11.75km (7 miles).

That was followed by a good swim doctor session in the early evening. I swam 1km with a mixture of front crawl, backstroke, breaststroke and drills.

I ran again on Tuesday morning – 13.4km on tired legs, but at least that was the week’s training plan completed (and with the triathlon run still to come). We went back to the lake – my second open water swim of the year – in the afternoon.

Last week had been poor for the swimming, terrible for the navigation and a disaster for getting out of the wetsuit. This week I swam for a non-stop kilometre – I didn’t swim well but it was an improvement and I even managed something approaching straight(ish) lines. Perhaps best of all, I remembered that it is so much easier to get out of a wetsuit if it’s done soon after leaving the water, when it is still wet (on the outside).

It was a confidence booster in that the triathlon swim is only 750 metres which now feels achievable. In spite of the lessons, I don’t feel like I’m going to be any quicker than last year. I think I have improved my swimming in the pool but I appreciate now that I need more time in the lake to be sure that what technique I have in the pool transfers across to the open water. Given the fact that I compete only with myself, that’s not a really big deal – but it would be nice to improve on last year’s attempt.

I quite fancied a run on Wednesday, but I resisted and settled for a session on the turbo. Just 45 minutes at 29.7kph (18.45mph).

We took friends to Kew Gardens on Thursday – they had asked for no presents for their recent wedding (second time for them both) but were happy to accept a day-trip out. I took my Garmin – not to record the walk but to test the battery duration over a longer time. It used 43% of the battery in a little over 6 hours which suggests about 14 hours of battery life. Dare I risk it for the ultra? I think not.

Friday was the gym, the bike shop and some more mowing. We have come back from Kew with the idea of letting the paddock next to the house go a bit more wild with grasses and, perhaps if we are lucky, wild flowers. I’ve now set out a few mown paths and will start researching how to create the meadow effect for the rest (no doubt it will be harder than a simple ‘let nature get on with it’ approach).

Saturday was taken gently; the triathlon on Sunday is only a sprint distance (it should be done with in less than 1h 40m) so it doesn’t need a lot of preparation but I gave it some respect. I swapped my clip-in pedals for some with toe clips and gave the bike a very short ride to make sure everything was working as it should (and it was).

The theory with the pedals is that, with only 20km on the bike, the trivial amount of time I might lose by not clipping-in is more than made up by having one shoe change instead of two and having easier runs in and out of transition.

Sunday will be significantly cooler than recent days and we start at 9am. Like last year, the swim start will be a ‘time trail’ format with two lines of swimmers going at intervals of just a couple of seconds. I am very happy about that as I wasn’t looking forward to the famous ‘washing machine’ battle of a mass start.

Post triathlon note: Without wanting to provide too much of a spoiler, I didn’t drown, didn’t fall off the bike and didn’t break anything on the run. I’ll do a post on the experience in the week.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: It is better to be loved than to be feared

2. BBC News website: Contact lenses the ultimate computer screen?

A company is about to embark on comprehensive testing of smart contact lens on humans, that will give the wearer a heads-up display that appears to float in front of their eyes. The product’s scleral lens (a larger lens that extends to the whites of the eye) corrects the user’s vision, but also incorporates a tiny microLED display, smart sensors and solid-state batteries.

3. BBC News website: Democratic Jackdaws

Researchers have found that the birds call out when they want to leave their nesting site, then when the noise reaches a critical level, it signals the roost is ready to depart, and the birds fly away.

The bird call is a vote and the collective decision to depart then rests on the noise volume and how rapidly the noise levels increase.

3. BBC News website: Pet parrot spooked by firefighter attempting ‘rescue’

The parrot escaped on Tuesday. It was spotted in a tree on Wednesday but would not come down, so the family contacted the fire service. The fire crew used an aerial ladder platform to get high enough to reach it but it appears it was spooked by the hats the fire brigade wear, because it flew off again.

I don’t like to be uncaring, but since when does a bird need to be rescued from a tree

4. BBC News website: Spending on memorabilia for the Queen’s Jubilee

Her Majesty’s 70-year reign is being marked with a four day weekend, and the UK could spend about £408m on the Platinum Jubilee, with £281.5m going on souvenirs memorabilia and gifts, according to the Centre for Retail Research.

One firm holding a royal warrant to provide goods to royal households is selling plates gilded with oils mixed with 22 carat gold for £150 ($190). The cheapest item, a mug, comes in at £29 ($37). The most expensive collectable, a music box, costs £1950 ($2460).

I feel that my £5 ticket for the village lunch is not carrying my share of the burden

5. BBC News website: Nigerian kidnapping crisis

A bill to criminalise ransom payments is the latest attempt to curb the country’s lucrative kidnapping industry. It proposes a jail sentence of up to 15 years for anyone who pays a ransom.

One businessman has paid ransoms three times: to free his two daughters last December ($24,000, £19,000), and previously to free his wife and his mother. He says that when confronted by the reality of threats to the lives of loved ones, you have to pay – but the lawmakers argue that such payments fuel the kidnapping industry, where criminal gangs randomly seize people and demand anything from $50 to $1m.

Since 2011, ransoms totalling at least $18m have been paid, more than half of that between 2016 and 2020.

I wonder if kidnap victims with a $50 price-tag put on their head feel insulted

Run (x4), swim (x2), gym, plus the price of a grandchild and another great sporting injury

Back to the open water

I started the week with hill reps again – 8 reps for 8.35km and 277m of ascent (5.2 miles and 910 feet). It’s good to get them out of the way early in the week – then the evening swim doctor session.

The swim session was as hard as ever – for me, 500m of drills as a warm-up rather suggests that it’s not going to be easy. That made for a tough start to the week but my friend and training partner and I agreed that we’d go to the lake for an open-water swim on Tuesday, my first of the year.

The water was about 18°C (64.4℉) and felt fine in the wetsuit. The water was slightly choppy but we swam a kilometre – my friend swam well and I swam badly with much of the technique I’ve tried to learn in the pool deserting me completely. I hope that was down to it being my first taste (literally and metaphorically) of open water for 7+ months – fingers crossed it improves next week.

At least I delivered in full when it came to my total inability to swim in a straight line.

The ultra training plan ramps up to 55km this week, spread over 5 runs, with a longest of 25km. It’s not that I was putting off a longer run but I decided on a shorter one with my wife on Wednesday – 7.2km (4.5 miles). The excuse reason was that we were out in the evening to see the tribute band ‘Rumours of Fleetwood Mac’.

On the basis that they were introduced by way of a video by Mick Fleetwood, it seemed likely that they were going to be really good – and they were. I know that I’m strange in this but, although I like a lot of types of music, the music I really prefer to see live is opera – but it was a very good evening nevertheless.

With the gym and two swims, I didn’t think the 5 runs in the training plan was a great idea so (probably a worse idea) I decided to try to do the distance in 4 runs. I set off on a long slow run on a warm Thursday to try to break the back of the remaining 40km.

It was a foolish attempt as I’d not eaten well on Wednesday, had a late night and didn’t prepare on the Thursday morning. Despite that, I ran two large loops which did at least mean I got a drink and a gel after 19km – and I pushed on to just over 32km (20 miles). I lost 2.5kg (5.5 pounds) during the course of the run – insufficient fluids, and I need to be more sensible.

Friday was, as ever, the gym and then my stint in the charity bike shop. I was very grateful that my current emphasis in the gym is with arms, shoulders and core – the legs would not have been keen to play. Oh yes, inevitably, later some mowing.

Laps of the old hill fort at Badbury Clump on Saturday morning, plus a couple of reps of the usual hill. A run of just over 12.5km (7.8 miles) to make it a little more than 60km for the week. Later (you guessed it) more mowing.

I felt pretty good on Sunday but I knew a rest day would do me more good that any training. I drove up to London (because we had been contacted by some other flat owners in the building about possible drain issues) and even managed to resist the temptation of going for a run along the Thames Path, one of my favourite routes.

Happily, the drains seem to be sorted but in any event we were completely unaffected by any problems there might have been. An evening out with friends to look forward to now, a great way to round off a week.

100k corner (an occasional place for ultra news, worries and plans)

The ultra marathon training plan has a cut-back week next week – that’s handy as my first triathlon of 2022 is next Sunday. I’ll do the 25km of running in three outings (including the triathlon itself), swim twice and reintroduce myself to the bike.

Week Event’s training plan (km) My actual (km)
13 (of 20) 55 60
Cumulative total 449 559

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Knowledge without wisdom is like water in the sand

2. BBC News website: Bottle of scotch to sell for well over £1 million at auction

The 32-year-old Macallan is the biggest bottle of scotch in the world, and expected to become the most expensive. It holds more than three times as much liquid as an average bath, around 100 litres or 444 standard bottles. 

3. BBC News website: Couple sue son and his wife for not giving them a grandchild

Sanjeev and Sadhana Prasad used their savings raising their son, paying for his pilot’s training, a lavish wedding and his honeymoon. Now, they say, either they are given a grandchild or are repaid $650,000 (£525,000).

“In India, marriages are between families and not just a couple,” explained an Indian social anthropologist.

4. BBC News website: Big moment for Nasa’s Perseverance rover

The rover made its spectacular landing in the middle of Mars’ Jezero Crater in February 2021. Since then it’s been testing its tools and instruments, flying a mini-helicopter, and gathering a general impression of its surroundings.

Tuesday saw the six-wheeled robot begin the climb up an ancient delta feature in the crater where it landed. It will stop to examine rocks and, on its way back down, will collect some of the rocks, placing the samples at the base of the delta to be retrieved by later missions in the 2030s, for detailed inspection.

Hard to believe it’s been there over a year. Our local authority is considering levying parking charges on Mars.

5. BBC News website: History made on stage 10 of the Giro d’Italia

On stage 10 of the Giro, Eritrean rider Biniam Girmay, making his Grand Tour debut at the race, made history as he became the first black African winner of a Grand Tour stage. The 22-year-old beat Dutch rider Mathieu van der Poel in a sprint for the line.

Chapeau!

Post scriptSadly, he had to go to hospital after popping a prosecco cork into his left eye while celebrating on the podium. He returned to enjoy the victory with his team-mates, but was unable to make the start the following morning.

Run (x4), swim, turbo, gym, plus birthday urinals and sexist worms

The Albert Monument, Kensington Gardens

I missed out on hill reps last week so I put that right on a warm Monday morning – 8 reps for 8.35km and 277m of ascent (5.2 miles and 910 feet), then the swim doctor session in the evening.

It was a hard swim session, thanks to a large number of drills requiring lengths on front, back and side, with leg kicks only. I think I am improving (slowly) but I’m still struggling to bring everything together at the same time. There are too many things to think about – which is at the heart of my problems as I am still needing to think about them, rather than doing them naturally.

After three consecutive days of running, my trip on Tuesday to our older son’s place in Kingston-upon-Thames came as a welcome break. There were three broken fence posts, each with its own challenge, but they’re now vertical with fence panels in place, and long may they be so.

I worked through lunch and as I stepped through the door at home in the evening we received an incredibly kind invitation for impromptu drinks for a friend’s birthday. Having eaten nothing I had some very nice nibbles with the drink and it’s helped me get my weight down to my cycling-up-mountains level of 66.4kg (146lbs, 10 stone 6). Sadly, my dream that the weights and swimming have put muscle on me is just a dream.

By the time it stopped raining on Wednesday I was past wanting to run so I opted for the turbo in the early evening – 45 minutes @28.7kph (17.8mph). After last week’s disaster, I found that it’s a lot easier with air in the rear tyre.

Originally there were plans to head for the lake and do the first open water swim of 2022 on Thursday afternoon but the rain and the cool weather had taken the water temperature back below 18℃ so I ducked out of that and ran in the morning with my wife – 7.5km (4.6 miles).

I still went to the lake in the afternoon while my friend swam. He assured me that the water was a very decent temperature so when I got home I checked with Strava and my blog entries for previous lake visits. I discovered that while I had 18℃ in mind as the acceptable cut-off temperature, our first lake session last year had actually been at 16.4℃ and had felt OK. Doh!

With slightly low mileage in the week, on Friday I got on the treadmill at the gym for 5km in 27 minutes, before dong some weights. That was followed by the bike shop session and yet more mowing in the afternoon.

On Saturday I drove my wife to Windsor where she was spending the day – and then on to the flat to make sure it was OK and take meter readings. Then I did the week’s long run for a bit of different scenery. I ran through Kensington Palace Gardens, Hyde Park, Green Park, St James’ Park and along the Thames Path.

It was hot and crowded in places (walking pace around Buckingham Palace as various bits were shut off with temporary stands erected for the Jubilee celebrations). I should have taken some food and drink with me – but didn’t. In all, nearly 28 (very hard) kms (over 17 miles).

Happily, that run took me beyond the plan’s week’s target of 45km. I could have run on Sunday but have decided that a rest day is probably of more value, so will spend it doing domestic chores.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Truth should be in love and love in truth

2. BBC Newswebsite: Parasitic worms sucked into the gender bias row

A team of scientists scoured studies in eight journals published between 2000 and 2020. Around 2,900 species were discovered during that period but of the 596 species named after eminent scientists, only 111, or 19%, recognised women, according to the experts from New Zealand’s University of Otago.

I was wondering what to get my wife for her birthday

3. BBC News website: Ryan Reynolds gives Rob McElhenney commemorative urinal

The pair took over Wrexham Football Club (in Wales) in February 2021, investing £2m.

Reynolds cut a small red ribbon revealing a gold plaque with McElhenney’s face on it and popped a bottle of champagne to mark his gift on McElhenney’s birthday. A plaque was inscribed with his name and birthdate and has been placed above a urinal in a toilet block at the club’s ground.

This is real, I’m not taking the …

4. BBC News website: Religious work of art removed from an Italian basilica

The painting was given to the cathedral of Canosa in southern Italy, but caused controversy upon further inspection when a local priest and the businessman who commissioned the painting were found among the holy images.

5. BBC News website: This Friday was the 13th of May

Friday 13th is viewed as unlucky by many. The word for fear of the date is Paraskevidekatriaphobia.

Each calendar year will have a minimum of one Friday the 13th and a maximum of three. The date, of course, occurs in any month that begins on a Sunday.

Run (x4) turbo, gym (plus dirty habits in the bedroom and tractor porn)

The bluebells are out at Badbury Clump

Even with caterers, the celebrations for our younger son’s 30th were exhausting (but enormously enjoyable) – with no swim doctor session, I took the Bank Holiday Monday off too.

I was still tired on a cool Tuesday but ran before I got too comfortable with the habit of not-running. After a 3 day break it felt like I’d gone 3 months backwards – heavy legs, short of breath and no rhythm but I pushed on for an unremarkable 16km (10 miles).

I planned to run on Wednesday morning but my wife was out so I waited for a parcel delivery. To earn some brownie points I did the ironing. I almost flirted with adequacy on the pillow cases, duvet covers and innumerable cotton napkins from the weekend but was utterly defeated by the impossibility of ironing a fitted bottom sheet.

After the parcel arrived I had to decide whether to do the run. I can’t remember the last time I felt less like running but the attraction of breaking the back of the week’s target distance proved too strong. I managed to get just beyond the half marathon (21.2km – 13.2 miles) but it wasn’t a great run – it feels like I’m getting worse (and I wasn’t very good in the first place).

I was expecting to be a bit shattered on Thursday morning – and was. Things improved during the day and I considered doing the week’s hill reps in the afternoon but decided on a more gentle spin on the turbo instead, after an orgy of paperwork and gardening. The turbo was a good decision as my legs had very little to offer. I knocked the bike down a gear or two and had a fairly gentle spin for 40 minutes (16.35km, 10.1 miles).

Gym and my regular stint in the bike shop on Friday, followed by yet more mowing. Saturday was bright and warm so I headed out for a run which turned out a bit better than the last two (admittedly, that wasn’t hard). Just over 11km (7 miles), finishing in a pool of sweat – classy.

I completed and filled the third raised vegetable bed in the afternoon – only about 2 cubic yards of soil and compost to be shovelled and wheel-barrowed but it felt like much more. We now have lettuce, beetroot, leeks, cabbage, rhubarb and tomatoes, with more to come.

I ran with my wife on a warm Sunday morning – nearly 8km (5.9 miles) and, thankfully, it felt better than the runs early in the week.

100k corner (an occasional place for ultra news, worries and plans)

Week (of 20) Event’s training plan (km) My actual (km)
11 45 56
Cumulative total 349 506

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Wisdom is like a baobab tree; no one individual can embrace it

2. BBC News website: How often should you wash and change your bed sheets?

According to a survey of 2,250 UK adults, single women changed most often, 62% cleaning their bedding every two weeks, with couples claiming to do theirs every three weeks.

Almost half of single men said they don’t wash their bed sheets for up to four months at a time, with 12% admitting they wash them when they remember – which could be even longer.

3. Daily Telegraph: Climate change adds to risk of viruses caught from animals

A study suggests that there are at least 10,000 viruses with the capacity to cross to humans ‘circulating silently’ among wild animals.

As rising temperatures force mammals to abandon habitats, they will meet other species for the first time, creating at least 15,000 new instances of viruses jumping between animals by 2070, and increasing the risk of new viruses infecting humans.

That’s OK then

4. BBC News website: Unexploded artillery shell presented at airport security

A US family caused a bomb scare at Israel’s main international airport after presenting an unexploded artillery shell at a security check. They had picked up the ordnance on a visit to the Israeli occupied Golan Heights, site of wars between Israel and Syria, according to authorities.

The family was allowed to board their flight after being interrogated by security.

Some people are just not content with a fridge magnet

5. BBC News website: Cancer survivor beats record for consecutive marathons

Jacky Hunt-Broersma, 46, took up running after she lost her left leg to cancer and has run 26.2-miles every day since mid-January, normally taking around five hours.

On 30 April, she completed her 104th consecutive marathon in as many days – an achievement she expects to be certified by Guinness World Records.

Chapeau

6. BBC News website: MP caught watching porn in the House of Commons

An MP resigned after being caught watching porn on his mobile phone, in the House of Commons. He said the first time was an accident as he was trying to look at a tractor website – but he admitted that the second occasion was deliberate.

… but did he watch the whole thing, or just the trailer?

Run (x4), swim, gym (plus ants, -267 degrees C and daydreaming)

Another day, another car into the garage for a service on Monday so I ran back home, adding on a bit to make it a little over 5.5km at just under 6m/km – so neither long nor fast.

The Swim Doctor session in the evening was good – some drills but more general swimming – 1100m in all. It’s going well but I seem to be more out of breath more often than I remember being the case in the past.

Gardening on Tuesday morning and eventually the car was ready (delayed by an errant spare part) so I incorporated its collection into a warm run in the afternoon – 16.5km (over 10 miles) and then mowed.

I nearly ducked out of the hill reps on a chilly Wednesday morning – it was going to be my fourth consecutive day of running (which I try to avoid) and was too close on the heels of the previous afternoon’s longer run. In the end, the desire to get the hill session out of the way prevailed – the usual 8 reps for 9.1km and 290m of ascent (5.7 miles – 951 feet), unusually hard. Later I fitted a new masticator unit to the bathroom in the attics – don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t a glamorous life I live.

I wanted to do one more run in the week but with Saturday and Sunday not available, I swapped my gym session to Thursday after which I mowed and did more gardening. That left the run for Friday before the stint in the charity cycle shop.

Both the visit to the gym and the run were much better with the swapping of the days. My legs were still tired for the run but I managed just over 11km at just under 6min/km. The most impressive thing about it was that I got out before 8am.

Although 42km is a lot less than I have run recently, this was a very hard week packing 6 exercise sessions into 5 days, together with a good deal of gardening, driveway scraping and house preparation. I am sleeping really well and I always expect to wake up rested and ready for anything but I wake up creaking and ready for almost nothing – just cumulative wear and tear on an ageing body, I assume.

I am very grateful that over the weekend we were celebrating our younger son’s 30th birthday so I have at least 2 days off with our sons and their girlfriends and wider family (and perhaps 3 days off depending on who is around on Bank Holiday Monday).

Saturday (lovely weather) was more preparation for the party on Sunday (cooler and a bit wet). It was a great weekend, especially good to see everyone again and have our sons and their girlfriends here for a while.

100k corner (an occasional place for ultra news, worries and plans)

Week (of 20) Event’s training plan (km) My actual (km)
10 40 42
Cumulative total 304 450
Half way through the training programme

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: You know who you love but you can’t know who loves you

2. BBC News website: Instrument on the James Webb Space telescope is now at its super-low operating temperature

The Mid-Infrared instrument has reached -267C, or just six degrees above “absolute zero”. This unimaginably low temperature will allow the observatory to see the distant Universe in unprecedented detail as it is not far short of the point where all atoms are supposed to stop jiggling.

Impressive, but have they run in the UK in February?

3. BBC News website: Carbon-capturing ant is coming under threat

Woodland Trust Scotland said hairy wood ants boosted carbon absorption in woodland, but they risk being overwhelmed by the gaultheria shallon, a non-native plant found across the UK, according to a conservation group.

The hairy wood ant is a key species for removing pests from trees. The ants are also a food source for other animals like capercaillie and badgers. A close relative of the wood ant has been shown to clear up to 39kg (86lb) of carbon per hectare annually.

4. BBC News website: Children spent a quarter of their time in class daydreaming

The study conducted by the School of Psychology, and published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, involved 97 children aged six to 11 years old.

Results suggest that while daydreaming is inevitable, it can affect the ability to learn.

You at the back, listen … there are questions on this later

5. BBC News website: Dutch cyclist Amy Pieters regains consciousness

Pieters, 30, suffered severe brain damage after falling during a training camp in Alicante in December. After undergoing surgery, she was put into an induced coma in January.

In a statement, her team said her condition had changed and she can “communicate slightly non-verbally. Amy recognises people, understands what is being said and is able to carry out more and more assignments. Doctors cannot yet say what residual symptoms and remaining abilities she will have as a result of the brain injury.”

Beyond sad, but where there’s life, there’s hope