Category Archives: Bournemouth

Run, run, stone-walling (dry or not), run (not dry), minimalist running?

Very much ‘work in progress’

After a hectic week and a long Sunday seeing our older son up in London, Monday was taken fairly easily but Tuesday saw the start of a new project – building a series of stone walls in the garden.

The aim is to tackle two issues at once – we have a pathway between a hedge and a row of trees which needs more ‘definition’, and we have loads of excess stone lying around that needs to be used. There are several separate sections needing walls, separated by the trees.

Helped by our younger son, I set to it, not knowing what I was doing (nothing new there, then). After a day I knew only one thing for sure – if I ever need to become a dry stone waller for a living, I will starve.

The work was very hard both technically and physically so the run I’d planned didn’t happen. I think I read that a good stone-waller handles each piece of stone just once, instinctively knowing where it will fit. I do not aspire to getting anywhere near that.

Sensibly, we ran early on Wednesday before starting day two of the task, but still aching from the effort on Tuesday. Just over 5.5km (3.4miles) but the Garmin lost the satellite connection at one point and we were credited with a 400m which was 20 seconds faster than the current world record (of course, in truth, we were just a handful of seconds outside the record).

It was a good run but afterwards I made a grave mistake by agreeing to run on Thursday evening with a young chap who sometimes rides with the cycle club. He is a proper runner – I checked on Strava and he recently did nearly 8km at better than 4:30 per km. He has promised not to kill me.

More walling on Thursday – taken fairly steadily to conserve energy, then the run at 6.30. I’m sure that when I was a boy, hot days were hottest just after midday and then cooled as the afternoon went on. It feels like hot days now just carry on getting hotter into the late afternoon. That’s how it was on Thursday – possibly the hottest day of the year and still roasting for the run.

I must admit to having been a bit nervous at the thought I might spoil his run – but we did a very enjoyable 7km (4.3miles) on the shadiest route we could find. True, he was jogging as I worked hard to keep up, but despite a few hills and quite a bit of off-road he pulled me through it as fast as I’ve run for some months.

Bournemouth off limits for now

I’d planned to go down to Bournemouth on Friday for some garden maintenance but it’s been in the news headlines for a couple of days as the good weather has brought thousands to the english beaches (especially Bournemouth which has been overwhelmed with people and traffic). It’s been madness with gridlocked roads, rubbish everywhere, and full beaches that meant social distancing was next to impossible. What is it about the sun that makes people act so recklessly?

I’ll wait for the weather to cool before I try to get down there. Sadly, that meant more walling on Friday – making progress but if I want them to stand up for more than a few days I’m going to have to abandon the ‘dry’ bit and add some mortar to glue the stones together.

All three of us ran on Saturday morning – and I then added a bit, in the rain, to take it beyond 11.5km (just over 7 miles).

A social life (but not as we knew it)

Saturday evening we hosted our usual social group of six for an excellent al fresco supper – we dodged the rain but were wearing coats by 9pm. Even as the lockdown eases, we will not be able to have an indoor supper party involving three households for a while yet.

Going barefoot/minimalist

As an aside, my wife needed new running shoes. When I ordered them I also ordered for myself (encouraged by others, thank you Adam) a pair of ‘minimalist/barefoot’ shoes (Merrell Vapor Glove 4 Trail Running Shoes to be precise).

Incredible service – ordered online Friday morning and arrived Saturday morning. They are very light – most of my running shoes weigh about 300g each (10.58oz) – these are 342g (12oz) for the pair! I was thinking of trying them on Sunday but I ached a bit so am looking forward to playing with them by way of experiment next week – and I’ve got to get back on the bike.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African proverb: If the owner of a calabash calls it a worthless calabash, others will join him to use it to pack rubbish.

Yes. I had to look it up – it’s a hollowed-out gourd

2. Palm Beach County commissioners proposed mandatory wearing of masks in public. They were harangued by residents who accused them of obeying the devil, imposing a communist dictatorship and dishonouring the American flag.

One resident was quoted as saying ‘they want to throw God’s wonderful breathing system out of the door’.

I must have misunderstood – I thought masks supplemented the lungs rather than replaced them.

I hope the lady doesn’t take any medicine as, by her reasoning, medicines throw out God’s wonderful bodily health system …

3. Brothels reopen in Austria on 1 July. The Greeks were a little ahead of them – rules brought in by the Greek government include card-only payments, a time limit of 15 minutes per customer, compulsory face masks and workers taking a list of clients’ contact details in case they need to be traced.

Presumably, no social distancing rule?

4. Headline: United Nations chief ‘shocked and disturbed’ by video of car sex act in Israel

There is footage of an apparent sex act on the back seat of an official and marked UN car in Israel. Presumably the UN is going to adopt the slogan ‘Make love, not war’

Confirmed cases of Coronavirus for Oxfordshire: population c. 690,000

14/3 – 22

21/3 – 44 (x2 from previous week)

28/3 – 113 (x2.5)

4/4 – 356 (x3.2)

11/4 – 653 (x1.8)

18/4 – 1070 (x1.6)

25/4 – 1336 (x1.25)

2/5 – 1540 (x1.15)

9/5 – 1688 (x1.09)

16/05 – 1902 (x1.13)

23/05 – 2020 (x1.06)

30/05 – 2065 (x1.02)

6/06 – 2093 (x1.01)

13/06 – 2109 (x1.01)

20/06 – 2123 (x1.01)

27/06 – 2128 (x1.00)

Run, run, run, RIDE (plus toad venom and a rare trip out)

Shame it just has me to push the pedals round

After Sunday’s gardening, Monday started with a sore back, and forearms lacerated by brambles and still tingling from the nettles. The pains went well with the knee I skinned tripping over a tree root on Sunday’s run.

Yes, I could (should) have worn long sleeves for the nettles and brambles but it was very hot and I was very careful (… to begin with).

I did more rough gardening on Monday wearing shorts, successfully adding ripped legs to the forearms. I won’t claim that as a personal best for stupidity – but it’s right up there. I look like I went three rounds with a roll of barbed wire, and lost badly.

Oh the joys of a fit and active life.

Bournemouth on Tuesday. With the lockdown we haven’t been there for a couple of months and, although some neighbours have been kind enough to keep an eye on the house, they haven’t, of course, done any gardening. The grass was knee high with specimen thistles at waist height in the lawns. After a few hard hours in yet more gloriously hot weather, they looked rather more like meadows rather than lawns – but at least reasonably tended meadows.

The weather broke a bit on Wednesday, cooler and a few showers but I had a short leg-loosener run (5.5km – 3.5miles). Much the same again on Thursday, but a bit further – 10.2km (6.3 miles). Two really enjoyable runs, not fast but steady, consistent and they felt fairly easy.

The (slightly) relaxed lockdown in England now allows for up to 6 people to meet, socially-distanced and outdoors. On Friday evening we had our first social event for about 10 weeks as we and another couple from the village walked in to Faringdon for an al fresco supper in the garden of some mutual friends. It was a great evening – but a slightly sad reminder of what we’ve been missing.

I’d driven a car over earlier so we all had our own crockery and cutlery and warm clothing and I ran a roundabout way there to pick it up on Saturday morning – 6.5km (4miles).

When I started this blog it was mostly about the pleasures of cycling – including my ‘everest’ in 2017 and the solo ride out to the alps in 2018.

The Rotterdam Marathon in 2019 rather got in the way of the cycling – and it re-kindled my liking for running that has continued since. While my body permits, I’ll keep running (the ultra marathon has only been postponed to 2021) … but it feels about time to get back to my roots and pick up the road cycling again – especially as the pandemic has messed up my annual trip to the alps this summer.

The new carbon fibre wheels have arrived (50mm deep and only weighing 1400 grams) and the necessary carbon-rim-specific brake blocks are now in place. Out of interest, before I set off for a ride on Sunday, I weighed the bike – as in the photo with pedals and bottle and Garmin mounts it came out at 7.2kg. It deserves more than just me riding it.

I did a 36km spin over a route I’d done about three weeks ago. Then I averaged 26.9kph (16.7mph) – this time I averaged 30.4kph (18.9mph).

The bike felt so much faster, even without the tri-bars (I’ll put them on once I’ve got used to the wheels’ characteristics). Not exactly a laboratory-controlled experiment, but encouraging.

I’m not sure if the difference is due to aerodynamics or witchcraft but I don’t think I care too much.

Interesting things this week

1. African proverb of the week: The offspring of a hawk is bound to steal chicken.

2. Porn star Nacho Vidal held in Spain after man dies in toad-venom ritual.

I’m reluctant to include this (from BBC News website) on the basis that, subsequently, everything else will look pretty ordinary.

3. Foolish joke of the week: A farmer asked me to help him round up 19 sheep. I said of course, that’s 20 sheep.

4. ‘Prince William reveals he is secret helpline volunteer’

Thus demonstrating that he’s not quite grasped the concept of ‘secret’.

Confirmed cases of Coronavirus for Oxfordshire: population c. 690,000

14/3 – 22

21/3 – 44 (x2 from previous week)

28/3 – 113 (x2.5)

4/4 – 356 (x3.2)

11/4 – 653 (x1.8)

18/4 – 1070 (x1.6)

25/4 – 1336 (x1.25)

2/5 – 1540 (x1.15)

9/5 – 1688 (x1.09)

16/05 – 1902 (x1.13)

23/05 – 2020 (x1.06)

30/05 – 2065 (x1.02)

6/06 – 2093 (x1.01)

Turbo x2, run x3 (one snow, one hailstones, one weak sunshine), gym. A very good week (it’s not all about training)

The Thames, with Hammersmith Bridge on the right. A bit sunnier this morning – lots of rowing activity as the Boat Race approaches at the end of the month

Following two rest days I was back on the turbo on Wednesday, pushing the session out beyond what I’ve been doing recently – 1h 15min for 34.45km @27.6kph (21.4 miles @17.1mph).

That’s part of my plan to increase the length and intensity of the training – but I wish I knew how the turbo equates to cycling on the road.

Of course, there are no uphills or headwinds on the turbo – but equally, there are no downhills or tailwinds. Also there are no junctions or red lights which might provide a short break – one appropriate word for the turbo is ‘relentless’.

More importantly, in the absence of things like power meters, it is hard to gauge the strength of the resistance the turbo provides.

By feel, my turbo offers a good deal more than the normal resistance of cycling on a flat road. That’s backed up by the fact that I’ve not got into any of the bike’s three top gears with this turbo trainer. Cycling in a lower gear but still managing somewhere in the range 17-19mph (27.5-30kph) suggests that I’m working significantly harder than I would be out on the road. The turbo has no adjustment but seems to be set to replicate rolling resistance, the resistance of the air, plus a constant upslope of perhaps 2%?

I wonder if that’s true – or whether I’m deluding myself.

We woke to a dusting of snow on Thursday but we’d planned to go for a run and, slightly reluctantly, kept to that for a gentle 6.2km (just under 4 miles). It was surprisingly enjoyable, proving (yet again) that the hardest part of most runs is getting out of the door.

I decided to make Thursday ‘double up’ day for the exercise so I got on the turbo later for 45 minutes: 21.75km @ 28kph (13.5miles @ 17.4mph).

Gym on Friday morning and then a leisurely day doing domestic stuff before we drove to London. Our older son and his girlfriend are on holiday in South Africa so on Saturday we went to check on his flat, to provide some rations for when they get back and to explore the area. It’s proved to be a great choice for them – walkable to both of their offices in the east of the city – a ‘young professionals’, up and coming area rich in ‘artisan’ type businesses – bread shops, gin distilleries, food outlets and a great weekly market.

We had a very enjoyable morning doing the Spa Terminus and the Maltby Street Market and then back to our place.

Frustrated at missing out on my favourite seaside run on Monday because of the weather in Bournemouth, I was determined to have the pleasure of running along the Thames since I was up in London.

Although the weather wasn’t looking too good, later in the afternoon I ran to Hammersmith, over the bridge, down the Thames Path on the west side of the river, across Putney Bridge, up the Thames Path on the other side and back via Hammersmith and Baron’s Court. A bit over 10.85km (6.75miles) at 4 hour marathon pace.

It was terrific – although I could have done without the rain (which turned to hailstones just after Putney Bridge). The roar as I passed Craven Cottage Football Ground was particularly encouraging but I admit that could have been for the match (Fulham v Preston North End – final score 2-0 to Fulham) and not for me.

My knee hurt that night and I couldn’t get it comfortable in bed for quite a while. Despite that, early on Sunday morning my wife and I went for another (shorter and more gentle) run down the Thames Path – 6.4km (4 miles) in a cold breeze but weak sunshine.

Brunch with our younger son and back to Oxfordshire.

Not the heaviest week for training but really enjoyable, and I know which is more important.

Run, run, gym, loft boarding, gym, Snow Patrol and a General Election

Snow Patrol (again)

Saturday morning’s run was the regular 10 (and a bit) km – about 6.3 miles. A tiny bit slower than the last couple of times but the speed is probably the least important thing about it at this stage.

Both calf muscles were sore after the run, so Sunday’s cold and windy run with my wife was on heavy and slightly painful legs – but that made it about 16.5km (a bit over 10 miles) for the two days.

No such leg problems in Barbados – but those runs were shorter, slower and on more forgiving sand so perhaps that made a difference. It’s a bit of a worry but for now it looks like it’s back to the (deservedly) much-maligned long white compression socks during and after runs – and more attention to warming up before, and stretching afterwards.

Monday morning it was back to the gym and on Tuesday I drove to Bournemouth to prepare for the phone line fitting on Wednesday (including boarding out a part of the loft so the engineer could route the new line through it). Loft boarded and internet now working.

In recent months I’ve been quite good at doing planks daily (the routine is for 5 minutes of plank variants) but I’ve now added press-ups, sit-ups and crunches. In theory it’s to help the core for cycling and running, but I’m sure there’s more than a bit of vanity in it as I try to pursue a flatter stomach. I doubt that a six-pack is within reach – and I think it would be a bit weird on an old bloke in his 60. In the unlikely event that I ever achieve one, I’ll keep it very much to myself.

Gym again on Thursday morning and then up to Kingston-upon-Thames on the edge of London for a Snow Patrol concert – my wife is very keen on them. Another performance in a small night club venue like the one we went to a year ago (and standing in the very front row again).

They were excellent, but that’s four times I’ve been to see them and not one of them has ever bothered to come to watch me run, cycle or work out at the gym. Where is the give and take in that?

To London after the concert, only to be woken up at 2am by another alarm-alarm triggered by a power outage, like the one in October. When we got back it was the mains trip switch again – blasted thing.

No party politics here, but we had another General Election on Thursday. As the years go by I find it more difficult to find one party that offers a total package that I like. The party I tend to think of as being likely to run the economy better is not necessarily one I’d prefer to see spending the money.

The Conservative Party had a significant win which probably highlights two things: first, the all-consuming importance of Brexit; and, secondly, a negative perception of the leader the Labour party and the direction he was taking it. Even the eternally important mantra ‘(it’s) the economy, stupid’ looks to have taken a bit more of a backseat than usual.

The more I see of politics and politicians, the more I wonder if anybody should ever vote for someone who puts themselves forward for high office (although I appreciate that would make elections difficult).

Internet was a failure, run was so-so … but then the Rugby World Cup final … and it all got so much worse.

I’ve checked and this is, officially, a lot of tree cutting

Down to Bournemouth on Thursday to sort out a new broadband package. It was more physical than I’d thought and involved cutting the tops off many conifers to take them below the new phone wire.

I was sure that I’d done well – but it was all futile, as the engineer told me that they need a hoist to attach a phone line over the trees (even though they would not foul the line) ‘it might get tangled when we put it up’. Could I help? ‘No, we might be responsible if you had a fall’.

Could we at least do the internal stuff? ‘No, I can’t go into a loft unless it’s boarded’.

What about the wire down into the upstairs landing? ‘No, we can’t drill holes in ceilings.’

All that meant I drove back in the afternoon and missed my planned run along the seafront on Friday morning. That was replaced by a run at home – 10.25km, a fraction slower than last week. Legs and feet definitely feeling a bit cranky and (with a bit of dehydration, no doubt), weighing well under 67kg (about 148 pounds – 10 stone 8 pounds). A few pounds less than usual.

On Saturday we planned to sneak in a run early on before settling down to watch the final of the Rugby World Cup – England v South Africa – but it was pouring and blowing a gale so that didn’t happen.

Sadly, the Rugby World Cup Final did happen.

England played badly and were a shadow of the team that beat New Zealand in the semi-final – but I appreciate the adage ‘you only play as well as the opposition let you’. We were well beaten.

Well played South Africa.

Run, Gym, a Mini excitement, the rough end of a deal and a 20% crown reduction

Back from Lake District walking and cycling mid-week and then domestic stuff, including collecting my wife’s new (new to her!) car. From BMW Touring to Mini Cooper – fun wins over practicality at last.

It’s not exactly the same as the Mini I had back in the late 1970s (it’s put on weight) but it still has a playful feel to it – a sort of cross between a go-kart and a puppy.

On Saturday we drove down to Bournemouth in terrible traffic, picking up one of my brothers-in-law on the way. Since the death of her mother my wife and her two brothers have made a point of meeting up every year for a lunch in Sandbanks (where they always used to holiday as children). Happily, there is a Rick Stein restaurant there so it’s no hardship.

I did more domestic chores at the house in Bournemouth while they enjoyed some fine dining. The drive meant missing the second half of England’s triumph over Australia in the Rugby Union World Cup quarter final.

I don’t think I got the best end of the deal.

The bonus was a gentle run along the seafront on Sunday, only 4.5 km (2.75 miles) but delightful on a crisp and bright morning.

I’ve noted that in Oxfordshire runners and cyclists acknowledge each other with a friendly nod or ‘morning’ but that runners in London are a breed apart and tend to avoid eye contact completely. I’m pleased to report that Bournemouth runners and walkers are firmly in the ‘acknowledgement and greeting’ camp.

Gym on Monday morning – the first time for 11 days and it felt very hard as a result. Do the walking and cycling in the Lake District, and the run in Bournemouth count for nothing in exercise terms?

The afternoon turned out to be even tougher. One of the chores at the end of last week was getting tree surgeons in to do a 20% crown reduction on the 4 large beech trees at the end of the garden. The £1200 (nearly $1600) I saved by getting them to leave the cuttings for me to deal with seemed like a no-brainer, given the large logs I now have for the wood burner and given that that we are at the end of the village and I enjoy a good bonfire when the wind is in the right direction.

If the Buddhists are right, in a previous life I was probably an arsonist – though not a very good one judging by the way I usually manage to singe my hands and clothes.

As it was, Monday afternoon’s bonfire was a very tough one. Large heavy branches and a fire that didn’t want to get going or keep going once started. It was a problem child throughout – continually attention-seeking and not prepared to play nicely by itself – a very hard few hours. I had to remind myself of the saving made by getting the workmen to leave the cuttings to make the effort feel worth while. At least one more bonfire to come.

I was going to use the turbo trainer in the evening … but to heck with that.

Alarm-alarm, quad bikes, craft beers, tapas and Glastonbury – not just another weekend

Back to Bournemouth and Hengistbury Head, it was a great weekend

I appreciate the horrible irony that, when so many don’t have the basics, I feel that I have too many things – but as a result, our sons give me ‘experiences’ for birthday and Christmas presents.

On Friday we drove down to Bournemouth for my birthday present. We all gathered in the evening (plus the older boy’s girlfriend) in readiness for the experience on the Saturday afternoon. After a great family meal in the evening, I was looking forward to a good night’s sleep in preparation – but the phone rang just before 6.30 with a message from the alarm company to the effect that power had been lost to the alarm at home in Oxfordshire.

Although heartened by the fact that it wasn’t an intruder alert, something had to be done, and it was a bit early to contact any neighbours.

The result, of course, was that before 7am I was in the car to drive the 100 miles back home. As I got into the village I could see some lights on – but the house had no power. It was simply the trip switch that had (presumably) been activated by a power surge some time after 5am.

Resetting it took about 5 seconds, followed by the 100 mile drive back to Bournemouth. What a great way to start a day.

In the afternoon we drove to Blandford Forum for quad biking. We watched the group ahead of us and got a bit worried as they seemed to be confined to some tracks around a hillside right by the farm – perfectly good tracks, with some very good flooded sections, but for an hour in the same place?

We didn’t know whether we’d be put with others to make up a group – but we weren’t. With just the three of us (sons and me) the first instruction ‘no overtaking’ wasn’t such a disappointment, but it did occur to me that we might not have the most exciting hour ahead of us.

Happily, I was very wrong. The instructor explained that we would start on the nearby hillside but, depending how we got on, there were more tracks he could take us to a few fields away.

We were on the first hill for only about 15 minutes and we must have convinced him that we weren’t complete no-hopers and he took us to the further field where there were some more difficult tracks.

‘Gnarly’ would be the word in mountain biking circles, I think.

That seemed really good and it was enormous fun. With the three of us the no overtaking was not an issue – the track was sufficiently demanding by itself.

After a while he led us off again and I was thinking that the time had gone incredibly quickly but instead of returning to the farm, he took us to a third site. My wife had been talking to one of the other instructors who explained there was a third site that they rarely took people to because it was very difficult – apparently that’s where we were.

I thought we’d already hit lucky on the fun stakes – but the third site was even better. In and out of some trees, up some very steep hills with drops that fell away so sharply that you couldn’t see the track beneath you as you come over the top, deep ruts, adverse cambers and sharp bends in front of rather solid-looking trees. It was very hard but such a buzz.

In the early evening we went to a local micro-brewery and sampled some really excellent craft beers. After that it was off to a tapas restaurant for some terrific food (after a slightly long wait for our table – with they handled very well, with a sincere apology and a free round of drinks – all credit to them).

On the Sunday morning the older son and his girlfriend were devoted to applying for tickets for the 2020 Glastonbury music festival. To get better internet reception we went to a local cafe/bistro on the seafront where they set up a row of four laptops and two mobile phones on the wall outside (the cafe not quite being open yet).

By chance, the Bournemouth half and full marathons were taking place, passing right in front of the cafe. I suspect that many runners though they were passing either a timing checkpoint or a press centre – certainly several waved and posed for non-existent cameras. Sorry, it was just an attempt at a ticket application.

In fact, their attempts failed to get through the queues to the ticket purchase stage – but friends who were also applying did get tickets for them all so it ended well.

After a brunch and a walk around the Hengistbury Head area, everyone headed back home in the afternoon – us to Oxfordshire and the boys to London. What a great weekend – and not a run, a cycle or the gym in sight. No exercise for three days, unless I can include the quad biking (I did ache a bit on the Sunday morning), or clapping the Bournemouth runners – congratulations to all of them.

I was thinking of the Bournemouth marathon as an event for late 2020 but the route winds back on itself several times in different places (would that mess with the mind?) and although I like running along the promenade, on Sunday there was a nasty little headwind blowing west to east along the Channel. I need to think about this …

Gym, gym, run, turbo, cycle training, gym, run. A cornucopia of delights.

Bournemouth, with the Isle of Wight in the distance

A benefit of retirement is the lack of pressure to cram in exercise at the weekend. I was creaking by the end of last week, we were out for supper on Friday and Saturday, and so exercise took a back seat.

On Sunday we had a trip to Bournemouth to pick up the bedding and towels used by our friends over the previous week and a walk down the seafront to a cafe was about as vigorous as it got. The really strong wind we were walking into on the way reminded me that if I ever run the Bournemouth marathon I may need to find someone big to shelter behind along the promenade.

All that meant I was more than ready to get back to the gym for an hour on Monday morning – and back again on Tuesday. I’m enjoying the gym more than I expected. It’s partly the convenience in that I can set aside about 90 minutes and that covers the travel, the getting ready and changed after and an hours decent exercise. It’s probably also the variety that it offers and the strange satisfaction to be gained by lifting heavy bits of metal. I must be careful to remember that I go to help with my fitness for cycling and running, but for the gym itself!

I ran with my wife on Wednesday morning and later did a hard 30 minutes on the turbo, at just over 32kph (20mph).

Thursday was back to the cycle park for more training sessions. The first round of sessions was so successful that we’ve done a second week – great feedback from the children and their parents. It’s very rewarding to see children who arrive with little confidence and unable to ride, leave feeling good about themselves and confident on two wheels.

It’s odd how approaches to relatively simple things change over time. I remember learning to ride a bike with steady wheels, and our sons learned the same way. Now, the approach is to use balance bikes (no steady wheels and no pedals) that are scooted along and promote balance. It seems an obvious improvement as steady wheels actually remove the need for balance.

I know that the basic balance bike design was invented in the late 1700s but I wonder where the idea of using it as a learning tool for children came from. I think it may be the founder of Strider Bikes back in the early 2000s? Brilliant.

I spent the afternoon sorting out one of the bikes we provide for older children to practice on, which was stuck in top gear.

I went through a reasonably tough exercise routine on Thursday evening, I was back the gym on Friday morning and ran with my wife early on Saturday morning. While she did hill reps I was kinder to my Achilles’ and ran around the ancient Badbury hill fort – in all just over 6km (3.75m). I enjoyed it a great deal but could feel the week’s accumulated fatigue.

That’s it for the week’s exertions. Seven sessions in 6 days is plenty for me. Overdoing it is bad news at any time but, as you get older, it feels even more important to allow for recovery.

Current physical stocktake: around 67kg (148lbs); resting pulse just under 50; Achilles tendons, better than they have been; knees, not too bad; shoulder hurt skiing, much better.

Transcontinental Race

My congratulations to everyone who took part in the Transcontinental Race. 160 riders finished and 101 scratched (including the one who is still shown at the start). Particular credit to two intrepid ladies, not in their first flush of youth and riding as a pair, who arrived at the finish on Thursday, some 3 days after the previous finisher crossed the line and 16 and a half days after the winner (the winner took only 10 days). Remarkable resilience and determination.

Row, run, cycle – but taking time to smell the roses

Chelsea Flower Show

After Monday’s London run I gardened on Tuesday. Having cut a whole 3 seconds off my 2000m rowing time at my 2nd attempt, at the gym on Wednesday my 3rd attempt took another 28 seconds off (now down to 8m 42s), although still not feeling 100%.

I suppose that’s encouraging but if I’d known it was going so well I might have eased off a bit to keep something in hand for the next attempt. I assume the improvement is just a bit of familiarity with the equipment so perhaps next time will just be consolidation.

I’m still wondering whether the gym will add much to my cycling. I’ve always taken the view that cycling must use all the muscles needed for cycling – but the gym is a nice social diversion from other training (if I were ever to get back to doing some) and, with my focus on the legs and core, it can’t be doing any harm … can it?

In the afternoon I was at a local junior school helping to give cycle training to some 11 year olds. They could all ride but we were also assessing them with a view to taking them out on the road at the start of next term. It was enjoyable and all the children were pretty good on the bikes – although the bikes were a rather motley bunch in terms of style and road worthiness!

Back to Bournemouth on Thursday, continuing to clear the garage and garden. With a fleeting visit, no running (I didn’t even go to the beach to check that the sea is still there) – but back to the gym on Friday morning – I did the 500m rowing machine sprint for the second time and at 1 minute 57 seconds I took 2 seconds off my first time at the distance. My gym companion thinks the machine I used this time is the harder of the two – I’ll check next week.

After the gym, it was up to London for the Chelsea Flower Show. We tend to go every few years to get some inspiration for the garden – but fail to implement much (if any) of it. Still, it’s a good day out. This year was very enjoyable in good weather – even though it was a bit too crowded for my liking. Great show and artisan gardens and outstanding exhibits in the Great Pavilion. I’m not sure if I’m inspired or intimidated – probably both.

I ran in London on Saturday morning (about 4.3miles – 7km). It went well to the half way point but then my recent right calf niggle became a current right calf pull. I finished the run at a hobble and well over a minute per km slower than the first half. How do I train for, and run, a marathon in April with no muscle issues, only to pull one on a reasonably gentle 4 mile run the following month? It hurts a lot – but at least that takes my mind off the Achilles tendons.

We drove back to Oxfordshire later with our sons who came back for the Bank Holiday weekend which is good compensation for the calf.

  Indoor rowing  
Attempt No. 500 metres 2000 metres
1 1minute 59 seconds 9 minutes 13 seconds
2 1:57 9:10
3   8:42

Run, run, gym, run, gym, run, run (good job I’m running less and cycling more) and ‘Strictly come Wimbledon’

Back to the Bournemouth promenade

No matter how foolish, it seems that I can’t resist running when in London or Bournemouth. After last Saturday’s run in London, it was another 5km (3.1miles) along the Bournemouth seafront on Monday morning in bright sunny weather and a cool breeze.

Last week the knee had been improving but I managed to set that back a bit with the London run – and running in Bournemouth didn’t help either. I decided not to run for the rest of the week and see how the knee recovers. Needless to say, the ATs are pretty rubbish.

I went to the gym on Tuesday, having missed it last week. I tried the 2000m rowing again – a whole 3 seconds faster at 9:10! I assume it will help with the muscles in my back, shoulders and legs – it’s a very hard exercise but it’s another thing to play with that shouldn’t hurt my Achilles’.

The resolve not to run for the rest of the week lasted only two days as my wife wanted company on a run on Wednesday – just 3.5km (2.2miles) in lovely weather that looks reasonably set for a while.

Later we dismantled the playhouse in the garden. It was slowly deteriorating but had been there nearly 25 years so didn’t owe us anything. I’ve never been a very sentimental person but I’m getting worse as I get older and I was sorry to see it go after all these years. Hard to see what is sentimental about a garden playhouse but it brought back memories of our younger son coming to find us to say he’d looked out of the playroom window and seen two nice men building something in the garden.

Carrying on with the theme of poor exercise judgement, Thursday was back to the gym with my normal companion. Not feeling 100% I ducked out of the 2000m on the rowing machine in favour of a 500m rowing sprint. On the basis that took me very nearly 2 minutes of pain, the 8 minute challenge for the 2000m is looking a rather long way off.

Sadly, the increasing sentimentality meant that the playhouse had been stuffed full of the boys old books, games and even some old school exercise books. With yet more proceeds of the decluttering (including my wife’s old school exercise books!), that led to a massive bonfire on Friday – very therapeutic but it’s surprisingly hard work burning thick wads of paper (I think the outer pages burn and the ash then keeps the oxygen from reaching the rest?) so it was a long but satisfying job, mixed with some gardening – rock and roll.

I was too tired to get on the turbo in the evening, so instead I watched highlights of the day’s Giro stage – it was an undulating 185km (115miles) and the winner rode it at an average of 45.1kph (28mph). Astounding!

It was up to London again on Saturday as my wife had tickets for the Strictly Come Dancing (I think it’s Dancing with the Stars in the USA) Professionals’ show. The TV show is certainly not my thing – I can (just about) take the (surprisingly and happily small) time spent on the dances themselves but the padding around them is too much to bear. My wife has many friends who love the programme but none could make the date so I was the ‘plus one’. It was an experience and they are incredibly skilled – but, as I say, not my thing.

On Sunday morning we did one of my standard 4 mile (6.5km) London runs to Hammersmith and down the Thames Path to Craven Cottage (Fulham FC’s ground).

In the afternoon we went to the re-opening of Court No1 at Wimbledon, with its new roof. I’ve seen quite a bit of tennis at Wimbledon and the Queens tournament but have rather lost interest in recent years because of slow play and incessant shrieking and grunting (Connors and Seles have a lot to answer for). At least getting there from the London flat was easy and there was good music and tennis from, McEnroe, Navratilova, Ivanisevic, Cash, Hewitt, Clijsters, Venus Williams and Jamie Murray.

I might have mentioned that I struggle not to run when staying up in London – and on Monday morning we went for another run, this time over Hammersmith Bridge and down the path on the other side of the river. We’d stayed in London because, in the afternoon, we went to meet our younger son at Heathrow, back from Peru and Bolivia. He had a great time and we can now breathe more easily.