Category Archives: Bournemouth

Turbo, run (hill reps), swim, run, gym, run (plus, great sporting injuries and an unexpected catch)

Monday was cold – not a day to be going out if it wasn’t necessary. I opted for the turbo trainer in the early evening – 45 minutes @27.4kph (17mph). Still some way off what I was doing in the summer.

Hill reps on a rather brighter and slightly warmer Tuesday. I pushed it up to 10 reps this time – just over 10km (6.2 miles) and 335m of ascent (1,100 feet). I managed to make the last rep the fastest – but that owes much to the others all being pretty slow.

I’m not sure that it’s a textbook hill for running reps as I’ve seen it suggested that you should sprint up for about 40 seconds and then jog back down – my best for this hill is about 1:50. It’s so steep that anyone would be excused for not knowing that I was sprinting up it – and the steepness means that it’s not an easy jog back down.

It’s also a bit sad that I’ve taken the Strava ‘Local Legend’ title from the creator of the segment (but not so sad that I’m going to stop).

I drove down to Bournemouth on Wednesday to take some stuff, to collect some wood I’d previously chopped up in the garden and – to my surprise in November – to mow the lawns. Listening to England being beaten by New Zealand in the semi-final of the cricket T20 world cup on the way back, was a downer but I had just enough spirit left to take my sinking legs to the pool in the evening.

I have researched the sinking leg syndrome and, luckily, it is a very straightforward matter. It is simply a question of poor head position, or breathing, or rotation, or leg kick, or catch or pull (or, more likely in my case, all of them). Once that small issue is sorted there’ll be no stopping me. I swam 1km in 27 minutes – a bit faster than usual.

Being a poor swimmer makes 1km in the pool hard work, so Thursday morning’s run back from taking a car into the garage was tough for just 5.5km @ 5:36/km (3.4miles).

Gym and bike shop, as usual, on Friday which went well but I had a miserable, interrupted, sleep when the cold that had been brewing for a couple of days arrived, in some style, bringing with it sneezing fits and a simultaneously blocked and running nose.

That put paid to the planned morning run on Saturday. The reserve plan was to get on the turbo in the afternoon but I canned that too after planting some hedging in the morning left me tired and a bit breathless.

I ended up just watching a succession of rugby matches while soaking a succession of handkerchiefs and generally feeling sorry for myself. Particular credit to Ireland for a fine win over the All Blacks and to England for beating Australia – but, my word, there was some bad hair on display.

I was feeling a bit better on Sunday so, with my wife out shopping, I decided to go for a run. I took it gently but ended up with over 12km (7.5 miles). I thought it might be a bit of an exercise in kill or cure but I appear to still be breathing and my nose is still running (even though the rest of me has stopped) so it looks like I have delivered on neither of the likely outcomes.

Second session of supper and Schitt’s Creek viewing tonight. It will be interesting to see how it continues to shape up – I’m not sure how many sit-coms make it across the Atlantic successfully (with, for me, the notable exception of Cheers).

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: A roaring lion kills no game

2. BBC News website: One of the all-time great self-inflicted sporting injuries

After getting out late in Wednesday’s cricket T20 semi final against England, New Zealander Devon Conway punched his bat in frustration as it appeared that his dismissal would seal England’s win. Despite the fact that he was still wearing his batting glove, scans have shown that he broke the fifth metacarpal in his right hand.

Against the odds, New Zealand won the match – but Conway has put himself out of the final against Pakistan on Sunday.

If you’re reading, Alanis, that’s ironic

3. BBC News website: Buyers show remorse over pandemic purchases

Covid lockdowns led to a surge of sales of some items that people could enjoy at home or in the garden, or to keep up their fitness but now, a survey says that buyers’ remorse has kicked in for some, who admitted typically spending nearly £1,400 on the items.

Gaming equipment, DIY tools, home gyms, bikes, clothing and jewellery, musical instruments, kitchen appliances such as bread makers, garden furniture, pizza ovens and hot tubs all appeared on the regret list.

The survey of 4,000 people found some had sold or given away the items they regretted buying.

Wow – ‘some’ people regret their purchases and ‘some’ people have sold or given away things they regret buying. Whatever the survey cost it’s been worth every penny.

4. BBC News website: Fishing gear seller caught in hacker’s net

The UK’s biggest fishing shop has been hacked, with its website redirecting keen anglers to an adult website.

As well as the website redirect, its Twitter account was compromised and the attacker posted a mocking tweet claiming the company had been sold to adult website Pornhub.

The ultimate phishing scam?

5. BBC News website: Regular 10pm bedtime linked to lower heart risk

There appears to be an optimal bedtime – between 10pm and 11pm – linked to better heart health, say researchers who have studied 88,000 volunteers.

They followed up what happened to the volunteers in terms of heart and circulatory health over an average of six years. Just over 3,000 of the adults developed cardiovascular disease and many of these cases occurred in people who went to bed later or earlier than the “ideal” 10pm to 11pm.

The researchers tried to control for other factors known to affect a person’s heart risk, such as their age, weight and cholesterol levels, but stress their study cannot prove cause and effect.

At last, some justification for my ‘lightweight’ tendency to make for bed by 10.30

Ride/run, run, award ceremony, Bournemouth, swim (SOW), gym – ready for the triathlon(?)

I was in two minds over swimming on Monday – but I resolved the dilemma by deciding not to. If only all problems could be solved so easily.

I had some chores to do by way of checking the bike and changing the pedals. This followed some good advice from the unironedman that I shouldn’t use the normal clip-in pedals and cycle shoes with cleats, as they would mean two changes of footwear and a certain amount of awkward running in them out of, and back into, transition.

That’s all the more sensible as my cycle shoes have a ratchet fastening so I couldn’t really leave them clipped into the pedals like the pros do with pure velcro-fastening shoes. It’s a short ride so I’m guessing the benefits will outweigh any minor loss of pedal power compared to what I would have got using the cleats. Simplification is good.

The first pedals I fitted rubbed the crank arm. I fashioned a spacer and then found that the shape of the pedals did not fit comfortably with my running shoes. The second pedals worked well enough so I decided on a small ‘brick’ session to test them out and to see how my legs reacted to a run straight off the bike. I had a 27km (17miles) ride @29kph (18mph) and then a 1km run.

This got dangerously close to proper triathlon training but my legs made it very clear that they did not like the experience one little bit.

I ran with my wife on a hot Tuesday morning 6.7km (4.2miles) and we then went for lunch with some friends who have just returned to the UK after some years out in Singapore. They have a house on the Cotswold Water Park which is built around some old gravel pits … including the one which has been developed as the lake where I do my open water swimming. I can’t get away from it.

We went straight from there to the presentation, by the Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire, of the Queen’s Award for Volunteering to the cycle group. My wife and I (and our younger son, in absentia) were presented with badges in recognition for our efforts. Quite an achievement for a group that started as a few middle-aged Saturday cyclists.

Bournemouth on Wednesday to mow and fit various bathroom accessories, and hooks to the back of doors. We’ve only owned the place for 17 years – everything gets done in its own good time.

Thursday was the last open water swimming session before the triathlon. We both did the 1km that we set ourselves – last time was with 2 laps of the shorter course, this time it was one lap of the (significantly) more intimidating long course. I had thoughts of trying to go a little faster than before, but I have to accept that my swimming is not good enough to have much more than one speed.

I don’t know if this makes sense but it feels like my poor technique means I can’t swim faster just by putting in more effort – to go faster, I think I’d have to become a better swimmer. I have now come to terms with the fact that I swim just about as well as fish ride bicycles.

Friday was the usual gym session, followed by the cycle shop. I planned a gentle run with my wife on Saturday morning but wimped out as my knee felt a bit cranky.

I can now start to fret about the kit needed for the triathlon on Sunday. I have a check list of over 20 items (including the confirmation of the required clear lateral flow covid test performed on Friday).

I have already done the most important piece of preparation in fitting elastic laces (that a friend kindly gave me) to my running shoes. With only one pair of quick-fit shoes I can already feel my transition times come down to under an hour.

The bike and run courses are not flat, and cumulative tiredness and the transitions are unknowns, so getting round safely and enjoying it are the orders of the day – no time targets. I am told that the swim-to-ride transition involves a sharp uphill run of about 0.4km – oh joy.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: He who refuses to obey cannot command

2. BBC News website: Brazil v Argentina game stopped after 10 mins

The Brazil v Argentina football world cup qualifier was stopped on Sunday as health officials and police came onto the pitch and, according to commentator, detained the 4 UK based Argentina players for not quarantining on their arrival in Brazil.

The Brazilian authorities said “[The four players] were directed to remain isolated while awaiting deportation, but they did not comply.”

The Argentinian manager said that “At no time were we notified that they couldn’t play the match.”

Hmmm … hard to see how they can both be right

3. I always use my games of snooker to help with exam revision.

When I use the chalk, I ask myself a maths problem. When I play the blue, I ask myself a question on science. Pink is biology, black is geography … and the rest is history.

4. BBC News website: Climate change: Animals shapeshifting to stay cool

Scientists say warm-blooded species are evolving to have larger beaks, legs and ears to regulate body temperature as the planet warms up.

Wood mice are evolving to have longer tails, masked shrews are getting longer tails and legs, and bats in warm climates have bigger wings.

Several species of Australian parrot have shown a 4-10% increase in bill size since 1871, which correlates with the rising summer temperatures over the years, the study says.

The parrots have got off lightly – since Brexit, it feels like many of our bills have gone up more, and much faster

Turbo, swim, Bournemouth, ride, walk, swim, ride, walk, ride

Bournemouth seafront with Hengistbury Head to to the left and the Isle of Wight in the distance

Working in the garden on Monday, repairing a wall and making a gate for a path that goes nowhere – apparently, it’s all about ‘the look’. 30 minutes of turbo reality later @30.9kph (19.2mph).

More domestic bliss on Tuesday, finishing both the wall and the gate and then off to the pool in the evening. I still don’t love the swimming but it needs to be done if the triathlon next month is going to begin without a complete disaster.

One good thing about the swimming is that it seems to be putting a little muscle on my puny runner/cyclist chest, arms and shoulders. I swam 1250m and then started sneezing before I reached the car park.

Still slow – but I did notice the benefit of the ‘drafting’ effect of swimming behind someone (before he swam away into the distance). With the buoyancy of the wetsuit, if I could latch on and follow a slow swimmer, it might just work.

On Wednesday we got ready to go down to Bournemouth for a long weekend with two couples who are very good friends. We drove down on Thursday morning fora bit more mowing and housework in preparation, and they all joined us later in the day.

Even though we have managed to have frequent evenings together, Covid has meant that we hadn’t done our usual group weekends in Bournemouth or the lake district for a couple of years, so it was great to resume a very fine social tradition.

On Friday all 6 of us cycled to Brockenhurst in the New Forest and had a really good 5 mile (8km) walk around the town and its surrounding area – lots of New Forest ponies on the loose and we found a very good site for a picnic. A round trip of just over 31 miles (50km) on the bikes.

I’m always nervous setting routes to places I don’t know because I feel responsible for everyone’s enjoyment of the ride. As it was, although I’d used the ‘avoid highways’ option the route finder, eventually, it had us on a slightly busier road than we’d want on the way there. We found a quieter alternative and came back by one of the national cycle routes which used a lot of defunct railway line paths – why would the route finder not know about those?

On Saturday we cycled across to the other side of Bournemouth to Compton Acres – 10 acres of really lovely gardens set in a valley heading down towards Poole Harbour. It was a bit of a punt on my part as I’d not been before but it was very good indeed, even though we had to cycle back along the roads rather than the promenade as that bans cycles between 10am and 6pm in July and August. Nearly 28km (17 miles).

Getting back reasonably early, we all went down to the beach for a (non-wetsuit) swim afterwards. It was cold with some moderate waves so not exactly triathlon training but good fun nevertheless and more acclimatisation to the SOW (scary open water). It reinforced my view that an open water triathlon swim in a lake is certainly plenty enough for me at the moment.

Sunday was one of our friend’s birthdays so we walked out along Hengistbury Head and had a picnic on the beach. When we got back, virtuously, David prepared a route and I rode it with him (about 25km – about 15.5 miles). Much more virtuously, Ian (who is the friend with whom I will be doing the triathlon) went back to the beach and swam, putting me to shame.

Everyone went off on Monday morning and we followed fairly close behind. Not a big week for training but a really excellent weekend with lovely, intelligent and interesting friends who are a delight to have as house guests.

The Fantasy Football competition started again on Friday, with the resumption of the Premier League. It’s very difficult in the first few weeks as teams settle down after so many players have been involved in international tournaments during the summer. Oh, the pressure.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Being happy is better than being king

2. BBC News website: Postcard from Chile arrives in UK after 30 years

A postcard sent from South America has been delivered to its intended recipient 30 years after being posted.

Neil Crocker sent the card from Chile in 1991 when he was serving with the Royal Navy, returning from the Falkland Islands, on board HMS Cumberland. He said he “vaguely” remembered writing and sending the card which commented that the “weather and beaches are lovely”.

Cutting edge news like that is worth waiting for

3. BBC News website: Germany fears thousands got saline, not vaccine from nurse

Authorities in north Germany have asked more than 8,000 people to get repeat Covid vaccinations because a nurse is suspected of having injected saline instead of vaccine in many cases.

In April the nurse had admitted giving saline to six people to cover up the fact that she had dropped a vaccine vial on the floor but as the police investigation has suggested that many more people had been given saline instead of the vaccine.

4. BBC News website: Tusk reveals woolly mammoth’s massive lifetime mileage

Mammoth tusks were a bit like tree rings, insomuch that they recorded information about the animal’s life history and some chemical elements incorporated into the tusks while the animal was alive can serve as pins on a map, broadly showing where the animal went.

By combining these two things, researchers worked out that a male mammoth that lived 17,000 years ago in Alaska had covered 70,000km of Alaskan landscape during its 28 years on the planet. For comparison, the circumference of the Earth is 40,000km.

Run, swim, turbo, gym, run – heading back towards normality?

With no adverse reaction to Sunday’s turbo session, I guessed I might be through the food poisoning so I ran (gently) on a very warm Monday morning – just under 6km (3.7 miles).

I ran at just under 6min/km but it felt a bit harder than it should have – a reminder to play myself back in carefully. That’s fine, as I don’t think I’m going to do any particular training for September’s triathlon (other than in the water).

I worked in the garden on Tuesday but went to the pool in the evening and swam 1km – I’ve no real idea as to the time as they seem to have lost the poolside clock. I’m not sure I’m getting much faster but it is getting easier and I’ll settle for that at this stage.

That completes a (sort of) triathlon since the turbo session on Sunday. At about 56 hours it wasn’t the fastest and I must work on the transitions – T2 was over 30 hours.

After more time in the garden I took the rest of the day off – still not back to 100% by any means and I’d only put on 0.5kg of the 3kg I lost being ill last week. More work in the garden on a wet Thursday but I did manage to get on the turbo in the evening for 30 minutes @ 30.5kph (19mph).

Friday started with an hour in the gym and a session manning the cycle shop before we drove down to Bournemouth later on to spend Saturday working to clean the house before the next visit with friends. With the need for cleaning time, heavy rain on and off, high winds, and (still) less than 100% recovery, the running kit remained unused – but the cleaning got done.

Back to Oxfordshire late on Saturday and a run on Sunday which started badly but improved as it wore on – about 7.2km (nearly 4.5 miles) at just under 6m/km. Still not quite right – but improving.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today

2. BBC News website: Firm fined £2.6m for claiming clothes prevent Covid

An Australian activewear firm has been fined £2.6m for claiming its clothing “eliminated” and stopped the spread of Covid. A judge said the company’s claim was “exploitative, predatory and potentially dangerous”.

The company maintained that it had been misled by its own supplier. “A trusted supplier sold us a product that did not perform as promised,” said Lorna Jane chief executive Bill Clarkson.

Not sure on what basis that claim could have been believed

3. BBC News website: Backlash over marriage question in Olympian’s interview

A Chinese state media interview with an Olympic gold medallist asking when she would get married and have children has sparked backlash online.

The CCTV segment with Gong Lijiao, who won the women’s shot put final on Sunday, also described her as a “manly woman”.

4. Athlete: Cindy Sember

Cindy Sember (full name Cynthia Nonyelum Sember née Ofili) is a US born athlete who competes for Great Britain, specialising in sprint hurdles.

Interestingly, she is also the answer to the question “When is Christmas?”

5. BBC News website: 13-year-old Sky Brown wins Olympic skateboarding bronze

“It was a super sick final,” she told BBC Sport. “All the girls were ripping it, it was insane.”

13 and speaking a foreign language. I did manage ‘super sick’ a week ago but I’m not sure that’s what she meant ….. I must be getting old

6. BBC News website: German pentathlon coach thrown out for punching horse

A German coach has been thrown out of the Olympics for appearing to punch a horse which was refusing to jump or trot during the modern pentathlon.

Coach Kim Raisner was heard on German TV urging tearful athlete Annika Schleu to “really hit” the horse while she struggled to control Saint Boy during the showjumping round of Friday’s women’s event.

But bravo Tom McEwen – who was at school with our sons (and I remember as a thoroughly nice lad) who won team gold and individual silver in the 3 day eventing at the Olympics.

Turbo, sick as a dog, turbo

A couple of days in Bournemouth and I didn’t even make it to the promenade

My run last Saturday was uneventful but by the afternoon my back hurt. Standing around at Saturday’s wedding and Sunday’s BBQ didn’t help so I gave it a day’s rest on Monday.

My back had improved by Tuesday but it wasn’t quite right so, out of an excess of caution, I shelved the planned run. Much of the rest of the day was spent at a funeral (and driving to and from it).

It was the funeral of my sister-in-law’s father – a very wealthy man, perhaps not always everyone’s cup of tea, but someone I got on well with. He did great things as a benefactor in sport and education to the tune of several 10s of millions of pounds.

An excellent ‘do’ which easily passed the test I usually apply to funerals: “would he have enjoyed that?”. I’m not sure that my back entirely enjoyed the 4 hours+ driving.

I’ve been noticeably slack in exercising since the ultra and sportive (the usual post-challenge motivation slump, I assume) so just the 30 minutes on the turbo on Wednesday, but a bit faster at 31kph (19.26mph).

On Thursday, our younger son and I drove back down to Bournemouth to do some work in the house and garden. We left later than planned as I was as sick as a dog Wednesday night. Classic food poisoning by the feel of it, no need to go into details but 6 times to the bathroom between 2 and 6.30am – a big personal best.

By midday I felt I could drive but after a journey of less than 2 hours and unloading the car, I was completely wiped out and needed to sleep. The pattern continued, I could make minimal efforts at anything but then needed to rest or sleep. No solid food throughout the day – just one cup of tea and some water.

My son mowed, but by Friday I had just about rejoined the land of the living. I had taken running kit but the chances of me managing more than 100 metres were about as good as me flying to the moon, so that was abandoned and replaced by fixing a shower cubicle, putting up coat hooks, bracing a slightly flimsy wall to the front garden and mending a gate.

Back to Oxfordshire late afternoon and then to a social do with the cycle club to thank all the volunteers for their efforts over recent months. We didn’t stay too long but I ventured to eat a little food – my first for over 48 hours. Still feeling rough, at least I did not see it again.

It was our older son’s birthday on Saturday so we drove up to see him and his girlfriend. Still a very low key day for me but I really enjoyed seeing them both.

Back home for a quiet Sunday, still improving and I ventured a turbo session in the evening while watching the Olympic 3 day event. Not something I’d normally watch but one of our team (in gold medal position with the show jumping to go) was in the year between our sons at school. A reasonably gentle 30 minutes @29kph – 18mph.

A week without a swim, a ride or a visit to the gym – unheard of. I finish the week older, no wiser, no fitter but, thanks to the food poisoning, 3kg (about 6.5lbs) lighter.

Interesting stuff this week

1 African wise words: Ugliness with a good character is better than beauty

2. BBC News website: Gold toilet found in Russian police bribery probe

A gilded toilet and other luxuries were found in a mansion raided by Russian investigators, who say they busted a gang of corrupt traffic police who, allegedly, took bribes for issuing fake permits to businesses.

Rather nicely, talking about the garish residence one Russian newspaper said “It’s sad that in 30 years we’ve learned how to steal, but not how to spend the money.”

3. BBC News website: Nigeria kidnappers abduct man delivering ransom

Kidnappers in Nigeria have seized a man who was sent to deliver a ransom payment to secure the release of dozens of abducted school children.

Six people were sent by the children’s parents after they managed to raise $73,000 (£53,000) by selling land and other possessions, to meet the kidnappers near the forest where the children were being held. The gunmen demanded that one of the group, an elderly man, follow them into the forest to count the cash but they later called to say the money was not sufficient.

4. BBC News website: Pensioner’s WW2 tank in basement

Lawyers in Germany are wrangling over how to deal with a pensioner who stored a World War Two tank, anti-aircraft gun and torpedo in his basement. The items were removed from a house in 2015 with the help of the army.

Possible penalties are now being negotiated, including a suspended sentence and a fine of up to €500,000 (£427,000).

Turbo, turbo, swim (lake), swim (sea), run

Happily, it was a calmer sea in Bournemouth for Thursday’s swim

The week started like the previous one finished – hot. I know that I complain about the cold but at least it is possible to put on more clothes.

The results are available from the sportive. It seems that 100 riders did the 50 mile route that I did and I was fifth fastest – on only my second ride since April. Our sportive is relatively low-tech with the focus on great routes and terrific home-cooked food, so no age group results are published.

Yet more mowing during Monday and then a very hot turbo session in the late afternoon – 15.3km (9.5 miles) in 30 minutes – and back on the turbo for another unpleasant 30 minutes on an even hotter Tuesday – 14.8km (9.2 miles).

The friend I am doing the triathlon with suggested that we should join the swimming club at the lake where we’ve had our two lessons, and go for non-coached sessions to get more practice.

We signed up and booked for Wednesday – then I read the sad headline ‘Seven drown trying to cool off’ documenting deaths in lakes and rivers in England over the weekend.

Fine, I will be wearing a wetsuit, attached to a tow buoy and the lake is professionally managed with proper safety measures, but nothing has changed my view that it is scary open water (henceforward referred to as SOW). Despite that, the swim itself was very good. I have no accurate idea as to how far we swam but guess it was about 1km.

I tried some different methods of sighting. Although I (sort of) managed the instructor’s way of doing it, I prefer the simpler way suggested by the general oracle that is ‘unironedman’ (on wordpress and at unironedman.com). Sighting is a welcome skill to have a nodding acquaintance with (I will not say I have ‘mastered’ it by any means) as I appear to be totally unable to swim in a straight line in the SOW.

I seem to have improved a little at getting out of the wetsuit – one key thing is not to let it dry (on the outside) before removal.

On Thursday we drove to Bournemouth to join our older son and his girlfriend who have spent some time at the house, working and then holidaying. We had a great walk around Hengistbury Head (7.5km – 4.7 miles) and a swim in the sea in the afternoon. The water was about 16℃ (60℉) and without a wetsuit felt pretty cold. Potentially ESOW (even scarier open water) it was very enjoyable staying fairly close to shore – but I’ll stick to the lake for the time being.

Another hour of walking in the evening going to a tapas restaurant made a really good day – but tiring. Our son’s phone app registered over 23,000 steps. The tapas was very good indeed in parts – but any dish that takes three times as long to explain than it takes to eat, and involves 15 ingredients and 12 processes but produces so little, has to be questioned.

Back to Oxfordshire on Friday and croquet in the evening to finish a great couple of days. The weather broke early on Saturday and it was forecast to rain pretty much all day but I ran our usual 7.2km (4.5 mile) loop in the morning with our younger son, between showers. Later we went to the wedding of a friend that we have known for nearly 40 years.

Happily, the forecast proved over-pessimistic and the wedding was excellent – and dry at all the right times (photos, walk to the reception and pre-meal outside drinks). On Sunday the bride and groom hosted a BBQ and the poorer weather never arrived – it was a fine way to round off a very good week.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: If you offend, ask for a pardon; if offended forgive 

2. BBC News Website: Swimmers sent home from Olympics after selection mistake

Poland have sent six swimmers home from the Tokyo Olympics initially 23 athletes were picked only 17 were allowed under the world governing body qualifying rules.

Polish Swimming Federation president has apologised and said he understood the anger of those who have returned home. The majority of the Poland swimming team have signed an open letter calling for the board to resign over the incident.

3. BBC News Website: Beach Handball Championships: Norway hit with bikini fine

Norway have been fined 1,500 euros (£1,295) for wearing shorts instead of bikini bottoms at the European Beach Handball Championships.

The European Handball Federation (EHF) said it had imposed the fine because of a case of “improper clothing”. The issue has been debated in beach sports circles for several years as some players find the bikini both degrading and impractical.

If beach handball deserves its place in the sporting calendar, it’s has to be as a sport not some sort of titillation show.

Oh, the irony of this appearing the day after reports that UK world champion para-athlete Olivia Breen was told to wear “more appropriate” shorts after an official at the English Championships said her the briefs were “too short and revealing”. Would the shorts have been OK if she’d have been playing beach handball?

4. BBC News website: Covid-positive man boards flight disguised as his wife

A Covid-positive Indonesian man who disguised himself as his wife to board a domestic flight was caught mid-air. He wore a full-face veil and was carrying his wife’s passport and her negative Covid test result.

He may never have been caught but he changed into his regular clothes midway through the flight, causing a stewardess to raise the alarm.

Police say they will move to prosecute him as soon as his quarantine ends.

5. The Guardian (UK newspaper) headline: Tokyo Olympics 2020: Carapaz wins men’s road race, boxing, swimming and more – live!

Now, that must have been quite a day for Carapaz

Run, swim, run, swim, gym, run and a family weekend

Tadpole Bridge over the Thames, from the pub garden

I ran with my wife on Monday morning 7km (4.3miles). We should have got out before 9.45 as it was already 23℃ (73℉) but it confirmed I was right to take Sunday off after Saturday’s half marathon.

Despite that, it was back to the pool in the evening for more inelegant thrashing about – I may not be good at swimming but I am persistent. It continues to feel a little more natural in the water and the bilateral breathing is working reasonably well which seems to be freeing up a few grey cells to think about head position, shoulder roll and the occasional flap of the legs.

I managed 1.3km in 40 minutes but the main ‘personal best’ that I set was in starting sneezing within 5 steps of leaving the pool building.

At the open water swimming introduction we were told that we need to swim three times a week to really improve. I explained to the instructor that this would be more than twice a week – but it didn’t change his mind. I’m not sure I can/want to do that much swimming. Perhaps it’s simply the price I have to pay to get through the swim at the triathlon?

After a day of domestic chores on Tuesday we got out an hour earlier on Wednesday morning but it was still hot. We just did the short run – 5.67km (3.5 miles). Back to the pool in the evening (the last booking period of the day starts at 20.50 and seems to give a reasonable chance of a fairly empty pool) and another 1km in 26 minutes. Still slow, but a little faster.

I gave our younger son a lift to get his first Covid jab on Thursday (to which he had no reaction beyond a slightly sore arm). From there we drove down to Bournemouth to tackle the knee-high grass in the front and back lawns – which now look rather less like meadows.

Gym first thing on a very wet and cool Friday morning for an hour and then the usual session at the charity bike shop before collecting our older son from the train station in the evening as he came back for Father’s Day (Sunday) and my wife’s birthday on Monday.

The family weekend was excellent – a long walk, dining out at a pub by the Thames on Saturday (the only dry day), a 7km family run on Sunday (the first time the four of us have ever all run together) and Tomahawk steak – due to be cooked on the bbq but done in the oven due to the weather.

After the second round of games in the European Championships I’m in second place in the fantasy league table – so far so good.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Where water is the boss, there the land must obey

2. BBC News website: Fast food staff arrested for not giving police free burgers

All 19 workers at a fast food restaurant in Pakistan were were rounded up by police at 1am on Saturday and held overnight after refusing to give a group of officers free burgers the previous week.

Nine police officers involved in the incident have been suspended.

Obviously, very good burgers – but not good enough to pay for

3. BBC News website: Dog sold for record-breaking AU$35,200 (£19,228; $27,068) at a working dog auction

Eulooka Hoover, a two-year-old “all-rounder” in herding, was sold to a sheep and cattle grazier. The sale beat the previous record price for a working dog – a border collie who sold for £18,900 in the UK last year.

The dog is said to be equally skilled at herding sheep and cattle, and have a ‘cool personality’. ‘He’s just such a happy-go-lucky lad,’ said the breeder. ‘He’ll go to work eight days a week if you let him.’

Cool personality and happy-go-lucky, but unable to count to 7

4. BBC News website: Strong-Willed Pig: Animal that survived earthquake dies

A pig that became famous in China after surviving 36 days under rubble from a powerful earthquake in 2008, has died. Zhu Jianqiang, or “Strong-Willed Pig”, died of “old age and exhaustion”, according to the museum where it resided.

Following news of the pig’s death, people took to social media to pay their respects. The hashtag “Strong-Willed Pig has died” has had 430 million views on Weibo.

Ahhhhh

5. Fines for loud cockerels feather councils’ nests

English local authorities issued 6 million fines in 2020. These included fines for minor offences including cockerel-crowing, loud children, encouraging pigeons to gather, eyesore gardens and covid breaches. Parking offences accounted for 4.7 million fines and littering another quarter of a million.

In 1997 the number of fines was just 1,000.

6. BBC News website: 21st-Century tech traps killer

A 32-year-old pilot has confessed to the killing of his young British wife, having claimed three robbers had broken into the couple’s home near Athens, tied him up and suffocated his wife.

His wife’s smart watch showed that her heart was still beating at the time her husband claimed she was murdered. The activity tracker on his phone showed him moving around the house while he said he was tied up and the recorded time at which data cards were removed from the home security camera also told a different story to his version of events.

Gym (x2), ride (a small one), ride (a much bigger and very hard one)

A Monday morning gym session is part of my regime in the brave new world of Covid-lockdown relaxation. I was the only person there for the hour it took me to lift some weights.

A big advantage of the gym is that, at the end of a session I always do some stretches – something I almost never remember to do properly at home. I’m working on the basis that the strengthening and stretching must be helping mend my knee.

Back to Bournemouth on Tuesday for more gardening and house maintenance and hedge planting at home on Wednesday. After I defrosted from an hour in the gym on Thursday morning (it was ‘see your breath’ cold in there) I drove to our son’s house just outside London to leave him a car to drive down to Bournemouth for a few days.

The original intention was that I’d run the 8 miles from his place to our flat and then on a train back home. The knee put paid to that so I stowed a bike in the back of the car and cycled from him to our place, leaving the bike there to be collected next time we go up (remembering not to use my wife’s Mini for that trip).

The only times I’ve cycled in London have been for the Ride London sportive – very early to get to the start or on closed roads for the sportive itself. As it turned out, there were bike lanes and wide pavements shared between pedestrians and cyclists for most of the way so it was very enjoyable even though my route ran along a major road.

I took my wife’s hybrid bike and that was a good move as I never felt any need or inclination to go particularly fast. In the end, 12.4km (a bit under 8 miles) in a leisurely 37 minutes. Then a trip across London and a train back.

Cycle shop on Friday morning and friends over for drinks in the evening. I had a restful Saturday because Sunday saw the White Horse Challenge sportive.

With little cycling (four previous rides this year and the dodgy knee), riding the White Horse Challenge sportive was a bit of a no-brainer (as in ‘you must have no brain to come to that decision’). However, the sensible thing I did was to opt for the 70 mile route with over 4900 feet of climbing, rather than the 90 miler with over 5500 feet of climbing.

(That’s 112km with 1500m of climbing rather than 144km with 1700m).

It was really tough – cold at the start (3℃, 37℉) and there was a relentless 20+mph wind, which I rode into, solo, for about 30 miles. I managed 4hrs 34 min, not very quick but it was certainly not a day to post personal bests. To my surprise, that was gold standard and I was 4th overall of those on the 70mile route and 1st out of the over 60s.

With apologies for being a knee bore (but hoping not to become a knee jerk), it is still improving, but slowly. Having now ‘invested’ over two weeks in not running I’m uncertain as to when to restart. I risked the cycling (and seem to have got away with it) but would be a shame to spoil the recuperation by running again too soon. Still a while away from running yet I think.

I’ve abandoned the original training plan for the ultra – even if the knee healed tomorrow I’m more likely to follow the plan on the event website from here on.

 Target Plan My Actual
Week 6: Miles (Km) 20 (32)
‘Running’ Totals 87.5 (140) 120 (193)
Week 6, Ultra Marathon training (with rounding)

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: A fish has nothing to do with a raincoat

2. BBC News website: Ambulance Service dropped woman, 89, at wrong house

Elizabeth Mahoney had been in hospital for 10 weeks but when she was discharged, instead of being taken home, she was put to bed in a stranger’s house. The man who lived there had been expecting the arrival of his sister, who had dementia, but had not immediately realised Mrs Mahoney was not his sister.

Mrs Mahoney had tried telling the crew she was not the patient they thought she was, and that she was being left at the wrong house – but was then frightened because she thought she was being put in a home.

3. BBC News website: Product placements may soon be added to classic films

in 2019 the total global product placement industry, across films, TV shows and music videos, was said to be worth $20.6bn (£15bn). Now technology can insert computer-generated images so that the human eye does not realise has been done post-production.

Soon there could be new labels on the champagne bottles in Rick’s Cafe in Casablanca, and different background neon advertising signs to Ocean’s 11. Then a few weeks, months or years later the added products could be switched to different brands.

I must be in a minority – product placements put me off because I feel they are trying to play me for an impressionable fool

4. BBC News website: Hospital employee accused of skipping work for 15 years

A hospital employee in Italy is alleged to have stopped turning up to work at the Ciaccio hospital in the southern city of Catanzaro in 2005.

The police have also accused him of threatening his manager to stop her from filing a disciplinary report against him. That manager later retired and his ongoing absence was never noticed by her successor or human resources. Six managers at the hospital are also being investigated in connection with the alleged absenteeism.

Gym (x2), turbo (x2), mechanic, ride (what, no running?)

Re-opened on Monday 12th April, with the machines moved further apart taking up the leisure centre foyer and one of the squash courts

Monday was important in the UK’s lockdown easing. Non-essential shops, services, outdoor attractions and gyms reopened, pubs and cafes could serve outside. It snowed. That, Alanis, is ironic.

I decided that if the gym was taking the trouble to open the least I could do was to turn up, so I was there just after 8am (slightly late as a result of clearing snow off the cars). There was only one other person in there during my 50 minutes and it felt very safe (and, happily, not as cold as it was before Christmas but I had hat, gloves and jacket, just in case).

It was good to be back after nearly 4 months but I reduced most of the weights I lift, just to be cautious. With all the running I’ve been doing, I was surprised by how hard some of it was. It just goes to show (I guess) how important variety is in an exercise regime.

We went down to Bournemouth on Tuesday, something else we can now do for the first time for months. We went to check on the house, mow the lawns and make sure it’s OK for our older son and his girlfriend to go down in a couple of weeks. Sadly, much as I love running along the promenade, I didn’t run while we were there. Partly, that was due to being tight for time and partly out of respect for my knee.

I am not a vain person*/I am inclined to be scruffy* (*delete as applicable) so I was not bothered that I’d not had a haircut for 4 months. However, my hair is a very personal shade of blond (some who don’t know any better call it grey) and somewhat unruly. A higher authority decided that it needed cutting so I went on Wednesday. On my return I got “Oh no, you’ve lost your curls”.

To my knowledge, hairdressers tend to cut the ends off the hairs rather than wind the excess back into the scalp – how could I get it cut without losing the curls? Sometimes you just can’t win.

I did 30 minutes on the turbo on Wednesday evening – 14km @28kph (17.4mph) and was back on it again on Thursday – 21km in 45 minutes @28kph (17.4mph). Hard.

Gym again on Friday morning, using slightly increased weights compared to last week, but with more reps and extra care on anything involving the left knee. After that, the regular Friday session in charge of the cycle club’s charity bike shop with my son – we sold the shop’s 50th bike since its reopening 4 weeks ago (and the 51st and 52nd).

I took Saturday off but watched the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh. Our younger son went up to Kensington Palace a few years ago to collect his Gold Award under the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme. The Duke spoke to a small group of award winners and asked if anyone had a job. Our son was on his gap year at the time and piped up that he was working as a barman. “A barman! No doubt your parents were glad to get you off their hands.” was the Duke’s response. Nicely non-PC, to my mind.

Sunday was lovely and after a bit of gardening I had a quick fettle on the bike to sort out some slightly unhappy gears. To give it a test, and to see how the knee would go on a bike in the real world I decide to go for a quick solo ride – only my third outside this year. To be honest I was a bit apprehensive but it was really good and (for me) surprisingly fast – 42km @29.5kph (26 miles @18.3mph).

Figuratively, my knee has been all over the place this week (although, literally, it has had the decency to remain between the bones of my upper and lower leg). It has felt much better at times and has then started hurting for no apparent reason – and at times the pains have seemed to be coming from at least three different points.

However, after 10 days without running, on the plus side, the Achilles is cured (I hope) and the knee is improving. On the negative side, my guess is that I’ve sprained the Medial Collateral Ligament, just as I did back in December 2019. I’m assuming that it’s a grade 1 sprain and it should heal within a few weeks.

I’ll keep a careful watch on its progress and run when it seems sensible. I am still going to do the ultra marathon in July – it just remains to be seen how much training (beforehand) and therefore running (during) will be possible.

At least I’m still way beyond the demands of the event website training plan (plan 1).

 Target Plan 1 My Actual Target Plan 2
Week 5: Miles (Km) 19 (30) 39 (63)
‘Running’ Totals 67.5 (108) 120 (193) 172 (277)
Week 5, Ultra Marathon training (with rounding)

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: He who runs faster, tires faster

Omil’s less wise words: He who runs further messes up his knee

2. BBC News website: Korean cosmetics brand apologises for beauty product that is less environmentally friendly than its packaging suggests.

Last year a green-tea beauty product was launched in what was labelled a “paper bottle” as part of the brand’s initiative to reduce the use of plastic packaging.

A customer questioned the product’s eco-friendly credentials and shared photos of the product showing that it was actually packaged in a plastic bottle wrapped in paper.

3. BBC News website: Facebook mistakenly removes French town’s page

The social network’s algorithm confused the name of the town Ville de Bitche, with the English insult. Bitche’s mayor said the Facebook page of the town (population 5,000) was removed on 19 March for violating site rules. “The name of our town seemed to suffer from a bad interpretation,” he added.

Facebook said it had reinstated the page on Tuesday after spotting the error.

Residents of the Oxfordshire village of ‘Great Coxwell’ are nervous

4. BBC News website: Chinese man kidnapped and killed in body swap scheme

in Guangdong province all dead bodies must to be cremated. A family hired someone to provide them with a substitute body, which was cremated in place of a deceased family member who was then secretly buried in a traditional burial.

But, while the family assumed the man they hired would look for another dead body, he murdered someone in order to fulfil the deal.

5. BBC News website: Egypt seizes ship that blocked Suez Canal

Egypt will impound the giant container ship that blocked the Suez Canal last month until its Japanese owner pays $900m (£652m) in compensation.

One of the Ever Given’s insurers described the claim, which includes $300m for a salvage bonus and $300m for loss of reputation, as “extraordinarily large” and “largely unsupported”.

6. Another ‘almost’ joke: Name five footballers with names associated with meat

Bary Venison, Tony Currie, Frank LeBoeuf, Patric Berger and Paulo Wanchope

Like last week, my apologies to those who do not follow football (soccer)

Run (x5), turbo – (sadly, the hills aren’t alive with the sound of the midnight train to Georgia)

Back to Puddleduck Lane – no ducks but many, many puddles

My wife wanted to run on Monday (more accurately, ‘decided to run’, as she would never say she likes running – it’s just part of her fitness regime) so we all got out for the usual 7km (4.3m).

Tuesday would have been a good day for a run but I stuck to my ‘run less, ride more’ guns. We spent time clearing away bits of tree (and a few bottles and other bit of debris donated by humans) that we had pulled out of the drainage ditch over the weekend. Most of the wood is rotten so, in burning terms, it probably has the calorific value of celery. It’s probably only fit for the bonfire and the wood burner will miss out.

Onto the turbo in the early evening, 45 minutes @28kph (17.4mph). Not quick by recent efforts – I’m wondering if I’ve not been cycling enough, or running too much, or if I’m just lacking the motivation to pedal hard. At this stage I suppose it doesn’t matter too much as long as I get on the turbo and push.

I did 10.2km (6.3m) with my son on Wednesday, after which I give an honourable retirement to another pair of Puma “Speed 500 Ignite” running shoes. I’d put over 620 miles (1000km) on them – about 25% more than the usual recommended maximum life of a pair of running shoes.

They still look in pretty reasonable condition – but the the soles show signs of wear (on the outside edges – such is the way of the under-pronator) and they are very grubby. Although it would show how stupid I’ve been to stick with them for so long, I secretly hope that changing shoes will miraculously cure my knee.

I wasn’t going to run on Thursday but my wife decided she was – so all three of us went out. It was the shortest of our usual routes and after running the wet and muddy track at least I had the resolve not to add any extra mileage on to it. We ran 5.5km (3.4m).

Friday was lovely running weather early on and my wife went out for a socially distanced (and therefore permitted) dog walk with a friend. I was congratulating myself on sticking with my decision not to run when our son came down in running kit and my resolve melted away. We ran for the usual 7km (4.3m) – dodging showers fairly successfully.

Sunday’s forecast was not good so my son and I ran again on a cold and misty Saturday with temperatures hovering about freezing. We took a route that gave us a choice of 7 or 10km – when we got to the decision point we agreed that 7 was the luckier number, so 7km (4.3m). Nothing to do with cumulative tiredness, of course.

On Sunday I was tempted to use the turbo while watching the Six Nations Rugby (it can’t be worse than England v Scotland on Saturday), but good sense has got the better of me and I am taking the day off exercising.

I managed two of the week’s three aims by reducing my running (about 37km, down from 44km last week) and taking a day off – but I didn’t increase the cycling. At least Meatloaf would be proud of me.

Still running, still missing running in London and Bournemouth, still nervous about starting the ultra training, still trying to get back to some proper cycling, still on the lookout for that nasty virus.

Stay safe.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: He that beats the drum for the mad man to dance is no better than the mad man himself

2. BBC News website: A Swedish nurse has won a competition to watch the entire 60-movie programme of the Goteborg Film Festival, alone, from a lighthouse on an isolated island off the coast of Sweden

Festival organisers were forced to curtail the festival by the pandemic. There will be no screenings in cinemas – instead, the entire programme will be streamed online.

Hate to think what the second prize might have been

3. British TV 5th February 2021: Quiz Question – ‘Who did Joe Biden pick as his running mate in the 2020 US Presidential Election?’ Contestant’s answer – ‘Donald Trump’.

Words fail me

4. Sad to see the death of Christopher Plummer who, I suppose, will always be best known for The Sound of Music but who had one heck of a career, including an Oscar in 2012. I wonder if it’s a bit galling to be known for just one of so many roles … but to be remembered at all must be some consolation!

Also sad to see the death of Jim Weatherly. It’s not naturally my type of music but ‘Midnight Train to Georgia’ is a great song by any measure (even though it was originally performed as ‘Midnight Plane to Houston’ which doesn’t have quite the same ring to it).