Category Archives: giro d’italia

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.

Turbo (with added pseudo-science), gym, gym, run (and the small matter of the Giro d’Italia)

Blinding the turbo with science

Back to the turbo trainer on Monday. Typically, I tend to do it like a time trial – trying to work hard and steadily throughout – but should I be a bit more ‘scientific’ to get the best out of it?

I think that means that at least some sessions should incorporate hills (in the absence of any resistance adjustability, I can try to replicate hills by knocking the bike up a couple of gears and pushing hard) and/or sprints.

On Monday I tried it with one minute hard efforts on 2 short hills and 3 short sprints. That made for a tough 45 minutes (@31kph – 19.4mph) as I probably aimed too high by keeping the ‘recovery’ bits at around 30kph – there was relatively little recovery going on.

On Tuesday I was back in the gym for an hour. Nearly one person has asked what I do there. More for my records that anything else, it’s: leg press, abductors, adductors, chest press, leg curl, leg extension, 200 sit-ups, 6 minutes of a plank regime, single leg calf rises (4×20 each leg) and some stretching to finish. Each of the machine exercises is at least 4 sets of 8 reps.

I’ve also started with the shoulder press machine – but I am so bad that the puny weight I lift is almost embarrassing. Perhaps that’s the best reason for sticking with it.

Two days off exercise on Wednesday and Thursday, partly as it felt that an easier week would be a good idea and partly because our older son and his girlfriend came to stay for a few days. Luckily they had been staying at the house in Bournemouth – if they’d been in London the visit would not have been permitted. We are also fortunate that we can keep appropriate social distances here and let them have necessary exclusive facilities.

Gym on Friday, followed by a run back from the garage after dropping off a car for its MOT (6.4km – 4 miles). I found a run straight after the gym quite hard but, to my surprise, I managed sub 6 minute kms.

I decided to take Saturday and Sunday off too. It felt odd not exercising but I stuck with my idea of taking an easier week – the easiest I’ve had for many months. I wonder if next week will see any benefit?

On a week with slim pickings, a short stocktake: body all seeming to work properly (for its age); resting pulse 48; weight about 66kg (146 lbs).

Finally, just as Ineos’ season was being written off after the (relative) failures of Bernal, Thomas and Froome, my congratulations to Tao Geoghegan Hart who won the Giro d’Italia in the final time trial – without ever having been in the leader’s Pink Jersey. The fifth (male) British Grand Tour winner (after Wiggins, Froome, Thomas and Simon Yates). Phenomenal.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: When you see the bird dancing know that someone is beating the drum

2. BBC News website: Luton Airport: Too many passengers at front of plane caused take-off issue

An Airbus A320 was replaced with an A321 ahead of a flight, but an email about the change was not passed on which meant the passenger seating plan was not adjusted to the bigger craft. When the aircraft did not respond twice to the pilot’s normal take-off commands, extra thrust was needed for it to depart safely.

Scary how fragile things can be, when even stuff of this importance falls through the cracks.

3. BBC News: Coronavirus: France puts 46 million under night curfew

The French government is imposing a curfew on two-thirds of the country – 46 million people – from Friday night for six weeks, after a record 41,622 new coronavirus infections in one day.

Wow – a huge infection rate and a huge response for a country of about 65million

4. Cat missing since 2018 found 60 miles away in Coventry

A cat that went missing two-and-a-half years ago has been reunited with its owner after being found about 60 miles away on an industrial estate. The delighted owner thinks the cat stowed away to the Midlands in a lorry.

Nothing like a ‘lost cat reunited with family’ story to lighten the gloom

5. A Nasa probe sent to collect rock from an asteroid several hundred million kilometres from Earth has grabbed so much that samples are spilling out.

I had a picture of a substantial rock pile – perhaps enough for me to make another wall – but the craft is believed to have collected some 400g (14oz) of fragments

Gym (x2), run (x3), dig (x2), turbo, (sloes: picking and gin making) – and an important question

Sloe season – this year’s seem smaller but it feels like there are at least five times as many

Monday’s lunch with friends turned out to be excellent, but rather larger and longer than I’d expected so I ducked out of the evening’s planned turbo session and booked the gym for Tuesday morning.

As the second wave of the virus hits the UK, we are in an area rated in the lowest of the three risk categories so we are subject to the rules in place nationally, but not any stricter local rules. Being retired, our restrictions are mainly about limiting indoor social groups to six, observing social distancing, wearing a face mask in shops and some restrictions in restaurants.

No big deal for us but I do feel for the majority who have job and family worries and those in high risk areas who are subject to stricter local measures. No matter where you stand on the face mask/lockdown/personal freedom debates, please be careful and stay safe out there.

The gym was good – still lightly used and well disciplined in cleanliness and disinfecting. Gyms in the highest Covid risk areas are having to shut from Wednesday but I intend to keep going for as long as I am allowed. For me, the small increase in my infection risk is outweighed by the health benefits and enjoyment factor.

The biggest drawback at the moment is that it is extremely cold in the gym. They can’t use the air conditioning so they have all the windows and doors open – and the heating is off for good economic and environmental reasons.

I’m now working out with a compression top under the normal top, long running trousers and wearing gloves. It would probably be OK if I was there to use the cardio machines – or perhaps I’m just not working hard enough.

A run with my wife on Wednesday morning – our usual 7km (3.4m) route. Chilly and breezy but dry and with some weak autumn sunshine. I had thought I might use the turbo in the evening but ended up doing some digging in the garden which felt like a more than adequate substitute.

I did more of the same on Thursday – it was hard work and it does occur to me that I could save the money spent on the gym if I had a ‘proper’ manual job (or, indeed, any job would be a start, I suppose).

Anyway, I did manage to get on the turbo afterwards – 45 minutes @31.6kph (19.6mph). Quite a step up from the 29.9kph last week and very hard indeed. I can’t calibrate using the turbo against riding on the road – but I do know that it is harder.

Gym on Friday, wrapped up warmly, and more gardening. On Saturday we ran one of the short routes – 5.5km (3.4m) – followed by my annual ritual of sloe picking. They don’t seem quite as big as recent years but the local crop is huge. I picked 5kg of sloes (11 pounds) – this year they are about the size of a blueberry so that’s a lot of sloes.

Laps of the old hill fort on Sunday morning for 8.2km (just over 5 miles). I’m sure the Garmin is under-recording laps which are beneath a pretty dense tree canopy – it will be interesting to see if it changes once the leaves have fallen. Then into sloe gin production – 5 litres (nearly 9 pints) so the family looks destined for ample supplies through 2021 (and beyond).

The day’s big issue

I have a question – while I see the benefit of most running-specific kit, is there any point in running socks? I exclude the ‘5 finger’ socks for use with the Vibram shoes but otherwise are running socks worth the trouble?

The ‘foot specific’ bit and the thicker bits of material in ‘key’ places seems impressive but is it really just a gimmick? I’ve been running in cheap sports socks for a while now (the sort you buy for little money in packs of 5) and I can’t tell the difference. I’ve always worn ‘proper’ socks for marathons, without ever really thinking about it – perhaps they just come into their own for long runs?

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: He who touches the leopard’s testicles must be ready to face its fury

I wonder why leopards in particular. I guess that someone, somewhere, is doing PhD research on the comparative responses of different species to having their testicles tickled.

2. Giro d’Italia: Mitchelton-Scott & Jumbo-Visma withdraw after positive Covid results

The Giro d’Italia appears to be in danger of unravelling as the Jumbo-Visma and Mitchelton-Scott teams withdrew from the Giro d’Italia before Wednesday’s stage after six positive results in the latest round of Covid-19 testing. There are nearly two weeks remaining of this delayed Grand Tour, but the first rest day’s coronavirus testing proves Covid 19 is now in the race ‘bubble’.

So sad, not only for those having to withdraw, but for the race itself.

3. BBC News website: 85 year old runner sets mile record

An 85-year-old runner has set a new record for his age group in the mile, recording a time of eight minutes 10.40 seconds.

Bravo sir

Yates and Chopin – a mighty duo

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I’m feeling that the cycling mojo is returning. I certainly lost it after the ride out to the alps. The bike has a new chain but bears the scars of battle.

Very few professional cyclists ever have a realistic chance of winning a Grand Tour. Simon Yates had the Giro leader’s jersey for 13 stages earlier this year – and then blew up spectacularly late in the race. It seemed possible that his chance had come and gone.

I think that makes his La Vuelta win even more special – rather than let the experience at the Giro crush him, he learned from it and came back stronger.

Although helped a bit by the absence of some big hitters – and the indifferent form of some others – he won with a very mature and disciplined performance. Perhaps a bit more ‘Froome control’ than ‘Pantani panache’ – but a great victory all the same.

… and even a Grand Tour winner not riding for Sky!

I don’t think any brothers have ever won Grand Tours – much less twins – so what are the prospects of a win for Adam Yates in the near future?

                                                                         ___________

Rather more prosaically, my achilles’ has continued to improve, helped by a day off on Saturday, so we ran again on Sunday morning. Normally we run for about 6km but this time Mrs O thought she should go further so we ran 9.5km (6miles). Not too fast, but a creditable distance.

Later on Sunday, along with watching Lewis Hamilton win the Singapore GP and seeing Yates safely home in Madrid, to balance out all the physical stuff we catered for our souls.

There is a talented music teacher in the village and she puts on occasional concerts for her pupils, former pupils and other young musicians. This time it was Aleksei Demchenko, an award winning pianist who played pieces by Scarlatti, Schumann and Chopin.

In the same way that I have no fast-twitch muscle fibres to speak of, I do not have an artistic bone in my body – but I really appreciate it in others and the concert was wonderful.

I don’t listen to music on the bike or while running (I didn’t even take my ipod on the ride out to the alps) but if I did it would have to be classical music. Popular music can evoke many emotions but only classical music can take you completely out of this world.

                                                                           ___________

Running with Mrs O is a good way of putting some miles into my legs but ‘proper’ marathon training is going to require some longer and faster runs so I planned to do a quicker 10km on Monday morning. Unfortunately, I woke with sore achilles tendons again. They weren’t any worse than they have been over the last 10 days or so but it didn’t seem sensible to try a faster run on them. It puts me between a rock and a hard place:

  • I want to keep running to see if I can get better and prove to myself that it is worth entering the Rotterdam Marathon but
  • I need to stop to exercising to let the achilles’ recover so I can then resume running to prove that it was only the weights, and not the running, that caused the problem in the first place.

Typical compromise ‘solution’ (which, of course, means it’s not a solution at all): I’ll stretch, run gently with Mrs O and use the bike or turbo this week.

I hadn’t expected to be in ‘injury management’ mode this early.

Monday morning’s hard turbo, 26km in 30mins @52kph (16.15miles @ 32.3mph).

Tanks, bladders, lawns, running and the bike

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The bike is an ‘Eastman’ – Indian, I think. Goodness knows why anyone would have brought it back to the UK. Next year the plan is to attach a rack and a basket and fill them with flowers.

The Achilles’ have continued to niggle but, foolishly I’m sure, I’ve ignored them and kept on with some reasonably light exercise. Mrs O and I ran for 5km (3miles) on Thursday and I did my now regular run to the gym and back with a friend on Friday – with 30 minutes of weights in between.

I avoided the calf raises which I think caused the problem with the Achilles tendons last week and have been keeping up the stretches, the sit-ups, press-ups and crunches. I suppose I should have stopped the running until they were properly better, but they are improving in spite of it so I guess it’s doing no serious harm. I’m rarely accused of being sensible these days but at least I’m avoiding any longer runs until the tendons settle down again.

Friday evening I got back on the turbo for 42km (26miles) in a reasonably gentle hour (without much ankle flexing).

So, that was four runs and two cycles and a gym session in six days – nothing too extreme but enough to keep it all ticking over.

It’s turned a bit autumnal here, colder and with heavy morning dews – but I managed to get the lawns mowed. It’s a bit of a gauntlet at the moment as the willow has decided that it’s main aim in life is to sweep the ear defenders off my head as I drive the mower beneath it and I had to pick up a wheelbarrow load of fallen apples to stop them blocking the grass pick-up system. First world problems, eh?

However, it’s a relief to get it done. I know it’s strange but a newly mown lawn, an empty bladder and a full tank of fuel on a long journey are all disproportionately satisfying.

_ _ __ _ _ _ _

Bravo, Simon Yates for winning the Vuelta (subject only to some disaster on the final, largely ceremonial, stage tomorrow). Another astonishing performance by a British cyclist – and the three Grand Tours won by three different Brits in 2018!

We hadn’t won a single Grand Tour before 2012 and we have won 9 out of the 20 since – and the last five in a row. Wow!

Also, bravo Vicky Holland for winning the triathlon world title and James Cooke for winning the individual world modern pentathlon title (in what must have been one of the great finishes of recent years).

We might be going to hell in a handcart generally – but at least the sport is pretty good.

Froome goes for the Giro in 2018

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I’m really surprised that Chris Froome has announced that he is entering the Giro d’Italia in 2018. The race starts on 4th May (in Jerusalem of all places) and ends in Rome on the 27th.

It’s not surprising that he would want to win the one Grand Tour that has eluded him so far – all the more so next year as winning it would see him become only the third man to hold all three GC titles at the same time. Joining Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault with that honour would see him in pretty illustrious company!

The more surprising thing is that he would attempt the Giro having seen what participating in it it seemed to do to Nairo Quintana’s Tour de France this year. Perhaps it was simply the temptation of a route that seem so suit him well – with three individual time trials – but I was assuming that he would not prejudice his attempt, in July, to join the five time winners of Le Tour.

Maybe it demonstrates the level of his confidence in his own abilities (and those of the team around him). He’s quoted as being excited at the new challenge but I’ve always regarded him as more of a careful, calculating, racer whose key motivation is winning.

Whatever the reason, it’s just another reason to be looking forward to the Grand Tours of 2018.

I for one hope he can do the Giro/Tour double. What odds on him adding the Vuelta to that?