Category Archives: injury

Swim, turbo, run x3 (1000km for 2022), gym, ride (plus pigeons, sloths and someone else’s wheels falling off)

It’s the first week of the taper to the ultra on 9 July – just 30km this week. After last Saturday’s bad run, my quads were still sore on Monday so I gave running a miss and booked a massage.

The swim doctor session on Monday evening was very good – 950m in a mixture of strokes and drills. It felt like the sea swimming in Corfu had helped a bit although it was, as ever, hard work.

Tuesday was my wife’s birthday but I managed to fit the massage in between a very good lunch in the garden of a riverside pub and chauffeuring her to and from a friend’s for drinks in the early evening.

The massage (my second ever) went well. ‘Kimmo’ is a very pleasant and interesting chap, originally from Finland but he spend 40 years in Canada. His diagnosis confirmed my guess that my quads were very tight/knotted and it was that which caused the hip and knee pain, by virtue of interaction with the iliotibial bands.

It’s exactly what I had 24 years ago when training for the 1998 London Marathon (my first). I suppose that if I go another 24 years before the problem arises again, I’ll have done well (but at 90, how will I know?).

I was trying to work out what might have caused the problem now, having done 17 weeks of training without any big hitches. His guess was that the muscles were getting tight and while the three treadmill runs in Corfu weren’t likely to have actually caused the problem, they probably did finish the job off.

Kimmo suggested not running on Wednesday but to give it a go on Thursday. With luck I still might be able to fit in this week’s 30km – but it won’t matter if I don’t. There isn’t too much running to be done over the next three weeks leading up to the ultra so I suppose I’ll only know for sure if it’s worked when I try the real thing.

As long as the issue can be sorted, I’ll be relieved that it happened now and not on the day of the ultra – I would have been a dnf if the race had been on last Saturday.

I fixed the puncture on the turbo trainer and had a (sweltering) spin on Wednesday (30 minutes @ 29.4kph – 18.3mph). I went for a run on Thursday. I was apprehensive but took it gently and the 13.5km (8.4 miles) took me through 1,000km for the year.

Everything had improved hugely since Saturday’s horror show but the left knee isn’t 100% right so it will need one more massage session – which I’ve arranged for next Tuesday. From despair on Saturday after the run, to optimism on Tuesday after the massage, to doubt now – this is getting very wearing.

My second run of the week was a hot 5km on Friday in the gym – left knee still protesting but if last week was 6/10 for pain, this was down to 4/10. There are five treadmills and only after I finished did I realise that I’d chosen one of the two not in the path of the breeze from the air conditioning unit. I did some weights (and stretching) before the usual stint in the bike shop.

On Saturday I took a turn leading the blue group for the cycle club. We have friends who have taken in two Ukrainian families and Lyn appeared with three 12 year old Ukrainian lads so I rode with them – 34.2km (21.2m). With stops for one puncture (good job I was there to fix it), a phantom puncture, two dropped chains, water, snacks, regrouping, undone shoe laces and rain, it didn’t exactly flow but it was still the most worthwhile ride I’ve done for years.

Final run of the week on Sunday – 13km (8 miles) to complete the week’s 30km. Right thigh, hip and knee all fine, left knee became unhappy after 6 km but down to 3/10 on the pain front. Once started, it didn’t get any worse so fingers crossed for Tuesday’s second massage.

Well, that was better than last week, with success for treatment for the right leg but the need to try again with the left. Until that’s sorted, I’m not really going to be able to relax about the ultra. I am, of course, a reformed character and will diligently stretch as if it’s going out of fashion (as long as I remember to do it).

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Only a wise person can solve a difficult problem

2. BBC News website: Pigeon fanciers say red tape having a devastating effect

Before Brexit, enthusiasts could release their birds in France to race back to the UK, but now Britain is outside the EU birds must now have an export health certificate before they can take part in trans-Channel races.

The certificate has to be signed by an approved vet after completing various tests like an examination of the birds and a check on transportation conditions.

Coo

3. BBC News website: Life in the slow lane

Sloths sleep for about 15 hours a day and move so slowly that algae grows on their fur, acting as a natural camouflage to hide them from potential predators. They move as little as 40m (130ft) a day and can spend up to a month digesting a meal.

They are most at risk on the ground, where they can take more than a minute to move two metres (6.5ft). As they need to leave the trees to go to the toilet, they have developed high-capacity bladders and rectums, which mean they can go for up to a week without having to answer the call of nature. Sloths are extremely good swimmers, their slow metabolism also means they can hold their breath for up to 40 minutes.

I may be part man, part sloth (apart from the bladder and the swimming)

4. BBC News website: 2,700 electric vehicles recalled

The recall comes less than two months after the car was launched in Japan. Toyota told the BBC that bolts on the bZ4X’s wheels “can loosen to the point where the wheel can detach from the vehicle” after “low-mileage use”.

A spokesperson added “If a wheel detaches from the vehicle while driving, it could result in a loss of vehicle control, increasing the risk of a crash”.

Those spokespersons certainly know a thing or two about the importance of car wheels

5. BBC News website: Strava tracks security personnel at secret bases in Israel

A disinformation watchdog has found that by uploading fake running “Strava segments” inside secret facilities, a user could learn the identities and past routes of people active in the area, even if they had the strongest privacy settings. Information about 100 individuals who exercised at six bases was viewable.

Used by more than 95 million people, Strava has a bit of previous – in 2018, the company published a global “heatmap” that revealed the exercise routes of people at military bases around the world, including US facilities in Syria and Afghanistan.

6. My uncle always said ‘Laughter is the best medicine’. He was a great guy – but not a very successful doctor.

Wheels falling off? – Gym and a bad run (plus burkinis, and Happy the unhappy elephant)

After getting back to the UK late on Monday, I drove back to Oxfordshire on Tuesday morning and started doing the washing, while my wife took on the burden of watching the tennis at Queens.

We seem to have brought the sun back with us from Corfu – the temperature was due to rise over the next few days to a fairly rare 30℃ (86℉) on Friday. With the heat, the bruised toe, the washing, gardening (and mowing) and some work being done on the house, I decided not to run until the weekend but that needs to be a long one – the last long run before the ultra on 9th July.

Last week’s long run (which I missed because of the holiday) should have been 45km and this week’s is scheduled at 55km – but I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen. When I decided to sign up the 100km I thought it would be my second ultra – and now I see that, if I had followed the training plan properly, it would have actually been my 4th because of two training runs of ultra distance. Madness!

I went to the gym and did my slot at the bike shop on a very hot Friday. Saturday lived up to the forecast of a cooler day so I ran. I had inspected my tri belt and realised it’s falling apart so I bought a (cheap) running hydration vest in the week and gave it a go.

I had no real idea of how far I was going to run but decided to practice the ‘walk up the hills’ approach recommended for ultras. That’s fine but accepting that walking is OK is, to me, a slippery slope – I’ve run all the way in my three marathons but now I found myself walking a bit on a run that was only 32.5km (just over 20 miles).

A horrible run in just about every way – a real slog with three dumps of pretty cold rain and lots of hip, knee and thigh aches and pains that I’ve not had during the training. Most worrying were pains on the outside of both knees. It was a bit reminiscent of the ITB issue I had more than 20 years ago. I hate the idea of a ‘scented candle’ massage but a sports massage put that right back then so I may be in line for my 2nd ever.

Just the run I didn’t want to go badly …

On Sunday we drove up to London to be treated to lunch by our sons for Father’s Day. Lovely – but the legs are still a bit cranky.

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

Week (of 20) Event’s training plan (km) My actual (km)
17 70 32
Cumulative total 664 692

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Those who accomplish great things pay attention to little ones

2. BBC News website: Grenoble fights to allow “burkini” swimsuits in public pools

Grenoble’s recent decision to authorise all swimwear, including burkinis (which are full body swimsuits covering everything but the hands, feet and face largely worn by Muslim women), in its public pools has sparked a legal battle with the government.

Last month, a local court suspended the council’s policy on the grounds that it seriously undermined the principle of neutrality in public services. France’s Interior Minister called the Grenoble city council’s policy an “unacceptable provocation” that was contrary to French secular values.

No doubt someone thought themselves very clever to mix “burka” and “bikini” to come up with burkini but the burkini is rather the antithesis of the bikini

3. BBC News website: Lynch mob after messaging group rumours

A Mexican political advisor was attacked and beaten by a crowd of around 200 people in the central state of Puebla where he was visiting his grandfather’s house. Rumours began to spread on local WhatsApp group that he had been involved in the kidnapping of a child.

According to local media, the mob then cornered and attacked the man and his two companions, before dragging him to a local field. Police attempted to intervene and placed him in a patrol car, but were quickly overwhelmed by villagers, who doused him in petrol before setting him alight.

The city council said it “strongly disapproves this act and reiterates that criminal behaviour must be judged under the procedures of our rule of law”.

Wow, strong disapproval

4. BBC News website: Happy, the elephant, doesn’t pack her trunk

On Tuesday, New York’s highest court voted 5-2 to reject an animal rights group’s argument that Happy was being illegally confined at the Bronx zoo.

While elephants are “impressive”, the court said, the majority decided that they are not entitled to the same liberty rights as humans and that the legal principle of habeas corpus – which guards against illegal detention – should not be extended to emotionally complex and intelligent animals.

5. Congratulations to Geraint Thomas who won the Tour de Suisse on Sunday.

6. BBC News website: Diamond League, Paris 18 June

I apologise, I’ve mentioned this before but I love it. Competing for the UK in the 100m hurdles at this meeting (finishing 3rd) was Cindy Sember – the international athlete and the answer to the question ‘When is Christmas?’

Run (x4), swim, gym, plus forest living and the perfect hat-trick (nearly)

No bluebells yet although there were loads of snowdrops this week – Spring must be on its way?

Recently, Monday exercise has been just an evening ‘swim doctor’ session. This week my wife, back from an injury, decided on a morning run so I went with her in a cold and very strong wind.

We set out to do hill reps thinking it would be more sheltered from the wind that was gusting to 50mph (80kph) – but we cut them short (I’d done 6) after a sizeable branch fell from the trees overhead. I did a loop to add some mileage and recorded 9.3km (5.8 miles) with 215m of ascent (705 feet).

All the others at the evening swim session were beginners so they were doing drills width-wise. That stopped me swimming lengths so I joined in with their drills. At the end of the session, lengths became possible and, to my surprise, I was swimming them in a much improved (but still relatively poor) 24 strokes compared to my previous (completely pathetic) rate of nearer 30 strokes. Some progress, at last.

After a bit of research, I had found a spray that looked likely to help with my sinus’ sensitivity to the pool’s chlorine. I tried a dose before I went and one when I got back – no sneezing fits during the night and relatively clear sinuses which is encouraging.

My running partner still hors de combat thanks to his dodgy ankle – sadly, a bit dodgier than it initially appeared – and will be off running for a little while yet. He runs and cycles well (ankles permitting) but, like me, finds the swimming harder. Replacing running with swimming for a couple of weeks won’t exactly be fun but might pay off for him in triathlon terms?

The 20-week ultra marathon training programme started on Monday but I’m ignoring that for now as I’ll be doing more mileage anyway in the early weeks. I didn’t fancy going up to run on the Ridgeway in the current bitingly cold winds so, in my friend’s absence, I’ve decided to see if I can do 40+km each week, with one longer run. The first week that the training plan gets beyond 40km is week 11.

I took Tuesday off exercise but ran with my wife on Wednesday – just over 7km (4.4 miles). I swapped days at the gym and went with my training partner on Thursday for what turned out to be a good session. With more running, I’m cutting back a bit on the leg exercises and doing more on the core and upper body to help my swimming. Struggling with technique? Go for brute force.

The rest of the day was for doing chores and being gravely sad about the Russian invasion of Ukraine – I didn’t think I’d live to see any such military action in Europe. There were reports of more than 1700 arrests at anti-war protests across Russia on Thursday – brave people. Everything seems horribly trivial in comparison to what’s going on there.

On Friday, I resisted another visit to the gym but after my stint at the charity bike shop the weather was so much better than the recent muck we’ve been having that I decided to go for the week’s long slow run. With no hat, gloves, buff or jacket, but with a plan for about 18km, I pushed on to complete the half marathon – 21.3km (13.2 miles), very slowly.

Having doubled up on Monday, I took a second rest day on Saturday but on Sunday I made up for the two missed hill reps from Monday (by running three of them) and finished off with six laps around the old hill fort – 10.9km (6.8 miles). It was sunny but chilly – hat, buff, gloves and jacket all made a return.

A decent week for the exercise with some swimming progress and 48.5km (just over 30 miles) of running – but still the saddest week I can remember for a long time.

Running shoes

On Monday a second pair of Puma Speed 500 Ignites (how do they come up with the names?) went through 800km and have been retired from active service. The soles confirm that I still under-pronate and run heavier on my left foot than my right. Pair 3 are at 230km and pair 4 are waiting in their box.

One pair of Puma ‘Netfits’ are well used with a second new pair also in a box. My trail shoes and two pairs of Asics have about 300km between them and my minimalist shoes have 50km and are waiting for better weather.

Even with over 1000km of ultra training to be run by July, it feels like I have plenty enough – but what if any of them split, or rip, or start to hurt, or leave home to join the circus …. and does anyone really have enough in the way of running shoes?

Two new pairs of Puma Velocity Nitro running shoes have arrived!

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: A fish that keeps its mouth closed never gets hooked

2. BBC News website: Disney appoints executive to lead metaverse strategy

Technology giants, including Facebook owner Meta and Microsoft, are pouring billions of dollars into the metaverse which Disney chief executive Bob Chapek said is “the next great storytelling frontier”.

He describes the metaverse as a “perfect place to pursue our strategic pillars of storytelling excellence, innovation, and audience focus” giving “an opportunity to connect those universes and create an entirely new paradigm for how audiences experience and engage with our stories.

I thought we had enough problems with the current universe (or perhaps that’s why we have to invent another?). I don’t intend to apply for a passport to any metaverse

3. BBC News website: in Man lives, unnoticed, in forest for 30 years

The 79 year old grew up in a village which was knocked down in the 1980s to make way for new high-rise buildings in Singapore, one of the world’s most highly urbanised countries. Unable to secure new government accommodation and not wanting to impose on his family he went to a forest close to his old home and started to spend nights in a makeshift shelter before making the move permenant.

He grew his own food and sold flowers and vegetables in the markets. He even managed weekly trip to an Indonesian island where, in his 60s, he had a child with a local woman.

The now shares a small one bedroom flat with another man and works as a driver, and sometimes a gardener. He says he prefers living in a flat but misses the freedom of life in the forest. “I return to the forest every single day. I wake up at 3 AM, get dressed and head out to check on my vegetables, all before my workday begins.”

Good for him. I’ll bet he’s excited at the prospect of the metaverse.

4. BBC News website: Man dies after allegedly having leg sawn off

A man has been charged with murder after allegedly sawing another man’s leg off in north-eastern Australia. Police believe the man and the suspect had some sort of arrangement in which the younger man would amputate the older man’s leg.

Police said the men drove to the park together before the 36-year-old allegedly cut the other’s leg off under the knee with a circular saw. The suspect assisted the injured man back to the car before leaving on foot. A passer-by found the injured man and called the emergency services, but the 66-year-old died shortly afterwards.

5. BBC News website: New Zealand defender Meikayla Moore hits hat-trick

In fact, in the match against the USA, she scored the ‘perfect’ hat-trick – one goal with with her left foot, one with her right foot and one with a header. Sadly, they were all in her own net.

Swim, run (x4), gym, plus Big Jim and Chinese Friends having a chat(!)

Rather inconsequential local storm damage

Monday was Valentine’s Day. I went for broke in the cooking this year with lobster thermidor – a good choice as it just about made up for me going to the swim doctor session in the early evening.

The session was based on the breaststroke, which is of little interest to me as I really only want to swim front crawl for the purpose of triathlons. However, no matter how bad I was at the drills (and I was really bad), I enjoyed the session (I don’t know why). It’s all valuable learning – I now know that while the medial collateral ligament I hurt a couple of years ago is happy with running, cycling and crawl leg kick, it doesn’t like the sideways pressure of a breast stroke leg kick.

The lobster thermidor was a great success, despite the fact that I’d never tackled a lobster before (I bought whole lobsters and had to ‘dismantle’ them) and had little idea of what a thermidor sauce was before making one.

Last week, my usual reaction to the pool (the chlorine?) had been mild, this week, I started sneezing at 3am. Half an hour and three handkerchiefs later that stopped but I couldn’t breathe through my nose for the rest of the night – rather miserable. I’m not sure what to do about it – I could try a nose clip but I have tried one before and wasn’t keen. Perhaps there is a sinus spray I can try – I’ll research it.

The plan had been to do hill reps on Tuesday but I was tired and still unable to breathe freely – and it was cold and very wet. It didn’t take much to decide not to run but I did get out to pick up our younger son who came home for a ‘reading week’ during his PGCE (teacher training) course. He and I did a very enjoyable 10.4km (6.4 miles) in much milder – but still windy – conditions on Wednesday morning.

My running partner is, sensibly, protecting a less-than-100% ankle so our planned Ridgeway run for Thursday was postponed. With enthusiasm, I embraced the concept of a cut-back week (for long, or trail, runs at least) but that didn’t mean I was excused 8 hill reps on Thursday – which logged 8.6km with 293m of ascent (5.5 miles and 960 feet). I creaked for the rest of the day and the gym on Friday was quite difficult too but the stint in the bike shop was therapeutic.

Europe, including the UK, has been hit by a couple of storms this week with very dangerous winds which, sadly, caused some fatalities. In Oxfordshire, we have been lucky to be only on the edge of the worst affected areas – we suffered little more than a short power failure, but we spent the rest of the day hunkered down in the house.

If you want a good example of how having a running companion can be a benefit and a curse, Saturday is a case in point.

I woke still feeling creaky and decided that, at most, I might get on the turbo later in the day. Then our son came down in running kit and I immediately decided to go with him. By the time I got ready, it was raining heavily – I would have canned the run but the rain was set in for the day so we went anyway. Within 2km, the rain was colder and heavier, interspersed with sleet for light relief.

The best decision we made was at the point where we either turn back to make it 10km or carry on home for 7km. In all, 7.2km @ 5.48/km, completely soaked. It was strangely enjoyable, perhaps because normally it wouldn’t have happened and perhaps because it was properly daft to have done it.

My wife has been struggling with an injury but had improved enough to try a run on Sunday so we had a gentle outing for 7.88km (4.9 miles) to finish off the week.

Interesting stuff this week

1. The big news of the week was Big Jim over at Fit Recovery smashing through the 1 million views on his website where he tackles recovery from addiction, cycling, bowling, family, life and all that sort of stuff with humour and good sense. If you don’t know the site, why not have a look (after all, we’ve got to get him to 2 million).

By tradition, the African wise words are always first in this section – but not this week

2. African wise words: Don’t think there are no crocodiles just because the water is calm

3. BBC News website: Chinese streaming platforms accused of censoring Friends

Friends has a massive following in China, with many crediting the show with teaching them English and introducing them to US culture but Chinese fans have complained of scenes being deleted, including those that refer to a lesbian character, and another featuring a same-sex kiss.

Incorrect subtitles were also used to downplay sexual references. In one scene, the phrase “multiple orgasms” was translated to the Chinese phrase for “women have endless gossips”.

4. BBC News website: One-word gaffe invalidates thousands of baptisms

At the centre of the controversy is a pastor’s use of the word “we” instead of “I” in the phrase “I baptise you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. Catholic teaching is that only Jesus Christ has the power to baptise – not the wider community or the Church.

According to the Catholic Diocese, the Pastor was reciting the words incorrectly until 17 June 2021. The Church has declared all baptisms he conducted up to that date invalid – local media has put the number of baptisms affected in the thousands.

I wonder if God is as concerned about this as the church is?

5. BBC News website: Saudi Arabia: 28,000 women apply for 30 train driver jobs

For decades, Saudi Arabia had one of the world’s lowest female workforce participation rates and this is the first time such roles have been advertised for women.

In recent years the government has made efforts to increase the number of women in work as part of a plan to diversify the oil-dependent economy. As a result of such changes, the participation of women in the workforce has almost doubled over the past five years to 33%, and more women than men entered the workforce in the first half of last year.

6. BBC News website: American ultra runner breaks 100-mile world record

Camille Herron broke her own women’s world record in winning the USA Track and Field 100-mile Championships. The 40-year-old beat her previous mark by almost a minute and a half, winning in 12 hours 41 minutes 11 seconds – averaging around 7:37 minutes per mile. She finished almost half an hour ahead of first male athlete who came home in 13:10:25.

Bravo!

7. With the storms in the news this week, I’ve decided to write a book about the high winds – I’ve started the first draft.

Sorry

Turbo, run (hill reps), run, gym and Happy Christmas

An earlier post this week – exercise finished, family all back home and I now expect to devote myself to eating my body weight in chocolate. I wish everyone a very happy Christmas.

Back home on Sunday night after the Covid-tested get-together with my wife’s brothers and (some of their) families. It was a cold Monday but I managed 45 minutes on the turbo for 22.35km @30kph.

Very high volumes of new UK Covid cases continue – for now no tighter restrictions are being put in place, but nor have they been ruled out. I wasn’t exactly feeling the joy of running on a cold Tuesday morning but managed to haul myself out for 8 reps of the usual hill – this time Strava made it 8.5km with 286m of ascent (5.3 miles and 938 feet).

Later I got in the car and drove to London to pick up our younger son. He’s been very careful and fortunate (and long may he stay so) and has stayed clear of the virus, despite being in a shared London flat where one flatmate recently had it, and working on placement in a London school for the last few months.

Wednesday was cold and frosty so our younger son and I canned the intended run but in the evening I drove to pick up our older son who had come out of Covid quarantine having tested negative for a few days. He was not able to join us last year because of last minute Covid restrictions so it’s great to all be here this year.

I drove to Bournemouth on Thursday to check on the house and an internet provider change – all is well. It was supposed to be mild and dry but it rained all the way down there. Happily, it cleared long enough for me to get a run down the seafront to Boscombe Pier and back – just over 8.5km (5.3 miles) and a negative split thanks to the headwind on the way out.

Gym on Friday morning for an hour, sticking with the increased weights.

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

I hate to tempt fate but (at a fairly low level of intensity) so far so good. The knee and Achilles tendons that have been problems for a couple of years are behaving reasonably well (right hip slightly less so) and the hill reps that they stopped me doing for all that time seem to be working well. I can do three or four runs a week for 30+km (20+ miles) but the true test will be when it all ramps up as proper training starts in a couple of months.

The frustrating thing is that I’d give a lot to be in this sort of shape in the early Spring rather than in December. I think the sensible approach is to keep doing as much as I feel able to without (I hope) risking injury. Easy, eh? With the triathlon in May, what I should be doing is improving my swimming – but it’s dark and cold so that will have to wait.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: The axe forgets but the tree remembers

2. BBC News website: ‘Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim’rous beastie’*

An ambitious plan to eradicate mice from an island in the South Atlantic appears to have failed as a camera trap on Gough Island (roughly halfway between Africa and South America and home to one of the world’s largest seabird colonies) showed that at least one mouse had survived. The presumption is that where there is one mouse there are likely to be more.

Mice are thought to have been introduced to the island by sailors in the 19th century and have been feeding on the chicks and eggs of seabirds. The entire project costed more than £9million (about $12m) and the aim was that it would be a “one off”, to turn the clock back and eliminate the mice once and for all.

*’To a mouse’ by Robert Burns

3. BBC News website: South Korean dairy giant, Seoul Milk, apologises for advert

The clip starts with a man with a camera wandering through the countryside who then, hidden in bushes, films a group of women drinking from a stream and doing yoga. When he steps on a twig it startles the women who suddenly turn into cows.

The advert has sparked a national debate over sexism and gender sensitivity issues but some also voiced concerns about the man surreptitiously filming the group of women, with spy cam crimes in South Korea having risen over the past few years.

OK marketing department, who thought that could possibly be a good idea?

4. BBC News website: Brazil wildfires killed an estimated 17 million animals

Wildfires burned in the Brazilian Pantanal wetlands between January and November 2020. Scientists attempted to count the animals killed by huge wildfires and estimate that as many as 17 million vertebrates – including reptiles, birds and primates – died.

22,000 separate fires recorded during the year destroyed about 30% of the world’s largest tropical wetland.

So sad. It’s hard to comprehend the scale of the destruction

5. BBC News website: Money manager disappears with $313m

A company that was once one of China’s biggest property developers says it has “lost contact” with a British Virgin Islands-registered wealth manager, that has $313m (£235m) of its money.

Fortune Land said it had expected the investment through China Create Capital to generate annual interest of 7% to 10% until the agreement was due to expire at the end of 2022 but it is now unable to contact the money manager.

I assume China Create Capital thinks it’s managed that money rather well

6. BBC News website: Chip shortage in Japan

For once it’s not a lack of semiconductors that is causing the problem but McDonald’s is suffering a potato shortage in Japan due to the global supply chain crisis. As a result it will only sell small portions of its French fries in Japan from Friday until 30 December.

McDonald’s said it usually imports the potatoes it uses from a port near Vancouver in Canada but ships have faced delays due to flood damage and the impact of the pandemic on the global supply chain. It will now turn to alternative measures, including flying supplies to Japan.

Forget Covid – this is the end of civilisation as we know it

Gym, run (trail), run (hill-reps), gym, turbo (plus poles and punctuality)

A rather curious 4.30am sneezing fit on Monday morning confirmed that Sunday’s run hadn’t really helped to hasten the end of last week’s cold. The sore knee in the morning was equally unwelcome.

There had been no issue with it on the run, or during the rest of Sunday so it was a bit of a mystery. I spent some time raking about 10 million leaves from the lawn (I lost count just after 5 million but I was barely half way through so you’ll have to trust me on this) but otherwise put my feet up.

The knee had improved by Tuesday but was still not right. I was tempted to try the usual hill reps session but I had a more important run scheduled for Wednesday and it would have been foolish to have put that at risk. For once I followed the logic and went to the gym instead. I skipped the leg press, leg extension and leg curl machines and tried the upper body ones with a bit more weight. Cycling club AGM in the evening.

The run planned for Wednesday was with the friend I did the triathlon with this year (and with whom I’ll be doing next year’s triathlons and ultra marathon). It’s his birthday at the end of the week and, as he particularly loves his running, I’d suggested a birthday run instead of the more usual birthday ride.

We drove up above the village of Bishopstone and onto the Ridgeway, the scene of the ultra marathon I did this year and the one we will both do in 2022. We had a glorious run on a lovely morning – chilly enough for me to be wearing my warmer pair of running trousers and warm enough for my friend to be in shorts. Me, cold weather wimp? … guilty as charged. Still sneezing.

The Ridgeway has a very good surface along this section and we ran to the Uffington White Horse and back – 12.38km (7.7 miles) @6:04/km. It’s sobering to think that this pace is a much faster than we will be aiming for on the ultra itself – but even at this pace we’d have over 10 hours of solid running.

We’d parked by ‘The Flying Pig’ which is the mobile food trailer owned by a well-known local farmer who was an early adopter of organic methods – but in spite of what it said on their Facebook page it had not opened by the time we got back to the car. We drove down to the village to the pub owned by the farmer. They were apologetic about the error on the Facebook page and made us excellent bacon rolls, even though they hadn’t yet opened for food. A good example of how, once things go wrong, it’s the way you address the problem that makes all the difference.

My knee was good throughout the run, ached a little after, but was OK by Thursday morning. After the previous day’s trail run, I was probably unwise to do the week’s hill-reps but managed another 10 reps – just over 10km (6.2 miles) and 335m of ascent (1,100 feet). Still sneezing.

Autopilot took me to the gym and then the bike shop on Friday morning. I adopted the ‘legs lite’ version of the gym and am making some progress with the upper body exercises although it’s hard when the smallest weight increment on offer adds another 20% to what I’ve been lifting on my ‘worst’ machine.

The plan had been to run on Saturday morning before heading up to London for a friend’s birthday lunch, but I was tired. A good thing about being so far away from the next challenge is that taking an extra day’s rest is no big deal so I ditched the run.

With a second run planned to recce the Ridgeway on Monday, I decided not to risk my knee by running on a chilly Sunday morning. I took to the turbo in the afternoon while watching the first half of English women’s rugby team playing well against the USA (29-0 at half time – final score 89-0 … sorry USA). I managed 45minutes @ 31.6kph (19.6mph) – much faster than recent efforts – strange how much easier it is with a pumped-up rear tyre … doh.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: No shortcuts exist to the top of a palm tree

2. BBC News website: The importance of timekeeping on Japanese railways

A Japanese train driver was docked 85 yen (£0.55 – 75 US cents) for causing a one-minute delay to operations after he had gone to the wrong platform at Okayama station.

The rail company agreed to reduce the fine after the driver pointed out that there was no disruption to timetables or passengers, as the train was empty. The employee refused to accept the reduced fine and is suing for 56 yen in unpaid wages and 2.2 million yen (£14,347) in damages for mental anguish.

3. BBC News website: Santa is dead, long live Santa

The English town of Bury St Edmunds has launched its Christmas event under the title the “Bury Santa Experience”.

The town’s mayor said that, given the attention it had attracted, he was not sure whether it was a “faux pas or marketing genius”.

‘Visit Santa’s Grotto – bring your own shovel’

4. BBC News website: Library book returned 73 years late

The book Stately Timber by Rupert Hughes, an adventure story set in Boston, was returned to Dunfermline Library last week – it should have been returned by 6 November 1948.

Staff worked out that £2,847 could have been due in late fees but there has been an amnesty on fees throughout the pandemic to encourage members to return books.

Must have been a slow reader.

Quite impressive but the world record for the most overdue library book is held by one returned to Sidney Sussex College at Cambridge University. It was borrowed in 1668 and returned 288 years later.

5. BBC News website: Totem pole completes 5,500 mile voyage

A specially-commissioned totem pole has completed a 5,500 mile voyage from Mexico to southern Scotland. It has travelled throughout Britain – including a visit to Glasgow during COP26 – to highlight the climate change concerns of indigenous peoples.

“Everywhere it has been, Totem Latamat has been welcomed with songs and ceremonies, movingly showing the spirit of global solidarity between our own communities and the indigenous people who stand on the front line of climate change” said a representative of the Festival that commissioned it.

Now that it has delivered its message, it will be “returned to the Earth” – and allowed to naturally decompose – in Dumfries and Galloway where “Because it is made of natural materials, its decay will enrich the planet”.

I feel enriched already

Ultra marathon – very hard, but I survived

One thing I learned from running over the years was that a marathon is ‘a very long way’. On Sunday, I learned a second useful thing – ultra marathons are, forgive the technicality, ‘even further’.

For someone who thinks that 8am is unreasonably early, the alarm at 4.35am came as a horrible shock. We were out of the house just after 5am (my wife, very nobly, drove me to the start) and after registering and being zapped to test my temperature, I got away a little before 6am.

The plan was to travel light and the decent weather held good with about 13℃ (55℉) at the start. Just a thin gilet (not used), arm warmers (used throughout), phone, small medical kit (unused), Garmin, water bottle, reading glasses, sanitiser (unused), mask (unused), card/cash (card used for a beer at the finish) and suncream (unused).

I thought there were 4 food stops en route coming every 10k – but I did some checking and discovered there were 3 and the gaps were 10, 13 and 15k (and then 12k to the finish).

I wouldn’t normally think of taking water with me for a run of 15km but with the cumulative distance it looked like it was unwise to drink only at the food stops. Everything I had read said they were very well stocked so no need to take anything by way of nourishment but I started well hydrated and with two oat bars for breakfast.

I felt good at the the first food stop so had just a couple of mouthfuls of water and two peanut bars. It hadn’t been too hilly and I’d got into a comfortable, steady, stride – about 1h10 for the first 10k.

I held that pace to the second food stop where I discovered the delights of flat coke. I had some there (together with an oat bar and a small bag of dried fruit) and took a little with me. The next 10k was a little slower (30k in about 3h 35m) but then I slowed further with a big hill (130m in under 5k) just before the last food stop (two bags of Skittles and a little more Coke, drunk there and taken with me).

I had run for the whole of the first half of the race but since then I’d adopted the ‘walk the bigger and steeper hills’ philosophy which helped me get to the finish but slowed me down (1h 16m for the last 10k).

In all, the run clocked in at just over 51k with a chip time of 6h 39m and, I think, a moving time of about 25 minutes less.

I managed my normal aims of completing the run safely and enjoying it, and if I had a time target, it was for the chip time to start with 6 hours – so I’m very happy, especially given my much compromised training. Being free of the burden of time was a real blessing – I didn’t look at the time once during the whole run.

It was hard – at one point or another just about everything hurt, particularly both thighs, left hip, both knees, my right foot and both arms (maintaining them in running position, I assume). I also had the usual ‘cramp warning’ signs in my foot and both calf muscles but happily they all came to nothing.

The weather stayed cool, no more than 15℃ (about 59℉). At one time I thought I was going to get cold and wet but that came to nothing too.

What probably hit me hardest was the number of hills (657m of climbing in 51k) and the conditions underfoot. I learned that as you run in a deep rut or along a narrow track the width of a car tyre, the neighbouring rut or track always looks better.

At 66, I guess that might be my first and last ultra. If I were to do another, I’d want to do it better and faster – but I’m not sure my knees will be up to a proper training schedule. I don’t know if all the results are in but currently I sit 57th out of more than 140 and first in my age group (of only 4!) – with just one older person ahead of me.

On balance, very happy with the run and very happy to have completed an ultra marathon. Just at the moment, my legs are a little less happy with it.

Swim, swim, run, gym, turbo, birthday and eager anticipation

Hampton Court (either they built it on a slant or I’m a poor photographer)

For some time I’ve posted on Sundays prattling on about life, challenges and the week’s running, swimming, cycling and gym. Here is a deviation from that due to tomorrow’s ultra marathon.

I’m not sure if the change is because I may be incapable of posting tomorrow, or because there should be something to say about the ultra. Perhaps its just because it’s my 66th birthday today (10th July) and if I want to post on my birthday, I can.

Winding back to the start of the week, I swam on Monday evening. I’m still struggling with swimming for very good reasons – I don’t love it, I’m not good at it, I’m not improving very quickly, who wants to leave home at 20.40 to go and swim and it really aggravates my sinuses.

However, having said all that, I swam 1.65km – further than before – in 48 minutes and there were fleeting moments when it almost felt good (but still slow). On the other hand, I sneezed continuously from 5 to 8am on Tuesday morning. Sufficiently bad that I took an antihistamine – the first medicine of any sort that has passed my lips this year.

Tuesday saw another marvellous stage win in Le Tour for Mark Cavendish – can he get the record and/or the Green Jersey?

Back to the pool on Tuesday evening. It wasn’t that I particularly wanted to swim, but I’m trying to go twice a week and I thought that if the swim was going to cause any more sinus issues, it would be better to get them out of the way early. As it was, no sinus problems. My first time swimming on successive days and it was OK – another 1km. I’m no faster but there are moments when I think it is getting a little easier.

I ran with my wife on Wednesday morning, just the 5.5km as it’s too late to try to make up for lost training. I wore the kit I plan to use for the ultra on Sunday and took the equipment I intend to carry with me. As is traditional for any run close to an event, it felt really hard and everything hurt.

In the afternoon I watched Le Tour tackle Ventoux. I love that mountain – completing the ‘Cinglés du Mont Ventoux’ (climbing it three times) is one of the two best days I’ve ever had on a bike (my ‘Everest’ being the other). More good sport on the TV in the evening as England made it to the final of the Euro Football Championships.

I did a gentle session in the gym on Thursday morning before we drove to London to the Hampton Court Garden Festival (previously the Flower Show) – which was an enjoyable trip out but not so good for the ‘stay off your feet’ advice before long runs. I managed to blister my small toe, right foot and that’s really not good.

After Hampton Court it was supper with our older son and then up to the flat for the night. Back home on Friday in time for my bike shop session and a chance to watch glorious history being made as Mark Cavendish equalled Eddie Merckx’s record of 34 Tour de France stages. Magnificent.

An easy 30 minute spin on the turbo in the evening for 15.2km, dedicated to Cavendish and Merckx (but not at their speeds) just to keep the legs moving. I managed to fit in the start of an ear infection on Friday night too – how is it that I’m not ill for months and then fray at the edges at exactly the wrong time?

Which brings me back to today, my 66th birthday. A very quiet one – I managed to convince our younger son to go on the stag weekend he’d been invited to and that made it easier to dissuade our older son from coming back here. Lunch out at a local restaurant was lovely, modest on the alcohol, and early to bed.

As for the ultra tomorrow, who knows? After damaging a knee ligament 4 weeks into the training, I had a 4 week lay-off and never felt confident enough in it to resume a proper training programme. That leaves me badly undercooked but I have a very stubborn streak and no great ambitions as to the time it might take me. I live in hope.

Fantasy Football league: Still holding on to second place, with younger son now up into third. Just the final to go and it looks really tight – do I go all out for England, for Italy or do I hedge my bets? The problem is that team news is revealed only an hour before kick off and by then I may be in a befuddled state, incapable of making sensible decisions.

Interesting stuff this week

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

2. BBC News Website: Covid lockdown sees man break M&M record

The world record for the tallest stack of M&M’s has been broken by a British man who managed to balance five of the chocolate sweets on top of each other. The previous record of four was jointly held by men from Italy and Australia.

You could lose yourself in such a challenge although I guess my time would be better spent cleanin’ out my closet

3. BBC News Website: Parents of children called Alexa challenge Amazon

Parents of children called Alexa say their daughters are being bullied because of its use for Amazon’s virtual assistant. Some have even changed their child’s name because they say the barrage of Alexa jokes is “relentless”.

Amazon says it is “saddened” by these accounts, and that alternative wake words are available.

Alexa, print me off a deed poll

4. BBC News Website: Nude sunbathers fined for breaching Covid rules

The men were sunbathing on a beach south of Sydney and ran into bushland after they got spooked by a deer. They were found after they called for assistance but were fined for breaching a public health order banning those in greater Sydney from travelling outside the area.

“It’s difficult to legislate against idiots,” the NSW Police Commissioner said at a press conference on Monday when speaking about the incident.

Australian police telling it like it is

5. BBC News website: Euro 2020: £36,000 raised for crying fan to go to charity

A Englishman who raised £36,000 for a young German football fan who was filmed crying as England knocked Germany out of Euro 2020, says the money will go to charity.

The girl’s family said they wanted the money to be donated to Unicef, saying “In the interests of our daughter and our family we would like to remain private, however we wish to thank everyone for your amazing support. Our daughter would like to request your generous donations go to Unicef, knowing that your kindness will do good.”

Ahhh

Run, gym, swim, cycle training, run, mechanic, run, run

After a social and food-filled Sunday, we had little enthusiasm for exercise on Monday but my wife and I got out for a short run – down a drying Puddleduck Lane – 5.5km (3.4 miles) at 6.33 min/km.

We also managed the first croquet of 2021, on the best day of the year so far – strange, Bank Holidays are usually cold and wet.

One reason for getting out on Monday was that Tuesday was the day for the interment of my father’s ashes – just the 17 months after his death. That meant a drive north to meet up with my sister, brother-in-law and their daughters, it was just a close family affair at the crematorium where my mother’s ashes are buried.

The funeral service was a very good celebration of his life but the interment of the ashes felt like little more than a footnote to it all. At the same time, it was good to see family and to see my parents ‘reunited’ – they were married for nearly 64 years. A good day, but about 6 hours of driving.

Gym on Wednesday for an hour and then some time up at the Cycle Park where publicity activities were taking place about the club winning the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service 2021. We got a good deal of coverage by local press and radio and TV cameras were up there filming for the evening news, so we needed to ensure a decent turn-out in club shirts.

Back to the pool in the evening where I decided to follow the advice of the open water instructor and make the ‘already hard’ into ‘even harder’.

For me, the three big extra challenges presented by open water swimming are temperature, navigation and, especially, the absence of pool ends to cling onto and gasp for breath. The instructor’s advice was to swim in a ‘U’ just before reaching the end of the pool so there is no gliding into the end, no holding on and no push off from the end.

I found the ‘U turn’ pretty impossible in a fairly narrow lane so I ended up stopping and treading water while I turned and then starting from stationary, with no push off. It does indeed make pool swimming much harder (as if it wasn’t hard enough already). I managed the new approach for only 10 lengths but I guess that was even harder than swimming a straight 250m, because of the stopping and starting. In total, 1km.

On Thursday morning I was in charge of a session of cycle training giving road safety experience to children who are more confident at riding. We went for a ride of about 10km round the town and through the Town Centre, reporting back with a full complement of (quite tired) children but no falls or injuries.

I managed to squeeze in a short run with my wife on Friday morning (5.5km – 3.4 miles) before the usual session manning the charity bike shop.

Saturday was pleasantly warm – my first run in lycra shorts and a short sleeved running shirt for at least 8 months. One of our usual runs for 7km (4.3 miles). Croquet in the afternoon and evening

Sunday was cooler but in the morning I got out and ran further than I have run since hurting my knee. It was a very enjoyable (but hard and hot) 17km (10.6 miles). The first time beyond 10km since hurting my knee – hardly ultra marathon training distances but I’m still playing it safe. A cycle club social gathering

Sunday was cooler but in the morning I got out and ran further than I have run since hurting my knee. It was a very enjoyable (but hard and hot) 17km (10.6 miles). The first time beyond 10km since hurting my knee – hardly ultra marathon training distances but I’m still playing it safe. A cycle club social gathering to look forward to in the afternoon to finish a pretty good – but hard – week.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: The young bird does not crow until it hears the old ones

2. BBC News website: Claimant awarded £2,000 damages – and ordered to pay £500,000 interim costs

The claimant sought £3.7m in damages. The defendant had made two good offers to settle the claim (both way in excess of the £2000 ultimately awarded) but both were declined. That put the claimant at risk of having to pay costs from the date of the offer if he failed to beat it in court.

However, the court heard that the defendant had received a ‘completely factually inaccurate’ answer to a request for information and that the claim from this point on was advanced through a ‘plainly untruthful case’ on a major point in the litigation. That opened the claimant up to the award of full costs against him.

I wonder if the claimant can spell ‘pyrrhic victory’

3. BBC News website: Tanzanian MPs demand apology for ‘tight’ trousers incident

Female MPs in Tanzania have called for an apology to an MP who was ordered to leave parliament because of her trousers.

A male MP said the way some women dressed invited ridicule to parliament. “Mr Speaker, an example there is my sister seated on my right with a yellow shirt. Look at the trousers she has worn, Mr Speaker!” Hussein Amar said in parliament on Tuesday.

Mr Amar did not elaborate on what he found wrong with Ms Sichwale’s outfit, but quoted the parliamentary rules which allow women to wear trousers but stipulate that clothes should not be tight-fitting.

4. BBC News website: Chilean own goal over drone spying fear

Chile and Argentina have a fierce football rivalry and when Chile’s national team saw a drone hovering above a training session, it suspected its rival of spying ahead of their World Cup qualifier.

The team sent up its own drone which swiftly brought down the “spy-cam” but rather than being a devious Argentine device, the drone turned out to be from a Chilean energy company.

5. BBC News website: Magawa the hero rat retires from job detecting landmines

In a five-year career, the rodent sniffed out 71 landmines and dozens more unexploded items in Cambodia.

While he is far larger than many other rat species, he is still small and light enough that he does not trigger mines if he walks over them. The rats are trained to detect a chemical compound within the explosives, meaning they ignore scrap metal and can search for mines more quickly. Once they find an explosive, they scratch the top to alert their human co-workers.

Co-workers hadn’t really come into the dictionary before I retired. Rarely do I fail to read it at first glance as cow orkers

Swim (sort of), swim (ish), swim (nearly), run (x2), gym, cycle trainer, turbo

On Monday I went to the local swimming pool. I was nervous getting back to running after my lay-off, but nothing compared to the thought of swimming for the first time in a few years.

I learnt to swim at school but they were more ‘not drowning’ lessons than actual ‘swimming’ lessons as there was no real attention to technique – just short term survival in the water.

In theory I can swim very well – I’ve studied the websites and YouTube videos – it’s just when it comes to doing it in real life that it all falls apart. I can make some forward progress in the water, but it is nothing like a fair return for all the effort, gasping and splashing that goes into it. On Monday I swam for about 30 minutes, front crawl(ish) but with no idea of how many lengths I managed.

The triathlon in September has an open water swim so I have an open water training session arranged in less than two weeks (hence getting into the water now) but so much more practice is going to be needed to get anything useful out of that session.

My biggest problem is that I have been told that with open water swimming there are no pool ends every 25 metres where you can pretend to be turning while desperately clinging on and sucking in air. What are they thinking of?

I was in rather the more comfortable surroundings of a run of just over 7km (4.4 miles) on Tuesday morning – dry land is much underrated in my opinion.

However, I must try to improve my swimming fairly quickly, and, sadly, the best way of doing that seems to be to do more swimming. Therefore it was back to the pool in the evening for 30 minutes, but remembering to count the lengths swum – 40 (1km).

After a day off on Wednesday it was back to the gym for an hour on Thursday morning and back in the pool in the evening. Another 1km but just a little faster at 28 minutes.

I don’t know if it’s a sign that I’m doing it right or doing it wrong but I can feel some muscles (the latissimus dorsi – the ‘lats’?) being worked by the swimming that haven’t been worked in the same way by the running, cycling or gym. Up to now, I’ve not had too much use for arms or shoulders either so they are also getting a better workout in the pool.

Bike shop volunteering session on Friday morning – a nice variety, working on a child’s bike, an adult’s mountain bike and an old Dawes Galaxy tourer, complete with bar end shifters. Quite a bike in its day and a generous donation by someone.

I went for a solo run on Saturday, pushing the pace and distance a little – 10.5km (6.5 miles) at just under 4 hour marathon pace. I keep thinking that the training in the gym, running, swimming and on the bike will come together so that all of them will miraculously improve. No sign of that happening.

It was cycle training lessons for children at the cycle park on Sunday morning (pretty well non-stop jogging by the side of nervous young cyclists) and I got on the turbo trainer in the late afternoon for a lacklustre 13.4km (8.3 miles) in 30 minutes.

A tough week with 7 sessions of one sort or another. Even though the swimming doesn’t take too long, I find it very tiring – perhaps I should try doing it better?

After three session of flailing around in the pool this week, I can confirm that I can swim in the sense of making some forward progress in the water – but cannot swim in the sense of looking like I know what I’m doing.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: A doctor who invoked a storm on his people cannot prevent his house from destruction

2. BBC News website: Tyson Fury v Anthony Joshua fight less likely

Fury had agreed to fight Joshua in a highly-anticipated fight in August but the boxing authorities have concluded that Deontay Wilder had a contractual right to face Fury for a third time, by 15 September.

Fury said Wilder asked for $20m (£14m) to forego his right to the fight and allow Fury to fight Joshua, while Wilder’s trainer said he had no interest in step-aside money and wanted the fight.

I’d just like to say that I would be prepared not to fight Tyson Fury for much less than $20m.

3. BBC News website: Yoga can now legally be taught in Alabama public schools

The state’s department of education barred yoga in 1993, citing its connection to Hinduism.

The new law limits yoga to stretches and poses, and prohibits non-English descriptions as well as “any aspect of Eastern philosophy and religious training”. Chanting is also not allowed, including the use of the sound “om”. 

um …

4. BBC News website: Severe weather kills cross-country runners

At least 21 people have died as high winds and freezing rain hit participants in the 100km (60-mile) race in the Yellow River Stone Forest, a tourist site in Gansu province, China, state-run media reported.

The race was halted when some of the 172 runners went missing, Xinhua news agency said. The bodies were found by search-and-rescue teams on Sunday.

That is so sad and so extreme. It puts all my whinging about a bit of rain on a run into perspective

5. Did you know: The collective noun for a group of flamingos is ‘a flamboyance’