Category Archives: Snow Patrol

Walk, turbo, swim, gym, mechanic, turbo – but what’s the next challenge?

I should have got out on the bike while the weather permits
but I’m not sure the turbo is really an easy option.

Monday came with no aches or pains from the triathlon – I’ll take that as another small win. I really enjoyed the event, faced up to my open water nerves, and an age group 6/34 is no disgrace.

My swim was faster than I’ve done before (but still slow), T1 was a bit slow, the bike ride was pretty good, T2 was fast (thanks to the good advice to cycle in the running shoes) and the run was OK. Lots to work on, but a decent effort.

The question now arises, as it always does after an event, ‘What next by way of sporting challenge?’

I appreciate that the more sensible question might be ‘Should there be any more sporting challenges?’ but rarely have I been accused of being sensible in such matters.

I think the focus has to be on next year as we head towards the UK’s winter. I’ll carry on running and cycling on a ‘tick-over’ basis and try to get to the gym and pool regularly. I’m not hardy enough for open water swimming through the winter but I do need to try to maintain the (low) level I’ve got to this year. The pool will be the hardest bit.

Of course, lessons would help me improve but I’m stubborn and would prefer to try to improve through practice rather than tuition (what an idiot).

Assuming I stay fit and healthy, three new challenges for next year are probably the Blenheim Palace Triathlon again, this time at the end of May (I guess it was September this year because of Covid disruption), the 100km version of the 50km ultra marathon I did this year in July, and an olympic distance triathlon (twice the length of Sunday’s effort) later in the summer. Couple those with the regular sportives in the form of the White Horse Challenge and my own club’s event, it looks like a good start.

All of them should be helped by the fact that the good friend I have done the triathlon training with is retiring and is looking for challenges to train for while his wife continues to work for another year or two in a job she enjoys.

For triathlons, he’s a better runner than I am and we are pretty well matched on the bike. Currently, I have the edge in the water, ironically because he is a good at breast-stroke. That means he can swap strokes if the crawl is getting hard, whereas the breast-stroke kick tends to annoy the knee ligament I tweaked last year, so I have no viable choice other than to tough out the front crawl.

I took this week gently. No exercise on Monday but Tuesday afternoon I drove my wife up to London to see Snow Patrol. I’ve seen them 4 times with her but still not one of them has bothered to come and watch me run, cycle or swim so I decided to boycott the show to teach them a lesson. I walked quite a bit of the way back to the flat after escorting her to the theatre – a very pleasant 2 mile (3km) stroll.

Turbo on a very hot Wednesday for 30 minutes @ 29.6kph (18.4mph) and on Thursday, I visited the swimming lake for one last(?) time this year, with my triathlon partner. The fact that I agreed when he suggested it must say something about my attitude to the open water. I’m still not in love with it but the year’s lake swimming has now at least brought some familiarity – I swam for about a kilometre and enjoyed it.

I reserve the right to call rivers and the sea ‘scary’ – but lakes of a ‘domestic’ size are, officially, no longer ‘scary open water’.

On Friday, I did the usual session in the gym, followed by the charity cycle shop and, in the evening, a very enjoyable visit to a pop-up pub in the village. Saturday was largely taken up with preparations for a dinner party in the evening but I did get on the turbo again on Sunday. I eased off from the usual pace but went a little longer and included some sprints and it was a hard 45 minutes @ 26.8kph (16.6mph).

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Only a stupid cat challenges a lion because they look alike

I like cats but a cat that thinks it looks like a lion probably deserves all it gets

2. BBC News Website: Cows toilet trained to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Researchers in Germany attempted to teach 16 cows to use the toilet by being rewarded with food for urinating in the ‘MooLoo’. After this, they were then placed in an area next to the MooLoo and rewarded for walking into the pen and urinating. Those who urinated outside of the MooLoo were sprayed with water for three seconds.

By the end of the 10 training sessions, researchers found that 11 of the animals were successfully toilet trained so that the urine could be collected and treated, to stop it mixing with soil and turning into the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide.

Getting them to wash their hooves afterwards is probably harder

3. BBC News Website: The place where it is 2014 and a year has 13 months

The Ethiopian calendar is seven years and eight months behind the Western calendar, making Saturday the start of 2014. This is because the Catholic Church amended its calculation of the birth of Christ in 500 AD, but the Ethiopian Orthodox Church did not. The Ethiopian new year falls on 11 September in the Western calendar (12 September in leap years).

There is no need for Ethiopian children to learn rhymes to remember how many days each month has because 12 of their months each has 30 days and the 13th – the last of the year – has five or six days, depending on whether it’s a leap year.

4. BBC News Website: President and top officials negligent in tackling air pollution

Jakarta’s particulate pollution levels are six times the WHO’s guideline level and air pollution is said to be reducing residents’ life expectancy by 5.5 years. In a landmark decision in a lawsuit filed by residents in 2019, an Indonesian court has ordered monitoring stations and other measures to improve the capital’s air.

Meanwhile, the President is pressing ahead with plans to move the capital out of Jakarta to the island of Borneo, nearly 1,300km (800 miles) away. He has been quoted as saying that officials would benefit from the fresh air and the green environment there. 

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

Snow Patrol (again)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marathon training week 11/20: Ski, ski, run. Snow and Snow Patrol – but not enough running.

As the cars in the car park behind the apartment slowly sink beneath the snow …

We were back out on the slopes Monday and Tuesday – then it was packing up on Wednesday to drive back to the UK on Thursday.

It snowed solidly and, clearly, it was snow chains for the trip down the mountain. That wasn’t too bad as I could put them on in the underground garage – taking them off in the snow in the valley was another matter entirely.

We had about 550 miles to drive through France – and nearly all of it with a good covering of snow either side of the road. Despite that, the roads were excellent and clear. It began to snow as we got west of London and driving along the M4 at about 9pm it started to settle.

We saw one gritting lorry near Ashford (Kent) and not another for the whole 166 mile journey, despite constant claims that gritting was in process. At one point it seemed that we might be using the snow chains again but the snow eased and only started more heavily again as we got home.

A great holiday – 16 days, 1780 miles, a lot of skiing and the advantage of having both sons join us.

Three falls: one while standing still and tripping over my own ski pole (very cool); one on a black mogul field (very expected); and one entirely by surprise (but my wife says someone skied over the back of my skis which might explain it). I went over onto my left shoulder – after 5 days I don’t yet have full movement back.

Three falls is probably OK – too many falls would be depressing: no falls would suggest I’m not pushing hard enough.

In normal life I tend to shy away from potatoes, bread and cheese but those are the main staples of the Haute Savoie diet. Indeed, the wonderful dish ‘Tartiflette’ was actually created to promote sales of the local reblochon cheese. We ate and drank well but I came back still under 70kg which I will treat as a victory.

Some very enjoyable reading too – I managed to finish

  • ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (good but a bit weird in places, almost cartoonish). The cover quoted Salman Rushdie calling it ‘The greatest novel in any language of the last 50 years’ (I certainly couldn’t agree with that)
  • ‘Red Azalea’ by Anchee Min (very interesting, set in the time of the cultural revolution and well worth a read)
  • ‘A Gentleman in Moscow’ by Amor Towles (generally excellent but, to a pedantic Brit, having a Russian Count in the 1930s use the word ‘gotten’ sticks out like a sore thumb).

We were supposed to be up to London for a Snow Patrol concert at the Wembley Arena on Saturday and that looked a bit unlikely to be happening as the snow fell for much of Friday – something like 8 inches of the stuff.

If we’d had to head to London then, I doubt we’d have gone, as the UK was again proving incapable of dealing with fairly modest snowfalls. Luckily, by Saturday things had settled a bit and we were just on the edge of the worst of the snow, which was mainly south and west of us.

We decided to give London a go so took the front wheel drive car. The biggest issue was (as ever) getting out of the village but we made it – just – and the rest of the trip was OK, taken cautiously. The rear wheel drive car would not have got out of the village.

Snow Patrol were excellent, but they had set the bar supremely high at the more ‘intimate’ concert we went to last November.

Luckily, in snow terms, London was much clearer than Oxfordshire so I took my running kit but only just managed to force myself out on Sunday morning – my first run for three weeks because of the skiing.

It was hovering just above freezing but was bright and clear I ran from West Kensington around the Serpentine (the lake in Hyde Park) and back. Altogether 11.4 km in under 1 hour 3 minutes at 5.30 min/km (7.1 miles @ about 8:52 per mile), despite the road junctions and the sore left shoulder. To my surprise, inside 4 hour marathon pace and it felt pretty good. Clearly, I should be doing more skiing and less running in my training ….

It will be interesting to see how the Achilles tendons react – they had better behave as there is a lot of running to be done between now and the Rotterdam marathon on 7th April (once the snow clears).

So, the training week ended with some skiing but only one run – a fairly dismal effort over the last 4 weeks as life has got in the way of the training. If someone were paying me to do the running perhaps I’d adjust the priorities but I can’t help but think that life first and running second is the right way round for a – very – amateur runner like me.

Week Run Cycle X-train
1 16.1m  (25.9km) 9.8m  (15.8 km)  2:00
2 18.5m  (29.8km) 13.3m  (21.5km) 2:00
3 20.7m  (33.25km) 65.8m (105.9km) 1:00
4 22.2m  (35.8km) 13.7m (22.07km) 1:00
5 24m (38.6km) 13m  (21km) 1:00
6 (Christmas) 13.2m (21.3km)    
7 25.56m (41.14km) 62.68m (100.86km) 3:00
8 14.63m (23.55km) 13.2m (21.2km) 7.00
9 (Skiing) 15.51m (24.97km)   12.00
10 (Skiing)     12.00
11 (Skiing) 7.1m (11.4km)   6.00
‘Running’ totals 137.3m  (221.1km) 178.2m (286.3km)    47:00

The start of Marathon training … well, not quite … perhaps a bit … sort of (oh yes, and Snow Patrol)

Snow Patrol. Absolutely excellent in London on Monday night

This is the first week of my 20 week training programme for the Rotterdam Marathon on 7th April 2019. Bizarrely, the programme started with a rest day!

It looks like a bit of straight line thinking by the programme designer – subsequent Mondays come after a long slow run on Sunday so it seems sensible for them to be rest days. By definition, that’s not the case for the first Monday!

The plan has four runs each week (two at marathon pace, a session of intervals/speed work and a long slow run) and one day of cross-training. For the first few weeks the two shorter runs are 4 miles each and the long run starts at 6 miles and increases by a mile a week.

My aim had been to arrive at the start of the training in good shape, ready and able to take up the challenge. I failed and I arrived with dodgy Achilles tendons – either the result of age deterioration, poor running style or stupid calf raises with too much weight on the gym’s leg press machine.

The result of Sunday’s run was a sore right Achilles for the rest of the day, despite an ice pack, stretching and compression and it was quite painful when I woke on Monday.

On the plus side, it was no worse than it has been for the last couple of weeks and the left Achilles was not too bad at all.

I’ve said that I will be flexible about the training programme and am starting the way I intend to carry on by deciding that the run with my son on Sunday actually took place on Monday and so counts towards the first week’s training.

In part, that’s because we were up in London on Monday. Mrs O won tickets for us to go to a London performance by Snow Patrol (I like them but she really likes them).

I was not too enthused but I have to admit that they (with just a three-man lineup, no drummer or bassist) were absolutely excellent. It was a small, intimate, venue (no more than 600) and we were in the front row. I just hope that Gary Lightbody didn’t look down from the stage, see a 63 year old retired solicitor, and wonder if that’s an ominous sign as to where his career is heading.

While the legs wouldn’t have let me run on Monday, I had to resist the temptation to get out for a run in London on Tuesday morning. Later, back home, on Tuesday I did 30 minutes on the turbo for 15.85km @30.7kph (9.85miles @19.7mph).

The key questions now are:

  • does carrying on running worsen the injury (not really acceptable)
  • does carrying on running benefit the training but slow down the recovery just a little (probably acceptable)
  • will more on the turbo help the training, without consequences for the Achilles?

Although, originally, I hurt both Achilles, I re-hurt the right one more recently. The fact that the left leg has certainly improved suggests that perhaps carrying on as I have been, with a little running but more in the gym and on the turbo, will work.

What is clear is that I’m not going to be running four times a week just yet. So, for now I’ll try to run twice a week, one run of about 4 miles and the other being the long slow run. I’ll cover the other two scheduled running days with the turbo trainer, adding a gym session for the official cross training day.

Seems like a plan.