Bar Raising.

I’ve only been training for 10 weeks, after 4 years away from swimming and biking, and 5 months away from running. Today I did a 20 mile run. It was hellish, but I did it. A bad, painful 20 miles, is still 20 miles.

The reason (I think) it was so terrible is actually a good thing.  I was at the gym last week and a tri geezer came on and jumped on the tri exercise bike (spin bike thing). I was on the treadmill at the time but I was watching him out of the corner of my eye to pick up tips. Position and such looked just as uncomfortable for him, but what I noticed was he was going really slowly. I jump on, put it in a fairly tough gear and grind out a half hour or hour. He maxed the gear and slowly forced the pedals around.  That got me thinking back to when I was good on a bike. When we were teenagers and we’d nip to Wales for the afternoon we just stuck it in tenth gear and went.


So that’s the game plan now, no more of this “expert” nonsense. I’ve raised my saddle and moved the aero bars and saddle forward into a position that feels good for me. Bugger all that running through the gears to maintain a steady rpm, bollocks. That just maintains your muscle level as it slowly builds your stamina. Top gear, and push. That’s how you build muscles.

It was only a few weeks ago I got the bike and simply couldn’t ride in top gear. Even for short distances. Now the Beast From The East has finally let up I’ve taken to riding to work again. Top gear, and push. I’ve only done it 2 days, 9.8 miles each way. Changing down gear on the hills less each ride. The last ride I did the whole journey in top gear. (I want to say “10th”, but the bike has 22 gears, so 22nd I suppose, but that means nothing.) Now I know I can, that means I must. I’m going to have legs of steel. And muscles!

Which is a long winded way of saying I totally buggered up my calves on the ride, so they set like concrete on the run. Hence the misery of my 20 mile run today.


I asked work for shorter runs a few weeks back. Ali, the planner, has been trying. Three times last week I was planned for 7 hour runs (if you finish at 7 hours and they have no other work for you, you can go home and still get paid your 9 hours.) One early finish they found me another run so I ended up doing 10.30, two other occasions the transport office took it on themselves to change my run from the one for which I’d been planned. Last week, on this short shift arrangement, I worked 57 hours. On Wednesday I worked 14 hours 45 minutes. Then had to pushbike home 9.8 miles, shower, food, bed, up, food, commute, and be back in work in 9 hours 15. Five hours sleep. Even though I only worked 10hrs 30 on Thursday I was too knackered to train. My last training was last Saturday. I’m really hoping it was just a one-off, bad week. If this continues I may have to pull out of the Outlaw.

I’ve been through my options. I could go back to being part time, but I don’t know what shifts I’d get, they could be just as long, and Wendy remembers me being made up when I went full time because the money is so much better. Realistically, we need money more than I need to train.

The same with going back in the warehouse, but worse. The kicking I’d take on pay would be eye-watering.

I’m going to have to train on every day that’s less than an 11 hour shift. The commute ride in is going to be a good, time efficient, practice.

When I was offered full time, on this start time, the manager said it’s good money because that’s when all the long runs go out. This implies there are other start times that do short runs. For now I’d be happy with a bare minimum 45 hour week. My only real option. I’ve been asking in transport but I can’t get an answer. If I could find out which it is I could ask for a transfer when a position comes up.

Talking of work, the Tesco’s deal has gone through. So now we wait and see what happens to the drivers. That could solve my work/ training problem. Stobarts and I’m out of the door.

I was right to say my company is brilliant though. The story is they thought they were going bust in 2006 so invested money to pay for all the employees redundancies. Then they got more and more successful. They’ve just sold to Tesco’s so they’ve taken the money they had stashed and are giving it to all 13,000 workers! What a company!  Anyone here for over 12 months gets about £960, less than 12 (Nathan) get £460. No-one knew about the fund, they were under no obligation to spend it, they could have trousered the lot and buggered off to a private island in the Bahamas, we’d have been none the wiser. Instead they gave us a freebie grand. Amazing. 

Right, I’m knackered again.




I screwed up my courage and went to the Warrington Triathlon Club swim session. Hooray! They are a really keen bunch, with two proper training coaches. I did two lengths then they started trying to sort me out. Being basically untaught since whatever they said at school they have their work cut out.

I was windmilling, my breathing is all wrong, I need to rotate my body with the strokes, lift my head by 45 degrees when face down, stretch out my leading arm, raise my elbow on the pulling arm,and only kick to balance my strokes.

The killer one for me is the breathing. I am aware of all the others and I’m trying to put them into place, but buggered if I can get the breathing. Rest your head on your leading arm, push the arm forward to rotate in the water, as your pull arm clears your face, breathe. Ha! Suck in loads of water and cough your guts up, more like. 

If I can crack the breathing I really stand a chance. As one of the coaches noted: “You swim like a runner.” Hahaha. Fair point.

I’ve broke the ice now, just got to keep going and I can batter this. One of the coaches took me to look at the lads in the fast lane. It was an awesome sight. It looked like zero effort, half the strokes I was taking, and they just glided down the lane. And they were about 3 times as fast as me, on 100% effort. If I can get those skills…

I’ve still not been out for a long test ride. The weather has gone from cold and horrible to fucking freezing and unbearable. The Beast From The East, they are calling the arctic weather front.

I’ve been going to the gym and doing brick sessions. Just half an hour on the bike, then an hour on the treadmill, but the bike kicks the crap out of your legs for running, so it feels harder than it sounds.

Yesterday I did an hour on the bike, on a ‘hills’ setting, then ran 7 miles (smidge over an hour).

I was off today so I did an hour in the baths, trying and trying and trying to get the breathing sorted. Nope. Hopefully they can sort me out over the coming weeks at my Tri club. Ooh, that felt good. My Tri club.

Then I went back and did half an hour bike, but only managed 5 miles on the run. I think the beasting yesterday, and the swim, must have took it out of me.

One thing, I’ve had a very belated and utterly obvious epiphany. I’ve been going to the gym in my running shorts. These are lycra with a mesh undercarriage. Which is not a good thing if you are wriggling about on a saddle. Basically I’ve been grating my bollocks. I noticed this by getting in the shower then trying not to scream like a girl.

Then it struck me. I did my last full Iron tri with my running shorts under my lovely padded cycling shorts to save time in the transition. 112 miles of utter misery. Talk about stupid.

Today I bought a pair of normal sports shorts. They say they are running, but they are not lycra, so quite loose, with mesh vents in the sides, not underneath. No screaming in the shower. What a moron.

Just a follow up note on my last blog. It seems the set calf was just that, which is a huge relief. And the no sugar/ fat/ illness thing remains unresolved but absent, so I’ll take it.


In other news, I’ve dropped lucky with the weather. Warrington is doing OK, the roads are clear, it’s just bitterly cold in the wind. The problem is the whole rest of the country. Which becomes a problem for me as that’s where I work. Scotland’s M80 motorway was gridlocked and motionless overnight, the M62 was closed for 6 hours, Wales is a write-off, even Devon and Cornwall have had blizzards.  A terrible, terrible time to be me.

However, the weather gods have smiled on me. Yesterday I had a day’s training at work so I didn’t do any driving. I had a day’s holiday booked for next Thursday, but they cocked it up in the office and booked me off today. (So happy about that.) My normal day’s off are Friday and Saturday. Hopefully it will start to improve by Sunday. Hopefully.

I think I’ll take a sleeping bag with me, just in case.

Just looked on Twitter. There is currently no route over the Pennines. The Snake Pass, Woodhead Pass and M62 are all closed. 300 people are trapped in cars in the heavy snow in Cornwall.




The first thing is work. I asked, in a rambling, apologetic way if, when possible, I could have shorter runs. I was flustered because it felt so cheeky. I asked for longer runs last year, I didn’t want to them to think I was getting all precious and picking and choosing my runs. I was thinking straight Didcot and back, 10½- 11 hours. In a case of ‘careful what you wish for’, I got a week of 7-9 hour runs. 45 minutes overtime in the whole week. It’s normally about 8 or 9 hours, easy.

That is what I asked for, but not what I meant. The next week was back to Didcot runs.

That was a mite disturbing. On the bright side it has given me time to train, which is what I desperately needed.

I’ve joined Warrington Triathlon Club with a view to sorting my swim out. I can thrash out the distance, but I’m shit slow. I was supposed to be going to for my first class last Saturday (at Lymm) but I woke up with a shitty headache that just got worse all day. By 16.30 (class time) I’d gone back to bed to try and sleep it off.

This time! Got to overcome my odd reluctance and actually attend. If I can do that tomorrow, I’m going to enter the Chester Middle (half Iron) Distance triathlon as a warm up for the main event. It’s local, relatively cheap, and about right for my training. The only reason I’ve not already entered is it’s a river swim (1.2 miles) and my swimming is too weak to fight a current. If I can go tomorrow, then enter the Chester Half, that will give me further motivation. I want a good swim in the Outlaw.

It’s been bastard freezing. They are predicting 10 days of sub zero from Wednesday, so I’ve not been out cycling. I’ve been on my turbo and going hard at the gym on the bikes, then onto the treadmill for fast runs.

Because of the training write-off last Saturday I didn’t do my long (15.5 miles) run.  I got up early on Sunday and went for a run before work. I set off slowly to avoid injury, then decided as I didn’t have a lot of time to make it a pace run. I have been building fitness and distance, trying not to push the speed, for fear of injury. I battered it! (By current standards.) My running has been 8.30 m/m for a bit, dropping to 9 m/m. I averaged about 8.08m/m, with 2 miles under 8 (on a 10 mile run, forgot to say).

They say to never do two hard runs back to back. If you went fast or long, small and gentle the next day. I went to gym, did the bike for half an hour to warm up, then on to the treadmill. I’d developed a belief that in doing that, warming my legs up, I would avoid injury. Anyway, as soon as I started running my calf seized. I ignored it. It wasn’t shin splints, so I wasn’t going to sweat the small stuff. I was about 4 or so miles in when I suddenly realised of what it reminded me. When I was trying to adjust to those ‘natural running’ trainers, went too hard, too fast, and something just snapped in my leg. I was laid up for months. Every time I thought I was over it, I’d go for a little run and I was crippled again. Shit. As soon as I started thinking that I was done. Stopped the tready and quit.

I’ve been nursing it for a week. It’s not got worse. But I think I’m through with treadies for a while.

Also, in the weird stakes, I was sick of my weight dropping by the end of the week by about 4 pounds, only to put it back on when I gorge on curry or whatever. (I can’t taste it as such, but I know it’s nice and I just keep troughing.) I had an idea. Use my lack of taste to my advantage. So I tried porridge for breakfast (no sugar, a bit of semi skimmed milk and water) instead of loads of butter jam on toast, and baked spuds with yoghurt and tuna for my tea. With hardly any taste buds that was oddly nice. Yoghurt made it moist and creamy, the little bit of tuna added protein and a savoury thing.

With gym I lost 3 pounds in a day. No sugar, no fat. I was full up and losing weight.  I don’t know if it was that or just a terrible coincidence, but after two days I felt so shite. I thought I was getting the ‘flu. I felt terrible.

I ate my body weight in chocolate and such and after another two days it went. I’ll try again, but perhaps reduce my fat and sugar intake gradually.


Today, after my fast run last week, I went out to do the 15.5 miles I missed. Then I thought ‘bugger it’, and did the next week’s, which is 17 miles. Which is to say, putting me back to 2 weeks ahead of my training schedule for the Manchester marathon. It was bitter cold, the wind cut straight through me. I did it as a 10 mile lap then a 7. At the end of the first lap I went in a got my waterproof to keep the wind off me. It was bad, after the 90 second pause to get my waterproof and glug some energy drink my legs had set. I had to just grit my teeth and grind it out. They loosened off after a mile, so I was tempted to go for 20 miles. I’m so glad I didn’t. When I turned around at 13.5 miles it was hellish. Biting cold strong wind in my face, legs just didn’t want to play. It’s good to practice mental toughness, I suppose. But that’s always easier to say after the event.

I’ve had the cables rerouted on my bike for the aero bars, and had the handlebars and aero bars professionally taped. They look groovy. Now I need the weather to get out on it. The turbo sweat/torture device is great, but I don’t know how it translates to road performance.


In none Tri news, I promised my niece-in-law she could have our car when she passed her test. Out of the blue I got a text off our Lisa saying she’d passed. Bugger. I had to thrash the internet for a car. Wendy said a while back that she like to look of the new Mini. I was torn between a VW Up, a little, square, cheapo box or a Mini. For the same money I could get an 11 plate Mini or a 15 plate Up. Then I saw a Mini One, local, for a grand less than everyone else was asking. The One is the basic Mini, 89bhp, 1.6 diesel, 65mpg, 6 forward gears. That’s pretty much ideal for Wendy.  As opposed to say, the Cooper. Quick glance, I thought the Mini Cooper S was 138bhp, some site claiming it’s 181bhp. Try insuring that for a just-passed.

It is surprisingly nippy to drive. Put your foot down and it doesn’t half go. The clutch and gears are unnecessarily manly, but it’s a cracking car. Real build quality. And quiet. And black. Obviously.

Mini (2)

I got her some pink fluffy dice.



More of the same.

Training. Everything revolves around training.

Can I get a training session in before work? Can I get enough sleep to go for an early swim? Am I coming down with a cold that will set my training back? Am I getting shin splints that will totally bugger my marathon training?

I’m very tired a lot of the time. Yesterday for instance. I missed the swim on Tuesday (it’s lane swim Tuesday and Thursday, 07.00- 09.00) due to a 13 hour shift, so yesterday I had to get up after 6½ hours kip, go for a swim (just 54 lengths. 64 lengths to a mile, so just keeping my hand in.) Then straight up to the gym, 30 minutes on the exercise bike (hilly setting) then 10K (6.2 mile) run on the tready. Then charge home, changed, shove some food down my neck and straight out to work for an 11½ hour shift.

I was feeling pretty miffed, to be honest. I was even thinking about quitting driving and going back to order picking, briefly. Driving is great if all you are thinking about is the money. The long hours mean shift premiums and overtime rates. Loadsa money. To do the job you gradually develop a laid back attitude. It takes as long as it takes and I’m paid by the hour. 14 hour shift? Ker-ching!

The second you introduce another priority it suddenly becomes a bind.

Instead of taking as it comes you get frustrated when the job takes so long.

That single 13 hour shift cost me two days training. I thought it was going to be a long run so I didn’t want to knacker myself before starting a long shift. Then, by the time I got to bed I didn’t have enough time to sleep and train before starting my next shift.


I was thinking of other jobs for which I’m qualified…

Order picking


… and that’s it.

Even if I was to go order picking at our place I’d need to do an extra 10- 15 hours a week to get to my current hours. They do the overtime in 4 hour blocks, so I couldn’t do 5 x 10 hour shifts. So say 3 x12. That’s still 3 days a week I couldn’t train. And at least £100 a week pay cut. For a nice, short, 8 x5, 40 hour week, I’d probably be £250 a week worse off.

Not a viable option.


Last year in a quiet spell I was only getting 7 and 9 hour days so I asked in the office for long runs. My first course of action is to see if I can change back again. This start time tends towards the longer runs, meaning longer hours, so if that’s not possible my next course is to look into changing my start time. I’m fine with my usual run, which is just Didcot (just past Oxford) and back. That is about 10½ hours.

Ideally I’d like a days start, 10- 10½ hours maximum. That would be brilliant.


Anyway, that’s work interfering with training. The bright side is I now have a life with which work interferes. And the money to be able to pursue it. Accommodations.

So, on to the training.

I was worried I was getting shin splints. Runner’s World summed it up as a “catch-all phrase”, “invariably caused by 4 words: too much, too fast.” I lack the self discipline to not push on. So I was getting pains down the sides of my shins. Very worrying. That can set you back months. Then I noticed on the brick session above, no pains. I think the swim and the sweating my tits off on the bike loosened my legs up. Not a single twinge (on the sides of my shins, my muscles were hurting) after that 10K.

I didn’t do a long run last weekend for fear of exacerbating the shin splints. After the warm up revelation I did and extended warm up today (after resting yesterday) and went out for a run. I was ahead of schedule, I only need to be doing 8 miles this week. I did 11 miles two weeks ago.

As I’ve only been back running a month, I’ve been struggling. The first mile has been so tough I’ve been thinking “I can’t do this. I’m going to have to quit.” But you expect the first mile to be the worst while you get into a rhythm.

Today I set off and the first mile was a doddle, and quite nippy. The second and third were as easy and faster. I was aiming to modestly up the bar to 11½ miles. I felt so good I decided to do a half marathon, 13.1 miles. And I did. And my legs feel fine. Touch wood.

That is brilliant. I am well ahead of schedule for the Manchester marathon on the 8th of April.


My swim, after that accidental 100 lengths, is much better than I’d hoped.


Now I really need to build up my bike stamina.


Really though, seems I’m only a month into my training, I’m well chuffed with my progress. If I can work out the accommodation with work, I’m going to batter this.





Last week I was saying it was just the swim I need to worry about. Hmmm. Good news and bad. The good news is I bought a clicky ring lap counter. You wear it like a ring and click it every length (otherwise you quickly lose count.) After my first swim in 4 years, when I was quietly pleased to complete 40 lengths (two thirds of a mile) I thought I’d up it to 50 lengths this time. I forgot I was only clicking every time I got back to the shallow end. I was getting changed into my gym bunny kit when I suddenly realised, “hang on, that’s 100 laps!”  A bit over one and a half miles! On my second swim!  Well pleased with that.

The not so good news is I’ve had to cut right back on the running. I’ve been getting warning pains up the side of my shins. Not bad, but enough that I’m scared of getting a proper injury.

Instead I did a two mile run on the treadmill (after the 100 length swim and 25 minutes on the gym pushbike.)

Rather than irritating the injury I’ve been beasting myself on the turbo trainer. 3x hour+ long sessions this week. That is some graft!  Also, thanks to me losing my sense of taste last March, and this training, I’ve gone from a jammy doughnut shy of 12 stones, to 10½ stones. So that is great. Less weight means less effort to drag my lardarse around the Outlaw. 


More exciting news is I’ve been forced to go on a spending spree.

Bought a new Ironman GPS watch. 12 hours of GPS battery. So, once you get out of the swim and transition (not GPS), you’ve got 12 hours of battery (enough to finish the race) to tell you how you are doing and how much further you have to suffer.

Amongst the features that attracted me to it (other than that it’s designed for Iron distance tri’s, obviously) is that you can choose how many lines of information to display on each screen. This means, if you choose just one line, you get a big, clearly visible, display. I’m getting to the stage where reading glasses are no longer an option but a necessity, making my old watch illegible.


Also I’m totally moving the turbo trainer to the shed. I sweat so much I have to clean up puddles off the mat when I’m finished. This is not making for a pleasant house smell.

The thing with that is, I’ve currently got it facing my PC to take my mind off my misery as I train. So I started shopping for a refurbished laptop. The online opinion is that refurbs are a pig in a poke though.  In the end I’ve got a cheap, new, Chromebook. A laptop built on a Google platform and down to a budget.

After ages spent reading the reviews of what I can get for my money I plumped for a Samsung Chromebook 3 as my best bet. Then I couldn’t get it in the UK. Of course. Anyway, after the excitement of the reviews, the tracking down of my best option and the buying thereof, I think I may have gone massively over spec for what I actually need. I’ll give Wendy a go, if she prefers it, I’ll just use her current tablet, she can have the Chromebook. Either way, get outside, with a big arse fan, and I’ll be sorted.

Also I bought some tri (aero) bars as I was getting back ache from crouching in my drop handlebars. I’ve been doing my turbo sessions on them quite comfortably.


To stay in the aero position I’ve had to order some bar end shifters (the standard gear shifters are built into the brake levers, flick them to either side to shift up or down.) The bar end shifters will fit, as the name implies, into the end of my aero bars so I can maintain my position through the gears.

I’ve yet to buy a big arse fan, but other than that I’ve bought everything I could possibly want now.

Oh, one thing. One of the reasons I want a computer for turbo training is the bike has a device that connects to the internet. You can then run videos of scenic rides, races, your own routes, get a virtual speed and distance, and then either compete with others or your previous best. Also, it can vary the degree of difficulty on the trainer for hills and such.


Can I buggery get it to connect. I’m to-ing and fro-ing with the company by email at the moment.  Most irksome. The only feature I’ve got at the moment is a resistance trainer set to god knows how hard, that I pump around for an hour or so.  To be fair, I bought it just as resistance trainer, and it is goddamn awesome at that. The rest will just make it more interesting to use.


In other news, I went on my awareness course today. It was raining but in case of traffic I went on my motorbike. There was a guy there, a bit older than me, wearing a Harley Davidson hoodie with “Hogfather” across the back (Harley’s are called Hogs. Terry Pratchett did a book called Hogfather. You see the hilarity.) Also he had a Harley Davidson coat with the logo on the back and the sleeves. And a manbag. I couldn’t make out details but I’d bet a pound to a pinch of shit it was Harley Davidson one. The biggest clue of all was that he’d come in a car.  How I laughed.


I put the car through it’s MOT on Friday. It passed with a £30-£40 advisory. The amount it gets used, that can wait.


I’ve booked my lovely red VFR800i Honda in for the forks to be done on the 8th. Then I’ll MOT it early and get it sold with a 12 month ticket. I couldn’t in all conscience sell it without alerting the buyer to the iffy front end, but get that sorted and it is a gorgeous bike for the money.

I’ll just keep my ratty old VFR750. It’s a solid, bike that should last forever. To be honest it seems I’ve only got enough energy to compulsively obsess about one thing at a time, and right now it’s triathlon. The motorbike isn’t really getting  a look in. Plus my close call with the coppers has taken the shine off of it. If I can’t have fun, why the hell am I doing it? It’s cold, wet, and dangerous, verging on suicidal. If I can’t thrash it about between the traffic and enjoy myself, what’s the point?

I’ll doubtless get over my sulk when the warm weather gets here.  If I can fit biking into my training regime.




Spin to win.

I got that turbo trainer for us. It’s proving to be completely impractical to try and get Wendy’s bike on it. Which is a bugger.

The idea is you take your back wheel off and mount the bike on the turbo, running your chain on to a gear cassette (cogs) mounted directly on the turbo.

Like this


Which is all good and well. Until you come to try to mount Wendy’s bike. Apparently the modern fancy-pants gear cassettes (as on mine) fit each cog individually onto spines on the spindle, and need a special thin chain to fit the cogs, because they in turn  have to be so thin so they can get 11 cogs on the back wheel.

Wendy had a go on the turbo with my bike and a lowered seat. She lasted about 2, maybe 3, minutes. That was a shitload of cash well spent.

I gave it a try out. After a few minutes your legs are burning. I set myself a target of 20 minutes for my first go as I was in a rush to get to work. It was hellish. And that was in a low gear.

Today I upped it to an hour. I was sat in just a pair of shorts and my clip-on shoes, window open, freezing day, sweat pouring off my whole body. Hence the towel and that strip from seat post to handlebars. Seems sweat is corrosive on the bike.

It is non-stop burn. It’s like you are going up hill constantly. There is no let up, no flat bits, no coasting. An hour of solid pushing.

I was moaning about riding in to work nearly killing me when I first got the bike, someone on twitter said “Spin to win!”. (Spin classes being the name of group sessions of people doing turbo. Seen them at the gym.)

He may well be on to something. If I can build up my time on the turbo, and put it through the gears, I am going to batter my bike time at the Outlaw. Usually I just grind out loads of tedious long rides and gradually improve. With this I’m pushing it the whole time.

I’ve joined the gym again, like a proper January Gym Bunny. Primarily for the swim sessions, but I’ve got a new pair of trainers so I can do small bricks. Possibly do an hour swim, half hour ride, half hour run. Getting your legs used to switching from one discipline to the next is half the battle.

I’m going to give it another 2 weeks to build up some slight fitness, then join Warrington Tri Club. They hold an hour’s tutored swim lesson every Saturday afternoon, which is my day off. If I can get swim training and turbo the crap out of my legs I reckon I’m well on for a personal best this year. Which is quite the ambition in seven months, from scratch.

(Day after. Saturday.)

Feeling good about my training. Last week I did 10 miles for my “long” run, but it was such hard work after about 7 miles that I was just going to do 10 again this week and not up the distance.  As I said above, I battered my legs yesterday with the turbo, so I was a bit apprehensive about my big run today.

It was groovy. I felt good enough on the way out to up it to 5.5 miles, for an 11 mile run. And on the way back, about mile 8-9 I was so deep in thought about my training plans I actually forgot I was running! That is brilliant progress. I’ve only been back to running for 18 days and I’ve already had a moment of set-your-legs-to-running-and-forget-about-it! This means I’m still 3 weeks ahead of schedule for the Manchester marathon.

Now I’m wondering about the bike. The idea was to ride in to work every day and build my fitness as part of my commute. I’ve only got so much time. Combining training and commuting means I get 60- 75 minutes of training for a 30 minutes extra on my working day. But now I’m thinking an hour on the trainer is worth many days of commute. I suppose I can do both.

Now it’s just the swimming I need to worry about.


This is boring stuff to read, I’m sure, but this is a whole life turn-around for me. I’ve not done an Outlaw since 2013, I’ve not done a marathon in about 2 or 3 years. I’ve been letting everything slide. I didn’t even do the Warrington half marathon last year. It’s not just the fitness or the races. It’s having a purpose and a sense of achievement. I am focused and happy again. I hadn’t realised it, but bit by bit I’d just given up. All I was doing was working and sleeping. My day’s off were just catching up on or, more usually, putting off, chores. Then back to work. That was it. Now work is the necessary interruption to my training.

Another plus, by the way, is I’m not dead. The chest pains have stopped, so that’s a relief. From what I read, it’s all about crap lining your arteries suddenly getting shaken free, blocking blood flow and killing parts of the heart. Or all of it. You with it. I have been *really* pushing, from a sedentary starting point, and the pains have stopped. So, either the artery crap has all passed through now, and my heart is good to go, or (far more likely) it was torn chest muscles and I panicked over nothing. Either way, it’s a relief to be able to train without worrying I’m about to drop dead.  And no need to bother the doctor. Huzzah!



Or die Tri-ing!

I’ve been eating humble pie for breakfast, dinner and tea since I started training.

I used to scorn low gear wobblers, put it in top gear and pedal you lazy bastards!

When I started training for my first Outlaw, on my first day, I did a 51 mile ride and a 13 mile run. A lifetime of bans and motorbike write-offs meant I had cycled everywhere for years.I thought that level of fitness was normal. So people who were making hard work of it needed to pull their finger out and do a bit.

Oh the humility.

I’ve found a decent route into work, it’s 9.1 mile each way. And it’s been battering me. I’ve only ridden in 2 days but I am ridiculously far away from ‘hop on and ride 51 miles’.

I took the car in to a body repair shop to have the wing fitted, pushbike in boot to ride home, and the mechanic was a tri guy. He took one look at my bike and told me to look at bike set-up tutorials on YouTube. I did. Seems I had it all set up wrong. I’ll try this, see if it’s any better.

I’m so unfit I’m not even doing a long run on the bike. I’m going to give it a month of riding to work to build up some semblance of fitness then start.


The “die tri-ing” thing was a bit of a moment. I was having persistent chest pains, smack over my heart. It wasn’t bad, that level of pain anywhere else wouldn’t have warranted a mention, but being there you have to worry. I was steering clear of ibuprofen as it has recently been linked to heart attacks. I Googled it to see if I should worry. “Survival rate outside of hospitals, 6%”. OK, that’s not ideal.

Warren Lang (school friend) said one of his RAF chaps had died of a heart attack whilst training for an Iron tri. One of the security guards at work, who looked fine, has just dropped dead of one.

I carried on training but was going to go to the doctor if it hadn’t cleared by Friday. Then on Thursday morning I was awoken by shooting pains in my left arm and pins and needles.

I really thought I was going to die, right then. I was not a happy bunny. It scared me. I was all “I don’t want to not be!”

I took a moment, “Can’t avoid it. At least I have been.”

I decided to concentrate on the dying bit and not worry about the rest.

I didn’t die, by the way. In case you were worried.

I hit Google again in the morning. “26 causes of chest pain that are not a heart attack.”

I had a read through, tons of stuff. The bit I took from it was “you can tear chest muscles from just a coughing fit… If, after taking anti-inflammatory drugs, the pain persists…”

I took some ibuprofen. Pain gone. I think the left arm thing was just some muscle spasms or something from my weaker arm (of two very weak arms) after the swim. But what are the odds?

Embarrassing, but as I said to Wendy, mild embarrassment is preferable to chronic death.

Today my ‘long’ run is 10 miles. As long as I manage that, then it should be really easy to gradually ramp up the mileage to my marathon in April. I say “easy”, I mean it is within the “no more than 10% weekly increase”, rule. So hopefully I won’t pick up an injury.


Wendy is getting onboard with the whole pushbike thing. We are going to pick up her race machine later.


It’s actually a well sorted bike for purpose. It’s got a steel frame to keep the cost down, (but oddly weighs in a 2kg lighter than the aluminium version) has 6 gears, integrated lights and dynamo, full mudguards (most road bikes don’t even have mounting points for them, you have to get stupid ones that hang off the seat post) full size 700mm (28”) wheels, fatter tyres, and a chain guard so you don’t get oil over your girly trousers. And a side stand and rack. Not sure about the utility of either for Wendy, but for it’s target market, city commuters, it’s ideal I suppose. I was looking at the gearing, weight, wheels/tyres, comfort and practicality. Wendy likes it because it’s black and “it looks pretty”.

I’ve invested in a turbo trainer. It’s a resistance device so you can train indoors. Like a treadmill for the bike. I’ll use it for training sessions, but for most of the time I can leave Wendy’s beast on it so she can build her fitness whilst waiting for spring, when she plans to start venturing out.

I’ve tried to sell her on the ‘women only’ swim sessions at the baths, with a view to her first triathlon, but she’s oddly resistant.

Right, crack on.



Tri, Tri, Tri again.

What was I thinking? After the painfest of the first Outlaw tri I said I was never doing another.

After the near death experience of baking my arse off at my second Outlaw tri I said I wasn’t doing another and meant it.



The swimming (2.4 miles) bores me, the riding is painful and boring (112 miles) and the marathon (26.2 miles) at the end, on dead legs, is just an ordeal.

Not doing it. No way.

Then I got a motorbike and that was that. Never swinging my leg over a pushbike again!



Here’s my new pushbike:


My life had just become work and sleep. I hadn’t done a run since the 2nd of August, no pushbiking for years, no swim for longer.  The running was the last to go because I actually enjoyed that. But the bit I enjoy is when you are pretty fit and you start pushing it, and making gains. In this job, on my shifts, I couldn’t train regularly so I was always struggling to get going, never improving.

I didn’t know I was low of mood, it was just how it was.

On a whim I decided to get back into triathlon for a New Year’s Resolution.. On the 2nd of January, 5 months since my last run, I went out and did a 5 mile test run. The run was easy, getting my arse out of the door was the huge challenge.

As soon as I got back I was buzzing. Really up for it. I went out the next day for a 4 mile run, then yesterday for another, knocking 30 seconds a mile off the time of the day before. I just can’t help myself. That is so bad. I was trying to take it slow as 90% of injuries are “too much, too soon”

I was thinking “getting back into tri”, no specific deadlines.  Tonight I enquired about “improver” swimming lessons, the last two times I was so crap I was too embarrassed to go a tri club for tuition. So I stayed crap. And thrashed about for 2.4 miles, then got out of the lake in the last dozen.

Looking at a 1½ miles long lake is a terrible sight when you’re a crap swimmer.

Outlaw lake

I’ve bought a decent bike, I’m looking into swimming, (training and pool times), and I’ve done three runs.

Half an hour ago I Googled the Outlaw 2018. It’s not sold out yet. Oh god! TEMPTATION!

29th of July. That’s 29 weeks.

It’s do-able, but massive.

I want to commit right now.

I’ll be gutted if it sells out and I think I can do it.

I’ll have a trial week. See what training I can do around work.

I could totally do this. If I can train.

Oh wow. This is more like it! The terror of a vast and seemingly impossible task with a fixed deadline. Now, I feel alive!



Quick PS, as usual I was suffering with delusions of adequacy. I thought it would be easy to jump back on a pushbike (after about 4 years off) and nip 10 miles to work and then back again. I went today for a test run. Holy crap!  It nearly killed me. Even small hills I was changing right down the gears. It was goddawful. This is going to be even more of an epic undertaking than I thought.

On the bright side, I worked back from the date of the Manchester Marathon (April 9th, I think) and to reasonably increase my distance each week and be ready I had to be able to run 6 miles today. I ran 7. But that was mixed training (a ’brick’). I did my killer ride, got off at work, drove the bike back in the car, then went out for a run. Brick’s are way harder because your legs are buggered from the bike before you start the run. That’s why you practice bricks. So I’m pleased with that. I only started training 4 days ago, and I’ve done a brick. For my long run! Also pleased because I showed restraint. I would have liked to do 10 miles, but my legs were feeling tired a 3.30 so I got to 3.5 and turned around. Keeping my disciplines apart I expect to be able to do a 10 mile run next week, putting me 4 weeks ahead of schedule.

By the way, I was rescuing my motorbike from work, (it got stranded there when the disc lock seized in place) so I had to drive the car to work, ride my motorbike home, pedal back to work, put the bike in the car, and drive home. ballache, but the taxi home at ungodly o’clock when it got stuck was £27!  Bugger that for a game of soldiers. It’s not that the bike ride was so terrible I had to drive home. Although it was. That was the plan.


I was resigned to selling my bikes after the police bust. I can’t say I was happy about it, but I was getting my head around cycling and maybe triathlon again.

The copper said there was a chance I could do an awareness course, but Mr Google said I couldn’t. I was expecting big points. Even at the bare minimum of 3, I was still thinking I should probably sell my bikes to be on the safe side.

I got my letter off the coppers today.

3 points, £100 fine.

Or no points and a £79 awareness course!

Let me think about that for a second.


So chuffed.

It’s not a done deal just yet, the plod can withdraw the offer right up until me completing the course (booked it immediately, it’s on the  27th January) but it’s odds on I’ll just do the course.

Now I have to keep my sensible head on. Another bust means pushbike.


In other bike news, Nathan has pranged his bike. Lost it under brakes. He’s OK, but oddly he managed to smash his clocks and headlight bracket without damaging his front end. Apparently it slid under a crash barrier, the headlight and clocks did not.



I ordered some replacement second hand bits and fitted them today.


I’ve still got an issue with the indicator coming on but not flashing.

Lisa, who obviously didn’t take it well, has taken me up on what I said when he first got the bike, upgrade the tyres. She’s buying him a decent front tyre for xmas. I’ve ordered the rear as well, Nath’s paying for that. Hopefully I’ll fix his indicator and get the tyres fitted tomorrow so he’s back on the road. It’s been costing him £18 each way in a taxi. The lesson here is; don’t crash!

Me going on about Nath crashing has been a source of cheap amusement for Wendy, at least. It does feel hypocritical, me saying don’t crash.

Bikes, eh?



Schrödinger’s biker.

Well, it was all going so well.

It was a relatively warm and dry day, the first for a few weeks. Good riding weather in other words. So I opened it up a bit. I still haven’t got my plod detector working. Can you see where this going?


Apparently the plod didn’t bust me for crossing the solid white line to get off the sliproad onto the motorway at some speed. I didn’t see the plodmobile, obviously. He didn’t do me for being a bit quick. Then I got held up by some cars in the outside lane. They were doing some speed, but I was full of the joys of traction, so I filtered. Down the white line between lanes 2 and 3 and give it beans.

Blue lights and sirens.


So busted.

Anyway, now I’ve got to wait and see what I get. Apparently they do awareness courses as an alternative to points, but because I did a speed awareness course a few years ago I won’t be eligible.

The plod said I was just being charged with Due Care and Attention, and should only get three points, or the course. Which is a laugh. I was *SO* paying attention. You don’t get to survive that shit at those speeds if you are not very, very focused.

Besides the point. I tried googling it, but they changed the law this year. It’s no longer “Offence A = X points and Y fine.”

Now it’s judged on a scale, weighing culpability and such. Then awarded points and a banded fining system based on a percentage of wages. Basically, you have no bastard idea until the letter arrives through the door.

Because they’ve rebranded DC&A as Careless Driving (again, *SO* not!) the range goes from tailgating to death by dangerous driving. So the range is from awareness course to disqualification, from course fees to unlimited fine and jail.

So, I wait and see.

Plod said 3 points. I’ll take up to 4. Anything more that and I’m going to have to sell my bikes. If I was to get, say 6. I’d be one offence off unemployable. . I overheard a ‘phone call, someone refusing to give a driver with 9 points a job, “He only needs a speeding ticket and he’s banned.”

I said to Wendy when I got my bike that I’m old enough now not to be crashing all the time (once in 2½ years, go me!) but if I started piling up points I’d sell my bikes rather than lose my licenses.

I’ve got a plod detector, I couldn’t get it set up. If I’m staying biking I’ll have to sort that out. If not, I’ve already bookmarked a carbon framed pushbike. I’ll ride to work, 18 miles a day round trip, and maybe get back into triathlon for the three years until my license clears. Roll with punches.


Ironically, my other bike news is that I’ve just paid for a Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA, don’t ask me how) advanced motorcyclist course. I know, right.

Apparently it’s the best course a civvy can do. Next one down from police bike training. When I got my license you stuck L plates on a bike and learned how to ride on the way home. After I’d been riding 6 months I took a one day crash course then my test. Which was off-road around cones, then drive around the block of the test centre twice while the examiner stood on the pavement and watched you! If you put your indicators on for each corner and didn’t run over the examiner, you passed. Which means I’ve been riding potentially lethal bikes, at stupid speeds, with no idea of what I’m doing. Since I’ve been lorry driving I’ve learnt about reading the road, forward observation and planning, which I really could have done with the last 30 years, but this course is taking it to the next level.


Other motoring news, Wendy has moved it up a few gears. She learnt the mechanics of driving, but was scared witless the whole time. Then she started to relax a bit and really improved. Next she had to learn what every bastard else on the road is doing. At first she was stopping at every roundabout and had no idea when to go. She’s got that sussed. Her instructor has moved on to test manoeuvres and she’s got most of them cracked.

Typically though, they’ve just (December the 4th, I think) changed the test. Now they have to do 20 minutes independent driving (no instructor input, just following signs etc) and a SatNav section. Seems the examiners are out on strike about the latter at the moment.

Harsh. When I think about my bike test…


Apart from that, work is good. Good money, good conditions, well treated. For now. It looks like the buy out by Tesco’s will be approved, so further down the line we’ve got to worry about them moving us into their big-arse branch at Wigan (run by Stobarts) or outsourcing the driving jobs to said Stobarts, as they did with their own Tesco’s drivers. Nothing I can do about that either, just have to wait and see. There are plenty of jobs for lorry drivers in Warrington. Damned if I’ll work for them.

I said I was going to get back into running. There’s the Manchester marathon in 21 weeks. Do-able. Then I got battered with a 72 hour week. When you are working 12. 13, and one day 14 hrs 45, with an hour commute on top, there is no way you can do shit apart from sleep.

Which brings me back to the pushbike again. I was considering it anyway, but I love my motorbikes too much.

Wait and see.