Archive for December, 2010

Catching up

Off and on, since I wrote that entry saying about the whole other mindset of army/ civvy life, I have been wondering if I over-egged it. Whether, in fact there is that much of a difference.

The other day, for no apparent reason I remembered an incident from the last T.A. outing.

 

Our group, C section, were with the other two. We’d been out dicking about in the field all day. For one exercise we’d dropped off our bergans (backpacks) and gone out on patrol in our sections with just our patrol webbing (think: Bat utility belt!) and rifle. When we’d finished, the three sections regrouped across a dip in the terrain from the bergans. As a bit of team building the corporal said we were to race across, pick up our bergans, then race back. Last section in to face a forfeit. We ran off, got to our bergans, then as I was helping one of the girlies in our section on with hers I heard a P.O. (Potential Officer) from our section shout out “Come on 3 section!” as he started to run back. I continued to help my team mate. As we were running back she fell over. I stopped and helped her up then ran her in. We were last.

I was furious. I shouted at the P.O., “It’s supposed to be team building! You don’t leave a man down, you prick!”

I was actually livid. The squad moves as fast as the slowest man. You take their bergan, their webbing, you drag them with you, but you do not leave them behind. He had run off and left the slowest to struggle.

Whilst technically it was a woman down, the point remains valid.

 

Deep breaths. *in with calm, out with homicidal rage*

Just thinking about it has got me wound up.

 

Anyway, my point is; I don’t think I over-egged it too much. As you move further away from the army mode you assimilate it into your civvy way of thinking until you can’t see the join. Then you remember incidents like the above and it just doesn’t fit into your normal way of life or thinking.

 

As soon as the weather looks a bit healthier I’ll have to get back and do the last part of my training. Cold, sleep deprived, over bullshitted fun.

Talking of the bleak conditions, I haven’t been able to go out and run or cycle since my last entry nearly two weeks ago. It’s been constant snow and ice. No way am I running or riding in that, I’d break my neck!

There’s no real excuse why I haven’t been swimming, mind.

 

One of the chaps on twitter is a Scouse triathlete and he recommended his club. Apparently they do team swimming three nights a week in a 50 metre pool, with a coach, 7.30-10 pm, £3.90 a lesson! It’s 12 miles away. Not too bad. Then from April to September they do outdoor swimming in the docks at Liverpool. An ideal introduction to open water swimming for me. I’ll start going to the pool in January.

I’ve not heard anymore about work consenting or dissenting to my idea for upping the limit on the cycle2work scheme. I’ll have to get on to them again.

I have been ruminating the idea of joining a gymn to thrash their treadmill and cycling machines until Spring, but they all want you to pay ridiculous amounts and join for a year. David Lloyd have a three month contract option but only on the all-singing all-dancing package. I don’t want to pay top dollar for badminton, boules, and extreme ironing, when I just want the treadmill. cycles and pool.

O.K., I’d be tempted if they really were offering extreme ironing.

 

Today it struck me. Great Sankey Leisure Centre is called a Leisure Centre, not just Great Sankey Swimming Pool. I missed my calling in police work I think.

I went on the website, an lo, an xmas miracle;

 

sankeytread_tcm15-13956

sankeyxbikes_tcm15-13957

I rang them up and they said I would have to have an induction, (£8, unless I joined) then £6 per session, or join for £26 per month, have unlimited access from 7.15am- 10pm, and I only have to give 30 days notice to cancel my membership and direct debit!

So it’s a month membership in other words. I forgot to ask if  I get access to the pool, but for that money,with all that kit, and opening hours I can use around my shifts at work I can’t complain.

 

My fitness regime starts in earnest from Monday. Cool.

I’ve also been gleaning healthy eating advice from my Triathletes World magazine. Shit loads of cold water fish (omega-3, not to be confused with the vegetarian omega-3 which is next to useless, threw that bottle out!) which acts as a muscle repairer/ builder, reduces muscle inflammation,  eases joints and as an added bonus causes cancer cells to kill themselves, according to some studies.

I’ve bought mixed  nuts and dried fruit for on-the-go energy. Apparently you run out of stored energy after about 90 minutes running then are left with nothing. The ‘wall’ that marathon runners hit, and which dickhead cyclists slam into around Yorkshire if they don’t take food, it would seem.

I tried biscuits, but trying to run, chew, salivate and breathe all at once is too big an ‘ask.’ Nuts and dried fruit, quick to chew and swallow, don’t require moistening, massive amounts of energy. Carbs and protein.

Trouble is, I’ve not been out doing anything, just enjoying my healthy nibbles!

Tins of tuna, small tins of cold beans, nuts, fruit, bananas, satsumas, yoghurt, brown rice, brown bread, haddock,… I’ve been eating my way through anything and everything that might be good for a triathlete, then sitting around wondering why I am not getting fitter!

 

Right, it’s getting on, decaf brew and then bed I think.

Later,

Buck.

Er…,

I received my first copy of Triathlete’s World magazine a week or so ago. The only reason I subscribed was because the website of the same name had some interesting test reviews of the kit you need. They publish the introduction to the articles to get you interested, then tell you you have to be a subscriber to read the reviews and conclusions.

I thought that was fair enough, it has all the information I need and will help me integrate into my new community. After a wait of over a month the first issue arrived, I grabbed it and flicked through.

Massive disappointment.

No ‘buy this bike, this kit, and follow this training plan for instant triathlon success’.

Hmmph.

 

For a week or two it sat there untouched, a silent reproach for impulsively subscribing to a magazine I’d never read.

Yesterday I picked it up for something to read in bed. It’s actually bloody good.

 

The article to which the title of this entry refers is not what I wanted at all, though!

Some chap, very competitive, did a duathlon (run, bike, run) with some triathletes, decided to do the ‘sprint distance’ event (750 metre swim, 20k ride, 5k run).

Then he heard about Iron Man distance as some chap at his works had done one.

He thought “Well, if he can do it, I must be able to.”

Is this starting to sound familiar to anyone yet? I can’t put my finger on it, but it’s like I know someone like that.

 

As a step-up he then did a half I.M distance race (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile ride, 13.1 mile run) and it all went horribly wrong.

“I’m never going to win a triathlon. but I love getting out there, seeing other people pushing themselves, pushing myself as hard as I can, trying to get faster. The half-Iron Man event wasn’t like that- it was a war of attrition. On at least a dozen occasions I wanted to stop, just stop.” …”I didn’t pull out. Instead I shuffled off to start the most torturous run I have ever been on and several hours later shuffled across the finish line. Then I waited for the amazing sense of achievement to kick in- I’m still waiting.”

He has abandoned, or at the very least put on indefinite hold, his full I.M. plans.

Shit.

Not what I wanted to read at all!

He had already done the (admittedly bit gay) sprint distance tri, and presumably had trained for the half, but still found it more than he could handle. I’ve done a bit of running and entered a full I.M.. Shit.

I was actually looking forward to the half as a bit of a giggle, nice splash about in the sea off Cornwall, scenic ride, pleasant run to stretch my legs off. I keep telling myself that I did that 51 mile ride then 13 mile run within the time at my first attempt. But there is the accumulative affect of each discipline. Perhaps the swim will make the ride a lot harder, then the run even harder yet. The run after the ride was hellish, it put a minute on each mile.

I must, post haste, do a mock half. My next day off is Thursday, if it is  at least a few degrees above zero I will do it then.

I’m hoping that it was his attitude that was at fault. I know it is an endurance race, where finishing all you are after. It ain’t going to be fun. It will be painful and a battle of will. Like that bike racer said “pain is temporary, quitting is forever.”

He, the I.M. aspirant, seemed to think it was going to be fun.

 

Must do the whole half, ASAP. Then I’ll know what I am up against.

 

After the two weeks enforced laziness (due to ice and snow) I got off my arse on my days off. Did a short but windy ride to Helsby (30 hill-ish) miles followed by a 7 mile run. Then the day after went out and did a 17.35 miles run. It was supposed to be an 18 miler, but I cocked it up a bit. Irritating. Anyway, I am on track for my marathon run in Wales on the 10th of April.

Work are still dicking me about with the bike. Finally got it all sorted; bike package, codes, websites, etc, etc, got to the final bit ‘enter amount in pounds’ when I found out that although the government scheme is up to £1,000. DHL have set the ceiling at £500. The package I want is a snip at £664!

Balls.

Still trying to negotiate a deal with them over it. As soon as I get an answer, yes or no, I’ll get the bike then join the Warrington triathlon club! Oh yes, there is such a beast! Joy!

I’d be too embarrassed to turn up to the group training ride on my old heap!

They do coaching and training in all three disciplines. That is what I need, someone to push me. My running covers the distance, eventually. Faster is better.

Well, I’ve paid up for the full I.M., no backing out now. If it’s impossibly hard that just means I have to train impossibly harder! Or cheat. Could I disguise a moped as a push bike? It’s a thought.

Later,

Buck.

Turn and about.

After all the grand plans of yesterday, of a measured incremental easing into the job of driver, I walked in this morning and got told I was going out for an assessment. That’s that.

I know that in yesterdays entry I was saying their word is not to be trusted, that they’ve said all the right things before and not delivered, that I’d believe it when I saw it, but I couldn’t help getting my hopes up.

I was gutted.

Before the assessment the guy was showing me half a dozen files on his desk, all driver accidents that were ongoing. “And these are from competent, professional drivers.” 

Basically saying the job was too hard for a newbie driver like me, be prepared to fail. He couldn’t do me then, so I had to come back in a few hours.

 

I ‘phoned Wendy, telling her they were setting me up to fail, that they’d gone back on everything they’d said yesterday. She was gutted for me.

I spent a few miserable hours brooding on how they had screwed me over, again.

 

I went for the assessment, for the fourth time in twenty four hours, this time I got one. I was a dithering wreck. I sat in the cab, the seat and steering wheel were fully adjustable, had to been shown how to adjust them. The gearbox was a fancy-pants automatic/ optional manual input. Had to be talked through that. Needed to insert my digital tachograph card, didn’t know where, let alone how. Talked through that.

Before I’d even set off I could see I wasn’t impressing.

 

Got going, he said we were going to do a few laps of the warehouse and a controlled stop to give me a feel of the beast. I forgot, did one lap then lined us up with the guardroom gatehouse to go out. He told me to proceed. In retrospect, I missed a chance at some practise, there.

Went out, got onto the road that runs all the way alongside work, at the second (easy) island I let the trailer wheels run over the pavement. Purely through nerves. That, again, was a fail.

After that I really raised the bar. The two corners I was dreading, (a T junction turn at the bottom of Birchwood Expressway, and Burgesses paper shop corner in Latchford village) were both unexpectedly easy!  

I did really well. A few minor positional mistakes, but the roads were so empty I could easily correct.

I was starting to feel good about myself. I was thinking that I would be able to pass some bugger else’s assessment, even if these bastards were out to screw me over. Then we got back in the yard and he told me to back it onto a bay. I was fairly confident with my reversing ability, I’d spent long enough cracking it for my driving tests.

Could I do it? Could I buggery!

It was one of those where you break out in an embarrassed sweat. He gave me a few shunts then said he was going to stop me.

I drove it back, just wanting to get out of the cab and have it done with.

 

He set to explaining, again, how tight the car parks are where we deliver, and how if I couldn’t do a simple back on to an open bay I’d have no chance at the store. He said that I needed more practice, and he was aware that you can’t get the practice without doing the job.

“So what I plan to do”, says he, “is suggest to the management that you go out with one of the assessors for a few store runs while we teach you the job, get your experience that way, then let you go out on your own.”

What they had planned yesterday, but this time with the benefit of me having already proven myself through the assessment!

He said I was cautious, which is a good thing in a newbie, but I had the makings of a good driver.

I could have kissed him! After all the build up, the expectation of being failed on principle, to be told he wanted me to be trained up as a driver!

I’ll sleep well tonight!

Now I have to wait for the management to get back to me. But seeing as it was the site GM who had me doing all that induction paperwork yesterday, I am hopeful. I still shouldn’t be, not with the track record of my works, but I can’t help it. All the augers and portents are hinting at this being my break. If only so I don’t have to do another assessment, I hope so.

 

What a day!

Buck.

Dare to hope?

Things MIGHT be happening at work! I stress ‘might’, I’ve heard a lot of promises before, to no effect.

I have been battling for over fifteen months to get work to honour their ‘warehouse to wheels’ incentive. I paid for my own licenses, just needed them to send me out with a driver for a week (or put me shunting, or anything to get me from ‘just passed’ to ‘competent/ confident’) but all I got was promises and lies. I kept saying, ‘it’s there on the board; warehouse to wheels’, their solution was to take the board down.

Anyway, I had given up on them. Then, last Friday, I was in the transport office when one of the drivers asked if I was driving yet. I told him I wasn’t, that DHL were a bunch of bastards who would never let me drive for them. He shouted the transport manager, saying ‘this is that lad from the warehouse with his class one’.

The manager had a word with me there and then, said ‘come in Monday for an assessment’!

Still not easing me gently into the job, ie warehouse to wheels, but at least giving me a shot. Obviously I immediately started bricking it! I’d not been in a cab for over a year, and I was supposed to hop in and drive around the deliberately torturous test route. I booked three hours refresher driving, with the intention of driving around the actual course. The bits I know are daunting, I rang the people I took my class two license with as they are Warrington based. Got the number off the website, rang and made a booking ASAP. It wasn’t until the end of the call he said ‘do you know Bolton at all?’

Eh?

Turns out the Warrington site has been ‘mothballed’, and no, we wouldn’t be able to drive to Warrington to try out the test route.

Super.

So I did that straight after work on Tuesday. I was very nervous. It’s the best part of sixty foot of truck, and my last memories were of the terror of those Groundhog Day driving tests.

As it turned out, I jumped in, tentatively edged us out, then was fine. He took me around some really tight corners, or so he said, I thought they were alright. My perennial problems cropped up though; passing too close to parked vehicles and carrying too much speed into situations.

He said at the end that I was still up to test standard, but my inexperience did show.

 

I went in work today with my heart in my mouth. The head assessor was out, so I saw the other one. He was going to take me out, then realised I had no experience. Then told me to come back later. I went back, but then they had no spare trucks. Instead he sat me down and went through three hours of health and safety and driver induction paperwork. He said to tell my manager that the site GM had told him that was what he wanted me to do. So it had been passed up the chain of command and a strategy had been implemented, it seems.

When I’d done the induction stuff, he said the head assessor was going out on a store delivery tomorrow, and he was going to take me! Or rather, he was going to go out on a run, but now he would instruct and observe me doing the delivery! Then I am to do the same accompanied by a regular driver two or three times, then in the new year they would  see if I was up to speed then send me out on my own!

IF, I said if, that actually happens, that would be ideal. Exactly what I wanted. Just fifteen months late.

I’m not getting excited yet though. First they’ve actually got to get me out of the gate in a truck, then I’ve not got to cock it up, then I can start thinking about this being real. They’ve talked the talk far too often.

 

Ironically, after all this health and safety driving talk, the first thing I did was run someone over in the car park!

Well, I pulled out of my parking spot and he ran straight into the side of the car on his pushbike. The front wheel went under my wheel arch and stuck with the bike still upright. He flew over the handlebars, sprawled across my bonnet, then bounced to the floor.

He wasn’t hurt but it shook me up no end so it must have been nasty for him. I was parked in a row of cars, he must have been riding along the front of the row, out of my field of vision, I pulled out, he ploughed into me. I was really guilt ridden, but I don’t think it was all my fault. He went into the side of me. He should have realised that I might not see him, and he could hear my engine. I would have been cautious in his shoes. I expect he will be, next time!

 

Which brings me to my cycling. I went for a ride on Sunday, my day off. I looked up a point twenty eight miles away and set off. My concessions to the freezing weather being a pair of leather gloves and a lightweight sweat shirt. What I didn’t realise was that cycling (in my army boots, to keep my feet straight) doesn’t move your toes and does keep your feet straight. Also, that gripping a pair of bare steel tri bars, even wearing thin leather gloves freezes your hands a zero degrees or below, especially when you are in one position for four hours. By the time I’d reached the half way point (twenty eight miles away, in the sticks) I was frozen. I was stomping up and down, trying to chew a solid Mars bar and get some life back into my feet. It was painful and miserable, and I still had the other two hours ride back, getting colder as the sun went down.

Then I got the obligatory puncture. Fixed it and plodded on. By the time I got home I was in a terrible state. Wendy thought I was on my way out.

NEVER. DOING. THAT. AGAIN.

If it’s cold enough for snow, I don’t go! Which, incidentally, applies to the army as well! They’re in no rush to get my training done, so they can wait until it warms up a bit for me!

One highlight of that ride was coming across this in the sticks at the end of my ride

  

meerkat2

A thirty six foot, straw statue of a meerkat! In a field in the middle of nowhere! Cool or what?

Here’s a link to an article on it;

http://nantwichnews.wordpress.com/2010/07/26/meerkat-sculpture-at-snugburys-wows-a51-drivers/

That will do for now,

later,

Buck