Month: April 2011

Ups and downs

The Wednesday before last was the first open water dock swim with Mersey triathlon club. This is what I joined that club for; practise in swimming in a wetsuit. I duly packed all my kit and set off to Liverpool. Need I say that I left it to the last minute? Only to find the satnav didn’t recognize the destination? So I was racing out to the car, trying a new address, not having it work, running back in, upstairs to google something close. Eventually I found the prefix postcode wasn’t right, that was why it wasn’t recognizing the addresses.

I set off late, blindly following the satnav. You can see where I’m going with this, can’t you? I got to the end of the motorway and saw signs for Bootle docks so I followed them in defiance of the satnav. Turns out Bootle docks are not the same as Salthouse docks. The satnav may have been right. When I was finally in the right neck of the woods I realized I’d forgotten the £2 swim fee. By the time I actually found the place I felt I was too late to play.

The docks itself was a surprise. I was expecting some derelict dock in a Scouse ghetto. It seems to be a des-res. Right on the sea front (obviously) with a Hilton hotel in front of it and a million people taking the air. It was posh as buggery and well crowded. Not how I wanted to do my first open water swim, in front of loads of people.

Still, with three weeks before I am to do it for real in the sea around St Michael’s Mount I determined to do it right this Wednesday. I got everything done, work, nap, shower, tea, all my kit packed, money, faint sense of where I’m going, only to find I’ve lost my membership card! No card =no swim.

Damn and blast! I am going to drown in Cornwall!

Bugger me! I was just about to put it’s been three days and no sign of it turning up. I went down for a brew, came back, sat down and there was my card, on the floor by by chair!

It must have fell down the back of the chair!  Happy days!

There you go, live action blogging. It’s the future.


I have been working on the other disciplines in lieu of my swimming. Yesterday I treated myself to a day out in the lakes on my bike. I planned on riding from Ambleside, over the mountainous Wynrose pass then over the legendary Hardknott pass. I managed the former ascent. 25% and 30% inclines. It would have been manageable if it had been short bursts with shallow inclines in the middle, but it was miles of damn near vertical! Also, I was hindering myself by staying seated. It wasn’t until I’d been beaten and had stopped to catch my breath that I watched a despicably fit cyclist go past, stood on his pedals. I got to the top with three rests. Shameful.

Another lesson I learned yesterday is if the hill is too steep to carry on, do it anyway! If you stop on a steep hill with cleats on your feet when you come to remount you can’t get both feet in the cleats and pedalling before the hill stops you. Then you haven’t got time to wrest your clipped-in foot free from the cleat and you fall off. Seven times. Ow.

I managed Wynrose pass, it took me an hour of the hardest riding I’ve ever done, but I made it to the top then blasted down the other side, hanging off my brakes for dear life. Then I saw the signs for Hardknott pass and I bottled it and turned around. I should have stuck it out, but the first hour was so hard I was scared I wouldn’t have it in me to do the return ride.

As it turns out the return ascent was quite brief. The only bright point on that was catching two mountain bikers who had stopped before the summit. I stopped near them and we had a brief chat. I was eyeing their bikes. The back cog was enormous, the front tiny! The ratio must have been ridiculous! To put it another way, they had piss easy gears, designed to get them up mountains, and they hadn’t made the ascent. Then one of them set off  up the last bit while the other one pushed his bike up. The first had to get off halfway. I hopped back on, fell off twice, then, when I’d got going, did it in one! Small victories!

To make up for it I tried a back road up the Kirkstone pass, fell off loads, gave up.


Today I’ve had a restful day. just been down the allotment. It’s all dug over, and everything I can put in is in. I can’t move the apple/ pear/ cherry trees or the blueberry bushes yet as they are with crop. Late autumn for the trees.

It now looks like this:

Or, from the other end, this:

With this being the middle:

As you can see, spuds at the top, French beans, mange-toute, and dwarf beans in the middle. Although you can’t see them, there are rows of lettuce, rocket, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, courgettes, parsley, leeks, spring onions, onions (red and white) as well as redcurrant and blackcurrant bushes. Other stuff as well that I can’t remember off the top of my head.

Today was a good day. I turned over/ hoed the last pieces of land. It’s all been freed from weed! Now I just have to keep on top of it.


Tomorrow I’ve managed to book a day off, so I’m running the South Cheshire 20, a 20 mile road race in Crewe.

All good training.




To cheer myself up I’ve been down my allotment today. It is something positive to be thinking about.

It’s gone from this:

to this:

Mine is the plot edged by the mine tape to the left (of the bottom picture) and the sticks and unturned earth to the right.

At the top of the plot I’ve left a big space for my tomatoes (when I can plant them out, and have had more of a chance to kill of the more persistent weeds) then there’s the potatoes. First early, second early, and main crop. That took some digging I can tell you!



That’s my first section; potatoes, in which section is included tomatoes. Don’t ask me, I don’t make the rules.

Behind them you can see the start of my second section; legumes, onions and roots. On the picture you can see the red and white onions. Viewed from the second picture you can see I have extended the section. It now has leeks, spring onions and carrots as well. There is a gap between the second and third sections that has not yet been turned over, this is for my french beans, mange tout, and dwarf beans. I forgot to buy some canes otherwise I might have got that done as well.


In the third section; brassicas, I’ve dug lime into the soil and planted savoy cabbage, quick heading calabrese (broccoli) normal calabrese, (because I’m not sure if it’s different or not) some broccoli and two rows of cauliflower.


The three sections are for crop rotation, apparently. One lot takes something from the soil, the other lot adds it, and it keeps the diseases that attack each on the hop. I don’t know, you just have to, OK?


Then there’s the strawberry patch, the asparagus, redcurrant bush, small gooseberry bush, and braeburn apple tree.

It started off the plot looked huge and I’d never be able to get to the end of it, not I’m wondering where I’m going to put stuff.

It’s too late this year because I’d lose the flowers/ crop, but I have another two apple trees, three blueberry bushes, two pear trees, a cherry tree and a blackcurrant bush to plant in from the garden.

One of the pear trees is a dwarf/ pot one so I might keep that here, and the cherry is looking mighty fine at the moment, that might stay as an ornament.

It’s only it’s first Spring in the garden and it’s flowering like that!

So the allotment is almost up and running. I have to dig over the end of the second section, incorporate lots of manure, erect some canes and pea nets then get my peas and beans in. The rest really is just digging over and weeding the little bits that are left.


My goth chic is definitely out of the window this year. With all the exercising in minimal kit and now the heavy gardening I fear a tan is inevitable.


Ooh, that reminds me, next Wednesday I get to test my wetsuit out! Mersey Tri, of which I am a member, resumes it’s open water swimming in the docks at Liverpool then. Unsavoury as that sounds it’s supposed to be quite clean water.

The allotment may not be the drain on my time I feared. Once I’ve dug it all over and planted it up it should just be a matter of watering and weeding, occasionally feeding. I should be able to get stuck into my training again.

One last picture before I go, I’ve had a re-think with the former ‘grassy knoll’ and removed most of the grasses. I’m going for all year round appeal. I’ve planted the different colours of dwarf conifers inside the box hedge circle. With hebe to make balls of a different colour and texture. To give it a bit of seasonal interest I’ve planted an acer at the back in the moist shade.


You have to bear in mind that the conifers are sulking as I’ve not long since moved them, the hebes are but twigs that I’ve managed to get to root from cuttings last Autumn, and the box hasn’t been trimmed or fully grown in yet. When it grows in as I want it, I think it will look quite nice.

I’ll take a better picture. It looks nicer than that now.

Anywho, back to work tomorrow, best get to bed.

Come on Lotto!


More moving goalposts!

I had a run worked out on ‘Gmaps pedometer’ (a site that lets you plot your exact route, allowing you to zoom in and click it turn by turn if you are following a path or otherwise not on a road.) The same route I was running before I buggered my knee. It worked out as 20 miles, when I did it more exactly it was 20.1 miles.

Since those heady days I have done one ten miler, rested for three weeks then ran two more ten milers.

Yesterday being the last day off of my long weekend I was supposed to do a half IM distance tri. I did the 1.2  mile swim in the morning then couldn’t really motivate myself for the 56 mile ride and 13 mile run. Then it started raining. I was doing a sterling job of prevarication in fact, then my Triathletes World magazine arrived and inspired/ guilt-tripped me.

I looked on Gmaps and worked out where 3.1 miles was from our house. Then set off on my run.

I left a note for Wendy saying that I was going to go out for a run, if my knee was up to it do a half (13 miles) if it still felt alright do the full lap (20 miles) and if I could manage it do a full marathon (26.2 miles).

For a change, first time ever in fact, I set off at a good pace. Normally I set off too fast and have to struggle the first mile or so as I wait to fall into a comfortable rhythm. I got to the five mile point doing dead on 8 minute miles and hardly breaking a sweat so decided to keep going. Same pace by the 6.6 mile mark, at the end of my lap one minute off the pace. I carried on for the final 6.2 miles. That was hard. I ran within 100 yards of our house after 20 miles (2 hours 41 minutes of running) and had to force myself to carry on.

I did.

It was fair horrible, but I kept going. When I turned around to do the last 3 miles home it really kicked in though. By the last mile I was seeing my time slipping away and shouting “COME ON!” at myself but I just couldn’t go any faster.

I did it in 3 hours 31 minutes, 21 seconds. To put that in perspective, the  Ironman world champion can run that in 2 hours 36 (after a 2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike ride!) and the national average time for a marathon I read recently is around 4 hours 30.

So not to shabby compared with some, piss poor compared with the best. I have to think that he is THE best in the world and that is all he does, professionally train for triathlons. And he’s ugly*.


All well and good. From out of nowhere I went out and did a (until the last few miles) really comfortable run, well within my limits, and never really thought that I couldn’t go  the whole distance. And I maintained a 8 minutes 4 seconds average.


Quite pleased with myself for a first attempt.


Then, as I am an honest sort and don’t want to be making false claims, I went and checked the whole route out again.

The bastard has shrunk! 19.3 miles and 6 miles dead! 25.3 miles in other words, not 26.2!


That means I didn’t run a marathon and my average time plummeted to 8 minutes 40 seconds a mile!

Totally miffed.

On the bright side, my knee hasn’t knackered up. Ice pack and ibuprofen and I’m good to go.

Ho hum,



*He may not be ugly.