Archive for October, 2012

Pains.

Technology is just a demonstration of how stupid I am.

Last week I bought the shiny new computer and thought all was well with world. Then I tried to activate my email accounts and was reduced to *headdesk* and getting others to fix it for me. Then there was the blue-ray debacle.

This week I bought a router to try to fix that drop-out problem I’m having with my connection.

It arrived (when I was in the shower, obviously) on Friday. I had a quick play with it before work but couldn’t get it set up. I set to in earnest today (Saturday) and got it recognizing the PC and working, but saying the ethernet cable wasn’t connected.

I trotted up and down stairs many times, sticking cables in different slots and generally being puzzled. I looked at my old modem/ router jobby and followed what I knew to be the wiring of that. It’s only 3 wires, 2 if you take the power lead out of the equation. One from the ADSL/ ‘phone line, one from the router to the computer (via the mains, in my case.)

After quite a while, and some vigorous and heartfelt cussing I had a moment of epiphany. An ADSL connection is not an ethernet one. The ‘phone line goes into a ‘phone line (ADSL) slot, an ethernet goes into an ethernet slot (something fancy and computery, I don’t know!)

The router doesn’t have an ADSL slot. It is a router. Not, as it transpires, an ADSL/ router. They are not the same thing.

Super.

A router, it appears is just a transmitter for making Wi-Fi. You need to have a modem/ ADSL jobby as well.

Double super.

I bought it to replace the modem jobby, to try and get a stable connection to the internet. But that’s the kit it needs to work. *sets fire to internet*

 

BTW, (By The Way) I don’t know how much of Twitter/ internet grammar has leaked into RL (Real Life) but the asterisk thing is a way of expressing an action or emphasising a written word. Someone described it as a meta-commentary. Some people will say anything, though.

It looks pretty self-explanatory to me, but everything does when you are used to it.

Anywho, I have now bought a DVD white elephant and router one. Got to love learning by your mistakes, it’s like buying my education in small, irritating chunks.

Talking of which, not content with the above frustrations, I took Anonymous’ (the hack-tivist collective) advice (on Twitter) and bought a VPN (Virtual Privacy Network) which is just running your internet stuff through some proxy server (as I understand it). So I want X but don’t want The Man knowing about it, I get it but it goes through my proxy’s computers first where, presumably, it is anonymized.

Anyway, easier said than done.

I’ve been fighting with it most of the week. Lots of partial successes. I got a 12 month contract which was only about £44 quid (to save 25%), but I wish I’d just got a month’s. I’d sack it and try something else.

 

Wendy has got another cold. I’m pretty sure she has some strange fetish for illness. She seems to be poorly all the time.

 

I’ve been riding to work and running. God, I hate sprinting. I’ve done two identical runs of 1½ miles. 6.01 for the first mile, 3.15 for the following half on both times. I think today’s was fractionally easier. I still can’t breathe. I had to spit and the few seconds it stopped me from breathing was like I’d been winded or something. I had a panicky, desperate-for-breath feeling. I had to gasp in as much air as I could and was panting like a dog. That was the better run!

Also I’ve got pains in my shins. This is an alarming development.

Pre-injury I used to wear my pains with pride, proof that I wasn’t slacking, pushing my body to the limit. Now I am nervous of every twinge. I can’t afford a six month set-back in my training. Obviously the first thing that springs to mind is shin splints. That would be serious.  When you get something like that there is no pushing through it or any half-arsed fix. I think I’ll lay off the distance runs (I know I can knock off a steady 20 miles at the drop of a hat), just do the short sprints and rest. I’m doing a mile and a bit warm up/ slow jog to my designated start point, rest for a minute then a 1½ mile sprint, die, then gently jog back.

Honestly though, I’d much prefer to do a steady, beastly hilly, 20 mile run than try to run 2 miles at 6 m/m. Or 1½, for that matter.

Still, at least the pain is brief. If intense.

HA! It’s Sunday, I’ve just been for another sprint session and I’ve broken the 6 minute mile! 5.55! I forgot to press the pause button on my stopwatch for the half, it was either 3:07 or (more likely) 3:17. Balls!

That’s just two week since I broke the 7 minute mile barrier!  At this rate I will be running at relativistic speeds in two months. Then, as well as worrying about shin splints and coughing up a lung, I will have to fret about disrupting causality and threatening the space/time continuum with the inherent paradoxes. It’s a lot of responsibility.

 

The other good news for today is that I’ve sussed the VPN thing. All working, as far as I can tell.

 

Also I’ve joined (re-joined technically, just never went last time) Warrington Tri. Now I have to get up my nerve and go. They do coached swim sessions on a Saturday and group bike rides on a Sunday as well as ad hoc runs. I don’t see how they could push me any harder in the runs, mind. But they could have better training methods. I could turn up for the runs, I reckon I could hold my own in that, it’s just a bit daunting turning up for something when you are crap.

I got talking to a fellow triathlete on my run today. He is following the route suggested in the magazines; if you want to swim fast join a swim club, if you want to run fast…

As well as being in a tri club. I should look into it. I need to get the swimming lessons sorted first, though. Swimming is my biggest weakness. 

He was saying he did the Outlaw last year (as did I!) in 10.09, which is pretty damn impressive. Also he said he did the Lanzerote Ironman this year, by the time he got to the marathon he said it was 45 degrees!

Screw that! That would have been me. “TAXI!”

 

A few of my favourite tweets this week:

“The first rule of Chinese Whispers Club is ‘No one squawks about tiny-flippered cubs.’”

A vicar posted: “Nick Griffin says he is prepared to go to jail for Christians. I accept his kind offer.”

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A brilliant film synopsis:

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"Savile even hoodwinked the Vatican." Amazing, as they’re usually so hot on this sort of thing.

‘Guinea Pig dressed as a dinosaur’ of the week:

I've just looked at this picture of a guinea pig dressed as a dinosaur and it's calmed me down. A bit.  http://twitter.yfrog.com/mmwcgsj

“Thoroughly examined my testicles in the mirror today. Gave myself the all-clear. The Ikea Security Guard was non committal.”

“Couldn’t sleep, so started counting sheep. Now I can’t sleep due to fear about why the sheep are amassing such an army.”

A gay chum on twitter was suffering from office ennui so I tweeted;

“Start a small fire in the bin, then crack open a diet coke as several hunky fireman beat the crap out of you for wasting their time.”

 

“What did I do before Twitter? Well, there’s my family and……OH MY GOD WHERE’S MY FAMILY?!?!”

Other stuff.

Well, apart from my running, which I may have mentioned is a total bitch, other stuff has indeed been happening.

My fancy-pants new computer has arrived, and after five days of sorting out niggling issues, is now all peachy. I was having a bit of a nightmare getting in to my email accounts, but with help from Luke and Plusnet (who now take over your pc and sort it out for you remotely, as you watch. Ace!) they are all working and integrated into one place.

My next issues was with blue-ray’s. I had a blue-ray film and wanted to burn it off. The pc said it was the wrong kind of disc. Fair enough, apparently DVD’s and blue-ray’s are different discs. I bought some blue ray discs. Wrong burner.

A DVD burner doesn’t burn blue ray’s. Now you’re just taking the piss. This means I’ve had to order a blue ray burner for the pc. The brand new, build to your own spec, pc. Or to put it another way, I’ve just bought a brand new DVD burner in my pc that is never going to be used because it is obsolete tech. Balls.

It never even occurred to me that blue rays and DVD’s were different.

Grrr.

Hopefully when it gets here it will be easy to install.

The other thing I’ve ordered is a new router. For some reason whenever you turn the landline on or off (and often when you’ve done nothing) you lose the connection to the internet and have to reboot the router. Hopefully it’s the ancient router that is at fault. If not it’s only £40 and a new router is worth having anyway.

With the new pc I included a new keyboard and mouse. Nice easy set up, no messy wires (the old wireless ones had plug-in  receivers on wires, this one just has a dongle thing that plugs into a USB port. Tidy.) and the keyboard is quiet. The old one sounded like a manual typewriter. I can get away with typing now without Wendy killing me.

 

Work continues to be inconvenient hours but it’s steady, 5 days a week work. To the same place, doing the same job. That I like. Saying that, on Friday I got to Crewe to pick up my trailer for Cowley and they couldn’t find it (not unusual, Crewe is a farce of a depot) after an hour and a half they declared they couldn’t find it because they didn’t have one for me. They sent me to Barnoldswick instead. I’d been there once before and hated it, tiny roads and that stupid, four barrier-ed, impossibly tight crossroads. This time, expecting the worst, I found I took it all in my stride. I may be improving. Yay!

And I’m definitely getting better at that hideous reverse at Cowley.

I was saying to Wendy, I think I’ll stick at it until February before looking for another job. This is the time of the year when work is plentiful on the agency, but come January there is nothing for six weeks or so. At least with this job it is ongoing. And by the time it picks up again next year I’ll have utterly mastered this reverse.

Then I can apply for any job, confident in being able to do anything they throw at me.

 

I can’t seem to write without mentioning the running, so here’s a quick word. It seems I have four weeks to get up to the standard of the starting point of my training plan to fit in with the races I’ve booked. So I have to build up from one mile (6.05) to 3 miles in 18 minutes in the next four weeks. Not easy, but it sounds possible.

The other thing to note about the plan is it is (deliberately?) sadistic. If you run a 3 mile sprint one day and then a 15 mile ‘easy’ run the next day it is not easy. I decided to at least make it a tough course if I was doing an easy pace, so ran up to Frodsham hill and back. But event he starting, fairly flat, mile was enough to have me sweating and thinking about quitting. I suppose it’s so you train your legs to run tired.

Anyway, day of rest (apart from 21 mile round trip to work on the bike) today. Sprint tomorrow.

Right, better get ready for work.

Which reminds me, someone who managed a 3.19 marathon was saying the two keys are repetition and weight loss. Back to the diet then. *sigh*

Buck.

Where the Iron Crosses grow.

I’ve referenced it before but I’ll jog your memory. It’s a war drama film, a German sergeant who has an Iron Cross and his younger, vainglorious officer who desperately wants one. The officer lies to try and get one and tries to get the sergeant killed to cover his lie. In the end, as the allies are closing in and all hell is breaking loose, the sergeant prepares to run out into the fight he says to the officer “Come with me, I’ll show you where the Iron Crosses grow.”

 

That is where my rather pretentious and somewhat tenuous blog post title came from.

I’m using it to refer to my latest ambition, the sub 3 hour marathon. It’s that special.

I thought, now I’ve broken the 7 minute/mile barrier I’d just trot in at that pace. This training plan I’m trying to follow says: “week 1, run 3 miles in 18 minutes.”

You have to remember it’s only a week or so ago I was thrilled to set a new PB of 6.45 m/m. That wasn’t an accident. That was going at it full-on.

Then I tried to the 3 mile sprint (19.43). Not good. I mean, new PB for the mile and 3 miles, but not up to scratch. In the week one of the training days was 10 minutes (easy) run to warm up, then 4 X 1 mile sprint. It was blowing a gale so the runs into the wind were slower, but none of them were brilliant. (6.45, 6.23, 7.08, 6.22) Again, that was two new PB miles, but PB doesn’t count for shit. It just means my best isn’t good enough. Today I jogged an easy mile to get warmed up then sprinted the 3 miles again.

It is pure hell. I’d prefer to run a full, steady, marathon than sprint 3 miles. This time was even slower (20.15) but that was because I burned out. I seriously can’t get enough air in my lungs to support that much effort. I set another PB for the mile (6.05, so close!) but then dropped to 6.45 and 7.23!

7.23!

Let’s focus on the positive here, I’ve managed to knock over a minute off my best mile from 3 weeks ago. I think I’ll have to adjust the training plan. I have plenty of time, it’s a 14 week plan and I have just under a year until the Chester marathon. I’ve booked into some races roughly where they should be on the plan though. A 10 mile, a half marathon and a ‘fun’ hilly-as-buggery marathon.

That should keep the momentum up.

I need to train to reach the base standard. I’ve proved to myself that a 6 minute mile is possible. If I run a mile sprint one day, a long, easy paced run the next, a day of rest and repeat it might be a better plan. Get used to doing a single mile in 6 minutes, then 1½,  2 miles, etc. I just can’t strap on my trainers and knock off 3 miles at that pace.

Looking at the training plan, four of the first eight week’s goals I can achieve now. The longer (10, 12, 15 and 18 mile runs) aiming at 7 or slightly less minute miles. It’s the short (3, 5, 6 and 10 mile) runs at 6m/m’s I can’t do.

The theory seems to be; the longer you run the slower you get (as you tire). Therefore be able to put in a 6 m/m half marathon so you can comfortably run the full distance at 6.30-6.45.

Anyway, just so you know to avoid it, I’ll be updating this entry as a record of my progress. I’ll carry on blogging my usual banality in ongoing posts, but keep this one to chart this stupidly ambitious goal.

There’s a reason it’s a kudos mark amongst runners. It’s because it is so very, very hard.

Wendy reminded me, when I was first getting started and was really chuffed with reaching a distance, let alone a pace, I’d been pleased to get my time down to 8 m/m. Someone at her works who was a member of a running club said “tell him to get it down to 7 m/m, that’s a good club pace.”

Ha! 7m/m! 7! We laugh in the face of a 7 m/m!

If I achieve this it will be epic.

Someone noted a T-shirt in the audience at the Ironman finals in Hawaii saying “You run marathons? How cute.”

I think a good English version might be “Bless.”

I may have one done “Yes, I run marathons as well. As a warm-down.”

Heh. One-upmanship.

Crack a decent time first. Don’t want the grannies barging past me on their zimmer frames if I’m wearing such a boastful T-shirt.

To quote from the philosopher Gump, “that’s all I have to say about that.”

Buck.

W/E 28.10.12 : 15 miles (up to Frodsham hill top and back) 1.59

1.5 mile sprint:

6:01, 3:15 (9:16)

6:01, 3:15 (9:16)

5:55,  Dammit! I didn’t press the pause button on my stop watch. Not sure if it was 3:17 or 3:07 now.

The tracks of my tears.

Bugger.

You know how I’ve set myself the goal of the landmark sub 3 hour marathon for next year? And how 4 runs ago I was pleased to get back to my pre-injury PB 10 mile time of 1:15 (7.30 m/m)? Yesterday I was over the moon to do it in 1:14.43 (just under 7 m/m).

Today I started looking for flattest/ fastest marathon courses for next year. This lead me to Runners World website and from there to training plans and an equivalence calculator. ie, if you can run 5 miles in X you can run 10 miles in Y.

It turns out the sub 3 is equivalent to a 10 mile time of 1:03.46 (6.20 m/m). Oh dear.

The (10 week) training plan said week 1: do a 3 mile run in18 minutes!

Just been out and ran my chubby little heart out and it took me 19.43, which (taking off someone stopping me for directions!) I reckon was about 6.32 m/m.

 

Holy, holy crap.

 

Mountain to climb. That was hellish hard. I really wanted to stop for virtually all of it and I was still 30+ seconds per mile off the pace. 

I suppose it’s better that I’ve got a realistic goal, but it’s a bit of a gutter just how hard and far away it is.

Still, if it was easy it wouldn’t be a landmark.

I’ve knocked nearly a minute per mile off my time in 2 weeks and still have 30 seconds to go to reach the starting point!

Larf!

Buck.

Stuff. But more so.

Fun weekend off, after a fashion. Actually, not so much fun. Fulfilling, maybe.

 

Last week at work was something of a nightmare. They closed the M6 in two places on one night, two different sections the next night, and it was just miserable. The main lesson I have learned is; whatever the circumstances *NEVER* divert through Stafford. It took me about two hours to get through the 8 or so miles of diversion one afternoon, and an hour and a half to get back then next day at gone midnight. It takes you straight through a poxy town centre, replete with traffic lights, single lane streets and road works. The first night I ran out of driving hours (maximum of ten driving hours a shift, three times a week. Normally your maximum is nine hours.) The second night I just scraped in at ten hours.

As I say, you can only do that three times in a week, after that you have to just do nine hours, so I was a bit worried for the rest of the week.

The godawful reverse is still godawful, but I’m getting the hang of it. I’ve noticed my reversing in our yard is improving vastly due to the practice I’m getting at Cowley.

That was a 60+ hour week. The bum thing being the start time is 1400 so twice I finished at 0400, not in bed until 0530 then you start stirring when it gets light. Up at 1030 first day, can’t remember the second but it wasn’t great. By the end of the week I was shagged.

I got in Friday, well, Saturday at about 0230 and thought I’d get my race pack and kit sorted for the Rivington half marathon at 1000, it was gone. I spent an hour or so going through all the draws, the bins, all the draws again, under the draws, in  my sports bags, through the draws, I woke Wendy (not pleased) and finally gave up. One of us must have thrown the envelope out.  When I say ‘one of us’ I mean ‘Wendy’.

Not best chuffed.

Possibly it will turn up in a month or two and we will laugh about it. Or not. Either way, no race on Saturday.

 

Last week I was feeling a bit off colour, possibly just psychosomatically as Wendy was ill as buggery, but I put off my training and cycling to work. That and the being shagged every day. The odd thing is; the more exercise you do the more you want to do, the less you do the less you want to do.

So it was a struggle to put my trainers on Saturday and go for a run. I forced myself into it as I’d missed out on the half. I ran my flat 10 miles course, which it turns out was 10.24 miles. I was right the first time, my Map My Run app on my ‘phone said it was too short because it hadn’t picked up the satellite signal. Grrr. Anyway, the 10.24 was done in 1:14.34

A new PB, and nearly a quarter mile longer! Go me!

Today I set out to beat it. My first two miles yesterday were 7.10 and 7.18, today I managed a 6.50 and 6.45, my third mile was a 7.04! I blew it a bit on mile four and mile five is always the hardest, physically because that is where the only hills are and psychologically because it the furthest you have to run (away, after that it’s all homeward bound). I know, it doesn’t make sense, but it is the case. My time slipped to a 7.55 on the 4-5 mile, back to a 7.14 when I turned around.

Anyway, I set a new proper ten mile distance PB of 1:13.15, and that was second day of fast running. And those were my first two miles under 7 minutes!  *chuffed face* That is exactly the pace I need to be able to maintain for 26.2 miles if I want to do a sub 3 hour marathon. More hills!

The other thing I’ve been doing is preparing the bike for Winter riding. All I had to do was take the tri bars off and thread a new gear cable through the handle bar lever things. It’s taken me hours to do one. Now I know what I have to do it will take me 10 minutes to do the other, but it is far from intuitive and I couldn’t find that model on the internet. *Shakes fist at google*

 

Back to it tomorrow. Biking, dieting, French. I’ve been being slack, what with the stress of the new run, the stupid hours and the malaise.

 

The other thing of note is I have been in contact with the coppers, and I will have to declare that drink/ driving conviction. As it was a single moment of drunken madness, with no other convictions, I hope to be able to plead my case to the Americans and Canadians. As I gave up drinking years ago (2007? 2008?) and they can test my hair to prove it, I reckon I stand a good chance.

 

That was last week, didn’t get around to posting it.

This week has been one of prevarication, mainly.

I didn’t get around to posting off my visa applications (I’ll fill them in today, post Monday) I rode to work on Monday after spending the morning fannying around changing the gear shifter cables. Five minutes into the ride the front gears refused to change back up to the big ring, so I was left pedalling like a madman to make it into work on time. On Tuesday I had a look and it wasn’t that I’d set it up wrong, but that I hadn’t replaced the cable housing with new stuff. The old one had frayed so when I put tension on the wire it sagged, so I wouldn’t move back.  I had to change the cable and replace the housing. Still have to do the rear one set-up. It is working at the moment but it has the same problem. Best not to risk it.

I got the tri bars off and turned the front wheel around, (so the tyre is pointing in the right direction of travel) changed the pedals to the toe clip ones (as opposed to the locked-in, cleats) and left it pumped a bit softer for grip. I’ll change the rear cable and housing and get back to it on Monday.

The good thing was; that Winter cycling jacket is the business! I ended up taking it off and freezing in just my base layer top on the ride home, it was that warm. I should be sorted for Winter, then. The bike looks weird without tri bars, and the riding position is totally strange. As is riding in trainers. I think I may have to look for something with a stiffer sole.

 

Wendy has been trying to get her passport sorted. They wouldn’t issue her with one as she’s never had the new style one and she has changed her name through marriage. She had to write to Cornwall council to get a marriage certificate. They wrote back saying the church hadn’t submitted it yet. So then we had to email the church, then send them the letter. She’s got it now, so that can go back in the post on Monday.

 

The reverse into the warehouse is getting easier. I think I’ve sussed the proper turning point. The knock-on effect is that reversing in the yard at Irlam is vastly easier now. Good.

 

My computer has still not arrived. 7-10 days delivery. It’s now 13 days. I got an email after 8 days saying “your order is now in the ‘build and test’ phase.” In other words, for 7 days it was in the ‘sat on our arses, twiddling our thumbs’ phase.

Can’t think of anything to add. I’m strung out on too much coffee.

Better get a run done.

Later,

Buck.

PS, Had to force myself out of the door for that run, but when I got going I was determined to smash last week’s PB. Did I ever! Last week I set a new 10 mile record of 1:13.15, today I did it in 1:09.43!

I had really stepped up my game last week so that is a massive improvement. It’s my first ever sub 7 m/m 10 miler! I went out with a different mind-set. Go like stink and keep going. No easing the pace for the hills or slacking off because I was tired. I just kept pushing and my return miles were some of my fastest. I’ve obviously been too lenient with myself  in the past, let the pace drop and settled for a finish. NO! Bad Bucky! Lazy Bucky! Push and achieve.

For my own sake I’m going to record the stats, nothing of interest. In keeping with the rest of the blog, really.

Mile 1: 6.47, 2: 6.57 3: 7.04 4: 7.04 5: 7.11 6: 6.53 7: 6.45 8: 6.57 9: 6.54 10: 7.05

6 sub 7 m/m’s, average 6.59 m/m. For the sub 3hr marathon I need to average 6.48. It’s looking at least possible.