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Chester Marathon.

I actually learned my lesson this time! I got all my kit ready last night. I did a trial pack of my helmet and whatever kit I could fit into my backpack. I ended up sawing down an old, cheapo, pair of boots so they would fit in my bag, to save me from riding to the race in trainers. They must be 10 years old, fake leather bike boots. Basically steel toecap wellies. I’d forgotten I still had them. Anyway; improvise, adapt, overcome.

So last night I went to bed knowing all was set for this morning.  The race didn’t start until 09.00, I set out out 07.00. Which meant a fairly stress-free ride to the race, even though it was raining and the satnav took me a way I wasn’t expecting. The first car park was so full it wasn’t even letting people in, but due to my new strategy of leaving myself sufficient time, I just turned around and found another one. Took off my bike kit, sauntered to the bag drop, and had 40 minutes or so to wait for the race.

The difference to the stressfest of the journey to the Outlaw triathlon was incredible. So that was a success.

The rest, not so much.

As I never stop saying, I want to go sub 3 hours for the marathon. My best to date was 3.41:40.

Today, seeing as I’ve been doing a bit of speed training and such, I really wanted to get down to 3.15.

I set off just behind the 3.15 pacer. (They have pacers who run around holding a sign with the speed they are going to finish.) It was all going swimmingly. The pacers seemed to be too fast, they would charge along at 7.09m/m pace, then slow down just before the end of the mile to come in at the right time of 7.30. So it seemed to me, anyway. The good thing was it wasn’t bothering me. I was thinking of staying with them, fast and slow, until the half way mark and then carrying on at the fast pace. Then we started hitting hills. Stupidly, I’ve been doing my training down the canal and on a local 10 mile road lap that has one slight hill. The hills just smashed my legs. I tried easing up on the pace going up, then sprinting to catch up with pace markers downhill.

I was holding the pace for the first 10 miles but the hills just kept coming and my legs were wasted. At 13 miles I got the psychological boost of the halfway point which in my mind is turning towards home, so picked up the pace again. But the next mile there were more hills and my legs had set. I was still fighting up until about mile 20 when I just couldn’t get back up to speed. If it had been a training run I would have quit by then. As it was I just had to shuffle on. The last few miles were misery. They scored about a ‘3 stone twins, no anaesthetic childbirth’ on the suffering scale. Still more hills.

I was staggering into the last mile when the 3.30 pacer ran past me! I drew on everything I had and chased him for the whole mile. I finished in 3.30:33.

The negatives, obviously, are that I crashed and burned due to no hill training. Also, that I should have know that it was a hilly course and prepared. It runs from Chester into Wales, of course it’s going to be hilly! Not sure how I missed that. I’ve run it before. Apparently I forgot.

The positives: preparation and allowing yourself extra time is totally the way to go. I beat my PB by 11.07, (which was set on a flat course) and death doesn’t seem as bad now.

I’ve just got an email with my stats from the marathon. I finished 51 out of 347 in my age/ sex group. (Male 50- 54). I’ve done the maths (well, a calculator has) and that puts me in the top 15% for my category. 14.7% , to be exact. It’s no excuse for crashing that badly, but it shows that it was a tough course, and absolutely not one to be chasing PB.

I might do it next year, but if so it will be as a fun run.

The other bit of good news, as I’m this done in, is I asked for an extra shift at work for tomorrow, but they’ve knocked me back, so I’ve got an unexpected day off to recover. I’ll do a small, gentle, recovery run (jog) to try and break my legs up and get them working again.

I’m off next Sunday, if I’ve recovered I’ll do a flat marathon around here and see what my real time is.

That’s all I have to say about that.




Just a catch up.

I had a low patch a few weeks ago. I was worried I was coming down with loony again, happily it was just a blip, but it’s always a wake up call. However well you’re doing in life, job, training, personal goals, if you go loony it all counts for nothing. 

They say that running is actually good for your mental health. It de-stresses you, focuses your mind on the task in hand (suffering and trying not to die, I assume) and releases endorphins, which are painkillers and a natural “high”.

I should be immune from loon. Yay!

My run of race misfortune has hit the superstitious third event. The Outlaw triathlon cancelled the bike session so a year’s training was wasted as it wasn’t a tri. I set off late and got lost so managed to miss the South Cheshire 20 (mile race). Then, 6 days before the Warrington half marathon, I got an email saying they’d cancelled it, due to ‘safety concerns’. They said they were trying to rearrange it and we’d hear the details the next week. That was a fortnight ago, still no offer of a refund, free entry into next year’s race, or a new race date for this year.

My next race is Chester marathon in a week. Let’s see how that goes. I’m predicting asteroid strike.


While I was low I was window shopping for another bike. Apparently that’s part of my (BPD) condition, that I enjoy the thrill of shopping. The fact that I couldn’t get excited about it and even after I’d tracked down the bike I should get and was thinking “what’s the point?” is telling in itself.

I was thinking of an ‘adventure bike’.


They’re big, supposedly robust, go-anywhere motorbikes. Usually bedecked with big stainless steel looking box panniers. The thing about them is, when you put a different screen on them, they create a bubble of quiet to ride in, and due to the sit up and beg riding position, they are supposed to be all day comfortable.

I forgot to say, what prompted me to look, beyond trying to find my happy place, was I’ve started getting tinnitus. Not the usual background whistle when it’s quiet, but a quite loud sound that alters pitch, making it harder to ignore. I really don’t want that to get any worse. I bought a new, so-tight-it-makes-your-eyes-bulge helmet but I was still getting motorway wind noise so I was panicking a bit.


At least I shouldn’t get run over while I’m going deaf!

Someone on twitter said he’d fitted his adventure bike with this fancy screen to get the bubble of quiet I’ve just described.

Then it struck me, my gorgeous VFR750 is a sports/ tourer. Why buy another bike when mine is designed to be a comfy tourer? That also goes like stink, if you want.

I got the fancy screen my twitter mate was on about.


The idea of it is that it has a bit of a lip so it pushes the air to the top of your helmet, and the funny second screen thing smoothes the air turbulence so there’s a lot less noise.

That worked a lot. The other thing is the sit up and beg position. I bought some risers. They are just collars that fit under your handlebars and lift them the maximum permissible height within the fairing (only 2cm but it’s supposed to make a big difference). And a comfier seat. I was going to get a gel pad insert, but the same guy on twitter said someone had done his seat. Apparently gel pads leak eventually and aren’t as good as they sound. What this guy does is strip out the cheapo, but fairly adequate foam the manufacturers fit, replace it with super-duper luxury foam, and fits a better, grippier, seat cover.

I’ve only got it back today, but the work looks quality. I’ll take it for a bit of a test ride tomorrow.


Oh, I also bought a cheapo, £10, Chinese, ‘phone holder. It attaches to the handlebars and holds your mobile so you can use it as a satnav. I don’t want to get lost ever again, it’s irritating. Especially if it means you miss your race.

So that’s my bike all sorted, now I just need a day of reasonable weather to do a long distance test ride. We’re in the monsoon season at the moment, so not ideal.

Which is handy, as Wendy finally gave up asking the housing association if they were painting the exterior doors or if we should do it. Months she’s been asking. Not even for them to do the job, just to know if they were or if we should. Anyway, she gave up and we painted the doors. The paint says 16 hours between coats, in the dry. We put the first coat on, it dried, then it’s chucked it down for 8 days. Super. The forecast is for rain for the next fortnight. Super duper. I expect we’ll give them the second coat around June.

It was a double blow as the seat guy, who does a ‘while you wait’ service is based right at the bottom of Surrey, near Brighton. I looked at it. A 500 mile round trip, but was put off by the M25 (London ring road) section. That is awful at any time. Also he said on the ‘phone it was ‘first come, first served’ and it took a few hours to do the job. If I’d have ridden down and not got seen I’d have been miffed.

So I sent it by post, just got it back, 10 days later. Which meant a week of cycling to work. In the rain. It’s hardly rained for months. Until 1: we paint the doors 2: I send my seat motorbike seat away 3: I want to do a long ride to test my new motorbike set up.


And, after all that, I think a lot of the tinnitus was caused by earwax build up, not being deafened! We’ve been habitually using ear plugs for good sleep. It seems, obviously in retrospect, that they compact the earwax and prevent it’s natural movement out of the ears. I’ve been putting olive oil in my lugs, as per the NHS website recommendation, and it seems to be a lot better. If so, I’m still glad I got the screen and all that, better to have a false alarm prompt me into preventative measures than being stuck with damage limitation.


In other medical news, I’ve had a red patch on my face for about a year or so. If I don’t keep it slathered in skin cream it immediately dries out and flakes. Last week I started getting it, or something similar, on my forehead. Flaking like mad, itching, and a bit tender. I gave up and went to the doctors before my whole face fell off.

She said it’s a kind of dermatitis. Apply this cream for a fortnight, job’s a good ‘un. Huh. I’ve been using it two days and my forehead is already tons better.

While I was there I said about my loss of taste and smell. She’s given me a referral to the Ears, Nose and Throat specialist, but said that could take months, in the meantime she’s arranging an MRI to determine if there’s any obvious nerve damage. I’m not sure how that would show up or how I damaged it (with a killer cold, 2½ years ago) but at least she’s throwing everything at it. She said if it’s nerve damage then it’s permanent, but if not they can try and sort it.


In my training I’ve been following that Advanced Marathoning book’s plan. I’m on a taper fortnight now, for next Sunday’s marathon. I’ve never done a taper before. I’ll be interested to see how I do. My PB at the mo is 3.40:53. That was an average pace of 8.26 m/m.

I’m going to set off at 7.15 and try to keep it under 7.30. I’ve no idea if I can sustain that. If I could it would be roughly 3.15. I’m going to have to really try for that. I’ve got to be sub 3 for April.

I’m really looking forward to seeing how much fitness and stamina I’ve built. A PB is a PB but I really want a significant gain.

Right, I’ve rambled enough.

My next blog better be epic!



Smashing It!

A bit of good news. It’s just a run but it has me buzzing.

I have two days off so I thought I’d test myself. A good, middle distance that I often run is 10 miles. I decided to do a Personal Best (PB).

I said (on my running account on Twitter) “Think I’ll do a 10 mile PB today. If the wind isn’t too bad. Neighbour’s gate has been banging. Hmmmm. It’ll be good training just making the attempt. Hahaha, way to backpedal in the space of 280 characters!”

I wanted to do 6.48 m/m pace, but was willing to settle for 7.00. My PB being 1.11:12, average of 7.07 m/m.

I set off at a reasonable pace, 6.47, then slowed slightly as I got into the wind, 7.01, then 7.05.  Then I got into a nearly 2 mile stretch that always funnels the wind and it was killer. I was beasting myself to try and get my pace down from 7.40. I clawed it back to 7.30 then 7.26.

In those two miles I knew I’d lost it. I couldn’t make up a minute of lost time. I was nearly killing myself just to keep a bad time, I had nothing left to pick up the pace for the way back. The nagging voice in your head that is always telling you to stop was shouting “YOU CAN’T DO IT!  MIGHT AS WELL JOG THE REST!”

I ignored it and pushed on, just to try and get a good time, if not PB.

At 5 miles I turned around, legs burnt out and lungs on fire, and suddenly the wind wasn’t stopping me!

6.58, for no more effort! I can do this! 6.52, 6.52, 7.00, 6.58!

I did it in 1.10:42, average pace 7.03!

A new 10 mile PB and a 10K PB along the way!

I get people telling me (rightly) I’m too negative about my achievements, but I am honestly chuffed to bits with this one. Not so much the time as the not quitting, and giving it everything, even when I knew it was a lost cause. I usually just accept a PB and think I should have done better. This one means something. Again, not the time, I fully intended to smash that next time out, but in those conditions…

I don’t know. I don’t think I’m expressing it very well.

Let me just say that was my best ever run and I’m pleased, possibly even proud.

Also, it’s given me a real boost in my confidence. If I can do 10 miles in those conditions, at 7.03, it’s not too much of a stretch to run 13.1 at 6.48, surely?  (My intermediate goal of a sub 1.30 half marathon.)





I booked a day off work for today to run the South Cheshire 20 (a local 20 mile race near Crewe.)

I swapped the weeks on my training plan so my long run would be a 20 miler instead of 16.

I started to look into it late yesterday afternoon. I am not big on planning and preparation. Just before bed I looked up where it was on Google maps, wrote out the landmarks I’d need (Jct 16 M6, A500, first exit Shavington, left opposite some pub, right at crossroads, left.)

I set off this morning a bit late. I still reckoned I had about 20 or so minutes to park my bike, change, pick up my race number and amble to the start line.

I got to the pub turning but they’d renamed it from the one on Google maps, so I rode past, just to make sure it wasn’t around the corner.  It wasn’t. As I was running late I thought I’d just follow the road around and cut across to pick up my lost route.

I ended up riding around Crewe. At 09.25 (race started at 09.30) I was lost in Chorlton.

Then I had to ride home. I wasn’t really layered up for a nearly 2 hour ride. I was expecting 40 minutes there, run and shower, 40 minutes back, all toasty.

By the time I got home I was freezing, miffed, and really angry with myself.

This isn’t the first time. The whole of the journey to the Outlaw triathlon was a stressed out nightmare, trying to put my wetsuit on 3 minutes before the start of the race, missing the start, etc.

Well, no more. I’ve had enough. I know I’m a last minute, wing it, sort, so in future I’m going to sort everything first and give myself plenty of spare time. If I’d have had another 10 or 15 minutes this morning I could have turned around and gone back to the pub, or pulled over, checked maps and rerouted.

If I have to stand around for 30 minutes before races, at least I’ll be relaxed getting there, and I’ll be there in time to actually do the race.


I regrouped and went for a run on my own. I’ve got a bunch of run routes locally. Some really nice ones down the canal (flat as a pancake, obviously) and a 10 mile road route which is also basically flat.

I decided to punish/ redeem myself with a hilly 20 mile run towards Frodsham. There are the rolling hills along Walton drag, and some proper steep hills further on.

I set off to try and do a good pace. Not even. It was blowing a gale and those hills! I managed the 20 miles but it was pitifully slow and painful. (8.28 m/m average.) Something else that’s going to change, I’m incorporating hill runs into my training.


That’s the fail out of the way. Oh, apart from one other thing.

I was sat, minding my own business in the front room. Bike locked up on the pavement outside the front room window.

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As you can see someone had parked across the way from us. Wendy didn’t have the room to swing into a parking slot, so instead of just parking the car diagonally across both our parking bays, she reversed in. STRAIGHT INTO MY BIKE!

My bike rocked back, I thought she’s smashed all my fairings for sure. They are difficult to source and way dear to have resprayed. I ran out, but thanks to the angle, she’s just hit the footpeg. No damage to the bike. She’s put a dint in her car, but that’s just karma for attacking my bike. The divorce lawyers are sorting that out.

That’s definitely all the fail.


The good news is my foot is holding up, even with the increased mileage and speed required for my new training plan. And I don’t have to buy new shoes or do anything tricky or expensive, just slacken the laces as far as they’ll go and job’s a good ‘un. (And apply lots of ibuprofen gel and wear a compression bandage full time, but that’s no big deal.)

The new training plan I’m following, (from the Advanced Marathoning book) is tough and demanding but I think I’m already seeing results.

My mid-long run this week was 15 miles at marathon target pace (6.48 m/m) +10- 20%. Roughly 7.30- 8.10. I wanted to be hold it to 7.30, obviously. I did the first 8 miles in 1 hour and 1 second, almost exactly 7.30. I faded a bit after that but still kept it going. Averaged at 7.36 for the 15, a new PB, and only 7 seconds off my half marathon PB on the way. I’ve jumped into the plan halfway through as I want some results before the Chester marathon next month, but then I can start the plan from scratch and work up to the Manchester marathon in April.

Oh, and I found the pictures from the Outlaw online.

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Cracking the flags, as you can see. The thing that surprised me was my face looks skinny. I still think of myself as a bit chunky.

While I was digging through my pictures I found these, which make me laugh.





Right, that’s enough.



Decision Made

I’ve quit triathlon. For the third, and possibly last, time.

I’m going to sell my fancy pushbike.

I was deliberating and torturing myself over it. I really wanted to get the benchmark sub 10 hours, but I can’t get past my loathing of the swim. And my biking isn’t much better. I could do the biking in the shed on Sufferfest, … stop it!  Decision made. I’ve done 3 and 2/3rds triathlons just going for a finish, if I can’t go for benchmark there is no point in forcing myself to do stuff I hate.

I’m over it. Moved on. … Mostly.


So now it’s the running. Which I enjoy. It is a constant, direct challenge. And it’s relatively short. A 3 hour run is a long training run (20+ miles) whereas on the bike it’s only a short ride (about 45 miles) and in the pool it means I’ve drowned.


I’ve been suffering from pulled tendons on the top of my left foot (extensor tendonitis, Doctor Google informs me) since January, but it hasn’t got any worse so I’ve ignored it and carried on.

I had a week’s rest before my tri then ran the marathon on race day (Sunday).

The next week I had the Monday off to rest, and the Wednesday (as I did a 14 hour shift, with an hour’s commute). I still put in a 54 miles running week.

I threw everything at it. Previously when I was trying for speed work I’d built up to 5 miles, holding as near as I could get to my target pace of 6.48 m/m. I’ve been reading a book that says most of the tiredness and resistance to speed is your mind trying to pace your energy, not your body tiring. So, 4 days after my tri/bi marathon, I went flat out for 5 miles.

I got a PB (Personal Best) for 5K and 5 miles. Not too shabby.

I did some 8 mile runs then a double pack run day to work, 17+ miles round trip, and an 18 mile long run.


It was a good week. But, as usual, it was too much, too soon. My foot got a lot worse. I had to give in and rest it for 6 days. In that time I read up on extensor tendonitis. The big contributory factor everyone agreed on was too tight footwear, causing the tendons to rub as your foot flexes. I’ve been in the habit of lacing my boots tight since the army. The leather shapes around your foot and becomes like a foot glove. In theory. Also, I have to buy motion control trainers as I overpronate (my foot rolls inwards when I run) which I assumed would mean they had to be tight to do the controlling of motion thing.

It’s worth a shot. So for the last 6 days my motorbike boots and work boots have been as slack as I could make them (and I’ve been using ibuprofen gel and a compression bandage, obviously). Today my foot was the best it’s been in months so I decided to do a test run.

I slackened off my trainers and set out to do a 10 mile PB. I was aiming at 7m/m for the 10 miles. I set off at a cracking pace, I was running at 6.47 and it wasn’t killing me. I’d like to say “comfortable”, but there’s only so far you can stretch the definition. Then I turned the corner into the wind. Like running into the back of a bus. I tried to keep on pressing on with my time but it was no use. I settled for completing the 10 miles.

The great news is that my foot was fine afterwards! It’s had time to set and get a bit sore since, but nothing bad. I’m hoping I’ve cracked it. I will be so happy if it’s mainly the footwear and I can work around it.

I’ll try another run tomorrow to confirm it.  With any luck it’s manageable damage and I can keep on training. With a heap of luck it’s just the footwear and I can train and it will get better. We’ll see. The good news is it can’t be that bad if 6 day’s rest more or less cures it.

The exciting thing for me now is the Warrington half marathon in 5 weeks. It’s a bit short notice but as I’ve got a base of 5 miles at the right pace, it’s possible, if I actually have more in the bag right now, that I could get up to a 1.30 half. That would be awesome.

That’s probably not going to happen in time. But it’s certainly a benchmark goal.


In other news, Wendy asked me to go for a ride in the car with her as there was a funny sound. She only did about 2 miles. When we got back the nearside rear brake disc was too hot to touch. And has a scratches scored in it. Oops. I Googled it and it seems it’s a common fault. Rust builds up in the barrel around the brake piston and it eventually seizes. They said it’s probably going to need a new brake caliper. Less than ideal, but at least she caught it before it did any serious damage.


The other thing is; another handle has snapped on the windows of our house. The one in the bathroom has been broken for at least a year, longer in the spare room. I’ve been putting it off and swapping bits around as I’ve not idea where to start with model of double glazed windows and fittings and such. Tonight I had to do another one and I’d had enough. I hit eBay to start the process of working out what I needed.

They are a universal fit. Any of them will work. D’oh!

I’ve ordered 4 handles, with the bar that fits in them, the screws to attach them, their own keys, and postage and package for £11. All in.


*bangs head off keyboard*


I forgot to say; it’s a huge weight off my mind now I’ve quit. I was hating the training but badly wanted the result, then I felt I’d made a commitment and I had to follow it though. Now I’m focusing on running, and I’ve moved on, it all feels good again. If my foot doesn’t get any worse I am going to batter this!



Decision Time.

I’ve got to commit to triathlon or quit.

I wanted to go faster this time, but that 2 month bug knocked spots off me. Then I was lazy. I didn’t do enough training. What I did wasn’t structured or consistent.

I had the Outlaw today, after which I was taking a year off from tri anyway, but now I’m not sure I want to carry on.

It was a bit of a disaster from start to finish, to be honest. I went down yesterday to register and rack my bike and stash my kit for today. That was OK, apart from the driving in torrential rain. Seriously reduced visibility from the rain and spray, wheels skipping on the huge puddles of standing water, want-to-live-forever morons doing 50 and 60 in the outside lane (of 4 in some places). There’s a lane for doing 50. It’s called the bus lane. In a bus.

Today I had to get up at 02.50 and drive to Nottingham. It was just as bad, but luckily very little traffic.

I was halfway across the A50 when I realised I’d forgotten the drinks for the bike leg. I had to pull in and buy some water. I got to the event later than planned, by the time I’d queued to get on to a distant car park I only had 15 minutes to get to the changing area and struggle into my wetsuit. They are designed to be clingy and are really hard to put on.

I was just outside the changing area when I realised I’d let my timing chip in the car. I had to sprint back and get it and sprint back to the changing area. The race started at 06.00. At 05.57 I was starting to put my wetsuit on. I got it on and sprinted out to the lake. They let me start but I was a minute behind everyone else before I got into the water.

I really thought I was going to batter the swim a bit this time. I thought I’d been making good progress with technique. Aided by the buoyancy of the wetsuit I thought I was going to fly. Nope. I was just weak and slow. My worst ever time. And I was hating it.

I got out of the late inside the cut-off only to be told “Take your time, there’s no rush, the bike leg has been cancelled.”

The battering rain had left parts of the course under a few inches of water. And a good chunk of it is on open roads. So loads of bikes, on skinny tyres, going flat out in monsoon rain, being close passed by cars. It was a recipe for fatalities.

Fair play to them. But it turned my tri into a splash about and a bit of a jog.

Then, inexplicably, they started all of us on the run individually! I was waiting 2 hours 43 minutes before I got going.

I was treating it like a stand alone marathon as there was no bike leg, but my legs didn’t believe me. My right tendon was pulling then the calf cramped. I kept running but it was really hard work. I did it in 3.57:33. Poor for a solo marathon, good for a tri marathon, but it was neither.

I think the swim, and then the waiting around, must have battered my legs.

I came out to the lake in position 906 (out of 900, possibly) by the end of the run I was position 489.

Anyway, the thing is that was too, too hard. And bad.

If I’m going to go back to tri I need to commit to disciplined, consistent training.  I don’t know if I can. I find it so hard to force myself to swim. And I don’t like road biking much better.

I’m really tired, and it’s been a long, painful and stressful day. I’m not committing either way right now, but quitting is definitely on the table.



New Bike!

A few weeks ago I said to a driver at work that I’d found a great route into work but it was cruel on my fancy bike taking it along the canal. He said I should get a gravel bike.

I googled one later. It seems it’s much like a road bike (or ‘racer’ as they were called when I was a yoof) but with a wider frame clearance to take fatter tyres, a more relaxed geometry, and a slightly higher crank (for clearance).

I had a look. Some of them were dearer than my tri bike. I only wanted a knock about commuter. I had a moan on Twitter and was told that gravel bikes were the latest trend, that’s why they were so expensive, I should look at Cyclocross (CX) bikes (the sport where idiots race through mud then carry their bikes at a run up hills that are too steep and muddy to ride) as it is basically the same thing, but not trendy, therefore loads cheaper.

In my usual obsessive way I went from never having heard of one to armchair expert in 24 hours. I decided the one with the best spec on the gears, brakes and brand name frame was the Giant TCX.

Then I thrashed eBay and Gumtree for a bike. The problem I had is Giant were most specific that my statuesque 5’ 6½” meant I had to get a Small. Hardly any to be had, and dear. One for £600+.

I saw one on Gumtree for £250, with better gears and spec than a £350 on eBay that still had a few days bidding left on it (so sure to go up a lot at the last minute).

It was in Bristol.

Of course it was.

He said it was in average condition. Everything worked but it had a few scratches. Sounds good to me.

I arranged to go and look at it on the Saturday, but then he pulled the advert on the Thursday. I was gutted. I did another thrash of the internet and confirmed I was going to have to pay a lot more for less spec.
I text him to confirm he’d sold it. He hadn’t! Yay! A lot of muppets had been hassling him over the bike so he’d just pulled the advert. He said they were giving him 20 questions about the scratches. “It’s a £200 bike”.

Hmmm, I’d been happy at £250. I said if it was the bike in the pic, and it all worked, I’d give him £230, consider it sold.

He said I could have it for £200!

It was a long, tedious drive, but the bike is perfect for me.

I’ve done some basic tinkering; cleaned years of built up oil off the chain and sprockets, lowered the seat, lowered the handlebars (put the stem under the spacers) fitted clip in pedals, adjusted the (disc) brakes so it now does stoppies, and pumped the tyres to their feeble max. On my tri bike the tyres are 23mm, 105psi front and 115psi rear. This is 40mm, 75psi and 85psi. So soft, wide, grippy tyres.


Job’s a good ‘un.

Oh, the other thing about these bikes is they have fittings for attaching mudguards! (How did that become a notable design feature?) So I can stick some of them on as well.

I took it to work. I can ride the first 5 miles off road, through the park and along he canal path (above). Which just leaves the last 3.8 miles of quiet roads.That’s the other thing about CX bikes, they have the gearing and tyres and geometry to be capable on the road as well as off it.

It is liberating. My tri bike you have to wear the kit, go like stink, and look miserable. I wouldn’t dream of nipping to the shops on it. It’s just not the right tool for the job, and it’s so expensive I’d be too nervous someone would nick it.

On my CX I can ride to work, nip the shop, or ride to the leisure centre and leave it locked up outside. It’s just a no hassle, do anything and everything bike. And because it’s not a race bike, not on the road, and doesn’t have race tyres, or tri bars even, I don’t feel the pressure to be going as fast as I possibly can. I can enjoy cycling again. Especially as I can now ride away from traffic.

Today, as a final bit of training before next week’s Outlaw triathlon, I took it for a ride along the TransPennine Trail (TPT). It’s a route of canal paths and tracks linked occasionally by short blasts on very quiet roads that stretches from the West to the East coast. I wanted to ride to the top of the Pennines. By road, Google said it was 44 miles. HA!

It’s a great route. Very quiet and with enough challenging surfaces to keep you from getting bored.

However, the signposting is rubbish.

I’d been out hours, got lost a bunch of times, and only made it to Stockport Pyramid. Google said I had another 2 hours to go. Then I lost the trail completely, so I came home.

This is how well is was signposted:

Screenshot_2019-07-18 Garmin Connect

That red line (the route I took) should be a single line from top left to bottom, then up.

Still, the bike took everything the paths could throw at it. I’ll buy the official route map and do it again after my tri.

Last pic; lost again.

20190718_130810 (2)

Happy days!



Unrealistic Expectations.

I’ve known for ages that I have unrealistic expectations. Whenever I come back from an injury I expect to be out of the blocks as fast and as fit as I was before. Usually injuring myself again in the process.

Today an idle reply to someone saying I was too hard on myself crystallised my position.

“I always have unrealistic expectations, then am miffed if I don’t achieve them first go. If I do achieve them I think I should have done it faster.”



That’s not the point though, the point is I’ve changed my unrealistic expectations. I wanted to do a sub hour marathon and a sub 10 hour triathlon. Wendy has been going on about how mad I am to keep punishing myself in a sport I don’t enjoy. (I hate the swimming and the cycling really bores me. I like the running.)

My only reply is that it’s a big challenge. As she rightly points out, there are plenty of running challenges.

After mulling it over for a few days I’ve decided on a compromise. I’ve got the Outlaw triathlon in 24 days, after that I’m going to take a year off triathlon and concentrate on achieving my running goals. Which I will actually enjoy. So I’ve lined up a bunch of races. The Warrington half marathon (on my doorstep, rude not to) in September, the Chester marathon in October and the Manchester marathon in April. I’ve put in a holiday form, if I get it I’ll be doing the Crewe 20 mile run in September as well.


*drum roll*

The Leeds Endure24 (24 hour running race) in July next year!

As soon as I get my tri done I’m going to get stuck into a running plan to get me up to speed for a sub 3 in Manchester, and I’m going to be building lots of miles for the 24.

Apparently about 15- 20 runners each year get the yellow ‘100 miles’ T-shirt. Guess what I’m expecting to do?

I can run 26 miles now, and for Ultra marathons (technically anything beyond 26.2 miles –a marathon- distance) there is a lot of walking/ running. It’s building up the stamina. I did the Ladybower 50 mile ultra in 2014, I’d only trained up to 40 miles so it hit me really hard after 40 miles in the race. I ended up walking most of the last 8 miles. I did it in 10.06. That was without the proper training. Also I’d been training run X minutes, walk Y. When I got there no-one was walking. So I ran it all until I couldn’t run any more. Always follow your training. My point is, 100 miles is do-able.  But I’m going to have to train right up to that distance.

The thing is, it’s a timed endurance race, there is no set distance, it’s as many 5 mile laps as you can finish in 24 hours. There’s only me putting an arbitrary distance on it.

That’s where I am. Somewhere between terror and excitement.

I don’t want to mess up my sub 3 chances with the 24 training, but if I can juggle both, that will tick a lot of my ambitions. Sub 30, ultra, 100 miler, 24 hour.

The speed and stamina will be transferable to tri when I’m done.

If you’re going to have a challenge, make it an awesome one!


In other news, Wendy’s insurance over doubled with her provider if she wanted to renew. We got it elsewhere. Today I got a text off the bank saying you’re overdrawn, we’re ripping you off. WHAT!? Went on to the bank website, we paid the £800 for Wendy’s new insurance a week or so ago, her old provider have taken out £1600 to renew. Without asking. Super. Wendy was on the ‘phone to the them twice tonight, both times they claimed they would send an email for her to sign to to confirm she was cancelling the policy. Both times they didn’t. They said it’s going to be 5- 10 working days until they repay it. Super. It wasn’t a direct debit, they just had my card details from when I paid for it last time, took it out without asking.

They said to Wendy that she should tell them about bank charges, but it’s not the point.

Apart from that irritation, all is well.




Eek! 35 days until the Outlaw triathlon!

My training hasn’t really recovered from that 6 weeks of lurgy.

I’m back up to marathon distance with my runs, I’ve done a few decent rides of 60 – 70 miles but no 100 milers, and my swim is still rubbish, done about 1½ miles.

On the positives, for years I’ve been trying to find a quiet route cycling route. If you want to ride 50 miles in any direction you are going to be on main roads at some point. A while ago it occurred to me that all around Warrington are quiet country lanes. I spent a two days sorting out a loop last week, then found an app where I could plot it out and save it (as something called a GPX file) then I had to find out how to transfer the GPX to my bike PC. I took it for a test ride, the bike PC acting like a satnav on my course, and apart from one busy crossing (which I later realised I can eliminate by doing the loop in reverse) it worked like a charm. 34 miles, mostly really quiet roads, with a few hills. I did two laps, (the second by memory) it’s akin to the Outlaw course. Mostly flat, wind to contend with, a few hills that obviously get repeated.

Screenshot_2019-06-21 Sports route planner UK Runners, walkers, cyclists - map your routes

That is the best training thing in ages. You really don’t want to get on your bike when you know you’ve got to ride around town centre or motorway roundabouts.


The other positive is my running.

A few times lately I’ve said “I think I’ll beat my Personal Best (PB) at X distance” and have.

Looking at it, I’ve battered my PB in every category, since May.

Screenshot_2019-06-23 Garmin Connect

Also, which it doesn’t record as a run distance, I beat my 10 miles PB on the tenth of June. 

I was recommending my running pack to two women on Twitter who wanted to run into work carrying clothes and makeup, they said their bags were killing them. I was used to pack running in the army before I got mine. Everything bouncing up and down and rubbing. By the end you’re all bruised with loads of friction burns. I got my pack for a 50 mile (ultra) I was running. It was a revelation. It just works. No pain, no bouncing, no webbing burns. Anyway, I recommended it, then got a bit nervous. Was it as good as I remembered?

I ran to work and and back (18 miles) to time myself then did a pack run on my last day at work. Carrying a full uniform, a change of running gear (for coming home) a flask, rations and ‘phone. My first pack run in years and years, and my first ever double run day. I liked it. Good training. I’ll be doing that again. And the pack worked a treat.


I still suck at swimming.


I’m looking to get through this year’s Outlaw, eat my humble pie, then I’m concentrating on getting my sub 3 hour speed for next April’s Manchester marathon. I’m also going to apply for a place in the Berlin marathon for next year. I’ve bought a book, Advanced Marathoning”, that walks you through the science, explains why you have to do what they tell you to do, then sets out a training plan. Apparently it’s gold.


In other news, I’ve been suffering with big energy crashes and just feeling weak after work so I’ve changed my diet to wholegrain bread, muesli, eggs, and such (instead of jam on white toast with loads of butter for breakfast and dinner) to try and develop slow release, steady energy instead of spikes and crashes.

The other great news is work have let me swop to a rotating 4 days shift pattern. I have the option to work my days off to make up my hours, but if they batter me with long shifts and I can’t train, I can take 4 days off at a time! At my works, overtime, at time and a half, is paid after 45 hours and your sixth shift is time and three quarters. So rather than working 5 days a week, I can make more money working 4 days one week, then 6 days the next. Then have 4 days off. I’ll have to see how it goes but it sounds perfect.

I’ve just swapped, I finished my last last shift on Thursday, start my new rota on Wednesday, 5 days off!

That’s not going to happen again, so I’ve taken all 5 off to train. So Thursday I did my pack run commute, Friday I did the dentist, then slacked off, Saturday I did a 68 mile test of my cycle route, today, Sunday, I set a new PB for a half marathon. Monday, Tuesday, while everyone’s at work and school, I’ll catch up on my swimming (and riding and running.

In a bit of live action blogging, just had a bad turn. I’m sat here with the window open, typing this. I heard a bunch of kids outside, not doing anything, just being loud and excitable, (it’s 22.37hrs) and I started panicking. In a few seconds it had snowballed in my head to gangs of kids running riot every night, trashing stuff and making life a misery. My stomach started knotting and I felt like I was losing it again.

I turned out the light and poked my head out of the window, it’s a bunch of Asian kids playing cricket in someone’s garden. Aaaaaaannnddddd, relax. 

I’d forgotten all about that flavour of loony. The mind is a strange and fragile thing. Wendy and I are often forced to reflect on the truth of the cliché that if you’ve not got your health (physical or mental) you’ve got nothing. 

None of the above training would be worth a carrot if I was to go loony again. And life would be a misery.

One of the white neighbours has just shouted to ask them to keep the noise down, the kids apologised and are being quite. Bless ‘em.

Right, I’m off to bed.



PS I’ve forced myself back to the swimming. On Monday I did a 2.2 mile swim in 1 hour 40. Terrible time, but the race cut off is 2.4 miles in 2 hours, so at least now I know I shouldn’t fail on the swim.

Today I tried for a half triathlon but it all went a bit pear shaped. Wanted a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile ride, 13.1 mile run. I left it too late for the swimming, only had 40 minutes in the pool, did a mile. It was cool and raining for the ride, but I was thinking like a runner, that it would be too hot for a waterproof, so I set off in the drizzle in just a thin, long sleeved top over my tri suit. By the time I’d done the first lap of 36.74 miles I was soaked, cold and miserable, so I sacked it off. I did the run at least.

It was good training, no matter what.

Wendy’s trying to get me to drop triathlon and concentrate on getting a fast marathon. She know how much I hate swimming and how much cycling bores me. But if I was good at it, perhaps I wouldn’t. There was a spell on that big swim where I actually found a rhythm, got my stroke right, and was gliding along. I was still slow, but I wasn’t fighting the water.


Training Break

I saw a picture a while back, under “Britain’s Best Cycling Routes”, somewhere up in the wilds of Scotland.

Stitched Panorama

It’s supposed to be the UK’s toughest ascent, and just look at the roads! Empty, sweeping, awesome.

Sadly it’s in the middle of nowhere, the holiday accommodation I could find was either fully booked or rich people only, and when I asked a native it seems the pictures are totally misleading, it’s famous and a mecca for caravans and such. Imagine wobbling up a couple of miles of leg burning ascent while caravans and mobile homes are trying to pass you and each other! 

Anyway, nowhere to stay, so no. But the seed had been planted. Top of Scotland, hills, great roads, sparsely populated, little traffic.

I tried a bunch of places but they were all booked, finally got a caravan in Nairn. Great. Booked it.

Where’s Nairn?


6½ hours drive away. Way, way, up in the Highlands.

That was our last stay in a caravan. We got up there and it was sunny and warm, as you could hope in June, then it started raining and turned cold.

It turns out we’ve been to that neck of the woods twice previously, so we’d already seen the tourist sites.

I feel bad for Wendy. She says it was alright, but the only thing for her to do there was walk and eat. And huddle by the fire.

I had a good training session. Killer hills, gorgeous, empty, back roads, great running and cycling.

Poor Wendy, though.

Next holiday is somewhere that’s got holiday stuff to do. And has brick walls and double glazing.

Here’s a few snaps.


20190607_110058 (2)


And look at this, Microsoft have finally dumbed their photo editing thing down enough that I can use it!

Pole ruining snap, then gone!



Voodoo, I tell you! Still not the best of pics, but the tech impresses me greatly.


And here’s a video of Wendy down on the farm. 4 hours in Scotland and she went native.

The video of her ploughing fields in her high heeled, slingback wellies didn’t load.

That’s about it.

Great training, rubbish holiday for Wendy. *sad face*

Next time.



PS, Wendy started feeling ill on Friday afternoon, said she was going to pack her kit for the morning drive home in case she didn’t feel good enough later. If we were doing nothing, why waste all of Saturday driving back? We had the idea at 16.30, 17.02 we were packed, caravan cleaned, car loaded, bike stripped and bagged, and out of there.  And it lashed it down all the way home. Started to aquaplane twice, bit of focusing trip back. (Should mention that Wendy started to feel OK again as soon as we hit the road.) Which meant today I was free to pick up my bike panel from the spray painter, cut the hole in it and fit it, with crash bungs. My bike looks groovy again.



All the bottom red panel had snapped off below and in front of the crash bung. so all that black sideways V and the grey fins were missing. The panel I sourced was purple, so he’s done a good job of matching the colour.